Meat free meals for meat eaters!

I’m not a fully-fledged veggie, vegan or even pescatarian (though I do opt for fish over meat most of the time). However, I do firmly believe the future has to be more plant-based. Eating meat every day isn’t good for us (especially red meat and processed meats) but more importantly is that is isn’t sustainable either (watch Cowspiracy people!). Of course, this message wasn’t the easiest to deliver to my meat-eating husband, but with a few carefully planned veggie meals he’s agreed to eating a few more of these each week. Woohoo! So, what were these magical plant-based options? Read on to find out…

HECK Bollywood Bites

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I’ve just discovered these in Waitrose and they’re delicious! I’d say they’re like curry-spiced stuffing balls, only no meat. Served with brown rice and stir-fried veggies, a cucumber raita dip – this went down a treat!

Sweet potato coconut curry

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There’s something about the combination of sweet potato and coconut that really works. They internet is full of recipes, I like this one. Or I’m partial to just combining a little Blue Dragon Red Thai Curry Paste with half fat coconut milk and some almond butter for a quick tasty sauce. Pack the curry with lots of other veggies like mushrooms, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans and you’ve got lots of lovely texture with each mouthful.

Frittata

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Okay, so being egg- based this isn’t the most sustainable dish, but baby steps, it’s an exercise in getting meat eaters to realise veggie meals can be very nice and filling. Plus, all the egg means it’s high I protein, so it’s good for gym goers. You can pop almost anything in your Frittata, I like mushrooms, Pappadew peppers, spinach, onion, broccoli and sometimes a little cheese. Herbs and spices and even curry powder are good additions here too – experiment until you get your perfectly flavoured Frittata! Or, there are some really great ready-made ones available on the super market shelves, I LOVE the ones by Higgidy.

Pulled Jackfruit Burger

Jackfruit is from the tropical areas of Southeast Asia, Brazil and Africa. It is technically a fruit, but it has a consistency similar to that of chicken or pork. It has a fairly neutral taste, so it takes on the flavour of the sauce or seasoning you cook it with. It really is surprisingly meaty! When you pull it all apart and cook it in a barbeque style sauce it’s very similar to pulled pork. A bit of effort was required to get the consistency and flavour right, I followed this recipe from Ocado which worked pretty well. The effort was worthwhile though as the resulting burgers we’re really good!

What are your meat-free miracle dishes?

Those are four dishes currently going down well in my household…I’d love to hear more suggestions of yummy meat-free options that will please and satisfy meat-eaters!

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National Tea Day: A Sneak Preview

I’ve just been told about the biggest Par-TEA of the year, The UK’s only dedicated tea Fes-tea-val – National Tea Day!

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How amazing does a huge celebration of tea sound?! Let me tell you it has a show-stopping agenda, packed full of prac-tea-ly everything you could ever imagine that involves our nation’s favourite drink.

Here’s a sneak preview of what’s in store for the weekend (plus a few fun facts about tea!)…

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FOR THE FAMILY

Tea ‘n’ Treat Village – An entire village of treats, snacks, bakes and cakes and everything else delicious you can think of! This isn’t just a chance to delight in sweets galore though, there’s a host of celebrity masterclasses open to everyone. Mich Turner MBE will be teaching tea lovers how to bake and decorate the perfect tea accompaniment and Alana Spencer, winner of The Apprentice 2017 and Founder of Ridiculously Rich will be showing visitors how to pair cakes and bakes for the ultimate treat combination.

Tea Bazaars – This is the ultimate market place for lovers of great food, great drink and great homeware and the perfect place to find delicious and unusual new products. Each tent has a selection of unique sellers so whether it be artisan snacks or teas from all over the world you’re guaranteed to find something new.

The British Bou-tea-que – In honour of the Queen’s Birthday and National Tea Day itself, The British Bou-tea-que will be showcasing the best of Britain’s tea, treats and fashion. Not only will this area be filled with a bespoke selection of some fabulous British businesses, it’s also packed with activities for the whole family including afternoon tea etiquette lessons, selfies with Queen Victoria and a Chocola-tea parlour.

The Picnic Park – With riverside views, the Picnic Park is the perfect place for families to relax, refuel and enjoy all of their newly purchased goods. This area is also packed with activities including dance classes, an Art-Tea Zone and a Sparkling Tea Bar to help guests stay refresh and hydrated throughout the day.

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FOR THE HEALTH CONSCIOUS

The Vitali-Tea Garden – Set against the backdrop of the glorious ‘Italian Gardens’ this is a healthy experience to really savour. From anti-oxidant properties, to benefits for the guts to glowing skin the benefits of our nations favourite tipple are endless. Visitors can chat with health gurus and tea professionals, try and buy organic products and new to the event this year are a number of personal training and yoga activities.

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FOR THE SECRET SCEINTISTS

Masterclasses and Mixology – National Tea Day isn’t just about consuming tea but also learning about it and the ways it’s consumed all over the world. This is why the organisers have put together an agenda of masterclasses for visitors to enjoy and benefit from. Whether it’s using tea as an ingredient in cocktails or blending your own tea under the guidance of a tea master everyone has something to learn. Guests are invited to explore ways in which tea is so much more than milk and 2 sugars and how it can actually be the perfect complement to any food.

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FOR THE CULTURALIST

The Museum of Historic Tea ware – Perfect for anyone who appreciates fine tea, art or culture, The Chitra Collection showcases some of the finest and most historically significant pieces from the collection and spanning a thousand years of history. This exhibition, on display at Chiswick House for two days only, will highlight the importance and diversity of tea drinking customs across the globe.

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FOR THE PAR-TEA ANIMALS

Tea & Tipple Boulevard – With top entertainment including DJ Sammy Porter, The Tailormade, the Electric Violinist, The U.K’s very own Michael Buble Act and DJ No Sugar; the internationally renowned Dutch Female DJ’s, this is a line up which cant fail to get festival season started. Tea ‘n’ Tipple Boulevard is a mixture of The Strip meeting Mayfair as guests will have the chance sample tea cocktails and tea infused beer in a sleek and stylish setting.

To find out more about National Tea Day and to book tickets for the Fes-Tea-Val, visitnationalteaday.co.uk.

All images and stats in this post kindly provided by National Tea Day.

Why Kitzbuhel has stolen my heart

I’ve been to the Austrian town of Kitzbuhel before and knew I was fond of it but it was our most recent trip out there which really made me fall in love with the place. I like Austria for skiing generally, though I adore Switzerland, Austria is closer and the journey feels easier (when you fly that is).

 

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Kitzbuhel’s a fun town with some lovely bars and restaurants, especially at our hotel, the Schwarzer Adler. The restaurant is very special and known for fine dining, we enjoyed one meal here during the trip (preferring to keep it casual most of the time). Here’s a little look at what we did eat.

 

The evenings spent at the hotel bar were possibly the most fun of any trip. The bar staff are amazing mixologists and can make any drink. We were introduced to a popular twist on an espresso martini featuring Baileys – delicious!

The hotel’s renowned Italian entertainer got everyone singing, dancing and making new friends too. Every night we were in bed later than planned – but holidays are about having some fun aren’t they?!

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I’m not going to go into the skiing in details – because I’m not an amazing skier and the ambience, atmosphere, food and drink is 50% of the trip for me anyway! I’m sure no-one will be shocked to learn I’m really all about the Apres Ski and the local cuisine. Here’s a yummy salad and an outdoor pool enjoyed on the trip as part of my apres ski activities (wish I had taken more photos)…

 

Being in Austria we tried a few local Rieslings and I came away with a bit of a liking for them – they’ve been a regular feature in my Ocado basket since. When in Austria there’s also a certain soft drink I have a penchant for (if you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen it on my stories!) – it’s called Almdudler and it’s everywhere in Austria. Seriously, it’s as big as Coca-Cola but for some reason you can’t really get it other countries. It’s very refreshing with a sort of herbal sweet taste, yes I’m sure it’s not good for me, but it was a holiday. If you’re ever in Austria you should try this magical beverage!

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The town of Kitzbuhel itself is a lovely place, we liked restaurants Cuisino and Pipino’s but absolutely adored Bergdiele  – which had a huge selection of gins. It was a pretty cool place, with quirky but cool décor (do wish I’d taken more photos instead of drinking all the gins). We loved the food too, this monkfish dish (middle image) was very good…

 

For a little bit of local history Kitzbuhel also has quite a sizeable local museum, with some interesting exhibits. I didn’t get the chance to go this time but I’d been previously and enjoyed it. The shops in the local area are full of expensive ski wear as you’d expect but there’s also a few designer boutiques including a Louis Vuitton shop! I found the number of shops dedicated to selling traditional Austrian clothing quite fascinating – we’re talking Tyrolean hats, lederhosen and lots of green! Still it must have influenced me somehow as I’ve come home and purchased this skirt….it’s a little bit yodel-adle-eedle-idle-oo isn’t it?!

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Thank you Kitzbuhel – we’ll certainly be back!

xXx

 

This month: Celebrate Bob Marley’s Birthday

If you live in Winchester like me, you won’t have been able to miss the latest edition to its restaurant scene, the brightly coloured Turtle Bay! I attended its recent launch party and I think it’s fair to say the folks of Winchester gave the Caribbean restaurant a very warm welcome. Here’s a few pics from the fabulous launch…

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With the restaurant now well and truly open, this month Turtle Bay Winchester is commemorating Bob Marley’s birthday on 6th February. This means the entire month of February is dedicated to all things reggae. Plus, they also have a special 4-course Valentine’s menu for £25 and a special singles offer too (No Woman/Man No Cry).

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As well as a musical celebration of Bob Marley and reggae, Turtle Bay also has Marley-inspired Cocktails – ‘Marley Mojito’, ‘Jammin’’, ‘Buffalo Soldier’ and ‘One Love.’ Yum! There’s even a two-for-one offer on these special cocktails too. I’ll definitely be popping in to make the most of Marley month!

If you’re not already tempted to book a table, here’s some mouthwatering shots of the food on offer…

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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!

2017: A food filled year

2017 has been a food filled year, packed with celebrations, with three weddings (including my own), and several special birthdays. It’s hard to pick the best foodie moments of 2017 but here are just a few in no particular order…

Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons

This was the most wonderful wedding gift from the Digital Blonde team, what an experience it was. The drinks and delicious little canapes to try as soon as we arrived were fabulous. We enjoyed a lovely long lunch with wine and a cheese course too. I loved hearing detailed descriptions of all the cheeses (local ones and classic French ones) and of course, they were all heaven to eat. The food was exceptional, if you get the chance Raymond Blanc’s restaurant is so worth it – just make sure neither of you drives there! We made this mistake and really regretted it. The team at Le Manoir also sent me a beautiful signed book too – the icing on the cake for this amazing foodie memory.

Our Wedding Day

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This is made up of quite a few little foodie moments that combined to make a very memorable occasion. The first of these was being presented with a new gin to try by the Cabinet Rooms after emerging from the registry office as a newly married couple. I guess that’s what happens when you book your wedding on World Gin Day, next door to Winchester’s first festival of gin!

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A huge shout out has to go to Hotel du Vin in Winchester, where we held our wedding reception, the food they dished up was incredible! We had an indulgent afternoon tea, complete with candy floss and enormous warm scones. The canapes received high praise from everyone, especially bacon wrapped prawns. The cheese trolley was spectacular too and the mini fish and chip cones were a hit. Our guests certainly were well fed!

We had a delicious cake baked by a family friend too – can’t wait to get the little bit I have left out of the freezer to tuck into at Christmas!

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All wedding pics by Maddie Waters Photography

Avocados everywhere in California

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Anyone who knows me knows I’m an avocado obsessive. I’ve loved them since before they were cool. So I was very happy with the abundance of gorgeous green avo-centred dishes out in California! I think my highlight was avocados on toast for breakfast in the penthouse restaurant at the Huntley Santa Monica, looking over views of LA.

Sky high dining at Hutong (The Shard)

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This was a fab foodie moment enjoyed with the Digital Blonde team, right at the very start of 2017 as combination Christmas and leaving do. Enjoying delicious Chinese food, with a glass of Champagne and spectacular night time views of the city was pretty magical.

Switzerland 2017

I don’t think I could pick a favourite moment from this trip as the food and drink in the alpine town of Zermatt is just so good. It’s definitely my happy place, fresh air, gluhwein and hearty (cheesy!) dishes that you actually feel you like you semi-deserve after a day of skiing. There was the gluhwein on our last day after coming down quite a scary slope successfully, a perfect lunch time Rosti or some of the best chocolate ever from the little chocolate shop opposite the station. Going here is always a treat for all the senses.

Kyoto Kitchen

I do love the food at Kyoto Kitchen, it’s fresh, delicate and delicious. We’ve had some fabulous meals here this year, with amazing recommendations from the owner Miff,  plus beautifully made gin and tonics or Sake to pair with. It’s always a fun and memorable experience dining here.

The Afternoon Tea Awards

What a brilliant occasion celebrating all things afternoon tea! I was lucky enough to be invited to these amazing awards by sponsor Newby Teas. It was great to see the winners unveiled and of course to sample the afternoon tea offering from the Grosvenor Hotel. I met some lovely journalists and fellow bloggers too, all whilst sipping bubbles and enjoying the full range of teas from Newby.

Thank you 2017, here’s to 2018…

2017 really has been a bumper year of food, fun and (alcohol-fuelled!) celebrations, it’s a wonder I can get into any of my clothes. I loved almost every minute of 2017, it’s going to be a tough year to top. So I’ll just say that I’m hoping for a slightly healthier 2018!

Sunny Sardinia

I’m not long back from a week in Sunny Sardinia, where in all honesty, eating, sunbathing and sleeping where my main activities. I’m not even joking. Although our hotel did have some wonderful free yoga classes, which I managed to find time in my packed schedule for a visit to.

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While hotels in the region (and often Italy generally) aren’t always mega luxurious, this doesn’t really matter when it’s this beautiful…

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Stunning views were everywhere in Sardinia and even a terrible photographer like me took some lovely shots capturing the island’s beauty. The beaches in particular were perfect and with temperatures in the 30s, we were very glad of the sea breeze and the cooling waves.

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Sleep came easily in a canopied bed that made me feel like a princess! Obviously, it’s a mosquito net to keep those nasty little bugs out (of which Sardinia has plenty!) – but it does look rather pretty doesn’t it?

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Seafood, pizza and pasta made up much of our diet on this trip, well it would be rude not to wouldn’t it? I had a few salads for good measure, but when in Italy, this is what it’s all about…

Tiramisu…had to be done!

A special thanks to Colin & Olatz for this treat of some local bubbles on our first night!

There’s nothing like a late August/early September holiday to make you really feel the difference in seasons on your return. Now we’re back in England, the tan’s fading and the weather’s turning. It’s easy to give into the blues but secretly I’m rather looking forward to winter (and Christmas!!!)…bring it on! 

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