New Restaurant Review: Fish Tale Winchester

Winchester has a great new restaurant that I’ve been fortunate enough to visit a few times recently. Situated where the Terracotta/Charles House used to be at the bottom of town (I like to refer to this as the hip end of town), is Fish Tale Bar and Grill.

As the name suggests it’s all about fish and seafood, so it’s right up myself and the boy’s culinary street. Prawns, fish and seafood are all firm favourites of ours, so we couldn’t wait to try it out.

When you step inside it’s got a lovely contemporary feel and looks nothing like the former Chinese restaurant that it once was. We found the cheerful staff to be super-attentive to which was really nice. Anyway, I’m sure you’re more interested in the food, so here goes.

We both felt something like light to begin with and there were some good choices to accommodate this, I opted for lobster consommé and my dining companion chose smoked salmon with asparagus and hollandaise sauce.

Delicious smoked salmon starter

Delicious smoked salmon starter

The lovely lobster consomme with some garlic toast and a tastylobster dumpling

The lovely lobster consommé with some garlic toast and a tasty lobster dumpling

For our main courses we didn’t choose quite such light options…

A sizeable surf and turf for Tom

A sizeable surf and turf for him

Sensational lobster burger for me!

And a sensational lobster burger for me!

We thoroughly enjoyed our main courses, I especially loved the lobster burger which came in a soft bun with bacon and crème fraiche. We both absolutely devoured our meals, so much so that there wasn’t any room for dessert!

I’ve been back since and enjoyed the pan fried salmon and the lobster thermidor, both very tasty. I plan to try something different each time I go until I’ve tried the whole menu!

There were some nice wines and fizz to choose from too, including one of my favourites Laurent Perrier Rose. And on my last visit we tried a Rose wine from a vineyard in Devon. Plenty to choose from to accompany all the great fishy dishes on the menu.

All in all, I give Fish Tale a firm thumbs up. It’s casual and relaxed yet has a refined edge to it, a pleasant place to spend an evening. The food’s good and there are a few choices for veggies and those who don’t do fish too.

Give it a try and perhaps I’ll see you in there next time!

Festive Foodie Highlights

Well, Christmas is over but we’re still in that cosy in-between bit where it’s perfectly acceptable to eat above average levels of chocolate and/or cheese each day until New Year. I love it really, it’s like a final chance to consume all the Christmas goodies as well as enjoy any foodie gifts.

I was blessed with some beautiful gifts…many of them centred on food and tea of course! From beautiful flowering green tea to cheese accessories, gorgeous glassware, a soup set, a huge panettone and a super stocking full of all my favourite foods, I was one lucky girl this Christmas!

A few of my food themed gifts this year!

A few of my food themed gifts this year!

I did something a little different this year and spent Christmas day at the lovely Lainston House Hotel in Sparsholt, which was a lot of fun and saw plenty of food and wine consumed! Here are some of the highlights…

Lainstone House looking beautiful on Christmas Day

The driveway of Lainston House looking beautiful on Christmas Day

Potted Turbot Terrine with Caviar Dressing

A starter of Potted Turbot Terrine with Caviar Dressing

Roast turkey with chestnut and apricot stuffing and all the traditional trimmings

Roast turkey with chestnut and apricot stuffing and all the traditional trimmings

Christmas Pudding with rum custard and brandy butter

Christmas Pudding with rum custard and brandy butter

A few festive tipples later

A few festive tipples later

There were five courses of festive food in total, and whilst nothing will ever quite compare to my dad’s good old roast dinner, I have to say that Lainston House did a pretty great job of everything! We were even lucky enough to get a visit from Santa Clause himself, who gave us all a little present…

My gift from Father Christmas! Nice to see Santa giving locally sourced gifts

My gift of Hampshire Chutneys from Father Christmas! Nice to see Santa giving locally sourced gifts

After a quick cocktail in the beautiful wood-panelled cocktail lounge at Lainston House we were off to join family and friends for more food and drink! Laughter, festive viewing, turkey sandwiches and bubbles filled the rest of the day.

Boxing Day saw me heading to my family home for our traditional post Christmas meal of cold meats, pickles and homemade chips. You can’t beat it! I indulged in my usual ‘everything sandwich’ – consisting of chips, cold meat, stuffing and other leftovers, accompanied by various chutneys and pickles.

Later that day there were more bubbles and a traditional boxing day get together to attend. We were certainly all a little slow to start but as usual we soon got into the festive spirit of things with peach bellinis, champagne and lots of nibbles!

Festive fun!

Festive fun!

Now I’m looking forward to New Year’s Eve (and fitting into my clothes again!).

Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas, wishing you all the best for the New Year! xXx

Magnificent Meze and More in Cyprus

It’s been a little quiet lately on FoodTeaLife and it’s in part due to a wonderful trip to Cyprus, lucky me! The other contributing factor was the dieting in the lead up to my time away, which left me with few yummy foodie things to write about (any one see my post on fast day foods?!). Thankfully the foodie drought is well and truly over now and this post is packed with delicious highlights from Cyprus.

Okay, apologies in advance for some of the terrible photography in this post – clearly I enjoyed a little too much of the lovely local wine every night!

On the subject of the local wine, here they are…

vasilikon2008 vasilikon_red

Both from the Vasilikon Winery in Pathos, Cyprus – it’s fair to say many many bottles of both the white Vasilikon and the red Methy (a Cabernet Sauvignonwere consumed! It left us all wondering why don’t we get more lovely wines like this over in the UK?! I’m not going to get all wine notes here but they were both so very pleasant and very reasonably priced for being so enjoyable.

We stayed in a beautiful hotel, right by the coast, so naturally plenty of fish and seafood featured in the holiday diet, including two separate fish meze nights! Meze (as anyone who’s seen Come Dine With Me will know) is a selection of small dishes often including pitta and salad, what I didn’t realise was that it doesn’t all come together (like it does on Come Dine With Me!) but continuously, course after course! The word literally means ‘small dishes’ and it’s a style of eating that features many different courses, but each course contains just a little of each item, enough to have a taste. Well, even though they are ‘small dishes’ – it soon gets pretty filling, especially if you gorge on salad and pitta bread in between courses! Here’s just a small selection of the dishes included in our fish meze…

Grilled Octopus

Grilled Octopus

King Prawns

Terribly out of focus but delicious king prawns

Sardines

Sardines

white fish mezze

White fish

As you can imagine as all of these dishes (and more) kept coming our table got pretty chaotic…

Messy meze!

Messy meze!

Every inch of the table was packed with plates of fish, seafood, salad and pitta…which of course meant you just had to keep on eating to free up some space! Heavenly though it all was, it has certainly not done my waistline any favours – so worth it though! The fish was cooked so well, with just a little olive oil and lemon, simple but lovely.

I couldn’t let the week pass without indulging in a little traditional moussaka either…

mmm...moussaka

mmm…moussaka

Of course I had to sample one of the local desserts too…

Baklava

Baklava!

I do love Baklava! It’s little rolls of filo pastry with a deliciously sweet, cinnamony, nutty filling – so good with ice cream!

Our hotel (the Amathus Beach) was lovely too – check out these little delights left in our room most days…

free fizz, petit fours and canapes!

free fizz, petit fours and canapés!

The cocktails served at the hotel were absolutely delightful – we sampled many of these too of course…

Holiday classic - a pina colada

Pina Colada, a holiday classic!

All in all it was one beautiful, delicious, laughter-filled week in sunshine. A huge thank you to my extended family for the magical trip!

amathus 2

Fun in sun

Amathus

And relax…

xXx

A Foodie Feast to see in the New Year!

Many people will know The Bugle in Twyford’s a firm favourite place to go for me, it never disappoints! So that was where we headed for new year’s eve, and what an evening it was…

We started with a glass of local Danebury Vineyard Kir Royale and some lovely canapes…

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There were many fabulous courses, including a beautiful crispy fillet of sea bass served on a lobster, lemon and saffron risotto…

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This was then followed by a generous sized organic fillet of beef from Laverstoke Park Farm, which was delicious – served medium rare, it was cooked to perfection!

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As if we had room for more, there was then a multiple dessert spectacular that we all somehow managed to demolish. To the best of my memory it was tart au citron, with a tangy lemon panacotta, ginger ice cream and a gooseberry brulee…all of which were divine. The gooseberry brulee was particularly scrumptious!

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To finish off there was a selection of Hampshire cheeses and of course some port. I pretty much needed wheeling out of there I was so full to the brim with lovely food! All in all a cracking evening, spent with some of my favourite people – a wonderful way to see in the New Year.

Happy New Year!
xXx

Birthday Celebrations

This has been my birthday weekend (yes I ususally like to dedicate a few days to the celebration of my birth!)…I have to say it’s been lovely, I have some amazing friends and family who made it very special.

Happy Birthday to me!

For a family outing we paid visit to the Jane Austen house museum in Chawton, which was wonderful. I’ve lived not far from Jane Austen’s home for a long time but never actually stepped inside it. I’m sure many people have been to the house, so will know how well preserved it is and how magical it is to see and touch possesions that belonged to Jane herself, but it took me somewhat by surprise. I didn’t realise how moving an experience the visit would be, it felt strange to be moving through rooms that she would have once wandered though and I couldn’t get over being in the presence of her actual little writing table! I have so much respect for Jane Austen, she’s cleverer than many people give her credit for. Her books are not just silly romance and marriage – they really expose the difficult situation that women of her time faced!

Beautiful day for a trip to Jane Austen’s house

I’m in Jane’s bedroom! Imagine the dreams and thoughts this room has seen…

We finished our visit off with some much needed refreshment at Cassandra’s Cup, the tea room opposite. I enjoyed  lovely pot of lapsang and my favourite, a prawn marie rose sandwich. All in all a lovely day out!

Probably the best place to open a tea room in England!

In the evening I was treated to dinner at the Black Rat, which was fabulous. The food simply could not have been better, from start to finish the whole experience was a delight. Beautiful food and wine followed by a bit of bubbly in one of the cosy upstairs rooms – splendid!

Spot on!

All the over indulgence did lead to me falling asleep before any post midnight pressie opening could take place, but I was up bright and early the next day to rectify that! I got a whole host of lovely things from those I love…

My beautiful birthday hoard!

From the beautiful birthday cake baked by my wonderful sister…

Looks good, tastes good!

Through to the  amazing selection of birthday cards currently decorating my lounge…

Like bunting for the window sill…

A big loving thank you goes out to everyone who made my birthday special!

LOVE YOU ALL xXxXx

New Year’s Eve – A Night of Fabulous Food!

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Okay my New Year’s Eve was a little mad towards the end, but sensational to begin with – I spent it at the Bugle Inn, Twyford – where the menu for the evening was fabulous from start to finish. From the canapés and mulled wine to begin with to the collection of desserts and the generous cheese board at the end, every course was spot on…my favourite was the fish course:

Halibut – Brill – Sauce Beur Blanc – Capers – Langoustine – Spinach – Fennel, Shallot & Celeriac Puree – Salmon Caviar – Parsley Puree – Lobster Coulis

It was that good, it was even enjoyed by someone on the table who claimed not to like fish!

It was the small, but indulgent little touches that made the evening feel extra special, like the amuse bouche – Celeriac & Apple Veloute  with Curry Oil and Pine Nuts and the Champagne to finish.

Needless to say with a flavoursome trio of duck, a beautiful loin of Hampshire Lamb and several bottles of Champagne also part of the proceedings that evening – I certainly left feeling full food and cheer!

Anyway I think I’ll just say Happy New Year and leave this post here…and not elaborate on how the evening ended with me tucking into some Ainsley Harriott’s Cous Cous at 8 in the morning…

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