Thursday, 30 July 2015

Grenada: True Blue Bay Boutique Resort

As I previously mentioned the first three nights of my trip to Grenada was spent at the Blue Horizons Resort. On our fourth day we moved to stay at True Blue Bay Boutique Resort.  Here we would remain for the rest of our visit to Grenada.

We had gotten a glimpse of the resort the day we went snorkeling as the Dive Centre is located on the True Blue Bay Resort premises however we were not envisaging such a warm welcome upon our arrival.  The owners Russ and Magdalena Fielden were there to greet us and make the check-in procedure go as smoothly as possible.  We were taken to our rooms and jaws dropped.  We were staying in one of their Villas at the back and quieter end of the resort.

We entered on the ground floor to a lovely bedroom and stylish bathroom. We were then shown upstairs.  I just wanted to move in there forever, it was the perfect place to spend the next week and a half and I never wanted to leave. 
As we had entered the villa there was a small infinity pool and beach mainly for the villas but of course open to all guests.  There was another large pool on the premises that we never got around to using it being so content to step out of our door across the sand and into the pool!

The view from our private balcony. I could sit there all day and really all night with a cold glass of rum punch and gaze out across the bay!
The resort has a bar which serves great food all day and is called the Doggy Dock! Sitting in the comfortable seating area and around the bar and this would be your average view, it didn't really change much!
Walking around True Blue Bay Resort we were always coming upon cute little vistas including these cheeky fellows! If one little pig went to market and one little pig stayed home these three little pigs went to Grenada and stayed there!!
True Blue Bay is child friendly with a fun play spot in a shady part which encourages the little ones to get out of the direct sunshine for a while.
It seems that every where you turn there are endless blue skies!
Each time we passed this tree on the boardwalk to the restaurant I just wanted to stop, take a deep breath and stand for one quiet moment!
Step around another corner, at the back of the well stocked little boutique and you will see these cute guys, I named them the True Blue Band!
There is a little micro brewery on the premises who made a special chocolate beer for the Grenada Chocolate Festival.
Didn't see this guy for several days even though we walked past him several times!
Everywhere you look at True Blue Bay is another surprise piece of art!
In 2004 Hurricane Ivan swept through the Caribbean and left devastation in it's wake.  A lasting reminder is a piece of wood that 'Ivan' lodged into the side of a building on the site and stays there as a reminder.
All this plus a great restaurant with Head Chef Gary at the controls churns out superb food, The Doggy
Dock bar and pizza restaurant, Esther and Omega - a great character duo make you a fresh personalised omelet for breakfast each morning and have a little cooking lesson once a week, a well stocked boutique with a range of clothes perfect for the sunshine and warm weather, friendly and welcoming staff and still there is time for Magdalena to run the Grenada Chocolate Festival!

The Grenada Chocolate Festival was the main reason for our visit to Grenada.  I will be telling you all about it in a post coming soon!  Keep looking out for it.

I was a guest of the True Blue Bay Resort as part of a Grenada Tourist Authority trip.  All opinions and photos are my own.  

Friday, 24 July 2015

Hendrick's Gin - Mobile Masterclass at The Wicked Lady Wheathampstead

One for the road as they say, shaken and not stirred!  The traditional Martini and favourite of the legendary character James Bond 007 is a drink featuring gin and vermouth and garnished with a couple of pimento stuffed olives on a cocktail stick.

Gin is made from vodka and must have juniper berries as one of the ingredients (51% of the world's juniper harvest goes into gin making)

Hendrick's Gin is distilled and bottled in Scotland and is unbelievably only 16 years old.  The concept was created at the home of a family of Scottish distillers for generations when a chance conversation revolved around an old still they found in the attic and what they could do with it that was different.  Let's make a gin! 
Gin itself has been around for centuries, at one time being better to drink than the local water!  It was possible for anyone to make gin but without any regulations some of it was indeed a dark drink and often responsible for injury and death amongst the drinkers.  Gin was used in the Dutch wars when the soldiers full of gin would just go head long into battle - Dutch Courage!
Regulations requiring a licence to distill gin helped to clean up the product and to create four main categories of gin:
1. London Dry (a particular process that denotes how it is made not that it needs to be made in London)
2. Gin (can have different herbs and spices as long as juniper is involved - Hendrick's is in this category)
3. Batched (M&S and Sainsburys have a good example of batched gin)
4. Location (Plymouth Gin - must be made inside the walls of Plymouth and with water from a local reservoir).
The tasting and masterclass were held in Hendrick's mobile and converted bus in the grounds of The Wicked Lady Pub and fine dining on the main road from St Albans to Wheathampstead.

Mr R, myself and two other bloggers that attended were treated to a lovely lunch afterwards sitting in the spacious and child friendly garden of The Wicked Lady on a beautiful summer afternoon.  The pub had some live music, face painting and Pimm's special bar along with a unique seating place for a bit of peace and quiet - an extra large teepee which will stay up all trough to the end of the decent weather.

We feasted on a variety of starters and main courses which included:-
A slice of brie covered in a pumpkin seed crust and deep fried with a sticky chutney and pea shoot garnish
I ordered a House Burger with added bacon and Stilton cheese. I don't often have a burger in a restaurant as it often falls short of expectation but this was a really lovely, fresh lean meat burger with a lot of garnish and fresh bun.  I had to deconstruct it to eat it, even my mouth wasn't big enough to take a bite!!
The was no choice in the matter of drinks on such a lovely hot summer day - Pimms!
By the way Hendrick's recipe for a Hendrick's Martini is:-

60ml Hendrick's Gin
10ml Dry Vermouth
Dash of Orange Bitters

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and stir until the desired dilution and temperature is reached.  Garnish with a lemon twist. Enjoy!

I was a guest of Hendrick's Gin and The Wicked Lady Pub. All photos and opinions are my own.

Putting on the Ritz - Win the latest selection here too.

When someone says 'Putting on the Ritz' do you think of a top hat, tails and a cane or a new product from Ritz.

The makers of Ritz Crackers have a new crispy, crunchy snack on the market which is proving to be really popular.

I was invited to preview the collection and to try some simple but really tasty dips to go with the new Ritz Crisps but really anything you like dipping into will work really well.

There are four flavours, Sour Cream, Sweet Chilli, Sea Salt and Black Pepper and Salt-n-Vinegar.

Here are some photos to give you some style ideas if you are entertaining - the Ritz Crisps fit into any entertaining scenario.

I was a guest of Ritz and all photos and opinions are my own.

If you would like to win a selection of the new Ritz Crisps you can enter here by following the Rafflecopter below:-
a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is only open to UK residents. 

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Marley Spoon - Dinner in a Box

Marley Spoon – dinner in a box.  But don’t worry it’s not a box of processed food but instead everything that you need to create a meal including the meat, fresh fruit and vegetables and spices and as in our case the yoghurt.

All I had to provide was the salt & pepper and a little bit of cooking oil.  The instructions were on an A4 size card and really clear with pictures and good descriptions of each step.
We received the Chicken Tikka with Sweet Potato Salad to try.  It arrived well packed and labelled and was still cool when I got home from work even though it had been delivered in the day.

I didn't need to measure or weigh the spices, they were already the correct amount and quickly mixed the spices with the Greek Style yoghurt and made the marinade.  
Adding the chicken pieces they were mixed really well in the tikka marinade then put in the fridge while I got on with the salad.

I peeled the sweet potatoes and cut them into cubes, boiling them in salted water for about 8 minutes until fork soft.
When the sweet potatoes were almost ready I placed the marinated chicken pieces on a foil lined baking tray and popped into a hot oven for about 10-12 minutes.  The recipe card did say 8 minutes but I felt a few more were needed.
After the first 12 minutes I turned the pieces over and placed them under a hot grill and continued to cook until they were looking crispy and brown.
The sweet potatoes were mixed in a large bowl with the tomatoes, mint, coriander and lemon juice (all supplied by the way) and tossed with 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil and set aside.  Just before serving I sprinkled a bit of the mango powder also supplied.
We served them with the rest of the lemon cut into wedges.
The flavour was really authentic (Mr R did admit to not thinking he would like the chicken however really enjoyed it) and the sweet potato salad was quite refreshing.

There were three of us for dinner (the meal should feed 4) however there was just enough chicken for three – we would have struggled to feed one more on the amount of chicken supplied.  There was enough salad left for us both to take some to work the following day to add to some lettuce for a quick lunch. 
I would certainly have a look at the website next time I know I have a busy few days and get a box ordered.

We were sent the food box from Marly Spoon and all opinions and photos are my own.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Family BBQ in the sunshine!

My son moved into a new house following a change of job a few months ago.  Due to his busy schedule and mine this weekend was the first time we could visit his new house.  My 7 year old granddaughter thought a BBQ would be a good idea.

The morning didn't start out that bright however by the time we arrived the clouds were slowly moving away and the BBQ coals were lit.
Ed had worked in the pub industry for many, many years which took away his weekends, summer being over before he realised it.  Now following a change of job he has a more normal life with weekends with his family.
It is really lovely to see my son having a normal weekend Sunday sitting in his own garden in the sunshine.
On of the people getting loads out of having a normal home with a private garden is my 7 year old granddaughter.  She had lived in a pub since birth only enjoying some garden time when she visited me or her other grandparents.
Father and daughter enjoying some sunshine. This used to be a rare treat however nowadays is common place.
Beefburgers, hot dogs, potato salad and pasta salad kept everyone full along with endless pitchers of Pimms!
Nanny's best girl does love a hot dog and she discovered apple juice and lemonade which has become her favourite 'mocktail'.  We even managed to find the ice cream man before he drove off for a quick ice cream!

Our food was served on a selection of disposable plates and cups looking absolutely perfect in the summer sunshine.

This is a sponsored post but all photos and opinions are my own.