Tuesday, 25 July 2017

ASOS Vouchers Giveaway


I've been very fortunate with this blog. Through having this blog, I've got to experience the most incredible things, realise dreams I thought might never come true, and progress me as a person. My confidence has gone through the roof whilst having this blog, which I think is one of the most important things to come from this. However whilst I work really hard for this blog (I'm currently writing this on my train on the way to my other job) I know that I couldn't have done it without you, my lovely readers. Without your support over the years, I wouldn't have achieved any of it, so thank you. 
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Monday, 24 July 2017

Dukes Gourmet Picnic


A familiar story goes a little like this "Let's go for dinner" "Ok where?" ...
Now don't get me wrong London has a plethora or restaurants and you can never really run out choice, but sometimes it feels like you end up going to another Mexican another bottomless brunch, and the originality is lacking. So when I heard about Dukes Hotel gourmet picnic in the park my ears pricked up and immediately booked it. Well if there is one thing I love and that is a summer picnic, but something I love more? Champagne, and this ticked both of those boxes. 


Dukes is a gorgeous little hotel in St James, tucked down a side street but whilst it might be slightly secret, it has a great little bar if you are ever in the area. You might actually recognise the name from my Hotel Tour Around London Video from last year. 

Now coming to a picnic after work can be a bit of a fuss, I mean no one wants to lug sausage rolls and salads into their office, for them to sit in a draw for 8 hours, and don't get me started on trying to haul a picnic basket on the tube at rush hour. Well that was half the appeal of Dukes picnic- no need to bring your own. Instead you head over to the hotel, and a butler takes you to St James park where he sets everything up for you, and at the end, you just give him a call and he'll come and clean up. 


I was catching up with some of my favourite bloggers, Angie and Lauren, although I say it like we are only blogging friends, which isn't true, but thats how we met originally. It's funny actually as most of my friends are people I've met through blogging, which I think is a really nice thing, as I know there is so much talk about blogging becoming bitchier but take it from me, just ignore that side and you'll find the good eggs. 


Now forget your soggy sausage rolls, the picnic is instead packed with fresh salmon, chickpea salad, potatoes and the most delicious chorizo scotch eggs. 


Oh and not forgetting the champagne of course. Theres even an ice bucket provided. 


As soon as the sun comes out, St James park can get pretty crowded, however we managed to find a relatively quiet spot in the shade, which was perfect for catching up, and the inevitable shrieks of laughter that come out of three women mouths. 



If this isn't the most refined picnic you've seen in a while, then I don't know what is. 


Those chorizo scotch eggs really were my favourite. Even though they were huge, I ate both halves without question, and really wanted to eat the girls left overs, but thought that might ruin the elegance of the picnic. 





My only critique is that I wish they had included dessert in the picnic. I have such a sweet tooth, and as much as I love strawberries, they aren't a replacement for a indulgent dessert. Maybe some cakes might have been good to add?



It was so lovely to catch up with the girls. Lauren has just come back from what sounded like the most amazing trip to Mexico- you can read all about it on here blog, and Angie is off to a private island in the Caribbean! So make sure you follow her blog for that gem. 




The gourmet picnic is a wonderful treat, and makes for something a lot different than the usual sit down dinner. Now I'm currently looking at my soggy brolly in the corner, but hopefully it'll get warm again, so you can head out with a picnic basket full of goodies. 

Once we had devoured everything, we headed back to Dukes and may have finished off the night with a round of cocktails... or two. Well that counts as dessert right? 

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Thursday, 20 July 2017

The Grand Journey, A Bombay Sapphire Experience


I recently had a conversation with someone at work that revolved around the fact that I don’t own a TV. “But what do you do?!” Was their concern. A look of slight horror and disbelief crossed their face. Well to be quite frank, I find TV boring, but also I’d much rather spend my time seeking out and going to kick ass events like the one I went to on Monday; The Grand Journey, a Bombay Sapphire interactive food and drink event. 

I’ve been doing some work with Bombay Sapphire recently, teasing up until The Grand Journey itself. But the big event is finally here. The Grand Journey is a culinary journey through the 10 botanicals that make up Bombay Sapphires unique taste. Fir it, they’ve only gone and partnered with Michelin starred chef, Tom Sellers of Restaurant Story fame to create a 7 course food pairing of each of the botanicals. But that’s not all, oh no, this isn’t just some kind of regular sit down dinner. No, no. They’ve only gone and installed a great honking train inside a building!

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Monday, 17 July 2017

Summer Peach Gin and Tonic Recipe


Right now I'm a huge peach lover. I don't know what it is, I've just suddenly got into them. Peach cobbler, peaches and ice cream, but you know what else is sensational? Peaches and gin. Yep, the two just marry so well. 

Peaches are such a sweet, nectar fruit that when added to a highly concentrated botanical based gin, it takes to those botanicals so well. This is why they are great with a gin like Bombay Sapphire. If you have read my previous post about visiting their distillery, you'll know that Bombay Sapphire is made with 10 different botanicals, and is a slightly sweeter gin than others and that it's the oils in those botanicals that fuse with the alcohol. So an oily fruit like peaches are perfect for it as it enhances those botanicals, bringing out the flavours of the juniper berries, almonds and coriander even further.


To celebrate their upcoming public event in London; The Grand Journey, they challenged me to make the perfect summer cocktail that would work wonderfully at a picnic and so what better than something light, fruity and sweet? At a picnic you want something quick and easy that you can make outside, so I chose this as it's simply gin and tonic for liquid and only two fruits. Nothing to complicated or heavy in your basket.

Now what is the Grand Journey I hear you ask? Well they are hosting a week long event - The Grand Journey in London which is actually a "train ride" to all the countries where to botanicals grow to discover their origins. They've parked up a train at the Banking Hall in Bank, London, between 17 and 23 July and you take a (stationary) journey around the world. But thats not all, The Grand Journey is also a culinary delight with Tom Sellers of Restaurant Story fame serving food pairings along with their gin cocktails. I'm going to the Grand Journey tonight so hopefully I'll be able to come back and add in some excellent picnic food pairings too. 



At the distillery, they are all about local produce, and making sure everything is fresh and the best quality, so if you can, try to get your fruit from a local market or seller. I always try to buy from an independent grower to get fresh ingredients, plus I'd also rather my money go to them than a big conglomerate like Tesco!



Summer peach gin and tonic

Ingredients:

  • 1 peach, sliced
  • 50ml Bombay Sapphire
  • 100ml Tonic
  • 1 half squeezed lime
  • 1 half a lime sliced
  • Cubed Ice
  • Balloon Glass

Directions:

Fill a balloon glass with cubed ice- don't be shy with the ice. Slice the peach and add into the glass. Pour the gin over the ice, then the tonic and finally squeeze in the lime juice in. Slice the other half of the lime and add into the glass, stirring to combine. Serve immediately. If too sharp or you like you drinks extra sweet, you can add a dash of sugar syrup to taste.  



And there you have it, easy as pie. Very quick and simple, yet so refreshing and sweet. I may have drank this one, and then made myself another as I sat outside working. 



So on your next picnic, grab yourself a bottle of Bombay Sapphire, a punnet of peaches and get drinking in the sun. Don't forget to check out the Grand Journey too. It's set to be an amazing event.


This post was sponsored by Bombay Sapphire
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Friday, 14 July 2017

A Tour Around Bombay Sapphire's Distillery



I just adore summer time. Everyone is in great spirits, people want to hang out more, and it feels like a time people are more carefree and happy. I’m definitely one of those people, and I definitely say yes more to after work drinks this time of year. And what is my go to drink? Gin. Yes, good old, beautiful gin. 

A gin and tonic is my go to summer drink at a bar or pub. It’s a classic. Now though, I have to admit, before last week, I new very little of actually how gin was made, or what was in it. I know, guilty as charged, I was one of those people who just drank it. 


Well all is changing, as I was invited down to Bombay Sapphire’s distillery; Laverstoke Mill, to learn all about how their gin is made, as I’m working with them on a very cool project, which I’ll tell you all about in a minute.



Laverstoke Mill is open to the public and about an hour our of London by train. I’d never been to a distillery before, so didn’t really know what to expect, but on arrival I was pleasantly suprised. A gorgeous old mill, kept to original design, set in beautiful grounds. They have a bar and terrace, which apparently locals actually come and use as their local bar! Can I move down here?


First on my gin journey was into their vault for a brief history of Bombay Sapphire. Started in 1987, it’s a British made gin, but the original founder was American and so the unusual naming convention came from the fact that at the time the most famous thing about Britain was it’s occupation of India- something Americans found fascinating- so Bombay came to be. Also it went well because the owner was also fascinated with the story of the Star of Bombay which is a Sapphire and so a gin name was born.



Bombay Sapphire’s recipe is made up of 10 botanicals which include juniper berries, orris root, coriander and liquorice. Whilst it is a dry gin, it is actually on the sweeter side than most gins, making a large segment of their buyers women. The process to which the gin is made is through triple distilling it in copper vats. In these vats, the heat causes the oils of the botanicals to be released.


Starting as I mean to go on, I sampled a cocktail before the tour- The Lavestoke cocktail. Wow. Honestly with 100000% conviction, this cocktail is delicious. You have to try it.


Now you may have seen the iconic greenhouses in photos before as they are an architectural marvel. Designed by Thomas Heatherwick who is the man behind the Routemaster buses, the greenhouses are actually where some botanicals grow (Of course they import the vast quantities needed for production as the distillery produces at least 25 million litres of gin a year). 


But they grow some so you can come and see that actually all the produce as completely natural. 



On the tour we headed for the heritage room, so as I like to call it, the tasting room. Here they have all the different flavours where you can taste and smell each one, plus what is actually really cool, is you can pick up a card, and punch wholes by the number of the smell you like. Then you take this to the bar later an they'll make a cocktail based on your chosen flavours. 






Now why was I here at the distillery and why are these botanicals so important. Well Bombay Sapphire are doing something very cool in London next week. They are hosting a week long event called The Grand Journey which is actually a "train ride" to all the countries where to botanicals grow to discover their origins. I saw train journey as whilst you do board a train, it's a stationary train, although looks like the orient express which is so cool. It'll be stationed at the Banking Hall in Bank, London, between 17 and 23 July. But thats not all, The Grand Journey is also a culinary delight with Tom Sellers of Restaurant Story fame serving food pairing along with gin cocktails. 


For each batch of gin, this is all the ingredients that go into the vat to distill. This then breaks down and releases it's oils to make the unique flavour we know of Bombay Sapphire. 


But of course the real deal is actually the finished product. Luckily as I said earlier, they have a bar at the distillery where you can order cocktails at the bargain price of £5! 



Lavestock Mill is such a great day out to go learn about gin, but also just have a relaxing fun time too. Plus any tour where I'm actively encouraged to drink, I'm all for. 

Make sure you check out Lavestock Mill and also The Grand Journey if you are in London. 

This post was sponsored by Bombay Sapphire


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