Coast to Coast Christmas Preview #c2cmoments

First up, I need to apologise for the delay in this post coming. It’s been half sat in draft form for a few days now, but between hospital appointments and having to deal with our fostered kitty being put to sleep and birthday celebrations it’s been neglected somewhat for which I apologise!

 

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to Coast to Coast over in Valley Centertainment, Sheffield for an evening surrounding a preview of their Christmas Menu and cocktails. Who can say no to that?! I knew that fellow blogger Kirstie was going as well, so knew I wouldn’t be feeling too on my lonesome, and very quickly found out some of the others coming were also friends of Kirsties, so it was already shaping up to be a good evening with new friendly faces.

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I arrived there around ten minutes before our start of 7pm, and went over to find the girls – introductions made, and we got to chatting about what the evening might hold. Shortly after this, our host for the evening came over to introduce herself and what would be happening, and bringing the first of our treats for the evening – hot cider!! Mulled cider is something I really enjoy, anyway, and the table was split down the middle over the idea, with half of us being fans and half being unsure, but as it was brought over and we all had a sip, everyone was a fan. Served in a tall latte glass the mulled cider contained a cinnamon stick, and tasted like apple pie! A hint of toffee in there as well I thought. Certainly more than I was expecting, and was great to warm us up from what was probably the first actually nippy evening of the autumn.

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Once everyone had arrived, we were gathered at the bar, after Andy, the mixologist came over and introduced himself and the format of the evening – we’d be learning about some of the drinks featuring on the Christmas Menu, whilst watching them being made and even having a go, before sitting down and sampling some of the menu, with the chef coming out to explain the ideas behind the different dishes. Cracking stuff!!

First up was a souped up bucks fizz – which in the style of the restaurant (American food), is classed as a mimosa, made with grand marnier, prosecco and orange juice. We were also shown how  to create a really stylish garnish out of orange peel, just to add that extra zing (if you pardon the pun 😉 Once we’d been shown, it was time for a willing volunteer. I would have loved to have volunteered, but was stuck in my wheelchair having had a new cast on, so was unfeasible – took plenty of notes though!)

Next on the list was egg nog – with a twist. I’d never had egg nog before, as the idea had always been a little off-putting  -something to do with my mum being a big fan of advocaat I think- so seeing how it’s made was particularly interesting. Infuse some spiced rum with raisins, removing and keeping said raisins aside, and then to some of the rum add double cream, milk, gingerbread syrup ,ice, and of course the eponymous egg, mix and shake and serve with a bit of chocolate sprinkle and said raisins, et voila!

We then had a chocolate orange martini- which was very light to the taste – using chocolate bitters amongst other things and a glass dusted with white chocolate rather than sugar was the perfect way to garnish this. Below I’ve stuck some photos of the cocktails and fellow attendees getting stuck in!

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After the excitement of the cocktails we were shown to our tables, which had been laid out for us including crackers, decorations and mini bags of Thorntons, and introduced to the chef, who explained they’d got sample plates of starters,  mains and a dessert for us to try from the upcoming  menus.

On our first plate we had goats cheese bruschetta with pesto salad, and wild mushroom risotto. The chef explained that the bruschetta could easily be adapted to taste; there were different cheeses available, or no pesto salad for example. This was really good. I’ve had some bruschetta in the past which has been hard, verging on stale and not easy to eat, but this was lovely fresh ciabatta, which was cut across by the pleasant tang of goats cheese and then brought back into unity by the salad. Lovely. The risotto equally so!!   a small bowl with lovely creamy risotto hidden under a pile of fresh rocket and leafy salad. Of all the risottos, mushroom is my favourite, but I’m quite picky about it – it’s very easy to under and overcook, so it was a delight to get it done just right.

 

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Our second plate to arrive was not what we’d class as traditional Christmas Fayre; a burger. However, the maple bacon burger was something that bit different for those fed up of the usual choices. I’ve known about the wonders of maple syrup and bacon for a while now, having been introduced to Epic Meal Time over on Youtube a while ago (those guys take bacon to the extreme!) so this was a great combo for me. The bun was a crusty white bun, and I’ll be honest here, I would personally prefer a brioche bun, but I’m aware that the extra sweetness may have pushed it over the edge there. Served with some really good fries – crispy and fluffy and one of the best ‘slaws’ I’ve had in a while, I could quite happily go for this. The burger is meaty. Not packed with other things, and well seasoned, which contrasts well against the sweet maple bacon. The chef explained that the bacon is marinated in maple syrup for 24 hours before being oven cooked, and then finished off on the grill when ready to serve. Topped off with salad and dill pickle (love ’em or hate ’em? they’re a must have for me!)

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Next up we received a more traditional dish of turkey with all the trimmings. The veg on this was done really well, and the mash is some of the best I’ve had EVER. I eat turkey all year round anyway, so this isn’t so much of a treat for me as to others, but it was very enjoyable, although I did miss my yorkshire pud (you can take a girl out of Yorkshire, even to an American bar/restaurant, but you can’t take the Yorkshire out of a girl) there were pigs in blankets to console! We were all starting to get full by now, so we pulled our crackers and put hats on whilst getting deep into conversation, as you’ll see in these pictures. I’ve also included one of my Raspberry Lynchburg (think lynchburg lemonade with raspberries) as this was really tasty too – who’d have thought bourbon and raspberry would go so well together!!

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By now we were all getting really stuffed, and were worried we would have no room for dessert, but I think everyone found some for the Oreo Cheesecake with Oreo ice cream and Chantilly Cream!! After this was one last surprise as we went back and were shown a final cocktail… which I’ll leave you with a photo of, along with the dessert. This was a thoroughly enjoyable night, which we all came away from having learned something as well as had some really nice food. I’d thoroughly recommend you go and give them a go, if not for the Christmas menu, but for the breakfast!

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It’s not all Doom and Gloom!

I realised this morning that I probably sound pretty morose of late… I’m actually not, which has surprised me as much as anyone I think. Sure, I definitely feel like crawling into a corner and avoiding everything and everyone until this is over, but I’m also above all else, a realist. I know that things don’t happen at convenient moments, and don’t fit neatly into boxes. I can’t retire from life just because my past has come back to give me a good kick up the arse again.

So I get on with things. I get up, get a shower, and I go to work. I try to make sure to eat, sleep (where I’m allowed) and exercise, and get things done. Counting my regular job plus tutoring (and travel) I work a 52 hour week on average, so if nothing else I’m busy. And that’s not a bad thing as long as I stick to my rules.  First rule is Monday nights are my night off. Even if I end up doing housework, chores or mundane house stuff, as long as I’m not planning lessons or thinking about work stuff, that’s OK.  Second rule is no work at weekends unless I’m being paid extra. I might not always have mega-exciting stuff planned, but even I know I can’t be all go, all the time. Third rule is plan social stuff. Even if it’s just meeting a friend for coffee and a chat. I have the capability to go weeks without seeing anyone outside of work, but it’s not a good idea to do so.

Very simple rules that will hopefully serve me well. I’ve been sticking to them since I decided them, so no complaints really.

In terms of eating – weekdays I have a little bit of porridge in a morning with a banana and some seeds mixed in, and soup for lunch. Teatime varies. Weekends is a lot more relaxed. This seems to be working well, as I’ve lost an inch and a half off my back (as a bra that was too tight now fits, and tshirts are slightly less pronounced around the chesticle area) and definitely a few kilograms. Now I just need to get into a routine with the exercise again. A friend has some chair exercises I can do at work, and also looking into sorting a specific workout I can boot up and do in a morning for 10 mins after stretches.

So I’m definitely not being idle, and if nothing else, feeling the way I do tends to drive me to being mega organised and efficient. Who said a touch of type A personality is a bad thing!! Overall, I’m just trying to take things as they come, and where I can’t believe things, just accept that those who have said them believe it in the hope that I can then move towards believing it too.