Time for a Coffee: Top Ten Blog Posts 2018

This year I have written 35 blog posts.

Tenth post was over ten years old, Chorizo Frito al Vino which was my thoughts on cooking Chorizo sausage in wine.

Chorizo

Ninth place was also about Chorizo, this was about Sainsbury’s Cooking Chorizo. Having used cooking chorizo from Tesco, Marks and Spencers and Sainsbury, I much prefer using the chorizo from Tesco or Marks and Spencers.

The eighth most popular post on the blog was about the Pret A Manger Italian Chicken Salad I had in 2013. I have had it quite few times since.

The number seven post was Beef and Mushroom Stew with Dumplings. The post had a lot of thoughts about mushrooms.

The sixth most popular post was not about just any pork medallions, but Marks and Spencers Pork Medallions.

My fifth post was about retro chocolate. How many of these can you remember? Which were your favourites?

Retro Chocolate

Reminiscing about Newquay Steam Beer was the fourth most read post on the blog.

Climbing two places, the third most popular post was Basil & pine nut margherite, a simple pasta recipe.

Second most popular blog, having been top for two years was Sirloin for Beef Wellington? This was a response to the high ranking of another post about using sirloin steak in a Beef Wellington rather than fillet steak due to the way people were (at the time) searching Google.

In at number one Chilli Squid from Wagamama, maintaining it’s top position as the most popular post on the blog.. This post was one of the many on the blog about squid, however it is now quite old being from 2011.

So popularity appears to be dependent on older posts being found via Google searches.

I wasn’t sure what I was in the mood for…

Sometimes having too much choice can be a bad thing. I was up in Sheffield for an event and aiming for a quick meal I popped to the dining quarter of Meadowhall within there are a range of eating options.

The lower level is mainly fast food chains, but I was intrigued by Yangtze, a Chinese takeaway, but the queue was quite long and I really fancied taking my time being waited upon. On the upper level I did like the idea of the Spanish Tapas place, but felt it was quite expensive for what was on offer. There was also Las Iguanas which I don’t think I’ve been to, but looked tempting.

In the end I decided to go with Wagamama. I wanted to try out the Tama Squid, crispy fried squid balls, drizzled with okonomiyaki sauce and mayonnaise. finished with aonori and bonito flakes. I thought to myself I wouldn’t also mind trying Wagamama’s hirata steam buns to see if they are as good as the ones from She Sells Sushi. For the main course I thought Yakisoba would be a good choice.

As I queued for Wagamama, which seemed to be taking a long time, I thought about it, well of the three dishes I wanted, I could get the same three , well three similar, dishes at YO! Sushi as part of their blue plate Monday offer. So reflecting, I turned away and headed off to YO! Sushi.

As I arrived I could see how busy YO! Sushi was, but was given a warm welcome and they found me a seat very quickly (which was simplified because I was on my own).

The thing about YO! Sushi is you can look at the menu or just take things from the conveyor belt.

While I perused the menu I took a plate of avocado maki.

I then ordered some hot dishes, which took a little time to arrive, but I was expecting that so didn’t mind.

The maki were nice and fresh and was a great start to my meal.

Whilst the ordered dishes arrived I took another dish from the belt, the Beef Tataki Sashimi, which is pepper-seared rare beef and a tangy coriander pesto.

Beef Tataki Sashimi

I’ve wanted to try this dish for a while and it matched my expectations. The beef was nice and tender and I did like the tangy coriander pesto which enhanced both the beef and the grated mooli on the dish.

The next dish was the Vegetable Yakisoba, described as yakisoba noodles in a tangy sauce served with crunchy, fresh vegetables.

Vegetable Yakisoba

I wasn’t impressed with this dish, the tangy sauce wasn’t to my taste and I didn’t like the texture of the noodles so much. I think I should have gone with a rice dish instead. I did wonder if the Wagamama version would be better?

I really like the Spicy Pepper Squid from YO! Sushi.

Spicy Pepper Squid

The spicy marinated squid, fried until crisp was garnished with red chilli and spring onions. I really like the texture and taste of this dish and it did not fail to impress.

When I was placing my order, the server recommended the Cod Nanbanzuke, which though not on the blue plate menu was part of the blue plate deal. The menu describes it as “Japan’s answer to sweet and sour! Crispy fried cod bites in a sweet and sour sauce.”

Cod Nanbanzuke

Though I did think it could have been a little more crispier than it was, I really did enjoy this dish. The cod was tasty and the sweet and sour sauce didn’t overpower the taste of the fish. This was quite a big portion as well.

A little later the final of my four hot dishes I had ordered arrived, a portion of Takoyaki.

Takoyaki

The menu says that this is Osaka’s number one street food! Lightly battered dough balls with octopus, topped with mayo, bonito and lots more.

I thought this was a really nice concept, but wasn’t too hot on the execution of it. It was too much dough and to little octopus.

My final dish was fish. Salmon Sashimi Our freshest cuts of thick-sliced Scottish salmon, with mooli and lemon.

I hadn’t planned to take this dish, but seeing the chef preparing them and thought if there’s any left on the conveyor belt then I will have one. It was a nice clean refreshing dish to finish the meal off with.

Overall I had a really nice meal and the blue plate offer made a difference to the value for money.

It was different

Though I like to try different things when I go out to eat, it would appear that when I visit Wagamama that I seem to go for the Wagamama Ramen and if I have a side, it’s the Chilli Squid.

So on my most recent visit to Wagamama I made the bold choice of going for something different and it was. I went with their Shiitake Donburi.

shiitake mushrooms and broccoli omelette served on brown rice in a teriyaki sauce garnished with shredded carrots, spring onions, chilli and pea shoots

This is shiitake mushrooms and broccoli omelette served on brown rice in a teriyaki sauce garnished with shredded carrots, spring onions, chilli and pea shoots.

This was (for me) an interesting combination of flavours and textures. I really like the taste and texture of the shiitake mushrooms, which combined with the smoothness of the egg, the roughness of the rice and the saltiness of the teriyaki sauce resulted in a delicious dish of food.

The addition of the carrots, spring onions and pea shoots added a freshness and crispness to the dish.

Overall I was pleased with the dish, though I don’t think I will go for it again, I will either (more than likely) go with the ramen again, or try something new.

Time for a Coffee: Top Ten Blog Posts 2017

This year I have written 37 blog posts. In 2016 I wrote 28 posts.

In the Birdcage

The tenth most popular post on the blog was about the Pret A Manger Italian Chicken Salad I had in 2013. I have had it quite few times since.

Ninth place, was a reminder from 2013, that if I ever go to Frankie and Benny’s again, don’t order the pasta! I have never had pasta again at F&Bs.

The post as number eight was about Sainsbury’s Cooking Chorizo, Having used cooking chorizo from Tesco, Marks and Spencers and Sainsbury, I much prefer using the chorizo from Tesco or Marks and Spencers.

The number seven post was from ten years ago, Pasta in Tomato Sauce. A recipe for a very quick and easy dish with a lovely piquant tomato sauce.

Pasta in Tomato Sauce

Sixth post was about the Wagamama Pork Ribs I had in 2011.

Post number five for last twelve months was Basil & pine nut margherite, a simple pasta recip.

Reminiscing about Newquay Steam Beer was the fourth most read post on the blog.

The third most popular post was not about just any pork medallions, but Marks and Spencers’ Pork Medallions.

Second most popular blog, having been top for two years was Sirloin for Beef Wellington? This was a response to the high ranking of another post about using sirloin steak in a Beef Wellington rather than fillet steak due to the way people were (at the time) searching Google.

In at number one is Chilli Squid from Wagamama, climbing one place. This popular post was one of the many on the blog about squid, however it is now quite old being from 2011 and the visit was the same one that I had the ribs.

So popularity appears to be dependent on older posts being found via Google searches. Hopefully 2018 will see more posts and more people seeing those posts.

Time for teriyaki lamb

I do enjoy my visits to Wagamama, though I haven’t been for a while. The Cribbs Causeway branch of Wagamama doesn’t have the most welcoming environment, it feels like it is perched on a Mezzanine and certainly doesn’t have that warm cosy feeling that a more traditional Wagamama has. Having said that the staff were welcoming and we had excellent service.

I went with the grilled teriyaki lamb with mushrooms, asparagus, kale and mangetout served on a bed of soba noodles in a pea, herb and wasabi dressing.

Time for teriyaki lamb

The teriyaki lamb was one of the specials and was one of the more expensive dishes on the menu. My food arrived last (and later than expected) compared to the rest of the table. The policy of Wagamama is that the food arrives when it is ready and not necessarily all together. I don’t see this as too much of a problem if this was a tapas or mezze, or even a oriental buffet. It feels slightly wrong though when you are a family eating out and the food you’ve ordered arrives at different times you’re not sure if you should wait (and your food goes cold) or start and sit around as you wait for others to finish!

Once my lamb had arrived it looked great, it tasted great too. The lamb was tender and quite spicy. I liked the noodles and the dressing. It was quite salty though.

Time for a Coffee: Top Ten Blog Posts 2016

So what food, drink and coffee blog posts were people reading this year? Interestingly none about coffee?

10 Trofie Pasta with fresh basil pesto, pine nuts and grated parmesan

9 A Taste of Peru

8 Wagamama Pork Ribs

7 Well that was nice

6 Christmas Four Bird Roast

5 Marks and Spencer’s Pork Medallions

4 Basil and pine nut margherite

3 Newquay Steam Beer

2 Chilli Squid from Wagamama

1 Sirloin for Beef Wellington

The top three posts were the same top three in 2015. Well here’s to some better and more exciting posts for 2017.

Time for a Coffee: Top Ten Blog Posts 2015

Illy Coffee

So what food, drink and coffee blog posts were people reading this year? Interestingly none about coffee?

At number ten is an article entitled, Alba Ristorante Part Two. Back in 2008 when attending Handheld Learning, one evening we went to a local Italian next to the Barbican in London. I do remember the meal, it was delicious. This was a really nice upmarket Italian restaurant but with quite reasonable prices, especially for London.

The ninth most popular post was a Classic Heineken Advert from 1976.

Classic Heineken Advert from 1976

The eighth post was about cooking Chorizo, Cooking Chorizo. as was the seventh post Chorizo Frito al Vino.

The post at number six was about Basil & pine nut marguerite and a simple pasta recipe was at number five, Pasta in Tomato Sauce.

The fourth most popoular post was not about just any pork medallions, but Marks and Spencers Pork Medallions.

Reminiscing about Newquay Steam Beer was the third most read post on the blog.

The second most popular post was one of the many on the blog about squid, this one was about the Chilli Squid from Wagamama.

The most popular post this year was Sirloin for Beef Wellington? This was a response to the high ranking of another post about using sirloin steak in a Beef Wellington rather than fillet steak due to the way people were (at the time) searching Google.

Well here’s raising a cup of coffee and wishing you all the best for 2016.


Wagamama Pork Ribs

You don’t really have starters at Wagamama there are side dishes that arrive when they are ready. Out with friends we ordered a few alongside our main noodle dishes.

These ribs in a spicy pan-asian barbeque sauce were on the specials menu.

They weren’t freshly cooked, they had been pre-cooked and then reheated to demand when ordered. I understand why restaurants do this, it saves time, but wonder if they realise the impact this has on the quality of the food. A similar technique is often used with chicken wings, there is a big difference between chicken wings which have just been cooked and those that are already cooked and are just reheated. I wonder if there are techniques out there that allow for cooking from fresh quickly so negating the reheating technique.

Or…. if it does take time to cook and prepare, is there a way of knowing that your order is going to take longer to get to the table and as a result you’ll wait. I know restaurants will want to get people in and out quickly, I personally wouldn’t have a problem sitting in the bar, ordering in the bar and thirty minutes later I get my table and my freshly cooked food. I suspect though I can do that already, but need to pay a lot more money for the food than you do at places like Wagamama.

Back to the ribs, as a result of the reheating the texture of the meat on the ribs was soft, but you wouldn’t call it tender though. The sauce was nice, not too sticky sweet and the spiced just how I like them.

Asahi Beer

On my most recent visit to Wagamama alongside my squid and donburi I had a very nice ice cold Asahi beer.

This was a very refreshing asian beer that complemented the spicy food really well.

Duck Gyoza

You don’t really have starters at Wagamama there are side dishes that arrive when they are ready. Out with friends we ordered a few alongside our main dishes.

Though generally I enjoy most items I have eaten at Wagamama I was less impressed with the deep-fried duck dumplings served with a spicy cherry hoi sin sauce.

Not that they were bad, more for me the dumplings in themselves lacked flavour and the hoi sin sauce was very overpowering. The texture was good and they were crunchy.