National Vegetarian Week 2017

It’s National Vegetarian Week 2017 this week and your resident veggie Love Middlesbrough Lass is coming at you with her favourite veggie friendly places in Middlesbrough- including where serves great poached eggs on toast and my fave veggie burger; you’ll never guess. You may be thinking, what has this got to do with me, I eat meat? But the idea of National Veggie Week is to encourage people to try being veggie for a week, or at least a day.

My all-time favourite place for food has to be Mohujos, almost everything on their menu can be made with their Veggie Chili and it’s Mexican food, who can hate on Mexican? Mohujos Burritos are massive too, it’s almost a food challenge to eat a whole burrito in one sitting.

I have a weakness for adorable tea shops and if you’re into the non-standard food, then The Olde Young Tea House is the best place. Not only to they serve awesome cake, but their menu is a refreshing change from cheese sandwiches and jacket potatoes with beans. They have a mozzarella, tomato and pesto sandwich which is like pizza in a sandwich, and they do a grilled pepper and humus sandwich which is perfect for vegans (assuming there’s no butter involved). Did I mention that they have freshly baked cake every day? I want cake now.

Another place that is totally unexpected to be veggie-friendly is Roast, they don’t have much in the way of range but after a quick chat with the owner, they will take you seriously. I got a fresh batch of gravy just because the owner wasn’t quite sure that the gravy wasn’t contaminated (with meat that is).

Chilli Cake is awesome. I’m just going to put that out there, they’re awesome. They have a menu full of veggie food, and are super helpful. My favourite from there is the Posh Chip Butty, which is a chip butty, but with sweet potato and on ciabatta bread. It’s also a super awesome place to work. I have only been in the Hartlepool store, however I have been informed that they’re pretty much the same. So if you’re planning on a train journey, pop into Chilli Cake in Boho, it’s super awesome.

Poached Eggs are amazing but so hard to get right (trust me, I’ve ruined many eggs trying) but there are two places (very close to each other) that do the BEST poached eggs, and both use sourdough bread. If you’re with veggies then the place to go is Bedford St Coffee House, they have awesome poached eggs and a few other options, you can also have their soup of the day (it’s on the specials board, but might not be veggie). If you happen to be with meat-eaters who want something a bit fancier, then go to The Curing House. They have the poached eggs of dreams and they have a very long wine list for those of you who aren’t driving. Both these places serve Rounton’s Coffee (The Curing House getting it straight from Bedford St Coffee) and they both have great service.

My ultimate veggie burger of choice may come as a surprise given that I’m all about the independents, but seriously, if you want a good veggie burger with flavour and also don’t have £20 to spend on a meal, then McDonalds have the best. I was surprised as you are when I first tried this -mainly because I had no idea they served it- but it tastes too good to be true. I’m not sure if it’s vegan when you hold the mayo but it won’t hurt to ask and McDonalds fries are vegan so hopefully the vegans can get a meal from everyone’s favourite fast food chain. There’s also something familiar about walking into McDonalds with your friends, it’s comforting.

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#UKCoffeeWeek

It’s UK Coffee Week this week (10th – 16th April) and two out of your three Love Middlesbrough Lasses enjoy a crackin’ cuppa or two, so we figured what better time to share some of our favourite places in town?! At the same time we can let you know a bit more about UK Coffee Week and how (and most importantly where!) in town you can get involved.

Great coffee, good will‘. UK Coffee Week is a nationwide fundraising campaign that takes place in thousands of coffee shops across the country.  100% of donations received from UK Coffee Week will go to Project Waterfall, an initiative dedicated to bringing clean water facilities to coffee growing communities.

One of our very favourite coffee stops in town (and an independent to boot!)  Bedford Street Coffee will be donating 5p for every cup of coffee sold to Project Waterfall. You can read the full story via the Love Middlesbrough website  and follow Bedford Street Coffee on Facebook to keep an eye on more fundraising updates and special prize draws!

Love Middlesbrough Lass: Claire ❤️

Up until a few weeks ago I had two solid contenders for the best coffee in town, and then boom – a new place opens and it turns out to be the coffee of dreams! So now I have a list of three places that I insist you visit for your caffeine fix.

1.  Off the Ground
Newly opened, Off the Ground is a coffee shop with a difference as it’s also a social enterprise, re-investing money back into the community. I love the decor, the atmosphere, the staff are lovely and yep, the coffee is delicious. It’s my new favourite place to go, both for a quick stop during the work week, and it’s ideal for a weekend afternoon, sipping your coffee and watching the world go by.

2. Bedford Street Coffee
When I think of Bedford Street Coffee I think quality – there’s something in those beans that just tastes rich and gloriously decadent! Add a brownie of the day to your order and you’re basically winning at life…

3. Espresso 10
It’s an unassuming stand in the middle of the street and yet Espresso 10 has to be in my top 3. It’s cheap, has loads of different coffees to choose from and it never disappoints.  Even Mr Love Middlesbrough Lass, who takes his coffee very seriously, assures me that the double espresso is as good as any he has had in Europe (and trust me when I say that is a whole lotta European coffee that has been consumed).

Love Middlesbrough Lass: Emma ❤️

Of course Claire and I will have some mutual favourites and I have a personal bias towards Bedford Street Coffee (being amazing coffee and selling some awesome veggie food) but I think Claire covered that place amazingly, other than the fact that the staff in there are amazing and I’ve never seen them frown. So, in no particular order, here are my top three coffee shops in Middlesbrough:

1. Cupeno
This place is morning coffee heaven. I change my entire route to get this coffee on a morning when I’m in zombie mode. It’s just the right sweetness (I’m a two sugar gal and this needs nothing) and they are so nice. It’s great to have a ‘Good morning’ with your coffee. I can’t complain about the price either, great value for money, hence why this is in my top 3 and have loads of options. They also offer breakfast and are open super early so can’t complain.

2. The Olde Young Tea House
My mum introduced me to this place right before my interview for this job (I’m adamant that it’s what landed me the job) and it was the cutest, most relaxing place I have ever been in. Funnily enough, we found out what the place was actually called from the Love Middlesbrough website… what a coincidence. This is a great place for a coffee and a chat, they apparently do good tea as well but we’re not here to talk about that. It’s one of them smooth coffees that you don’t even realise you’ve drank until you hit your forehead on the rim of the mug- or is that just me?! Either way, great coffee, and of course, cake. So much cake…

3. Esquires Coffee
This is actually a chain but really doesn’t seem like it. I discovered this place in my hometown and it was one of the few places I’d visit when I was in Middlesbrough before joining the Love Middlesbrough Lasses on a daily basis. This is such a great place with good coffee and very good service. You know to expect good quality, simple coffee when you walk in this place.

We have a few honourable mentions for independents who just didn’t make our top three: Mannequin Cafe, Goodbody’s Eaterie, TP Coffee House, and Cafe Zim, all of which do good coffee and should be tried as well.

We’ve talked mainly about the independents so far, but we have to hand it to the chains; they didn’t make it this big without doing something right after all. So, we’ve mentioned Esquires, but we also have Cafe Nero and Starbucks. We’ve also decided to give an honourable mention to our colleague Matt who said Costa Coffee was the only shop he visits.

We hope you enjoy the coffee and try some new places. Hint for students and those low on cash: Mannequin Cafe is amazing and around £1.20 to take out. Emma X

We’re always up for trying new places so if there’s somewhere you think we definitely need to try, shout out in the comments below. Anyone for a cuppa now…?

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Restaurant Week Returning With May Treats

A firm favourite with all those that enjoy eating out, Middlesbrough Restaurant Week returns at the start of May. So head on out and tuck in.

It is a chance to be enticed by one of the many special offers at the seventeen eateries signed up so for and maybe fall in love with a brand new venue. Middlesbrough’s food scene is better than ever, and with this year’s Restaurant Week – from Monday, May 1 to Sunday, May 7 – being the biggest yet, there has never been a better time to explore it.

From independent cafés and bar-restaurants to much-loved family favourites, Middlesbrough has a truly diverse dining offer that caters for all tastes. There will be a variety of special menus, limited edition dishes and excellent price offers in restaurants in the town centre. That all means that Restaurant Week is the perfect opportunity to take to the streets and prepare to sample what Middlesbrough has to offer.

The participating eateries, so far, are Al Forno, Akbars, Bedford Street Coffee, Dickens Inn, Eliano’s, Fellinis, Fork in the Road, Goodbody’s Eaterie, Holiday Inn Express, Khushi, Manjaros, Mohujos, Nosh, Pizza Hut (Middlesbrough), The Curing House, The Chairman,  The Dovecot.

So a great range, both in terms of menu and the type of venue. You might fancy the lively Bedford Street gastropub The Chairman or earlier in the day sample a different form of brew altogether at Bedford St Coffee. You can make it a  hat trick on the same street by booking a table at The Curing House.

Example of food from the smelteryThe Fork in the Road, an innovative not-for-profit restaurant that serves high end international cuisine while changing lives, is the perfect place for people who want to dine and make a difference. This venue has recently taken on the former chef of the much celebrated Michelin awarded The Star at Harome and maybe it was no coincidence went to top on TripAdvisor for the town.

Fork in the Road restaurant, Linthorpe Road Middlesbrough.
23/12/16 Pic Doug Moody Photography

There is stiff competition at the top end of dining, Al Forno has been up at the top of the charts for a decade. It is somewhere that always looks after the regulars as well as welcoming newcomers. Al Forno also sponsor the Teesside Tornado, Richard Kilty.

You could eat out every day during Middlesbrough Restaurant Week and never get bored, with cuisines ranging from Mexican and Best of British to African-Caribbean and Italian.

Flavours from around the world are on our doorstep, and there has never been a better time to try something new!

Middlesbrough is passionate about supporting local suppliers and producers, and many restaurants participating in this year’s Restaurant Week are listed on the Growing Middlesbrough directory.

Guests will be able to enjoy their meal with the knowledge that they are contributing to the local economy in more ways than one.

With a record number of offers, this year’s Restaurant Week is not to be missed!

Sharon Thomas, Middlesbrough Council’s Director of Culture and Communities, said: “The last few years have seen Middlesbrough establish a regional reputation for first class culture and leisure, and eating out plays a key role in that offer.

“Our truly cosmopolitan range of independent restaurants, cafes, bistros and micro pubs is growing all the time, and there really is something for everyone.

“Restaurant Week 2017 is an open invitation to residents and visitors to enjoy fantastic food together with some unbeatable offers.”

For more information on the restaurants and their specials, visit www.lovemiddlesbrough.co.uk/restaurantweek

For information on restaurants supporting local food, visit www.growingmiddlesbrough.org.uk

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#ETW17: Orange Pip Market

Last weekend (Saturday March 25) was my first experience of the outdoor market, on Baker and Bedford Street, Orange Pip Market.

For those of you who haven’t heard of this, Orange Pip Market happens once a month (should the weather allow) and it is a foodie’s heaven. There are plenty of food stalls selling food from across the globe, such as Italian pizza, German bratwurst and traditional Armenian flatbread, as well as the good British food such as Scotch Eggs and a carvery. Not only is there food, but there’s arts and music too, doesn’t that sound good?

I’ll take you through what I ate, which was a lot.

I started off with a vegan samosa, which was really good!

Then I went on to try some hot sauce. I chickened out of the super-hot sauce and went for the mild version which was just delicious and the vendor was a really funny guy who didn’t mind the fact that I was a wimp – or me taking a photo of him so I could get his t-shirts in the background.

My next stop was hot chocolate (with a little chat). Sprinkles did and amazing hot chocolate which was super smooth and just the right sweetness, they had homemade marshmallows with a few different flavours; I had to leave out the marshmallows (which they toasted with a blow-torch – talk about hardcore) but they did mention that they were looking into vegetarian options.

I had a little wander around the market, picking my next destination when I came across an authentic crepe stall, the guy who owned it was French, and spoke French to his customers in greeting etc. For a moment I felt like I was in France with this guy, he was very polite and allowed me to video him making the crepe, which was delicious.

I sat down to eat my crepe and started talking to two men who were very polite and gave me their thoughts on the market. They both loved the idea and were enjoying themselves a lot. I took a moment to enjoy the sun, because it couldn’t be Orange Pip Market without the sun, and went on my way.

The Clucking Pig Company sold me a vegetarian scotch egg which was so good, if a bit messy. I had a nice chat (as always) with the vendor and discussed social media. They are very active online and I was more than happy to tag them in a post. They’re from Redcar but have been down to London and even in the Houses of Parliament to sell their eggs. The sold goose and free range eggs too, which made me very happy.

I found a nice cheese stall – and I love cheese – where I tried quite a few different flavours of cheese (I went back at the end of my day to buy – didn’t want it melting in my bag) and talked to the vendor about cooking with these cheeses; top tip for lazy cooks: having the seasoning already in the cheese makes for a super easy sauce.

Cheese stall

I of course bought myself an Orange Pip mug for the office – I needed a new one and it seemed appropriate.

Orange Pip mug

I was informed weeks in advance that I could not go to this market without getting my face decorated, so that was what I did. I spoke to some lovely girls who decorated my face in gold leaf (not actual gold) and glitter. It looked amazing and stayed on until the evening, I’m still wondering what they used as a glue.

Emma face paint

I bought myself a brownie from Crumble and Slice, the owner’s mother told me they had brought 17 trays and had sold nearly all of them by the time I had got there.

Now, you can’t go to Bedford Street without going to Songbird Bakery, and that’s exactly what I did. Those talented girls had Easter cupcakes out and waiting for us and I loved it. I tried a mini eggs cupcake and holy guacamole was it good, those girls must have magic of some sort.

Songbird Bakery

One of my last stops was for pizza. I shared a stone-baked pizza with my sister (who turned up later on in the day) and boy was it good. The sauce was perfect and the cheese was amazing – did I mention that I love cheese- and quite frankly I haven’t had a better pizza yet. It was quick service and they were making them right there in front of us.

The music was utterly brilliant, I manged to hear two performers and they differed greatly in musical styles but both were talented and it was obvious that there was meant to be something for everyone.

I have to say, Orange Pip Market was a brilliant experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The security at the end of the streets were on the ball, not allowing anyone to take alcohol out of the street and also making sure everyone were safe, all the vendors were lovely people who were great to talk to and didn’t mind having photos taken all over the place, and it was a gorgeous day. It would have been a perfect day out for the family and I’m surprised at how little I actually ate, considering I was in two streets full of food.

Everyone I talked to really enjoyed the market and that spans a range of people. It was obvious from the wide range of vendors and performers that there was meant to be something for everyone to enjoy and the entire event looked very well organised. Kudos to the people who organised it and well done to all of the vendors for remaining happy and upbeat all day, even though it was probably very hot in a lot of those tents and very tiring.

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#ETW17: Independent eating, drinking and shopping

If there’s one thing the Love Middlesbrough lasses love (apart from cake, hot chocolate, and the Very Hungry Caterpillar), it’s eating, drinking and shopping. And Middlesbrough just happens to be full of fantastic independents for all your shopping, eating, drinking, hair and beauty (and more) needs. So many wonderful things – where to start…?
Bedford Street Coffee

Shopping

Whether you want a clock, a pair of designer trainers, or a new tattoo, you can get all of them (and more) without ever leaving the comfort of Middlesbrough!

With more independent businesses than you can shake a stick at, Boro’s got you covered no matter what the occasion. Beautiful wedding dresses? Check. Last minute birthday present for the person who’s got everything? Check. Emergency pair of 90s denim dungarees? Check (yes, you definitely need them).

Independent businesses are clustered on the wonderfully fabulous Baker and Bedford Streets, as well as neighbouring Linthorpe Road, Borough Road, and Grange Road, but that’s not the end of it. From Concept on Linthorpe Road to TP Coffee House in Middlehaven, our independent offer stretches across the whole town centre, not to mention into every corner of the town too – from hairdressers in Hemlington to bouquets in Berwick Hills.

Eating

Our lovely town’s foodie offer can only be described as multicultural, and who wouldn’t want to sample dishes from around the world, from the comfort of your own town? Whether you fancy Spanish chorizo at The Curing House or Turkish lahmacun at Meze Lounge, that’s just the tip of the iceberg – add in Italian, Chinese, African, Greek, Lebanese, Mexican, Indian, and Caribbean, and you’ll start to get a picture of how much of a foodie paradise this town is! (Plus, if you add in national chains, there’s also French, Portuguese, and more Caribbean!) And if after all that you’re still not convinced, there’s always somewhere which will do you a parmo!

Speaking of food, watch out for the hotly-anticipated return of Restaurant Week on May 1 – what better excuse to eat all the food!

Oh, and Middlesbrough has cake…a lot of cake…but that would need a whole other post! (You didn’t expect us to go a whole post without mentioning cake did you?)

Drinking and nightlife

As well as a culinary world tour, Boro can also lay claim to being a micropub and bar hotspot, with no less than ten quirky drinking establishments clustered around the Baker/Bedford Street/Linthorpe/Borough Road area. The Nuthatch’s craft cocktails rub shoulders with the Chairman’s real ale, while at Sticky Fingers you can enjoy a locally-produced pie and live music with your drink.

(We don’t want to miss anyone out, so here’s the full list: The Nuthatch, The Chairman, Sticky Fingers, The Twisted Lip, The Bottled Note, The Devil’s Advocate, Dovecot Bar, The Slaters Pick, Sherlocks, The Infant Hercules).

 

A final word

So independents may be a little more expensive than a national chain which can afford to keep its prices low, but the money spent in an independent business might just go on a child’s dance lessons or helping a someone provide for their family.

Money spent locally stays local for much longer than a few financial drops in the ocean of the profits of a huge national corporation. No corporation will miss the price of a sandwich or a new outfit in the grand scheme of things, but to small businesses every penny matters, and Middlesbrough is lucky enough to have a whole range of independents who are talented, dedicated and care about the town.

(Many thanks to Stuart Boulton for the lovely photo of Bedford Street Coffee!)

Love Middlesbrough Lasses
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