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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New Look for Alresford PizzaExpress

There was a time when I was in Alresford five days a week for work – but since I started working from home, I haven’t been back many times. It’s a shame really as Alresford is a lovely place with some great restaurants, cafes and tea rooms.

So imagine my delight when the team at PizzaExpress wrote to me to tell me about their Alfresford restaurant’s brand new look. Naturally, I went along to see it for myself (and enjoy some delicious pizza of course!).

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PizzaExpress in Alresford’s Broad Street has been totally transformed and features new artwork based on Mid Hants Railway’s famous Watercress Line.

Did you know each PizzaExpress restaurant is individually designed – often using well known places, people or historical events from the area as a basis? With the Watercress Line being one of Alresford’s most well-known attractions, the interior takes inspiration from the railway’s history. Posters in the restaurant portray steam trains and details of their design form the basis for graphic abstracts.

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Back in its day, the Watercress Line used to transport locally grown plants to Covent Garden and I think it’s lovely to see this history reflected in the decor at PizzaExpress. Further along the Watercress Line, Alton’s PizzaExpress has also had a makeover featuring different artwork that plays tribute to the railway.

The new look Alresford PizzaExpress also has two new bars, feature chairs, settles and light fittings. There’s even a new garden area to enjoy.

I loved the smart new look and it made for a relaxing setting to enjoy a fabulous Fiorentina Pizza, with a perfectly cooked egg!

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I couldn’t resist a little something from the Dolcetti menu of mini desserts, served alongside tea and coffee…

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If you’re not already feeling tempted by a trip to Alresford’s newly made over PizzaExpress, the transformation coincides with the launch of a delicious new autumn menu. The autumnal menu includes a Basilicata Romana lamb meatball pizza and the welcome return of the Rustichella Romana pizza, as well as a vegetarian Al Forno Cannelloni. New on the dessert menu is a rich and intense warm Chocolate Fondant. Who’s hungry now?!

Thanks to the team at PizzaExpress Alresford for a lovely meal! x

 

Magnificent Mediterranean at Woodfire, Stockbridge

I recently paid a visit to Woodfire, the Mediterranean-themed pizza and mezze restaurant in Stockbridge. I was looking for somewhere a little different, and dare I say, outside of Winchester for a change. So I booked up a table after hearing good things and the news that Woodfire was celebrating its first six months in business with extended opening hours, a new Italian pizza chef and a special ‘Pizza and a Pint’ offer.

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Woodfire is situated on Stockbridge High Street

It was lovely to visit Stockbridge again, I’d not been in quite a few years despite it being so close. The high street and surrounding area were as picturesque as ever. Once inside Woodfire, the atmosphere was pleasantly busy and staff were very welcoming too.

We enjoyed a long and leisurely lunch for a family member’s birthday treat, so naturally that meant three courses for me (not everyone around the table was as greedy!). The menu had mixture of Greek style mezze dishes such as hummus and flatbread and other Mediterranean favourites like halloumi and cured meats, as well as main dishes and a delicious pizza menu. The pizza menu was brand new, devised by Italian master pizzaiolo, Luciano, from Naples, alongside Woodfire’s French Head Chef Alex Thomelin. The tempting sounding new pizzas on the menu included: Broccoli Salsiccia with Italian fennel sausage, broccoli, chilli, tomato and mozzarella and Calzone with prosciutto cotto, spinach, wild mushrooms, parmesan, tomato and mozzarella. And of course, all the pizzas were hand-made and baked in a wood-fired oven.

We opted a for a mix of breads and dips to start with including hummus and baba ganoush and received a lovely selection of small plates to nibble on between us. The hummus was divine, one member of the party who previously claimed not to like hummus actually enjoyed it – so it must have been good!

Having already done my fast days that week, I was definitely up for a large lunch and opted for a pizza for my main course. I chose the Melanzane Parmigiana pizza, which came with aubergine, paremesan, tomato, mozzarella and I added some extra prosciutto.

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A close up of my scrummy pizza

I thoroughly enjoyed my pizza, polishing off pretty much the entire plateful! Most of the table also enjoyed a pizza for their main course too, one member of the party had a lamb tagine dish though – which looked very tasty (I do love anything with cous cous!)

Main Course at Woodfire Stockbridge

Lamb, squash and apricot tagine with almond cous cous and coriander yoghurt

Yes…I was pretty full by this stage but they had affogato on the desserts list, which is essentially espresso and ice cream, so I thought I could probably find room for that. Woodfire’s take on this classic dessert came with amaretto (my favourite!) and biscotti – it was just perfect finish to the meal, I loved the mix of coffee and amaretto together.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon’s eating and I would highly recommend a visit to Woodfire if you’re in the mood for some Mediterranean cuisine.

For more information or to make a reservation, you can contact the restaurant on 01264 810248 or visit www.woodfirestockbridge.co.uk. Woodfire is open Monday and Wednesday 9am – 5.30pm, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 9am – 11pm, and Sunday 10am – 4pm. The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays.

La Dolce Vita…Lakeside!

There has been a little lapse in FoodTeaLife entries of late and it’s because of a wonderful holiday to Italy – the beautiful area of Lake Garda to be precise. We soaked up the sunshine, took in the stunning views, swam in the crystal clear lake, ambled through the medieval streets and generally enjoyed all of the nation’s famous foodie delights. From gelato, to pizza, pasta, tiramisu, grappa and limoncello – we indulged in all of Italy’s classics! The region’s local wines had to be sampled too – all of which proved to be delightful and left us wondering why you never find these wonderful wines back home?

Probably the best summary I can give of the trip is a visual one…so feast your eyes….

The 16th century castle at the entrance to the medieval town

The castle even has its own moat filled with lake water

A proper olden days castle with battlements and it’s own moat, does it get much more fairytale-esque? Well I think it does, take a look at these photos of the castle at it’s most magical…

The castle in the dead of night…mysterious and mythical

Waiting for Rapunzel to appear…

Not only was the castle lovely to gaze upon from the outside, but once inside it provided some breathtaking views of the lake and the old town of Sermione…

There were spectacular views to take in everywhere you looked from the old fashioned streets to the lake itself….

Looking out over the lake

Sirmione is made up of quaint little streets like this one

And now of course on to the foodie highlights of the trip…

A classic Italian stone baked Margarita pizza

Spaghetti with clams – delicious!

Another pasta classic…carbonara

Grilled shellfish with garlic

Soup of mussels and clams

On to the desserts…

Duo of desserts – the one on the left is a miniature tiramisu!

A table tree of petit fours!

And to wash it all down with…

Limoncello for the ladies

Grappa for the gentlemen

And an interesting local cocktail…I can’t be a 100% sure of its ingredients, but I believe Campari and Presseco are two major components!

Colourful cocktail

All in all a most fabulous foodie adventure and very relaxing trip – a huge thank you to my second family for a wonderful time xxx

Prawn Pizza Ciabatta

Prawn Pizza Ciabatta

Here’s last nights dinner before I added the final magical ingredient…Laverstoke Park Farm Mozzerella! Recipe to follow…

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