peach melba pancake stack at Birdhouse, Sheffield

My foodie month: September 2019

I’ve decided to try something new here – bear with me.

People often ask why I started this blog in the first place. It seems a long time ago now (well, six years is a long time I guess!), but, back then, I started blogging to make sure I had a space where I could write creatively and take time over it, as a bit of an antidote to my day job in communications. In my professional life, I do a lot of writing, but it’s always in a certain style, often against a tight deadline, follows a specific corporate tone and is about a set range of subjects (none of which are food!). So this blog was a space for me to flex my creative juices outside of the office, and on a topic about which I’m really passionate and is never far from my mind!

So much has changed in the past six years. Professionally, I have advanced in my career, finding myself busier than ever at work; the consequence of this has been that, away from the office, the thought of writing anything else is often overwhelming, in terms of having the energy or the time.

Another change has been that Instagram really took off as a platform in the last few years, which has been good timing, as it’s given me a place to still share foodie pics, thoughts and reviews without being too onerous when my working life is so busy.

And most recently, the biggest change of all for me has happened in my personal life, with the arrival of our baby daughter in July this year. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll already know about this and I’ve shared a bit over there about life since Iris arrived.

Our world was turned upside down this summer, with the arrival of our little girl!

I’m on maternity leave from my day job until August 2020, which is a massive privilege as well as slightly terrifying! To keep things ticking over and make sure I’m still doing some regular writing until I return to work, I’m going to try and do at least a monthly round-up here of some of my fave eats from the past month.

So, without further ado, here’s the lowdown on my foodie month in September:

It was a huge month in our household, as we were expecting a VIP guest. My sister was flying in from New Zealand to come meet Iris and spend time with us. We were so chuffed she was coming; she was actually poised to book her flights from very early on in my pregnancy, bless her, but managed to wait until we’d had our 12 week scan to get her credit card out and set the dates in stone. When she was last here, in October 2018, we were days away from starting IVF, so it was incredibly exciting to be seeing her again, this time with a baby!

Our nine days with my sister were completely wonderful. It was so special to see her and Iris together, to see Iris warm up to her and enjoy cuddles with her special Auntie Katie. And it was great to have some extra help at home, as well as just hanging out with the person who’s known me the longest.

I’m not ashamed to say that we ate lunch out for five days running. It was lovely! We did also have some lunches at home, I promise. We’ve all become hooked on sandwiches made using The Bakewell Bakery’s cottage bread rolls, which a shop near our house sells.

At the end of Katie’s first week in the UK, we had lunch at The Tickled Trout, our local pub. They have a really good value lunch menu and the food is always excellent. My open toasted sourdough sandwich with rare roast beef and pesto was so delicious and fresh:

open sandwich at the tickled trout, Barlow, Derbyshire
My sourdough open sandwich (£7.95) hit the spot

We were born and raised in Montreal, so Katie was really jealous to see we now have a permanent poutine outlet in Sheffield, in The Gravy Train. I knew we had to take her to Cutlery Works and she was very excited when I told her this was planned!

There were a few housekeeping issues on the day we visited Cutlery Works, but the management dealt with them swiftly as soon as they were flagged up, which is fair enough. The food was mostly great; the poutine definitely delivered and, more than three weeks later, my sister is still raving about her Five Rivers chicken wings (she actually emailed me a pic of them from NZ the other day, with a message to reiterate how awesome they were!):

cutlery works sheffield: poutine from the gravy train, five rivers vietnamese chicken wings, edo sushi japanese tapas
Some of our feast at Cutlery Works!

As someone who lived in Japan for two years, my sis was really impressed with Edo Sushi’s offerings and we enjoyed a little assortment of Japanese tapas from them, too. We picked up three of Bullion’s gorgeous salted dark chocolate cookies to take home and enjoy the next day.

My pregnancy craving for Caesar salad has carried on post-delivery, so I made us this current fave one night while my sis was here.

chicken caesar salad with homemade sourdough croutons
Chicken Caesar salad, homemade by yours truly

I highly recommend this crouton recipe over at allrecipes.com, the end result is so tasty. And it’s definitely worth making extra for you to graze on straight out of the tin!

En route up to the wonderful Yorkshire Sculpture Park, we stopped for some lunch at Riley’s at the Potting Shed, which is part of Pot House Hamlet in Silkstone, near Barnsley. Riley’s is a lovely little place, we’d been several times before and always rate their food and super-friendly service. While it deserves to be a destination in its own right (and there’s plenty of reasons to visit Pot House Hamlet), Riley’s is also a great pitstop if you’re travelling on the M1 and don’t fancy a disappointing overpriced sandwich at a motorway services, as it’s just a few minutes’ detour off the motorway.

We all loved our food: I had the Thai-spiced haddock goujons, my sis had the (very nice looking!) steak sandwich and my wife had the awesome pulled lamb pitta.

thai fish goujons at riley's at the potting shed, pot house hamlet
My Thai-spiced fish goujons

I defy anyone to visit Riley’s and not be tempted by their lovely homemade cakes, and this visit was no exception. Check out my wife’s millionaire’s shortbread cake!

millionaire's shortbread cake at Riley's
Make sure and save room for dessert at Riley’s!

To make sure my sis wasn’t feeling too homesick, we squeezed in a lunch at Tamper together, just her, me and the baby. I had the sweetcorn fritters, which have been a longstanding favourite of mine, and Katie had the Big Kiwi burger:

Tamper coffee sweetcorn fritters
My sweetcorn fritters, with added bacon
The Big Kiwi burger with a charcoal bun
The Big Kiwi burger

We got some cakes to take home (aka cakeaway), which was a perfect treat once we’d endured Iris’s first round of vaccinations later that afternoon. The vegan chocolate and Biscoff cake at Tamper and the Depot Bakery is SO good:

vegan cake Sheffield - vegan chocolate and biscoff cake from the depot bakery
Vegan cakeaway was very precious cargo

Before Katie headed off, we had to visit the excellent Koo in Chesterfield. One of our favourites in Ches Vegas, it’s a must-visit because my sister’s nickname from school is Koo. I ordered the roast beef sandwich from the daily specials and it was incredible. Served as a French dip with a bowl of gravy for dunking, it also came with a generous portion of caramelised onions and horseradish:

Koo Chesterfield all day cafe
Roast beef French dip

My wife and I have been raving about my sister’s food ever since we went to Koo. She had the lasagne, which I failed to get a decent pic of, but it was mega! It was a huge slice and had many, many layers to it. We were all duly impressed and I suspect our next visit to Koo might just consist of two lasagne orders!

Before we knew it, Katie was gone and we were gutted (and still are). It was so special to have had the time together, though. Now we just need to plan a trip to NZ!

Lunch at Birdhouse Tea Bar & Kitchen with some of my NCT Mum friends and their babies was a great way to spend a Monday afternoon. My peach melba pancake stack was served with homemade ice cream, which was completely excessive but very welcome! These were such a treat and a bit of a decadent lunch for a Monday:

peach melba pancake stack at Birdhouse, Sheffield
Pancakes for lunch, with ice cream? Go on then!

I wrote on my Facebook page and Instagram about the warm welcome Iris and I were given at Society Coffee Shop & Bar in Chesterfield. I was having a bit of a tough day and it was a “feed the baby” pitstop. But the hot chocolate, homemade (by the manager’s Mum!) chocolate fudge cake and pleasant conversation with another adult changed the tone of my afternoon and made everything seem a bit brighter:

hot chocolate and homemade chocolate cake, Society coffee Chesterfield
Perfect breastfeeding fuel at Society coffee in Chesterfield

We had a jaunt to Burton upon Trent to meet up with our pals who live in Birmingham; Burton’s been established as a good meet-in-the-middle point for when we want to meet up but don’t have a whole weekend to spend together. We met, as we always do, at The Crossing pub. My wife and I both had the Bangalore street burger, as she thought she’d have food envy if she didn’t copy my order, which I think is probably true.

Bangalore street burger, The Crossing, Burton upon Trent
Amazing burgers at The Crossing in Burton upon Trent

It was so good: a chicken tikka breast, an onion and coriander bhaji, mint raita and street cart fries (fries mixed with lime mayonnaise, spring onions, jalapenos, cheddar and coriander). We must visit The Rectory in Chesterfield, which is part of the same group as The Crossing, as there’s loads on the menu I still want to try!

Our last meal out for the month came on a very rainy Sunday, when we enjoyed a good lunch with some of our gang of friends at The Castle Inn in Bradway. Their three courses for £20 Sunday lunch is incredibly good value; the food is as good as ever and the staff are so lovely. We will be back!

My choices of chorizo croquettes, roast pork and sticky toffee pudding were perfect Sunday fodder:

Sticky toffee pudding at The Castle Inn, Bradway, Sheffield
Rainy autumn days call for sticky toffee pudding

Anyways, that’s September in a foodie nutshell. October looks set to be exciting: we’ve got our first few nights away with Iris; visits to Bakewell and Birmingham; and a baby Halloween party, which will be adorable (but probably not very foodie!). If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. See you again for my October roundup I hope, if not before; you can also catch me on Instagram in the meantime.

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