Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Easter Weekend in Dorset.

Last year I spent Easter on the beach in Busselton, soaking up the 46°C sun whilst covered in salt and sand and suncream, playing in the water with dolphins and stingrays. This year I spent it in the rolling hills of the Dorset countryside surrounded by fields and cows, covered from head to toe in thick clothing. It was my birthday on Good Friday, so the family and I packed our bags and hit the road for a weekend away.

We took my two grandmothers with us, and spent the weekend snuggled up in the warmth of an old barn conversion which stood in the middle of the hills with only wildlife and a couple of neighbours for company. Dylan absolutely loved it, he had a wonderful time chasing the birds and local wildlife while the rest of us spent some time away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and had an [almost] internet-free few days of peace and relaxation (ish)! 

On my actual birthday on Friday we went for dinner at a lovely pub in the local village and just chilled out, then on Saturday we went down to Weymouth for a wander around the Quay, and of course being by the sea Gramps couldn't escape our thoughts - Nanny recalled how he always told her the story of the time he had to swim across the harbour in Weymouth. We spoilt it for her by telling her it was just him winding her up, why would he swim when there's a bridge!? He was full of stories like that! It made us all laugh though and put a huge grin on my face recalling all of his crazy stories (the best was when he was chased up a tree by bears in Canada during the war). 

After morning coffee in Weymouth we drove over to Portland Bill to have lunch and see the lighthouse, and so Dad could do a spot of bird-watching. Apparently Portland Bill is famous for bird-watching - who knew! 

I was a very lucky girl this year and had TWO birthday cakes! One was a delicious lemon cake made by my lovely Nanny, and the other was an incredible chocolate cake made by Langs of London. Owner and head baker at Langs of London, Charlotte, is a good friend of mine who has been in a few of my blog posts in the past. She made my cake using exactly what I'd asked her to use, I gave her a very vague idea of 'chocolate sponge, chocolate buttercream icing, and white chocolate buttons', and she produced this masterpiece with those three main factors...

Even though I'm biased, it tasted amazing! The cake was so moist and the chocolate sweet and chocolatey without being too rich and sickly. My family loved it and remarked on how delicious it was. We also finally drank my 'special' bottle of wine I bought four years ago on my 19th birthday in Margaret River. It was a limited edition bottle of Edwards Wines' 2009 'Biggles Blend', and I've been keeping it for a special occasion ever since. I finally let go of it this weekend, and it was so worth it. A blend of SSB and Chardonnay, it tasted just fabulous, so fruity and zesty. It took me right back to when I first tasted it in that hot Australian summer heat back in 2010.

As well as Charlotte's cake we also had Nanny's cake, which was equally delicious - full of lemony goodness and light as anything!

On Sunday we went to Easter Mass in Dorchester, it was a traditional Latin mass which was really rather lovely, although it did go on a hour and a half was far too long. It was pouring with rain all day so we went back to the barn and spent the rest of the day eating leftover cake and watching movies in front of the log-burner. 

Dylan was not impressed when I tried to pick him up. He's so big and heavy now!!!

On the Monday we drove slowly back home, stopping off at a pub in the New Forest for lunch on the way back. I love the New Forest so much, donkeys are one of my favourite animals, and luckily I got to meet these lovely chaps, which definitely made my birthday weekend!

As well as Donkeys just casually strolling down the road past the pub, there were plenty of horses around too!

A lovely weekend with my lovely family! 

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Chisou x Nyetimber Tasting Event.

When an email landed in my inbox inviting me to a tasting event with Nyetimber at Chisou, I immediately responded with a big fat yes. Nyetimber are probably the most famous producers of British Sparkling Wine, while Chisou are a fantastic little Japanese restaurant in Knightsbridge, and as a lover of all things British and Japanese, I quite literally sprinted from the office to the event on Monday.

Henry met me there, and we sat down to four empty glasses in front of us and a menu with the pairings. We started with the 2009 Nyetimber Rose, paired with a Spinach salad. Nyetimber’s vineyards were the first to be devoted exclusively to the holy trinity of Champagne grapes: chardonnay, pinot meunier and pinot noir. All of the grapes are produced on the Nyetimber estate, whereas many wine producers use grapes from different estates to make their wines.

Nyetimber and Chisou tasting event
Now when this arrived Henry and I looked at each other and just went 'we're being given a plate of leaves...' but oh my goodness, I have never had a plate of leaves so good. It doesn't look impressive, but the taste was just sensational, I never ever thought I'd be praising a plate of spinach, but the yuzu and soy dressing just made it incredible! The Rose was also delicious, probably one of the best Rose's I've ever had.

Spinach salad with Yuzu and Soy dressing

Nyetimber Rose 2009

Next up was Pacific amaebi head crispies with matchajio (green tea rock salt). I wasn't so keen on these, they were very salty and it creeped me out eating the eyes and I only ate half the body and left the head and eyes. The eyes were just so beady and I felt like they were watching me and crying out 'Nooooo! Don't eat me!". So Henry finished them all off while I sulked at him being so cruel.

Pacific amaebi head crispies with matchajio
Pacific amaebi head crispies with matchajio

Chisou Knightsbridge
Next on our list was my favourite dish of the night; Wild Alaskan dive caught scallop carpaccio, dressed with yuzukosho and ponzo sauce. Aka, scallops. They were the most delicious scallops I've ever had, they just melted in your mouth! With this we had the Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs 2007, which I wasn't very keen on, so once again, Henry finished it off (as you can probably tell by now, he's a greedy bugger). 

Nyetimber Sparkling Wines

Chisou and Nyetimber tasting event

Chisou Alaskan dive caught scallop carpaccio, dressed with yuzukosho and ponzo sauce
Chisou Knightsbridge London

Now the next sparkling wine was my favourite, it tasted like a sweet dessert wine, it really was something special. I wasn't so keen however, on the sea eel, aka, unagi (think Ross in Friends). I've had conga eel before which was very bony, so I was worried this would be too, when in fact it was the opposite...slimy.

Nyetimber and Chisou tasting event

Nyetimber Demi-sec NV

Chisou sea eel

Chisou Japanese restaurant sea eel

The best thing about tasting events is you get to taste foods and wines you wouldn't usually try, I found two wines that I really love (the Rose, and the Demi-sec), and I really really loved the scallops and spinach salad. It was a lovely evening with other bloggers and our friends, and it was fantastic to find out more about Nyetimber and the way they produce their sparkling wines. Did you know that the seam of soil they grow their grapes in is the exact same seam of soil that the growers in Champagne grow their grapes in!? It's chalky soil and runs right under the English Channel and through Kent and East Sussex - who knew! 

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* This was a blogger event and was therefore complimentary.

Monday, 14 April 2014

A 'Bodega Street' Birthday.

On Saturday I had my 23rd birthday celebrations. After weeks of trying to figure out what to do, Diego kindly suggested I join forces with him as his birthday is the week before mine. So Saturday afternoon we headed to La Bodega Negra with around 150 people to celebrate growing another year older. The drinking started at 2:30pm (best frozen margaritas, ever), the eating of Mexican food started shortly after, and then the lorry full of Magnum ice-creams arrived while the DJs pounded out some epic tunes. Then a total ruckus broke out when the Mariachi Band turned up and some serious dancing went on.

I wore my Princess Polly 'Tra La La' dress that I bought when I was in Australia a few weeks ago (I added the belt), but sadly dropped chocolate down it quite early in the evening which made for a very awkward stain. Sad times. 

La Bodega Negra soho private party

La Bodega Negra Soho Mariachi Band
La Bodega Negra Tropical Frozen Margarita

La Bodega Negra Mariachi Band
La Bodega Negra Menu
After a lot of drinking, and a disaster when the chocolate from my ice-cream fell onto my dress, we decided we needed to line our stomachs before the next influx of drinks. We just got some Corn Chips and Churros to share between a few of us, which were absolutely delicious! Although the Churros could have done with some more chocolate sauce instead of a measly little amount at the bottom of the pot.

La Bodega Negra Corn Chips

La Bodega Negra Churros
My face when I discovered the chocolate stain on my dress... Dani found it pretty funny, until she noticed she'd also dropped chocolate all over her jumper. HA! 

This guy was rocking the dance floor with some serious Dad dancing. No clue who he is, but he didn't seem impressed when I tried to mimic his moves. Note the chocolate stain on the bottom of the dress. *sob*

Around 7pm we moved on to Archer Street. We were supposed to go next door to the club part of Bodega Negra, but I was in desperate need of DJ Daza and a bit of Archer Street fun, aka, 90's and 00's cheese. On our way down Old Compton Street we walked past two men in underwear and hats. Naturally we had to go and get photos with them. We started dancing in the window with them and the manager told me off for wearing my coat 'take it off darling!'. We attracted a bit of a crowd...tourists stopped to take photos and videos. Awks.

After that excitement, about 15 of us went to Archer Street and had an absolute blast! I downed cosmopolitans and danced on the tables, before being asked by the manager to 'pretend to be sober until 10pm'. Awkward. I think I gave it away by dancing with no shoes on? 

Archer Street Soho Cosmopolitan cocktail
I was very happy with my birthday serenade though. However I was very disappointed that DJ Daza didn't join Amy and I for One for Sorrow like he usually does. Sad times.

I was so happy that so many of my friends from different social groups came along! My besties from back home in Guildford, my old work friends, my clubland friends, and some blogger friends! Mina and Melanie came to the Bodega Negra part, then Hannah came for the whole night. I've been following this girl's blog since the beginning, and with our shared love for Perth and Australia in general, it was so great to finally meet her! She's just as crazy as I thought she would be.

There are so many photos of me with my hand down my dress it isn't even funny - I kept putting it in my bra to make sure my credit card and cloakroom tickets were still there! This photo is purely in here for the hair though. THE HAIR! #cozimworthit 

An absolutely awesome day/night, that as always ended at around 3am eating Eggs Benny at VQ. Huge thank you to everyone who came. Happy birthday me! isn't actually until Friday, but as it's Easter Weekend I had to celebrate a week early.