Local Leeds

Leeds Food and Drink: There’s A Mr Nobody In Town

Posted on 3 min read

 

And the award for the coolest name in restaurant branding goes to…

 

Another new addition to the circle of eatery and cocktail fuelled places in Leeds City Centre, Mr Nobody replaces the popular Rare steak restaurant that located on Lower Briggate, directly next to Lambert’s Yard and if the launch night I was so kindly invited to last week is anything to go by; this friendly scene ideal for all ages, families and all, will prove to be just as welcomed. The logic behind the name was pretty straight forward – John Farrar, the chef who has worked for no less than 11 Michelin starred restaurants hated the idea of featuring his own name in the title and replied to a suggestion with the response “Who am I? I’m Mr Nobody!” – and there you have it, problem resolved plain and simple.

 

 

Upon arrival I was greeted with two casino style tokens entitling a free drink of your choice; I went for the easy option of a glass of wine, of course, but there were all kind of spritzers and mix ups being served up in an instance (kudos to the speedy and skilled bar staff). With an eating area downstairs and a casual, funky space for the drinker and the dancer types, it fits all the needs. On the night of the launch, the crowds were piling in left, right and centre so it was hard to get a proper vision (and I ended up unavoidably resembling a stalker by photographing random people generally interacting, I do apologise) but luckily, I managed to spot a couple of lovely, fellow bloggers and relax on the sofa dead opposite the window, soaking in the informal, fun, enjoyable atmosphere and the earthy tunes whilst the public on the other side watched along as they walked past.

 

 

I was obsessed with the interior of Mr Nobody; it has been completely re-worked into an airy, scandi design with exposed brickwork, a fruity bar, wooden booths, planted flower beds and patterned artwork. They also have a courtyard which I imagine would be wonderfully ideal in the summertime, but as the event took place in the middle of March on a cold and near dark evening, I didn’t manage to take advantage of the full outdoor experience (hopefully when I head back there it will be warm and sunny. Pfft, who am I kidding?! This is a Yorkshire based venue, after all)

 

 

Mr Nobody class themselves as a bar and restaurant concept that aims to break the boundaries of taste and the social focus on cocktails to extensive non-spanish tapas menu definitely reflects their ethos. They wanted to think out of the box and break the rules of your typical tapas but with fine dining still remaining. We did get the chance to sample some seafood inspired canapés last Wednesday (well, that’s if there were any left by the time they reached us at the bottom end), including the cutest baby potatoes and unusually tasty Thai dish. Obviously, fussy old me didn’t go all out because the fish life just isn’t for me and it was too dark in there to capture any decent photographs but by the sounds and the look of the wide range of amazingly appetising choices available on the menu, it’s worth a trial. You can check out more over on their website or Twitter page.

 

 

With their cocktail list ever changing to reflect the seasons, the finest liquors and beers on hand, and fresh food made at your service, Mr Nobody is a breath of fresh air and a great extension to the rapidly evolving food and drink territory in Leeds. Whether you want to feast, drink, party, or even just zone out, it’s certainly the place with huge potential that appeals to all fab bunches of average nobody’s.

 

Are you planning on heading down there?

 

Bridie x

Share

Life: new menu tasting at Black Swan Leeds

Posted on 5 min read

 

The first time I visited Black Swan was for the Leeds Xmas Meet back in December. Before this, I’d heard so much about the delicious food on top of a traditional rustic pub meets industrial city vibe yet I’d never been to try the tantalising tastes. Luckily, I was kindly invited back there to trial their new February winter to spring menu and I wasn’t disappointed! Black Swan has such a lovely, warm feel to it; with the cosy dimmed lighting (albeit not great for a non-high quality camera), friendly service and wooden interior. You’re instantly welcomed on arrival and in such a handy location, it’s the perfect unwinding venture for a classic sit down meal with grade A chef skills. That was my conclusion at the end of a rainy Tuesday evening last week.

 

Sheltering from the downpour, I was greeted with a choice of alcoholic beverages; it was either a trio of speciality beer or some house wines. I went for the rose wine as although I’m not a huge wine lover, I don’t mind some sparkling rose now and again and as my novice alcohol reviews go, it was considerably enjoyable. Guided up to the main restaurant area and seated at attentively decorated booths filled with very Instagramable flowers (more on that later), it gave me a chance to have a catch up with some lovely Leeds bloggers whilst eagerly awaiting our upcoming food with the scent wafting from the kitchen.

Our table was first to receive a selection of starters to share (although the priority soon vanished). Served on large spoons and flat plates, we were ready to tuck into the delicious dishes. First up was the Leek and Pearl Barley Risotto which was right up my street, greatly flavoured veg and rice combined into a simple sauce was spot on. Next was Duck Oxo Cube; having never tried duck before I was hesitantly curious but was pleasantly surprised by the delectable seasoning, this was seriously good and cooked to perfection. Thirdly, we had another couple of tasters that were way farther than my boring catering decisions has ever taken me but interesting to say the least. I was strangely nervous to try the Venison Carpaccio but it was so relishing, and wrapped in a crisp, topped with the picked shallots and sherry vinaigrette, it added some extra spice. As much as I love experimenting with foods I wouldn’t usually touch at events, I still can’t get past my dislike for fish so I avoided the Salmon and Crab Scotch Egg but judging by the competition as to who would pinch mine, it was superbly savoured.

Saving the best till last (we actually had this as a first main but it’s on the starter menu), I went all googly eyed with one of my favourite recipes, Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi. Scream spinach teamed with any carbs at me and I’m there in a shot. I can’t even describe how amazing this was. The doughiness was balanced just right, the artichoke crisps were a pleasant bonus and all ingredients managed to be wholly combined with a hint of cheesy distinctiveness remaining. It’s making me hungry just dreaming about it! When I head back there (and I certainly will be), that’s top of my list for ordering.

Moving on to mains; once again, I swiftly avoided the fish with the Pan Fried Sea Bass (despite it being placed directly in front of me, cue nostril closing) but I heard from everyone else that it was lovely, and the butternut squash puree, roasted squash, baby leek and mushroom filled pasta that came with it did seem seriously appetising. Realising chicken was on the menu for the night, I was thrilled. Chicken is the only meat I eat religiously and the one I can honestly say I don’t turn my fussy nose up at. Their Roast Chicken Breast with pancetta rosti and garnished with curly kale, roasted shallot and a beautiful mushroom puree was incredible (did I ever tell you how much I love mushroom on absolutely anything??). It was so succulent, every piece was tender and it melted in your mouth. I may have even outwardly performed the mmm action with every bite. Top notch stuff there.

I’m not a veggie but I may as well be! I don’t have pasta based dishes often but when I do I rekindle my idolisation for them. I would have gladly sacrificed a meaty meal for the Spiced Courgette and Tomato Lasagne. It was absolutely gorgeous and provided a subtle amount of elements to get excited about, especially with the pumpkin seed salad and vegetable crisps.

Finally, we were blessed with some indulgent desserts to wash down the rest of the goodness. A platter filled with miniatures is always a winner, especially when the afters that arrive are a step away from your average cake based desserts and offer a touch of variety. I’m not a creme brulee lover but this Stewed Rhubarb and Ginger Creme Brulee was a delightful zest and it’s put me on the brulee path! The Spiced Rum Poached Pineapple was a little too bitter for my liking, it wouldn’t have been something I would have personally picked but kudos for mixing up the ordinary. The Northern Bloc Ice Cream with roasted strawberry, white chocolate and popcorn was a wonderful combo and my favourite of the lot, the Dark Chocolate Tart paired with the chewiest (but addictive) honeycomb possible and bourbon vanilla ice cream cured all my sweet tooth cravings. Then to complete a fabulous night, we were granted with a morsel of coffee (which fyi, I did not shot).

It was an extremely blogger-tastic evening at the Black Swan as a competition for best flower photo taking took place after Rhianna’s unbeatable entry, but it was a brilliant one at that. We were spoiled rotten both with being tended to and the food and I can’t thank the staff (and Simon from I Like Press for inviting me along) enough! I’d highly recommend a visit and I can’t wait to go back and try the full portions allll for myself. For a girl who loves her food, it’s definitely up there with the highest ranked.

Have you ever been to Black Swan? Where’s your favourite place to eat?

 

Have a happy weekend!

Bridie x

Share

Christmas in Leeds City Centre

Posted on 9 min read

 

It’s rare I get the chance to explore and appreciate my own city, or maybe it’s purely down to choice because I’m so familiarised with its surroundings that I just shake it off as being ordinary. It’s easy to forget all the exquisite details of somewhere you’ve lived all your life but it’s also great to get out there and refresh your mind to a more open state of discovery and admiration. I’m always so busy concentrating on a certain aspect of my hometown instead of a whole, so much so that I can often overlook the authenticity and the general northern vibe.

Leeds is the third largest city in the UK and undoubtedly the heart of Yorkshire – the place it all goes off through day to night. Which guarantees come Christmas time, the magic happens. From a food and drink bonanza, to musical features, and people roaming the bars and clubs dressed in Christmas jumpers. What makes it even better is, it’s right on my doorstep ready for me to visit anytime. If blogging’s taught me anything it’s to find the drive to get out there and love life. So, what happens when I’m let loose round town on the weekend before the big two five? Well, lots of photo taking, plenty of wandering stares and a few snarky comments here and there of course. All to let everyone else take a glimpse into Leeds city centre at Christmas time!

 

Let’s crack on shall we?! (take your time ’cause it’s gonna be a long one).

 

There’s the markets | the famous Christkindel German market which begins mid November into the end of December, Leeds’ historic Kirkgate Market (indoor and out), Briggate’s Farmers Market, and the occasional strip of sellers along Albion Place. You name it, we got it! The German market proves to be the most popular, with the hoards of beer and mulled wine craving people desperate to enter the Frankfurter’s Scheune. Personally, the only reason I’m drawn to it is for the pretty festive greenery, the scenic, character filled wooden chalets, the beautiful carousel and the unique gifts, decorations and goodies on offer – not to mention the fantastic choice of traditional food including those huge bratwursts, potato pancakes, sizzling mains, and for those with a sweet tooth; doughnuts, churros, waffles, pretzels, crepes, chocolates, novelty biscuits and much more. The mouth watering smell alone is enough to make me gain a good few pounds! Kirkgate market is my second favourite place to browse, I’ve had some fun times traipsing around there when I was younger. It’s home to some of the best traders around and is the main attraction for fresh flowers, fruit, meat and those extra accessories that make Christmas special; because nothing says Christmas like some tinsel trimmed clementines.

 

*image credit

 

There’s the architecture | although Leeds is well known for its range of noticeable buildings, I never actually realised just how much tourist potential it has until I drained myself of energy straining my legs to admire the views. There’s some serious hidden gems to watch out for and in my eyes, the older, the better – you can get a real feel of the originality from the structure and the layout. Like the Corn Exchange for example, it’s incredible every day of the year but once the joyful tree and simple, classic embellishments are hung it brings the ambience to life. The Town Hall is another timeless, vintage construction; and when those shimmering lights are draped across the front it makes me feel all warm and merry. As do those giant wreaths gracing Leeds Civic Hall!

 

 

There’s the food and drink | it’s food and drink central in Leeds, the opportunities to overindulge are endless. As if new restaurants and bars opening every week wasn’t enough, once December falls then the wholesome fuelled air comes to life. Walking from one end of town to the other meant I was able to soak in the different distinctive scents stretching from the sickly to the crisp cuisine. Calling in for a cocktail or two to go with your meal at whatever check point you’re closest to is another option, with bars like The Alchemist even updating their menu with festive choices. Or if you’re more of a sit back and relax with a cuppa kinda person then coffee shop stops are the one. I recently had a divine hot chocolate and butterscotch flapjack from Mrs Atha’s. If you prefer to come and grab as you go, there’s SO much available as you’re strolling down the streets. Mobile stations are set up all over, selling everything from pizza, to pastries, to ice cream (yes, even at Christmas) and the whirlwind of international deli at every corner. There’s even the themed feasts at the local drinking joints now and again. With every spot you pass it’s impossible to be disappointed – and it’s almost guaranteed each venue will be ready and all prepared to uplift you for Christmas.

 

 

There’s the shows | Christmas isn’t complete without a cheesy pantomime or a musical, is it?! I absolutely love attending a good show that involves and captivates the audience in such an upbeat, comical and even emotional essence. They’re the perfect switch off distraction from all the Christmas stress and it can really boost your spirits. I miss going to the City Varieties to see the typical fairytales when I was a kid, throwing sponge bricks at the villain was so highly satisfying. There’s not only that one location however, there’s the Carriageworks Theatre for smaller events, the Grand Theatre, the West Yorkshire Playhouse and the town hall broadcast some fun-filled smaller productions most years too. The Northern Ballet is currently playing at The Grand and I’m dying to go see it!

 

 

There’s the music | if anyone’s ever stepped foot into Leeds city centre, you’ll know there’s always some form of musical based artist giving it their all. Whether that’s a man in leopard print playing the flute or an extremely talented act that gathers the crowds and forms a giant circle. At Christmas time, you’re seriously enlightened with variety. In the past week or so I’ve encountered everything from charity Santa’s singing The Beatles and another trombone and guitar playing reggae-style band that persuaded members of the public to take guide and jive, to harmonising brass bands and ceremonial choirs putting you under their spell. It definitely provides that well needed giggle/cheeriness and allows everyone to crack the festive mood into gear. You can really feel the excitement bouncing off the bopping heads and smiley faces.

 

 

There’s the shopping | there’s no denying I do get fed up of my hometown and can find almost anything to complain about but one thing I just can’t fault is the array of stores and the quality of shopping; from high street to designer. I may be a little biased here but I genuinely think our shopping centres may be some of the best in the country. Trinity Leeds is my holy grail, The Light is a cute compacted place where you can also go and see a film, St John’s and the Merrion Centre are ideal for those discount shops, the Victoria Quarter is stunning and I tend to marvel the decor more than I do the boutiques, the arcades – Queens, Thorntons, Central, County and Grand – are just as pretty and it’s not only the designs that draw in the crowds but the independent retailers too. Connecting the main streets with a section you can take a break from the manic mess of Briggate is genius and can really help ease the intensity of Christmas shopping and near broken arms from all the bags. My personal highlight is to perch on the benches opposite the water fountains and the dazzling ceiling hangings in the VQ. Another ultimate must visit is the Yorkshire Soap Company, I fell in love with all the dainty, delicately made soaps and bath bombs, all Christmas themed whilst the Home Alone soundtrack played *squeal*. Everything is so beautiful during the Christmas period; a standing, twinkling tree for each part and ensured trimmed up space at every avenue, and not only that, but the window displays are also super eye catching and well built up. If you enjoy capturing a photo that compliments every angle you’ll most likely have a brimful camera roll (and an empty purse) at the end of a shopping based day in Leeds.

 

 

There’s the lights | after a great big deal of a light switch on at Victoria Gardens (the same place the Coca Cola truck lands) in November, the streets of Leeds are continuously lit up as soon as dawn breaks into evening. The figuring of the lights is individual and that’s what I love – you get a separate striking greeting as you reach each area. Snowmen, Santa, dancing bears, Christmas trees, champagne glasses, pulled crackers, bows, etc etc. They cater for both Christmas and new year and even stretch as far as the Granary Wharf!

 

 

There’s the entertainment for kids | or if you’re like me, the big kids. There’s nothing I savour more than happy and content children. Undeniably, the main joy around Christmas is based around children, their naive beliefs and enjoyment towards something so bland such as balloon making or crafting a nativity scene. The fairground that accompanies the German Market is always so lively, packed with families having a fabulous time; spending their last two pounds on the teacups and trying again and again to hook a duck to win a giant minion in a Santa’s hat. There are a number of Santa’s grottos and their elves spread across Leeds to keep the kids engrossed, as are some bouncy, spirited sing along shows (tonight is a quote to quote Elf parade at the town hall and I’m a teeny bit gutted it isn’t acceptable to attend that on my own as a 22 year old). Honestly, it’s the simple stuff that truly matters when it comes down to it.

 

There’s the reindeer trail | at every landmark site in Leeds city centre you’ll see a plastic reindeer in a distinctive colour. All intended to present an enchanting journey on the quest to finding each one as you head off. Magical Leeds even run a competition for best selfie with the reindeers, giving you and your young (or even old) relatives the chance to be as creative as possible. Not only that, every weekend in December REAL reindeers (dancer and prancer to be exact) visit both Kirkgate Market and the Merrion Centre where it’s free to pet them. Or in my case, wait for the perfect approaching moment with the camera whilst they graze on hay. How lovely.

There’s the night life | for those who thrive off an intoxicating environment. The nightclubs have speciality Christmas events, there’s plenty of parties throughout December or the opportunity to stay chatting in a low light rustic bar all night whilst you swig your festive spirits. If you fancy something aside from the German Market, there’s the Electric Press right beside it which has a few potential restaurants and bars. Or just a short walk from Millennium Square and you’ll hit the centre right away. If all was successful, you could even join in the drunkards who prevent you from walking normally on the path whilst they sway vigorously and sing Christmas songs at the top of their voice *sigh*.

And then there’s just the natural, laid back yet engaging atmosphere – the realistic shoppers dashing around, dressed up characters casually walking the street (a snowman in a workers jacket, only in Leeds right?!), the recognisable chestnut man shouting at the top of his voice, people going home for Christmas, and the city square tree becoming a regular pass by as you reach the station. There’s so many activities left right and centre, you have to be fast at catching sight of them because blink and you’ll miss it. It’s such a diverse city where you can relish in all five senses and that’s really quite great. Christmas is a time to bring everyone together and Leeds does that just finely. I’m forever proud to be from here (even if my frequent moaning does tell a different story).

 

 

Have you visited Leeds? What completes a Christmassy vibe for you? Most importantly, are you all ready for the big day? Only 4 more days to go!

 

Bridie x

Share

The Hedonist Project: Liquor & Whisky Parlour

Posted on 5 min read

It’s hard to keep track of the new bar openings in the centre of Leeds, so much so that it’s hard to choose between so many great venues. However, what makes The Hedonist Project different is its flagship, pop up notion – every 3 months it will change direction and focus on one variety in particular – adapting the name, the decor, the menu, and the highlighted alcoholic beverage. Unfortunately I missed the last two; Hogarth’s Gin Joint and The Rum Shack beach bar in the summer, but was lucky enough to head to their launch of their freshly furnished Whisky and Parlour bar a couple of weeks back now – AND to make a situation even better, The Hedonist Project now has a permanent premises on Lower Briggate, slap bang in the middle of Leeds City Centre, making it a popular location for people to call in and enjoy a drink (and a snack) on a cold, winters afternoon. Refined and now serving food alongside their spirit collection – there’s no excuse not to pay them a visit.

 

 

What could you possibly desire after a hectic day on a drab and dreary November day? That’s a super warm welcome of course, and that’s just what we got (along with a yummy ginger ale cocktail). The place has a real intimate, comfortable, cosy feeling about it; with its darkened, rustic vibe. It’s careful on creating attention to the character and the detail in the setting – because nothing says simply snug like beautiful interior. The candles placed on every wood structured table, the country style flowers, the exposed bricked walls, the industrial hanging light bulbs and vibrant fairy lights, the range of bottles tucked neatly and safely behind the bar, the swish seating and diner style booths and the reflection of the twinkling blue sign produce a relaxed aura and laid back mood. It’s the perfect sheltered hideaway and the type of place I could see myself spending a whole casual evening there without realising the time. The wintery sense made me so sleepy (or maybe that was just the whisky).

 

 

Our night included cocktail making – getting a specific insight into how their unique cocktails are made, whisky tasting – testing and developing our own opinions with the information given, and indulging in a few appetizing canapes along with each sip! Sat around a large table with around 10 other people and a whisky expert (I’m sorry I’ve forgot your name) was a new experience for me but one I loved. It’s even converted me into a whisky delver. I can honestly say I had absolutely zero interest, or liking towards whisky but it’s totally won me over and completely changed my mindset!

 

 

We had four whisky types to try with food to follow once we’d endeavoured each gulp of liquid; first up was Haig Club Single Grain which was a delightful, sharp warm up with a lighter, more fragrant taste. Along with this we had our first bite to eat, whiskey cheese on a grain cracker which complimented the starter wonderfully. The second was Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old Single Malt which had a zingy bitterness and a golden hue to it. As it represented that fuller, spicier taste, it somehow reminded me of Christmas. A plate of carmelised onion tart was then handed to us and the earthy seasoning backed up the aftertaste of the whisky. Thirdly, there was Talisker Port Ruighe which was my ultimate favourite. It had a thicker, oilier, smokier mouthfeel with a chargrilled middle and a cocoa and oak finish. Presented with a haggis and chicken croquette to go with that was the icing on the cake for me and I really flourished the succulent, salty combination. Moving from light and floral to full body rich and fiery style, we ended on Singleton SunRay Single Malt along with a smoked salmon cracker and an amazing Aberdeen Angus burger topped with bloody mary ketchup. There were obvious subtle changes as we went along the row and the distinguished tastes showed which also differed by the age of the whisky. There was an entire mixture; starting with a smooth, sweet, honey, fruity taste, to a stronger, heavier and smokier taste – all of which I surprisingly enjoyed.

 

 

All five small dishes of food were delicious and worked really well together with the whiskies. The pairings were paced correctly going from what would be an aperitif up to a dessert. What was even more interesting was the tips, tricks and secrets expressed whilst we engulfed in the food and drink, being told the years in casket age and the purpose of each one. We were given the typical bring the scent up to your nose before the palette technique and were taught to let the whisky settle, expanding around the tongue, mouth and gums instead of swigging down fast.

 

What I really found intriguing was the thought behind a whisky and how you can interact individually with it. He spoke about the smells of the whisky reminding us of our childhood, triggering memories and helping us younger folk to understand – thus producing a three way global partnership and a younger audience! Like the smoky whiskies for example; they smell like bonfire night and burnt embers, and the more creamy whiskies could have a toffee or a butterscotch taste and smell. The concept of the Haig whisky was really fascinating as we were told the difference in colour could influence your choice. As it’s a bright, cobalt blue it takes the vision away from what the whisky truly looks like. Funny, eh?!

 

 

Our last task of the day was hearing about and sampling the fabulous cocktails on offer. By this point, I completely forgot to make note of each exclusive cocktail but what I can tell you was that I appreciated and relished every individual one despite the once again varied taste. The first and the last were definitely my favourite, the first one being heavenly sweet and juicy and the last one being a hot drink in alcohol form which was absolutely gorgeous. It really warmed my cockles! The others were more whisky based, some more sour than others but still patiently drinkable. I was certainly giddier than normal witnessing the dry ice fog up the air for one of the cocktails and I was graced when a piece of fudge was given alongside a salted caramel cocktail. The two of those were to die for!

 

To see first hand how much work goes into a cocktail and to learn about all the ingredients was really quite satisfying. I had so much fun in those two hours; the staff were so friendly and knowledgeable, the drinks were incredible and the food was super tasty. I can’t wait to try the full sized versions on my next visit there (which will be happening).  Whether you’re a whisky beginner or a pro, I couldn’t recommend this little gem more!

 

Thanks so much for everyone at the parlour for having me (and for the mini bottle of Haig which is going to go down well with the males of the family at Christmas time). What’s your favourite cocktail?

Bridie x

P.S. Thank you to everyone who entered my Paul Mitchell Christmas giveaway, the winner has now been announced and informed and can now look forward to some luxury hair care!

Share

The launch of Leeds Fashion Initiative

Posted on 6 min read

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the launch of LFI (Leeds Fashion Initiative), a programme that marks the beginning of a long awaited, ambitious journey to create opportunities, re-establish Leeds as an international centre of fashion and regenerate the city’s fashion, clothing and textiles industry. The stationary Leeds City’ Museum was taken over by a passionate fashion frenzy catwalk show filled with delightful, distinctive, independent fashion brands bringing in importance from all areas; from journalists and celebrities, to bloggers, and keen fashion insiders.

Gaining phenomenal support from both industry and educational organisations, LFI was bound to impress all who were given an insight into their upcoming and future fashion talent. It was great to hear so many were behind shaping and celebrating Leeds’ potential. Driven by Lambert’s Yard, a dedicated team from the fashion concept store brought together and successfully showed off the hard work of everyone involved. Alongside stakeholders and sponsors including Land Securities, Key Logistics, Torque, Heinsworth & Sons and Leeds City Council, LFI is also in partnership with major fashion houses and local, educational institutes. With the likes of Centre for Fashion Enterprise, Leeds College of Art, Leeds Beckett Univeristy, the University of Huddersfield and the University of Leeds all involved and with collaboration being the backbone of the scheme, it was no doubt everyone present were able to set the feasible scene with excitement in mind.

After soaking up the buzzed atmosphere, enjoying a glass of processco and feeling ever so relevant at the VIP drinks reception, it was time to head up to the main event and take a front row seat ready for the starter for the night – the incredibly inspirational speeches.

It began with the master of the ceremony, Laura Bartlett from House of Coco, the founding editor and publisher of House of Coco magazine giving her introduction and personal touch of the contribution towards the night ahead. It then followed by a huge round of applause for the first leading lady of Leeds City Council, Judith Blake, as she took a stand to express brilliant remarks on just how paramount it was to sustain the culture of Leeds and make Leeds a centered fashion destination. Thirdly, Ishwari Thopte from the London Centre of Fashion Enterprise gave a powerful and eye opening speech on how the input of their work and developed relationship with Leeds Fashion Initiative continues to emerge fresh fashion aptitude. Through their expertise, programmes and networks, CFE are engaged in assisting the development of fashion designer businesses in the area. I particularly took a shine to the announced plans to back Leeds and focus on fashion businesses beyond London. Ishwari explained their belief; that fashion knows no borders, how they look locally, regionally and internationally, and told us why Leeds was the perfect city to deliver strategies they have in place to maintain survival and success and to endorse Leeds’ strong fashion heritage. I think the often too familiar north-south divide means we can lose out to the London flock so having a major ambition to retain the talent instead of evading the quality is something to look up to.

Finally, Adam Jagger, a man who left London last year to become retail director of Lambert’s Yard, ended the group disquisitions with his own experience. Following on from what had already been said, Adam once again highlighted that collaboration is the heart of the LFI and revealed his core belief that everyone has something to offer that is mutually beneficial. His idea is to produce a game changing process, bringing the old in with the new, and gathering up to date, local talent worth praising to produce a northern fashion powerhouse we can be proud of. Being a Northerner seems to bring out the best in me, when an opportunity is risen outside of the capital I’m thrilled to be able to show the rest of the country the hubs we’re capable of and I’m pretty sure soon enough I’ll be able to shout it from the rooftops!

Instantly following on from the speeches came the hugely anticipated runway show where the engaging models were ready to strut their stuff and enable us to feast our eyes on a collection of looks and the contributing styles from both emerging, upcoming designers and the more established names; featuring the likes of Agi & Sam – known for their fun colour and prints, Aquascutum – the luxury British brand, Cabba – who offers gorgeous wardrobe staples with a twist, Christopher Raeburn – known for his unique and innovative take on men and women’s fashion, J Lindeberg – whom is popular within sport admirers, Giles Deacon – his individual, playful designs being key, Rejina Pyo – the Korean born designer who creates feminine garments with the idea of merging with colour combinations and geometric shapes to achieve a unique, confident stance, and Terry De Havilland – the iconic couture shoe designer whose flamboyant pieces stand out from the rest. The renowned brands are of course widely recognised for their distinguished appearance but the local talent were able to showcase their competition. Just to list a few, there was Blue Rinse – known for their vintage, used, recycled and reworked clothing, Danielle Romerial – a vibrant, youthful womenswear label with a sense of relaxation to contemporary fashion, Sgr Skl  – brand focusing on street wear fashion and jewellery, and Studio 805 – a progressive menswear label led by Andrew Bannister-Bailey who graduated from Leeds College of Art with a first class fashion degree!

Supplying fantastic hair and almost too pristine makeup looks were Westrow, Architect and Seema Ghir, all fabricated in line with the theme. There seemed to be a surfaced look for both the males and females: a subtle base makeup with emphasized, sharp cheekbones and a neutral, fresh and glowing finish whilst the hair altered between the two; slicked down, frizz free dos with a fixed middle parting and crazy, voluminous ends for the girls and a formal more trivial design with hair gelled to the side or let loose naturally for the boys. To construct the many garments featured on the runway, A.W Hainsworth & Sons were on board – a company that has been manufacturing iconic cloth in Yorkshire since 1783.

Snapping away at every moment, I managed to capture (albeit not the best) just about every look on the short but fitting catwalk and shall now guide you through both sides of the story…

MALES:

 

There was a fine mixture between super tailored and extravagant risque on the male front. There was a seriously great bunch of a suave and sophisticated pairing and the pop of staple colour and pattern that cropped up added some definition to the under layers making the display of nothing but shit-hot fashion.

FEMALES:

 

Some of my favourite looks of the night came from the lovely ladies as they platformed everything from chic, to haute, to flamboyant and outdoorsy. The runway was lit with quite obviously wise, prudential attire. Giles’ Giles Deacon range thoroughly impressed me with the best golden fringed skirt you ever did see, along with prestigious 3D floral embroidery and show-off puffball midi dresses. For me, the top and trouser combos and the more classic, dressy pieces like the all-lace outfit and the ensemble of light to heavy textures were a winner but I can just about pick a striking ensemble of every item from the remarkable exhibition.

I can’t wait to see and hear more from the soul of LFI. I loved watching the show, enjoying being able to be up front, close and personal to the show and to mentally evaluate every must-have garment. Thanks to SLBPR for inviting me along!


Bridie x

Share

Life: moving to Cuba at Revolucion De Cuba, Leeds

Posted on 6 min read

 

Ignoring the pelting rain outside, last week I was fully in holiday mode as I headed down to the brand new Revolucion De Cuba bar restaurant situated on the famous Call Lane in Leeds. Long story short, there used to be a sectioned part of the ordinary Revolution bar based around the Cuban style fiasco and now, they’ve brought the almighty to a whole different environment (and a brilliant one at that).

 

I’ve been so excited to write up this post and share this fab discovery with you all. I’m lucky enough to attend so many launch, preview, or offer nights in my hometown and there seems to be a new bar opening nearly every week but this one really made an impression. It wasn’t just your standard blogger evening, the team of staff worked together in effort and planning to create a fun packed few hours with an experience to remember.

 

Being the first one in there (yes you read correctly; me, early for a change) I killed some time waiting on the rest of arrivals by photographing the dark but inviting atmosphere in the downstairs area. The place was much bigger than I expected; a nice, open, warm space with the dreamiest of decor. Think cacti, teapot plants, picturesque lighting and rum-based quotes to live by. You could feel a real buzz as soon as you walked in. There’s such a laid back, chilled vibe, and with live bands on every night it means there’s not just great cultural food, tapas, cocktails and spirits, but a music scene too!

We all had such a warm welcome to the venue, the staff approaching us and even formally hand shaking to introduce themselves (very swarve indeed). After a thorough introduction of what to expect, we were lead upstairs to our own personal free room for the night, complete with disco balls and barrels for tables. Greeted with straw hats, flowered leis and a choice of Cuban beer or a classic cocktail, the treats began to well and truly launch. I, of course, opted for the cocktails (let’s be honest, I may as well bathe in cocktails with the amount I consume over event periods). The Cuba Libres were served in the coolest way possible – in teapots and mugs. That’s definitely my cup of tea (no pun intended).

The thing I loved the most about our preview evening was the fact we weren’t going to be just stood around finding our own entertainment. Not that I mind doing that but it’s good to have something to go by, you know?! Three activities were set in place for us to take part in and we were split up into three groups – round robin style for tapas party dining, cocktail masterclasses and rum tasting.

Our first activity was rum tasting (and I was quick to learn on an empty stomach this wasn’t the best idea for a non drinker). We were taken through to the VIP area to meet Alex, our rum trainer. I never knew so much information could be processed from rum until I sat down and listened to him talk. 21 years old and an absolute expert, I was enthralled by his knowledge! To say I knew little about alcohol, let alone rum alone, was an understatement. I was clueless as to what different types there were, where it originates from, how it’s stored and so on but all these topics were interestingly covered. He even told us some hidden secrets like how to convey a cheap rum to a high quality, how to test for sugar content, how to hold a rum glass, the best way to drink rum, and even some old legends from how rum was perceived in the past life. I haven’t found myself thinking about the in depth details of an enjoyed spirit before but surprisingly, there is a lot more to a drink than the basics you find in your typical bar.

We tried 5 different rums all ranging from light to dark; the first was Diplomatico Blanco, second Appleton Estate VX, third 8 Criollo Cacao, fourth El Dorado 12 Elements and lastly, Ron Zacapa. Taking on the advice of Alex I swirled the liquid round, brought the glass up to my nose slowly to get used to the smell, then took a gentle gulp. The instant reaction was a screw the face up, eye watering, burn right through to my nose and gullet kind of reaction but I learnt (once again from Alex) that once it reaches past the tongue, you will get used to it and surprisingly, I did. Each rum was different; ALL were strong and rich but the flavours varied, some were sweeter, some more harsh, some smokier and heavier. My favourite had to be the 8 Criollo Cacao, the taste was extremely unique; like a mixture of coffee and chocolate extract. Like a pure alcoholic version of a Mocha Latte.

By this point, my head was definitely spinning and as we moved on to another alcohol involved activity, I could almost hear my poor body crying out. It wasn’t used to the high percentage of alcohol but I was eager to master how to make my very own cocktail. Luckily, as we were last to have food, the staff catered for our near-drunk needs and provided us with some extremely delicious snacks and nibbles. The banana chips, roasted peanuts, pork crackling, tortilla chips, guacamole and olives did the job of soaking up the rum whilst satisfying my hunger.

The lovely John was on hand to teach us how to fest up our individually made Mojito. We had the choice of passion-fruit, raspberry or classic and I chose passion-fruit which was actually pretty nice and most importantly drinkable if I may say so myself. As you can tell from my overly concentrating face (along with Corinne and Hayley‘s focused gaze), I took this lesson really seriously. It was another heads up to the staff on this occasion as John was mighty patient with my clumsiness and lack of cocktail making skills. In the end it worked out but I never realised how many actions, methods and certain specific techniques go into making the perfect cocktail. Kudos to the bar workers whipping up those drinks without mistakes on a busy evening!

 

They definitely saved the best till last as our freshly made tapas was awaiting us on our concluded task seated on the vintage diner style booths with a gallery of framed photos above us. I’ve only ever had tapas once before and this one certainly favoured its way to the top. I’m not a huge meat lover so I was a little apprehensive at first but the mixture of dishes met my fussy standards (and more). We were generously served Cajun Cream Mushrooms, Potatas Bravas, Roasted Chorizo, Iberico Ham Croquettas, Serrano Ham Bruschetta, Honey Roasted Veg, Aubergine Quesadillas and baguette bread with a dip, and oh my, what delightfully sustaining tastes. As a mushroom, veg and carb lover, the bread, bruschetta, sauced mushrooms, quesadillas and potatoes were my favourite but every little bit was divine and I think we managed to eat every last scrap. Hey we even politely asked for more bread (totally not just because our clumsiness struck again and we dropped half of it on the floor).

 

Overall I had such a truly wonderful night and couldn’t have asked for any better. The food and drinks were spot on, the venue was gorgeous, I met and got chatting to some more lovely local bloggers, caught up with my usual girlies, and the staff were fantastic; eager to please us, guide us, accommodate us and inform us. It was clear the team were extremely passionate about the food and drink they produced and presented and it made me want to come back for more. I will certainly be heading back there, maybe for one of their special fiestas where dancers are even roaming around and it’s nothing but fun and games! If you’re ever in or around Leeds, you’ve got to go head down and check it out. With deals such as a burrito and mojito for £10 on weekdays and an easily shareable tapas selection being 3 for £13, it’s just irresistible. I couldn’t recommend it more. After-all, there ain’t no party like a Cuban party!

 

Have you ever been to a Revolucion De Cuba? Do you know anything extra important about rum, cocktails or tapas? Let me know!

 

Bridie x

There’s just a month left on my Paul Mitchell Christmas giveaway, don’t forget to enter!

Share