Sunday Social

Today marks the start of my Sunday Social – they will be posts about the lovely places I have been and the gorgeous food I have eaten. I wrote a post about Baltzersens in Harrogate last year and it’s inspired the Sunday Social, because lets face it there is nothing better on a Sunday afternoon than perfect food and company.

Today’s post is all about Orchid, the beautiful adored Thai restaurant within the boutique Studley Hotel on Swan Road in Harrogate. I spent 3 gorgeous hours with my favourite second family, Amanda, Tim, Luke, Harry & Chloe have been in my life since the kids were tiny, in Harry and Chloe’s case before they were born! To sit with Luke, 17 whilst he has a beer and we chat about Uni makes me feel ancient, but at the same time so lovely to have been a part of his life for so long.

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The beautiful Studley Hotel

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The stunning private room we ate lunch in 

This restaurant is regarded as one of the best in town, it is full booked most weekends of most weeks throughout the year, but for me the absolute best time to go is Sunday Lunch.

I bet you have all been to an all-you-can eat, but I bet you have never been to an all-you-can eat like this before. The food is just incredible, the blend of Thai and Pan-Asian flavours and textures, just divine. Unlike a lot of buffets, the Orchids buffet offers the best of the main dinner menu.

Included in the starters section of the buffet are the incredible succulent duck pancakes, light tempura vegetables, a sharp and creamy cucumber and avocado salad. I followed that by the beautiful Red Duck Curry, jammed packed with roasted duck, pineapple, lime leaves and sweet basil, paired with the aromatic rice and spicy soft noodles.

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I cannot describe how beautiful the food at Orchid is, it’s also a wonderful place to people spot as Sunday Buffet seems to bring out the who’s who of Harrogate.

You can also indulge in some wonderful beer from all over Asia, includes Singapore’s Tiger, Singha from Thailand and my favourite Tsingtao which hails from China. There is also nothing more scrummy that a glass of ice cold Rose to cut through the rich Thai curries and to cool the palette after the chili ginger beef.

It’s a great date night place if you are out to impress and with the beautiful hotel attached its easy to make a weekend of it, walk off all the food and booze in the Valley Gardens afterwards.

Would love to know what your favourite restaurants in the area are, then I can add them to my ‘To Visit’ list and for my Social Sunday in the future.

E x

Halloween Challenge

So on October 22nd Miss Snare from The Magic Square Foundation siddled over to my deak at work and informed me of this awesome challenge she had come up with – Can you really create things that appear on Pinterest – so I created a baking board on Pinterest and the picture that jumped out to me was the Brain Cake! Something truly greusome to look at but amazing to eat! Add into the mix, today is my birthday and I am have made the Brain Cake for all the ace cool kids I work with.

This is the image from Pinterest that I was working from

So here is how I did it!

If you want my advice, buy a boxed cake mix, I love baking, I did it for a living but these cakes are perfect for a quick and means there is no excuse for throwing together a gory yummy cake.

So these are the things that you need…

To go into a basic cake, you need 3 eggs, 75ml of vegetable oil and 250ml of cold water. Then you can add whatever else you wish, I went for glacier cherries, mini marshmallows, and oreo cookies.

Set your oven to 180 degrees. Add the dry mix, eggs, oil and water to together and whisk, you can use a stand mixer like a Kitchen Aid or just use some brute force and a hand whisk. If you are adding extra bits them this is the time to add them. I chopped up the oreo cookies, and cherries and mixed them in with the marshmallows.

I then added a little red food colouring, gives the chocolate colour something a little more. Then grease and line the cake tin and pour in the tin and into the oven for 40 mins.

Once a skewer comes out of the middle of the cake clean your cake is done! So out of the oven and onto the side for 10 minutes to cool. Then once 10 minutes has passed take the cake out of the tin and leave to completely cool.

Then the fun bit! Making the brain! You need cocoa powder, red food colouring butter and icing sugar. Add 500g icing sugar, to 200g of softened butter and mix, then slowly add a teaspoon of red foo colouring at a time until you have a pink shade, then finally add a tablespoon of cocoa powder to darken and flavour the icing. A final mix to blend it all.

Then comes the icing! I suggest a narrow nozzle and a bit of patience!

And hey presto! Here is the finished result….

Then as a cheeky extra, I had my halloween birthday party, so I decided to recreate one of my favourite make up artists Sam Chapman did, Marla Singer from Fight Club, one of my favourite film characters of all times.

Happy Halloween!

E x

Chaophraya – a slice of Thai paradise

When the invite landed in my inbox I was more than a little thrilled to see it was an invite to the relaunch of Chaophraya my favourite Thai restaurant. Which I am thrilled to tell you now occupies the ground floor with the Palm Sugar Lounge Bar as well as the first floor restaurant.

I must admit I haven’t been for one of their incredible feasts for at least 2 years! Thats what being out of the dating game does for you, I must rectify that, perfect excuse to eat my way round Leeds!

A little history of the brand

Founded in Leeds in 2005, Chaophraya now has five sites in major cities, including Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham. The latest Chaophraya recently opened in Glasgow in one of the city’s most prestigious buildings making it the biggest Thai restaurant in Europe.

The brand Chaophraya (pronounced Chao-pi-ya) takes its name from the main waterway in Thailand. In ancient times this river breathed life into the families who lived along its banks. Today the river is still regarded as part of the essence of Thailand, which is where they take their inspiration from.

“Palm Sugar Lounge, Chaophraya’s new downstairs bar, is a sophisticated setting for the city’s social scene.  Its already one of the busiest bars in Liverpool and Glasgow, and is now set to raise the bar for the Leeds social scene with artistic cocktail makers on hand and an interior which fuses traditional Thailand with modern glamour.”

So back to Thursday and to say it was somewhat of a rush is an understatement, a crazy day at work followed by a dash around the new Topshop in the city centre left me extremely hungry and gagging for a drink. As I raced to meet Amy all I could think about was the Pad Thai they create at Chaophraya and I can tell you when I arrived I was not disappointed.

I have always wanted to walk a red carpet, and not one at a wedding, but a snazzy one with security and a policy of “if your name is not down you ain’t coming in” thrilled I was, you can imagine when I was confronted by the sea of beautiful lights and a red carpet leading into the stunning new restaurant entrance – helped immensely by the fact that we were on the list!

Welcoming the guests were the most exquisitely dressed women, in traditional Thai outfits beckoning us through the doors with a plethora of jewel coloured drinks. Once through the welcoming parade it took me a moment to really take in the size of the place, I’ve always been used to arriving up a flight of stairs, but this is far more grand, the fantastically stocked marble bar was staffed by knowledgeable and hugely efficient staff dressed in crisp white shirts.

My cocktail was a blend of fruits and spices an topped off nicely with champagne, and a flourish of mint and strawberries. Amy and I sat people watching for a good 20 minutes taking in the glamorous girls and dashing chaps flooding into the palatial bar area.

Then onward upstairs we decided, the staircase is the most sensational mix of glass and dark cherry wood and leads you up to the stunning restaurant area, laid out almost identically to the last time I had visited, although clearly had been spruced up and now offers a more glamorous place to eat. Glass bi-fold doors open onto a patio that even in the last days of September air was a joy I sit on and enjoy another cheeky cocktail.

Then came the food. The chefs preparing Pad Thai fresh in front of you is a sight to see, such skill in making simple ingredients taste so unbelievable. I won’t lie to you I went back for seconds, and thirds…..you get the picture.

The evening was rounded off by an indulgent hand massage and a blessing from a guru. The whole night was planned to perfection and having been to a fair few of these events I have never seen so many content faces. But that’s clearly what comes from fantastic service, stunning food and a couple of cocktails.

In summary I will be booking a table ASAP to indulge in the whole menu and may even treat myself to one of their Thai Cookery Courses.

They are offering some great offers to celebrate the arrival of Palm Sugar in Leeds, they’ve  introduced Fizz Fridays – (two glasses for £11, Friday evenings between 5pm and 8pm.) The restaurant also has a brand new à la carte menu and a range of set menus designed by Chaophraya’s founder, Kim Kaewkraikhot. You can book online for dinner so there really is no excuse.

Let me know if you have visited since it has reopened and what you thought?