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festive afternoon tea for 2015 at the hyatt regency, birmingham.

Festive Afternoon Tea Hyatt Regency

One of my favourite things about Christmas has to be the launch of all the festive afternoon tea menus. Of course I never get round to trying them all (in my dreams) but it's so interesting to see what Christmas twist they'll put on the classic. Last year you might remember my review of the Hyatt Regency afternoon tea in Birmingham, where they served up spiced apple and calvados profiteroles, chocolate gingerbread and chestnut and orange slices alongside the usual suspects. This year I've been invited along again for a sneak peek at their Christmas afternoon tea for 2015...

Festive Afternoon Tea 2015 Hyatt Regency Birmingham

bistrot pierre in derby gets a revamp.

Bistrot Pierre in Derby serves up seasonal French cuisine from a variety of regions with fresh ideas and regular chef specials. Having recently had a refurb, I went along to see the new changes and updated menu. Of course like my last review of Bistrot Pierre, I took my granny along, since she's my French food expert. 

honey & amaretto eggnog.

Eggnog Recipe

An indulgent twist on the classic egg nog recipe featuring one of my favourite spirits, warming honey and crunchy amaretto biscuits. When Waitrose Cellar challenged me to create my own take on eggnog using their Christmas drinks guide,  I knew that I was going to switch out the rum for my beloved amaretto.

This rich Christmas drink is whipped with egg yolk, white and whole milk, before being topped with thick cream, biscuit scatterings, ground nutmeg, flaked almonds and a drizzle of honey for good measure. What's not to love? 

Christmas drinks

the lawns, thornton hall, the wirral.

The Lawns Restaurant

Awarded 3 AA Rosettes for fine dining, The Lawns restaurant can be found in the heart of the Wirral countryside, within Thornton Hall hotel and spa. The restaurant is headed up by new executive chef Matthew Worswick, who represented the North West in this year's Great British Menu. With menus for lunch, dinner, afternoon tea and even a special taster of the Great British Menu dishes, I went along as part of my stay at Thornton Hall to experience their evening offerings. 

The Lawns Restaurant Menu
The Lawns Restaurant Cheese

mini chocolate pecan pies.

A bitesize treat for the Thanksgiving season - teeny, tiny chocolate pecan pies. These mini morsels are made up of dark chocolate pastry, a sweet sticky filling, whipped cream and topped with a caramelised pecan and dark chocolate shavings.

With match.com hosting their Short & Sweet Thanksgiving Speed Dating Event this Thursday 26th, I was tasked with creating a tiny dessert for their American themed menu. Budding love birds will be able to enjoy speed dating over dessert with the likes of New York Cheesecake, Pumpkin Pie along with my sweet recipe too! If you aren't heading the even but fancy a try anyway, here's the pecan pie recipe for you to feast your eyes on...

monkfish and king prawn thermidor with barber's 1883 vintage reserve.

Monkfish and King Prawn Thermidor Recipe

As a huge seafood lover, for me there's nothing better than an indulgent fish dish. Certainly seafood can be healthy, but if I see a luxuriously creamy thermidor on the menu then I'll bound to choose it. Tasked to create a recipe featuring Barber's 1883 Vintage Reserve Cheddar as the star, I immediately thought of an oozing, cheesy thermidor with a hint of parsley and kick of mustard. In this case, I've mixed it up and created a more accessible king prawn and monkfish thermidor recipe which is served with hand cut chips and roasted tomatoes. See, you'll even be getting your five a day...

Barber's Vintage Cheddar Recipes

host for hope at the woodspeen cookery school.

This November, Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, Pancreatic Cancer UK are encouraging supporters to put on their aprons and take part in Host for Hope. The campaign focuses around putting on a foodie fundraising event in aid of the charity to support those affected by pancreatic cancer and raise awareness of the devastating disease. 

To help us on our way to dinner party success, Michelin star chef John Campbell of The Woodspeen offered us a place at his cookery school for the Chef in the Cupboard course. As a supporter of the charity himself, this was a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness (and hopefully donations too) for a great cause. 

spiced cherry mulled wine.

Christmas Drinks Recipe

The Christmas adverts are on the TV, the novelty jumpers are in the shops and most importantly the festive menus are in the restaurants. Now that my birthday is over and done with, I'm alright with embracing the Christmas spirit with open arms. With the theme of all things merry and bright, I've put together this cherry mulled wine recipe with my lovely new festive glasses from Next. With the temperature dropping by the day, I can't wait to make another batch to enjoy around the Christmas tree whilst I'm waiting for Santa. 

Mulled Wine Recipes
Christmas Recipes

norse, harrogate.

Norse Restaurant
Norse Harrogate
For inspiring cuisine, beautifully thoughtful food and something a little different, Scandinavian restaurant Norse is a must visit. Tasked with taking a food blogger out for a birthday meal, my better half wanted to find somewhere a little unusual that neither of us had tried before. As we were in the lovely Yorkshire town of Harrogate for the weekend, Norse, based in Baltzersen’s cafe on Oxford Street was the one to challenge our tastebuds for the evening. 

Norse Harrogate Tasting Menu Review
Norse Harrogate Menu

5 things to look forward to at the bbc good food show winter 2015 + a ticket giveaway!

It's that time of year again... the BBC Good Food Show Winter is upon us! Full of festive treats, jam packed with kitchen gadgets and brimming with baking goodies, foodies, chefs and food bloggers alike gather to explore the latest offerings from the food community. Here are five things to look for this Winter 2015. Plus a little ticket giveaway and discount code for my readers...

create your own customised beer at home with brewbarrel.

Brewbarrel Beer Review

Brew your own personalised beer with Brewbarrel. From the style of beer, hops and added flavours, design your very own beer and then make it from a bespoke brewing kit in your own home. The lovely lot at Brewbarrel offered to send me my choice of their homebrew beer. Ready for the festive season, I thought it apt to try out their Christmas beer made with orange, cinnamon, cloves and juniper berries. Perfect for a Christmas gift idea or maybe a merry treat for yourself!

one sixty, city, london.

One Sixty London Menu

One Sixty is the new American style smokehouse venture from restaurateur David Moore and Sean Martin. Found nearby Aldgate tube station, you'll find the quirky eatery on the corner of Stoney Lane. With edgy branding and a youthful feel, the interior is a mix of black chalkboard and monochrome prints with bright yellow accents. You'll find this continue along the bar, lit up with yellow neon lights, and through the yellow tiles and Belfast sinks in the bathrooms. A graffiti artist has made their mark with bold illustrations which run onto the menus and utterly cool marketing.

One Sixty London Cocktail Menu
One Sixty Smokehouse London Menu

slow cooked duck ragu.

Duck Ragu Recipe

This recipe is straight up inspired The Sopranos. If you've seen the Italian American TV series, you'll know that duck ragu is the speciality of Artie Bucco, chef and owner of Versuvio. More of a mafia meeting place than a restaurant, Artie still tries his best to serve up Italian specials, taking his famous duck ragu recipe to the boss's mum Olivia when she's resting up in hospital. 

More and more often I'd find myself craving pasta upon watching The Sopranos. Stirring up pots of gravy whilst discussing business deals, eating lobster over crucial meetings and ordering droolworthy sandwiches to the Tony Soprano's office. Not to mention Carmela's famous aubergine parmegiana. I knew I instantly had to recreate this duck ragu recipe immediately, and so I did. 

Duck Ragu Spaghetti

a bloody mary brunch with ketel vodka.

Ketel Vodka Bloody Mary Brunch

Is there a finer meal of the day than brunch? Kicking back on a Sunday morning, the scent of rich coffee circulating through the kitchen and a couple of eggs frying in a hot pan. You've got your favourite record on and the comfy armchair is waiting for you to snuggle back and delve into your gooey eggs with an extra twist of black pepper and sea salt. But not before you Instagram it of course.

Ketel Vodka
Salmon Potato Rosti Recipe

This weekend, I created a rather spectacular brunch if I may say so myself. Inspired by the Ketel One bloody mary and brunch recipes from around the world, I created a mouthwatering stack of spring onion and dill potato rosti with oak smoked salmon, topped with a fried egg with a runny yolk. I served it up with an Australian inspired Bloody Mary recipe, which has an extra dash of balsamic, squeeze of lemon and is topped up with pale ale. 

my 500th blog post.

My 500th blog post. Wow, that's a lot isn't it. A lot of words. Even more so, a lot of food. Countless cups of afternoon tea, sushi rolls, spaghetti twirls and avocado on toast later... and I'm not really sure what to say. When I started my food blog back in January 2011, I hadn't a clue what fun foodie adventures it'd take me on. So I thought I'd put together a few of my fave parts, for old times sake.