We all know some weekends are better than others – some are made up of brilliant plans, other times with surprising twists making things unexpectedly enjoyable. This last weekend was not destined to be fun, or interesting, or really anything other than bloody awful. I had a big exam on Monday – the biggest exam of my career, and hopefully the last one I will ever need to sit. I’ve invested my savings, my evenings, my sweat and tears into preparing for it over the last few months and knew that I needed to spend the weekend leading up to it working extra hard, trying to make sure all the guidelines and clinical knowledge and communication skills that are lodged somewhere in the deepest darkest crevices of my brain (or just a few taps away on good old Google) were brought to the forefront of my mind. So, in order to get myself through what was bound to be pretty miserable, I needed to plan a good weekend of food. After all, food makes me happy, and is one of my key motivators!
Now, anyone who read my last blog will know how much I love Thai food at the moment, but I haven’t quite mastered the art of making decent Thai curries at home yet, or maybe I hadn’t found or bought the right ingredients to do so. This all changed last week when I happened to stumble across the world foods aisle at Waitrose when I popped in to buy my lunch one day from work. They have a selection of Thai pastes, spices and ingredients like no other supermarket round me, plus interesting and different Thai snacks and meal accompaniments, unlike the usual boring Chinese spring rolls which inevitably taste of grease and a bit of carrot. So, what started out as a quick lunch stop, quickly turned into the beginnings of a rather delicious Thai feast to make on Friday night.
Friday came around, and it was beautifully sunny and warm for the first time all year. I was off work, revising, and the combination of sunshine and no work was too good to miss. The beauty of revision is that it can be done anywhere, including a sheltered, quiet, sun-trap of a beer garden. With a pint, naturally.
After I’d managed to persuade myself it was time to go home, and after a few more hours of guideline learning, it was time to start making the feast. Cue lots of mess, packets and tins and pans all over. Some time later, it was finally ready – lamb massaman rolls, prawn gyoza, jasmine rice, chicken massaman curry and beef red curry. Unfortunately, the only photo I took before guzzling it all down makes it look far less than desirable, so I will allow your imagination to run away with you as you imagine the taste of all the deliciousness that was in my bowl! I’m just so glad I found such a good selection of Thai goodies at Waitrose – I’ll have to make it all again, purely to practice my plating skills so that I can take nice photos!
Saturday was another sunny warm day, perfect for making me desperate to get out, instead of stuck at home working. I did manage to go out for a brilliant exercise class in the morning – Boogie Bounce – 45 minutes of bouncing away on a mini trampoline, with disco lights and very loud music, and lots of silly moves and sweating. I’d done the same class earlier in the week, although this one was even more enjoyable as the instructor was brilliant. Nearly 400 calories and a lot of panting later, I headed back home to settle into my books.
Luckily, I had exciting dinner plans for the evening. I’d recently driven past a small, very interesting-looking restaurant – Edward’s – just around the corner from my house in Beeston. It described itself as a ‘canteen’, and a quick check on Trip Advisor confirmed that it was definitely worth a visit, with amazing reviews. It is open for breakfast/brunch/lunch and on three nights a week opens in the evening to serve a set menu of multiple Asian-inspired ‘street food’ dishes. The reviews suggested the chef is worthy of Michelin stars and for this to be just around the corner from my house, in sleepy little Beeston, it was too good to be missed. On arriving, there were 6 long tables set out in a very narrow room. One table already had diners but the others were empty. We were shown to our choice of tables, having to do the limbo around very low-hanging lights which were in odd places – apparently when the restaurant was set up it had been the idea to have one long table down the middle of the room, but the public hadn’t liked it very much so they had reverted to traditional tables, albeit leaving the lamp shades dangling above the original table locations!
The owner soon came to greet us and take our drinks order, then was back to explain the slightly bizarre, and definitely different, menu. This was started off with an ‘amuse bouche’ which that night was a kimchee gyoza with roasted bell peppers, then followed by a seafood ramen. I’m not going to lie, we were both slightly nervous about that one – one who doesn’t really like seafood, and one who doesn’t really like ramen! However, it was actually really quite nice, and I felt very brave eating tiny purple octopuses and squid rings! Next came a palate cleanser of a smoked granita of rosemary, black pepper and sugar – this was served under a smoke-filled bell jar and was absolutely delicious, with granules of brown sugar left on the plate which were amazing to eat – I don’t think I have ever tasted smoked sugar before! Next stop on this round the world ticket was a Korean noodle dish, a very small portion of really lovely flavours. Strangely, next came a Japanese steamed bun (filled with a tasty green paste) on the same board as a Mexican shrimp burrito. The burrito was the only thing in the whole meal that didn’t make sense to us, and it didn’t taste all that nice either, with a strange consistency and lots of grease. The last dish was an Indian curried dhal, with red rice and strips of bhaji mixed through the curry. On top of this sat a big piece of delicious, crispy, fried chicken – sort of like KFC but about a million times better! The meal was then ended with a smoked shot of amaretto, and some little chunks of nut brittle – sweet, chewy, delicious and a nice finish to a really wonderful, if a little weird, meal.
I would definitely recommend booking a trip to this little hidden gem of a restaurant. It’s small, it’s independent, and it’s incredible value for really good quality, and very innovative and different, well-thought out food. The set meal is only £25, and definitely worth trying out, before the old Michelin man does come along and make this place unaffordable! Give it a go, you won’t regret it!