Thursday, 16 February 2012

Eat, drink and be merry!

Valentine's day is always a good excuse to eat lots of sumptuous food and drink endless cocktails. Nottingham is a good place if you want to find some gorgeous restaurants with reasonable prices to match. We went to Le Bistrot Pierre on Tuesday and I can't speak highly enough of them. The service was impeccable and the food was divine. Our waiter was there the moment we needed him but we didn't feel rushed or like we were being watched over. Sometimes you get the feeling in a restaurant that the staff are glaring at you while you finish your meal. Not here. We had a nice evening and felt really looked after.

Now let's get to the important part, the food. I'm really partial to French food and couldn't wait to get started. We began with a glass of prosecco and mini chorizos roasted in honey before moving onto the starters. I went for chicken liver parfait with plum chutney and sourdough toast and we sat in silence as both of us tucked in to what was the best starter I've ever had. My boyfriend had a beetroot and goats cheese tart but I was too busy swooning over my starter to even glance at his! Then for my main meal I had sea bass with ratatouille,gratin dauphinoise, olive oil and lemon. The fish was falling apart on my fork and tasted divine. I could have eaten that twice over.

I plumped for baked apple tart with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Although this doesn't sound particularly overwhelming, it was incredible. It was sweet, sugary and delicious. I haven't stopped thinking about it since. Unfortunately, I was too busy enjoying the food to take photos but there plenty on the website and on their facebook page. Le Bistrot Pierre isn't just in Nottingham, there are nine restaurants across the UK so no excuse not to visit.

Image taken from Le Bistrot Pierre website

Head to their website (here) if you wish you take a look. You can also follow them on twitter @lebistrotpierre

After Le Bistrot Pierre we headed onto one of my favourite cocktail bars. Tilt Bar is on 9 Pelham Street in Nottingham and is fairly tucked away. Follow the stairs and blue fairy lights up to a cosy bar which serves cocktails in jam jars, tiki mugs and brandy balloons. Each cocktail looks different and there's definitely one to suit everyone with such an extensive list. The guys behind the bar truly know how to mix cocktails, they're not just your standard bar men who pour in some cranberry and vodka and give it a shake. This is a proper cocktail experience. Tilt also has live music and a great atmosphere. I was in two minds whether to blog about this and give away my little secret! The cosy atmosphere in Tilt is due to it being a well kept secret and a place with only the coolest of people (in my humble opinion!) Go (here) to view their website and a few of their drinks. My favourite so far is the Razberrito but I've got many more to try! If you're in Nottingham I'd definitely suggest giving both of these places a go.

Image taken from the Tilt website

Guinness cupcakes

This is officially my first cooking post. I've been meaning to post one for ages but I tend to get carried away with the cooking and forget to take any photos! I like seeing photos of the final product so this time I actually managed to take some as I went. I baked these cupcakes as part of a Valentine's day present and they went down quite well!

You will need:

350ml Guinness (about three quarters of a can)
120ml milk
120ml vegetable oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs (beaten)
170ml sour cream
85g good quality cocoa powder (I used Bourneville)
170g granulated sugar
285g plain flour (you can use half and half with self raising if you want big bouncy cupcakes!)
1 and a half tsps baking soda
pinch of salt

This is what I did:

Preheat the oven to about 180C and put your cupcake liners into a tray.

Pour the Guinness, milk, oil and vanilla extract into a large mixing bowl and beat in the eggs one at a time. Then mix in the sour cream. These are your wet ingredients so don't worry if they're splooshing about in the bowl, they're supposed to!

In another large bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, salt and baking soda. When properly mixed it will be a big bowl of brown chocolatey goodness.

Now mix this gradually into the wet ingredients.

Your mixture is done! It should be thick and gloopy. Now spoon the mixture into the cupcake liners up to about 3/4 full and put into the oven for 25 minutes.

After the 25 minutes is up, remove from the oven and put on a wire rack to cool.

I cheated a little bit with the icing of my cupcakes because I wanted to make sure they looked perfect. I used icing tubes from Asda (chocolate and white), white chocolate stars and pink sugar glitter.

Let me know if you give them a go!

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