A Night At Wagamama | Manchester

When it comes to culinary requirements, I have to say that my girls have made parenting pretty easy in that department. They have always been open to trying new foods and flavours, which is wonderful as I like to experiment with a vast array of recipes!

I still remember my Mum’s despair when one of my sisters (you know who you are…) refused to eat anything remotely nutritious all through her childhood and my poor mother having to blend up vegetables to hide in other foods.

One of Lucies particular favourite cuisines is Japanese. From curries to sushi, she adores them all. So when Wagamama invited me to try out some of their best selling dishes, I immediately knew who I’d be taking along with me! It’s not often that I get spend quality time with Lucie these days so I hoped that the lure of Japanese food would be enough for her to keep me company for a few hours.

If you haven’t heard of Wagamama before, where have you been? I jest of course. With over 140 resturants in the UK alone, I think that gives a fair idea of just how popular this chain really is. In fact, when Adam and I were in Amsterdam last year and got tired of walking around in the vile rainy weather, we took shelter in Wagamamas, knowing that we could enjoy a bowl of warming ramen and a few drinks in a familiar setting.

A few weeks ago, the two of us arrived at Wagamama in Spinningfields, Manchester and were greeted by the lovely general manager, Zoe.

 

After getting settled, we were handed a menu each and Lucie and I spent a fair while deliberating over where to begin! We sought advice from our super-knowledgeable server Damien. After a chat to establish mine and Lu’s tastes, preferences and dislikes, he gave us some sound recommendations. Here’s what we decided on:

Drinks 

The weather was a typical Manchester summers evening. Damp with drizzle yet muggy and warm. When Lucie and I spotted these fresh juices, we opted for them straight away. Lu went for the Tropical Juice, containing mango, apple and orange and I chose the healthy Repair Juice, containing kale, apple, lime and pear.

They were a world apart form the usual processed drinks and hit the spot perfectly. The apple and lime stood out the most for me, with the kale giving lots of healthy benefits, without an overwhelming vegetable taste!

Starters

We ordered a plate of prawn gyozas, chicken gyozas and a beef hirata steamed bun to share. The five prawn gyozas arrived fried with a dipping sauce whilst the portion of chicken gyozas were steamed.  These little tasty dumplings of goodness did not disappoint! Cooked to perfection and well-filled, they didn’t last very long.

The beef hirata bun was new to us. A fluffy, asian bun stuffed with korean barbecue beef and red onion, served with Japanese mayonnaise and coriander, I was unsure of what to expect. After the first bite, I knew this dish was going to be one of my future favourites. It was truly delicious! I (reluctantly) shared my hirata bun with Lucie, who also declared it to be ‘yummy’. So much so, that we may have ordered more…

We were left nicely filled whilst we pondered over our main courses. With so many lovely offerings, this took us around 15 minutes, however Damien remained patient and we never once felt rushed or pressured.

Main Courses

Once we’d selected our main courses, they arrived in record time and were both beautifully presented.

Lucie had the Ginger Chicken Udon; udon noodles with ginger chicken, mangetout, egg, chillies, beansprouts and red onion. topped with pickled ginger and coriander. She gave it a drizzle of soy sauce and tucked in with no complaints, using her chopsticks like the little pro she is! With plump, soft noodles and a nice mix of flavours, I had a sneaky taste of Lu’s dish and it was just as good as it looked.

I chose the Prawn Raisukaree; a mild, coconut and citrus curry, with prawns, mangetout, peppers, red and spring onions with white rice, a sprinkle of mixed sesame seeds, red chillies, coriander and fresh lime. With the curry surrounding a mound of steamed white rice, it almost looked too pretty to eat. Almost. I tucked in and the chillies began to work their magic. Giving a nice level of heat without burning my delicate taste buds, the blend was spot on. The prawns were a good size and plentiful, with nice chunky pieces of pepper and spring onion.

We thoroughly enjoyed the meals however ended up asking of we could take the remainder home after over-indulging on our extra starters; that’ll teach me to be greedy! Damien helpfully packed our food in easy to transport containers then asked if we would like dessert. Of course we had to take a look at what was on offer, despite being far too full!

Desserts 

In our family, dessert is a big deal. Us girls are all sweet-toothed and big, big fans of pudding, sweets and all things sugary. Obviously, our dentist loathes us! After scouring the menu and fawning over the mochi ice-cream (little balls of heaven ice cream wrapped in a layer of sticky rice, served with sauce) banana katsu (banana in panko breadcrumbs with a scoop of salted caramel ice cream) and more, we had to reluctantly admit defeat and decline another course.

I think Damien saw the sadness in my eyes as he brought us two natural fruit ice lollies to take home! Despite being a ‘consolation prize’, we ate these in the car on the way home and they were were honestly the tastiest lollies I’ve ever had. With chunks of fresh cherry and strawberry pieces respectively hidden in these bad boys, they were much appreciated!

So there you have it. Lucie and I had a fabulous time and the food, service and atmosphere have gained a 10/10 from us! I’m a little sad that we live in the middle of nowhere and can’t take advantage of the Wagamama take away service but for you lucky folk that can, what on earth are you waiting for?

A big thank you to Zoe, Damien and all of the staff at Wagamama, Spinningfields for a lovely Friday night.

*Our food and drink were provided FOC however all opinions are my own. 

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Beauty Lessons With The Training Room

When it comes to hair and beauty, I consider myself a novice. I can manage the basics but often find the world of cosmetics rather overwhelming.

I’ve been lucky enough to have my make up done professionally for photoshoots in the past. I adore the pin up look and have tried to recreate this myself on several occasions, however the end result is always less than perfect! The glamorous, full make up is ideal for pictures or a special night out, but my every day beauty routine is much more basic.

I have freckly skin and, although people often try to cover their freckles up, I quite like that natural look. Therefore, I tend to use a sheer BB cream as my base, to even out the blotches and give a very light coverage. I add some translucent powder, blush, mascara and kohl liner and I’m good to go.

Having such limited knowledge and skill, I decided that it would be best to hire a professional to do my make up for our upcoming wedding day. When the quote came back at over $450 for a two hour session, I was forced to start looking at alternatives.

A few days later, I received an invitation to attend a beauty taster class with The Training Room – perfect timing, eh?

I headed to Manchester to meet up with some fellow bloggers and get myself beauty educated. Most of us arrived a little flustered, thanks to the humid heat and notorious Northern rain. We got settled at the gorgeous Midland hotel and after a few quick introductions, our tutor Amanda began the class.

With over 28 years of experience under her belt, Amanda certainly knew her stuff! She talked us through a whole host of different topics, from eyebrow shaping to skin care. I was surprised at just how knowledgeable Amanda was and it was clear that she works to a very high standard.

My skin can be a little oily in places and occasionally flares up with pimples and blemishes. I was plagued with adult acne in my early twenties, after several rounds of hospital treatment and minor surgery sent my hormones in to a spin. Eventually, this was controlled by long-term medication from my GP and seems to fluctuate much less these days.

I do find the array of skincare options out there rather confusing and am reluctant to spend a small fortune on products that I am not familiar with. This means that my general skincare routine involves washing my face with a simple beauty soap and water then popping on a light, chemical free moisturiser.

I thought Amanda was going to faint when I disclosed this fact! She reiterated just how important it is to use decent quality products and take good care of your face. She also told me exactly what this soap is made of (animal fats, nasty chemicals and more) meaning my trusty bar went straight in the bin!

After doing some research online, I’m hoping to invest in a better skincare range soon and get myself into the habit of cleansing, toning and moisturising. As mentioned above, the overload of product information can be confusing and costly if you get it wrong, but I have found that Anoushka Loves, The Scientific Beauty and Loves & Loathes blogs offer some sound advice on where to begin!

Contouring is a technique that has become incredibly popular of late, however it often leaves me a little scared. It tends to conjure up images of Ru Pauls ladies and, as lovely as they may be, I personally prefer a more understated look!

Amanda demonstrated the perfect way to get a subtle yet flattering look using cream contours. The thick, dark line placed just under the cheekbone was initially alarming to say the least! However, this is where I learnt my first bit of beauty wizardry – blending is the key. As Amanda spent time slowly blending, this eventually gave a very natural look on her model.

She asked if we were all happy to remove our existing make up so we could practice applying products on ourselves throughout the class; the initial hesitance in the room was blatantly obvious! Isn’t it odd how vulnerable we seem to feel without our make-up on? It’s almost as if cosmetics have become a firmly integrated part of our identity or a mask to give us more confidence in public. We all obliged and got to work, practising the above contouring techniques.

Throughout the course of the afternoon, we also learnt how to clean our brushes, create the optimum eyebrow shape, shade eye shadow properly and much, much more. I left the course feeling enlightened, a little bit more confident and even tried out some of my new found skills at home.

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My youngest daughter Lucie is a budding beautician and her skills have already far surpassed mine, thanks to plenty of practice and numerous YouTube tutorials! For those of you looking to change things up, take on a new hobby or even start a new career, then The Training Room may be able to help. Whether you’d like to work in spas, salons, on cruise ships or become freelance and build up your own business, this course can open up a wealth of opportunities.

The Training Room offer both part time weekday and weekend courses for you to take advantage of. They also offer a wide range of qualifications, which are recognised worldwide.

You can find more information here. A big thank you to The Training Room and the lovely Amanda Harewood for inviting me along for a fun, informative day!

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Waking Up With Beanies Flavour Co Coffee | Review

I am not a morning person and my long-suffering family would probably agree! It generally takes me a few hours to stop being grumpy wake up properly and one of the main saviours for me is a cup of coffee.

I do love my tea (being a stereotypical Brit and all…) but there is something about a strong cup of coffee that fills the gap perfectly when you need an energy boost or to be pulled out of a sleepy haze.

When I was offered the chance to review Beanies Flavour Co coffees, I had to say yes. I am a self confessed hipster and like to try anything new, fun and fancy! In a variety of flavours, these bad boys offer a little extra luxury to the usual, functional caffeine hit.

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Being a sweet tooth, I opted for Chocolate Orange, Irish Cream, Nutty Hazelnut and Amaretto Almond instant coffees but did spot the Cookie Dough and Mint Chocolate options afterwards, so may have to add them to the list for next time! Of course, there are plenty of flavoured coffees on the market but Beanies are a little bit special.

Not only do they contain just 2 calories per cup for guilt free indulgence, but unlike other flavour coffee producers who coat the granules in sweet flavours, Beanies actually infuse them with the finest quality flavourings. This gives a richer, more authentic taste. Clever eh?

Beanies Flavour Co produce flavoured, ground and instant coffees, with no added sugars or syrups. All products are also vegan and gluten-free; ideal for those with specialist dietary requirements. If you’re pregnant or just cutting out the caffeine yet still enjoy the occasional mug of coffee, then Beanies offer a decaf range too.

Although I haven’t done much baking for a while, one my signature recipes is a rich coffee and walnut cake. Next time, I may just experiment with the ingredients and try adding one of the flavoured coffees for a change.

Nutty Hazelnut

First up was Nutty Hazelnut. I found that one teaspoon didn’t quite cut it for me so I added another half and it was much better. That’s simply my personal preference (It WAS 6.30am in the morning so maybe I just needed that extra boost) and I added milk too.

The flavour was subtle but rich and I was pleasantly surprised to find it didn’t have that sharp, synthetic taste that you sometimes find with these kind of coffees. The additional flavour actually enhances the coffee, without being too overbearing.

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Chocolate Orange

This one combines two of my very favourite flavours – orange and chocolate! Whilst this still gave the soothing, familiar taste of coffee, it left a pleasant aftertaste of smooth milk chocolate with tangy orange. Great for when you fancy a sweet treat without the calories.

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Irish Cream

Being a big fan of a popular Irish Cream drank excessively during the festive period, I had high hopes for this flavour. I’m happy to report that it did not disappoint! Smooth and creamy with a distinctive taste, it was actually one of my favourites in the end.

I can imagine swapping the milk for real Irish Cream would make a lovely, grown up treat during the colder months. Best save this for at home though as I’m not sure the boss would approve!

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Amaretto Almond

This one had a distinctive boozy smell, even though none of Beanies coffees contain alcohol. This blend of marzipan liqueur and almond flavouring made for a pretty delicious beverage; without the posh coffee shop price tag! The Amaretto flavour complimented the coffee nicely, without being too sickly sweet.

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I like the idea of the Beanies Stash Box too. The ideal gift for any fellow coffee lover (and my Mum…) you can pick and mix 9 flavours to create something bespoke and personal.

Have you tried Beanies coffees yet?

*Contains PR samples

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