Friday, 24 May 2013

May Madness! Sushi, yellow waistcoats and rainbow girls.

Well well well... it's been a busy few weeks for me! My work life and social life have been manic, with interviews, exams and wedding drama coming at me from all angles. This is my excuse for not writing an entry for a wee while!

I have finally finished my German GCSE, thank the Lord. It's been a very enjoyable course - and I would urge anyone considering doing an evening course to at least give it a go because the feeling of accomplishment afterwards is fantastic, plus it has been a surprisingly good way to make some new friends. For our final lesson, one of the girls baked a carrot cake and some German biscuits (Lebkuchen) with dark chocolate and sugar icing toppings, which were absolutely divine. And she even brought back Apfel Schorle and more chocolatey goodies from Munich after a weekend over there visiting her fella - so we had quite a feast! There is also a date in the diary for catching up over German beers at Knott Bar next month which will be lovely. Results don't come out until end of August of course, so we will have to wait until then to know if how efforts have paid off.

If I'm honest though, German revision has taken a bit of a back seat of late, with so much else going on - in particular being made redundant at work, which in turn resulted in me going into communication overdrive and unknowingly racking up a £100 extra phone bill (which is NOT like me at all!).

A highlight of the past few weeks was a sushi-making class that my other half and I went to at Samsi Japanese restaurant on Whitworth Street, bought as a Groupon treat (one of many). We were taken downstairs to a table hidden behind the restaurant's own Japanese mini supermarket in the basement. Lucky for us, four people had failed to turn up which meant extra sushi for us and the other two couples! We learnt how to make all sorts of varieties of sushi - pickled veg, fried chicken in breadcrumbs, omelette, prawn, salmon, octopus... you name it. Getting the wetness of the sticky sushi rice is a bit of an art, as we discovered. It is no wonder that sushi chefs in Japan go through seven years of training apparently! It was a great, laid back atmosphere as we all struggled to roll our sushi properly with the bamboo mats - and the end result was actually pretty impressive. We were even given proper sushi knives to cut our sushi rolls with, as well as containers to put all the sushi into once we had finished. My boyfriend and I had no intention of taking any home, however - we were starving! That said, as the other two couples left with their homemade takeaway, our host for the evening said to us "You might as well take all the leftovers because it's only going to go in the bin otherwise" - which was like music to our ears. We ended up gorging on sushi for the next two days, so we got excellent value for money! The question is, will we actually make our own sushi at home now that we have learnt the technique? I am somewhat dubious...




Another recent foodie event was the result of me winning an Instagram competition through work with the following photo taken over the first May bank holiday - this is of the swing ride in Manchester's Piccadilly Gardens, which myself, my other half and another couple (my friends who are tying the knot tomorrow in fact) dared to go on with full stomachs!

My winning Instagram pic!

So my prize was an Italian gourmet feast for two at TNQ bar and restaurant in Manchester's Northern Quarter. This was a £60 a head six-course extravaganza - and an excuse for my boy to don a shirt and smart shoes, and me a dress! It's always nice to get a bit dressed up isn't it. The food was absolutely delicious, as you would expect for that price, and not a pizza or spaghetti bolognese in sight! It was better than any of the food we sampled during our weekend in Rome a few months ago. To view the menu, just click here - and in true winner's style, I made sure that I Instagrammed each course too! 








What I wasn't expecting from the evening was the vast quantities of alcohol - there was a different wine with every course, so you can imagine I was feeling rather worst for wear the next day. A very eccentric wine connoisseur, Andrea Ruggeri, wearing a yellow waistcoat got up in between each course to announce the wine and talk about the grapes used to make it. It's the kind of thing my Dad would have loved. Admittedly, I think I'd had so much Prosecco and wine towards the end that I didn't pay as much attention as I should have! My favourite course was the butternut squash and sage ravioli with walnut butter, whilst I think my other half probably enjoyed the fennel porchetta most (plus the extra helping we got from the waiter!). I should also mention that the evening was accompanied by live music by an Italian guitarist and a local saxophonist/flautist, which made for a lovely atmosphere - we could almost have been in Italy, almost.



The other big news is that one of my best friends is tying the knot tomorrow, and the anticipation leading up to the big day has been immense. I haven't been able to look at my Facebook newsfeed for months now without "#WEDDING" "#SOINLOVE" "#ENGAGEMENT" being on there somewhere, but I've got used to it now. I might even suffer wedding status withdrawals after this weekend! Last weekend was the hen do. Having stated initially that it was not going to be in the least bit tacky, we ended up in feather boers, plastic pink crowns and matching bracelets drinking pitchers and singing kareoke at Tiger Tiger - it was a great night. Strange to just be with a big group of girls for a change. We didn't even drink very much - everyone was too busy dancing and having fun!

Which leads me to the wedding tomorrow. I am a "rainbow girl", which is a concept that my friend discovered somewhere on the internet I do believe whereby, rather than a fleet of the usual bridesmaids, you have a group of "rainbow girls". Each rainbow girl wears a different plain colour dress (the more similar in style, the better) and therefore the girls make up a rainbow of colours on the big day. I was designated "purple" from day one, as it is my favourite colour and makes up a large proportion of my wardrobe anyway! I am in charge of lacing the dress up on the bride in the morning, which I'm quite nervous about - wedding dresses are complicated and scary! But the whole thing is incredibly exciting. It is my first proper wedding as an adult where I am there out of the bridge or groom's choosing rather than just being family! I am taking the whole thing so seriously that I even ventured to the nail salon for the first time in my life this week, and now have beautiful, long, purple-painted Shellac nails which mean I have to call upon my boyfriend to help get my contact lenses out of my eyes.

So finally, here's to my beautiful bezzie and her husband-to-be. I think we all must try to get a good night's sleep tonight!




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