An evening on the river with Discover The Origin and Head Chef Ben Tish

Our Vessel for the evening Our Vessel for the evening

The Menu

What better way to spend a ‘summer evening’ well British summer evening, onboard a yacht to enjoy a sumptuous food and wine matching supper with some of the best artisan products produced in the world. Discover the Origin,a campaign designed to educate consumers and the UK deli trade and supermakets held a spectacular evening on the river hosted by Chef of the moment Head Chef Ben Tish of the Opera Tavern and Salt Yard.

Bentishteam

Ben Tish from Salt Yard Group created the menu, incorporating Parma Ham and Parmesan Cheese into the tapas-style dishes from his restaurants, and David Vareille, Sommelier from Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental matched and talked through the accompanying Burgundy wines and Ports throughout the evening.

DinnerTable

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Burgundy Wine

Burgundy Wine

Parma Ham is one of my favourite cured hams in the world and it had been hand cut on the Itlian meat slicing machine. It really does taste different when it is freshly sliced compared to vacuum packed in the supermarkets, so much so that I’m off to Borough market this weekend to visit the Cheese and Ham company. We were then served a selecyion of tapas style startes with the main star ingredients of the evening including:

Fig and Parma Ham on Parmesan cheese crust .. divine cheesy pastry which worked well with the salt of the Parma Ham and fig.

Fig and Parma Ham tarts Fig and Parma Ham tarts

[caption id="attachment_727" align="alignnone" width="300"]Red prawns with Parma Ham Red prawns with Parma Ham

We then have a squash, sage and Parmesan croquette, English asparagus with Parma Ham and a duck egg and Parmesan crisp melted over it, followed by some sumptuous Red prawns, with Parma Ham and grilled watermelon, delicious the Red prawns in particular were amazingly tasty.

We devour these freshly prepared starters by Ben and his team, while quaffing a lovely White Douro Valley wine which is a lovely crisp white with a strong mineral taste. I do love these Douro wines and they are having a real moment in the wine world for the last few years and deservedly so, I say.

The mains are also beautifully prepared also in the tapas style that is associated with Ben Tish we are served – Braised beef cheeks with Parmesan cheese, a root vegeatble gratin with Parmesan cheese and smoked ricotta and deep fried courgette flowers stuffed with goats’ cheese and Parma Ham.. I have two and could easily have another, but try to show a little decorum. Sommelier David Vareille, talked thorugh the next wine with his silky French accent explaining all of the depth, quality, terroir to the wines we were tasting, two beautiful wines from different parts of Burgundy the first was the Santennay 1er cru a Pinot Noir with delicate subtle fruit and depth, great for a summer evening and my personal favourite of the evening the Marsannay, Le Clos 2011 from Domaine Rene Bouvier, not yet acredited with a cru but it won’t be long. My advice get in there quickly and find your self a few special bottles of this nectar.. you can thank me later.

The Faces behind these amazing artisan products

The Faces behind these amazing artisan products


Enjoying myself!

Enjoying myself!

By this point I have eaten rather a lot, and the diet is but a distant memory with my trainer on my shoulder whispering put that down! I ignore my subconscious and press onto dessert, I’m rewarded with a delicately made warm apple cox, Parmesan cheese pasrty with lashings of mascarpone to be enjoyed according to David and the IVDP Port expert with a very special Taylor’s 1985 Vintage Port. Warm, sticky, nutty flavours of Port fill my mouth and I’m having the best time on this little boat, that it’s a shame the evening has to come to an end quite so quickly.

AppletartwithParmesancheese pastry

http://www.discovertheorigin.co.uk
For further receipes and images
http://www.bivb.com
http://www.ivdp.com

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A weekend in Historic Bath, England

I recently went to Historic Bath for a long weekend and stayed at Dorian House, a stunning Georgian stone
property. On arrival we received a warm welcome from the owner who took us through lots of options and helpful suggestions on what to see and do in the City of Bath. The standard of the rooms were very good, clean and good quality linen and fresh towels made us feel comfortable and relaxed immediately.

Luxury B & B  Dorian House, in Bath

Luxury B & B Dorian House, in Bath

The breakfast each morning offered a good choice of hot and cold options, plus vegetarian options and was of a good standard and ample servings. We also visited several local pubs and a couple of the local restaurants which offered hearty British Cuisine at a good price point, we chose the Green tree pub for some local chat and experience and were not disappointed by the cosyness and history of the bar. The restaurant we went to was also extremely good I chose a classic steak served rare, with fries and salad and would certainly go back again.

Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey - Posing

Bath Abbey – Posing

We also visited several historic sites and took a free walking tour on Saturday morning, which is given by the City of Bath Council, as Bath is an historic and UNESCO site they provide this service for free. The walking tour started at 10.30am from outside the Roman Baths and took us along the River Avon, to Pulteney Bridge pointing out interesting facts and historical points of reference.

Typical Bath Bridge

Typical Bath Bridge

As a final treat we also visited the Jane Austen centre and toured the museum, which held special editions of Jane Austen novels, period dress and furniture as it had been preserved from the period. On our final day we also visited the Thermae Baths for the Spa waters and ended the trip on a high at Sally Lunn’s, tea shop for an afternoon tea. Sally Lunn, originally came from France and brought with her a sweet bun which then became the famous ‘Bath Bun’ of today, she saw an opportunity to market her wares and developed a little tea shop which still stands today on the same site and it believed to be the oldest building in Bath.

Afternoon Tea at The Mad Hatter's Tearoom

Afternoon Tea at The Mad Hatter’s Tearoom

Cup of Tea

Cup of Tea

Bath, is visually very beautiful and worth seeing if you are visiting for a day trip or weekend, there is so much to take in historically. Beautiful Palladium and Georgian architecture, the Roman Baths and new Thermae Baths, as well as a huge choice of local restaurants, pubs and bars and lots of great shopping. Spring and Summer are the most popular times to visit when the weather is not so dreary or rainy. VisitEngland or VisitBritain are both excellent sources of information and will advise on the best time to visit and what to see when you arrive in Bath and the surrounding areas.

Canada’s Capital City – Ottawa an undiscovered Culinary and Cultural Haven…

Stepping off the viarail train from Kingston to Ottawa, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Capital of Canada. I had done a little research on each area I was visiting in Ontario, but nothing indepth. Taking a taxi (Blueline taxi service) from the station to The Fairmont Chateau Laurier, I was struck by the beauty of the city, the stunning architecture of the buildings and characteristic French style limestone and cooper roofed buildings was aesthetically pleasing.

The Fairmont -Chateau Laurier

The Fairmont -Chateau Laurier

View from My bedroom Suite

I was lucky enough to be staying at Chateau Laurier in one of their suite’s with a view over the main shopping street area. The hotel is the ‘Grand Dame’ of Canada’s capital city, it is a beautifully elegant and charming hotel with a long and distinguished history of past Presidents and Royalty as its guests. Located in downtown Ottawa next door to the Parliament Buildings, Byward market shopping area and the Rideau Canal which offers miles of bicycle and inline skating paths in the summer and the world’s longest skating rink in the winter. It’s the perfect luxurious treat for a romantic weekend getaway or indulgent girls’ weekend.

Chateau Laurier

Chateau Laurier


Parliament on the hill

Parliament on the hill

Ottawa is easy to navigate around and I took a walking tour courtesy of the Ottawa tourism board to get the ‘local insider’ track on the best things to see and do. We started at Byward market, which is not just a local produce market, it is also home to boutique designer shops, restaurants and bars and is where the local nightlife happens. I was introduced to my first delicious ‘Beavertail’ and devoured it in seconds – it’s a local delicacy of fried pastry with any topping. I went for a classic with lots of cinnamon atop and had to stop by the following day for another one before I left, it was that good.

Beavertails Pastry at Byward Market

Beavertails Pastry at Byward Market

Obama Cookie at Byward Market

Obama Cookie at Byward Market

There are also several noteworthy museums and art galleries; I visited the National Gallery of Canada which is housed in a stunning contemporary building. A light-filled structure of glass and granite, in which visitors can find a cloistered garden courtyard, a glass-bottomed pool, and a reconstructed 19th-century chapel, is well worth the time to visit. My other museum of choice was the National Canadian Museum of Civilization, it currently has an interesting and unique ‘Voodoo exhibition’ ,. Take a 5 minute ferry taxi across the river from Ottawa, or cycle the scenic Voyageurs route if preferred.

Ottawa River and Rideau Canal

Ottawa River and Rideau Canal

Culture done and ticked box, it was naturally time to eat and discover the new and emerging culinary delights of Ottawa. I checked out a local restaurant close to Byward market – Play, Food and Wine on 1 York Street <a href="http://www.playfood.ca/”>, a contemporary modern, open and friendly ambience in the restaurant, an interior of dark wooden floors and light wood coloured tables worked well. Play,food & wine offers with a good wine list and contemporary fresh modern menu. To start I choose a dish of scallops with snowless cauliflower puree, scallions and a parsley vinagarette, the scallops were cooked to perfection although the scallions slightly overpowered the dish for me. I also choose a Moroccan radish salad with raisins, carrots, white cabbage and harissa spice accompanied with a fruilli white wine.

Restaurant - Play, Food and Wine

Restaurant – Play, Food and Wine

Moroccan Salad

Moroccan Salad

My other restaurant of noteworthy comment was the surprisingly awesome Vegan restaurant – Zen Kitchen – 634 Somerset West Street http://www.zenkitchen.ca/ which is a definite ‘local insider’ knowledge tip. From downtown Ottawa you will need to take a taxi and the Blueline service was the taxi company I used. The restaurant concept is healthy, environmentally sustainable food and produce. I absolutely fell in love with all of the dishes I was served by Executive Chef Kyle Mortimer -Proux, even down to the vegan organic wine, which worked to compliment the different courses. The staff and owner were adorably attentive and I tasted several dishes including: Vegan cheeses, and pickles with hummus and homemade bread, a fine herb gnocchi, with locally farmed ‘Le Coprin mushrooms from Ottawa with a white Chardonnay from Prince Edward county ‘Rosehall Run’. For dessert a trio of vegan desserts of raw chocolate, vanilla swirl cheesecake, a warm chocolate mexican cake with cumin and mexican spices and a peanut butter and chocolate pie (100% vegan and raw).

Ottawa is also well known for its festivals in particular Winterlude, the Tulip Festival and countless other special events, Ottawa is a flurry of activity. Your stay is guaranteed to be a memorable one and its worthwhile using the Ontario Tourism board’s website to research and book your trip, if you plan to also go beyond Ottawa.

Summer or winter, Ottawa is certainly worth a visit from its plethora of good quality restaurants and first class shopping it’s a good alternative to a weekend in NYC and only 7 hours from London Heathrow. It’s a capital city with a relaxed Parisian Cafe culture and laid backed leisurely friendliness, the locals are only to willing to have a chat or help with recommendations on what to see and do.

Zen Kitchen, Deep Fried Locally grown mushrooms

Zen Kitchen, Deep Fried Locally grown mushrooms

Zen Kitchen - Vegan Gnocchi

Zen Kitchen – Vegan Gnocchi

Byward Market - Locally loved, French Patisserie Shop

Byward Market – Locally loved, French Patisserie Shop

Byward Market - Mello's Restaurant

Byward Market – Mello’s Restaurant

Travel details:
Train travel Ottawa from Kingston on Viarail – http://www.viarail.ca/
Return flights with Air Canada – Ottawa to London – http://www.aircanada.com/
Ontario Tourism – http://www.ontariotravel.net

Ski and Snowboard Show London, celebrated its 40th year

The Ski and Snowboard Show London took place at Earls Court 2, London and celebrated its 40th year from 30th Oct – 3rd November. Check out the video to see what the event was all about!

Hundreds of people made the annual pilgrimage to London to enjoy beginner and advanced ski and snowboard lessons inside Earls Court on a custom built slope, as well as stocking up on their ski essentials for this winter. Headline Sponsor Monarch Airlines now the ski airline of choice, hosted an Ice Rink and Curling Lanes, and Tubing for visitors to try. With top ski resorts from Aspen to Alpe d’huez set to open this weekend, three weeks early thanks to all the snowfall; it’s already shaping up to be a great looking ski season

With top destinations, tour ops and retailers too, the Telegraph Ski and Snowboard Show London was a great place to plan a ski or snowboard trip and pick up everything for your ski holiday.

The Iconic Lanesborough hotel set to hold glamourous auction

The Lanesborough is following in the footsteps of ‘Grand Dame’ The Savoy, with an auction from its beautiful and opulent collection of interiors. The auction will be held between 9 – 13 December next month.

It will be an unprecedented opportunity for any avid collector or aficionado of the ‘Lanesborough’ to own a little piece of luxurious history.

There will be 3,000 lots existing of furnishings, artefacts and decorations, with over 3,000 lots at auction. The contents will be exclusively available prior to the extensive renovation project which will see The Lanesborough closing its doors on 20th December.

View PDF Version: http://goo.gl/ecxWPM

Led by auctioneers Pro Auction, original and reproduction period furnishings, authentic artwork reflecting the grand era of the Regency period will go under the hammer at the hotel’s premises and webcast live over the internet.

Viewing is available to the public by appointment on Saturday, 7th, and Sunday, 8th December, and prior to the sale commencing each day at 10:30 a.m.   The Lanesborough’s signature style combines the elegance and sophistication of an eighteenth century private residence with the contemporary luxuries expected of a leading hotel. In addition to the contents of the 93 guest rooms, including 43 suites, the auction will extend to areas of the hotel including private dining rooms, The Library Bar and Apsleys Restaurant.  

The new designs by world-renowned interior designer, Alberto Pinto, will enhance all guest rooms and public areas and integrate the latest innovations whilst honouring the building’s architectural heritage as one of London’s most revered Regency landmarks.  

The auction takes place at The Lanesborough (Hyde Park Corner London, SW1X 7TA, United Kingdom) commencing at 10.30am. Online bidding will also be available via a live webcast. The viewing takes place from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. on 7th and 8th December 2013 by appointment only, and virtual tours of the bedrooms are available online. Catalogues are available by calling (+44) 0207 206 2690 or via download from http://www.thelanesboroughsale.com.

TBEX DUBLIN 2013 – GETS THE PARTY STARTED

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TBEX Dublin was a major success this year with some inspirational travel bloggers coming together from around the world to share their experiences, blogging tips on how they found their niche and above all a communal spirit that this is just the start of great things for bloggers.

There were some inspirational speakers from keynote speaker Chip Conley to great ‘How to workshops’ hosted by ‘Heather on her travels’ and blogs to watch for the future ‘Inside the Travel Lab’ by Abigail King

Sumptuous Secret Supper Club with Malaysian Chef Norman Musa

A secret supper club is always going to be a cool concept and I love the anticipation of where you’ll be eating and what the dishes will be that evening. I tend to build these type of nights up with schoolgirl excitement, it’s my new take on Christmas now that I know ‘Santa’ won’t be coming down the chimney.

I couldn’t wait to arrive at the location, we were told the night before to meet at Hackney Wick station. Although it’s the other side of London for me, I was hoping it would be worth the slep across town. I know … I’m very lazy and have the Londonite mantra,’that I do not cross London at the weekend’ … however, with the promise of great Malaysian delights it didn’t take much persuasion.

We arrive to be greeted by Chef Norman’s excellent staff and a special little helper one of the staff’s sons, offering us a tray of amuse bouche Malayasian treats, all very cute. The venue is Chef Norman’s private residence when he’s in London and it looks directly out onto the Olympic Park, uber cool.

There were a few different groups of people but everybody takes a seat and we start to mix in together as the first dish of the evening arrives. The menu is extensive with 7 different dishes of Malaysian noodles, the first, dish 1 is a Glass Noodle salad with shredded chicken, chilli, spring onions and soy sauce served cold. It’s completely delicious, so good I’m hard-pressed not to eat more .. but with 6 more dishes to come I’d better pace myself, right?

Ning's Glass Noodles

Ning’s Glass Noodles

Malaysian Celebrity Chef Norman Musa

Malaysian Celebrity Chef Norman Musa

Next the ubiquitous spring rolls, ‘Popiah’ with glass noodles and shitake mushrooms, ok but not amazing, they quickly clear these two appetisers and start to bring the first of the Laksas. The apartment is a huge warehouse style open space – and we can happily watch Chef Norman chop, stir and talk through the dishes to his guests.

Coconut-based curry soup

Coconut-based curry soup


Bihun Goreng Satay with Chicken

Bihun Goreng Satay with Chicken

Dish 3 is a ‘Penang Assam Laksa’ Sour fish-based soup with thick rice noodles, shredded fish, finely sliced vegetables, cucumber, red chillies, pineapple, mint, lettuce and ginger and it’s soo very tasty. I tuck in and conversation stops around the table while we in-hale the delightful flavours. Moving swiftly on the dish gets taken away and dish 4 is placed in front of us, a coconut-based curry ‘Laksa Johor’, with toasted coconut, dried prawns, lemongrass, galangal, spices, vietnamese coriander, cucumber and freshly squeezed lime juice. I’m in food heaven so far.. some of my favourite ingredients in one dish!

My Secret Supper Buddies

My Secret Supper Buddies

Next on the menu dish 5 ‘Char Kuey Teow with Prawns’ this menu really is a marathon of noodles and laksas and I’m still trying to pace myself and not get too full too quickly, as I know the best is still to come. Thick rice noodles wok-fried with soy sauce, chilli sauce, beansprouts and King prawns – delish! I’m beginning to wilt but as dish 6 arrives I get my second wind, at the sight of some devine looking ‘Bihun Goreng Satay with chicken’ served in cool little takeaway boxes. This is a wok fried dish of vermicelli rice noodles cooked with Malay satay paste, egg, vegetables and chicken, a subtle taste with a peanut flavour it’s nice and light. Chef Norman talks us through the dish and the traditional Malayasian cooking style he uses, it’s good to know that he and his team are planning the launch of a new restaurant in London in 2014, Ning London. It will be launching off the back of these secret supper nights in London and their already successful venture in Manchester with Ning Manchester.

Our final Laksa of the evening dish 7 is a ‘Kari Laksa with chicken’ a coconut-based soup with vermicelli noodles, bean curd puffs, beansprouts and chicken. It a challenge but so tasty I just had to have seconds! Thankfully dessert dish 8 was light and cool – a ‘cendol’ which is a delicious sweet iced dessert made with lots of crushed ice in a glass, coconut milk, palm syrup and red beans with a ‘famous’ pandan-flavoured strands of green rice flour. Ah.. The End.

Cendol Iced Pandon Dessert

Cendol Iced Pandon Dessert

It’s all good and we roll home to South London with my girls – dreaming of the new Ning London and our next Laksa.