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Ox Club, Leeds

headrow house leeds

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”

I couldn’t agree with this quote more if I tried, there are few things in the world that bring me happiness than spending time with people I adore, eating great food. Leeds is packed to the rafters with eateries sure to keep even the pickiest of eaters happy, keeping that in mind, it’s bloody tough to crack the Leeds foodie scene and come up with something unique whilst universally appealing. Ox Club at Headrow House have done exactly that.

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If you are even slightly on the fence about food, or shrug your shoulders when asked what you fancy, this blog is not the place for you. All things food are applauded here, the skill and time that goes into creating a menu, the passion that is required. I am not a sit on the fence kind of person, and for that reason alone Ox Club is my new favourite place. There is no fence-sitting here, there is only all out passion on a plate. Indeed I love it so much I had brunch on the Sunday and was back 4 days later for dinner!

Let us begin with the location. I am a sucker for a less that expected place, a wander off the beaten track, a treasure found behind the seemingly dull. Headrow House is one of these places, tucked behind the monotony of the Headrow in Leeds city centre, it welcomes you like a tranquil escape from the high street and normcore.

I was invited along opening weekend to sample the brunch, which in my mind is the most important meal of the week, it allows for indulgence and booze and invites long conversations and the kind of escapism that we all crave, especially at this time of year.

ox club leeds brunch 2 ox club leeds brunch 3 ox club leeds cassoulet ox club leeds flat iron steak

I went for the flat-iron steak, home fries and cheesy eggs topped with a spicy chutney, it was the BEST hangover cure I’ve come across in a long time. The steak was cooked perfectly and I’m a picky bugger when it comes to how I like my eggs, and Ox Club nailed it. We loved the home fries so much that we ordered another side portion of them, and I could have ordered them time and time again.

Mum went for the brunch cassoulet which was packed with sausages, flageolet beans, confit guinea fowl and sour toast on the side. This dish is the epitome of a one pot wonder, cooked masterfully and mum raved about it for the rest of the day.

Fast forward 4 days and I was back in my happy place with Amy, we chatted non stop, catching up on the weeks that had passed since we last saw each other. Amy is one of those people who fills my heart with happiness, she has the perfect blend of sass and sweetness, she is without doubt one of my favourite people in the whole world and I’m very excited about what 2016 brings for us both.

So now I’m done with the friend swooning, onto the food.

The idea is simple when it comes to Ox Club dinner, there are little plates and big plates, all of which are recommended to share. The smaller plates were a selection of mouth-watering vegetable heavy dishes with a smattering of fish for good measure.

The cherry wood smoked trout & whisky cured salmon was a pile of perfection with the sharpness of horseradish, beetroot, apple it was moorish to say the least and I would happily have fought over the last mouthful. Luckily the other starter we opted for was the smoked burrata (a blend of mozzarella and cream, the outer shell is solid mozzarella, while the inside contains both mozzarella and cream), fennel, lemon & black pepper which was basically the most simple yet powerful dish I think I’ve ever tasted.

 

ox club leeds salmon starter ox club leeds mozzarella

After the starters came the steak, hanger steak to be precise paired with salsa verde & watercress. There isn’t much I can say about this other than it was some of the best steak I have ever eaten and I want it again, right now.

When you think of side dishes, you think of accompaniments to the main show, but let me tell you, the side dishes stole the show.

Let me talk to you about roast cauliflower, yes you read that right, roast cauliflower.Roast Cauliflower swathed in romesco sauce, almonds, sherry vinegar. I must tell you, I don’t like cauliflower, or so I thought. In fact it seems that I don’t like boiled, bland cauliflower, I do however LOVE it roasted. Shout out to Lil, who raved about it all over the internet and if Lil likes it, then I must try it!

You must try it, trust me, try it. Crunchy, packed with flavour and a genius move by the kitchen wizards.

They’re so good in fact that they managed to make green beans exciting by adding capers, anchovy and parsley.

ox club leeds steak ox club leeds green beans ox club leeds roast cauliflower

I was sold on all of the deserts, I would have devoured any and all of them, and then we we’re informed of the special desert that wasn’t on the menu. Baked chocolate, olive oil and orange cake and smoked sea salt. Eating at Ox Club is like being given a behind the scenes look at the inner workings of chefs minds. These pictures simply do not do this plate of food justice, it was just divine.
ox club leeds dessert ox club leeds dessert two ox club leeds dinner

I am sure if you have read to the end of this post you will know exactly how I feel about this place. It’s love, all out, unadulterated, lust worthy love.

You must go, you must go immediately.

*although my lovely brunch was free, we paid full price for our dinner and I will happily be visiting time and time again and pay willingly.

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, Scarborough

The world is a hectic place at the moment, Christmas shopping mania is at fever pitch and the news seems to get worse and worse, so when a stay at an idyllic hotel nestled in the countryside landed in my lap I was snapped up the chance to get away from the mayhem and escape to the safety of Ox Pasture Hall Hotel.

After somewhat of a manic morning, we arrived at the hotel and this is the view from our room, I mean if that isn’t the epitome of calm I don’t know what is. As a city lover, I couldn’t help but feel a little disconcerted by the deafening silence that surrounds the hotel. There isn’t a main road for miles, even the wildlife seemed to be entirely chilled out!

ox pasture hall hotel scarborough

I had so much planned, big walks, adventuring and the like, however after stepping foot inside the hotel, seeing the fire and stack of magazines I knew I would be going nowhere, and doing nothing but immersing myself in full-scale relaxing.

ox pasture hall hotel frontage ox pasture hall hotel 1

I’m very lucky to get to stay in some fabulous hotels for work, but usually they are right bang smack in the centre of a city, seemingly infinite stories high and with minimal personality, Ox Pasture is the polar opposite.

Set in the most stunning grounds a few miles from the hustle and bustle of Scarborough, the team couldn’t have been more welcoming. We were whisked off to our beautiful room,   a luxury suite, hidden away in a secluded corner with a spacious living area, bedroom and the kind of bathroom that makes me run a bath immediately, and wrap myself up in one of the super soft snuggly robes they provided.

ox pasture hall hotel bathroom IMG_6524IMG_6526 IMG_6528Surely there is nothing more indulgent and relaxing than an afternoon bath on a Thursday, if there is I’m all ears.

Now my partner in crime has a thing about showers, obsessed I think is the word so when he spotted the HUGE walk in drench shower I was a little concerned he would never leave the bathroom.  I’ve never heard anyone talk so emphatically about a bathroom installation, but after trying it out myself the next morning I’m on the same page, BEST SHOWER EVER.

After maxing out on relaxation we headed back down to the main hotel lounge and settled in by the fire with a substantial glass of Merlot, GQ for him and Harpers Bazaar for me. Perfection.

IMG_6531After all the relaxing we had worked up quite an appetite so I was thrilled to be heading down to the courtyard restaurant, which we had basically to ourselves, heaven.

As is my usual style I uhhhmed and ahhhed over the menu for ages, but with so much yumminess on offer it was a real struggle to just pick three courses. We kicked it all off with a selection of super tasty home-made breads, my favourite was for sure the beetroot bread, quirky and beyond moorish.

I went for the cod cheek, in a cream sauce with courgette and heaps of flavour. It was the perfect start to the meal, and I could happily have polished it off more than once, in fact the poor boy hardly got a look in!

He went for the roe deer carpaccio which was divine, paired with a deer sausage, blackberries, crispy onions. It was a completely new dish to me, and having never tried deer I was pleasantly surprised by it all, especially when teamed with fresh, tart blackberries.

IMG_6532IMG_6534IMG_6535Main courses next and I must admit I didn’t think it was possible to top the tastiness of the starters, however I was thrilled to be proven wrong!

I simply had to have the pork belly and loin champ mash, red cabbage, crispy roots and real gravy, who knew such a gusty meal could be presented so beautifully. It tasted as wonderful as it looked, the mash packed a punch of flavour, the loin melted in the mouth and the pork belly had the perfect level of crunch to it.

I had a little menu envy for the chaps perfectly symmetrical plate of sea-trout, fountains gold risotto, oyster leaf & pickled samphire, other quirky dish that I am sure Marucs Waring and the Masterchef team would have raved about, I know it’s been almost two weeks since my stay and I’m still thinking about it.

IMG_6536 IMG_6538 IMG_6539Lets be honest though, the course you really want to know about is dessert. I have to tell you if you’re not interested in dessert, we can never be friends!

Now I LOVE chocolate fondant, and it calls to me if ever I spy it on a menu, but never, ever have I been presented with a chocolate fondant quite like this. It looked like the solar system and tasted out of this world too (sorry the pun was just right there, I had to do it!)

It also would have been rude not to try the cheese plate, because if there is one thing we do right in this country, its bloody epic cheese plates. This one lived up to the hype and the heart-shaped crackers were beyond cute.

ox pasture hall hotel dessert

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We called it a night with prosecco under the stars staring up at the Mourning Moon, described as

A time for washing away the baggage of the past and letting it go. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to focus on the joys of the future. During the Mourning Moon phase, say goodbye to bad habits and toxic relationships, and get a fresh start for the new year.

Let me tell you it’s exactly what I needed. I’m not a big new years eve resolution maker, so this was like my mini version. A chance to reflect on everything that’s happened, learnt from my mistakes and make plans for the future.

This year has been an eye opener for sure, there have been some serious plot twists, but without them wouldn’t life be a bore! So I have left behind my shocking love life decisions, my self-doubt in my work and the limitations I put on myself and my journey through life.

mourning moon

After what can be described as one of the best nights sleep I have ever had, I mean seriously, there is something so calming about utter silence and no alarm waking you up. The beds are the perfect amount of firm whilst being snuggly warm too, there are extra pillows which for a pillow hog like me is imperative!

We slept with curtains slightly ajar and woke up naturally as the sun rose, pottered down for breakfast, which although lovely, wasn’t anything to write home about. What was lovely however was the wonderful service that was as attentive at breakfast as it had been the night before.

Once we have scoffed breakfast it was off for a day of adventuring, we hopped in the car and headed to Whitby, a place that holds a special place in my heart. First stop though was the hilarious round name we spotted the day before…

dog bark bend

Most recently I spent a hilarious weekend there celebrating my beautiful friends final weekend of singleton and we showed Whitby how it’s done! This visit was a little more sedate, and mostly involved massive coffees, walking on the beach and randomly stumbling onto the set of Queen Victoria a new drama coming to ITV in the new year.

IMG_6549 beach days whitby

I was very, very sad to have to head home, the whole two days were just perfection. Getting to spend time with someone I adore away from all the harassment and noise of real life was exactly what I needed.

Huge thank you to the entire team at Ox Pasture Hall Hotel who made our stay as near as perfection as it could possibly be, the only complaint I had, I couldn’t stay longer!

If you’re looking for a place to escape to, to switch off and just relax, I’ve not found a better place than this lovely place.

*I was gifted this stay, however as always my reviews are honest and reflect my true experiences

Family Matters at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

yorkshire sculpture park

Although I won’t go into it in a whole heap of depth, there has been a little heart ache in my life recently. Letting go of a person who makes me feel the most ‘me’ I’ve felt in a long time, but long-term wasn’t good for me, nor me for them. Losing something or someone you love is tough, it makes me want to retract from the world, to stay safely ensconced in my bed with the puppy and Netflix. However, after a few days of moping, for want of a better word, my aunt called and invited me to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park for a day out with the kids.

I haven’t been to the park for easily 10 year, but the promise of fresh air, art and cuddles from my cousins had me pulling my boots on quick sharp.

There is something about the love that emits from children, it’s so genuine, without agenda and shared freely, three things that seem to ebb away the older I get. They have no limitations, no concerns of consequence, the hurl themselves through life with an uncompromising desire to keep going, to know more, see more, say more. I don’t know about other people, but I find the older I get the more external influence lays pressure on me to say less, do less, be less.

Jonny has the kind of spirit that cannot be described or translated in a photograph, he has the steely determination of an SAS recruit and the compassion and kindness of an old soul. his memory is incredible, he just allows his brain to absorb everything with no concept of whether or not he will ever need the information again.

yorkshire sculpture park

yorkshire sculpture park

Jonny’s elder brother is a much more sensitive soul, he is considered and quiet, he observes and explores. He is also, hands down, the coolest kid ever, he cares so much about how he dresses, it’s got to be just right, whether its a new cap or the best shirt/jeans combo. He’s a passionate, talented footballer who cares deeply for the team he plays for and the players who make it up. He’s most certainly not as big a fan of having his photo taken, not like his monkey of a little brother!

yorkshire sculpture park

Exploring with kids is the way to go, no hesitations, running in and out of the sculptures, dragging me into bunkers and shouting with excitement at every corner. There is simply no way to be sad when I’m with them.

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As well as the sculptures that take residence in the park, the London Tower poppies are also currently taking pride of place. I have seen them in London, at night, and they we’re beyond breath taking, seeing them at YSP was a very different experience. They felt less poignant, and not as fragile. The poppies are in situ on the bridge until January 2016.

yorkshire sculpture park yorkshire sculpture park yorkshire sculpture park yorkshire sculpture park It’s amazing what a big dose of fresh air, a little creative inspiration and a whole heap of hugs can do. My heart is still a little fragile, but knowing I have a family who care for me makes it all that much easier to deal with.

Kudos to my aunt and uncle for bringing up such wonderful kids, who ask questions, love wholly and never settle for anything other than exactly what they want!

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Kryolan Halloween Sugar Skull Kit

Now, I don’t profess to be any kind of makeup artist, however in the last two years I have got very much in the Halloween make up spirit, creating looks from clown to ghosts, vampires to white walkers. Usually I use a selection of my own make up, however one day last week a lovely email landed in my inbox from the Kryolan, offering me my choice of Halloween makeup kits!

Halloween is now right around the corner, and if you are struggling with for inspiration or if you’ve left it to the last-minute then stress no more because Kryolan have two Halloween kits to solve all your problems!

I was sent the beautiful Sugar Skull Kit which contains everything you need to recreate the image all neatly zipped up in a plastic case. This is genius! No more trailing around the shops to get your look together ready for the weekend!

kryolan sugar skull kit
Kit contains:

2 Make-up Brushes
3 Aquacolor 8ml
Body Jewels
Supracolor Clown White 30g
2 Multi Gel Glitter 10ml
Translucent Powder 20g
Powder Puff
Make-up Sponge
Make-up Bag

It also comes with a visual step-by-step guide explaining the techniques and products in detail.

kryolan sugar skull tutorial

The step by step guide is fantastic and I managed to complete the whole look in around 30 minutes, whilst being interrupted by my take away being delivered, cue hilarity as I had forgotten what I had on my face and almost gave the young lad a heart attack!

Although the packs are not cheap (The Sugar skull kit is £43.75 and The Zombie kit is £39.50), when I worked out how much it would cost to get the same amount of product individually it was significantly more expensive. Add to that the fact I used hardly any of the products, I will have lots left over to try other looks.

The thing I was most surprised by was the high quality of the products, not just the paint itself but the brushes and sponges too. Having done a lot of Halloween looks this year my skin has been through the ringer, I was a little concerned about putting more products on my skin, however after washing it off my skin was silky smooth and had no reaction at all.  I cannot recommend these kits enough, fantastic quality and kind to my skin.

Here’s my finished look, what do you think?

sugar skull halloween tutorial

 

Here are the other two looks I created this Halloween, I went for a creepy flower crown clown and a white walker from Game of Thrones…

halloween amkeup looks

You can find my step-by-step make up looks on Snapchat (emglobetrotter), as well as the finished looks on Instagram 

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