16 Thoughts I had about food in America

FoodTeaLife has been more than a little quiet lately, I could blame wedding planning, career changes and time abroad but it’s mainly that I’ve also been busy researching and thinking a lot more about nutrition lately…but that’s a whole other blog post.

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For now, I’ve just got back from America (a Californian road trip with a stop in Las Vegas) and of course, I thought about food a lot. The differences both positive and negative amused and intrigued me, so here goes…my thoughts about food while in America:-

  1. Coffee with cream in it?! What? That sounds SO ridiculously indulgent, yet it seems so everyday in the US. It seemed wrong but I have to say I soon got into it and kind of enjoyed it. Also, good coffee seems much more widespread over there. The UK has some catching up to to do on the good coffee front.
  2. On the other hand…the tea situation is pretty dire. No-one drinks it at breakfast like the Brits do and when you ask for milk you sometimes get hot milk, SO WRONG! Plus, why is it called ‘hot tea’, surely it’s just Tea or it’s iced tea? Tea is always hot unless otherwise stated isn’t it? I’m a tea fiend so this probably got me to me more than it should.tea solves
  3. Avocados, Avocados…Avocados everywhere! Woohoo! I LOVE avocados and ate one virtually every day whilst in the US, they’re grown in California so that may explain their abundance on menus. While avocados are pretty popular in the UK too, there are plenty of cafes that don’t offer some kind avo-centred dish, but happily this was not the case in the US.
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Breakfast of my dreams in LA, beautiful avocado toast!

4. Damn…the pies! Talk about pie porn! Sweet dessert pies, like Key Lime Pie were epic looking. The one slice I did have while out there was delicious.

5. Oooh so much amazing Mexican cuisine, so delicious and I’m in guacamole heaven…uh-oh, ate too many black beans, my tummy will not thank me for this.

6. Is In-N-Out Burger really that different to McDonald’s? I don’t get it.

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7. What exactly is a pound cake?

8. Wow sourdough is popular out here! Is that because all the other bread is sooo sweet? Either way I’m happy it’s an option.

9. The cheese situation is not great…what’s with all the liquid orange ‘cheese’? Yet the butter here is delicious…how does that work? Sort it out America. It made me realise just how spoilt for cheese choice we are in Europe.

10. Is bacon always crispy here? Would American’s be disgusted by the classic British Bacon Butty?

11. Ahh the international language of Subway, the same across the continents. I’m fluent in Subway and got a lovely fresh salad bowl whilst out on the road, on our way to Vegas. Although, American subway has banana peppers and fresh coriander in the salad options, we need these in UK (pretty sure my local branch doesn’t offer these).

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12. California’s got good wine.

13. Actual molten butter on popcorn….what?! I am a huge fan of popcorn (the lightly salted kind). It’s a cinema must for me. So when we went to ‘the movies’ in LA and I was offered buttered popcorn, it seemed like a classic American thing to try! It was good at first, but soon became not good (shouldn’t have got a large). What’s wrong with just sweet or salted?

14. Ooh Fever Tree mixers are out here too, how great (although there did not seem to be any in Vegas though). I always judge a bar or pub if it doesn’t have a good tonic like Fever Tree.

15. Dam nachos are epic out here!

16. Loving all the free and regular water top ups in restaurants, I can never get enough water, so this is amazing! The ‘soda’ tops ups are not so good though, have seen people drink two or three cokes with a lunch because of this…nobody needs that much sugar!

As you can see, I thought about food rather a lot. We had an absolutely amazing trip, full of adventures but right now I’m happy to be home in the land of good cups of tea and smaller portions.

I’m sure there’s plenty of things US visitors would find weird and wonderful about eating and drinking in the UK too (probably our tea obsession would factor highly!).

xXx

 

Introducing OTeas

I’m well known for my love of tea and trying new blends, so I was delighted when the lovely people at OTeas wrote to me to tell me about their range. And what a range it is, featuring some of my favourites including Earl Grey and Moroccan Mint as well as some fruit, herbal and green teas, plus a detox collection.

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Just a selection of the OTeas range

Over the past few weeks I’ve been enjoying making my way through the OTeas range, including their 14 Day Detox Teas. My somewhat haphazard mission to be healthier and embrace cleaner eating is something I’ve spoken about before, so I thought these teas might just help me stay on the right path. There’s a daytime tea and a night time one, each with different ingredients to help cleanse your body. The night time blend was my favourite with pleasant citrus notes that made for a soothing evening drink. I’m always looking for new options to keep me caffeine free in the evenings, usually I choose hot water and lemon, so the OTeas night time detox blend made for a nice change. Drinking the teas seems to have had a positive impact, I feel better and they’ve certainly been setting me up on the right track for the day and encouraging me to unwind and prioritise sleeping in the evenings.

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My morning detox blend from OTeas

Speaking of sleep, the OTeas wellness range includes a special ‘Sleepwell’ tea which I’ve also been enjoying in the evenings. It’s a refreshing and aromatic blend of chamomile and green rooibos, with notes of orange, peppermint and lemon too. I do love my rest and actually take preparing for a good night’s sleep quite seriously – it’s the one thing I cannot be without! So I loved having a tea specially designed to aid a restful night’s sleep.

As a big early grey fan, I normally judge a tea range by it’s earl grey and the OTeas blend didn’t disappoint, it was light and enjoyable and the 15 tea bags in the pack were soon gone! I loved the fresh Moroccan Mint blend too, made with the roots of mint leaves for a strong but pleasant flavour, just the thing after a meal.

This is just a small selection of the OTeas range, it’s a really fantastic collection with a wide range of blends. From black teas including traditional English Breakfast to some delicious sounding fruity blends such as Date & Lime Tea and Orange & Ginger Tea – there’s something to suit all tea drinkers and all moods.

Has this short post tempted to you try the OTeas range? Take a look at their website to learn more about the blends on offer www.o-teas.com.

 

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

Two Tea Treats

FoodTeaLife’s been a little quiet lately, mostly thanks to a holiday diet and denying myself the pleasures cheese and wine far too much. However, there have been a few indulges to brighten the diet days – you’ve got to have things to look forward to after all.

First up was a fabulous afternoon tea in London at The Berkeley, a real girly treat. Named Prêt-à-Portea, it’s something of an unique twist on the traditional afternoon tea, with all the cakes and treats inspired by designer fashion and the latest trends. It was a colourful affair, reflecting the Spring/Summer 14 season’s designer collections with cakes and biscuits in the shape of shoes and bags and colours straight off the catwalk. It was delicious too, from the delicate sandwiches to the chocolate shoes – I ate a lot of fashion themed treats that afternoon!

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Beautiful fashion inspired treats – thanks to Aminah for the image

The staff at The Berkeley were wonderful too, taking the time to explain the fashion inspiration behind every sweet treat and bringing more of anything you wanted! I haven’t even started on the tea yet (which there was unlimited supply of!). I sipped earl grey and later moved on to a delicate fresh mint tea. My companions however enjoyed a caramel tea and a ginger tea – there were plenty more interesting blends too. Even the coffee was fabulous too.

Cutest cappuccino ever? Thanks again to Aminah for this lovely image

Cutest cappuccino ever? Thanks again to Aminah for this lovely image

I must say a huge thanks to Aminah for organising such a wonderfully decadent girly get-together and for the beautiful photos! It certainly was an occasion to remember.

Treat number two was a little more local, a special pre-birthday indulgence with my mum and sister at The Winchester Hotel and Spa. I was treated to a manicure, something I’ve never actually had before. I was delighted with the results – I’m loving my elegantly coloured nails! Let’s see how long I can keep them chip free for.

We followed our beauty treats with a foodie treat, a cream tea! And what a spectacularly generous cream tea it was, we got far more that simply scones and tea…

Tea at the Winchester Hotel & Spa

My wonderful birthday treat at The Winchester Hotel & Spa

There were rhubarb pastries, strawberries, miniature éclairs and more. It was a real feast and we enjoyed it sipping earl grey outside in the sunshine. Perfect weather and the best company – probably the best Sunday ever I’d say! A massive thank you of epic proportions goes to my sister and mum for this special treat.

Feeling very lucky right now (and full of cake).

xXx

Top Tea Review: The London Tea Company

I  am in absolute tea heaven at the moment thanks to the lovely people at The London Tea Company! Over the past few weeks I’ve been busy sampling a selection of their wonderful blends, so I thought I’d tell you about some of my favourites from the range.

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I was so excited to receive such a wonderful selection of teas from The London Tea Company

Firstly let me say it’s a great range, with classic blends like Earl Grey and Darjeeling but also some delightfully different ones too including White Tea Pear Tatin and my favourite Peach & Rhubarb. So there’s definitely something to suit everyone!

I’ll start with a classic and firm favourite in my household, the London Breakfast blend. If you like a strong, flavoursome cup of tea to kick off your morning I highly recommend this one. It’s a rich and malty Assam tea that I find helps de-mist my sleepy mind with every sip. It’s definitely become a permanent fixture in my morning routine.

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Sweet-toothed tea drinkers will love the Vanilla Chai blend, which is just bursting with sweetness and spice. Inhaling it is sheer delight, each tea bag gives off an exotic aroma of vanilla, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. I tried pairing this tea with hot frothed milk to make a delicious chai latte style drink, a lovely treat that I highly recommend!

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The London Tea Company’s Peach & Rhubarb Infusion has the most amazing scent. As a little girl my family grew our own rhubarb so I grew up eating a fair bit of it and I’ve always loved the sharp, sweetness of it. I had never heard of it being used in a tea infusion before though, so was really excited to try it (especially with the wonderful smell). I’m pleased to report it tasted as good as it smelt, refreshing and fruity – it was like summer in a cup. This would be a fabulous served chilled as an iced tea too I think (must do this!).

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A close contender for my favourite blend was the Raspberry Inferno, it certainly tastes as lively and full of flavour as it sounds. Fairtrade Hibiscus brings this blend to life, giving the bright red colour and working so well with the fresh, fruity berry flavours. This is perfect for summer evenings when I find myself still wanting to drink tea (when do I not?!) but know that I shouldn’t be having caffeine so late in the day.

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Back to another classic blend now, Earl Grey. I always think you can judge a tea brand by its earl grey, it’s sort of a benchmark for me. We drink a lot of it in my family and I’m very partial to it (I drink it at least once or twice a day!). I particularly enjoyed the earl grey from the London Tea Company, it was wonderfully fragrant and refreshing, without being overly perfumed (as some earl grey blends can be). There’s a lovely citrus note to the tea too, a quick look at the flavour notes tells me that the blend includes natural bergamot and lemon, orange and grapefruit peel to give this flavour. I think this is an earl grey tea which will please both the purists who drink it black with lemon, and, the many people who prefer it with a little milk.

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I also really enjoyed The London Tea Company’s Green Tea Tropical too. I found it light and delicate but equally packing a bit of a tropical punch with fruity flavours an real ginger. If you think you don’t like green tea, give this a try, I think you’ll be surprised – it’s a pleasure to sip!

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I think there’s just enough time to squeeze in another tea mention for the Zingy Lemon & Ginger tea too. This is certainly a zesty one, full of the warmth of pure Fairtrade ginger root, lemongrass and lemon. It would definitely warm your cockles on a dreary day.

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Although it feels as if I’ve written reams, this is actually just a mere snapshot of the blends available from The London Tea Company – there’s also Morroccan Mint, Rooibos, Pure Camomile, Sencha Green Tea and lots more! I recommend a visit to their website www.londontea.co.uk to have browse. They also have a brilliant collection of tea gifts on their website too, always a perfect pressie I find.

I must also add that all the blends from The London Tea Company are Fairtrade too, which is certainly reassuring when you drink as much tea as I do! I’m personally trying to really think more about where my food comes from and the quality of it. So it’s nice to know that their tea is ethically sourced and that as a company they take this so seriously. It just means I can enjoy every sip even more.

All that’s left is to say is a big thank you to The London Tea Company for sending me so many of their delightful teas to try, it’s been an absolute pleasure working my way through the range.

Off to put the kettle on!
xXx

 

 

You need this drink in your life!

I’m a big fan of the Arizona Iced Tea range, so I was delighted when I came across something I’d not tried from them on Ocado…

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Love the design and let me tell you it tastes as good as it looks! Delicious iced tea with added lemonade, a lovely, oh-so-refreshing pick me up. Ideal as we head into the summer months too. Seriously, it’s SO good.

I get mine from Ocado but you can buy online and other places by visiting www.amdrinks.co.uk

Can’t wait to order some more!

My Winchester

Some people may have spotted me in the Hampshire Chronicle’s ‘My Winchester’ column talking about my favourite things in the city. The experience got me thinking why not write an extended version for FoodTeaLife? You can only say so much in a short column and anyone who knows me will know I always have a lot to say about Winchester! I thought I’d alter the questions too, here goes…

Best place to get a cup of tea in Winchester:

Pitfield, The Bridge Patisserie, The Forte Tea Rooms and Ginger Two.

Best Desserts in Winchester:

Moments Gelato is pretty amazing. The Plough at Sparsholt’s dessert menu has all my favourites though.

Best Place for drinks with friends:

My house?! …and the Black Bottle

 Best place for alfresco eating and picnics:

The water meadows, far less crowded than the Cathedral Grounds

Best beer garden:

The Queen Inn has a great garden but also the Black Boy is pretty good for heaters and coverings in case it rains (you’ve got to consider these things!)

Best walk in Winchester:

Around the water meadows or St. Giles Hill

Perfect evening in Winchester:

Some of the best evenings are the spontaneous ones, so you can’t plan those. An evening at Winchester’s cinema is usually very nice though, you can have wine with the film just like you would at home!

Best place to celebrate  a special occasion:

For a special occasion the outside tables at the Black Rat are lovely.

Favourite Winchester tourist attraction:

The Christmas Market!

 

…So there you have it, My Winchester. What are your favourite things about Winchester? I’d love to know yours answers.

xXx

 

 

 

 

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