Food Blog: Vapiano Manchester Review

Ever since I went to Berlin, I've been dying to actually try Italian restaurant, Vapiano.

When we went to Berlin, there must have been some kind of issue with communication. Well, when I say 'must have', there definitely was. Having never been before and it being a new concept, we asked for some assistance and were met with very little help. The restaurant was so, so busy and there were people waiting for around 30minutes at the stations for pasta dishes... After waiting around and still not quite *getting* how it worked, we left. Which was a shame, as when people did get their food it looked AMAZING.

But Vapiano in Manchester? A different experience altogether.

Located in the hub of culinary wonderment known as the Corn Exchange, Vapiano is almost like a 'Subway for really posh people' (as I overheard it being described).

When you enter the restaurant you are handed a card. This card makes you feel proper Barry Big Time, as you just go up to the stations, order from the menu and they make your meal right in front of you. You swipe your card and it keeps a record of everything you've ordered and then you pay on the way out.

When you choose your carb of choice, the chef will ask if you want extra chili... more garlic... which pasta... and a range of other options. They then throw it in the pan and the magic happens. 

Despite being moderately busy, the time queuing and ordering probably took no more than 15minutes. Whilst my dining date for the evening went and got the pasta, I went and ordered a pizza to share. When you order a pizza they hand you a buzzer, so you can sit back at your table and go back to collect when the buzzer goes off. Once again, the waiting time was probably around 15minutes, but there wasn't a queue like over at the pasta stations.

 As you each have a card, there's no drama at the end about splitting the bill either. 

The food itself was delicious. I mean, you really cannot go wrong with pasta and pizza can you? The portion sizes are generous, so we went half and half and shared both main courses.

The flavours were fresh and everything was cooked to perfection - even down to the egg on the pizza.

Between two, the pizza and pasta combo was the perfect amount. It left us both just the 'right' amount of full. And when I say 'right' amount, I mean we actually had room for dessert...

Speaking of desserts, Vapiano have a range of desserts available from their Dulce counter. All prepared and ready to wash down with an Italian Latte. They're probably best to share really, as the portion sizes are a little big for such a rich dessert. (I know right, complaining about TOO much dessert - first world problems).

So in conclusion, once you know how Vapiano works, it's bloody wonderful. And I can confirm that the Manchester staff are MUCH more helpful than the staff we encountered in Berlin.

If you want a quick, delicious, fuss-free Italian meal then it's the perfect place to go. The food was quality from start to finish and the entire meal came to just shy of £50 for two - which included drinks and dessert.

Music Blog: Bloodstock Drink Pairing with Kraken Rum

Ah festival season, how I love you xoxox

Not only is it an awesome excuse to sit in a field on a sunny day and enjoy some bands, but it's also a great excuse to get a lil' bit squiffy on your favourite beverages.

As the previous Drinks Pairing posts have proven - there is a drink for every occasion and genre when it comes to festival music mixology.

One of the next festivals on my agenda is Bloodstock, and it was only natural that I enlisted the help of Kraken Rum to come up with an entire drinks menu for whole weekend. Kraken are going to be the life and soul of the fields at Bloodstock Festival, with their very own Freaky Tiki bar!

Of course, Bloodstock isn't for everyone. I mean....It's all a bit metal. But if you're a mini-mosher like me then you will bloody love it.

If you can't get to the Kraken Freaky Tiki bar at Bloodstock festival, here's a DIY twist on some of the drinks they may be serving up.

A post shared by Kraken Rum UK (@krakenrumuk) on

Cider: Poison Apple 

STEP 1 – Fill glass with cracked ice
STEP 2 – Add 20ml lemon juice
STEP 3 – Add 20ml ginger syrup
STEP 4 – Pour in 35ml Kraken
STEP 5 – Top with cider
STEP 6 – Add lime wedge

Festival Version

STEP 1 - Pop a generous measure of Kraken in to your plastic cup
STEP 2 - Throw in some Ginger Ale
STEP 3 -Add a dash of lime cordial
STEP 4 -Top with your favourite can of cider (which you definitely would have packed a 24pack of)
STEP 5 - Party.

Spritz: Ink Spritz 

STEP 1 – Add crushed ice to a large wine glass
STEP 2 – Add rhubarb soda until glass is 2/3 full
STEP 3 – Pour 35ml lillet
STEP 4 – Add 35ml of Kraken
STEP 5 – Add rhubarb stem and stir
STEP 6 – Add orange slice

Festival Version

STEP 1 - Grab your plastic wine glass
STEP 2 - Add some Rhubard Soda
STEP 3 - Add a splash of Martini Vermouth (I had to google Lillet cuz I thought it was a tampon)
STEP 4 - Throw in some Kraken!
STEP 5 - Down in one, or sip in the sun. It's up to you.

Punch: Octo-Punch

STEP 1 – Fill hurricane glass with ice
STEP 2 – Add 20ml lemon juice
STEP 3 - Add 20ml orange liqueur
STEP 4 – Add 35ml of Kraken
STEP 5 – Add cold black tea
STEP 5 - Stir
STEP 6 – Top with crushed ice
STEP 7 – Add lemon twist

Festival Version

STEP 1 - Grab that trusty plastic pint cup
STEP 2 - Splash in some Contreau
STEP 3 - A generous measure of Kraken
STEP 4 - Top up with lemon flavoured Lipton Iced Tea

Of course, all alcohol or drink that comes in a glass bottle you'll need to decant in to suitable bottles. As per every festival, ever.

These options certainly make a change from the endless cans of cider and lager, huh?

If you're not so metal and have no interest in Bloodstock as a festival, then you can at least admire that they have a stage dedicated to Sophie Lancaster. A girl who was brutally murdered for looking 'different' a few years ago. If you're a beauty fan, you will also notice that the make up brand Illamasqua sponsor a charity dedicated to her memory called 'The Sophie Lancaster Foundation'. The aim of both is to reduce hate crime and focus on respect and understanding of subcultures within society. You can read more about the foundation by clicking here.

Drink Blog: 3 Great Places for Gin Lovers

If you try and type 'Gin' in to your iPhone it autocorrects to 'fun' (well, it does on mine anyway) - and with good reason.

The drink that used to be deemed 'mother's ruin' back in the day, Gin has had some kind of a resurrection over the last few months. 

Why was Gin called Mother's Ruin?

According to Urban Dictionary:

''Gin. Specifically, the alcohol beverage of Gin was called mother's ruin because in the mid eighteenth century the effects of gin on the family and economy were disastrous. Considered the poor man's drink due to its affordability, gin drinking had started out as medicine but due to its easy availability, men became impotent while women became sterile causing the London birth rate to decline drastically. Also, drinking a pint of gin and having an extremely hot bath was recommended as a way to induce a miscarriage (not contraception) in 1950s Britain''


In Newcastle Under Lyme alone (a very small town in Staffordshire), we've seen about 5 Gin Bars pop up lately. And there's only something like 20 bars in the entire town in total!

So why has Gin made such a come back?

Well, for me it never went away.

When I was at uni my drink of choice was always Gin and Pink Lemonade. Which, by the way, is a great intro in to Gin drinking for those who claim to not like it yet.

If you have caught the gin-bug (more commonly known as a hangover), I've scouted out 3 must-visit places to get your next gin-hit.

Three Rivers Distillery, Manchester

I visited (and wrote a blog post about) the Three Rivers Distillery a few months ago.

Not only is Three Rivers Gin pretty damn tasty, with an excellent back story and narrative, but they also offer Gin Experiences. 

In their very own on-site Gin School, you can create your very own A* gin creation to take home.

Not only that, but you will also learn about the history of the brand, loads of nerdy info about Manchester itself and have a tour of the Distillery to boot. It doesn't come cheap, but it's worth it if you're a massive gin nerd.

Impossible Bar, Manchester

With the tagline 'We love gin more than Kanye loves Kanye' in block letter across the entrance, it's pretty clear that the theme of this new addition to the Manchester bar circuit really likes gin...

Not only do they like gin, but they also like their weird shit too. 

For example, from the food menu you can order Kangaroo Tacos and Alligator Burgers. I tried the kangaroo option, aptly named Skippy - it was good. 

Here's a picture:

kangaroo tacos impossible bar manchester

But I digress.

Back to the gin.

Upstairs in Impossible Bar, Manchester, there is the snuggly little Ginpossible bar. Which, as you guessed it, serves gin.

Not only do they have an abundance of gins to choose from (over 60 in total), which are surprisingly drinkable sans-mixer, but they also have frozen options too...

Yep, you can have your gin of choice instantly frozen and served in some kind of deconstructed cocktail format. 

The waiters know their shit too, so if you're unsure about gin and don't know where to start, just tell them what flavours you like and they'll recommend from memory - impressive.

Impossible also do regular cocktails and the like across the menus, so even if you're not a gin lover it's definitely worth a visit, if only for the food actually! 

Gin Festival, Nationwide

Before I went to the Gin Festival in Stoke, I must admit, I wasn't sold by the idea.

I mean, have you ever been a beer festival? If not, don't bother, they're boring.

A gin festival though? Good god.

Within an hour I was pretty uhm... 'happy' shall we say?

Not only do they have a variety of gins from around the world on the multiple bars, but they also have masterclasses and tasting sessions in other areas.

The Masterclasses tend to talk you through the history of the brand presenting and they explain the 'perfect serve' for their flavours. Followed by samples, of course.

You also get to take home your very own balloon glass (included in your entry fee) to enjoy a tipple or two at home as well.

Entry is only around £10 and you can see the upcoming locations by clicking here.

I'm sure there are many other places for gin lovers to visit, but these are three which I'd recommend... How about you? If you can't make it out of the house to get your gin fix, why not head to dealsdaddy and browse some voucher codes and offers on your favourite tipple?

Food Blog: Discovering the Perfect Sickly Sweet Coffee

at home starbucks white chocolate mochaLately I have had such a sweet tooth. It's very unlike me. Usually I opt for anything savoury... Crisps, nuts, crisps and more nuts are my snacks of choice and when it comes to drinks I favour water over juices.

Coffee seems to be the one thing that I do tend fluctuate with my sweetness preference though.

Sometimes I just crave a Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha and sometimes I'm alright with a flat white.

But the white mocha days seem to be on the rise, which is why accidentally discovering a sickly sweet alternative at home couldn't have come at a better time.

It started when I went sent a box of coffee from Rombouts. 

It contained a few different types of coffee, with not only the grounds for a cafetiere, but also handy one-cup filters which you literally just pour some water in.

This method instantly reminded me of the Vietnamese Coffee at Tampopo. This comes with a dollop of condensed milk in the bottom of the cup, and they pour filter coffee in the section they place on the top to filter in condensed milk below.

I bought a tin of condensed milk and off I went....

Let's face it... I probably got the measurements I little bit off... And I ended up with probably 1/3 condensed milk to 2/3 coffee.

But you know what? It actually worked out well because it tasted just like a White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks!

It's probably just as unhealthy as the Starbucks version to be honest...

But it certainly is a little bit healthier on the pocket. A Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha can set you back up to £4 a throw.

Condensed milk? Less than a quid a tin!

You can also pick up the Rombouts One-Cup Coffee Filters for around £2.99 for 10. Which definitely works out a lot better on your purse.

I'm going to be doing a few more coffee experiments with the rest of my box of coffee wonderment.

Any suggestions for some quirky, delicious combos?

About Hello Terri Lowe

A UK Lifestyle, Food, Beauty and Music Blog, based in Staffordshire, you can also expect to see reviews of places around the country. Often spotted Manchester or Birmingham at the weekends, you can expect to see a little bit of everything from festivals to food and everything in-between. When not blogging, you can find me having a nice sit down with my cats, Stevie and Kitty, or enjoying a fine cup of coffee. Don't forget to take a look at my 'about' page if you're interested in collaborating on any exciting opportunities!

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