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

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Afternoon Tea for Men with Mr R - 108 The Pantry

I have often said that one of my favourite experiences is traditional Afternoon Tea, little finger sandwiches, tiny little cake replicas of larger pieces and of course tea, one of the only times I really want proper British tea.

I was recently invited to try Afternoon Tea with a twist - The Men's Afternoon Tea. Slightly more substantial items and of course I took Mr R along with me.

We arrived at 108 Pantry on Marlebone Lane, W1 on a Saturday afternoon after an exhausting session at The Cruise Show at the Excel weary and ready to sit down and relax.

We started our relaxing afternoon with a Guinness for Mr R and a glass of champagne for me! That's how I like to start things off.  This was to accompany the savoury part of our Tea.
We moved on to tea when we got to the scones with jam and cream.

The carrier was brought to our table looking inviting.
Some of the items were:
Grilled rib eye steak sandwich with caramelised onion and Shropshire Blue cheese
Free-range pork and black truffle sausage roll
Dorset crab on toast
Welsh rarebit
as well as:
Lemon meringue pie
Peanut butter and chocolate cupcake
Rhubarb and custard doughnut
Banoffee shots

and of course freshly baked scones, strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream.
Now some say jam then cream and some reckon it's cream then jam (I am one of those!).  What do you say is the correct protocol?

The tea list is impressive and includes a selection of black tea, green tea and white tea as well as a range of caffeine free herbal infusions.  The tea is sourced from The RareTea Company, organic and hand picked best leaves from small mountain tea farms who work directly with The Rare Tea Company.
The venue is modern and up-to-date but also contemporary and understated. The lighting was subdued which was OK if you were just dining there but a bit too low for my photos!
We left feeling satisfied and happy to have experienced a new twist to a traditional favourite.
108 Pantry will be serving this unusual Afternoon Tea for the time period of  Friday 8th to Wednesday the 13th of January 2016 and will be priced at £28.00 per person.  Tea will be served from 12:00 noon until 17:00 on each of the relevant days.  To enjoy this or any of the other great food from 108 Pantry or 108 Brasserie phone in advance to book on 020 7969 3900.
We were guests of 108 Pantry and were not required to write a positive review.  All opinions and photos are our own.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Damson Chocolate are open for business!

On a trip to Grenada earlier this year I met a guy named Dom who was on the trip for the Grenada Chocolate Festival and who was making his own fine bean to bar chocolate at home in his kitchen.  A little eccentric perhaps making your own chocolate at home in your kitchen but Dom had aspirations of opening a small shop in London and making his own chocolate.
Well towards the end of 2015 that dream came true and Damson Chocolate opened for business.

There are always trials and tribulations working with any fresh ingredient and chocolate is no different but when it works it really works.

Damson Chocolate, held a grand opening which I was honored to attend where we got to sample the chocolates.

Also available to buy are chocolates from 'Cocoa Runners' chocolate, chocolate from all over the wold represented and in different percentages which makes it sure to please the most discerning palate and the everyday chocolate lover as well.
My two favourites were the creamy Whiskey & Cream an almost white chocolate aged in whisky barrels - creamy and almost like that well known Irish whisky and cream drink we seem to get through gallons of
as well as the Nicaraguan 70% with it's definite 'bite', sharp taste and lovely aftertaste as it melts slowly in your mouth. 
Damson Chocolate's Ecuador dark 70% won bronze medals at the 2015 Academy of Chocolate Awards.

The back of the shop is a bit 'Heath Robinson' (if you are old enough to know what I mean) but what difference does it make if the job gets done!
And up to the minute small scale equipment,
As well as selling Damson Chocolate home brand there is also a range of specialty chocolate from around the world available - some of the most attractive wrappers hiding equally as exotic chocolates.

The future holds chocolate making classes and tasting events. 

The shop is open most days from 11:00-17:00 but if you are making a special trip it is best to contact them through the website first. You can also order online if you are not able to get to the shop.

You can follow Damson Chocolate on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as well as signing up for a free newsletter on the website.

All opinions and photographs are my own. I was not required to write a review.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Bertolli with Butter - an Evening with Gennaro Contaldo

I have seen Gennaro Contaldo many times on television on his own or with one of his friends Antonio Carluccio or Jamie Oliver but let me tell you meeting him in person is a great experience. The man is a true gentleman, self effacing with a great sense of humour!

I had the pleasure of meeting Gennaro at an event held at Food at 52 on behalf of Bertolli with butter - an ingredient that gives you the best of both world in the cooking department.  Adding olive oil to butter gives a higher smoking point i.e. the food will be able to be cooked at a higher temperature before smoking and burning.

As usual at any event held at Food at 52 there are plenty of lovely plates and dishes over flowing with fresh and tantalising ingredients.
I have made pasta quite a few times at events and cookery schools but I didn't really get excited or enjoy the experience.  Working with Gennaro was a pleasure, hearing him describe the process of starting with one egg and 100gm of '00' grade pasta flour per person (we made a double dose each for the practice) and turning it into the simplest and purest form of food heaven, Italian style!
We began rolling out our pasta dough and for the first time I really enjoyed the experience, I really 'got it'!  Gennaro said my long piece of pasta was excellent!
We then stood back and watched the pasta master create loads of different shapes ready for the simplest sauces!
A spinach and ricotta ravioli with a butter an mint sauce. To serve 4 uses 100gm Bertolli with Butter ....
or you could use the same mixture to make Tortelloni with Butter and Mint sauce ...

A plate piled high with a selection of wild mushrooms ready to make ......
..... Tagliatelle with wild mushrooms - to serve 4 only uses 50gm of Bertolli with Butter.

Farfalle with peas and mint - to serve 4 uses only 50gm of Bertolli with Butter.
And finally a simple penne shape with Bertolli with Butter and freshly grated parmesan cheese - the simplest essence of Italian pasta you can make!
Gennaro says there are four main points to simple, delicious, good and easy pasta.

* It's all in the water,
* Pay attention to the instructions and timer,
*Al dente is 'numero uno'
* There is a perfect pasta shape for each dish or sauce.

I shall be following these tips and look forward to enjoying fresh pasta.  We were sent home with a pasta maker and some Bertolli with Butter. There is no need to open a jar of sauce when you can use Bertolli with Butter for the tastiest and easiest sauces!
I was a guest of Bertolli and was not required to write a positive review.  All photos and opinions are my own.