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Happy Sunday

My stomach is full of street food and my cheeks are flushed from day drinking in the wind and rain. My hair smells like BBQ and my rucksack is full of treats. This can mean only one thing: Foodies Festival.

The festival is in its 10th year now, and I think this is my 4th year of visiting. I love to go every year to hang out with fellow food lovers, soak up the (usually abysmal, thanks April) weather, and check out new vendors. This year, my highlight was Mai Taiko by miles. I don’t know if they’re newcomers but I definitely didn’t see them last year, and their chicken katsu burger (£8, pictured above) was stunning. Also worth checking out: the bus bar, the churros stall (always), the Monkey Shoulder whisky boys carting around free shots and the Bonne Maman stand handing out free desserts. It’s all still happening tomorrow and you can find tickets on their website – head to their FB page for up to date deals on prices though!

Yesterday, some family came to visit and I decided the food they had to try was doughbo (the lovely people that took over from The Troll’s Pantry at Hobgoblin) – partly because it was a Saturday and everywhere was rammo and I just wanted to get out of the centre of town, and partly because I think everybody should try doughbo.

Their menu/the way they do things has chopped and changed over the past year, but their current concept is the best I’ve seen it – keep doing it this way, guys. They’ve now got little set menus for you to choose from (my favourite is the gourmet, but the flavours are ever changing) at either £9 or £10 for 6 doughballs. This for me is preferable to when there was too much choice, or when you could buy them one by one, and this new tier of organisation seems to have speeded up the waiting time, too.

Just in case you missed it: I took lovely Thomas with me to review Franco Manca’s new Brighton Marina spot on Wednesday and we both fell head over heels for their pizza. We love wandering around at the marina so I’ve got a strong feeling that this place will be a new favourite for dinner. You can check out the full review here or just drool over this picture..

It’s been a while since I had a wonder product to share with you, but the time has once again come. When Raw Bean sent me their new Bean Bags – yes, that’s right, coffee in a bag, just like a teabag – I was not expecting to be super impressed. I figured it’d be another attempt at making instant coffee a ‘luxury’ item, giving the producer an excuse to put an inflated price tag on it. That’s not what we have here. This is a way of brewing legit, good quality coffee with nothing more than a mug and some boiling water. I shared these with people in my office and everybody came back to tell me how great the coffee was and ask again what that brand name was. If you’re looking for a solution to your instant coffee problem, this is it.  £4.50 for 10 (not cheap, but works out at 45p a cup, which is great for the quality) and should be available in Waitrose and Sainsbury’s – keep your eye out!

Yesterday – after such a long dry spell because there’s been nothing good on – we returned to our beloved ODEON to see Guardians of the Galaxy 2. It was so. god. damned. good. It’s funny, it’s sentimental, it’s action packed, it has a killer soundtrack. Ugh, loved it. If you go see one movie this Bank Holiday weekend, make it this one, it’s deserving of your hard earned movie ticket money (so few are).

I think that’ll do us for this week. Enjoy the rest of your Bank Holiday..

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PSA: There’s A Franco Manca at The Marina

There’s been a Franco Manca on Regent Street for frigging ages, and everyone’s been talking about it and telling me it’s absolutely wonderful and that I must go for that exact amount of time, and I still hadn’t. Oops. However, thanks to their brand new opening at the marina, I’ve finally been to see what all the fuss is about.

Franco Manca have an ethos we can all more than easily get on board with. They’ve got a heavy focus on simple food, locally sourced ingredients and affordability.

There are just six pizzas on the menu – plus two specials on the board, one meat and one vegetarian – each of them uncomplicated and very reasonably priced. You won’t pay more than £8 for a pizza unless you add a load of extra toppings, and for the quality of ingredients you’re getting, that’s a bargain.

All their pizzas are made with slow-rising sourdough and baked in a wood fired oven right before your very eyes (the open kitchen is visible from every seat in the house).

The venue itself – being brand spanking new and all – is shiny and polished and light and airy and gorgeous. Even when it’s heaving in there it won’t feel too busy thanks to those tall ceilings and glass windows facing out onto the marina. The natural light shining onto our window seats: 10/10, would Instagram.

Their no logo lager (£3.45) is visually pleasing (sidenote: their branding is to die for, is it not?) and tastes great, and the organic lemonade (£2.20) is still, tasty and features a touch of ginger.

Naturally, I banned Tom from getting the chorizo pizza (£7.55) because I so desperately wanted it. Two different types of chorizo, both moan-inducingly delicious, and possibly the highest quality mozzarella I’ve eaten in a pizzeria. 100/10. I’ll be coming back so, so soon to eat this all over again.

Tom went for the meat special featuring fennel sausage and was also making “this tastes very good” noises.

A short note on the service: it was absolutely faultless, everyone we came into contact with was nothing short of delightful. They were aware that I was there to do a blog review, so it’s entirely possible that this isn’t as authentic an experience as I might usually be reporting, but they were treating all their other tables just the same and I’d be very surprised to hear anybody say any different.

This was just a short and sweet one to let you all know that you really should go. Have a lovely Bank Holiday weekend!

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Happy Sunday

I regret to inform you that you’re not getting the best of me today. I’m writing this, straight off the back of a 5 hour studying session, while my roast cooks. My brain is nothing short of fried. I don’t know if I’ve actually officially talked about it on the blog yet, but I’ve started studying for a TEFL qualification. For those that aren’t aware: TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, which will enable me to teach English in foreign countries. It’s busting my balls.

Once I pass, I think I’m going to write a little about my historic struggles with education and learning, because it’s gonna feel like a really huge achievement that I’ll probably want to talk more about and reflect on – but for now just trust me when I say this is the biggest thing I’ve pushed myself to do in years.

I digress, we’re here to talk about the week that’s just been, and while it’s not been quite as exciting as some recently, we’ve still got more than enough to cover. Starting with the highlight.

WE BOUGHT A TENT! For the grand price of £12.50 each, we now have our own little place to hide from everyone else on the beach. It’s a pop up job, sets up in minutes (unless it’s windy, that complicates things) and – as we discovered after a few tries to perfect the process – packs away in about the same amount of time. It’s a cosy fit for the pair of us and needs several blankets for beach comfort, but I don’t think I’ve ever loved an inanimate object more. It’s £24.99 at Argos and the brand is Highlander, more info here if you wanna snap one up for yourself.

Despite only buying the tent on Monday, we’ve already used it again since. For this weeks Wednesdate, we hit the beach again for an impromptu BBQ. If I’d had warning of this plan, I’d have made a load of stuff at home, however..

The whole thing was entirely too spontaneous and therefore impossible to plan for. We looked to ASDA for all of our smoky outsidey dinner needs and it delivered in ways I reeeeally did not expect it too. We tried their chicken and chorizo kebabs and the BBQ pork loin steaks, both were far better in flavour and quality than I could have anticipated. I’m seriously impressed and will be returning to pick up some more of the ASDA BBQ range ASAP.

To be clear, it wasn’t at all warm enough to be doing any of this. I absolutely froze while cooking and darted into the tent the moment I was done to wrap myself in four blankets. We just really like being outside.

In other summery news, I’ve finally found the best shop bought iced coffee. I’ve put in several bouts of disappointment on this hunt for actually-good-tasting, not-overpoweringly-sweet iced coffee, and at last I have been rewarded. Co-op’s own brand has delivered. It’s 8.5g sugar, a few grams less than most that come in smaller cartons – also £1, cheaper than most that come in smaller cartons – and it’s got a proper, actually detectable, caffeine kick. I love. Now, to find one less milk more coffee – got a fav? Hit me up.

I found a new brand of sausages lurking in the yellow sticker section at Tesco. They’re called Mor, (I’d link to a website but I can’t for the life of me find one, here’s their Twitter in its absence) and the pack caught my eye cause it was screaming beetroot – me loves beets – so I figured I’d give them a shot. I was pretty impressed, they tasted good, little bit of earthiness from beetroot, little bit of sweetness from apple, good enough quality meat. I’d happily pick up something from these guys again, so keep an eye out of them, there are a few more products in their range that might be worth trying..

I’ve developed a new obsession lately. Much as I loathe to admit it, I am trying to shift about a stone at the moment. In my experience, dialling down the carbs does assist in doing that rather swiftly. I refuse to outright cut them out (having done that before, and ballooned afterwards as a result) but little swaps here and there are making a difference for me. Anyway, that’s what led me to finally try the banana pancakes made with just banana and egg at long last, and I really do like them. I’ve been mucking about, and will post a recipe soon, but here’s what progress looks like so far..

I cannot write anymore. I must go and stare vacantly at a TV or a wall or something. See you soon.

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