My Happy Boys on Holiday

 

holiday 12

This is a food blog so most of my posts are in some way food related. However, this is nothing about food at all! I just couldn’t resist sharing these pictures of my boys with my followers on here. 

I posted earlier that we went away for a short break at Pine Lake Resort in Carnforth and I wrote a review of the Lakes Bistro at the resort. We also enjoyed swimming, crazy golf, and the amusement arcade at Pine Lake. One the first day we took a trip out to Morecambe and then visited Williamson Park in Lancaster on the second day. 

We had a great time spending time together as a family away from all the stresses and strains of life. You can see that Nathan, Alfie and Freddie had fun from the photographs. 

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REVIEW: Lakes Bistro at Pine Lake Resort

I recently enjoyed a short break with Mike and my boys at Pine Lake Resort in Carnforth. We stayed in a wooden lodge overlooking the lake. Although we ate breakfast and dinner in the lodge and spent the days out and about in the local area, we returned to the resort every evening for a quick swim and to eat dinner in the resort’s restaurant, Lakes Bistro. Initially, we had only planned to eat there once because we had a limited budget for our break. However, the food was so good we ate their both evenings. Here is a review of the Lakes Bistro at Pine Lake Resort, Carnforth.

Children’s Menu at Lakes Bistro, Pine Lake Resort

My pet hate when I eat out with my children is terrible children’s menus and I even check out the children’s menus when I am eating out without the children. Thankfully, I was very pleased with the menu options at Lakes Bistro, Pine Lakes Resort. There were the usual options of burger, sausages, or pizza, but there were also other options, such as pasta dishes and salads. The children’s pizza was made on the premises in the pizza oven rather than the usual frozen option offered by many establishments. There was also a small eaters menu that had smaller versions of dishes from the adult menu. My youngest son opted for the pizza on both nights while my middle son had the battered fish and chips on the first night and the chicken nuggets on the second night.

Steaks at Lakes Bistro

Steaks are my go-to choice when eating out, so both my partner and I opted for the rump steak on the first night. This was served with chips in a trendy little basket, oven roasted cherry tomatoes on the vine and a flat mushroom. The steaks were cooked a little more than we would have liked, but they were delicious and tender nonetheless. We also ordered a side of onion rings. I hate it when places serve frozen onion rings with a reformed onion centre, but that wasn’t a problem at Lakes Bistro as these were real onion rings made to order with a delicious, crisp batter. I also ordered a port and stilton sauce to accompany my steak. I usually opt for pepper sauce, but I thought I would try something new. The sauce was a little thin but absolutely gorgeous. My partner also had a steak on the second night and said it was just as good as the first. 

Pizza and Pasta Dishes at Lakes Bistro

After seeing my youngest son’s pizza on the first night, I decided to try a pizza on the second evening of our stay. This is not usually a dish that I would order as I am very fussy about the pizza dough being cooked correctly. I ordered the Americana pizza, which was topped with pepperoni and jalapeno peppers. It was oozing with cheese and very spicy, which is just how I like it. My oldest son ordered the spaghetti carbonara on both evenings as it is one of his favourite dishes. He described it as creamy, full of flavour, and cooked to perfection. 

Atmosphere

Lakes Bistro at Pine Lake Resort has a contemporary look with walls in a bold red color, wooden flooring, and wooden furniture. Despite this dark color choice, the restaurant is filled with light and is bright and airy. The tables are nicely spaced out so you do not feel like the people at the neighbouring table are sitting on your lap or listening to your conversation. A very relaxed and comfortable vibe.

Customer Service

The staff at Lakes Bistro, Pine Lake Resort, delivered an outstanding level of customer service. Really friendly and welcoming, quick service, and just the right level of attention. 

Price

Reasonably priced venue considering the quality of the food served. Some examples of the prices you can expect to pay are:

  • Steaks- £15-20 price range
  • Pizza and pasta dishes- Under £10
  • Children’s meals- £4.95 or £ 6.95 for small plates
  • Side orders- £2.95 for sauces, chips, onion rings, etc. 

Check out this restaurant for yourself at https://www.resortpinelake.co.uk/dining

REVIEW: Lunch at Portland Hall Spa

spa pic

Each year, I go away for one night with my mum and my sister. We usually look for a Groupon deal for a spa break and my sister and I pay for this as a treat to my mum for Mother’s Day. This year, we were all in need of more of a break than ever. Both my sister and I are busy with our own businesses and we have seven children between us. All three of us have been impacted by the death of my father earlier in the year. This year, we headed off to Southport to stay at the Prince of Wales Hotel and spend a day at the Portland Hall Spa Hotel. 

We had picked up a package for a Mother’s Day treat at Portland Hall Spa. This included a back and neck massage, a full facial and the option of either a head massage or a leg massage. The deal also included a two-course lunch. As this is a food website, it is the food that I will focus on in this post (although I have to say that the treatments were excellent!).

Starters at Portland Hall Spa

All three of us chose different starters which makes for a better review! My mum opted for the chicken skewers which came in a tasty coating and with a sauce that was similar to hoisin, but a bit sweeter. She said the chicken was tender and I had a taste of her sauce with some of her salad garnish and it was delicious. 

My sister opted for the vegetarian tart, which was described as being made with goats cheese and caramelised onion. I had expected this to come as a small, round pastry casing with caramelised onion on the bottom, topped with goats cheese. However, this was not the case. It was a slice cut from a larger tart and my sister passed me a taste across the table. It looked a bit like quiche and certainly had the same sort of eggy texture but had the consistency of a sponge cake. I wasn’t keen on the dish as it was not what I had expected but my sister enjoyed it.

My choice was the homemade pate served with wholemeal toast. It arrived with the pate served in a small pot and was one of the best pates I have ever eaten. It was rich and meaty with a nice consistency and texture. I was initially disappointed that there was no butter to go with the toast, but I really didn’t need it. I spread the caramelised onion that was served with this starter over the toast and then added the pate.

Main Courses at Portland Hall Spa

Again, we all ordered something different. For her main, my sister chose the tossed spaghetti. This was a less creamy version of carbonara as it had pancetta, mushrooms, and Parmesan. I didn’t taste this dish personally, but it looked nice and my sister enjoyed it. The spaghetti looked like it had been cooked perfectly. I have a thing about soggy spaghetti!

My mum decided to order the chicken stroganoff with rice. The rice was served in a separate bowl with the rice on the side. This was a dish she thoroughly enjoyed as the chicken was still moist and the sauce was thick and luscious. It was made with wholegrain mustard, so it was spotted with the seeds. 

After my enjoyment of the starter, I was thoroughly looking forward to my main. Sadly, I was a bit disappointed. I chose the vegetable bake, which was described as layers of aubergines and tomatoes, topped with Mozzarella. First things first, there were slices of aubergine and it was topped with Mozzarella, so this part of the description was correct.

Unfortunately, there were no tomatoes in the dish. There were some courgettes at the bottom, which was a bonus as I love courgettes. However, I had been looking forward to the tang that tomatoes give a dish and this was missing. My other criticism was that this was a pasta dish and there was no mention of pasta on the menu. The aubergines were layered between sheets of pasta and topped with a bechamel sauce. It should really have been written as aubergine lasagne. However, I must add that it was perfectly well cooked, it was just not what I wanted or had expected. 

Drinks

There was some pretense that we were being healthy by attending a spa, so we ordered a jug of water. Unfortunately, we also ordered a jug of sangria to accompany our meal (well, we only do this once a year!). It was fruity, alcoholic, delicious and the perfect accompaniment to what was, for the most part, a good meal.

The menu has changed every year I have been, so no doubt I will have some different dishes to describe next year. Although I had a few minor issues, these related more to the descriptions of the food than the quality or flavour. 

 

 

The Unusual Diet of The Inuit People Living in the Frigid Zone

Inuit

The Frigid Zone is the area including and surrounding the Arctic, that encompasses Alaska, Greenland and the most northern parts of Canada. This part of the world has a very low population and is only inhabited by the Inuit people. Due to the cold climate and the sparse environment, the Inuit have a very unusual diet.

Traditionally, the Inuit are hunters and fishers who eat only what they can catch themselves. They have no access to grocery stores and eat only what is naturally available. This results in a somewhat limited diet of seal, whale, reindeer, birds, and seafood. Their diet is almost carbohydrate-free and fruit and vegetables are generally limited to seaweed, tubers, and berries that are gathered during the season and then preserved. 

With all the hype about eating a healthy and well-balanced diet, this lack of carbohydrates and fresh fruit and vegetables may seem concerning. It makes sense to believe that a diet that is so protein-rich would potentially cause health problems.

However, studies have shown that this is not the case. Despite what most would consider a very poor diet, the Inuit enjoy extremely good health and research shows that they are accessing all the vitamins and minerals they need to maintain good health. 

Written in response to the Daily Prompt ‘Frigid’ on The Daily Post.

WATCH: The Amazing School Meals in Japan

Japanese school dinners

When I was at school (some time ago now) the school dinners were dreadful. We were served tasteless slop and there are many foods that I still will not eat based on my experiences at school; custard is one of them. I just came across this amazing video on a social media site that shows how Japanese school dinners are served and wanted to share it straight away. I truly believe that schools from across the globe should follow the lead of the Japanese based on this video content. 

First, the children plan their school meals and then study the nutritional value of the meals and the cultural significance of the dishes. Next, they take turns to serve the meals to their peers. Many of the meals are made from produce grown on the school farm. Therefore, the meals are made from fresh seasonal produce, are healthy and delicious. The video shows some of the meals they eat and also mentions that the Japanese have one of the lowest childhood obesity rates in the world and that their school meals are one of the reasons for this.

At the end of meal time, the children thank their servers and clean the dining hall. They consider their dinnertime to be part of their education rather than a break from their education. They are taught to have respect, manners, and pride in their school. I was particularly interested in this as I worked for many years in the Learning Support Faculty of a secondary school. I volunteered to do dinner duties. This involved supervising the dining hall. From my own experiences in the UK, the school children did not show the same level of pride in their school and were generally unwilling to tidy away after themselves.

Take a look at the video below and feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

The Bacon Barm Debate

bacon butty

I was writing a post about bacon for someone’s website this morning and it got me thinking about the age-old bacon barm debate. I am from Lancashire, England, and the image above shows what we call a bacon barm. ‘The word ‘barm’ is an abbreviation of barmcake. Most people in Lancashire would refer to having a bacon barm for their breakfast rather than using any other terminology. However. people from other areas of the country are not familiar with this vernacular and use a variety of other words to describe this delicious snack and, in most cases, I disagree with their choice of words.

I particularly don’t like it when people refer to having a bacon muffin. Surely a muffin is a cake? Similarly, I dislike the use of the term bacon bap. This is mainly because baps is a slang term for women’s breasts in the UK. Another poor option is bacon bun. I was brought up to call small fairy cakes buns, so this doesn’t seem right either. In some parts of the country, they refer to it as a bacon teacake. Where I am from, a teacake is a sweet bread with currents that is toasted and served dripping in butter. 

The two that I can understand and don’t mind hearing are bacon roll and bacon sandwich. However, I do still have an issue with these and it specifically relates to the type of bread used. To me, a bread roll is much firmer and smaller than a barmcake. People use the word sandwich as a general term to describe bread with a filling. I would argue that a sandwich is made using two slices of bread from a loaf.

I had to get this off my chest. Perhaps I have too much time on my hands this morning. What do you call a bacon barm?

5 of the Best Varieties of French Cheese

Image result for french cheese

France is famous for many things including its wine production, the Eiffel tower and its beautiful countryside.  However, it is also famous for its diverse production of cheeses.  In fact, France produces over four hundred different cheeses which are generally categorised into eight different groups.  To review all the cheeses that are produced in France would require extensive knowledge, research and time.  However, here is a summary of five of the most famous and delicious varieties of cheese that are produced in France and enjoyed around the world.

Brie

brie

This is a soft cheese made from cow’s milk that is generally produced in the Île-de-France region, specifically Brie after which it is named.  The cheese is encased in a soft dough crust and has a creamy and smooth consistency and flavour.  Variations of this cheese are Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun.  Brie is made in large, round discs and the buyer will normally purchase just a slice of this.

Camembert

camembert

Another soft cheese that is most associated with the Normandy region of France, also from cow’s milk.  Similarly to Brie, the cheese is encased in a soft, edible crust and has a smooth and creamy taste and texture.  In contrast to Brie, Camembert is ripened in smaller cases which give it a slightly different flavour and it is often sold still in its small, wooden casings.

Munster

munster

This is a strong flavoured soft cheese that was named after the town in which it was originally produced.  This cheese was also originally conserved and preserved in monk’s cellars.  There are also several different variations of this cheese which are produced industrially oversees, some of which have a milder flavour.

Roquefort

Roquefort_Cheese_Grenoble

The thing that makes this cheese unique is that it is produced from sheep’s milk and is linked to the Midi-Pyrenees region of France.  This is one of the world’s best known blue cheeses, alongside stilton and Gorgonzola.  Although it is referred to as a blue cheese, the veins of mould which run through it are actually green.  Roquefort can be described as being crumbly and moist, with a slightly tangy and salty flavour.  In English, this cheese is sometimes spelled as Rochefort.

Langres 

langres

Langres is a cheese made from cow’s milk in the Champagne region of France. It is a brine-coated cheese that is creamy and oozing in the centre. This makes it perfect for mopping up with chunks of fresh bread. It has quite a strong aroma but is certainly not in the league of ‘smelly feet’ cheese.