Tuesday, 26 February 2013

TV addictions and birthday parties

Hi friends!

Welcome back to my regular readers and hello to any newbies. I apologise in advance that this week of my life is not as intense as it has been recently. Things have happened, but unfortunately I have a job and it kind of limits me being able to live life to its max 100% of the time. Yes this goes against my mentality of do the things you love and good things will follow, but unfortunately I don't think I would get paid for lounging around, making a fool of myself and then writing about it!

I don't really want to talk about work, so I won't. Count yourself lucky because if I did you might well be asleep as soon as I start. Unfortunately this week it means I have to skip straight to the weekend!

My new addiction
Part of the joy of having those quiet nights in after work is that you get to catch up on TV! Ideally I would be spending these nights with my better half, but whilst she is working away I have to make do with a blanket and a round of buttery toast. There is a lot of bad TV out there and I will find myself watching boxsets of classic series like The Sopranos, The Wire and The West Wing, but once in a while a show comes along and grabs my attention. Either that or it keeps me mildly entertained for an hour or so.

Firstly, I want to tell you about my new addiction - CSI New York. Now you may be saying 'Hagg,CSI has been around forever' and yes I know it has, but ever since I upgraded my Sky box to a Sky+ I have found myself recording nothing but CSI:NY. I am usually not a big fan of the CSI series because I know that the real investigation process is not handled by just the scientists, but something about the New York series has got me giving it two thumbs up! Maybe it is the accents, maybe its the fact it is in a place I would love to visit or may its because it features Eddie Cahill as the detective cop and I get to reminiscing about one of the best ice hockey films ever...Miracle. On that note, if you have not seen Miracle please go out rent it! Anyway CSI:NY is currently showing two episodes a night on the Universal channel so if you want a bit of gore (I just saw a crime scene featuring a decapitation), some interesting character plots and storylines where everything works out for the best, then CSI New York is my easy viewing recommendation.

Next up I want to point you in the direction of Arrow currently showing on Monday nights on Sky One. This lets me get my geek on, but still be kind of cool with it. Arrow is a drama series based around the Green Arrow comic series. Featuring no amazing special effects or trickery Arrow has captured the attention of the viewer with a well developed plot that moves along nicely and has a dark side. Not as dark as many of the recent superhero remakes, such as Batman, Arrow aims to make a gritty and tortured story a commercial success. In my eyes it has done so and has left me wanting to know more about the Green Arrow comics. If anyone has any more comics I need to know about please feel free to leave a message. I don't know too much about his back story, but had seen him appear in episodes of the Justice League cartoon. I like what they have done with the character here and think you will too. So check it out!

Salsa Cafe
On Saturday I went out to celebrate the slightly delayed birthday of Leigh. It was belated due to the previous weekend's Fantastic Fours adventure (read last week's blog) and her dedicated support to her awesome partner Justin and my fellow team mates. Leigh is a passionate blogger and general ace friend so check out her blog link at the side.

The night kicked off in Salsa Cafe on Westgate Road in Newcastle. I had never been before and didn't quite know what to expect, but had heard some good things. Put it this way I was not let down. Arriving into a chilled out bar area I made my way to the small bar in the corner to ask if others had arrived. They had, but it would be wrong of me not to order a drink. Salsa Cafe is the kind of place you want to spend a long night so I thought I would order myself a drink to enjoy and not just a drink to be drunk. I turned to my trusted and probably most loved drink - dark rum and coke. It was a good choice and would be my drink for the rest of the evening!

I made my way upstairs said hello to my friends and grabbed a seat and prepared for tapas. Having been to Spain a lot in the past year or so I have experienced some fantastic tapas dishes and think I can reasonably review a tapas restaurant, so I might give it a short but sweet shot now.

Atmosphere - Salsa Cafe had a great feel to it. It was spacious but intimate at the same time. There were groups of friends, couples and our larger group in that evening but it never got noisy and conversation was uninterrupted. The staff left you to it, but I liked that because it stops that awkward moment when you get asked if things are ok and you do the British thing of saying yes and not complaining. Not that I would have anyway!

Food - the main thing you would go to a restaurant for. I don't think the food let the experience down at all. Great variety of choices with simple ingredients and tried and tested combinations. We started out with the crowd favourite nachos and wedges and dips. These were both excellent options and delivered some good flavours to get the taste buds going. The nachos came with jalapenos, guacamole and sour cream as standard, but had an extra layer of flavour with some great refried beans hidden at the bottom. The highlight of the crispy wedges was the fantastic lemon and herb mayonnaise.

Next up was Rollitos (spring rolls), garlic mushrooms, Patatas Bravas and Patatas Alioli. They all hit the spot, but in my eyes the potatoes could have been a touch crispier. The winner of this round was by far the garlic mushrooms that stood no chance once myself and Darren had set our sights on them. They did exactly what they said on the tin providing a garlicky punch and a delightful mushroom flavour.

To finish off the feast I chowed down on paella which contained some great chorizo. This accompanied succulent prawns and another dish of tender beef in a creamy brandy sauce. All in all it was an authentic experience that delivered good flavours.

Cost - A dark rum and coke cost £3.20 which is fairly reasonable for a restaurant and our full meal including bread cost £10 each. Excellent value for money if you ask me.

Overall impression - Salsa Cafe was a great experience with some great people. The relaxed and intimiate atmosphere really lifts the place and makes it somewhere I would happily return to. Admittedly I have been spoilt with tapas, but the food pulls its weight. Some dishes were better than others but fir a large group there was good variety and filled me up. All that for £10 wins my vote and is well worthy of Haggy's first restaurant recommendation.

Work hard, sweat more
Following the cracking meal at Salsa Cafe and a few more dark rum and cokes we headed to Madame Koos. Having thought ahead Leigh had acquired guest list priority and this was a nice touch and we snook in to this 'secret' club quickly and relatively smoothly for a Saturday in town. I made my way down the stairs to a door which opened out to a sea of bodies in what can only be described as an underground bunker with a few oriental decorative pieces. Looking around at the crowd you would think you may have stepped into a bit of a pretentious place, but if it was pretentious I doubt I would have been allowed in!

Making my way to the bar to find my friends that had got in ahead of me I found myself arriving just in time. For a moment I wondered what was going on as two girls walked out onto the bar holding trays - I though I had walked into Coyote Ugly - and then I heard "Tequila" and it all made sense. Free shots! So I obliged and drank up and bought myself a beer. £4.20 for a bottle and I knew at this point I would be stopping drinking and would have to get on with busting a move instead.

At first it was difficult trying to find somewhere the group could be together, but also provided enough space to throw some shapes. However, the back bar gave us plenty of room to establish a circle and get our dance on. The music was varied but had me dancing all night. I heard current chart hits, tracks for my younger days and then some truly out there tracks. One especially stands clear in my mind - Lonely Island's I'm On A Boat. I have never heard it in a public place before and it made me laugh. If you haven't heard it before you should click here (sorry for the swears) and also check some of their back catalogue stuff including the R&B send ups featuring Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga.

Anyway I got my groove on and then realised that I was underground and there was limited ventilation. Let's say this realisation came when I noted that I was wetter than an otter's pocket. My shirt started out a pale blue and by the time I left it was a streaky dark blue...yum! A sodden shirt does sum up a great night and that's what it was. A motto to live by is that if you need a shower before you can go to bed then it's been a good one!

Have you heard what Haggy's heard???
This week's 'Have You Heard?' is all about trend setting. I find it funny and fairly interesting how we as humans are so prone to following the pack and complying. I mean yeah sometimes this is good as it keeps the peace i.e. laws, but other times I think this mentality should be questioned. The people that make a real difference are those that are willing to question the norm, break out the box and day dream. You don't often hear stories about how someone has made a change for the better by following tradition (that in itself would be a contradiction). So this week's 'Have You Heard What Hagg's Heard?' celebrate's the weird the wacky and the real trend setters out there. Hope you enjoy...

  • Party Starter - People were laughing at first, but one guy with the right attitude can start a movement! This video builds up, but stick with it and by the end you will wish you were there. Take inspiration from this guy, go out be different and others will follow. Watch video
  • Harlem Shake - This week Dekstars joined the Harlem Shake craze. What was once a b-boy hip hop dance move has now been revamped ingloriously by nearly everyone on this planet, so why not! Check out the video here!
  • I threw a wish in the well - Now this hasn't started a movement...yet, but it will do! This video is hilarious and the military guys really camp it up. Bravo I say, with the moral being don't take life too seriously. So without further ado - Call Me Maybe?

That's me for the week. I hope you enjoyed it so please go out and share this with your friends, family and anyone else you know. If you didn't enjoy it pass it on to your most hated as some form of cruel torture. Basically get reading people!

Peas and love!

p.s. Don't forget to find me on Twitter @adzhagg

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