Zouk Lounge, Wolverton a review against all the odds

Food fashions, like most types of fashion in this country, usually come to life in London and are incomprehensible to me. I despise the ‘clean eating’ epidemic for it’s miss-information message wrapped up in a so-called healthy lifestyle (that is usually anything but) and for similar reasons that I will not wear low riding jeans or anything that has been pre-ripped before I buy it. But there are some fashions that do catch my attention and the paired back focus of less ingredients, more flavour approach of Turkish cooking is one. The Zouk Lounge is one of the four Turkish restaurants that have opened in Milton Keynes over the past year or so and with family living in Istanbul I feel qualified in providing you with a mildly insulting, colonially British judgment of their food.

EDIT – the Zouk Lounge has got in touch and has asked me to clarify that they are a Lebanese restaurant and not Turkish. I stand corrected and will immediately research the difference between the two.

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Where are the best places to eat or drink in and around Milton Keynes?

Paris House's new 'blue' look

Spring 2018

‘Milton Keynes is full of chains’ they say. ‘There is nowhere good to eat!’ they say. Well, I say that it sucks to be them because while it’s true that there is an unfortunate glut of horrible, horrific and unnecessary chain restaurants here you just have to look a bit harder and you’ll find so many amazing people who are pulling out all the stops to get you the dinner you deserve. This is my list of the best independent options you’ve got in and around the area, these are places that I go to regularly and have rarely been disappointed at. If you don’t want to give your money to Chimichangas or any other cut and paste restaurant (and I wouldn’t blame you) then take a good look at some of these and join me in sticking it to the Man.

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Valentines day at The Hundred of Ashendon a review

The Gastro Pub Top 50 is a publication that I suggest you all take a closer look at. It details a list of establishments that you certainly have a better chance of enjoying than any Tripadvisor reference review you care to mention. Yes it’s utterly arbitrary, yes the winners are awarded by a hidden judging panel that is un-democratically appointed and almost certainly mostly comprised of members of the white middle-class male persuasion. And yes, it will have missed plenty of worthy contenders but when you are looking around for an independent British pub dinner, it’s still as good a sure thing as you are likely to get so my advice is to get it learned.

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Chocolate Dreams of Out of Office Coffee and Cocoa Runners: A Mrs P. and The Child takeover

Shivering, I walked out of a biting sub-zero winter night, seeking shelter in a bright and warm coffee shop. Welcomed by smiles, a hot drink and piles of different chocolates laid out over all the tables I might well be in a favourite dream. But no, better than a dream, Mr P has been called away on business and I have skilfully talked myself into taking his place on the latest tasting event that Out of Office Coffee have to offer. #awesomes! You might well remember Rob’s favourable introduction to Out of Office Coffee, but since opening they have quickly become a favourite midday hang out for Mr P. They take getting a decent cup of coffee (or tea) very seriously and their passion for top quality products shines through. As such, they have a range of premium, single origin, craft chocolate to tempt you and tonight ladies and gentlemen, in the latest round of their evening events, I was to be spoilt by getting to try them all in a chocolate tasting extravaganza hosted by Spencer from artisan chocolate supplier Cocoa Runners!

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A review of Rocksalt Rooms and an unwanted introduction to Brian’s shaved testicals

When you travel for work as much as I do, you get used to a specific type of hotel room. It’s not the Ned, the Grosvenor or even the Fairmont. It’s a Travelodge, Premier / Holiday Inn or Best Western if you get lucky with the booking (although I have stayed in some properly dodge Best Western’s in my time, the one in Tiverton particularly stands out for all the wrong reasons – and the time I suffered through three days there is another, very specific, story). So it’s rare that I come across the odd one that I walk through the door and immediately call Mrs P. to say that I’ve found a cracker. But that’s what happened when I got to the Rocksalt Rooms and it always means we’ve got something special .

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A surprising request to review Jamie’s Italian, Covent Garden.

In the past, I have had my fair share of issues with Jamie Oliver. I love his recipes, but despite multiple attempts, I’ve never managed to see the connection between the ethos behind his family orientated, ‘bish-bash-bosh throw it all on a board’ style of TV chef cookery and the over contrived wideboy-cockneyfied presentation of the restaurant chain. It all seems too trite. However, by virtue of me having this blog that you lot still seem to be reading (thanks very much!), they keep inviting me in to eat there and because I’m nothing if not universal in my acceptance of a free meal it was with the glorious abandon that only the promise of a free lunch can provide, that Mrs P and I strolled into Jamie’s Italian Covent Garden.

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A review of Tsumbay Sport wireless headphones. They may be terrible but I love them

I want to make sure that I don’t mislead anyone with this review. So I’ll take this opportunity to make it perfectly clear; I loved the Tsumbay headphones. Loved them. Despite the fact that I am a man known across the globe for my sarcasm, there is none of that here. Not even a trace of irony or even any trivial mockery, I promise. Just to underline the point once again in case anyone is confused: I think the Tsumbay wireless headphones are BRILLIANT.

However it must also be said that as functioning headphones they are also absolutely dreadful. At best they are not bad and at worst totally rubbish but I hope you’ll give me the opportunity to explain, there is so much more to them than these simple descriptions.

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The Great Wolverton Chili Cook Off, a spicy story of legendary proportions

It all started with a tweet from a good friend of mine called Mike. Having just eaten the phenomenal bacon chilli cheese burger from Sizzlers burger shack (if you haven’t had it yet, track them down and demand one immediately), he mentioned that the chilli was one of best he had ever tasted and he had tasted a lot of chilli. Other people chipped in and it soon became clear that everyone had their own version and the best kind of chilli was one that was shared. Before long it was confirmed; Saturday the 27th of January was the date of the first Wolverton Chili Cook off. Bring your best chilli and complete to claim your place as the best in town. With the added incentive of a separate hot wings contest, I just had to attend. I dug out my favourite recipe, made up a batch and went to see what was going on…

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Breddos, Kingly Street – London. A review.

Every year the P. family make their way to London in order to enjoy the delights of the capital at Christmas.  My decision not to book dinner for our trip in 2016 almost ended in divorce but thankfully Le Bab was there to save the day. And having so extensively explored Carnaby Street and the surrounding area, thankfully our 2017 excursion held a lot less drama and we managed to walked into Breddos with smiles all round.

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A Christmas in France skiing with Santa is the best present you’ll ever get

What is it about a white Christmas? We seem obsessed about it in this country, ferociously reminiscing about ‘that year when I was a child, when Freddos only cost 10p and there was so much snow that the schools were closed for weeks’. It seems strange that our continental cousins don’t seem to suffer from such an affliction and we as a nation, seem almost too happy to chide them on their lack of gratitude for the daily snowball fights. Well more fool us because as the TwoMenAboutTown EU tour was conceived and implemented not long after I had agreed to spend Christmas away from home and with snow having been in very short supply this year after trips to the thermometer exploding heights of Croatia, it came as a very welcome contrast to the P. family.

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What to see and where to go in Rome, Florence, Pisa, Naples and Pompeii, the best parts of Italy?

Some people don’t like going to Italy. But then some people don’t like washing their hands after going to the toilet and we don’t trust them either do we? What’s wrong with Italy? Yes it’s full of Italian rantiness, yes it is difficult to get something done quickly and yes they do make you pay twice for train tickets (compulsory seat reservations that are not included in the ticket price? That makes no sense guys, just FYI). But it is also full of great wine, Roman architecture, art and fashion that’s so fashionable that if you understand it then you can’t afford it.

But I love Italy. A lot. I love the food, the culture, the language, the wome… the food and pretty much everything else. So making a list of all the places we needed an excuse to see and all the things we wanted to do on the next leg of our #TwoMenEUTour wasn’t hard but fitting them all in to the few days we had was the tricky bit. But as you will see, we did our best! Unlike our previous trips to Brussels or Ireland, we took a bit more time in Italy traveling down on the overnight train from Vienna in Austria to Florence, then on to Pisa, down to Rome, over to Pompeii and then back to Rome to fly home.

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Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones Review

Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones

Whether it’s crushed inside a packed commuter train or twiddling our thumbs onboard an airliner at 35,000ft, we do a lot of traveling here at TwoMenAboutTown; my favourite pastime when commuting is getting lost in the world of my Spotify library, whether it’s the latest album from Stereophonics or the spectacularly funky vibes of Wham and George Michael. Don’t judge.

The main drawback of any portable audio, particularly in-ear headphones however is unwanted background noise, taking away from the experience of your favourite album or drowning it out altogether; the constant drone of an aircraft’s engine or the clattering of the Virgin Pendalino provide an unwelcome distraction. Consequently, I’ve been hunting high and low for some noise cancelling headphones for some time, with their electronic wizardry to eliminate white and secondary noise; Rob has just reviewed the Pioneer Rayz Plus in-ear headphones with mixed conclusions, but I really wanted something that would knock my socks off.

Enter Bose, recognised globally as the pioneer (yes, pioneer) in audio. The QuietComort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones were calling out to me in the Apple store upon collection of my shiny new iPhone X, so I splurged and prepared to take them with me on my trip to Abu Dhabi.

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