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.

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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!

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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! 

A diet of documentaries

These days there are plenty of food documentaries out there that are easy to consume thanks to the rise of streaming services like Amazon and Netflix. And I certainly have an appetite for them! I feel that there’s so much we don’t understand about the food we eat and its effect on our bodies (and the planet). So personally, I can’t get enough of food documentaries in my mission to educate myself a little better.

Here’s a few films (and a book) that I’ve devoured recently that have helped me…

That Sugar Film

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It came recommended to me from a trusted personal trainer and when I eventually got around to watching this, it changed the way I thought about calories. As many people will know I have been enthusiastic about low fat/low calorie snacks in the past and have eaten plenty of processed diet snacks to keep myself under a certain calorie limit. And no matter how much I heard about clean eating and healthy fats, I would often still choose a low calorie snack bar or fat free yogurt over something like a whole avocado or scrambled egg. ‘That Sugar Film’ taught me that sugar and sweeteners are the real enemy and that my low calorie snacks are packed full of it. I knew that they were, I just didn’t believe that sugar was actually that bad. Throughout the documentary, filmmaker Damon Gameau eats a high sugar diet without ever reaching for chocolate or sweet treats. He gets his sugar from supermarket cooking sauces, frozen yoghurt, fruit juices and breakfast cereals…all things we tend to think of as ‘not too bad’. It did shock me to realise the damage I could be doing to my body on what I kidded myself was a healthy-ish diet. If you’re looking to cut sugar (or just to understand a bit more about it), this film is enlightening, easy to understand and best of all, it’s actually pretty funny too.

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret

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Okay, this film is not funny at all, and it is heavy going but it’s also eye-opening. It essentially concerns farming’s impact on the planet, which I really had no idea about. I thought as long as I was buying organic meat, eggs and fish that I was doing right by the earth and animals…but in short it seems no farming is sustainable. This is a much bigger story than animal welfare, it is about our future as a planet. It’s truly a staggering documentary. I have never wanted to give up dairy before, but I pretty much have now after seeing this. I would love to try and go veggie too but having recently adopted a paleo-approach to eating, it would be incredibly hard! I have to admit, the film has left me feeling really uncomfortable about eating meat and unsure of the way forward. I don’t regret watching it though, it’s better to be informed.

Book binge: It Starts with Food

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Whilst in America I read ‘It Starts with Food’ after being lent it by my friends at Studio Twenty3. It was a much needed read, building on what I’d learnt in That Sugar Film and really spelling out the ill effects of eating foods not found in nature. It also helps you to understand why we crave and love some of the things we do (cheese and crisps in my case!) and shows how little chance we have against some of the foods out there. They are specifically designed to be irresistible! The recommendations are pretty extreme…no dairy (except clarified butter), no grains (that’s no rice or wheat) and no legumes (like beans or chickpeas) and of course no added sugars or sweeteners. However, it does claim that a lot of the conditions and negative effects of eating a bad diet can be reversed, so it seems a fair price to pay.
The science is all there in the book, it makes a lot of sense really. I’ve been sticking strictly to this (it’s called the ‘Whole30’ if you’re interested) wherever possible and I’ve already felt better and lost a little weight too.

Bursting with food facts…
I’m trying my hardest not to be an annoying person quoting food facts but I do feel happier being a little better educated on everything. I’m always up for learning more though, so let me know if there are any food documentaries or books you recommend?

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