Category: Food

Sound Day Out – Nice one!

“How much can you see in a day trip out to Manchester?”

“Like everything in life, Sharon – it depends on how much effort you’re prepared to put into it,” said Mum with not one ounce of drollness.

A flying visit to Manchester, or should that be a train visit as that was our mode of transport, to enjoy an end of the week day out treat.

It was Thursday. It was drizzling. It was dreary.

Exiting the train at Victoria, as opposed to our usual Manchester Piccadilly, meant being greeted by the city from a different vantage point. The Printworks food and entertainment complex welcomes you as does the National Football Museum.

We had spent several visits to Manchester over last Summer so decided to visit the places we missed on our previous visits.

“I want to visit my favourite place in Manchester, Piccadilly Gardens,” Mum says.

We walk there, watched the fountains and are greeted by evoking smells as there is a food market on – pasties, kebabs, burgers and Yorkshire Wraps.

“Look, the Yorkshire Wraps stand. Looks like the one from York,” I say, a tad too excited.

“From York?”

“In the Shakespeare Village. It was one of the food stands,” I clarify.

Mum breaks into a smile: “Oh god, yes! From one of our favourite places.”

We were transported back to York and the Rose Shakespeare outdoor Theatre with its Shakespearean Village selling food and drinks. A happy last Summer was spent there!

“Were you at the York Shakespeare Village?” I lean in and ask the vendor, a handsome bearded fellow.

“Sorry?” he leans over the steaming gravy toward me.

“Were you at the York Shakespeare Village?” I repeat. “Last Summer. Next to the outdoor Shakespeare Theatre. Selling Yorkie wraps. The best food stand in the Shakespeare Village. Yes?”

“No,” he said. “There’s loads of  us Yorkshire Wraps,” he smiled.

We popped into the Harvey Nicks store – to use the toilets.

“We can’t go in just to use the toilets,” said Mum.

“Course we can,” I said. “Just act as if you belong there. To quote Jennifer Saunders in Ab Fab, when dealing with snooty staff, ‘You only work in a shop you know, you can drop the attitude.’”

“True,” nodded Mum as she walked ahead of me and let the doorman open the heavy glass door for us.

Surprisingly, the beauty department was empty so we were approached by every heavily made up counter assistant with offers to be squirted with the latest of everything. Of course, there’s only so many perfumes one can have sprayed on before one pongs – or gags.

Having been in this store many times, though strangely never with Mum, I know where to head for the ladies toilets – a sharp right to get to the lift, up to the bistro on the second floor and cut through the food halls before finding relief in the ladies.

The lift is like an art installation: circular mirrors adorned the walls.

“I don’t really want to see myself a thousand times,” Mum laughs. “Once is enough!”

But the lift is fantastic, I love it!

Having emptied our bladders, we walk back out Harvey Nicks, courtesy of the kind doorman again opening the glass doors and head to Sinclairs Oyster Bar at Shambles Square.

Sinclairs has historical significance, as its origins date back to the 16th century. 
We aren’t put off getting a drink and sitting in its famed, popular beer garden by the large, burly bouncer guarding the latter.

We struggle to get through the single file, heavy doors.

“Where’s the Harvey Nicks doorman when you need him?” I pipe up.

We are hit by the smell of stale beer. The smell of a proper, old fashioned boozer.

“Reminds me of the smell when your Grandad used to come home from the pub,” Mum smiles fondly.

It is small and cramped with low-beamed ‘old England’ atmosphere.

“I don’t like it. It’s too cosy,” I say, wiping the beer spillage from my arm that the man I brushed past left.

“Look, the sun has come out for us!” enthuses Mum as we squeeze back out of the single file doors out to the beer garden. “I love it!”

Manchester, nice one.

Restaurant Week – always

NE1 Newcastle Restaurant Week 2019 returned again, with over 100 restaurants involved, offering amazing food in Newcastle’s finest restaurants for only £10 or £15pp from the 21st – 27th January.

Logo © NE1 Get Into Newcastle

“What do you think of Restaurant Week?” I ask Mum.

“It’s very good but is it actually worth the restaurants putting it on? I was thinking do they actually get more people going? Do they actually make profit?” Mum said.

“That’s a lot of actuallys –“ I laugh.

“If they’re halving or taking a third off the menu prices, they still have to pay for staff and ingredients. I know it’s for people to try new places, get people into the city centre and it’s publicity. I wonder if it’s worth it in the long run for Restaurant Week,” she continues.

“It gets people back into the city,” I offer.

“Oh, it’s a good thing. But I think January is a bad month to have it in.” Mum says.

“That’s kind of the point. January is a depressing month so it’s to give people a boost.” I reply.

“I understand that. But there’s other elements – and I’m not just talking about the crap weather.”

“I see.”“People still don’t have a great deal of money after Christmas. There’s still long, dark, cold nights. I don’t like January,” Mum explains.

“Or Mondays,” I chip in.

“Very droll,” Mum retorted.

We’re at Beeronomy, a brand, spanking new bar and restaurant on Hood Street, off Newcastle’s Grey Street, where the art of beer and food are perfectly matched.

“This place, when we spoke to the waitress, she said it was fully booked tonight.”

“If it’s busy every night for Restaurant Week, then it clearly works. It’s great to bring people back into Newcastle. That’s always assuming that a venue’s food is good,” Mum tittered.

 “Why did we choose this restaurant today?” I inquire.

“I think it’s one of the few restaurants we haven’t been in,” Mum responded.

“One of the few? We’re not Jay Rayner.” I joke and we laugh.
We were sitting at one of the two taken tables. It was mid-afternoon. Post lunchtime and pre-after works drinks. It felt like we had the place to ourselves and that was nice. Plus it meant we got all of the staff’s attention.

Beeronomy’s Restaurant Week Offer was 2 courses for £10 or 3 for £15 – plus you got a drink, either a pint of house cask ale, a cocktail or a soft drink. You couldn’t gan wrong!

We plumped for cocktails and three courses. We were not disappointed. The food was excellent and the attention to detail of the interior and décor of the place is second to none.

Get yourself along to this new establishment, support an independent venue. It’s got something for everyone – you don’t have to be a beer drinker!

“Maybe they could make it Restaurant Fortnight to give us a chance to eat more delicious food?”
Mum suggests as she sips on a porn star martini.

I nod in agreement:
“So many restaurants, so little time.”

Well good news for us – as Beeronomy have extended their offer until Sunday 3rd February, two courses for £10, three courses for £15 and all cocktails are 2-4-1. So get on it like a car bonnet!

The Birthday Night Before Christmas

We are out celebrating Mum’s birthday, which is inconveniently placed in the week leading up to Christmas. Just the two of us. For food and drinks.

“I don’t like that my birthday is just six days before Christmas but then I’ve had to live with it my whole life.”

Makes sense, as that’s usually the case with birthdays…

“Everyone is always skint leading up to Christmas,” continues Mum. “Everyone has family prep, work and parties to attend and are so busy rushing around for the big day.”

“Self, self, self,” I say.

“Exactly. I mean, there’s an element of boredom –

This makes me laugh: “An element of boredom?”

 “Yes,” she jokes, “an element of boredom waiting for Christmas Day coming so they can’t be bothered to celebrate birthdays or anything else. As a birthday is a big thing and Christmas is a big thing. People don’t want to celebrate both.”

“So people will wish you a happy birthday but then ask in the same breath what are you doing for Christmas and New Year?” I ask.

“Always!” Mum replies.

“I also get a birthday and Christmas present all rolled into one, usually wrapped in Christmas paper and linked in some way.”

 “Are you apathetic about your birthday then?”

“Well the older I get, the more I think I can’t be bothered myself! My birthdays just go by the by.”

“What’s been the worst birthday you recall?” I quiz.

“I had a big birthday, arranged a drinks party and hardly anyone came.”

“The bastards!”

“Indeed!” chuckled Mum then took a long sip of her birthday cocktail.

“I mean, it’s only as you get older that you really want people to celebrate your birthday with you. But, like I say, it’s good luck with getting people out!”

“Everywhere, restaurants and pubs, are always busy too – or only have their Christmas menus on.”

“Precisely. You can’t necessarily get booked up anywhere, or need to pay deposits or have set meals. It’s just far too much planning. I can’t be arsed.”

“What’s been your favourite thing on today’s birthday, Mum?”

“These cocktails!”

“They are delish.” I agree.

“I don’t think I could drink more than two as I may feel a little bit tiddly,” states Mum,

“You couldn’t drink more than two when it’s a shot of rum, shot of vodka and a shot of butterscotch liqueur? I think two is enough…”

We raise our glasses: “Cheers!”

“Do you feel outshone due to what Christmas actually celebrates, having to contend with someone else’s birthday on Christmas Day?” I ask.

“Yes, I do feel upstaged, but that’s the way life is,” Mum says matter of fact.

 “Upstaged by the Lord Jesus Christ?!”

“You can’t have it all ways,” says Mum. “On the plus side, because it’s my birthday in the week leading up to Christmas, I can be drunk every day of the week until Christmas Day!”

Happy Birthday Mummy – and Merry Christmas Ya Filthy Animals!


Two French Tarts

Well, we did the Brum Christmas Market, hence had to do the one on our doorstep – Newcastle’s Christmas Market.

So we met at Grey’s Monument, a primary meeting point in Newcastle city centre and happens to be where the Christmas Market is set, being open until this Sunday, December 16th.

“I’m pleased it’s here at Monument, ‘coz if it was at the Quay, don’t think I could’ve been arsed,” said Mum as I walked up to greet her.

“Good to see you too,” I replied. “Shall we walk round?”

“Yeah, sounds good”

We pass the real Christmas tree and plant stands plus the roasted chestnuts and mulled wine fella, where we each buy one to peruse the rest of the market.  Newcastle’s International Market and Christmas Market have been merged this year to allow people to experience the best of both worlds!

There’s plenty of stalls selling Winter accessories, scarves, hats, gloves. 
Lots of baked goods stands.

“So pleased I don’t have a sweet tooth,” I say. “I can’t afford the calories…”

Crepes, waffles, French pastries – gorgeous tarts. Too much choice!

“Look at that, two French tarts for a fiver,” Mum says.

“You can’t go wrong,” Me and Mum say in unison.

We gasp and look away from each other. Have we been spending too much time together??!

The Pick and Mix sweet stall had the longest queue. Everyone getting their sugar fix. Sweets are always very popular. Explains those British Smiles…

There’s so much choice food wise, there’s all kinds – Greek, Indian, Chinese, Mexican. Plus the German market food, including the infamous bratwurst.

We plumped for the Yorkshire Pudding wraps.

“I wasn’t sure how they would serve the Yorkshire Pudding wraps. I thought the gravy would’ve splattered out all over the place whilst I was eating it,” said Mum. “And I wasn’t wrong.”

“Think I needed a bib!” I moaned. “It’s gone everywhere –“

“It’s on your shoes,” pointed out Mum.

“Oh god. I expect I look like a dog’s dinner.”

“Don’t you always…” laughed Mum.

To wash down the Yorkie Pud Wraps, and avoid any pooches, we nipped into the pop up Bavarian cabin style bar, took a seat inside and had a little drinkie each. I had a fruit beer while Mum continued on the mulled wine, adding a shot of rum to spice it up!

“What do you think of Newcastle Christmas Market compared to the Birmingham?” I ask.

“Well it’s a lot smaller for a start. But it also seems to have more choice,” Mum replied. “Birmingham seemed to have a lot of repetition with the stalls, more of the same. I mean, I enjoyed it – “

“Yeah, it was good,” I chip in.

“Absolutely but I felt it was quite corporate and samey.”

“We do things well but small up here,” I say.

“We do indeed,” said Mum with a self-satisfied smile. “ I mean, look at me – I’m five foot tall but perfectly formed.”


Don’t be such a Weiner

“Why would I want a foot long sausage?” asked Mum.

“You like a big sausage,” I said.

“But a foot long one?” Mum continued. “Why?”

“To see if you can fit it in your mouth?” I replied.

Mum stared at me in distaste.

“I think we all know the answer to that, Sharon,” she said dryly.

I love saying things about sausages – foot long or cocktail – to wind her up…

After a beat, Mum said: “You’re on a roll.”

“That’s the wurst thing you’ve said all day.” I answered.

“I’m pleased you brat it to my attention.” Mum reacted.

“You’ll only have a sausage if it has a good girth” I retorted.


“I think we’ve run out of sausage puns,” smiled Mum.

I nodded.
We were at Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas market. It’s the largest authentic German Christmas market in the UK and outside of Germany or Austria, offering a large range of traditional goods and gifts and a selection of Bavarian themed food and drink.

The Market runs along New Street from Victoria Square, where there is much going on, including live music and bands.

The group were going for it, singing their hearts out with cheesy songs. I say group, it was a fella standing singing over another man playing the keyboard.

A gang of teenage girls sat recording a phone video of themselves whilst joining in to ‘Is This the Way to Amarillo?’ Not truly a Christmas tune, but the girls had made an effort with enthusiasm and Santa hats.

There was a great, community atmosphere to the Market – though maybe that was due to the mulled wine…

We didn’t spot many children out and about at the Market. Though we saw plenty of babies and toddlers being forced to have their photograph taken in Santa’s Grotto scene, complete with being forced to sit on the inanimate Santa’s knee as the parents tried to get the best shot as the kids were screaming. I don’t blame them, as inanimate Santa was well creepy. As for the photos, we look forward to those pics appearing on the ‘awkward family photos’ website, or similar, in the future.

So many food and drink stalls, there certainly was a lot of choice:
Pretzels, waffle stands, crepes, fried cheeses, burgers, schnitzels, bratwursts of all sizes.  As well as roasted nuts – don’t worry, we’re not going to break out with the double entendres again.

‘Hot chocolate with SNAPS Shots’…

Drinks on offer include weissbeer (German wheat beer), hot chocolate – which could have a ‘snaps shot’ added. Surely German schnapps is spelt, well, schnapps?

Customer service at its best – place their drinks far apart…

Plus, of course, gluhwein in many flavours, as the menu read:
“Cherry mulled wine… Blueberry mulled wine… Apple mulled wine…

There was a deposit of £3 for every glass or mug with every drink. Not since being a student have I drank wine from a mug.

We eventually got our bratwurst.

“So you decided not to go for the foot long sausage?” I asked Mum.

She paused as she finished the last mouthful of her regular sized bratwurst.
“Well, I married your father – I was never going to get a foot long sausage.”

The One and Only…

“How many Newcastles are there?” asked Mum.

“Over one hundred,” I reply. “A hundred that we are aware of, anyway.”

“Bloody hell! I thought we were the only one.” Mum was surprised.

“Did you, why?” I queried.

“’Coz of Newcastle Brown Ale.”


“Newcastle Brown Ale says it’s ‘The One and Only’.”

“Right – ”

“So, as it made here in Newcastle upon Tyne, we’re the only one,” summed up Mum.
We were attending an event with the Newcastle upon Tyne Network of the Newcastles Of The World.

‘What’s Newcastles Of The World?’ I hear you ask.

It’s a friendship network to share experience and ideas on culture, heritage, education and business.

‘So what is ‘Newcastle’?’ you ask.

The origin of the name is often the same whatever the language – an old castle was destroyed or fell into disrepair and a “new” castle was built to replace it.

However, many Newcastles in the English-speaking world take their name from some connection with Newcastle upon Tyne – well of course they do…

‘What’s so special about these Newcastles?’

Nyborg (Newcastle), Denmark was from 1183 to 1413 Denmark’s capital and the Parliament – the Danehoffet – met at Nyborg Castle.

Nové Zamky (Newcastle), Slovakia, west of the capital Bratislava has a Mayor who  is an opera singer.

In our own Toon, a recent immigrant to the city became so enamoured with it, that he has legally changed his surname to Newcastle!

Some of the “Newcastles” have been meeting every two years for conferences. The most recent being staged in Shinshiro City Japan just this September for the Newcastles Of The World 20th anniversary.

“A Newcastles Of The World Cookbook,” I said, looking at the cover as we settle down for the event.

“Oh, what a nice touch – everyone who’s here is getting a free copy,” said Mum.

“What recipe do you think will be in from Newcastle upon Tyne?” I asked.

“Hmmm,” mused Mum. “I’m not sure –“

“What’s Geordie food?” I say out loud.

We both go silent as we muse.

“What about Pan Haggerty?” I say

“Pam who?” says Mum.

“Pan Haggerty,” I repeat.

“Think that’s a Northumbrian dish. Irish as well.”

A pause as we think again.

“Newcastle Brown Ale and steak pie,” I offer.

“Possibly,” agrees Mum. “Singing Hinnies?”

“Them scone things?”

“Yeah. Like a stodgy drop scone. Lovely with butter on!” smiles Mum. I can tell she’s now imagining a warm Singing Hinny with a nice cup of tea. She pauses: “What about pease pudding?”

Pease Pudding is something of a North Eastern delicacy, a savoury dish made of boiled split yellow peas, with water and seasonings. Sounds revolting – but isn’t!

“What would a recipe with pease pudding entail?” I ask.

“Well, I think most people have ham and pease pudding sandwiches, don’t they?”

“Someone told me their colleague has pease pudding and tongue sandwiches,” I say.

“Ugh. A tongue sandwich tends to go on and on…” smirks Mum. “I remember someone telling me to try fried pease pudding – “

“How do you fry pease pudding when it’s sloppy mush?”

 “Dip it in a bit of flour to give it a slightly crispy coating then fry it. They swear by it!”

“Sounds interesting.” I nod. “Though my fella told me that his Dad only ever serves pease pudding as a block, like cheese, on their Sunday dinner. As a garnish”

“Now I’ve heard it all!” Mum rolled her eyes.

“Let’s find out then,” I say as I flick through the book.

“Stop there, Newcastle upon Tyne,” says Mum pointing.

“Ah ha, I was right,” I am triumphant. “Newcastle Brown Ale Stew!”

“You said Newcastle Brown Ale and steak pie,” smirks Mum smugly. “Close, but no cigar…”



‘Newcastles Of the World – The History, Culture and Diversity of Places Called Newcastle’ edited  and compiled by Sue Wilson, CBE and printed by Tyne Bridge Publishing, is available to buy via Newcastle upon Tyne City Library for £7.99.

For more information and to get involved in Newcastles Of the World, visit

Thanks to David Faulkner

Eins – Steins – Prost!

Christmas in November in Newcastle’s Times Square – what’s going on, like?!

We spoke to Mike, of the Christmas Village, along with our complimentary drink, to find out: “Christmas Village is a festive experience for everyone to enjoy. There’s a German food village. There’s the ice rink that’s attached which is open later than previous years. The German craft market. Fire pits. Everything is free entry.*

Now we are a little bit different to everywhere else as we’ve got a big, massive Bavarian Beer Hall. We’ve got live music on. It’ll make you feel you’re in Southern Germany!” Mike tells us.

“There’s a Christmas Log Cabin, which we imported from Germany, if you just want a quiet drink during the day or after work. So a brand new, unique bar in Newcastle!”

Our Bavarian Beer Hall is open to families. Kids are welcome in the Beer Hall until 8pm. There’s doors to keep the heat in, so you’ll be nice and warm.” he continues.

“We know that we’re a bit early for Christmas, but you can never be too early for Christmas as everyone loves it!” Mike smiles.

Mum and I are well impressed and feel like we truly are in Bavaria as we head into the Beer Hall and order our steins.

“Five pound deposit for each glass is needed,” the barmaid advised.

“Is that to stop people stealing them?” I asked.

“Exactly,” she replied. “You get the full refund back on returning the glass.”

This is fair enough we decide as we take our seats amongst the rows of wooden tables and benches.

“People stealing steins reminds me of when our friend Josie did that. Do you remember?” asked Mum.

“Oh yeah, when we attended that Oktoberfest?” I said.

“Yeah. She was dressed as a German beer maid and had a half a two pint stein left. We were last in the beer tent. The door bouncers were shouting at us to drink up – ”

I smirked: “So Josie decided she was going to walk out with the half full stein. We walked on ahead of her to the exit. The bouncers stopped her and said: ‘You can’t leave with that glass.’ She argued that she’d bought the beer so the glass belonged to her. Then she announces she is going for a wee and off she goes.”

Mum laughed: “The bouncers and us followed her to the portaloo as she went inside. They hammered on the door for her to come out.”

Mum and I were sniggering now.
“So she opens the door and comes out,” laughs Mum.” ‘I was just having a wee,’ she says as she walks in slow motion as if she’s got knock knees. The bouncers stare at her and say ‘Drop it!’”

“And the two pint stein drops from between her legs, from under her dress, spilling beer everywhere around her!” I cackled.

“As if she’s giving birth and her waters had broke!” hooted Mum.

By now, people in the beer hall were looking at us, so we calmed it down and giggled silently just as the German Ooom Pah music started up.

We grabbed our drinks, knowing this was the first visit to the Christmas Village of many, nodded to each other and raised the steins: “Prost!”

Eins - Steins – Prost!

Eins – Steins – Prost!


* bar the ice rink

  • Christmas Village Newcastle is open every day until January 5th 2019!
  • Every day midday till midnight, free entry at all times including the Bavarian Beer tent & hut.
  • Ice Rink Tickets are available to purchase at

Tables can be reserved online, for up to fifty people so your Christmas parties are more than welcome. Reserving tables doesn’t cost any additional charge, it’s simply an advance purchase of your food and your drink. You’re getting a lot of bang for your buck – so lock down your seats in the private reservation area.

For more info, see or email

Life Centre’s For Life, Not Just For Christmas!

We were informed of the launch of Newcastle’s latest Christmas extravaganza – a Christmas Village in Times Square – as well as brilliant The Centre For Life’s ice rink opening and encouraged to attend.

“This is brilliant,” said Mum. “We have the whole place to ourselves!”

Bar the half a dozen workmen and staff setting things up the Christmas Village ahead of its five PM launch countdown. If you don’t count them, then yes, we have the whole Christmas Village to ourselves….

The Life Centre’s seasonal ice skating rink is a Newcastle Christmas steadfast, hugely popular and will be open to the public from Saturday 10th November. The Life Centre has a wonderful Seasonal programme coming up.

Photo courtesy & copyright of The Centre For Life

Sarah Reed, Communications Manager at Life Centre gave us the lowdown on all that will be happening at the Life Centre in the lead up to Christmas!

“There’s been loads going on today [launch day]. We’ve done an event on the ice rink as we’ve brought it back and it will be here until next February’s half term holidays, and although the event is centred on the ice rink, today was to launch our whole festive season. So we’ve got the ice rink that opens to the public skating from tomorrow. We’ve got Santa in his grotto, from November 17th on weekends only up until Christmas. Plus our friends in the Christmas Village launching today so that’s exciting that it’s alongside Life Centre!”

There’s also lots going on in the Life Science Centre as well. Not everyone knows that we run Christmas themed activities – you can explore fake snow in the experiment zone; make Christmas crafts in the Making Space; and on the 4D Motion ride, we’ve got The Polar Express, which gives you a completely new way of experiencing the show.”

We also have a fantastic exhibition opening for the Christmas holidays! If anyone likes a nice sci-fi movie for Christmas they should come along to Alien Invasion.”

 “We can hardly contain our excitement as you’ve got so much going on!” I tell Sarah.

“It must be a very busy time of year for you?!” Mum chips in.

“There’s just so much going on – there’s a lot of buzz and excitement. There’s going to be as much buzz and excitement in Times Square as there’s going to be in Life Centre this year which makes it particularly brilliant!” 

“Will you be at the Christmas Village launch this evening?”

“Oh, definitely! Who doesn’t like a nice, warm drink and a log fire? It just gets you into the festive spirit. It’s so pretty,” Sarah told us. “The Christmas Village team have done a really great job with it – it looks so impressive, so pretty with all of the fairy lights and Christmas trees. It looks fantastic!” 

“We look forward to raising a stein with you – cheers!” 






Life Science Centre 

Newcastle Christmas Village

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