A Charmante Luxury B & B in Biot – Bastide Valmasque, Cote-d’Azur

Over the summer I stayed in a charming little family run B & B, owned by the very affable Philippe and his wife. The old farmhouse has been converted into elegant and charming bedrooms, seeping French interiors and Mediterranean essence with a touch of India on the side. The owners are passionate about India and have brought several artefacts from large chest of drawers to glass cabinets which all inter-mingle to make a beautiful contemporary ambience.

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What I loved about Bastide Valmasque was the easiness of the hosts with their guests, breakfast was tranquil and served from 07.00 -10.00am , after breakfast fruit, cheeses and divine biscuits and teas were left out for guests to enjoy at their leisure. The biscuits – Sables des Pres, were irresistible along with the house speciality tea from Kashmir, made from Green Cardamon pods, with Cinnamon and spices.

The rooms were also lovely and spacious with beautiful French white linens and Indian fresh cotton throws, rather too inviting indeed, as one almost didn’t want to leave it was that comfortable.

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<img src="https://thedelicioustraveller.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/img_0205.jpg?
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<img Art statues in Biot townsrc=”https://thedelicioustraveller.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/img_0197.jpg?w=225&#8243;

La Biere in Biot's Cafe de la Poste

Interestingly I learnt during my stay that Bastide Valmasque also hold cooking classes throughout the year. Guests are invited to shop at the local market for fresh produce and then back to the kitchens to cook up a mediterranaen feast for a 3 course lunch. This can be done as a group or individual basis with other people taking part.

The luxury B & B is well located in the little town of Biot, close to Cap D’antibes and Juan les pins. You will need a car to reach the B & B, but from Nice airport this is quite an easy process.

A double room per night is from 100 euros, and up including a lovely French breakfast with cheese, meats, jams and lots of French baguette.

There is also an apartment to hire by the week or 3 night minimum, which has it’s own private garden and patio area. Phillipe tells me they are also hoping to have a swimming pool by next year once the famous French planning permission has been given.

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Win Tickets to see Charles Metcalfe in action at Foodies Festival Edinburgh

To celebrate Discover the Origin’s return to Foodies Festival, Edinburgh for another year, I’ve teamed up with the people behind the campaign promoting delicious protected products to offer two lucky Delicious Traveller readers a pair of tickets to Foodies Festival in Inverleith Park this weekend –Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th August.

Festival-goers will have the chance to see Discover the Origin take the ‘how’ out of choosing the right wine and creating perfect wine parings with free masterclasses* hosted by celebrity wine expert Charles Metcalfe. Charles is one of the nation’s most well-known and amusing wine critics. He’s equipped with plenty of advice about this summer’s wines, including the best temperature to enjoy them at and what to look out for when choosing a bottle to ensure you’re drinking a quality wine.

Visit the Discover the Origin pagoda to meet the campaign’s team of experts and taste the samples on display alongside their expert guidance. And all in the glorious settings of Edinburgh’s Inverleith Park.

Foodies is the UK’s largest food & drink festival with 10 festivals in 2014 featuring top chefs, producers, pop-up restaurants, street food and live entertainment. To see more about the festival visit foodiesfestival.com.

To be in with a chance of winning a pair of Foodies Festival Edinburgh tickets simply Retweet this tweet:
RT to win a pair of @foodiesfestival Edinburgh tickets from @delictraveller and
@DiscoverOrigin #discoverquality #heritage #protectedstatus

Good luck!

DiscovertheOrigin

DiscovertheOrigin

Discover the Origin is a campaign financed with aid from the EU, France, Italy and Portugal that celebrates the character and heritage of five fine foods and wines with Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status: Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, Parma Ham, Douro Wines, Bourgogne Wines and Port. To learn more and see delicious recipes featuring easy ways to use these little luxuries visit discovertheorigin.co.uk

Ts&Cs: Two winners will be chosen at random at 5pm Friday 8th August 2014 and notified by email the same day.
* Entry to the Drinks Theatre is included in the ticket price. Places are available on a first come, first served basis and entry is limited – register for free entry at the Registration Point opposite the main entrance.

A perfect London Summer evening at Angelus Restaurant, Bathhurst Street

My love affair with London continues, there is always a new street to explore or new restaurant to discover and I may have just found one of my favourite restaurants in London in this place. My supper at Angelus restaurant, on Friday was one of those special London evenings; where the company, the food, the ambience and setting all came together to make a perfect summer evening.

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Angelus, Thierry Tomasin

Angelus, Thierry Tomasin

Angelus restaurant and bar is tucked away on Bathurst Street in an unassuming but historical part of London, not far from Notting Hill and Lancaster Gate area. We’re immediately greeted by a beautiful young French girl, who asked if we’d like to sit in or out, we opted to start our evening sitting outside on the little terrace and soak up the summer evening and London atmosphere.

A hidden corner of effortless indulgence, the warmth and energy Angelus is renowned for is personified as you enter the restaurant, and meet the fabulous founder Thierry Tomasin, and ex-Gavroche Head Sommelier for 20 years and his staff. Far more than a stunning interior and mouth-watering cuisine, Angelus has become a beloved secret spot in London.

A little bit of history..
Formally a pub and covert meeting place for political figures such as Winston Churchill, Angelus boasts elegant Art-Nouveau interiors which have been cleverly incorporated into the original architecture of this early 19th century building. Named after the Angelus Bell, this “brasserie de luxe” is located in one of London’s last working mews.
My plan for the evening had been not to over indulge or drink as I’m into week 1 of a new training and diet session (my blog – Diary of a WBFF newbie – taylorspr.wordpress.com) which is for a challenge I’ve scarily decided to attempt in November. However, the plan went out the window for several reasons, some of which are listed above, A) the menu was simply too tempting to say no to a glass of wine with dinner, and B) the other reason was boy issues.. so I felt I should take some solace in my favourite French cuisine.

Thierry Tomasin, the owner was also convincing with his charming French accent and easy manner, his pitch being a “Salesman of Pleasure” that we girls should be indulged! Not going to argue with that, what an excellent way to twist mine and my companion’s arm.

The Girls on Friday Night

The Girls on Friday Night


Enjoying a glass of Marsanne

Enjoying a glass of Marsanne

The menu is seasonal French cuisine, bistro cooking from the heart and we had the option of choosing from the summer á la carte menu or anything from the brunch menu, there was quite a lot to choose from a mixture of classic French cuisine dishes and specials.

We decided on two entrees from the á la carte menu:
• A divine Light Maroilles Cheese soufflé with walnut crust, fresh endive, sliced green apple and Parmesan consommé
• English Pea and Broad Bean Velouté, with a poached Sussex farm duck egg, with grilled Romanesque cauliflower florets

Veloute with Poached Duck Egg

Veloute with Poached Duck Egg


I like to try slightly different and unusual dishes from time to time for my reviews, it keeps it fresh in my approach and is also a great way to widen the palate and be open to new experiences and tastes. We both opted for fairly light entrée dishes – the Velouté is a light vibrant green which tastes of spring garden vegetables, I carefully broke into the poached egg and it was a lovely bright yellow runny egg, just as it should be. The Cheese Soufflé was divine the small mouthful I tasted with a beautifully balanced and light Parmesan consommé. Thierry attended to us with his passion for food & wine and the restaurant shining through, and I knew we were going to be well looked after. The wine list is superb, with a heavy nod to French wines, but as a French restaurant I would expect nothing less. There are also some good quality new world wines on the list just in case you’re averse. We however, in an effort to be good opted for a glass of wine and Thierry, who was the Head Sommelier at Le Gavroche working under Chef Michel Roux, recommended the Marsanne Viognier, a light white wine with some complexity and minerality and also some floral notes. It was delicious and needless to say we didn’t just have one glass!

Main dishes:
• Seared Monkfish with green olives, shellfish and wild rice with baby fennel
• Roasted whole pigeon D’Anjou with peach and pink pepper puree, and crumbled black pudding

For our main plat we decided to move into the restaurant as it was getting a little chilly and I also wanted to savour and soak up the atmosphere of this lovely restaurant. It was fairly full and we were given a little table for two, not to close to our neighbours, so we were able to relax a little more. The interior has a very French, dare I say Parisian feel to it and it’s absolutely charming. I certainly felt as if I’d been transported to France for the evening and adored the dark wood tables, art deco lights and flooring which added to the ambience.

I chose the fish option of the Monkfish, light, yet meaty and succulent with an array of green and black olives delicately presented over the seared monkfish stuffed with shellfish, perfect for a warm summer evening. We remained on the same white wine as it matched our dishes well, my companion opted for the roasted whole pigeon with a peach and pink pepper puree and black pudding, also very good and a contrast to the fish. Meaty and rare (very rare) well we were practically in France at this point (she could have opted for a light red wine with this meat, but decided to stay on white). Our only suggestion would be to have some more vegetables with the plats or some further vegetable options as side dishes would have been good.

Monsieur Thierry Tomasin, Owner

Monsieur Thierry Tomasin, Owner

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The Kitchen Tour next to the Chef's Table

The Kitchen Tour next to the Chef’s Table

With the diet well and truly out of the window and my cheat meal taking on epic proportions, we threw caution to the wind and allowed our host Thierry, to suggest the dessert, which he thought we’d love and he was right!

Dessert:
• A shared plate of Apricot soufflé with apricot homemade apricot and lemon-thyme sorbet, homemade elderflower yoghurt with honeycomb, white chocolate ice-cream and summer berry pavlova with carpaccio of nectarine and strawberry coulis.

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"Salesman of Pleasure" Dessert Plate

“Salesman of Pleasure” Dessert Plate


Wines:
• Glass of Pink Champagne
• White wine – Marsanne Viognier – Domaine de la Cessane, 2012
• Dessert wine – Jurancon, Uruolat – Charles Hours, 2012

Angelus prides itself on an easy gastronomic menu and contemporary approach to the French classics. Its talented kitchen team has created a menu of elegant but unpretentious food that can be enjoyed for any occasion. One of the City’s last remaining secret spots, Thierry’s Gallic passion, combined with award-winning cuisine and a formidable wine list make Angelus a regular treat, to be enjoyed with friends and good company.
http://www.angelusrestaurant.co.uk

This is definitely a firm favourite now for me, and depending on if you want to have a two course lunch or dinner it is has a great variable menu with lunch starting at £22 for two courses in central London, is pretty great and at these standards an exception to the rule.

Dinner a la carte – for two with wine, entrees, plats, dessert was approx. £47.00 per person.

Value rating: Excellent
Atmosphere: Excellent
Food Quality: Excellent

Refresh and refuel at London’s Chic Drunch cafe for a light lunch

Watermelon & Fresh Basil Juice

Watermelon & Fresh Basil Juice

Lazy hazy sunny days in London are always the best when you can leisurely saunter in and out of the shops and head to a favourite place for lunch. Oxford Street and Bond Street, have lots of little streets off them and it’s here that some of the best places exist for a fab little lunch post shopping or afternoon pick-me-up.

Last weekend found me wondering around Regent Street for a street food festival on Sunday, with Regent Street closed off to traffic, a lovely reprieve to the usual hecticness. I also discovered the streets just behind Marble Arch and the Edgeware Rd recently, which have some lovely restaurants and café close by.

Wondering around London, in the sun is such a pleasure and there are always lots of new places to stumble upon and little gems to get carried away in. Drunch, is a great little find, an oasis in the shopping mecca of the West End. It is ideally located between Oxford Street and Bond Street on the corner of Woodstock Street, with a very quintessential London fashion feel to it. Even though it is just off Oxford Street, I hadn’t discovered it previously, even as a quick shortcut.

Drunch Cafe

Drunch Cafe

The cafe is surrounded by beautiful Georgian buildings and opposite Bonhams auction house, which adds an air of sophistication. Everything is freshly-prepared at Drunch with a delicious take on healthy dishes and lots of smoothie and juice options, just perfect for summer eating.

It was quite hot when we arrived, so we decided to sit outside under the awning, on stylish cream cushions and black rattan furniture, which was really very comfortable.. I could have sat there all afternoon.

They have a wide range of constructed teas and fresh coffees, but as it was hot I decided on a delicious watermelon and mint freshly squeezed juice. I’ve been overindulging recently so thought the sound of a Superfood salad with avocado and pumpkin seeds after my baked camembert in Brixton market the previous evening might make me feel slightly less guilty.

Avocado, quinoa & pumpkin seed salad

Avocado, quinoa & pumpkin seed salad

Grilled Halloumi & Heirloom tomatoes

Grilled Halloumi & Heirloom tomatoes

My companion was even more virtuous than I was and had grilled halloumi with cherry tomatoes, everything was served on differently shaped black pottery style plates and dishes, which gave it a modern contemporary feel to the dishes.

We were slightly less healthy when it came to dessert however, and it was a much as I could do not to order an “RIP DIET” Cheesecake .. but I just couldn’t do it to myself and shared a rather less indulgent but yummy almond cake with espresso.

Too tempting..Almond cake

Too tempting..Almond cake

Drunch is a great little pitstop in the heart of Oxford Street, with a cool London fashion feel to it. It’s able to offer good quality ingredients for lunch or a lovely alternative option for a lavish afternoon tea that won’t break the bank.

Liverpool’s Stylish Salthouse Charcuteria & Tapas Bar

Salthouse, Menu, Liverpool

Salthouse, Menu, Liverpool

First pit stop of the day, straight off the train from London and I’m in need of sustenance and some good food, after my train journey.. where to go, where to go. Ok so i haven’t done any homework to search out the cool spots to head to in Liverpool and next time will be with planning. My brother and his fiancee and two children (v cute) live up Norff and so I sporadically head Norff from time to time.

This time bad planning as lots going on in London town at the moment, so I literally stop a couple of likely looking stylish Liverpudlians, trust me these people know fashion. It’s actually quite a culture shock from London, as the girls are immaculate, make-up,hair, dressed in all the latest trends and the guys are pretty much the same. i digress. My stylish Liverpudlians, direct me to a restaurant strip just off the main shopping high street, past LiverpoolOne, the shopping centre and recommend me to try ‘Salthouse’ a Charcuteria and Tapas bar for a quick spot of lunch.

Of course this weekend is actually the Golf Open at Holylake, the restaurant is quite packed and I wait for a few minutes, before being seated. The restaurant has two levels, ground and a mezzanine with high ceilings and a New York style feel to it. Exposed overhead heating system gives it an urban city feel, yet the stained glass vertical windows add some warmth to this circular shaped restaurant and bar.

With my training about to kick off I need to be mindful of what is going in mouth..(no gags thank you). It’s about protein, egg whites, good carbs only and veggies.. it’s only for 3 months.. argh!! The menu is looks very tempting and if I was doing a full review I’d definitely be going for some of the fish, scallop and more interesting tapas dishes that they have. There’s a good selection of beers from Estrella beer to lots of Sangria, Spanish wines, Sherry and Cava.

Today, I fancied the sound of the Heritage tomatoes,roasted peppers, fresh basil and capers salad with a chargrilled fillet steak, on a rosti potato and black pudding with peppercorn sauce.

Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad

Chargrilled Fillet Steak

Chargrilled Fillet Steak

All washed down with one bottle of San Pellgrino, can you see my halo yet.. such willpower resisting a bottle of Estrella and I wasn’t even tempted. Good random recommendation. Thank you Liverppol.

The bill was also very reasonable at 16.75

http://www.salthousetapas.co.uk
1 Hanover St, Liverpool, L1 3DW

THE NEW NOODLE HOUSE ON THE BLOCK, WITH A SIDE OF SOUTH EAST ASIA FLAVOUR

The Noodle House on Shaftesbury Avenue
The Noodle House on Shaftesbury Avenue

It’s a rainy Monday evening, as I head towards Shaftesbury Avenue’s Cambridge Circus, to the newly opened Noodle House restaurant. Although it’s always hectic with tourists I love this area, it’s vibrant Soho, theatre land and China town make this district buzz even on a dark, wet night. Over the years I’ve found a few favourite restaurants in China town, my Uncle married a girl from Hong Kong, and most Saturday’s she would take me try out a new Dim Sum restaurant.

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So with the opening of The Noodle House on Shaftesbury Avenue I was keen to try their new Asian fusion menu, and see what it has to offer Londoner’s. It’s conveniently located close to Leicester Square tube on Shaftesbury Avenue and great for a pre or post theatre supper. It’s also next door to Covent Garden a hip place to hang out afterwards for a few drinks or spot of late night shopping.

the_noodle_house,_london.kitchenTNH Calamari

The restaurant is quite empty when we arrive, but began to fill up as we settled in for the evening. The menu is essentially an Asian fusion menu covering dishes from China with Dim Sum to Thai dishes with the standard staple Chicken Satay, their tagline ‘Flavours of South East Asia.’
The interior is contemporary and stylish, and feels warm with its modern style wooden tables around the edge of the restaurant and a sprinkling of modern booths and open kitchen on the ground level. Downstairs is a hidden gem with an amazing bar area and stylish toilets (design wise I might have the bar upstairs).

The restaurant’s bolthole basement bar which holds a unique drinks list designed by creative Indonesian brothers, and Metro’s Young British Foodie winners, Platterform. Glass jars brimming with the beautiful Damask Rose, Goji Berry, Chrysanthemum, Lychee, Kaffir Lime and White Peony loose teas line the walls around the horseshoe-shaped bar where mixology masters blend, steep and brew them with exotic fruits and spices to create their own range of bespoke syrups and spirits. Apothecary bottles and jars of varying shapes and sizes – Spiced Tea Gin, Lapsang Souchong Rum, Star Anise and Kaffir Lime Gin, contain homemade concoctions that are exclusive to the noodle house. Their signature cocktail, Moonshadow, of Jasmine Lillet Blanc and vodka over frozen Jasmine and Hibiscus tea ice pops, don’t mind if I do!

We start with a shared selection of starters – Har Gou (King Prawn) steamed dumplings, Chicken satay sticks and peanut sauce, unfortunately the chicken sticks were overdone and therefore tough and the dumplings were too doughy we move onto the mains with more hope.

We opt to share again and go for a traditional thai green chicken curry with jasmine rice, steamed seabass wrapped in banana leaf with steamed greens and a mee gerong with prawns, chilli and pak choi.Pleasingly the mains are extremely good, with fresh ingredients and great flavours. The seabass is meaty fresh, no bones and steamed perfectly, with subtle hints of lemongrass and thai flavours. The mee gerong noodles were also very tasty with just the right amount of chilli and lots of succulent King prawns and pak choi. All very good but the piece de resistance was the thai green curry ,filled with marinated tender chicken pieces and aubergine, the curry sauce was moreish, so much so I couldn’t stop going back for one more spoonful.

Steamed Seabass wrapped in banana leaf Steamed Seabass wrapped in banana leaf

TNH Curries<

We also opt for some freshly squeezed juices and jasmine green tea, which are very good and are inspired by ancient teahouses, the restaurant uses a wide variety of hand-picked, single-estate, artisan produced teas, ethically-sourced directly from tea gardens across Asia by LuLin. Black teas, Oolong, Green and White teas, beautiful blooming teas and caffeine-free tisanes are all readily available in a total of 17 blends, seven of which are unique to the noodle house.

The influence of the teas delicate flavours can also be seen in select dishes on the menu as well as in innovative soft drinks and cocktails including the superfood-charged mocktail Dr Taja; a blend of Aloe Vera, ginger, lime, ginseng and oolong tea… I’m in!

I’d recommend this as a great respite during the week for lunch or dinner,the bar is definitely a great asset and worth thinking about for somewhere new to go for drinks as it’s quite funky and fun and service by the staff is good, nicely attentive and thoughtful, which is always appealing and stands out in a fast moving restaurant world

http://www.tnhlondon.com
Address: 117 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8AD
Telephone: 0203 725 5777

Spacious and Stylish – Lech Zurs, a Skier’s Paradise

Lech Zurs the glamourous and glitzy ski resort high up in the Austrian alps, certainly lives up to all the hype and then some… As I got to know the ski runs, après ski haunts and hotels of these two lovely Alpine villages, it struck me just how lovely Austria is and how there is such a sense of space on these fabulous slopes.

Lech Ski Area

Lech Ski Area

The sophisticated Arlberg resort of Lech has a brand new gondola (with heated seats) linking the smaller relatively unknown area of Warth (pron Waart) over the mountains in Austria’s Voralberg region.

The twins are also linked by lift to Zurs, which sits above St Anton, to which it is linked by ski pass and reachable off-piste from the Valluga peak in Anton (not easy skiing).

The White Ring

The White Ring

Group Shot with Lech Ski Schule Instructor, Martin Schneider

Group Shot with Lech Ski Schule Instructor, Martin Schneider

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The link to Warth – by a new-type Dopplemeyer lift of half gondola and half chairlift – adds about a quarter more pistes for skiers and riders and makes a great day out, and one not quite as extensive or as difficult as the present Lech’s hero run, the famous White Ring from Lech to Zurs and then round the high mountains back to Lech, a circuit to rival Sud Tirol’s Sella Ronda.

Warth has around 20 mainly intermediate runs with a few black thrown in to keep you on your toes, and half a dozen good-value eating lodges on the mountain.

We stayed at The Gotthard hotel, about a 5-8 minute walk from the Ski School and main lift area, the spa facilities and sauna area were excellent and much appreciated after a day’s hard skiing. The food was also very good and we stayed at the hotel on a half board basis. Crystal Ski are the tour operators and you can book via Crystal or book directly with the hotel. http://www.gotthard.at/en/

Charming bedroom suite

Charming bedroom suite

More good news for Arlberg and Swiss fans – you can now get to Western Austrian and Eastern Swiss resorts faster and cheaper via Monarch’s new service from London Gatwick and Manchester to the southernmost German airport of Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance, which knocks up to half an hour off the Zurich route and slashes the price too and it cuts out the winding route and traffic from Zurich to the Alps.

Monarch’s service costs from £37 each way – and you can get its Premier service with extra leg-room and a cooked breakfast, for only £9.99 more. And because it is an early-morning flight you can get to resort in daylight and maybe even sneak in a warm-up run or two on Day One.

Monarch airlines at Friedrichshafen airport

Monarch airlines at Friedrichshafen airport

Friedrichshafen airport, has the largest and widest runway in Europe, often taking lots of winter diversions, unable to land at Innsbruck airport. It is a great gateway to the alps, with 4 countries close to its proximity it is a much easier, less hassle airport to navigate around on arrival which will ultimately mean swifter transfer routes into resorts. It is located next to Lake Constance, which in the summer is a stunning location to take a few leisurely days before heading off on tour – with good bike routes around the lake and water sport activities on the lake it is a great destination in itself.