Food & Adventures

Tuesday 28 March 2017

The Alchemist Newcastle | Breakfast Menu Review

We try and visit Newcastle every week on my day off work and stock up on essentials from the Grainger Market. Normally, we'll stop off somewhere for breakfast, brunch or lunch (check out my last trip to Tapas Revolution here) and Mrs Cool had been dying to take me to The Alchemist in the Grey's Quarter of intu Eldon Square ever since she visited for cocktails last week so we booked a table on my next day off work.

The Alchemist Newcastle | Breakfast Menu Review

The Alchemist opens for breakfast from 8am on weekdays and 10am on weekends. We had booked ahead for our 10am table online but really this wasn't necessary as we were the only ones there. The Alchemist's breakfast menu is very heavy on the egg (much to Mrs Cool's disappointment - she's not an egg fan - weird!) with 90% of dishes being served with egg. The staff are a friendly bunch though and I'm pretty sure they'd omit the egg from any dish if asked.

The Alchemist Newcastle | Breakfast Menu Review | Complimentary water

I really liked the surroundings and we had the pick of tables - ranging from cozy booths to long tables with bar stools. We decided on a booth and helped ourselves to the complimentary water that was waiting for us on our table (nice touch). The staff offered to switch it to sparkling if preferred. I half expected an extra charge for water to be added to our bill at the end but I'm pleased to say there wasn't.

The Alchemist Newcastle | Coffee and Tea Selection

Despite what you may think, The Alchemist isn't all about the cocktails. They serve a decent range of teas and coffees too. 

The Alchemist Newcastle | Breakfast Menu Review | Coffee menu

Mrs Cool opted for a single Americano which was nice but it tasted a little weak to me - I'd recommend heading straight in for the double. I think the kids would like to try the hot chocolates here. 

The Alchemist Newcastle | Breakfast Menu Review | Tea menu

I went for a classic English breakfast tea which can be served plain or 'Alchemist style' at no additional cost. Obviously I went for Alchemist style and I loved the dry ice, china tea cups and the flask of milk. It was proper loose leaf too and definitely worth the £2.50 price tag.

The Alchemist Newcastle | Breakfast Menu Review | English breakfast loose leaf tea with dry ice

The Alchemist Newcastle | Breakfast Menu

Our server recommended the Eggs Benedict to me so that's what I went for. Presented on a black slate with an individual pinch of sea salt and extra hollandaise on the side, it was delicious and well thought out. The eggs were perfectly cooked and had that all important ooze.

The Alchemist Newcastle | Breakfast Menu Review | Eggs Benedict

Mrs Cool went for a classic bacon butty served with brown sauce on the side. Sam said it was her kind of bacon sandwich - packed with 6 rashers of crispy bacon and soft white bread. It was a bargain at just £4.50.

The Alchemist Newcastle | Breakfast Menu Review | Bacon Sandwich

The service throughout was super friendly and we were made to feel very welcome. Nothing was too much trouble for the staff at all and we were served pretty quickly. We did contemplate extending our breakfast and ordering a non-alcoholic cocktail but time was getting on and Mrs Cool had a long list of 'essential' holiday items to shop for so I'll save the cocktails for another time. 

Some people have had a few choice words to say about the new restaurants in the Grey's Quarter but all of our encounters have been spot on so far and The Alchemist is a fantastic addition to Newcastle. Our breakfast bill was £16.55 for two which I think considering the quality, service and atmosphere was well worth the £. 

For more food reviews around the North East, follow Big Stevie Cool on Instagram here.

Well, that's all for now.



Monday 27 March 2017

The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 15 "Something They Need"

Ah Man! Why did Dwight have to grow a pair right at the end, I was looking forward to the shifty prick getting shivved by Daryl or someone else but that doesn't look like it's going to happen and it seems like he'll be instrumental in the war against the Saviours.

A lot was happening in this episode, Gregory is getting seriously worried about his position which is funny as he is the worst leader of all of the groups, he has no usable skills at all and the people of Hilltop are now realising this.

The Alexandria group totally screwed over the Ocean side group but taking all of their guns and leaving them defenceless but they I guess they were given a choice and the Alexandria group gotta do what they gotta do.

Negan... ah Negan, still the best thing about this season. He knows something is coming and with the finale next week I can't wait to see this. But the disappointment I've felt throughout this season I have a bad feeling the finale may be a let down.

Well, that's all for now.



Monday 20 March 2017

The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 14 "The Other Side"

Things are tense and things are emotional. whilst not one of the best episodes this was a solid entry in this series progressing the story while not just being filler. Gregory is fearful for his position and trying to maintain control. It's been coming for a while but he will lose his grip soon and no doubt scuttle off the warn The Saviours. Maggie or Jesus (most likely Maggie) will take his place as leader of Hilltop. Simon, as ever, was brilliant and the highlight of the episode.

Maggie telling Daryl Glen's death wasn't his fault I think was massive for Daryl. He has been wracked with guilt for the entire series and now he has that closure he can now step up and become an integral part of the fight against The Saviours. The scenes with Sasha and Rosita were good too even if their plan was stupid but Sasha going it alone to save Rosita is even more stupid.

With only to episodes left of the season, will there be any more twists before the final battle?

Well, that's all for now.



Sunday Lunch | The Northumberland Arms, Felton

We love going out for Sunday Lunch. Not having the hassle of making the dinner or tidying up after you're done is heaven. One of our favourite places is The Northumberland Arms in Felton. Felton is a little village on the River Coquet not far from Alnwick. Their Sunday Lunch menu is always good but they've added something new.

The 40 day aged, Himalayan Salted Sirloin is unique to Northumberland. The dish is served with roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and a selection of vegetables. All are perfectly cooked and delicious but the meat, Oh My God! The Meat!.

The meat is served pink and is melt in the mouth soft. It has a fair amount of fat which brings extra meaty flavour. This might sound weird but this was the meatiest meat I've ever tasted. It is a bit on the expensive side (£18.95) but this is a proper treat and not a meal you will have very often.

After the main course there was enough room left for a dessert so me and Mrs. Cool shared the Trio of Desserts. This was a chocolate brownie, a pear frangipane tart and blueberry cheesecake. The brownie and tart were nice enough but the cheesecake was incredible, very moreish and there was a fork fight between me and Mrs. Cool over this.

After everyone was finished we decided to feed the ducks on the river. Another reason why we love Felton is the Running Fox bakery where, as well as selling amazing freshly baked bread, you can get some free bread for feeding the ducks. After picking up a loaf for ourselves we also got a little bag of bread for the ducks.

After dividing the bread up equally between the kids (there would be kick off if any child had slightly more than the others) they all had great fun tossing the the bread to the ducks. Heidi was even brave enough to let one of the ducks eat out of her hand.

Once we were out of bread we headed home, it won't be long until we return to Felton.

Well, that's all for now.


Disclosure | We received a complimentary meal in return for Mrs Cool featuring a review on North East Family Fun (review coming soon). I was not asked to write this, but the steak was something special and I thought you'd like to hear about it. 

Thursday 16 March 2017

Project Bond: Diamonds are Forever

"Good Evening, Mr. Bond."

As the Eon productions' James Bond Series entered the 1970's it was in disarray. The company had been taken to court over rights to intellectual property, the new star had proved to be difficult to work with and the last film had been a flop. They had to do something to get back on track and what they did was produce, in my opinion, one of the best film in the whole series, Diamonds Are Forever.

Sean Connery is back one last time to save the day (as well as the entire franchise). The film starts with Bond searching for Blofeld (this time played by Charles Gray) so he can get vengeance for the death of his wife in the last film. Bond searches all over the world and immediately you know it's classic Bond as there is innuendo right from the start and Connery brings back his trademark brutality. Bond finally tracks down his nemesis and kills him so he can now get on with his life and return to MI6. Shirley Bassey is also back once again to provide one of the most iconic themes in movie history.

When Bond is back at MI6 he is put on the case of some missing diamonds and heads to Amsterdam posing as a smuggler and meets Tiffany Case the 1st of a few Bond girls in this movie. The missing diamonds are also being pursued by assassins Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd who are killing anyone who has had any contact with the diamonds. These are not your average Bond villains as for starters they appear to be openly gay.

Bond heads to Las Vegas with the diamonds and of course heads to the casino where he meets the next Bond girl, Plenty O'Toole (who came up with these names, man!). After impressing her at the craps table Bond takes her back to his room but some gangster types are waiting to cock block him. But Bond does get his end away when it turns out they are working for Tiffany and she is waiting for Bond in his bed.

The diamonds lead Bond to a reclusive billionaire called Willard Whtye who own a casino in Vegas as well as some secret research companies, the diamonds are to be used on a laser (I know, right) which is going on a satellite. Bond makes his way through Vegas trying to get to Willard Whtye and after a lot of car chases finally ends up at the penthouse of Whyte's casino but it turns out Whyte is being held hostage by none other that Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

Blofeld has had more plastic surgery but has also made others have surgery to look like him and it was one of these duplicates that Bond killed at the start. Bond is incapacitated by Blofeld and he escapes again. Bond tracks down the real Willard Whyte and goes to rescue him but is met by two female bodyguards Bambi and Thumper (again with the names?!) Bond obviously wins and with the help a Whyte discovers Blofeld is on a converted oil rig in Baja California.

Blofeld plans to auction off the use the diamond laser to the highest bidder to destroy the rest of the worlds nuclear weapons. Bond with the help of Felix Leiter and the CIA arrive and ruin Blofeld's plans.

This film doesn't hit the heights of Goldfinger or Thunderball but it is still a solid picture and has everything you want from a classic Bond movie. Sean Connery proved again that he IS James Bond but this would be his swan song (at least until the rival James Bond production 'Never Say Never Again' in 1983. But let's not mention that).

Project Bond will return with Live and Let Die.

Well, that's all for now.



Tuesday 14 March 2017

The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 13 "Bury me here"

Oooh Morgan is kicking right off. When Morgan returned in season 4 he became one of my favourite characters with his quasi-Jedi bo staff skills but in the last couple of seasons he really has fell to the background. But he is back with a bang now after finally realising pacifism has no place in the zombie apocalypse.

Carol is back as well now that she knows the full extent of what Negan and The Saviours have done to the Alexandria group. Also King Ezekiel accepts that to fight is the only way to survive.

Finally 3 of the best characters are on board with the fight against Negan and with the season drawing to a close someone is gonna get their ass kicked.

Well, that's all for now.



Monday 13 March 2017

Monday Munchies: Steak and Ale Pie

As we say goodbye to British Pie week I thought I would share with you my favourite pie I had this week. My home made steak and ale pie. Start with the filling, for this pie I make the filling in a the slow cooker, add the steak, ale (I used Newcastle Brown Ale, obviously) and a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Leave it to cook for at least 5 hours but the longer the better.

When the filling is ready you can start on everything else, peel some potatoes and carrots and chop into good sized pieces. Par boil both for around 10 minutes and then drain into a colander and toss the potatoes so the edges fluff up. Heat some beef dripping in a roasting dish and when it's searing hot add the potatoes and carrots and turn them so the are covered in the melted dripping, cook in a high heat oven (around 220Âșc) for 30-40 minutes until the potatoes are golden and the carrots are starting to caramelise (TIP: when there is about 10 mins to go bash up some garlic cloves and add these with some rosemary and thyme to the roasting dish).

Add the finished pie filling to your pie dish of choice and cover with puff pastry. Crimp the edges and decorate with some pastry shapes (I made a Pi symbol), cut 2 little holes in the centre to allow any steam to escape and brush with some egg wash and cook for about 30 minutes. Make sure you don't roll the pastry too thin, I made this mistake and it ended up splitting at the thinest edge.

I like to have mushy peas with my pie, which I just make with boiled frozen peas blitzed in a blender and mixed with a little butter, salt, pepper and tiny blob of mint sauce.

What are your favourite pies? Did you have any during Pie week?

Well, that's all for now.


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A classic slow cooked steak and ale pie recipe with a twist


Thursday 9 March 2017

Logan: A review

It's been a long time (17 years!) since we started watching Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart as Wolverine and Professor X. For me it started before any of my kids were born, before I got married, even before I started dating the girl who would become my wife. It's a long time to be invested in these characters and this film is the perfect way to bring it to a close.

Most of the X-Men film have been great but the Wolverine spin offs are pretty meh! This is the Wolverine film we've been screaming out for for so long. The tone of this film is much darker than in previous X-Men films and is spot on. The film starts bleakly with a broken down Logan working as a limousine driver to pay for medicine for a 90 year old Professor X. Logan's powers aren't as strong as they were before and he has a few scars and it takes him longer to heal than it used to.

Professor X is also not as he used to be. He is a fragile shell of the man he once was and is no longer in full control of his powers. It's not explicitly said but it's hinted that when he lost control once before something terrible happened and thats why there are no other X-Men around.

Logan is helped by Caliban (Played by Stephen Merchant) an Albino mutant who can find other mutants. It turns out Professor X has been communicating with an 11 year old girl called Laura, who has escaped from a secret research facility and needs needs Logan's help. Mutants have been dying out and no mutant children have been born for years but this girl is one of a group of kids who have been genetically engineered since birth to be soldiers using mutant DNA. But when some mercenaries show up looking for her shit goes down.

The leader of the mercenaries is Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) a cybernetically enhanced soldier who is charismatic but sinister. He works for Dr Zander Rice (played by the brilliant Richard E Grant) who is in charge of the lab who created these new mutants.

Caliban is captured and tortured into helping the bad guys find the others after they escape. They're headed to a place called Eden where Laura will be reunited with some of the other new mutants who escaped with her. We find out that Laura has very similar powers to Logan even down to the adamantium claws and along the way Logan and Laura start to form a bond.

I won't go into what else happens but it is pretty damn good. The fight scenes are amazing, there are a few laughs and the dialogue between Logan and Professor X is heartfelt as the two actors have worked together for a long time just like their characters. The whole film is full of pathos as it pulls the audience to it's inevitable conclusion and provides closure to a story that has lasted longer than most relationships. The film isn't perfect but it's pretty damn close. Some of the deaths were a little overly gruesome and I felt they dropped a few extra f-bombs just to get a 15/R rating but that is my only criticism.

I do feel sad now that it's over as I really can't see anyone other than Hugh Jackman playing Logan/Wolverine but I fear the studio won't leave it long before rebooting this cash cow.

See you around, Bub.

Well, that's all for now.



Monday 6 March 2017

The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 12 "Say yes"

I think Rick and Michonne are starting to enjoy their little scavenger hunts. They go camping, they find some stuff, they have a little sexy time. Then they hit pay dirt and find everything they've been searching for and have jolly old time carving up some walkers, doesn't seem so bad this end of the world malarky.

Rosita and Tara wrestling with their anger/guilt is a bit tedious and they just need to get on board with the plan to get all the groups to take on the saviours together or they're going to fuck everything up, especially Rosita, she needs to get her shit together coz this kamikaze mission she has roped Sasha into is not going to work.

I enjoyed this episode but things really need to get going now though, this has been the slowest season EVER!

Well, that's all for now.



Thursday 2 March 2017

Lego Batman Review

When the Lego Movie came out me and the kids all loved it (Mrs Cool not so much) and we still watch it regularly. We all love Batman too so when it was announced there would be a Lego Batman Spin off we were all excited.

You really need to be a fan of the LEGO style of humour to enjoy this movie as the silliness is pretty full on from start to finish but luckily my family are fond of the silliness. Batman is perfectly cliché as the brooding Dark Knight who doesn't need anyone's help and thinks he is perfectly happy in his angsty loneliness.

The Joker is getting tired of Batman not hating him as much as The Joker hates Batman and his plans are always failing as he gets help from the usual Gotham bad guy crew. So he comes up with a plan to get himself sent to the phantom zone so he can get the help of some new bad guys.

Batman, whilst distracted by the beautiful new Police commissioner Barbara Gordon, agrees to adopt an orphan and Dick/Robin is my favourite character in the film, he is so ridiculously positive about everything and is super happy that he has been adopted by the greatest orphan of all, Bruce Wayne.

The Joker returns from the phantom zone with a host of new baddies to help him with cameos from Voldermort, King Kong, The Gremlins and even some Daleks. Just when it looks like the bad guys win Batman realises he does need some help and the Bat-team unites in the form of Batman, Robin, Batgirl and Alfred (as the 1960's Batman) and together they manage to save Gotham.

This not a film for die hard Batman fans but it is definitely a film for die hard LEGO fans.

Well, that's all for now.


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