York is a city I try to visit at least once a year. Although I have my favourite spots (hello cheap as peas pints at Kings Arms) there’s always something new to discover every time I return. During mine and my mum’s visit earlier this month, no different. We walked the wall from the Micklegate Bar entrance for the first time. We enjoyed a gin in Thor’s teepee to celebrate Sweden’s national day. We came across stunning wall art on Back Swinegate which I’ve not seen before. Most importantly, we enjoyed a delicious luxury afternoon tea at Hotel du Vin. Hotel du Vin & Bistro York Hotel du Vin is a new to me hotel chain so I assumed also to York but it’s been around for ages. What’s new is the refurbishment of their bistro. Outside, a small outdoor area seating, a cute drinks van and entrance to the hotel with a separate door for their bistro. The bistro being the venue for their afternoon tea but before heading there, we started off in the bar with a cold glass of champagne. Visiting on a Thursday afternoon, we had the whole bistro to ourselves. Next door was privately hired out for a function so the hotel and bar was still bustling but it was nice to enjoy the gorgeous bistro on our own. The quaint bistro is gorgeously decorated with vibrantly coloured walls, lots of greenery and the street facing windows, together with the roof window, brings plenty of natural light. On a comfy leather sofa and chair, we sat down to enjoy their unlimited champagne afternoon tea. The cold champagne is topped up throughout the afternoon but water is offered to the table, alongside a choice of a hot drink each. I was intrigued by the Gingerbread Chai Tea – a rooibos blend with cinnamon, ginger and cardamom and although it could taste too Christmassy we both went for it when the lovely waitress offered it us as a chai latte. It’s the only hot drink I really enjoy and its Christmas taste works well even on a hot summer day. Hotel du Vin Afternoon Tea An afternoon tea sitting at Hotel du Vin is two hours long and it’s just enough time to polish off this gorgeous double stand filled with delights. At the bottom, all the savoury and on top, the cute sweet treats. We started off at the bottom with the choice of: Severn & Wye smoked salmon and cream cheese on dark rye bread, egg and cress mayonnaise brioche sub, ham and Gruyère croissant, heritage tomato and tapenade galette and goats cheese and spinach quiche. All very tasty and I like the effort and spins that’s gone into these otherwise traditional and perhaps boring sandwiches. The mini croissant and mini quiche definitely the cutest but the winning taste goes to the salmon and cream cheese nibble. Swedish as we are, fish and rye bread always wins. Second – scones. Perhaps THEE best on an afternoon tea. I watched my mum closely here to hopefully settle the English debate on how to spread a scone. My mum does it the same way as I do and apparently it’s also the Devon way: clotted cream first and then jam. How do you have yours? Hotel du Vin offer three different flavours of jam: strawberry, raspberry and black currant. I had one half with raspberry and one with black currant where the latter is my favourite. If you like me aren’t too keen on dried fruit in bakes, these scones only have a couple of sultanas which are easy to remove before eating. Last, all the sweet treats. They don’t just look gorgeous but also have a beautiful assortment of flavours from chocolate to rhubarb. Tutti Frutti macaron, black forest gateau, pistachio pin wheel and rhubarb and custard tart. The pistachio wheel and black forest gateau look very stodgy but surprisingly and luckily aren’t. Since receiving the afternoon tea invite, I already knew how the macaron tastes (delicious but on the edge of to sweet) so I started with this. We both left the most British and Yorkshire treat for last and I’m so happy I did as it is the favourite: rhubarb and custard tart! Perfect ratio of dough, custard and rhubarb flavour. A fresh finish to a lovely afternoon. The afternoon tea is very filling so no need to eat much, if anything, before. My mum and I shared a Yorkshire pud wrap for lunch earlier in the day but we couldn’t possibly eat anymore food for the rest of the day. Have you been to Hotel du Vin in York? What do you think to their new Bistro refurbishment? What’s your favourite on an afternoon tea? Jennie xx *I was kindly invited to visit Hotel du Vin in York and enjoy an afternoon tea in their bistro for two in return for this blog post. All photos, views and words are as always my own.
A burger is always a safe bet if nothing else on the menu stands out but sometimes all you want is a burger. If that’s the case, I can highly recommend going to The Brunswick in Leeds. Just on the outskirts of city centre this corner pub offers a wide variety of local and international beers and serves seasonal locally sourced food. At the moment, they have a killer burger menu with a generous Wednesday offer: beer, burger and chips for a tenner. The Brunswick Burgers You may have seen one of my latest Instagram posts saying I’ve had the best burger ever. The beef burger at The Brunswick comes close second. With three options of either beef, chicken or vegetarian/vegan I was torn between the first two. They guy who served us recommended I’d try the beef burger as he’s had it every shift since the new menu came out. If that’s not a good sign of a great burger, what is? And he was right! Two juicy beef patties loaded with Emmental and Monterey Jack cheese, house burger sauce (there’s definitely mustard in it) and pickles in between a seeded potato brioche bun. I’ve never had potato buns before but these are super light and fluffy and I love the different seeds on top for extra flavour. What I found intriguing by the chicken burger is that it comes with an apple slaw, it sounds so refreshing. It’s the same sauce on the vegetarian/vegan option but on that, also apple puree. My friend is vegetarian and she said it was very tasty. The patty a mix of different vegetables, mainly sweet potato and who doesn’t like that! The Brunswick Chips The menu also includes chips on the side, again with three options: classic, Brunswick chips and loaded with confit pork, BBQ sauce and pickled cabbage. I was intrigued to try the latter but it was sadly not available on my visit but the house chips did not disappoint. I always prefer fries over chips but when chips are cooked like these, I’d have them over McDonald’s fries any day. Thinly cut and triple cooked topped with peppercorn aioli and you have have a plate full of pure goodness. My friend said perhaps too salty but for me – perfection! Just like the burger, the chips portion is enough as a light bite but I recommend enjoying them together for the ultimate burger experience. Add a beer to wash it all down and you have the perfect burger deal. I went for a local IPA, as close to a lager as possible not to overpower the food. Have you been to The Brunswick before? I’ve heard good things about their breakfast menu and themselves say they serve the best roast dinner in Leeds. I am intrigued to find out so don’t be surprised seeing me back here on a Sunday and also a Wednesday evening for their burger deal. Jennie xx *I was kindly invited by The Brunswick to try out their new burger menu in return for this blog post. All photos, words and views are as always my own.
One of the reasons I love living in Leeds is that you’re only a few minutes away from the countryside. At the start of the bank holiday weekend, I discovered a new area: Scarcroft. It’s a village north east of Leeds, on the way to Wetherby. Prior to being sent an invitation to The New Inn, I had no idea this place existed. In fact, I confused it with Seacroft. Can you blame me? Googling what to do in Scarcroft, the first result recommended to visit Hetchell Woods so that’s what we did, before stuffing our faces at The New Inn at Scarcroft. Hetchell Woods Hetchell Woods is well hidden but such a treat when found. Walking towards it on the footpath leading from the main road, it’s hard to believe you’ll soon find yourself in a massive woodland. It’s really impressive how such a huge area of woods can be hidden so well. But, a fair few people know of it so we weren’t alone spending time here. We came across many dog walkers, small children families and even the police on horse. If you’re a climber, I have a feeling the Millstone grit is a popular rock formation to climb. We took the long way up it using the footpath instead and the view from there is stunning. Not as high as the Yorkshire Three Peaks (of course) but still you feel like being on top of Yorkshire, overlooking Scarcroft. I was surprised to see not many came to stay for a longer while, it’s the perfect picnic spot. There are so many areas with different vegetation so you can easily find a spot you’ll like. At the bridge and creek on entrance, up on the Millstone rock, tucked away at the Limestone Quarries or on the open plains by the sand dunes or Beaches as the area is called. A few spots have evidence of barbecues taking place so people do come here to socialise. There are a couple of signs showing where in the woods you are and what wildlife there is to see. In the beginning of the year, mainly flowers. We just missed hectares of bluebells blooming. Later in the year, more flowers but also birds and even deer. Aside from that, it’s quite tricky to navigate. We stumbled on a “playground” (which I’ve now realised is the Limestone Quarries we were looking for) with swings which I HAD to go on. Not your normal swings but actually feeling like Tarzan swinging from a tree vine. These swings are obviously man made using ropes. It’s all fun and games jumping on and swinging high from the ground but more complicated getting off. Tina tried to help me, bless her, but I managed to come off without hurting myself. I did double check with Tina first to make sure we had signal and could call an emergency ambulance, just in case. I’m still a child in that sense: always keen to try something without thinking of the consequences. Hetchell Woods is a nature reserve looked after by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust so if you want more information about when to go and what to see, check out their website. The New Inn at Scarcroft The New Inn at Scarcroft has a central location in the village. A stone throw away from the golf club, I assume many of their guests are indeed golfers, but also locals and people driving through as it’s located on the main road. It’s a huge brick building with an extension that forms the Restaurant part and outside a big garden full of outdoor seating. Sadly it was raining when we arrived for dinner so indoor seating was our only option. I’m not sad about that at all, this place is gorgeous. They’ve recently refurbished but this was my first visit so I can’t compare to previous interior but I love how it looks now. It’s a country pub and you can tell! Rustic interior with leather chairs, open fires, vibrant coloured walls with a vintage touch to create a warm atmosphere. We started and finished our evening with a drink at the bar. I really like that the bar and restaurant are separated off, it makes the sit down meal feel more formal. They serve lighter bar snacks so if you don’t fancy a full meal, only something to nibble on whilst enjoying a drink, it’s encouraged. We were here to try out their full menu so were shown to a round table in the middle of the restaurant. Their weekend treat offer intrigued us: two or three courses with a bottle of wine between two for a fixed price. This menu is however limited and the main I had my eyes on wasn’t included. All the food is still very affordable so don’t fret. The New Inn at Scarcroft Menu It’s an extensive menu, filled with rustic and heart warming dishes to everyone’s content. I started off with the Duo of pâté – coarse pork & Madeira pâté and duck liver parfait, served with Bramley apple butter, blackcurrant curd, baby gherkins and rustic bread. Not only does it sound delicious, it is!!!, but almost more importantly, I love how it is presented. Tina had the cheese and garlic butter mushrooms which were a delight as well. I had trouble choosing a main but decided to go very traditional and had the Steak & Ale pie. Tina choose the chicken version. Out comes a massive plate loaded with pie, fries or mash, a salad and an extra jug of gravy. The extra gravy is a nice touch but surprisingly only for the steak pie. Tina had to ask for extra gravy with hers, but not an issue at all. Although very tasty and fulfilling, it’s not the best pie I’ve had. The puff pastry steals the show: light, flakey and golden looking. It would have been rude to end the evening here so we decided to treat ourselves to pudding as well. Again, many heart warming options like a crumble, banoffee pie and sticky toffee pudding I decided to go light with the Coconut panna cotta style pudding. Served looking like a bowl of plain yoghurt, topped with fresh fruits it was the perfect palette cleanser. I was very jealous of Tina’s Crumble but it would have made me explode of fullness. Have you been to Scarcroft before? If not, I can highly recommend it. Please comment if you have suggestions of similar places to go. I like a good day out exploring, followed by a treat meal. Jennie xx *I was kindly invited to The Inn at Scarcroft to experience their new refurbishment and also given £50 towards the bill, in return for a review. All views, photos and words are as always my own.
Bill’s opened up three years ago in Leeds and it’s taken me till this year before visiting. In all honesty, I didn’t see the hype or the need to go, until now. Before, it was just another breakfast and brunch place which looked the same as all the others. Now, they’ve had a total makeover, making it a quirky space full of details to feast your eyes on in the bar area. The restaurant has what I imagine a Cuban feel to it with plantation shutters and bold colours. Aside from checking out the new interiors, my plus one and I got to try their food and drinks menu. Bar and Drinks Menu On arrival we were shown into their bar area on the left hand side of the entrance. It was quiet when we arrived but it soon filled up with thirsty guests aaand live music. It was a really nice addition to the evening, really talented guy on guitar and song. If you want to drink to live music, make sure to go on a Friday evening between 7pm – 9pm. The drinks menu is full of tasty sounding cocktails but i stuck to Collins. First up – Apple & Elderflower Collins. It’s originally served with Somerset apple brandy but we asked for gin instead, mixed with elderflower, cloudy apple juice, lemon and soda. Secondly, their signature Collins – Bill’s Collins, Wyborowa vodka, rhubarb liqueur, lime, grapefruit bitters, pink lemonade. The first is very refreshing and one I’d easily order again. The latter, a mix between sweet and sour but something didn’t sit quite right. I couldn’t finish it which is unusual for me. Restaurant and Dinner Menu On the other side of the narrow entrance hall you find the restaurant, a quieter space in the venue. It is a big open space, sectioned into three areas to give a cosier feel. If you want to rent out Bill’s for private parties, they also have an upstairs area with an outdoor terrace. Earlier in the day I had a quick look at Bill’s dinner menu and noted that deciding on what to eat would be tricky, so many mouthwatering options. Luckily the restaurant had already drawn up a specific menu for their opening event, with a smaller selection to make it easier to narrow down. Speaking to A, we decided to go for different options to make it more fun. I ended up ordering Chicken & Sesame Dumplings for starters, Kashmiri Lamb Chank for main and finished with a Melting Banoffee Sundae as I had craved banoffee pie earlier in the week. A went for seafood for both starter (Seared Prawns with Chilli and Garlic) and main (King Prawn Risotto) and Lemon Meringue Pie (served in a glass) to finish. I tried the prawn risotto and when I go back next time (yes I’ll be back) I’m so having that! I might very likely also have the lemon meringue pie dessert. It’s a big portion though so you could get away sharing between two. Saying this, I truly enjoyed the food I had on this evening. The dumplings very cooked perfectly and was paired with a lovely chutney. A very generous portion as well. So was the main. The lamb fell off the bone, a good sign of well cooked meat. The meat is cooked in a cashew and tomato sauce which gives it a lovely flavour. Paired with a coconut rice salad it feels like a healthy option. The dessert on the other hand is not but I didn’t feel bad. Served in a tin glass are layers of salted caramel ice cream, banana, biscuit chunks and whipped cream, topped with a chocolate sphere which melts once the hot salted caramel sauce pours over it. Have you ever been to a Bill’s restaurant before? Do you have a favourite from their menu? If you haven’t been to their branch in Leeds yet – go, go, go! They’re on the end of Albion Street, a stone throw from The Lost & Found. Jennie xx *I was kindly invited by Bill’s to come and experience their newly refurbished restaurant and try a selection of their dinner menu and cocktails in return for this post. As always, photos, words and views are my own.
Holbeck is slowly getting renovated and new buildings are starting to take form. The Midnight Bell has been around in this area for ages but recently had a refurbish and also an updated food menu. I went to try out their latest traditional pub food additions. Previously only having been for drinks in their beer garden, I was excited to dine in their upstairs area. The Midnight Bell Interior I’ve never been upstairs before so I can’t compare to previously but now, The Midnight Bell has an old school loving room feel to it. I love all their lampshades and the fact that furniture is tastefully mismatched. Quirky interior accessories fill up the book shelf at the end of the room and likewise a mix of prints and paintings on the midnight blue walls. For a small party, it’s the perfect function room with access to the beer garden via an outdoor staircase. The Midnight Bell Food Menu The Midnight Bell’s menu is what I would say a traditional pub menu. Think pies, fish and other comfort foods. All ingredients are Yorkshire sourced and therefor the menu changes through the seasons. Still, you can always count on being served a Sunday roast on the last day of the week, if you so wish. It’s been a while since I had traditional pub food so I was excited to tuck in. Starters Lately, I find it really difficult to choose only one starter because all of them sound amazing, wherever I go. The Midnight Bell is no exception but I settled for Ham Hock Hash with pea puree and poached hens egg. Such a good choice!! I loved it as soon as it was put in front of me, what a lovely colour pop and even better once cut into the perfectly cooked poached egg. A fresh spring dish indeed. The eggs, peas and ham work beautifully together. Mains I was debating between Yorkshire Ploughman’s, Chicken Supreme, and Sea Bass from the mains selection but went for the Traditional Yorkshire Ploughman’s with site baked pork pie, hand cut honey roast ham, apple, tomato, Britannia cheddar, pickled red onions and locally baked bread in the end. I didn’t expect the portion to be so big, almost enough for two people. It’s very filling and there’s nothing out of the ordinary from what a Yorkshire Ploughman’s offer but it’s very tasty. I especially liked the pork pie and the cheddar cheese – so creamy! Desserts As I had cheese for my main, the cheeseboard was out of the question. The Chocolate & orange tart looks amazing but as I don’t like orange and chocolate together, the choice stood between Creme Brûlée and Strawberry & Pimm’s Eton Mess. Phoebe was eyeing up the same two desserts so we decided to share them between us to get the best of two. The creme brûlée is tasty but I wouldn’t have mind a thicker layer of caramel. The satisfactory cracking sound wasn’t there when punctured. Luckily it’s served with homemade shortbread to make up for lacking caramel. The Strawberry & Pimm’s Eton Mess on the other hand, no complaints. Such a lovely combination of sweet and sour and enough amount of each ingredient: ice cream, meringue, berry sauce and fresh strawberries. A fresh and summary end to the evening. Have you been to The Midnight Bell before? What do you think to their refurbish? Jennie xx *I was kindly invited to The Midnight Bell to try their three course menu in return for this post. All words, views and photos are as always my own.
Vanguard is a newly opened up restaurant on Duncan Street in Leeds. It’s the same owners as The Domino Club and Rolands. If you’ve ever been to either of those venues, you know Vanguard has the same high standard. So far, my only visit was on a night when they organised a Bordeaux wine and food event. Vanguard Vanguard is wedged between Veeno and Mommy Thai on Duncan Street. It’s a very small place so easy to miss if you’re unaware. Their wooden blinds are always down which makes it look like a closed down venue but once you’re in, you realise the reason for the closed blind. As soon as you enter, you forget that you’re in a busy city centre like Leeds. Two table booths and three or four more tables is all that fits. And of course a big bar to sit by and admire their impressive whiskey and other spirits collection which reach all the way up to the ceiling. On this evening, we sat in a booth table, just by the window, and I honestly felt like I was sitting in train carriage a la Wes Anderson. I absolutely loved it! Low key jazz music playing in the distance to give a tranquil atmosphere and on a low volume to be able to have a civilised conversation with the fabulous company I was in. Canapes on Arrival To start the evening, we began with a light white wine (Reserve de Lucien Lurton). Crisp and easy to drink on its own. Accompanying the starters, another white wine (Chateau Valoux Blanc, Pessac-Leognan) which I preferred. It has a deeper taste and more colour than the first wine. It works really well with the starters: Smoked Mackerel Pate served on fennel crisp-bread with horseradish, Goujeres, Sweet Potato & coconut Maki and Black Pudding Bon Bon with Green Apple Pure. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post I really know black pudding now and these bon bons did not disappoint. Definitely the favourite starter, closely followed by the Smoked Mackerel Pate. It reminded me of Swedish summer! Main Course Moving on to the main: Pot au Feu. A stew with beef, oxtail and marrowbone meat, parsnip, leek and carrot. It was served with sourdough toast (with bone marrow butter), gherkins and mustard and relish dips. The mustard was so good, giving that tingling feeling in the nose and slight head sweats which is amazing! It doesn’t sound it but those of you who also like it know what I’m talking about. The meats were cooked to perfection, the oxtail melting in your mouth like butter. The pulled pork bonbons were rich in taste and worked really well with the sauces. The marrowbone meat just about stole the gold medal as its flavour was so powerful. You should have seen how easy it fell off the bone so you can imagine how tender it was. To wash it all down we were served the only red wine of the evening: Chateau de Villegeorge. I prefer a red wine over white and this was no exception. Rich and round flavours. Dessert We finished the evening with a dessert wine (Garonelles Sauternes) and Macaron Bordeaux. Macarons are not to be confused with macroons which are coconut based and macarons meringue based. Although these Macaron Bordeaux don’t look as colourful as the ones you might be used to see, they were equally delicious and the dessert wine complimented them very well. The wine has flavours of apricot and pineapple so very fruity and tropical. I could taste the apricot which almost gave a sweet nutty taste to it. Vanguard organise themed events and evenings like this all the time and I can highly recommend to go. Check out their website to find out the next theme and book tickets. They’re also changing names so if you want to suggest a name and enter the competition, you can do so until the 22nd May. More information on their website and social media. What are your favourite wines to drink? Have you been to Vanguard yet? Would you be intrigued to go after reading this post? Jennie xx *I was kindly invited to Vanguard’s Bordeaux wine and food night in return for this blog post. Photos, views and words are as always my own.
Summer is around the corner, or at least I hope so. The weather has been very up and down lately, not being able to make up its mind. The Easter bank holiday weekend was glorious and I hope that sun and heat will come back. I want the heat wave summer we had last year. I have prepped my body for it! When warmer weather comes, I can comfortably walk around in light clothes and tan wearing only a bikini on the beach balcony or outside on the grass. Yes, loosing weight and toning up at the gym has definitely helped but there are products out there to help you get beach body ready and and feel fab, whether you’re showing off more skin or not. Tropical Coconut Sugar Scrub, Pureanada* Foundation is everything! During summer months, I find myself exfoliating more often as I don’t want to get a patchy tan, natural or by using a fake tan. This sugar scrub from Pureanada, via Live in the Light, is different to other sugar scrubs I’ve previously experienced. It’s less watery and has a more creamy consistence. I found that you need quite a lot to cover the whole body. I think I did the mistake of applying when my skin was wet. Next time I’ll try it on dry skin and then was off. Either way, the skin feels super soft after using and smells slightly of coconut which is great. Self Tanning Mist with Bonzer, Norvell* I don’t know about you but I always feel conscious leaving the house with white legs when the sun starts to show. But how else can they get brown, unless they’re exposed to the sun rays? It’s a catch 22 phenomenon. To help, getting a fake tan is a good idea. You can still tan through the fake tan so hopefully by the time it wears off, you have a natural tan underneath. The latest fake tan I’ve tried is from Norvell. It’s a fake tan mist, rather than mouse which I’m used to. I liked the idea of not having to use a mitten and hopefully speed up the applying time using a mist. It advises to use it in a well ventilated room so I went for the shower. I’m glad I did as even though I applied it carefully to my skin, lots went elsewhere but it was easy to wash out the bathtub. The product includes an anti orange formula and unlike other tanning products doesn’t give away that funky smell some can have. I need more experience spraying myself as it was difficult to apply evenly and knowing which parts I’d covered or not. I didn’t look ridiculous or anything but unless you have someone to help you out, I’d stick to tan mousse for now for a more even finish. Coco Cocktail Creamy Shower Foam and 2 in 1 Bodyspray, Bilou* Products with a promise to sweeten your day and they do indeed! They smell amazingly of coconut and Madagascan vanilla and leave you with the same scent after use. I love coconut flavours, it can’t get more summery than that. The vanilla scent is very subtle, not giving it a sickly but gentle sweet smell. I’ve only recently heard of bilou, a fairly new body product name which I’m glad to have surfaced. The design is both cute and sleek. The products are vegan and although the shower foam includes alcohol, the body spray does not. They both act as moisturisers, leaving your skin nice and smooth, using ingredients like Aloe Vera, almond oil and avocado. I love the shower foam, it’s so much fun spraying on to your body after giving it a decent shake. I was hoping it would spray out like liquid to quickly turn into foam but it’s foamy straight away. The bodyspray is like assumed a clear mist suitable to spray all over your body. It can also be used as a deodorant, hence the 2 in 1 name. This bodyspray is perfect to use during summer as wearing alcoholic perfumes and deodorants in the sunshine can leave dark patches on your skin. Tesalate Beach Towel* Once your body is ready, it’s time to hit the beach, but not without a decent beach towel. Australia is full of beaches and sunshine so it doesn’t surprise me that Australians know what type of towel is the best. There’s nothing more annoying than coming home from the beach to find lots of sand in your bag and eventually all over the house. enters Tesalate. Tesalate towels are sand free but also ultra absorbent and only takes half the time of normal towels to dry. I have similar mini towels for the gym and they’re great. The towel comes in a small bag which it fits in nicely and hardly takes up any space. I love the different designs and couldn’t resist picking the one with sugar skulls on. All towels have the same monochrome pattern on the other side for those days when you’re feeling less adventures. I’ve not taken this to a beach yet but I hope to in summer. So far I’ve used it when hanging outside in the grass. How are you getting beach body ready? Have you got a different skin care routine over summer compared to the rest of the year? Jennie xx *PR samples. All views, photos and words are my own
Gin is my go to spirit. Even more so when I learnt it’s the best if you’re wanting to keep your calorie intake on the low. A gin and slimline tonic is around 60 calories, compared to a pint of beer which is around 200. I have yet to decide which my favourite gin brand is, there are too many fighting for the top position, but I know a good brand when I see it. Ever heard of Portobello Road Gin? Of course you have but perhaps you’ve not been acquainted with some of the classic cocktails you can make with it. I was invited to a gin masterclass with Portobello Road Gin*, learning more about the brand and how to make gin cocktails that perhaps have fallen under the radar with so many new and fancy ones on every drinks menu. French 75 On arrival, we were greeted with a French 75 cocktail each. One I sometimes order myself as it has my favourite ingredients: gin, lemon and bubbles. A refreshing and easy drink to start off the night with. Despite so simple, there are plenty of variations. On this occasion, Pippa Guy’s version. She’s a senior bartender at The Savoy, previously worked in bars in Leeds. 30ml gin 1tbsp Lemon Juice 1tbsp Simple Syrup Fill shaker with ice cubes and shake Top flute glass with Brut Champagne Portobello Road Gin Whilst enjoying our French 75 cocktails we got an introduction to Portobello Road Gin. You probably already know it got its name from the street in Notting Hill in London. By the looks of photos, it’s a gorgeous bar. The gin is a traditional London dry gin with nine different ingredients. It is 42% strong and works equally well in a G&T as to make a negroni or a martini. The nine ingredients to make up Portobello Road Gin are: juniper (6-7 seeds/bottle), coriander seed, Angelica root, oris, liquorice, lemon, orange peel, cassia bark and nutmeg. The oris helps binding flavours and make the smell last longer whilst the nutmeg gives the gin its warmth. I’m a big fan of coriander, liquorice and lemon so very happy to learn these are all incorporated in the recipe. After the introduction it was time for us to get stuck in and make cocktails. Three classic gin cocktails which are all made slightly different depending on who you ask. As you know, cocktails develop over time but we went back to the roots and made ours using old school recipes. Singapore Sling is the only one I’ve heard of and also tried before, however Army & Navy and Tuxedo are completely new to me. Singapore Sling 40ml gin 10ml cherry liquor 5ml Cointreu 5ml benedictin 10ml grenadine 2 drops of agusturra bitter 25ml lemon juice Give it a good shake with ice A fruity and summer looking cocktail which goes down very easily. I like a colourful cocktail that’s as easy on the eye as in taste. Army & Navy 50ml Navy gin 20ml lemon juice 10ml orgeat syrup Shake with ice My favourite on the night, I love almond flavour. This cocktail more or less tastes like liquid marzipan. Thanks to my mixing and Charlotte’s extra drops of orgeat syrup (almond juice) we managed to bag ourselves a bottle of Portobello Road Gin each as a prize for one of the best tasting cocktails on the evening. Thanks very much!! Tuxedo 25ml gin 5ml sugar syrup 10ml French vermouth 2 dash cherry liqour 1 dash absinthe A couple drops orange bitter Add ice and stir. Do not shake! The last cocktail of the evening, and also my least favourite. It’s far too boozy for me and taste wise it’s too bitter. I believe it’s the absinthe, and probably the vermouth as well. It just doesn’t sit well with me. However, I did enjoy learning that the name of the cocktail comes from the bar (Tuxedo) where it was first developed. This is also the bar where the Tuxedo jacket got its name from. Apparently a regular at the bar wore this type of jacket and when the trend caught on, the jacket was known as a Tuxedo. How cool that one bar has given the name to two popular and well known things. Once our glasses were empty, the evening had come to a close. I thoroughly enjoyed this gin master class, learning more about Portobello Road Gin, but also mixing cocktails I’ve never tried or heard of before. Have you tried Portobello Road Gin before? Which of these cocktails suits your palette the best? For more Portobello Road Gin recipes, check out their website. Jennie xx *I was kindly invited by Portobello Road Gin to take part in this master class, in return for this post. Photos, words and opinions are as always my own.
The longest and most boring stretch of my bike ride to and from work is along Kirkstall Road. I can cycle for minutes thinking there’s no life to it. Behind the scenes and if you looks closer, there totally is! Most popular is likely to be Temple Coffee & Donuts. Although hidden, it’s attracting people to the area which is great. Starting to bridge its gap from city centre, on the opposite end of the road, Archive* has opened up. I spotted it from the sidelines during its development and not long after it opened up, I was excited to check it out. You bet I love the yellow, black and white interior! You’ll find Archive between Northern Snooker Centre and Prime Studios. Actually, the venue used to be a TV archive. Hence the name. It’s open from early morning till 5pm on a weekday and 4pm on a weekend, serving drinks, breakfast/brunch and lunch. Open to the public, most guests work in the area so who knows, you might bump into a current or upcoming celebrity during your visit. If that’s not selling point enough, the food and the prices surely are. Breakfast and lunch dishes are all served under a £5 note, which is a great deal that includes locally sourced products. On my weekend visit, eggs on sourdough with greens was served. All extra toppings are £1 each. I opted for poached eggs and added mushrooms, avocado and bacon. All washed down with a refreshing elderflower soft drink. It was the perfect pick me up after our rainy walk there. Breakfast buns and porridge is also available from the breakfast menu and for lunch – choose from a variety of pizza slices, Croque Monsieur or Mac n’ Cheese. For such a small place, the menu is well varied and the drinks menu even more so. Expect hot chocolates, different styles and blends of coffee, tea, various soft drinks and local and further afield beers. When the sun comes out, their outdoor space will open up and soon their massive venue hire space at the back will too. I’m excited to see how well this place does, and to head back for their lunch options. Have you visited Archive yet? Are there any other spots on Kirkstall Road you think are worth checking out? Jennie xx *I was kindly invited along to Archive to check out their venue and try their breakfast menu, all in return for this blog post. Words, views and photos are as always my own.
I prefer baking over cooking and I prefer Easter over any other holiday so why not combine the two loves and share a couple of easy Easter baking recipes? Hot Cross Bun Muffins I say I love Easter but it’s not till this year that I tried hot cross buns for the first time. My excuse is that we don’t have them in Sweden and that I don’t like raisins in bakes. In the last couple of years, so many new flavours, alongside the original recipe, has launched so even I can enjoy them. I have seen salted caramel and even blueberry hot cross buns but I bought the apple and cinnamon flavoured to make Sainsbury’s Hot Cross Bun Muffins. Never having eaten hot cross buns before, I didn’t dare make my own so I went for a much easier recipe instead, still with a hot cross bun element. Ingredients 5 hot cross buns 190g butter 90g marmalade 200g caster sugar 3 medium eggs 270g plain flour 1 x 75g sachet instant custard powder 1 tbsp baking powder 175ml milk Method Line a 12-hole muffin tin with muffin cases Slice the hot cross buns and spread with 40g of the butter and the marmalade. Cut into small pieces, 1cm square. Leave to the side Whisk together the remaining butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time. Fold in flour, custard powder and baking powder Add the milk and whisk on a low speed until combined Stir in the hot cross bun pieces Use spoons to divide up the mix into the 12 muffin cases Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes on 160 degrees, if using a fan oven Cool in tin for 10 minutes Enjoy! I have used the same recipe for some chocolate brioche muffins, substituting the hot cross buns with chocolate brioche and the marmalade with chocolate spread. Check out my Instagram to see how those turned out. Horsham Gingerbread I was kindly sent some gingerbread and ginger biscuits (orange and chocolate) from Horsham Gingerbread* and the latter I wanted to use in a recipe. They’re perfect for Rocky Road. The gingerbread on the other hand is best served on its own, with a white hot chocolate. Yes, that’s a thing and for Easter, Whittard of Chelsea has a couple of exclusives. I treated myself to the lemon meringue flavour which complements the gingerbread perfectly. Easter Rocky Road Remember I said I don’t like raisins in bakes? Many might say you should have them in rocky road but I disagree. Rocky Road tastes so much better without. Taking inspiration from Tesco’s food magazine, I made the following Easter Rocky Road. Ingredients 100g unsalted butter 225g dark chocolate 2 tbsp syrup 100g orange & chocolate ginger biscuits* 100g marzipan 75g mini Easter eggs 25g Easter marshmallows Method Melt butter, dark chocolate and syrup together Break the biscuits and Easter mini eggs. Cut the marzipan and marshmallows into small pieces Mix all ingredients together and poor into an over proof dish Cover and place in the fridge until set Cut into desired size pieces Enjoy! How will you be enjoying Easter this year? Do you bake anything or do you prefer the classic chocolates and bakes not to be tampered with? Jennie xx *PR sample. All views, words and photos are as always my own.