Tag Archives: drink

REVIEW: Kusmi Tea Party

27 Sep

I confess that tea has always been my drug of choice; I cannot function without it. Having once sacrificed my habbit for Lent, I proceeded to look ill and diseased for the entire 40 days of withdrawal. So epic was my decline, my work colleagues celebrated when my fast ended, proclaiming: “You have never looked so terrible, thank God it’s over.” Tea, it seems, is both my drug and my beauty therapist.

Thus, when I spotted a competition on Twitter, run by Sauce Communications, to win an exclusive invitation to Kusmi‘s Tea Party, I knew I had to enter! To say I was excited when I won would only scratch the surface of my elation!

Stepping into the Kusmi Tea store in Marylebone was like stepping into a Pirate’s treasure trove. Wherever I looked, there was a rich bounty of exquisite tea blends, in all different flavours. Coloured boxes lined the shelves like twinkling jewels, pulling me towards them like a magpie to shiny trinkets. For a tea addict such as myself, Kusmi’s shop was a Wonka-esque utopia of colour, flavour and charm.

image

The tea party was the perfect soiree: hot and iced Kusmi teas, organic cakes by Marlette, makeover and beauty treatments courtesy of Michael John and Laura Mercier, beautiful artworks from YellowKorner and lovely, welcoming staff with a genuine passion for their products!

image

I loved hearing about Kusmi’s origins; the esteemed tea company is steeped in history! Having begun life in St Petersburg, Russia, in 1867 – where customers included Tsar Nicholas II – the company, founded by Pavel Kousmichoff, had already launched a subsidiary in London before settling permanently in Paris, France, during 1916 (just ahead of the revolution in which the Tsar and his family were assasinated).

There were two teas available to sample at the party: BB DETOX from a new Wellness range and ANASTASIA, a signature Russian blend. Poured into the most gorgeous, branded cups, the Iced Grapefruit-infused BB Detox tea was served with an old-fashioned paper straw, adding to the evening’s party vibe. Refreshing, light and packed with health-boosting antioxidents, the tea smelt as fruity as it tasted!

Anastasia, served warm, was a comforting blend of Earl Grey, lemon and orange blossom. In truth, I have never been a fan of Earl Grey, hating its floral and bergamot notes, but this tea was beautiful. Named in honour of Tsar Nicholas’ most famous daughter (in the decades following the revolution, claims persisted that she was still alive), it was so addictive, I bought a box to take home – making use of the great discounts available on the night for party guests!

image

Offered alongside the teas were a fantastic array of cakes, courtesy of home-baking brand Marlette. The French company offers a range of HOME-BAKE CAKE & BREAD MIXES – all organic and free from nasty additives.

I’ve never admired home-bake mixes, particularly as many seem to produce a cardboard crust or a chewy centre, but Marlette’s products had no such problems and I was impressed by the quality of their cakes.

Pairing Kusmi’s Anastasia tea with slices of Marlette’s moreish almond Financiers and squares of gooey Fondant au Chocolat (brownie), I was in sugar-high heaven. There was even a Cereal Bar Cake – a fragrant slab packed with figs and apricot – which nicely complimented Kusmi’s iced BB Detox.

I’ve since spotted the chocolate fondant mix in my local M&S store, priced around £7. I’ll be stocking up on these, along with tins of Kusmi teas, throughout December – for inclusion in homemade Christmas hampers for family and friends.

During the party, I paused for a sojourn in the rectangular store’s ‘Chill Out Corner’, created especially for the event with gallery chain YellowKorner. I was blown away by some of the dazzling prints on display, which included limited edition exclusives, vowing to visit the gallery’s Westfield and Mayfair outlets very soon to check out more show-stopping artworks!

I spent the rest of my evening chatting to fellow guests and admiring the amazing skills of Sara Chatterton, from luxury salon chain Michael John – who was blow-drying curls and ringlets with finesse – and the nimble fingers of a beautician from Laura Mercier, who was expertly transforming guests into goddesses with eyeshadows, liners, skin products, blusher and plenty of lippy!

Upon leaving, I was presented with a stunning goody bag, containing over £50 worth of treats! Items included a tin of Kusmi’s Anastasia loose leaf tea, a Laura Mercier Foundation Primer, a packet of Marlette’s Organic Fondant au Chocolat mix, a 50% off voucher for a cut and blow-dry at any Michael John salon, a discount coupon for YellowKorner and lots of fantastic information about the brands.

The Kusmi Tea Party was a fabulous affair – stylish and entertaining, with plenty of delicious treats. The store was a grotto of delights – parading everything from funky tea pots to exclusive, Russian tea blends! A brilliant event with top-notch food, entertainment and staff, I walked away with loads of Christmas gift ideas and a range of new favourite tea flavours.

Kusmi Tea, 15 Marylebone High Street, London, W1U 4NU

Advertisements

Top 5 Things of the Week (August 5th – 11th)

12 Aug

#1 Espresso Beer by Dark Star

image

A friend recently introduced me to the delightfully bitter and heady flavour of Dark Star’s Espresso Beer. Brewed in Sussex, it’s made with Arabica beans and has a mild yet rich flavour.

Available from Waitrose, it’s the perfect after dinner tipple – especially with a decadent chocolate dessert!

#2 Tommi’s Burger Joint in Marylebone

image

Burgers bars are opening across London quicker than Usain Bolt can reach a finish line, with many from the good ole U. S. of A.

Challenging them pickle for pickle is Scandinavian entrepreneur Tomas ‘Tommi’ Tommason, whose pop-up burger joint in Marylebone Lane proved so popular last year, he had to bag a permanent spot in nearby Thayer Lane.

The doors to this new home opened this week and hungry punters weren’t disappointed. The meaty patties topped with tomato, onion, mayo, ketchup and mustard are served in a shiny brioche bun with a generous portion of fries – bliss!

#3 Haagen Daz Chocolate Fondant Secret Sensations

image

I’ve taken a liking to this new ice-cream flavour, largely due to its pockets of oozing, chocolate sauce. It looks appetising and the flavour is well balanced – not too rich and sickly for summer. That said, the pairing of chocolate with more chocolate is always a winner and if you sprinkle some chopped, roasted nuts on to add some crunch, you can’t go wrong!

#4 Fig, Green Beans, Mozarella and Hazelnut Salad
A cousin introduced me to this delicious Mediterranean Fig & Mozarella Salad at a family barbecue and I was instantly enamoured by its pretty colours, diverse textures and summery flavours!

#5 Pineapple & Raspberry Upside Down Tart at 1776
image

Old fashioned desserts are the best: apple pie, profiteroles, baked alaska – and upside down cakes. In particular, the Pineapple & Raspberry Upside Down Tart at 1776, the fine dining restaurant at 1 Lombard Street, was exceedingly good.

Selected from their daily dessert trolley as opposed to the regular dessert menu, there is no way of knowing when they will serve this delectable creation again. As with any rare treasure, its worth seeking out.

Top Things of The Week (July 22nd – 28th)

28 Jul

#1 London Anniversary Games

Getting to see Usain Bolt run 100m, after missing out on the Olympic final, was nothing short of exhilarating! I loved his victory lap afterwards; he threw his shoes into the cheering crowd and sent his fans into a frenzy, which I managed to catch on video.

I’ve been supporting Athletics since childhood and was a fan of Mr. Bolt long before he became a household name so this was a great night that I’ll always remember.

#2 Myddleton House Gardens in Enfield, North London

I cannot believe I was born and bred in North London yet never knew of this amazing oasis hidden in the borough of Enfield, created by owner E.A. Bowles, a self-taught botanist and philanthropist who lived in the house during the late 1800s until his death in the 1950s.

The gardens span eight acres and are breathtakingly beautiful. Walking through its different areas was genuinely awe-inspiring: the range of plants, vegetables and mix of sculpted and wild areas are a marvel.

There’s also a carp lake and the stables have been converted into a lovely cafe where you can enjoy, among other things, locally-sourced ice-cream and Afternoon Tea. What’s more, a visit to the gardens is FREE, as is on site parking.

A must-visit experience!

#3 Baked Alaska at Plum + Spilt Milk
image

Baked Alaska is one of my favourite desserts of all time – so much so, I used to think that if I ever found love and got married, this would be the dessert on my big day.

Well, I haven’t found love and probably never will, but at least I know where to go to enjoy a perfect Baked Alaska in London: Plum + Spilt Milk in the Great Northern Hotel in the heart of King’s Cross.

#4 Fried Courgette at Tinello

image

Chef Federico Sali provided an Italian feast at his restaurant Tinello. All the food was delicious, particularly a rich Chicken Liver Parfait on Toast but his simple dish of julienned courgette, deep fried in a light, perfectly seasoned, gloriously crispy batter was so moreish, I was in danger of becoming addicted.

I started eating them non-stop like popcorn and just couldn’t stop! In the end, I had to ask for the bowl to be removed from my line of sight lest I fill up too much before a main course!

#5 A Halloumi Brand Sharing My Name
image

It’s not often I get to see my surname written anywhere beyond my own personal identification documents or mail, so discovering I share my name with a Cypriot Halloumi brand was such a pleasant surprise – and the cheese tastes great! 🙂

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Royal Quarter Café in London’s Victoria

1 Jul

The Upcoming magazine sent me in search of a regal feast last week but is the opening of the Royal Quarter Café a jewel in Victoria’s crown or a shiny fake? Read my review here.

Top 5 Things Of The Week (June 24th -30th)

30 Jun

I’ve decided to launch a regular rundown showcasing the Top 5 new things I have discovered or experienced each week. It always amazes me how many moments there are in my day where I find and enjoy something new. This week was full of some amazing discoveries, from food to workshops, and blogging about them gives me a chance to remind myself of all the wonderful little things in life that are there to help us through even the worst or most mundane days or weeks. Here are my highlights from the past seven days:

#1 Pork Pie By What The Dickens

image

The dapper trio that form ‘What The Dickens’ have managed to do the unthinkable; make me eat – and like – a pork pie. Read my separate blog post about my newfound love of pork pie for the full explanation of my bias against the traditional British grub and how a delicious, Christmas-spiced variety bought from these gentlemen has revolutionised my summer picnic menu.

#2 – Ethical Canapé Workshop with Ian Ballantyne at Made In Hackney

image

A full workshop review will follow soon but, suffice to say, learning to make canapés with ethically sourced local ingredients under the guidance of supperclub extraordinaire Ian Ballantyne was fun, educational, inspirational and a great way to meet new people.

#3 – Cupcakes by Rebel Bakery

image

I love anything which takes the normal and turns it on its head and the guys at ‘Rebel Bakery’ do this brilliantly with their range of sweet treats made with vegetables. A vanilla sponge has courgette in the mixture, while chocolate is made with carrot. Try both flavours in the stunning Rebel Burger cupcake; fun, delicious and different.

#4 – Ceramics Glazing With Doodle Designs

image

Who knew that painting quirky porcelain shapes could be so much fun? North London based ‘Doodle Designs’ offer classes for all the family and there’s nothing more satisfying than making your own ceramic ware – from brooches to ornaments – before getting to paint them in a range of pretty colours: I can’t wait to see what my pieces will look like after their final firing!

#5 Doughnuts By You Doughnut!

image

Why did no-one tell me about these guys before? Their freshly made, airy doughnuts with a delicious choice of toppings including nuts, sugar strands, marshmallows and chocolate or caramel sauce are sinfully good!

Link

RESTAURANT REVIEW: London’s Newest Champagne & Oyster Bar

8 Jun

http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2013/06/07/shaka-zulu-in-camden-restaurant-review/

REVIEW: London’s newest Champagne & Oyster Bar

Jules Verne would no doubt approve of my latest adventure… an epic journey to a strange and mysterious world in search of the ‘food of the gods’. Follow in my footsteps via the link above and prepare to be transported into a provocative and decadent land where luxury and excess are the norm.

REVIEW: Foodies Festival At Hampton Court

2 Jun

20130527_143215

Hungry Londoners and discerning foodies from across the South East will converge on Clapham Common this weekend (June 7th, 8th & 9th) for a mouth-watering extravaganza, showcasing the best in street food, artisan bakers, pop up restaurants and international specialities. Aptly called ‘Foodies Festival’, this culinary celebration is the king of open air feasts, featuring live entertainment, celebrity-hosted workshops, exclusive masterclasses and even a mobile spa!

I was lucky enough to win two tickets to attend the Hampton Court event during the final Bank Holiday weekend in May. It was the ultimate opportunity to spend a blissful Monday basking in the sun whilst eating good food, sipping on cocktails and humming happily to great music.

The first thing to captivate me was the incredible aroma – simmering sauces and Asian spices competed with the unmistakeable smell of grilled sausages and barbecued meats. I marvelled at the discovery of exotic, new fruits, revelled in new flavour combinations (which I mentally noted to try at home) and sampled international street food that transported my imagination – and tastebuds – to faraway lands. Clusters of friends lounged on the grass, drinking Raspberry Mojitos, Bloody Marys (from Blood Shot bar) and refreshing Ginger Beer (the newly launched Grouse Ginger), as live singers belted out Beyonce and Stevie Wonder classics. Stumbling toddlers licked greedily at melting Purbeck Ice Cream while amused parents tucked into slow-cooked, pulled pork sandwiches (from Jamie’s Italian), Thai noodles (from The Noodle Bar) and generously filled Empanadas (by Chango). Strangers began talking to one another at stall fronts, sharing mutual appreciation for tasty, free samples. It was a visual and sensory feast laced with an atmosphere of discovery, excitement and deep contentment.

The range of available food was genuinely spectacular – although I was slightly disappointed by the absence of any notable lamb dishes. Being of Greek origin, an abundance of marinated or spit-roasted lamb is as essential as water. That said, there were plenty of incredible alternatives, including hearty vegan and vegetarian options.

Steak lovers made a bee-line for the Gaucho BBQ stand where the magnificent sight of huge hunks of meat, cooking to a slow char over hot coals, awaited. Burger fans headed towards the award-winning Street Kitchen for a cheese-topped ‘Buffalo Bill’ or a Crispy Chicken variation with Caesar Sauce. Of course, no outdoor food feast would be complete without the humble hog and foodies queued patiently for Roast Hog’s signature roll; ciabatta filled with succulent pork, homemade apple sauce and crackling. The Bath Pig delighted visitors with their quirky tapas ‘lollipop’; a skewer of creamy mozzarella and spicy chorizo balls – fun AND flavoursome! Not forgetting the British tradition of serving bangers, The Great British Sausage Co. had an array of different varieties to satisfy every appetite – all succulent, juicy and perfectly spiced.

Sugar highs were available everywhere, with my favourites being Fudge Kitchen (I’m a long time fan!), The Hummingbird Bakery’s vanilla cupcake (red velvet is so overrated) and The Brownie Bar’s signature creation (the clue is in the name!).

20130527_142205

20130527_141917

Demonstrations, lectures and workshops were provided for anyone looking to hone their cooking skills or food knowledge – including a Drinks Theatre, Cake & Bake Theatre, Chocolate Theatre and a very endearing Children’s Cookery Theatre.

20130527_141828

After forcing my way through an underwhelming Jerk Chicken Wrap from one of the Caribbean stall holders (freezing cold, despite just coming off the coals), I had set my tongue on fire enough to justify the need for an oversized ice-cream cone. Topped with gigantic, creamy scoops of raspberry ripple and rich chocolate, it was pure gluttony – my freebie intake at the Festival had already been epic! I managed to sample no less than caramel rum; flavoured vodkas; single malt whiskey; ginger beer; white wine; red wine; soft and hard cheeses; breads; crackers; olives; infused oils; bruschetta; fudge; chocolate; flavoured popcorn; tea; condiments; tapenades; organic honey; jams; sauces; cakes; macarons; vegan loaves; sausages; ham (you must try Jorge’s Deli); and barbecued meats. From an international perspective, my tastebuds toured across most of the United Kingdom, much of The Americas, through to the West Indies, on to Spain, Greece, France and Italy, some stop-overs in Eastern Europe and final pit-stops in Africa and Asia. It took Phileas Fogg 80 days but I safely travelled the globe in a single day.

20130527_141537

Weary from my travels, and with a satisfyingly full belly, I surrendered myself to the heavenly scented Spa Bus, courtesy of Elemis, for a glorious back massage (£15 for 15 minutes).

20130527_143952

Relaxed and happy, I finally headed home – armed with a sack of food and a freshly pressed lemonade, from The Fresh Lemonade Company, to hydrate me during the long train journey home. So good was my experience, I’ll be returning to Foodies Festival for the Clapham Common leg, because I’d be a fool to miss repeating such an enjoyable experience!

Taking place in eight U.K. locations throughout the summer, Clapham is one of five remaining chances to experience the Festival before its conclusion at the end of August:

London Clapham Common (June 7, 8 & 9)
Bristol Harbourside (July 12, 13 & 14)
Edinburgh Inverleith Park (August 9, 10 & 11)
FEAST Battersea Park (August 16, 17 & 18)
Oxford South Parks (August 24, 25 & 26).

Tickets are available to purchase from the Foodies Festival website or, alternatively, can be bought on the day.