R’n’R at the Woodland Spa

The Woodland Spa has been on my radar for the last year and I finally visited on Tuesday. I picked up a sore throat and sniffly nose on my nights, so a spa day with new friends was just what the doctor ordered.

I haven’t known Han and Em very long, but three days into working with each other, we were already dressing alike, so I knew we would get along.* And what better way to bond, than to spend the day relaxing and eating.

Lunch at the Woodland Spa, Burnley

A wonderful time was had gossiping in the hydropool, slathering ourselves in mud and steaming it off, almost falling asleep in the serenity pool.The Woodland Spa, Burnley

We eschewed wine in favour of virtuous fruit juices but then had chips with lunch, drank tea whilst indulging in pudding, then drove home through thick Manchester traffic. But it was all good, because we were relaxed.

I had a very good day.

 

* we wear stripes8D1B001F-97F8-4B51-8F1B-55770EE8EBD9

Last week in snippets

Monday night bruschettaBannys Indian Fish Summer
1, 2
First BBQ of the yearLater afternoon light
3, 4
Bedtime reading
5

  1. I felt like pottering around in the kitchen on Monday. The results were a simple but delicious, three course dinner. My favourite bit was the bruschetta, made with fancy tomatoes instead of our usual, cheaper salad tomatoes.
  2. A meal out at Banny’s on Tuesday to say good bye to a work colleague. I had the Indian Fish Supper which was an interesting concept but I’d get the regular fish and chips if I was to go again. You can’t beat lashings of salt and vinegar.
  3. We had the first barbecue of the season on Saturday. Oh. My. God. It was GOOD. I ate so much that I had to retire to bed for an hour and sleep it off.
  4. Late afternoon light, pre-nap.
  5. Apposite bedtime reading. I found myself heading to bed at 9pm most nights last week so I didn’t get very far into the book.

A very Mexican new year

New Years Meal, tres leche cakeNew Year Meal, dips

I spent 8 hours in the kitchen on Saturday, cooking up a storm for our annual New Year meal and I loved every minute of it. I only took two photos all day but trust me, the food was immense (if I do say so myself) and much merriment was had.

Some notes on the food:

The lamb. Oh my, the lamb. I was aiming for something reminiscent of my beloved picante lamb at Panchos and I ended up making something that I like even more!

I used this meat rub to marinate a leg of lamb and slow roasted it using these these instructions.

Once it had completed the first roast for 4.5 hours (the leg weighed 2.4kg) I removed the meat off the bone, or at least the meat that was left on the bone, most of it had melted off into a delicious puddle, and shredded it. I mixed in generous amounts of this barbecue sauce which I had made earlier in the day, along with a little of the juice from the roast to keep the meat nice and moist. It went back in the oven for half an hour, covered with foil, to heat through. The barbecue sauce was delicious although a tad too sweet for me. Next time I think I will try decreasing the amount of honey and hoisin. I doubled the amount of garlic suggested – I couldn’t help myself, it’s an Asian thing.

I used this old favorite chilli recipe, with double the amount of garlic (obvs) and no red peppers. I used half the amount of hot water they suggest because I wanted a thicker chilli that could be used for burritos.

I prepared some chicken using this recipe.

I made this dip (so goooood, but so bad for you) and this one (with a regular tin of tomatoes to which I added some minced garlic and onion). We had guacamole but I bought that ready-made because avocados stress me out.

The meal was rounded out with a big pot of rice, pico de gallo, a black bean salad, some pickled red onions (shake 125ml of both water and red wine vinegar with 1tbsp salt and sugar in an old but clean jar, add half a thinly sliced red onion, leave for at least 1 hour/up to a day before you eat) and tortilla chips.

We had a tres leches cake for dessert. I cut a little of the sugar out, maybe about 50g? It still tasted amazing. I accidentally cooked it a little longer than it needed though. I had expected it to brown on top as it baked, like a regular sponge, so after checking on it at 18 minutes and assuming it was a bit under cooked, I left it for another 4. However, since the cake is mostly egg whites, I don’t think it picks up much colour as it bakes so I should’ve tested it with a skewer a bit earlier.

Sadly it was pretty damp that day so we couldn’t string up the pinata outside. Instead, four of us grabbed a bit of the donkey and pulled on three. There’s something a bit depressing about holding a dismembered, piñata donkey’s leg in your hand though. Next time I’ll get one that’s not as cute, so I feel less mean beating it up for sweets.

 

Malta, in meals

When my cousin and I holiday together, we eat.

Crystal Palace Pastizzi

{pastizzi, fresh}

Pastizzi at Crystal Palace, Rabat

Locals and Google told us these were the best pastizzi on the island. Savoury, flaky, buttery pockets of goodness for mere pennies. Usually filled with ricotta or peas, we tried all the flavours available. Anchovy was our favourite by far, much to my cousin’s surprise as she’s not normally a fan of the fish. We tried pastizzi at a few other places but none were as good as here. We wanted to try and go back on our last day for more, but time wouldn’t allow for the three hour round bus trip*

Fontanella Tea Garden

{cake, whipped cream, ice cream}

Cake Extravaganzas at Fontanella Tea Garden, Mdina

We should not have ordered one cake each. We knew as we were ordering, that we should not be ordering one cake each. But one cake each we got and my god was it good. The sugar surge did odd things to my emotions and at one point I felt on the verge of tears. Don’t worry though, I made it through and we almost cleaned our plates. If you’re planning on going, be more sensible than we were and get just the strawberry meringue. The chocolate was tasty but the fruity flavours with the meringue were spot on.

Cafe Berry Pistachio Latte

{pistachio latte}

Pistachio lattes at Caffe Berry, Sliema  

As fun to photograph as they are to drink although I was sceptical at first, I will admit. I think I half expected the pistachios to be salted since that’s the type that I eat at home – they’re not, you will be unsurprised to learn.

Step In, Malta

{calamari, cousin, chips}

Calamari at Step In, Qrendi

Ordinarily I wouldn’t eat at a restaurant so close to a tourist attraction as invariably the food is over priced and mediocre. However, by the time we stepped off the boat after our tour of the Blue Grotto we were too hungry to consider waiting for a bus to take us somewhere else for lunch. We picked the Step In purely for it’s sea view and happily, we lucked out. Our calamari was fresh and perfectly cooked, the chips (because what’s a meal without chips?) moreish. We also had a Maltese salad to make us feel slightly virtuous – it worked, we did.

Tea and tiramisu at Cafe Cordina Valletta

{tea and tiramisu}

Tiramisu at Caffe Cordina, Valletta

There seem to be an abundance of signs for public toilets in Valletta, but actually finding them requires a skill that we did not seem to posses. As we passed Caffe Cordina and spied the rows and rows of decidedly decadent cakes, we took it as a sign that we should sit down and enjoy a slice – all in the name of being able to use of their facilities as their patrons, of course.

Seafood at Cafe del Mar

{seafood}

All of the seafood at Cafe del Mar, St Paul’s Bay

Our favourite meal of the trip. The mussels! The calamari! The clams! You could punctuate everything we ate there with a exclamation mark and that would be our review. It was surprisingly also very reasonably priced. Reserve a table in the evening and watch the sunset as you eat dinner. We were treated to a luscious pink and orange sky when we were there.

*We even considered (for longer than is probably reasonable) a taxi, but that would have been silly expensive.