Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Eating Out | New Conservatory Leeds Summer Menu Launch

My buddies at Pink Gorilla recently invited me down to The New Conservatory in Leeds to sample the brand new summer menu. Despite it being one of Leeds' longest standing bars I'd actually never ventured in before so I looked forward to trying the place out.

I took the BF along as he's quite the foodie, but if he thought I was picture crazy on a normal restaurant outing he was about to experience full blown blogger snap happy Gabby! When we arrived we got a complimentary beer and prosecco and then were seated out our table in the raised restaurant area which overlooks the bar. I thought it was actually a lovely area, with fairy lights twinkling all around and book cases lining the walls, I felt a glimmer of Christmas!

We scanned through the menu which looked pretty mouthwatering, and the BF started picking out the dishes he wanted to try before I reminded him that we got to try everything as it was a taster menu! He was pretty impressed, and I think it made up for the constant camera flashing and "move your elbows off the table they're ruining the shot!" issues he suffered with throughout the evening ha. (man + food = happy)

Anyway, before long we were served our first course of duck spring roll with hoi sin dip, deep fried brie with beetroot chutney and king prawns with lime and chilli dressing. It tasted as good as it sounds! I think my favourite would have to be the spring roll as the duck was really flavoursome. 

For the main course samples we got to try belly pork with mash, cajun chicken skewers and my favourite of the three which was the super creamy wild mushroom risotto with a parmesan crisp. I'm getting hungry now just writing this!

When the trio of desserts arrived it was pudding heaven, there was a chocolate mousse with a hidden layer of caramel inside (so good!), a gorgeous salted caramel cheesecake and a mixed berry eton mess sunday (which I was very sad to reach the bottom of!). I think if I had to choose the best it would be a toss up between the mousse and the eton mess, which we will both be coming back for again.

After looking through their drinks menu we couldn't resist trying one of the delicious sounding cocktails. I went for my favourite the porn star martini and the BF chose a classic expresso martini. Both were excellent, and we enjoyed them whilst listening to the jazzy sounds of the lovely band playing. I'd like to say this sophistication carried on into the evening, however they also do 2 for £5 on jagerbombs, which was never going to end well for me on a work night. Hello 2am dancing at mojos oops. (Blaming Leanne from The Dress Diaries for that one!)..

5 Reasons YOU should give The New Conservatory a visit:

So I've talked about why I enjoyed my visit now here's 5 reason you should get yourself down there too! 

1. Happy hour on selected drinks 5pm-10pm Mon-Friday. None of this only on a tuesday afternoon when everyone's at work bull. An actual happy hour you can make use of even on a Friday night! Hurray. The offer is on Jagerbombs and selected beers, wines and spirits. Get in. Just be careful you don't end up like we did.......... Friday morning was a killer.

2. Tuck into Sunday roast for just £8.95. A full plate of Sunday roast goodness for just £8.95? Sounds pretty good to me! 

3. Entertain yourself at open mic night every Thursday. Yep every thursday they host an open mic night - so whilst you're sipping on your 2 for £5 drinks you get some free entertainment. If you're up for entering they also give out some fab prizes for winners (they're actually giving away a Martin acoustic guitar worth £500 to the winner of the 27th August comp!).

4. Take advantage of the early bird menu 4-7 EVERY day. They offer a great early bird menu which even includes many of the dishes I mentioned and reviewed earlier (including the eton mess and chocolate mouse desserts - pretty much the main reasons we will be coming back for this offer!). You can try two courses for £10.95 or go the full hog at 3 courses for £13.95. 

5. You can even get competitive at a game of beer pong or table tennis! On certain nights they bring out the beer pong and table tennis which you can have a play on. I think this would be especially great if you wanted to host a party there (not to mention they have a huge bar!).

That's all from me. As always thank you for reading and let me know if you do take a trip to The New Conservatory yourself - I'd certainly recommend a visit :)

Gabby xo


Monday, 20 July 2015

Event | Ladbrokes Wimbledon White Party LDN

I recently got invited down to London to attend the Ladbrokes Wimbledon white party for a night of summer cocktails and party games. After I had such a good time at the Ladbrokes boat party (which you might have read about here) I knew it would be a good event, so I looked forward to getting another taste of the Ladbrokes party life. 

Leeds Travel VS London Travel
The night before the event I made the best decision ever to go on an all out 3am shots shots shots drinking sesh with the girls in Leeds, despite having to be up for a full day of work the next day before getting the train down to London. 

As you can imagine, when 5pm came and I got on the Leeds to London train with fellow blogger Dei, I wasn't feeling too cracking. I closed my eyes and hoped that the feeling of wanting to vomit went away, especially for the sake of the lady sat opposite me. Thankfully it did go away, and I put it down to the fact that the loveliest couple ever got on a few stops into the journey and began chatting with us about their 25 years of marriage and how they were heading to London to celebrate for the weekend! Sounds random but they were so friendly and funny, it took my mind off the hangover completely and we were soon sharing their picnic (and even better prosecco!) and having a nice time.

Later, having arrived in London and jumped on the tube, I smiled happily at some guy sat opposite us still feeling the good vibes from earlier. He looked pretty freaked out by it all and I had to quickly remind myself we weren't amongst overly friendly Yorkshire folk anymore and it was head down ignore everyone mode, in true London town style haha! 

Cupcakes galore, cocktails and games!
When we arrived at the fabulous Martha's Bar at the Willamson's Tavern, I was pretty impressed with the decor - beautiful chandeliers and cute bunting, plus a table full of afternoon tea style goodies (including some amazing cupcakes!) plus lots of summer style cocktails. We were greeted with a nice glass of prosecco and began chatting and catching up with the other blogging gals. Some of my faves who I got to talk to were Roxi and Karl who i'd actually met at the last Ladbrokes event, and Lauren from Blonde Vision who's boobs I will be forever jealous of! 

Soon it was onto the games where we all got to work out a few of our anger issues on the strawberry piƱata, and had some fun trying our hand at beer pong. There was also a big wimbledon quiz with a chance to win £100 worth of vouchers (this is where I found out I knew nothing about wimbledon/tennis lol whoops!).

Before long it was sadly time to head back on the train to Leeds, so we made a dash to the station like Cinderella's leaving a wimbledon themed ball! 

Thanks so much to Ladbrokes for hosting such a lovely night :)

Gabby xox 

Monday, 6 July 2015

Lifestyle | The Real Junk Food Project Leeds

Did you know that over a billion tonnes of food gets wasted worldwide, every single year? It's hard to understand or imagine such a staggering figure when you consider all the millions of starving and malnourished people we have in the world...

It was earlier this year whilst taking part in the BBC Shortform competition (read about it here) when I first found out about The Real Junk Food Project, an amazing anti food waste concept that started in Leeds, which has now grown to have over 80 different cafe's worldwide.

What's it all about?

The Real Junk Food project is a movement. The concept is simple, food which is perfectly safe to eat but which would have otherwise been thrown away and ended up in a landfill is intercepted/collected from different sources, and then used to create meals in the PAYF (pay as you feel) cafe's. Food is intercepted from all sorts of places - supermarket bins, allotments, food banks, markets - all of which is completely safe to eat but because of how our society treats food and the ridiculous best before dates etc, it would have gone to waste. They are the UK's only PAYF cafe's that use purely intercepted food waste to create their menus, with their motto being "Feed Bellies, Not Bins".

And when they say it's PAYF they really mean it. Anyone can eat at the cafes wether they have money or not, from all backgrounds and walks of life, you just pay exactly what you feel. If you don't have money to give you can instead offer your skills, wether that's helping in wash up in the kitchen or even helping with DIY things such as rewiring the electrics (which they've had offered at the Armley cafe!). Everyone has something that they can give, therefore anyone is welcome to a plate of their food.

So how did it all start?

It all began when Adam (the creator), was working on farms in Australia and was shocked at how how much food would be wasted. The supermarkets would cancel orders at the last minute and the farmers would then just plough all the perfectly fine produce back into the ground. He'd worked as a chef for 9 years previously so was already aware of the issues around food waste, but the waste he encountered on the farms really opened his eyes to where the problem with food was. It wasn't that there was a lack of food in the world, it was that we were wasting it.

It was when he was the head chef at a Melbourne restaurant that he came across another restaurant called "Lentil As Anything" which was pioneering the pay as you feel concept. So when he finally returned to the UK he decided to bring the concept with him, and expand it to a network of PAYF cafe's.

But why Leeds? When he first shared his idea with a guy working on a farm in Australia, the guy told him "You can't change the world. Nobody can, just because they decide to. If you set out with that idea you'll fail. Make a change in your home town first and watch it spread". So he did. Starting with the Armley Cafe in his home town of Leeds, and before long cafe's were opening up all over the UK and even further a field!

You can see Adam's inspiring Tedx Talk below, where he discusses some of the biggest intercepts they've had so far and really explains the whole concept well. It's worth a watch.

How You Can Get Involved In Leeds - The City Junk-tion

Since the city cafe opened in Leeds in May I've had the pleasure of being able to volunteer some weekends, helping to prep food and take orders from customers. What I've got in return is not only the satisfaction of being able to give back to the city I live in but also to actually learn so much about preventing food waste in my own cooking, and of course all the cooking tips I've picked up from Adam (he has been a head chef after all!).

I'd really love it if more could volunteer and get involved, or even just come down to the cafe to eat, showing your support for the cause and helping to reduce the food waste in our city. Here's a few snaps of the city centre cafe based in Santiago's in the Grand Arcade. Please do give it a visit!

I think what's really interesting about Adam and the Junk Food Project is that his aim is to actually put himself out of business. He doesn't want the cafe's to exist in 10 years time because he wants people to have changed the way they think about food, so that there's no food waste for them to intercept and therefore no need for the cafe's to continue running.

I really hope he achieves this too.

Before I leave you, here are 7 ways you can start reducing your food waste at home today:

1. Practise FIFO (first in first out rule) when unpacking your shopping. Moving older products to the front of the fridge so you're more likely to use it up before it goes off.

2. Do the sniff test - Just like you would to check if your milk was ok to use or not. If food still smells ok then it's most likely still perfectly fine to eat, despite what it's label might say.

4. Use it all up! Try use every part of food whatever you're cooking. i.e, leave the potato skins on, turn veg/meat scraps into stock.

5. Monitor what you throw away - Are you chucking away half a loaf of bread every week? Try freezing it as soon as you buy so you can use it for longer.

6. Cut away any brown/mouldy parts - Food can still be perfectly safe to eat despite it going brown or mouldy in places. You simply cut off the parts that have it on and if the other parts smell/taste fine then they're good to go! Honest!

7. Make sure you're storing food correctly - Many of us don't realise that we might be storing food wrong, and that with some simple storage alterations we could make our food last much longer. Check out this very handy guide from "Love Food Hate Waste" to find out more. 

Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you get chance to visit the nearest Junk Food Project cafe to you very soon! 

Gabby xo

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Fashion | 3 Glam Retro Anniversary Outfits

Last week it was mine and the bf's anniversary (5 years woahh!) so knowing we would be celebrating I decided to kiss goodbye to the last bit of funds I had in my bank account and treat myself to a couple of new outfits to wear. The looks I picked had the typical retro vibes that I'm usually seen it, but I also thought they were quite glam too compared to my usual style. Can't beat a bit of retro glam ey?

Here are the 3 looks I wore and what I got up to in them, hope you like! :) 

Picnic Glam!

White Button Wrap Mini Skirt - £30 Miss Selfridge / Striped Tie Back Top - Topshop (Can't find on their site yet!) / Gold Necklace - £7.99 New Look / Brown Platform Clogs - £56 Topshop / Green Fedora - £25 Topshop

I think this top might just be the best purchase I've made all year! Not only is it super gorgeous but the open cut under arms make it perfect for wearing in the hot weather, (without turning you into a sweaty betty). I thought the cute Miss Selfridge wrap skirt made the perfect companion, and I added some brown accessories for a nautical style look. 

Where I wore it: 
We decided one of our anniversary dates would involve a huge belly stuffing picnic in some pretty setting. So we grabbed lots of tasty bits and headed down to beautiful Bolton Abbey for a bbq picnic by the river. 

In case you ever wondered, platform heels are not the best for paddling in, so i'd 100% advise you to invest in some old school jelly shoes if you're planning on heading down for a paddle yourself - they definitely still have their purpose in life!

Rooftop Cocktails Glam!

Tapestry Print Dress - £65 Sister Jane @ Asos / White Scallop Cross Body Bag - £16 Asos / Orange Platform Court Heels - £19.99 New Look

I'd been eyeing up this tapestry print dress ever since I'd spotted it on the Sister Jane website - a fashion brand I have SOMEHOW only just stumbled upon! They have the most amazing collection of vintage style dresses, but this was the one I fell in love with the most. It seemed like only fate then when I found it again when browsing the Asos website, and into the basket it went. Whilst on that Asos browse I also purchased the super cute scallop edge bag that I thought would go perfectly with it! I threw on a pair of New Look orange heels and the look was complete. :)

Where I wore it:
For another of our dates we decided to explore our very own city, as it's not often you take time to appreciate how lovely the place where you actually live in is. We went round all the arcades buying cute bits and pieces for each other and had a lovely meal and cocktails on the roof top terrace in Harvey Nichols. Followed by...lots more cocktails around Leeds (including my absolute favourite white chocolate raspberry cream cocktail from The Alchemist which is like a dessert - SO GOOD!). 

Spa Day Glam!

Button Front A Line Dress - £42 Asos / Tan Ankle Strap Heels £24.99 New Look / Dark Red Fedora Hat - River Island / Dark Red Satchel - Asos

This last look involves another Asos buy, a pretty denim print a-line dress which is part of the Textile Federation for Asos collection. If you're wondering about how comfortable a denim dress can actually be in the summer heat - then don't worry! It's actually made from a really lightweight denim making it absolutely fine. I wore it with a dark red fedora hat and a dark red satchel, along with some (very large!) ankle strap heels for a final glam look.

Where I wore it:
The third date we picked for our 5 year celebrations was a spa day at the gorgeous Oulton Hall in Leeds. Such a lovely place with great staff - when we arrived we were offered complimentary drinks (the boyfriend asked if they were alcoholic and I had to remind him it was 10am and that it was meant to be a healthy day!) and we were given a towel, slippers and robe to relax in all day. 

The BF was a little skeptical about the whole thing at first, but once we were in the pool and Jacuzzi relaxing and enjoying ourselves he soon came round. I think spa days just sound really girly so men think they have to put on the whole "noooo I'm too manly for that" charade, but everyone enjoys being pampered/relaxed! 

We decided to go all out and get a full body wrap massage whilst we were there which was sooo amazing! I would honestly recommend it so much, I felt like a content sausage roll wrapped up all cosy after getting massaged all over - super relaxing :)

Oulton Hall Leeds
And that's all for my 3 anniversary outfits! Thanks so much for reading, what have you got up to on your anniversary dates? And have you ever had a spa day? Would love to know your thoughts :)

Gabby xo

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