Coming Soon: Turtle Bay

January in Winchester is looking up thanks to the forthcoming opening of Turtle Bay. The Caribbean themed restaurant will officially open on 21st January 2018, creating 50 new jobs.

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Artist’s impression of Winchester’s new Turtle Bay

Turtle Bay is all about celebrating the lively, colourful and delicious experiences that the Caribbean has to offer and I think it’ll be a great addition to Winchester’s food scene. Located at the top of St. George Street, where Toni & Guy used to be, there has been an £800k investment in the 3500 sqft site. The end result will be a brand new 166 seater restaurant, which I’m told will be a vibrant, quirky, beach-shack-inspired ray of sunshine! How fabulous – I can’t wait to see the transformation.

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Artist’s impression of the new Turtle Bay’s interior

Turtle Bay’s signature dishes include jerk chicken and curry goat, but there’s plenty for all palates to choose from including a new burger menu, salad selection and a great collection of dishes for vegetarians, vegans and gluten free diners.

And, let’s not forget about the Caribbean cocktails! The Turtle Bay beach shack bar features over 40 hand-picked Caribbean rums.  These are all used to create classic cocktails with a Turtle Bay tropical twist, as well as a magnificent mix of signature cocktails too. Better still, the whole list of cocktails is available ‘two for one’ during Turtle Bay’s happy hour. This lasts from opening to 7pm and then starts up again 10pm till closing time throughout the week – count me in!

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Trends, tastings & tipples at The Restaurant Show

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Each year in early October the The Restaurant Show takes place, with The Bar & Pub Show running alongside it (as well as Conscious Hospitality and the Catering Equipment Expo). These are trade events for the hospitality sector and I’m lucky enough to get to work on them. I say lucky, because although it’s hard work, it’s also amazing seeing and trying some of the latest food & drink trends. It’s a full on few days but I always come away excited about what I’ve seen and tasted. Here are a few of my favourite finds…

Poetic License Distillery

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Only 1000 bottles of the Elderflower & Gooseberry Gin are made, so it was a treat to try a little sip at The Bar & Pub Show. I tried it neat at 10.30 in the morning – that’s how committed I am to the cause! A lovely gin that I hope to see in pubs and bars soon.

Masons Yorkshire Gin

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Sticking with the Gin, I was also thrilled to discover one which combined my other passion in life…tea! Yes, Masons Gin add loose leaf Yorkshire Tea (around 4KG of it!) during the production process to get this uniquely refreshing gin. I was a little bit more sensible and sampled this with some Fever Tree tonic – I can’t wait try some again soon!

Sorvinesse – The Wine Sorbet Company

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Savignon Blanc Sorbet anyone? Yes that’s right a sorbet made with real wine, just a little so that it can still freeze. A little wine is all that’s needed, these taste just like wine but a fraction sweeter. Available in both red and white wine – these wine sorbets are a UK first! I highly recommend Sorvinesse to restaurant owners, wine sorbets would make a lovely light way to end a meal.

Botonique

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It’s not all about booze, I absolutely loved Botinique – a soft drink for wine lovers. It’s fair to say I’m not a soft drinks fan, I tend to see them as just pointless sugar…If I’m not drinking I’ll just have water. However, Botonique has totally changed my opinion here. It was complex and refreshing and serving it in champagne flutes, has sophisticated, enjoyable feel. I could see myself switching to it during a night out. It was created by a wine connoisseur, who didn’t enjoy soft drinks either but knew she needed to cut down a little on the wine. It’s been described ‘a soft drink with all the pleasure of wine’. I really hope pubs and restaurants start stocking up on this, it’s a great concept and very enjoyable.

Isigny Sainte-Mere

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I always love the stand from Isigny Sainte-Mère, a French brand consisting of two complementary dairy cooperatives. It’s absolute cheese heaven and I was delighted to come across a fondue cheese, which is actually a blend of three different cheeses! It’s sure to make the perfect fondue! I am certainly fond of fondue, it’s not something you see much of in UK restaurants but it’s firm favourite on a ski trip.

Y3K

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I sampled Y3K’s delicious Cookie Mousse Cake, a real American indulgence! It’s made with America’s two favourite cookies – chocolate chip and Oreo – I can see this being a hit in casual dining chains and family friendly restaurants. Yum!

Pel Waste – Baby Jaws Glass Crusher

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This is an ingenious, compact glass crusher that can reduce glass waste by up to 80%. This is obviously meant for the bars and pubs – but with the amount of wine we get through in my household I could really do with this at home!

Aperol Spritz – by Campari

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Aperol has obviously been around for a while, but it certainly seems to be enjoying a moment right now. On my recent trip to Sardinia, literally everyone was drinking it every night it the hotel bar. I’m seeing Aperol Spritz on more and more UK drinks menus too. Their stand at The Bar & Pub Show was a bright bold orange display, that you just couldn’t miss. Cheers to them for their amazing stand and fab free samples!

These were just a few of the brilliant finds and foodie brands I got the chance to chat to at the show – for more check out the shows’ Twitter feeds @barpubshow and @restaurantshow or browse exhibitors on the show websites. If you’re in the industry, I highly recommend a visit next year!

 

Chocolate, Cocktails and Christmas

Christmas seems to have crept up on me this year – but it’s a little like the Tesco Christmas advert…what starts off as a panic soon turns into excitement. I think we can all agree we need a little Christmas magic more than ever this year!

So, the Christmas lights switch on in Winchester came at just the right time. Winchester is always a beautiful sight but the high street really does look extra special in the build up to Christmas with the lights twinkling away.

After taking in the lights, my sister and I were lucky enough to have tickets to the perfect event to keep the festive feeling alive. We came in out of the cold to Winchester’s cosy little chocolate shop, Chococo, for an evening of special cocktails and sweet treats.

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Chococo-Late was a joint adventure from the Cabinet Rooms and Chococo and what a collaboration it was! Cocktail expertise and chocolate flavours were combined, with just a hint of Christmas thrown too.

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A warm mulled pear & ginger cocktail made with Gosling’s rum was my first tipple of the evening and it truly was Christmas in a cup! I also enjoyed the Chococo Russian and the Sublime Moment – both were beautifully presented and absolutely delicious.

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We tucked into Chococo’s milk, dark and white chocolate buttons as well as a warm chocolate brownie with cappuccino ice cream.  A decadent deluxe hot chocolate featuring cream, marshmallows and chocolate malt balls, also went down well on our table. We didn’t quite have room for the chocolate fondue on the menu but saw another table enjoying this and thought it looked amazing.

We left feeling warm, cosy and full of chocolate…but best of all, brimming with festive cheer. The countdown to Christmas has begun!

Thank you to the Cabinet Rooms and Chococo Winchester for a lovely evening. You can find out more about the brilliant foodie events from the Cabinet Rooms on their website.

Crete Revisited

I’ve recently returned from a sunny week in Crete, my second ever visit to the island and it was as welcoming and beautiful as ever. The post-holiday blues are hitting hard as I write this, can’t I go back for a few more days?!

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Beautiful views of Crete from Spinalonga

We stayed at the fabulous Blue Palace Resort & Spa, a large hotel that somehow still felt intimate and friendly. Built on a hillside, it had its own funicular to take you down to the beach, where the water was just beautiful.

Foodie highlights were not short supply, the hotel had numerous restaurants, my favourite was the Blue Door, which sat right on the waterfront and offered a feast of traditional Cretan and Greek dishes. I enjoyed feta, halloumi,vine leaves and plenty of tzatziki. In addition to some lovely local wines, the cocktails from the hotel bar were heaven too…

The hotel even had its own Shisha menu and an expert to recommend different blends. It had to be done!

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Total relaxation

The nearby towns of Plaka and Elounda were full of fantastic food too. Plaka is a very short walk away and we enjoyed a delicious meal at Thalassa, tucking into a traditional Moussaka and some fresh fish. Venturing a little further afield into Elounda we enjoyed the food at restaurants including Kanali, Olondi and Lotus Eaters. Here’s just a selection of the delicious dishes we tucked into during our stay…

Sometimes on holiday, you can’t beat a lazy day with a good book and a spot of sunbathing on the balcony, on one such day we did just that and ordered room service. It certainly was lunch with a view!

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A lovely lunch on the balcony

The views from the hotel were simply stunning, our room looked right out on to the uninhabited island of Spinalonga. The island is full of history, going back to Byzantine and Venetian times and more recently in the 1900s as a place for people with leprosy to live.

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Beautiful views of Spinalonga from our room

We took a boat across to Spinalonga to explore. It’s always quite busy with tourists taking in the sights and history of the island – but we went a little off the beaten track, taking an unconventional (and rocky!) route, which turned out to be well worth it. We found a few quiet, peaceful spots to stop and admire the views and consider the history around us.

All in all it was a fabulously relaxing week, full of food and wine, absolute heaven! I highly recommend Crete for a holiday,  I’m sure this won’t be my last visit. Thanks to the lovely staff at the Blue Palace who helped make our week a really memorable one and to Winchester’s Independent Holiday Shop who organised everything for us.

Post holiday diet starts next week!

xXx

Foodie fun this weekend at Chequers Fest

If you’re looking for a fun, foodie event this weekend you can’t go far wrong with Chequers Fest, at The Chequers in Eversley Cross,  this Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st August.

Okay, so this is a little outside of Winchester but I have reason to believe it’s going to be great, so thought I’d share the news. The whole of the lovely village pub The Chequers will be given over to two days of fantastic live music, bars and artisan food and drink.

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I’m told that the focus for this year’s festival is Great British Produce, with a wonderful array of great home produced things to eat and drink on offer, as well as plenty of opportunities to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in.

The pub’s invited some great producers to be there for the festival, with plenty of delicious things to nibble and quaff and lots of free tasters on offer (who doesn’t love free tasters!?). There’s a chance to try some fabulous oysters from the Oyster Bar and some delicious regional cheeses.

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You can get creative and make your own sausages and fairy cakes in a series of foodie workshops for all the family. Then relax over a glass or two of local ale or something chilled from the bar. There will be live music from Off The Record from 2pm to 4pm on the day as well. Sunday is the day for dancing, cocktails and more delectable food. There’ll be a tasty hog roast available as well as the pub’s usual summer menu.

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“Once again we’ll be having some great British produce on offer at the festival and putting on an amazing day dedicated to the good stuff,” says Jordan Marr, general manager of The Chequers.

“We love serving the good stuff here in the pub and this is our way of sharing the best of it with you as well as bringing great live entertainment and fun for everyone over the weekend. Come along and enjoy it all and of course have a brilliant day out,” he adds.

Tickets for Chequers Fest cost £10 for adults and are valid for both days. Under 12’s go free.  As the festival takes over the entire pub for the weekend, entry to The Chequers is only possible with a ticket. Chequers Fest takes place from 12 noon to 4pm on Saturday 20th August and from 12pm to 8pm on Sunday 21st August. The Chequers, Eversley Cross, Hampshire, RG27 0NS. To book tickets or find out more  go to www.thechequerseversleycross.co.uk or call 01184 027065.

An Evening of Noughties Nostalgia

For a change, this post is about an occasion that took place outside of Hampshire (gasp!). I recently attended a super fun, charitable evening in London to celebrate the launch of new book ‘Goodbye Ruby Tuesday’. It’s a great book, perfect summer reading – you can read my review of it here.

The Event: Ruby Tuesday presents Feeling Noughties

The book is set in that period of time affectionately known as ‘the noughties’, a simpler time when we didn’t have smartphones and everyone wasn’t on Facebook. I’m nostalgic for the era already, so I loved that the evening had a bit of a noughties theme to it.

The fantastic compere for the evening, Scottee invited us all to reminisce about 2006 and what we got up to that year. For me personally, that was the year I graduated and got my first ‘proper’ job in PR. It is astounding that this was 10 years ago, it just can’t be!

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Host Scottee talking noughties (credit for this image and all others in the post goes to Joy Veal – thank you!)

There was more noughties-era fun with glittery cupcakes and a special selection of themed raffle prizes including signed Imogen Heap albums and classic teenage beverage Blue WKD! The star prize, not so noughties themed, was tickets to Wicked. Sadly I didn’t win this or the noughties goodies but that’s okay, I don’t really need any help re-living the past!

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There was glitter everywhere, including the cakes!

The evening’s entertainment didn’t disappoint with musical comedy (and lettuce!) from comedian Katie Pritchard, a dazzling burlesque performance from Ruby Deshabille and some amazing hula-hoop action from Amelia Sparkles. There was more but of course, I had to get back to Hampshire, wish I could have stayed until the end.

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The noughties themed raffle goodies

The venue, Drink Shop & Do, was fabulous too with a brilliant cocktail list and some gorgeous glittery drinks! It’s somewhere I’d definitely like to visit again.

All the fun and merriment was in aid of a good cause, supporting Core Arts, a mental health Day Care Service dedicated to the healing power of creativity.

A huge thanks for the invite and congratulations on an amazing event go to Sara of Huhbub, who organised the whole thing. Find out more about Huhbub at Huhbub.com

 

Bring and Mix comes to Winchester

As much as I love Winchester’s night life, I’ve always said that it’s just missing a secret underground cocktail bar!

Well, maybe I haven’t always said that, but now that Bring and Mix has come to our fair city, it feels like what we’ve all been waiting for.

Tucked away underground in a rather mysterious location, Bring and Mix offers the perfect amount of prohibition era escapism for the evening. With gramophone music, low lighting and vintage styling you can’t help but get into the spirit of things!

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A sneaky snap of Winchester’s new pop-up underground cocktail bar, Bring and Mix

Speaking of spirits, this is where Bring and Mix is a little different to other cocktail bars – you bring along your own selection of alcohol. Simply take along your favourite spirits and the Bring and Mix team have all the skills and special ingredients to turn them into a delicious round of cocktails. This video explains it all…


I attended the Winchester launch of Bring and Mix (which conveniently happened to fall over my own and a friend’s birthday weekend), so I can tell you it’s great fun!

After a month which has seen my drinks cabinet hit quite hard, we were a little unsure of which spirits to bring. Of course I did have some gin handy (there’s always gin!) so we brought along Juniper Green Organic Gin but thought we better leave the amaretto, whisky, Pimms and sloe gin behind. That really would have been a recipe for a nasty hangover. So we stopped along the way for some vodka and white rum… if in doubt, it’s always best to stick to the classic clear liquids I find.

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Unexpected contents lurking in my drinks cabinet!

The talented Bring and Mix team turned our spirit choices into some fabulous cocktails, taking the time to ask what we liked and didn’t like and to talk us through the flavours we could expect. We even had a non-gin-drinker (they do exist) enjoying a gin based cocktail!

I dare say what with a double birthday celebration, we were all in rather high spirits to begin with but our two hours at Bring and Mix absolutely flew by in a whirlwind of fun, laughter and cocktail magic. I can highly recommend popping along to try out the experience – you can book tickets and find out more here. I’d be tempted to go again myself and perhaps put a bit more thought into my spirit selection. Who wants to join me next time?

Thanks to the team behind Bring and Mix for the invite, it certainly helped make it a birthday weekend to remember!

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