Pavlov's Dog, Reading Berkshire {restaurant review}

It seems like it's all happening this summer. I haven't been invited to check out a new restaurant in ages and then in the last 4 months I have been to 4 new places and 2 including this place that have changed up their menu!

Stepping in Pavlov's Dog was like stepping back into my college days. It has a fresh fun vibe from the minute you walk in the door. The bar is all lit up and there is a pool table and in the 'quieter' area where we sat there was a Nintendo Gameboy with Mario Kart set up!

We ordered our drinks. I just gotta say I'm in love with these new tin can cocktails I love apple and had to start with the Canny Smith Apple. It is Ciroc Apple, Sourz Apple, lime juice all mixed in a Tango Apple can topped with fizzy apple belts. Which were very sour by the way. Alyssia, isn't a big drinker, I think I'm a bad influence as I convinced her to try a cocktail. She went with the Dr. Meister which is Jägermeister and lime mixed in a Dr Pepper can and topped with cola bottles.

While we waited for our drinks we couldn't resist having a race on Mario Kart! Alyssia of course beat me over and over as she is our gamer!

Having always loved a good plate of nachos I couldn't resist trying the Nachos Grande - topped with chilli con carne, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, jalapeños, and nacho cheese sauce all the best things you could ask for on top of nachos!

We also had to try the Chicken Wings which were great on their own, but even better with the variety of dipping sauces buffalo, blue cheese, mango and lime, chilli zing with sesame seeds, peanut butter, and chilli jam with sesame seeds. If you are a fan of chicken wings then you need to visit on a Wednesday.

Wednesday night are wing night from 5pm and you get them for 25p a piece. They also have a contest that if you can eat 50 wings (£12.50) as fast as you can you get your score on a board, a t-shirt that says Lord of the Wings, and a reward card topped up with rewards.

Finding myself at another pub I can't turn down a good burger! I couldn't resist the New York Bagel Burger which of course is a burger served on a bagel, with cheese, bacon, pulled cured boneless beef rib, sliced gherkins and mustard. It was so big it was really hard to eat, but was a great burger!

My partner in crime also choose a burger the All New Dirty Burger which is topped with cheese, bacon, southern-fried chicken fillet, pulled pork, BBQ sauce and gherkins; which Alyssia asked for on the side so I could have them!

We always seem to choose burgers, but there are other things to eat like ribs, chicken, fish & chips, and mac & cheese. You can even get a burger topped with macaroni and cheese... back to the burgers. They also serve breakfast and have great lunch deals!!

We had another cocktail and played another game of Mario Kart while we decided on desserts! I stuck with the tin can cocktails and went for the Pina Can-lada which is Malibu, Havana Club 3-year-old rum, and mixed in a can of Lilt topped with pineapple cubes. Alyssia stuck with a classic Sex on the Beach all these cocktails did not help us with our game. Although it didn't help that we decided to play the rainbow road!

I was stuffed and hadn't planned on eating a dessert, but Alyssia insisted on a pancake stack from the breakfast menu - pancakes stacked with Nutella, chocolate, and maple syrup. Knowing that their warm mini churros are something to try we gave them a go. They are filled with a caramel-cream and come with a chocolate dipping sauce.

Tuesday nights are churro nights and just like the wings are only 25p a churro. Unlike the wings there isn't a competition with the churros, I think that would probably be more of a disaster if people were trying to eat 50 churros as fast as they could. I wouldn't want to see that, however I may have to stop in on a Tuesday night as that's a great deal! Plus they have a Nintendo Game Cube.

Overall Alyssia and I had a great night! We have been to so many places, like I said, over the last few months and this was by far one of the more fun and tasty nights! Be sure to check them out sometime and have a look at their website for all their going ons!

The Pavlov's Dog
21-23 St. Marys Butts
Now Closed

*My friend Alyssia from AlyssiaRose {lifestyle blog} was invited to Pavlov's Dog to review it and she invited me along as her guest and it's just a bonus that I am a blogger as well! I was not asked to review and all opinions are my own for further information please visit my contact/policy page above.

Amaretti Biscuits

Amaretti refers to amaretto or almond flavored macaroon that comes from Italy! The first time I had tried one was at a coffee shop sometime and became some what obsessed with them for a while. I was buying a big bag and munching on them with every cup of coffee I drank!

It never really occurred to me to make my own. It's crazy as I am a baker and although not every bake is successful, more on that in a minute, I have some experience in the baking world and the thought should have occurred to me.

I expected these to be like the bagged ones like and airy and crispy, but they were more dense and chewy, but still delicious! More like a macaroon and macaroons and I have never gotten on with. Never really had a successful macaroon experience, they were edible, but not pretty!

There is still a soft spot for the bagged airy crispy ones, but a new appreciation for the soft chewy almond-y home baked ones! Just a note when baking these that there is a whole hour wait time before baking.... so as always read through the whole recipe before baking so you know!

Amaretti biscuits

1 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
160g caster sugar
95g ground almonds
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 eggs whites
30g icing sugar

Line your baking sheets with baking paper before sifting together the plain flour, cornflour, and ground cinnamon in a large clean bowl. Add half the sugar (80g), almonds, and grated lemon zest and gently mixing it together. In a separate clean bowl beat the egg whites with clean electric beaters until stiff peaks form before gradually adding the rest of the of caster sugar (80g).
Using a clean spatula or metal spoon fold the egg whites into the dry mixture until combined. Using a regular teaspoon heap it up with the dough/batter and drop on to your prepared baking sheet, continue to do this spacing them apart to allow for spreading, until all the dough/batter is used up! Leave to sit for an hour.

Heat the oven 180C/350F/Gas4 - Sift the icing sugar liberally and bake for 15-20 minutes.

My only regret is not being more liberal with the icing sugar, on the ones that had more there was a lovely caramelised finish and a lovely powdered sugar touch! I of course have had one or two or three of these with my morning coffee.

Wait I have one other regret... I hadn't made these sooner!!

Pho Restaurant - Reading Berkshire {restaurant review}

It was in a recent post I wrote about how much Reading has grown and I can't help but support that growth if it includes restaurants like Pho!

Pho is named after the Vietnamese national dish, an amazingly tasty, nutritious, filling noodle soup! I can say in all confidence, after my visit to the newly opened Pho in Reading, that the soup is all those things!

I tried the Pho dac biet which is one of the House Specials. Now before I tell you what is in that soup if you are trying a new restaurant always check out the House Specials; they are called that for a reason so I implore you try something off that part of the menu!

Back to the soup, Dac Biet in Vietnamese means "special" or "super" or "combo with everything" and Pho as we already said means noodle so Pho Dac Biet is Super Noodles combined with everything! Everything being king prawns, chicken & flash fried steak with garlic in beef broth and it was delicious and so filling I couldn't finish it! I suggest sharing if you can agree with someone on just one bowl.

Alyssia, my friend and fellow blogger, was my date and she had never tired Vietnamese food before! So, we had fun trying all sorts of dishes. I sort of jumped right into the noodle soups, but we did trying some amazing starters first!

Alyssia like the sound of the Nem nuong which is homemade pork & lemongrass meatballs with lettuce and herbs to wrap & dip with peanut sauce. The lovely and amazing wait staff informed us that it was best eaten wrapped in the green leaf. I hadn't heard that at first, but not only were the meatballs good wrapped in a leafy green but the Nem hai san was also delicious wrapped in a lettuce leaf!

As you can see the Nem hai san is a large crispy spring roll and is filled with king prawn, crab & pork with nuoc cham dipping sauce, which is a sort of sweet and sour sauce which is delicious! I couldn't recommend this enough, it was my personal favorite dish of the night.

We also tried the muc chien gion (pictured above) which we were told was a very popular dish because it's very lightly coated tender fried baby squid. I ended up using the nuoc cham dipping sauce for my fried squid as the salt, pepper, & lime dip was good, but a little too much citrus for me, but definitely try it and make your own decision!

Then we dived into our noodles, literally with spoons and forks! We had a great time figuring out the best way to eat them, the noodles are slippery! With a little advice from our amazing waiter we managed to twist the noodles with the fork in the spoons just like when eating spaghetti!

I have already talked about - Alyssia picked out the Pho ga - simple chicken breast in chicken broth and I tried a spoon full and I have to say that it's the best chicken soup ever. If I had a cold I would total get someone to deliver this to me pronto!

Which delivery service will be available at some point in the near future, so I've stored that bit of knowledge away! Also with the bonus of having a delicious broth soup with noodles and vegetables and meat when you aren't well is that these soups are packed full of good things that are good for you!

Pho doesn't just serve noodles they also serve other authentic Vietnamese dishes we couldn't resist trying a Com tam dac biet - or super broken rice combined with everything! We had ours with crispy beef, but you could also get it with chargrilled pork or chargrilled chicken thigh. We were both very impressed and happy with what is essentially a rice bowl. It was a mix of fresh crunchy vegetables, perfectly seasoned meat, and soft rice with a great sauce; be sure to mix it all together!! Top tip from our waitress!

Of course we had to try some desserts and authentic cocktails, and other drinks! Again not know where to start we had some help from the waitress on what we should try! We eventually tried the passionfruit cheesecake, chocolate truffle, and banana fritters!

Alyssia was drawn to the cheesecake, Bánh phô mai chanh dây or Passionfruit cheesecake. I am starting to see a trend in her love for cheesecake as this isn't the first time she was drawn to a cheesecake on one of our dinners out! However, I have never heard her talk about how light and creamy and refreshing a cheesecake was until this one! I snuck a bite and I couldn't agree more! 

Generally I'm not drawn to chocolate desserts after a meal, but the green tea ice cream paired with this chocolate truffle slab, had me curious! It's officially called Bánh sô-cô-la truffle and it was as light and creamy as the cheesecake and a perfect ending to a perfect dinner. 

We couldn't get away without trying the Chuối chiên or banana fritter. It's served as is or with a coconut or honey & ginger ice cream. Ours was without and I could only literally eat half of one as I was at this point throughly stuffed. However, that half of fritter was enough to allow me to say if you like bananas then this is the dessert for you as it was perfectly crispy and tasty! 

So, throughout the evening we tried the cocktails! My favorite is the one pictured in the top left corner the Ca the martini, which is basically an espresso martini made with nep phu loc a clear rice spirit, Vietnamese coffee, and condensed milk.

My second favorite cocktail of the night was the Phjoito,  their signature cocktail and it is a mojito with mint, lime, soda, and a clear rice spirit, same as above, nep pho loc Phu Loc. I love a good mojito and this one went down well!

Alyssia, not a big drinker went with the Rose Apple Bellini which like any bellini is made with prosecco and their's is made with a splash of Tao Mea rose apple liquor. It was dry and good accompaniment to dinner.

There are other things to drink besides cocktails, but as I'm not a big wine or beer drinker we stuck to the cocktails. The cocktails reflected the food and were all citrus type based cocktails. Nothing too fruity, we couldn't leave without trying the Lemon & Basil Martini made with their
homemade lemonade & muddled Thai basil. It had a very aniseed type flavor and if you like that sort of thing give this cocktail a try!

Last, but not least the coffee lover that I am couldn't leave without trying a Vietnamese coffee as according to my sister they have the best! So, I went with the iced coffee with a little condensed milk which is what they call Ca phe sua da. You can get it without the condensed milk if you don't like it. 

That pretty much wraps up our night! This place is my kind of food and it's one I will be visiting time and time again. The food was amazing and staff were super friendly and knowledgeable! Not only was the food great, but it was fun taking pictures so bright and colourful, I think this post has the most pictures I have ever put in any post ever.

1-1a King's Walk, King Street
Reading, RG1 2HG

*I was invited to visit and check it out Pho as it's recently opened in Reading, I was not compensated in a monetary way for my review, all opinions are my own, please see my contact/policy page above for more information.

Walkabout - Reading, Berkshire {restaurant review}

Walkabout is an Australian bar and restaurant and taking a step inside makes you wish it was off the side of a beach somewhere in Australia! It was recently refurbished and looks great inside and out! I think that it is a great place to go to watch sports, a place to go to after work and hang out with friends, and looks like it would make an awesome party venue!

Not only has it been refurbished, but it has recently updated it's menu! So, when my friend, Alyssia, asked me if I would like to visit with her I couldn't say no! The menu could be best described as bar food and that isn't a bad thing, contrary to how other people feel or think about bar food it's great and I happen to love burgers, nachos, wings, chips and more!

We skipped appetisers this time, although I had a hard time passing up the nachos, they call them Billy Can Nachos Stack and they top them with not only cheese, but macaroni and cheese, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, sweetcorn, jalapeños, chilli, and spring onions! That will definitely be a must-have to for my next visit.

What I did decide on is The Roo - which is a kangaroo burger it tasted more gamey then a beef burger and I was told that it would taste like that and I couldn't find a different word to describe it so I used it here! It is definitely something I had never tried before and if you haven't and you are an adventurous foodie give it a try! The sweet potato fries were crispy and a perfect side!

Alyssia tried the Parmi Burger which was huge!! And she enjoyed throughly! With our burgers we tried a few cocktails I couldn't resist The Jaffa Can which is Sanpellegrino Aranciata mixed with Absoult Vodka, Kahlua and Triple Sec, garnished with an orange wedge which looks a little silly, but it's proof you aren't just drinking a can of Sanpellegrino Aranciata!

Before we left we decided to try a dessert Alyssia couldn't resist the Freakshake that is a vanilla and chocolate fudge milkshake, the glass is covered in Nutella and smarties, and it's topped with a slice of chocolate fudge cake, double chocolate chip cookie, candy floss, cream, mini marshmallows and chocolate sauce! It was huge!!

I wasn't as adventurous with dessert as I was with dinner and went for the Lamington Sundae, which is chunks of chocolate brownie dusted in coconut, and topped with chocolate sauce and ice cream! It was one of the best brownies I have ever had! Rich and dense and better because it was coated in coconut! Highly recommended!!

Overall it was a great night out with drinks, cocktails like the Jaffa Can and Sex on Bondi Beach (Smirnoff Red Vodka and Archers Peach Schnapps shaken with strawberries, limes and a dash of cranberry juice) pictured below, great food, and great atmosphere! If you're looking for a quick bite after work or over the weekend I would suggest stopping in!!

Wiston Terrace 
off Friar Street 

*My friend Alyssia from AlyssiaRose {lifestyle blog} was invited to The Walkabout to review it and she invited me along as her guest and it's just a bonus that I am a blogger as well! I was not asked to review and all opinions are my own for further information please visit my contact/policy page above.

5 Medieval Fun Foodie Facts & No-bake Medieval Gingerbread & fun at Reading Museum in Reading Berkshire

That's probably the longest post title I have ever had ..... but it's the best way to describe this post!

As it is the summer holidays I am always looking for things to entertain my children and after exhausting our craft supplies at home we ventured out with a friend to the Reading Museum! During the school holiday's they always have various activities going on. One half-term we went on a trail looking and drawing local trees, we've made hats at another event, and sometimes just explored the museum!

The Reading Museum is full of local history and host various events; family, special events, and talks & tours. It's definitely a place to stop if you ever happen to find yourself in Reading! I like writing about local events and things to do in Reading, but this was a one-off event and although it can't be repeated at the museum I am going to share the recipe we made here and you can then make it at home with your little ones teaching them about life and food during those times.

Here are a few facts you could include!

5 Fun Foodie Facts during the Medieval Times: 

  1. Bread - if they (the people)  ran out of grain before a new crop could be harvested they would have to use old rye to make bread, but old rye could be contaminated with ergot a fungus that could cause hallucinations, gangrene, or death or possibly all three. 
  2. Poultry - Chickens weren't the only birds they ate. Today Swans are protected animals, but back then they were a delicacy for the rich with recipes for roasted swan or swan pie! They also ate loads of other birds such as peacocks, turtle doves, cranes, and blackbirds. 
  3. Bringing home the bacon - they ran wild and were quite vicious due to reports of them biting and killing people and back then animals would stand trial and if found guilty would be put to death and I assume cooked and eaten!  
  4. Travel - the majority of people aka peasants probably didn't travel very far, however the trade business during those times were booming! Silks from China, amber and furs from the Baltic, and spices from Asia. Christopher Columbus at the end of the Medieval times was on a trip to Asia and ran into what we know today is America. The spices used in this recipe would have been expensive and considered a real treat! 
  5. Pottage - Peasants ate pottage which was basically anything they had hanging around and cooked as a stew. Usually consisting of various root vegetables and sometimes meat. 

No-bake Medieval Gingerbread

1 cup breadcrumbs (brown/seeded)
4 tbsp water (warm)
2-4 tbsp honey
1 large pinch cinnamon
1 large pinch ginger

In the case of using a cup of breadcrumbs, we were given an actual plastic cup full of breadcrumbs so I would say an average mug would work too. Pour the breadcrumbs into a bowl and then add the honey and give a bit of a stir quickly to stop it soaking into just some of the bread. In the same cup mix 2 tbsp of water with the cinnamon, and ginger. Add the spiced water slowly to the bread crumbs, get your hands in there and mix together. The breadcrumbs should be moist, but not wet. When you can mold the breadcrumbs into little balls without falling apart then you can stop adding the water. Then leave in cupcake cases or on a plate.

If you want you can also decorate paper plates with medieval-ish patterns here are some great examples!

My mini-bakers and their friends had a great time making the gingerbread probably more then they were interested in eating it. They did try it, but weren't too fussed they were more interested in decorating their plates with medieval patterns (some not so medieval), and exploring the museum. Definitely give the website a look for other events and activities. Most events are free or like this one had a minimal fee and as it's all drop in, make sure you get there early to get a spot! 

*I paid for my children to attend the event and as stated above was invited on the day by a friend. For more information see my contact/policy page.