Food Review: El Capo

Food Review: El Capo

February is the month me and The Bloke celebrate our 6th (unmarried) anniversary as well as Valentine’s day so we agreed to take each other to our favourite places for a meal. At the start of the month The Bloke chose Pizza Express near King Street and for the end of the month I chose El Capo on Tariff Street in the Northern Quarter.

Late afternoon

el capo manchester

Early evening

El Capo Manchester

The decor is quirky and tongue in cheek, industrial, yet cozy. I thought the fresh lilies on the tables where a lovely touch – although my Dad would have disagreed as he’s allergic to them! I wish they had an air hockey table rather than foosball but I s’pose the chance of little disks shooting across the room at head level is a bit risky. The list of cocktails on offer are extensive and very creative so I asked the bar girl what she recommended. After hearing I like rum she made a traditional daiquiri that was so strong and more on the tart rather than sweet side, it was incredibly more-ish. We arrived at around 4.30pm and stayed in the bar until around 7.30pm and then went to their canteena for some authentic Latino street food with a twist.

El Capo Manchester

El Capo Manchester

El Capo

Now because this was a treat and I wasn’t there for review purposes I didn’t take a picture of the almojabanas: Puerto rican cheese and chilli fritters I had for starters but as you can see from the big smile on my face they were delicious!

El Capo Manchester

For my main I chose enchiladas filled with Surinamese vegetables. After reading the menu several times I’m still not sure what the difference is between a fajita, enchiladas and burrito’s apart from the shape of the bread!? My main tasted great but I kinda wished I’d ordered a chimichanga (a fried burrito) instead. I ordered a side of refried beans which had a rich, earthy flavour and were far too filling for a side so I asked for a doggy bag.

El Capo Manchester

The Bloke was braver than I and ordered xocolate chilli: Kidney beans, roasted cassava, squash, finished with 70% Nicaraguan chocolate sauce with fat rice. “OMG! Wow! That is…wow!” were my words upon trying a spoon full. The flavour was so rich but perfectly balanced so no ingredient was overwhelming. I need to order this as a side next time. You know a place is great when you are already planning what to order on your next visit over desert. I chose coconut ice cream (a rather tame choice considering they had tequila sorbet and purple potato flavours) which tasted amazing with some of The Blokes chocolate chilli sauce. The service was impeccable with really friendly staff who knew just when to appear at our table. I have to mention the tiny frying pans our starters were served in which were so cute.

For vegetarians I would rate this place 3 half/5, for carnivores I’d rate it 5/5.

Overall, El Capo bar and canteena gets 5/5 from me!

Beauty Review: Insta Natural Retinol Moisturiser

Beauty Review: Insta Natural Retinol Moisturiser

You only have to listen to skincare adverts on the telly or flip through a magazine to come across ‘retinol’ these days, but what is it? Put simply it’s a form of vitamin A which is essential for healthy skin. It reduces pore size, helps with acne and makes skin appear more youthful by supporting cell structure and evening out dark patches. This is why it’s so widely recommended by dermatologists. So when Insta Natural asked me to test their Advanced Action Retinol Moisturiser ( $24.75 or £19.95 for 100ml) I jumped at the chance.

Retinol moisturiser

 

Key ingredients

2.5% Retinol (supports the skin)
Vitamin C (supports the skin and adds radiance)
Hyaluronic Acid (draws moisture to the skin)
Jojoba Oil (moisturises)
Shea Butter (moisturises)
Green Tea (sooths)

Information

Dermatologists advise people to always use sunscreen along with products containing retinol. People with sensitive skin should only use this product at night. The skin repairs it’s self mostly at night anyway, so I’ve been using this as my night cream. Only a pea sized amount patted onto skin is needed.

All ingrediants:

Organic Aloe Vera, Organic Sunflower Oil, Retinol, Palm Oil, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid, Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate), Botanical Hyaluronic Acid, Organic Jojoba Oil, Kosher Vegetable Glycerin, Shea Butter, Wildcrafted Green Tea, Wildcrafted Propolis, Vitamin E (d-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate), Vitamin B5 (Panthenol), Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexyl Glycerin, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid

First impressions

Retinol is sensitive to light and air so I was pleased to see the packaging is dense plastic with a pump, which delivers the perfect amount with each press. As this moisturiser contains Jojoba Oil and Shea Butter I was expecting it to be really thick and oily but my skin drank it up immediately. I was able to apply my usual foundation over the top (along with a light sunscreen on a bright winters day) and it stayed put without looking cakey or sliding off throughout the day.

My skin type

Combination: Oily, blemished, redness on Tzone but dull and slightly dry on cheeks and chin.

Long term effects

I can’t comment on the effect this product has on fine lines as I don’t have any, just deep expression, er furrows. I’ve been using this product every night for 9 days but already the surface of my skin looks more even (ha, take that acne scarring!), my nose and cheeks don’t look as flushed in the mornings and I haven’t had my usual evening oilyness on my Tzone, so no spots appearing overnight. My skin looks so healthy, I’ve not used any foundation for six days. This is the perfect night cream I’ve been searching for, for many months! If you have dry skin however, I’m not sure if this would be moisturising enough to use in the evening.

Dries out oil while moisturising the skin perfectly. Evens skin tone. Boosts radiance.

Note: Applying large amounts of creams containing retinol to the body (to reduce stretch marks etc) is not recommended for pregnant or breast feeding women by Dr’s.

This product was sent to me free for review purposes. This does not affect my opinion of the product.

Chrissie xx

My #Shelfie

My #Shelfie

 

Always nice to have a little nosey at other peoples things, when you are bored, right? These are the shelves where nice things go that don’t fit anywhere else.

THE BEAUTIFUL SHELF

THE PRETTY SHELF

Fossils, semi precious stones, rocks and shells. I also love all things, sparkly that the light will shine through. Oh, and a Peruvian clay pipe.

THE GEEK SHELF

THE GEEK SHELF

My cyber punk troll doll who’s been my lucky mascot since I was 13, vintage ‘toy’ car collection from the 60’s & 70’s, Marv from Sin City figure, Subaru Impreza, Jack Daniels Miniature, biker chick Bratz Doll. I need to buy The Crow and Loki to keep her company as Marv seems a bit hostile.

THE BOOK SHELF

THE BOOK SHELF

True Blood series by Charlaine Harris (novel), Devil In A Blue Dress by Walter Mosley (novel), Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (novel), The Time Travellers Wife by Audrey Niffenger (novel), A Girl Called Madonna (cartoon), Fruits (Japanese Alt Fashion), The Hungry Student Cook Book by Charlotte Pike, The Higher Taste veggie Buddhism cook book, A Breif History Of Album Covers by Jason Draper, Jimi Hendrix Talking, Scar Tissue Anthony Kiedis autobiography with Larry Sloman, Eric Clapton autobiography, Jimi Hendrix The Man, The Magic, The Truth by Sharon Lawrence, Empire Film Guide, Film Noir  by Alain Silver, James Ursini and Paul Duncan, Cinema 1894 – 2002, Festival Annual 11 (in which one of my photographs of a giant wicker fox band from The Beat Herder Festival is featured), Mythology by Arthur Cotterell, Wonders Of The Solar System, The Crow (graphic novel) by J. O’Barr, The Far Side Gallery by Garry Larson (one panel cartoons), The Prehistory Of The Far Side by Garry Larson, Sin City official film book.

Infinitely more interesting than three selfies of me, in my opinion ^_^

What’s on your shelfie lovelies?

Chrissie xx

Cat Eye Glasses Mug

Cat eye glasses mug
I’m getting board of random things with moustaches on – probably because I don’t have one. I do however, have glasses that look exactly like these!
Chrissie xx
10 Reasons Why Manchester Is Ace!

10 Reasons Why Manchester Is Ace!

I’m a proud Mancunian, I have a Manc accent and I’ve lived in Manchester all of my life. I have travelled to other fantastic places in the UK but I’m always happy to return to Manchester, my home.

1. The spirit of the people. Mancunian’s are pretty friendly in general. OK, maybe not in the midst of rush hour but we do chat to each other, even strangers chat to each other. This is perfectly normal.

2. It’s layout. People think of Manchester as having mundane rows of terrace houses and although this is true for many parts, there are plenty of winding narrow streets, tunnels, pretty squares and street-art to discover. As I said, I’ve lived here all of my life and I’m still finding hidden parts of the city, even right in the centre!

3. You never get bored. From the tranquility of Manchester’s parks to busy weekly markets. From well known high-street brands to independant quirky shops. From food wholesalers open to the public to little vegetarian deli’s. From cozy pubs with real open fires to trendy bars creating the most unusual cocktails. Many kinds of theatre productions, galleries and the vast Manchester museum – complete with Egyptian mummies, there is something to suit everyone.

4. It’s so culturally diverse. With Southern and Northern Asian, African, Jamaican and Polish influences. Worldwide food and fashion is only a bus ride away, at most.

5. The weather. It’s not grim. We have seasons, this is a good thing, a thing to be looked forward to! You literally never know what the days weather is going to be like, from one hour to the next sometimes. Okay, this can mean a well planned outfit is now totally inappropriate to someone unaccustomed but to a Manc this is an opportunity for layering and accessorising!

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6. Us Manc women really know how to make a night of it. It’s Saturday, you’ve gone shopping for something to wear, most likely with a mate and made a day of it. You are meeting up with friends – not in a bar but around at one of your houses. There is drinking to be done, outfits to be created, hair to be styled, taxis to be booked all to the sound of your ‘girls night out’ playlist. I love how this is a little pre-party ritual all of it’s own. The night out usually starts in that bar or pub that everyone is familiar with, then the other bars, then the club or big bar where there is a dance floor, wether you are actually planning on dancing or not. Lastly the takeaway. I love how in Manchester thirty minute friends are made over pizza and kebabs.

7. The traditional charm of the city is always evident. Where I live there are cobbled streets with old fashioned street lamps (the kind you could tie a skipping rope to the cross bar a swing around) and in the centre there are beautiful listed buildings which have been respectfully re-purposed. Ginnels  (walk throughs) with their original names artistically displayed in iron are still frequently used and old railway arches are home to various bars, galleries and shops.

8. The transport system. I know this isn’t necessarily going to be a popular one, what with trains getting delayed for up to 60 minutes and the same buses being late and then all arriving at once but there are four  different options of transport: Trams, trains, buses and free city centre bus shuttles. Being a non driver I’m glad the bus routes branch out across the city in a spider web pattern and turn up around every twenty minutes, rather than one every hour (apart from little shopper buses) or one a day.

9. Everything is on hand, all of the time. Have a craving for a curry at 1.00am? Then walk down The Curry Mile. Fancy going to a late night showing of a newly released film when there’s no que and freedom to choose your seats? You have a huge choice of cinemas. Need to do some last minute shopping after working over time? Then head to the Arndale or The trafford Centre. Fancy meeting friends for some food and late night bowling? You can visit Dogbowl.

10.  The cities history of famous people is seriously impressive.

Notable people in society from Manchester include:

Alan Turing invented the computer and then went on to create the code breaking machines used in World War 2.

Emmeline Pankhurst (from Whalley Range) was a political activist and leader of the Suffragette movement, which secured women the right to vote.

James Prescott Joule ran a laboratory at his father’s home, in Whalley Range. He formulated a theory of heat dynamics – that heat is produced when force is applied. He identified constants which were scientifically immutable and dependable, and determining the unit of energy, which is now named after him – the “joule” (excerpt from manchester2002-uk.com).

George Stephenson an English civil engineer and mechanical engineer who built the first public inter-city railway line in the world to use steam locomotives, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway.

Notable bands from Manchester include:

The Stone Roses, The Charlatans, The Happy Monday’s, Joy Division, New Order, James and The Smiths.

Any reasons why you think Manchester is ace, that I’ve missed?

Chrissie xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beauty Review: Well, Aloe There

Beauty Review: Well, Aloe There

Forever Living is a company which gets the best out of Aloe Vera gel in so many ways – including fitness, beauty, home and pet care products – it would take me a very long time to sample them all. For this reason, I’ve chosen to stick with the skin care and wellness side.

Forever Bright Tooth Gel

Cruelty free toothpaste

You’ve cleaned your teeth and soon after you take a welcome swig from your first brew of the morning – which tastes of toothpaste – urgh! I hate it when this happens so I’ve been trying to find a solution for a while. I’ve tried fennel toothpaste and hated the taste but the natural spearmint and peppermint flavour here is so subtle I barley noticed it. It foamed up like a regular tooth paste and made my breath fresh and my teeth looked brighter. My following cuppa tea tasted great as well.

Aloe Moisturising Lotion

Aloe Moisturiser

I’ve known for a while that the best thing to apply to sensitive or combination skin is aloe moisturiser. This version is light, hydrating, soothing and contains collagen and elastin to smooth and balance the skins PH levels. As this works well under makeup, it’s the perfect everyday moisturiser.

Aloe Propolis Cream

Aloe and Propolis moisturiser

Propolis is the sticky glue that bees use to fill any gaps or broken parts of the hive. It also happens to have incredible healing properties when applied to the skin, which means it’s used to treat skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and even burns. The first thing I noticed about the cream was it’s sweet pleasant scent and the second was how thick it is. I’ve been suffering from chilblains which have left the skin on my fingers sore, damaged and dry. I applied a pea sized amount of the cream to my fingers twice a day for five days and my skin is now back to normal.

Aloe – Jojoba Shampoo

Aloe shampoo

I’ll admit I was sceptical about how effective this would be on my dry coarse hair but I needn’t have worried. A small amount of this shampoo was even more moisturising than my usual coconut shampoo, making my hair soft and manageable. I need to get more of this, quickly!

Aloe – Jojoba Conditioning Rinse

Aloe Hair Conditioner

Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know my hair needs a lot of conditioning, so as I only had a sample sized amount of conditioner, I tested it on the driest part of my hair, the front. I took my regular conditioner into the shower incase but this did the job perfectly. Apparently this conditioner ‘removes build up of electrostatic charges’ and ‘protects the hair from the effects of excessive blow-drying’. I honestly have to say my hair behaved in a calmer, more manageable manner after I’d used the hairdryer on my roots.

Aloe Heat Lotion

Due to my nerves struggling to automatically control my muscles when I’m sitting and standing, I often get back and shoulder ache, as soon as I stop paying attention to my posture. Just call me Miss Slumpy. My electric blanket over my seat sorts this out when I’m at The Blokes but at my parents it’s another, rather achy matter. This works exactly like Deep Heat (even the scent is similar) but without all of the chemicals. This heats up upon application and stays warm for a long time. This was massaged into my skin but applied fairly quickly. I then wrapped myself up in an old sweatshirt and a scarf and was able to completely relax for the rest of the evening. Quite a relief! Due to the strong smell of this product, do not use this if you are going out later and always wear something that you can machine wash afterward.

Aloe Vera Jelly

Aloe Vera Gelly

Waxing, prickly heat, laser hair removal and sun burn. No problem if you have a tube of this handy! I used it on my freshly waxed legs which were hot and stinging as if someone had just given them a good slap. The relief to my skin was instant as the gelly soothed and cooled. This is one of those products that you should always have in your medicine cupboard or even in your handbag, come summer.

It appears that most of my skins requirements can be met with Aloe Vera! It’s so handy that there is one place where I can get pretty much everything I could need all at once, rather than schleping around lots of different shops and websites.

Which products do you like the sound of?

Chrissie xx

Wheat & Dairy Free Snack Review: Geo Bars

Wether food intolerances are becoming more common or we’ve simply become more attuned to how our bodies react to certain foods, more and more of us are cutting out dairy and wheat/gluten. Even if we aren’t the greatest of cooks it’s far easier to create an evening meal than it is to quickly find a suitable snack, even in a massive supermarket. This is why I was pleased when I got asked to review Geo bars.

dairy wheat free from Geo bars

Geo bars (£2.60 for a 3 pack) are available in two types, Fruity and Trail (a natural energy bar) and are made from fruit, veg, gluten free oats (not suitable for people who are allergic to the protein avenin), nuts and soy protein. Each bar contains one fruit/veg of your five a day. All bars in the range are certified Fair Trade, which makes my conscience as well as my tummy very happy.

Banana and Walnut Trail

I know this is meant to be a trail bar but they are so tasty I ate one as desert after my evening meal. No wonder I was still full of energy at 10.00pm! The banana adds the perfect amount of softness with an added touch of crunch from the walnuts.

Cocoa Crunch Trail Bar

The cocoa flavour isn’t too sweet or too bitter either, which is perfect if you are grabbing this for a quick lunch or if you are flagging on a hike. The bar is so dense I wish it was more moist and not as dry. I found it a little hard going and had to drink a small glass of water with it.

Carrot and Stem Ginger

I found the stem ginger in this bar to be really strong which I thought overwhelmed the carrot but my mum thought it wasn’t strong enough. Okay then?! Even though this is classed as a fruit bar I found it to be as dense and dry as the trail bar, which I was a little disappointed with.

Cocoa and Beetroot

The beetroot adds a lovely sweetness to the cocoa but the predominant flavour is cocoa. I liked the texture of this bar and I’d definitely keep one in my bag for times when I feel my blood sugar is getting low and I need a quick free-from snack.

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I’m really glad I’ve discovered this range of bars and I can’t wait to see them in my local (large) Tesco. These would also be perfect for vegans and certain coeliacs.