Royal Hotel Southend-on-Sea {AD-REVIEW}

Royal Hotel Southend-on-Sea  <font size="3">{AD-REVIEW}</font>

A few weeks ago, Ben and I enjoyed one of the best ‘date days’ we’ve had for a while when we were invited along to sample the delights of the newly refurbished Royal Hotel Southend-on-Sea.

 

The Royal Hotel is a building I’m fairly familiar with having gone to college for 3-years in Southend and often walked past it’s door as myself and my friends ventured down to the seafront for a wander and a packet of chips. In fact, one for the fact fans here, Ben actually went to the same college as me and had his lectures in the same department as me at the same time, but we just never spoke to one another! Having been local he also knows the hotel well, attending a drum’n’bass night there when the building was in one of its previous states as a party venue.

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Blogtober #3: Recipe – Healthy Dog Treats

Blogtober #3: Recipe – Healthy Dog Treats

If you’ve read a few of my previous posts you’ll know that over the past couple of months I’ve been struggling a little bit; feeling stuck in a little rut of misery and unable to dig my way out. After moping about and, quite frankly, boring myself with my mardiness, I decided it was high time I started making positive steps and so I’ve been actively make more effort to create my own happiness. I’ll post more at a later date about some of the things I’m doing to enrich my life, but one of those things is baking.

 

Back in the days when I used to live alone, I would bake something almost every weekend. I’d wake up on a Saturday morning, let the recipe book fall open onto a page, then I’d trot off to buy the ingredients required and spend my Saturday afternoon whipping up something tasty in the kitchen.

 

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Christmas Sourced Locally with East Of England Co-op {AD-GIFTED}

Christmas Sourced Locally with East Of England Co-op  <font size="3">{AD-GIFTED}</font>

Christmas. A time for love, sharing, spending time with the people most important to you… plus food and drink. At least that’s what it is for me.

 

Whilst we all know of the religious origins of the festive holiday, in the modern day I think it is fair to say that the majority of the focus of this time of year is on meeting up with your nearest and dearest and celebrating that togetherness. There is present giving, music, games, chatter and the obligatory array of delicious goodies that as we all through our diets out the window and indulge ourselves in everything that is oh-so-good but oh-so-bad for us.

 

So, when East Of England Co-op sent me along a little box of their products to sample I was very excited. Send me anything edible and I will be your friend for life, fact.

 

Here’s what they sent us:

 

eecoop 1

 

Pink Brut Sparkling Wine

If you know me, you’ll know I like a glass of wine, and I like a glass of bubbles even more so I was really pleased when I opened the package to find a bottle waiting for us. For some reason, drinking bubbles always feels a little decadent, and for me, when those bubbles are pink, it makes it all the more special.

The first thing that struck me about this was the weight and quality of the bottle. If time and effort has been spent on the bottle then you know that the drink inside will have even more attention to bring it to perfection.

eecoop 2Once poured (we don’t own champagne glasses, so we had to go for plain, boring wine glasses sadly!) we both took a sip and I was instantly won over. As the sharp bubbles popped against my tongue, and being ‘off dryas it hit my palate the fruity flavours came through. The taste was quite soft and it was an easy-drinker, meaning it would be as well suited to summer BBQ’s with friends as it is to cosy nights tucked under a blanket in the winter months. Brewed at Shawsgate Vineyard in Suffolk, it’s nice to have a homegrown UK bottle of fizz as I don’t think I’ve tried one before!

 

Tinsel Toes Christmas Ale

I’ve said before, I love that Ben gets involved with my blog and he supports it so strongly, so when I opened the package to find a bottle of ale, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for him to get involved in the review process.

tinsel toesBrewed Woodfordes Brewery in Norfolk (who have been brewing beer for over 30 years now) it’s a special Christmas product with an added hint of Christmas pudding in its flavour. I had a taster of this and it was really nice, you couldn’t definitely identify the Christmassy flavours as you rolled it around your mouth, and Ben was a fan, finishing the whole bottle in next to no time.

 

Legg’s BakeryHandcrafted Short Crust Mince Pies

I’ve never been a fan of mince pies. It’s not that I don’t like them as such, they just don’t do anything for me, so I tend to skip them entirely at this time of year. With this knowledge in mind, Ben was very happy to find we’d been sent a box of 6, as he knew he wouldn’t have to share them!

mince piesAs you can see, Ben was that excited to eat them, he couldn’t actually wait for me to take a photo before he cracked into them…

Flavour-wise these were actually really nice, they reminded me a lot of the Fig Roll biscuits you can buy in the supermarket which I actually like, so these were much better suited for my palette than the huge mass-produced ones you can buy. Perhaps because they’re hand-crafted in a bakery is what makes the difference, I’m not sure.

For me, the best thing about these was the fact they’re hand-crafted at Legg’s Bakery. They weren’t uniform in their appearance, with the pastry thicker in some place than others, some of the tops a bit wonky, and a general homemade feel to them, but this is a real selling point to me. It makes me feel like somebody actually went to the effort of creating these for us, rather than a variation of robots constructing perfect little pies by way of a computer programme.

 

Christmas Mallow Whirls

When I saw these I felt absolute joy as they reminded me of Walnut Whips, something I used to love but haven’t been able to eat since I became allergic to nuts. It’s so silly, but knowing I could eat these – a less murderous version of their nutty cousin – was something that made me genuinely happy.

whip

Created by Hadleigh Maid, a Suffolk-based company, they are white chocolate cases with a mallow centre hidden inside and a lovely little Christmas-themed decoration on the top. These are so lovely to look at that I think they’d look great laid out on a plate for people to treat themselves at a Christmas get-together.

Flavour wise, these are lovely. The mallow was a bit harder than I imagined, but I think perhaps my brain was expect the creaminess of the old Walnut Whip centres, which are obviously completely different to these.

I have to admit, this lasted about 3.6 seconds before I had wolfed the whole thing down – it was just so good!

 

I’m a big advocate of supporting local business so to have the opportunity to try out some homegrown products, all of which were created within the East of England was great. I definitely recommend finding your local East of England Co-op and trying some of their Sourced Locally range. We have so many great producers of food and drink in our area and these four items are proof of that!

 

Now, who fancies some pink bubbles?

 

 

Penny xx

 

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Learning To Love Gin with Warner Edwards {AD-GIFTED}

Learning To Love Gin with Warner Edwards  <font size="3">{AD-GIFTED}</font>

I’m a creature of habit. I always order the same curry (chicken tikka masala from my local nut-free Indian restaurant), the same pizza (chicken feast with olives, peppers and sweetcorn) and the same drinks – either a Southern Comfort and Coke or a Sauvignon Blanc (Chilean preferably, but New Zealand comes a very close second).

 

I always tell myself I’m going to be more adventurous and try something different “next time” but when it comes to the crunch, I just can’t bring myself to do it – what if I order something different and don’t like it?

 

So when I was asked by Warner Edwards if I’d like to try a bottle of their gin I thought it would be a good opportunity to branch out from my usual tipple.

 

I remember trying gin a few years ago and not being a huge fan, but two of my closest friends (Sian and Dan) are gin lovers and at last count had 17 different varieties stocked in their kitchen, so I thought I should give it a whirl. If they like it so much perhaps my palette might have changed?

 

IMG_2947

 

Upon arrival, the first thing that struck me was the bottle. I’m a sucker for a nice looking bottle and I’ve always thought gins seem to come in the nicest ones – they look so classy on a mantlepiece or side cabinet with a floral arrangement in it, like Dawn’s below.

 

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 16.17.15

 

 

The gin we received was their Elderflower version – I love Elderflower as a flavour so this was a good starting point for my journey of gin discovery. So on a Saturday evening, Ben and I settled down to give it a try, a glass with a slice of cucumber and the other with a slice of lime.

 

It was a revelation! I really liked it! Me! Drinking gin and enjoying it!

 

Although it was Elderflower flavoured, it still had the distinctive gin taste to it, but it was really refreshing and not too heavy either. For me, personally, I preferred it with the cucumber as I felt the lime was slightly overpowering and combined with the Elderflower added a slightly bitter touch to it, but it wasn’t undrinkable, just a little sharper than I myself like.

 

Since trying this Warner Edwards gin I’ve decided that perhaps I could be a gin drinker after all. There’s something a little classy and Hollywood about saying you’re going to have a G&T in the sunshine, isn’t there?

 

There’s lots of other Warner Edwards gins to try – I think the next one I might give a whirl is their Rhubarb Gin which sounds incredible!

 

As always, when indulging in alcohol be sure to do so responsibly!

 

Are you a gin lover, or could one of these flavoured treats tempt you?

 

 

Penny xx

 

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Recipe: Baileys Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart

Recipe: Baileys Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart

We all love a recipe post, right? Well, you’re in for a treat; I’ve got a right good’un for you today!

 

A few weeks ago we went round my best bud Carly’s house for dinner. I never like to turn up empty handed so usually arrive at her doorstep carrying a bottle or two of good ol’ “adult juice” and some sort of food – this time I thought I’d use my baking skills (which are underused and a bit rusty at the moment) and take along a homemade dessert.

 

If you’re a fan of sweet stuff, chocolate and a booze, you’re going to love this one…

 

Baileys Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart

 

Ingredients

Shortcrust pastry case
250g of caramel
150g of dark chocolate
200ml of double cream
100ml of Baileys
Sea salt flakes (you don’t need a lot)
Dr Oetker salted caramel crunch (there may be supermarket alternatives to this but I couldn’t find any)

 

Method

Mix the caramel and sea salt flakes together to create your salted caramel – there is no set measurement for the amount of salt, just keeping tasting it until it reaches your preferred flavour.
Spread the salted caramel mixture in an even layer over the base of the shortcrust pastry case.
Place in the fridge to set while you make the ganache.

Melt the dark chocolate (either in a large heatproof bowl in the microwave, or in a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water – but don’t let the bowl touch the water) and leave to cool at room temperature.
Once cooled, pour in the double cream and Baileys and mix until you get a nice thick and glossy ganache.

Remove the salted caramel pastry case from the fridge and spoon in the ganache until it’s full making sure it creates an even layer.
Leave in the fridge for 20 minutes to set a little, before creating a border of the salted caramel crunch around the edges.
Sprinkle over a little sea salt and place back in the fridge for a further 15 minutes.

 

image8

 

And it’s as simple as that!

 

If you wanted to, you could tweak this recipe a little and use separate shortcrust pastry cases to create individual desserts, or you could remove the Baileys for a child-friendly version.

 

Let me know if you give this one a go!

Enjoy!

 

Penny xx

 

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A Penny For Them uses affiliate links occasionally. Affiliate links means that sometimes if you click through to a website and register or purchase something, I get a commission from that sale at no extra cost to you. However, rest assured that all opinions and reviews are 100% honest, open and entirely my own.