The Cultural Quarter of Leicester is one of the best areas of the city. It’s got bars like Manhattan 34 and The Exchange, entertainment from the wonderful Curve theatre and a number of gems in between.

So I was more than keen to visit the quarter’s local restaurant Chutney Ivy to take its new menu for a spin, and thought I would bring my lovely boyfriend as company. I was especially excited as Chutney Ivy bagged the prize of “Best Restaurant of 2017” at the Curry Awards – given Leicester’s renowned Asian heritage, this can’t have been an easy feat – so I was itching to sample the reasons why!

Chutney Ivy offers Indian cuisine that respects its heritage but isn’t afraid to innovate – Shaf the co-owner’s enthusiastic insight into the kitchen’s culture attested to this. The restaurant isn’t afraid to take on the features of a swanky bar either, so don’t hesitate to go even if it’s just for a cocktail! Interested? Read on…

Berry Mojito – Chutney Ivy

Starter

Indian Tapas Platter

“A combination of Siek Kebab Stacks (kebab with sun-dried tomato on a nan square), Aloo Tokki, Paneer stacks and Fish Pakora.”

This platter is a perfect companion to after-work cocktails with a gal pal or significant other, but be warned, it will leave you wanting more. The catfish pakora stood out as the showcase portion: its sweet, rich seasoning was so delicately paired with a light batter that made the texture so irresistible. The Akoo Tokki is worth a mention too – the crisp of the potatoes was heavenly and gave a great earthy balance to the dish. Nat and I agreed that this platter was a well-thought-out way of exciting the palette and prepping the appetite – it was light, flavoursome and moreish in a way that really set up for the mains.

Dim Bhajee Salad

“Boiled eggs, sautéed in caramelised onions, roasted jeera and turmeric. Served on a bed of greens.”

This is something I want to attempt at home as a snack salad that has some character to it. I would never have thought the combination of boiled eggs, jeera and turmeric would be so powerful! This dish complemented the platter well, providing a crisp alternative to the hotter flavours.


Mains

Because I’m a little fusspot that lends herself to the pescatarian style of living, I wasn’t able to try the new mains. Fortunately though my human vacuum of a boyfriend is, in his words ‘a conscious meat-eater’, or in my words ‘a part-time, zero-hour contract vegetarian’, so he permitted himself to eat what I could not.

Muragh Jaal Qurma

“Roasted chicken from the Tandoor gently cooked in sweet spices of cinnamon, Bay leaves, green cardamom, milk, yoghurt and a hint of green chilli. Garnished with caramelised onions and fresh coriander.”

Now it’s very rare that I ever wish that I had meat on my plate, but this was genuinely a struggle. This is a Bangladeshi Korma, which Shaf was keen to differentiate from the slightly saccharine, cream-centric Korma we’re used to in the UK. This dish is made with milk and yoghurt rather than cream, making the dish a lot less sweet, and while it takes longer to cook, the flavours were richer for it. Nat described it as more complex than kormas he’d had in the past, with a welcome heat that gladly superseded the general theme of sweetness he was used to. That isn’t to say this wasn’t mellow and accessible to those with a more sensitive tongue though – these flavours are indiscriminately pleasing. The aroma alone wowed me.

Capsico Keema Mattor

“Juicy bell peppers chargrilled in the Tandoor; stuffed with spiced minced lamb, paneer and peas.”

Another chef-favourite that challenged Nat’s capacity after the Korma, the pairing of paneer with tandoor spice was a harmony that explained Shaf’s enthusiasm for the dish.

There was “a lot of interesting tastes at play in this dish,” with Nat describing it as a “introspective lesson in flavour,” (yeah he’s that guy) that required quite a few mouthfuls to really get to the bottom of.

Sea Bass Bangla Massala

“Whole sea bass fillets gently infused with a blend of caramelised onions, tomatoes, fresh garlic, turmeric and lemon juice. Garnished with spring onions and fresh coriander. The favourite dish of the Bengal.”

I, hand on heart, think this might be one of the best fish dishes I have ever had.

Shaf explained he uses sea bass as it’s a dark fish, and one that is most similar to the Bangladeshi fish that is traditionally used. The fish was beautiful, it melts in your mouth and the sauce made a lasting impression. The lemon juice played a huge part in this dish, teaming up with the spring onions and coriander to deliver one of the most refreshing curry dishes I’ve had the pleasure of trying. Needless to say I didn’t leave one bit.

Dessert

Kalajam 

“sweet milk dumpling, marinated in ghoor.”

After the feast we’d just had, this dessert was welcomingly humble, but not at the expense of character. I’m a big fan of the very similar gulab jamun thanks to my colleagues, as they often bring Indian sweets into work. I was told I needed to try them warm with vanilla ice-cream so this felt like a sign! Kalajam has sugar added into the batter, and after frying the sugar it caramelises, giving it the name kala jam or “black jam”. This did not disappoint and lived up to my work pal’s recommendation. I’m normally an apple crumble kind of girl, but this sweet little beauty is always going to be top of my dessert list given the option!

 

I had a lovely time exploring this new menu, and I will definitely be back! If you want fearless food in a relaxed open space (the whole front of the restaurant can be opened up!), visit Chutney Ivy.

 

To book in and try Chutney Ivy’s new menu, call 0116 251 1889 or head to their website.

 

I was kindly invited by Chutney Ivy to sample their new menu. The views are my own, as are the images unless stated otherwise.


If there’s one thing you should know about me, it should be that I am grossly obsessed with food. I get through my day just thinking about what I’m going to eat next. You know the feeling right? I’m sure you all do.

So when I heard from a good blogging pal Dizzy Miss James that The Orange Tree was hosting a vegan food festival I was dying to get a spot! Being a lactose intolerant vegetarian tends to take me to the vegan side of the menu more often than not, but this time I was incredibly spoilt for choice.

I decided to go for the vegan burger and Oreo sundae (omfg) and this was my experience:

(P.S I was a little piggie and helped Victoria with her hot dogs too ❤️)


Big O’s Burger

Beef flavoured soya patties with vegan cheese, gherkins, sliced tomatoes and baby gem lettuce topped with house sauce cuddled by a tasty bun

The first point I wanna make is how incredibly real the patty looks – pair this with the combination of a home-made sauce and vegan friendly cheese and I was buzzing with excitement! And I can’t forget to mention the mix of sweet and regular potatoes as the wedges; variety keeps the mouth moist (ew).

I EVEN HAD VEGAN MAYONNAISE. M A Y O N N A I S E !

I do love a vegetable-themed burger as much as the next veggie, but there’s something (somewhat guiltily) satisfying about having a burger that resembles meat, whilst knowing no animal was harmed during the process! This burger was warm, juicy and had all the complex textures of a mainstream (*cough* meat) one. My mouth is watering just thinking about it… ahhhh…

Hot O’s Dog

Vegan sausage in a hot dog roll, topped with sauerkraut, fried onions, cheese sauce and mustard (oh hot damn)

What first caught my eye about these delicious ‘dogs was that there were two – I mean, what’s better than one hot dog? You get the jist. This photo doesn’t do justice to just how good these ‘dogs tasted; they were a classic example of a meal becoming more than the sum of its ingredients, the mustard and sauerkraut complemented each other as Rick complements Morty (if you don’t get the reference, seriously get watching Rick & Morty – it’s on Netflix). I couldn’t tell the difference between the vegan sausage and a regular one, and I actually had a dream about this hot dog recently. True story.

Oreo and ice cream sundae

It’s Oreo, strawberries and vegan ice cream, duh.

OH THANK THE HEAVENS, OREOS ARE VEGAN! I didn’t realise this before attending Sloppy O’s, what’s inside of them?! I’m not complaining, I had a dope ass sundae to finish off me stuffing my face; so happy I think I actually shed a tear.

There’s not much to reveal about an Oreo and ice cream sundae (the secrets of the Oreo were discovered long ago), but I have to comment on how luxurious the crunch of Oreo tasted alongside some smooth and silky ice cream.

Why can’t Sloppy O’s be every month?

I always thought the Orange Tree was merely a place for great drinks and a top pub quiz, yet my eyes have been opened by their amazing selection of vegetarian and vegan foods and I’m desperate to try some more! Huge thanks to Orange Tree in Leicester for accommodating us veggies and I can’t wait for the next event!

If you haven’t been already, make it your next stop for lunch or dinner. You won’t be disappointed! Plus you might see me lurking in the corner with Tofush and chips.

Cue drooling.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I, honestly, want to be an illustrator. I would love to draw for a living; artwork for childrens books, designs for magazines, anything to be able to sit down at my work space and draw to put food on the table and money in the bank.

There’s just one problem…

I don’t draw.

I am probably the most useless self-proclaimed illustrator there is. I get in my own way all the time, I criticise myself too much, I want everything I do to be as perfect as the people I admire today. As you may have seen in one of my most recent posts I am moving out of my family home soon, and I’m planning my work space with a twinkle in my eye, thinking of all the possibilities to motivate myself. Now, other than pretty paints, pens and notebooks, I am following some bad-ass illustrators on Instagram who have kept my small, inspired flame alight. I want to dedicate this post to some top class artists that keep me going, make me laugh daily and inspire me to achieve my dreams.

 

Gemma Correll

Gemma is a British babe living it up in the US with her gorgeous and art-inspiring pug. I love Gemma for her love of stripes, her honesty and her style. I own so much of her stuff it’s a joke, and her calendars are my favourite. She came to Loughborough for a book signing at Ohh Deer on 11th Feb and I was too ill to go, I genuinely think I’ll be regretting it for the rest of my life!!! CURSE YOU VIRAL FLU I WILL DRAW ABOUT YOU UNTIL YOU DROWN IN IRONY!

 

Mari Andrew

A post shared by Mari Andrew (@bymariandrew) on

I discovered Mari on the Instagram explore page. I think she was partaking in a ‘Draw Everyday’ challenge and I fell in love with her vulnerability, her thoughts and how honest she was in documenting what happened in her every day life. If she was upset, she would draw about it, if she suffered heartbreak, she would communicate to her followers through her designs, and it began to feel like I really knew her! I genuinely look forward to seeing what she produced daily, and I think her 350,000 IG followers feel the same! Without sounding cliché, she’s incredibly relatable. Mari manages to make even the most mundane scenarios entertaining, which is one of my favourite approaches to art.

 

Emma Block

Emma Block does things with watercolours I could only dream of doing. She’s a freelance illustrator in London and she is the epitome of cute, quirky and creative. I love her fashion as well as her artistic style, and I’ve always dreamed of going to one of her workshops! Whenever I think of Emma, I think of vintage cars, springtime flowers and stripes. She seems like an absolute babe and her precision is jaw-dropping.

Side note: I’ve just noticed illustrators like stripes(!?)

 

Chloe Hall

Some of my most recent patterns 🌷 which ones your favourite?

A post shared by Chloe Hall Illustration (@chloehallillustration) on

There is no way in hell I could write a post about inspiring illustrators and not include Chloe.
Chloe is a really sweet, down to earth girl who I met through my boyfriend. The first two things he told me about her were 1. “She lives on a boat!” and 2.” She likes drawing, you’ll like her”. He was not wrong! Chloe finds her inspiration in nature, primarily in plants and greenery, and her colour palettes are combos you’d dream about. I’m a little obsessed with green & pink and I think that’s because of her… You’ll find Chloe’s work on Etsy and Casetify!

 

Molly Mathews

Sorry trumpy-bum but you make this too easy 👹

A post shared by Mol (@molmathews) on

I couldn’t find an active illustration account for Mol, but tbh I’d follow her personal one cos she is style goals, and her hair is icy dreams. Molly is an illustration student from Leicester, currently studying at Loughborough University. She designs super cool pins and has even had the likes of Jamie T wearing her stuff! Mol’s designs are inspired by pop-culture and she nails satirical work that echoes society in a light hearted and playful manner. Her A-Z of celebrity scandals is probably my favourite thing that has ever graced the internet. I genuinely think this girl is destined for great things. Find her website here 🙂

 

 

 

 

It’s almost the most commercialised, tacky day of the year!

I kid…

What I mean to say was… Soon it shall be the 14th February, the day St Valentine (supposedly) shot you in the ass and you found some love.

Whether you’re spending it with the one you love, your mum or your best girl friends, Veeno is definitely the place to spend it!

Veeno was brought to us by Nino and Andrea, lovers of football, quality wine and authentic food. They only opened their first wine bar in 2013 and have taken the UK by storm, opening 10 bars since then! I was ecstatic to hear that one was opening in Leicester as I love the Nottingham one so much! 

I was kindly invited along to their Selezione Wine Tasting back in November, and it was amazing! It consisted of two white wines, one rose and two reds, accompanied by a platter of appetisers that were specifically chosen to compliment each of the wines. All of this was finished off with a dessert wine and their homemade tiramisu (WHICH WAS TO DIE FOR). All of Veeno’s wines come from their family vineyard in Sicily, Italy, ensuring only the best quality wines make it from their vines to your glass!

It was such a great experience to meet other bloggers, bring my love along and try so many different wines, I never knew I liked rosé until I went Veeno! But I am a red girl at heart ngl.

Anywho, back to the point!

Get booked in as soon as you can, even if it’s not for Valentine’s day. It’s great for all social situations, I even went after work to catch up with my gal pal! (hey Izzy) where we tucked in on a mini cheese board and talked the night away at a little instagrammable table decorated with corks! Such a beautiful place I tell ya.

Veeno really is the perfect setting for a Valentine’s date – for only £26.90pp you and your significant other can partake in this incredible Selezione experience, I am definitely going to book in again. They also cater for vegans & vegetarians too so you wont feel like you’re missing out!

Also, if anyone wants to join me on the Blind Wine Tasting they have on offer, let me know! I’m desperate to try it!

I WENT TO NEW YORK!

Did you?

Hell yeah I did!

I was lucky enough to be asked by my amazing work place to photograph students on their epic journey through NYC, capturing their thoughts and emotions whilst going on this life-changing trip.

It was an honour to be asked (and not just because it was all paid for), because I never thought I would be able to afford to go to New York myself. I did a lot of work out there, so I didn’t get too much free time to explore the wonders of the city that never sleeps… but I will fill you in on what I love about what I saw of NYC!

#1 The well groomed dogs of New York

I cannot tell you how many beautiful dogs I saw in New York, but I made sure to point out every single one of them to my colleagues… I’m sure they found it endearing. I am a huge fan of The Dogist and it felt so amazing to be surrounded by the potential models on 5th/6th avenue <3

#2 They get some good ass snow

So I was there from the 3rd – 10th January and the weather ranged from 8 degrees to -10 degrees C (WOT!). Luckily I packed for everything because I am always so cold. I’m so thankful that my mama got me the best coat ever from Urban Outfitters and thermals for Christmas! Although, I was not thankful that I was wearing my new Jordan’s that day… My feet were ready to drop off!

#3 Oh my god the food

As a pescatarian, I was worried that I might struggle with meals, but I had everything ranging from a high class sushi dinner to a salmon roll in a Canadian bar. I miss the food every day and just writing about it is genuinely making my mouth water! This was fried Country Catfish with tartare sauce, corn bread, coleslaw and green beans. Oh how I miss you Brother Jimmy’s BBQ!

#4 NBA

I’m a little shocked at myself that this is so far down the list! I know this isn’t strictly NYC rather than the entire USA, but I have been a massive basketball fan ever since I started playing at the age of 11. I’ve always wanted to watch a game and I literally had tears in my eyes at my first Knicks game. It was the most surreal, insane experience that I couldn’t put a price on ($59, cha-ching) and I can’t wait to go back again. It was a shame the Knicks lost though, but I was more than happy to see Anthony Davis dive head first into the crowd!

#5 The architecture

I don’t know if you know this but like, the buildings in America are REALLY big… They’re also stunning. I found myself stopping multiple times in the middle of my route to take it all in, and every conversation I observed felt like it was from a film because of the scenery. I was especially taken aback by the Statue of Liberty (I mean who isn’t) and looking at the Woolworth’s building, which was once the tallest building in New York. It’s pretty tiny now compared!
This trip was hectic to say the least, it was my first time in the US and I can’t wait to get back and explore some more. I feel pretty emotional looking at all my pictures, and I didn’t get any outfit pictures in front of a yellow cab! That’s probably what hurts the most…