Cocktails at Bar Boulud at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park

Located at one of the most enviable addresses in Knightsbridge, the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park is home to Daniel Boulud’s French Bistro style bar and restaurant, Bar Boulud. He also has venues in New York and Boston.

Now the Mandarin Oriental has some fond memories for me as when Amit and I were in the early stages of our relationship we decided to spend one new year’s eve celebration there and it was a truly luxurious experience! Sadly this was well before I started my blog so I didn’t even think to take room photos at the time. We had such a stunning room and we stayed hydrated with a bottle of chilled champagne and were snug from the freezing temperatures outside. It was truly marvellous.

Knightsbridge, I find, no matter what time of day it is, always seems to be busy with tourists, either keen to shop or window shop at some of the finest stores in the vicinity. Bar Boulud, as we discovered, is an amazing sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the mad rush outside and we felt relaxed the moment we stepped in. We had decided to have drinks there before moving on elsewhere in Knightsbridge for dinner. It is rare we get to spend a weekday evening out together so it was fabulous.

Greeted with welcoming smiles and friendly hosts, we were shown to our table with swift service and given the cocktail and wine menu to peer through. We weren’t pressured for time at all and loved the ambience, as well as the fact that it was so spacious and that I could see the bar and watch the bartenders mixing drinks and theatrically shaking cocktail shakers.

Now the signature cocktail at Bar Boulud is the White Cosmopolitan, which is served with white grape juice in lieu of cranberry juice. It is rather special as it also comes with a flower frozen in a floating ice ball. I didn’t personally order this but had drink envy at a neighbouring table who had ordered it! I had a good reason not to on this occasion because there was also Champagne Mojito on the menu which is what I went for! I will try the White Cosmopolitan when I next visit the bar.

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The Champagne Mojito was utterly delicious and I usually prefer my Mojitos classic but the addition of champagne just made it that much more special. It was a lovely drink and I would definitely be back for it! Chairman’s reserve rum was the base rum used for this cocktail alongside the usual mint leaves, lime, soda water and for that extra sparkle, champagne.

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Amit had wanted a more manly drink so he chose a Venezuelan Old Fashioned, which was really well mixed and tasted so good! This was a blend of Diplomatico reserve rum, averna chocolate bitters, orange bitters and demerara sugar. We both somehow ended up having rum based cocktails so we are definitely a match made in heaven 😉

The drinks were excellent, as was the service. The restaurant is adjacent to the bar so we could see the various dishes heading towards the eager and excited diners as well as catch their aroma, which made us want to come back on a different day for dinner to try the food as it smelt really good.

Bar Boulud is an ideal place to catch up with friends or work colleagues or to relax after a day of shopping or battling the crowds outside. It is also lovely for a date night as we found. If you happen to be in the area you really have no excuse not to drop in for a tipple.

The venue is gorgeous and the drinks are really good. Both the wine and cocktail menu are extensive and the service is excellent. I had a superb time at Bar Boulud and will definitely be back. Thanks for having us!

For more information on Bar Boulud visit their website here.

 

 

Clove and Cinnamon Coffee

There is nothing more comforting than a mug of coffee with an amazing aroma of warming spices. I have been using the Sage Appliances Barista Express and decided to experiment with some flavours.


On a cold wintery day, I tried making it with clove and cinnamon, and I loved how it tasted. It instantly banished the gloom and perked me up.

Here is how you make this coffee.

Ingredients:

  • 1 shot brewed espresso. I brewed mine in the Barista Express
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • Couple of Coffee beans for garnish

Method:

  1. I placed 1 clove in the 1/4 cup of milk and let it infuse for around 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile I brewed the espresso in a mug.
  3. I then filled the mug with hot water and added sugar and mixed well.
  4. I then removed the clove from the milk and frothed the milk.
  5. Once it was nice and fluffy, I topped my mug of coffee with it.
  6. I sprinkled on some cinnamon powder and decorated with some coffee beans.

To read my review of the Sage Appliances Barista Express go here.

Review: The Barista Express – Sage Appliances

I am a serious coffee lover. The first thing I do when I wake up is make myself a cup of coffee and I never ever miss it. If by any chance I do, you don’t want to be around me 😉

However, I must have been a good girl all year as the lovely folks at Sage Appliances gifted me The Barista Express, to review, and in terms of timing it arrived just before Christmas. I was so excited to unbox it and set it up.

It was all smartly packed in and as we took each component out, I got even more impatient to try it out as it had all these fabulous accessories.

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Shock horror, this is my first ever coffee machine and it is a seriously sexy one. It looks so professional and has all the accessories you see Barista’s playing with in coffee shops and is super sturdy with its stainless steel exterior. Now I can be a Barista at home 🙂

It is such a perfect size and now sits proudly on my kitchen counter and has made my kitchen look that much more snazzier.

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In anticipation for its arrival, we had bought some fair trade coffee beans. To set up the machine didn’t take long at all and the instruction manual was so easy to follow!

What impressed me straight away was how cleverly it is made so that it is such minimal effort to clean. It even has an inbuilt storage compartment to keep the cleaning kit, which comes with it.

We let it go through the first test run as advised, and then mugs at the ready, we were good to go to make our first coffee with it.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is frickin’ awesome! In around 1 minute we had the perfectly brewed cup of coffee from bean to cup! It takes more time for me to make my cup of coffee with the kettle and a jar of instant coffee at times.

The even more amazing part is that the kitchen is filled with this wonderful aroma of freshly brewed coffee – the kind that hits you when you walk into a coffee shop. I have never fallen in love with an appliance so fast before!

So to take you through the process, we first filled the top of the machine (called the hopper) with coffee beans and then selected the grind amount. There is an inbuilt conical burr grinder with a customizable dose control. It  delivers exactly the amount you need per cup into the portafilter. You can vary the grind size, from fine to coarse, to suit your taste.

You instantly get that amazing aroma and it lingers on for longer than when you have opened your instant coffee ground a few times. Plus it is so much fresher and it is so easy to do – the machine does all the hard work in a matter of seconds.

One of the accessories is the The Sage Razor™ dosing tool, which you use to trim the puck for a consistent dose and extraction. It is rather therapeutic to use too. You also get a tamper to push it all down, which attaches to the machine magnetically.

You then click the portafilter into place in the machine, select either a single or double espresso, place your coffee cup on to the tray and watch the machine work its magic.

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The next step is to add the hot water, if you want to make a regular coffee or Americano. The machine has hot water dispensing literally straight away so there is no waiting around waiting for it to heat up. This is all down to the digital temperature control (PID), which delivers the water at precisely the right temperature, ensuring optimal espresso extraction.

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Now the most fun – frothing the milk! I love that sound when you are in a coffee shop waiting for your coffee and you can see the Barista frothing the milk and then layering your cup with that milky goodness. This is perfect for making Cappucinos or Lattes.


The Barista Express has a steam wand attached to it that allows you to skillfully hand-texture the micro-foam necessary with the accompanying stainless steel milk frothing jug, to enhance the flavour of the coffee and create latte art. I still have a long way to go with the latte art but the foam part is super fun.

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I couldn’t get over how quick the process was to make a cup of coffee. It has definitely been a crowd pleaser over Christmas and the taste of the coffee is just so unbelievably good. It is just like having a luxurious coffee shop style cup at home, in a minute!  I don’t think I can revert back to instant coffees anytime soon as there is literally no excuse not to use the machine.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my morning coffees even more now and sometimes cheekily brew an afternoon mug when I am working from home too.

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I have been experimenting lots with my Barista Express so look out for some recipes to add some sparkle to your cups of coffee.

One delicious way to have a super special mug is to add some (naughty) After Eight sticks to it. SO DELICIOUS! Especially as an after dinner treat.

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Seriously if you are after a really good Coffee machine invest in the Barista Express – it is so well built, has a solid structure, looks so elegant, is so easy to use and sounds just like a professional coffee machine as it is pretty much the same as a commercial one but in a much more compact and convenient size.

It is so much fun trying out the different grind sizes and different coffee types to find the ones we love best. What blew me away was how quick it is to make a cup of coffee from grinding the beans to adding the froth! It is so good if you take a coffee with you on your commute as it tastes so good and what better way to start your day?

The Barista Express currently retails at £549.99 and is seriously worth it! I have slowly become a Sage Appliances convert, as my Kettle and Toaster are also by Sage Appliances. It is one of those things that you never knew you needed till you get it and then you can’t live without it and wondered what you did without it!

I can’t emphasise how easy it is to use the Barista Express and how delicious the coffee is. If you are a coffee lover, this is a must have! Not only will your home (or office as this is perfect for that too) smell amazing, you will absolutely love every single mug of coffee you have from it!

For more information about The Barista Express and Sage Appliances go here.

Disclaimer: I was gifted The Barista Express from Sage Appliances. All views and photos are my own. 

 

The Captain’s Mince Pie Freakshake

This Christmas why not up your Mince Pie game and leave Santa a Captain’s Mince Pie Freakshake to indulge in whilst he is delivering presents? I am sure he would really appreciate it as rumours suggest that he is  a rum fan and has a weakness for Freakshakes 😉

Alternatively you could impress your guests and make it on Christmas Day for a fun twist whilst enjoying a fabulous feast. This would really up your mince pie and hosting game!

It is so easy to make and fun to assemble.

Makes 4 (2 units per serve)

Ingredients:

200ml Captain Morgan Original Spiced

200ml mince pie syrup

500ml milk

6 scoops vanilla ice cream

Mince pies (to serve)

Method:

1. In a pan mix 600g mincemeat, 200g sugar and 200ml water. Bring to the boil and chill for 30 minutes.

2. In a blender, whizz the milk, ice cream, mince pie syrup and Captain Morgan Original Spiced rum. Pour into a mason jar or tall glass.

3. Decorate glass with syrup and sprinkles. Place mince pies on top of the glass and stab a straw through to drink.

PS: You can make it more fun by adding marshmallows and other naughty treats as calories don’t count during Christmas!

Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with Captain Morgan Original Spiced Gold.

Impress your guests this Christmas with a Martell Cognac 4th Course Food Pairing

Christmas time is my favourite part of the year where you get to spend time with friends and family over good food and drinks and I am always looking for different ways to raise the bar and impress them with new dishes and fusions.

Sometimes after a great meal you still want to feast on delicious but light food while you may be drinking, and this year Martell, one of the oldest Cognac houses, has collaborated with Cordon Bleu trained chef Luiz Hara for a different take on Petits fours known as the 4th course.

I wanted to try out one of the recipes created by Luiz Hara pre-Christmas so I could recreate it on the day and had a go at making the Pears, Roquefort and Almonds with Martell Soaked Raisins, which sounded like a dreamy combination.

It was so simple to prepare and there was no cooking involved – all I had to do in advance was soak the raisins in the Cognac. It was a great excuse to crack open the bottle and have a few sips too!

This 4th course food pairing was so easy to assemble, and a dish you can definitely prepare in advance and impress your guests with and relax at the same time.


It was absolutely delicious and the Martell Cognac soaked raisins were a huge hit with my other half.

If you would like to have a go making this pairing, the recipe, courtesy of Martell and Luiz Hara is as follows:

Pears, Roquefort and Almonds with Martell Soaked Raisins

Serves 3-4 people

Ingredients:

  • 4 pears
  • 200 grams Roquefort cheese, crumbled
  • 50 grams whole or flaked almonds, lightly toasted and crumbled
  • 100 grams dark raisins soaked in 75ml Martell Cognac

Method:

  1. Soak the dried raisins in the Martell Cognac for a few hours (preferably overnight) until they are plump and juicy.
  2. Peel the pears with a vegetable peeler and cut them into quarters, making sure you remove the core.
  3. Top each slice of pear with the crumbled Roquefort cheese, toasted almonds and a few Martell soaked raisins on top.

The other pairings include Iberico Charcuterie and Cognac soaked prunes, as well as Christmas Pudding Ice cream.  Keep an eye out on my Instagram over the festive period for sneak peeks of more 4th course pairings with the hashtag #Martell4thCourse.

If you have a go recreating this dish over the festive period would love to know in the comments section below!

Martell VS is available from all major retailers in 35cl, 70cl and 100cl bottles.

For more information on Martell and The 4th course head over to http://www.martell.com/en-uk/ or search for #Martell4thCourse.

Disclaimer: I was sent a complimentary bottle of Martell VS. I am a Cognac lover and all views are my own. Recipe is courtesy of Martell and Luiz Hara.

 

Pumpkin Spice Mudslide

The only change of season I welcome is Autumn because I love the rustling of leaves as you walk on the road, as well as the red fringed trees and the fiery skies. My favourite part of Autumn though, is the onset of pumpkin spice season.

Baileys recently launched a limited edition Pumpkin Spice flavour and it is absolutely delicious in coffee as a Pumkin Spice Chai or Latte, on its own, sipped with ice cubes to keep it chilled, or even drizzled over ice cream.

I, however, made a Pumpkin Spice Mudslide, because I fancied something naughty, indulgent and autumnal. Here is how to make this cocktail.

Ingredients:

  • I shot Baileys Pumpkin Spice
  • 1 glass of blended Vanilla Ice cream
  • Whipped cream
  • Chocolate sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and a little extra to line the rim of the glass
  • 1 teaspoon sugar to decorate the rim

Method:

  1. Wetten the rim of the glass with a little bit of blended ice cream.
  2. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a plate and rotate the rim of the glass on the plate in order to decorate it with the cinnamon sugar.
  3. Mix the ice cream and Baileys and pour into the glass.
  4. Add whipped cream and top with chocolate sauce.
  5. Sprinkle some cinnamon on top.
  6. Drink straight away.

For more information on Baileys Pumpkin Spice go to http://www.baileys.com/en-row/home.html

This cocktail recipe was in collaboration with Baileys. I was sent a bottle to review.