The Cheese and Wine Corner at The Montagu, Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill

Sweet dreams are made of cheese…Who am I to dis a Brie! It was said that Sir Winston Churchill, who the luxurious Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill is named after, was a massive cheese lover and would indulge in a cheese board every day, especially after a meal. I mean what could be more sublime than that?

Taking inspiration from him, we headed over to the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill for the Cheese and Wine experience at The Montagu, the gorgeous restaurant housed inside the Hyatt, on a drizzly Sunday evening, and had an absolutely wonderful time. In fact we sat there for 2 hours, chatting whilst enjoying the cheese, wine and sherry and it was a splendid, and very charming way to spend our evening.

The ambience was amorous and relaxing, with a pianist playing classical and popular tunes in the background. She was really good and part of the reason why we found it so difficult to leave!

A good cheese board makes all the difference and the cheeses available are a selection of Alsop & Walkers finest cheeses. A lot of the cheeses are award winning cheeses and after you try them you can totally understand why! I truly appreciate the quality of cheese and will be on the hunt for Alsop & Walkers cheese after this.

We opted to sit on the high chairs at the counter and chat to Laszlo, who was explaining how the concept worked, and told us a little bit about each cheese, before artfully creating the ultimate cheese board for us to enjoy. You can choose to stand or return to your table if you are seated within the main restaurant too.

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At first, we were treated to a glass of Champagne, which was the perfect way to break the ice and relax, especially as the weather outside had been pretty horrific. Soon we were transported to cheese heaven!

The selection of Cheeses that we tried were a Sussex Truffle Brie, Lord London, Sussex Crumble, Sussex Farmhouse, Golden Cross Goats Cheese and a Sussex Blue.

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The best part of the experience (alongside eating the cheese), was how Laszlo talked us through each cheese, before slicing them like a pro! I certainly won’t be sharing pictures of my home made cheese boards after this!

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I learned so much about the cheese, and fun facts such as the Lord London, which is a semi soft bell shaped cheese,  was a bronze medal winner at the world cheese awards in 2010.

My absolute favourite was the Sussex Truffle Brie – an absolutely genius cheese, especially if you are a truffle fan. It was soft cows milk cheese with a layer of truffles in the centre sandwiched between the cheese and the aroma was just dreamy!

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To accompany each cheese, we had a selection of grapes, Quince jelly, Pickled yellow beetroot, Celery, Pecan nuts, Pine nuts, Pumpkin seeds and homemade gooseberry compote.

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Freshly made potato and grilled breads were a welcome treat too as were a variety of crackers which included classic, wheat, dried fruit and charcoal flavours.

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The selection of sliced cured meats were delectable and we were spoilt with Parma Ham, Smoked Ham, Salami and Chorizo.

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Paired with the cheese, was a gorgeous red wine from South Africa, and Laszlo also suggested we tried the Sherry with the cheese.

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We were really well watered to say the least and thoroughly enjoyed trying the cheese with the various drinks!

The cheese board itself was literally the cheese board of dreams and this is how the final board looked.


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You can tell from the expression on my face that I was totally in my element and Amit already knew that we would be returning again for this experience!

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Literally the best cheese board I have ever enjoyed! The entire experience was delightful and it is a captivating and enchanting way to spend an evening. If you fancy a light supper but something different, this is absolutely perfect. Alternatively, you could take Winston Churchill’s habits and indulge after dinner!


There is nothing more romantic than sharing a cheese board and sipping on delicious wine while catching up and it is such a fabulous idea for a date night or even Valentine’s (hint hint). The concept works extremely well for a catch up with friends too or even a unique way to impress a business client.

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You can choose between two, four or six cheeses with the cured meats and a house red or white wine at varying prices. I can’t recommend this enough as an alternate to afternoon tea or just something different and indulgent, especially if you love cheese. It was splendid.

For more information about the Cheese and Wine corner click here.

I was a guest of the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill but all views and photos are my own.

 

 

Lunch at the Kitchen – Lux Le Morne

While we were staying in Mauritius, we took a stroll down the beach from our hotel, the St Regis, and came across the 5 star Lux Le Morne hotel, which also had a dramatic view of the majestic Le Morne.

Le Morne is an UNESCO World Heritage site and the location of the hotel is highly privileged as the beach surrounding it has white, powder soft sand and is spectacular.

We were feeling peckish so we wandered in and asked if we could have lunch there, as there was a beautiful decking area with a gorgeous view of Le Morne. The restaurant was called the Kitchen and is the hotel’s central restaurant.

While we decided what to eat, we nibbled on bread that arrived with a choice of dips.

For drinks I went for a Mojito and Amit tried the local beer, Blue Marlin. The Mojito was not the best I have had and was slightly on the strong bitter side. It was still refreshing on a hot day.

The heat was intense in Mauritius so we opted for lighter dishes for our lunch. The first one was a Papaya Salad and carrot, which was served inside a rice leaf pouch and drizzled with olive oil and with a pink peppercorn crunch. It was lovely and tangy.

Amit opted for a less lighter option and went for a club sandwich with a side of chips and coleslaw. He loved that everything tasted so fresh and the chips (I stole a few) were amazing.

The second of the lighter options was Vietnamese rice spring rolls, which were filled with vegetables and a light soya dressing. It was delish! It was massive too and surprisingly very filling.

The restaurant location was stunning and we found it to be a lovely relaxing spot to have lunch with the sea breeze and the beautiful view.

This was our palm fringed view of the sea on one side which was stunning. It is also a dolphin territory but unfortunately we didn’t spot any that day.

We really enjoyed our lunch and it was nice to try somewhere different so if you are staying around Le Morne during a trip to Mauritius, it is worth checking out the Kitchen at Lux Le Morne.

For more information on Lux Le Morne click here.

 

Caricature fun at Inamo Camden

I had been to Inamo when it used to be in St James (now relocated to Covent Garden) on a Friday night date night with my other half and also my best friend, when she was visiting London. We had great fun that evening and may have had one too many lychee martinis but ever since then the concept at Inamo has been one of my favourites.

A restaurant where you can change the table cloth electronically, order food and drinks from a menu displayed on the table, as well as see what the food actually looks like with the visuals appearing on your plate, and entertaining yourselves while you wait by playing games directly on the table. You can also order by iPad and it is such a fun experience.

It is perfect for dates as the interactive table gives you something to do to fill in any awkward silences or you can play games against each other 😛 Great for kids too to keep them entertained.

I was recently invited to the sparkly new Inamo Camden, located a 2 minute walk (or less) from Mornington Crescent tube station. It is such a beautiful, spacious venue and our task that evening was to have a tutorial using Inamo’s inadoodle software available on their tables to learn how to draw caricatures with the help of David Groves, an on the spot caricaturist. He had pre-drawn some diners at our table that evening, which you can see below.

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Lets just say my artistic skills are extremely questionable so my drawing ended up being this:


Other press had much more talent than me and came up with drawings like this!

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We enjoyed  plenty of bubbles and a selection of dishes from the menu while we chatted away. Favourites included the Korean Chicken Wings, Spicy Aubergine, Char Sui Buns and Duck with pancakes, and of course the sushi selection, in particular the California rolls.

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The food was incredible and I would definitely return for a meal on a date night with my other half at this brand new branch in Mornington Crescent as it is the closest to us too.

They have a rooftop terrace area too which is so cute! Definitely a fabulous hidden gem to keep in mind for spring and summer, although they have heaters so it is perfect for winter months too.

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If you love Pan-Asian food (the sushi is to die for), and want a fun evening, it is definitely worth checking out Inamo.

For more information, click here.

 

 

Hotel review: Hilton Athens

The 5 star Hilton Athens, is located in central Athens, close to main tourist sites and the Plaka District, as well as being in close proximity to the metro lines.

We stayed at the Hilton Athens for three nights, with breakfast provided, during our trip to Athens. It was our first time visiting Greece and I was overwhelmed by the hospitality.  As we were staying in an executive room, our check in was done in the executive lounge, by a lovely lady called Efi. She was so brilliant at recommending restaurants and tours, that we ended up booking everything through her, as they also provided concierge services in the executive lounge.

Room

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The room, which was on the 12th floor,  was really spacious and we had a view of the Acropolis in the distance. It is more of a business hotel so the interiors were minimalist with a focus more on practicality with a long desk and mini lounge area.

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There was a balcony, which if I had visited in a warmer month, would definitely have spent some time blogging in as even when I went outside in January, the cool crisp fresh air was so lovely.

The bathroom was beautiful and had both a bathtub and a shower and was large compared to other hotel bathrooms. I loved the grey and white marble design and did manage to have a lovely soak in the tub after a long day of sightseeing.

Restaurants/Breakfast

The breakfast spread at the Hilton was magnificent. It was a massive buffet choice ranging from fresh fruits, cereals, pastries, cold meats, cheeses to hot dishes which included breakfast classics as well as Greek specialities, such as their spinach pie, which I have to say is amazing. I was totally down with eating feta cheese for breakfast too. The feta cheese in Athens compared to the one you buy in the supermarket back home are so different in taste!

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They also had amazing croissants so I was very happy!

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I also ordered in room service on one day and was so impressed by the way it was presented! I had opted for french toast with maple syrup and strawberries as well as a coffee, but look at this spread that arrived!

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For lunch, we had amazing food at the Byzantino restaurant too. Our dishes were presented beautifully and the service was on point. We had gone for a Greek salad with quinoa and a baked goats cheese roll in kataifi dough with spicy tomato marmalade.

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There are 4 other restaurants but unfortunately we didn’t get to try them.

We did, however, try the cocktails at the Galaxy Bar and Restaurant, which is on the rooftop with a spectacular view. At night it is so magical!

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They had heaters on so it was perfect sitting outside in the evenings. They have a beautiful bar and lounge area inside too. It is the perfect spot for a pre-dinner drink or a catch up and has a lovely ambience and vibe. The cocktails are really delicious too!

If you are staying on the Executive floor, you also have complimentary meals at the Executive lounge and it is a great place to relax with a coffee or tea too.

Amenities

The hotel has a beautiful spa which I am so gutted I didn’t get a chance to use, especially as access to the indoor heated pool, sauna and other aspects are included for those guests staying on the executive floor. The pool looked amazing!

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They also have a gym, which Amit used each day and was really happy with the equipment that they had and said it was all top of the range.

They also have an outdoor pool, which we could see from our room, but it is open during the summer months and as we went in January, we could not use it.

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All in all we were so happy with the hotel and especially the location, as a taxi ride to anywhere cost under 10 euros!

The service was excellent and the staff were always willing to help. They always gave us such fantastic tips on what we should do to get the most out of our trip and always had a warm friendly smile.

The hotel was busy during our stay as there was a conference going  on, but we really didn’t feel it as it was a large hotel and with so many restaurants, it was easy to get a table at breakfast, for example.

If you are thinking of visiting Athens and are looking for a convenient and lovely hotel to stay at in the central part, the Hilton Athens ticked all the boxes for us.

Thank you Hilton Athens for a memorable stay and for looking after us s0 well.

For more information click here.

A simple Gujarati style Toor Dal

Sometimes when you want a nice simple dal but one that gives you great comfort, toor dal is always a winner! This recipe is simple and has a lot of fresh and healthy ingredients. I especially love this dal when I am feeling under the weather or it is a chilly evening.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups oily Toor Dal washed in several changes of cold water
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 fresh tomato, chopped
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cups water
  • handful curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons oil

Method:

  1. In a saucepan of simmering water, boil the toor dal for about 30 minutes on medium heat.
  2. After the toor dal is ready, in a  separate saucepan heat the oil.
  3. Add the cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, curry leaves, chilli and tomato and sautee on low heat.
  4. Add the salt, sugar, garam masala, turmeric and red chilli powder
  5. Now add the toor dal and water.
  6. Mix well and cover the pan for around 10 minutes.
  7. Remove the lid and using a hand blender, blitz the dal until it is a soup like consistency.
  8. Taste and add more salt if required.
  9. Enjoy hot!

5 things to do in a day in Monaco

Whenever I thought of Monaco I imagined it to be all glitz and glamour with high rollers, luxury cars and well dressed people decked out in designer apparel. James Bond came to mind as it was one of the locations for Goldeneye and Never Say Never Again, where the  Casino Monte Carlo was featured.

I visited Monaco and Monte Carlo as part of a day trip shore excursion whilst on my Mediterranean cruise with P&O Cruises, and we arrived via sea. You can, however, if you want a totally luxe experience, arrive in a private helicopter or alternatively for a more affordable option, take a bus from Nice, if you are vacationing there.

Monaco is such an ideal destination for a day trip if you want a taster of it, and here were our highlights. I would like to go back and experience it for a night or two though and check out the food scene and the night life.

An amazing view from the Rock

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With a view of the Mediterranean sea and the port, the Rock is a fantastic vantage point for photo opportunities as well as marvel at the various yachts lined up below at the port. It has a breathtaking view and is worth a visit. It is located in Monaco-Ville, which is also where the Old town is. Close to the Prince’s palace and you can wait here while you wait for the time slot for the changing of the guards at the palace.

The Place du Casino

All things luxurious at the Place du Casino, the epicentre of all things haute in Monte Carlo.

 

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It is also home to the Casino Monte Carlo, which opens its doors to the public at 2pm and it is worth going inside to have a look. There is no dress code and if you are feeling lucky you can try your hand at roulette.

For an extra glamourous stay, there is also the Hotel De Paris 😉

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The Café de Paris Monte-Carlo

This totally instagrammable  Café de Paris Monte-Carlo, also on the Place du Casino, has been legendary since 1868 and is a fabulous spot for people watching, lunch, dessert or mojitos 😉

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The Cathedral

Located in the old town of Monaco, the Neoclassical Cathedral, where the much-loved Princess Grace of Monaco lies at rest, is one not to miss. This 19th century cathedral is gorgeous both on the outside and in and is made from white La Turbie stone. It is really lovely to see inside.

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Changing of the guard

It is so worth watching the changing of the guard ceremony at the Prince’s Palace, where the royal family still resides today.

It happens daily at 11:55 a.m. and is really fun to see. As it is located near the rock, the old town, and other sites, it is worth spending time in the area.

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Have you been to Monaco? What were your highlights? Would love to know in the comments below.