Madame Gourmand
18. 04. 2014

takeaway-com

 

As a family we like to treat ourselves now and again with a takeaway, it’s always nice to get a break from cooking and washing numerous pots and pans and let someone else do it for you.

takeaway.com

 

I used my ipad to order our takeaway, there is actually an app but I often prefer to see the webpage rather than a simplistic version especially when I’m ordering food.  Takeaway.com was very easy to use, you just enter your postcode into the box on the main page and press search.

takeaway.com

 

There were 8 options for me including Indian, fish & chips and Pizza, I was surprised to not see any chinese food not that it mattered as we were in the mood for an Indian takeaway on this occasion.

takeaway.com

 

We ordered food from Brunswick Balti in Leamington Spa, neither of us had used this particular takeaway before but reviews on the internet were good so we were looking forward to receiving our food.

The ordering process was very simple, I selected the food we wanted, clicked to order filled in my details to register and used the secure payment system to pay via card.  I was told our takeaway would be sent in 45-60 minutes so there was nothing to do but sit back and wait.

Our takeaway arrived within 40 minutes which was less than the specified time, all of the food was hot and as we had already paid via the website we had nothing more to do but eat!

starters

mains

 

Our food was delicious we ordered Onion Bhajee, Nargis Kebab, Keema Naan, Plain Naan, Lamb Cylon, Chicken Kashmiri, Bengal Grill and boiled rice. The ordering process was simple and I wouldn’t hesitate to order from Takeaway.com again, I would like to see more options available for my area so if any establishments are reading, please sign up!

*Discount Voucher provided for the purpose of this review*

15. 04. 2014

Bread & Co is a lovely little cafe situated on Regent Street in Leamington Spa, we first visited back in 2012 before we had even moved to the area so you could say we hold a little place in our hearts for the place.

We quite often overlook Bread & Co as a place to go for breakfast, it’s not that there is anything wrong with the breakfast menu more that there are so many places to visit that do breakfast and we usually try to go somewhere that has a good variety.

Bread & Co seem to have changed the menu since our last visit, I noticed that on this occasion they had introduced a vegetarian breakfast so although I was all geared up to have scrambled eggs and smoked salmon I decided to try out the breakfast instead.

Veg breakfast_breadandco

 

The breakfast was plentiful, the mushrooms were huge and the black pepper really complimented them, the scrambled egg was creamy and served on two good chunks of freshly toasted bread making me a very happy diner.  We now come to the beans, don’t get me wrong I thought the beans were delicious but they just didn’t suit the breakfast.  I know I’m being very critical as beans are often a staple on an English breakfast but these were not baked beans, they were more of a mixed bean chilli which would have been a delicious meal with some tortilla chips or some steamed rice not on a breakfast.  I’m not adverse to having things a little bit different on a breakfast, I’ve eaten at Bills who serve guacamole and sweet chilli sauce on their breakfast but it’s advertised on the menu so you know what to expect so if you’re in the mood for mexican you can go right ahead and order it.  Perhaps I was feeling a bit grumpy on the day so didn’t fully appreciate my chilli beans.  Would I have ordered the breakfast if I knew the beans were not of the usual baked variety? who knows, probably not.

fruit toast_breadandco

 

Mr Gourmand had been talking about fruit toast all morning so when he spotted it on the menu he was sold!  The slices were cut thick and the butter melted right in which is exactly what you want from toast.

arthur_breadandco

 

Baby Gourmand was waiting for his share of Mr Gourmand’s fruit toast which he washed down with a nice warm bottle of milk, he was completely taken with the waiters glasses and couldn’t stop staring at him!

10. 04. 2014

Good Music? …….. Check

Good Food? …….. Check

Friendly Staff ……. Check

Cocktails & Mocktails ……. Check

Turtle Bay has recently opened up in Leamington Spa and no one can be as happy about it as the Gourmands are, we love Caribbean food and I particularly love Caribbean cocktails, I realise that this is implying I’ve maybe visited one of the Caribbean islands and experienced the gastronomic delights first hand but I haven’t, I do happen to own a couple of great cookbooks though and I’ve eaten my fair share of Carribbean street food and Jerk Chicken is one of my particular favourites.

The first thing that hits you on entering Turtle Bay is the music, it’s the sort of music that makes you want to get up and dance, thankfully I had Baby Gourmand with me so standing up and dancing with him didn’t look out of place, what I really wanted to do was dance around the bar (I hadn’t had an alcoholic drink at this point).

kitchen Turtle Bay Leamington Spa

The open kitchen just adds to the outdoors feel that you get from Turtle Bay, you can smell the delicious food cooking and if you close your eyes you can visualise yourself sitting on a sunny beach, sand on your feet sipping from a coconut instead of in Leamington Spa.

cocktail Turtle bay Leamington Spa

 

It was Cocktail Happy Hour during our visit at Turtle Bay which entitled you to 2 for 1 cocktails so I ordered a Marley Mojito which was Appleton Special rum, midori, fresh mint & watermelon, home-made ginger beer, I shared my free cocktail with Mr Gourmand although I was wishing I hadn’t as it was so delicious, the kick from the ginger beer was amazing.

condiments Turtle Bay, Leamington Spa

I love the menus used at Turtle Bay which are basically printed sheets of recyclable brown paper hung up around the bar, it really added to the beach cafe feel of the restaurant.  While we were waiting for our food we discussed which of the condiments we would be having with our meal.  I liked the look of the BBQ Jerk Sauce.

Beach Food Platter, Turtle Bay, Leamington Spa

 

We shared the Beach Food Platter (£12.95) as a starter which contained Spicy jerk chicken wings, pepper roti, sweet corn fritters and garlic ‘n’ herb flatbread.  The Jerk chicken wings were very spicy but extremely tasty and I loved the sour orange chutney drizzled over them.  The Hand-made, stone baked flatbread with herb, chilli & garlic butter was a favourite of everyone including Baby Gourmand who didn’t look please when there was none left.  The spicy pepper roti was like nothing I’d ever eaten before, it was very hot due to the scotch bonnet chilli but the potatoes, carrots, peppers and cheese added a sweetness to the roti which made you want more and more.  Mini Gourmand is a Vegetarian at the moment so we let her have the majority of the Sweetcorn fritters which she said were scrumptious.

Baby Gourmand

 

Baby Gourmand’s first experience at Turtle Bay was a very pleasant one and he even managed to stay in his highchair during the whole meal which says something!

Trini Chickpea & Rice

Mini Gourmand ordered the Trini Chickpea & Rice (£6.95) for her main course, it was delicious, a little spicy for Mini Gourmand so she had to take some of Baby Gourmands yoghurt to cool it down. The flavours were amazing and I particularly liked the rice and peas the curry was served with.

Pulled Chicken Bun

 

I was torn between the Pulled Chicken Bun (£6.85) or the 1/4 Jerk Chicken but went for the bun on this occasion.  The Jerk glazed chicken was so moist and I was surprised that it wasn’t spicy but I made use of some pepper sauce to give it a bit of a kick. I loved the Caribbean slaw which was crunchy, tangy and sweet all at the same time & the fries were so yummy especially when dipped into some BBQ Jerk sauce.

Street Burger

Mr Gourmand went for the Street Burger (£6.85) which was a Seasoned beef burger with jerk glaze, pulled pork, baby gem, tomato, onion, Caribbean slaw & fries.  It takes a lot to impress Mr Gourmand when it comes to burgers and this burger impressed.  He loved the sweetness and delicate spice of the burger and was actually so full he even shared some of his fries with Mini Gourmand which never happens!

If you’re in Leamington Spa and you fancy some great Caribbean food at a reasonable price you can find Turtle Bay at Regents Court which is a short walk from The Parade.

 

03. 04. 2014

homestyle Nandos

As a family we love Nandos but when 3 of you are eating adult sized meals with sides it can become quite expensive so to quench our desire for spicy chicken I started to experiment with spices and ingredients to recreate our favourite Nandos dishes at home.  I’ll admit that they don’t taste exactly the same, how could they? I don’t own the fancy kitchen equipment that Nandos does but both myself and the rest of the Gourmand clan seem to like my cheats Nandos and it costs a fraction of the price which is always a bonus.

I use chicken thighs to create my Nandos chicken as I find it has more flavour, the trick I think to get the authentic taste is to leave the chicken in a marinade overnight.

To make the marinade you will need:
2 red chillis
The juice of one large lemon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp smoked Paprika
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tsp mild chilli powder
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp black pepper
Pop everything into a pestle and mortar and crush to release the flavours, pop into a freezer bag with the chicken and chill overnight.
Remove the chicken from the marinade before cooking and place in an ovenproof dish, cover with foil and cook for around 15 minutes, remove the foil and continue to cook for around a further 10 minutes .
The spicy rice is really tasty but not as authentic as the Nandos version because I add sweetcorn to mine to give it a bit of crunch.
To make the rice you will need:
1 chopped red pepper
1 chopped green pepper
2 spring onions sliced
1 green chilli finely diced
1/2 tin of sweetcorn
1 tbsp vegetable oil
enough cooked rice for 4 people cooked in chicken stock
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp soy sauce
Tabasco sauce to taste
Fry the peppers in the oil until softened, add the green chilli and spring onion and cook for a couple of minutes.  Add the sweetcorn, rice, lime juice and soy sauce and fry until the rice is cooked through.  Add the tabasco sauce to taste.
The mash is a basic mashed potato with added butter and cream to give it a creamy taste, I find it’s always better to make it in advance and heat up just before serving.

nandos_Home Style

31. 03. 2014

Shou Shou has only recently opened in Leamington Spa so we decided to go on Saturday to have a little look and hopefully sample something delicious.  We didn’t actually know what sort of edible treat to expect as we had only seen a couple of interior pictures on facebook so we entered with open minds, when I first saw pictures of the interior of Shou Shou I originally thought it was  sister branch of another of Leamington Spas vintage style coffee shops and was pleasantly surprised to find out it was a new venture.

shou shou

 

From the outside Shou Shou looks very pretty and chic, the sort of place you would visit for afternoon tea surprisingly this didn’t put Mr Gourmand off as he’s quite in touch with his feminine side!

plate decoration

 

I love the vintage plate decoration adorning the wall, it seems really popular with coffee shops at the moment to have vintage crockery and I’m certainly not complaining as I love it.  There are a lot of pastel colours used in Shou Shou which really do add to the chic feel I assume they are trying to portray, the lilac painted chair was a winner for me.

menu

 

The menu is quite simple but contains something for all tastes, there is a good selection of breakfast items, cold sandwiches, paninis, salads and of course Afternoon tea, we were too late for breakfast and too early for lunch so decided to sample a cake instead.

cakes

 

The cakes on display all looked delicious and I was torn between the Frangipan or Zucchini and Lime cake, Mr Gourmand was saving himself for lunch so suggested I pick a cake we could both try. Don’t you hate it when this happens? I knew that half of my cake would be eaten so if I’d been clever I should have picked something he didn’t like just to prove a point!

zucchini and lime cake

 

We both went for an Americano and I selected the Zucchini and Lime cake which was delicious and tasted home made, the cake was moist but didn’t fall apart when you put your fork in it.  There was a layer of lime curd sandwiching the cake together and buttercream icing topped off the cake.  Mr Gourmand originally turned up his nose when he found out the cake contained a vegetable but quickly realised you couldn’t taste it and the cake was too delicious to even care about the ingredients.  The owner of Shou Shou asked how we were enjoying the cake so I took my chance to ask if they were made in house which is always a big bonus for me, they are actually handmade but by a lady who supplies to the coffee shop which is great as I love small business supporting other small businesses.

You can find Shou Shou Cafe at 135 Regent Street, Leamington Spa

23. 03. 2014

I love a challenge especially when It involves comparing brands!  I was recently asked to take  in a challenge given to me by Debt Free Direct to see if supermarket brands cut it, and if buying basic brands from supermarkets is a great alternative when trying to save money.   I decided to cook three meals that I consider to be very frugal and cook each meal twice, once using supermarket brands and the second time using basic brands.  I wanted to see first of all how much of a saving I could make and secondly if there was any difference in the taste.

I headed off to Asda with my gift voucher and shopping list and was surprised at how many basic items were available, I thought I would be able to purchase more fresh vegetables from the basics range if I’m honest but there were only a handful of things available.  I would like to see more dried herbs, noodles, condiments and different variations of pasta as the choice is quite limited.

smart price prawn noodles

The first dish I made was Prawn Stirfry, I used the same ingredients for both but due to the limited choice of Asda Smart Price items available only 2 of the 7 items were actually Smart Price.  The difference in cost was £0.31 the Supermarket brand dish cost £4.30 to feed two adults and the smart price dish cost £3.99 to feed two adults.  There was no difference in taste at all.

Tuna pasta bake

My second dish was Tuna pasta Bake, I used the same ingredients for both dishes and 6 of the 9 Smart Price items were available.  The difference in cost was £0.65, the supermarket brand dish cost £3.45 and the Smart Price dish cost £2.80.  Both dishes served 4 adults and there was no difference in taste.  I thought that the pasta would make all of the difference as the Supermarket branded pasta cost £1 a pack compared to the £0.29 that the Smart Price pasta cost but taste wise there was really no difference.

Hotpot

My final dish was a Corned Beef hotpot, I used the same ingredients for both dishes and 3 of the 6 Smart Price items were available.  The difference in cost was £0.84, the supermarket branded dish cost £3.74 compared to the Smart Price dish which cost £2.90.  Both dishes served 3 adults and there was a noticeable difference in taste.  Everyone preferred the supermarket branded dish over the Smart Price dish based on the salt content.  The Smart Price gravy was extremely salty in flavour and I was surprised to learn that there was only a 0.1g difference in the salt content, I didn’t keep the corned beef tins to compare so I will assume that there was also a higher salt content here too.

I completed a Sainsbury’s basics challenge in November 2013 and when I’ve compared the two brands I think the Asda Basic range is actually cheaper and I preferred the quality of the Asda range.

*I seem to have misplaced my camera that contains the rest of the photographs needed for this post, I will update once I find it*

*This post was written in collaboration with Debt Free Direct*

09. 03. 2014

I love Pizza.  I love eating pizza and I love making pizza but quite often after a very busy day I really don’t have the time or energy to make pizza dough which doesn’t help me at all on the days that I really fancy a pizza.  I managed to find a great alternative to my much loved pizza which requires only 3 ingredients, on this occasion the ingredients were purchased from Tesco and can be seen below.

ingredients

By using a cheese and Tomato flatbread I already have my base ready, a few slices of quorn pepperoni and mozzarella and it’s ready to bake in the oven for 5-7 minutes not the 12 that I left mine in for on this occasion.

pizza

 

This is the perfect quick meal that goes from fridge to table in less than 10 minutes and even the busiest of person has 10 minutes.  I’ve tried lots of different taste variations including using left over chilli, pasta sauce, chicken and sweetcorn, anchovy and olive, goats cheese and red onion and Chinese chicken and beansprouts.  You can swap the base for crumpets, muffins, wraps, naan bread or even plain bread. Who doesn’t love Pizza toast?

03. 03. 2014

 Special K recently launched its first ever granola, we’re a family of granola lovers and like all variations of it, I quite like to snack on it straight from the bowl, Mr Gourmand likes yoghurt on his and Mini Gourmand likes to add fresh berries. New Special K Granola comes in two varieties Raisins and Red Apples and Cranberry, Pumpkin Seeds and Almonds.  I have to be honest and say I don’t prefer one over the other, they are both very different and both very delicious.  I’ve been having the Raisin and Red apple granola for breakfast and using the cranberry one as a snack during the day.  I find if you wish to snack on granola its best to weigh it out into a little tub so you don’t over eat (it’s very easily done).

 special k granola

You may have noticed the limited edition tea towel that my granola is sitting on,  this is exclusive to Special K, and hand designed by illustrator, Charlotte Farmer, I also have a beautiful tote bag which has been accompanying me on my recent shopping trips.

granola apples

The Raisin and Red Apple Granola contains Red Apples, Barley, Wheat, Rye, Grapes and Spelt so that’s 5 whole grains along with vitamins and fibre.

granola nuts

The Cranberries, Pumpkin Seeds and Almonds contain Cranberries, Barley, Oats, Wheat, Rye, Almonds, Spelt and Pumpkin Seeds giving you 5 whole grains, fibre and vitamins.

Both varieties of Special K Granola contain 30 per cent less fat than most other granolas so you can eat this as part of a calorie controlled diet without feeling guilty.  If I’m completely honest I forgot this granola was made by Special K when I was eating it because it doesn’t taste like a lower fat product at all.

If you can’t get fussy children to eat cereal a top tip from me is to add it to flapjacks or muffins, I’m lucky that Mini Gourmand likes to eat all sorts of cereal now she is older but I did used to struggle to get her to eat anything that wasn’t coated with sugar when she was younger and found that I could disguise whole grains in fruity muffins and flapjacks as a breakfast or lunch box treat.

Special K Granola is available to purchase in all major supermarkets with a RRP of £2.99 for a 370g bag.

*Competition*

Would you like to win a case of each of the Special K Granola?  All you have to do is leave a comment below telling me what flavour combination would be your favourite if you could design your own granola.  Leave a way of contacting you either email address or twitter name. this competition ends on the 17th of March where I will film Mini Gourmand pulling a name out of an empty Special k  granola bag.

Prizes will be sent direct from the brand

 

*Due to my site unavailability due to hosting issues I have extended the competition until 23rd March 2014*

02. 03. 2014

When we moved to Leamington Spa Wagamama had only just opened and as Mini Gourmand had never visited before I took her for her first meal and she has been hooked on Chicken Katsu since then.  Fast forward 18 months to Mr Gourmand and Baby Gourmand’s first visit to Wagamama.

wagamama bar

When you enter through the revolving doors you are greeted with a fabulous bar area which is the only one outside of London, there are a selection of tables at the window where you can choose to sit or wait for friends which look directly out onto The Parade which is perfect for people watching.  I believe this branch serves a selection of cocktails however we were not provided with a bar menu so I’m unable to comment on those.

deco wagamama

The interior is extremely light, spacious and has a fantastic vibe.  Decor is neutral and there is a lot of beautiful lighting.  My favourite feature is the huge ornate mirror above the fireplace, I imagine that the room that houses the restaurant was originally a ballroom when the building was all a hotel.

wagamama interior

One good thing about Wagamama is that it is extremely family friendly, on our arrival we were asked if we needed a high chair and were supplied with crayons and a colouring sheet, I originally thought Baby Gourmand would be far too young for crayons but he surprised us by doing a little scribble, then trying to munch on the crayon like a carrot stick.

baby gourmand wagamama

Our waitress Laura took our drinks order and left us to peruse the menu. I hate the menu in Wagamama, don’t get me wrong there isn’t actually anything wrong with it. My problem is that I want to eat at least 8-10 things on there during each visit and although I’m a gourmand by name and nature it isn’t actually possible to do so which makes my decision really difficult.

wagamama

After taking time out to laugh at Baby Gourmand pulling faces we were ready to order our food.  We’re a family of sharers so decided on two starters each, a main course each and 1 side which was originally a healthy option for Baby Gourmand to munch on.

Ebi Katsu

Mini Gourmand’s choice for one of the starters was the Ebi Katsu (£6.95) which  is basically deep-fried prawns in panko breadcrumbs. served with a spicy chilli and garlic sauce and garnished with a wedge of lime.  Even Baby Gourmand enjoyed this starter although he did try to shove the whole thing into his mouth including the tail so Mr Gourmand had to extract it and deliver it in smaller portions.  The prawns were delicious, breadcrumbs were crispy and the chilli sauce was perfect in flavour and strength.

Chilli Squid

My choice for a starter was the Chilli Squid (£5.75) which is basically deep-fried squid seasoned with salt and shichimi. served with a chilli and coriander dipping sauce.  Baby Gourmand made sure he tucked into this starter too although he didn’t sample the dipping sauce.  Mini Gourmand commented about how so many restaurants just can’t seem to get squid right meaning it’s either tough or isn’t cooked enough.  The Chilli Squid from Wagamama was perfect, tender, delicately spiced and the dipping sauce added both a sweet and sourness to the dish making it one of those dishes you wish you had ordered two of.

Chicken katsu Curry

A creature of habit, Mini Gourmand ordered the Chicken Katsu Curry (£9.50) chicken breast deep-fried in panko breadcrumbs served with a curry sauce and sticky white rice. garnished with dressed mixed leaves and japanese pickles.  I always wish she would try something else from the menu but I suppose the saying goes if it’s not broken don’t fix it and she always has a satisfied look on her face after cleaning her plate.

Mahi Mahi Curry

Mr Gourmand wanted to try something new and different so went for the Mahi Mahi Curry (£9.95) which was grilled mahi mahi fish in a spicy curry sauce with sweet potato, red and green peppers and mushrooms. served with rice and garnished with coriander cress.  Not wanting to miss out I had a mouthful and was pleasantly surprised because it was so delicious, the sauce had a delicate spice but was also slightly sweet.  Baby Gourmand gave the fish a thumbs up by demanding more of it, the boy has a real love of fish and seafood so it seems!

Teryaki beef soba

I decided to go for something different and picked the Teryaki Soba Beef (£13.95) which was grilled teriyaki beef on a bed of teppan-fried soba noodles with curry oil, mangetout, red and spring onions, beansprouts, bok choi and chillies with yakitori and teriyaki sauce. garnished with coriander and sesame seeds. Steak is another favourite of Baby Gourmand so we shared this dish.  The flavourings worked together so well on this dish and the steak was cooked to perfection, It’s the first time I’ve gone for a noodle dish at Wagamama and I will definitely be back for more after sampling this particular one.

Wok fried greens

I actually ended up eating most of the Wok Fried Greens (£4.25) that we had ordered for Baby Gourmand as he decided that he preferred the meat on this occasion and the green stuff was for wimps.  I actually thought the tender stem broccoli and bok choi, stir-fried in garlic and soy sauce was a delicious if not simple dish and could have quite happily had this as a main course with some steamed rice.

Our total bill including drinks came to £58.90 which is more than acceptable for the amount of food and drinks we consumed.

We left Wagamama with full stomachs and smiles on our faces, mainly because Baby Gourmand had behaved himself impeccably.  The staff at the Leamington Spa branch were attentive and extremely friendly and I would not hesitate to go back again.

If you’re ever in the Warwickshire area and fancy some good food, cooked well which is good value for money you will be very welcome at Wagamama Leamington spa, the old regent hotel, 95 parade royal, leamington spa, CV32 4AY.

*I received vouchers towards part payment of my meal.  All words are my own and as always my review is honest and impartial*

28. 02. 2014

spaghetti hotdogs

 

After looking at numerous pinterest pictures featuring spaghetti hotdogs I let curiosity get the better of me and prepared them for dinner one evening much to everyone’s disgust. What is so wrong with spaghetti hotdogs? Mr Gourmand said they looked disgusting and Mini Gourmand said she couldn’t understand why anyone would want to eat them!

I prepared a quick tomato and basil sauce to pour over the top and plates were clean before I could even blink.  I’ll admit that they don’t look the most appetising and the lighting in my kitchen hasn’t helped matters but they were delicious.

To make spaghetti hotdogs you basically need a tin/jar of good quality hotdog sausages (we had chicken ones) and raw spaghetti.  Thread the spaghetti through the slices of hotdog, boil in a pan until the spaghetti is cooked and there you have it.

I suspect that young children will love this dish, it would make great party food and could be used at Halloween for some ghoulish dish.

If you do decide to make this dish please let me know what you think of it!