Saturday, 29 April 2017

TEFAL Actifry XL Express Review

We don't often have home made chips and possibly never have ready frozen oven chips however from time to time chips are exactly what you need to go with the meal you are preparing.  TEFAL Actifry has been around for some time and I have always wanted one for those 'chips' moments.

Fast forward to the release of the new TEFAL Actifry XL Express!  I was recently introduced to this product and was really surprised at how versatile it is, how it is much more than a chip fryer! Looks a bit like a space ship!
At a 'get to know' session we split into two and each group made a different recipe in their Actifry XL Express.

What a great surprise! The TEFAL Actifry XL Express is much more than a 'chip fryer'. It not only make tempting, delicious food in quick time but uses less oil to do so making the food less in calories and grams of fat.
First an introduction and a big reveal from TOWIE star Frankie Essex
Then our group made a Sesame Salmon. Using a marinade of soy sauce, lemon juice, honey, sesame seeds, paprika and a pinch of salt we mixed it with our salmon
and let it sit for the two minutes it took for the machine to heat up.
We put it in the new TEFAL Actifry XL Express, set the timer and in just 7 minutes we had a really tasty, tender and perfectly cooked Sesame Salmon for lunch.  I think I could easily become addicted to this recipe!!
When everyone was finished cooking their recipe we sat down to a lovely lunch with loads of extra salads on the table but as you can see guests couldn't resist taking pictures of our Sesame Salmon!
Now for some real excitement  - my new TEFAL Actifry XL Express has arrived at my house.  Mr R - your chip cravings will soon be satisfied! What will impress him the most - will it be that it can be controlled by Bluetooth - once you set it up to work with your phone you can download recipes and once you turn the machine on your app will keep track of the remaining time.
We tested the TEFAL Actifry XL Express out with chips! I soaked about 1kg of sliced potatoes in cold water, drained them and patted them dry with a clean tea towel.  Pop the potato slices inside, add one spoonful of oil (spoon supplied) and according to the app set the timer for 28 minutes.
Twenty eight minutes later, the buzzer goes off, the machine turns itself off and you have crispy on the outside fluffy on the inside chips!
As well as chips you can make curries, stir fries, casseroles and more with 100s of recipes on the Bluetooth app.  There is an easy to set digital timer. The removable parts can be washed in the dishwasher and the rest can be wiped clean with a soft cloth.  I sense a revolution to home made chips for Mr R who is a self confessed Potato Monster!

I was sent a TEFAL Actifry XL Express to review. I was not required to write a positive review. As usual all opinions and photos are my own.  No photos may be reproduced without my written consent.

Monday, 24 April 2017

New York City: 9/11 Memorial and Museum

Do you remember where you were on the 11th September 2000? I remember standing in the showroom of the company I was working for staring at the big televisions on the wall in complete silence and horror.

The attacks on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre in New York City has been called 'when the world stopped turning' and has been the subject of many reports, theories and documentaries.

However, there is nothing like the moment you step street side from the Metro station
and see the sheer size of the cleared area.
First of all you encounter the two eternity pools,  people milling around but most of all in silence.  The wind whipping around the area the only sound until you are up close and realise all you are concentrating on is the gentle ripple of the water flowing into the open square in the middle.
There are no signs, posters or information just silence and the names of the victims around the outside of the two infinity pools.
Visitors just standing around the four sides, silently remembering where they were on that day during those early moments of news coverage!
A poignant memory - an unknown person had stuck a small American flag on the name of a victim (I wondered if it was random or if they knew the family!)
The Memorial is free and open to the public however the Museum has a charge which goes towards the upkeep of the museum.  

If the Memorial moved you be prepared for what you will experience in the Museum.  The whole time we walked through the exhibits I felt sick and cold! The huge scale of the disaster is hard to take in and as you go along you will see remnants of building that survived, signs charred and bent into unrecognisable shapes.

The sheer horror the victims must have felt! The Museum does not want to shock or revolt the visitor but to help you understand what happened on that day. To remember those who did not make it and celebrate those who did.

I wanted to rush through the museum and at the same time to take my time to feel the flood of emotions as I read each description, looked at each photo or listened to each recording

Before construction on the World Trade Centre could begin it was necessary to build a concrete retaining wall, known as a slurry wall. If this wall had been breached on 9/11 it would have made the situation even worse.  A portion of the original wall has been preserved.
These steps are know as the 'Survivors Stairs'. The stairs were located on the northernmost edge of the Plaza and helped a large number of people escape.  They are also known as 'The Path to Freedom'.
Ladder Company No 3 and its 11 members were inside the building when it collapsed.  All members of Ladder Company No 3 were killed.
This is Ladder No 3 which was taken from the wreckage. Those ladders were strong but look at the state of them after their ordeal!
Andrea Booher, FEMA was the photographer chosen to record the months following the 9/11 disaster and to document the clean up.  Andrea said "In the beginning there was this desperation, this feeling like you couldn't go home."
My visit to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum has left a lasting effect on me. There is a deep sadness and yet a feeling of hope and the determination of the population of New York City that this event won't break them!

I was given a complementary ticket to the Museum.  I was however not required to write a positive review. As usual all opinions and photos are my own.  No photos may be reproduced in any form without my written consent.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

North Carolina: Aviator Brewery - Craft Beer Brewing

On previous visits to North Carolina I have visited a vineyard and winery as well as a moonshine distillery so it just seems to fall into order that this time I take a tour around a craft beer brewery!  Aviator Brewery is located in Fuquay Varina, NC about three miles from my sister's house.

On the Main Street of old Fuquay Aviator Brewery also have a bar - The Tap Room,

a store - The Bottle Shop
and a restaurant called The Smokehouse, all within walking distance from each other.

First stop though was the brewery for a brewery tour.  What do you do when you fly private aircraft and have some down time - you start brewing beer of course!  When you have so many friends stopping by for a glass and the owners of the airplane hangars say that is too many people then what? You move premises and start craft brewing on a much larger scale and Aviator Brewery is born.
When you get to the premises and whilst you wait for the next tour to begin you can sample some of the many beers on offer and of course buy a pint to drink whilst you wait.  There is outdoor seating and a few games to keep you occupied!
The beers all have creative names and very creative ABV strengths rising up to around 13%!
The rise in craft beer brewing in North Carolina surged when the limit for ABV was raised to 15% in the state with Raleigh, the state's capital city having over 20 craft brewers alone and a total of just over 175 craft beer breweries spring up throughout the state.
After tasting some of the beers on offer we began our tour around the brewery.  The whole process is done in a compact and ultra modern environment.  It is a very slick operation with only 23,000 sq ft of space to brew and can now fill 300 cans per minute!

A quick pit stop for a pint before finishing our tour.  Cheers!!
Aviator believe that beer should be put into cans to better care for the amber liquid inside.  Cans make sure the beer is not affected by sunlight or air as is possible with bottles.  It is also easier to recycle cans.

Our guide said "Anyone can make a beer, the craft is hiding the alcohol taste and leaving the beer taste.". There were loads of pallets loaded with beer cans waiting to be filled,
shrink warpped and packed ready to be shipped out.
Mr R certainly enjoyed trying some of the beers on tap the day we visited!!
Following our tour we proceeded to The Tap House and sat outside on a warm Spring evening, drinking beer and listening to live, local music - pure Southern comfort!

We visited Aviator Brewery with a Groupon voucher thereby we received branded glass each and free beer to take home.  I was not required to write a positive review.  As usual all opinions and photos are my own. No photos may be reproduced in any form without my express permission.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Win a Chance to Get Carried Away with this Giveaway from Wham FlexiBags and Square Carry-alls

How many times have you looked for the perfect carry-all but never have what you need to hand.  Wham have a new range of Flexi Bags and Flexi Square Carry-alls out now in a lovely range of spring colours and hand sizes.
There are endless uses for these bags and carry-alls such as garden trugs, picnic wine ice-bucket, car boot organisers and perfect to pack your shopping in the trolley and carry to the car.

They are strong and durable with comfortable dual handles and easy to clean,  stack and store.
The Flexi-Bags come in four sizes; 6 ltr, 12.5 ltr, 24.5 ltr and 40 ltr and come in Duck Egg Blue, Coral, Pastel Yellow and Pastel Pink.
The Flexi-Square Carry-Alls come also come in four sizes; 8 ltr, 15 ltr, 25 ltr and 40 ltr and come in Soft Lime
and Duck Egg Blue.
If you would like to win a set similar to the ones I have then follow the Rafflecopter instructions below.

This giveaway is open to resident of the UK only.

I was sent a set of Flexi-Bags and Flexi-Square Carry-Alls  for review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions and photos are my own.  No photos may be reproduced in any form without my written permission.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 7 April 2017

Mexico City: Hotel Geneve - Cosmopolitan and Charming Hotel

On a recent trip to Mexico City a couple of months ago we stayed at the Hotel Geneve, one of the oldest hotels in Mexico City. As you slowly make your way through crowded and busy street you certainly don't expect to arrive at this cosmopolitan hotel where you are given a very warm welcome.
Hotel Geneve within easy reach of most of the city attractions very near to the Angel of Independence monument
but far enough away to be in a quiet(ish) street surrounded by real Mexican life!  The hotel offers the many international and local guests a dedicated concierge service, the Phone Bar on the ground floor has a stunning collection of antique telephones.

On the premises you will also find a fitness centre, spa and the Veranda Bistro Restaurant serving meals all day but excelling at a traditional Mexican breakfast to set you up for the day.
Breakfast Tamales
and a selection of fried tacos along with many other savoury and sweet traditional dishes.
The interior of the hotel is lavish, dressed impressively for the impending Christmas holiday.
The hotel has turned itself into a mini museum celebrating that it has welcomed well known and influential guests for over 100 years including Sir Winston Churchill and Charles Lindberg.
My room had a really comfortable bed with a headboard carved from red cedar wood as well as the usual selection of Wi-Fi, TV, Air-conditioning, safe deposit box, coffee making machine (restocked daily) and more.

I was a guest of Hotel Geneve and the Mexico City Department of Tourism. I was not required to write a positive review.  As usual all opinions and photos are my own.  None of my photographs may be reproduced in any way without my written permission.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

A Birthday Party at Pizza Express

My granddaughter (Little Miss) recently turned nine years old.  Where did the time go? I remember being handed a little 5lb12oz pink bundle and suddenly she is fast growing into a gorgeous young lady!!
Little Miss's mother is a Manager at Pizza Express in Milton Keynes at the Hub. Pizza Express do birthday parties for children where they get to make their own pizza, have it cooked then sit down to eat it.
Little Miss invited several of her friends as well has her two cousins, Big and Small and her step sister and two step brothers.
Sitting next to her best friend from school is a very happy young lady.!
All the ingredients are ready and the dough has risen ready for pizza making.
A quick lesson from Mum how to treat your dough to get it ready to toss in the air.
"Look kids, this is how you toss a pizza". They all thought that was great fun!
Small is certainly having fun.
"Ta-Dah" as Big presents his dough ready for the tomato sauce.
Little Miss gets shown how to spread the sauce by her mum.
"Look Nanny I made a pizza" chirped Small.
Pizzas all cooked and time to settle down and eat their creations.
Time for the birthday girl to blow out her candles.
And a final dish of ice cream before all making our way home, the children clutching the pizza that they couldn't eat there.
If you have 'Little People' and are looking for an alternative birthday party give Pizza Express a thought.
I did not receive anything from Pizza Express and was not required to write a post about the party.  As usual all opinions and photos are my own.  No photos can be reproduced without my written permission.