#HBMarchMeet at Al Porto, Hull

Isn’t it strange how quickly things creep up on you? That was certainly the case when it came to the hotly-anticipated Hull Blogger’s March Meet. The last meet was a huge success, and we enjoyed an afternoon of drinks, demos from brands such as Lush, Weleda and Viridian and – of course – plenty of chat. Though the March meet was smaller with just under 20 attendees, it was by no means any less fun, and I came away feeling grateful to be a part of such a welcoming and warm community.

The event was held at Al Porto, a gorgeous little Italian restaurant situated on Hull’s marina. You may recognise the name of the place as not only did we hold the Hull Blogger’s summer meet there, but I was also asked to review their delicious Christmas menu with a couple of the girls. You can find these links here and here.

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Al Porto has become a favourite with the Hull Bloggers; it serves authentic Italian food in a gorgeous rustic setting. We enjoyed a drink – including wine, if that takes your fancy – and a very hearty portion of delicious food from the lunch menu, which is sure to cater to everyone’s tastes. Their lunch costs £8 a head, and it is well worth it. I can definitely recommend the salmon pasta. Find their lunch menu on their website here.

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Al Porto’s food is always beautifully presented and extremely delicious. The winter salad was also a hit with the other bloggers, and I will definitely try it when I go back!

As usual we came away with a fantastic array of goodies. Here’s just a few photos of them, and I’m currently busy reviewing them so hopefully you’ll see the whole selection soon! A massive thank you to all the generous brands who got involved.

There are many other lovely little things so stay tuned to see what I think of them!

As always a huge thank you to the wonderful bloggers who make these events so worthwhile. Sadly Kat (who did an AMAZING job with everything) was too ill to attend, and we missed her very much! You can check out Kat’s blog  here.

I can’t wait to review all of the wonderful things for you.

Hope you’re weekend is going well,

Heather x

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Al Porto*

Hello there. Sorry It’s been quiet this way; so many deadlines are approaching at once and I’m getting into a bit of a flap over them. I’m sure they’ll get done but I’m a chronic worrier so I’m always doubting myself!

In light of this (and in light of all the dreadful things that are happening around the world at the minute, I thought i’d bring a little bit of festive cheer to you all.

Just over a week ago I was invited to Al Porto restaurant in Hull to sample their 2015 Christmas menu. I knew it would be a treat, and we weren’t disappointed!

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I was joined by Kathryn , Chelsea and Steph for an intimate, cosy Christmas meal for four and a glass of prosecco was just the thing we needed to kick-start the celebrations.

Christmas crackers

We even had crackers which was a real treat!

The menu was long so it was more of a tapas-style affair; I think I could have eaten much if we hadn’t shared plates!

Soup

First up was the chestnut soup. I don’t know about you but chestnuts always remind me of Christmas. I have fond memories of wandering around Christmas markets with a bag of piping-hot roasted chestnuts to nibble on and to keep my hands warm! I’ve never had them in soup but it was absolutely wonderful; it was like bowl of Christmas, and I couldn’t stop eating it! Definitely one of my favourite things on the menu, I must say. I’m already planning to order it when I go back!

smoked salmon

Up next we had the smoked salmon roulade. Admittedly, smoked salmon isn’t always something I enjoy but I was pleasantly surprised and actually really liked it. The filling was creamy yet fresh, which cut through the richness of the smoked salmon beautifully. If you’re a smoked salmon fan you’re bound to love this.

mlanzane parmigianaNext up; a delicious vegetarian option. Above is Melanzare Parmigiana, which is aubergine layered with tomato and cheese. I knew i’d like this because my mum often makes this and it is seriously delicious. If you’re into punchy tomato sauces, you’re in for a treat here. I’d even bet that people who don’t like aubergine  could have a go with this; really wonderful and filling.

guinea fowl

Next, it’s onto the mains. This was my favourite dish of the whole night; it was the roasted guinea fowl with rosemary, red wine and mixed wild mushroom.

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This was spectacular; it really was. The guinea fowl was cooked to perfection. It was tender, juicy and perfectly accompanied by the red wine jus. Simply roasted potatoes and vegetables freshened everything up, and the wild mushrooms were a luxurious touch. I couldn’t stop eating and I’m definitely having this when I go back. Believe me; you will not be disappointed! It was the ultimate in winter comfort food.

turkey

Next, a traditional Christmas dish enjoyed by almost everyone; the classic roast turkey dinner. This was a little bit special though, and was stuffed with chestnuts and topped with rich cranberry jus. Admittedly we don’t usually go for turkey at Christmas because I find it can dry out, but once again this was moist, succulent and delicious. The crispy skin on the outside was the perfect finishing touch, all served with seasonal roast veg. What’s not to love?!

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One for the red-meat lovers: beef wellington with mashed potatoes, fresh vegetables and that delicious red wine jus that’s so moreish and rich. What a treat! Beef wellington is something i’d never make at home; it seems far too time confusing and when dealing with such expensive ingredients I’d worry about messing up. Al Porto hhave nothing to worry about as their chefs are clearly fabulous; tender beef, crisp puff pasty, smooth potatoes…what a fantastic way to bring in the festive season!

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One for the fish-lovers; pan-fried halibut on a radicchio risotto with a pesto drizzle and prawn. I’m a huge fish fan (although smoked is something I’m not always a fan of) so this was beautiful! Halibut is a delicious fish and I don’t get to eat much of it so I loved trying it here! It was everything a good piece of fish should be: crisp on the outside and moist on the inside, sitting on top of a very moreish risotto freshened up  by a good helping of pesto. How divine is that?! Another favourite meal of the night.

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Above you see the veggie equivalent to the beef wellington; a Chestnut, spinach and blue cheese encroute. I’m definitely not one of these people that thinks a meal without meat isn’t a meal; one of my best friends is a vegetarian and I’d like to think I know a little bit about veggie cuisine. I don;t eat meat everyday  of the week and sometimes i just completely fall out with it and won’t eat it for a few weeks, and I know Vegetarian food is just as exciting and wonderful. If you’re feeling going meat-free for a change this would be just the thing. Crisp, flaky puff pastry, Christmassy chestnuts, creamy blue and earthy spinach; delicious.

dessert

Luckily we had just about enough room for dessert, and were treated to homemade chocolate roulade, tiramisu, and minced pie gelato (not pictured). The roulade is a real chocoholic’s delight; filled with a rich, creamy chocolatey ganache that just melts in the mouth. The tiramisu was creamy yet light; which is wonderful considering that we had filled up on some really indulgent food! The mince pie gelato was also amazing; it is everything good about a mince pie with the added creaminess of authentic Italian gelato. Just fabulous! I am a real chocolate-lover so i’m eyeing up the roulade for next time…my mouth is watering just thinking about it all!

All in all it was an absolutely fantastic experience. Al Porto is definitely not to be missed; it’s a gem in the hustle and bustle of Hull, and is just the perfect place to take some time out to relax and enjoy the festive season with family and friends. Their Christmas menu is £24.95 during the day and £28.95 during the evening for a three-course meal. I really do recommend it.

A big thank you to Al Porto in Hull for having us, and for Lisa arranging the event. It was truly wonderful. Don’t forget to check out Al Porto’s website here.

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I hope you’re having a good weekend. Stay safe wherever you are.

Heather x

*cost of meal and drinks provided by Al Porto. As always, my posts are honest and this does not in any way influence my review.