Our stay at Beech Hill Hotel, Windermere

On the last day of our stay-cation in the UK, we stayed at Beech Hill Hotel & SPA.  

Location:

Beech Hill Hotel & SPA is located in on the shores of Lake Windermere – England’s largest natural lake with river cruises and walking routes being within easy reach. It is just a short drive from the popular resort of Ambleside.

Rooms:

Beech Hill Hotel & SPA has 55 rooms ranging from simple ‘classic’ to exclusive Ruskin Suite. During our stay, we were accommodated in a classic room, one of the best value rooms offered at the hotel. It was spacious and offered a view of the lake as well as the fells beyond. It had classy decor and provided the homely comforts you require whilst being away from home – flat screen TV, complimentary WiFi access, telephone, hairdryer in addition to selection of tea and coffee, a work desk and a couple of chairs to relax on.

Our en-suite bathroom had a slightly outdated decor with both shower and bath. Towels and Gilchrist & Soames toiletries were provided.

Facilities:

Holidaymakers choosing Beech Hill Hotel & SPA can relax in the  ‘Griffin Bar and Lounge’ that also serves afternoon tea and light snacks. It has a homely feeling with features such as log fires and a large terrace overlooking the lake. Breakfasts & dinners are served in Burlington’s – AA Rosette Restaurant. An extensive Continental breakfast is available and for an extra £9.95 you can upgrade it to full English.

In addition, if you wish to relax and unwind Beech Hill Hotel has its own SPA centre consisting of an indoor heated swimming pool, a sauna, a steam room and outdoor spa pool. You can access it for a supplement of £15 per person for a duration of your stay. There are a range of Caudalie treatments available if you wish to spoil yourself with a facial or a massage.

Restaurant:

Breakfasts & dinners are served in Burlington’s – AA Rosette Restaurant. An extensive Continental breakfast is available and for an extra £9.95 you can upgrade it to full English.

When it comes to dinners – you can select two-five courses dinner:

  • The Two course menu is priced at £29.95
  • The Three course menu is priced at £39.95
  • The Five course menu is priced at £44.95.

Restaurant’s Head Chef – Lukasz Zebryk prides himself on working with local suppliers so he can fulfill his ambition to provide his dinners with the best experience of our local flavours of North Yorkshire, Cumbria and surrounding areas.

We decided to have a 3-course dinner. To start with, I had some ham terrine with quail egg, apple & toast.

My husband had some mackerel accompanied by beetroot & shallots dressing. Both dishes were presented nicely and flavorful.
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Next, I had a fillet steak served with hand cut chips, tomato, onion & mushroom.

My husband had some lamb rump with mint mash, kale & carrot. Both dishes were palatable.

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Finally, for my dessert (surprise, surprise!) I had some sticky toffee puddling with banana, vanilla ice cream & butterscotch. A question to all my regular readers: can you see a pattern here? Hahaha! I know, I know – i think I had sticky toffee pudding as a dessert everywhere we stopped in the Lake District! I really liked the caramelised banana addition to this classic pudding – it was delicious.

My husband had a cheeseboard served with some apple, celery, grapes, chutney, crackers & Port. It was appetizing.

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Overall experience:

Beech Hill Hotel & SPA is a nice hotel placed a magnificent location, offering a good food and good service. If you are planning a trip to the Lakes then it’s worth considering.

Website:

For more information and to book visit their website.

Address:

The Beech Hill Hotel & Spa
Newby Bridge Road,
Windermere,
Cumbria.
LA23 3LR

Hope you enjoyed reading this review!

X

Pauline

Lovely dinner at Ees Wyke Country House, Sawrey

What do you consider a perfect meal? For me it’s who I am having the meal with, mouth-watering food, good-service and pleasant decor / surroundings. Ees Wyke’s restaurant ticked all this boxes.

Location:

Ees Wyke restaurant is located in a classic English dinning room of an elegant Georgian house Ees Wyke Country House in Cumbria, near the small village of Sawrey and less than 3 miles from the town of Hawkshead. It is set on high ground overlooking and adjacent to Esthwaite Water and providing spectacular views to the Langdale Pikes and Grizedale Forest. It offers a perfect base not only for a delicious food but also for exploring the wonders of the Lake District. Additional bonus is that Ees Wyke’s dining room provides breathtaking views over Esthwaite Water to Coniston Old Man to the Langdale Pikes. Simply stunning!

The menu:

The menu is created daily by Ees Wyke’s current owner – Richard Lee who purchased it over 15 years ago and he is also in-house Head Chef. The choices on the menu are limited in order to ensure quality so you can rest assured that whatever you select will be tasty and satisfying. All dishes use only the very best of local produce from top local suppliers and Richard prides himself in the relationships he built with them over the years. If you like to have some wine with your meal then Ees Wyke’s wine list offers a wide range of wines from the “New World” to French classics. They are all reasonably priced and sourced based on their ratings.

Prior to the dinner, guests can have a drink, in one of two spacial lounges, on the veranda or in a garden. When the dinner is served, you will be escorted to your table by a friendly waitress – Angela.

As we were staying in Ees Wyke, we booked our dinner for 7:30p.m. When we entered the dinning room, there was already some other guests seated who were also eager to discover Richard’s cooking based on the typical English dishes with a French influence. They were loyal dinners who returned to Ees Wyke on their travels to Lake District after discovering the restaurant a couple of years ago. As soon as we sat down, our waitress welcomed us and we received some complimentary freshly baked bread and butter.

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For our starter, we both decided to have some pork and apricot terrine with pistachio nuts served with roasted vegetable chutney on toast. What an impressive combination! It was urban, elegant and had that pleasurable chunkiness of pistachios added.
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Next, it was time for our mains. As I love seafood, I decided to have a fillet of salmon with mint and cucumber wrapped in puff pastry bedded on some lobster sauce and served with a side of seasonal vegetables – carrots & broccoli.

My husband had noisettes of local lamb pan fried and served with a wine, mint and garlic gravy. Both dishes were excellent and we cleared our plates in no time.

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Lastly, it was time for my favorite course of any meal – dessert. I decided to have my best-loved sticky-toffee pudding which was served with hot butterscotch sauce. It was delectable and I would happily have eaten another one if that was an option.
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My husband had a cheese board which included 4 regional cheeses:

  • Crook (a soft blue veined cheese),
  • Crofton (unpressed cows and goats milk cheese from Carlisle),
  • Eden Chieftain (A creamy, close textured mature cheddar style cheese),
  • Eden valley Brie by the Appleby Creamery using local milk.

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They were presented beautifully with some crackers, celery and grapes. It’s always great trying local produce and this just convinced us that the British cheese is amongst the best in the world!

Overall experience: 

We both loved our dinner at Ees Wyke Country House and Richard somehow managed to combine home cooking with top French professional standards and influence. All dishes were well thought of and included the best local ingredients to bring up the most aromatic flavors of each course on offer. I would happily dine here anytime especially when I consider how affordable the dinner was – at £37.99 for 3-course dinner, it’s a bargain! You should definitely visit. I promise – you will not regret it.

Website:

For more information and to book visit their website.

Address:

Near Sawrey
Ambleside
Cumbria
LA22 0JZ
England

Hope you enjoyed reading this review!

X

Pauline

Our stay at Ees Wyke Country House, Sawrey

As our stay-cation in the magnificent Lake District continued, we carried on discovering glacial ribbon lakes, rugged fell mountains and some lovely hiking places in Cumbria. After a long day hiking around White Moss Walks and Stock Ghyll Force fall, we came across a hidden gem when we stopped for a night in a lovely Ees Wyke Country House.

Location:

Ees Wyke Country House is perfectly located in Cumbria, near a small village of Sawrey and less than 3 miles from the town of Hawkshead. It is set on high ground overlooking and adjacent to Esthwaite Water and providing spectacular views to the Langdale Pikes and Grizedale Forest. You will be pleased to discover that Ees Wyke Country House was once the holiday home of Beatrix Potter – an English writer, illustrator, natural scientist and conservationist. It offers a perfect base for exploring the wonders of the Lake District with Hill Top being only a 4-minute walk away. It is also just a 30-min walk from the head of Lake Windermere, England’s largest natural lake. If you are an adventure seeker then you can walk on the tree tops at Go Ape Grizedale which is a short drive away.
Alternatively, if like me, long walks are more appealing then I would suggest taking a lovely walk along the Windermere shoreline and Rawlinson Nab recommended by Richard Lee – Ees Wyke Country House’s owner and on-site chef. He used to take it with his late wife – Margaret and I would suggest you to experience it when you stay here.

Facilities:

According to the Ees Wyke Country House’s website: ‘Ees Wyke was built as a Lake District retreat for a Lancashire mill owner in 1742′. It has remained a private home until it was converted into a guest house with some famous visitors such as above mentioned Beatrix Potter, visiting on several occasions. Ees Wyke’s current owner purchased this elegant Georgian house over 15 years ago and as he has a wealth of experience in hotel management since he took it over Ees Wyke has won multiple awards which are proudly displayed in the lounge and dining areas.

Guests can have a drink, read a book or relax in one of two spacious lounges, on the veranda or in a garden. Breakfast and dinner are served in the dinning room.

The breakfast at Ees Wyke Country House has received an AA award and is simply spectacular. It is sourced from local ingredients i.e. sausages and dry cured bacon are from the local butcher or you can try a Loch Fyne kipper or poached Finnan haddock. You can also try some continental breakfast including a selection of cereals, freshly squeezed juices, compotes, porridge and freshly baked croissants. Guests can also book for a freshly prepared 3-course dinner with a daily changing menu. The choices were limited in order to ensure quality and the dishes we selected were mouth-watering and we cleared our plates in no time.

Rooms: 

Ees Wyke Country House is a small boutique hotel with only 9 rooms. We stayed in the ‘blue’ room situated on the 1st floor providing breathtaking views of Esthwaite Waters and the fells beyond.

It had a traditional and classy decor with a mix of antique and contemporary furniture. It provided us with all the homely comforts you require whilst being away from home – satellite TV, selection of tea and coffee, work desk, and a comfortable king-sized bed. Complimentary sherry was an adorable thought and we appreciated it after a full day walk.

Our en-suite bathroom had a classic decor. Penhaligon toiletries, and soft fluffy towels were provided.

Overall experience: 

I could continue and write 1000s of words about how Ees Wyke Country House is worth your custom, about how it’s owner Richard somehow manages to combine home cooking with top French professional standards of cooking, about how the breakfast is hands down the best I’ve had in the North West and how Angela (the front of house) entertained us with the stories and advise on the best local walks and attraction. I could write all this, but none of it matters, the Ees Wyke Country House is simply excellent and the view from its rooms is world class – simply breathtaking. This soul-soothing scenery is definitely something I would love to wake up to everyday…

Lastly, if you are planning a trip to the Lake District then you should definitely book a room in this classic country house. You will not regret it. Both me and my husband loved it here and being looked after by Richard and Angela seemed like we were staying in some relatives house. I would love to return here soon and have already mentioned to my husband that we should travel here for my birthday in May.

Website:

For more information and to book visit their website.

Address:

Near Sawrey
Ambleside
Cumbria
LA22 0JZ
England

Hope you enjoyed reading this review!

X

Pauline

Our stay at Rothay Manor Hotel, Ambleside

As our stay-cation in the UK continued we traveled to the magnificent Lake District. I love hiking and discovering new places so I was super excited to visit this popular vacation destination, known for its glacial ribbon lakes, rugged fell mountains and historic literary associations. Whilst in a popular market town of Ambleside, we stayed at the luxury Rothay Manor Hotel & Fine dining. 

Location:

Rothay Manor Hotel & Fine Dining is perfectly located in Cumbria, in the picturesque village of Ambleside which marks the head of Lake Windermere, England’s largest natural lake which is only 450 yards away. It is just a short few minutes walk from the town center which has now become a major tourist resort with shops, restaurants and a cinema. In addition, it offers a perfect base for exploring the wonders of the Lake District. I was pleased to discover that the hotel put some proposed itineraries of local walks which you can easily access by scanning a QR code whilst in reception. We took a couple of the recommended walks and they offered breath-taking views. If walking is not your thing then you can hire mountain bikes or Segways or have some fun at GoApe adventure.

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Rooms:

Rothay Manor Hotel & Fine Dining is a Grade II Listed house built in 1825 with landscaped garden and period features. Guests can relax in a spacious lounge which is also perfect for a drink or two after a day discovering the Lakes.

All rooms are named after local falls – we stayed in a superior room situated on the 1st floor which was named after famous local waterfall – Tom Gill. Our room was spacious and had it’s own balcony overlooking the gardens to the fells beyond. It had a stylish and classy decor. Our room provided the homely comforts you require whilst being away from home – satellite TV, in-room safe, mini-fridge, selection of fairtrade tea and coffee, work desk, a couple of armchairs to rest on and a comfortable bed.

Our en-suite bathroom had a modern decor with both shower and bath. Some large, fluffy towels and bathrobes as well as the luxurious Noble Isle toiletries were provided.

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Restaurant:

Rothay Manor Hotel has a fine dining restaurant which was awarded 3 AA rosettes. It offers modern British cuisine. Its Head Chef – Daniel McGeorge creates memorable dining experiences using only the best fresh, seasonal ingredients. His passion for great food is reflected with 2 tasting menus plus a la carte menu available daily. All of the menus can be adapted to accommodate your dietary requirements.

We decided to have a 5-course tasting menu. To start with, we had some Scottish Langoustine with carrot, yuzu, timut pepper, shiso. The dish had creative flavors and was delectable. Secondly, we had some Norfolk quail breast, leg, onion, girolle and pine. It was juicy and succulent.

Next, we had some monkfish with sweetcorn, red pepper, sea kale, XO and coriander. I love seafood and the dish was simply luscious. For our final course, we had some Cumbrian Dexter beef sirloin, tongue, bone marrow, aubergine, sea beet and nasturtium. The dish was flavorful and my husband’s favorite dish from our dining experience at the Rothay Manor’s restaurant.

Finally, we had a cheeseboard to share. It had a great selection of some local cheese served with artisan crackers, honey, olives and chutney. It was appetizing.

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Overall experience:

Rothay Manor Hotel & Fine Dining offers a perfect base for anyone travelling to the Lake District. I also discovered that its management team put together special interest short breaks on offer i.e. for art collectors and walking holidays enthusiast so make sure that you check their seasonal offering.

Rothay Manor’s Fine Dining restaurant is a must-have to add to your list if you are in the area and I am sure you will enjoy all dishes on the menu – I certainly did and I will definitely return here again to experience some other dishes.

Lastly, all staff members we came across made us feel welcomed and were professional which is always appreciated when you are away.

Website:

For more information and to book visit their website.

Address:

Rothay Manor Hotel
Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 0EH

Hope you enjoyed reading this review!

X

Pauline

Our stay at The Black Bull Inn, Sedbergh

As some of you know, due to COVID, I decided to take a stay-cation in the UK traveling around the North of England and visiting some stunning places during my journey. Whilst hiking in the Yorkshire Dales with my husband, we stayed for at The Black Bull – a former 17th century coaching inn. Its owners – Nina Matsunaga and James Ratcliffe moved from Manchester to Sedbergh in 2014 and opened the Three Hares – a popular local cafe and deli located across the street which won a host of accolades and appeared in the Good Food Guide. In 2016, they have embarked on another project and decided to transform and develop The Black Bull.

Location:

The Black Bull Coaching Inn is located in Cumbria, in the picturesque village of Sedbergh which is one of the UK’s most famous book towns. It sits within the Yorkshire Dales National Park, at the foot of the splendid Howgill Fells and James refers to Sedbergh as the neck of Britain – Cheshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Durham, Northumberland and Cumbria. He is right as visitors can easily reach these destinations whilst experiencing this interesting town and its surroundings at the same time.

Service:

James, Nina and Ernest are the family behind The Black Bull and as soon as you enter you get that vibe that you are visiting your relatives or friends which you haven’t seen for a while. Everyone is super friendly and makes you feel relaxed and welcomed.

Rooms:

After transforming The Black Bull, the Couple opened an 18-bedroom hotel with a spacious dining room and bar. All rooms are named after local fells – we stayed in room 11 – Crook. Our room was spacious and its decor was influenced by Japanese design combined with using local designers who provided some accessories such as Herdwick and Rough Fell carpets and blankets, mugs that were hand-made by local artist Rebecca Callis and evocative photography of the surrounding area by Rob Whitrow.

Most importantly our room provided the homely comforts you require whilst being away from home – tea & coffee making facilities, homemade cookies, dressing table and a very comfortable bed to sleep in.

Our en-suite bathroom had a modern decor with see-through glass-walled design however if baring it all in front of your travel companion is too much then you are always able to pull a privacy curtain across. In addition to a nice open shower there was also a bath available to relax in after a whole day of hiking. Soft towels and a selection of toiletries from Sedbergh Soap Company were provided.

Restaurant:

I always like trying the restaurants in the establishments we visit. After reading about Nina’s heritage and the culinary awards she has won, I booked a table for a dinner at The Black Bull.

The menu is based on the best British, European and Asian-inspired dishes. Sourcing local products and establishing long-lasting relationships with the suppliers are important to the Owners and this reflects in the menus which change daily in order to use the best ingredients available at any given time. The wine list is congruent with the menu.

Our dinner was the one of the best meals we’ve had whilst in the Yorkshire Dales. Let me tell you about it and the dishes we had…

To start with I had some lobster gratinee with summer vegetables. My husband had some wood pigeon with blackberry and cobnut. Both dishes were tasty and presented beautifully.

For my main, I decided to have some Hereford beef fillet, brisket accommodated by some hokkaido squash and wild garlic. My husband had wild Lakeland venison wellington with some pickled walnut and spinach. We finished both dishes in no time.

Sticky toffee pudding is always my choice if it’s on the menu so it was not a surprise that I had it this time. My husband decided to have a cheeseboard. We both loved our choices and once again cleared our plates showing how we enjoyed the meal.

Overall experience:

To sum up, The Black Bull offers a perfect base from where you can experience the Yorkshire Dales. This relaxed yet luxurious coaching inn would be a perfect accommodation for anyone seeking to experience the English countryside and tranquility of Sedbergh. Whether you are thinking about a hiking break or a romantic escape with your loved one – I am sure that you’ll enjoying staying here as much as both myself and my husband did. You definitely need to experience their restaurant too as both food and service were faultless. Do remember to book it in advance though as it was fully booked on Wednesday evening when we visited as due to COVID restrictions there are less tables available.

Website:

For more information and to book visit:

https://www.theblackbullsedbergh.co.uk/

Address:

The Black Bull,
44 Main Street,
Sedbergh,
Cumbria,
LA10 5BL

Hope you enjoyed reading this review!

X

Pauline

Magical Afternoon Tea at Cake Boy, Battersea, London

I love catching up with my friends and what a better way to do it than over a glamourous afternoon tea. I have recently visited ‘Cake Boy‘ in Battersea, London and I was really impressed.

Venue and location:

Cake Boy is located in a quiet, residential development on the award-winning Battersea Reach next to the river Thames in South West London. It can be easily reached by the public transport and Clapham Common station is only a short 10-minutes walk from the venue.

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Service and atmosphere:

The Afternoon Tea is served daily from 12 noon to 4pm. Cake Boy offers its guests a relaxing environment in beautiful surroundings. Guests have an opportunity to sit inside in a colourful lounge, in an outdoor seating area, or next to an open fire for those colder afternoons. Wherever you decide to sit, rest assured that you will have an unforgettable experience.

The menu: 

Cake Boy’s afternoon tea was created by its founder Eric Lanlard who has become a well-known global baking ambassador responsible for creating bespoke afternoon teas and sweet treats for the award winning P&O Cruises , Virgin Atlantic Airways and Marriott International .

Cake Boy offers 2 types of Afternoon Teas – Classic Cake Boy Champagne Afternoon Tea or a Classic Vegan Cake Boy champagne afternoon tea. We decided to experience a ‘Classic Champagne Afternoon Tea’. When we sat down, we were offered to choose from a selection of exclusive TWG teas. Next, we received an absolutely stunning set of beautiful sweet and savoury delicacies. Our waiter walked us through what was presented to us and, before he left, he sprayed some edible perfume. We started with a few finger sandwiches including:

  • Smoked salmon Zaatar croissant – Inspired by the Middle East this fragrant and buttery croissant is fill with smoke salmon topped with salmon caviar;
  • Ras el hanout chicken petit pain – A sweetly spiced Moroccan roasted chicken in a buckwheat sourdough bread;
  • Serrano ham pretzel – A light pretzel loaf with caramelised onion marmalade and sweet Serrano Ham, oven roasted tomato and baby basil buds.

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They were all tasty and beautifully presented. It was truly a feast for all senses! 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:

  • South American Rain Forest colonnade – A 72% towering Kayambe chocolade cylinder filled with Valrhona pistachio praline, passion fruit gel and a 66% dark chocolate mousse;
  • Red berry & lytchee pearls tart – A all butter shortcrust pastry filled with a red berry mousse topped with fresh forest fruits and juicy lytchee pearls;
  • Rum Baba verrine – A twist on this Parisian classic soaked in a lovely Madagascan vanilla syrup layered with crème patissière, Fresh berries in hibiscus nectar and an injection of dark west indies rum
  • Assorted macarons.

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Overall experience:

What can I say? Wow! Wow! Wow! Cake Boy is definitely a hidden gem and anyone travelling to South West London should stop by for some refreshments. This boutique patisserie’s décor is vibrant and lively, service is exceptional and our treats not only looked wonderful but they were also all extremely tasty.

In addition to the fabulous afternoon tea we experienced, Cake Boy is also a perfect destination for breakfast or lunch. Alternatively, if you would like to improve your cookery skills then you should check out Cake Boy’s state of the art cookery school where all classes are taught by Master Patissier Eric Lanlard himself who is according to Vanity Fair magazine, one of the best pâtissiers in the world.

I will definitely visit again soon!

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Price:

£45 per person

Website:

For more information and to book visit:

https://cake-boy.com/afternoon-tea/

Address:

Unit 2 Kingfisher House

Juniper Dr, Battersea

London SW18 1TX

I hope that you enjoyed reading this review!

X

Pauline

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.

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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;

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  • 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.

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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.

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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

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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!

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Pauline

Our stay at Chilston Park Hotel in Lenham, Kent

Whether you are looking for a romantic break for two, a spa break or just a weekend away then you should definitely check what Hand Picked Hotels offer. It was my first adventure when I discovered one of their properties and let me tell you – I loved it. I recently travelled to Kent’s countryside and stayed in the stunning Chilston Park Hotel. If, like me, you are seeking the best places to stay in then you should definitely visit.

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Location:

Chilston Park Hotel in located in the picturesque village of Lenham. Visitors can easily reach it whether they are travelling from Ashford, Dover or London which are only a short drive away. If you enjoy romantic walks then the hotel offers picturesque views of its neighbouring lake combined with a tranquil charm of its garden.

In addition, if you are planning to stay in Kent for a few days then Chilston Park Hotel would be a perfect base from where you can experience this beautiful part of England with many famous castles, landmarks and nearby white cliffs.

Service:

As soon as we entered the hotel, we were welcomed by a helpful receptionist. The porter took us to our rooms and as there was some time to spare we decided to have a drink at the historical lounge. Both bar and restaurant staff were helpful and professional.

Rooms:

Chilston Park Hotel offers its guests 53 bedrooms to suit their needs and budget – ranging from classic rooms to exclusive suites. All rooms were individually styled and are now known by a name, not a digit, as they have their own unique history and feel. Some rooms come with a view of the lake others overlook the grounds. Most importantly they all provide homely comforts you require whilst being away from home.

We stayed in ‘Evelyn’ which features a stunning views across the garden and grounds. Our room featured a comfortable, pencil four poster bed with luxury linen, a large wardrobe, coffee table with two chairs and a telephone. In addition, there were tea and coffee making facilities.

Our en-suite bathroom also had a classic décor. A selection of natural bath toiletries was supplied. In addition, there were some soft towels, slippers and bath gowns provided.

Facilities:

Besides its charming rooms, hotel features the bar, lounge as well as a pretty garden. After sightseeing during the day, the bar was a great place to relax and enjoy a drink. A nice selection of alcoholic beverages and cocktails was on offer.

In addition, there were many great historic features such as beautiful classic staircase, fireplace with two guarding lions and a bookshelf with lots of old historic books.

Restaurant:

The hotel also prides itself in having a 2 AA Rosette – ‘Culpeper’s’ restaurant that offers an inviting atmosphere and is located in the original dining room of the house featuring a decorative ceiling and fireplace.

As we are massive foodies, we decided to have our dinner there and we were impressed with the vibrant, modern British, seasonal dishes created by the head chef – Adrian Martin. I was also happy to discover that many of the ingredients were sourced locally to offer the highest quality dishes. We decided to have some house red wine with our meal but diners also have an opportunity to sample some of the wines offered by the sommelier.

To start with I had some pan seared Rye Bay scallops with burnt onion relish, cauliflower purée and pancetta crumb. They were simply divine. My husband had some griddled tiger prawns roasted in red pepper sauce, citrus and parsley oil.

For my main, I decided to have some roast fillet of Atlantic cod in parsley cream sauce whilst my husband had a crispy belly of Caldecott pork and braised cheek layered with garlic and potato cake, caramelised apple puree and Biddenden cider vinaigrette. Both dishes were cooked to perfection and we finished them in no time.

Choosing a dessert was not a problem at all when I saw a sticky toffee pudding on the menu. It was accompanied by some Butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream which was simply mouth-watering. My husband decided to have a selection of British cheeses served with some homemade chutney and Miller’s Damsels wafers.

Overall experience:

Chilston Park Hotel offers a charming accommodation to anyone seeking to experience a relaxing and unforgettable moments in the English countryside. From the moment we entered, we were enchanted by its history, décor and pretty location. Both food and service were faultless so I would definitely recommend this hotel to anyone who plans any adventures to Kent.

I would love to experience some other hotels from Hand Picked Portfolio as I was really impressed with this establishment.

Website:

For more information and to book visit:

https://www.handpickedhotels.co.uk/chilstonpark/

Address:

Sandway, Lenham, ME17 2BE, Kent United Kingdom

Hope you enjoyed reading this review!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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/

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Pauline