Did you know we’re currently in the middle of English Wine Week? Me niether! But, it’s a rather important one, as English winemaking has come leaps and bounds in the past couple of decades. Previously a bit of a joke in the wine-world, English vineyards are now challenging their French counterparts, and Surrey’s Greyfriars are my first dabbling into the idea of English wines. They’ve also come up with some rather fun pairing options for their wines:

1) Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea doesn’t get much more luxurious than when served with a glass of chilled English sparkling wine. Full afternoon tea includes a selection of freshly cut sandwiches, delicious homemade cakes and warm scones served with clotted-cream and fruity preserves.

Alongside the tea, and for a little more indulgence, enjoy a fine glass of Greyfriars Rosé Reserve.

This award-winning sparkling rosé has a delicate pale colour reminiscent of a rosé from Provence. Hints of vanilla and Summer fruits on the nose with the fresh fruity flavour of berries pair beautiful with sweet treats and scones topped with lashings of cream and jam. £21 per bottle.

2) English Cheese 

Floyd is a new soft hearted and distinctively fragrant cheese from the Surrey Hills. Made by Francis and Pam Gimblett not far from Greyfriars Vineyard in Haslemere, Floyd is a soft, washed-rind, cheese produced using milk from a small Jersey herd close to the dairy.

Greyfriars NV Sparkling Fumé pairs perfectly and brings out Floyd’s flavours. This light crisp wine has distinctive Sauvignon Blanc aromas of gooseberry and citrus. £15 per bottle.

3) Fish and Chips

Fish and Chips is an iconic British dish and sparkling wine is the perfect pairing with deep fried food. Greyfriars Classic Cuvée works well with the richness of the dish and the bubbles break down the starch giving a lighter crispier taste to the fish and chips. The Classic Cuvée for the classic British meal. £21 per bottle.

4) Chicken Tikka Masala

Greyfriars Pinot Gris really hits the spot with spicy food, especially Indian, like the British favourite Chicken Tikka Masala.

This aromatic English still white wine with refreshing acidity pairs perfectly with spicy dishes. The acid in the wine tones down the heat and leaves room for the fruitiness to express itself. £13.50 per bottle.

 5) Rhubarb and Custard

Rhubarb and Custard is a quintessentially British dessert and works perfectly with Greyfriars signature Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine. This light fresh crisp wine has subtle hints of vanilla that match perfectly with the creamy custard.

As well as serving a chilled glass of the sparking wine on the side why not poach the rhubarb in the wine too to create a decadent adult twist on this much loved dessert? £21 per bottle.

During English Wine Week, pick up a bottle or two of Surrey’s finest wines and prepare to wow your palate.

ABOUT GREYFRIARS VINEYARD

Greyfriars is a range of sparkling and still boutique English wines of world class quality, made by Mike and Hilary Wagstaff and their family on the North Downs in Surrey.

The vineyards span 50 acres over three sites with 75,000 vines. The facilities include a state-of-the-art winery, chalk underground cellar, shop and tasting facilities.

The wines have won much acclaim and several major awards and medals at international wine competitions.

The Greyfriars collection comprises a vintage sparkling Rosé, Blanc de Blancs (oaked and unoaked), Classic Cuvée; non vintage Cuvée, Rosé and Fumé. The still wines include a vintage Gris and Fumé.

Grayfriars Wine can be found here.

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When it comes to must-haves, coffee is pretty high up there. I’m not going to lie, I have at least a cup of the stuff each morning, and quite a few cups to keep me going through the day. I can be a little picky about which coffees I drink though, and getting a cafetiere together can be a bit of a faff.

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So, when Lyons sent through a box of their new Coffee Bags, I was more than a little intrigued. Packaged individually, and looking rather like an overgrown tea bag, using the Coffee Bags couldn’t be easier.

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After boiling the kettle, I just pop one of the Coffee Bags into a cup, pour the boiling water over them, give them a quick stir, then pop the bag into the bin. It’s as easy as making a cup of tea, and it provides a much-needed, great tasting jolt of caffiene whenever I need it!

Lyons Coffee Bags come in 3 different roasts, and are priced at £2.60 per box, and I’ve bought mine at Waitrose.

 

 

The Voyage of Buck opened recently in Edinburgh’s West End, and it’s been making some serious waves. The barman has won a clutch of awards, and it might just be Edinburgh’s most inventive establishment to date. Based on the travels of the fictional William ‘Buck’ Clarence, the restaurant melds together a fun sense of whimsy, with some serious attention paid to drinks.

We popped in on a Friday night to start the weekend off on a high, and we were not disappointed. It was around 6pm by the time we got in, and the place was packed. It had such a lovely, buzzy atmosphere with a real mix of patrons. Whilst crowds jostled merrily at the bar, the tables were clustered with families, couples and friends all toasting the weekend.

Before we even got to grips with the food side of the night, we had to make the difficult choice of which cocktails to order. The drinks menu at The Voyage of Buck is more like a book – following Buck’s travels throughout Paris, Taipei, Havana and Cairo. We opted to visit Paris in the form of a Cumber and Mint 75 (£8) and Havana with An Old Cuban Pineapple (£8).

The presentation of the drinks was spot on. The Old Cuban Pineapple are with a slice of the dried fruit clipped in to glass, and it was an icy, fruity delight. The mix of mint, guava and pineapple felt so summery, and if you’re looking for a spot to enjoy a summer evening – you should definitely order one of these beauties!

Our second cocktail choice was a rather Parisian take on a good old g’n’t. The mix of Hendrick’s Gin and cucumber is a classic, and served icy cold with a splash of prosecco was an absolute delight.

The food menu at The Voyage of Buck changes monthly to really make the most of seasonal product. They separate the dishes into small and large plates. Since we were just in for a nibble, we stuck to the small options. Out first choice was scallops served with salad which was a light and zesty dish.

I opted for a plate of King Prawns which came on a bed of sweet butternut squash, and is was delicious. The shrimp were large, juicy and super flavourful, whilst the butternut squash was incredibly moreish. So, after enjoying a buzzy couple of hours at The Voyage of Buck, it was time to head back into the real world of Edinburgh, although with a drinks list like that – I’m sure it won’t be long until we’re back!

We had a fabulous time – thanks so much to The Voyage of Buck for having us

When it comes to dining out in Edinburgh, few restaurants have a reputation which could challenge Ondine. It’s one of those places you’ll be recommended to visit if you’re celebrating a birthday, or are after a rather special evening out. So, when an invitation popped appeared in my inbox, inviting me to check out their new Spring lunch menu, I RSVP’d sharpish.

The restaurant is perched on the first floor on the George IV Bridge, it’s a haven of tranquility within the buzzy, slightly touristy Old Town. With a stylish, geometric interior, and a fresh seafood bar which has to be seen to be believed, this is a restaurant which would be as at home in the centre of London or New York as it is in Edinburgh.

It was a lovely mix of Edinburgh bloggers and journalists, and as we perused the menu, we were treated to a selection of gougeres, and for the gluten-free amongst us, there was smoked salmon, capers and aoli. The cheese puffs were an absolute delight – airy, buttery with a distinct cheesy tang, they were dangerously more-ish!

Then, once the introductions were well underway, we were presented with a platter of oysters each. With the choice of fresh and breaded, I went for the raw one first. Bought in fresh from the shores of Morecambe, they were a plump blast of seaside-freshness. I know people can be a bit funny when it comes to raw seafood, but it slid down easily.

The breaded option was an absolute revelation. The cooking turned the oyster into a rich, buttery morsel which paired well with the accompanying mayonnaise.

When it comes to dining, I’m a big believer in keeping things as simple as possible. It allows the quality and the flavours of your ingredients to shine through, and our starter couldn’t have been simpler – a single Skye Langoustine served with wild garlic mayonnaise.

The langoustine was an absolute joy. Sweet and mild in flavour, it was an absolute joy of a dish. The vivid accompaniment was a wild garlic mayonnaise which was at once sweet and garlicky. It was the perfect summer starter – light enough to enjoy without worrying about the next courses, but absolutely incredible in flavour. Throughout the lunch, we were also treated to a specially selected wine flight, and Muscadet de Sevre which was first up was an absolute revelation. As not much a wine drinker, this one, from the Loire Valley was light and citrusy. I loved it so much, I’ve already bought a couple of bottles for the fridge.

I had heard a lot about the Wye Valley Asparagus, which was the star of the show when served alongside crispy quails egg and hollandaise. The asparagus had been slightly charred, which cut through the richness of the quails egg and hollandaise. It was such a light, fresh course to enjoy, and again, the apparent simplicity really let the balance and quality of the ingredients shine through.

The main course was next, and it was an absolute gem; Roast North Sea Cod, served with Crispy Asparagus and Romanesco. Honestly, I’m not usually a cod-orderer when it comes to restaurants, but this was absolutely divine. The fish itself was unsurprisingly the star of the show – cooked to pearlescent and flaky perfection, it was tender and delicately flavoured, crowned with swathe of crisp skin.

The vivid pool of Romanesco provided a flavourful foil to the delicate fish – rich, and punchy with a subtle heat, it was incredible. What really finished the meal of though, was the crispy asparagus. Blanketed in the lightest of batter, they gave the dish a bit of bite.

The meal was rounded off with the most divine Lemon Meringue Mille Feuille, which I can been dreaming about, pretty much ever since. Crisp layers of flaky pastry sandwiched a rich lemon cream, and this was topped with a blizzard of soft meringue.

The mix of cream and pastry was absolutely divine, and it was such an indulgent way to end an absolutely incredible lunch. The dessert had been paired with a Monbazillac Jour de Fruit, a slightly syrupy, lemony wine which was incredibly ‘sip-able’.

The meal was finally concluded with a double espresso and some delicious little morsels. We also had the chance to meet the chef proprietor Roy Brett, which was really lovely, and the enthusiasm he has for the best ingredients was just unreal!

Thank you to Ondine for the fabulous lunch!

 

 

 

 

Happy Friday! A couple of weeks back, we were kindly invited to the stunning Blysthwood Square Hotel in Glasgow.  It’s a beautiful spot located on a scenic square in the centre of town. I’d only ever popped in for a few press events previously, but I’d heard marvellous things. So, on a rather rainy afternoon, we popped in for a little luxury in the form of the Guilty Pleasures package.

Available from Sunday to Friday, from 12pm until 10pm, it’s the perfect treat if you’re looking for a little naughty indulgence. Served upstairs in the swish Salon, we had driven through from Edinburgh, so were very much in the mood for a little refreshment! As we were seated, it was impossible not to take notice of our surroundings. The architecture of the hotel is something that’s really celebrated – previously the RAC Headquarters, the building is littered with classical columns, pilasters and all range of original features. It gives the Blysthwood a real sense of being somewhere special, and the contrast with the modern decor is really beautiful.

Within a few minutes, our waiter had popped the cork on a bottle of chilled Baron de Villeboerg champagne, and we were able to sit and enjoy a view of the rainy Blythswood Square outside and really have a good catch up. Our fellow diners were a mix of pre-night-outers, a birthday party for a much loved grandmother (the restaurant broke out into a rousing rendition of happy birthday at one point) as well as tourists and business men. This meant the Salon had a great buzz, which continued to grow throughout the evening.

The staff at the Blysthwood Square Hotel couldn’t have been nicer. We were talked through the menu, and throughout the evening, our glasses were never left empty. The champagne was an absolute delight – crisp and dry, it was very drinkable. It also paired well with our rather indulgent treats, as it cut through the richness perfectly.

We were soon presented with the most mouthwatering tray of goodies. A selection of seriously luxe nibbles – we were absolutely in heaven! Since it’s a sharing platter, you’re spoiled for choice – and I just loved the dinky frying baskets that the fritters and sausages were served in.

The first morsels we dug into were the Panko-crusted confit pork fritters. These were a mix of crispy and porky, and were absolutely delicious. We dunked them in the mustardy mayonnaise and wondered aloud how we could recreate them at home.

Next up was the bacon-wrapped sausages which came smothered in sticky sesame glaze. These moreish bites were a step up from your usual banger, and were the perfect mix of savoury and slightly-sweet.

Last, but certainly not least, were the largest chips I’ve had in a long time. Piping hot, and perfectly crisp, we savoured these with the fabulous truffled mayonnaise. Anyone who knows me will tell you how much I love a good truffle, and these were really great. The whole tray of goodies was the perfect late afternoon treat, and saw us well into the evening, as we sat and enjoyed our bubbles.

The Blythswood Square Hotel’s Guilty Pleasures package is £40 for two people. You can read more about it here.