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Lunch at The Bel and Dragon in Windsor

I really look forward to Sunday lunches and one Sunday we drove up to Windsor to have lunch at the Bel and Dragon restaurant. It is located so close to Windsor Castle, residence of the Queen, that we couldn’t resist  a stroll around the Castle before heading for lunch. As it was January, it was lovely and quiet compared to the summer, where it is buzzing with tourists. Top tip! Visit in winter!

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When we arrived at Bel and Dragon, I couldn’t help falling in love with its historical charming look and luxe cosy interiors. It has actually been serving food and drink since the 11th century – how impressive is that!

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I was really excited about the food as the Head Chef Mo and Group Head Chef Ronnie Kimbugwe, formerly Sous Chef of Gordon Ramsay at Claridges, have created a menu serving modern British cuisine with the freshest seasonal produce, all of which is sourced locally.

Also, the house champagne is Laurent Perrier! How perfect and fitting for such a gorgeous venue. I of course had a glass of Brut whilst Amit tried the signature Bel Bloody Caesar which is a blend of Clamato Juice, Sipsmith Vodka, Manzanilla Sherry, Lime, Fresh Horseradish & A Mix of Spices.

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It was a particularly chilly day so I was more than happy cosy in our lovely corner in the Bel and Dragon!

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Now I am a Burrata-holic so if any menu features a Burrata dish there is no doubt that it will be ordered. This version blew me away, not only with its stunning presentation, but the mix of flavours, all fresh, colourful and so refreshing. It was a lovely light starter and perfect and have to admit, exceeded my expectations of what I thought it would be like.

The dish is described as Marinated Beetroot & Burrata with Basil Pesto & Toasted Pine Nuts. If you are a Burrata fan definitely get this dish!

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For mains, I also ordered a Vegetarian dish, and it was a Rocket & Parmesan Risotto with drizzles of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It was superb and I loved the peppery blasts I got in the occasional bite. Sunday comfort food at its best. Lately, I have found myself eating more and more vegetarian dishes and not sure why! However, if you are a Vegetarian and want to visit Bel and Dragon, there are plenty of amazing choices on the menu.

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Amit was more about the Rotisserie section and chose the Roasted Suckling Pig with Crispy Crackling and Spiced Apple Chutney. This was definitely the perfect Sunday Roast meal with all the trimmings such as gravy, potatoes (which I stole), salad and vegetables on the side. He thoroughly enjoyed his meal.

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We did order a side of Savoy Cabbage, Crème Fraîche & Crispy Bacon, which was delicious too.

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Dessert though. OMG heaven. We went for a zesty choice and had the Caramelized Lemon Tart which came with a generous helping of the most divine Clotted Cream & a side of  Elderflower Berries. You could also have a shot of Homemade Limoncello with it, which Amit gleefully had. Absolutely decadent dessert. We were really full from lunch so could only brave sharing one but the rest of the pudding menu was amazing too! Next time we will definitely try the Warm Chocolate Fondant served with a Blackcurrant Sorbet.

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Our lunch was so enjoyable and quite a gastronomical experience. It was one of those where we didn’t know just how good it was going to be so when the food arrived we were wowed! I love the country and historical feel to the restaurant, the friendly service and the family friendly vibe. It had a lovely ambience and if we lived closer, it would definitely become a firm favourite for local choices for weekend lunch.

They also serve afternoon tea so should you be visiting Windsor and fancy a special treat, why not pop in for something different! Its location renders it perfect for a day out in Windsor exploring the sites and then popping in for some amazing food. I know we will be back soon!

For more information click here.

There are other Bel and Dragon restaurants around the country in Churt, Cookham, Godalming, Kingsclere, Odiham and Reading so if any of these are close to you definitely go for a meal!

Our meal was complimentary but all views and photos are my own.

 

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Top 10 things to do in Athens

Athens is so perfect for a city break and we spent 4 days in this eclectic, vibrant and cultural city which boasts ancient monuments that I promise will leave you in awe. It is also an European city you can visit all year round – we visited in January and had fabulous blue skies throughout our trip!

Here are a list of my top 7 suggestions to do in Athens based on our trip.

1. The Parthenon

You cannot visit Athens and not go to the Acropolis to see the Parthenon, one of the wonders of the ancient world. This site was dedicated to the goddess Athena and was completed in 436 BC and is generally considered to be the most important remaining building of Classical Greece as well as a symbol of western civilization.

It was top on my list of sites to visit, part of the reason we chose Athens as a destination, and it is truly spectacular to see. We spent a couple of hours here and it is a great place to kick off your sightseeing in Athens.

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2. Erechtheion

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On the north side of the Acropolis, on a slope, lies an ancient Greek temple which is made entirely of marble with stunning carvings. This is called there the Erechtheion, and was dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon. The views from here are absolutely breathtaking.

3. Acropolis Museum

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We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the Acropolis museum, but we spent some time going through the various floors of this impressive museum.

It enables you to delve deeper into the history sounding Greece as well as the Acropolis and you can see various artefacts which paint a picture of what life in that era was like.

4. Plaka


Close to the Acropolis is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Athens which is fantastic to walk through. You will find a plethora of shops ranging from touristy ones to some superb artisan ones. There are also restaurants where you can sit alfresco and enjoy a variety of cuisines. You will come across ancient Greek and Roman ruins amongst your wanders as well as some beautiful old buildings with stunning architecture.

5. Eat Traditional Greek Food

Whilst in Athens, there is no excuse not to try some classic traditional Greek dishes such as the Greek Salad, Moussaka and Spinach pie. The feta cheese I tried was unlike no other I had had before and was just sensational. The olive oil is worth purchasing and taking home too once you have tasted it! You will never buy it from the supermarkets back home again.

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6. Enjoy Athens at night

At night, Athens sparkles with its various lights and lit up view of the Acropolis, no matter what side of the city you are in. There are various roof top bars and restaurants where you can relax while taking in the night views. Pictured below is the Galaxy Bar and Restaurant at the Hilton Athens, located in central Athens.

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7. Eat Greek Street Food – Koulouri

Whilst wandering the streets, you will find several stalls selling different food. Be sure to try some out! My personal favourite was Koulouri, which is a popular breakfast snack for Greeks to grab and eat on the go as they are not traditional breakfast eaters. It is a bread ring covered in toasted sesame seeds. Relatively simple but so good!

We came across this stand outside Zara on Ermou Street in Syntagma and the Koulouri was divine!

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8. Athens Central Market

A visit to the hectic,  lively and buzzing Central market on Athinas Street is a must to see the variety of fish, meat and vegetables on offer. This is a historical market and plays an important role in supplying homes and restaurants in Athens. What we learned was that the Greek favour fish over meat and have an incredibly healthy lifestyle.

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9. The Temple Of Poseidon at Sounion

On a hill overlooking the Aegean sea at the very tip of the Attiki Peninsula, just an hour’s drive from central Athens, lies the spectacular Temple of Poseidon. Whilst exploring, try and find the graffiti by Lord Byron too!


The views from here were superb and we visited on a breezy day in January, and were lucky to have had a lovely bright day. It can get chilly there so do take some warm clothing just in case! It is so worth it and there is a lovely coffee shop where you can chill after visiting the site.

10. Shopping and lunch in Glyfada

Get your shopping fix in Glyfada, where you can wander the streets and shop at places like Sephora (much to my excitement) and other high street and designer brands. Only around a 40 minute drive from central Athens and close to the seaside.

There are so many lovely cafes and restaurants in the area, and we ate at a lovely Greek restaurant called Mezze.

Have you visited Athens? What were your favourite things to do? I would love to know in the comments section below.

 

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Italian Fare at Theo Randall at The Intercontinental, Park Lane

The Dynamic Duo have visited a lot of Italian restaurants lately, such as Padella Pasta and Fucina, but we were super excited to try out Theo Randall’s restaurant at The Intercontinental, having had a masterclass with the man himself as well as a brunch date earlier last year at his Theo’s Simply Italian.


To our delight, he came over to say hello, exclaiming “Binny! Aftab!” as he walked to our table, and posing for a photo too. Just a testament to what a lovely guy he is. So warm, friendly and welcoming.


The interiors were lovely, elegant and had a romantic air to the room. Theo talked us through the options on the menu leaving us wanting everything! However, we decided to be sensible and pick wisely.

To start off with, Theo sent some crunchy and crispy zucchini fries to the table for us to nibble on, which were so delicious. I had never tried zucchini fries before and loved them.

No Italian meal is complete without Bruschetta and Theo’s version was divine and exceeded expectations with the velvety slow roasted tomatoes, olive oil and infusion of garlic. Mamma mia!

The starters were pretty filling so we decided to be sensible and order light starters. I think Aftab and I have now realized our limit and capacity as we did have an incident last year where our eyes were bigger than our stomachs and we possibly ordered what felt like the whole menu!

The Insalata Mista, which was mixed Italian leaves with datterini tomatoes, cucumber, fresh basil and caprino fresco, was so lovely, fresh and refreshing.

The Mozzarella di Bufala, which was Buffalo mozzarella with grilled marinated red peppers, farinata, cicorino, swiss chard and Taggiasche olives, was really tasty too and my personal favourite from the two.

As we were feeling a little full already, we opted to have the Primi as our mains choices. Starting with the incredible  Pappardelle con cavolo nero, a must order! I have never had Papparedelle in this way and it was heavenly.


The Ravioli di zucca, which was Ravioli of roasted delica squash, ricotta and marjoram with butter and sage, was equally as delightful and basically we devoured it all.

For dessert, Theo had arranged for a selection for us to try which included Amalfi lemon tart, Soft chocolate cake with crema di mascarpone, Rhubarb Panna Cotta and almond cake. The lemon tart and chocolate cake were my favourites and the perfect sweet end to a fabulous meal.

Paired with our dessert, was a glass of Moscato. I love dessert wine and it was the perfect drink to compliment the variety of desserts we tried.

The meal was superb and the service was excellent. If you are looking for a fantastic Italian restaurant, with a lovely ambience, for a date night or special occasion, Theo Randall at the Intercontinental is perfect.

We also had pre-drinks at the bar which were served up theatrically, and so definitely worth checking out the bar too!

 

 

Our drinks and meal were complimentary but all views are my own.

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5 Romantic Things to do in London

London is full of romance, whether you are dining at the city’s finest restaurants, taking in its seductive views from different sites, or trying out brand new experiences. Here are my 5 favourite romantic things to do in my favourite city.

Go sightseeing 

I can never tire of London and there is nothing more romantic than strolling hand in hand walking around the city marvelling at its grand sights.

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There are so many lovely vantage points for some of the finest views. You could even go for a ride on the London Eye or take a boat ride on the Thames Clipper.  I challenge you to find the best spots, whether at sunrise, sunset or in the middle of the day, and do let me know in the comments section below! I would recommend starting off at Southbank!

A Cheese and Wine Date

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Sharing an epic cheese board whilst sipping on wine and sherry in a gorgeous restaurant? Yes now you can have someone prepare the ultimate cheese board for you while you just relax and stare at each other lovingly at The Montagu restaurant at The Hyatt Regency – The Churchill.

The experience is fantastic and so interactive. You learn so much about the cheese, which are the finest from Alsop & Walker, and it is a truly unique and fun way to spend an evening.

Fun fact, Winston Churchill used to indulge in a cheese platter almost every day! A lovely fact to use as an ice breaker or to impress your date with!

I absolutely loved my experience and you can read about it in depth here.

To make a booking click here.

Cocktails with a view

Take your romance to new heights by sharing cocktails with a rather spectacular view of all the key landmarks in London from the 31st floor, at  Aqua Shard. Not only are the cocktails delicious, the restaurant and bar area are stunning and the view…doesn’t get better than this! No better way to spend time soaking up London’s sexy skyline with a cocktail in hand.

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The best bit is there is no need to book if you are going for drinks so go if you haven’t been!  They also have a brilliant breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon tea menu if you want to make it extra special but you will need to book for that.

For more information and to book click here.

Table for two at an Italian restaurant

For me every time I think of a romantic meal, the image of the kissing scene from the Lady and the Tramp comes to mind, where they are sharing spaghetti.

While I prefer pizza and tagliatelle or pappardelle, Italian food shouts romance to me and my current favourite and recommendation is Fucina.

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The food is marvellous, the ambience is lovely and very romantic, the restaurant is pretty and the service is excellent. For my review click here.

“Press for Champagne” at Bob Bob Ricard

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A restaurant where you can press a button to order more Champagne? Your date will definitely be suitably impressed. The food is fantastic but  please do save space for the dessert, especially the Signature Chocolate Glory! You won’t be disappointed.

For more information click here.

If you have any suggestions for romantic things to do in London would love to hear them in the comments section below.

 

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My Top 6 Travel Outtakes – funny moments and disasters

From my photos on Instagram, my tweets and my Facebook updates, everyone probably thinks my travels consist of me sipping mojitos, sun bathing on a beach or eating at lovely restaurants as well as trying to see as much of the destination as possible. A lot of that is true but there are also some behind the scene aspects that you never get to see.

This post contains some awful pictures so if you need a good laugh or are having a bad day hopefully this will produce some light humour.

The pictures that will NEVER EVER make it on Instagram

First of all, there are some photos that will NEVER make it on Instagram! Such as the food photos below – I am actually upset with myself because I went for lunch at the Hotel Chocolat restaurant in St Lucia and forgot my camera so had to use my phone (iPhone 5 at the time) to take these food photos.

Safe to say you will never find a review on this particular lunch either for this reason!

Then there is the result of TOO many Mojitos in Mauritius combined with a lack of straightener and voila you get me looking like a hungover and curly mess LOL

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And finally, the below was taken in Vienna, when I gave up on fashion because it was too darn cold and donned a hat to save my ears from frost bite. I don’t think anyone has seen me in a hat since.

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The original photo and the edited version

Ever find the most instagrammable spot (this one was in Lisbon) and then someone just annoyingly sits in the middle refusing to move and ruining your shot while you wait patiently for 20 minutes?

Take the photo……

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…And then crop them out!

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The before and after shots

Everyone has seen the picture of me kissing a giraffe in Nairobi, Kenya (repeatedly) and I love that photo…because well I am kissing a giraffe.

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However, the truth was different…

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I was actually freaked out by its raspy tongue LOL

The holiday flings

Much to my husband’s despair, a lot of our time on holiday is me running after goats, sheep and cats. Yes I am weird but you all knew that already.

Take Tom (yes I name them all too)…we met, fell in love and were pretty inseparable for around an hour. An hour which could have been spent looking at slightly more exotic animals like tigers or bears!

 

Not forgetting all my holiday cats! If I see a cat that’s it. Toby turned up on our last evening in Mauritius and not only did I ensure he slept in our verandah that night (and he actually did…the loyal sweety), I cancelled all my plans to go swimming, sunbathing and out for lunch on our last day to sit there with him right up until the time we had to leave for the airport.

I think I might need c0unselling!

The truth behind the photo

During the afternoon tea we had at the Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya, the resident Warthog decided he wanted to join our party.

I don’t know what came over me that day because I am never scared of animals, but I totally freaked myself and my mum out to the point my mum ran inside the hotel and I climbed up on the chair thinking that it was going to eat me alive. The poor warthog just stood there bemused and not sure what to make of me!

After a while I realised he just wanted cake and let him be. Him and the other warthogs were actually cute and cheeky little chaps.

The golf wife

Finally, when you are married to a golfer you become the caddy and a whole day of your trip goes into you driving (with him constantly criticizing your driving) him and a golf kit around a golf course. The not so glamourous part of my holidays such as this day in St Lucia.

 

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So there you have some behind the scenes of what actually goes down on our holidays! Do you have any funny moments that have happened on your holidays or aspects you will never reveal on social media? I would love to know in the comments section below.

How to link up your post
 
Just pop your post up over the first week of the month (the 1st – 7th February), add it to the link up widget – found on either Polly’sAngie‘s, Emma’s or on Eppie’s blogs – from the 1st of the month.
As ever, there are no rules – all we ask is that you check out some of the other cool bloggers that are involved in that months travel link up; make a few comments here and there and tweet a few of the posts out to your followers that you think they will love. It’s always a great way to meet some new travel bloggers and share some blogging joy!

 

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Pasta in a Thyme and Oregano infused Tomato Sauce

Want to make a romantic dish for your other half or simply adore pasta? This recipe is filled with lots of tomato love and aromatic herbs and is absolutely delicious! It is so easy to cook yet such an impressive and such a hearty meal.

Ingredients:

  • Pasta shells of your choice
  • 1 carton Cirio Polpa Fine Finely Chopped Tomatoes with Basil (360g)
  •  1 can Cirio Pomodorini Cherry Tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 sprig Oregano
  • handful Thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon mixed peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


Method:

  1. Boil your pasta and cook for the length indicated on the packaging.
  2. In the meantime, in a saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil on medium heat.
  3. Add the onions, garlic and peppercorns, and sautee for 5 minutes, before adding the Cirio Finely Chopped Tomatoes with Basil.
  4. Now add the salt, rosemary, thyme and oregano.
  5. Mix well and cover the pan and let this cook for around 10 minutes.
  6. Now add the Cirio Cherry Tomatoes.
  7. Add the pasta in and mix well.
  8. Garnish with a few oregano leaves.
  9. Eat hot.

This post is in collaboration with Cirio UK, whose range of Tomato products have been much loved for Italian cooking since 1856. Even Antonio Carluccio loves them and earlier last year I had the opportunity to interview him, which you can read about and watch here.