Big Stevie Cool

A North East Food & Dad Blogger featuring recipes, lifestyle posts, film reviews & life as a dad of 3.


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

A Dad's Top 10 Holiday Essentials #MarkWarnerDad

I will be honest when I say that most of our holiday planning is left to Mrs Cool. I’m a pretty easy going kind of guy but I do always have one requirement - our holiday must involve delicious food. I don’t mind if this is 5* All Inclusive or Self Catering where I get to cook using local ingredients that I’ve picked up from the market. Good food is a big part of lives and I can’t imagine taking a holiday where food doesn’t form part of the trip. 

A Dad's Top 10 Holiday Essentials #MarkWarnerDad - Prawns

In the last few years we’ve enjoyed cooking in a Moroccan riad, taken a culinary tour at sea, tried wine tasting in vineyards and enjoyed various cookery classes with the kids - these have all been experiences that have turned into treasured memories that our family won’t forget. 

A Dad's Top 10 Holiday Essentials #MarkWarnerDad - making bread

So where does Mark Warner and their Family Ambassador programme fit in? Well after watching Jamie Oliver visiting Sardinia as part of his Superfood series, the Italian island has been high on my ‘foodie wish list’ and the Mark Warner Resort of Perdepera Beach Resort looks like it could be my dream getaway. 

A Dad's Top 10 Holiday Essentials #MarkWarnerDad - kids on holiday

A Dad's Top 10 Holiday Essentials #MarkWarnerDad - Jack looking out to sea

A Dad's Top 10 Holiday Essentials #MarkWarnerDad - Harry eating Calamari

I’m sure H,H and J wouldn’t be able to get enough of the delicious homemade pasta and I could happily live on Sardinian bread, cheese and seafood for the week. I’d be really interested to try some Sardinian specialities such as Culurgiones which is ravioli stuffed with potatoes and mint served with tomato and basil sauce and I would hope that Su Porcheddu (or spit roasted suckling pig) would be on the menu one night too. I bet it brings a real sense of occasion to the evening. 

A Dad's Top 10 Holiday Essentials #MarkWarnerDad - looking out to harbour

Sardinia is also known for their fantastic variety of wines and thanks to Mark Warner’s innovative evening childcare, the kids would have a blast joining in with a supervised movie club or Kids dinner and games nights whilst I actually got to sample a few of these wines with Mrs Cool. 

A Dad's Top 10 Holiday Essentials #MarkWarnerDad - pouring wine

I’d love the chance to represent Mark Warner Holidays from both a foodie and a dad’s perspective and be considered to be join their 2017 ambassador programme as a  #MarkWarnerDad . Part of this application process involves creating a ‘mood board’ of holiday essentials. I am much better with words than being creative with drawings or crafts so here’s my interpretation:  

My 10 Travel Must Haves

I always leave our holiday planning to my lovely wife,
If I’m honest I’ll do anything for an easy life.
When it comes to the day of travel, I have to check my phone,
And consult my list of essentials that i just can’t leave at home.

Coffee is the first thing to be packed into my case,
I need my Espresso fix to keep a smile on my face.
Next up is a good book that I can read in peace by the pool,
Making the most of those precious child-free hours with Mrs Cool.

As a redhead, a decent suncream is needed to protect my skin,
Calypso is my favourite brand as it’s quick to sink in.
My best pair of sunglasses are essential in sun or snow,
They always look better when paired with that ‘holiday glow’

For the journey I must remember a backpack for every child,
Packed with toys, iPads and books to keep their temperament mild.
My special bag of tricks will help to keep everyone sane,
Let’s not give fellow passengers a reason to complain.

My next essential is enough mobile data to last the duration of our trip,
So we can upload our foodie pics to Instagram (or do I need to get a grip?)
I definitely can’t travel without our Go Pro for the sea & pool,
Capturing tropical fish when we snorkel is always pretty cool.

Our deck of playing cards usually travel with us far,
We’ll enjoy a few games with new friends and drinks at the bar.
I’ll update my Apple Music Playlist featuring holiday classics for the sun,
These songs always remind me of good times and having fun.

Buying local food from markets is always a holiday ‘must do’ for me,
So a travel shopping bag is essential, I’m doing my bit for the environment you see.
These are my top 10 holiday essentials, that I can’t leave home without,
They help us make the most of travel, which is what life’s all about. 

A Dad's Top 10 Holiday Essentials #MarkWarnerDad

My Top 10 Holiday Essentials in no particular order:

1 - Decent Coffee
2 - A Good Book
3 - Suncream
4 - Sunglasses
5 - Backpack for the Kids
6 - Mobile Data
7 - Go Pro Camera
8 - Playing Cards
9 - Apple Music
10 - Shopping Bag

Let me know if food is something you consider when travelling or booking a holiday and if you agree with my list.

Well, that’s all for now



Monday, 20 February 2017

The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 10 "New Best Friends"

I'm just not feeling this series, there have been a few high points but mainly it's been rather dull. This episode encapsulates that, there were a few good scenes but on the whole I was pretty bored with it.

The introduction of The Scavengers was interesting but honestly how many group are there knocking around (at my last count there were 6 separate groups). I liked the scene with Rick in the junk pit with walker (it reminded me of Beyond Thunderdome). I also liked that Carole and Darryl were reunited but that was about it.

I really hope it starts to pick up soon but with there still being 6 episode to go I fear there will be more filler between now and the finale.

Well, that's all for now.



Tapas Revolution (Newcastle) Review

Viva la revolución! Have you been to Tapas Revolution yet? If not get down there now. Me and Mrs Cool were having a day in Newcastle and decided to give the new restaurant a try for breakfast and we were not disappointed. We love Spain and especially Spanish food so were really excited to try this place.

One of my favourite breakfast is Huevos Rancheros (you can read my own recipe here) so when I saw this on the menu I immediately decided to order this dish.  This version is served with baked Chorizo sausage and potatoes. The Chorizo was incredible, I found out later via a tweet from the restaurant that the Chorizo is sourced from the Asturias region in the North of Spain and you can really taste the authenticity of the ingredients.

Mrs Cool went for Pan Con Tomate (which is tomato bread). This is such a simple dish and took me back to our last holiday in Calella de Palafrugell as this was a dish we would regularly have for brunch. It is Toasted bread with tomato garlic and olive oil (i think i'll give this a try at home).

As a treat we also decided to have Churros. These are made to order and and you can tell as they are great. The the warm sticks of doughnutty deliciousness arrived tasting of sugary cinnamon with a pot of chocolate sauce for dipping.

They have a deal where when you order a breakfast item you can also have a cup of coffee from their coffee menu for free. I went for the Café Solo (Espresso) as this is my favourite coffee and Mrs Cool went for something a little bit different and ordered the Café Bombón which is an espresso with a layer of condensed milk at the bottom which originated in Valencia. We also ordered a couple of glasses of Orange Juice and obviously with this being a Spanish restaurant the OJ was very good.

Our breakfast cost £22 and for the quality I thought this was great value for a city centre restaurant, the staff were also very friendly and helpful. We will definitely be back to try the dinner menu. You can find the Tapas Revolution menu here.

Well, that's all for now.



Monday, 13 February 2017

Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 9 "Rock in the road"

Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 9 "Rock in the road" Review

The Walking Dead is back after it's mid season break and it couldn't come soon enough. After (what I originally thought was) a poor first half of the season on reflection I now think it was just a slow burner.

All of the pieces are coming together now and the Alexandria group get some luck in finding some explosives but what a tense scene when the herd of walkers were closing in on them. My new favourite character, Simon, is back doing Negan dirty work looking for Darryl, I love that he can switch from being goofy to deadly serious in a second.

I get the impression from the closing scene that things are going to pick up pretty quick but who were the group surrounding Rick and the others at the end? Was it the all female group from episode 6?

Well, that's all for now.



Monday, 6 February 2017

Monday Munchies: Soy and Garlic Steak with Egg Fried Rice

I was looking for a (fairly) cheap meal to make the other day so decided to raid my store cupboard for inspiration. You will probably have most of the ingredients already, the only thing I needed to buy was the steak.


Soy sauce
Green beans
Frozen peas


Start by boiling the rice for around 10 mins until all the water is absorbed and then set aside.

Heat some oil in a wok and crack in the egg and fry for around 30 seconds until it just starts to cook.

Next add the rice and a glug of soy sauce and mix until the egg is broken up then add some frozen peas and mix together. Let everything fry for a few mins until the peas are cooked and then taste (if needed add more soy sauce or some pepper).

To make your sauce slice the garlic as thin as possible (I use a mandolin but watch your fingers). I a frying pan fry the sliced garlic in oil until it starts to colour and then add some more soy sauce this will make the fry for a few minutes until it reduces (for a extra richness add a small knob of butter). Add the green beans and fry for a few more minutes.

For the stark simply season with oil, salt and pepper and cook on a griddle until its done to your liking and then leave to rest.

The serve this dish put a portion of the rice in a bowl and then add some of the green beans, next slice the steak thinly and layer on top and then pour over the rest of the sauce. If you like you can garnish with sliced spring onion and sesame seeds.

Well, that's all for now.


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Monday, 30 January 2017

La Yuan Newcastle

You may have recently read my Top 5 Restaurants in Newcastle, well I may have found a new contender. Just around the corner from St. James Park on Gallowgate is La Yuan a Sichuan restaurant that I'm sure will become a favourite once you visit. 

The decor is perfect for a modern Chinese restaurant and our hostess Rachel was very friendly in welcoming us. We had a look through the menu and made our choices. It was very hard to choose what to have as there were so many good dishes (we'll just have to make another visit to try the others).

For starters we had a Trio of Appetisers which were Pickled Radish, Mixed Greens and Duck Liver. I loved all of these but Mrs Cool wasn't too keen on the liver (she's not a fan of offal).

Next we had Sichuan Steamed Oysters and honestly these were probably the best oysters I've ever had. Usually I'll have Oysters raw with just a little tabasco or vinegar but these were incredible with a chilli marinade.

As a main Mrs Cool chose the Hung Shiao Belly Pork. Which is slow cooked until it's succulent and the flavours are fantastic.

For my main I had the Shuei Ju Beef which if you like a dish with a but of heat will be right up your street. The sauce it comes in was so good that I almost had to drink it straight from the bowl. Next time I order this I think I'll have to get some rice as well to soak up some of the sauce.

As a side we also had Steamed King Scallops with Garlic and Rice Noodles which again were fantastic. The subtle flavour of the scallop wasn't over powered by the garlic and having the steam was a nice alternative to them being pan fried with black pudding a peas puree as a lot of places serve them.

I can't recommend La Yuan highly enough. It was such a refreshing change from the sweet and sour chicken or curry and chips you get from a lot of Chinese restaurants in town.

After our meal we headed off into the Newcastle night time to enjoy a few drinks as we were child free for the evening.

You can find La Yuan's website here if you would like to have a look at the menu.

Well, that's all for now.



Monday, 23 January 2017

Monday Munchies: Haggis, Neeps and Tatties

"Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, 
Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye worthy o' a grace
As lang's my arm..."

Burns Night is just aroond the corner an' for this weeks dish what better way tae celebrate than wi' Haggis, Neeps and tatties. Noo ave deviated a wee bit by replacing the auld mashed tatties with crispy roast tatties. Aal ye need tae mak this is a Haggis, some potatoes an' a turnip (swede).

Wrap the Haggis in tin foil an' put in a roasting tin wi' some water, roast for aroond 75 mins at 190ºc. Peel the tatties and cut them intae quarters. Boil for 10 mins until the edges go soft, coat in oil an' roast wi' the haggis fae the last 45 mins. Also peel the turnip and chop intae aboot 2cm chunks and boil for 20 mins until soft. Mash the cooked neeps an' add butter, salt an' pepper. Tak the tatties and haggis oot the oven an' cut the haggis open.

Wi' the left o'er haggis al be making a smaller dish on Burns Night (an' maybe a wee dram of whiskey) so look out for that on Instagram on the 25th.

Well, tha's aal fae noo


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