Saturday, 16 March 2019

FOOD | SFINX, SHEFFIELD RESTAURANT REVIEW

I was kindly invited to review Sfinx, this in no way affects the validity of my review.

Romanian food isn't something you'd necessarily come across up north, and it wouldn't be a cuisine that'd be at the forefront of my mind if I was going to pick somewhere to eat but when I was invited to try Sfinx, a Romanian restaurant in Sheffield, I was intrigued as to what it would be like and as you well know I love trying new places to eat in Yorkshire!

When I first asked Kev and we looked at the menu, his first reaction was 'hmm, but are we going to like it?' - there were things on the menu that we'd never heard of before and certainly had never actually tasted but I was determined to try it because I wanted to experience Romanian cuisine.


On arrival we were greeted by the restaurant manager who was one of the most friendly gentlemen I think I've ever met and he quickly explained that we were no different to most British people in that we've never come across Romanian food before and we were pretty much clueless as to what to order so we agreed that we'd try a few different items from the menu to get a full Romanian experience. The atmosphere itself in the restaurant was smart but relaxed; it's clearly a favourite with local families.

The host explained that Romanian food is a bit of a hybrid of different cuisines brought to Romania over the years from Bulgaria, Russia, Austria and Slovakia and most of it had been tweaked with their own blend of herbs and spices. All dishes are homemade in the restaurant so by the time everything had been explained, my initial reservations were gone and I was looking forward to trying some Romanian food. 


I started with a mason jar of their homemade lemonade which was delicious; not overly sweet or sour. They have an amazing selection of wine which we did sample a little bit of and despite the fact I'm not a wine drinker per se, their Moldovan Cabernet Sauvignon was really enjoyable; so smooth (all I could think when he mentioned Moldovan wine was how much Michael Whitehall went on about it on Travels with my Father...)

Then came the starters: homemade bread which was absolutely amazing especially because it was still warm served with a 'Sfinx Sharing Platter' which is devilled egg, aubergine & winter spread,  cabbage roll, salad, pickles and olives. It's my ideal starter because I like little 'picky' bits as starters, especially when it's served with bread. 

  


My particular favourite was the aubergine spread (the lighter coloured one) which is made from baked aubergines, chopped onions and mayonnaise. It sounds so simple to make and it probably is but it is absolutely beautiful with the homemade bread. 

Cabbage rolls are made with seasoned ground pork, pickled cabbage and bacon, again, they were something I'd never tried before and I did wonder whether they'd be my cup of tea but they were so tasty! I knew I'd like the devilled eggs because eggs are among my favourite food - they're filled with chicken liver pate and in all honesty I could have eaten lots of those! The only part of the sharing platter that we weren't keen on was the pickles on the side but I do think that's purely down to our own personal tastes. 

We spoke to the host and decided that we wanted to try a few different bits from the menu for our main course; we chose Hungarian goulash, Romanian stew and then a selection of Romanian speciality meats served with rosemary potatoes.


The Hungarian goulash is a mildly spiced beef stew, I double checked before we ordered that it wasn't going to be too spicy but the host explained that it was mild, served with a chilli so that customers could make it to their desired level of spice. The beef was so tender and was perfect with the potatoes, paprika and spices. It's one of those meals that just warms you up; a real comfort food. 


Romanian stew is a mixture of chopped pork, chicken breast, Romanian sausages, and mushrooms, blended with rich tomato sauce, served with polenta, fried egg and cheese on top. Polenta isn't something I've ever really tried before but it seems to be a bit of a Romanian alternative to chips and rice. It went really well with this stew in making it into another hearty meal. I preferred the Hungarian goulash whereas Kev preferred the Romanian stew but it was nice for us to be able to try both.

The amount of meat on the platter was quite daunting after we'd eaten so much already but I was determined to try the Mici and pork collar which are two traditional meats eaten in Romania. Mici are minced meat rolls made of a mixture of beef, lamb and pork meat with spices - they are extremely tasty and go really well with the Romanian mustard served on the side. The pork collar also surprised me because I associate pork with being a little bit dry but that's because as Brits we traditionally eat it as chops which is quite a dry meat but the collar was beautifully tender. The rosemary potatoes were something else; despite the fact that I was already full from all the beautiful food we'd eaten, I just kept picking at them because they were so nice!


After giving us 10 minutes for our food to settle, our conversation with the host turned to dessert and we decided that we'd share one because we really wanted to try something but we wouldn't manage one each. 

Papanash is the most traditional Romanian dessert on the menu so naturally we went for that. Don't be put off by the description of them being 'cheese doughnuts' because these are absolutely to die for. The way they're made makes them so light but equally indulgent at the same time; served with cream and wild berries you really have to try this when you visit Sfinx.


I'd recommend Sfinx to anyone in the Sheffield area looking for somewhere new to try; if you let the host know that you're new to the cuisine he'll definitely be able to point you in the right direction but based on my experience if you try nothing else during your visit you absolutely must have the Aubergine spread and papanash... when I visit again I fully plan to try something different from the main menu but they'll remain my choices for starter and dessert!

If you want to take a look at the menu before you go there's a copy on the Sfinx website along with lots of other useful information about location and opening times.

Have you ever tried Romanian cuisine?

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Friday, 15 March 2019

FOOD | YORK ROAST CO. CHOCCYPUD WRAP

The York Roast Co. were the original creators of the explosively popular Yorkshire Pudding Wrap, and it's been so successful that they've trademarked the name 'YorkyPud Wrap'. You might remember that a while ago I went to try the Yorkshire pudding wrap at the York Roast Co. in York so when I was asked to return to try their limited edition ChoccyPud wrap you can imagine what my immediate response was!

The ChoccyPud wrap is a limited edition sweet treat available at York Roast Co. locations in York, Shrewsbury, Salisbury and Chester until the end of April. Containing lashings of melted chocolate, chunks of gooey brownie, crushed Oreos and crumbly Flake, served with a dollop of cream, the ChoccyPud wrap is exactly how a dessert should be done with a Yorkshire pudding.

I'll be honest and say that I was initially skeptical. I really like pancakes and could eat them until the cows come up but despite the fact that the mix for pancakes and Yorkshires is very similar, I've just never seen the appeal of things like Yorkshire pud with jam and other sweet toppings. However, given how the Yorkshire pudding wrap blew me away as a taste sensation, I wanted to give the sweet version a fair chance to impress.

We obviously started with a main course of a 'no bread sandwich' which is beef with potatoes and veg in a cute little box but we were careful not to fill ourselves up and spoil the main event.

The most challenging part of this whole visit wasn't fitting the food in but taking a picture that does the ChoccyPud wrap justice! It's so packed full of chocolatey goodness that it's actually really hard to get a good picture of it. Obviously it all started off very well with the untouched squirty cream and pristine wrapping but the chocolatey goodness soon starts to spill out...







Ok, so I know that opened up picture isn't necessarily the prettiest but it was the only way I could show how truly covered in chocolate it was inside! It was a very indulgent, chocolatey dessert that I can imagine would be just as good as a breakfast food (call it Yorkshire's version of a big pain au chocolat!) as it was so filling or when you've got that sweet craving after a night out (the York locations don't close until 1/2am on a weekend).

It was absolutely full of melted chocolate as you can see from the pictures and despite my initial reservations about eating a Yorkshire pud with a sweet filling I really enjoyed it and left with my sweet tooth being suitably satisfied. The only thing that would have made it better would have been a little bit more cream (maybe served in a side cup).

If this is something that tickles your fancy you have until the end of April to try one at one of York Roast Co.'s 5 locations (York Stonegate and Low Petergate, Chester, Shrewsbury and Salisbury) please do tag me in on Instagram if you go and try one and let me know what you think!

Is it something you'll be trying for yourself?

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Friday, 8 March 2019

FOOD | HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN YOGHURT WITH EASIYO

The EasiYo maker and powders were kindly gifted to me, I have not been paid to post this review. 

To me, this is the 'gadget' that you didn't know you needed in your life and when I say gadget I don't mean some hi-tech piece of electronic equipment - I actually mean one of the simplest little inventions ever. The EasiYo makes the tastiest, creamiest yoghurt which is totally free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives and comes in so many different flavours from fat free natural yoghurt and low fat greek style yoghurt to everyday strawberry yoghurt there's so many different flavours and what's even more convenient is that Morrisons have started stocking the EasiYo makers as well as the powders.

Why should I make my own yoghurt?
The EasiYo yoghurt maker makes making your own yoghurt into a simple 3 step process... but why would you want to go to the 'hassle' of making your own yoghurt when there's hundreds of different types that you could just go and buy from the supermarket? Well because a lot of the yoghurts we buy from supermarkets are full of artificial colours, flavours and preservatives whereas yoghurt made with EasiYo is all natural. Also, yoghurt made with EasiYo is full of good bacteria, and yes shop bought yoghurt will contain some but because it's not totally fresh and has been made for some time (check the long dates on some yoghurts!) a lot of the good bacteria won't be anywhere near as effective at balancing your stomach as fresh homemade yoghurt.


 EasiYo Starter Kit (£21.99, also available in Morrisons)


How easy is it to make yoghurt with the EasiYo?
I'll be honest and say that I thought it would be such a faff because you assume that something like yoghurt will take hours and there'll be too many steps to even bother thinking about attempting it but actually this makes it so easy. You literally:

  • Pour tap water into the clear plastic container until half full
  • Pour in the sachet
  • Shake it 
  • Fill it with water nearly to the top
  • Pour boiling water into the big red container
  • Put the clear plastic container into the big red container
  • Pour in boiling water
  • Leave it for at least 8 hours
When I was asked if I wanted to try the EasiYo I genuinely thought I was going to receive some sort of machine but this is so simple. Once the 8 hours is up then you transfer it into the fridge and it should keep for 1-2 weeks; 1 jar is equivalent to 1kg of yoghurt and trust me, it's that nice, mine never lasts for 1 week never mind 2 and I'm on my own!

How does it work?
"In order to grow, lactic cultures require heat and a source of milk sugar (lactose) on which to feed. They also have an optimal heat at which to grow (between 40-50 degrees C).The unique EasiYo Yogurt Maker creates the controlled heat needed to activate all the LACTIC CULTURES present in the EasiYo Yogurt Mix Sachets. Our freeze dried cultures reactivate and divide in the perfect conditions in the EasiYo Yogurt Maker" (EasiYo Website)

Would I recommend it?
I would, especially if you're looking for a yoghurt which contains more good bacteria than what you find in the supermarket. EasiYo yoghurt mixes do not contain any gluten and they are suitable for vegetarians. I also think an EasiYo maker would be fab for anyone with young children as it'll be a bit like magic for them and they can be a part of the whole process. At £21.99 for a starter kit, it's very affordable and can be bought in store in Morrisons so you should be able to pick one up with your weekly shop.


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Thursday, 7 March 2019

HOME | CLEANING PRODUCTS THAT ARE ACTUALLY WORTH BUYING

As I said in my post about staying safe when cleaning, cleaning has absolutely exploded over the past year or so and although I love cleaning itself and all the new products that have come from this trend, I've also realised that in the past I've bought so much stuff that I really do not need at all. Don't get me wrong I understand the appeal of a 'Narnia' full of all different cleaning products for different things but the truth is that actually you really could do without spending money on a lot of it.

So I thought I'd put together a post of the products that I would consider to be essentials in my cleaning cupboard; the kinds of products that I love enough and see the use of enough to re-buy time and time again...


Wilko Red Fruits and Lemon Zest Thick Bleach (45p)
It's bleach. It's 45p. It does the job. I never buy Domestos anymore because although it's a household name in cleaning, I don't think it does a better job than this one for half the price. I don't actually use bleach for that much in the house but I do use it in my toilet. I don't see the point of pine disinfectant - yes it disinfects but I find bleach is a much, much more effective cleaner.

TOP TIP: I see lots of people using boiling water when using bleach. Don't. Use bleach with cold water because boiling water destroys the active ingredient in bleach which makes it ineffective.

Elbow Grease (90p)
This is one that I saw on Instagram and because it was only 90p I thought I'd give it a go. I use it mainly for my hob and my oven door and it is a really good degreaser considering that it's solvent free so you don't feel choked by it like you can do by some degreasing products.

Bar Keepers Friend Stain Remover (£2.50)
I had a stain on my sink for so long and had tried all sorts to get it off and nothing shifted it. This was the only thing that worked and although it did take a couple of applications and some scrubbing I was really pleased with the results. If you've got something stubborn on steel, brass, china, copper, chrome etc. then this is well worth a go.

Dr Beckmann's Carpet Stain Remover (£2.89 - link is for Aldi but it can usually be found for a similar price in places like Home Bargains)
First experience of this was when Kev spilt blackcurrant on the cream carpet - you can imagine my reaction and my next move was straight out to get some of this. It worked an absolute treat and I've since used it on a really annoying stain on my car seat - a few years ago (yes a stain had been there for that long) a manky orange left a really weird white mark on the black material bit of my car seat and nothing brought it up but a quick go with this and it's totally gone now!

Zoflora (£1.00 - link is for lavender as Tropical Twist was limited edition)
I do feel like Zoflora is overused a little bit by the cleaning community but I do see the appeal and I always have a couple of bottles in. I generally use it for a bit of disinfecting kitchen tops and in the bathroom and soaking dishcloths overnight - I do like the smell and I thoroughly enjoy a good limited edition. What I don't enjoy is how many places have increased the price to £1.25 - buy it at £1 where you can!

Viakal Limescale Remover (£2.00)
I live in an area where the water is really, really hard which means that limescale does build up on taps etc. quite quickly but this is amazing at making it easy to wipe away. Leave it for a couple of minutes, rinse off and it leaves everything so shiny! I have the Febreze version which smells really quite nice but it can be pricy in the supermarkets unless you have a coupon from somewhere like Super Savvy Me.

Microfibre Cloths (£1.99, B&M - I can't find the exact link but there's lots in store)
I'm sorry, I'm just going to come out and say that I do not see the point in all the different cloths and sponges. I'm all for having different cloths for different rooms but I honestly can't see why those Minky things are so vital to a cleaning cupboard. I am speaking as someone who has never owned a 'Minky' and maybe it's just me and my stubborn nature but I just refuse to buy into it at the moment. I just have bog standard dish cloths, a scouring sponge and these microfibre clothes for buffing surfaces to make them shine.

There are, of course other things in my cleaning cupboard such as 1001 carpet spray (at £1.99 a pop!) but that literally serves no other purpose than to make your carpet smell nice for a bit but these are just the things that I would suggest that you have in your cupboard if you're just looking for a no nonsense approach to cleaning. At just over £11.00 for the lot I don't think that's bad at all.

What are your favourite cleaning products that you'd consider 'essential'?

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