This month’s favourite products and new discoveries

Welcome to my March round-up of favourite things I have tried this month. A great selection including teapots, teas, cocktails and more…..

We Are Tea Infuser

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This has got to be a new favourite for me and will be used all the time. I confess, I am a tea-aholic, I am never far away from a good ol’ cuppa. This patented tea infuser is brilliant! A proper brew infuses in 90 seconds and then, due to its special patented design, I can put it on top of my cup and it decants straight into my drinking vessel of choice – no more drippy teabags or extra strainer. Paired with the We Are Tea Assam loose leaf blend it was a joy. The tea is a good and strong and not bitter. The quality of the tea leaves are evident, big large leaves give a clean taste without the dusty aftertaste of some other teas I have tried. All in all, a real winner.

Yumcha Iced Tea Infusions

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I’ve travelled to the southern states in America and had many glasses of iced tea on plantation verandahs. Done properly it can be a very nice drink, especially when the temperature rises. What I have had on this side of the pond though leaves a lot to be desired. Pre-mixed in a can with loads of flavourings and very sweet, they are not my cup of tea (pun intended). I will admit I was a bit sceptical to try these but as it is not pre-mixed I thought I would give them a go. Yumcha make their infusions with natural ingredients and ‘make tea the star of the show’. Mixed with water they were easy to prepare. Lower in sugar and with a range of punchy flavours to choose from I had the Sour Plum and the Earl Grey. The plum taste was good but still allowed the tea flavour to come through. Not sugary at all and more hydrating these will be making an appearance on my own verandah this summer. I think these would make a great base for a BBQ punch too!

Corkers launch their Vegetable Crisps

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You may remember I wrote about this brand in one of my previous newsletters. These super crunchy, tasty crisps are delicious. The company has now undergone a rebrand with cool new packaging celebrating all things British and introduces 2 new flavour bags – Parsnip with Honey & Black Pepper and Sweet Potato & Chilli. The new flavours are just as good as the originals. Whilst the taste is fabulous its the crunch that gets me all excited. The reason behind the awesome crunch is the unique Naturalo potato. Grown, hand-cooked and then packaged all on the family farm the crisps are available in independent delis, some Waitrose and UK landmark sites. A little fact for you – they once timed a potato from soil to packet – 42 minutes, now that’s low food miles!

Theo Randall at The Intercontinental – Park Lane

Arrosto di Faraona - Guinea fowl w/prosciutto, mascarpone, thyme and lemon zest on pagnotta Bruscetta and new season Italian peas

Arrosto di Faraona – Guinea fowl w/prosciutto, mascarpone, thyme and lemon zest on pagnotta Bruscetta and new season Italian peas

This week I was privileged to attend a very special anniversary dinner. Theo Randall was celebrating 10 years at The Intercontinental on Park Lane and this was one invite I was ALWAYS going to accept. It was not to be a traditional ‘turn up and have some great food’ kind of night, Theo was also giving us a cooking masterclass on how to make the perfect risotto.

First a little about the man himself. Born in Kingston, Theo’s restaurant career began down the road in Surbiton at Chez Max where he studied classical cooking techniques for four years. After a brief stint at The River Café he moved to California before returning to The River Café, becoming Head Chef after five years and subsequently earning his first Michelin Star. In 2007 he moved across to The Intercontinental where he launched his flagship restaurant. Within  two years of opening ‘Theo Randall at The Intercontinental’ he won the ‘Italian Restaurant of The Year’ Award at the London Restaurant Awards. For the full review read here.

Zayane – Notting Hill

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In the heart of Notting Hill is the newly launched Zayane with a feast of Moroccan dishes to tantalise the palate. Head Chef Chris Bower has created a modern menu with the authentic tastes and smells to metaphorically transport you to the shores and souks of Morocco.

Chris Bower previously worked in Michelin establishments The Ivy and Thakeray’s (Tunbridge Wells). Incorporating contemporary culinary techniques with the best of British seasonal fayre and Moroccan sourced spices results in a tasty and well executed menu stacked with flavour and textures. For the full review see here.

The Light Lounge

Situated in the heart of Soho behind Leicester Square, The Light Lounge is the latest venture from the Ku Group. A lively, contemporary upstairs bar that mixes cocktails with a twist, it is a great place to meet friends and enjoy the surrounding vista through the large wrap-around windows for which the bar is named. The drinks I tried were the Nuclear Pina, Pisco and Pear Sour and the Boulevardier. All very good choices. The DJ in the background could be heard but was not intrusive on conversations being had. There are a few different seating areas to choose from which are all tastefully decorated and uber chic. Worth seeking out for a few drinks after work or to kick-start your evening.

St James Hotel Afternoon Tea

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The St James Hotel has a colourful history of both celebrity and political stories to tell. The playground for many familiar faces, this 5* hotel is a treat for both historians and those who love great food. The kitchen is headed up by William Drabble who has earned the hotel a Michelin Star since he arrived to take over the mantle of Executive Head Chef. This month see the launch of their new afternoon tea appropriately named ‘It’s All In The Game’. The full review can be found here.

Chi Kitchen – Oxford St

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Masterchef is easily one of the most popular cookery competitions on television. I am always curious to find out what happens after the final credits have finished rolling. The intensely competed Masterchef 2014 season was eventually won by former hotel manager Ping Coombes. Fast forward 2 years and Ping is now heading up the amazing Chi Kitchen in Debenhams flagship store on Oxford St and is about to publish her latest cookbook.

On a lovely spring evening I had the opportunity to visit Chi Kitchen, meet Ping Coombes herself and try some delicious pan-Asian cuisine. Located on the ground floor of Debenhams with its own street entrance as well as store access, it is a bright, light, modern restaurant surrounded on 2 sides by floor to ceiling windows and an open kitchen. Chi means ‘energy’ and the thought process in choosing the name for the restaurant was to give the customer great food and positive energy. The full review can be found here

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