Renna's Discoveries: April 2015

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Adam Handling at Caxton Grill - St Ermin's Hotel

Excited is an understatement when my friend and I agreed to go to Adam Handling's Restaurant Caxton Grill in the amazing St Ermin's Hotel.
From watching Adam Handling on MasterChef UK, I was a fan. I knew from the start that he has skill and talent. He was incredibly focused throughout and delivered amazing food.
When he got to the finals, I was not surprised at all. My most memorable episode is when he couldn't get 'messy presentation' right. Adam really struggled with actually just messing up a plate and putting the food in an unorganised fashion. I agreed, if you are used to making food look like you care, then just throwing it on a plate is not going to work for you. If I owned a restaurant, I'd like each plate to go out like a piece of art. Food to me is art, and should be presented as such. I love the word Wow, and if you say that when a plate is put in front of you in a restaurant, you're onto a winner.

I went with three close friends to celebrate birthdays (Mine included).  Myself and Miss M arrived early, so we could have a look around and have a cocktail in the bar whilst catching up.

When we arrived in our taxi - (we only ever use Gett Cabs - as they are the safest way to travel in London) we were welcomed by a member of staff, who was incredibly friendly and we felt very welcomed. He opened the doors for us to enter the magnificent reception. I felt as if I had already been to St Ermin's Hotel, in my dreams ..... It was almost as if someone had picked out all the quaint and elaborate styles from my head and put them into this stunning reception area.

I'm gutted I didn't have my new phone, as the pictures do not do the area any justice. I now know why I kept reading the description of the hotel as a 'Fairy Tale'. Gorgeous isn't it? Another member of staff welcomed us and asked if he could be of any assistance. We explained that we had a reservation in the restaurant, however we had arrived early. He showed us the direction of the ladies restroom and suggested that we enjoy a cocktail in the bar. Perfect!
The Caxton Bar is a very relaxed calm environment, with the perfect ambiance. The staff members were attentive and fun guys to be around. All of them made us feel so at home, I just kept dreaming that I lived upstairs. There are plenty of comfortable seating areas for private chats and then of course, there's the bar. Which is where we sat. I like to observe and the best place is where the staff is at.
Cocktails !

After catching up and enjoying the staffs company, our friends had arrived and were waiting in the restaurant for us.
We had booked a three course set menu with a glass of Prosecco through Bookatable for £35 each.
The restaurant was quiet as we had a 6.00pm booking on a Sunday. We book these times, as you get immaculate service. Little did we know, that Adam actually leaves to go home at 6.30pm on a Sunday, so if you wish to meet the Man, get there early! I didn't even expect him to in-house on a Sunday, he is clearly a workaholic! I loved the feel of the restaurant, again, very calm and elegant.
After reading through the menu, it was an easy choice for me - although, I would have tasted the lot if I could. I decided on the Salmon to start, the Sea Bream for my main and the Yuzu for my dessert.
I generally choose fish when I'm out, as its not something I cook with confidence when at home. Plus salmon is probably my favourite fish.

Warm bread to start - I loved the way this is presented, you instantly know you are somewhere special. Who displays butter on a rock? Plus, it was Chicken Butter! I've never heard of this before and was excited to experience - I know I know, yes, I get excited over Butter, but when you taste it, you'll know why it is a genius idea. It is a chicken lovers heaven! This was also served with a duck liver parfait. Myself and Miss E were literally fighting over the last bit, it was smooth and silky and just divine.
The warm bread was delicious and clearly had just come out of the oven, as fresh baked bread, has got to be one of the best smells in the world. Both spreads were delicious, and I would happily have this every day.
The Salmon was excellent. It was a soft, melt in the mouth dish. Wow Wow Wow! The salmon was served with brown shrimp and artichoke puree.

This is my Sea Bream before when its hidden under crispy spring onions, and after. Soft succulent fish, full of flavour, finished off with crispy skin. This is one of those Perfect dishes, that will be remembered forever.

This is the Slow Cooked Beef, with Celeriac and pickled baby gem. My friend said that it was incredible.
Desserts were an absolute treat.
This is a Chocolate Truffle served with blackberries and dried iced cassis.
This was my finale, The Yuzu dessert with meringue, crumble and milk ice cream. I chose this over the chocolate truffle, as I've never heard or tasted Yuzu before, and when I go out I like to try foods that I wouldn't normal eat. After reading through Adams Book, Yuzu is actually a citrus fruit from Japan with a very lemony taste. So this infact was just like the best deconstructed Lemon Meringue Ever!
Each one of us enjoyed every dish, which for us, is probably a miracle. We all agreed that, although we were full, we would still have eaten it all over again. It was one of the best meals I have ever had.

Ours friends departed and myself and Miss M decided to go back to the Cocktail bar!
Adams book is scattered around the public areas, and I was extremely tempted to buy one, but after realising they weren't signed, I decided it would give me a good excuse to go to yet another Foodie Festival to meet the man himself. My friend smiled at me whilst mentioning this, as she knows that I had the chance before, but, went in to shy mode and decided against it.

She is a very sneaky friend, and one of the best a girl could ask for!

This is why!
She had actually ordered this book whilst we were there!

St Ermin's Hotel is an absolute must visit. I will be returning one day, and if I win the lottery, Ill be moving in over the Summer Holidays!

So here's my Big Thank You to all the Chefs at Caxton Grill you all clearly have a huge amount of talent and skill. It was an absolute delight eating your dishes.

*UPDATE Adam now has his own restaurant chain

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Quintessential - I Love Eve! Bags,

I wrote a blog post about a Scarf that I received from Quintessential a while ago See here and as I like to stay with the times, I look through my favourite companies websites. However, every time I go onto their website I fall in love with another new collection.
I love that they have a range for everyone, whether it be pastels, bright colours, funky designs, or just plain colours. I have quite a few favourites, but the Eve Collection keeps pulling me back. I can't explain why, I just love it. It has the quintessential British look about it. It's a beautiful design and great colours! Spring is here and Summer is on its way. I would absolutely love to be out seen with the Eve Collection. Their bags are great for everyday use to shopping use and a day at the beach use.

Perfect for a bloggers weekend away too! I would most definitely have to have the weekend bag to pack my clothes, then I'd use the wash bag for all my toiletries and make-up. So then when I'm out and about, I'd have the Tote Bag along with the I Pad case and matching purse ! What else do I need? (Oh yes.....a local stockist!)
Have a look and then you'll understand why I'm telling you about it

 The Eve Collection also comes in Red - Gorgeous isn't it! Which colour to choose .... Red or Blue?
I'm considering mixing and matching the colours, as, I really can't decide.

The Quintessential sell their goods to Stockists to go in their shops. I really need somewhere close by to Stock these beauties. They have so many lovely designs to choose from and clearly the owners have great taste !


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Liberation Fairtrade Nuts

Liberation - Nuts About Fair Trade

Liberation Foods are based in London and are joining The Fair Trade liberation.
It's amazing that all of our food products are not Fair Trade. The farmers and the people that harvest the foods that we eat should all be rewarded correctly and treated like our heroes. Without them, a lot of foods wouldn't be enjoyed all around the world.
How is it fair that the big bosses of companies earn millions and the producers earn pittance. It's disgusting.
So these nuts are completely Fair Trade and delicious !
The nuts are shipped from Africa, India and Latin America.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Natvia Natural Sweetner

Sugar Sugar Sugar ! We are all desperately trying to avoid eating or drinking too much sugar. We have been advised to use sweeteners, but for years sweeteners taste is just so bitter, it's not sweet at all, and the artificial taste has been incredibly obvious.
When I did the Dukan Diet a few years ago, everything on the diet consisted of meat, fat free yoghurt and sweeteners. So I managed to try quite a few to try and find the right one. I couldn't.
Then we were told the dangers of aspartame ..... Which was/in in a lot of sugar free foods and drinks.
So, now what? Then coconut has taken over from refined sugars, which is brilliant news, but, I couldn't put it in my tea as the taste took over the tea flavour, and I still can't get to the grips of using it in cakes.
I do look at labels and a lot of products I bought as a youth, I no longer buy or drink. Fizzy drinks from a can is like a luxury to me, as I generally use sparkling water instead with certain cordials or juices.
However, as much as you try, Sugar is everywhere.
Luckily, I may....just may have found my Tea Sugar option at last. I've yet to try it in cakes, but so far so good ..... Got to start somewhere!
Natvia came in my Degustabox delivery. It's Zero calories and No nasty chemicals. Going on taste alone, it's actually not bad. Obviously, nothing will ever be the exact same taste of sugar, but, this at least made my tea palatable. There was no dirty after taste and very pleasant.
I will definitely be buying this again, and I recommend you do too.

This is one sachet.
Natvia ! Don't forget the name ! Read all about them on their website

Thursday, April 23, 2015

BBQUE Stir Fried Rice Recipe

I like quick easy meals for the kids to eat. They also have to be healthy and flavoursome. Obviously cooking for kids, I don't add extra salt, so this means I can add sauces and I can keep the salt consumptions to a low.
In one of my Degustabox deliveries, I had a bottle of BBQUE. I like the black bottle as it made it quite mysterious. This is actually a BBQ sauce that can be used as a marinade as well as a condiment. It has a gorgeous smoky flavour, and I could pour it over anything, or just use as a dipping sauce. It is delicious !
I thought I'd try an experiment and combine it with a household favourite. Stir fried Rice!
I marinated 4 pork loin steaks which I cut into slices in the BBQUE sauce and left it in the fridge for a few hours.
During the school pick up, I steamed rice in the microwave. (It's how my mum always used to cook rice, as it's easy and quick). When I returned, I stirred up the rice and left it.
I scrambled five eggs and removed them from the pan, where I then added the pork strips and fried them off in just a tablespoon of oil.
Once cooked, I added sweet corn, peas, string beans along with the egg and cooked them through.
Then I added the rice and mixed the whole lot together. I also added more BBQUE sauce as I didn't realise how large my dish was going to get per usual, I got a bit carried away.

Dish Done And Dinner was served ! Empty plates all round (albeit rice always seems to fall in the floor). Extra bonus is, as I made so much, Daddy had dinner when he got home and he also had a box for lunch, and so did I.

We have also marinated chicken strips to have with rice too. The kids loved this and we all had to have more sauce out on our plates as it's just so delicious.
I would definitely buy this sauce and I'd love to try its other flavours. They have Grill & Beechwood, Honey & Mustard and finally Chilli & Horseradish.
BBQ season is coming up, so these would be great to compliment any meat or vegetarian dish.

Order you Degustabox for a selection of new foods for you try. 

Colchester Family Adventures

We recently visited Colchester after staying in a Caravan in Clacton on Sea with Park Resorts.

Upon visiting Colchester, the two main attractions that are a must visit are the Zoo and the Castle. You will need a whole day for the Zoo, so take a picnic and enjoy. Tickets on the door are £20.99 per adult and £14.49 per child. You can buy E-Tickets online the day before for a 5% discount.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Maynards Sour Patch Kids Sweets

Maynards have come up with a new face churning sweet. I always find it hilarious watching people eat Sour sweets. It's a brilliant past time. It's the cheeks, and how they're sucked in and the forehead lines go so high they are almost lost into your hairline. These are no exception ! Especially the lime ones ! Whoah.......

These are fun sweets to eat. Obviously, these are not an everyday treat, as it's all sugar and a load of other ingredients that are definitely not for every day eating. Yet again, they also have Bovine Gelatine. Oh please can these companies make sweets suitable for vegetarians?

On the good side, there is also natural colourings and flavours , no E numbers ! Bonus.

These can bought in any shop down the sweets aisle.

Bassetts Jelly Babies - Berry Mix

Finally Bassetts have listened, and they now produce just Berries in one bag. My favourite has always been the Blackcurrant and Strawberry jelly babies, so this is a huge bonus for me.
I don't eat many jelly babies anymore , as we are trying to keep the sweet amount to a limit in my house, so the kids are healthy. However, a small amount is always fine.
This is a 190g bag, so it's perfect for sharing among friends. There were 28 babies in my bag, so I'll be taking them up the park to share with all the kids. The flavours include Blackcurrant, Strawberry and Raspberry.
Of course the main ingredient is sugar, so small amounts only.
My only major concern is they contain Bovine Gelatine. I'm hoping that Bassetts will soon come up with an alternative to make these a Vegetarian Sweet. It always bothers me that a sweet is not vegetarian. The good side is that they do contain Actual Real Fruit Juice! Ok, it's concentrated, but, it's still got some fruit in there somewhere.
Jelly Babies can be bought in most shops, down the sweet aisle.

Lindor Chocolate Eggs

Ok, so Easter has passed, but Chocolate Eggs can be eaten all year round. Why? Because they are absolutely delicious!
Lindor Chocolate is actually my favourite. It's smooth and silky and tastes the best. I always get Lindor Milk Chocolate Balls for Christmas or my birthday. The red ones are my favourite - Milk Chocolate. Although, I will happily eat any flavour.
I like to have small bits of chocolates as opposed to chocolate bars, as the bars get eaten so quickly it's ridiculous. Any chocolate that is sold in individual packs or buttons are the best in my household.
If you are a chocolate lover, then Lindor is for you. Bars, balls and eggs! They have several flavours and also do limited editions every now and then, like cookies and cream.
You can buy Lindor is most shops and is always thoroughly enjoyed by Everyone!

Ombar Chocolates Buttons

Chocolate is one thing I will never be able to give up. So trying new types of 'healthy' chocolates is always a bonus.
Ombar Buttons are Dairy Free and made with Coconut sugar. Coconut sugar is everywhere at the moment. People are trying to cut out sugar and coconut sugar or alternative is a great substitute. Obviously, it does taste different, some people say they can't tell the difference, but I'm not sure on that.

Ombar chocolate is Dairy free, so, it tastes just like extremely dark chocolate. Which I actually don't mind. Ok so, yes I do prefer milk chocolate, but dark is good for limiting your chocolate consumption. Because these are big buttons, you may put a small amount in your mouth at a time, so it's not to overwhelming.

Monday, April 13, 2015

I have a new camera

Finally,  I have a new camera,  so let the blogging commence!
We're going away for a few days, so I'll be sure to blog on my way.
How is everyone?