Fabulous Fish Dogs

Tell me: do you like hot dogs?  Do you like fish finger butties?  If you do, then get ready for the taste sensation that’s sweeping the nation…

FISH DOGS

I want to share this amazing new culinary marvel with my valued readers of the Virtual Hot Tub here and now, so you don’t miss out.

All you need is a packet of frozen fish fingers – and an appropriate number of bread finger rolls.  Simply cook up your fish fingers as normal, and serve within the bread roll.

Garnish the fish dog with whatever sauce you prefer.  Try mayonnaise, salad cream, tartare sauce – even tomato ketchup if you’re a bit freaky.  Let your imagination run riot and add whatever you like.

You can dish up with fries (curly recommended), or whatever else gets your taste buds bursting with anticipation.

There’s no point me writing out a detailed list of ingredients or preparation instructions, the FISH DOG really is very simple.  You’re basically replacing the sausage in a hot dog with a fish finger.  That’s it.  Simple – but oh, so clever.

Once you try this spectacular creation, you’re sure to be entranced by its immense taste.  You’ll wonder why you’ve never tried FISH DOGS before.  You’ll wonder why it’s taken so long for this obvious, yet deliciously original meal to come to your attention.

Don’t delay – treat yourself and your family to FISH DOGS today!

Food Quest: Chiquito, Broughton Park

chiquitoChiquito Restaurant Bar & Mexican Grill, Broughton Park

Regular readers will already know how much I love Mexican food.  It’s fair to say that I’m pretty obsessed with grub from south of the border, be it tacos, enchiladas, burritos or whatever.  Just wrap it up in a tortilla and I’m one happy hombre.

Of course, I have been to a Chiquito restaurant before, there’s one at ChOaks (that’s Cheshire Oaks, amigo).  However I was anxious to try the newer establishment at nearby Broughton Park, if only because – well, it’s nearer.

I got my chance on a lunch time visit with work colleagues.  I saddled up my pony and rode over the border home into Wales for some refreshment at the Chiquito cantina.  Even though the website says Broughton Park is in Chester (England), which it’s not.  Minus points for racism, Chiquito. nachos

As we only had an hour before the banditos would be back on our trail, starters were skipped.  Which is a shame, as there were plenty of tantalising items on offer.  Likewise, I didn’t opt for an alcoholic beverage with my meal, though I could have chosen from an array of suitable beers.

Instead I had a coke, but the good news was that there were free refills!  Just ask your courteous waiting on staff.  I like that.

So on to the meal.  After some deliberation, I opted for a chimichanga – a dish I love and have enjoyed before at other establishments.  Now for those of you who are unschooled in the ways of Mexican food, a chimihcanga is essentially a fried burrito.  Still none the wiser?  Take a tortilla, add the filling of your choice (in my case pulled pork) and throw in some rice, refried beans and sauce.  Roll it up and cook/fry.

el-taco-grande

El Taco Grande enjoying his meal

The chimichanga was accompanied by fries and the usual suspects – salsa, sour cream and guacamole dips.

This was all very tasty, and I really enjoyed the food.  It had a home cooked feel to it, not mass produced and thrown together at all.

The only thing that confused me was the serving style – the food was presented in a little deep frying metal container.  This looked very cool, but wasn’t the easiest way to eat.  Unless you’re supposed to pick the chimichanga up and eat with your hands – surely not?  I must be wrong.

All in all, my experience was very good – with a couple of minor criticisms.  Firstly, although the style and decor of Chiquito was really groovy, the music was a bit hit and miss.  It seemed like every other song was Enrique Iglesias, mixed alternately with some more authentic Latin sounds.  Enrique may be OK for the ladies who lunch crowd, but I expect more genuine Mariachi music.

My delicious chimichanga. Half eaten, sorry.

My delicious chimichanga. Half eaten, sorry.

But then Chiquito is Tex Mex, rather than just Mex.  They even have a steak and fish menu, as well as burgers.  This may be far too normal for my tastes, but I suppose that it may entice some Brits in – they may even, one day, try something a little more exotic than chips and egg.

I have no real problems with Chiquito – the food and service were both great.  I really enjoyed my meal and was impressed by the large amount of choice on the menu.  Go give Chiquito a try – but please, try the Mexican food!

Food Quest Test

  • Food: large amount to choose from.  Great Mexican dishes, with some more traditional choices for anyone with a less adventurous palate.
  • Drink: I was on soft drinks, but they have free refills – yes!  Tons of alcoholic choices too.
  • Service: Very good, friendly staff.
  • Cost: Acceptable for a lunch time treat!

Chiquito, Unit 19 Broughton Chopping Park, Broughton CH4 0DE

01244 530564

The Chiquito website is here.

Food Quest: To Koutouki, Chester

To Koutouki, Chester

Well Mrs Platinum Al and I deserved a night out, so we packed off the little ‘un to Grandma and Grandpa and headed off to Chester.  A table was booked at a new restaurant in town called To Koutouki, and we were both very excited to try it out.

After years of proclaiming that Chester really needed a Greek restaurant, I was delighted to see, whilst on a recent shopping trip, that the miracle had happened.  Sat at the end of Foregate Street, out of the blue, was To Koutouki – obviously a Greek Taverna, the blue chairs resting outside gave it away. IMG_20160507_194109736

On entering, we were shown to our table upstairs, where the Greek style decor added a real holiday ambience.  Think blue chairs, Greek music and photos of the islands and you’re on you’re way…

We were given some very nice mixed olives and some iced water to begin with.  Drinks were a fairly easy choice for us – the ever reliable Kourtaki retsina and a bottle of Mythos for me!

Service was friendly and very quick, it wasn’t long before our starters arrived.  My good lady ordered saganaki – a fried cheese.  I had a try and it was exquisite!  My own starter was white bait, or maridaki, which was also excellent – a real Mediterranean style dish that reminded me of warmer climes!  Though small, I chickened out of eating the whole of the fish at first – leaving the heads on the plate.  The waiter advised me to gulp the lot down – which I did!  No problem at all, give it a go!

The main courses were very soon with us, and we were in for a treat.  My lovely companion had chosen kotopoulo kokkinisto, a delicious chicken caserole which was served with rice.  I was allowed to have a try, and it was very, very good indeed.  I’ve never had this meal before, and would definitely order it on a return visit.

For my own main, I chose one of my favourite dishes- pastitsio.  This is a baked pasta dish, with beef mincemeat and bechamel sauce, served like a slice of lasagne, but less sloppy.  I’ve had pastitsio in Greece, and the To Koutouki version was simply excellent.  Cooked perfectly, I was very impressed as pastitsio isn’t always readily available when we visit our favourite tavernas in Parga, let alone Chester!

Finally, to finish off we chose some desserts.  Mrs Platinum Al had portokalopita – a yoghurt cake with orange syrup (had a cheeky try, very nice).  I ordered the classic baklava, with a little ice cream, which was fantastic.  We both had a Metaxa brandy to bring things to a close.

To Koutouki was a great experience, excellent food and great service made a memorable meal and we can’t wait to visit again.  This little taverna has managed to create an authentic Greek feel and welcome, with delicious food that demands a return visit.  Highly recommended!

Food Quest Test 

  • Food: Extensive menu of traditional Greek favourites, expertly created and delicious too!
  • Drink: All the classics are on offer
  • Service: Excellent and friendly
  • Cost: Very reasonable for Chester City Centre!

Greek Taverna “To Koutouki”, 112 Foregate Street, Chester CH1 1HB

01244 951725

The To Koutouki website is here.

The To Koutouki Facebook page is here.

Rancid Rock

In which our intrepid adventurers explore a world of oddly flavoured confectionery…

For our recent trip to Sci Fi Weekender in north Wales, my compadres and I were well stocked with food and drink.  Along with the usual savoury food stuffs, there was plenty of sweet: chocolate, cakes, Twinkies.  All the good stuff.

And yet, with the reckless abandon of enthusiasm and the bravado of beer, we were destined for far murkier waters.

Some time previously, I had purchased some novelty rock on a trip to Rhyl.  You know what rock is – long cylindrical sticks; usually peppermint flavoured; either chewy or (as the name suggests) hard and brittle.  Brightly coloured sticks of sugar, the quintessential seaside souvenir.  IMG_3995

It was three sticks for a quid, and I bought these flavours:

  • Chicken Tikka
  • Fish’n’Chips
  • Cookie Dough

After a few beers one night, I decided it was time to experiment with these substances and see what the effects were.  Here are my observations.

Chicken Tikka

Now I love Indian food.  However Chicken Tikka rock is not to die for.  Imagine, if you will, the miserable surprise of sweet tasting rock being replaced by a vaguely spicy Asian flavour.  My brain thought a cruel trick was being played on it.  The rock was chewy rather than hard.  The taste was bland; with a strange, mild spiciness.  Like licking a stick of celery that had been waved near a curry flavoured Pot Noodle.  The only good thing is that this rock wasn’t hot spicy at all, just leaving an insipid warmth on the tongue.  Totally vile.

Disgusto rating: 3/5

Fish’n’Chips

Next up was the Fish’n’Chips flavour.  Now what could go wrong – the amalgamation of two British seaside classics, rock that tastes of fish and chips?  More like what couldn’t go wrong.  The chewy rock was strangely missing the traditional sweetness, instead it was a truly bland flavour with a remote hint of ancient battered cod.  But the smell of it was utterly putrid – a million maritime nightmares sheltering in the salty cove of your mouth.  Plain sailing this was not – Fish’n’Chips rock is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever put in my mouth.  Like that time when, as a kid, you fell over while paddling in the sea; and got a mouth  full of salty seawater, seaweed, and dead crab.

Disgusto rating: 5/5

Cookie Dough

After the previous monstrosity, I was actually looking forward to Cookie Dough flavour.  Surely this one would be OK?  After all, the previous two varieties suffered from the juxtaposition of sweet becoming savoury.  No such luck.  Cookie Dough, despite being generally fantastic when added to ice cream, does no favours for rock.  It just tasted of aniseed.  Big disappointment.  Like being given an Easter Egg that looks great, but tastes of punch in the face.

Disgusto rating: 2/5

All in all not an experience I would like to repeat.  Though it was pretty funny…

Here’s what my friends had to say about the whole sorry affair:

Adam: “They smelt like the arse hole of a dead badger and pretty sure that’s what they tasted like too….  I can still taste it now late at night when it’s quiet in the house and I’m alone in my thoughts.”

Greeny: “I only tried the fish one, I didn’t dare try any others after that cos I wanted to die.  It tasted like cat shit and feet, wrapped in a thong that Jordan had worn for a month.  And it smelt pretty much like that too.”

Food Quest: The Shared Olive

The Shared Olive, Hawarden

It was a special occasion: time for a special venue.  Mrs Platinum Al’s birthday demanded an experience that was to be savoured, and the Shared Olive would be perfect.

This restaurant is set close to the heart of Hawarden village, and offers a safe haven for food lovers in the area.  The Shared Olive offers a homely, but contemporary atmosphere – it is a welcoming refuge that somehow also manages to feel both relaxing and vibrant at the same time.  Offering tapas and Mediterranean food, the meals at the Shared Olive are both exciting and varied.  so1

We began our gastronomical journey with some olives and a glass of wine; with a beer (Estrella – good stuff) also for me.  The restaurant was particularly busy on this evening, yet the staff managed to cope well with the pressures and were very attentive.

Our starters were extremely impressive.  We decided to go “tapas style” for the first course, though making a choice from the dishes on offer isn’t easy.  Chorizo and manchego croquettes, with goats cheese pesto, for her.  Seabass and chorizo paella for me.  I was looking forward to my starter, and the dish honestly exceeded my expectations!  The croquettes were also popular, I managed to get a taste before they disappeared…

A glass of wine and onto the main course.  We had decided to choose different courses on this evening, rather than go for a few tapas selections to share.  I’m glad we did. SO2

Mrs Platinum Al’s choice was a very nice chicken and wild garlic risotto with dolcelatte.  I went for pulled pork tortiglioni, with plum tomatoes and caramelised fennel.  I’m quite a fan of pulled pork these days; it’s often served USA style on burgers, so I was keen to see how this meal would work.  Work it did: the chefs performing an Enzo Ferrari style example of finely tuned skills and passion for their craft, in admirable Italian style.  shared olive

Having said that, I also tried some of the risotto.  Now I’m not the biggest risotto fan in the world, but found that this was very much to my taste!  Possibly even better than the tortiglioni..?  Dare I say it?

We are extremely fortunate to have a restaurant like the Shared Olive in the local area.  Quality food, well prepared with skill and obvious enthusiasm – yet without being too exclusive price-wise.  Great atmosphere; though you’re definitely eating in a restaurant, it can feel like you’re in your own front room.

Food Quest Test

  • Food: excellent, authentic Mediterranean food with a wide choice
  • Drink: varied and affordable
  • Service: a little slow at first on this visit, though it was extremely busy – the staff soon turned it around
  • Environment: friendly and down to earth with a splash of glamour
  • Cost: great quality food makes it a good deal

The Shared Olive, 68 The Highway, Hawarden CH5 3DH

01244 530053

The Shared Olive webpage is here.

The Shared Olive Facebook page is here.

Follow the Shared Olive on Twitter: @SharedOlive

Food Quest: The White Bear

The White Bear, Mancot

Not too long ago, Mrs Platinum Al and I went for a meal at the White Bear in sunny Mancot.  I should say “another meal”, as we’ve been there many times.  Here’s a quick round up of our experience.

The White Bear is a great little village pub.  There are numerous events throughout the week – every week – making it a lively, welcoming place.  Drinks are affordable – no-one’s getting ripped off.  The food is also affordable – but unlike many other local boozers, the grub manages to be damn good stuff.

Our starters were mushroom and brie bake (for her, you must know what I think about mushrooms by now); and chicken wings for me.  Both great.  The wings were tasty but no overkill on the spice, a commendable job.  My only suggestion would be to provide a finger bowl for this, and other messy food such as ribs.  31029-1_main

Despite the pub being very busy on the evening we visited, the staff were very helpful and attentive.  You can buy drinks at the bar, or one of the waiting staff can bring them over for you.  They are battle hardened and ready to move tables and seats around, provide advice and attempt any task to help their customers.

The main courses were The Legendary Fish and Chips for her; and Kick Ass Chicken for moi.  The fish and chips are indeed the stuff of legend: you get three substantial fish goujons plus chunky chips and good ol’ mushy peas.  Highly recommended – I can speak from experience.

The Kick Ass chicken is not a pretend superhero.  It is in fact a dish consisting of chicken and bacon topped with cheese, in a tangy barbecue sauce.  What’s kick ass about that?  I forgot to mention the JALAPENOS.  Served with chips and peas, this meal is pleasantly spicy, but soon warms up.  By the end, the Kick Ass chicken totally kicked my ass.  But in an “I’ll be back for more next time” way.

For dessert, Mrs Platinum Al went for a brandy snap basket with ice cream and toffee sauce.  I indulged in toblerone cheesecake – never before experienced, my mouth soon forgave me for the jalapenos.

Personally, I cannot believe how the White Bear manages to provide such excellent food – consistently, I might add – for a reasonable price.  There’s plenty of choice on the menu, the surroundings are warm – I can’t recommend it highly enough.  This is pub grub, done the right way – and so much better than the local rivals*.  Good size portions, great taste – the White Bear ticks all the boxes.

Food Quest Test

  • Food: Great taste, large portions
  • Drink: Affordable = good.  A mid strength quality lager would be great (ie bring back Stella 4%!)
  • Service: Friendly, helpful
  • Environment: Traditional pub, busy later on
  • Cost: Very reasonsable

The White Bear, Mancot Lane, Mancot, Deeside, Flintshire CH5 2AH

01244 539077

The White Bear Facebook page is here.

The White Bear web page is here.

*Rhymes with Pubic Hair.  You know the one.

Questions #9: On Toast

What’s your favourite thing to eat on toast?  A simple question, yet this one offered a lot of interest and whole load of suggestions.

Toasted bread is a very simple idea (even I can cook that) – but it’s appeal is massive, judging by the response to this question.  Some of the suggestions I received are obvious, some sound delicious – others are a matter of taste.

Q: What’s your favourite thing to eat on toast?

Nathan: coleslaw

Matt R: bacon

Sian: bacon & sausage

Terry: Bacon

Jamie: butter and tomato sauce

Iain: peanut butter and jam

Sam: marmalade

Jayne: bacon

Mike R: salmon & scrambled egg

Mike Stone: mushy peas

Nick Jones: melted cheese

Mark “Hungry” Harper: peanut butter (smooth)

Lindsey Over: butter

Dan Graham: sardines

Irene Thomas: peanut butter, honey & banana

Annette Evans: spaghetti hoops

Steph Cottam: tomato puree, sliced tomatoes, sliced bratwurst, cheese (grilled)

Sarah Docherty: Branston pickle and cheese

Colin Pugh: sausage, fried egg and tomato sauce

Greeny: apple sauce

Adam Halliday: black pudding and cheese

Andrew Redman: strawberry jam & butter (on white bread)

Lisa Lord: Tomato puree, mature cheddar, Henderson’s relish and black pepper

Sarah Fickling: Dairylea and cucumber with a little black pepper

Claire Bujeaud: beans

Jayne H: sardines

Snips: Runny poached egg, fresh ground black pepper and Anglesey sea salt

Ade Cappadona: cold chilli con carne

Neil Calloway:  poached egg and lashings of marmite

Cheryl Jones: pot noodle

Mark Dutton: crispy bacon and marmalade

Adam Butler: butter

Brian Hall: HP sauce

Matt Barnes: lard

Michaela Jjones: peanut butter and raspberry jam

Laura Jones: Marmite with a poached egg and cheese on top, sprinkle of salt and pepper

Vanessa: cheese and beans

Belinda Spry: Vegemite (+ cheese)

Peter Higginson: thinly sliced haloumi with sliced green olives, dash of black pepper

Zoe Cullen: beans and cheese

Corrine Bufton-Sales: peppered mackerel

Mandy H: cheese and tomato

Donna: cold caviar on piping hot toast with Dom Perignon

Bryn: bacon lardons, red onion and cheese

Mike W: bacon and cheese

Richard Pearson: roast dinner

Me: peanut butter (crunchy) and chocolate spread

There you have it: some excellent ideas.  Some very simple suggestions – like good old butter – we often forget how good that tastes.  Then there’s the Full English options, right the way through to some that sound like they could be on a menu.  I’m also partial to sardines on toast, so nice to see that crop up a couple of times.  One or two of these “favourites” may well be jokes, but I’m not sure…

Sweet or savoury, there are some great ideas here that I would like to try.  I’ve not picked a winner, I hope this fun exercise has given you some “food for thought”.  But – roast dinner on toast?  Regular readers will be able to guess what I think of that…