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

 

Deliveroo launches in Winchester

I’m always saying how lucky we are to have so many amazing restaurants here in Winchester, so I was beyond excited to hear that Deliveroo was launching in the area. If you’re not familiar with Deliveroo, it’s an on-demand delivery service, bringing you food from local restaurants. This even includes some of the city’s restaurants that don’t usually deliver or offer a takeaway service.

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Deliveroo launches in Winchester!

I first came across the Deliveroo team years ago at a trade show I was working at back when the service was first launched in London. I remember thinking it was a great idea but never imagined it would one day come to us here in Hampshire. Naturally, I couldn’t wait to try out the app and what better time than the recent bank holiday weekend?

Currently, there are over 20 local restaurants signed up to Deliveroo including Sakura, Gandhi, Ruby Reds, Loch Fyne, Pi and Zizzi. Initially, I was most excited about being able to get sushi delivered from Sakura. However, with the bank holiday fun, came a bit of a bank holiday hangover – leading me to opt for something a little more in the classic comfort food family! So my first Deliveroo order was for a feast of nachos, sweet potato fries and a burrito from Ruby Reds. I have to say I was impressed at how seamless the whole process was. The app is straightforward and easy-to-use and the tracking facility was accurate and really handy, letting me know when the food was just about to arrive (useful when you have a parrot on the loose at home!). The indulgent order from Ruby Reds was delicious and definitely hit the spot!

Deliveroo King Alf

A Deliveroo rider in front of one of the city’s most well known landmarks

I was also impressed by the option to schedule orders via the Deliveroo app up to one day in advance as well as the normal asap delivery. All in all, I’d have to say it’s a brilliant service and one I know I’ll be using again – next time I’ll hopefully opt for something a little healthier!

There’s great news that more restaurants may be added as the service expands and grows in Winchester. Plus, the Deliveroo team tell me that around 50 jobs will be created for local people too.

I can certainly see Deliveroo being a part of my life, adding another great way to enjoy some of the fantastic food we have here in Winchester. You can try out Deliveroo for yourself by visiting the website or downloading the app, which is available on iPhone and Android.  Happy eating!

A delightful dinner date at Vespers in the Apollo Hotel

I was recently invited a long to dine at Vespers, one of the restaurants inside the Apollo Hotel in Basingstoke. As many of you know, I don’t leave Winchester all that often to eat out, so it has to be good to get me there! I’m pleased to say the food at Vespers was delicious and the staff were very friendly and attentive.

I’d never been to Vespers before but liked the sound of everything on the menu, which included some fantastic ingredients including smoked garlic and a Surrey farmed 28 day aged rib eye steak.

I was out for the evening with my sister for a catch up and some good food, Vespers didn’t disappoint, we had a quiet, corner table and spent the evening chatting away. Being sat in the corner didn’t mean we were forgotten about though, service was excellent. I couldn’t fault the food either, great flavours, portion sizes and presentation.

I enjoyed citrus cured salmon with a tomato, chive, red onion and lemon zest salsa to start, which was very good. I’m a huge salmon fan so I finished it all, including flavoursome salsa.

Citrus Cured Salmon Vespers Apollo Hotel Basingstoke

A starter of citrus cured salmon

I did have a definite case of food envy over my dining companion’s starter of pan seared scallops with a saffron sauce and pomegranate salad. I’m very fond of scallops and these looked great, beautifully presented and just enough for a starter.

A starter of pan seared scallops

A starter of pan seared scallops

I followed my salmon with another fishy choice of baked fillet of white fish, Atlantic salmon, king prawns, finely chopped fennel & tarragon, topped with a creamed & herb potato mash. This was a generously sized fillet with elegantly piped mash potato on top. The flavours were lovely, creamy without being too rich

fish Vespers Apollo Hotel Basingstoke

My main course

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Our other main course was the rib eye steak, which came with a large onion ring and chunky chips cooked in beef dripping. Of course for the purposes of the review, I had to sample a few of the chips, which were huge and very crisp, a good accompaniment to a tender steak.

Steak Onion Ring Vespers Restaurant Apollo Hotel Basingstoke

The steak main course, topped off with a giant, delicious onion ring

chips Vespers Restaurant Apollo Hotel Basingstoke

We both enjoyed the chunky chips cooked in beef dripping

We didn’t quite have room for dessert but enjoyed a cappuccino each, which came with everyone’s favourite (especially mine!) a Lotus Biscoff biscuit. A perfect end to a lovely meal.

If you find yourself in Basingstoke I can recommend a meal at Vespers, take a look at the menu for yourself on their website: http://www.apollohotels.com/ – you’ll also find details here of a special Valentines Day Candlelit dinner.

5 Confessions of someone who REALLY loves food – is it just me?

Everyone likes food and everyone loves certain foods but some of us just get more excited about food than others…am I right? I just love food, whether I’m snacking on ingredients as I cook or filling up on bread in a restaurant before my meal comes – food just makes me happy. If you’re one of those people (some might use the word greedy!) you’ll relate to the situations and statements on this list…

1) You always forget to photograph your food

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When something really delicious arrives in front of me at a restaurant my first instinctive reaction is to put a little bit of it in my mouth rather than snap a photo. I usually remember just as it’s too late and I’ve taken my first bite, that’s why some of the photos on my blog usually feature a dish with a little bit missing! Not good for a food blogger. Does anyone else just dive straight in?

2) A restaurant menu is REALLY exciting

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The possibilities, the choices – all those dishes that talented chefs are just waiting to make you! Browsing a restaurant menu makes me very happy indeed. The excitement when you spot your favourite dish or ingredient, the umming and erring between two seemingly perfect choices – is there anything better than choosing food at a restaurant?

3) You have to eat some of your food shopping right away

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I tend to get mine delivered and have usually been looking forward to what I’ve ordered. So when the weekly food shop arrives I just have to snack on some of it as I’m putting it all away. And if I’ve been to a supermarket then I’ll usually have to have a nibble of something in the car. Anyone else?

4) Eating whilst cooking

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Whatever the dish, you have to test out the ingredients as you go…or at least I certainly do! Even if it’s just raw veg as I prep a salad or stir fry. Of course it’s much worse if I’m cooking anything with cheese!

5) Things can get out of control at farmers markets and farm shops 

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I have to limit myself because I always end up spending a fortune at the farmers market or farm shop. Local cheese, pies, bread, chutneys, cake…I need it all in my life and buying it feels so good. Getting home and eating it all feels even better!

Am I alone in my food excitement? Let me know if you can identify with any of these food loving statements too!

xXx

Birthday Bliss

So the other day/month I turned *not-quite-30* and was treated to a day of pure loveliness by the people I love best. The sun was shining as headed to my parents house and we all set off for a brisk country walk with the family pack of labs (okay only two of them). It felt so luxurious to take a little bit of time off and be free of phone signal in the middle of the week! And spending time with my family in the fresh air means so much to me, it was just all round joyous.

Of course what birthday walk in the country would be complete without a pub lunch pit-stop? Tasty fish cakes were followed by this delicious little dessert…

Eaton Mess in a delightful little cup with strawberry ice cream

Eaton Mess in a delightful little cup with strawberry ice cream

Back at the family pad I was treated to cake, cards and presents! So lucky to have such an amazing family who know me very well, I received some simply wonderful things. Seriously, it mists my eyes now thinking about how awesome my family are.

I actually received many fabulous foodie presents from everyone including some seriously special cocktail making kit, a recipe book, champagne and lots of tea. All of which I plan to show off in several blog posts to follow.

 

As I headed home there were more treats, with fabulous things to open and dinner at the Black Rat – my favourite. Sitting outside at the Black Rat is so magical, you’re cosied up in your own little hut drinking wine and feeling happy. And that’s before you’ve even eaten anything, the food is always an exciting culinary experience…and well, just very tasty. The allotment bread to begin with was so good and then this came…

A beautiful crab and avocado

A beautiful crab and avocado

This was followed by a fabulous fish main course…

Delicious!

Delicious!

I am one very very lucky lady, this was such a special birthday – how will I ever top it when I turn 30 next year? An enormous thank you goes out to my lovely family and friends for making my birthday so magical, food filled and fantastic.

THANK YOU XXXXXXXXXXX

Afternoon Tea Delights at The Vineyard

It’s well documented that I do like to partake in a spot of afternoon tea and so my mum’s recent birthday provided a great excuse to get the family together for some tea and cake. As a surprise for my mum, my sister and I booked the afternoon tea experience at The Vineyard at Stockcross, which turned out to be just lovely.

The-Vineyard

For those of you who don’t know it the Vineyard at Stockcross is in Berkshire (not Hampshire I know, but worth the drive!), it’s fairly near Newbury and just off the A34 so very easy for Winchester folk to get to. It’s a beautiful, grand looking place, known for its fine dining, so we knew we were in for a treat with their afternoon tea.

We were seated by the fireplace on comfy sofas as it was a special occasion, where we sipped cups of lovely earl grey tea. When the afternoon tea came, it certainly was a feast…

Vineyard Afternoon Tea

Small, perfectly formed sandwiches with crusts cut off to start, followed by hearty fruit scones with cream and jam.

Vineyard Scones

 

Although I don’t have a photo I must say that the choice of homemade jams was lovely…it’s always nice to have an alternative to the traditional strawberry I think.

Last of all, we enjoyed a beautifully presented top tier of delightful little petit four style treats, including macarons and peanut éclairs…

Vineyard Petit Fours

All in all, it was a fabulously indulgent treat and we all left feeling rather full! It was perfect for a birthday celebration though. I’d definitely recommend the Vineyard for its afternoon tea, they do it properly! If you plan to book with them make sure you tell them if it’s a special occasion too. Visit their website for more www.the-vineyard.co.uk.

…Hopefully one day I’ll have had enough afternoon teas to be able to compile an amazing top ten best list…

Another Top Hidden Gem…The Plough, Sparsholt

Well The Plough at Sparsholt is hidden in the literal sense of the word, in that it’s a bit off the beaten track out of Winchester, but thanks to its consistently good fare everyone seems to know about it. It’s one of those places that always delivers excellent, hearty food. It’s a real gem of a country pub, serving Wadworth ales and lots classic tasty dishes. There’s a cracking selection of more adventurous dishes too, such as the fabulous pan fried fillet of hake with king prawns and creamy leeks that I enjoyed last night (…the start of a diet breaking evening!).

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The Plough on sunny day

What I really love about The Plough is the dessert menu…I’m actually not much of a sweet-toothed person but this place has all my favourites on one chalk board. There’s gorgeous New Forest ice creams – perfect for when you can’t manage a proper pudding! And I love their selection of classic desserts like bread & butter pudding, creme brulé, sticky toffee pudding…and this…

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Treacle Tart with Clotted Cream

 

The Plough’s treacle tart with clotted cream is to die for! It’s simply gooey, gluttonous heaven on a plate…so good!

Have I tempted you to take a taxi out to Sparsholt yet? …do it! The Plough always delivers!

Great night…diet totally ruined…back on track on Monday xXx

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