Tag Archives: bar

RECOMMENDED: Secret Garden Confectionery

16 Oct

It’s National Chocolate Week and, in the spirit of showing support, I have been indulging in every kind of chocolate, stuffing my face without restraint. Trying to pick a favourite variety or bar was proving difficult, until a visit to the Tuesday food market in Thomas More Square, close to historic landmark and tourist attraction, The Tower of London.

I came home with a bag of Rocky Road chocolates by Secret Garden Confectionery – blocks of creamy, milk chocolate, studded with soft marshmallow and crunchy, puffed cereal. I was hooked after one bite. Challenged not to devour the entire bag in one sitting, I had to force myself to remember that I’d actually purchased the chocs to share with my two nieces, aged 5 and 7.

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I gave them half a block each, and remembered my manners long enough to reluctantly offer the bag to their grandparents. The problems started when they all began pestering me for more, declaring the moreish treats to be “delicious” and “yummy”. Secret Garden‘s Rocky Road is far too good to share, but denying them further access to such unbelievably tasty chocolate would have been exceptionally cruel. Fearing I’d be reported for some kind of human rights or domestic abuse, I had no choice but to succumb to their requests. Note to self: hide the next bag I buy at the back of the cupboard and tell no-one.

Secret Garden Confectinery is a regular at food festivals and Shepherds Markets’ sites across the Capital, where lovely co-founder and self-taught chocolatier, Belinda, braves the elements to showcase and sell a mouthwatering display of truffles, lollies, tablets and blocks.The seductive smell of cocoa, vanilla and spices draws you towards the stall just as much as the decadent vision of melt-in-the-mouth milk, white and dark chocolates.

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Made using ethically-sourced products, each beautiful treat is handmade – including the toffee and honeycomb centres – at Belinda’s base in Hertfordshire. The butter and cream used within each chocolate batch (produced in small quantities to ensure freshness), is also produced locally.

Despite such high-quality ingredients and an emphasis on fair trade, Secret Garden’s product range is reasonably priced – items start at a mere £2.50: a steal for artisan chocolate! With additional special offers available for multi-buys, it’s worth stocking up if you’re planning to put together some gorgeous food hampers for family and friends this Christmas.

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The smooth and tangy Milk Chocolate Orange Truffles are particularly addictive and the different flavoured tablet bars – crammed with fruits, spices or nuts – are sinfully sublime. There’s a luscious white chocolate Cranberry, Lemon & Macadamia; a heady Crystallised Ginger set in milk chocolate; a delectable Lime & Coconut white chocolate; a milk chocolate studded with tangy Sour Cherry, Orange and Hazelnut; and a superb Toffee Apple bar, also made with milk chocolate.

While Secret Garden‘s Rocky Road is the pathway to chocolate heaven, I also love the Chocolate Honeycomb blocks and large Chocolate Lollies – flavoursome, indulgent and rewarding; you can almost feel your brain cells doing Olympic somersaults in response to the Conga your tastebuds inevitability start dancing upon first bite. Nothing makes the body celebrate quite like the taste and feel of velvety, silken chocolate … a guaranteed high without the low of a hangover or withdrawal.

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Confirming my thoughts is the word of two discerning little girls. Having sampled Secret Garden‘s Rocky Road bites, some of the glorious tablet bars and the milk and white Chocolate Lollies, my nieces have given the range their official seal of approval: “Yummy”. Truth from the mouths of babes … you really can’t argue with that.

To find out where you can purchase Secret Garden Confectionery visit here.

Please follow @SGConfectionery on Twitter for details of their upcoming presence at Shepherds Markets locations across London.

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Top 5 Things of the Week (September 2nd – 8th)

8 Sep

#1 Meatopia in London

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The annual New York meat and barbecue festival finally branched out to London and the result was an epic celebration with a carnival atmosphere.

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The intoxicating aroma rising from Tobacco Dock in East London must’ve been detected for miles around: grills sizzled with a mix of quail, beef, venison, chicken and an abundance of pork! There were too many dishes to choose from, and it didn’t help that queues were lengthy, but everything sampled was a juicy delight of smokiness and texture.

My full review of the event is posted on The Upcoming so read more here.

#2 Desserts at Vivo in Islington

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The Upcoming sent me to attend a private preview event of this brand new bakery, café and bar, set to open on Islington’s Upper Street at the end of the month.

The pizzas were fabulous but the desserts were out of the stratosphere! My particular favourite was a Cassata Siciliana: a fondant-like Italian meringue housing candied peel and contrasting cream and sponge layers – heavenly! Read more here.

#3 Hiver‘s Honey Beer

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This is the nicest craft beer I’ve sampled in aaaages! Discovered at Meatopia, it’s the perfect balance of sweet and bitter, with a pleasant floral undertone.

Made with urban and rural honey, the beer is long matured and unpasteurised. Hiver tone down the hops with an organic speciality malt to bring out the honey flavours.

#4 Spanish Manchego from Mallorca

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Ah, nothing beats food gifts from relatives returning from a sojourn abroad. Presented with a lovely wedge of fresh Manchego, one of my favourite cheeses, I’ve been layering it with Membrillo and crackers for the perfect daily snack. Delicious!

#5 Barclays Business Seminar
The amount of free seminars, workshops and courses in London never ceases to amaze and inspire.

This week, I attended a seminar sponsored by Barclays and hosted by my local borough council. Offering useful advice and tips on how to launch your own business, from funding opportunities to tax laws!

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Coal Vaults in Soho

31 Aug

UPDATED 5TH SEPTEMBER, 2013: Following its publication, my review of Coal Vaults‘ launch party has been removed, so the link included within my original blog is now invalid.

I gave an honest account of the event and stand by every word submitted. It would have been unethical to lie about such a negative experience and to gloss it up for the sake of popularity. Professional integrity is paramount. I applaud The Upcoming for posting my review – albeit for a brief period – and hope it didn’t cause them any trouble.

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The promise of a new “hot spot” in London is always met with anticipation and excitement. Newcomer Coal Vaults opened its doors this week with a succession of PR-driven launch events to entice celebrities and reviewers.

With promises of seasonal British cuisine, delicious cocktails and a quirky industrial interior, The Upcoming kindly decided to send me along to pen a review. What followed was one the most depressing and deflating nights ever experienced in London. Read why here.

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Five Guys in Covent Garden

14 Jul

This week, I’ve been admiring the buns of the new Americans in town… I’m talking about hamburger buns following the arrival of US chains Five Guys and Shake Shack in the UK.

The Upcoming magazine sent me to check out diner Five Guys in London’s Covent Garden and I managed a sneaky trip to Shake Shack on the same day. Read the full review here.

NEWS: London’s Nightlife is for the Def AND the Deaf

17 Jun

London’s nightlife has finally expanded to serve the deaf community in the Capital: A new bar has opened on Seven Sisters Road in Tottenham, North London, specifically designed for the hearing impaired to enjoy socialising with their peers.

Called ‘The Deaf Lounge’, the venture is the brainchild of two young men who felt their needs as deaf people were not being served by the Capital’s ever-expanding nightlife. This new bar employs staff to use sign language and features a vibration-driven sound system to enable their clientele to experience the music being played.

You can read more about the venue and its founders here; in an article from The Enfield Independent newspaper, which is where I initially discovered the story.

As someone who is deaf in one ear and therefore able to hear normally via a remaining healthy eardrum, I have never been deprived of London’s full leisure and social options. I know that I am exceptionally lucky to be able to live a life free from the barriers and obstacles often presented to those who are severely deaf or hearing impaired.

We should all support community projects and new enterprises aimed at making London more inclusive, versatile and exciting for ALL groups of people. A disability shouldn’t subsequently disable anyone’s social life by default.  Every one of us – deaf or not – deserves to have a life filled with fun, opportunity, social contact and choice. Lots of choice.

I hope The Deaf Lounge gets the support it deserves and I applaud its founders for taking a bold step to introduce more choice in a Capital city that is overcrowded with options for everyday punters who have no idea how lucky they are.