A North East Food, Men's Lifestyle and Entertainment Blog

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

The Greatest Car of 80's TV and Film

There were loads of iconic cars in 80's TV and Film - I had a little trip down back to the future with a little graphic that Vertu Lease Cars have put together. Some were cool like The DeLorean from Back to the Future and The General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard.  Some were comedy gold like Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters or The Reliant Regal Supervan from Only fools and Horses.

A while ago I posted about my favourite TV shows from when I was a kid in the 80's (you can read here). In that list was a show that happened to revolve around a car that for me is the greatest of all. I am of course talking about the Knight Industries Two Thousand or KITT for short from the eternal classic, Knight Rider.


The modified jet black Pontiac Trans Am is not only the coolest looking car of all time but is chock full of all manor of upgrades and gadgets. It was near indestructable, often surviving gunfire, explosions and high-speed chases. KITT also had a AI mind of it's own and the freaking thing could talk (nothing is as cool as a talking car). Not forgetting the front mounted scanner that made an often imitated (at least by me as a child) vwoom-vwoom sound.


On top of all that KITT was a crime fighter who helped Michael Knight (played by the coolest man of the 80's, David Hasselhoff) fight all manner of bad guys. There was no situation that Michael Knight and KITT couldn't sort out.

If this wasn't enough Knight Rider also had the coolest theme tune EVER!



Were you a fan of Knight Rider? Are there any Cars from 80's TV or film that you think are better than KITT?


Well, thats all for now.

S


This is a collaborative post.
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Friday, 26 May 2017

Give your BBQ a Japanese Zing

*this is a collaborative post



Summer is nearly here and that means it's time to get out the BBQ. You may have seen we recently got a new BBQ this week and when I was asked by Yutaka to try these recipes it gave our first BBQ a Japanese twist. I love Sushi and BBQ's so this seemed like a genius idea.

Panko Burgers (makes 6)

Ingredients:

For the burger.

2 small red onions (finely chopped)
2 crushed garlic cloves
500g lean minced beef
2 tbsp Yutaka panko breadcrumbs
1 tbsp Yutaka miso sauce
1 tbsp Yutaka Yakiniku sauce
salt & pepper

For the BBQ sauce.

4 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp Yutaka Japanese Rice Vinegar
2 tbsp Yutaka Tamari Soy Sauce
1/4 tsp Yutaka Wasabi Paste
1 crushed garlic clove
2 tsp soft brown sugar
dash of Tabasco
pinch of salt

Method:

Combine the burger ingredients in a food processor and mix together and form into 6 patties, cover and chill. Mix the sauce together and brush the patties with the sauce just before putting on the BBQ along with any toppings you want (I like mushrooms and onions). Once cooked assemble the burger, mix some wasabi paste and mayonnaise together and spread this on the bottom half of your bun and place some salad leaves and add the burger and toppings.



Sushi Kebabs (makes 4)

Ingredients:

for the skewers.

6 mini peppers (deseeded and cut into quarters)
2 courgettes (sliced in 5mm rounds)
12 small button mushrooms
marinaded chicken (enough for 12 chunks)

for the rice.

250g sushi rice
330ml water
3tbsp Yutaka Japanese rice vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt

for the marinade.

2 tbsp Yutaka Yakiniku sauce
1 tbsp Yutaka Miso sauce
2 tbsp Yutaka Tamari Soy sauce
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 tbsp chopped Yutaka Sushi Ginger
1 tbsp Yutaka Mirin
2 tbsp Yutaka Shaoxing rice wine

(you will also needs some Nori sheets and a bamboo roller)

Method:

Combine the marinade ingredients and cover the chicken in the mix and chill in the fridge for at least 12 hours. To make the sushi rice, wash the rice 3 or 4 times in cold water. drain the rice in a sieve and then add to a saucepan with 330 ml of water and bring to the boil, simmer for 10 mins with a lid on and the turn the heat off and leave for 30 mins. Once the rice has cooled mix the rice vinegar, sugar and salt and the fold this into the rice. Assemble the kebabs (TIP: soak the skewer stick in water for around 4 hours to stop them burning on the BBQ) cook the kebabs on the BBQ turning them several times. Place a Nori sheet on the bamboo roller and spread some of the rice on the sheet add the cooked kebab and roll in the Nori sheet. Remove the skewer and cut into sushi pieces serve with salad leaves and the BBQ sauce.


With BBQ season just around the corner this is a great alternative to the normal BBQ fare. You can also rope your kids into helping with the prep. Mine loved assembling the kebabs and we all had fun at attempting to roll the sushi up.


Well, That's all for now.

S


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Friday, 12 May 2017

A day in Havana

If you follow me on social media it will come as no surprise that Mrs Cool and I recently travelled to Cuba on Holiday. It was amazing, it was definitely the best holiday I have been on and my favourite part was the day we spent in the Capital City, Havana.


We had booked a private tour rather than going on the bus tour you can book through Thomas Cook and were really excited to be driven to Havana in one of the famous classic cars which are so synonymous with Cuba. Our guide Jorge and our driver for the day Yusiel picked us up from our hotel early in the morning in a 1956 Chevrolet. The Jet black Sedan was in incredible condition considering it was over 60 years old (Mrs Cool joked that it was in better condition than our car). On the drive to Havana we talked with Jorge about what we wanted to do in in Havana and what we knew about Cuba. He told us about the work that goes into keeping the car running, telling us you need to have a good mango tree at home to use as shade as there are many hours spent on repairs.

The drive took around 2 1/2 hours, we drove through Varadero (the resort we we're staying at) and Matanzas a city on the way to Havana. Jorge asked if it was ok if we stopped at the post office as he had a letter he needed to post (we soon found out that our guide had a few more errands to run throughout the day but we didn't mind and found it funny). We stopped off at the Bacunayagua Bridge about halfway through our journey to stretch our legs. Bacunayagua Bridge is the highest bridge in Cuba at 110 meters  high. The views are stunning and there is a little bar and market at one end. The bar was great with a traditional Cuban band playing and Piná Coladas for sale where you can add the rum yourself and make it as strong as you want.


When we arrived in Havana we headed first to Revolution Square. Revolution Square is the political centre of Cuba, Jorge told us how Fidel Castro wanted to make Revolution Square as Iconic as Red Square in Moscow and how he addressed over 1 million people during the Cuban Revolution. Other Heroes of the Cuban revolution are celebrated here too as the faces of Camilio Cienfuegos and Che Guevara adorn the two main government buildings overlooking the square. There were a lot of people here milling around - some tourists, some locals, a few taxi drivers waiting for their pick ups by their classic cars. There was some police here too and people making preparations for the May Day Celebrations that would be taking place soon, Jorge told us how the square would be packed with people come May Day but this may be as attendance at the celebrations were mandatory for government employees.


When we were finished taking our photos at Revolution Square we headed along The Malecon which is the road along the coast and arrived at the Hotel Nacional De Cuba, probably the most famous hotel in Cuba. You can feel the history of the building as you walk through the doors. The lobby still has all it's original fixtures so it really feels like you're stepping back in time. Through the lobby is the Terrace which is incredible and you can certainly see why the hotel has hosted Celebrities and Presidents in the past. Jorge also told us the hotel was the site of the infamous 'Havana Conference' held by the heads of the most powerful Mafia Families in 1946 where they discussed many aspects of their criminal empire. The conference is famously recreated in the Francis Ford Coppola's classic movie The Godfather Part II.


After we had taken a stroll around the grounds of the Hotel Nacional de Cuba we headed to Old Havana. This was my favourite part of Havana, walking through the streets the funk of cigar smoke and diesel fumes hanging in the air as the sounds of cuban music seemed to come from every doorway and alley, I really felt like I could stay here forever. Eventually we made our way to Floridita the famous bar and restaurant that was a favourite of the author Ernest Hemmingway. Stepping through the door was a complete contrast to outside as the heat and bright sunshine of the street were replaced by a cool air conditioned bar that provided much needed respite. There was a live band playing as soon as you walk through the door and place was packed, everyone had a Daiquiri and there was a statue of Hemmingway sat at the bar.


When we were ready to brave the heat again we headed to through more streets past incredible architecture to the impressive Plaza de la Catedral where the Cathedral of The Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception stands. Jorge told us how prior to the Cuban War of Independence when Cuba was a Spanish territory the Cathedral used to hold the remains of Christopher Columbus but when Spain ceded the Island in 1898 the remains were returned to Spain (along with all of the statues which is why the there are some empty crevices on the front of the Cathedral).


We were getting a little thirsty at this point and as we were walking down an alley Jorge pulled us to one side and in a little doorway they were selling coconut water straight from the coconut. Jorge left us here while he ran one of his other errands (lol) and we had a little chat about what we had been enjoying throughout the day. We both agreed that this little stall is definitely something that we would have missed had we went for the bus tour.


When Jorge returned we headed along The Malecon to the ferry terminal to cross the bay (as the main tunnel was closed for repairs). This was definitely not on the tourist route, We were literally the only tourists on the ferry as the the rest of the passengers were all Cubans just going about their day. We arrived at Casa Blanca train (tram?) station where Jorge told us was the only electric train in Cuba. Our driver Yusiel had to take the long way round and met us there and it was a short drive to where we would have lunch. Again we both agreed that this restaurant would not have been possible if we had taken the bus tour. From the outside it just looked like a normal Cuban house but when your go through to the garden there is an amazing courtyard that has been converted to a restaurant and bar. Jorge had suggested we try a dish (whose name I can't remember) which was a seafood pasta but when we arrive our waitress persuaded us to try the surf and turf sharing platter and were weren't disappointed. We had grilled chicken and pork along with pan fried Shrimp and fish and barbecued lobster. I've never been a massive fan of lobster but this was the best I've had. We also had side of rice, black beans and salad which you will get with most Cuban meals. The bar was great as well and I had the best Mojito of my whole holiday here.


After lunch we headed back to the car and went to Morro Castle the ruins of the fortress that used to guard the entrance to Havana Bay. I love a castle and living in Northumberland I have plenty on my doorstep. Morro Castle was certainly impressive and I could imagine seeing it in it's hay day in the 18th century.


Our last stop was a visit the Statue of Christ, the 20 meter high statue of Jesus sits on a hill over looking the city and can be seen from many points around Havana. Jorge told us how former Cuban Dictator Fulgencio Batista had chosen the site as the statue could be seen directly from the Presidential Palace so his wife could see it each morning when she opened the bedroom window. However only a few days after the statue was unveiled Batista and his wife fled Havana as his government was over thrown by the Cuban Revolution so his wife didn't get many chances to see it.



After taking in the last of the sights from Havana it was time we headed back to our resort. Late in the afternoon we were getting tired and dozed in the car on the way back. We stopped off on the way for another of Jorge's errands before we arrived back at the hotel.

I really enjoyed speaking with Jorge about the Cuban way of life and also the politics of his country. Politically I consider myself a Socialist and recently have read a few books on Communism so to visit a country with Marxist-Leninist ideology was very interesting. We will be back and plan to spend more time in Havana on our next visit as we didn't get the chance to sample the nightlife which is also supposed to be very good. My lasting memories of Havana will definitely be walking through the streets and watching the endless parade of classic cars.



Viva La Revolućion

S

MummyTravels
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Thursday, 11 May 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: A Review


When Guardians of the Galaxy was released in 2014 for me it came out of nowhere, I'd never heard of the Guardians before and rightly so I was blown away. It has become one of my favourite Marvel films and my kids love it too so when we went to see the sequel we had high hopes. I'm pleased to report that Volume 2 lived up to those high hopes. Marvel seems to be able to do no wrong recently as everything they've done in the last few years has been great.

My only criticism is the central plot is pretty generic, Peter Quill/Star-Lord is reunited with his long lost father who turns out to be a psychopathic living planet who wants to destroy all life in the universe. How many times have we seen that old scenario?

A few of the sub plots are old hat too. Star-Lord and Gamora have a 'will they/won't they' unspoken thing between them that he keeps making references to Cheers about. These references go over Gamora's head (much like they did a lot of the audience I was watching with). Gamora and Nebula also have a classic feuding sisters plot. Also Rocket and Yondu are both douche bags screaming at the world who realise they're only angry so they don't get hurt if they let someone get close to them.

But didn't I say I loved it? So what was so good about it? Well, for one the cast are all great. All the main guys are back and the addition of Kurt Russel as Star-Lords dad Ego and Pom Klementieff as Mantis bring new interesting characters. The scenes between Star-Lord and Ego are great, Star-lord is a little doe eyed at finally meeting his dad and learning is true heritage and Kurt Russel is perfect as Star-Lord's dad. The opening scene involves some incredible CGI to make Kurt Russel look like he's in in twenties, this type of CGI has been used before in films like TRON Legacy and Ant-Man but never has it ben quite so convincing. Another great duo is Drax and Mantis. Mantis being so naive to think everyone is nice and Drax having no internal filter between what he thinks and what he says make hilarious viewing. Rocket is great again this time nicking some batteries from some gold dudes who then decide to pursue the Guardians throughout the film. A few great space battles take place with the gold dudes using drone type space ships piloted from their planet in a sort of gamer/VR type set up. There are a few good cameos too, some I wasn't expecting as well as the obligatory Stan Lee Cameo.

But the real star is Baby Groot, He steals every scene he is in. One of the early scenes is almost entirely Groot having a good time dancing to Mr Blue Sky while the rest of the Guardians are facing near death. Speaking of Mr Blue Sky by ELO, as with the original film the soundtrack for Volume 2 is amazing. A few classics and a lot of forgotten gems means your foot is tapping most of the way through the film.

On a final note I have to mention the post credit scenes. Most Marvel movies have a post credit scene, some have two. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has FIVE post credit scenes. I think along with an age rating each film must now come with a post credit scene count so you know in advance how long you have to wait through the credits for all of the scenes.

Well, that's all for now

I am Groot




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Monday, 8 May 2017

Smashburger Newcastle Menu Review


There has been an explosion of popularity for burgers in recent years and Newcastle has a fair few burger joints. One of the newest is Smashburger, now you may be aware that I'm partial to a burger, so when I was asked to try out their menu, I jumped at the chance. Situated in Intu Eldon Square's Grey Quarter right next to the entrance by Hippy Green, Smashburger is a great place to meet friends or go for a quick bite before date night. The menu is extensive with a choice of Beef patties or Chicken (grilled or in crispy batter) with various topping and buns and there are plenty of sides and drinks to choose from too.

Burgers

We both went for Beef patties and when I spotted the Avocado Club Burger on the menu I knew I had to try it, #TeamAvocado, this one comes with fresh avocado, applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, ranch dressing and mayo on a multi-grain bun. I usually prefer a brioche bun for a burger but have to admit Smashburger have made the right choice with the multi-grain bun on this one and the combination of ranch dressing with the avocado is a winner.


Mrs Cool went for the BBQ, Bacon and Cheddar burger (classic Sam). This comes with BBQ sauce, applewood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese and haystack onions (which are crispy fried onions) on a smash bun.


Sides

You can't go to a burger place and just have a burger and when it comes to sides me and Mrs Cool always go for fries. I ordered the SmashFries which are french fries tossed in olive oil, rosemary and garlic and Mrs Cool went for the sweet potato fries.

Mrs Cool was a little disappointed with her sweet potato fries but I have to say the SmashFries I had were incredible, the rosemary and Garlic really made them stand out from fries you can get from other restaurants.



Drinks

When we told our friends we were going to Smashburger, a few had already been and recommended the Hand-Spun Shakes. Our Waitress also recommended them and they do not disappoint. I went for the Chocolate shake and Mrs Cool had the Chocolate Oreo shake. They are HUGE (practically a meal in themselves), the Oreo shake also has little bits of Oreo's in it.



Mrs Cool had this to say about her meal:

"I will start by saying that I'm a die-hard Fat Hippo fan and I don't think my burger from Smashburger compared. The burger wasn't served pink (which I like) and was a little on the dry side. It definitely needed to be cooked for a little less time and to be served with more BBQ sauce. A messy burger, this is not. My sweet potato fries were also served a little colder than I would have liked and weren't piping hot like Steve's were.

I was however impressed with the range of burgers available along with the speedy and friendly service we received. My oreo milkshake was impressive and I would definitely order this again.  I also spotted a kids menu which was reasonably priced and Harry, Heidi and Jack would enjoy it here - especially the fancy pop machine with various flavours and unlimited refills. If you are in Eldon Square and fancy a quick burger at a reasonable price, Smashburger will fit the bill. For me though, it just didn't match up to my beloved Fat Hippo burgers from across the road."


I really enjoyed my meal but Mrs Cool not so much. We will still go back as I want to try one of the chicken burgers and I don't think enough burger places have this option.

Well, that's all for now.

S

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