Iranian Soup Awesomeness - Ash Reshteh

2021-04-24, Chris

I love the vast array of different foods you can try in Southampton. I fancied trying something different, and decided to order Persian food for the first time, from Melo Persian Restaurant in Swaythling.

The other food that arrived was tasty, such as BBQed vegetables in a naan, but it was the Persian noodle soup (Ash Reshteh) that made me want to write this blob entry, as it was like nothing else I've ever tasted before.

The predominant flavours of the soup are the spinach, greens, parsley and Persian herbs and spices. The texture is provided by the noodles and the beans. I ordered mine 'with Kashk', which is a type of feta-esque whey cheese, though I made the mistake of mixing it in before taking the above photo. To compensate for this I added some extra dried cheese on top, along with some Aleppo pepper ('pul biber', available in international food stores) and fresh lemon juice, which seemed to complement it well.

Impressively we got 2 good sized portions from the Ash Reshteh, which priced as a starter cost just £5.50. I definitely recommend giving it a go!

The One Where Chris Learns About Bundt Cakes

2021-04-19, Chris

This week the awesome Emma Stevenson of Bundts and Buns offered to make me a Bundt cake. I had no idea what a Bundt cake was, but I like cake so I said yes. A little research later and I learnt that Bundt cakes refer to the mould they are cooked in, were invented in the US, and had roots back to north German "bund" cakes, which could in turn originate from the way the dough bundles round the pan. Emma was first introduced to them through watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and it seems has been under their spell ever since, setting up her own local business over lockdown.

My cake was white chocolate and lemon, a flavour that was accidently invented by Emma when she mistakenly offered it to me as a choice instead of her usual "white chocolate and raspberry". Emma went along with the flavour combination anyway and I'm glad she did - I love lemon in a cake, and its sharpness works perfectly against the sweetness of white chocolate. I understand it's now an officially available flavour if you want to try it. The Bundt cake itself is perfectly light and fluffy in the middle, with a bite to the outside.

Each of the segments makes for a mega portion for a hungry person, but really half of that provides a perfectly satisfactory cake hit, meaning this Bundt cake would contain between 16 servings. As it's quite a big cake it would be perfect for celebrations, and would make a real centrepiece to a picnic. Cake prices vary from £15 to £30, and there's the option to make your own custom Bundt.

Thanks again to Emma for introducing me to the world of Bundt cakes and bringing them to Southampton.

So, tomorrow...

2021-04-11, Chris

I can't lie, I'm very excited about hospitality slowly re-emerging from tomorrow. I can't wait to take in the delights of Oxford Street and Bedford Place, particularly with its new, quite literal, 'street' art. I think Piecaramba's ridiculous pie and pint deal, will be high up the list, alongside The Cricketers, Smugglers, Black Phoenix, Smugglers and Beards and Boards - what a line up of locally owned awesomeness. This isn't a sponsored post - posts are never sponsored, but I'm going to share Piecaramba's promo image to give a flavour of what's to come.

May be an image of food and text

Over in Oxford Street, it's great to see lots of new local businesses setting up, including Rita's cocktail bar, Marco's moving from by the station, and Pam Pam pizza replacing Pizza Express. Alongside existing gems such as Max's Brasserie and Porters, it will be great to see the street buzzing again.

There are countless businesses reopening for the first time that I can't mention them all, but I will also be visiting Bevois Valley for The Shooting Star and The Hobbit, and Shirley for Overdraft and Clockwork. I also want to cross the river to home of the smallest outdoor drinking area in the city, Olaf's Tun. Leaving bars aside for a moment, my shoes have been getting a bit 'holey' recently so a trip to French's is required.

What are you most looking forward to opening? Please share your thoughts over on our Facebook group.

And of course let's all be supportive and friendly to all the staff in shops and hospitality - it hasn't been an easy time for them and they are likely to be swamped with demand, alongside the responsibility to keep everyone safe. So let's not make their job harder than it needs to be. Sometimes we'll turn up somewhere and there won't be space to safely accommodate us - it's great that the business is doing well and thus will be there for us another day - let's just move on and find somewhere quieter where they need our custom and which we can more safely visit.

Stay safe and have fun everyone. And to everyone working in the shops and hospitality, thank you.

Scooting Around Town

2021-04-03, Chris

Today I wanted to go to Rice Up Wholefoods Ltd to get some treats, but I was running a little late so needed to get there quickly. I pondered driving down, but that seemed a bit unnecessary - I could carry what I needed in a rucksack. Then I remembered that e-scooters have recently gone live in the city, and I thought I'd give them a go.

No photo description available.

To get started on an e-scooter you need to download the Voi app, and be aware that you'll need to wait a minute or so for your first scooter to unlock as you have to take a photo of your driving license and wait for it to be verified. After that though it's an easy (and surprisingly quick) way to get around town, particularly on the new cycle lanes. Before you unlock a scooter you can check its vital statistics, most importantly remaining battery (though my trips only took a few percentage points off). Unlike the yellow bikes that you used to find dumped all over the city, the scooters need to be left at designated bays and a photo taken of the scooter to end the trip. There are already quite a few bays around the west of the city and more are being added, so the convenience factor should only grow with them. At present, however, there are no bays east of the river Itchen.

May be an image of 1 person, bicycle and outdoors

Though I wouldn't recommend it as a replacement for walking or cycling for obvious reasons, they're great to pop into town quickly if you need something from a distant shop or to admire our beautiful central parks, which are looking pretty dashing in the spring sunshine.

May be an image of flower, nature and tree

As part of our new transport offering, e-scooters could definitely help replace unnecessary short car journeys and make our city breath easier. As for Rice Up, they have a delicious deli counter, and I highly recommend their pasties if you're looking things to bring to a picnic.