Carnivores Anonymous

Things that I’m not fantastic at

  • Whistling – Never been able to. Been an annoyance since school
  • Maths – due to a series of horrible and traumatising maths teachers from my school days
  • Hiding my emotions – Full stop

The first two have never proved an overwhelming problem for me: I’ve never been lost in the woods needing to attract attention so my lack of ability to whistle has never been a big deal and no-one ever asks me to do Pythagoras theorem anymore (how useful is it now Mrs. Neil?!) so my daily usage of Maths manages to remain comfortably low. However, dear friends, dear, dear friends. The last point is my absolute downfall.

I met someone new recently and obviously when you meet someone you go through the stages of getting to know them ,the way  your heart flutters when you find out you have a weirdly similar adoration of documentaries, when he makes your housemate do that hilarious uncontrolled laughter, affectionately nicknamed Llama laugh , being overly disappointed when you discover they don’t like cheese as much as you etc. Clever egg that he is he horrifyingly quickly picked up on the fact that I don’t just ‘like’ things. I LOVE them or I HATE them. There is very little middle ground with me. For example: I love cheese so much I tear up whenever someone presents me with a tasty morsel, I whimper with joy when Australian Masterchef comes on each year and I cackle with glee every time I see a photo of an otter. On the other end of the spectrum I feel viscerally angry whenever I smell coconut, lose it when people pronounce ‘jalapenos’ wrong and really really don’t like people who can’t queue properly. THERE’S A LINE FOR A REASON.

One of the main ways that these extreme emotions show themselves is by languishing over my face.  My face acts  pretty much like that of an over excited cartoon character. One particular topic that has been making my countenance shrivel with disdain is that for the past couple of years I have constantly faced the assumption that I am a vegetarian. Whilst I have absolutely nothing against those who chose the vegetarian lifestyle (you have more will power than I do) I do not chose this lifestyle and the assumption that I am hits on another major pet peeve of mine. Stereotypes. “You have a veggie vibe” I’m sorry. What now!?!?!?! What does a veggie look like!? I didn’t realise they all had a particular style that meant we could pick them out in a crowd to tut at their stereotypical ‘vegi-isms’

So, I’ve decided to be veggie for a couple of weeks. Partly to whinge about how much I miss chicken, mainly to see if I’m actually a closet veggie in denial and have no right to be so quick to anger with those who assume I am.

I don’t have give up cheese though so it’s ok:

Day 1:

Totally chilled. Not feeling a problem at all until the evening rolls round. I really really fancy a curry which is great. I love veggie curry. Yes. But I also love chicken and especially fish curries and oh wait those are both banned. Disaster. So I settle for a larger portion of saag paneer with mushroom rice and naan bread. Yum.

Day 2:

This is really actually fine. I can totally survive two weeks without meat.

Day 3:

I’m feeling pretty drained  and tired, probably got more to do with my hectic schedule more than anything else. We have an amazing jacket potato place just round the corner from work which is helping a lot

Day 4:

The day times are fine. It’s the evenings that I’m starting to struggle with. Housemates are both meat eaters and when they start cooking chicken, it’s wrong I know but I genuinely start to salivate. I should be stronger than this. I should have more self will, this is pretty shameful

Day 5:

Starting to become very sick of plain jacket potato with cheese. I WANT TUNA. GIVE ME THE GOSH DARN TUNA

Day 6:

It’s Friday, and reader. I’m drunk. I’ve also failed. Miserably. I ate chicken nuggets, cooked at like 2am when I got home. I managed a pitiful six days, then cooked nuggets and snaffled them smothered with mayo and shame

 

So I like chicken. A lot it would appear. It’s amusing though as I know I do go days and days without eating meat in a normal week. Yet for some reason as soon as I denied myself meat all I could dream about was lasagne and other meaty based delights.
I’d have loved for this blog to become a homage to sourcing sustainable options and being conscious about where meat comes from. However, I was defeated by chicken nuggets, which lets face it, probably wouldn’t know what a chicken was if they fell over it.

The Wick at Both Ends

So it’s like midnight. I’ve had far too many cocktails to be writing anything except a note to my sober self about how much water I should drink to stave off the mild headache I’m probably going to have tomorrow morning.

However, I don’t feel like I can wait, it was too good, I have to talk about the ridiculously amazing meal I just had at The Wick at Both Ends. Yes, you read that right The Wick at Both Ends. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a fan of the Wick, except for their truly terrible Lemon Drizzles that have lead to some of my more spectacular accidents in Sheffield. I’ve crawled in on Sunday afternoons with impressive hangovers and demanded one of their roasts, however, whilst always lovely, was never something to write home about.

This, this, however is something to not only write home about but send a blooming postcard to everyone I know about.

The concept has been completely flipped on it’s head. Gone are the mildly overpriced main dishes with no real theme. In it’s place is a short and stunning menu of small plates, bar bites and a couple of desserts. Plus there was a cheese board. You all know how I feel about cheese.

Housemates arrived and we proceeded to rather ruefully order one of pretty much everything. Pretty sure we ate more than anyone else there. Which equated to:

Snacks:

  • Green olives with dried chilli – Olives. Yum.
  • Pickled Jalapenos, smoked cheese – Now, I’m a fan of spice. This was too much and they were probably the biggest let down. Cheese. Yum though.
  • Honey mustard popcorn – Genuinely forgot this existed by the end of the meal was too excited eating everything else ever

Bar bites:

  • Cured meat board with quince jelly – Cue housemate choking at a mildly spicy piece of ham

Small plates:

  • Torched Mackerel, Burnt Apple, Dill, Watercress – Just torched enough so the skin was crispy, not burnt, perfect combo
  • Blade of Beef, Enoki Mushroom, Onion, Dashi  – Fancy jug of sauce to cook to mushrooms which caused us much delight, the beef fell to pieces as all good beef should wick 3
  • Pork Collar, Almond, Anchovy, Sage, New Potatoes – Might have actually been my highlight, and I don’t normally eat pork but the combo of salty tasty pork with fishy anchovy was beyond incredible (the cocktails are adding to my descriptive powers I see)
  • Cod, Chicken Skin, Cauliflower, Hazelnut – No, NO I was wrong. I take it back THIS was my favourite. I could have eaten twelve of them, chicken skin that made that satisfying crack with soft, perfectly cooked flaky cod. Cue drool all over my keyboard
  • Sea Trout, Camomile Butter, Sorrel, Leeks – Soft sea trout, maybe a slightly small portion but definitely perfectly formed
  • Chicken, Grilled Corn, Fava Beans, Roast Onion Sauce – The only let down of the small plates. Chicken was dry and uninspiring but to be fair if I’d eaten this without any of the other amazing dishes I probably wouldn’t have complained
  • Hake, Chorizo, Black Olive, Jersey Royals, Olive Oil – Refreshingly Mediterranean, perfect amount of tasty olive oil to make you feel like an indulgence, hake perfectly cooked. Tiny pieces of fish, not easy to cook well
  • Lamb Belly, Cucumber, Yoghurt, Harissa, Black Pepper – Don’t even like lamb. Didn’t even care. Supremely tasty lamb.

 

Sweets:

  • Chocolate Mousse, Meringue, Honeycomb – I hate sweet things so I didn’t bother with this but the home made honeycomb was super tasty. What crunchies everywhere dream of tasting like when they grow up
    wick2
  • Buttermilk Panna Cota, Cardamom, Strawberries – Again not a sweet person
    but the panna cotta had the perfect sexy wobble everyone bangs on about, housemates hooverd it up. Blink and you missed itwick1

Other:

  • Cheeseboard – We had two. That’s all that needs to be said about that

Sometimes I do wonder if I eat too much food. Anyway I’m slipping further and further into a food coma. I would highly recommend checking out both the new food and amazing new cocktail menu

wick4wick6

wick5

 

 

 

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Don’t you remember?

What makes you remember a meal?

I’ve eaten many hundreds and thousands of meals in my life, some unforgettable, some diabolical, some lost in the void of time and some wasted due to stupid things like hangovers. However, there are certain meals that stick out in my memory.

These aren’t ones that were served in dog bowls, or other novelty kinds of plates, they didn’t have foams and no-one served them to me on a silver platter. These were meals that meant something.

Every time I’m sad, I rush back to the safety of Lincolnshire and my mother will without fail make me lasagne. It’s something I now cook when I’ve had a bad day as it makes me think of home and ‘Miss Dior’ perfume. Housemate  defaults to her Nan’s amazing veg crumble, other housemate shares stunning veggie recipes from her childhood and brother brings home memorable dishes from his travels. However, all of these examples are food cooked at home.

This leads to the question: ‘What makes me remember a meal from a restaurant?’ Is it overly fussy food in a white linen clad room where the “stars” matter more than the food? Is it a place that I can crawl into when I’m tired and in need of a glass of pinot or is it the place that I had my first date with that special someone? Either at home or out on the town I think good food is defiantly the clarity of flavours and the atmosphere that you’re in. I thought I’d share a few of my top food memories:

  • My mothers lasagne: I know I’ve already mentioned it but seriously. Crunchy, crispy, meaty, cheesy, to me: the epitome of comfort in a dish. This lasagne saw me through screwing up my A-levels to my first real broken heart (I was 16, obviously, and he was totally….totally the love of my life). Meat, pasta, béchamel, repeat, top with mozzarella and cheddar. Bam
  • Tapas @ Cerventes in Malaga: I love tapas darling. Not only was this the best tapas I’ve ever had but it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had in general. Buttery leeks, perfectly cooked cod and a stew that made me eat lamb for the first time in about five years, this restaurant is the reason that my poor housemates are going to have to try hundreds of variations of cauliflower puree until i get it just right
  • BBQ on the beach: The long days of summer were getting shorter, the idea of autumn was in the air and it was a gorgeous night on a Welsh beach. We’d gone on an adventure and watched the sun go down. If I close my eyes I can still taste the blue cheesy mushrooms. Didn’t even have plates. Didn’t even care
  • Housemates Mac and Cheese: I’m incredibly blessed to have two amazing housemates, we talk till late into the night and do all the things good girl friends do together. The first time I was really poorly in the house, housemate sprang into action and cooked me the best Mac and Cheese of my life. Crunchy and cheesy what a winner
  • Seafood Biryani @ The Thali Cafe: I love this little hug of a café. Tucked away behind a brightly covered front it’s a mish mash of lovely staff, quirky décor and incredible food. It also does BYOB, a favourite of mine. The best meal I’ve had there so far is still the first time I went and discovered this place, not normally a Biryani fan this had the most fresh gorgeously spiced sea food ever. I still wake up thinking about it , it does what all good meals do. Brings back memories of a wonderful time in my life

“Excuse me but…”

So, I opened a can of worms. A really large. Really ugly can of worms. Phone calls were made, messages were sent and my phone didn’t stop buzzing for three whole days. I asked a group of people who’s voices are rarely heard to speak up. To raise themselves above the coffee counters and tequila soaked bars. To make a stand and let the general great unwashed know what is unacceptable when placing an order.

Strap in folks. We’re in for a bumpy ride

Things as a person who works in hospitality I freaking hate: 

  • Clicking your fingers
    Genuinely. I will snap your fingers off
  • There’s a large group of you. You’ve all ordered drinks. I bring the drink over……..no-one claims it
    Cue blank stares and an awkward silence. Finally someone pipes up, coffee is now cold

  • Ordering your drinks one at a time, finally ending with “Oh. And a pint of Guinness”
    Seriously

  • “Is it alright if we just move to that table over there?”
    No. NO IT’S NOT. It’s never ok

  • “I couldn’t get in the door”
    That’s because we’re shut. The sign says closed, I don’t care if it’s 9.58 with an opening time of 10

  • Queue…..Queue…….Queue…..”I Still don’t know what I want
    Get out my bar

  • “I’d like a long island iced tea” Made “and another long island iced tea”
    I definitely have enough brain cells to make two drinks at once
  • “Are you serving”…
    No I’m just making my own mojito…
  • Working in a gin bar.. “What gin do you have?”..
    Well I could list the 100+ gins for you but you’re still probably going to pick the house gin

  • Table of 20 covers…..”Can we all pay separately?”
    The worst

  • Half a shot, decaf, soy latte extra hot
    …………

  • Plonking money down on the counter
    Just bloody rude

  • “That pint tasted funny”
    Still drank it didn’t you cheap beggar

  • “It’s so busy in here today!”
    It’s bank holiday. Want to swop?

  • “Could I try the elderflower martini?…….Oh no that’s awful  could I have a smirnoff and coke?”
    I hate you

  • “How long does it take to make an omelette?”
    About four minutes but I also have everyone else’s food to cook  too

  • “Please be careful this plate is very hot” Grab. Pain.
    I did tell you

  • Sitting on the only dirty table in the café. Staring expectantly
    Just leave

  • “I’m so sorry we’re so late, I know the booking was around an hour ago but we’re here now. We’re also 12 instead of 8, that’s ok right?”
    No

  • “Keep the change”
    Thanks for the 5p. Mate

  • Children
    Just children

  • Could I grab your WIFI Password?
    Only if you promise not to sit here for the next 8 hours nursing a pot of £1.80 tea furiously demanding more hot water to fill it it. Go write your ‘bestseller’ somewhere else
  • Carries tray over, customer grabs drink off tray. Drink ends up all over customer. Get off my tray

  • I’ve been waiting for like 20 minutes
    Well. You haven’t though. Have you?

If you think of anymore feel free to harass me at erin_lawlor@hotmail.co.uk

Carroting Around

Everything has a day, these days, doesn’t it!? There’s a day for mothers, for fathers, for sisters, for brothers, for hugs, for penguins, for doughnuts and even a day dedicated to wiggling your toes. Whilst some of these may seem a tad over the top I’m always up for a good bit of celebration and positivity. When I found out that April 4th was International Carrot Day I jumped at the chance at hero-ing one of my favourite veg.

Carrots are great aren’t they? Completely versatile they go with everything. You can boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew (yes I know that’s potatoes). One of my favourite things to do with a carrot is roast them whole. My brother taught me this trick, just a tiny bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and let the carrot work it’s carroty goodness.

 When I thought about how to champion the carrot though I couldn’t stop thinking about something I’d recently tried when in Malaga. We were in this gorgeous sun filled café that did some of the most incredible eggs. They also had a cabinet filled with gorgeous looking cakes, including, a carrot cake cookie. I was intrigued, tried it and was immediately determined that I could re-create and maybe even cheekily improve it. So here we go, my very own carrot cake cookie recipe:

Carrot Cake Cookie Sandwich with Orange Cream Cheese Filling.
Makes enough for 6 cookie sandwiches.

Cookie ingredients:

  • 110g soft brown sugar
  • 85 g self raising flour
  • 110g wholemeal flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2 tsp ish of ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ish of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ish of cinnamon
  • 55g sultanas
  • 170 g of peeled and grated carrot
  • 1 dessert apple peeled, cored and grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 pint of vegetable or other plain light oil
  • 2 tblsps apple juice

Filling ingredients:

  • 300g icing sugar
  • 50 g unsalted butter
  • 125 g cream cheese
  • 1/2 an orange zested

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 180 degrees (Gas Mark 4). Set up two medium sized trays with baking paper.
    Mother Lawlor always taught me to get my trays set up first. Super useful. Medium is a tad vague I know, I used two pizza trays as I am hugely lacking in trays at home

  2. In a large bowl beat sugar and eggs together till thick and frothy. Gradually beat in oil.
    Don’t question how much liquid is in this cake. It’ll feel like a lot but it works

  3. In a separate bowl sift both flours, spices, baking powder and bicarb.
    Always check that baking powder, bicarb etc are in date. If they’re not your cakes won’t rise = sad cakes. If you’re anything like me you’ll always forget this and have to scramble around the cupboard

  4. Tip flour mixture into liquid mixture, along with carrot, apple and sultanas. Mix well then finally add in apple juice and stir until all incorporated.
    See why I said large bowl?
  5. Take large dessert spoon fulls of the mixture and place on baking tray, flatten until all level. Each tray should fit 6 cookies on. Place in pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes depending on oven.
    I tried various sizes of these cookies. Too small and they’re overwhelmed by icing, too big you’re overwhelmed by cookie. They should be a tad squishy and soft, they’ll firm up as they cool

  6. Leave to cool for around ten minutes and them move to a wire cooling rack to cool completely
    Sounds obviously but seriously. Never. Ever. Ever ice anything when it’s even vaguely warm. Wait even longer than you think you should. Make them the day before and store in an air tight container even. THEY  NEED TO BE COLD OK!?

  7. Whilst waiting to cool make the cream cheese filling. In a free standing mixer (if you’re fancy), with an electric whisk (most of us) or using a hand whisk (good luck) place the icing sugar in a bowl and combine with butter until all incorporated.
    Inevitably curse yourself for turning on said mixer or electric whisk too violently and ending up covered head to toe in sodding icing sugar

     

  8. Add in cream cheese all in one and mix until glossy and completely smooth. Add in your orange zest and mix using a spatula.
    Stop eating the icing. It’s for the cookies

  9. To assemble your cookie sandwiches take a cookie, smother it liberally in the icing then place second cookie on top and dust lightly with icing sugar
    Eat all of them and immediately regret it

    carrotcakecookies

#trendy

Five things I am immediately over, in fact I was over them five minutes ago:

  • Coconut Oil: If one more person tells me I should totally be roasting my potatoes, kale, carrots, hair etc etc in coconut oil I will probably lose it at them. I want to make one thing clear. I HATE COCONUT. I hate it. I think it’s awful and yet every healthy recipe going has coconut oil in. What happened people?! I know it’s low in whatever but people in the med pretty much BATHE in olive oil and they’re fine!  It’s not like I’m cooking everything in lard
  • Doughnuts: Not sure if it’s just me because I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth, but does anyone really know the difference between a bro,cro,fro – nut and, more importantly, does anyone care!? I don’t want an ‘ice-cream-stuffed-brioche-style-baked-at-midnight-under-a-blue-moon-doughnut’ towering precariously on top of my milkshake thank you
  • ‘Clean eating’: I’m not being funny but would someone, anyone, like to actually define clean eating for me? I thought this was just a myth made up on instagram to make me feel like a whale for posting photos of my lasagne. No. No apparently it’s a real thing!? From what I can gather it means eating fruit and veg and cutting down on processed crap. Revolutionary. Right?
  • Deconstructed: I like my food constructed. The end
  • Chia Seeds: So these little things are cropping up in hipster venues everywhere. They are appearing mainly in porridge form. I use the term porridge very, very loosely. What it actually constitutes is something akin to what I imagine the texture of frogspawn to be. Horrendous. Plus they cost a bomb

A Conscious Uncoupling

“That’s fair”

With that, it was over. My first real “adult” job. Gone. Six months of roller coaster emotion, sleepless nights, inane pressure and some interesting moral debates was, simply, over. I’d know it was coming. I think we all had.

“It’s like you’ve switched off” they said and honestly…..I had. I’m no sales woman. I’m happy to sell a slice of cake for a good cause; ask me to sell you a dream and I’m your girl, but give me a spreadsheet and numbers to hit by the end of play and I’ll struggle. I was overwhelmed by fears of not reaching far off targets, ideal sales figures that were never really explained.
Bizarrely, for someone trained in performance I’ve always been pretty bad at hiding how I feel (something that makes my poor mother despair and my friends fear sitting next to me during particularly arduous pieces of theatre). Therefore, the above described “switching off” was written all over my face.

So, here I am now. Unemployed. With nothing but a pipe dream and the cup of coffee sat in front of me. If you’ve ever been unemployed as an “adult” (and I use that term very, very loosely) then you’ll understand the overwhelming fear of someone asking you the inevitable question:

“So. What next?”

I DON’T KNOW OK!?!?!?! I DON’T FREAKING KNOW

Ground control to Major Tom. Panic stations are go.

After an impromptu week in the sun, a lot of late nights with the two poor housemates this blog is named for and a hard look at myself, ‘Next’ is looking a bit like this: I’m going to cook and eat, and I’m going to write about it. Hopefully you’re going to read it, relate to it and maybe even laugh a bit at a person desperately spinning sugar attempting to be a real adult.