Rhythm Kitchen at Intu Lakeside {AD-REVIEW}

Rhythm Kitchen at Intu Lakeside   <font size="3">{AD-REVIEW}</font>

A few weeks ago I told you about intu Lakeside’s Personal Stylist service which was a complete revelation to me, although it has been available for years. Whilst visiting on that occasion, Ben and I decided to grab a bite to eat so headed to the top floor where the food court is located.

 

And what a surprise it was when we got up there; it had changed enormously from when I’d last been there. The previous occasion I’d been there had been a small selection of places to get food from, with the usual suspects such as Burger King and Pizza Hut taking centre stage. However, when you go there now you’re met by a huge variety of food outlets offering such a range of different meals there surely must be something for everyone.

 

One of the restaurants available is Rhythm Kitchen which offers Caribbean cooking, something I hadn’t tried before.

 

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Now, I can’t handle spice at all, I’m a total spice-wimp, so much so that it was only a few years ago I started using black pepper on my food and it’s only within the last few months that I’ve been able to eat Chilli Heatwave Doritos. Like I said, total spice-wimp.

 

However, Ben is a hot food fiend. If something has chilli in it he’s all over it, and will almost always add extra chilli, so he was very excited about trying Rhythm Kitchen’s jerk chicken while I opted for the much safer BBQ chicken and some of their homemade fruit punch which was lovely and refreshing.

 

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All of our food was delicious, Ben raved about the jerk sauce, and I particularly enjoyed the ‘rice and peas’ – I have no idea why but I always love having it, it’s such a simple thing but so good!

 

One thing that really impressed me was that every meal is cooked from fresh. It means there is a little wait for it, but I don’t mind hanging about for a little while if it means my food is going to be cooked especially rather than sitting under a hotplate waiting for someone to claim it. The wait isn’t too long either, and you’re given a buzzer so you can go and sit at your table and relax while you wait for it to alert you that your meal is ready to collect.

 

I am trying to broaden my horizons food-wise and think I’ll take some inspiration from Rhythm Kitchen and perhaps try knocking up a little Caribbean dish at home some time, if you know of any recipes that you can recommend definitely let me know!

 

Thanks for having us Rhythm Kitchen, I have a sneaky feeling we’ll be back soon!

 

Penny xx

 

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* In Association With Brand *

Rhythm Kitchen at Intu Lakeside

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Scents of Summer Afternoon Tea at Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane {AD-REVIEW}

Scents of Summer Afternoon Tea at Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane  <font size="3">{AD-REVIEW}</font>

“Some things in life are wonderful, like friendship and chocolate cake”
I don’t know who it was that said that, but whoever they were, they knew what they were talking about.

 

This past weekend I experienced the BEST afternoon tea I have ever experienced, and, as a lover of afternoon tea, I don’t say that lightly. Let me tell you all about it…

 

Myself and the ever-wonderful Haydy from Squibb Vicious, were invited along to the Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane in Mayfair to try their Scents of Summer afternoon tea. As I always do when I’m carrying out a review, I logged on to their website before I went to do a bit of research and see what lay in store. Having looked, I was very excited. Very excited indeed.

 

On the Saturday morning, with a beautiful hot British summers day making an appearance, I put on a little black cage-neckline dress from New Look that had been hanging in my wardrobe for a while and hopped on the train to meet Haydy at Liverpool Street station. A short journey via tube and we were at Hyde Park Corner where an underpass led us right to the hotel. Easy accessibility is always a winner in my case as I have absolutely zero sense of direction and getting lost is one of my skills.

 

Upon arrival we were shown to our table which was situated right next to the window, a definite perk for as both myself and Haydy are petrol heads and Mayfair is definitely the place to be if you like nice cars. Ferrari’s, Porsche’s, Lamborghini’s, Aston Martin’s, and even my favourite car of all time, a Bugatti Veyron – only the third I’ve ever seen in my life! We were very happy girls from the get-go.

 

Once settled we were greeted by Luigi, our waiter for the day and an expert on tea who shared his knowledge with us throughout the afternoon. I can honestly say, he was probably the best waiter I have ever had. He was friendly, funny, professional and knew so much about not only the tea, but the ingredients in everything we ate, as well as the champagne provided to us with the final course. Both Haydy and I were hugely impressed with him and can honestly say his service greatly added to the whole experience. Pay rise for Luigi please!

 

Review Intercontinental Park Lane Mayfair London Scents of Summer A Penny For Them

 

With each of the courses we were given, we were presented with a pot of tea which would complement the flavours. I knew, of course, that wines are often recommended for these same reasons, but I have never been provided with tea to drink in this way and it was interesting to see how they combined and developed in the mouth to create even more taste. We’re not talking English Breakfast Tea here either, we had hints of smokiness, jasmine, rose petals, Lapsang Suchong, Earl Grey and so many more that my brain struggled to retain all the information. However, it made me realise that there is so much more to the tea world and I definitely need to expand my horizons a little.

 

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First up we were served a palate cleanser made with rose pearl wheatgrass and strawberries. This was fresh and light, a real refreshing start to the meal and, presented on a bed of grass, an early sign of the treat that lay in store.

 

Along with the palate cleanser came the first course of four sandwiches which Luigi (after spraying the air above us with citrus) instructed us to eat in a certain order so the ingredients could perform to their best ability – a rose infused cucumber sandwich with mascarpone on white bread (the usual bread hadn’t yet made it to the hotel from its starting point in Peru!), salmon and bergamot in lemon bread, roasted butternut squash with feta on spinach bread, and finally pink peppercorn and thyme chicken on tomato bread.

 

Each of the sandwiches was delicious and you could really taste the individual components, even down to the rose flavour infused into the cucumber, but I think the butternut squash and feta one was my favourite – I would never have thought of putting those ingredients into a sandwich but it tasted so good, I’ll definitely be recreating this at home myself!

 

Review Intercontinental Park Lane Mayfair London Scents of Summer A Penny For Them 10

 

The second course was the traditional afternoon tea staple – scones. Mini sized and made with buttermilk, they were served with four separate additions – wild strawberry jam, clotted cream, Earl Grey infused butter (the tea adding a floral note) and pink peppercorn lemon curd which I was a little unsure about before I ate it, but was actually really nice! I would never have thought of putting lemon curd and peppercorns together, but it worked really well and was incredibly moreish.

 

And finally, the part of the meal that really blew us away, and the course had everyone in the restaurant turning round to look – the cakes.

 

Review Intercontinental Park Lane Mayfair London Scents of Summer A Penny For Them

 

This picture does not do the beauty of this course justice. It was absolutely mind-blowing – you could see the pride on the waiter’s faces as they brought it over to us and our jaws hit the floor! I bet seeing diners faces when they’re presented with this never gets boring!

 

As I’m allergic to nuts, they very kindly created a nut-free version for me, with a few extra treats on it to make up for missing out on some of the items Haydy had that I wasn’t able to eat. Each of these plates is created for two people, so both us ladies had very happy boyfriends when we arrived home with ‘doggie bags’ for them!

 

The Intercontinental Park Lane website describes this course as ‘the theatrical finale’ and I couldn’t agree more. Designed to celebrate the quintessential English garden, it included Jasmine tea cakes with edible flowers, bergamot and blackcurrant macaroons, peach melba mousse, a grapefruit and almond tart with violet cream, a vanilla cheesecake with a selection of berries, a chocolate slice, a rose water and pink peppercorn jelly with strawberry mousse served in a chocolate flowerpot, a chocolate mud, edible leaves and even edible pebbles.

 

Served with a glass of cold rose Moet champagne, Haydy and I were both totally overwhelmed. This course was like nothing I have ever seen before and we both sat there overawed for quite a little while before we could bring ourselves to tuck in!

 

Both of us were stuffed to the brim after all the tea, sandwiches and scones that went before, but we managed to try a little of each of the items, and they were just perfect. The peach melba mousse was encased in a shell of white chocolate, the chocolate slice was rich but light at the same time, the cheesecake was smooth and balanced well by the sweet berries, and the edible leaves were delicious – it was obvious that only the best ingredients had been used for this entire meal.

 

Priced at £45.00 per person, I think this afternoon tea is an absolute bargain. I’ve paid around £40 for experiences like this in the past, but never have they been as impressive as this. Every single item we were served was fresh and full of flavour, complemented by the accompanying teas. The service was impeccable and the surroundings were comfortable and classy.

 

This particular menu only runs until 27th September 2015, so if you want to book it (and I recommend you do!) you have just over a month to get in there and experience it for yourself. However, Luigi tells us that they have another exciting afternoon tea planned to replace it, so I’m looking forward to seeing what that is!

 

Thank you Intercontinental for having us, thank you Luigi for your excellent service, and thank you to the chefs who put this together. It was truly one of the most magical food experiences I have ever had in my life.

 

So, hands up, who’s booking themselves a table?

 

Penny xx

 

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* This experience was provided free of charge for review purposes but, as always, all opinions and comments are my own *

Afternoon Tea at Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane

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A Private Chef At Home With La Belle Assiette {AD-REVIEW}

A Private Chef At Home With La Belle Assiette  <font size="3">{AD-REVIEW}</font>

To be honest, this post should probably be called ‘A Private Chef at Haydy’s House With La Belle Assiette’ as she very kindly hosted, but I thought that title may be a little too long…

 

A few weeks ago myself, Haydy (of Squibb Vicious) and Nicki (of Nickikinickie) were offered the opportunity to have a private chef come to our homes and cook for a dinner party and, as all three of us are food lovers, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity for us to get together and combine our favourite things – blogging, eating and good friends. A winning combination, right?

 

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Our chef for the evening was Richard, owner of Reem Catering and culinary extraordinaire. He appeared at Haydy’s door at the allotted time with all the equipment he would need for the night – pots, pans, utensils, and lots of other equipment that left me clueless but looked pretty impressive. He even brought his own plates!

 

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While we all sat around the table drinking bubbles (or cider) and chattering away, Richard was busying himself in the kitchen and, I have to admit, it felt really odd to be sitting around while someone else was doing all the work. Every time I glanced over at Richard working away I thought to myself, “This must be what it’s like to be rich!”

 

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First up was the amuse bouche – scallops with lime puree plus gazpacho shots. As I’m allergic to shellfish I couldn’t try the scallops (although everyone told me they were delicious!) so I dived straight in to the gazpacho. I’ve only had it a handful of times previously but every time I do I’m left wondering why I don’t eat it more often; it’s so good! Richard’s was fresh and vibrant with a little zing of a kick in it too; they were gone in next to no time.

 

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Next up was the starter and I can honestly say this is one of the best things I have ever eaten. The asparagus was cooked in three ways, each of which was completely different to the others and brought out another flavour element of the ingredient, and the scotch-style quails eggs were unbelievable; I would happily eat them every day for the rest of my life. I was so, so disappointed when I cleared my plate and had nothing left!

 

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The main course was always going to be a winner for Ben and I as it was one of our favourite fish to have – sea bass. Served with aromatic couscous with spicy pepper, chorizo and black olives, I dived in to this like it was going to be my last supper. A major brownie point was scored by Richard in that he adjusted this dish slightly for me (I have a nut allergy – yes, I know, I’m a pain in the backside!) but kept it the same for everybody else. Quite often when I have dinner somewhere I find I have to miss out on the food I want, or will be served a smaller portion due to part of the meal being removed, but Richard prepared me a no-nut version. Excellent customer service and something that was much appreciated.

 

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And finally, the bit you’ve all been waiting for – dessert – an assortment of lemon treats! First off, LOOK at the presentation. It’s clear how much effort went in to not only making this course but also in presenting it in such a way that it looked like a piece of artwork. Delicious delicious artwork. With a lemon tart, lemon sorbet, lemon drizzle cake, lemon curd doughnut and lemon clotted cream, there was so much to choose from on this plate and I was at bursting point by the time I finished. Each component was completely individual and clearly separate from the others, but they all tied together beautifully with the lemon flavour running throughout. It’s almost impossible to choose my favourite part, but if pushed I think I’d have to choose the donut… or the cake… or the sorbet…

 

Having now experienced a private chef at home, I would definitely recommend it. If you have a special occasion or are hosting a dinner party, the last thing you want to do is spend all evening in the kitchen and miss out on quality time with your guests. The service we received was faultless, the food was out of this world and when he finished for the night, Richard cleaned and tided up after himself, leaving the room absolutely spotless.

 

Thank you Richard for your amazing talent, thank you La Belle Assiette for offering us this opportunity and thank you Haydy for letting us use your house for this little get-together!

 

If you want to hire your own La Belle Assiette chef to cook for you in your home, you can use the code ESSEXEATS to get £30 off your first booking! Let me know if you decide to treat yourself!

 

 

Penny xx

 

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* In Association with Brand *

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Shop Local with East of England Co-op

Shop Local with East of England Co-op

Something I’ve noticed over the last few years is that society seems to be taking a reminiscent step backwards and returning to old-time views when it comes to certain aspects of life. Delicate cupcakes and retro bikes are in, carefully sculpted beards are making ladies weak at the knees, and I know I’m not the only one whose wardrobe features one or two structured 50s style dresses. Similarly, there seems to be an increasing focus on supporting local businesses and bringing economy-boosting spending out of the pockets of the global conglomerate bigwigs and back into our local areas.

 

A few weeks ago I was asked by East of England Co-op to visit a local supermarket of mine (who shall remain nameless as I’m not here to bash anyone) and see what local produce I could find on their shelves. “Simple!” I thought, “I’ll grab some meat and veg as that’s bound to come from round here and possibly a cheeky few bottles of locally brewed ale too. Y’know, for research purposes”.

 

How wrong I was. It wasn’t as simple as I thought. In fact, I found not a single item with local origins.

 

I’m sure I must have looked pretty shifty as I wandered the fruit and veg aisle, but I spent a good while reading the labels on every product, only to find that not one of them came from inside the UK, let alone Essex! Most had started it’s life in a faraway land, reaching our less sunny climes by air or sea.

 

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Next I ventured to the meal aisle where I found labels simply stating their starting point as ‘UK’ and although the ales had a few UK sources (Kent being a big producer it seems), in the wine section there was only ONE choice that came from our homeland, and that was a box of white that left a substantial amount to be desired when I decided to give it a try. (I only drank half and we all know I’m not the sort to leave even a snifter of wine unclaimed).

 

In an ideal world I think most of us would shop local if we could, buying our bread from a village bakery, our eggs from a local farm shop and growing all our own veg ourselves in our gardens or a nearby allotment, but the nature of the modern world means that for most of us, this is just a pipedream, as we lead such busy lives that we are left with no time or, perhaps, inclination to do such things. It’s no surprise then that venturing to a supermarket to buy everything we want in one go is the route most of us venture down when it comes to restocking our cupboards – it’s quite simply the quickest and easiest option.

 

Personally, I think it’s great to see a supermarket chain supporting UK producers of goods and striving to stock their shelves with items that support the local economy; this is definitely an admirable quality and one I wish more supermarkets would embrace. I appreciate their focus is on profit margins, but it seems a shame to have so many items borne of our own soil and not to be utilising them. What a waste!

 

Next time you’re in your local supermarket, why not take the challenge and spend a few minutes seeing where your grocery items began their journey, I bet you’ll be surprised!

 

If you want to try out your local East of England Co-op, you can find your nearest branch on their websites store finder.

 

Penny xx

 

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* In Association with Brand *

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ICEBAR LONDON {AD-REVIEW}

ICEBAR LONDON  <font size="3">{AD-REVIEW}</font>

The final instalment of our London Date Weekend – a review of ICEBAR LONDON.

 

I’ve been to this venue a few times in the past but it was Ben’s first time and I was really excited for him to see it. It’s such a fun place to be, really quirky and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone in there that didn’t have a smile on their face.

 

For those of you that don’t know, ICEBAR LONDON is so called because it is a bar made of ice. The walls are covered in ice, the bar is made of ice, there are ice sculptures dotted around the room (which are changed annually) and even the glasses you drink out of are made of ice!

 

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Situated in Heddon Street, just off of Regents Street, it’s location is really nice, being in a pedestrian mews-type side road dotted with other bars and restaurants (we made a note to ourselves that we have to go back some time and sample some of the other delights down there!)

 

Because it’s so cold, access to the bar is time limited and arranged in time slots, so you’re best to book beforehand as it is a popular place to go and you’re not guaranteed to get in if you just turn up at the door (although if you’re in the area I’d say it was worth a shot!)

 

After queuing up, the doors open and customers are allowed in, but not before they pop a padded warm cape with attached gloves over your head. The room itself is below freezing (-4 degrees!) so you need these capes otherwise you wouldn’t be able to stay in there for too long; all visits are limited to 40-minutes for health and safety reasons but towards the end of that time, even with the cape and gloves on, you can definitely feel the chill!

 

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When we went the ice sculptures were sweet themed, with the ice bar being carved into the shape of an ice cream van, plus a pineapple and cupcake placed elsewhere in the room.

 

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There were also a couple of tables carved out of ice which we sat at for a couple of photos before moving to allow others an opportunity to try them out.

 

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You can see the glasses made of ice in these photos – they were very cold and slippery so you definitely needed to wear your gloves to drink out of them!

 

The drinks were really nice; we both had two each and they were a lot of stronger than I thought they would be. For some reason I anticipated them being a bit on the weak side, but there was definitely no scrimping and they were really tasty. I’m a sucker for a cocktail so definite brownie points to ICEBAR LONDON on this one!

 

One thing I found really amazing was the ice itself – it is natural ice carved from a river in Northern Sweden which is renowned for it’s high purity. The outcome of this is that the ice in the bar is really clear and bright, and you can see the ripples from the movement of the water as it has frozen whilst moving along the river. It’s stunning to look at and isn’t something that can be recreated with manmade ice that has been created artificially.

 

As always, I had a brilliant time and it was great to see Ben seeing it all for the first time. It really is a special place to visit and one that can be returned to time and time again.

 

Thanks for having us ICEBAR LONDON; I have no doubt we will be back!

 

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Penny xx

 

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* This visit was provided free of charge for review purposes but, as always, all opinions are my own (and Ben’s!) *

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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.