Saturday, 29 November 2008

The Cheesecake Shop

My other half found this very exciting place while looking for somewhere to take me as a treat. A treat it was indeed! As the name suggests, they have a wide selection of cheesecakes and cream cakes as well as a savory menu (but lets face it, who wants a sandwich when you can have cheesecake?!). The prices are quite reasonable and definitely affordable as a treat. We had a hot chocolate each, which were fantastic and while he had a tasty slice of Strawberry Continental Cheesecake, I had a piece of tiramisu. Very satisfying!

The Cheesecake Shop can be found at 33 Devonshire Square, Town Centre, Loughborough, LE11 3DW.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Spike Island Canteen

(Image from Spike Island website)

In the company of my dear mother, we ventured to the bank of the Avon to a creative haven called Spike Island. Housed in a converted tea packing factory, it provides 80'000 square foot of exhibition and studio space. We wanted to take in the latest Richard Long and Simon Starling exhibition (incidentally, it was a little weird but very interesting with ideas about site and reflecting on journeys) and worked up quite an appetite.

Spike Island have their own Canteen/Bar which seems to have artistic souls floating about, sketching and drinking coffee. It's a light and airy space with great homemade food and friendly staff. We indulged in thai green vegetable curry all round, which was very tasty and not too harsh on an artist's pocket.

Monday, 3 November 2008


"Oh, what's this?" he says, delving into the often unusual selection of over ripe and tired-looking produce that make up the 'Reductions' section of the supermarket aisles. It was a pair of cute little quails for a laughable price with the condition that they needed to be eaten that day. Having not cooked quail before (I wasn't aware it could be bought from your average Tesco or Sainsbury's), I didn't do anything ambitious. I roasted them on a bed of onions and rosemary trying to baste them as often as possible. I served them up like I would a traditional chicken roast, making gravy from the juice-soaked onions and plating our find with roasted potatoes and vegetables. The meat itself was predictably rich, dense and gamey. After we'd enjoyed our feast, I boiled down the carcases and produced the most extraordinary stock; it was rich, dark and rather creamy but without the layer of fat you get from chicken stock. It looked so tasty, I simply boiled some brocolli in the broth and had it like that!

For any other first time quail-cookers, they don't take long to cook at all due to their size but they have very little fat on them so they need to be basted often. Another option is to put a few rashers of bacon on each quail to roast, which will add more fat and moisture to the meat. The bacon can then either be left on the quail when served or peeled off, chopped and added to the gravy but remember to lay off the salt if this is the case! You can also use the metalic wrapper from a block of butter gently wrapped around the meat while it roasts to infuse it with butteryness. They generally only need twenty to twenty-five minutes in a hot oven (220C/Gas Mark 7).

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Loughborough Market

A cold morning in a weekend away from my home turf and it was decided that we'd pay a visit to the local market in the centre of town. It boasts a real variety of stalls; not just food but everything from freshly ground coffee beans to fancy dress! I always thought of towns and cities like Loughborough as market dwellings and it was great to see it come to life around the hustle and bustle of temporary stalls.

The market runs on a Saturday (and a Thursday if the websites are to be believed) from early until about 4pm. There are lots of stalls and it was pretty busy so I'd recommend keeping your wits about you. Stalls provide plastic bags but it's always a good idea to bring your own - I find fabric ones are kinder to your hands if you have a bit of a walk. Selection is good and the prices are competitive, differing on the stall so check about before buying. We bought:

- Some pork and tomato sausages and bacon
- Aubergines (three for £1)
- A bunch of fresh beetroot (£1)
- Carrots and parsnips
- Purple sprouting brocolli (£1.79 for 1lb)
- A dozen freerange XL eggs (£1.90)
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