Sunderland “Safari Supper”

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Food and I have a very loving relationship. Well, it may be a little one sided, but all the same there is nothing a good meal can not fix.

This week I had the pleasure of attending a “Safari Supper” in Sunderland. A showcase of what Sunderland has to offer in their upcoming Restaurant Week. The first to take place in the city.

The City of Sunderland are putting their bid forward to become the UK City of Culture 2021.

Having done some reading over the last few days, gaining the title could mean huge investment not only within Sunderland but across the North East. The team behind the bid hope to put Sunderland on the map and show the country that Sunderland is indeed a place to be. Having had a successful bid for 2017, Hull estimate that it has brought at least £60million of investment and the hope is that it would bring a similar figure to Sunderland, opening the doors to so many new ventures, experiences and employment opportunities.

I will be doing a post over the next week that goes more in to depth about the bid but in the meantime if you would like to find out more information you can visit the following links:

Web: www.sunderland2010.com

Twitter: @Sunderland2021

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sunderland2021

Back to the food…..

Restaurant Week started in New York six years ago and since then has seen the event spread to cities all over the world. Restaurants and Café’s across the city are invited to take part in the event and for a set price they offer a “Meal Deal”. The restaurants that are taking part are to offer two and three course deals for the cost of £10 or £15. The cafes involved will offer a £5 deal during the day. Not only will it bring custom to the restaurants but people in to the city, highlighting not only the established chains but those little independent eateries that you may have never heard of.

The event, led by Sunderland BID (Business Improvement District), is going to be held over nine days starting on Saturday the 24th of September and concluding on Sunday the 2nd of October.

In the run up to the event I was invited along to a “Safari Supper”…….

What is a “Safari Supper”?

“A safari supper (UK) is a dinner party with successive courses prepared and eaten at the residences of different hosts. Usually this involves the consumption of one course at each location.” (Wikipedia’s definition)

The event was to start at Cafe Purple located on Park Lane. (I would love to say that we arrived on time and that I didn’t get lost on the way in too Sunderland, however, my sense of direction is rubbish, and as it would seem, so is Google’s landing me on the opposite side of the river, so I arrived slightly flustered and a tad late.)

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I was really impressed with what Cafe Purple had to showcase and in here we were offered a selection of cocktails and nibbles (cheese and biscuits, nuts and a selection of anti pasti items). I love my cocktails and like a dabble at making them myself, for me the trick to a good cocktail is making the drink not taste of alcohol. I am told that this was the case as my drink did not taste of alcohol due to being the designated driver (But lovely all the same).

From there we moved to The Port of Call, located also on Park Lane, right next door to Cafe Purple. I was really impressed with how open it was inside. The ceilings were high and there was plenty of space with various marine memorabilia on the ceiling and walls. The bar also caters for Private Functions, having three floors they have the space to let the two upper floors out for such occasions.

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We were offered a selection of the cocktails along with a selection of Mini Burgers, Canapés and Mussels. I am not the biggest fishy fan in the world I must admit but I did give the fishy canapés a try and they were very tasty.

The staff were very helpful and made some taste sensations with the cocktail shaker, both alcoholic and virginal.

The Food Menu is certainly tempting and the prices are very reasonable.

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A little bit further away, about a five min walk, lies The Funky Indian. Located on Borough Road you enter through The ProseccoBar Lounge, where we headed for our Starter.

Upon arrival we were greeted with a glass of Prosecco, or Orange Juice for the drivers amongst us.

The ProseccoBar Lounge aims to bring a classier bar experience with modern décor and table service to enhance the experience. They have an extensive menu which includes a good selection of tipples.

Down the spiral staircase in The ProseccoBar Lounge you are taken to a whole different world. The Funky Indian is authentically decorated, with Indian inspired fabrics, decor and it has a very cosy feel.

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The Funky Indian aims to not only offer you the Indian experience but to give you a chance to enjoy tastes from all over India. Indian street food a plenty.

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Looking at the Menu I was all but drooling. Each dish on the Menu is priced individually, in the case you should wish to dine traditionally, having a starter and a main course. As this is an Indian tapas experience, I would encourage you to have four dishes for £16.95. I have to say a couple of bottles of wine and 8 dishes between two people would be more than plenty and make for a very enjoyable night.

We were served with Chilly Tikka Poppers, Bombay Pav (Slow cooked Vegetables served with Bread and Butter, Sikh Kebab, Speciality Fries (Fries coated in the blend of house spice) and Manchurian Bhai (Stir Fried Cauliflower and Artichoke in Garlic, Ginger, soy and chilli).

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Manchurian Bhai

The flavours were outstanding. Getting away from your traditional Indian (which I may add I love) and trying something different and traditional was refreshing. I will certainly be returning in the near future as I want to try more on the Menu and it would make an amazing date night location.

Next up was our Main Course and another short walk to Angelo’s Ristorante. Angelo’s is located on West Sunniside.

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In 2015, their Head Chef won the best Italian chef in England and the Ristorante was listed in the top ten Italian restaurants in England at the English Italian awards 2015.

We received a very warm welcome along with a selection of drinks to help ourselves too. The restaurant itself is lovely, maybe its me, but I always get a sense of comfort when walking in to a good Italian, and Angelo’s certainly delivered that feeling.

All of the Pasta, Sausage and Desserts served are made from scratch on site. Eager to have a taste of the Menu we were given a selection of dishes to help ourselves too. These included, Strozzapreti con Salsiccia e Friarelli (The dish Chef Nello won his award is Handmade pasta twists with home made sausage, Neapolitan Broccoli, with a cheese sauce). A really comforting, tasty dish, I could quite happily have sat with the whole bowl and eaten it myself.

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Strozzapreti con Salsiccia e Friarelli

As well as this we were served Pizza Bufala e Parma (Pizza with Mozzarella, Basil and Parma Ham), Pizza Margherita and Straccetti di Manzo alla Pizzaiola (Fillet Steak served with a Pizzaiola Sauce). We also had a Pasta dish that consisted of large tubes of pasta, mushrooms and cheese sauce, drizzled with truffle oil and shaved truffles and a Italian cheese stuffed chicken breast served with a tomato sauce.

Simply “delizioso”. I would love to go back and, like The Funky Indian, try more of the Menu.

We were sent on our final walk with a warm goodbye from the lovely staff.

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Round the corner from Angelo’s Ristorante is Sweet Tooth Delivery. Sweet Tooth Delivery is located on High Street West and for any sweet tooth, is a little piece of heaven.

I was really quite excited when I was told we would be visiting Sweet Tooth Delivery as on a previous visit to their Belmont shop in Durham I bought a slice of cake each for the tribe and didn’t get one for myself.

There are so many sweet things to order, from cake to ice cream, brownies to Milkshakes, their best seller being the Skittles Rainbow Layer Cake.

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I ordered the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cake. Having looked at the Menu before going my mind was made up as I love peanut butter.

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Reeses Peanut Butter Cake

No meal is complete without something sweet in my mind, this was indeed the cake that finished the night perfectly. Served with a squirt of Cream and a peanut butter smear (salivating while typing) I would recommend to anyone.

I came home with a slice each of the Skittles Rainbow Layer Cake for the boys (which took them three attempts to finish as they wanted to savour the flavour apparently).

What a fantastic night and an amazing way to showcase what Sunderland has to offer. Sunderland has never been high on my list of places to go until the last couple of years. As a child and growing up we always went to Newcastle or Darlington and it wasnt until a couple of years ago I ventured in to the city. I have to say the shopping opportunities impressed me and now so has the Food Scene. With good transport links to all over the North East there is no need to drive, but if you should decide to do so there are plenty of car parks (just make sure you put the right post code in the Sat Nav)

We will be booking up and going to visit at least one of the Restaurants involved with Sunderland Restaurant Week and I can only encourage you to the same.  To find out what Restaurants are involved and gain details on how to book, please visit:

Web: www.experienceithere.co.uk

Twitter: @SunderlandBID

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sunderlandexperience/

Thank you so much for having me Sunderland, I will be back…………

xxxxx

Tuesday @ Beamish Open Air Museum

I recently sat down with the kids and asked what kind of places they would like to visit on day trips. Although museums were not high on their list, Beamish Open Air Museum was mentioned by everyone.

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Upon reflection, it must be at least 30 years since I was last there and I have wanted to go and have a look round for quite some time. (scandalous that I haven’t been really as its only 20 mins up the road) Surely it must have changed in that time?

The plan was to get up and go on Monday morning, as we all know I am not a fan of getting anywhere late. Well, when we got up on Monday morning to say it was pouring down is an understatement. We had a chat and changed our plans, deciding instead to go on Tuesday.

We woke up to drizzle but the weather lady promised that it was going to brighten up by lunch time and as the morning progressed it looked like this may well happen.

Car filled with children, water proof coats in the car and off we went. The drive took us about twenty minutes as predicted and we arrived to the sun peeping through the clouds.

Beamish is located in the North East of England, to get here you must follow the A1M to Junction 63 (Chester-le-Street exit), then the A693 towards Stanley for 4 miles, following the signs. Beamish is well sign posted and easy to find once you get here.

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There was ample parking and we, with us getting there for 10 am, got parked in the first part of the car park without a problem. We unpacked the car of children, coats and the bag of treats I had packed for lunch and snacks. (I did this as Libby and Penny are grazers, there is however a Cafe at the entrance, one in the town section and several places along the way to stop of for various drinks, treats and nibbles).

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The Beamish Unlimited Ticket and Admission price is reasonable. Considering you can use it whenever your like with the exception of special events. It so very worth it, this will become more clear to you as I tell our story.

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One thing I will say to anyone who is going,  make use of the cash machine at the main entrance or call at one before you go. I didn’t think about this and there was so much more we would have bought along the way had I have paid a visit too one (Of course there was no cash machines in the 1900’s….DOH, my bad)

We entered and immediately began our journey in to the past…..

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You have the option of walking around the site, riding a tram to various stops along the way or if you prefer you can catch a bus.

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We climbed on the tram and travelled to the 1820’s Pockerley Wagon Way.

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The kids loved the tram ride and were fascinated with the period dress that the museum attendants were all wearing.

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There are plenty of information points that explain the history of what you are about to see. Also, many attendants that are there too ask any questions you may have and guide you along your way.

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Penny was in her element splashing in muddy puddles but was rather disgruntled that this big girl didn’t want to talk to her, or acknowledge her for that matter. She was far too interested in munching her way through the food.

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Inside you are instantly welcomed with the heat from an open fire and the authenticity of the workshop. Full of fascinating information about George Stephenson and exhibits that include his actual lathe. There are several replicas of early steam engines and it also houses the carriages for the Steam Ride that you can have around the site (Unfortunately we timed this completely wrong and didn’t get a chance but we will do next time).

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We came outside again and Mark took some time looking around the old truck that was parked up, taking in it’s every inch.

Staying on foot we wandered down to St Helen’s Church. I have only just read the story about the church, well worth a read. What a fantastic job in rebuilding it they have done. It is quaint, pretty and in such a lovely setting within the museum. Everyone bar me climbed up the very narrow staircase to the balcony in the church and viewed the bell.

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After explaining a few things to the kids, like what the steps outside the church grounds were for and that we had walked the wrong way, we were on our way to Pockerley Hall.

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The landscape is so authentic, with the fences and gates looking like they would have done, the fields have been ploughed as they would have been with huge mounds in the ground and also the waterwheel that would have been used by the railway. Everywhere you look there is something to draw your eyes in.

We entered Pockerley Hall Grounds and the children instantly found the pigs and much too their disappointment they were fast asleep in their enclosure. (Penny was determined to wake them up, but they weren’t having any of it).

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The house is very authentic and wandering around you quickly realise how much harder people had it way back when. With animals hanging to dry, a room set up for smoking meat, a bedroom full of grain and beds crammed in everywhere. Downstairs there was a gentleman making biscuits in front of an open fire (which on a hot day must be a nightmare, it was hot enough without the sun). The kids each got one and we had a look at the dining room.

During the summer holidays Beamish have had a Summer Fun Event running and on Tuesday one of these events was making pots in Pockerley Hall Gardens, It was very busy so the Children didn’t get a chance to have a go but they were watching very closely.

By this point Little Legs was tired and ready for another adventure on the Tram or Bus. So we waited at the stop and boarded the Bus to the town.

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Out of the few bits I remember from my trip 30 years ago the town is one. Well specifically the sweet shop.

We got off the tram and made our way along looking in all the shops along the way, from pie tins, to high chairs, motor repairs to fabric, there was so many examples of things from the past. Most of the shops sell things (and accept modern currency) that are an example of items used way back that we still like to use today.

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Further along was the chemist, a shop making lemonade and cola and the bakers. The kids would have stood and watched all day if I had allowed them and I would have bought half the bakery. The smells were amazing and the produce so fresh and yummy.

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On the opposite side of the street is the Freemasons Hall. Now I know of people of the older generation that have been Freemasons but it isn’t something I have ever known much about. It was really interesting to learn more and wander around the Masonic Hall and look at the exhibits and information they have to share.

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By this point we had a very tired Penny, who was starting to complain about tired legs. So we started to consider lunch.

Next door to the Masonic Hall is Barclays Bank. In there we looked at old currency and listened to the Staff within the bank telling us about the coins of the time and then had a look in The Vault.

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So that brought us to bribery, The Sweet Shop was upon us and it was our ticket to keep the kids going around the last few spots in The Town before stopping for lunch.

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I can’t remember the last time I ordered a quarter of sweets but we got a quarter each of Jelly Beans, Dolly Mixture and Gobstoppers. Kids happy we looked at the Coach Works, The Car/Bike Sales Room, The Pub, The Terraced houses of the Music Teacher and the Solicitor.

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The weather by now was glorious so we went and sat down in the gardens opposite and Mark went a got a sandwich. The Cafe does accept card payments and I would advise to do this as when you get to the fairground you will need cash. We relaxed in the sun and had some lunch, the kids ate what I brought for them and Mark munched on a sandwich.

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Once done (which didn’t take long as Penny munched all her way round) we had a slow walk to the Railway bridge. Penny loves trains so seeing this one in action was fascinating to her. Daddy took some good photos for her too.

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We wandered over to the fairground and grabbed a bench. The rides come in at £1.50 each and the amusements at 50p each. Regan and Libby both had a go on the carousel. While they were over on that Mark and I checked the time and at 2pm and having a very tired little legs we decided that we would leave the rest for another day.

There is so much to take in, all of it fascinating, so we decided that we will see what the weather is like next weekend and have a look through then to finish the rest of the museum off. (In hope we can see some awake pigs this time).

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We broke the news to the kids and had a slow walk up to the tram stop to take us back to the main entrance.

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We jumped on the Tram and rode back up, waving along the way to all the people walking by, arriving back shortly after.

We really enjoyed our day out, I highly recommend Beamish to you enough. In our case taking a pushchair would have been a good idea. The tickets acting like an annual pass means you don’t have to miss bits, you could do half one visit and then half on another.

Another point of interest is should you wish to get the bus to Beamish, Go North East have a bus that services the Museum. Not only do they service the Museum but if you present your ticket you will be entitled to a 25% discount on your entry.

There are no complaints from us, praise go to the staff, to the First aider who saw to the little boy on our Tram that got stung and to the Museum itself. What a unique treasure it is for the North East.

See you soon

xxxxx