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

 

Last weekend’s foodie highlights

Well, the title says it all really…

Last Friday night’s visit to the Chesil Rectory was a lovely last minute treat. The menu was great, just look at these yummy starters…

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Portland Crab, Secrett’s Beetroots, Avocado, Mayonnaise         

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Treacle Cured Salmon, Brixham Scallop, Pickled Ginger

And of course there’s the beautiful Cottonworth rose to enjoy when at the Chesil Rectory. This English sparkling wine is every bit as lovely as something like a Laurent Perrier Rose. It’s local too, if you haven’t tried it already, it’s a must! You can also get it from Wine Utopia in Winchester.

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On Saturday I ate at an old favorite that never disappoints, The Bugle Inn, Twyford. The tasty bacon chop on their menu at the moment is highly recommended! It comes served on a bed of bubble and squeak with a poached egg on top and some gorgeous cauliflower cheese – it was heavenly and certainly very filling! No pictures due to me being a greedy guts and scoffing it all without thinking of my blog!

You wouldn’t think I could eat more food in one weekend…but I did. To celebrate my dad’s Birthday a fabulous family party tea was put on at home. Featuring afternoon tea, triangle sandwiches, my sister’s yummy mocha cupcakes and a scone or two, it was a fine birthday feast! Here’s a snapshot…
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Definitely a few fast days need this week after a full on weekend of food, glorious food!

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Cupcakes, cookies and Vietnamese cuisine…

Phew, last week was the week to end all weeks – so busy! Fortunately, on the foodie front this meant I got to enjoy some fabulous things too.

There was a trip to London’s west-end and dinner out – lucky me! Naturally I tried to push for a table at the super-tasty Burger and Lobster in Soho – but even on a Tuesday it was heaving. Fortunately we came across Cay Tre, a nearby Vietnamese restaurant that proved be be delicious. The food was fresh and fragrant without being at all overpowering and there was so just much on the menu that I wanted to try! In the end we settled on a mixed platter of traditional Vietnamese goodies to start and I had a stewed pork belly, cooked with caramelised coconut and a hard boiled egg for a main course. Here’s a little look at our yummy spread of Vietnamese food…

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Dinner at Cay Tre in Soho

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My dish of stewed pork belly…it was excellent

Last week also saw me launching Martha Stewart’s beautiful new Home Office collection of accessories – to celebrate we had cookies and cupcakes baked to Martha Stewart’s own recipes, which of course were absolutely lovely. Here’s a little sneak peak at the refreshments table piled high with Martha Stewart’s Old Fashion Sugar Cookies (sadly the cakes aren’t in this shot – we were still setting up at this point)…

As you would expect Martha Stewart's sugar cookies did not disappoint!

As you would expect Martha Stewart’s sugar cookies did not disappoint!

It didn’t end there for the culinary delights last week – there were birthday dinner celebrations in the Old Vine in Winchester, a Paella at El Sabio and a get-together at my long-term favourite The Bugle Inn, Twyford (I highly recommend their new veggie dish of grilled halloumi with sweet potato fries).

Barely a week passes without a trip to The Bugle these days!

Barely a fortnight passes without a trip to The Bugle these days!

So yes…I’ve hardly cooked a thing recently and I’ve certainly over indulged – I’m so thankful for the foodie fun times and experiences I’ve had in the last week!

Now it’s time to get the 5:2 diet back on track and hit-up Movers & Shapers again.

Hopefully I’ll eat a little more sensibly this week…

Cake heaven with Cupcake Dolly

Yes it’s been cake heaven just recently thanks to local company Cupcake Dolly…feast your eyes on these delightful treats…

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Six beautiful little cakes from Cupcake Dolly

Based in Swanmore, Cupcake Dolly is a team of two talented sisters who I recently met at a local food producers meeting. As you can see they make the most adorable cupcakes, so I was absolutely delighted when this pretty package was delivered to my office…

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Contents = cake heaven

The cakes inside were perfectly packaged…

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So pretty!

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six cupcakes, perfectly packaged!

I just love the little tea pot and cups delicately drawn on the cakes, such a lovely detail. If you take a look at their website you’ll see that Cupcake Dolly can pretty much draw anything you like on a cake – a brilliant idea I think, the possibilities are endless!

They were really tasty too, very moist and light, perfect with a nice cup of tea. It’s always so disappointing when food doesn’t taste as good as it looks but that definitely wasn’t the case here, they were every bit as yummy as they looked. Almost too pretty to eat…I said almost!

So if you’ve got a special occasion coming up that could benefit from some lovey cake (what occasion wouldn’t?!) it’s definitely worth talking to Cupcake Dolly to see what they could create for you. Visit www.cupcakedolly.co.uk for more.

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Dining at WestQuay – The Opening

If you’ve done your Christmas shopping already and paid a visit to WestQuay then you might have noticed some of it’s new eateries, including Pizza Express, Wagamama and Cafe Rouge, all ideal for a bit of retail relief and refuelling! The official opening of the new dining experience at WestQuay took place last Thursday, I went along to check out all the action (and free food!).

Nice bit of free blueberry cupcake from Delightful Cupcakes!

The highlight was front row seats to see Aldo Zilli cook up a three course meal…I never knew how simple it was to make pasta without a machine! I’ll definitely be giving homemade pasta more of a go after watching Aldo’s demonstration. He also highlighted just how much pasta is enough and how most of us use way too much! So that was a little bit of an eye opener! It was amazing to watch though, the dessert was my favourite…a yummy panettone with fruits and dessert wine – something I hope to dish up soon.

Aldo Zilli cooking up a storm!

The free samples from Millie’s Cookies, Dream Cupcakes and more were also fab, along with the chance to win a gorgeous retro fridge and year’s worth of lunches at WestQuay.

Thanks to the folks at WestQuay for the invite!

Celebrations at Soho’s Secret Tea Room

Here at FoodTeaLife I don’t venture outside of Hampshire too often, but when my good friend Ellie invited me to her birthday celebrations at Soho’s Secret Tea Room I thought it might just be worth the train fare. And indeed it was, we enjoyed a fabulous feast of cakes, scones, cucumber sandwiches and course tea.

Afternoon tea delights enjoyed at Soho’s Secret Tea Room

More delightful cakes and scones!

It was an absolutely delightful experience and well worth the trip for non-Londoners. Full of vintage details from the gramophone playing 1940s jazz to the adorable tea cups and cake stands, you feel as though you’ve stepped back into a simpler, happier time. I’d advise donning your best vintage attire for a visit so that you get the full escapist experience.

Soho’s Secret Tea Room is just lovely and full of vintage charm

On to the teas…There was a nice selection of loose leaf teas to choose from but not so many that it was daunting, I quickly picked out a lovely sounding Lapsang blend and enjoyed it very much. It was especially nice to drink from a china cup too (I’m a subscriber to the theory that tea tastes better this way).

Pretty china cups and saucers

Between our party of ten we shared five afternoon tea cake stands of delicious home baked goodies and though we tried our hardest we couldn’t quite finish it all!

Our post tea party table…

Luckily the lovely staff gave us paper take away bags to ensure we could all enjoy our cake later. Aside from the loving the tea, I  also thought the scones were perfectly done and good size (not too large!) too. And though I didn’t try it, the lemon meringue pie received very positive reviews from across the table too. All in all I can only really describe the entire outing as just lovely and pure delight.

So Hampshire folk, next time you pay a visit to the West End be sure step into Soho’s Secret Tea Room for some relaxing refreshment and indulgent 1940s escapism.

Cocktail Creations & Party Food

Happy bank holiday weekend everyone!

This latest post is somewhat inspired by my good friend Miss Penn’s recent birthday bash, where some very creative cocktails where enjoyed at The London Cocktail Club’s Goodge Street venue. Before I get on to that though I did promise to reference how good the pre-party food was. I am a firm believer that if you’re going to throw a party, there must be a good food offering too – crisps in a bowl doesn’t cut it! It’s just good manners and basic biology if you ask me. If alcohol is to be consumed over a long period of time, there must be sufficient food first. So to show you how it’s done here’s a picture of the spread at Miss Penn’s recent joint birthday soiree.

 

The mac and cheese was a winner with everyone

Not forgetting the ‘teal velvet cupcakes’ – yes that’s right…teal…you saw it here first people!

So with stomachs suitably filled with food, it was on to the cocktail portion of the evening. I sadly only stayed for one delicious drink (needed to be back down south again), but here’s a selection of the fabulous drinks we enjoyed.

Miss Pen enjoyed an earl grey infused cocktail – I approve!

The ‘At the Movies’ cocktail

My choice! Painkiller…a classic Caribbean rum cocktail that I have fond family memories of my mum enjoying over in the Virgin Isles!

Feeling inspired and with my sister’s birthday just around the corner, I got out my cocktail shaker and got to work on some cocktail creations of my own. The party was Mexican food themed and it was a hot summer’s evening so it called something fruit filled and zesty. In the end I settled on a long drink, which had took its base recipe from a good old fashion Cosmo, with a few added extras. I’m calling it a ‘Summer Cosmo’

The Summer Cosmo

It was delicious and enjoyed by all! I was frequently back and forth with the cocktail shaker whipping up fresh batches. If you’d like to try my Summer Cosmo too, the ingredients are as follows…

  • Absolut Citron Vodka (if you’ve only got normal vodka, just add lots of fresh squeezed lemon juice to the mix)
  • Juice of x2 limes
  • Cranberry & Raspberry Juice
  • Sanguinello (blood orange) Juice
  • Fresh squeezed orange juice
  • Crushed ice and chopped orange, lime, lemon and strawberries for the finishing touches

The ratio can be varied depending on the strength, I went for the Sanguinello and Cranberry as the strongest juice elements to give a red summery colour.

Enjoy – happy bank holiday drinking!