Sunday, 1 January 2012

My amazing 2011

2011 has been a funny old year; one I'll never forget.

It began with me on garden leave after being made redundant from a job I loved. I'd been there for seven and a half years and I didn't just feel part of the team, I felt part of the furniture. It had been a relatively amicable affair and I still keep in touch with my boss, but it had still been a real kick in the teeth all the same.

So, times were not easy, but I was keen to get on with things. Yes, I allowed myself a couple of weeks to fester, but that was it. I had three months of garden leave to get through before I could get another job and I was conscious that was probably long enough for me to settle into some deep dark depression.

I read various articles on the net, seeking advice on how to cope with redundancy. Taking some of it on board, I made sure I had something to do every day, that I got up and out of bed when my husband left for work and that I wasn't sat about watching day time tv.

My employer had paid for a degree conversion course before I left and this made sure I had plenty of assignments and study weekends ahead. I also signed up for some voluntary work, giving advice at Castle Advice Centre, but I wanted something new and exciting to sink my teeth into. I wanted to make sure that my garden leave wasn't wasted and that something good would come out of it.

So I set myself the task of starting a blog. At first I didn't know what I wanted to write about. I had initially thought I'd write about coping with redundancy, but once my initial festering period was over, I'd started to enjoy my time off. I also knew that we were going to be ok financially (of course, I needed to find another job, but I knew we weren’t looking at losing our home) so it didn't feel right for me to attempt to share the woes of others. The next most obvious choice was food. I'd always enjoyed cooking and eating out so it was something that would hold my interest.

Of course, having my days to myself meant that I had time to cook and, more importantly, time to shop. I discovered Castle Market and the unusual ingredients I found down there, including offal. Not only does this meat generally take longer to cook than other cuts of meat, offal gave me something to research and to experiment with. It also gave me something to write about.

Thankfully I was only unemployed for one month (which meant I only had to visit the job centre 2 or 3 times) and I soon found myself a part time position in Huddersfield. I only stayed there for 6 months. It just wasn’t right for me and I left for a full time job at a large firm in Sheffield. This does mean that I don't have the time to cook as much as I used to but I've still kept the blog going.

So, it’s all been a bit weird work wise, but, thanks to this blog, I have still had an amazing year. It’s lead to so many new and exciting opportunities and, in a peculiar way, the massive kick in the teeth of redundancy has actually given me the confidence to throw myself at new things and place myself well and truly out of my comfort zone.

These are my (mostly) highlights of the year. I’m not going to go into too much detail here as it's all been blogged before. You’ll gather from the tone of the last few paragraphs that there will be some personal notes in the round up of my year... so here goes!

I was very excited when I met with Exposed and learnt that they were looking for someone to write a food blog for them. Of course, I jumped at the chance.

It’s helped get my name out there, especially as I’ve managed to get a few articles in the magazine too and it's been a great way in to meet new people and attend different events. I've been bee-keeping with Sheffield Honey, to a cupcake and cocktail event with Fancie and The Wig & Pen, had tours around the Moss Valley farm and the Our Cow Molly farm, baked cakes with Lorna of Heavenlies, had a tour around Tai Sun, had a cookery class with The Milestone and been to a dinner shuffle with Spice Yorkshire, amongst many others.

It’s hard work keeping two blogs going at once, but I’m determined to stick at it!

Trip to Paris

One thing I wanted to do with some of my redundancy pay out was have a break away. I didn't want to blow the lot, but I did want a short break somewhere. So when the opportunity to go to Paris arose I didn’t need asking twice.

It was a lovely foodie break as I ate stupendously well (as detailed in my blogpost here) and I met David Downie for a coffee! I'd raved about his 'Food, Wine, Rome' and 'Cooking the Roman Way' and David got in touch to say thanks. A few emails later and we were meeting up for a coffee in Paris!

The Perfect Carbonara

The worst carbonara (ever)
Many won't understand why a carbonara would please me so much. All I can say is that until you've eaten a truly Roman carbonara, you'll never understand. I had a truly appalling attempt at a gastronomic version of this dish here so I was over the moon to finally find Zerboni Taste and the perfect pasta dish. It’s easily the best (probably only) place for genuine Roman food in Sheffield.

I completed the GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law) in June. It was something that I really struggled with at first. Motivation was lacking as I wasn't entirely sure I'd be able to find another job in law at the time. Having said that I stuck it through and I'm glad I completed it (and did rather well too) even though I have no current plans to go on and do the LPC (due to lack of funding). So, after many years of studying and working I am a qualified Legal Executive (essentially a solicitor without the grand title/pay packet) and that is where I will stay.

After a rather stressful week of law exams, I was able to celebrate with a trip to see a couple of friends down in London. Gav came with me and we had a great time; it was lovely to see our friends and spend some time catching up. Just as importantly we managed to eat well too! Lunches at Cambden market and down Brick Lane, sweet snacks at Chin Chin Labs and dinners at The Forge and Canteen was enough to keep my taste buds happy; it was just a shame that Fergus Henderson’s Bread and Wine couldn’t squeeze us in. Oh well… there is always next time.

I had intended on blogging the whole trip, but something or other came up and I never got any further than part one, which is here. Unfortunately I’ve now completely forgotten what I ate and there isn’t much chance of me getting part two blogged any time soon. Hopefully I will be more organised when we next head down to the big smoke!

Das Boot
Ok, my trip on a narrow boat shouldn't really be compared to some epic war film but, Jesus Christ, it was the worst holiday of my life. 7 days in very close (and grubby/uncomfortable) confinements with my family was far too much to bear. 'Cruising' for 10 hours plus a day crushed my dreams of relaxing pub lunches and boozy afternoons. Instead it was a week of grumpiness and locks. Lock after lock after lock. My God. Some days we had 25 locks and each was met with a crash as nobody could drive the damn thing properly.

Never. Ever. Again.

I was giddy about the food festival; unnaturally so. I planned and shared an itinerary before the week started and then I went crazy trying to cram everything into the time and budget I had. It was a great week and it was lovely to see so many people in the food industry working with the community to create a real buzz for the city.
I was shattered by the end of it as I blogged a lot of it for Exposed too. Needless to say, I’m already looking forward to Sheffield Food Festival 2012. Bring it on!

Anniversary Meal at Anthony's

This is the most acclaimed British restaurant I have ever eaten at and although our anniversary meal wasn't our first meal there, we'd never tried the tasting menu. It was, as expected, amazing. Of course I blogged about it (see here).

New Name and Logo
I never liked the name Live To Love To Eat; it was a means to an end. I feared that I would procrastinate at setting up the blog if I dwelled too much on the name.

Feast And Glory was created in a brain storming session with a friend over a bottle (or two) of wine. I wanted something related to food (obviously) and the idea of sharing (feasting). I didn’t want to focus solely on Sheffield (although the majority of this blog is about Sheffield), but I was keen to give a British feel to it (Land of Hope and Glory?).

Once I had the name sorted, I knew I needed a new logo. Two year old pictures of a skinnier me were not going to cut it any longer and I wanted to make both my blog and twitter profile look more professional. Knowing Cindy Cheung (a designer and fellow food blogger) through Twitter I knew that she was the ideal person to help. She took on board my ideas, added some of her own and came up with these beauties!


Eat Sheffield Awards
This must have been the biggest food event of the year in Sheffield, so I was honoured to get an invite. It was a great opportunity to meet some people in the media world (as I was sat at the ‘media table’) and of course it was lovely to hear the awards being announced first hand. My full write up of the event is here.

Sheffield’s food scene
Sheffield doesn’t have the best of reputations for food but I do honestly think it is growing. Not only do we have some fantastic producers in this great city, eating out is on the way up. Over the past year I’ve had good meals at The Milestone & The Wig and Pen, the Devonshire Arms and, of course, the Samuel Fox. With Barretts and Kitchen also receiving much praise over the past year the restaurant scene is rather exciting at the moment.

For more informal dining there’s The Great Gatsby, The Wick at Both Ends and the Rutland Arms offering bar/pub eats in town and I’ve enjoyed meals at each of these over the past year. The number of Chinese restaurants has exploded recently too. The new Orient Express, Mandar Inn and the recently expanded Harmony all aim to feed the huge influx of Chinese students that come to our city every year. This is excellent news for us locals as the food is good and, as aimed at students, cheap.

In other food news Gusto Italiano has moved to Norfolk Row and now sports a tasty
A la carte menu; good coffee has landed, thanks to Tamper Coffee and the Bradfield Farmers market has had a very successful first year.

* * *

An eventful year, I’m sure you’ll agree and this little lot is just scratching the surface! There was the PJ Taste ‘Taste of Christmas’ event, the Tamper Coffee evening, my first trip to a Supper Club and various trips to Bradfield, Nether Edge and Sheffield Farmers markets. I also discovered the power of the smart phone which means I tweet constantly and bore others with pictures of almost everything I eat.

Without wanting to sound cheesy I must say that the best thing about this year was meeting so many different people. From Sheffield food producers, to chefs and restaurateurs it's been lovely meeting so many in the food industry. I've also had the opportunity to meet many other food lovers and bloggers. If you haven't read the blogs by Ros, Anna or Komal then you really should. They're as enthusiastic about food in Sheffield as I am and are lovely people too. Ros and I have become good friends and we're currently working on a food project together, which is rather exciting. I won't go into too much now, but all will become clear soon.

After such an amazing year, my main new year resolution is to make sure that 2012 is even more amazing. As for my other resolutions... watch this space!

Happy New Year everyone. Thanks for reading.


  1. A great summing up of 2011. Looking forward to more food adventures together this year!

  2. Really enjoyed your tweets and blog posts in 2011. Keep them coming in 2012!

  3. Just wanted to say that I read this and felt inspired! I was made redundant just before christmas and was in the doldrums but this post really helped. Thank you! I look forward to reading more of your blog posts this year.

  4. Oh Correen I am sorry to hear that. I hope you won't be out of work for long, but in the meantime, do make the most of it. Let's make 2012 the best year yet!

  5. Enjoyed reading your blog - here's to 2012!

  6. You have shattered my illusions of narrow boating. I imagined it to be a romantic trip sailing along the sparkling waterways of GB, a mug of hot tea in hand and a flower in my hair. Ah, well.

    Thanks for sharing your Sheffield food experiences, it is nice to know what is going on in our home town.

  7. Thanks Frankie! Lots more blogging to come I am sure!

    Natalie, please don't let me fully put you off, just make sure you take the trip nice and easy. A max of 4 hours cruising time a day would be grand.