Friday, 24 October 2014

Christmas markets and get aways

Christmas Markets

Yes I know it's only autumn, but as the weather draws in and the clocks go back this weekend I begin to think about Christmas. In my mind it's never to early to start thinking about Christmas, planning and getting excited about the festivities. 

As a family we love getting away in December to build up the excitement before Christmas. 

Over the coming weeks I will share some Christmas getaway ideas, the perfect places for present shopping, sampling cultural delicacies and soaking up the festive spirit. 

Nowhere does Christmas quite like the Danish. To kick us off I will share Copenhagen which is a real Christmas city destination. With a flight time of 1 hour and 45 minutes from London, it is the perfect destination for a quick get away, to have some festive cheer. 

Tivoli Gardens' is a fairy- tale land and at Christmas (November - December) is not to be missed. 
It is the second oldest amusement park in the world. It houses some of the oldest working roller coasters. Rutschebanen which is a wooden roller coaster was built in 1914. It also houses the second tallest carousel, The Star Flyer. 

Tivoli offers a Nordic wonderland of snowy wooden market huts, selling gifts, ornaments, hot toddies, and wonderful snacks. You can visit Santa's 
reindeer's, the beautiful Christmas lights, travel on the amusement rides and visit the theatre. 
At night Tivoli becomes especially magical when the fairy lights and Chinese lanterns sparkle bright. 
Tivoli also has some wonderful restaurants it is a foodies paradise, whether you are looking for lunch, afternoon tea or dinner you won't be disappointed here.  
Book early and you can also go and watch the Nutcracker Ballet at the Tivoli hall. 
Now if the wonderful story and costumes don't get you in the Christmas spirit there really is little hope.

In the centre of the city you will find Højbro Plads Christmas markets and Strøget one of the longest pedestrian streets. That has wonderful shops that sell brilliant Christmas gifts, ornaments and food. You must visit The Royal Copenhagen store. 

One of the absolute highlights for me was running along a snowy and icy road trying to keep up with these Fella's. 
The Palace Guards are an amazing spectacle to behold. At noon everyday the guards from Rosenborg Castle march through the streets to replace those guarding the Palace. Given the conditions in winter they march very quickly, there were a few times that this lady nearly ended up on her bum.  
Some of the best views are to be had by the harbour
(Nyhavn), where brightly coloured buildings stand tall around the waterway. 

Having an early morning breakfast and then taking a boat along the canal to see the city from a different view is really wonderful.  
Operaen - The Opera House. 
Little mermaid

Other things to do our Saviour's church is one of Denmark's most famous churches, with a serpentine tower and 400 steps (not for those who suffer with vertigo or unfit). The views are well worth all the effort. 
Our Saviour's
We had a truly wonderful stay in Copenhagen, and it is the perfect Christmas destination. 

What do you enjoy doing in the lead up to Christmas, to get in the festive cheer? 


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Monday, 20 October 2014


Wandering around the supermarket I'm always looking for new meals to create and treats to eat. It is very rare in the FoodieForce household that we eat the same food month on month. I like to be creative with my cooking and try new things. 

For a while now beauty bloggers have been able to get monthly subscription boxes delivered right to their front door. Food subscription boxes have taken slightly longer to come about, with Graze boxes leading the field for a very long time. But recently there has been a explosion in the market of food box subscriptions.  

The idea of having tasty treats delivered directly to your door is one that really appeals to me. So when Degustabox (interesting name choice)made contact to ask if I wanted to review their subscription box, I thought I would give it a whirl. 

The Degustabox website is straightforward and easy to navigate, you simply pick either the option 'buying for yourself' or 'giving as a surprise'. 

Signing up to Degustabox costs £12.99 inc delivery. I think it is very reasonable , given the price of some foodie subscription boxes and the quantity of items that you get.  

So on with the review...

The day before my delivery they text me to say when my box of goodies would be delivered. 

It arrives in a cardboard box and has a little menu to explain what you have inside.
Within each box you get to try 9-14 surprise products a month, many of which are new. 

Little Miracles drinks I have seen these and wanted to try them for a little while, so I was excited when I saw these in the box. 

During the day I drink lots of tea, normally to perk myself up. These drinks are a great alternative, they are a nice combination of organic tea and fruit juice. With ginseng and açaí, it is the perfect pick-me-up morning, noon and afternoon. The best bit they are free from artificial colours, flavours and sweeteners.  
Little Miracles
Dark Chocolate Mint ThinsElizabeth Shaw’s. I could instantly smell the mint when opening the box. They smell just like After Eights and we all know how much I love them. 

Elizabeth Shaw's are made out of 55% dark chocolate which I thought would be a turn off, however these are so luxuriously delicious I am now a convert. 

These would be perfect to share with friends over a coffee or you could just keep them for yourself and eat the lot. I can't wait for Christmas to come so I have an excuse to try other products in the range.  
Elizabeth Shaw
Contained in the box was also two Crabbie drink products, Traditional Ginger Beer (non alcoholic) and raspberry and rhubarb (alcoholic). Now I am not a great fan of ginger in cold drinks and this drink didn't change my mind. 

The raspberry and rhubarb drink is designed like an alcopop which I really don't like. However, the drink inside was lovely, it reminded me of rhubarb and custard sweets. If you could place this drink in the ginger and raspberry bottle this would sell to an entirely different demographic and I would definitely buy it.
John Crabbie
La Vieja Fabrica MarmaladeA Seville orange grove in a jar, simply delicious. I wouldn't have ever picked this up in a supermarket but I definitely will now and I will also be looking at what other products they sell. 
La Vieja Fabrica
Jordans Simply Granola: I am a cereal mixologist; so far I have had this with milk, raspberries and peaches. Yoghurt, honey, walnuts and pecans, delicious with all of the above. Any other suggestions welcome.  
Jordan Simply Granola
Bahlsen Pick up! Really enjoyed the milk chocolate sandwiched between the two biscuits. Perfect for dunking. Not so keen on Black ‘N White, but that is down to personal taste. 
Bahlsen Pick up
Burts Lentil Waves. I would never have picked these up in the supermarket, mainly because I would have thought lentils as crisps who are they kidding. Hangs her head ever so slightly, ok I was wrong. These are yummy. Favourite has to be the Thai Sweet Chilli and I am really glad I got three packets in the box.  
Burtis Lentil Waves
Carnation CookIn my house I have some staple cupboard ingredients that mean I can very easily whip up a storm without too much effort. This will now be a cupboard staple, I definitely didn't know I needed this, but it has come in very handy, I have already used it twice making a carbonara and Thai green curry. The best bit is it has 68% less fat than single cream. 
Overall I was really impressed with my oddly named Degustabox. It had a wide selection of items that I probably wouldn't have otherwise tried, but really liked them. 

One thing that is a definite plus with the Degustabox is you can fill out a taste profile, which means the team can select products more appropriate to you.  

*Whilst my Degustabox was received free of charge, it in no way altered the opinion given above. I was not obliged to write a positive review and the company did not view this review prior to it being placed on FoodieForce.  

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Friday, 17 October 2014

Brixton Flavours - tasting tour

Brixton Flavour
Laying back FoodieForce closed her eyes and dreamt a wonderful dream, one which existed entirely of food. In just one evening FoodieForce got to experience 20 wonderful restaurants through a tasting tour, testing out their wonderful offerings.

The best bit however was that I was in fact awake and experiencing my dream. You have the opportunity to enjoy it too. 

On Sunday 26th October, 2014 (11am-7.30pm) a new culinary feast will be born. Brixton Flavours is a brand new, one day food festival that will take place in and around Brixton Village

Brixton Flavours

Tickets cost £15 and will give visitors the opportunity to sample food from over 22 local restaurants and popups with one ticket. In addition you get £15 Brixton pounds (B£) the price of your ticket to spend in any of the 22 restaurants, eateries and bars to try secret dishes and special discounts on food and drink. 
Brixton Pound

On Wednesday night I went to sample the offerings, through a tasting tour. Buckle up your seat belt you are in for a treat.

Our evening started at Satay - Cocktail bar and restaurant. The evening was off to a good foodie start with Prawn Tempura, Soft Shell crab and Chicken Satay. The soft shell crab was perfectly cooked and whilst crispy on the outside had retained a wonderful soft crab texture inside. 
Satay Restaurant

Next up was the Wine Parlour owned by Chix and Dan. The Parlour offers wine by the glass and bottle, you won't find their offerings in any supermarket 
they pride themselves on finding unusual wines. They have just launched their own make from Jurançon sec region. The wine had wonderful aromas of pear, apricot and grapefruit.    
The wine Parlour

At the back of the wine parlour Chix runs wine tasting evenings whilst also displaying local art for sale. 

They also have an Enomatic wine preservation machine where you have some premium wines available for sampling.
Next up was Courtesan Dim Sum, offering the finery of the Chinese empire with the serving of wonderful Sui Mai and Pork Char sui buns. 
Courtesan Dim Sum
During dinner we were beautifully serenaded by Holly, Beth and Samuel from Bitesize opera.  
Bitesize opera
Bitesize opera
Whilst FoodieForce was having a little rest the food kept on coming, Ichiban Sushi offered a selection of Sushi Tuna and Salmon makizushi rolls. 
Ichiban Sushi
One of the highlights of the night for me had to be Parissi a new cafe in Brixton selling coffee and handmade cakes. Now these chocolate brownies were so wonderfully gooey and nutty perfect. 
I will most definitely be back to visit Parissi and sample some more of their offerings. I have no doubt that they will do really well. 

Now you all know how much I love my food, but even I at this point was struggling. I almost needed to be rolled onto the next venue. Next up was Brindisa.
Brindisa Brixton
Jamon to the Spanish is like caviar to the French and Brindisa doesn't fail to disappoint, offering some wonderful Serrano, Chorizo, Salchicon and Bellota hams. 

Now you all know that I love my savoury pancakes, so when I learnt that Senzala Crêpe bar and cafe was also involved I was excited to give them a go. 

They don't disappoint, the Goat cheese, baby leaf spinach, black olives, cherry tomatoes and mixed herbs, drizzled with garlic oil was a definite highlight.

Brixton Flavour is a wonderful idea as a community project, with 80% of the revenue going back to the local area and eateries I wish it lots of luck. 

Come and share your love for food and visit Brixton. Make sure however that you go hungry! There will be some wonderful foods on offer for you to devour your way through. You'll have to be quick though as tickets are selling fast. 

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Monday, 13 October 2014

Afternoon tea at The Ampersand Hotel

The Ampersand Hotel
Afternoon Tea is a typically British affair. We British love our tea and when it is accompanied with cake and pâtisserie even better. 

As a foodie I have polished off a fair few afternoon teas in my time, the highlights being the Dorchester Hotel and Sanderson Hotel.

I'm always looking for my next afternoon tea adventure and it is for this reason I really enjoy reading Lorna and Rachel's blog "Tea with Me and Friends". 
Tea with me and friends
They find the best places for afternoon tea. So when they emailed me to tell me I had won their afternoon tea competition at The Drawing Rooms - The Ampersand Hotel, I was very excited. 

You see the Ampersand Hotel has been on my list to visit for a while, why because Chris Golding their head chef is always tempting me on Twitter with wonderful foodie creations. 

Two minutes from South Kensington station the Ampersand Hotel and The Drawing Rooms have been beautifully designed. 
The Drawing Rooms
The Ampersand Hotel
The Ampersand Hotel
The Drawing Rooms
I loved the fabrics, colours, and overall design of this lovely place and could have happily had this as my own living room.
The Drawing Rooms
The Drawing Rooms
Now I would like one of these little fellas on my wall at home. 
The Drawing Rooms
The Drawing Room instantly put me at ease. It has a wonderful warm and homely interior with freshly baked goods on display (a FoodieForce paradise). 

Afternoon tea
Afternoon Tea
Once seated we opt for the Classic Afternoon (£39.50) served with a wonderful glass of Champagne to start. 
Afternoon tea with Champagne
The Ampersand caters for vegetarians and also has seasonal offerings for afternoon tea: Halloween and  Christmas

First up was the Tartines:
Afternoon tea
Gloucester old spot ham, gribiche sauce. 
H.Forman and Son London smoked salmon (one of Britain's Oldest salmon curers), dill and cream cheese. 
Afternoon tea
Coronation Chicken. 
Afternoon tea
Cheese and fruit chutney.
Afternoon tea London
Highlights had to be the coronation chicken and smoked salmon. The coronation chicken had the right balance of creaminess and spice. 

Service at the Ampersand Hotel is seriously relaxed, now this won't be to everyone's cup of tea (pardon the pun), but for me I personally found this 
refreshing. Where you are quietly allowed to enjoy the wonderful food and the company of friends without being rushed. 

What followed have to be the best scones I have ever had. Now this is no exaggeration, this woman knows her scones and these were super light and wonderfully fluffy. With the addition of clotted cream and strawberry jam, all I could have wished for is that they were bigger. 
London Afternoon tea
The Ampersand definitely have their pâtisserie down to a fine art. 
Afternoon tea
The lemon meringue tart, chocolate brownie and English breakfast tea bonbon were seriously delicious.   

A wonderful afternoon tea. I very much look forward to visiting again in the future to stay in their superbly modern boutique hotel. 

The Drawing Rooms Ampersand Hotel 


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