Amaretto Delicatessen – St Georges Street

Amaretto Deli is situated on St Georges Street, opposite St Andrews Hall, as you make your way to the Playhouse. I was first taken there by a friend in 2011 – we bought giant slices of pizza and snuck them into the cinema! I’m sad to say I didn’t go back for a while (although I remembered the pizza) until I got a job in Tombland where I then became a regular customer…along with everyone else in my office!

Amaretto offers a varied selection of foods: salads, cakes, pizza, soups, sandwiches etc each day having a few special homemade dishes such as moussakas, lasagnes, risottos and chillis. I always feel this is a plus as it’s comforting to have a warm meal for lunch and, as the specials change each day, it means you aren’t eating sandwich after sandwich after sandwich.

Although the deli is small the quality is anything but. The foods are rich and flavourful, the staff are charming and welcoming. If you have any doubts about Amaretto you simply need to vist the deli between 12-1pm to see the queue of food lovers wanting to get a taste of their delicous offerings. Being situated near the Arts University is great for business also, I’m sure!

In the office, we have to do a quick march at lunchtime as portions are limited and sell out quickly due to popularity – testament to the quality of their homemade recipes. One of my colleagues has her heart set on the sushi they offer every Friday supplied by Shiki. A personal favourite of mine being the spinach & mushroom lasagne; creamy sauce and sweet tomotoes adding to the tastiness! Half a portion usually fills me comfortably meaning I get to enjoy it all again the next day (and saves me a few bucks I would’ve spent on another lunch). They have all the food ready and raring to go – plastic containers on hand – which is perfect if you want to pick something up for lunch quickly. I’m sure we’ve all experienced the frustation of a task taking what seems like years when you’re in a hurry…but not at Amaretto!

Although I don’t eat out for lunch everyday, I tend to scope out what the deli is offering via their Facebook/Twitter page and if something looks particularly tempting I’ll pop my previous night’s dinner in the fridge to become leftover leftovers for the following day.

The deli also sells a selection of pastas, breads, oils and antipasti from Italy, again giving you the best quality products. It is an Italian gem in the centre of our fine city and definitely worth a visit, even if you just pop in for a slice of pizza that’s as big as your face!

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Clutter City – Norwich Arts Centre

Yesterday, the sun was shining and I was feeling good so off I popped to Norwich Arts Centre for a little look at Clutter City. I had been waiting a while for this day to come – I had foolishly missed the previous ones and vowed I would make it this time!

My friends, this place was divine and let me tell you why.

As soon as you stepped into the Arts Centre you were greeted with beautiful stalls bursting with creativity and colour. The place was packed! I didn’t know where to look first. Hoping that there would be cute little gifts and oddities, it was exactly what I was expecting from the event. There was so many different things to buy: cards, jewellery, t-shirts, prints, cakes, teacup planters, knitted animals, even wooden spoons!

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Having been to other market events which have stocked pridomanitely vintage clothes I found this really refreshing. Everything had been handmade so that even if two stalls were selling similar things, the artists’ styles would shine through and set them apart.

Clutter City was free to attend. Although I could have very easily bought most items in the venue (to the whimper of my bank account) I felt that simply wandering around and seeing what was on offer was an equally wonderful experience. It allows people to do something for nothing, if they so choose, and gives the artisans more exposure. Understandably, that is not the point of this event and as my funds were limited I decided to collect a small stack of business cards – most sellers has etsy shops/Facebook Pages – so I could treat myself at a later and more financially sound date.

The best things about Clutter City in my eyes, however, is the fact that it promotes and celebrates all the local artists we have hidden away in our lovely little city. There is so much talent and people are missing it. A perfect example is Gemma Correll and her pug inspired works which have taken off world-wide over the past year or so (well done Gemma!) and who in fact created the artwork for the event’s marketing.

As I mentioned there are so many different items for sale and styles and I find it amazing wandering round and seeing what people have created from their own mind grapes. And they’re all really interesting to talk to, telling you about what they do (usually as a full time job) or their creative process which adds to the lovliness of the items and the event. It just takes one of these events to get someone commisioned or discovered and off they go. And even if not, just seeing all this work that people have lovingly spent time making makes me really appreciateive that I live in a city that puts on (free) events like this for me to enjoy. I went for an hour or so before work and then went off to tell all my freinds and collegues about the treasures Clutter City held!

Clutter City has a few events a year. You can find dates and more about the events online here

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Norwich Print Fair & The Forum

This afternoon I made a quick stop to The Forum to check out the print fair they have this week. I had noticed it the day before and wanted to see it up close! I went with a friend who waned to do something a little different on her lunch so we thought a calm meander round the exhibit followed by a cup of coffee at Cafe Bar Marzano, also in the Forum, would be more than suitable.

First up the exhibit. In a word, I would describe it as “beautiful”. I must confess that I’m not too clued in about the whole printing process, I understand it is about transfer but shamefully, that’s about it! Wandering through the trail of talent I realised how vast the medium is. It had first caught my eye because of the bold colours and dark defined lines a few of the artists use, however, there were so many techniques being put to use and styles shining through. My friend and I tried to figure out how each artist had made their pieces – one collection was so realistic we were convinced it was a photograph!

The work commonly presented our beloved Norwich (and Norfolk) which showed the different ways people can interpret the same location but also included animals, flowers, woodland and people. It was lovely to see such variation in styles from bright pop art inspired pieces to black & white sketching. I walked away feeling more informed about the artistic process and feeling inspired to study objects and scenery that we probably take for granted in a more appreciative way.

The Forum has a plethora of events, both free and ticketed, that everyone can get involved in. There’s so much to take advantage of and a lot of it can be done on a lunch break or in passing – just pop your head in to experience something different and add a little inspiration to your day.

My friend and I each had our favourite artists in the exhibit however you can decide for yourself by sampling their work here:

http://www.norwichprintfair.co.uk/artists.asp

Cafe Bar Marzano was next up. We opted for a simple filter coffee and delicious salted caramel cookie each. As I looked around for seat I noticed how accessible the place is to so many groups of people – there were university students discussing novels, parents literally having a mother meeting, business people on power lunches and the elderly catching up with family. Wonderful! 

The fact that Marzano has the seating indoors, outdoors and in the Atrium of the Forum means that you can chose the environment to suit your occasion. Most of the seating is largely in the Atrium, the high ceilings and head-to-toe glass windows giving the customers a bright, spacious feeling which adds to the chilled atmosphere. Not to mention loads of things to look at/people to watch! Being open up until late evening also makes it a good spot to head to if you want a quiet, alcohol-free place to relax in.

Overall, it was a hour well spent. My friend and I explored an artistic medium which was more or less new to us and had a lovely chat, planning trips to France and activities around Norwich, over a cup of coffee and a quickly devoured cookie!

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Bridewell Museum – Bridewell Alley

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After devouring some cake and coffee at No. 33 Cafe, my friend and I had about an hour to waste before heading to the cinema (we saw Gravity and Sandra Bullock was amazing). While heading up Bridewell Alley our attention was captured by the large panoramic mosaic of Norwich, made up of thousands of local pictures. Truly amazing!

It came out that neither of us had been to the museum and while admiring the artwork our eyes landed on the admission times & prices. The prices are very reasonable, allowing for numerous concessions, however, the museum lets you in for £1 an hour before closing and as luck would have it the clock had just struck 3:30pm.

As soon as we got through the doors we immediately went to inspect the Norwich mosaic, we could have happily stayed there for hours immersed in the images spanning centuries of our fine city. Alas, there was much to see and we had limited time so we ventured on to purchase our £1 entry. The lady at front of house was a delight, you could tell she had a keen interest and passion for the museum, gave us some quick direction – “follow your nose” –  and asked us to let her know our thoughts of the venue.

The place was packed with relics and treasures (surprising in a museum, huh?) from Norwich of old. It was amazing to see items which were used hundreds of years ago and trying to translate them to the Norwich we know today, a rather absurd image as you can imagine! The museum is split into sections chronicling Norwich through time and while some are what you would expect from a place such as the Bridewell Museum there are other areas dedicated to things such as “the coffee shop”, a rather interesting meeting place for people back in the day…perhaps things haven’t changed all that much?

There was so much to see: a stunning chemists with shelves of lotions and potions stacked high, the loom which we were told afterwards is occasionally used in a demonstration, lots of shoes, handcrafted valuables and general finery. There is also a crypt which we didn’t mange to see but, as the museum once held prisoners, I can imagine it’s pretty creepy!

What was great about the museum was that you could go at your own pace, it had interactive aspects with bite-sized information, dressing up points (which we definitely took advantage of) and audio sections to further engage you. It was all clearly numbered and annotated with few dense chunks of text, something that can occasionally be off-putting.

The Bridewell Museum is like Dr. Who’s Tardis (bigger on the inside) and astounding that so much history can be packed into it. I would recommend if you want an insight into the history of our fine city, a brief meander to look at well-crafted pretty things, or if you’re looking for something different to do when you have a couple of hours spare.

We were only able to stay for about 45 minutes before having to leave for the cinema but we both decided to come back another day, especially after walking through the final part of the museum and wanting to stay and investigate. On the way out we gave our thanks to the front of house staff and they told us about the upcoming events to do with Jack Valentine and his history – something else that peaked our interest. Then off we went to see Sandy Bullock in space having enjoyed our impromptu tour of old Norwich.

http://www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk/Visit_Us/Bridewell_Museum/index.htm

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Mustard Coffee Bar – 3 Bridewell Alley

My visit to Mustard was a unplanned lunch with a friend I hadn’t seen for a while and had lots to catch up with. Neither of us had thought about where to go on this lunch date and while racking our minds for a place where we could sit down, wouldn’t be too crowded (at lunch time on a weekday) and would be able to serve us quickly, Mustard popped into mind. It’s hidden away in the centre of the city, a short walk from the market, St Andrews and the Castle. Neither of us had tried it before but we’d both passed it numerous times whilst crossing the city and always thought it looked sweet. We ventured in.

We were immediately greeted with a warm smile and hello from one of the staff. Having come in off the cuff we weren’t sure what type of food they served: hot, cold, sandwiches, nibbles, light lunches? Answer – all of them! I felt the lady sensed our hesitance and thankfully helped us along, saving us much needed time. We decided on the special – thai fishcakes with chilli jam!

As soon as we sat down I noticed all the artwork in the cafe. They had a varied selection from local artists for sale, framed and numbered with a menu of prices. Having a few arty friends I made a quick mental note to tell them about this. They also had sketchbooks and pencils on the table, encouraging the customers (and not as artistic folk) to tap into some creativity. The results have been strung up around the cafe, a lovely gesture allowing the customers to remain at the cafe after they’d had the last sip of coffee and paid the bill. It was also a treat to look around and admire such differing styles of doodles!

Although we were pressed for time, my friend and I managed to have our lunch (delicious, especially the chilli jam!) and catch up. The atmosphere was relaxed and calming, perfect for a break in the middle of a hectic day. The staff were hospitable and attentive but didn’t hover. They made easy conversation sharing a small joke and perking us up as our minds went back to work mode. Mustard was exactly what we were looking for and will definitely be seeing me again, and perhaps exhibiting some of my friends’ art. I have a feeling this flying visit only scratched the surface of what they have to offer.

We went back to work with satisfied bellies and smiles on our faces!

http://www.mustardcoffeebar.com/

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New to me

Hey there folks,

So this is a little pet project I decided to do in 2014 (a new year and a new me) because with the Internet being the social giant that it is, and Norwich being such a sparkling gem, I thought why not combine the two! I think the city has so much to offer all year round but I know that many people, myself included, can fall into the same ol’ same, ol’ world of going to that one coffee shop that you know is a safe bet. I also realised that after 5 years of living in this wonderful little city, I hadn’t really been a tourist in it. Sure, I knew where the museums were if anyone asked for directions but I had yet to experience them for myself! And let’s not get started on all the art exhibitions, vintage fairs, general culture that the city seems to be teeming with.

I have friends who live in London, Paris, New York and they all mention things they want to do but never get round to doing it. Perhaps we’re all just a bunch of lazy bums. Perhaps we like the comfort of our routine. Well, screw it! Although I will most likely gush about my regular haunts that hold a special place in my heart, my aim for this blog is to record all the fabulous little finds in this fine city of Norwich, to consciously decide to try new things, avoid the more corporate chains (yes, the cinnamon swirl at Starbucks is delicious but still) and love local. Norwich is wonderful and want to get as much out of it as possible!

Alright, let’s get this shindig started!

x

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