Posts Tagged ‘Food’

And so, here is the story of one of the very happiest of days. I must warn you, my hubby-to-be has brought tears to the eyes of grown women re-telling our story.

For me, it was a regular Friday at work, busy finishing things for the week and looking forward to dinner out in celebration of 10 years together with my boyfriend. I’d always thought we’d get married at some point, but just not really actually thought it would ever happen. Little did I know of the events that would soon unfold….

A car arrives at work to collect someone. My boss says, pack up your things Mary, that car is for you. Of course I didn’t believe him at first but then realisation set in and off I go. Theres a note with the driver.

“Don’t Panic, Brian knows where to take you. See you soon.”

So, dinner out then? my brain is on overdrive working out what is going on… we’re off to London Brian tells me, and no we’re not picking Stu up on the way. hmmm whats going on, I’m in jeans and trainers and am in no state for anything fancy in London.

I get a text: “how you doing?” …..Well being sneaky and wanting to get my own back for the surprise I reply “busy at work, might be late home. see you soon” Very soon after though I gave in (I couldn’t spoil a perfect plan) and sent an update: “I’m in a car with Brian, whats going on?” The reply: “Enjoy the journey, see you soon”

We arrive in good time at The Raddisson Hotel off Oxford Street. More instructions to call the room and go up to 314. I’m in the lift, putting on some lip balm thinking this is crazy.

And then I get to the door and go in. There he is on one knee. Out pops the question. In floods of tears I manage to blurt out a ‘yes’

It was private, special and totally us. However, what will always stick in my mind is that he had a smart suit on, half an ironed shirt and no shoes or socks. Apparently as I had been taken up in the lift and not the stairs I had arrived at 314 slightly sooner than expected.

Stu tells me later over dinner that he left for work as normal to keep up the surprise, even taking his lunch box (which was empty) with him so I didn’t notice. After parking a little way away and walking the dog, waiting for me to leave for work, he returns home, packs a suitcase and is off to London. Amazingly he packs my favourite dress, a selection of shoes and a matching handbag (nice Radley one) and remembers make-up, hair stuff and a selection of clothes for the next day for me!

Our dinner at Gordon Ramseys at Claridges was totally amazing, not only was the food incredible (I never imagined Cauliflower soup would taste so good) the service was fantastic and made the whole evening really memorable and special. After the taste sensations of 8 courses, including Pigeon, Scallops, Veal and John Dory we were invited into the kitchen before retiring to the lounge for coffee. We met the head chef Tim (no sign of Gordon) and saw where it all happens, an amazing experience that will not be forgotten.

my-ringSo here it is:

The ring we chose together. It took a lot of looking to find the perfect one and it is true, I did get that warm fuzzy feeling as I looked down at the sparkly diamond and thought, this is the one.

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Savvy Shopping

Along with most of the population we’ve been trying to cut down our spending and have so far been quite successful in our new thrifty ways.

Like Robyn says in her Blog carefully planning where to spend your hard earned cash – especially when it comes to regular shopping like food – can easily be controlled with a plan and buying in the right place and at the right time.

It must almost be about 6 months ago now that I swapped the Saturday morning chore of fighting my way round Morrison’s to breezing round the more local Aldi store on a Thursday night on the way home from work. I have not only saved time (the shop takes about 20mins rather than the hour+ we used to spend browsing through Morrisons many aisles) I save petrol as the shop is on my way home, and we save on average around £30 a week on the cost of food.

But, it’s not like I buy less stuff, the great thing about Aldi and other discount supermarkets is the range of products – because they don’t have, for example, a whole aisle dedicated to cans of Tuna,15 different types from 5 different brands, that decision making time is dramatically reduced – I’m not spending ages working out which offer works out better value or if I want lemon and pepper flavoured Tuna, I just need a couple of cans for sandwiches and my only choice is if I have Tuna in Brine or Sunflower oil. Simple.

And whilst not all produce is great, or in stock, our food is supplemented by the local butcher who I visit one lunchtime a week, not only does he do a fantastic range of home made sausages, it works out cheaper, I get out of the office for a walk and I feel good about helping a local business.

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Last Sunday we celebrated my Dad turning sixty with a big ‘eating party’ at the Hardwick House.  My Dad is particularly good at providing a lot of selection when it comes to a big family meal or party, I’m already looking forward to and wondering what delights will be featuring on the ‘Menu for Christmas’ which should be up on the fridge in the next week or two…

Anyway, back to the party! The open house policy (1-7pm) was a good plan, until (probably down to the great food and excellent service from the Hardwick children) most people decided to stay all day, and into the night!

The atmosphere was good fun and all of my parents friends, some relatives and us enjoyed a fabulous feast of chilli, goulash, curry, shepards pie and far too many deserts to mention.

As you can imagine, it was fairly chaotic at times but that sums us up quite nicely really – here’s some pics before the party started: (in case you’re wondering it was my crazy brothers idea to blow trout faces!) and yes, we are all scarily like clones of each other!

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Fabulous France

We’ve just returned from a family holiday in Brittany and it was lovely. The weather was good, the food was delicious and the wine flowed freely. We discovered that 1Euro bottles of red are perfectly drinkable, as are the 5 Euro (5litre) barrels of wine which were equally good to wash down masses of bread and coarse pate.

We stayed near a particularly beautiful town called Josselin, complete with picture-postcard castle (Le Chateau de Rohan) canal, cobbled streets and plenty of cafes to sit and watch the world go by. Bastille day was celebrated with an enormous medieval festival the whole town was decorated and everyone but the visiting tourists were dressed in medieval attire.

As this was my first real holiday in France I was determined to make the most of all things French (not just wine and pate) so… food of the region as we were near the coast – Langoustines, Lobster, Oysters. I did eat a lot of Langoustines, they were on every menu and in every supermarket and I loved them, although a bit messy. Although we did find fresh live Lobsters in Vannes they were pricey and I’d rather a professional prepare and cook it, equally I chickened out on the Oysters, they just don’t look like your meant to eat them! I did however, and to my surprise eat a Snail. I wasn’t brave enough to order my own plate but I tried one and it was actually ok, a bit like a mushroom texture and tasted of garlic!

After a week of relaxing and eating its been a hard week coming back to reality and the holiday blues have definitely set in as we’ve munched and drank our way through some of the reminders of France we brough home. Now I want to plan when we can go back!

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My other half is quite established in the kitchen now when it comes to special dinners, especially anything curry related. Since getting a curry cookbook for Christmas he’s not looked back, from delicious fragrant curry’s from West India to the dry spices of Goa, we’ve really got a taste for the variety of flavours you experience in a curry.

india.gifAs we’re having some friends over in the week he made a Vindaloo at the weekend, and contrary to popular belief (and English stlye curries) a Vindaloo is not meant to be a blow-your-head-off-chili-  stinky-poo-type curry! My own taste buds are quite sensitive to chili hot spices but the combination of vinegar (Vin) and garlic (aloo) is a pleasant and not too long lasting fire on the tongue sensation.

What I’m really looking forward to is the Green Masala that he’s also made – I’ll have to post up the recipe!

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milton-keynes1.jpgAs it was a special occasion me and the other half went out for dinner Friday night. As the ‘Hub’ in Milton Keynes is close by we’ve been steadily trying out all the new restaurants in the area. So, Brasserie Blanc was next on the list.

The restaurant space was refreshingly small and cosy, immediately after walking in all senses were overloaded with the bustling atmosphere, the buzz of the other diners and the sizzling noises and smells drifting out from the open kitchen area. The decor was friendly, casual and relaxed as were the staff who were instantly warming and knowledgeable. Despite the restaurant being almost at capacity the food came quickly and was very tasty, if a bit rich for our regular food-y stomachs.

Very yummy over all and not mega expensive either, washed down with a good Bordeux and some goo-ey chocolate pudding, calorific-delicious!

Now to plan where to go next…

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I love a bit of cake. Its the one food pleasure I simply cannot resist (and one I won’t deny myself!) So when I arrived home on Sunday, after a hard 4-hour slog clearing out junk from my childhood bedroom, to the beautiful aroma of freshly baked cake all my frowns fizzled away.

The boy done good. Very good. He does love cooking shows, making different exotic things and trying lots of different foods so when a recipe on Something for the Weekend caught his eye I knew I was in for a treat. A simple and easy to bake Tea Cake was eagerly consumed with a mug of hot tea – sheer bliss!

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