Showing posts with label Cambridge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cambridge. Show all posts

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Review: Summer House Restaurant at Newmarket Racecourse

The July Course from the Premier Enclosure viewing terrace

Every year my blogging seems to follow the same kind of pattern. Summer starts to roll around (yippee!) and, by mid-June, I'm easing into some new-found freedom after I've finished organising the annual Eat Cambridge festival (a fortnight in May which involves indulging in A LOT of excellent local food and drink, plus many long, hard days spent planning and organising and then hosting events). After a few weeks' break from what feels like constant eating and, in between bites, snapping photos to share on social media, I'm getting itchy fingers again - reaching for my phone to Instagram my latest culinary creation, or being tempted by a new foodie opening, and finally finding time to put my laptop down and eat out again. Around this time of year, I find SO much that is good about being a food blogger: beautiful summer produce from our garden and local farms; good evening light for taking photos of supper recipes; and gorgeous sunny days spent exploring the many great eats in our local area. Fantastic timing, then, that this weekend's stunning weather (and a very rare free Saturday to enjoy as a family) saw us donning our fancy threads and venturing over to Newmarket for a day at the races to check out the Summer House Restaurant at Newmarket Racecourse's July Course. And we were so glad we did. We had a blast! Read on to find out what we thought of the food (and more)...  

Friday, 17 August 2012

Recipe: Summer Vegetable & Potato Salad

I picked up some great minted lamb burgers from Radmore Farm Shop on Chesterton Road a few days ago and thought a mix of seasonal vegetables and "second early" season potatoes, such as the waxy Charlotte variety, would be a fitting accompaniment. The home-reared meat supplied to the shop from a small, family-run farm in Northamptonshire, made fantastic burgers - substantial, chunky and containing good quality, lean meat and very little else. Next time I'd like to buy some of their fresh lamb mince and try making my own.


Saturday, 11 August 2012

Cambridge Places: Eating Vegetarian at The Free Press

The Free Press is one of my favourite pubs and a thorough mention on the Blog of this fantastic Cambridge place is long overdue and much deserved. Cambridge's true pub lovers, of the old school, traditional kind, will already know it well. I have often found it to be overlooked by locals, however, especially where eating out is concerned. The pub's great food was actually, I am rather ashamed to admit, introduced to me by a very good friend from university who hails from Germany! So, I unfortunately can't claim that The Free Press is entirely one of my own local finds, but it is quickly climbing to the top of my list of "locals," and its atmosphere, draught ales and ciders, and fantastic home-cooked food never disappoint.  If you're into celebrating great British food, you will definitely love exploring the fresh and seasonal menu.

Dressed crab and samphire

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Article: A new WI for Cambridge

I scribbled down a few notes on my bus journey home yesterday evening about what the Women's Institute (the WI) means to me and how my generation has been brought up to perceive the national club. Considering my limited knowledge and stereotypical perceptions of what goes on at said groups' meetings, I was rather surprised to find myself excitedly jotting down ideas after attending my first social organised by the new Cambridge City WI and even more pleasantly surprised to find out what the new group has in store for its potential members.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Review: A visit to Fudge Kitchen, Cambridge

Fudge Kitchen, Cambridge

I was a regular visitor to Fudge Kitchen on King's Parade in Cambridge during my student days - mainly for a quick sugar fix between lectures or to share the unique and delicious fudge experience with guests to the city - but had neglected it somewhat over the last couple of years. A few weekends ago I popped into the shop with some friends from London and wowed them with the many flavours of fudge and knowledgeable and friendly staff. The brief visit definitely consolidated my love of the confectioner, so when Fudge Kitchen HQ asked me to sample some fudge and write a review of my experience I jumped at the chance...

Monday, 16 July 2012

Review: Plate Lickers Supper Club, Cambridge UK

A review produced for 

A top secret location. Intriguing emails providing hints and snippets about the upcoming food menu. Anonymous, faceless photos of beautifully laid tables. And one fantastic name. The anticipation prior to attending my first Plate Lickers Supper Club was almost as good as the evening itself. Almost.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Review: Cambridge Places: Dinner at d'Arry's Cookhouse & Wine Shop

I've just spent a delightful, yet very wet, weekend entertaining some lovely London friends and showing them the famous sights and foodie hotspots of Cambridge. Seeing my home city through the eyes of a tourist reminded me of many of my favourite places, old and new, and I loved sharing them with the gorgeous and fun Mr and Mrs C. Making time for a long, leisurely dinner at one of Cambridge's finest eateries was high on our to-do list so we ended a fun afternoon of Olympic Torch Relay celebrations with a visit to d'Arry's Cookhouse and Wine Shop on King Street...

Whetting the appetite with bread and olives

Friday, 1 June 2012

Review: Cambridge Places: Going Local

Last weekend The Boy and I finally found ourselves spending some much-needed time at home. So we took the opportunity to enjoy the best sunny Cambridge had to offer. The ever-beautiful city positively gleams and glistens in the sunshine, buzzing with tourists, shoppers and students; boats bobbing on the river and sunbathers in the parks creating a laid-back holiday atmosphere. I was a little over-excited by the prospect of the first weekend of proper sunshine in Cambridge coinciding with my first visit to the annual Cambridge Beer Festival, the 39th to be held in the city. So much so that The Boy and I were keenly joining the queue on Jesus Green as close to 5pm on Friday evening as the pesky Day Jobs would allow.  

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Review: Cambridge Places: Supper at The First and Last

Finally, after harping on for weeks about how much I love The First and Last in Cambridge, I have found the time to have dinner at the great city centre pub and write about it! Hoorah! The perfect antidote to a long, hard day at the office, the food on offer was varied, interesting, and absolutely perfectly cooked. The generous portions and ingenious combinations of flavours and textures took us by surprise, especially considering the prices, and we gleefully worked our way through some delicious wines by the glass to complement each course.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Review: Cambridge Places - From Pubs to Cocktail Bars...

Continuing my celebration of all things Cambridge, I spent a lovely day on Saturday visiting some delightful drinking establishments with Best Friend Jess. Umbrellas at the ready, we braved the rain to drown our winter sorrows, check out some good pub food, and soak up the atmosphere (and cocktails) of a night out in Cambridge.

Ignoring the miserable weather outside, and determined that summer is on it's way, we kicked off proceedings with a couple of strawberry-laced summer cocktails and toasted a hard afternoon spent trying on wedding dresses (me) and holding back tears of happiness (Best Friend Jess). Obviously I can't give details in case The Boy is reading this but if any local brides are looking for a fabulous selection of designers and dresses with excellent customer service, they should give Mia Sposa on Homerton Street a call.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Review: Friday Night Manicure at The Kimono, Cambridge

The Kimono on Lensfield Road, Cambridge

On Friday evening I discovered the perfect little place in Cambridge to spend a relaxing hour forgetting the stresses of a long week. I decided to book a manicure at the quirky little salon on the corner of Lensfield Road in Cambridge because the natural nail services are well-priced and I fancied a little pick-me-up without breaking the bank! I've always been intrigued by the narrow, old building; a triangular shaped room nestling at the front, in between a couple of Chinese takeaways, the farmers' outlet and The Oak Bistro, housing a couple of nail bars, spa pedicure chairs and fish pedicure tanks. Rows of brightly coloured O.P.I nail polishes line the walls, alongside oriental-styled nail design posters and trailing plants. 

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Review: Cambridge Places - Sunday Lunch at the Clarendon Arms

I haven't spent many weekends in Cambridge recently so to remind myself how much I love living in the city I've decided to revisit my favourite places. Unsurprisingly, foodie and arty places feature fairly prominently on my list of things worthy of dedicating a whole Saturday or Sunday to. So where better to start than with a delicious Sunday lunch at a Cambridge pub, followed by an afternoon of coffee, chocolate shopping, and lazy browsing in an intriguing contemporary art gallery.
Roast Beef

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Event: Cambridgeshire Wine School Launch Night

As if a weekend trip to Sardinia to mark The Boy turning 30 wasn't enough of a celebration (blog to follow), I decided to take him along to a launch night that I'd been invited to by the founder of a new local wine school. Promising an evening of quality wines, sumptuous surroundings and sparkling conversation, I arranged to meet The Boy at Cambridge Market Square where we buzzed our way in through the door of the exclusive 12A Club, hidden away in the corner of the square behind an unassuming wooden door marked only by a couple of gold balloons. All very cloak and dagger, visiting the private members' club was a special experience from the outset. After a warm welcome from the owner of the club, we enjoyed exploring the decadent surroundings of the club whilst sipping a glass of Champagne. Nestled in the heart of the city, within buildings owned by the University, 12A Club is a delightful warren of rooms decorated and furnished by the perfect combination of traditional, luxurious, old boys' leather and sleek, modern lines and prints. The bar serves a fantastic selection of drinks and cocktails too - I can highly recommend their apple-based gin from Herefordshire, UK.

The launch of Cambridgeshire Wine School attracted quite a crowd, quickly filling the venue with local wine-lovers of all ages. I spotted some local foodies, wine bloggers, and local celebrity chef Alex Rushmer; all snapped by Cambridge photographer Jean Luc Benazet. Founder of the school, Mark Anstead, kicked off proceedings with a lovely warm welcome and then the fun began. To give us a little sneak preview of the school's wine tasting evenings and courses, Mark ran a blind wine tasting test of one red and one white wine. Asked various questions about the grape, flavours and qualities possessed by each wine, participants were tested on their ability to name the wine and it's origin - the last one standing winning some glorious wines from Noel Young. My white was a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand (one of my favourites) and the red a Pinot Noir from, I believe, Chile (although there was some confusion about the definitive winner of this round!!). I think Mark definitely achieved what he set out to - we all had lots of fun and learnt something new about wine! Complementing the wines and plush setting were some delicious canapes prepared by Wild in the Pantry personal chef Frank Boddy. We enjoyed fresh and flavourful smoked salmon and quails egg blinis, courgette candles with red pepper houmous, and, my favourite, warm spiced apricot and butternut squash mini samosas. I was lucky enough to pop into the kitchen to meet Frank too. Warm and welcoming and clearly an expert in the kitchen, he's the perfect choice for adding a personal touch to your dinner party and getting your guests involved. Find out more about Frank's personal chef and cookery coach business here.   

The evening was a huge success and the Cambridgeshire Wine School looks set to be a popular and accessible provider of wine tasting courses and events. Held in the heart of Cambridge, at D'Arry's on King Street and the 12A Club on Market Hill, the tastings will range from evening events to 4-8 week long courses, from Champagne and Lunch tastings on Saturdays to Food and Wine matching and Corporate Events. Novices can take a tour of wines from all over the world and learn how to taste and identify different styles and varieties. Wannabe wine connoisseurs can enrol on longer term courses to explore particular regions, grapes, or food matching in more depth. Catering to all markets, the school will also offer weekend courses, private events, corporate and team building activities, and even gift vouchers. If you think you'd enjoy tasting some fabulous wines sourced from local suppliers and online retailers, with some expert advice and relaxing atmosphere, check out the school's website here.

A welcome addition to the Cambridge wine scene and a fabulous way to spend a Tuesday evening (and a 30th birthday according to The Boy!).

Monday, 19 March 2012

A week of Flicks, Festivals and Food!

I'm so excited about what I've got lined up to finish off the month of March! This week I'm finally seeing the highly praised feel-good film about OAPs and India, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, at my favourite cinema with two of my favourite people! There's also a fantastic festival launch night happening at The Junction (another favourite venue of mine), offering an entertaining sneak preview of some amazing up-and-coming talent. To feed my obsession with France (and food!), I'm rounding off a busy week with an Alsace themed feast courtesy of Le Gros Franck on Hills Road. Ooh la la! 

I love going to see films at the Picturehouse. The cinema is cosy, welcoming and serves nice wine, which is always a bonus... I'm really looking forward to having a girly evening and seeing The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Set in India and featuring Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith and Bill Nighy, the film charts the journey of a group of over 60s from boring Britain and monotonous retirement to incredible India and the true meaning of their Golden Years. 

On Wednesday 21st March, The Junction is hosting their first JAM night of 2012 - an experimental scratch night where artists test ideas on audiences in order to help them shape the direction of an upcoming piece of work. I love being invited to nights like this and being able to take a sneaky peek at new artists and breakthrough performance methods and styles. This month's JAM features a whole host of entertaining, hilarious, and slightly wacky acts. You can view the event details here. As an extra treat, The Junction team also launch the second Sampled: Festival of Performance which is scheduled to take place at the beginning of May.   

Le Gros Franck, Cambridge
If, like The Boy and I, you've been watching Raymond Blanc's culinary journey through France's best foodie regions, you need to book your place at chef Franck Parnin's table this Thursday. Le Gros Franck on Hills Road is a fantastic authentically French bistro. Taking pride in being the only French restaurant in Cambridge, Le Gros Franck serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as some delightful special nights for dedicated foodie Francophiles. I'm super excited about sampling regional delights from Alsace, from the special five-course set menu. Tempted? Find out more here

Enjoy! :-)

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Fashion Safari

Last night Best-Friend-Jess and I had a fantastic evening at an NSPCC Charity Fashion Show and Auction held at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge in celebration of 25 years of Childline. After enjoying a delicious supper of meze platters, salad and frittura misto at CB2, we hurried along to ARU on East Road for 7pm to take full advantage of our welcome drink (Prosecco - yes please!) and the various clothes, jewellery and cosmetic stalls on offer in the buzzing foyer.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

What I'm looking forward to this month...

My winter blues have somewhat lifted now that we've finally seen some sunshine!

To top off my good mood, I've got lots of fun and exciting plans for the month of March. This month I'm looking forward to visiting castles by the sea, sipping champagne at charity fashion shows, some hardcore hot yoga, exploring vintage haberdashery, and vicariously enjoying some good old British binge drinking.

St Mawes Castle, Cornwall

In search of a fairytale wedding venue by the sea, The Boy and I are embarking on a 7 hour road trip to Cornwall this weekend to attend our first "wedding showcase" at a potential venue. With a few wedding fairs under my belt and lots of advice from married family and friends, I've got plenty of ideas, questions, even scrapbooks, but I'm going to ease the fiance in gently. He scares easy. So a fun weekend of beach walks and fresh seafood, including a *quick* wander round a castle (which just happens to have been set up for a wedding) could be just the ticket. Besides, the castle is managed by English Heritage and we're big fans. Photos to follow! :-)

NSPCC Charity Fashion Show and Auction, ARU Cambridge - book tickets here: Mumford Theatre.

To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Childline, an exclusive event is being held in Cambridge to showcase some fabulous independent local fashion, art and talent. The catwalk show and auction, held at Anglia Ruskin University on East Road, will feature the university's BA Fashion students and unique creations from local labels Abigail Crampton Millinery, Cuckoo and Le Reve lingerie. I'm looking forward to sipping champagne, ransacking my goody bag, and maybe even rubbing shoulders with celebrity auctioneer Will Axon (of BBC's Flog It)!! ;-). Watch this space for my review. 

Hot Yoga at Camyoga, Cambridge

Lately I've been spending a lot of time in one of my new favourite places in Cambridge. Tucked away in a quiet side street close to the city centre Camyoga's beautiful yoga studios and cafe provide a haven when I need to escape a busy day and the winter weather. I signed up for the centre's new client offer at the beginning of February and now I'm hooked, especially on the Hot Yoga classes. Held in the centre's special heated studio with gorgeous bamboo flooring, the class follows the 26 posture Bikram series and is a fantastic way to de-stress, meditate, and sweat out all those horrible toxins and (hopefully) aid weight loss. Perhaps I'm gradually becoming a seasoned Yogi... after four weeks of classes I'm getting a bit addicted to improving my focus, balance and strength so that I can attempt the "advanced" versions of each posture. So this month I'm looking forward to making my membership official and enjoying many more treats from the centre's Dandelion Cafe. Favourites so far have been the Superfood Salad, Lentil and Coconut Soup, and a fabulous cheese, olive and sundried tomato organic savoury muffin. YUM. Go and see for yourself - but don't tell everyone ;-).

Lentil & Coconut Soup and Umami Muffin
Vintage and Retro Finds at Rejuvinate, Cambridge 

A real gem of a retail store has popped up on Hills Road in Cambridge. Decorated with deliciously tacky neon lights, silver foil shimmer curtains in the windows, and an array of 60s, 70s, and 80s paraphernalia, the shop is packed full of goodies that transport me back to my teenage years of collecting funky vinyl covers and lamps shaped like lightbulbs. When I find a spare ten minutes I'm planning to have a good rummage through the shop's vintage and retro offerings and haberdashery. The window display alone has got me coveting a gorgeous white distressed dressing table and some fabulous 1940s heels. Photos to follow :-). 

I heard about an intriguing little piece of theatre being performed at  The Junction this month when I was compiling the City View listings for March. Created by multi-award winning theatre company The Paper Birds, the show, aptly named Thirsty, is based on our nation's love affair with alcohol. I thought it was fitting to invite Best-Friend-Jess to join me - the friend with whom I learned to binge drink, before that was even the name for being 18 and going out with your friends to the local pub to neck a crate of alcopops. I make light of it now but I'm looking forward to being educated by the theatrical piece, which apparently weaves together true stories and booze-based confessions, collected from a 'drunken hotline' and on online questionnaire, in particular focusing on the women waving the flag for 'Booze Britain'! I suspect I will be sheepishly lowering my glass of half-drunk red wine by the end of the show and vowing to detox (the Hot Yoga obsession might come in handy there...). Watch this space for my review.  

Whatever you're up to this month, enjoy :-)


Monday, 20 February 2012

What's on at the Junction - April 2012

I've just finished writing the City View listings for an exciting programme of events at the Junction, Cambridge during the month of April. There's a fantastic line-up of music, theatre, comedy and clubbing to choose from.

Here are my top picks...

CAST - On Tuesday 3 April, I'll be reliving my teenage years by bopping along to original Britpop band Cast's anthemic hits, old and new!  

GOLDILOCKS (Little Angel Theatre) - I'm determined to borrow my 5 year old niece for the weekend and drag her along to a family theatre production on Sunday 8 April of one of my favourite fairy tales, Goldilocks ... with a twist.

You can view the Junction's full listings here: The Junction Cambridge 

Friday, 6 January 2012

The Prettiest Barge on the River

And first prize for best dressed houseboat on the Cam goes to....

There's an absolutely awesome houseboat on the River Cam, just around the corner from my house, that makes me smile every time I walk past. All summer, there was a hilarious Barbie doll Wimbledon court set up on the roof, of which I regrettably didn't get a photo!

Today, as I wandered along the river into town for lunch with a friend (Thai Chicken Salad at Giraffe, yummy!!), I spotted the best homemade Christmas scene EVER. Perched on top of the houseboat was a snowy land of tinsel trees, sparkling silver horse-drawn carriage, and a Narnia-esque Snow Queen!!

Fabulous! :-)

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Fabulous Furniture!

I stumbled upon a fantastic new local interiors company at the Made It Market in Cambridge, back in November, and I am in love with their collection of antique, vintage and restyled furniture. Trumpington Interiors lovingly source, restore and restyle classic pieces of furniture in styles that will appeal to all furniture fashionistas, with an attractive price tag to boot!

Trumpington Interiors' Item of the Month, a beautiful and funky 1950s cocktail cabinet, is one of my absolute favourites:

I also loved this charming 1930s retro sideboard, which I saw in the flesh at the company's first exhibition but has now been sold (for just 165!):

The website is fab but I advise checking the gorgeous pieces out first hand - Trumpington Interiors' next exhibition is in February 2012 in Cambridge city centre (keep an eye on their website for more details!).

Enjoy! :-)

Friday, 23 September 2011

Live Music: Hard-Fi at The Junction, Cambridge

Back in 2005, Staines based Brit-rock/pop band HARD-FI stormed the charts with debut album Stars of CCTV, packed full with popular indie anthems that received radio play long after the band stepped out of the spotlight. It feels like yesterday that my sister and I crushed up against the metal barriers in the Junction's main arena and sang along to front man Richard Archer's brooding, urban lyrics about "Living for the Weekend" and nights on the streets of Staines as the "Stars of CCTV", watching the red lights of Heathrow's planes.

Last night, after a three year break from the music scene, HARD-FI celebrated their long-awaited brand new third album with another exciting gig at the Junction in Cambridge. Six years older but still bursting with energy, the band were clearly pleased to be back. Performing old favourites, like opener "Tied up too tight" and "Cash Machine", the boys put on a polished, passionate show. With Richard Archer's fantastic stage presence and witty banter, the crowd were loving it. Far more than a one or two hit wonder, the band reminded their Cambridge fans of a whole range of hits - including upbeat "Gotta Reason", "Hard to Beat" and "Suburban Nights". Still sounding as fresh and unique as ever, the band wowed the crowd as usual with their musical talent, story telling songs and confidence.

Reminiscing the soundtrack to my student days would have been more than enough to send me home happy and humming about 'getting my boots on' and 'flashing blue lights camera action'. Yet, the best was still to come. New tracks "Love Song" and "Fire in the House" took the unmistakably HARD-FI indie anthem style to a whole new level - mixed-tempo, funky, bordering on dance music. I enjoyed the band's jerky and excitable moves almost as much as the original and fascinating new sounds they were blasting out. A cover of the Boomtown Rats' "I don't like Mondays" topped off the night - Archer's cheeky quips, humility and total inability to say a sentence without at least five F words made it even better.

The verdict? HARD-FI's music is indie pop for grown ups. And effortlessly making a comeback is the definition of cool. Buy the album!!