Monday, 9 January 2017

Global Gourmet Indian Curry Station Review and Giveaway

I hate it when we get an Indian take-away, put half of it on the plates and when we go back for the rest of it, it is cold.  The Global Gourmet Indian Curry Station is just perfect for this situation.
There are four little pots with lids that sit on top of the warming plate keeping your food warm until you are ready for it.
Although it is called a curry station it is really useful for other foods such as serving stews or soups when you are entertaining.  Four pots of soup with a bowl of bread sitting on the table looks really professional!

BBQ night you can have pots of macaroni cheese ready for when the burgers or sausages are ready!

I found this little frying pan recently and not really knowing what I would use it for I bought it because it was so cute.  I was really please to see it fits on the warming plate perfectly and would keep your onion bhagi warm!
The little pots and lids are dishwasher proof. There is a temperature dial with variable temperature control.  A selection https://gleam.io/5T7gH/win-a-gourmet-indian-curry-server-3 recipes are included.

I really like this little set of pots and warming plate and really think it will be useful.  If you would like to have a chance of getting one of your own follow the GLEAM instructions below.
I was given a set of Global Gourmet Indian Curry Station for review and to offer one for a giveaway. I was not required to write a positive review.  All photos are my own and must not be reproduced without my written permission .

Win a Gourmet Indian Curry Server #3

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Post Holiday Nibbles - Brie, Parma Ham and Croissant Dough Bites

For the Christmas holidays I stocked the fridge with loads of goodies I thought would go down well with all the holiday company.  Even though we all ate and drank loads there is naturally some food left over.  I thought I would use some of it up for an afternoon treat for Mr R!

I have used this croissant dough many times as it is so versatile. I try to have one in the fridge for just these occasions. (it comes rolled up in a round container found in the chilled pastry section of most supermarkets)
The dough container has six triangular pieces of dough perforated to make it easier to cut through.
You can just blend the perforations together of the two triangles then cut into three pieces. (this will give you 12 canapes).  Place a small piece of brie at the top of each strip and roll into a parcel.
Wrap a piece of Parma Ham around each parcel and place on a baking tray. Bake in a pre-heated oven of 180oC for about 10 minutes or until the pastry has turned golden and the Parma Ham crispy.
Serve with a bowl of chutney (the sweetness of the chutney works really well with the saltiness of the ham).
These are great with a glass of chilled dry white wine or a little glass of sherry! Cheers!!

All photos and opinions are my own. No photos may be used or reproduced without my written permission.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Restaurant - Inn Review - Knife & Cleaver, Bedfordshire

In days gone by travelers making their way north would take one of the main roads out of London such as the A6 going from London to Northampton and beyond via Bedford.  It would take many hours to complete the sometime treacherous journey requiring many coaches to stop for fresh provisions for their horses and food and drink for their passengers.

The coaches would stop at pubs and inns very similar to The Knife & Cleaver in Houghton Conquest to revive weary passengers. This is a village pub in the heart of a small village, a warm and welcoming pub frequented by locals, families, people travelling further away and even the family pooch enjoy the hospitality!
I was invited to spend the night at the Knife & Cleaver, have a meal and check out how dog friendly it is. Our dog Jonty does love a night away from home with all the comforts.  It is such a relief when we can take him with us for a short break that we all have a much better time away from home.

The Knife & Cleaver have nine rooms built outside near the garden, all recently renovated, clean and comfortable.  The bed was really comfortable making getting up for breakfast a really big decision to make!!
Jonty loved the plush blanket on the bed and was very happy to stay there however we brought his travel cage for him to sleep in which he happily does.
The pub and restaurant were all decked out for the Christmas holidays.  We were given the choice to sit and dine in the restaurant without the dog or sit in the bar area and he could come with us.  We chose the bar area and Jonty just nestled himself near our feet whilst we ate a sumptuous meal.  After a Friday at work it was a really pleasant atmosphere to relax with a few drinks.  Many of the local customers came over to say hello to the dog and have a chat.

Mr R had one of the starter specials of the day which was mussels in a cider and chorizo sauce. Seemed like a weird combination but he said it really worked, using his wedge of home made bread to mop up all the sauce.
I an never resist scallops really enjoying these two baked in the shell on a shallot puree with cauliflower and clementine. A very unusual combination but really refreshing.
For the main course Mr R chose a Venison Bourguinon with a Bubble & Squeak and Celeriac Puree.  I am not a game fan but he really likes it.  There is also a Game Pie (for 2 to share) on the menu, all locally sourced.
I like to have something that I can use as a bench mark when trying a new restaurant so I ordered the 8oz Dry-aged Ribeye Steak served with chips, charred lettuce and mushroom with a stilton butter. Although I usually like my steaks cooked medium rare I have been advised that a ribeye steak should be cooked medium because of the higher fat content which is how I now have mine. The one I had at The Knife & Cleaver was perfectly cooked and completely complemented by the stilton butter.
We were both full but forced ourselves (for the sake of the reader of course) to have a pudding! I couldn't resist the Sticky Toffee Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream which certainly did not disappoint.  The sauce was sticky and sweet but not overly so fully working with the creamy vanilla ice cream.  I could eat this every day!
Mr R had his pudding from the special's board - Orange & Chocolate Spotted Dick with Custard.  A really warming way to end a lovely meal on a cold and wet evening.
We were staying on a Friday evening.  Sundays, however are special with a family roast and all the traditional accompaniments.  If you are just wanting to pop in for a drink and a snack on a Sunday you can treat yourself to roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings and gravy seated in the bar area!

Outside there is plenty of space for al fresco dining when the weather if a bit more accommodating and a chance to enjoy the fresh air with plenty of seating as well as a garden area with children's play equipment. All of the nine bedrooms ( two twin, four double and three superior doubles with king size beds and en suite bathrooms) are just outside along the side of the property, a quick walk to the entry to the pub.
Inside the pub has loads of seating, much of which is in secluded corners or window areas.
We were able to sit in this bar area with the dog and also the following morning we had our breakfast in this part of the pub.
Little nooks and crannies everywhere offering secluded spaces to chat.
The Specials Board serves both the restaurant and the bar eating areas. The board and the menu has a lot of seasonal game along with locally produced meat and sausages.
The restaurant has two main seating areas
served by a fully equipped bar area which is also a space to sit on the high chairs at the bar
An extensive wine list will not disappoint and just may tempt you back again and again!
The following morning, after a really great night's sleep on a very comfortable mattress we made our way into the pub for breakfast.
The breakfast menu offers a selection ranging from Belgium Waffles, Eggs Benedict, Eggs Forrestier (poached eggs, Hollandaise sauce and grilled mushrooms) and Eggs Royale (poached eggs, Hollandaise sauce and oak smoked salmon).  Also available was the Full Monty cooked English which we both had.
We packed up the car and drove away having had a lovely meal, good sleep and full breakfast.  Will we return - you bet we will!!

You can make a dinner reservation by phoning 01234 930789 or email them at theknifeandcleaver@epicpubs.com

I was a guest of The Knife & Cleaver and treated to dinner, bed & breakfast.  I was not required to write a positive review. As usual all opinions and photos are my own.  Photos may not be reproduced without my written permission.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Barbados - 50th Anniversary of Independence - Film Premier

This year, 2016, is the 50th anniversary of independence for the Caribbean island of Barbados. I have been to Barbados half a dozen times, each time reliving the hospitality and friendliness of the local people.

Over 50 years ago Barbados was finding the sugar cane that had once sustained them was a dying industry and tourists seemed to be coming to the island paradise for their holidays.  Tourism is now the major industry on the island as well as many other Caribbean islands.  The Barbadian people have embraced this life however it was not always the case.  Their life was difficult, many people not being able to afford medicine or send their children to school.

Errol Walton Barrow was a key player in the push for independence ending up as the first Prime Minister of an Independent Barbados.  Step by Step Productions, spearheaded by Dave and Marcia Weeks has made a film called 'Barrow: Freedom Fighter' telling the story of Errol W  Barrow leading up to the independence.

The aim of this film is to entertain and inform both children at home in Barbados and people worldwide about the struggles and triumphs facing the country and how the nation was born.
I was invited to the launch of the film recently at an intimate screening room in central London.  I felt like a film star having my photo taken and being interviewed after the film as well.
Hey there was even pop corn on offer - every great film needs popcorn!!
Sir Garfield Sobers, a hero to the people of Barbados, gaining fame and a knighthood from the UK through his life as a major player on the international cricket scene was there.  Affectionately known by those who know him as 'Sir G', he was featured in the film and is a great supporter to his homeland.
Following on from the film launch I was pleased to see the Barbados team at the World Travel Market at the beginning of November where the atmosphere was charged with excitement and emotion as a testament to the 50th year of independence.  Sir Garfield Sobers was there as well to pass on his enthusiasm for his homeland with visitors.
The music was enthusiastic and the smiles welcoming and happy. Just like being on the island - I can't wait to go back!
The people of Barbados are rightly proud of their island and their independence and I am really looking forward to visiting again soon!!

I was a guest of the film premier of 'Barrow: Freedom Fighter' and was not required to write a positive review.  As usual all opinions and photos are my own.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

What I am drinking this Christmas

Christmas time is for kicking back, enjoying the time with family and friends (after the frantic food and present shopping is done) eating and of course drinking products that are after all that little bit more special.

My drinks this holiday will include the following as well as many other interesting bottles I have acquired over the past twelve months.  My children and grandchildren will be joining us this year for a big Christmas Day meal and I will want to have loads of white wine, red wine and beer for the adults and of course a variety of soft drinks for the little people.

I recently met the winemakers  Zonin from Italy who have been making award winning wines since 1821 and have a very impressive wine list now available in the UK and was thrilled when they sent me a mixed case to sample over the holidays. I am hoping to visit the vineyards next year and bring you the stories of the people behind the wines including their families and their lives.
My Christmas Day sparkling wine will be Prosecco from Famiglia Zonin, crisp with lovely small bubbles, not too sweet and certainly refreshing and the perfect drink to get the holidays started. (Don't tell anyone I may have to start a bottle on Christmas Eve to get the last food prep done!!).
I mostly drink white wine but Mr R is more a red wine drinker however there are a few red wines I really, really love and a good Chianti is one of them.  I had the opportunity to taste this Chianti at an Italian dinner event and was really impressed.  There were no sharp notes or corners to this wine just a smoothness and taste that really got my attention.  Castello de Albola Chianti Classico 2013 is a real winner as far as I am concerned.  I am thinking of saving this one for a creamy turkey pasta or maybe a tomato based pasta during the week between Christmas and New Year.
 Mr R will certainly be opening the Zonin Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore 2014 at the Christmas table though, a rich red wine lovely to drink on its own or with a rich food like turkey - perfect for the occasion!

The visiting men will have a treat for them in the shape of craft beer from Beer52.  There seems to be a plethora of subscription services popping up so that now you can have a regular monthly delivery from everything from socks to cheese (not cheesey socks) and a new player is Beer52 where you are able to tailor your boxes to your own taste..
The Christmas box that arrived contained some really interesting looking bottles with labels that made Mr R make delighted squealing noises (really!!)
And with each case you get a copy of their magazine Ferment packed with loads of info on the month's selection along with recipes to get the most out of  your selection!
Each box will contain 8 different craft beers changing each month.  You can pay monthly, every three months, 6 months or every 12 months with prices starting from £24.00 per box.  You can also send a box to a beer loving friend as a one off gift.

You have a chance to get the freshest beer around and it's like having 50,000 drinking buddies!
If you want to see what Beer52 is all about click here and if you sign up for their service you will get £10.00 of your first box if you enter the code HEIDI10 at the website prompt.

Another wine that will be offered to our visiting diners this holiday is the Australian wine I discovered recently from the Bird in Hand winery.
They say a Bird in Hand is worth Two in the Bush - this wine certainly says it is the truth!  Bird in Hand is a multi award winning Australian winery and is now available in the UK from Frontier Wines.

The white is a Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2015 from the Adelaide Hills.  It's elegant and crisp with tropical flavours and quite citrussy.  Easy drinking chilled however pairs perfectly with cheeses and cured hams and salami. I tasted this wine at the official UK launch in London recently.
The red wine is a Shiraz 2014 with a slight oakiness with aromas of blackberry and pepper with a hint of chocolate. It's full bodied, it's complex and elegant pairing perfectly well with winter stews of beef or venison.
After dinner I will be treating adult visitors to a little Grappa served in tiny little chocolate cups a treat from Carluccio's.
And of course there will be some lovely little things to nibble with some of the drinks above such as a selection of cured meats from Woodall's - The home of British charcuterie! They sent me a selection from their extensive range of salamis, sausages, hams and bacon.
Also from Carluccio's I will offer Baci de Dama (ladies' kisses), mouthwatering one bite hazelnut biscuits with a chocolate hazelnut filling - each one easy to pop into your mouth and made with butter and so slowly melts in your mouth.  Follow up with a strong Italian coffee or glass of Italian Prosecco (see above) for a taste of Christmas paradise!
With an impressive list like this one I guess I will be pretty chilled out by New Year's Day!  What are you drinking this holiday season - leave a comment below and share.

I was sent the drinks and other featured products for review but was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions and photos are my own.