I’ve been having a lot of fun discovering the best places to shop and eat this month … here are my top five foodie picks of places to go in the North East:
Living North Christmas Fair
Four days of Christmas shopping heaven at Newcastle Racecourse, the venue was packed with row upon row of stalls selling the kind of unique gifts you can only get from little artisan businesses. I had a lot of winter birthday presents to get, as well as wanting to make a start on my Christmas shopping, and I came home laden with loveliness.
There’s also an extensive food and drink tent, showcasing small regional businesses offering everything from sloe gin to artisan breads, specialty teas and flavoured marshmallows. You could try little samples of everything too – funnily enough we seemed to hang around the gin stalls quite a lot.
The Living North Christmas fair pops up in Newcastle and York every November – you can catch it this weekend at York Racecourse 12-15 November.
Buddha Lounge, Tynemouth
Delicious cocktails, dramatic interiors and the best kind of Asian cooking – it’s no wonder you have to fight for a table here at the weekend!
My friend and I dropped in during the week to see what all the fuss was about and we were greeted with warm service and so much good food that we found it hard to leave.
The evening kicked off with cocktails. A bespoke mango-based mocktail for my friend and the Bamboo Smash for me. This was a kind of Asian take on the Mohito, muddling the usual rum, mint and sugar syrup with mandarin and kumquat. We then shared a mixture of starters and mains – the highlights being the chilli salt squid, pork and cabbage dumplings and Thai green curry. Mega spicy though so I *had* to order a chilly Chang Thai beer to cool off.
Buddha Lounge, Front Street, Tynemouth
Disclosure: We were guests of the Buddha Lounge
Long Play Cafe, Quayside
Those of you old enough to remember playing your music on vinyl will instantly understand the appeal of this effortlessly cool quayside cafe in Newcastle. Relaxed sofas, great music and their special Cushty Corner where you can bagsy the sofa then leaf through the record collection and play any disc that takes your fancy.
I got a bit misty eyed spotting some familiar 7 inch 80s classics from my childhood record collection – Billy Ocean and vintage Madonna anyone?!
In my opinion they make the best Flat Whites in town and their lunch offerings are pretty darned tasty too with a variety of toasted sandwiches. I opted for crispy bacon and swiss cheese – delish.
Long Play Cafe, 48-52 Sandhill, Newcastle
Fenwick’s Food Hall
When I feel like i’m missing London, I head to Fenwick’s newly refurbished food hall on my lunch break. Its super stunning light and bright interiors instantly have a calming effect, and I kind of go into a weird foodie trance as I take in all the little niche and highly expensive products. It’s nourishing.
I took my Mum and husband there when they came into town to meet me one lunchtime and we had a tasty light lunch from the artisan bakery cafe. I’ve still got to try Terry Leybourne’s Fuego Mediterranean wine bar and restaurant, plus The Wine Shop and all the counters need a thorough investigation. It’s a proper foodie destination.
Fenwick’s Food Hall, Fenwick’s, Northumberland Street, Newcastle
Newcastle’s latest addition on the gin scene, and I’m sure you don’t need me tell you that’s a scene that’s exploding right now! We enjoyed English Country Garden G&Ts which had elderflower cordial and lemon in – a flavour combo I love, as you get a divine sweet and floral edge to the usual tang.
Their food offering is pretty awesome too. It’s a sharing kind of vibe with tasty morsels like nachos with shredded beef and blue cheese sauce, cocktail sausages cooked in honey and sesame seeds, and crab and lobster sliders. It was hard to nail down what we were going to order so I definitely want to go back so I can try everything else. Their on-site gin distillery opens early 2016, meanwhile the Newcastle Gin is being produced in Durham, but I’m looking forward to seeing it in action when it’s up and running.
Bealim House, 17-25 Gallowgate, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4SG