Showing posts with label wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wine. Show all posts

Friday, 24 August 2012

Review: Paris House, Woburn

Woburn Park
Paris House, Woburn

Visiting Michelin-starred restaurants set in acres of picturesque parkland is most certainly not a regular pastime of mine. Yet last Saturday I was fortunate enough to join my best girl friends for a very special lunch at Paris House in Woburn, Bedfordshire. The only Michelin-starred establishment in the county, the restaurant is delightfully hidden away in the huge deer park next to Woburn Safari Park; accessed via an ancient stone archway and long winding driveway through lush green countryside dotted with grazing deer, giving an air of exclusivity even before one's first glimpse of the stunning black and white Tudor-style house. At the front of the restaurant a simple paved terrace with wrought iron tables and chairs offers spectacular views across the park. Inside, the contemporary styled dining room seats ten or so parties comfortably at tables covered by spotless white tablecloths and modern, angular wine glasses. Venture upstairs to the sumptuous washrooms - with lovely touches such as a string of pearls hung on the door to the ladies' room and a single, silk tie denoting the men's - and you can gaze out of the huge leaded windows at the well-tended kitchen garden, from which fresh produce is picked for the day's menu.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Recipe: Summer Spaghetti

Following my discovery of an amazing book on seasonal eating last weekend, I spent an educational, tiring, yet very enjoyable week trying to create a tasty meal each evening using only home-grown, seasonal produce. I tried to stick to locally sourced ingredients, where possible, and avoided using anything made, grown, reared outside of the UK. 

The result of working so hard to avoid the supermarkets, over-packaging and miles and miles of unnecessary transportation? A handful of lovely recipes to share on the Blog (after a week of silence - sorry regular readers!)... like this Summer Spaghetti, with bacon, British mushrooms and seasonal greens. 

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Review: Brasserie Blanc Covent Garden, London

In London this weekend I managed to find a little slice of heaven in the hell that is Saturday afternoon shopping in Covent Garden. I was meeting my best London girl to seek out a specific dress at a particular shop so we were forced to brave the hoards of tourists and die-hard weekend shoppers. Our afternoon out led us to wander around Covent Garden market after lunch and we stopped off at Brasserie Blanc, the chain of French brasseries from chef Raymond Blanc, for fortifying crêpes and wine.  

The Covent Garden brasserie overlooks the Opera Terrace, with two outdoor seating areas to enjoy drinks and snacks and an indoor restaurant for those sampling the brasserie menu. I liked the simple red tablecloths, BLANC emblazoned wooden crates and crêpe-shaped menus. We enjoyed glasses of chilled Sauvignon Blanc, served in small glass tumblers, and a delicious crêpe generously filled with chestnut purée. The sweet, nutty filling reminded me of my favourite French liquor, crème de châtaignes, and the dusting of sugar and delicate flaked almonds made me yearn for the best freshly baked croissants only found in French bakeries and markets.  Parfait!

I'm looking forward to sampling the brasserie menu on my next visit...

Enjoy! :-)

Brasserie Blanc Covent Garden
35 The Market
Covent Garden
Tel: 0207 379 0666

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Recipe: Pork Medallions with Black Pudding, Haricot Beans and Spring Greens

I seem to be a bit obsessed with cooking pork lately, maybe since the success of slow-roasting a huge slab of pork belly at my family's Jubilee weekend celebrations, and add it to my plate at every possible opportunity. I stumbled upon an awesome, simple supper recipe by Waitrose in my recipe file, consisting of haricot beans, black pudding and spring greens, and decided to give it try. With a pork medallion piled on top, naturally. The rich, meaty gravy created by the black pudding is a great partner to the crunchy greens and warming haricot beans.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Review: Cambridge Places: Dinner at d'Arry's Cookhouse & Wine Shop

I've just spent a delightful, yet very wet, weekend entertaining some lovely London friends and showing them the famous sights and foodie hotspots of Cambridge. Seeing my home city through the eyes of a tourist reminded me of many of my favourite places, old and new, and I loved sharing them with the gorgeous and fun Mr and Mrs C. Making time for a long, leisurely dinner at one of Cambridge's finest eateries was high on our to-do list so we ended a fun afternoon of Olympic Torch Relay celebrations with a visit to d'Arry's Cookhouse and Wine Shop on King Street...

Whetting the appetite with bread and olives

Monday, 2 July 2012

Exploring Foodie France: Paris - Chocolate Bars & Wine Caves...

Regular visitors to the Blog will know that central to my love of all things France is an ongoing obsession with the beautiful city of Paris, its restaurants, history, and gorgeous views (you can read about my last trip here, during which The Boy rather romantically proposed). It was therefore the perfect starting point for my recent trip to France, planned with the sole purpose of eating and drinking my way through some of the most celebrated gastronomic locations. There are two things I like doing when visiting cities like Paris: successfully pretending I'm not a tourist, and discovering a hidden gem so far untouched by guidebooks. And on this trip, I found the perfect places to do both.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Review: Cambridge Places: Going Local

Last weekend The Boy and I finally found ourselves spending some much-needed time at home. So we took the opportunity to enjoy the best sunny Cambridge had to offer. The ever-beautiful city positively gleams and glistens in the sunshine, buzzing with tourists, shoppers and students; boats bobbing on the river and sunbathers in the parks creating a laid-back holiday atmosphere. I was a little over-excited by the prospect of the first weekend of proper sunshine in Cambridge coinciding with my first visit to the annual Cambridge Beer Festival, the 39th to be held in the city. So much so that The Boy and I were keenly joining the queue on Jesus Green as close to 5pm on Friday evening as the pesky Day Jobs would allow.  

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Review: Rodells, Watford - World food and laid-back drinking

I'm always excited to be given the opportunity to review a restaurant located outside of Cambridge, especially when it turns out to be an unexpected foodie haven like Rodells in Watford, Hertfordshire. Rocking up to an unassuming shop front nestling surreptitiously at the corner of a rather unattractive crossroads close to Watford Junction station and then discovering that a small but perfectly formed bijou wine bar with a fascinating food menu lies within is a food blogger's ideal Friday night....

The dining room at Rodells, Watford

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Review: Cambridge Places: Supper at The First and Last

Finally, after harping on for weeks about how much I love The First and Last in Cambridge, I have found the time to have dinner at the great city centre pub and write about it! Hoorah! The perfect antidote to a long, hard day at the office, the food on offer was varied, interesting, and absolutely perfectly cooked. The generous portions and ingenious combinations of flavours and textures took us by surprise, especially considering the prices, and we gleefully worked our way through some delicious wines by the glass to complement each course.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Restaurant Review: La Ferté, Saint-Valery-sur-Somme (France)


The Boy and I spent a lovely weekend in France with Ma and Pa to celebrate our 30th birthdays and were lucky enough to be treated to a fabulous celebratory dinner at new restaurant, La Ferté, in the beautiful little village of St-Valery-sur-Somme. The charming holiday spot on the Picardie coast sits at the mouth of the river Somme, with impressive views across the Baie de Somme that change with the rapid tides, and plenty of Medieval character and friendly little shops and eateries to explore.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Foodie Fun on the Suffolk Coast


I enjoyed another fabulous few days at the Suffolk seaside last weekend when The Boy and I took Ma and Pa to visit our Very Special and Exciting Wedding Venue!! We celebrated the paying of the deposit and setting of the wedding date by sampling the incredibly good value three-course lunch menu at Thorpeness Hotel and Golf Club near Aldeburgh.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Foodie Treats at The In-Laws

Chocolate Treats!

Last weekend it struck me that I may have chosen my future husband based almost entirely on his and his family's love of good food and wine. The Boy and I spent another very enjoyable weekend tucking into foodie treats at The In-Laws'. The highlight of my Easter break was sampling course after course of home-cooked meals, washed down with plenty of Champagne. As well as Easter, always a good excuse to eat lots of yummy dinners followed by copious amounts of chocolate, we had three birthdays in the family to celebrate. The Mother-in-Law served up some delicious celebratory dishes, interspersed with bouts of piano playing, trips to The Allotment to work up an appetite for the next feast, and after-dinner dancing in the garden lit by The Father-in-Law's new parasol heaters and roaring Chiminea!

Friday, 6 April 2012

A weekend of cobbles, cappuccinos and carpaccio

The City of Alghero, Sardinia
This time last Friday The Boy and I were on an early morning flight from Stansted to Alghero for a weekend of sunshine, relaxation and some amazing food and wine. I was feeling very proud of myself, having kept the weekend a secret for weeks and The Boy was relieved that this surprise weekend away for his 30th birthday didn't involve a spa or any kind of manufactured fun!! Having visited Alghero five or six times before, I was excited to revisit some favourite bars and restaurants, as well as the gorgeous sandy beach and city harbour. Quite a stylish destination on the north-west coast of Sardinia, Alghero is an intriguing little city providing the opportunity to explore the quaint, traditional old city hidden beneath huge bastion walls whilst enjoying the buzzing cosmopolitan local areas, modern eateries, exclusive yacht moorings, and beautiful golden beaches and crystal clear waters.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Event: Cambridgeshire Wine School Launch Night

As if a weekend trip to Sardinia to mark The Boy turning 30 wasn't enough of a celebration (blog to follow), I decided to take him along to a launch night that I'd been invited to by the founder of a new local wine school. Promising an evening of quality wines, sumptuous surroundings and sparkling conversation, I arranged to meet The Boy at Cambridge Market Square where we buzzed our way in through the door of the exclusive 12A Club, hidden away in the corner of the square behind an unassuming wooden door marked only by a couple of gold balloons. All very cloak and dagger, visiting the private members' club was a special experience from the outset. After a warm welcome from the owner of the club, we enjoyed exploring the decadent surroundings of the club whilst sipping a glass of Champagne. Nestled in the heart of the city, within buildings owned by the University, 12A Club is a delightful warren of rooms decorated and furnished by the perfect combination of traditional, luxurious, old boys' leather and sleek, modern lines and prints. The bar serves a fantastic selection of drinks and cocktails too - I can highly recommend their apple-based gin from Herefordshire, UK.

The launch of Cambridgeshire Wine School attracted quite a crowd, quickly filling the venue with local wine-lovers of all ages. I spotted some local foodies, wine bloggers, and local celebrity chef Alex Rushmer; all snapped by Cambridge photographer Jean Luc Benazet. Founder of the school, Mark Anstead, kicked off proceedings with a lovely warm welcome and then the fun began. To give us a little sneak preview of the school's wine tasting evenings and courses, Mark ran a blind wine tasting test of one red and one white wine. Asked various questions about the grape, flavours and qualities possessed by each wine, participants were tested on their ability to name the wine and it's origin - the last one standing winning some glorious wines from Noel Young. My white was a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand (one of my favourites) and the red a Pinot Noir from, I believe, Chile (although there was some confusion about the definitive winner of this round!!). I think Mark definitely achieved what he set out to - we all had lots of fun and learnt something new about wine! Complementing the wines and plush setting were some delicious canapes prepared by Wild in the Pantry personal chef Frank Boddy. We enjoyed fresh and flavourful smoked salmon and quails egg blinis, courgette candles with red pepper houmous, and, my favourite, warm spiced apricot and butternut squash mini samosas. I was lucky enough to pop into the kitchen to meet Frank too. Warm and welcoming and clearly an expert in the kitchen, he's the perfect choice for adding a personal touch to your dinner party and getting your guests involved. Find out more about Frank's personal chef and cookery coach business here.   

The evening was a huge success and the Cambridgeshire Wine School looks set to be a popular and accessible provider of wine tasting courses and events. Held in the heart of Cambridge, at D'Arry's on King Street and the 12A Club on Market Hill, the tastings will range from evening events to 4-8 week long courses, from Champagne and Lunch tastings on Saturdays to Food and Wine matching and Corporate Events. Novices can take a tour of wines from all over the world and learn how to taste and identify different styles and varieties. Wannabe wine connoisseurs can enrol on longer term courses to explore particular regions, grapes, or food matching in more depth. Catering to all markets, the school will also offer weekend courses, private events, corporate and team building activities, and even gift vouchers. If you think you'd enjoy tasting some fabulous wines sourced from local suppliers and online retailers, with some expert advice and relaxing atmosphere, check out the school's website here.

A welcome addition to the Cambridge wine scene and a fabulous way to spend a Tuesday evening (and a 30th birthday according to The Boy!).