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.

 

 

Basque inspired food, delicious wine and a spot of golf in North Greenwich

When an invitation came through for an evening of  “Golf and Gastronomy” from Douglas Blyde, who is an independent gastronomy consultant, there was no way I was going to turn it down. Although I am not a good golfer by any means I do enjoy it as I come from a very golf mad family.

I arrived at the Greenwich Peninsula golf driving range after some thorough instructions and I was proud of myself for not getting lost. If you know me you know I am not the best at directions at all so that was the first highlight of the evening amongst many!

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Inside the building was an American Golf store so you can purchase any golf related items if you wish, and opposite was Vinothec Compass, our beautiful venue for the evening.

img_8512Basically a wine lover’s heaven! The wall is lined with amazing bottles of wine and you can purchase one to drink there. I know I will be back to do this as there were so many unusual wines which I would love to try.

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As I was the first to arrive, armed with a glass of Cava Conde de Haro from Rioja Bodega, Muga, I was given a tour of the venue by Douglas. The view, of Canary Wharf, was so pretty but you can guess why it was not my preferred view 😛 We watched in a daze as boats sail by the golf course and it all took a little getting used to but it was amazing. You could hear the sound of the golf balls being hit and it added to the venue’s quirkiness.

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Once all the other guests arrived, it was time for a spot of golf. We were given a mini lesson and then we had the chance to have a few shots each. The backdrop was beautiful and I will definitely be back here again as the driving range is stunning.

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Feeling peckish, we headed in back to the restaurant where we sat down to a beautiful Basque inspired meal put together by Head Chef, Idoia Guzman, and paired with different wines, chosen by Keith, one of the co-founders of the restaurant.

We started with a small plate of anchovy, stuffed chilli and olive which was paired with Itsas Mendi’s ‘7 Txacoli’.


Next, we were given a lovely warm shot glass filled with  Jerusalem artichoke, blended with rocket and almond pesto. Now this combination was always going to be a dream! Pairing it with wine, though, is a hard task, but Keith succeeded with an ‘illegal’ unfortified sherry-style from Sanlúcar – La Bota Vino Blanco ‘Florpower.’ This was so delicious and it certainly got everyone’s attention.


Then arrived a Basque black pudding served with a Padron pepper with shimmery salt crystals on top. This was so delicious, the texture was melt in your mouth, and just to die for. This was paired with Txacoli, poured sheerly, and also Basque, Sagardoa Sidra. By this point I was already a bit merry.



We shared then shared a salad which had the biggest tomatoes I have ever seen! This was served with onions, chives, olive oil, and accompanied with freshly baked flatbreads topped with  anchovy, olive and basil, and ricotta, pancetta and truffle. Both dishes quickly vanished and they were served with a modern style of Saperavi from Georgia.

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Our penultimate dish was a confit of cod fresh from Billingsgate market and served with a pepper and tomato ragu matched with a white Priorat, which went with it beautifully.


The final savoury dish was a Belted Galloway onglet served with a well decanted  Olifantsberg Syrah from South Africa’s Breede River Valley. This went so well with the rare beef and sweet potato gnocchi, which was superb and served unusually in a block shape.


We were treated to a spectacular dessert of poached white peaches with pistachio Anglaise with a touch of rosemary. The flavour combination was just wow and we enjoyed it with a  a Swiss sweet Sauvignon blanc by Favre John and Mike, which I need to get my hands on.

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Then came a tray laden with shot glasses of espresso cocktails garnished with fresh mint. The coffee used for this cocktail was from artisan roaster, Francis Bradshaw at Moon Roast (Hampshire). The base of the cocktail was not vodka, as per a traditional espresso martini,, but 49% Sonoma County Rye from pot stills, aged in American oak barrels. It was just amazing and I think everyone had a happy smile on their face after it.

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We had a fantastic and really fun evening and it is definitely a venue I will go back to. It is perfect for a day out as you can play some golf at the range, and then settle down to a fantastic meal and some excellent wine in the restaurant. That is certainly the plan for me!

For more information go to: http://www.vinotheccompass.com

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

A perfect wine for catch ups with friends and 5 tips for living a happier life

You know you have a good friendship when you can pick up exactly where you left off, no matter how long it has been and I am so grateful to have such amazing best friends all over the world, in London, Kenya and Canada.

When catching up, a good French wine is always welcome (and essential) and on one such sunny Sunday afternoon, one of my London bestie and I shared a fantastic bottle of Chablis Vieilles Vines 2015.

With its light golden colour, hints of almonds, citrus and flowers and elegant, rich taste, it was the perfect wine, chilled perfectly, and really special with its pleasant flavours and summery aromas. #PureChablis

 

Really easy to drink, as we chatted away, it made me realise that spending time with friends makes me so much happier, no matter what is going on in life.

There are other things which can uplift your mood, and my top 5 ways to live a happier life are as follows.

Spend more time with family and friends

Life can get overwhelmingly busy at times,  but always set aside time to meet and catch up with family and friends, as it makes things so much more bearable and it is always something to look forward to. Get that date in the diary!

Go outside more

Being stuck indoors or at your desk for extended periods of time can be unproductive and leave you feeling frustrated. A simple walk to get some fresh air can really help boost your mood and enhance productivity.

Help others without expecting anything in return

Do things, no matter how big or small, to help others without expecting anything in return. The feeling of having made a difference is so lovely, and you will have made someone’s day or life better in your own way.

Be yourself

Don’t be ashamed of who you are. Be yourself. You will attract the right people rather than chasing after people expecting you to be a different person to who you are. It is so much easier to play the role of yourself 😉

Ps. This is where I admit my crazy cat lady tendencies.

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Don’t wait or put things off

Life is short, so do those things you have always wanted to do. The pleasure of ticking something off your list is really satisfying! Book that holiday, do that course or learn that language today.

 

Do you have any tips on how to be happier? Would love to hear them in the comments below.

xx

For more information on Chablis wines go to: http://www.chablis-wines.com

I was sent bottles of Chablis to enjoy over summer. All views and photos are my own.

 

An evening of amazing food and Chablis. Wine not?

They say an empty bottle (or bottles) of wine is filled with stories. Some which are made in grand rooms at the Andaz London like this one. Let’s just take a moment to admire the beauty of this room! Well generally if you walk a mile in my shoes you end up in a wine bar :p

Its time to wine down.

The reason I, and lots of lovely fellow bloggers and media found ourselves in this marvellous space surrounded by shiny unopened bottles of Chablis, was thanks to the very dashing Douglas Blyde. An email from him is always a pleasure to open and is generally related to wine :p

Our mission for the evening  (which we had all gladly accepted) was to enjoy lots of different varieties of Chablis paired with food from 3 prolific supper club chefs, at a Bacchus On A Knife Edge Supper Club.

 

Wine…because its not good to keep things bottled up.

They say its not good to keep things bottled up, and as Mitzie and I were the first to arrive, the unopened bottles situation was quickly rectified and we enjoyed a glass of Petit Chablis – Pas Si Petit’ Petit Chablis 2014 from co-operative; La Chablisienne.  As the name suggests, it is not that “petit’ having the characteristics of a good Chablis without the price tag.

Paired with this delicious wine, we ate stunning crab and avocado cucumber rolls, made by one of three supperclub hosts on the night; Nordish.

After nibbling on these, and Norwegian fish cakes, we listened to Douglas Blyde give us an introduction on the fabulous Chablis wine, dressed to impress as always. Douglas is a sommelier and a restaurant critic and an amazing writer.

Chablis comes from the northernmost district of the Burgundy region in France. The cooler climate produces primarily white wines, with less influence of oak. We tried 4 variants;  Petit Chablis, Chablis, Premier Crus and Grand Crus.

Given a pen, a book to make  notes in, as well as sufficient wine glasses waiting to be filled, we settled down to enjoy great food and wine.

 

Hana from Pickled Plates prepared a British starter of summer vegetable salad with roasted radishes, brown butter dressing, pan-fried whiting and tempura samphire.

This was paired with  with Alain Geoffroy’s 2014 richer Chablis, which comes from a family run vineyard, which Douglas said was well worth visiting as  Geoffrey family have a 1,500+ strong corkscrew museum.

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The food was stunning, light and flavoursome, and the wine complimented it perfectly and was slightly too easy to drink. I really enjoyed the roasted radishes, as these were something that just added such a nice dimension to the dish.

Next up was our main dish, prepared by Rosie of A Little Lusciousness. Inspired by a sting in Japan, she made Soy and miso-glazed pork chop on the bone with spring onion rice, Japanese raw slaw, rice vinegar and chilli dressing which as AMAZING.

Douglas choose Julien Brocard’s beautifully packaged Chablis, La Boissonneuse (2014) to pair with this dish which had a slightly oakier taste influenced from  being part fermented in oak foudres. The vineyard is one of the first organic vineyards in Chablis.

 

After stunning dishes, we culminated the evening with a cheese off – England vs. France, paired with older and stronger wines from Premier Cru and Grand Cru sites.

 

Our cheese selection was as follows:

Stichleton from Nottinghamshire vs. Bleu d’Auvergne

Baron Bigod from Bungay vs. Camembert from Normandy

Montgomery Cheddar from North Cadbury, Somerset vs. Comté

The wines,  included:

 Domaine William Fevre, Vaulorent, Premier Cru 2012

Jean Paul et Benoit Valmur Grand Cru 2012

Clotilde Davenne Les Preuses Grand Cru 2008

Domaine Laroche Les Blanchots Grand Cru 2007

Never have I seen such a large table go quiet and there was definitely lots of cracker stealing conspiracy theories going on (Sorry Mr Massey). The cheese was wonderful and the wine just gorgeous. Cheese and wine is literally a dream combination and judging by how quickly it was devoured, this went down extremely well.

Wine flies when you are having fun.

And before we knew it our wonderful evening had to come to an end (insert sad but tipsy face) and we had to leave the magical room at the Andaz and walk back the cobbled streets to Liverpool Street station.

It was fabulous to have an evening of different white wines as I am someone who usually reaches for red. I can say I am a convert to Chablis and am so glad to have a few bottles to try so more on that in future blog posts! The French definitely excel at wine making.

Have you tried any of the Chablis wines? Which is your favourite?

 I was a guest of Douglas Blyde and the #PureChablis PR team.

La Petite Provence at The Folly

I am a massive quote lover and when you walk into the Folly, you are greeted with this inspirational quote: “Say yes to new adventures.” That has totally been my motto since starting my blog and I was about to embark on an adventure of a different kind, to the South of France, but right here in London.

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Before I explain, I just want to highlight the AMAZING interiors at the Folly. It is so beautiful! We were given a little tour and pictured below is the private function room, which is massive, spacious and gorgeous.

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The ladies bathroom deserves a mention too because it is epic. It also has quotes and cocktail recipes on the mirrors and walls! It is really cool and totally instagrammable.img_8511

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After our tour of the bar, we settled down in a lovely area, for “La Petite Provence”. This is a pop up at the Folly, which will be running until the end of August, and which is really worth a visit.

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The decor in the area where the pop up is based, is cleverly made to look like a Provençal garden with French furniture, flowers and gorgeous  terracotta pots, as well as French inspired photos all over the wall, so you feel like you are transported to the south of France.

The idea is you escape from the hustle and bustle of London into the ‘garden’ whilst sampling some of Provence’s finest wines. Perfect way to spend time and as the weather hopefully edges towards summer, this will be even lovelier.

There are three “La Petite Provence” packages available which allow you to explore the various wines on the menu. We had three petite plates which were paired with three small glasses of wine. This experience costs £9.95. There is also a sensory wine experience which has to be pre-booked.

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For our experience, we tried 3 different types of Rose wine, which were the Rolle Chateau Riotor,  Chateau Unhang and La Balade Rose.

We were taught how to swirl the wine in the glass, and also how to enhance our taste buds to properly taste all the different flavour notes. Our host was really knowledgeable about wine and he gave us lots of tips, as he was studying wine himself. These were really useful nuggets of information and great future conversation starters at dinner parties!

Each wine was paired with a different plate of breads with either an olive tapenade, saucisson and cheese to accompany the bread. The olive tapenade was so delicious that I may have cheated and eaten it with all 3 wines!

It was surprisingly very filling and my favourite, out of the wines, was definitely the  Chateau Unang. It was very palatable and lush.

The whole experience was really enjoyable and I will definitely visit the Folly again as it is such a gorgeous venue. It had a nice buzz and was really popular, when we went.

Really recommend this experience if you are a wine lover, or want to learn more about wine. It is such a nice way to socialise and try fantastic wines.

For more information go to: http://www.thefollybar.co.uk

Disclaimer: We received a complimentary experience but all views and photos are my own.

Mystery in Mayfair – Smith & Whistle

When I was invited to the media launch of a new bar in Mayfair I was excited. Despite there being a tube strike that day I was determined to attend as it sounded very interesting and very mysterious. 

Located at The Park Lane Hotel, which is a Starwood hotel, it is a fabulous British bar with fantastic decor.

The name Smith & Whistle takes inspiration from the 1920’s duo, Detective Inspector Smith and  Mr. Whistle. 

They were sworn enemies who would call an occasional truce to meet at the bar and swap secrets from either side of the law.

The theme of the bar is very much “Mystery in Mayfair” with the menu being referred to the line up for drinks and wanted for food.

The food menu is interesting and takes on the jar foods concept. The desserts also sound good and I will definitely try the Spiced rum chocolate mousse next time. 

The cocktails are very reasonably priced compared to some of Smith & Whistle’s neighbouring bars.

Priced at £10 each this is not bad at all considering its location.

Pictured below is the bar. Stocked with British spirits, wines and beers.  
 

 The line up is the “drinks menu.” Love the fun concept and theme. It is very unique.

  

“Detectives” like this lovely chap pictured below serve you at the bar! Pictured is “The Fuzz,” which is rum infused with rosemary, Cocchi Americano, Aperol and very sparkly. 

Presentation is awesome. Loved the little bottle it was served in. 
  

The bartenders at Smith & Whistle had some serious skills. Just look at the video below! How cool is that?

My second choice of cocktail was “Sticky Fingers” – this was an amazing concoction of Jameson, FAIR Goji Berry Liqueur, Yellow Chartreuse, mint, goji jam and blood orange juice.
 
It is a wonderful bar to meet friends for a catch up, socialise with work colleagues or to go on a date. 

They also have several events on and lots of offers. For example, they host a Gin masterclass with jazz music as the entertainment on selected dates. Check out their website for more information on dates, availability and special offers.

It can be found at: 

 The Park Lane Hotel 

Piccadilly 

London 

W1J 9EQ 

Website: http://www.smithandwhistle.com

Closest station is Green Park.

As for how I got home? Well I learned a new route home on the bus from Green Park! It was definitely worth it.

Square Meal