Monday, 30 June 2014

Cubania from Nespresso - A night in Cuba!

Walking down a side street in East London with a corrugated door ahead I wondered if I was in the right place when a little side door opened and I was beckoned inside. Once inside the smells, sounds and sights told me I was in Cuba!!

I had been invited to celebrate the launch of nespresso's new coffee pod Cubania!
Nespresso are pioneers in the coffee pod systems, giving the coffee lover a unique opportunity to have a different blend of coffee during the day and each time getting the same results. This latest coffee is based around the intense coffee drinking culture of Cuba, every shop you enter or home you will immediately be offered a cup of coffee.
A master class talking about how the coffee culture in Cuba works so well with the Cuban music, slow, sultry, evocative and dark! How they can be used to paint the mood.
Even the Ladies room had a Cuban feel!
Another master class - this time how to make the perfect cup of coffee and how varying the timings, temperature and grind of the coffee beans can alter the finished result.
My friend and fellow blogger Helen enjoying the masterclass too.
The whole place was like a vignette of Cuban life:-
One of the masterclasses we went to to learn how to make alternative drinks with the nespresso Cubania pods.
The finished cocktail, Mojito Cubania! (I love a Mojito and this was a great invention!)
Every corner we turned, it felt like we were really in Cuba.
And of course it was time to sit down to a fantastic Cuban meal, in a 'pop-up' Cuban restaurant with a vibrant atmosphere and salsa music.  It was so much fun and the food was fantastic.
We started with 'Musalina Pollo Con Ragu Conejo' - Warm muousseline of chicken filled with aragout of rabbit served with a Cubanelle red pepper and butter sauce.
Followed by the fish course - 'Hoja de Plantano al Horno de Langosta' - Baked native lobster on a red banana leaf enhanced with fresh mango, papaya, chilli, spring onion, fresh ginger and cilantro (coriander).
The main course was 'Vientre de Cerdo con Mojo Rum Salsa' - Rum glazed Dingley Dell, roasted belly pork with a Cuban mojo sauce, crispy black bean and pulled pork croquettes, pork jus and Cuban stuffed tomato. With of course the appropriately delicious wine to accompany each course.
And not to be forgotten was the dessert - 'Postres de Cafe' - Assiette of coffee macaroon, hazelnut mousse, espresso profiteroles and Cuban coffee ice-cream with raspberry and orange coulis and white ginger syrup. Mmmm mmmmm!
I had to agree with Helen Best-Shaw this was one of the best blogger events we had been to!

Many thanks to nespresso for inviting me. I was not paid to attend and as usual all opinions and photos are my own.

North Carolina Days - A treat for a favourite Aunt

Whilst on my North Carolina visit to my sister I was treated to a cleansing, exfoliating and moisturising facial by my niece.
My niece Danielle works at The Spa at Lafayette in Raleigh, North Carolina (USA) and told me she had a treat for me.
The Spa is beautifully decorated, calm and serene music playing in the background with low lighting to relax you.
Danielle really knows her craft as I lay there, eyes closed and relaxing she cleansed my skin, exfoliated, steamed, massaged and moisturised my face.
The products used were free from artificials and smelt lovely.

I left feeling like years had been erased from my face.
The Spa at Lafayette has a selection of anti-ageing, purifying and enhancing procedures available if you want to treat yourself or someone as a gift.
Thanks Danielle for my treat!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Spoilt Pig Bacon and a Quiche Lorraine

I love bacon however growing up in America bacon was bacon and it was always streaky.  I was particularly pleased when spoiltpig asked me to celebrate the British summer with a traditional Quiche Lorraine recipe using spoiltpig streaky bacon.
When the sun is out in Britain everyone rushed outside for a pic-nic either in the back yard, the nearest park or a trip to the beach. Either way there will probably be a quiche in the pic-nic container.

I usually make my quiches with all sort of different ingredients but for this one I decided to follow the recipe sent to me with the bacon for a Gallic classic with a British twist.  Quiche Lorraine.

I was sent a package to make the quiche which included spoiltpig streaky bacon, (The pigs used for this bacon spend much of their life outside and in comfortable straw barns making them just a little bit spoilt!). Clarence Court Burford Brown eggs with an amazing dark yellow colour along side some other essentials.
You could either make fresh pastry or use ready made (which I did).
  • Roll out the pastry as thinly as you can and line the base of a traditional quiche dish or a loose-bottomed fluted flan tin. 
  • Ease the pastry into the tin and press into the sides.
  • Trim the edges so it sits slightly above the tin. Prick the base with a for and chill for 10 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 200oC/fan 180oC/gas 6.
  •  Line the pastry case with foil and fill with baking beans or rice and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and beans and bake for another 4-5 minutes.
For the filling:
184g pack spoiltpig smoked dry cured streaky bacon, chopped
1 Tablespoon oil
320ml double cream
4 Burford Brown whole eggs and 2 egg yolks
Freshly ground black pepper to taste.

  • Heat the oil in a frying pan and cooke the  bacon for 8-0 minutes until cooked but not crisp, drain and spread half over the pastry case.
  • Put the cream, eggs, egg yolks and black pepper into a large bowl and beat until combined and then whisk faster to create a frothy mixture.
  • Pour over the bacon and sprinkle over the other half of the bacon. 
  • Top with grated cheese.
  • Bake for 20 minutes then check to see if it is ready.  It is ready when it still has a wobble in the middle but is puffed up.
  • Allow to cool slightly then serve with a side salad and jacket potato for a perfect summer meal.
  • When cold this is great sliced and included in a pic-nic basket or for a packed lunch.
Denhay Farms Ltd make spoiltpig bacon and it is available in most major supermarkets.  It is also available in Smoked Streaky, Unsmoked Back and Smoked Back.

Clarence Court Burford Brown eggs are also available from most major supermarkets as well as London branches of Fortnum and Mason, Selfridges and Harrods.

I was sent the above ingredients to make a quiche but did not receive any payment to do so.  As usual all opinions and photos are my own.

Time travelling - my outlook.

How many people these days take time travel for granted? With such nonchalance we sit in airports waiting for our call to board an airplane and travel at altitudes above 35,000ft at ground speeds equivalent to over 500 miles per hour as we plan to travel back in time or forward in time to a new day, a new adventure.

We travel around the world to another country, another continent, another culture as easily as we take a bus or train across town.

For one reason or another, a story to long to go into now, I had not flown across the Atlantic for quite few years, not been home to my people, my family but at long last here I am traveling to Boston, Mass today, staying in a hotel then flying in the morning to North Carolina, a state I have never been to before to visit my sister for three weeks. 

Sitting aboard this Virgin Atlantic flight, the same route and airline I always take to the USA, in the relative luxury of Premium Economy I am reflecting on the adventure ahead.
An airport waiting area with such comfy rocking chairs to while away the waiting time!
Sisters, two women with a special bond, an understanding a connection. I am very excited to see her and her family tomorrow.

I left my country for two years when I was seventeen and somehow never went home to live. Over the years I have made this journey  many times, sometimes twice a year with husband, children, friends however this year I am traveling on my own.

For the past three years I have written a food blog, adding drinks along the way and now the addition of a new perspective, travel blogging. I will be reporting my journey from a food blogger's perspective with recipes, restaurant reviews, local knowledge and great photos. I hope you feel like you are here with me and enjoy the trip!

Well, here we go, As Dorothy said when she clicked her heels together "There's no place like home!

Monday, 23 June 2014

Grown Up Crisps From Walkers - Market Deli Range

Walkers have made crisps and snacks for decades and this summer will see the launch of a new range - Market Deli potato crisps, tortilla chips and pitta chips in eight flavours.
The flavours are combinations of the best of real ingredients from around the world: Mature Cheddar from Cornwall, aged Aceto Balsamico di Modena PGI (balsamic vinegar) and Sundried Tomatoes from the Manisa region in Turkey.

At the launch event we were able to taste the new flavours and also the hero ingredients that influenced these new flavours. Flavours such as Roasted Red Chilli with Mediterranean Sundried Tomato Tortilla Chips, Pitta Chips with Roasted Garlic and Mediterranean Herbs and Flame Grilled Roasted Spanish Chorizo with Roasted Onion flavour Crisps.  These are just a few of the range.

The evening highlight was Michelin Star chef Tom Aikens who introduced us to the flavour profiles used and then treated us to a couple of easy recipes inspired by the ingredients used in the snack range.

The snacks are very fresh and crisp and none of the flavours were overpowering instead working together to give your mouth an explosion of flavours and tastes as you chew.
The Pitta Chips are thin and crispy and fresh. The Tortilla Chips are thin and crispy and each bite releases the various flavours.

There were plenty of canapes using the hero ingredients for us along with some lovely wines to accompany them.

Great big chunks of Cornish Mature Cheddar for the Potato Chips.
Roasted Red Peppers with English Tomato for Pitta Chips
Balsamic Vinegar of Modena (Aceto Balsamico di Moderna PGI)
The full range of Walkers Market Deli range will be available nationwide from Monday 23 June 2014. You are sure to quickly find your favourite flavour!

Thanks to Walkers for introducing me to their new Market Deli range. This is a sponsored post but all opinions and photos are my own.