My Local Diary, January 2016

January is a depressing month for most people – Christmas is over, it’s freezing, rainy, grey, dark, and it’s when a lot of people decide to do dry January, doesn’t it sound like the worst time of year to stop drinking? I definitely think so, which is why I didn’t. It is also the busiest month of the year for both of my jobs, and 2 of my close friends have birthdays so it definitely wasn’t happening.

Looking back at what happened in the month it was actually a very delicious time so I have quite a few wonderful things to share with you.

Spiralized sweet potato bugers
Spiralized sweet potato burgers

First of all, as you may have seen in my previous post, I had been having fun with my spiraliser, and made spiralised sweet potato burgers which were SO good. I definitely have to give credit to the recipe creator, so please do check out Inspiralized’s website for ‘inspiration’ and more great recipes! There are a few goodies in there and I am looking forward to trying more.

Ice Skating Rink Brighton Pavillion
Ice Skating Rink Brighton Pavillion

I finally went to Ice Skating rink in Brighton with a few colleagues from work, and I ashamed to say I sucked. It was the first time in my life that I had tried it and it was much harder than I was expecting. I was so worried about falling on my butt the whole time as it is unbelievably slippery that I wouldn’t let go of the sides! Thankfully I wasn’t the only one on the rink that was as useless, and I would definitely recommend giving it a go next winter as it was very pretty!

Cocktails at Plotting Parlour
Cocktails at Plotting Parlour

After shimming around the perimeter for an hour we hung up our boots and headed to the Plotting Parlour, which is one of my favourite cocktail venues in Brighton for a well deserved drink. It’s swanky, dimly lit, got great music and service, but still casual enough that you can pop by for an after work or pre dinner drink. Perfect. It’s tucked away off St James street and the seafront near the Brighton Wheel, and I would recommend booking if there are a few of you, but you should be able to squeeze two of you in if you forget.

Our Garden Covered in Snow!
Our Garden Covered in Snow!

We got snow!! After an unusually warm winter, we finally got some pretty white snow. I woke up in the morning (I think it was the weekend) to our garden looking like a winter wonderland. The pond had iced over and the meerkats and gnomes that the old lady left us had a generous sprinkling on their heads. Sadly by the time I got into Brighton it had cleared, but that’s why we are so lucky living in the burbs.

Me and Daz used to live across the road from the Shakespeare’s Head so as you would imagine we made an appearance there rather often. I know that they have had several chef’s over the years and actually all of them had been very good, but the chef at the moment is particularly good at Sunday Lunch. A couple of my friends had been the week before, and as we were planning to meet our Italian friends for lunch I was quick to recommend to head there. They have usually 4 meats – Lamb, Chicken, Beef or Pork, and then a Veg Wellington or a choice of the large range of vegetarian or vegan sausages they have on the menu. As I am now a non meat eater, I went for the veggie sausage option, the sweet potato, sundried tomato and olive ones as they sounded lush.

Vegetarian Roast at the Shakespeares Head
Vegetarian Roast at the Shakespeares Head

We were there early, so please take note as everything would’ve been super fresh, however the roast potatoes were spot on, perfectly crispened and fluffy in the middle, there was cauliflower cheese, cabbage, roast carrots and three sausages! The yorkshire looked great (although I didn’t eat it), and the veggie gravy was delicious and packed with flavour, it was definitely homemade. The place packed out really fast so I would recommend booking to avoid disappointment! During the week they serve sausages and mash, where you choose your own sausages, then mash, then gravy and a number of sharing platters and lighter homemade bar snacks which are delish.

The Flavour Thesaurus
The Flavour Thesaurus

Even though I got this for Xmas, I have to mention it as I only started reading it in January. It’s the Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit, a fantastic bible for food pairing and matching and a must for any home cook or chef. It’s a great read and you should check it out, there are mini recipes in there too but loads of pairings that I would never have thought of. I am still working my way through…

I had a friend* come down to Brighton for a couple of days, it had  been nearly 2 years since we had caught up so I was excited to see him! A few days earlier he had said let’s have lots of coffee, food and wine so I was excited to get planning! *He has an amazing blog called ‘A Great Distance‘ which he updated during his cycle from Brighton to the Middle East! Expect incredible pictures of stunning scenery and inspiring stories about his journey and his battle with diabetes.

Pharmacie Coffee - Image taken from their Facebook, thanks guys!
Pharmacie Coffee – Image taken from their Facebook, thanks guys!

A couple of friends of mine opened up a micro roastery late last year and I was yet to check it out so that was first on the list. It’s called Pharmacie and they have already been placed high in blind coffee tasting and it’s such a sweet little place! They roast their coffee twice a week and are open Monday to Friday for drink in beverages so you can try before you buy. If you are new to coffee, Tash is great for making suggestions so don’t be afraid!

Seafood Board at Fourth And Church
Seafood Board at Fourth And Church

Next I took him to Fourth and Church where I had been to late last year with a friend and loved. It’s a wine shop/bar that is open from morning till the evening, and run by two very passionate men who have been in the industry for many years. They have retail wine to take away, as well as locally sourced cheeses, home cured pickles and fish, and then small plates to share from a menu that changes regularly. You can read my full review for Restaurants Brighton here, but I truly love this place and I am gutted it is so far from where I live! We shared a few tasty small plates between us, and tried a couple of lovely wines we were recommended.

Mushrooms with Jerusalum Artichokes
Mushrooms with Jerusalum Artichokes

Last on the list for the day was Flank – a new venture by Tom Griffiths (former head chef at The New Club) at the Royal Sovereign. My friend loves nose to tail cooking, and manages his diabetes by eating a paleo inspired diet as much as possible so this was looking to be a perfect place to be. Despite the concept being around nose to tail, there are still a number of seafood or vegetarian options to choose from too, and most of the dishes are gluten free so it was great for me.

Scallops at Flank
Scallops at Flank

I was still a Flank virgin at this stage so I was really excited! The two dishes I had were amazing, one was scallops with a cauliflower puree and pickled cauliflower, and the other was a mushroom dish with pureed celeriac. I dreamt about the scallops dish for weeks afterwards and I even tried to recreate it! In short, you should go.

Last but certainly not least was my visit to Purezza, a new plant based Italian restaurant on St James street. I was invited for a review there via Restaurants Brighton, as they offer gluten free bases too. As a pizza lover, my boyfriend was a little suspicious before we went, but afterwards he said it was somewhere that he would definitely want to go back to again! They’re actually quite amazing, both of the owners are vegan themselves, one of them is Italian born, and all the chefs were pizzalios from Italy as that is where they advertised for the jobs. They make their own cheeses from plant based products, such as soy, coconut, cashew or almond and all the bases are stretched by hand and cooked in a super hot oven. The gluten free bases are from Venice Bakery in London and taste great.

Pizza at Purezza
Quattro Formaggi at Purezza

I had the Quattro Formaggi so I could taste all the cheeses they make in the one, and Daz went for the mushroom and sundried tomato pizza. His base was lightly charred, and had a puffed crust and looked great, I was a little jealous! You could of course tell it wasn’t regular cheese, but it all tasted really good so at the end of the day that’s what matters. I will go back for sure and I have already recommended it to my vegan friends.

Gracie the Cat
Gracie the Cat

We got a cat!! The night of the Purezza review, we had a friend move their cat into our house for awhile, while they looked for a new flat. She is a wee tortoise shell beauty and is super friendly, and I am pleased to say that even though they have moved out, we are now able to keep her at our house indefinitely! Hooray!

As you can see I had a pretty delicious and eventful month, let me know if you have been to any of these venues and what you think!

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