Christmas Entertaining at Leiths School of Food and Wine in London

Let’s be honest, I am not an experienced chef and most of the beautiful pictures of food many of you admire on my Instagram are of the dishes made for me at the restaurants I dine at. Nevertheless, I love a challenge and I decided to eat out less and learn how to prepare some delicious dishes at home. As my family is joining me and my husband for Christmas this year, I decided to impress them and attended ‘Christmas Entertaining’ class at Leiths School of Food and Wine.

Location:
Leiths School of Food and Wine is located in a quiet area of West London close to Shepherds Bush. It is easily reachable by a public transport.

972DE32E-FBD9-4EF2-890C-3AADCFADEBD6

Classes:
Leiths School of Food and Wine is the most prestigious and respected cookery school in the UK and it offers a range of classes for all ages and abilities in addition to longer courses and professional certificate and diploma qualification for aspiring chefs. You can learn many practical skills ranging from discovering world food recipes to knife skills to healthy eating as well as masterclasses with guest chefs. If you wish to polish up your cooking skills or simply learn some new recipes then I would suggest you to check a range of themed classes. They will help you to understand how to cook perfect curries, sauces, desserts or a perfect steak to name a few. The school has a purpose-built demonstration theatre, seating 40, as well as 4 fully-equipped teaching kitchens, each accommodating 16 students.

My experience:

I arrived at Leiths School of Food and Wine around 15 minutes before the class started and I was welcomed by a friendly receptionist who asked me to wait on the first floor with other attendees. There were some pastries as well as coffee and teas provided.

Our class begun with an introduction to Angela – a very friendly and approachable chef who taught our class that is also running her own successful catering business. We were put in pairs as our class comprised of a mixture of hands on cookery and demonstrations performed by Angela.

We all had an opportunity to practice preparing some dishes to get confident in creating a perfect Christmas meal and to entertain friends and family in style during the festive season. I was positively surprised by how simple and effortless our menu was. Most dishes were designed in a way that they can be partly prepared ahead to enable you to spend more time with your guests and enjoy their company.

The dishes we created during the class included:

  • Hot smoked trout with roasted beetroot and watercress;

D1A78D76-AC0A-4328-B0E7-5F33C560F2DF

  • Marinated venison steaks and red wine sauce, with braised cabbage and thyme rosti;
  • Plum streusel tartlets with calvados cream.

To sum up, I really enjoyed the whole experience of attending the class at Leiths School of Food and Wine and got confidence in preparing the dishes we created during our hands-on cooking which was overseen by our approachable teacher – Angela. The whole experience runs like clockwork and I would recommend these classes to anyone who would like to polish their cooking skills. Whether you are an amateur or a cook you will definitely find a class or a course at Leith’s that will improve your skills.

What’s great about this cooking classes is that at the end of each session you have an opportunity to sit down with fellow students and enjoy what you prepared with a glass of wine or some elderflower water. I was impressed by everything we cooked on the day!

If you are still looking for a Christmas gift then Leiths School of Food and Wine offers a range of gift vouchers (from £50-£900) which would be a perfect present for a food-loving friend or family member.

To book your place on the next available course or class visit:

https://www.leiths.com/

Address:

Leiths School of Food and Wine,

16-20 Wendell Road,

W12 9RT London

X

Pauline

Festive Afternoon Tea at The Tea Lounge in St. Ermin’s Hotel, London

I moved to Colchester last December so I rarely travel to London now during the weekends. As a result, I do not see my friends often. As Christmas is approaching fast, I took my friend – Verity to a delicious and stylish afternoon tea in the pretty Tea Lounge at the St. Ermin’s hotel. I had a dinner this hotel at their Caxton Grill restaurant last month and absolutely loved it so I was really looking forward to having our Festive Afternoon Tea there.

Venue and location:

The Tea Lounge is located inside of Westminster’s exclusive St. Ermin’s Hotel which was voted a ‘Top London Hotel’ in Condé Nast Traveller Reader’s Choice Awards.

On my way to the venue, I decided to walk through St. James Park which is just around the corner but other attractions such as the Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland and the Houses of Parliament are only a short walk away. St. Ermin’s Hotel can be easily reachable by tube, bus or walking if you are exploring the central London.

AB39F4C9-D4FA-4F5E-B2EF-9C10918435BF

Service and atmosphere:

The Afternoon Tea is served daily from 12 noon to 6pm and sittings last 1.5hrs. We arrived at around 1 p.m. and we were welcomed by a friendly waitress. The St. Ermin’s Tea Lounge offers its guests a relaxing environment where you can indulge in the delights of afternoon tea whilst catching-up with a friend or spoiling someone you love. There was a soft, relaxing music playing in the background which was soothing after shopping on Oxford Street in the morning.

The menu: 

The St. Ermin’s Tea Lounge offers a variety of Afternoon Tea menus including gluten free and vegetarian options which are available on request. As soon as we sat down, we received a tea menu where we discovered a large selection of ‘Tea Makers of London’ teas. We both decided to have a pot of Festive Tea.

BCF2FA7D-F5AA-45BC-B77D-7C042364709C

Our tea arrived in no time and was followed by a beautifully presented stand of the sweet and savoury delicacies. We started with a range of finger sandwiches including:

  • Turkey, cranberry stuffing & baby spinach
  • Crayfish, rocket & lemon mayonnaise
  • Roasted squash, nut-free pesto & Somerset brie
  • Red pepper, hummus, mint & coriander
  • Salt beef, horseradish & mustard cress

642CD2B1-DCB7-491C-86C3-0B7230303DB9

They were all tasty and presented well. Once we finished our savoury treats, we moved to a selection of sweet cakes and pastries. I enjoyed them all but my favourite 3 were:

  • Cranberry & vanilla verrine
  • Ginger mousse with mulled berry compote
  • Chestnut sponge, spiced pear jam, nutmeg custard & brandy cream

Lastly, we had some delightful freshly baked scones (Plain & fruit) which were served with some clotted cream and a selection of jams. What a perfect end to our festive Afternoon Tea experience!

Overall experience:

The St. Ermin’s Tea Lounge not only offers a welcoming atmosphere whilst being set in pretty surrounds but also offers a great selection of sweet and savoury treats which were all beautifully presented and tasty. What a great way to refuel after shopping all morning!

This was my second visit to St.Ermin’s hotel and once again I left impressed. I will definitely visit again soon!

Price:

£49 per person with unlimited prosecco is available throughout December.

Website:

For more information and to book visit:
https://www.sterminshotel.co.uk/eating-drinking/afternoon-tea/

Address:
Tea Lounge at St. Ermin’s Hotel, Autograph Collection
2 Caxton Street
Westminster
London SW1H 0QW

I hope that you enjoyed reading this review!

X

Pauline

Learning how to cook at the Cookery School at Little Portland Street

I eat out a lot as I travel for work and when I am back home I do not always have time to prepare complex meals. When I cook though, I tend to prepare the same things over and over again. I decided that this has to change as I’ve put on a lot of weight recently. I spoke to my husband and researched some cookery schools. As we live in Colchester, I decided to travel to London and join some classes at the Cookery School at Little Portland Street.

Location:
Cookery School at Little Portland Street is perfectly located in central London – just around the corner from Oxford Circus station. If, like me, you need to travel to London then after your classes you can stay shopping and enjoy the hustle and bustle of this vibrant city.

Classes:
This cookery school offers a range of day, evening and weekend cooking classes for all ages and abilities. You can learn everything ranging from short courses in knife skills to preparing complex stews or pastries. In addition the school also offers some theme based classes such as ‘A taste of Mexico’, ‘Spanish Home Cooking’, South African / Indian cooking classes. If you wish to impress your family with some delicious dishes then perhaps you could join one of their Christmas specific classes – they all look fabulous. Similarly, the Cookery School at Little Portland Street also offers some great cooking courses which run over a number of days / weeks. Definitely worth checking out!

My experience:
Let’s be honest, I am a beginner when it comes to cooking and any fancy food you see on my social media is normally prepared for me. Nevertheless, I’ve always wanted to learn how to cook well and how to make delicious dishes that can be prepared speedily. It’s not that I am lazy but as I commute on a daily basis, in particular during week days I am just too tired to cook from complex recipes.

So far I have attended 2 classes at Cookery School at Little Portland Street.
Firstly, let me tell you about my ‘ultimate fish and shellfish’ class. Our day began with a welcome of freshly baked cheese scones accompanied by some tea and coffee. We started our day by learning how to buy the best quality, sustainable fish and shellfish. I found the shopping tips extremely useful and I know now what to look for whilst selecting fish – i.e. did you know that the eyes, smell and feel should be all considered? I certainly didn’t before coming to this class. Throughout this cooking class, different techniques of preparing fish such as skinning, filleting and boning were presented. All students also had an opportunity to practice them before we moved to trying different methods of cooking, including grilling, frying, baking, poaching and steaming. Our teacher – John explained which methods work best for different fish types. We were working in pairs  to prepare lovely dishes such as:
• fish stew with a lobster bisque base;
• calamari braised in red wine;
• pollack with a black butter, parsley and caper sauce;
• moules marinieres;
• catch of the day en-papillote with hollandaise sauce;
• griddled diver scallop salad with an oriental dressing;
• grilled prawns in the Mozambique style with green salsa or a fresh chilli sauce;
• fish cakes with tartare sauce;
• mackerel with a gooseberry sauce;
• smoked mackerel pate.

The session ended with a feast around the Cookery School table where we all had an opportunity to taste the dishes we created during the day. They were all tasty and cooked to perfection.

0ACCF1BD-4636-4B5A-B2EC-96C15E019B27

Secondly, I attended a short cake baking class. During a three hour session, all participants learnt the all-important rules for successful baking. The class was led by Ghalid who was superb to learn from. I’ve never baked before so I warned him before I joined the class but with a smile on his face he was extremely supportive and provided me lots of valid tips and tricks to start baking my own cakes.

2CA9551B-68FF-4819-A492-07C54AAA0118

Once again it was a hands-on class where we were creating some cakes from the recipes provided including:
• Victoria sponge cake;
• Lemon cake;
• Devil’s food cake;
• Olive oil & sauternes cake;
• Swiss roll;
• Carrot cake;
• Basic sponge;
• Gluten free orange cake;
• Chocolate ganache and a variety of icings.

220FFFD6-28D8-4EBB-9EE6-2DE9C4A14900
A few cakes were pre-made so that we could experience their appearance and texture. At the end of the class, we all sat down with a cup of tea and were able to sample all that we had made during the afternoon. In addition, we were given a take-away box to take home any leftovers with us. Simply amazing especially if you are a complete beginner to baking.

To sum up, classes offered at Cookery School at Little Portland Street are relaxed and casual nonetheless at the same time they are all well organised. What I enjoyed the most was a mix of demonstration combined with some hands-on cooking which was always led by qualified and approachable teachers. The whole experience ran like clockwork with kitchen helpers assisting the teachers and students doing all the washing and tidying in the background making sure that the whole day is enjoyable. Although, I attended only two classes, I learned a lot and I have already started recreating some recipes at home to the delight of my husband. There was a range of dishes that were cooked / baked during my sessions and they were perfect for anyone no matter if you are an experienced cook or a beginner like myself. I would recommend these classes to anyone who would like to improve or polish their cooking skills. I will definitely enrol on some more classes as they’ve been a great help and I cannot believe how much knowledge I consumed during 2 sessions. Correspondingly, my teachers provided me with some tips on how to cook sustainably which were all very enlightening.

To book your place on the next available course or class visit:

https://www.cookeryschool.co.uk/

X

Pauline

Dinner at Kahani, London, United Kingdom

My husband loves Indian cuisine, so this week we decided to experience Kahani – an exclusive, Michelin star, fine-dining Indian restaurant in central London.

Location:
Kahani is located opposite of the iconic Cadogan Hall, besides being on the doorsteps of luxurious boutiques and department stores such as Harvey Nichols and Harrods in Chelsea, London. It is easily reachable by public transport and is within very close proximity to Slone Square tube station whilst Knightsbridge station is only a short walk away.

96452E8D-0C60-4B48-9238-649ADFAD7E1E

Atmosphere:
Kahani’s décor is simply stunning – the restaurant is both modern and chic with the earth tones of green, red and brown as well as a reoccurring theme of the Hamsa hand (symbolizing the Hand of God) visible throughout the venue.
The restaurant is perfect for an intimate dinner date where you can start with a drink or two at the bar followed by sharing some amazing Indian cuisine. Large groups can also be accommodated as the restaurant sits up to 90 and has a separate, private dining area above the kitchen. The service was faultless so I would also consider it as a venue for business lunches or dinner as I am sure it would leave your colleagues or clients impressed.

The menu:
Indian cuisine has been established in the UK for over 200 years with the first British curry house being opened in 1809. The restaurant’s Head Chef – Peter Joseph was raised in Chennai in India and his objective was to bring a fresh approach to Indian cuisine, starting with naming his restaurant ‘Kahani’ as it means ‘story’ in Hindi to combining the traditional take on Indian cooking with his experience in British kitchens and adding his signature modern twist. He achieved that by creating an artistic menu combining the best seasonal and traditional British ingredients with Indian spices and culinary techniques.
We decided to be adventurous and asked the chef to prepare some of his signature dishes to share. We started with a selection of starters. They were all full of flavour, but we absolutely loved these 3:
• Soft shell crunchy crab with Mangalorean spices, kachumber and smoked tomato chutney;
• Octopus and calamari chaat served with some kasoondi mustard, sweet potato and grapefruit;
• Smoked Malabar prawns marinated with fresh turmeric, coconut, curry leaves.

Our starters were not only presented beautifully but they were tasty and original. My personal favourite was octopus and camari chaat – the combination of seafood with some sweet potatoes and grapefruit was simply perfect as it was both refreshing and flavoursome.

Next, it was time for our mains, we were again positively surprised by a chef with his modern take on a butter chicken and Kerala Fish Curry based on Halibut simmered with shallots, turmeric, tamarind and coconut. Our mains were served with some rice and nan bread which were all scrumptious.
Lastly, we decided to order a dessert platter to share. My sweet tooth was definitely satisfied as all of the desserts featured were mouth-watering.

Overall experience:
Kahani is a hidden gem in a busy Chelsea. It is the best Indian restaurant I’ve visited so far in London and it offers great traditional Indian cuisine with a modern, British twist. I would recommend it to anyone who wishes to experience Peter Joseph’s signature blend of spices and flavour pairings. He will take you on a journey and paint a story of an incredible Indian cuisine. Menu has a lot to offer so if you would like to experience the best Indian cuisine has to offer then you should definitely visit.

B08D6D10-980D-4891-8B2F-907BA35F39F9

Website:
For more information and to book visit:
https://www.kahanidining.com/

Address:
1 Wilbraham Pl
Belgravia
London SW1X 9AE

I hope you enjoyed reading this review!

X

Pauline

Dinner at Caxton Grill, London, United Kingdom

Last week, I was going away to visit my parents, so we decided to go for a nice, romantic meal with my husband. We love eating out and both are massive foodies, so I was excited to try an award-winning Caxton Grill.

Location:
Caxton Grill is located inside of Westminster’s exclusive St. Ermin’s Hotel which was voted a ‘Top London Hotel’ in Condé Nast Traveller Reader’s Choice Awards. It is around the corner from St. James’s Park tube station, minutes from Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament and only a short 10min walk from Victoria station. It can be easily reachable by tube, bus or walking if you are exploring the central London.

Atmosphere:
The Caxton Grill has re-launched this summer with new interiors which are elegant and sophisticated. Wooden tables are decorated with candles and some simple flower arrangements.
Since the moment we walked through the hotel’s lobby until the end of our experience, all staff that were attending our table were professional and attentive.

The menu:
The Caxton Grill’s head chef – Alexander Boyd has launched a new menu inspired by plenty of organic herbs, vegetables, salad and fruit many of which are harvested from the hotel’s rooftop kitchen garden. All dishes are prepared from the top quality, locally sourced ingredients including the best 35-day dry aged British beef and sustainably caught fish. Many of the dishes are prepared at very high temperatures using a Josper oven.

To start with I had some pan-fried hand dived scallops with courgettes and their flowers. They were simply divine.
My husband had some cured sea bass with lemon purée, cucumber, kohlrabi and parsley. The dish was stimulating and refreshing.

Secondly, as I love seafood, I decided to have a mixed fish grill prepared from the freshest fish available that day. There was a nice selection of tuna, salmon, calamari and a prawn to try which was all cooked faultlessly.


My husband had some Prime Black Angus Sirloin steak which was prepared on the Josper over that retained moisture and added a hint of smokiness to it. We eat out at least twice a week and have been to many specialist steakhouses this year including Gauchos and Hawksmoor, but James described it as the best steak he’s had so far this year. Certainly worth trying and next time I will definitely want to try it myself.

98065B05-0117-42CE-81E3-9FA6ABAFB299
After our mains, it was time for a dessert. You can judge me, but I never say no to this final course of my dinner. I decided to have some toasted almond panna cotta accompanied by an apple sorbet, blackberry and rocket. James had a ‘mojito’- a dessert based on lime chiboust, brown sugar, rum and mint. Both of them were mouth-watering.

Overall experience:
The Caxton Grill is a perfect destination for a memorable meal in the central London. Whether you live here, travel on business or visit only for a few days to visit the key sites of London, you should definitely experience it yourself as all food we tried was outstanding. In addition, our table was attended to by friendly waiters that were happy to provide us with some suggestions and made us feel welcomed throughout the evening. To sum-up, it was a great meal and I will visit again. Truly recommended!

Website:
For more information and to book visit:
https://www.caxtongrill.co.uk

Address:
St. Ermin’s Hotel, Autograph Collection
2 Caxton Street
Westminster
London SW1H 0QW

I hope you enjoyed reading this review!

X

Pauline

Dinner at GLOBO Restaurant & Wine Bar, Bratislava, Slovakia

I visited Slovakia on multiple occasions as a child when I travelled here often for my winter sport’s camps. My found childhood memories involve one of the signature Slovakian dishes – fried cheese with French fries and some tartare sauce. I haven’t visited Slovakia since I moved to the UK 16 years ago and lots has changed – many trendy eateries and wine bars emerged offering the best of local and international cuisine.
I came across a newly opened ‘Globo Restaurant and Wine Bar’ which prides itself in being: ‘an ideal place for memorable experiences’ and I decided to put this claim to test. We visited the restaurant for a dinner on the second night of our stay in Bratislava.

Location:
Globo Restaurant and Wine Bar is perfectly located in Hlavné námestie – Bratislava’s main, historic square with charming old buildings and a small fountain. It can be easily reachable by bus, tram or taxi.

C9AD0271-38BA-485A-A8D0-C9DCC3781171

Atmosphere:
The decoration of Globo Restaurant and Wine Bar is modern and elegant. Tables were softly decorated with some fresh flowers. From the moment we arrived we felt welcomed and were well looked after by our waiter and sommelier.

5BAB66E6-AF7F-4CF1-804F-5D3632270B88

The menu:
The restaurant is managed by Dominik Baranek who worked in the well-known Savoy hotel in London. What’s more the kitchen is run by a renowned chef Branislav Križan who’s been recognised as a Vice President of the Slovak Association of Chefs and Confectioners in addition to being a Captain of the Slovak National Team of Chefs and Confectioners. His team includes professional and knowledgeable waiters and friendly sommeliers.
Globo Restaurant and Wine Bar offers 2 testing menus which are prepared mainly from local, fresh bio quality ingredients and it changes seasonally. If you enjoy quality wine, then you will have a plenty of choice as the restaurant offers over 150 types of local and foreign wines. In addition, diners have an opportunity to select a pairing of wines that have been carefully chosen to harmonize with the flavours of each course. We wanted to experience something new, so we decided to try some traditional Slovakian wines which were remarkable. We also found out that they won many prestigious awards at the wine festivals in France.
To start with I had some tomato, goat cheese, basil oil whilst my husband had a dish based on 5 textures of cucumber. Both dishes were all mouth-watering and delicious.


Secondly, I had some cream of Kohlrabi, Croquette with Blue Cheese which was enjoyable. My husband had some cream of roasted tomatoes with ricotta and it was divine.


Thirdly, I received some fresh fish from the market accompanied by zucchini, teriyaki and sesame seeds. It was definitely my favourite dish which was simply outstanding!
My husband had some scallops with carrots and fennel which he enjoyed. Moving on, I had a Veal Cheek accompanied by duck liver, celery, carrot, truffle whilst my husband had venison tenderloin with some sweetbread, pak choi and cauliflower.


As a final temptation, we received our desserts. I had a dessert based on different textures of raspberries with chocolate whilst James’s dessert was based on lemon, orange and yuzu. As I have a very bad sweet-tooth, I’ve tried them both and they were simply delectable.

Overall experience:
Globo Restaurant and Wine Bar exceeded my expectation and passed its test on being an ideal place for memorable experiences. We eat out at least twice a week and travel all over the world so I can truthfully say that this was one of the best meals we’ve had this year and I would recommend anyone to visit this charming restaurant. Our food was beautifully presented and flavoursome whilst all wines we’ve tried throughout the evening were full of aromas and nicely complemented our dishes. Our table was attended to by welcoming and knowledgeable waiting staff. To summarise, it was a perfect meal in a picture-perfect location so I would definitely visit it again when I am back in Bratislava.

Website:
For more information and to book visit:
https://www.globorestaurant.sk/

Address:
Františkánske námestie 7,
811 01 Bratislava,
Slovakia

I hope you enjoyed reading this review!

X

Pauline

Our lunch at BeAbout Burger, Bratislava, Slovakia

I normally focus on fine-dining and top-end meals we’ve had. Having said that, today I would like to tell you about BeAbout Burger which we visited for a quick lunch whilst in Bratislava as it is definitely worth a visit. The restaurant was recommended to me by one of my Slovakian friends as: ‘the best place to have a gourmet burgers in.’ 

Atmosphere:

When we entered the restaurant, it was already buzzing with many dinners. We sat in the middle of restaurant and were welcomed by a waiter who kindly brought us English menus.

When you enter BeAbout Burger it feels a bit like being in an American dinner and the place has a vibrant atmosphere. The dining room has a contemporary, simple décor.

Food:

The restaurant serves a selection of starters in addition to their signature burgers. All dishes are made from high quality, fresh, local ingredients. There is also an extensive cocktails menu on offer in addition to a wide selection of local and imported alcohol being served.

We were quite hungry when we arrived so we decided to order 3 sides to share:

  • Buffalo wings & rings – barbeque glazed chicken wings, onion rings, BBQ a Blue cheese sauce.
  • Papa T’s chicken pieces – crispy chicken breast in homemade coating and Ranch sauce.
  • Crispy chicken strips – crispy chicken coated in panko mixture and Honey-mustard sauce.

All starters were tasty and tender. I really enjoyed our crispy chicken strips which were delectable.

For my main I decided to have a ‘Maple Syrup Burger’ with guacamole, bacon
beef meat, cheddar and mayonnaise. My husband decided to have ‘Tex Mex Burger’
with beef meat, cheddar, nachos, chilli beans, jalapeño peppers and Mojo sauce.

Both burgers were served with fries, onion rings, tomato, red onion and pickles. The portion sizes were very generous and unfortunately after finishing our starters and mains we were unable to have any desserts so I hope that I will be able to try some next time we are around.

If you like burgers then you should definitely visit BeAbout Burger for a lunch / dinner.  Our food was served quickly, was tasty and the service was good so I would definitely recommend it. What’s more, all dishes were reasonably priced and we could customise our burgers which is always a plus.

Address:

You can experience BeAbout Burger at one of these two locations:

Prešernova 4, Bratislava / Dulovo Námestie 5/A, Bratislava

For more information and to book visit:

https://www.beabout.sk/

I hope you enjoyed reading this review!

X

Pauline