We baked you a cake but we ate it!…

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It’s surprised me what confessions have surfaced from people since starting this. Quite a lot of people like coffee and even more like cake, even a bit of baking. Even more surprising is how many people have quoted information about coffee back at me. My most popular tip has been- you can ask for 1 shot instead of 2 so you don’t feel wired.

I received this picture saying coffeecakeandme were the inspiration-

It was a bake off between 2 friends. What I have since found out is that these cakes were actually made from the left overs of a carrot cake (mixture), made for me but instead they ate it!.

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Sefton Park Food Festival 2012…

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Saturday 1st September

Sefton Park, Liverpool

Following the bean is turning me into a bit of a foodie. Drinks and food kinda go hand in hand hence coffee and cake. Following this rule I am starting to take note of food festivals which are cropping up all over the place.

My first of the year (I say first as I intend there to be more) was Sefton Park Food festival 2012. I first came across Sefton park a few months ago while dating someone who lived in close proximity to said park. Just out of Liverpool centre it is a lovely place to go walking, sit and while away the hours in the sun (when we get it!) or sit and hear a band playing in the band stand. On a weekend there is 2 little cafes open by the lake, today the fields behind were sectioned off and rife with people all ready for a day of eating and drinking in the sun.

There were stands from all kinds of eateries in the Liverpool area such as Bem Brazil and Jamie’s, mixed in with stands with wine, local produce and spirits, all with reasonable prices. Just shows the difference having your food served up on a paper plate makes! Samples of wine, chocolate, bread and oils, cheese and old school cordials were sampled with no arm twisting involved! The chocolates tasted as good as they looked. The detail on them was beautiful making them too nice to eat… but that’s what they’re there for!

A singer had no problem getting the crowd to sing along to classics from the likes of snow patrol. I think at this point in the day the wine and cider consumed was helping. Behind, a small central section was devoted to coffee houses. Back to back stands, anyone in the coffee culture was there. Our friends at Central Perk had their quirky personalised cups while Bold Street Coffee had their unique brownies.

As Bold Street Coffee is said to be THE place to get coffee in Liverpool I thought I would get my cappuccino there. While waiting I was intrigued by their selection of brownies on the counter- goats cheese, pistachio and even topped with bacon! Not appealing but Tannie wanted to try something new so opted for the goats cheese. The Barista informed me it was raspberry flavoured, this still did not tempt me and bacon on top, wrong!

I must say the fact my cappuccino came in a paper cup and was one of the best coffees I’ve ever had says a lot. The care was still there even down to the foam art. We sat in the sun amidst others enjoying their food and drinks and tucked into our purchased cakes and satisfying coffees. Discussing trying new foods Tannie told me of her experience with a truffle salad in Milan. Chocolate in salad? I asked. No- an expensive salad due to the fact the truffle is from inside a tree trunk which has to be sniffed out by dogs. I had never heard of this but eating bits of bark in my leaves was not something I would be trying. What I found out the next day is that truffle is a delicacy and is actually a fungus on trees and is sniffed out by a pig. I don’t know what sounds worse Tannie’s version of truffle or the real one!

The day drew to a close at 6pm. Not quite ready for evening food and not ready to call it a day there was only one thing to do…go for a coffee!

Single coffee snob…

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As my summer holidays draw to a close I’d like to say a big thank you to all the people who have supported my blog through viewing posts /recommending.  I am currently close to 1000 views which is amazing!

Something which started off as a means of passing my summer holidays has now become a kind of hobby as it  has  opened doors to a whole little coffee world out there.  I had no idea so many people are interested in coffee or coffee shops (they serve tea too!) So what should be drawing to an end is actually only really the start. The  list of coffee places to visit that I  write is ever growing, with more interesting places popping up all of the time. 

I have also become a coffee snob. 6 weeks ago a cappuccino consisted of 1/3 coffee,  the rest froth and topped with a sprinkling of chocolate. And I accepted this. Not now. Not now I have tasted real, delicious coffee, made by people who love making coffee. Do I get impatient if it takes a while to get my coffee? No, because I know that a decent cappuccino is on its way.

So far I have found out

  • chocolate spoils the taste of the coffee-a true barista won’t sprinkle chocolate on top            
  • a great cappuccino fills a cup
  • great coffees have interesting foam art
  • good baristas let the milk settle before adding to the coffee
  • barista is the name of a coffee bar tender.

We drink coffee

  • whilst reading-morning papers, 50 shades, chick lits, emails
  • as a rest bite
  • to pass time whilst waiting for someone
  • to wake up
  • to keep going
  • as a premis for a first date
  • while catching up with friends.

A while ago most cafes sold regular coffee, now a days most sell cappucinos and lattes. It seems that by doing so they can label themselves as a coffee house. Don’t be fooled by this! Some are great little cafes but they don’t sell truly great coffee. Some are not great cafes but have become glorified greasy spoons by the fact they sell cappuccinos and lattes. The real coffee houses are places that serve up great coffee and even specialised tea.  

I started this blog to find interesting cafes/places to have coffee and catch ups. This has changed without me even realising it to finding places which serve great coffee. So because of this I have put 2 categories on my blog-

  1. Recommended- this is for great little cafes/coffee shops

Teacup, NQ, Manchester/Ivy Deli, Monton/Central Perk, Liverpool

  1. Great coffee- this is for places which serve great coffee

HomeSweetHome, NQ, Manchester/ Laynes Espresso, Leeds/ Franco’s Saltaire/North Tea power, NQ, Manchester

There are places I visited that I would not recommend so they did not make it on my blog.

So far top of my list is North tea Power in the Northern Quarter, Manchester. It has a loft apartment feel to it with the stripped floor boards and steel beams. People sip coffee at leisure while chatting, meeting, using lap tops or admiring the latest art gracing the walls. I met my mum and niece in the week and took them there for a brew stop pre shopping spree. My niece’s hot chocolate didn’t last long, the florentine met all of our approval and as always the coffee made me say ‘that’s a great coffee’. My mum liked the place (it was busy inside and out ) and asked me  ‘Have you not pulled here ?’ Even my mum noticed the amount of men who frequent here!

So,  it seems find yourself a great coffee place and men appreciate it too. I’m  thinking drinking coffee while perving over men may be added to the above list soon…who’s joining me?

You’ve been dumped…

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Sunday 26th August

Edge Street Party, Northern Quarter, Manchester.

Joining me-Catherine

I woke to a text from a friend asking if I fancied coffee, cake and a catch up. As if I was going to say no. I knew there was a street party happening in the Northern Quarter Manchester and considering they have great cafes this seemed a good place to meet. A quick stop for food at Simple (fry up) and then into Tib Street. Luckily at this point the rain had stopped and people had began to surface. Gazebos, tables, benches, buskers, buntin, bars, food stalls and dj’s were all out in force. The NQ was not going to be beaten by the rain!

The clouds clearedhref=”https://coffeecakeandme.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/img_0866.jpg”> the roads dried and the sound of funk, soul and dance classics coming from various dj stands dominated the streets. Taking advantage of the sun we sat amongst the crowd and opted for cold fruit cider. It’s through my new venture in the cafe world that I have found out about things going on in cities. You would never think that the places we pop in for a coffee are part of a sub culture of events, art, music and gatherings. I have decided I am part of the foodie/coffee group and it tastes good! With only one week of my holidays left so far following the bean has taken me to cities, street parties, spending time with friends, finding new places and a few dates. It has also turned me into a coffee snob!

Being with someone who doesn’t drink hot drinks places such as Home Sweet Home are perfect. Having a bar in a cafe/coffee shop is a perfect idea. While Catherine opted for a wine I managed to get my coffee fix. Due to the set up of the day cakes were limited. Having spotted someone on another table with what looked like small cakes on a chopping board I thought I’d have what they’re having.

A great coffee arrived and a wooden board, on it a glass of milk and 5 freshly made to order choc chip cookies. Random sized they looked and smelled delicious. They did not disappoint. Warm with crunchy edges and soft moist centres they went down a treat! Milkshakes were popular and looked thick and tasty.

Both being single our meets always involve a catch up on the dating front and familiar situations always crop up. The mobile phone generation has made texting the most common way of communicating. It also makes things very easy. Like rejecting someone. It avoids confrontation or even having to verbally say it to someone or having to get into a conversation about it. But that’s if you’re lucky.

I say this because despite the fact texting makes difficult situations very easy it is growing ever more common to suddenly hear nothing. One minute you’re planning when you’re next seeing them or a first date, the next you send a text and in return you get nothing. Not a cancellation, let’s rearrange or a sorry but I’ve changed my mind. All of those things easy to do over a text or so you’d think but, apparantly not. Or is it? I think it is if you’ve got manners. Ignoring texts is rude and leaves someone on the other end wondering what is going on. This type of behaviour goes on from men despite their age. Not something exclusive to young guys and boys, surely you would expect better from a man in his 40’s? Infact it appears the older the man the worse the problem. This usually is the case when some sort of ‘situation’ is going on at their end. Instead of communicating this with you the contact stops. So, if one minute you’re getting lovely texts but the next you don’t hear from them consider yourself ‘dumped’!

Toy boy anyone?…

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25th August 2012

Saturday morning and there’s only one thing that will do…a good cup of coffee and a bacon buttie. It was a sunny morning so I took a walk  and ordered my coffee and bacon roll. The deli was busy and the smell of fresh coffee and the sound of the coffee machine filled the air. I selected a magazine from the rack and took a seat outside . It was one of those gossipy mags which one minute is saying someone has a great figure and the next is saying they’re fat. You know the type, we all loathe them really as they’re bitchy and selling a lifestyle which is unrealistic to most ‘normal’ people yet we succumb to them.

While I waited for my breakfast I read the usual tripe that is probably untrue. The bit that caught my attention was a small piece about Jude Law 39 dating a model who’s 26. Then there was an interview with Peter Andre (39) gushing about how great his 23 year old girlfriend is and what interesting conversations they have. As I tucked into my food I thought- Why is it totally acceptable for a man to date a younger woman, in some cases much younger? Yet, there are plenty of raised eyebrows when it’s the other way round.

Having said that the real issue for me is I don’t understand why they want to date someone so much younger. Take away the obvious- the girls look good, their skin is tighter and it give the guys an ego boost, what do they actually have in common?

I mean I couldn’t imagine turning up to meet friends with a 23 year old man in tow. Yes I’m sure he’d look good and I’d expect his stomach to be toned and trim but conversation mmm that’s a different matter. I would be dreading what he might come out with!

I’m not being judgemental I’m actually speaking from experience. Having been on the singles scene (well am) I see many young people out and about. The girls are very pretty with the barbie doll look and the boys look after themselves, were many men over 35 fail to do so. So what do you do when you’re the wrong side of 35 (ahem) amidst handsome young men? You think why not.

I went through a phase were I thought it would be rude to not enjoy myself . So depending on my age at the time I would minus an average of say 15 years (age old enough to have a baby) and I’d get my lowest age for a man I could date. And with that I had some dates with men in their early 20’s, mid 20’s and late 20’s. They were nice to look at but conversation proved hard work at times.

  • I realised songs they liked I’d heard first time around.
  • I’d sit thinking eg when I was 18 experiencing Ibiza playing Adamski and Seal you were just starting primary school.
  • I’d look around their eyes at their line free face and then be conscious of mine.
  • I hated being called ‘babe’ or ‘baby girl’. Cringe.
  • It bugged me how much time they spent texting.
  • Most lived at home with their mums still. Turn off. What do you do, go round and sit in with their mums?
  • When they talked about their weekends I’d remember doing those things but now would have a 3 day hanogover or I’d rather be sick through my eyes than do it.
  • One kissed me like he was trying to get something out of the back of my throat. His tongue was hard and like a snakes, it was truly awful. I pulled away with a look of ‘what are you doing?’
  • They just came across ‘young’.

I honestly don’t know how Caroline Flack did it. And I know boys are more immature than girls but having male single friends and seeing what they go through then I really can’t see much difference. If they’re playing games , wanting lots of wining and dining, turning up for a dvd night in heels and a dress or coming round but spending nearly all night on their phone , then they’re a young girl. You can spot it a mile off (there are always exceptions).

So what do these older men and young women talk about? I’d love to be a fly on the wall in the Peter Andres house. Or do they not care? In a world were we hear more and more that age is just a number, is it really? More women are dating younger men and why not? But is it not nice to have things in common with a partner? Or at least know most things they are talking about. Would a date who’s 25 share my love of Mork and Mindy or be able to sing along to The best of Tear for Fears? I know you don’t have to have everything in common but you get my point?

If anyone has a younger other half and it works I’d love to hear or just share your stories…
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Would Jennifer Anniston?…

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I don’t know what it is about the Trafford Centre but I always need to prepare myself. I needed fuelling. It baffles me that in a place as big as the Trafford Centre there isn’t one cafe, all large coffee chain shops. So I headed to good old M&S. Toasted tea cake and cappuccino was on the agenda, that would do the job. I’m a sucker for a scone though so once my eyes had spotted them the tea cake was out of the window.

Let’s just say the manager must have been off that day. No spoons, knives, trays, plates or clean tables. Mr Marks and Mr Spencer would not be happy. Anyone who knows me would know that my facial expression was saying that I was not happy either. That said the scone was nice and the coffee hit the spot.

As usual I ate with a slight uneasiness. This had nothing to do with the disarray of the place but the fact I am neurotic about the TC being a bomb magnet. I prefer to get in and get out as quickly as possible. Nothing will rid me of this fear due to me once having a fear of getting shot. ‘That won’t happen’ my mum used to say, until one day I was walking home from work and came face to face with a gun pointing at me (it was a swat team and it was London). O.k so I didn’t get shot but there was a gun. My point is…shit happens.

Now I don’t know about you but to me the Trafford Centre is a world of its own. It’s almost like a cool hangout for kids. Is it ever not busy? Check weekends for example. Girls are walking round dressed like they’re on a night out. Actually they could be there is the cinema etc. But even just for shopping. Not only is aging bad enough but do I really have to think about what I’m wearing just to nip to the TC? Erm yes if you don’t want to be mistaken for their mother! It only gets worse near christmas when Selfridges hires a dj and then it’s a night out. I’m partial to throwing on a pair of trainers and my tracky bottoms for ‘nipping’ places but you’d look like a bag lady in the TC. Well, habits die hard so I refuse to give in to the peer pressure.

The reason I was back there is because I can’t be bothered trying clothes on before I buy. I’ve usually not thought out my shopping attire and have something on that takes ages to get off eg have numerous layers on or knee socks over my jeans under my boots. Adding that to my neurosis and it culminates in too much time and hassle. The lesson I’ve not quite learnt yet is the fact it actually takes twice as long in the end as I have to go back as things don’t fit or look right.

The last time I was in the changing rooms I remember looking around only to notice everyone looked half my age. I remember having the thought -should I be shopping in here still? That put me off slightly. Also some fitting rooms have ridiculously bright lights that show up every flaw, lump, bump or grey hair. How could anyone possibly look good? Then there’s the mirrors. Is it me or do some mirrors actually make your figure change shape? And not for the best. What’s with tiny fitting rooms that you can’t swing a cat in? Hot flushes hardly enhance the experience. I’d also developed a bad habit when trying things on in shops. I don’t know why but I’d imagine myself (in the item I’m trying) doing something. It might have been out with friends having lunch, a night out or on holiday, I’d think ‘this would be nice for…’ and then I’d buy it. The reality is it would end up sat in the wardrobe (as I didn’t have the posh night out). So trying at home has its advantages. It’s real, you in your life.

I do know I am a creature of habit and still wear clothes I did when I was 18. I love my cardis (delighted knitwear is coming in the shops) and have a soft spot for sequins. But certain items I’m drawn to I have to ask myself the question ‘is this mutton as lamb?” My mutton bar is Jennifer Anniston. She looks great since turning 40 and her dresses have got shorter and neck lines lower. Proving it’s how you wear things and appreciate your best assets. So I then think- would Jennifer? If it’s a yes it’s mine, if it’s no then it goes back on the rail.

Currently I’ve joined my friend’s ‘uniform club’. Living in the same clothes -which consist of jeans, t shirt and blazer. It’s terrible really when I think of the clothes I have yet, I probably only wear a quarter of them regularly. That’s the bonus of being single, not having to sneak clothes bags in or lying about how much something cost. The fact that my recent purchases have been off my ‘need’ list has stopped any buyers remorse. One thing I did not regret buying was the slice of carrot cake.

Wrapped in cellophane, boxed and popped in a bag of its own. Treated with tender loving care. The same buzz as buying something new. And just as satisfying once home-buying remorse free!

I was merely passing through Selfridges food section when the cake counter shouted ‘over here!’ at me. And then I realised it continued around the back with cheese cakes and macaroons. Spoilt for choice was an understatement. I was good and opted for the carrot cake. Moist with small pieces of walnut. Delicious. This was one purchase I did not need to ask ‘would Jennifer?’