Sunday, 18 February 2018

Dinner at Bistrot Pierre Stockton Heath...

I love all sorts of food, from fine dining to street food but sometimes all I want is rustic and hearty food which leaves you feeling happily full. One place I always rely on for this is Bistrot Pierre, a French style bistro which serves dishes which feed the soul. I recently went to dine at their Stockton Heath restaurant in Cheshire, which has been newly refurbished. The French bistro aesthetic is hard to get just right, but Bistrot Pierre has a warm ambience replete with French charm. Think retro framed prints and black and white photographs, wood panelling and pendant lights which conjure up the appeal of renowned Parisian bistros like Café de Flore without trying too hard.
We perused the menu as we sipped a light and fruity Cuvée 94 rosé, the perfect summery wine to banish the wintry night outside. Nibbles of bread and mini chorizos au miel started off dinner in style and the honey roasted chorizo was both sweet and smoky.



My starter of ravioli aux truffes was delicious and the light and buttery cream sauce was hard to resist with the ricotta and truffle filled ravioli.


My dining companion enjoyed a starter of crottin de chèvre – the baked goats’ cheese worked well with the accompaniments of toasted walnuts and earthy marinated beetroot while chicory, watercress and peppery grain mustard dressing rounded off this elegant dish.


On to mains and tarte à l’oignon is one of my favourites when done well and the sweet caramelised onions paired with creamy Le Saint Mont des Alpes cheese in rich shortcrust pastry was a treat, while garlic aioli and leafy salad provided the finishing touches. The portions are at Bistrot Pierre are generous and the starters are equivalent in size to what some restaurants would happily serve as a main, while the mains are similarly hearty – no bad thing when the food is this tasty.


My dining companion savoured his main course of poulet fermier de Normandie and the half roasted Normandy chicken was well seasoned with roasted garlic and parsley butter and served with dressed leaves and crispy fries - this was just the meal for a chilly evening. We also shared a portion of Dauphinoise potatoes to round off the bistro experience.


On to dessert and for me the apple and rhubarb crumble was the ideal way to complete the meal, not too sweet with a satisfyingly tangy rhubarb flavour and a good texture to the crumble topping.


As it was Pancake Day, my dining companion decided on the French style crêpes with mixed berry compote and vanilla ice cream.


The bustling atmosphere and efficient, friendly service are further plus points to Bistrot Pierre and there is a wide range of choice on the menu including steak, seafood and French inspired dishes. There are locations nationwide.

Bistrot Pierre 
85 London Road 
Victoria Square 
Stockton Heath
WA4 6LG

www.bistrotpierre.co.uk




What do you all think, do you like the sound of this classic French style bistro and which of these dishes would you like to try? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,

Camille

xo



Sunday, 11 February 2018

A weekend exploring Swansea...

There is nothing like a weekend away to leave you feeling recharged and this weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Swansea*, a Welsh city which has it all in terms of things to do. The lovely team at Visit Swansea Bay had planned a super itinerary and I arrived full of anticipation for the weekend of food and fun which lay ahead. We checked in to a spacious suite at the four star Dragon Hotel which is centrally located, close to the city attractions. Our suite was equipped with a separate lounge as well as the bedroom and bathroom and every amenity needed for a comfortable stay was on hand. The hotel has great leisure facilities including a swimming pool and an AA Rosette Brasserie and there is so much to explore close at hand. 



After checking in to the suite, we drove a short way up the coast to the pretty seaside village of Mumbles where we hastened to discover the delights of Verdi's; a traditional Italian style café, ice cream parlour and restaurant with a reputation for delicious gelato. Verdi's has amazing views as it is located on the sea front and there are 30 flavours of ice cream to choose from! We ordered a cookie crunch sundae and an artist's palette sundae and I can confirm that the ice cream is amazing - so rich and full of flavour, 




Verdi's
Knab Rock ,
Mumbles
Swansea
SA3 4EE


After those indulgent ice creams we strolled along Mumble's Pier - the Victorian pier was first built in  1898 and although the weather was a little damp, we enjoyed the beautiful views across the bay and we found a rugged cove with a lighthouse at the end of the pier. 



After heading back to the hotel to get ready, later in the evening we went out for dinner to Grape and Olive which is situated right at the top of the tallest building in Wales and offers panoramic 360 degree views across the five mile expanse of the bay. The dishes are inspired by land and sea and there is plenty of variety on the menu, from comfort food classics to vegetarian dishes, steaks and seafood. 


The meal commenced in style with a tasty duo of starters, my dining companion decided on the classic choice of baked Camembert topped with roasted walnuts and served with celery, Granny Smith apple, carrots and toasted bread. This was well presented and served in a generous portion.


I selected the crab and crayfish ravioli; a wise choice as the pasta was light and the rich lobster bisque complemented the filling, while the pea shoots added freshness.


Fish and chips is a favourite of mine, so for the main course I went for the beer battered haddock with thick cut chips, mushy peas and tartare sauce. You just cannot beat this comforting dish and it tasted even better with the tremendous views.


My dining companion indulged in the Tomahawk steak which was perfectly cooked medium rare and served with Café de Paris butter, confit tomato, flat cap mushroom and thick cut chips as well as Bordelaise sauce. 


We rounded off our evening with the dessert sharing slate of chocolate and almond brownie, sticky toffee and date pudding, apple and blackberry crumble and winter berry Eton mess served with vanilla pod and peanut butter and caramel ice cream. 


Dining at Grape & Olive was an experience and it is renowned for both its great food and exceptional views. 

Grape & Olive 
Meridian Quay, 
Maritime Quarter, 
Swansea, 
SA1 1JW

The next morning, a hearty breakfast at The Dragon Hotel set us up for the day ahead. My partner had the 'Full Dragon Breakfast' of bacon, sausage, fried egg, baked beans, mushroom and hash brown while I went for the vegetarian breakfast which made a satisfying start to the day. I loved the inclusion of Glamorgan sausage too (a traditional Welsh vegetarian sausage made from cheese and leeks).  


After breakfast we went for a walk around the city to do a little shopping and sightseeing. We headed to the Maritime Quarter and we browsed the Marina Market held in Dylan Thomas Square where there were lots of street food stalls including poutine, vegan pies and wood fired pizza! There is plenty to do in the area including visiting the National Waterfront Museum, but it was time for us to make our way to lunch at The Swigg, which serves small plates made with local Welsh produce. The restaurant has a cool and contemporary feel to it, with a stylish tiled bar area flanked by a chalkboard menu and the space is filled with light thanks to the large windows. 


We were immediately served water for the table and I cannot emphasise enough how much I appreciate restaurants which do this, as it allows you to feel refreshed on arrival rather than waiting to order drinks. We chose a few dishes to share as recommended by the friendly team - the fishcake with laverbread, samphire and lemon mayonnaise was an elegant dish with flavours of the sea which worked well together. 


Welsh rarebit with homemade brown sauce was another treat, and the Gower Gold Ale really brought out the nutty flavour of the cheddar while the brown sauce was tangy and fruity.


A vibrant Tabbouleh salad with bulgar wheat, tomatoes & parsley was a refreshing dish which conjured up summer and it contrasted well with the rest of our order.


We also added a portion of Aspen fries to our meal and these thick cut chips topped with Parmesan and truffle oil were pure indulgence. Small plates make for such a varied meal and I enjoyed the combination of flavours here, as well as the use of local produce which is always a huge plus for me when considering where to eat. It is easy to see why The Swigg was voted Welsh eatery of the year 2017.


The Swigg
Unit 1B Waterfront Museum
Swansea Marina
SA1 3RD


After lunch we went for a stroll along the sweeping sands of Swansea Bay. The vast beach is so pretty, with expansive views for miles around. The sea air left us feeling refreshed and it was time to bid Swansea a fond farewell in time for the drive home.



I was so impressed by the diversity of this city, there is so much to do and a really cosmopolitan atmosphere abounds, with something new to appreciate around every corner. A big thank you to Visit Swansea Bay and their partners for creating a wonderful trip which allowed me to experience some of the many highlights of the area. I already cannot wait to return and Swansea has so much to offer as a destination for a holiday or short break, with all the attractions of a city combined with the peace of the seaside to enjoy. You can find out more by visiting:


What do you all think, would you like to visit Swansea for a short break? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post. 

Until next time,

Camille 

xo



*I was hosted as a guest of Visit Swansea Bay for this trip. Opinions expressed herein are my own and honest. 

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Celebrating life...

I love exploring new places and during the last year I have travelled so much, discovering amazing locations and meeting interesting people who have really changed my world view. Writing about food and travel takes me on some incredible adventures and having a lifestyle which allows me to travel more is a dream come true. I love visiting new destinations both near and far and recently we went for a weekend away in Mid-Wales. 


My partner was celebrating his birthday, so we resolved to celebrate both his birthday and life in general while we were away. We made a late reservation at Baravin in Aberystwyth, a restaurant we had dined at and enjoyed last time we were in the area. I love the energy of this restaurant and we arrived on Saturday evening to find a bustling atmosphere was already evident. 


The curved bar area is a great place for a pre-dinner drink and the cocktail menu is impressively varied. We were soon installed at our table (booking is advisable due to the popularity of Baravin) and I ordered a classic vodka Martini which was perfectly mixed - dry and chilled, with a twist of lemon. 


Bruschetta with grilled halloumi, smashed avocado, red onion and chilli jam got dinner off to a delicious start and we shared a garlic and parmesan flatbread too, which was full of flavour. 



Admittedly, we were a little overly liberal when ordering our starters as we just could not decide, but I am so glad we chose two dishes to share as these went well with our drinks and the bruschetta were especially irresistible. 


On to mains and for me there was no question that I would choose the tomato, basil and organic buffalo mozarella pizza. This classic pizza cannot be beaten and the quality of the ingredients made the simple flavours shine, while the thin and crispy base was far too easy to devour! 


My partner went for the seasonal special of brie, cranberry, sprout and chestnut pizza - this was another winner and the sweet and tart cranberries paired well with the creamy brie and nutty sprouts. I appreciated this festive take on a pizza and who would have thought that sprouts would make an ideal pizza topping!


We had just enough room left for the legendary dessert pizza, which we had sampled on the previous occasion we dined here. The pizza arrived, topped with a thick layer of chocolate, shards of honeycomb and a scoop of locally made ice cream. For a sweet-tooth this really hits the spot and the balance of chocolate, chewy honeycomb and rich ice cream makes this a decadent note to round off a meal on.



Baravin
1 Marine Terrace,
Aberystwyth 
SY23 2AP

www.baravin.co.uk

We had another lovely evening celebrating at Baravin and I will be sure to return again when next in the area. Full marks for tasty dishes, a good range of drinks and service which is efficient and friendly even at busy times. What do you all think, do you like the sound of Baravin and would you try this dessert pizza? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,

Camille 

xo

Monday, 15 January 2018

Why sometimes simple is best...

This weekend I had plans to go away on a trip which originally involved flying out from one airport, flying back to a different airport and travelling from one city to another half way through the stay. As much as I was initially looking forward to it, as the trip drew closer, I began to feel the weight of anxiety bearing down on me with alarming intensity. I was so caught up in wanting this trip to be perfect and I was growing increasingly stressed with regard to arranging every little detail in time. On the eve of departure, I ended up asking myself ‘why am I even going on this elaborate trip, when it is causing me so much unhappiness before I have even gone anywhere?’ It just did not feel right, so at the very last minute I decided spontaneously to change the plans completely and in doing so I felt that a huge weight had been lifted from me. Instead of the original, complicated trip which was booked, I made a reservation for the weekend at a cottage in Wales where we stayed last September.


I have travelled so much for work lately anyway, so I felt that a low-key weekend in Wales was exactly what my soul needed. All of this is leading me somewhat laboriously, to the point that sometimes keeping it simple is the very best thing that we can do for ourselves.
Instead of long and complicated travel plans involving planes, cars and trains, we were able to hop in our own car and drive directly to the cottage, with the car loaded with everything we would need for the weekend including a few treats.


The best part was that I felt all the anxiety I had been carrying around for weeks regarding the other trip vanish in a moment and with it came the realisation that we all need to slow down occasionally.
I feel that the nature of life in general has become so fast-paced nowadays and most of us spend our days rushing around, breathlessly hurrying to make sure that we reach meetings on time or in order to finish work by a certain deadline. This is all well and good, but balancing a busy lifestyle coupled with the incessant pressure to check and update social media can make modern life very draining -especially if you work in the creative sphere, when having a strong digital presence is vital to your very livelihood.



With all the demands we have placed on us, and indeed those which we place upon ourselves, it can sometimes feel as if there is no time left over to truly appreciate life. Watching birds take flight from the beach, observing a sailing boat gently swaying from side to side on the emerald waters of the estuary, feeling the kiss of salty sea air on my skin and curling up by the fire with a glass of wine - all of the tiny pleasures I experienced this weekend reminded me of what is truly important in life. We get so caught up in thinking what happened before or what is about to happen next, that the moment we are actually in often gets lost. I needed to slow the whirlwind down, to step away from it however briefly so that I could come back and face the new week with renewed vigour and determination.


At times, the most satisfying act of self-care can be to step back from everything for a couple of days and it can be especially helpful if you are feeling overwhelmed or if you are questioning what to do about something. All in all, the weekend was exactly what I needed and it was very simple which made it so special to me. We walked on the beach, went out for a meal, stopped at a few quiet pubs and absorbed each precious moment spent doing nothing in particular.



What do you all think, do you ever feel the need to step away from the whirlwind of life and what do you like to do to relax when you need to take some time out from everything? I hope you do not mind this introspective post, in fact I hope you will find something to take from it and that it will encourage you to make time for yourself. After all, we give so much of ourselves to others in this fleeting life that we must remember also to give something back to ourselves.

Until next time,

Camille 

xo