Recent finds

I’ve been up in London for both work and play recently and made lots of exciting foodie discoveries, I thought I’d share a few of my favourites here.

The Restaurant Show + The Bar & Pub Show

I was lucky enough to be working at this fantastic event and had a great time visiting different exhibitors and hearing their stories. Here are a few things I found…

Twisted Halo

twisted

Health conscious but enjoy a drink? This is for you! Twisted Halo is a gently sparkling blend of coconut water twisted with ginger and muddled with premium vodka. At 90 calories per 275ml bottle, it’s light, fresh and very drinkable. I hope to see pubs and bars stocking it soon!

Curio Spirits

curio

Yes more booze – but I loved the Curio Spirits collection of gin and vodka. Made in small batches all the way down in Cornwall they were full of fragrant botanicals and natural ingredients. I liked their Rock Samphire Gin, made with Cornish spring water and quadrupled distilled with 15 fragrant botanicals, including Kombu seaweed.

The Snaffling Pig Co. – Pork Crackling

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If you watch Dragons Den you may remember this company, who had reinvented pork crackling as a high end pub snack. I had to try some and I wasn’t alone in doing so, their stand was very busy with people sampling the tasty flavours. Expect to see these in good pubs soon!

This is just a little snapshot from the show, there were so many other great things to see and try and talks to learn from too.

Stylist Live 

A week or so later I was back in London for a fun day out at Stylist Live. This is a truly amazing event, with so much going on. I could have gone to all the talks and bought so many lovely things! There are foodie stalls, gins, clothes, jewellery, interiors, make up – just everything. It’s fair to say I was a little over excited. So here’s just two fun foodie finds…

Crosstown Doughnuts – Matcha Tea Doughnut

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I have had the pleasure of sampling Crosstown Doughnuts before (they’re amazing!) but I’d never tried their Matcha Tea Doughnut before. With Match Tea being all the rage at the moment I had to give it a try and it didn’t disappoint. These sourdough doughnuts are on another level! Seriously indulgent but seriously worth it.

Rebel Kitchen – Raw Coconut Water

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From indulgence to innocence…this refreshing coconut water has no additives so it naturally turns pink in the bottle. I’d never seen coconut water with this pink glow before but apparently they’re the result of naturally occurring phenols (anti-oxidants to you and me). It tasted different to other coconut water brands and was lovely and refreshing. I’ll be stocking up on it!

xXx

 

Bring and Mix comes to Winchester

As much as I love Winchester’s night life, I’ve always said that it’s just missing a secret underground cocktail bar!

Well, maybe I haven’t always said that, but now that Bring and Mix has come to our fair city, it feels like what we’ve all been waiting for.

Tucked away underground in a rather mysterious location, Bring and Mix offers the perfect amount of prohibition era escapism for the evening. With gramophone music, low lighting and vintage styling you can’t help but get into the spirit of things!

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A sneaky snap of Winchester’s new pop-up underground cocktail bar, Bring and Mix

Speaking of spirits, this is where Bring and Mix is a little different to other cocktail bars – you bring along your own selection of alcohol. Simply take along your favourite spirits and the Bring and Mix team have all the skills and special ingredients to turn them into a delicious round of cocktails. This video explains it all…


I attended the Winchester launch of Bring and Mix (which conveniently happened to fall over my own and a friend’s birthday weekend), so I can tell you it’s great fun!

After a month which has seen my drinks cabinet hit quite hard, we were a little unsure of which spirits to bring. Of course I did have some gin handy (there’s always gin!) so we brought along Juniper Green Organic Gin but thought we better leave the amaretto, whisky, Pimms and sloe gin behind. That really would have been a recipe for a nasty hangover. So we stopped along the way for some vodka and white rum… if in doubt, it’s always best to stick to the classic clear liquids I find.

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Unexpected contents lurking in my drinks cabinet!

The talented Bring and Mix team turned our spirit choices into some fabulous cocktails, taking the time to ask what we liked and didn’t like and to talk us through the flavours we could expect. We even had a non-gin-drinker (they do exist) enjoying a gin based cocktail!

I dare say what with a double birthday celebration, we were all in rather high spirits to begin with but our two hours at Bring and Mix absolutely flew by in a whirlwind of fun, laughter and cocktail magic. I can highly recommend popping along to try out the experience – you can book tickets and find out more here. I’d be tempted to go again myself and perhaps put a bit more thought into my spirit selection. Who wants to join me next time?

Thanks to the team behind Bring and Mix for the invite, it certainly helped make it a birthday weekend to remember!

Foodie Christmas Gift Guide

Well, with less than a month to go it’s time to start shopping! So, without further ado here’s some of my favourite foodie Christmas gift ideas this year…

Prestat Velvety Milk Chocolate Wafers with English Earl Grey Tea

Prestat

Earl Grey and chocolate wafers combined – what’s not to love? These delicate little treats are made by infusing Earl Grey tea in cocoa butter and adding bergamot oil. I love the beautiful packaging too, an indulgent stocking filler!

Joe & Seph’s Gourmet Popcorn – Glass Gift Jar

popcornThese guys make some fabulous varieties of popcorn including Mince Pie, Brandy Butter, Gin & Tonic, Gingerbread and lots more! A scrumptious treat for any foodie. What better accompaniment to a classic Christmas film than a jar filled with some festive flavoured popcorn?

Marmite Tea Pot

Marmite

I love all things Marmite and over the years have received some gorgeous Marmite gifts including Champagne infused Marmite, chocolate infused with Marmite (yes really) and some beautiful Marmite themed crockery and homewares. However I still can’t help finding this Marmite teapot rather lovely – perfect for those lazy weekend mornings with lots of tea and toast.

Char Teas

Char Teas

This wonderful shop in Winchester is filled with many wonderful varieties of loose leaf tea and you can spend quite a while choosing the perfect one. I think it’s always nice to give someone one of their classic Winchester blends such as Lady Winchester, Winchester Afternoon or Winchester Breakfast Tea. Of course there’s over 150 blends to choose from – so plenty of choice if you’re looking for something more unusual for a tea enthusiast.

Pair Of Mussel Eaters

Mussel EatersHow charming are these? These silver plated mussel eaters are a perfect gift for seafood lovers and a great buy for someone who has everything.  I think they’re quite simply adorable!

Plush Puffs Gourmet Marshmallows

Marshmallows

Another scrummy stocking filler, these posh marshmallows come in some delightful flavours including Mochaccino, Toasty Coconut and Luscious Lemony Meringue. Who could resist these little moorish fluffy bites?

Cath Kidston Mushroom Salt & Pepper Shakers

salt-and-pepper-shakerYou’ve got to admit these are pretty cute. There’s just something so magical and whimsical about mushrooms I think. These would surely be a lovely, quirky addition to anyone’s kitchen.

Personalised Christmas Pudding

pudding

A traditional Christmas pudding personalised with your own message makes a perfect gift for your Christmas day hosts, or for someone who you wish you were spending Christmas day with.

Manuka Honey

Honey

Manuka honey is sweet, tasty and healthy, helping to boost your immune system at this time of year. A lovely little stocking filler for someone who likes something sweet on their toast.

I Could Eat A Horse Spaghetti Measurer 

horse

A super stocking filler for someone who has everything, or just loves things for the kitchen! This clever little gadget will measure out how much spaghetti you need for 4 people (or less people if they are hungry horses). It also will measure out a typical man, woman or child portion – pretty useful really!

VOM FASS Blood Orange Vodka

Vodka

I’ve not actually tried this but I want to! Who wouldn’t want to find this under the tree on Christmas day? The beautiful bottle and the bright, citrus-flavoured contents are sure to go down well!

Well, I do hope this eclectic mix of gift ideas has provided some festive inspiration for the foodie in your life. What are your favourite foodie gifts? I’d love to know of any other fabulous food and drink related things for Christmas so tweet, email or leave a comment for me with your suggestions!

Mormons, Lobsters and London…

I can’t tell you how excited I’ve been about seeing Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s musical, The Book of Mormon! I’d booked the tickets waaay back in November as a special treat for Tom and at last the weekend had finally arrived!

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To make a real occasion out of the day (I don’t do London all that often) we went for a spot of lunch first. We headed to the Burger & Lobster – nearby restaurant serving you guessed it…burger or lobster. There’s only three choices on the menu so all are done really well, there was a choice of lobster with a salad and fries, a burger with bacon and cheese and a lobster roll. I opted for the lobster roll, which was to die for, I’d eat it again right now if that were possible! The lobster roll was actually toasted brioche bread, with cold lobster in a lemon mayonnaise, accompanied by salad and fries…so good!

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Lobster Roll - delicious!

Here’s a look at the other two dishes on the menu…

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Burger at Burger & Lobster

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Lobster and chips, a classic!

Being as it was a special occasion, I enjoyed a few lunchtime cocktails too. Here’s a Winter in the City, a vodka based cocktail with cranberry, elderflower…and I forget what else…it somehow tasted like an iced mulled wine, if you can imagine that tasting good.

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Winter in the City - beautiful and delicious

A few wines were also enjoyed at lunch and then a few more at the theatre too…so it did end up little messy that evening, but lots of fun. The show was fantastically funny, Trey Parker and Matt Stone at their best. Highly offensive but totally getting away with it, by being so on the mark and amusing. There were actually points when my theatre companions had tears of laughter in their eyes! It’s hard to conceive of how a musical about Mormons could be so brilliant, but like South Park and Team America, it just somehow is. If you enjoyed Team America you’ll enjoy The Book of Mormon for sure, definitely worth the trip to London!

Cocktail Creations & Party Food

Happy bank holiday weekend everyone!

This latest post is somewhat inspired by my good friend Miss Penn’s recent birthday bash, where some very creative cocktails where enjoyed at The London Cocktail Club’s Goodge Street venue. Before I get on to that though I did promise to reference how good the pre-party food was. I am a firm believer that if you’re going to throw a party, there must be a good food offering too – crisps in a bowl doesn’t cut it! It’s just good manners and basic biology if you ask me. If alcohol is to be consumed over a long period of time, there must be sufficient food first. So to show you how it’s done here’s a picture of the spread at Miss Penn’s recent joint birthday soiree.

 

The mac and cheese was a winner with everyone

Not forgetting the ‘teal velvet cupcakes’ – yes that’s right…teal…you saw it here first people!

So with stomachs suitably filled with food, it was on to the cocktail portion of the evening. I sadly only stayed for one delicious drink (needed to be back down south again), but here’s a selection of the fabulous drinks we enjoyed.

Miss Pen enjoyed an earl grey infused cocktail – I approve!

The ‘At the Movies’ cocktail

My choice! Painkiller…a classic Caribbean rum cocktail that I have fond family memories of my mum enjoying over in the Virgin Isles!

Feeling inspired and with my sister’s birthday just around the corner, I got out my cocktail shaker and got to work on some cocktail creations of my own. The party was Mexican food themed and it was a hot summer’s evening so it called something fruit filled and zesty. In the end I settled on a long drink, which had took its base recipe from a good old fashion Cosmo, with a few added extras. I’m calling it a ‘Summer Cosmo’

The Summer Cosmo

It was delicious and enjoyed by all! I was frequently back and forth with the cocktail shaker whipping up fresh batches. If you’d like to try my Summer Cosmo too, the ingredients are as follows…

  • Absolut Citron Vodka (if you’ve only got normal vodka, just add lots of fresh squeezed lemon juice to the mix)
  • Juice of x2 limes
  • Cranberry & Raspberry Juice
  • Sanguinello (blood orange) Juice
  • Fresh squeezed orange juice
  • Crushed ice and chopped orange, lime, lemon and strawberries for the finishing touches

The ratio can be varied depending on the strength, I went for the Sanguinello and Cranberry as the strongest juice elements to give a red summery colour.

Enjoy – happy bank holiday drinking!

Season’s Eatings

Firstly I hope everyone has had a lovely Christmas with great food, fun, friends and family. I’ve certainly indulged to excessive levels as is traditional at this time of year.  From the festive build up, to the big day itself, to the stocking-fillers and treats under the tree have all provided me with some fabulous foodie moments, with new things to try as well as classic Christmas favourites. Here are my festive foodie highlights so far…

Ladies Christmas Drinks at the Black Bottle

People of Winchester and the surrounding areas, or anyone ever considering a visit to the historic capital of England, I cannot stress to you how much of a must-do the Black Bottle is – it’s quite simply unique and always a very good evening. My friends and I started our evening in the ever popular Black Boy, but it seemed everyone else in Winchester had the same idea! And so with many of  my best girl-friends now being deserters of Winchester (off making their fortunes in London) – I suggested a move to the Black Bottle – having realised most of them would have never experienced it. I have to say it was perfect as always, with its usual relaxed, but special atmosphere and of course some very interesting wines – my friends loved it (as I knew they would) and a splendid evening was had by all.

Team Christmas lunch at The Bush in  Ovington

I’d always heard good things about this pub and so was very pleased to be going there for a Christmas lunch. I chose a totally non-traditional main course (not wanting to spoil my desire for my Dad’s famous roast in the next few days) and opted for a Mature Cheddar and potato pie with cauliflower cream. As a serious cheese lover I was intrigued by this dish and it didn’t disappoint – in fact it was delicious and although it looked huge, I managed to demolish it all.

Perfect Pressies!

On to some of the great foodie gifts I got this year from friends and family…

As anyone who has ever accompanied me to the cinema knows, I absolutely adore popcorn, so I was delighted to receive  a box of Joe & Seph’s Gourmet Popcorn for Christmas. The box contained a whole variety of assorted flavours from Classic Caramel to the more interesting Cheddar, Sweet Topping and Savoury Seasoning (oddly more-ish!) – needless to say I am so looking forward to trying all of the flavours and purchasing a few new ones in the future. I’ve always harped on about how there should be cheesy popcorn and now there is!

I’m a Marmite lover no doubt about it and over the years have been bought and enjoyed quite a few of the foodie Marmite spin-offs, from Champagne Infused Marmite for Valentine’s Day to lovely little mini Marmite cheeses – but I wasn’t expecting to receive two bars of  Very Peculiar Milk Chocolate Infused with Marmite! It claims to be a ‘Perplexing Treat that Bewilders the taste buds’ and I don’t think there could actually be a better choice of words for this latest Marmite inspired invention…it’s very difficult to describe the experience. The chocolate bar has a Marmite aroma from the beginning which adds a strangeness before you even taste the chocolate, which is sweet and creamy with a savoury overtone – I instantly went in for a second mouthful, but then a Marmite after taste kicks in – truly peculiar, but recommended for Marmite fans.

I must also give a big shout out to my sister’s homemade cranberry and orange infused vodka – lovely with lemonade! Of course the top-spot goes to my Dad’s roast turkey on the big day itself – although I did play a major part ensuring the bird was cooked on time…here’s me taking orders from the Christmas cooking bible …

My family’s traditional Boxing Day meal of cold meats, pickles and homemade chips is also a big win – I look forward to that as much as the big Christmas roast itself!

…Well its safe to say after all that, even my elastic waste-banded items of clothing feel tight! The New Year will hopefully feature slightly healthier foodie moments…but I’m not quite there yet – with a special, several course meal booked in for New Year’s Eve and Tom’s Birthday, I feel there will be yet more indulgences to write about and enjoy.

Party in my tummy

At the party in my tummy this weekend are nachos, chicken chassuer, mince pies, apple and cinnamon tart and good old fashion baked potatoes, washed down with mulled wine, Earl Grey and strawberry beer, elderflower wine and vodka sodas…Not all in one day I might add.

It’s been so crazy busy that I can’t even begin to tell you the stories surrounding the foodstuffs I’ve consumed this weekend, I’ll leave that to your imagination…

Have a good week and eat well!