Vino e vino

A catch up with some old work friends called for a change in venue. I discovered Vino and Vino wine bar online and after wondering down the streets of Farringdon found the cute little wine bar opposite St Barts in Smithfield.

As you walk in you feel like your abroad with a wall filled with wine bottles and a small wine shop where you can buy the wine. The choice of wine filled nearly four pages and every glass comes with a selection of aperitivo – Italian canapés!

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The red wine we chose was
Morellino di Scansano from Tuscany was medium bodied and rustic – v easy to drink. The selection of food was small and very snack size – cheese or meat boards and salad. There was of course the authentic and very well prepared melanzane parmigiana – the chef told us that was her speciality and she loves showing her passion for food and wine through it.

You can definitely see the passion in this small yet v Italian bar. If your in the area than do pop in for a drink. I would however recommend that the nearby Vivat Bacchus looked much busier so possibly more livelier…one to try next time.

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Indian fusion at Club Trees

Finding a tasty Indian restaurant isn’t so easy despite the abundance of them and its popularity in the UK. You’ll find curry houses and take-aways on every corner but so many of them are bland and seem to use the same masala sauces within so I was so glad to discover Club Tree’s .

Club Tree is above a supermarket in Belmont Circle, Harrow and serves the most delicious Indian fusion combinations in a welcoming atmosphere – it’s perfect for everyone from intimate diners to big family groups and you can even have your own private room.

Now onto the food – it was excellent and full of lovely flavours. We ordered: Treasure Veg (sweet potato, paneer, mushrooms and corn cob), Chilli Mogo, Lamb Biryani and Chilli Fish. Drinks: good old Tuskers and fresh lime soda but there’s lots of cocktails to choose from (alcoholic and non-alcoholic).

Despite the fact that there was a big match on (Liverpool final), the service was fast and impeccable. We enjoy eating out here and will certainly go again – the food is great, well flavoured and spiced, and good value. A local treat to try if you’re in the area.

Afternoon Tea

The sunshine today prompted a post on the classic British concept of afternoon tea.

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Us Brits are obsessed by tea – a cup before you leave the house, one at 11am and at 4pm to break up the day – kitchen areas at work are always the time to have a quick chat over a cuppa tea!

I’d say Afternoon Tea is a perfect treat – gather the girls and have some sandwiches, cakes and scones over a fresh pot of tea. You can even glam it up by adding a glass of champagne in luxury hotel. I often entertain clients by taking them for tea in a posh hotel – its quintessentially touristy and such a fun thing to do for them.

So my top three places to have afternoon tea has to start at: The Athenaeum, which has been awarded the tea equivalent of the OSCARS, the Tea Guild’s ‘Top London Afternoon Tea’ award, a 5 star hotel in Mayfair. This epitomises the height of elegance with impeccable service and delicious food of finger sandwiches, scones, muffins and cake and a desert cart with macaroons, chocolate fudge cake, shortbread, millefeuille and more.

The second place I’d recommend is Bake-a-Boo in West Hampstead – a cute little hideaway which can only be describe as quaint and very girly offering a wide variety of hand-baked seasonal cakes, treats and cupcakes galore.

The Berkeley is also a very cool hotel for tea with its Prêt-à-Portea, inspired by the themes and colours of the fashion world with Valentino clutch cake, Bottega Veneta mousse and macaroon, Dolce & Gabbana chocolate éclair, Stella McCartney cake, Burberry biscuit coat, Miu Miu shoe biscuit and Jill Sander mousse.

Other places I’d recommend are: Claridges, The Ritz, Soho Hotel (you just can’t go wrong at any of the Firmdale hotels) and little tea shops.

Afternoon Tea has lots of inspiration for places to go, and even if you don’t want to go out then call some friends around and have your own little afternoon tea soiree with home-made scones, cakes and finger sandwiches.

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Party food: Goats cheese and cranberry tartlets

They say the best things come in small packages, and it’s no exception when it comes to these flavour-packed, bite-sized goats cheese and cranberry tartlet which are perfect for any party gathering and super easy to make.

What recipes have you tried and can recommend? Post them in the comments below.

The recipe courtesy of my sister came from BBC Good Food:
  • 375-425g pack ready-rolled puff pastry or 500g pack ready-made pastry rolled 5mm thick
  • 1 egg , beaten – not necessary
  • 3 tbsp cranberry sauce or a good-quality chutney
  • 3 x 120g goat’s cheese logs (such as Soignon Petit Sainte-Maure), at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • extra-virgin olive oil , for drizzling
  • rocket leaves, to serve

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  Read more for the recipe

Pancakes – sweet or savoury

As it’s Shrove Tuesday in 2 days, it’s time to post a piece on pancakes – moreso timely after my trip to Amsterdam where we went to The Pancake Bakery – the first ever pancake house in Amsterdam. I even remember having fresh crepes in Paris after a long cycle ride in the cold with my cousins!

Pancake Day (also known as Shrove Tuesday) is the last day before the period which Christians call Lent. It is traditional on this day to eat pancakes and they are so easy to make.

I like to have one savoury (cheese, sweetcorn and onion) and one sweet pancake (coconut and nutella) to complement favours but you can have so many combinations from traditional (sugar and lemon) to a Canadian themed one with crispy bacon, onions, mushrooms, ham and cheese!

Pancakes are so easy to make at home when you have the perfect recipe courtesy of Spoony Cakes below:

What you need:
100g plain flour
1/2 tsp caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt
225ml semi skimmed milk
1 egg

What you do:
1) Combine all the dry ingredients into a large bowl.
2) Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the milk and egg. Beat well to combine.
3) Heat a lightly oiled, non stick frying pan over medium high heat.
4) Using a ladle, pour the crêpe batter into the pan.
5) Tilt the pan in a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.
6) Cook the crêpe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen the edges with a fish-slice, flip over and cook the other side.
7) Serve hot with your filling of choice.

Pancakes or crêpes are everywhere in France, Holland, America and now in London. If you fancy a trip out then Hampstead Crêperie or My Old Dutch are highly recommended.

How do you eat yours?

A Night in Supperclub Amsterdam

I was really excited to visit the iconic and original Supperclub in Amsterdam on a city break with friends. What a night – combining a lying down restaurant where the food is brought to your bed or a dancing around nightclub was a fun night out.

There are Supperclub’s around the world, from LA to London with sparkly white floors, walls and fixtures and beds along two sides of a warehouse space. We were seated in the middle of the long bed – unfortunately this was a little squashed but there were loads of cushions.

There is no menu – it changes every day and is created on the spot by the in-house professional chefs with five courses that go on for hours and hours. The creative side of the food is unique and this is where the chef has done a great job.bining a lying down restaurant where the food is brought to your bed or a dancing around nightclub was a fun night out.

Our menu:

  1. Pre-starter: White chocolate and goatcheese bavarois with honey-port and raisin dressing and a walnut crunch served in glasses
  2. Soup: Celeriac soup served in jam jars
  3. Starter: Risotto of red beets with deepfried prawns or asparagus, chocolate and red pepper oil and green salad
  4. Main: vegetable quiche with sweet potato mash and parsnips (hard to tell exact ingredients for this)
  5. Desert: Chocolate tiramisu with pure chocolate sorbet, white chocolate mousse and almond crunch
  6. Wine, wine, wine

As Gregg and John from Masterchef would say – it was perfectly seasoned and had a deep, rich, velvety goodness that delivered on every single level. The food, without a doubt, is amazing.

Entertainment wise – there was an amazing painter Naad who created a portrait of Dexter with a wing made from rusty old razor blade and a burlesque dancer which livened everything up after dinner.

Our only comment is could have done with a little more space on the beds between parties and it would have been great to see the menu afterwards.

A picture is worth a thousand words – Pinterest

So everyone knows my love of discovering cool new places or things to do so Pinterest was an obsession of mine last year where I could curate what recipes, food pics or places to visit. On here I’ve also created my dream home (one day!) as well as boards on places to visit, food & drink that I will one day make….which you can see here: http://pinterest.com/sharmeemavadia/

Pinterest is simply a virtual pinboard where people can “pin” things they like onto their own board – either from other people’s boards, websites or by uploading photos. What started out as a fun way to post things you liked – from clothes to interesting websites – or an easy way to organise to-do lists, get ideas for events and make wish lists, has now turned into a platform that many brands and companies can use to build their brands. So far, we saw companies like Nordstrom, The Travel Company and Whole Foods use this platform; but it seems that Europe is really catching on its droves.

Generally speaking, Pinterest is a visual feast that lets:

  • You drool and be inspired at people’s creations, find inspiration for a new dish or new recipes and lets you share or keep a record for of food-related blog posts, recipes, websites, and images that you like
  • Foodies can establish their business on here to engage new consumers and interact. Uploading images of food linking to your site or website, events or photos of your staff tells a story about your business and entices consumers
  • The travel & hospitality industry relies on appearance. Pinterest is ideal to promote a specific lifestyle that’s unique to each destination. Travel companies, hotels and attraction owners can set the mood for your next trip by creating holiday inspiration boards full of pictures from the area or highlighting activities can inspire consumers to take a trip there and experience specific attractions and locations.
  • Launch contests and competitions could be launched around creating the best pinboard; brands can build relationships with their evangelists by inviting them to collaborate on boards together.

Pinboards can capture the brand essence or personality and inspire the viewer to action – be it a how-to on building your work wardrobe, ideas for budget decorating, or gift guides and new Christmas recipes to try this season. Nordstrom uses its boards to post seasonal trends on fashion, whilst Whole Foods posts recipes, seasonal decor ideas and how to use food as art.

In short, it’s like tweeting a blog post, but you’re sharing it through images rather than words. It’s invite only so let me know if you want an invite to the hottest new social network….or if you have some boards then feel free to share them with me…

For my views on how PR can use Pinterest take a read on Firefly Comms blog.