T2 Regent St tea party 

Pop Up Experience

T2 is Australia’s leading tea retailer. T2’s iconic brand has been brewing over the last 18 years, and they now sell enough tea per month to make 9 million cups! With over 50 stores in Australia, New Zealand, the United States and the UK and now they have a brand spanking new store on London’s Regent Street. I was invited to their launch night party by Switched on Comms. Who doesn’t love a tea party?! 
The party started at 6 and I arrived to a long queue of people eagerly awaiting behind the red ropes. The queue was made up of PR invitees and T2 tea society members, which is a loyalty club for their devoted tea drinkers.  

I was greeted at the door with a cold Fruitalicious flavour tea in a cute little plastic bottle. The store is absolutely gorgeous. The iconic orange boxes which house the loose tea and contemporary teaware beautifully decorate the walls. There were temporary pop up stations set up within the store.

   
 A matcha ceremony took place at the back of the store with a matcha guru.    

  
I do drink green tea, but I’ve never had matcha, which is powdered green tea famed for its antioxidants. I can’t say I’m a massive fan, I prefer it with a bit of mint, but I enjoyed learning about the Ceremony of how to make it from the Matcha Guru.  

Hot Chai tea was being brewed and the intriguing aroma was attracting people over to the station, as well as the gorgeous girl serving it up.  

  
This tea is amazing, the smell made me salivate. Chai tea is literally a hug in a mug, it’s such a lovely warming comforting drink, and there’s so many different types at T2 including choc chip and strawberry chai. 

There was a create your own fruity ice tea station and there was a counter serving up tea cocktails! Yep alcoholic iced tea cocktails! 

   
   
There were two different types, I tried both for the purpose of this blog! 😉 What a great alternative to pimms, and a novel idea for a tea party. 

My friend and I chatted to various T2 staff and each one of them was so enthusiastic and passionate about their beloved tea. They were genuinely happy and proud to work for T2 and had been part of the team for years. The passion is definitely reflected in the products. 

 My friend and I walked around sniffing all the different teas and admiring the beautifully delicate glass cups and teapots. 

   
  

To be honest a few weeks ago I was not aware of the T2 brand but now I am, I’m definitely a fan and I’m signing up to be a member of the Tea society right now! 

It’s such a fun shop and I’ll be coming back when it’s less busy and have a thorough look round and sniff a few more teas. I’ve got my eye on a mesh ball infuser which I’ll be coming back for ………. and some chai teas …… and maybe a few more things I had my eye on too!  

  
T2 Regent St 

292 Regent St, London, W1B 3AP. England

Monday – Wednesday: 9:30AM-7:00PM

Thursday – 9.30AM-9.00PM

Friday- 09.30AM-7.00PM

Saturday: 09.30AM-7:00PM

Sunday: 12:00PM-6:00PM

Phone 02 075806360

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GELINAZ! TAKES OVER THE WORLD.  The Grand Gelinaz! Shuffle – July 9th 2015 at Hibiscus

Blog post by Restaurant, Dining with the Husband, Michelin Star Restaurant, Pop Up Experience, Two Michelin Star

I was part of an exclusive event called the grand Gelinaz! Shuffle. Gelinaz! is a collective of some of the best chefs from around the world. And for one night only something incredible happened. From Japan to Chile, from Brazil to Slovenia, France, Turkey, Sweden, Thailand, Australia, UK, Italy, Peru, Spain, Canada, Belgium and Denmark and all throughout United States, 37 of the best chefs of the planet swapped restaurants! Our one off diner was being hosted in Hibiscus, London as Claude Bosi is one of the Gelinaz! Collective along with Massimo Bottura, Andoni Luis Adruiz, Rene Redzepi and Alain Ducasse to name but a few. So Claude Bosi had jetted off to a secret location and our guest chef was not to be revealed until we sat down on the night and opened the menu. We waited eagerly in the lounge area on arrival to Hibiscus. We were one of the first to arrive. As more guests arrived it was quite amusing to see how many people asked who the chef was tonight only to be told all will be revealed at 7!  
Twitter had been buzzing with #gelinazshuffle cryptic tweets were being posted to give clues as to which chef was where. A few clues had actually gave me an idea as to who would be cooking tonight. I had mentioned to my husband earlier that I thought it may be Sean Gray. Would I be right????
As we were first to arrive we were first to be lead into the dining room. We sat down and opened up the menu to reveal our chef…………… Sean Gray! I was right! Sean Gray is the Chef de Cuisine of Momofuku Ko. Ko is located in New York and boasts two michelin stars. I had guessed as there were a couple of crucial tweets which gave the game away! 
Once the dining room was full the meal kicked off. After some delicious snacks our first course was presented.  

  
Honeymoon melon, cherries, oregano, Alsace bacon. The flavour of the melon was so intense in this dish. Great start! 

  
Cornish mackerel, cucumber, new season almond. So it’s no secret I’m not a fan of mackerel. I did try a slice of the fish but I passed the rest over to hubby. I enjoyed all the other components and soaked up the cucumber with some bread.  

  
Hereford Snails, coco bean, lemon grass, coriander. This was my absolute favourite dish of the night. I’ve had snails a few times but never presented like this. I think the mention of snails is scary for most people, but trust me if your first taste of snails was served liked this you’d be an instant fan.   

  
Scottish Langoustine, cauliflower, Szechuan pepper. Langoustine is one of my favourite ingredients and this was perfect as anticipated.  

  
Wild turbot, tarragon, Jersey royals, carrots. The star of this dish was the potato. The tiny little spud had been smoked and was bursting with flavour. A surprisingly delicious addition to the plate.  

  
Milk fed veal, English mustard, girolles & wild chervil. Stunning course, the crispy BBQd fat on the side was delicious. 

  
Oakchurch Farm raspberry, basil, lime, Szechuan pepper. The pastry casing was perfectly crumbly. The cream filling was delicious with the raspberries and basil.  

  
English peas, shiso Meringue. I have never had peas as a dessert before so was really surprised by how lovely this dish was. Peas are sweet anyway so it kinda makes sense to use them as a dessert. They complimented the meringue beautifully and were a perfect finale to such an awesome meal.  

  
As we were savouring our last morsels Chef Sean Gray entered the dining room to an applause. He then made his way round to each table shaking each diners hand. My husband got his menu signed. The grand Gelinaz! Shuffle was such an amazing experience and what contributed to it being so amazing was the incredible service from the restaurant staff, especially from the sommelier. I look forward to future events and hopefully the Grand Gelinaz! shuffle 2016 

The start of a happy new 2015 -Stelle di Stelle at Harrods 

Dining with the Husband, Pop Up Experience

We kicked the new year off in style, lunch at the Italian pop up Stelle di Stelle located in Harrods. Our resident chef was Enrico Crippa of the three Michelin starred restaurant Piazza Duomo which is also number 39 of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

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The restaurant was located within the store which was a concern before I arrived as I did not want to be dining in a fish bowl. As we were seated I was pleased that it was in a quiet part of the store and it was set out really well.

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We were first served a plate of cheese and ham, I’m not accustomed to eating parmesan in a chunk so I found this quite novel. The focaccia bread was delicious.

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The amuse bouche was a huge bowl of salad with sesame seed dressing. I was really surprised with the flavours that emerged from this, it was very pretty too.

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1st course was veal in tuna sauce. The veal was served cold and the tuna sauce, I’m pleased, wasn’t fishy, it was lovely and creamy. I ate the dish with the focaccia. It was like eating a posh beef and horseradish sandwich, gorgeous.

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2nd course was pasta filled with three different types of meat, served with their juices and topped with truffle. OMG this dish was amazing! Who doesn’t love a generous shaving of truffle? I thoroughly enjoyed this course the pasta was succulent and the filling was so flavoursome, this pasta was absolutely the best I’ve ever had, perfetto!

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Next course was braised beef and polenta. The beef was so tender and the red wine sauce really complimented it. I enjoyed the polenta as it’s something I rarely eat, mainly because I’ve had home cooked attempts and found it so bland, however this was not bland at all.

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To finish was a dessert of hazelnut cake with zabaglione (which is a type of custard) this was really yummy the cake was crumbly and tasted amazing, the sight of it really did not do it justice. Great dessert nothing fancy just delicious cake and custard.

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I was now rather full, the courses were huge and hearty, the ingredients simple and humble but the flavours were incredible. This food was definitely all about the flavours and I can still taste them now. An authentic taste of Italy in the heart of London.

 

2014 – My year in restaurants

Afternoon Tea, Brunch, Dining with friends, Dining with Mum, Dining with the Children, Dining with the Husband, Food Festival, Michelin Star Restaurant, Non Michelin Restaurants, One Michelin Star, Pop Up Experience, Three Michelin Star, Two Michelin Star

2014 has been a year of amazing restaurant experiences for my husband and I.  Halfway through the year I decided to start documenting my meals on WordPress to share with fellow foodies and to remind myself of the delicious plates of food that have been sat in front of me.

January
The year started off with my birthday meal at the Midsummer house.  As we approached the restaurant, walking over the bridge, the beautiful fairy lights looked magical.  The food I encountered was also magic.  I loved this restaurant, it was very romantic and felt special, the food was incredible and a perfect destination for celebrating my special day.  I loved the BBQd beetroot.  

February
Birth month for my husband and we dined at the Ledbury for his special day.  The service was amazing we had the tasting menu.  We were actually allowed into the kitchen and got to meet Brett Graham who was very welcoming to us.  

We also got to celebrate Valentines day in style at Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester.

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March
I took my Mum for Mother’s Day to The Skylounge at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel – Tower of London.  It was a gorgeous sunny day, and the champagne and cocktails went down a treat!

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Me & my Mummy

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April
We celebrated our wedding anniversary and stayed at Penny Hill Park and we dinned in their 2 Michelin Star The Latymer.  This was an incredible evening away, the hotel upgraded our room, the spa is the best I’ve visited and to have this incredible restaurant located in the hotel made it perfection.

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Gorgeous outdoor pool at Penny Hill Park

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Beautiful roll top bath

May
We ate at the highly anticipated Fera, hubby was desperate to get a table for the opening week but had to settle for the opening fortnight.  I loved this meal.  I loved the excitement in the dining room, I loved the way Simon Rogan presented us one of our courses and I loved that it’s so much like L’Enclume (another of my favourite restaurants).

During May I also experienced the John Lewis Garden Room pop up restaurant, twice

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And attended the ‘too many chefs’ event at the Drapers Arms in aid of action against huger.  10 chefs, 10 different courses.

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I also had a catch up with a dear friend at the two Michelin star restaurant Hibiscus. We ate from the amazing value set menu and had such a lovely time before we knew it we were the last two people in the restaurant.   I loved the ‘Pork Pie’ dish.

June
We attended the best food festival London has to offer, Taste of London.  I have been to most of the London food festivals this year and in my opinion this is head and shoulders above the rest.

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I also had a fab girly night at Shaka Zulu, Camden

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I attended a meet the makers event at Bread Street Kitchen with Gonzales Byass Sherries.

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July
A fantastic Birthday Brunch with my mum at One Aldwych

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We took the kids to The Big Easy

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Had an alfresco lunch at Cha Cha Moon

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I made marvellous macarons at Jenius Social, which was really good fun, and hard work too!

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August
I visited the lovely Tamarind of Mayfair, where I had my first taste of lobster in the form of a masala and I particularly enjoyed the Papdi chaat.  This is a fantastic restaurant the staff are lovely, it’s like being in your local Indian, but they have a prestigious Michelin Star.

This was the month I also faced my fear trying Sashimi at Yashin ocean house and actually enjoyed the experience.

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One of the best and most underrated restaurant I visited this year was Launceston Place.  I was certain this would get a second Michelin star as the food and service we received certainly deserved it!

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September

I dined 100ft high in the sky with L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
London and Alyn Williams at The Westbury.

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I also experienced a kitchen takeover Glynn Purnell at Nathan’s Outlaw’s at The Capital

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October
We visited the sophisticated Alyn Williams at The Westbury, my second experience of Alyn Williams’ food but with my feet firmly on the ground.

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Booked almost a year prior to the visit we eventually visited Tom Kerridge’s famous pub The hand and flowers.  It was great and the food was fantastic particularly the desserts.

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Drakes restaurant Woking was a lovely treat and with no expectations I was very pleasantly surprised.  Great feel to the dining room and fantastic food really liked way the cheese course was presented.

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November
This was a casual month where I dined with friends.
I dined at the The Fish & Chip Shop, Islington and it definitely is the best fish and chips I’ve had.  I loved the quirky decor too.

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Another place I visited was The Remedy wine bar, a fantastic little gem. Real cosy place offering great  charcuterie and cheese boards and quality wine.   My friend and I had a fab evening here. I will definitely be revisiting in 2015 for more catch ups with friends.

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We attended Taste of winter for the first time.  Had loads of fun and I tried food from Kurobuta London and it is a restaurant I look forward to visiting in the new year.

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I also attended a SPIES event at South Place Hotel and had a fantastic magical mystery evening.

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December
For the second year running I enjoyed a festive afternoon tea with my friends at the Conrad Hotel, Westminister.  With free flowing champagne for £45 I think this is an absolute bargain! I’m sure to be back again next December.

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So that’s a round up of my year, what a great year it has been too!  Thank you to my hubby for taking me for all these incredible meals and thank you so much to all the restaurants for the incredible food and service received.

Here’s to 2015!

 

The penultimate finale dinner in the sky cooked for by Alyn Williams

Dining with the Husband, Pop Up Experience

I was lucky enough to win seats for the penultimate finale dinner in the sky, courtesy of Speyside Glynlevit water. The chef tonight was Alyn Williams, holder of one Michelin star for Alyn Williams at The Westbury.

My husband and I arrived promptly and checked in for our flight, our faces were instantly recognised and the advantage of a second visit were we knew the best seats. We requested seats 3 and 4, we chose these seats purely because they are situated directly in front of the chef, slightly stalkerish I know. We were given our numbered red discs, collected our Taittinger champagne and perched on a stall excitingly watching on while the restaurant prepared for our dinner. As this was our second time the anxiety wasn’t there, it was pure excitement and desire for the food.

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Champagne and seat numbers

After a quick briefing we were strapped into our seats. As we lifted off the ground I saw some nervous faces, I did feel a little smug. It’s such an amazing feeling being lifted up into the air feeling the wind blowing and seeing the sun begin to set.

Our first course was already sat in front of us, weighing down the menu.

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Belota iberica, cauliflower, soused beach vegetables, cobnuts

I had never had a cauliflower dish like this before, it was very enjoyable. I loved the contrast of textures, smooth and crunchy.

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Mersea island crab, watermelon, wild herb coleslaw, gazpacho cucumber

This was as good as it looked, and the highlight on this dish for me was the coleslaw, it was delicious. Obviously the crab was good too.

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Confit cod, coco bean casserole, Alsace bacon, autumn truffles.

The coco bean casserole was soooooo good, I had to resist licking the bowl clean, this was served with a very generous grating of truffle.

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Cumbrian rose veal, braised brisket, sweetbread crumbs, brassicas

Highlight on this plate was the brisket, it was perfect! Also loved the sweetbread crumbs, which are not suitable for vegetarians! 😉

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Cornish cows curd cheesecake, spiced figs, gingerbread crisp

Gorgeous dessert, another plate licker!

It was an absolute pleasure to be sat in front of chef Alyn Williams and his assistant Rory. I guess it’s a great opportunity for them too. Not for me to be sat in front of him, but to be so close to the diners and get instant feedback. This intimate setting is such a fantastic way to interact with the chefs, the couple sat to my left were asking lots of questions, and my husband and I had the opportunity to speak with him and tell him that we were actually going to be dining at his restaurant in two weeks. My husband made the reservation before we knew our fate. When I told him how I bagged my seats for tonights dinner he shook my hand and congratulated me. He’d seen my name appear on twitter quite a few times! Hehe! I asked for my menu to be signed and before we knew it we were back on the ground. We’d gone up into the sky in daylight and came back down in the dark.

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It really was a privilege to be part of Events in the Sky’s Dinner in the sky, I’d taken off at the opening weekend and landed on the finale weekend I really felt part of the journey. Both nights were very special and I will always cherish the memories of such a unique dining experience.

I look forward to trying out the tasting menu at Alyn Williams at The Westbury with my feet firmly on the ground in the luxury of a warm dining room. If the food was this good served 100ft in the air in the freezing cold wind then I know I’m in for a real treat! Maybe I’ll get the chance to stalk, I mean meet, Alyn again and get my menu signed.

Purnell’s Outlaw Kitchen Takeover

Dining with the Husband, Michelin Star Restaurant, One Michelin Star, Pop Up Experience

Nathan Outlaw and Glynn Purnell were the hosts at this unique kitchen takeover at Outlaw’s at The Capital. The evening was held to celebrate the successful book launch of Glynn’s debut ‘Cracking Yolks & Pig Tales’. It was the perfect opportunity to try out Glynn’s cuisine in London as his Michelin star restaurant, Purnells, is located in Birmingham.

We arrived to a very busy bar, this night had been a sell out so we just loitered in the Lobby. The front of house caught my attention checked us in then showed us to our table, we were given a table right next to the ‘thrones’ where the chefs would be appearing.

The room filled up and the excitement grew. We were given champagne and canapés of smoked fish cakes, crab & cheddar tarts, and Duck ham & fig chutney.

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Canapés of smoked fish cakes, crab & cheddar tarts, and Duck ham & fig chutney

Whilst everyone was tucking in the chefs could be seen through the window to the kitchen, it was very exciting waiting for them to make their grand entrance. When Glynn and Nathan walked into the dining room all the diners applauded, they welcomed their guests, before hosting a Q&A session together.

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We see you! Nathan Outlaw & Glynn Purnell

Only a few questions were asked, one about if media had played a big part in their success, another asked for advice for aspiring young chefs and I plucked up the courage to ask simply what were their favourite restaurants. They were very comical, especially Glynn, he is exactly how he appears on Saturday kitchen and had the whole room laughing. It was like watching celebrities, and to me chefs are celebrities. I’m a foodie and these chefs are my idols, they’re very talented and I appreciate their art.

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They headed back to the kitchen to prepare nights dinner.

First course Beetroot mousse, horseradish crumble & Salted beetroot.  Such a pretty plate, gorgeous colours and loved the textures.

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Beetroot mousse, horseradish crumble & Salted beetroot

Second course Curry cured salmon, spiced mango, cauliflower, coriander. Salmon isn’t one of my favourites but the flavours in this dish were amazing! Surprisingly delicious.

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Curry cured salmon, spiced mango, cauliflower, coriander

Third course Slow cooked neck if lamb, scorched leeks & lettuce, pickled cucumber & tomato.  Wow, the meat was so tender and soft and melt in the mouth perfection.

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Slow cooked neck if lamb, scorched leeks & lettuce, pickled cucumber & tomato

Dessert Lemon meringue pie.  Beautiful blow torched meringue and a gorgeous ice cream accompaniment.

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Lemon meringue pie

Whilst enjoying the coffee and petit fours the two chefs worked the room. They made an effort to go to each and every table and thank their guests. I had my menu signed and hubby had a photo with Glynn.

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A very proud Hubby and Yummy Brummie

As expected the food was amazing, my highlights were the beetroot with horseradish and the lamb neck. It was such a pleasure and privilege to meet both chefs. Since this event last week Nathan was the winner of the AA Chefs’ Chef of the Year Award 2014-2015 and Outlaws Fish Kitchen in Cornwall was awarded a Michelin star, not a bad week for Nathan and his team! What an achievement and very well deserved too.

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Delicious breads

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Happy customer

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Sommelier in front of the ‘thrones’

The restaurant is located a stones throw from Harrods.  While we were sat I spotted a Swarovski crystal covered Mercedes, which later appeared in the news, only in Knightsbridge hey!

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The infamous Swarovski crystal covered Mercedes

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon 100ft in the sky

Dining with the Husband, Pop Up Experience

Since I saw this on an episode of Heston’s great British food I have been intrigued, so when http://www.eventsinthesky.co.uk launched I was desperate to dine in the sky, unfortunately the price tag was out of my budget. 

EITS describe it as a unique sky table, suspended 100 feet in the air. The table seats 22 guests, with a guest chef, sommelier and waiting team serving from the centre of the table. It’s truly a gastronomic experience like no other!

I watched the frenzy on twitter and after seeing the images, video clips and news articles from the press night I was determined to bag a seat. I had entered every competition going but as each one was drawn my hopes of winning were dashed. I was seriously determined to go and as luck would have it I stumbled upon a competition on L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon’s twitter page, to win seats I had to describe their new website, moments later I got a tweet @FoodObsessedSam THX, real good effort. U got ur golden ticket for 2 peeps, see u you tonight at 19:30 #londoninthesky
I was literally jumping for joy!!!!! I had absolutely smashed it!!!
I replied and my flight was all booked for Saturday at 6:30, I was excited beyond belief, my hubby was a nervous wreck!

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Restaurant preparing for lift off

As we arrived we were greeted with a glass of Taittinger champagne and given the safety rules.

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Safety rules

We were given numbered disks which were our assigned seat numbers. My husband stared nervously up at the crane, it didn’t actually look that high.
We were gathered up and given a quick briefing by Dale Agar of Events In The Sky. It was time to board.

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Ready for lift off

We were strapped into our racing style seats, suddenly we noticed our attendants shrinking, we were going up! The lift was smooth, but we did stop halfway as there was a lady who was far more nervous than my husband, after reassurance from the team we were on the up again. We reached our sumit. I wasn’t actually phased by the height, it was an incredible feeling. It was quite windy, and there was slight movement but I felt completely safe.
We literally had the best seats, sat in front of XAVIER BOYER, EXECUTIVE HEAD CHEF and AURÉLIE ALTEMAIRE HEAD CHEF of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon.

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Chefs at work Xavier Boyer and Aurelie Altemaire

We watched on as our sky high dinner was prepared. First of five courses was Royale of foie gras, aged port reduction, parmesan foam. This little shot was perfectly balanced, the sweet port and salty parmesan worked beautifully with the foie gras.

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L’Amuse Bouche

Second course was Sologne Imperial Caviar on a symphony of salmon tartar. I’m not a lover of salmon but this was delicious, I devoured it, the little crisps were gorgeous too and I scooped the rest up with my bread. I loved the tiny little mother of pearl sea shell spoon.

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Le Caviar de Sologne Imperial

Third course, marinated black cod miso served on a daikon and yuzu mousseline. Warmed by blow torch and so tender I ate it with a spoon.

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Le Black Cod

Fourth course, Free range quail stuffed with foie gras and mashed potatoes. This mash was made with love, it was paid constant attention during the flight, it was silky smooth. I’m a big fan of quail, this stuffed with foie gras is a dream!

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La Caille

Dessert, lemon bubble with lemon custard, yuzu marshmallow and yogurt ice-cream. This dish was beautiful, I adored the plate it was served on too. I felt guilty braking the sugar bubble but the delights inside were heavenly.

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La Sphere

My husbands fear passed really quickly, he was even persuaded to recline his chair so chef XAVIER BOYER could take a photo of us. The scared lady opposite even seemed to relax. The staff were great at reassuring her.

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Reclined 100ft in the air! photo taken by Xavier Boyer

I had the most incredible dining experience of my life. The food was fantastic, the restaurant was mind blowing, the atmosphere was a buzz of excitement and the banter between everyone was hilarious. As well as having the opportunity to experience this I was also privileged enough to be sat in front of the chefs and interact with them. This seriously was a priceless experience and now I’ve done it, I can justify the price tag. An opportunity not to be missed.

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Signed Menu

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Villa Maria wines

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Couldn’t resist a Shoe Selfie

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Sun set sky

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Afterglow

Unique dining experience in The Garden Room

Dining with the Husband, Pop Up Experience

I was extremely privileged to attend AEG’s The Garden Room pop up restaurant event at John Lewis’ Roof Garden, not once but twice!!! This pop up was a unique event held to celebrate John Lewis’ 150th Anniversary.

We arrived at the black door, as instructed, where we were ushered into a lift with a lawn, this took us up to the magic.  It was like the moment from Charlie and the chocolate factory when Willy Wonka opened the door to reveal his world of pure imagination.  We were literally on the roof of John Lewis’ flagship store on London’s iconic Oxford street.  The rooftop had been transformed by designer Tony Woods who became the RHS Young Garden Designer of the Year 2013.  The ground was covered with a bouncy lawn, the walls were decorated with grasses and wild flowers.  There were romantic decked areas, hedge chairs and a buzz of excitement.
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We were presented a glass of champagne and offered delicious canapés. Wow! This evening was already fantastic, I could not wait to get tucked in to the specially designed tasting menu.

The curtain was pulled back and we wandered inside the Garden Room. There was a huge white polo shaped table, growing up through the hole were huge decorated branches accompanied by a scattering of plant pots. The table intimately sat 20 dinners and from our chairs we were able to watch the masters at work in the kitchen. The menus were presented on iPads, which was impressive but they may have had some tipsy photos on at the end of the evening, hehe!

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The chef cooking on our first night was Simon Hulstone, the Head chef of the Michelin starred Elephant Restaurant in Torquay.

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Simon presented each dish as it was served and during the courses made an effort to talk to his diners. As a foodie, for me chefs are like rock stars, so it’s a real pleasure to be in such an intimate setting and have the opportunity to speak with the chef who has created these amazing dishes.

First dish was wild garlic, smoked eel, yesterday’s bread, capers.   I’ve eaten a few dishes containing smoked eel recently and I really enjoy it. The smokey taste is fantastic and the eel is surprisingly subtle.
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Next dish was a salmon, asparagus, lovage and monks beard.   From this dish I particularly enjoyed the raw asparagus shavings as it’s not something I’ve had before.
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Next up was my favourite dish, pigs cheek. It was a slowly cooked melt in the mouth, cut with a spoon, delicious piece of pork, I’m actually salivating remembering the taste! Surprisingly some guests seemed a bit alarmed at the thought of eating a pigs cheek, but the worry on faces soon turned to pleasure after the first mouthful.
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Next dish halibut, with parsnip purée. A beautifully presented dish, thoroughly enjoyed too.
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Desserts were up now, chocolate and coriander! A combination I’ve not tried before but it actually worked really well.
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My favourite dessert was the elderflower, strawberry, lemon verbena. I do love elderflower, it’s a taste I associate with summer and also home as it grows in my garden. This was a gorgeous dessert and the perfect end to a perfect evening.
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The following week I attended a second event on the rooftop and cooking this time was another Michelin starred chef, Atul Kochhar.   I was very excited, I’ve not eaten at many Indian fine dining restaurants and Benares restaurant was on my must go to list.   Atul presented all the dishes at the beginning of the evening and was very focused in the kitchen throughout the night.

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First dish Smoked duck. Wow! This was amazing! This evenings food was as good as anticipated.

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Soft shell crab was the next course. This was my first taste of soft shell crab and certainly not my last. It looked a little scary to be honest and I wasn’t sure how to eat it but once I tucked in I devoured it in a second! I could have easily eaten another one. This appears on the Benares menu which I think I will have to visit just to eat this dish again, it was that good!

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Next course sea bass, delicious!
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Next up lamb, again another delicious dish.
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This food was incredible and nothing like the Indian food I’ve eaten before. The flavours were familiar but not expected from the presentation. By that I mean that I’m used to the typical French fine dining presented in this way but my tastebuds were surprised by the Indian flavours. Elderflower sorbet was presented as a palate cleanser then we had dessert of bhaba doi, served with textures of strawberries. It was a lovely fresh sweet treat to round up an incredible feast of flavours.
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All the courses at both evenings were matched with wines from the John Lewis food hall and each wine complimented the food perfectly. The man responsible for the pairings was Christian. I am always so impressed by sommeliers and their knowledge of wines. I should educate myself with my wine for dummies book which is collecting dust, but I just prefer to trust the sommeliers.

Two incredible evenings, with two highly talented chefs. Such an intimate and exclusive event and I was proud and privileged to be a part of it. Thank you AEG, John Lewis, Simon Hulstone and Atul Kochhar.
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