Thursday, 11 February 2016

Valentine's Day Heart Round Up

Here is a list of a few things to surprise your Valentine with this year on 14 February:-

Start your romantic morning with something pink and bubbly, this Lanson gift set will start any young (or indeed any age) maiden's pulse fizzing. Lanson have been making their champagne the traditional way since 1760. This gift set contains a 200ml bottle of Lanson Rose Label Brut Rose' Champagne and a branded Lanson Champagne Flute - My drink of choice on many levels!!  Cheers!
Nespresso have brought out a perfect coffee for your Valentine's breakfast - Rosabaya de Colombia - blend of individually roasted Colombian Arabicas with an intensity 6 - just past the mid point so making it a great session coffee best suited served as an Espresso.

Also from Nespresso are their two new limited edition Grand Crus.
1. ULTIMA wa Lake Kivu - from a small community in Lake Kivu, Rwanda a pure origin coffee that is refreshing and Intensity 6 suitable for both an Espresso and a Lungo.
2. TANIM de Chiapas - grown on high volcanic land in Chiapas, Mexico a silky smooth texture and bready aromas with nutty notes. This is an intensity 7 working equally well as a Ristretto or an Espresso.
Newby, The Finest Tea Collection suggest treating your loved one to a cup of their Gourmet Collection - Majestic Himalaya, a black tea from Nepal
or their Exclusive Taster Pack - fine, fresh loose-leaf tea cocooned in silken pyramids, sealed individually for freshness.
Nature have provided the next item - pistachios. I was sent some packets of American Pistachios, grown in California.  These little nuggets of sweet crunch that pack quite a nutritious punch!  They are a great source of protein, high in potassium, rich in Vitamin B1 and B6 and a great source of manganese.
The pistachios are superb to nibble as soon as you take them out of their protective shells but also add flavour and goodness to cakes, desserts, herb crusts for chops and much more.  They are also known for their energy giving properties = Valentine's Day energy (need I say more!)

Keeping it pink and healthy Ocean Spray Sparkling Cranberry is a sure way to keep hydrated and take in the goodness of cranberries. I would have preferred it without sweetener though as I do try to avoid them.
My final suggestion to treat your loved one this year is Haagen Dazs 'Strawberry Cheesecake' ice cream.  Haagen Dazs is my ice cream of choice ever since I first discovered them in the States. Imagine the little dance I did when we could buy this product here in the UK!

If you are staying in this Valentine's Day and perhaps cooking for your sweetie then Haagen Dazs Strawberry Shortcake ice cream (a blend of soft cheese, crunchy biscuit and strawberry sauce) would be the perfect end to the meal and to your Valentine's Day. How will  you top this next year!!

I was sent samples of the products listed here but was not paid to write about them and all opinions and photos are my own.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The Telegraph Cruise Show and The Reluctant Cruiser

It may seem strange that I wanted to, and voluntarily attended the Telegraph Cruise Show a few weeks ago however since my short voyage on the Norweigan Escape’s inaugural voyage at the end of last year I have decided that perhaps the story of cruising has changed and that  I, The Reluctant Cruiser, had better get on board!

These big shows, this one was at The ExCel in London’s Docklands, are full of cruise companies looking for passengers and potential passengers looking for a good deal or sizeable discount on their 2016 cruise.  Often if you book at one of these shows you get a much better deal.

There are so many places in the world to cruise to and an equal number of cruise companies willing to take you there.  I was particularly interested in the idea of river cruising, not quite such rough waters!

Of course anywhere in the Caribbean is sure to ‘float my boat’ as they say but I would also like to try other destinations.  I have my travel bands ready as well as all the electronics to keep me busy and my mind from ruminating on all the things that ‘happen at sea’ as well as plenty of food and drink and entertainment on board to keep busy should I not want to venture outside!

Thinking about this makes me wonder if I will ever get my 'sea legs'! I'll let  you know.

Here are some photos from the show to give you an idea of what is waiting for you on board!
What a great way to stay hydrated during the show!
Early opening, everyone ready, let the crowds begin!
Had to have my photo taken at the Bahamas stand - 2016 goal is to swim with the pigs in The Bahamas! (photo not to scale!!)
Virgin Holidays were in attendance to try to temp attendees with their exotic range of holidays,
Cruising is fast growing in popularity with people of all ages (it was always thought to be a retired or older person's way of travelling) with many lines offering the perfect family holiday.

This year will highlight seven new cruise ship launches:-
1. Holland America Cruise Lines - Koningsdam which will high light a kids club as well as cooking demonstrations.

2. Viking Cruises - new ship the Viking Sea featuring a dive-in infinity pool, sauna and snow grotto!

3. Royal Caribbean - Harmony of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ship with 7 neighbourhood concepts, pools and sports zones.

4. Royal Caribbean - Ovation of the Seas with it's superfast internet and skydiving simulator.

5. Carnival Cruise - Carnival Vista featuring an 800' long cycle track suspended 150' above the sea.

6. Regent Seven Seas - Seven Seas Explorer, all suite, all balcony with impressive cooking demos.

7. Seabourn - Seabourn Encore - elegant, intimate luxury featuring all suites and all balcony cruising.

I wonder if 2016 will be the year The Reluctant Cruiser takes a leap on any of the above!!

I was given a complementary ticket to The Telegraph Cruise Show but was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Weekend Brunch at The Gate Pub - Time to Relax


As you know afternoon tea is my utmost favourite meal but in close pursuit is weekend brunch.  That lazy Sunday morning of eating your favourite breakfast halfway through the day and sipping orange juice and coffee with possibly something fizzy!  And don't forget Saturday as well - if you have done the shopping early you can just sit and while away the rest of the morning catching up on the newspapers.

Well, nestled in the quiet village of Chorleywood in Hertfordshire, The Gate pub is offering just that opportunity.

Now on weekends The Gate will be serving Brunch from 09:30 - 11:30 am in their cosy atmosphere with dishes on offer such as Lobster Benedict with a glass of champagne (£19.95) which is two perfectly poached eggs on two lobster tails nestled on English muffins and a mouthwatering sauce with spinach and hollandaise.  This will be served with a glass of perfectly chilled, mouth watering Mo√ęt & Chandon Champagne.

Or why not try Buttermilk Pancakes, Chorizo Hash or the traditional Scrambled Eggs and other Great British Breakfast items!

You can just call in and take your chances but it is better to phone (01923 282 053) to book your table.

This is a sponsored post. I was not obliged to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

The Wallace Collection - Afternoon Tea

If you are new to my blog then let me tell you I love afternoon tea and if you are a treasured reader then you already know that!  In fact afternoon tea is the one British tradition I would lobby Parliament to keep if it were ever in danger!!

I was invited by The Wallace Collection along with a few blogger friends to try their Afternoon Tea.
The Wallace Collection is a beautiful collection of great paintings and sculptures open to the public, absolutely free entry and is only a 8-10 minute walk from Bond Street Underground station on Oxford Street, London.  The central hallway greets you with an idea of the caliber of collections you will see.
You can wander around on your own with a guide book or take a guided tour and benefit from the knowledge and stories of the well informed guides.
We were there for Afternoon Tea which they serve in the restaurant in a conservatory like area, light and comfortable.
There was no rush and as we waited for one of our party we sipped cool, crisp champagne - my drink of choice of course!
Each guest was served their own individual three tier tea carrier.
Afternoon Tea served on an individual, three layer plate carrier consisted of a selection of sandwiches (smoked salmon and cream cheese, ham, egg and cress and coronation chicken), home made scone, clotted cream and Payton and Byrne preserves and a selection of mini cakes.
The collection of teas is from Peyton and Byrne 's selection of black teas with the usual English Breakfast, Assam and Darjeeling as well as Formosa finest Oolong. Green teas and herbal and fruit infusions which included Orange rooibos and Vanilla Chai.
The top layer of cakes changes regularly and our collection was Eclair with Chantilly cream and caramel, Madeleine with lemon zest, Amaretti Biscuit with orange zest.
We left and it was dark outside on this wintry January late afternoon.  Off to do a spot of shopping before heading home.

Opening Times
Sun – Thur 10:00-16:30
Fri & Sat 10:00-22:30
Breakfast 10:00-12:00
Lunch 12:00-15:00
Afternoon Tea 14:30-16:30
Dinner (Fri & Sat) from 18:00

I was a guest for Afternoon Tea at the Wallace Collection along with four other foodie bloggers. All photos and opinions belong to Heidi's Kitchen Talk.

Here is what fellow food blogger Emma had to say about the afternoon tea.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Judge Cookware brings you thermal cups and glasses

Do you hate it when your hot drinks go cold and the cold ones warm up long before you have finished drinking them!
A practical solution is thermal cups and glasses, two thin layers of glass with a gap between them help to keep your drink just the way you want it for longer.
Judge Cookware bring thermally insulated, double walled glasses and cups.  Each piece is hand crafted by artisans, mouth blown so completely unique.
All of the range is scratch resistant and dishwasher safe.

I received a set of highball glasses and coffee cups.  All opinions and photos are my own.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Travel Tip 2 - Take your condiments

I love travelling but I know I will want to bring some goodies back home and with the airlines clamping down on how much luggage you can take with you combined with the fact that I hate carrying too much luggage with me I have started travelling as light as possible.

Well I like to travel to my destination as light as possible leaving me loads of scope for purchases to bring back home!

I love trying new foods when I travel however sometimes you may need a little help, a cup of coffee before you track down a great local cafe, some chili spices in advance of finding that fantastic local restaurant everyone talks about.

I like to take a few condiments with me in case of emergency however a bottle of sauce or a jar of coffee would weigh far too much to be on my packing list.  Solution:-

Take a plastic or other lightweight carrier filling it with a couple of sachets of instant coffee, your favourite sweetener and other must haves.
My emergency stash would include chia seeds, matcha tea, tabasco sauce, coffee and tea bags for Mr R.

These little portions will just keep you calm whilst you get used to the local products - you will usually find most things abroad even if they differ slightly!

What would you put in your little plastic pouch? Leave a comment below - maybe it will turn out to be a reminder to someone else to take with them.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Roast Red Peppers with Tomatoes

 Following the Christmas holiday I went through the fridge to see what needed using up.  I hate wasting and sometimes you have so much food in over the holidays that some things get missed.

The red peppers in the veg drawer were not at their shiniest but still far from at the end. Roast peppers are always great to make, I often make them in advance, for a side dish or roast red pepper and tomato soup or pasta sauce.  The oil is also kept for a future pasta sauce.

Firstly cut the peppers in half trying to keep some of the stem intact.  Clean out the membrane and seeds and lay flat in a deep ovenproof dish.  Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
Finely chop a couple of cloves of garlic ( I only used one clove but it was a giant garlic from The Isle of Wight!)
and sprinkle inside the peppers. I had a bowl of little plum tomatoes that I got in the market so these got sliced in half and put inside the peppers and around them.

Season with salt & pepper, chopped fresh basil (I used up one of those living pots of herbs on the window sill). Drizzle your favourite olive oil or rapeseed oil over the peppers and put into a moderately hot oven - 200C for about 60-75 minutes depending how cooked you like the final result.
Once cooled you can serve the peppers as a side dish especially lovely with a salad and BBQ or grilled meat.
A benefit of being a true foodie is appreciating the range of different products that go into one of my recipes: Rapeseed oil from the Borders, garlic from the Isle of Wight, thyme from Greece, Olive oil from Italy, salt from the Himalayas, basil from my window sill and more!

I am entering this post into the monthly blog round up 'Eat Your Veg' run jointly by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours and Michelle from UtterlyScrummy.
Extra Veg Blogging challenge badge
and Credit Crunch Munch hosted by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours and Camilla from FabFood4All