February Faves

Considering it’s the last day of February, I suppose I’m a bit late to the show with this post, but here it is nonetheless. I’ve been running a bit frantic and erratic the past few weeks with it being fashion week, my body is struggling to wind down and get rid of the tickly cough that is still lingering. Keeping a chilled mind (wish me luck) and eating lots of nourishing food is on my agenda to get back to feeling ME again!

I feel like February has whizzed around and there hasn’t been much that I’ve been in to. Feeling ill always tends to knock my appetite, and breakfast-actually just muesli as I couldn’t even face porridge (there was definitely something wrong!) – seemed to be the only thing I could stomach. But we’re back in the kitchen and my mind is racing, hopping from country to country for new ideas and things I NEED to cook. ASAP! There will be some recipes arriving in this space soon, first up will be some pancakes. So quick and easy to whip together in the morning, weekday or weekends. Your whole family will enjoy them, tower up as high as you dare and add your favourite toppings with an obligatory drizzle of that somethin’ sweeeeet. More on that later, not in time for Shrove Tuesday, but anyway pancakes shouldn’t be restricted solely to one day in the year, you can make them whenever the fancy takes you!

So back to the faves for February, nothing groundbreaking or new but definitely things that have put a smile on my face and reduced the damage from these recent wintry dreary days and illnesses that are passing round.

 

 

#1 The Collective Yogurt

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We all know that when eating yogurt, full fat, organic (if possible) and natural with cultures is where it’s at. If you’re not a dairy eater then there’s loads of lovely coconut yogurts on the market, soya yogurts and even the odd almond yogurt. But this month for me it’s been all about the dairy. I like one with tang that is still thick, luscious and creamy and The Collective has it all. Started in New Zealand but now easily found in the UK in many supermarkets such as Tesco and The Co-Op, they use British milk and not much else. There is a regularly changing limited edition, and many other fruity flavours like raspberry, passion fruit, mango, blueberry and one of my friends’ favourite Russian Fudge (she was known to eat the whole 450g tub in one go, on a few occasions). My favourite the ‘Straight Up’ is a natural yogurt with nothing else added, waiting for you to get creative and add your own toppings or eat as is.

 

#2 Super Seed Muesli – Rude Health

 

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It seems that a product from Rude Health will be appearing here repeatedly. I love to celebrate British and local producers and when they keep coming up trumps with each and every product, I won’t let anyone stop me from shouting about it!! I’ve lost my appetite these past few weeks, a rare occurrence for me. Porridge is always one of my favourite meals, jazzed up in numerous ways, as is toast spread thick with nut butter and topped with fruit and yogurt or some some squished justtttt-ripe avocado and chilli flakes. None of those were rocking my boat, porridge made me feel nauseous and toast just was too much crunch. I’m never one to repeat a breakfast either, there has to be something new everyday keeping breakfast fresh and exciting.

Not recently though, day after day a bowl of muesli, ground linseeds, cinnamon, a piece of fruit chopped up, a drizzle of nut or seed butter, drowned in milk and a dollop of yogurt. Granola just doesn’t do it for me, I like a bit of mush to my cereal, the milk to soften the edges and everything meld together. Enter Rude Health muesli, this one jam packed with seeds, grains and some dried fruit. No bird seed, no floury flavourless sawdust stewing in your milk, every bite is different and of course delicious. Now I’ve made my way through the Super Seed Muesli a new one has entered the cupboard, The Ultimate Muesli. With 23 ingredients I think we are going to get on very well.

 

#3 The Great Pottery Throwdown – BBC Two

 

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What’s February without something to watch on the box? There’s been a few re-incarnations of this type of telly ever since the very first Great British Bake Off. From sewing, allotments, painting and currently pottery, thought to be old-fashioned past times when brought on to prime time TV these hobbies are having a resurgence. Due to GBBO, peoples’ interest in baking and homemade cakes has risen drastically, and the other TV spawns have caused a similar reaction with sewing coming back-in-vogue and more people trying to be more self-sufficient by growing their own fruit and vegetables. Currently on the tellybox is The Great Pottery Throwdown, in it’s second series this show takes 10 amateur potters and puts them through their paces each week. There’s flames. sweat, blood (not yet, although there’s a few weeks left, it could still happen) and lots of tears, if this show doesn’t make you want to get throwing some clay with it dripping off your nose, streaked through your hair and caught in your eyelashes, then I don’t know what will. Catch it at 8pm on Thursday nights on BBC Two, and find the past episodes on BBC iPlayer.

 

#4 Sauerkraut – The Plucky Pickle  (and ferments in general)

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Sauerkraut is not a new thing, neither is kefir, kombucha, kimchi or bread and butter pickles. When made properly, a few good quality ingredients and natural bacteria from the air are left to ferment for a few days, pickles are a remarkable thing. They add that zing that is missing from your meals, pleasuring your taste buds whilst soothing your tummy. I went to a local market hall the other week, Altrincham market which has been revived and now draws crowds from either end of the country. It’s an oasis of good food, drink, atmosphere and products you can sample and take home. Meandering round I stumbled upon a stall called The Plucky Pickle, where she was selling kombucha of many things (all homemade), obviously I got a glass to sip as we went but a jar of sauerkraut came along aswell. Made with cabbage, salt, juniper berries, caraway seeds and black pepper, its pure simplicity but tastes amazing on everything!! If you can make it to Altrincham Market make sure to stop by The Plucky Pickle, if not grab some sauerkraut from your local health food shop or even make some yourself. It is very simple, just takes a few weeks until it’s ready. When buying some from a shop, ensure that it’s not pasteurised as that kills off any of the beneficial bacteria. Search out ferments, and try to incorporate them into your diets, perhaps starting with a good sourdough and some sauerkraut, for a kick of chilli get on the kimchi bandwagon. It sure is addictive.

 

#5 Weleda Products

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As part of fashion week, every season in the Mayfair Hotel there is a lounge called the Model Zone for all us weary models, as a place to rest and re-calibrate. Part of the lounge includes lots of food and snacks but also three lovely ladies from Weleda dishing out goodie bags jam packed full of products, hand massages, full body massages and facials. Utter bliss indeed. If you’ve never heard of Weleda, they were founded in 1921 by an Austrian philosopher, a Dutch doctor and a pharmacist and chemist both from Munich in Germany. They specialise in natural, organic beauty and skincare products. You can find their products in many health food stores and natural beauty stores, also Planet Organic, Holland and Barrett and Wholefoods.

They are most well known for a product called Skin Food that I have been addicted to ever since receiving my first tube a few years back. A complete all-rounder, calms chapped hands, use as a body moisturiser, part of a massage along with other oils and for anything that needs some deep moisturising like elbows, heels and kneecaps. The smell is beautiful, as is the packaging and I couldn’t recommend it any more. Take a look at their website for other products they sell, from hair care to makeup to skin products, all natural so you have the knowledge that what you’re putting on to your body is as good as what you’re putting into your body.

 

#6 Noisette Bakehouse

 

I’ve been following Sarah Lemanski for a little while, at just a hop over The Pennines I haven’t yet made it over to Leeds to sample some of her cakes and bakes. HOWEVER, as a regular listener to Laura Thomas and her podcast ‘Don’t Salt My Game’, the other week she was pairing up with Sarah for a giveaway celebrating some ‘Galentines’ love. Obviously I entered as we all do to these Instagram giveaways never expecting to win a thing. Whilst listening to the most recent pod my name was read out loud, well that was a nice little perk to my Friday!! When I arrived home after fashion week, there were three little packages waiting patiently for me and my mum to sample. First of the bunch some milk jam, a caramel like confection of boiled down milk, sugar, honey, salt and vanilla. I’m yet to try but it will be making its way onto my pancakes veryyyyyy soon. Another was the Strawberry Balsamic Caramels and some vegan Tahini Cacao and Rose truffles. With a flavour similar to turkish delight but enhanced by the toasty tahini. Indulgent and so incredibly moreish, we are pacing ourselves as when the bottom of the packet arrives that will be a sad sad day. If you’re in need of a sweet treat, get on over to Leeds, QUICK, to bag yourself some Noisette Bakehouse goodies. However if you’re not local visit her online shop and get a lil’ something delivered to your door.

 

So that’s it for this month, as we’re coming into spring I’m so excited for brighter days and spring vegetables coming into season. So long root vegetables and kale and hello new potatoes, spring greens, asparagus, watercress and wild garlic. Not forgetting that rhubarb, I’m sure there will be the odd crumble in the duration. I’m writing this as it’s snowing outside, so perhaps we may have to wait a little longer than usual for zippy greens and that famed asparagus, and I’m planning on foraging for some wild garlic very soon. What’s been your THING these past weeks during February? Please do comment and share!!

Well wishes and warmth

X

 

Time for a bit of tucker chez Federal

Do you know anyone who’s not a sucker for eggs? ALWAYS some toasted sourdough, perhaps smoked salmn or a dollop of mashed avocado. Pair that with a nice cup of tea or a creamy flat white and you’ve got yourself a date.

Manchester is spewing out new coffee shops and all-day brunch spots, head to the Northern Quarter and you will see what I mean. One thing we seem to do well, is a good coffee shop. A little bit makeshift, INDIE (if you so wish), full of industrial architecture, half finished paint jobs and men with beards. That’s all the ingredients you need for something to succeed. Add in a stellar brunch menu and they will come in their hoardes.

With Manchester being the closest city to me, it’s my hometown, I feel comfortable there and that there’s no place much better. Perhaps London has a slight one-up, but Manchester isn’t lagging far behind. Ever since all the young creatives, business people and anyone searching for that dream has vacated to London, its growing wider and wider with not enough housing to fit them all. Manchester is defineitly benefiting from that, a lot of work and large companies are moving offices UP NORTH, so people are following – and minus the London pricetag.

Even Manchester seems to be spreading its wings, with places like Levenshulme, Chorlton, and Ancoats -once destinations you wouldn’t venture through if you could help it – to now being the trendy parts of town. With good food, good drinks and what more do you need?

The recent popularity in Aussie style cafes, where we all sit for a picture perfect brunch anytime of the day, eggs oozing, with a lil’ cheeky cocktail at 11 o’clock, really is kicking off in Manchester. I doubt many of us coffee shop dwellers have even visited the country, never mind experienced the real deal. In my experience, of only ever seeing pictures on Instagram and scrolling past quickly before I get too jealous, is that they’re as near as damn it legit.

Ok, minus the sunshine, Bondi beach and 30+ temps. But we can’t have everything.

One of my favourites of the BRUNCH (poor pun attempt, I know!) has to be Federal. Open since 2014, this unassuming spot on the corner opposite the Arndale Fish Market has got a lot to give, and has been slowly growing in popularlity over the years. It took me so long to get there, when I finaly made it, at 6:30PM on a weeknight (they say all-day brunch so I took their word), of course it was worth the wait. But I should’ve been before because I haven’t eaten enough brunches in my lifetime. Has anyone, ever?

 

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Plus a bit of plate porn, I was tempted to lick the plate clean and slip it into my handbag. Shhhhhhh…

They do simplicity, done well. Not an overly extensive menu, you see I think that’s the proof of a GOOD eatery. But eggs any way, eggs benedicts, French toast, sweetcorn fritters, banana bread, bagels, sourdough (not sooooo toasted that it flies across the room when you cut into it, just enough browning to stop any sogginess in its tracks) are all there. Plus a daily changing two specials, one is always an omelette the other a surprise. usually containing eggs though, why ofc!

 

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On my first visit me and my mum traipsed through the brisk northern winds to Federal and found a warm and cozy spot in the corner. We went for a pre-theatre dinner, before heading off to see The Rocky Horror Show. All in all a good night. They do a small list of cocktails and wines, but we weren’t indulging ourselves too much now. So a glance at the menu and for me it had to be poached eggs and avo on toast with smoked salmon and she opted for the halloumi and shrooms.

GAH, its so good!!

The prices ae completely reasonable, you won’t be paying over £10, infact most of the dishes range around £7-£9 (the other bonus about living in Manchester rather than London) and the portions are hefty enough. However if you’re STILL hungry??? there’s a delightlful array of cakes and pastries and some Australian sweets. Not forgetting those Lamingtons, and if you’re lucky a Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese custard tart).

 

 

**ALSO**, for you Aussies out there, there is MILO on the drinks menu. I’d never heard of this apparant childhood favourite drink until I went to India where I was stayng with a South African and she was raving about the stuff. FYI her sweet tooth was on overdrive. It seems similar to our Nesquick with a malty flavour like a Horlicks, served cold or as a warm drink. No I didn’t have a test run, I will admire the packaging as a cutlery holder but that’s as far as I will go.

So obviously Federal called for a second visit. This time, no matter how tempted I was by the French toat (dripping in ruby berry juices marbled with creamy mascarpone on a tower of eggy bread) I went back to the old favourite. Sourdough, poachies, avocado, grilled tomato, some mushrooms (I nicked from my mum) and this time a big pile of side salad to up my veggies – you know how much I like my veggies. And my mum also went back to her favourite, halloumi and shrooms. Toast, grilled and golden halloumi, poached eggs, garlicky sautéed mushrooms, a sweetly spiced tomato chutney and dukkah.

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Two perfect poachies (and a hell load of spinach)

 

Followed swiftly by a flat white and a green tea, their coffee is smooth and creamy with lots of options of milk. Obviously its made with whole milk, but Rude Health almond milk is on offer (mini fist pump) and Bonsoy soy milk. The tea selection is wonderful, proper tea leves in a tea pot and a wide variety too. I went for the green ginseng which I always search out on a menu. There’s matcha lattes, chai lattes, cold brew coffee, an in house blitzed Superman juice and cocktails a plenty.

Obviously, there’s many more coffee shops and restaurants in Manchester for me to testrun, but Federal will always be one that I’ll be referring back to time and time again. If you’re ever in the city centre and need a bite to eat (arrive with an appetite) I’d seriously advise a perch in Federal, and if you are there don’t forget to call me and i’ll join you!!

I’ll be bringing more from Manchester soon, hoping to give you an insight to some of the amazing food we have on offer. There’s some stiff competition to London, lacking on the ‘healthy eating’ front I must admit you need to go further afield, but if you’re in need of some proper northern grub Manchester will have you covered.

 

Federal

9 Nicholas Croft, Manchester, M4 1EY

 

Happy brunching you lovely lot

X