Courvoisier & Champagne Cocktail*

Courvoisier Champagne Cocktail

Is there anything more festive than a great cocktail? I certainly don’t think so, and one of my absolute favourites this year has been Courvoisier’s Champagne Cocktail. It’s incredibly easy to make, and it’s absolutely delicious!

Courvoisier Champagne Cocktail Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 part Courvoisier VSOP
  • 1 Demerara sugar cube
  • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Top up with Champagne

Method: 

Soak a sugar cube in bitters and drop into a Champagne flute. 
Cover with Courvoisier VSOP and slowly top with Champagne.

With the caramel notes of the Demerara sugar, liquid amber VSOP and gentle effervescence of Champagne, it provides the pure luxury element that Christmas calls for.

Courvoisier VSOP is the perfect base to fashion aromatic and celebratory serves – a heady mix of jasmine, almond and peach – gives any drink a touch of Christmas magic.

An elegant blend of cognacs which are up to 10 years old, Courvoisier VSOP uses two of the finest crus in the Cognac region. Expertly crafted using a minimum of 50% Grande Champagne grapes blended exclusively with Petite Champagne grapes, the marque is entitled to carry the prestigious ‘Fine Champagne’ designation.

Nugg Winter Glow Face Mask Set*

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Keeping skin healthy in winter temperatures can be seriously tough. Mine usually hovers somewhere between dehydrated and dull, so when I caught sight of Nugg’s Winter Glow Face Mask Set, I was seriously intrigued. Rather than buying your regular tube of mask, Nugg sell these little pods, which are filled with product, and are fresh every time you reach for them.

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Nugg’s Hydrating Face Mask was the first of the three types that I tried. Fortified with Camellia Seed oil & Spirulina Extract, the mask has a rich, almost gel-like texture which feels wonderfully nourishing to apply. I have to say, although the pods look rather compact, there is a seriously generous portion of product, and I had more than enough to slather my face, neck, décolletage, arms and even my hands! Even though Nugg recommend just tissuing the excess off, I left mine on overnight to let the goodness really sink in. I can’t even tell you how soft and smooth my skin felt in the morning. Seriously moisturised, and truly nourished – this is a seriously impressive mask!

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The Exfoliating Face Mask is pretty my my favourite type of mask. The formula contains Jojoba Beads with gently slough skin, as well as Cranberry Seed Oil to smooth. Again, it’s a generous little nugget of product, and one capsule will be more than adequate for a few uses.

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Last up is the Revitalizing Face Mask. Packed with Flaxseed & Peppermint Oil, this is a seriously peppy mask which has a wonderfully minty scent. Much like the Hydrating mask, this one has a rich gel consistency, although I don’t tend to leave it on for quite as long. For me, I find the mask works best if I apply it to clean skin, and let it get to work for 15-20 minutes. Then I just tissue off the excess and apply my makeup as normal. It really brightens and awakens skin, leaving it looking seriously clear and bright.

You can find Nugg masks here

Jura Superstition*

This is definitely the season for indulgence, and I’m a big believer in savouring the very best, so when I got the chance to give Jura’s Superstition a go, I absolutely jumped at the chance! Jura Whisky is distilled on the island of Jura, a spot George Orwell called ‘the most un-get-at-able place’ while he wrote  1984. It’s an island with more deer than people, and they really know their whisky!

Packaged in a special edition tin, Jura Whisky would make the most marvellous Christmas or Hostess present (something which I feel I’m buying a hundred of this year!).

There are four Jura Whiskies to choose from, and they really cater to personal tastes. Whether you prefer a warm, honeyed finish or a full-bodied toffee flavour, there is a choice for you. I opted for Prophesy, which is described as being heavily peated, with a sweet and spicy finish. I absolutely love the story behind it – it’s said that centuries ago, an old seer prophesied that the last Campbell to leave the island would be penniless. In 1938, this came to be. To mark the legend, the seer’s symbol is added to every bottle.

It’s an absolute joy to savour – it has a creaminess that’s really wonderful. When I’ve had friends round, it’s been an absolute joy to pour everyone a couple of fingers whilst we sit round the Christmas tree. I know it’s sacrilege, but it’s also delightful when added to a bit of eggnog to make it a little more ‘adult’!

Jura Superstition is priced at £56 and is available here.

 

 

Dinner at the Restoration Cafe at Restoration Yard*

Working in Edinburgh, it can sometimes feel like all the good spots are in the city. But, I do rather like getting out and about at weekends, so when I heard about the new Restoration Yard at Dalkeith House, I was keen to get out to see if for myself.

The new Restoration Yard is pretty much the perfect day out. If you have children, there is a whole playground that looks like something out of Hogwarts, with slides and the most incredible tree house, and if you’re up for a bit of fresh air, there are trails where you can bike or dog walk.

When we went, we were after something a little more warming, so after having a good nose through the Restoration Yard shops, we headed to the Restoration Cafe. It’s an absolutely glorious spot which has the most mouth-watering menu you can imagine.

As we got to grips deciding what to go for, we enjoyed a glass of prosecco (£4.50) and soaked up all the quirky little details of the restaurant. Each table is like a treasure chest – with tiny little relics from Dalkeith House all tucked inside. Out table had a Lady Dalkeith theme, with retro lipstick cases and old telegrams inside.

To start with, we went for pretty classic options. The Smoked salmon ballontine, cucumber & caper relish, (£8) was a wonderfully fresh start to the meal. Flavoursome morsels of salmon with crisp cucumber set the tastebuds going.

I went for the more substantial option of the Chicken liver parfait, Restoration Yard chutney, sourdough toast (£6.50). Honestly, this could have been a lunch in itself, and it was absolutely delightful!

The mix of rich, savoury chicken liver parfait was expertly balanced with the spiced Restoration Chutney. Filled with Festive spice, the chutney was filled with slabs of fruit and fig, and the parfait was wonderfully rich and smooth.

To enjoy all the parfait and relish – homemade toast. Still warm, it was a seriously comforting start to the meal.

Then it was time for the mains, and I think we ordered the two heartiest choices on the menu. First up with the Braised beef cheeks with creamy mashed potato & seasonal vegetables (£13), which just tasted like winter on a plate. A huge hunk of slowly braise beef cheek rested on a mound of creamy mashed potatoes and winter vegetables. It was so good, I’ve actually gone out and bought a slow cooker to try and replicate the whole thing myself at home!

I had opted for Veal Ragu with Papperdelle, and it was an absolute triumph of a dish. Shot through with sweet nuggets of winter vegetables and chestnut mushrooms, it was absolute perfection.

The veal itself had been slow-cooked, and was wonderfully sweet and flavoursome. Combined with the pappardelle, which was al-dente perfection, it was precisely the kind of dinner you want to enjoy on a cold evening. We were seated beside the windows, and it was so lovely to get to sit and enjoy such wonderful food as dusk descended around us.

After sitting savouring every mouthful of dinner, we couldn’t resist a few mouthfuls of pudding! When we saw Sticky Toffee Pudding, our minds were made up! We shared a huge slab of moist sponge, bathed in Toffee Sauce and crowned with a rich swirl of Vanilla Ice Cream.

It’s the kind of dessert made to be enjoyed on a lazy Sunday evening, and once again, it was an absolute delight of a dish. The sponge was wonderfully moist and shot through with fruit, whilst the sauce was richly sweet. We couldn’t manage the whole thing, but it wasn’t for the lack of trying!

We finished things off with a couple of coffees which were piping hot and absolutely wonderful!

By this point, we were among the last stragglers at Restoration Yard, and it was time to head out of Dalkeith.

The Restoration Cafe has to be one of the area’s best kept secrets, even though it’s only 20 minutes outside of Edinburgh! To say I’m a fan is a bit of an understatement – I’ve been back twice already!

 

 

 

Charbonnel et Walker Pink Champagne Baubles*

Can you believe that this time next week it will be Christmas? I certainly can’t! So, I thought that I would share one of my favourite little Festive treats – Charbonnel et Walker’s Pink Champagne Tree baubles. Subtle enough in decoration to hang on the tree all week long, you can crack them open to reveal a handful of truffles inside. I’ve mentioned before about how delicious these are, and I think it’s so fun to hide little treats on the tree and have people discover them when they’re round for drinks.

As you would expect from Charbonnel, the chocolates are absolutely delicious, and I think I’m going to be adding them to gifts too!

 

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