Monday 8 July 2013

REVIEW: La Tasca Spanish Tapas Restaurant (YB)

I was offered the chance to do a review at our local La Tasca which is Queen Square, Liverpool. Here's how it went...

Image taken from
We were booked in for Saturday 6th July 2013 at 6.30pm, that is me & Paul (hubby), our 10 year old son, David and my 11 year old sister, Latisha.

The waitress asked us were we would like to sit (indoors or outdoors - we chose outdoors seeing as it was a nice warm, sunny day) and seated us and gave us menus. The childrens menus were separate as they have some puzzles inside the menu and get given a small box of crayons.

I spoke to the manageress and she explained what we could choose from for the review - 6 tapas between me & Paul plus a jug of sangria or wine or soft drinks and the childrens menu each for the kids (3 tapas, 1 dessert and a Capri sun each), also a starter of bread and oil to share. She was very nice and approachable. She explained that one of the waiters, Anthony (I hope I remember his name correctly!), would be looking after us for the evening. He was also very nice, and very polite and made sure we were well looked after.

I ordered Gambas Gabardina, a Madrid dish ("king prawns, dipped in our special-recipe San Miguel batter and fried until crisp, then served with homemade paprika & roasted garlic mayonnaise and lemon"), Patatas Bravas, an España dish ("fried potato, with spicy tomato sauce") and the 'Chef's Special' Slow-Cooked Pork Cheeks With Pedro Ximenez, a Castilla Y León dish ("served with creamed mashed potato").

I absolutely loved the pork cheeks with mash, it was cooked to perfection, very soft and succulent pork and the mash was scrumptiously creamy and smooth. I would definitely have this again and recommend it to everyone who visits.

The king prawns were really nice - whenever I've had king prawns in other places, they have been quite chewy, but these were cooked just right, nice and soft and juicy, the batter was also soft and delicious and the dip complemented them perfectly.

The patatas bravas were very nice too. I think I would have preferred them a little spicier. They were different to the ones I had on holiday in Barcelona in a few weeks ago (the ones I had there were fried potato with a mayonnaise and spicy dip), but I assume it is just a regional varaiation. They were very nice anyway - they are like half size potato wedges in a spicy tomato sauce.

We waited a reasonable amount of time for our food to be served. We got to enjoy a glass of our sangria while we waited and enjoy sitting out in the warm evening air. It was a very pleasant atmosphere at the restaurant too. The staff all look pleasant and approachable and cheerful which is nice to see. They even have Spanish style music playing to give an authentic feel of Spain!

I felt that the food was very well presented and I was very, very impressed with how well my food was cooked too. It was perfect - I'm a fussy eater in general, so for me to give a 'perfect!' is quite rare. Everything was just as described.

I very much enjoyed my sangria too. It wasn't too strong, nor was it too weak. I find sangria is very varying in taste from place to place. I liked it very much though. It had a good selection of fruit pieces in - orange, lemon and lime.

The bread and oil starter was delicious too. I very much enjoyed that. Overall, I was very, very pleased with the meal, the atmosphere and the service.

Paul ordered Pimientos De Padrón, a Galicia dish ("imported directly from Padrón - hot!"), A Festival Of Mushrooms, a Rioja dish ("chestnut and button mushrooms, sautéed in garlic butter and white wine") and Tortilla Española, an España dish ("Spanish omelette, served with a spicy red pepper tapenade and roasted garlic mayonnaise").

I asked Paul what he thought of his meal and he said:

"I was impressed that there were quite a lot of veggie choices. There was a good variety of things I could have - I didn't feel like a second-class person just because I wasn't having something meaty. I liked it all, my favourite was the mushrooms - they were nicely coated in the flavouring, but not dripping with oil like some takeaway ones I've had before. There was a good variety of mushrooms and they were soft and flavoursome. 

The peppers/chillies were nice, but they were not as hot as I was expecting, they were nice anyway, but from the description on the menu, I was maybe expecting something a little hotter.

The omelette was nice too. The bread and olive oil starter was nice. I very much liked the sangria too. There was a nice lot of fruit in the sangria, I was pleased there wasn't too much ice, but it was still nicely chilled.

The tables were well set out to give you plenty of room to sit comfortably. The waiters & waitresses checked everything was alright and the food was brought out in a timely manner and the tables were cleared quickly after we'd finished.

There was a friendly and relaxed atmosphere and the music was on but not over the top, so you were able to chat comfortably."

David ordered La Tasca's Meatballs ("La Tasca's beef and pork meatballs, served in a tomato sauce"), Paella Of The Day ("chorizo and chicken paella") and French Fries ("served with tomato ketchup"), Chocolate Brownies ("served with vanilla ice cream") for dessert and a blackcurrant Capri Sun drink.

I asked David what he thought of his meal and he said:
"I thought it was very yummy and all the food was nice and done well. My favourite was the paella, it was just right. I wish there was a bit more food, I was a bit hungry afterwards. I wish there had been a little more choice in dessert too."

Latisha ordered two lots of Paella Of The Day ("chorizo and chicken paella") and French Fries ("served with tomato ketchup"), Chocolate Brownies ("served with vanilla ice cream") for dessert and a blackcurrant Capri Sun drink.

I asked Latisha what she thought of her meal and she said:
"It was lovely and the paella was my favourite. I think more would have been better though. It was cooked fabulous."

Wednesday 3 July 2013

REVIEW: Burts Potato Chips (YB)

I received some Burts Potato Chips to review...

Burts Wave Cut Potato Chips - Jalapeno & Red Pepper
I've never tried these before, but I have to say I love them and now I'm going to seek them out in a local shop as they were that good!

They are so full of flavour, it's mindblowing! Lots of crisps are lacking in flavour or only get more flavoursome towards the bottom of the pack, but these were soaked in flavour top to bottom and that's just the type of crisps I like.

Not to mention then fact that I am a huge fan of all things spicy and so the jalapeno and red pepper flavour is a great choice for me.

In terms of crispy, they were just right too. As ironic as it might sound, I'm not a fan of crisps that are too crispy.

I shared the packet with my husband, Paul. This is what he thought of them: "They were nice and flavoursome and spicy. The bag seemed bigger than an average bag of crisps and more is better!"

"Whet your appetite and tickle your taste buds with Red Pepper & Jalapeno, the fiery, mouth-watering crisp inspired by traditional Mexican flavours. Perfect eaten straight from the packet or even better dipped in a cool salsa, hummous or tzatziki, these crisps are the perfect party snack or nibble for a summer BBQ, as they really pack some punch! Pair with a rum based cocktail such as a mojito or caipirinha, to get your party into full swing"

Burts British Potato Chips - Spicy Chorizo
I have never had chorizo before, so I honestly cannot comment on how realistic the flavour is, but again they are extremely flavoursome. I didn't like the flavour so much of this packet though. Maybe I just don't like chorizo?

The crisps are very fresh and well, crispy (as they should be). I am very impressed overall by the new spicy flavours and I for one, hope there will be many more spicy flavours added in the future. I'm officially a Burts convert now!

I shared this packet with my son, David, aged 10 and he said: "They are really nice and I liked the flavour lots. They had just the right amount of flavouring."

"Say hola! to Spicy Chorizo. The traditional rich Spanish sausage has been combined with fresh fiery chillies and fragrant paprika to give your pallet a serious kick. The perfect pre dinner party snack, these tasty potato chips are sure to prove popular with guests. Try incorporating into a tapas night with friends, pairing with a glass of full bodied red wine or a jug of cool, fruity sangria."

Burts Chips are available in 40g (RRP 69p) and 150g (RRP £1.89) bags from delicatessens, farm shops, independents, pubs and bars nationwide.

Flavours in the range include Sea Salted, Pesto, Mature Cheddar, Firecracker Lobster, Salt And Black Pepper, Salt And Vinegar, Sweet Chilli and Guinness*

*Guinness Burts Chips are available from Selfridges, Waitrose, Tesco and Morrisons, priced 75p for a 40g packet and £1.99 for a 150g packet.

Monday 1 July 2013

RANT: Whose Child Is It Anyway? (YB)

A question that popped into my mind after a discussion/rant the other day is 'Whose child is it anyway?'...

It feels like the government lay claim to our children from the day they are born and that we don't really get a say in anything related to our children. It seems no-one else stops to question this though...

'Why?' I hear you ask. Well...

1) You get fined if your child is off school too often

Let me elaborate. Whilst I agree that some people would keep their child off school because they are too lazy to get off their arses and take them, other parents, like myself, only keep their children off when they are genuinely too ill to go into school. Like myself when I was a child, my son is off school maybe more than the average kid as he is simply ill more often. Whilst unconfirmed, I wonder if both he and I have a weaker immune system which makes us more susceptible to illness in the first place and/or makes it worse for us.

But averages... That's what it all boils down to. We are not individuals, merely statistics. If the 'average' child is off school for 5-10% in a school year, and another child is off say 15% in a school year, then that child must be off for no reason and not genuinely ill. WRONG. If only these idiots would realise an average is just that! NOT EVERYONE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD IS EXACTLY THE SAME! They are not even satisfied when you take your child to the doctor and the doctor agrees they should be off school - the idiot from the education welfare still insists she knows better than both us (me & hubby), the parents AND the QUALIFIED doctor at the GP surgery! Absolutely absurd!

2) Your child (or yourself) cannot leave the country without prior permission (i.e. a passport)

OK, it is apparent that from the day we are born, our country OWNS us. Yes, you heard right. Think about it... You are NOT allowed to leave the country without first requesting permission to do so. I'm sorry, but when did I ask to be born here? OK, I don't hate England, that's not the point in this post, I'm simply making a point. Whenever a child is born in this country, they are bound to stay here and they CANNOT leave without permission. Again, I didn't realise us or our children were OWNED by the country, but apparently we are. Yet no-one questions this. Has the world gone mad???

3) Your child must eat like this

Next up, we are basically given commands as to what our children can and cannot eat. Are we a bunch of idiots that need to be given specific instructions to raise our own children? Apparently the government thinks we are.

We are apparently not capable of deciding what OUR children should and shouldn't eat. OK, feel free to educate both adults and children as to what is good for you and what isn't, but don't dictate it!

I'd like to think we have a reasonable diet. Yes, we sometimes have chips cooked in oil, or sausages or burgers or bacon... BUT, we also have vegetables, grilled meals etc. too. Oh and yes, we sometimes have chocolate or biscuits or sweets... BUT, we also have fruit and salad. So the moral of the story is, can't we be left to figure out what is and isn't good for ourselves and our children?

Kids these days seem to be afraid of fried food - the schools have them worried what will happen to them. That is so wrong! Some fried food is OK, scaring the living daylights out of kids, albeit INCORRECTLY too is absolutely infuriating as well as ridiculous! A few years ago when my son was about 7 or 8, he refused to eat rice at home because his teachers had told him it was bad for him - rice!!!

I've seen friends posting on Facebook about how their children aren't allowed to take a chocolate biscuit to school or a carton of juice - insane!!! When I was little, when I had a packed lunch, I had a sandwich, a packet of crisps, a chocolate biscuit (like a Penguin/Taxi/Club/Breakaway or something) and a carton of juice. It did me no harm whatsoever. I was not an obese child. In fact, I was just your run of the mill, average child  in terms of weight.

While I'm on the subject, don't even get me started on this crap about obesity!! Let's get children eating really healthy so we don't have obese children, oh but lets promote techonology...

OK, when I was little, I played out with my friends, rode my bike, used my imagination (I'm only 30 by the way!)... Kids these days don't want to go out and play with their friends... They want to chat with them on their iPads/iPhones etc. Use their imagination? No need, they can just play games on their console! In my sons school, day to day they actively use iPads for lessons (not all, but too many in my opinion). What was wrong with good old pen & paper, conventional teaching and good old brainpower? Oh and the government wants every household in the UK to have internet access - hmmmm...

I read an article online saying how our brains are changing because of technology. Basically devolving. If we have a problem, we don't stop and think about it, we just hop on over to Google to find the answer. Children don't need to use their imagination to play. They just pop the 360 or PS3 on and play a mind-numbing game.

Personally, I try to actively encourage my son to write, draw, play board games, basically to think for himself, though he never seems to keen, but he enjoys it once he gets going. I want him to think for himself before he becomes just another drone in the world.

My hubby often jokes about a zombie apocalypse. I feel like it's already here! OK, so not zombies like you see on telly walking around mindless and chomping on living people, but as good as. People who are programmed from the moment they start school on how they should and shouldn't act, what they should and shouldn't eat, where they should and shouldn't go, how they should live, what they should never aspire to be (i.e. free thinking). It's a sad world in my opinion and it's only going to get worse the more technology progresses. Perfect for a government in a growing country. Mindless servants make the best citizens after all!