Food Challenge Week 2: NY Deli Style Dill Potato Salad

Two weeks into my challenge and I’m feeling pretty good. I have been asked a few times whether I have a list of possible recipes, which sounds like a good idea, but I haven’t had the time to sit and think of one yet!

Last week’s recipe was a little of a let down, so this week I decided to try something a little lighter, and make something I would be able to add to my daily work lunches.

I’m a HUGE fan of the humble potato. If I was told I could only pick one ingredient to eat the rest of my lifetime it would be a potato. When I was in New York last, I ate the most incredible potato salad at Katz’s Deli, I think I reminisce about this salad at least a few times a week still, and this trip was over 2 years ago now!

So, a while back I picked up a recipe book called New York Cult Recipes.

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Inside it talks about fantastic eateries (Katz’s being one of them) and although the recipe for potato salad inside this book doesn’t replicate the one I ate on that trip, having never made potato salad before, I thought this was probably a good place to start.

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You start off with your potatoes (700g) and you chop them into quarters or smaller, depending on how big your new potatoes are.

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The recipe said to peel the potatoes first, but who has the patience to peel new potatoes? You boil them for about 10 minutes on a slow boil until they’re cooked through but still a little firm. Then drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. These then can be left to cool.

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Chop your red onion (50g) really small, and then put this into a bowl of cold water for a few minutes and drain. This will get rid of some of that acridity you get from a raw onion.

You put 1 1/2 tablespoons of capers, the drained red onion and the cooled potatoes into a big bowl, ready for the dressing.

Now, there’s a lot of sugar in this dressing. An alarming amount – and when I tasted it after I’d made it, I was a little shocked. But actually it worked really well with the rest of the ingredients and there was a good balance of flavours. So please run with it.

For the dressing you add caster sugar (40g), 2 pinches of salt and 2 grinds of the pepper mill, 1 garlic clove, 1 1/2 tablespoons of rice vinegar (I used rice wine vinegar), mayonnaise (60g) and natural yogurt (60g). Mix all of this together until all the sugar has dissolved and everything is combined. Give it a taste and make sure it feels balanced – it will taste sweet, like I said.

Then you add some finely chopped fresh dill (1 tablespoon).

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Add all of this to the potatoes, and stir gently, making sure not to crush the potatoes.

My potatoes were still quite firm (that’s what she said), so there was no risk of that!

Then you just chill and serve as and when you want to eat it. This recipe says it’ll serve 6 people. I divided it between 5 working days as an accompaniment to a fresh salad.

I used soy plain yogurt and found the dressing to be fairly runny. It also separated a bit between servings so I had to keep mixing it before serving. But it tasted REALLY good.

Not the most photogenic of concoctions though…

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I really enjoyed the addition of the dill in this, which made the whole dish special in my opinion. I’ll probably end up making this again!

I give this recipe 8/10 🙂

Hosting a Share A Meal for World Vision UK

Back in September I shared World Vision UK’s latest campaign, Share A Meal. If you missed that post, head back if you want to read all about it.

This past weekend was my turn to host my Share A Meal meal, and I decided to make it Italian themed! Since my guests were vegetarian and I make a darn good tomato linguine (if I do say so myself!), it made sense to build a menu based on that!

Our new kitchen is a very social space, so I started the cooking once we’d settled in, whacked on a playlist on our Echo and we took the time to catch up whilst I cooked.

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Using my trusty Le Creuset pan (I love that thing!) I was able to make dinner easily, all in one pot which saved on the washing up and meant everything was a lot simpler.

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I chose to serve non alcoholic white wine, since I knew if I started drinking whilst I was cooking, we’d be eating burnt mush by the end!

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Dinner was served (albeit sloppily!) and we all had the opportunity to think about the simplicity of the food we were eating, in the comfort of a cosy house and how by eating this meal and coming together we could be helping people who were less fortunate than us.

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Next course was Sicilian lemon tarts, which I’ll admit were not made by me, but by Mr Iceland…..

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They were rather tasty nevertheless!

We finished the meal off with espresso martinis, though the creation of these was a little eventful when my makeshift cocktail shaker (a cheap Starbucks sippy cup) developed a large crack in the bottom and thus my kitchen sink got a good drink of our martinis….

Alls well that ends well, though, as my Costa sippy cup acted as a back-up and we ended up with some so-so martinis that still tasted good even if they didn’t look exactly how I wanted them (I think I need to invest in an actual cocktail shaker!)

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As the evening wound down, conversation turned to how my guests could use this meal to help World Vision UK. By visiting the Share A Meal site and clicking the Donate Now button, my guests can donate the value of their meal to World Vision UK. These donations will go towards helping vulnerable children in Uganda, who can’t feed themselves. No child should go without food and safety, so this money will help to provide a little more to those who need it.

At this time of year, when people are gathering together and sharing good food, it’s so easy to make your gathering a charitable one. For less than you’d pay for a meal out, by donating the cost of the meal you’ve eaten (or hosted) to World Vision UK, you’ll be making a difference.

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And don’t forget, by hosting, you could end up winning a meal cooked for you by star baker Selasi!

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See the World Vision UK Share A Meal site for more details on how you could win!

If you decide to host a Share A Meal event, I’d love to hear all about it. Please let me know in the comments!

 

EVENT PHOTO PROVIDED BY WORLD VISION UK. ALL OTHER PHOTOS ARE MY OWN.

Share A Meal with World Vision UK

I love food, and I love sharing food. Coming into the Christmas period (let’s face it, it’s really soon) we start to think about family, getting together and sharing food and drinks. But it’s easy to forget those in other countries facing diversity.

To promote awareness, World Vision UK have launched the #shareameal appeal to raise money for the refugee children in Bidi Bidi, Uganda, along with Great British Bake Off’s star baker Selasi.

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Selasi recently visited Uganda to see how we could make a difference.

“It’s heartbreaking to see pain and hunger etched onto the faces of orphaned children and hear their harrowing stories of rape and violence. It is vital that, as a community, we come together to do what we can to help provide these kids with a better future.”

Thousands of children flood into Uganda’s refugee settlements, escaping civil war in South Sudan. Many of these having seen their parents murdered and having to walk for weeks without food or shelter. This is a dangerous and frightening trek, having to hide from fighting to avoid being killed. They are along, traumatised and hungry.

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And this of course is something we just can’t relate to. But we can help, and World Vision UK have come up with a way we can help bring aid to these children, in a way we can relate to.

World Vision UK help feed these children and find them foster families, to give them a new start. However, global funding just isn’t enough and so to raise money, they’d like you to take part in #shareameal.

World Vision UK invite you to be inspired by Selasi and host a dinner party. It can be as small or large as you wish, just as long as you’re sharing a meal. Following the meal, you and your guests donate the value of the meal to World Vision UK and that money goes to the children.

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They’ve even made it really easy for you, but putting together a pack that includes everything you need – invitations, an exclusive recipe from Selasi and thank you cards for your guests too!

Visit http://www.worldvision.org.uk/get-involved/share-meal/ to download your pack!

Now, if this wasn’t fun enough, they’re also giving you the chance to win a meal for two, cooked by Selasi himself! To enter, simply post a picture of your Share A Meal event on Instagram using the hashtag #shareameal and tagging @WorldVisionUK! For more information visit www.worldvision.org.uk/shareameal

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So all that’s left to do is start planning your meal and who you want to invite.

With so many holidays coming up, you could host an American-style Thanksgiving, a Christmas themed meal, something for New Years or simply use some of the fantastic Autumnal ingredients that are starting to appear in supermarkets.

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It’s an excuse to show off your repertoire AND help the refugee Children in Uganda.

I’m already planning mine, so keep an eye out for my post about that in the next couple of months!

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Event photos provided by World Vision UK. All other photos are my own.

My Search for Authentic Flavours: Cherry Tomato Linguine

I’ve always been the kind of person who likes food to taste authentic. I love picking up recipes for food from books, magazine and most usually now Pinterest and tweaking them until they’re perfect. In fact one of Gary’s favourite meals, sausage casserole, is one I’ve been perfecting over the last decade.

On our recent trip to Rome, the very first meal I ate was a tomato and basil spaghetti. Nice and simple with fresh ingredients and pasta cooked al dente and just right. It was delicious, but the thing that struck me the most was how much it tasted like something I already cook.

I picked the recipe for cherry tomato linguine up off Pinterest, and the main reason I wanted to try it was that it’s a one pan recipe so I knew it would be pretty simple to make. I’ve made it a handful of times, and always enjoyed eating it, but was left with an acrid after taste every time – which I had put down to the use of garlic in the recipe.

So whilst eating this gorgeous plate of spaghetti in the little authentic recipe down a Roman side street, I thought hard about the flavours and decided I was going to make my linguine slightly differently next time.

So about a week after returning I picked up my ingredients and away I went. I have to say, this time I nailed it. I cut out the garlic and instead used garlic oil – oil infused with enough garlic to add the right depth of spice and flavour, but without that nasty after taste. I posted a photo of my creation and had a request to blog the recipe, so here goes; my one pan cherry tomato linguine, tweaked to perfection!

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Cherry Tomato One Pot Pasta (very generously serves 2)

2 tbsp garlic oil
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (from oil) snipped smallish with scissors
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes (left whole)
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
200g dry linguine – or however much you want for 2 servings! (snapped in half to make everything easier)
2 cups vegetable stock
1 1/4 cup of cold water
85g tomato puree
handful of fresh basil (sliced thinly)
Add olive oil to large high sided pan with a lid (I use a cast iron Le Creuset casserole dish), heat the oil, add the sun-dried tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. Coat well with oil, over a medium heat and then partially cover the pan and allow to cook for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
The tomatoes will spit a little as they burst because they’re full of water, so be careful! Add the paprika, pepper and salt, and cook for 2 mins more, stirring well.
Add the broth, water and pasta and increase the heat to high. Then add the tomato puree and mix well. Once the liquid has come to a rapid boil, stir well and then allow the liquid to reduce for about 14 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat, give a stir and then add the basil. Stir one last time and then cover the pan and let it sit, off the heat, for about 5 minutes.
Serve with bread to mop up with!

If you decide to make this, I’d love to know what you think – send me your photos and comments, and tell me if you changed the recipe at all.

Happy eating!

Ladies What Brunch

Having spent a lot of lovely time, but not nearly enough, with the Book Club girls in Cornwall, we decided we needed a girly meet up before Tash headed back to Vietnam.

I’d heard, through a girl in my office, about Jones & Sons in Dalston and their amazing bottomless brunch. We managed to find a date that worked for us all (which was also Caz’s birthday), made our booking and eagerly awaited the date.

Bottomless Brunch at Jones at Sons is awesome. You choose either ‘on the wagon’ or ‘off the wagon’, you choose which drink you’ll be getting served for 2 hours you have the table, and then you get to order as much food as you want off their menu for a set price. There are just two rules, once you’ve chosen which drink you want, you have to stick to that drink, and you can only order another round of food once everyone at your table is ready to order again too. This makes a lot of sense as it means the wait staff aren’t running around to each table multiple times over the duration of your visit.

We arrived at the restaurant slightly early, but were seated right away with no bother even though they were incredibly busy. Our drinks chosen and our food selected we waited patiently (yeah right!) for our food, eyeing up what other people were being served with hungry stomachs.

Inside Jones & Sons there’s a lovely buzz. Chitter chatter loud enough to create an atmosphere but not enough to make you shout – just how I like it. The wait staff were wonderful and really accommodating.

I chose to go with bucks fizz to drink, and every time my glass needed topping up we heard the sound of a new Prosecco bottle being opened! I must have drunk about 6 glasses over the time we were there so I was pleasantly merry by the time we left.

Now to eats:

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I started with poached eggs on sour dough toast with the most perfect avocado I’ve ever eaten. Well seasoned and perfectly ripe, the dish warmed up my stomach for what was to come. Next I went for a full english, which came complete with black pudding (which I love). Then after the girls had raved about the french toast, I decided to finish with that. It was soft and fluffy (could have been a little more custardy and a little less burnt, but they were changing to lunch service so I’ll let them off!)

I have to say I probably could have eaten another course but our 2 hours was up and we got the cheque. Even though Jones & Sons is a little off the normal track I’d take in London, I’ll definitely be back. The location, food and service was spot on, and I’d recommend a visit if you’re in the area.

After brunch we fancied another drink to headed to John Lewis on Oxford Street and to their rooftop garden. It’s open over the summer and I really wanted to see what it was like.

It being Pride London weekend, there were LGBT flags flying on top of all the buildings and down Oxford Street.

The John Lewis rooftop garden was very serene and lovely place to digest the food we’d just eaten. We all picked cocktails, though were surprised to find out that the only place you could get non alcoholic drinks had run out of juice….. I chose a cucumber cooler which has gin in it so I was happy!

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It was an awesome day, and brilliant to spend it all together on what seems like the last consistently pleasant weather day! If you haven’t been to Jones & Sons in Dalston, I really recommend it. The John Lewis Roof Garden is open until September 4th.

Summer in the City

Last weekend the UK appeared to skip straight from Winter, right into Summer. The weather was so glorious that we couldn’t believe just a week before we’d been wrapped up tight and watching snow flurries through the window.

So what better way to enjoy the glorious sunshine, than to head to London for a mooch and some food. I love London in the Summer. Everything’s so pretty and shiny.

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We headed straight to lunch when we arrived and to Shoreditch, where I wanted to visit a place called Pump. Built on an old petrol station forecourt, Pump is a little al fresco world food court. We’d arrived at about half 12 and most of the places hadn’t started serving food yet, which was a little surprising. We’d seen some photos of what the place had to offer on instagram so we both headed to Nosteagia.

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I grabbed some teriyaki chicken with rice and a strawberry green bubble tea. The tea was so refreshing and the food was yummy! Gary wasn’t in the mood for a big meal at the time, so just went for desert!

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This bubble waffle was filled with strawberries and chocolate sauce. The waffle was so light and crisp and the filling was fresh and sweet.

We then headed over to Boxpark, and Gary came across Voodoo Rays, and amazing pizzeria selling pizza by the slice. He went for a slice of cheese and tomato. I wished I hadn’t already eaten because the bite of Gary’s pizza I tasted was amazing. He said it was the best pizza he’d eaten in this country! They even had a vegan pizza.

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It was a really funky little place and we HAVE to go back so I can have some of my very own!

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The rest of our day was wonderful, just wandering around London. I was just telling Gary about how I might wake up the following morning and go for a run, early, before I started my day. I am only just getting back into running since my injury last year and so it’s still a hard job to get me to actually go out. I was telling him how I actually probably wouldn’t go out, and that I was feeling too lazy…. and that second I spotted this graffiti on the wall…

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It was, quite literally, a sign. Incidentally, we took this photo opposite a homeless man who was singing into a large traffic cone, the same mermaid-like phrase of song over and over again. And after about 10 minutes just got up and walked away, leaving the cone behind. I love London!

It was such a good day – it felt like we were on holiday! And guess what? The next morning:

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At half 8 (and 18c already) I went for a run! It was tough, and it was hot, but I’m so glad I did it! Sometimes listening to graffiti pays off!

 

Good Eats

Last week the G-Man turned 32 and even though he doesn’t really celebrate his birthday normally, we decided it would be nice to go out and have a meal. We wanted good food and something different. Since Milton Keynes now is a mecca for chain restaurants (it has 5 Nandos in the space of 5 miles!) we knew we’d have to go out of MK for something decent to eat.

Gary found the website for a lovely looking pub in Tring called The Akeman. It looked like a London-style pub with a great selection on the menu. I think we’d both chosen about 3 meals worth of food just by looking online at the menu.

We weren’t disappointed when we arrived. The staff were friendly, the atmosphere was relaxed but classy and had it been warmer and not raining their garden area looked very inviting. We had a peruse of the menu, and even though we’re not 3 course people we ordered three courses each!

To start I had chicken crackling: chickenskinI love pork crackling so was interested to try this. It was crunchy, light and very tasty with the sauce.

Next I had roasted golden and pink beetroot with tenderstem broccoli, chia seed, honey, orange zest, yoghurt and thyme dressing.

beetrootsaladThis was delicious. Light and refreshing and felt really healthy. Gary had bruschette topped with tomatoes, basil, garlic and oil.

For my main course I had lemon and thyme chicken, with a pumpkin sage and potato hash, smokey bacon jam and jus.

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I couldn’t locate the smokey bacon jam, but the hash was in a light gravy type thing which could have been the jus. It didn’t taste of smokey bacon though. This dish was in a section on the menu called Comfort Food and I could tell why. The first mouthful of this was seriously comforting. It was as if I’d taken a bite of all the best roast dinners I’ve ever had all in one go. This also came with crispy chicken skin on it. Gary had Penne Arrabbiata which he really enjoyed!

I decided to forgo the desert and have a coffee, but Gary had a brownie with salted caramel ice cream, which I tried a little of and it made me quite emotional. So good!

The place, atmosphere, staff, food and selection of food were great. We’ll definitely be back. We were told the menu changes fairly regularly to change with the seasons, and we could tell thought was put into the dishes just by looking at their specials menu. There was much more we could try so it won’t be long until we visit again.

If you’re passing through or fancy a trip to Tring you should really pop in and give them a try – they even do breakfast!

Eating Las Vegas

Anyone who reads Shutterbug regularly will know I love my food. And I have no problems with whipping my camera out to photograph the food I’m served all over the world. My Dad has actually started requesting pictures of things I eat when I’m away, and I’m more than happy to oblige!

If food photos don’t float your boat, then feel free to skip this post. I won’t hold it against you! All the more for the rest of us 🙂

My foodie journey began on our flight. After being recently confirmed as lactose intolerant, I knew I assumed I would have a hard time finding things I’d be happy to eat. We updated my flight details and opted for a vegan diet on both flights there and back, since the vegetarian option couldn’t guarantee there would be no cheese in the food. A long flight isn’t the kind of place you want to have ‘those’ kind of problems….

I had remembered from a previous flight, years back, that airlines like to stuff you with food, but hadn’t flown with Virgin before so had no idea of what to expect. Here’s a section from my travel journal about the flight:

What’s with all the food?! Still five hours to go on an 11 hour flight and we’ve already had…. a snack, full 3 course meal, ice cream lolly and now a ciabatta/calzone (huge). Will we starve for the rest of the flight? Who knows? Apparently we have afternoon tea an hour and a half before we land. I need never eat again!

The three course meal was really nice. It was a tomato orzo salad, then chickpea dahl, pea and spinach paneer and basmati rice. Then a fruit salad. The calzone weren’t dairy free but I was given a full-sized mixed bean ciabatta roll. I couldn’t eat the pretzels, ice cream lolly or the afternoon tea because it was all cheese and chocolate. By the second half of the flight my stomach was expecting food every half an hour so by the time we were at the hotel (and after a little nap) we were starving!

We headed out to the Rainforest Cafe, in our hotel, since we knew there was a good chance that we would get tired very fast and we knew there was stuff we’d eat there as we’d eaten at the Cafe in Disneyland.

10923641_10155478210920727_4900933054957404483_nI opted for the Paradise Pot Roast which came served on mashed potatoes. I’ve been taking lactase tablets a little before eating anything with a small amount of dairy in, so I popped a few of those knowing there was likely cream in the mash. They seem to work quite well for things like this. Despite the messy bowl, I loved the presentation and the food was yummy and comforting. Just what I needed after a long flight!

After a fairly good night’s sleep, and checking Facebook, a friend Carrie had recommended eating breakfast at a place called Hash House a Go Go. It looked great on the website and had been featured on Man Vs Food. Since we were awake stupidly early, and starving we hot footed it to this 24 hour restaurant, and got seated straight away.

10945409_10155478211130727_6074142470278156142_nGary had a massive pancake (they call these flapjacks) and I had an avocado, swiss cheese and bacon scramble with crispy seasoned potatoes and a buttermilk biscuit. It was all amazing. They gave me some strawberry jam for the biscuit which was wonderful.

We also tried the Cheesecake Factory during our stay. I had a wonderful salad, and thought I’d risk the cheesecake.

1491766_10155478214140727_1435444263095033494_nI got a little emotional eating this, it was so good. I chose Key Lime Cheesecake. But despite it being wonderful to eat, no amount of lactase tablets could save me and let’s just say my afternoon wasn’t as pleasant as my morning had been. You can get lactose free Philadelphia now, so it looks like the only cheesecake I’ll be eating from now on will be home-made!

On one of the afternoons there was a Man Utd game on which Gary wanted to watch so we headed to a sports bar in our hotel called Tap. It’s actually owned by a guy from Watford, who we chatted to for a bit on the last day. We had intended on just having a few drinks and watching the game, since neither of us were really hungry, but we were lured in by their bar snacks. We ended up ordering to share, pig in blanket (a sausage in pastry) which came with an amazing brown beer mustard sauce, and some fried green beans.

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We ate at a Denny’s one morning. After being educated by Beckie, I discovered I should have asked for my eggs ‘over easy’ to get them how I like (we only have one way with fried eggs in the UK!) so I was able to ask for this later on in the holiday. We also ate at a Johnny Rockets and PanAsian. But we really enjoyed the restaurant food. We had planned on eating at a buffet on one of the lunchtimes but ended up eating in Serendipity 3 instead. Home of their famous frozen hot chocolate (which I decided was probably not safe to try after the cheesecake incident!), we were really surprised by how good their savoury meals were.

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I had a pulled pork and slaw pretzel roll with fries. It was so full I had to eat it with knife and fork, but so so delicious! They need to open one of these in London!

Finally, on our last day, we woke late, packed and checked out and then headed back to Hash House a Go Go. This being a lot later than on our first morning we had an hour wait to be seated and then half an hour wait for food once ordered. The atmosphere was great though, since it was so busy.

10171730_10155478209675727_8909387152905351245_nThis time I went for a skillet of artichoke, spinach and mushroom with crispy potatoes and eggs (over easy!). Again the food was amazing. I’d never had artichoke before and was delighted with the flavour. It was like a cross between celery and cabbage but a really light flavour.

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And I didn’t miss out on desert in The Venetian, where I had some dairy free strawberry and apple sorbetto. Just as good as ice cream, if not better!

I was really pleasantly surprised by the amount of food I could eat, which was dairy free, and I haven’t even mentioned the best steak ever that I ate, on one of the evenings! On my return, I expected to have put loads of weight on but was happy to have remained the same as when I left. We worked out we averaged 10 miles a day, walking, which will have helped burn off the calories!

I am missing the amazing choice of foods, and different places to eat, but I will admit I am ready for some home cooking. There’s nothing wrong with a baked chicken breast with a side of broccoli and new potatoes!

 

Fresh From the Teafields

I’m a weird tea drinker. Most of you will know I love my tea, but my habits come with some quirks. First of all, I really have to be in the mood for a cup of tea. I adore drinking it, but I usually won’t have it during the day because it relaxes me to the point where it’s all over. Secondly, I’m not a fan of green tea. I just never got over the whole ‘vegetable water’ thing. Thirdly, I can only drink my black tea with milk – I know this is wrong to some people, but that’s just how I like it. I won’t drink PG Tips, I only like Earl Grey as my every day tea of choice. Lastly I take my tea with coconut milk instead of cow’s milk and Sweet Freedom instead of sugar.

With these confessions out in the open, it’s time to get down to business. In around June a wonderful tea company called Teafields sent me a huge parcel filled with samples of their teas. I was overwhelmed. Ever since I’ve been promising them a blog review, and I feel terrible it’s taken me so long to get it done. BUT as previously said I have to be in the mood for a cuppa and I wanted to give these teas the attention they deserved. I will admit I didn’t get through all of them, as there was just one green tea that I haven’t sampled, mainly due to the fact I just don’t get on with green tea (but it’s the prettiest green tea I’ve ever seen!).

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Anyway, click on the Teafields website and you’ll see this isn’t any ordinary tea company. It screams quality. They call themselves a British (yay!) boutique tea company and this pretty much sums them up. Not only do they have an amazing selection of tea, but they’re all hand picked and within the descriptions of the teas you can find out where they’re from, the altitude they were picked from and even the temperature you should brew their teas at. AND they’re beautiful. I have to say it was a joy to shoot the teas and now I get to share them with you!

So, here goes!

Royal Breakfast

Royal English breakfast originates from Africa and India. It looks so pretty and I really enjoyed it. A smooth drink, I had mine with some eggs on toast one morning and thoroughly enjoyed it. Once brewed it was a beautiful golden colour. It has a very slight bitter edge to it (which I enjoyed!) so I had mine with some sweet freedom and a splash of coconut milk. This would be a perfect introduction to boutique teas for someone moving away from standard teabags.

Jun Chiyabari

Jun Chiyabari is exclusive to Teafields and is handpicked in the early hours of the morning in Nepal. It had a delicate flavour with earthy tones. Well worth a try, even if it’s simply for its decadence.

Jasmine Pearls

 

Jasmine Pearls are a scented green tea. Each pearl is hand rolled in China and this keeps their unique pearl shape. Brewed at 80c so as not to burn the flavour, this was the most pleasant green tea I’ve ever tasted. It was light, calming and very refreshing. Teafields also sent me a sample of their hand stitched tea bags with these pearls inside, photographed below. Look how beautiful they are, and Teafields are the first UK brand to have these teabags!

Jasmine Pearls bag

 

Imperial Gold

Imperial Gold black tea also came in these stunning little bags, and once brewed had a citrus-like edge to it. Refreshing and light, I drank this is coconut milk and Sweet Freedom. I really enjoyed this one, and it was an easy drink.

Flowery Earl Grey

The most stunning of all the teas was the beautiful Flowery Earl Grey. I almost couldn’t brew it because it was so pretty. But I pulled myself together and got on with it. It didn’t disappoint. This Sri Lankan tea brewed beautifully creating a lovely delicate earl grey which would be suitable for every day drinking, but I would just save it for special occasions 🙂 It’s too good to spoil yourself on every day!

Emperor Sencha

Empora Sencha frightened me a bit. Looking like blades of grass, I really didn’t know what to expect. This Japanese tea was brewed at 70c and created a tea with a roasted scent. The taste was fresh and refreshing and not so scary!

Darjeeling 2nd Flush

Darjeeling 2nd Flush (2nd flush meaning second harvest of the season) I’m actually drinking as I write this. It has a fresh, ‘dry’ taste which I really enjoy and has a pleasantly fragrant flavour…. BUT

Darjeeling 1st Flush…. Darjeeling 1st Flush was the winner of all the teas for me. This was an easy drink, flavourful and really took me to tea heaven. It seems I’m a darjeeling girl! Once brewed it was very very light in colour and once milk was added it was the palest tea I’d ever drunk, but it really came across with flavour and I just can’t get enough of it!

If you’re a tea fan, you should really be treating yourself to some of Teafields teas. Some of their exclusive options are on the expensive side, but the cost really does show in their flavour and quality. You could even buy some as a gift for a tea lover – it would really spoil them and they’d thank you for it. Oh and the guys at Teafields are the most friendly bunch, so hit them up on twitter @teafieldsteas.

This being my first venture into boutique teas, I’m so pleased I’ve had the opportunity to try (and photograph) these beautiful teas, and I feel I’ve learned a huge amount about their origins too.

Thank you Teafields for letting me sample your products, and sorry it’s taken me so long to share – it was worth the wait for me, I hope it was for you too!

 

Tea samples were sent to me, at no cost, for sample and review. All opinions are my own. All photographs are copyright Erin Mason Photography.

 

An Ode to a Burger

Earlier in the year, when I went back in time to 1955, I ate the most delicious burger I have ever had. It was perfectly cooked, had mustard and ketchup, cheese and lots of pickles. The bun was a beautiful chewy texture and was the closest thing to what I always imagined J Wellington Wimpy from Popeye’s burgers tasting. I’ve been dreaming of this burger ever since.

Knowing that the burgers for this event were provided by Byron, the first thing I did was to scan their menu, but it nothing looked quite right. I needed this burger to be just like the one I’d already had.

I started to order burgers where ever I went in the hope that it might satisfy my craving, but nothing worked. I had started to come to the realisation that it wasn’t going to happen and that nothing but a time machine would bring my burger back to me.

I was getting to the point where I was going to email Byron and ask what the mystery burger was…. and then a miracle happened. I opened up my inbox to find

image courtesy of Byron Burgers
image courtesy of Byron Burgers

 

This beautiful thing is the current Byron Burger Club secret special. The club is fairly new, free to join, open to everyone and periodically they send out invitations for members to try their specials a little earlier than the general public. This wonderful creation is The Uncle Sam. From its description I knew it was the same burger. A special from early 2011, it’s a classic burger with American cheese, sliced pickle, American mustard and ketchup.

So on Friday after work we hot footed down to Byron, I showed the waitress my special QR code and soon I was sat with this little beauty in front of me:

IMG_2107

It was perfect and I’m sure it was my mystery burger. It really satisfied my craving and before I knew it, it was gone….

IMG_2106Unfortunately now I’ve written all this about it, I fear I may have to go back and get another one……

This, dear readers, is my perfect burger. Nothing short of simple perfection. It was as if Byron had read my mind and decided to make this burger just for me!

If you’re not a member of Byron’s Burger Club already and you love burgers, get joining. You never know, your perfect burger might just land in your inbox!