Newcastle Eats - Zucchini Pasta Bar

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There's been a wee bit of a buzz about Newcastle newcomer Zucchini since it opened a few month ago. Normally, I'm not one to give into blogger hype, despite being one myself.  I tend to rely on word of mouth, or simple proximity to where I am, at the moment hunger strikes.  For Zucchini, I had to make an exception as it just looked too good to ignore.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

I dragged Kris for a blustery walk into Newcastle after work one Saturday, with the lure of all the pasta he could eat and if he was good, a cake and beer too.  Zucchini is located on the 55° North roundabout, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Newcastle City Centre. 

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

The restaurant has a wonderful chilled-out vibe. Minimal decor with clean open spaces gives Zucchini a total relaxed atmosphere. I could very easily see me whiling away a couple of hours with a selection of nibbles and a chilled bottle of wine without a care in the world.  It's been a long while since I dined alone but I could absolutely see myself feeling very comfortable as a solitary diner here.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

We started out with a few sides, a beer and a glass of white wine.  In my humble opinion every meal should be accompanied by some sort of bread and oil, and this sourdough was just the ticket.  The thick, chewy crust was a thing of wonder. I would have liked a trickle of balsamic but that's just me being a bit finnicky.  I chose the Grissini nduja with creamy Gorgonzola, I mean do I even need to say anything more?! I have the biggest soft spot for nduja and if I see it on any menu, I just have to order it.  Many times I've been disappointed by my choice, faced with either low quality or chilli flakes masquerading as nduja (I'm looking at you, Zizzi) but not today.  Look at that hunk of sexy, spicy sausage hiding under the crisp grissini. I was on cloud nine!  The best part about it, the sides were all a mere £2 each. I'm kicking myself for not ordering more.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

On to the star of the show, the fresh pasta; which is made and hand rolled on site, may I add.  I went for the Pappardelle Amatriciana (Guanciale, tomato, white wine & pecorino) which was delicious.  The pasta was perfect, with just the right amount of bite. The chunks of Guanciale hidden within the folds of pasta made a wonderful change from the usual piggy suspect, pancetta. 

Kris chose the simple Tagliatelle Cioa E Pepe (parmesan, pecorino & black pepper).  It was rich, creamy and deliciously decident.  I love pepper and it really was the star of this dish, adding a slight heated punch to every bite.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

Despite being absolutely fit to burst, I just couldn't turn down a desert. At just £3 a pop, I'd be daft not to indulge.  I've heard amazing things about their Tiramisu, but sadly it sits right atop my most hated sweets list, so that was out of the question.  Instead I opted for the chocolate mint truffles which came with a cute little hairpiece, which upon closer inspection turned out to be a chocolate mint candy floss.  What a neat little addition.  

All in, our bill came to £22.80.  I simply cannot believe the amazing value that Zucchini is knocking out.  If you consider that only a few days previous I was in Unos (out of necessity, I was on the quayside and hungry for pasta) and paid £25 for two bowls of pasta and two Pepsis. Needless to say, I'll be back to Zucchini, time and time again.  Mine's a white wine and a chunk of nduja, if you please.

Zucchini
55° North
Pilgrim Street
Newcastle Upon Tyne
NE1 6BL









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Confetti Birthday Cake

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One thing about being a baker is whenever a birthday or special occasion arrises, all eyes fall on you. Not that I don't love showering my loved ones in sweet treats, there's nothing more satisfying that watching someone you love enjoying something you've created. Ocassionally, it becomes a bit of a chore, a busmans holiday if you will. Then you remember you bloody love making cakes, and making people happy is awesome, so you whip up a ridic cute and ridic easy confetti cake. Take a bow, you're the confection queen (or king) once more.

This super cute confetti cake will be the belle of any ball.

Confetti cakes are so easy to make, it's simply a vanilla cake with a tonne of rainbow sprinkles baked into the batter to give a glorious, speckled surprise.  Sadly, the majority of British rainbow sprinkles are a bit rubbish, we can't use all the fun colours found in American sprinkles you see.  If you can, get your mitts on some super bright confetti sprinkles. TKMaxx is a great place to find imported ones.  Unfortunately, I couldn't get my little hands on any pots of fun so my cake is a little subtle. The brighter the sprinkle, the brighter the final result.

This super cute confetti cake will be the belle of any ball.

If you're feeling super lazy, or super chill, you can always utilise a box mix and stir in a few handfuls of sprinkles.  I promise I won't tell.


This super cute confetti cake will be the belle of any ball.

This super cute confetti cake will be the belle of any ball.


Confetti Cake


Ingredients
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 350g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 6 large, free range eggs
  • 350g self raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 4tbsp whole milk
  • 150g rainbow sprinkles

  • For the frosting :
  • 250g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 450g icing sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 4tbsp whole milk
  • rainbow sprinkles to decorate
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 170C and line 3 9" cake tins with baking paper. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on a medium speed for 5 minutes until the butter is light and creamy. Sift the flour and baking powder together and set aside. Turn the mixer down to a low speed and crack the eggs in one at a time. Once the eggs are fully Incorporated add half of the flour and mix to combine, add the milk and vanilla extract followed by the remaining flour and mix again. Stir through the confetti sprinkles.
  2. Pour the batter into the prepared baking tins and bake for 35 minutes until golden brown and the cake springs back when you touch it. Allow to cool in the pans for 20 minutes before removing them and placing on a baking rack to finish cooling.
  3. To make the frosting first mix the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until pale and soft. Add the icing sugar, vanilla and 2tbsp of the milk. Turn the mixer on low and gradually increase the speed. Whip for 5 minutes, if the frosting looks too stiff add the rest of your milk. You may find you need a little more, just go steady until you reach a nice spreadable consistency.
  4. Spread the frosting on top of your first cake, top with the next cake and repeat. Pop your top layer on and spread the remaining frosting on top and bring the excess down the sides of the cake. Once you've covered the cake in a layer of frosting, grab a bench scraper and hold it against the cake, pressing firmly drag the scraper around the cake to remove the excess frosting and reveal the cake layers for a semi frosted look. Pile a little more frosting on top of the cake and make a nice little swirl. Sprinkle with a few more confetti sprinkles and enjoy.
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