Just before Christmas I celebrated a milestone birthday. Having a December birthday means that I usually don’t make a fuss about it as people are busy with festive events and Christmas parties and so my birthday normally slips by quietly. I did celebrate at home with friends, with a Champagne afternoon tea (of sorts). My husband kindly supplied the Champers and I asked everyone to bring the food, in lieu of gifts, leading to a gorgeous spread of home made scones, quiches and sandwiches and an extremely satisfying carb-fest. It was a great idea for a party as there was minimal preparation for the hostess!
But, I really want to tell you about the two days escape from reality for me and my other half, inspired by food and relaxation, and taking in two places I’ve wanted to visit for a while. A slightly delayed, picture-heavy post!
The Cookhouse first caught my eye when I read about a then upcoming butchery demonstration on the blogosphere and hence stumbled upon the beautifully executed blog of Cookhouse owner Anna Hedworth (The Grazer). Since the discovery, and my subsequent visit, I have heard numerous reports from friends and acquaintances singing the praises of Anna, both personally and professionally. Fellow Ouseburners are pleased to have a new and quality eatery and those who have visited are excited and expectant at what the Cookhouse has to offer. Located on a quiet street in the Ouseburn, the Cookhouse has been open since last Autumn and boasts a pot belly stove through the winter months and plans for al fresco dining during the upcoming sumer. The Cookhouse cafe opens on weekdays only but Anna is passionate about food events and providing unique dining experiences to meet your requirements so there are lots of opportunities to sample what’s on offer.
The menu is concise but considered and changes regularly. We couldn’t help but try one of nearly every item on the menu, each of which was accompanied by a salad. The food was homemade and tasty, the salads delicately flavoured. Clearly a lot of thought and expertise had gone into the balance of flavours. I have to apologise for the quality of my photos but it was one of those times that i wanted to enjoy the experience rather than record every moment. We drank spicy homemade ginger cordial and finished our meal by sharing a slice of homemade cake and a pot of OCC coffee.
Take a day off and visit for yourself on Ouse Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 2PF or alternatively plan an extra special supper with Anna at the helm…
After finding our feet in this northern USA city we really wanted to explore and get to know our surroundings. We did this mostly in the car of our host (hence the blurry photos!), rather than our usual preference of walking around with our eyes in the air. We realised that, although this city has had its hardships, the people who live there and have stuck it out are passionate and proud of their city, and are striving to make it better. There is a growing art scene, a huge sports following and some fantastic places to eat. We did find out, however, that the city doesn't always seem to support the areas of talent that are thriving, making them nearly impossible to sustain. One clear example of this was the music scene. Being the birthplace of Motown and techno we expected a rich music scene and an abundance of venues to go to but it was difficult to find a venue to hear some Motown, despite asking lots of people that we met along the way.
We toured the city mainly by car, and saw some interesting reminders of the tough times the city has been through, including this huge, now disused, train station which was, at one point, a bustling rail exchange, so big and busy that it had to be located outside the downtown area. Excitingly, there are proposed plans for a large scale art installation inside.
We visited a street art project called the Heidelberg Project, which was once an entire street full of decorated houses, many of which have since burned down or been left to ruin.
Beautiful homes now boarded up are commonplace in Detroit, and contrast massively to the interspersed affluent neighbourhoods filled with workers from the car industry.
The skywalks dotted around the city, we were told, provided protection to people during times of austerity, when it could be unsafe to be on the street.
The best part of any trip... the food!
We had some great meals in Detroit. Within our hotel complex was a fabulous seafood restaurant called Joe Muer Seafood, where we had a fun and knowledgable waiter called John, who made the night extra special. He was able to tell us all about the menu and wines, making suggestions along the way, and was abundant in interesting stories. We had a table with views of Canada. OK, really just a garish casino in Canada but still! The highlights were the whole lobster, prepared for you at the table and the truffle fries (ahhh the truffle fries!) Our waiter told us that a certain NFL team had recently visited after a game, and between them went through 70 portions of these fries!!!
We visited a very cute coffee shop called Astro Coffee for strong cappuccinos and these delicious muffins, filled with scrambled egg and strong mustard hollandaise type sauce.
We ate a fantastic dinner at Wright and Co, with small plates for sharing, strong and complex cocktails and a grand, baroque decor.
We had some authentic Cuban food washed down with fresh mojitos, at Vicente's.
(Excuse the hair! Frizzy vs. sleek, what's going on? And why did my husband not point it out?!)
And finally, I definitely enjoyed this Melted Pecorino Cheese Plate at Ottava Via!
So Detroit has good points and bad points, and although I couldn't recommend it for your next summer holiday, we did thoroughly enjoy our five days in Detroit. And in case you're wondering how the mural turned out...
I have a lot of drafts teetering on the edge of publication and a good few more ideas awaiting, but life really has got in the way of blogging lately. I have had an incredibly busy month or two which has kept me well away from my laptop. I'm really desperate to get back to my blog and start to get festive in anticipation of the big day that's on its way (19 days, eeek!) Things that have been going on of late:
1. Three months work within two weeks - I have been very busy sending out 150 fine art prints sold through my gallery Onethirty3.com. Each print must be lovingly rolled in craft and tissue paper, tubed, sealed, addressed and posted, each one taking far longer than is bearable (one down, 149 to go etc.) Along with all the sales administration, correspondence and a very unfortunate pricing error by our web guy, life went on hold for a couple of weeks.
Have you ever visited Detroit? Do you know someone who has been to Detroit? Having recently visited I would be surprised if the answer is ‘yes’. Detroit is not somewhere I would have chosen to visit but a recent opportunity for my husband led us there just a few weeks ago. We initially knew very little about the city, other than that it was the home of Motown music, birthplace of house and techno and that it went bankrupt not so long ago. A little bit of online research revealed that Detroit has one of the highest crime rates in the USA (but a safe downtown area) and that over the past 60 years the population has declined by two thirds. The city of Detroit could geographically contain the whole of Boston, San Francisco and Manhattan but has only 28% of the population of those combined cities combined. So we knew we were about to visit a city that has been having some hardships, and really weren’t sure what to expect.
Welcome to the blog! I'm Rachael; Belfast born but resident of the gorgeous Newcastle upon Tyne. I'd love to share with you some of the food, design and culture this city has to offer, and some of the things I love in life. Enjoy!
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And just about every other blog in the North East!