Friday, 28 August 2015

Wedding Day - Our First Dance

Choosing your first dance is so so difficult! You get one shot to impress all your friends and family with your song choice and moves! After months of deliberation we finally chose:



When you're close to tears remember 
Some day it'll all be over 
One day we're gonna get so high 
And though it's darker than December 
What's ahead is a different colour 
One day we're gonna get so high 

And at
The end of the day 
remember the days 
When we were close to the edge 
And we'll wonder how we made it through the night
The end of the day 
remember the way 
We stayed so close till the end
We'll remember it was me and you 

'Cause we are gonna be forever you and me 
You will always keep me flying high in the sky of love 

Don't you think it's time you started 
Doing what we always wanted 
One day we're gonna get so high 
'Cause even the impossible 
is easy when we got each other 
One day 'we're gonna get so high 

And at
The end of the day 
remember the days 
when we were close to the edge 
And we'll wonder how we made it through the night
The end of the day 
remember the way 
We stayed so close to till the end
We'll remember it was me and you.

'Cause we are gonna be forever you and me 
You will always keep me flying high in the sky of love [x2]

High, high, high, high. [x2]

And at
The end of the day 
remember the days 
when we were close to the edge 
And we'll wonder how we made it through the night
The end of the day 
remember the way 
We stayed so close to till the end
We'll remember it was me and you.

'Cause we are gonna be forever you and me 
You will always keep me flying high in the sky of love [x3]

I wish you all luck and happy listening choosing your own special music.

The Crazy Bear, Fitzrovia

So last night six of us visited The Crazy Bear near Goodge Street tube station for dinner. Our reservation was at 7:30pm and we were given the table for two hours. On arrival our coats and bags were taken to the cloak room to give us more space around the quite private table. We went using a Groupon deal, which was £62.50 per couple for the premium tasting menu, which is around half the usual price.

The whole table had the same and the menu would only be altered if you were vegetarian.


Shrimp Crackers with a sweet chili dipping sauce (a generous basket between two)

Steamed Edamame with Japanese chili powder and rock salt (a generous basket between three)

Modern Style Seabass Sashimi with wasabi and soy sauce (three small pieces per person)

Seaweed, prawn and Alaskan crab salad (small portion per person)

Main Courses:

Red duck breast curry with pineapple and lychee (a reasonable sized bowl between three)

Tiger prawn egg noodle stir fry with beansprouts and spring onion (a plate between three)

Japanese salad with white asparagus, avocado, crispy tofu, onion, rocket and sesame dressing (a plate between three)

Grilled asparagus with teriyaki sauce (one plate between six)

Steamed jasmine rice (one small bowl between two)


English strawberries with tonka bean ice cream (three strawberries and three ice cream scoops served individually)

The food was all very tasty and we all left very full. I am not sure it would be worth full price but it was definitely a great meal on the Groupon deal. The service was fast, friendly and efficient. The restaurant is very dark and moody with lamps on the table and lots of mirrors. Downstairs is a very cool bar for pre or post drinks and the toilets continue the mirrored theme, which is quite funny as they are very confusing! They have Molten Brown products, which is always a plus point!

The wine list was extensive with plenty of choice to suit all budgets so I definitely think everyone can be catered for here! Get yourself logged onto Groupon and go and enjoy the next Crazy Bear offer. This place is great for a date, we went as three couples and was ideal!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

3 - The Bar @ The South Place Hotel

3 - The Bar at The South Place Hotel located a stones throw from Liverpool Street station is an ideal place to meet friends at a lunchtime or post work. They have a few small tables outside with umbrellas and a cool, dark, sophisticated inside bar with waitress service. The bar is always busy with an atmosphere but it's very rare you won't find a comfy seat to sink into for a gossip with friends.

The toilets are plentiful and spotlessly clean. The bar itself has well spaced out tables and is never too loud for a catch up. It's also connected to the grill if you fancied a full meal. The bar serves my favorite Moet & Chandon Ice Imperial, which is a champagne served with fruit and over ice. It's quite different to usual champagnes and makes for a very refreshing drink in the sunshine. The champagne comes in a signature solid white bottle so you cannot mistake it!

If your budget doesn't quite stretch to this they serve a very nice rose at £25 per bottle, which is fruity and summery as well. They also have a full list of bar snacks. Now these are not cheap but they are quite tasty for a little nibble. If ordering the hummus make sure you ask for extra pitta bread, which they usually do not charge for. The mini bacon & cheese burgers as well as the mini chilli dogs with sour cream come in portions of four if trying to work out how many are needed between a group of friends. The white bait are also a nice addition to some sharing food.

Next time you are in the city and want a post work meet up in a very luxurious bar, with waitress service, a short walk from your nearest station and without the loud craziness of other city locations then look no further than the South Place Hotel where a cosy seat and delicious selection of food and drink will be waiting for you.

Monday, 24 August 2015

The Green Man, Thriplow

Yesterday the hubby and I met some friends at The Green Man, which is a community owned pub in a very quaint little village called Thriplow. The pub has some lovely benches on the green to the front and undercover non-smoking tables in the garden to the rear. Unfortunately the weather was useless even with the blankets offered so we had to sit inside. Inside is airy and clean with a homely atmosphere. There is a long bar to sit at or plenty of square and round well spaced out tables to choose from.

Your table is reserved with scrabble pieces, which we thought was a nice touch. There were male, female and disabled toilets that were spotless and offered towels to dry your hands and a variety of products, which was amazing for a pub! For locals they will offer you a free ride home post a dinner reservation. On bank holidays they host brunches with make your own bloody Mary stations and once a week is a pub quiz with grub for £5.

The pub has it's own pigs and also a little dog that lives out the back and interacts with customers! They have a little car park but also there is enough parking on the side roads if needed. There were only a couple of front of house staff, one waitress and one behind the bar but for a leisurely Sunday lunch this was more than enough to satisfy the customers.

They have a tapas menu, for £3 each or 5 dishes for £13. There is a large variety of delicious options available but between the four of us we chose:

Breaded prawns & sweet chili (highly recommended)
Salted french fries with ketchup
Cous cous with poppy & sesame seed salad

We also ordered extra warm and toasted pitta bread!

The restaurant brought us over some pork and black pudding sausage rolls to try, which were delicious!

Their daily menu constantly changes and has around three starters, three - four main courses and three desserts. We didn't need starters after our tapas and went for two beef and two pork roast dinners. These were served with all of the trimmings including delicious Yorkshire puddings and the most impressive crackling I have ever witnessed. For dessert we chose a cheese board, a couple of rounds of dark chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream and hot chocolate sauce as well as some homemade ice cream. We went for the white chocolate and the watermelon sorbet, which were great. They had other flavors on offer as well.

The roasts will leave you very full and happy! The other options were a vegetarian Halloumi salad and a trout dish but as I mentioned these will change daily.

If you ever find yourself near Duxford or are driving past on the M11 do stop at this pub, the food was great, the service was friendly and the setting is as picturesque as the English countryside comes. With a bottle of Malbec and a large glass of Pinot Grigio Blush the total bill was £32 per head.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Cooling Castle Barn, Kent - Our Wedding Day - Part Three

Cooling Castle Barn also has fifteen fantastic bedrooms for you and your wedding party. One is a bridal suite, which has a king size bed, lounge area and bathroom with a rain forest shower and soaking tub all with underfloor heating and double sinks. Robes and slippers are available in each bedroom too. The bridal suite costs £160 for the night of your wedding but is complementary if all fifteen bedrooms are booked exclusively by your guests. On arrival back at the bridal suite we had a cheese board, some chocolates and a bottle of sparkling wine to celebrate with!

The other fifteen rooms consist of four twin bedrooms and eleven doubles. The ground floor have bathtubs with overhanging showers and upstairs have rain forest showers only. They are clean and comfortable and ideal for slipping into bed when the wedding finishes at midnight!

All rooms come with a full English breakfast in the morning. There is a little buffet of fruit, pastries and cereals with juices, teas and coffee. They then have a small menu for cooked to order breakfast items. They have every Full English choice from sausages to eggs, toast and baked beans. They also have a couple of other options like eggs Benedict and smoked salmon. Everyone commented on how good breakfast was and how lovely it was to reconvene the following day for a meal!

For guests who cannot be accommodated at the wedding venue there is a little pub a short drive or 5 mins walk up the road called The Horseshoe & Castle, which can house ten guests in five double bedrooms. Another good bed and breakfast option, which is a short drive away and for a small fee offers pick up from the wedding venue is Orchard B&B. This also has self contained accommodation for ten guests.

There are other accommodation options a short taxi ride away so everyone can be catered for here. Equally a taxi into central London would be around £40-60 for 4-6 people. Cars can also be left until 10am the following morning in the venues car park.

We honestly cannot thank Cooling Castle Barn enough for our incredible wedding. From start to finish they made us feel like royalty and honestly gave us the best day of our lives. I would seriously recommend this wedding venue, there is a reason it's sold out so many years in advance!

Here are a few more little pics from our big day:

Bridal Hair

Center Pieces

Cooling Castle Accommodation

Cooling Castle Gardens

Bridesmaid Hair

Bridal Shoes and Bouquet

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Wedding I Spy

If you are a little stuck for table entertainment and ways to get your guests mingling then look no further than Wedding I Spy. This is so simple and cheap, it can be printed and mounted onto card with a couple of copies left on each table with a disposable camera, which can be picked up pretty cheaply from Amazon. There are also online companies that develop these cameras for a reasonable price now as well.







Cooling Castle Barn, Kent - Our Wedding Day - Part Two

After our ceremony we relocated back to Cooling Castle Barn for photo's and a champagne reception. A glass of Bucks Fizz was included per person but we upgraded each glass to champagne and added a second round of drinks. We also opted for some fruit punch for non-drinkers. For our canapes we chose Mozzarella Arancini, Teriyaki Glazed Salmon Pieces, Crab & Basil Puffs and Honey & Mustard Glazed Pork Belly Bon Bon's for a total cost of £4.50 per guest. Each additional canape cost an additional £1 per head.

After some mingling and drinks we all sat down for the speeches, which we went for the traditional Father of the Bride, The Groom and lastly the Best Man. We also handed out bouquets designed by our florist as thank you's to the Mum's. We then followed this with a three course meal, which had been pre selected by the guests:


Prawn Cocktail - North Atlantic Prawns Bound in Marie Rose Sauce, Served with Gem Lettuce, Confit Plum Tomato & Cheese Straw

Goats Cheese, Orange & Beetroot Salad

Main Course

Roast Rack of English Lamb with a Mustard & Herb Crust Served with a Rosemary & Redcurrant Jus (this was a £2.80 per head supplement)

Seared Fillet of Seabass with a Prawn Bisque & Crushed Potato Herb Cake

Fresh Homemade Fettucinni with Woodland Mushroom & Vermouth Cream


Sticky Toffee Pudding with Salted Caramel Ice Cream

White Chocolate & Raspberry Creme Brulee with Lavender Sable Biscuits

The meal was followed by coffee. Bread was served before the starter and also half a bottle of wine per person as well as a glass of sparkling rose wine for toasting during the speeches. The venue had an incredible menu to choose from and would even work with you to design something unique. You could also add an amuse bouche, a cheese course and homemade truffles to the meal if you wanted to. There were three reds and three whites from the house wine to choose from, you can purchase these at a discount to try. We upgraded the red wine and again the choice of upgrades was extensive and suited all budgets.

For our evening meal, which was served during the disco we went for a whole spit roast pork, which was delivered early in the morning and cooked slowly for hours! This was served with a vegetarian lasagne, seasoned roast potatoes, salads, a bread basket, condiments and dressings. The wedding package also includes a house DJ who will play from 7:30pm until midnight but they are equally willing for you to bring in your own band if you choose to.

Please see some photos of our fabulous wedding venue:

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Cooling Castle Barn, Kent - Our Wedding Day - Part One

My husband and I got married last year at Cooling Castle Barn, which is located in a little village called Cooling in Rochester, Kent. Cooling Castle was an incredible wedding venue and I would recommend any newly engaged couples in the area to go and have a look. The venue books up around two years in advance even for week day weddings so you will have to be very organised if this is where you choose to get married!

They will ask for a £500 deposit to secure the date and it costs £50 to make date changes dependent on availability and how far in advance the changes are made. Saturday weddings start from £8,750 for eighty day guests and an extra seventy evening guests. The package is quite comprehensive but if you want to add luxury touches everything is priced on their online planner, which is unique to each bride and groom

You can get married in a civil ceremony at Cooling Castle Barn either inside or in their lovely gardens subject to weather from March to October. If I can remember correctly the price of a civil wedding is £500 and will start at 2pm. You are also free to marry in your parish church and travel to Cooling post the ceremony. If you are looking for a church local to Cooling Castle Barn look no further than St Helen's Church in the little village of Cliffe, which is ideally situated to the wedding venue. The church members are so lovely and welcoming here and will ensure your ceremony is perfect.

To marry in this church you will need to attend once a month for six months and sign a register. You will need your banns to be read at your local Parish church and also St Helen's on three consecutive Sunday's prior to the wedding. You will also need to attend two sets of "marriage lessons", which are discussions with all of the couples marrying that year to discuss communication and decision making in your relationship. There will then be a private meeting with the vicar to run through the order of service and get to know you better as a couple and also a wedding rehearsal to ensure everything runs smoothly.

The church cost us a total of £671, which included both sets of banns readings as well as the ceremony, bell ringers, an organist and a choir, which we felt were necessary to add to the atmosphere. We also had a local lady who usually does the Sunday service flowers build an archway of flowers at the entrance and flowers along the pews for £140.

Here are some photo's of the lovely church:

As you can see the church is gorgeous and perfect for wedding photographs. Photographers are OK to take pictures during the ceremony but if you want a videographer they will need to apply for a licence to film. We chose two readings and three hymns for our wedding ceremony and it all lasted about 40 minutes. The vicar can help you with your choices if you need some guidance. 

The church is also situated next door to a little pub, which is ideal if the groom wants to meet guests early for a pre wedding tipple to calm the nerves. It also has two toilets in the church house next door as well as ample parking for guests that have driven to your ceremony. 

Monday, 17 August 2015

Cinnamon Culture, Sundridge Park

I was lucky enough to dine at Cinnamon Culture on Saturday night with five other friends. The restaurant wasn't busy but we didn't turn up until 9:45pm so this may be why! The restaurant is large and airy with very well spaced out tables and very friendly, helpful staff.

We all chose completely different dishes to start with and the starters are very small. We are talking a few dainty mouthfuls per person! Mine was the rhubarb prawn, which were two prawns marinated in rhubarb and cardamom with a mixed berry chutney and the flavors worked extremely well together. I also got to try the hubby's lamb chops with a spicy green chutney. The soft shell crab looked absolutely delicious and I will definitely try that next time.

For the main course I had the chicken Makhani, which was chicken tikka cooked in a creamy tomato gravy with honey and fenugreek and it was amazing. There was plenty to choose from though with everything from scallops to prawns, goat to boar and even buffalo. It was a really fun and interesting menu and made for a very different Indian dining experience.

We ordered four naan's, three rice and a side of bombay aloo between six of us, which was enough food, we were all comfortably full but not totally stuffed.

We didn't have any desserts but we had two bottles of white wine at £25 per bottle and three Limoncello's. The total bill including service was £40 per head, which for what we had, had I thought was reasonable. 

The restaurant is a stones throw from Sundridge Park train station and a short cab ride from Grove Park and the Bromley stations too. There is parking on side streets for free, which is available first come, first served.

If you are ever in this area I can definitely recommend giving this restaurant a try. They also do take away for those that prefer to eat at home.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Smith & Wollensky, London

The hubby took me for a little date on Friday evening to Smith & Wollensky, London. The restaurant is located just off The Strand and a short walk from Charing Cross station. On arrival at 7pm the restaurant was practically empty so we decided to prop up the bar and order an Applegrass cocktail, which was vodka, liquor 43, ginger, lemon and apple. It had a big ginger kick but was very refreshing. The boy opted for a Beefeater 24 infused with orange, which he thoroughly enjoyed.

We were taken to our table promptly at 7:30pm and then begun to realise why when the restaurant started to get very busy. I wouldn't come here without a reservation as despite being a large place, it was super packed by 8pm! After browsing the menu and munching on some crusty white bread and butter we ordered our starters of Burrata and tomato salad as well as the smoked organic salmon. Both were a generous portion, fresh and delicious.

Bread was also practically unlimited at this time, more was offered on several occasions. For our main course we opted for the rib eye, which was a special on the chalk board at £29.50 per person and the NY cut bone in sirloin 21oz at £52 per portion. We could have and probably should have shared the special T bone steak, which was £68. We both opted for medium rare and the steak was cooked to absolute perfection. For sides we shared the steakhouse fries, which were crispy fat chips rather than shoestring fries, the honey glazed carrots and the creamed spinach. The steak doesn't come with any sauces but ketchup and mustard were placed on the table. However, it's super succulent and juicy so a side sauce isn't really needed.

We washed everything down with two glasses of red for the boy and a glass of white for myself. Large glasses of each color range from £6.50 right up to £22 so there should be something for every budget and taste. We ended with a Limoncello for myself and a nutty Irishman coffee, which was Jameson, Baileys and Frangelico, although to be honest it wasn't worth £9 and we could have taken or left it.

All in all this is a great little restaurant for a date night. The bill was £210 so be warned, we didn't have desserts or a whole bottle of wine. It's not a cheap option so maybe save it for a special occasion. The restaurant is spotlessly clean and large. Tables are reasonably well spaced apart. The service is amazing, the staff cannot do enough to make you feel welcome and comfortable. The only issue we had was there was one unisex and one disabled toilet for use, which isn't enough for a restaurant of this size. However, despite this gripe we had a lovely evening and would love to come again sometime soon.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Barbecoa - Jamie Oliver

On the other side of One New Change to Gordon Ramsay's Bread Street Kitchen you will find celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's haunt Barbecoa. Ask for a seat in the window, it won't be guaranteed but if you get one they have incredible views over St Paul's. Again this is a floor to ceiling window establishment and is another large restaurant. The decor is darker and more romantic here and feels like an upmarket, clean cut steak house. The atmosphere is busy and buzzing with lots of "city suits" but we came for a romantic dinner and we felt just fine among the other diners.

The food is very good. We opted for the prime rib of beef with duck fat chips, mushrooms and spinach. Now, this is a splurge restaurant. The beef alone is £70 for two plus 12.5% service charge so make sure you save your pennies before booking a table. We had also started with the baby back ribs, which were delicious. It was a meat overload but when the meat is this succulent and melt in your mouth you kind of have to go all out.

Barbecoa is predominately a carnivore restaurant so take a look at the menu online before visiting as I am not sure it's suited to non meat lovers. The selection of sauces and sides are also good so I think most non-veggies will find something they like. The cocktail list is endless and so is the wine list so again I think it would be easy to find something to suit your budget and taste.

Unfortunately I was too full for dessert but they look typical American style AMAZING! I mean a white chocolate cheese cake, a brownie, a dessert of peanuts and salted caramel as well as a selection of sundaes has got to be good, right? Hopefully next time I can save myself and try one of these sweet treats.

The service here is a little brash, you won't be waited on in the same way as other top London restaurants. We came to celebrate our engagement and it was a shame that no member of staff even mentioned this. It's probably not the best place to come for a special occasion where you want to be made to feel very unique and celebrated with a personal style. However, for a tasty, delicious meal with friends, family or a loved one it's pretty good. Be prepared to spend the $$$ but I think you will feel it was worth it in the end!

Well done Jamie, here is to trying some of your other establishments soon.

Bread Street Kitchen - Gordon Ramsay

I have been to Bread Street Kitchen a couple of times now, once for lunch and once for dinner and I can say it is one of my favorite city haunts. After entering from Bread Street you will be whisked upstairs to the huge restaurant with floor to ceiling glass windows. You can also enter through the shopping center One New Change where you will arrive on the upstairs level by the large bar area, perfect for meeting friends and having a pre dinner drink!

This restaurants decor is awesome. Tables are quite close together, especially if you take one, which includes the long comfy sofa style seating. It has a super cool industrial feel with low hanging lights, lots of metal, a black and white square floor and an exposed kitchen. It oozes a trendy atmosphere. The large windows give the place an airy and light feel despite the darker industrial style. The interior designers got everything spot on here!

The food is very good and the portion sizes are perfect to leave you satisfyingly full! The lamb cutlets are delicious and slightly pink just how I like them. The beef burger is excellent! As beef burgers go, this is a pretty good one for the city! The pork sausages mixed with fennel are very tasty and the pork belly with spiced apple sauce is a good choice. As you can tell I enjoy picking at others food to try it!

Most importantly though make sure you leave room for dessert. I would go for the dark chocolate tart with salted caramel ice cream, you cannot really beat this winning combination and in my opinion nothing else is worth even trying! The wine list is also vast so there will definitely be something available to suit your taste buds and budget.

Bread Street Kitchen isn't a cheap option but what famous chef's restaurant in the heart of the financial land in central London is? However, it also definitely is not the most expensive eatery in the area! This is a great place to come with friends as it's busy and loud but also fine for a more intimate meal, just maybe request a quieter table away from big groups. It's very "city" so expect lots of suits and maybe dress appropriately but it's not brash either, the restaurant has got everything right here.

Hat's off to Gordon, you have done a good job and I am excited to continue trying your London offerings.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The October Club @ Ascot

The October Club is a city run club, which raises money for various charities each year. Over £10 million has now been raised and is mainly from the 400 person annual October Club Dinner at The Savoy Hotel. The other main event, which was the one I was invited to was the Ascot Race Day, which is hosted over the King George VI weekend at Ascot.

We traveled from London Waterloo to Ascot by train, which takes 50 mins. The race track is then a 10-15 mins slightly uphill walk from the station. We were whisked away to one of the private restaurants. This is a great way to do Ascot as you avoid all of the Grandstand crowds. We started with a champagne reception in the outdoor but covered Pavillion before being called to lunch at 12pm. There was an auction and raffle to raise money for this years chosen charity The Honeypot Children's Charity.

We were then served a three course lunch with wine whilst race tips were given. The private area has it's own bookies so we could place bets quickly between races and not waste too much time in lengthy queues. We also had access to the Grandstand so could flit between the two areas to watch the races live or on the screens. A couple of hours after our lunch afternoon tea was served. The coronation chicken finger sandwiches were definitely the most popular! However, little cakes and scones were also provided.

All in all, despite not winning a single race this was a pretty good day out. The food was good and the company was fun, plus it was all for a good cause. Ascot itself is beautiful, the grounds are gorgeous, everything about it oozes opulence and sophistication. Definitely try and get yourself down to Ascot for a race day, it's an amazing experience and a great day out.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Due Amici, Chislehurst

The Due Amici in Chislehurst, South East London is a fantastic little Italian restaurant. They are located on Royal Parade, which is a short bus journey from the railway station. Royal Parade also has car parking for a fee. Royal Parade is a cute little road of independent shops and restaurants as well as housing a lovely pub at one end. The area is busy at weekends and on special occasions such as Christmas. The area is quaint and has a village feel unlike the main high street, which is full of chains and feels more like the town center.

The Due Amici is family run and the waiters are caring and really good entertainment. They also have a sister restaurant set in a lovely garden center called the Coach House, which is also well worth checking out. The prices here are not cheap but the atmosphere, service and food quality more than make up for this. After taking your coat and being seated in the airy and light restaurant you will be given time to browse the menu and snack on olives and a range of breads. These breads are really good! Ask for more during your starter if you need to, you have paid a cover charge after all.

Some dishes to note here are the king prawns in garlic butter, the evil crab au gratin and the crayfish tails (these will set you back £17 as a starter). The lemon sole on or off the bone makes for a great main course as does the T-Bone steak. I, however, am a cheap date here as I just love their pasta. They are all pretty good so it's hard to recommend you one. I also love the seafood risotto with crab claws. Ask for a starter portion if you aren't too peckish or have a small portion to start before a less carby main course.

Side dishes are ordered per person and can rack up to be expensive if you aren't careful. It's easy to get carried away with a range of veggies and potatoes! However, if there is one thing you MUST order it's the fried zucchini, I can promise you they are the best I have ever experienced and we have several portions when we dine here as a family.

Finally finish your meal by perusing the old fashioned dessert trolley! They have all the usual Italian style desserts available. However, make sure you ask if they have any cannoli. They usually have some in the kitchen and these are worth requesting. They are little pastry desserts filled with a sweet, creamy center containing ricotta. You can also order one to take away if you are too full straight after your main meal!

This is a really cute little restaurant to come and eat. It's expensive and on Saturday nights has a fancier atmosphere so dress up nicely. At lunchtime things are more casual and at the Coach House you can dine Al Fresco so that is worth considering. Bearing in mind I am half Italian I can vouch for this place and say it's authentic, traditional and worth a visit!

Monday, 3 August 2015

The Tamasha

If you ever find yourself in South East London and want a seriously good curry head to The Tamasha in Bromley. This is a short walk from Bromley North station and maybe a 20 mins walk or short bus ride from Bromley South station. You can also park here in the car park behind the restaurant so no excuses not to visit!

This is definitely a curry house with a twist and you must book in advance at the weekends. You will be greeted by the traditionally dressed doorman and your coat will be whisked away from you as you are led to the bar for a cocktail. I can recommend the passionate bubbly couple, which is a take on a porn star martini. Expect vanilla vodka, passoa and passion fruit puree with champagne on the side. Be warned, prices are not cheap, they start at £9.95 for a cocktail.

After your drink you will be led into the dining room, either downstairs or upstairs. The atmosphere is busy and loud for a curry house but you won't be rushed through your meal. The options are amazing but for your starter you must try the chicken nilgiri tikka. The chicken is the most melt in your mouth moist chicken I have ever tried. You can't miss it as it's green and has been marinated in rum and spices, it's honestly amazing. The traditional king prawn puri is also very good as is the baked butter fish but the other stand out has to be the crispy soft shell crab with passion fruit and mango chutney. Although hubby is very partial to a lamp chop flavored with Amaretto.

If you love seafood then for your main you must order the chingri malai curry. It's a creamy prawn dish, it's not spicy and the prawns are gigantic. It's the perfect dish to soak up a naan bread. Another good one though is the malabar fish curry, which is a seabass served in a similarly creamy concoction. If you are a meat lover then there is only one way to go, the khyber pas raan, which is a lamb shank marinated in red wine and spices. The men in my life cannot get enough of this dish and no longer even look at the menu to decide!

In terms of sides the stir fried okra is an absolute must for the table as is the aloo gobi. The creamed spinach is an excellent addition and order naan with extra butter. We eat a whole naan each, it's so good. The black lentils are also very delicious and buttery! One rice is enough between two people. I have only ever finished with dessert a couple of times as usually I am stuffed but I would choose the orange and chocolate fondant if I were you!

Now, for the extra special touch. You must try (providing you are not the designated driver) the Tamasha coffee. The coffee is £7.50 per head and is coffee flambeed with cognac, kirsch and Cointreau served in a caramelized glass. There is a man whose job it is to make these coffees. He will wheel his tray into the middle of the restaurant for everyone to see. He will start by heating the coffee in a copper kettle on the open flame. Next he melts the sugar and caramelizes the glasses and then pours liquor down an orange to get the flavor before adding a large glug of cream to the top. Honestly, these are amazing even if you aren't a coffee lover!

Finally make sure you head to the Kama Sutra inspired bathrooms before you leave! A meal here with alcohol and coffee is going to set you back a minimum of £50 per head. Curries start at about £14.95 plus sides and starters. So this is definitely a treat restaurant. However, it's spectacularly good and worth the splurge when you can afford it.

Benares Cassata

So on Wednesday evening the Great British Bake Off will once again grace our screens. To celebrate it's return and get us in the mood my little sister and I attempted to make the Benares Cassata at the weekend. Cassata is a traditional Italian dessert of neopolitan ice cream with dried fruit and nuts, it can also consist of a sponge cake moistened with fruit juices or alcohol. The Benares Indian equivalent takes everything into consideration.

You must start by making an orange and cardamon spiced sponge cake. The actual cake is pretty simple and only requires butter, caster sugar, eggs, self raising flour, baking powder, ground cardamon and orange zest. The cake bakes on a low heat of 160 degrees for 35 mins. Once cooked leave to cool and whip up a syrup using caster sugar, water, rose syrup or water and some more cardamon, which you pour onto the sponge and then place into the fridge to cool for a minimum of two hours.

This will give you a chance to clean up the kitchen and start making your three flavored ice creams. Start by whipping the double cream, then whisk the egg white using electric beaters and slowly add the icing sugar; at the same time whisk egg yolk and icing sugar. Then fold the two egg mixtures together before splitting into three bowls and adding your ice cream flavors. This recipe uses stem ginger, pistachio and raspberries to flavor the different ice creams. Fill three piping bags with the three flavors and pipe onto the sponge line by line.

Now set your cake aside in the freezer for at least four hours. Next cover your almonds in egg white and then bake in the oven until dry. Add a quarter of a tea spoon of pre made Benares curry powder and coat in melted dark chocolate. Leave the almonds aside to set. Finally whip up a coulis to accompany the cake. This is simply icing sugar, raspberries and lemon juice. The coulis actually made the cake so do not skip this part!

This dessert will take the best part of a day to make. However, bear in mind we are inexperienced bakers working without all the equipment needed in a small kitchen so life could definitely be made easier! Check out the full recipe in this incredible cook book by Atul Kochhar and get baking. The dessert tasted amazing and was so worth all of the effort. We are definitely ready for Wednesday and can now watch the bake off with our pre made treat!!!