Today: free lunch in Soho to put the Spring in your step?

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Spring is here – the daffs are out in bloom!

All this week the weather forecast is for sunshine with only the merest suggestion of clouds, so what better way to celebrate the onset of everyone’s favourite season than with a springtime picnic lunch?

These are the thoughts of the Austrian National Tourist Office, which lives and breathes alpine sun, lush grass and wholesome food, which they’re bringing all the way from their homeland into the heart of central London this week.

If you work in the vicinity of Tottenham Court Road and fancy being treated for lunch today, get down to the Austrian Spring Picnic between 12pm and 2pm and you can expect a traditional Austrian lunchbox filled with Almdudler, Gouda, beef and Styrian pumpkin oil spread sandwiches, a Viennese escalope roll, mozartkugeln and Mannerschnitten.

Enjoy being serenaded with Mozart and Schubert by an Austrian classical string duo, while relaxing on the picnic rugs in Soho Square Gardens and feel the burdens of the week melt away as the sweet chocolate and marzipan balls melt in your mouth.

Dirndl girls will be there to tell you about this week’s weekend break competition, as well as the main prize of a 10 night all inclusive Austrian adventure for two this summer. You can also enter the competition by clicking here.

ENJOY!!!!

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Special edition Love Hearts for Mother’s Day

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Thanks to a new facebook campaign by Swizzels Matlow, my favourite sweets of all time, Love Hearts, have got twenty-two new messages, created by fans, especially for Mother’s Day. 

Adorned with their new messages including ‘Super Mum’, Thanks’, ‘Mum Rules and ‘My Rock’, the love hearts have been packaged up in specially designed, lilac, ‘I Love Mum’ 120gm gift pack for an RRP of £1.39.

Sarah-Louise Heslop, marketing manager at Swizzels Matlow, said: “We thought it was about time we celebrated our wonderful mums on a grand scale. Every mum will love the special messages contained on our iconic sweets. Our Love Hearts tube is the perfect little gift and is a refreshing alternative to chocolate.”

Amazingly, a whopping 2.75 billion Love Hearts are produced every year, that’s enough to stretch 1.5 times around the world – I wonder how many of those I get through?

http://lovehearts.com/

Streetfood venture ‘Pizza Pilgrims’ launches tomorrow in Soho

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If you work in Soho, you’ll be pleased to hear about the new street food venture Pizza Pilgrims.  Three British lads making and selling Napolitan pizzas from the back of a three-wheel Piaggio van/custom-made pizza oven – brilliant idea!


Having spent months touring around Italy on their ‘pilgrimage’ in search of the best ingredients, secret recipes and tricks of the trade, the three pilgrims will be making the pizzas themselves and serving them to the masses of Soho for lunch.


They are using the finest ingredients and while their pizzas may not always be perfectly shaped, the bases are light and fluffy and not too salty.  Having spent a lot of time in Italy eating thousands of pizzas, I was impressed by what they have achieved in such a short space of time – but practice does make perfect… especially when distributing the right amount of toppings and getting the temperatures of the oven just right so that the base cooks properly, but the toppings don’t over heat either 😉

The guys are due to launch tomorrow and will be selling their pizzas around Berwick Street market for about a fiver, so do look out for their Ape pizza oven and give’em a try, you won’t regret it, the sausage pizza was especially good, so was the nutella one!

From working in Soho, I know that between about 12.15 and 1.30 ish all the decent places have a minimum of a 20 metre+ queue, so I hope the pilgrims are well prepared for Soho lunchtime madness!  Best of luck guys, can’t wait to hear all the success stories.

Posh water: Limited edition Bulgari San Pellegrino bottle

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To bring a timeless streak of Italian glamour to your table, Italy’s iconic brand S. Pellegrino has partnered with world famous Italian jeweler Bulgari, to design a stunning limited edition bottle.

As a tribute to Italian magnificence, the new design of the S. Pellegrino bottle fronts the sparkles famous of the Italian jeweler.

Sourced and bottled at a thermal source in the Italian pre-Alps, it is instantly recognisable by its fine bubbles and subtle mineral aromas.  Following my water pairing experience last year, I can say it really is perfectly paired with structured foods and wines, rich in flavours and aromas, which is why it is found on the tables of top restaurants around the globe.

S. Pellegrino is my favourite bottled water, and hey pretty bottles like this, just make it even more special!

Priya Shaheed, S. Pellegrino Brand Manager UK says “When S. Pellegrino met Bulgari, the idea came out naturally: it brings together the most prestigious brands which set the standard for Italian standard all over the world. Our brand is an international symbol of the Italian art of living and partnering with Bulgari adds power to our efforts to export the finest side of Italy”.

The special edition of S. Pellegrino was launched exclusively in Harrods but is now available elsewhere.

A Christmas gift guide for alcohol enthusiasts!

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TEQUILA MEETS TATTOO ART

-The Reserva de la Familia Limited Edition

Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia tequila is celebrating the subculture of tattoo art this Christmas, teaming up with Mexican artist Jerónimo López Ramírez to create a funky gift pack. The handcrafted wooden box celebrates the notorious style of the artist known as ‘Dr. Lakra’, a legend in Mexican tattoo artistry. His work has been shown across the world, bringing his unique style, influenced by comics, flamenco dancing and music covers, to several different art forms and audiences.

Reserva de la Familia is no ordinary tequila. Every March Fancisco Hajnal, Cuervo’s Master Blender, mixes a unique blend from the Cuervo tequila reserves, producing a limited number of special bottles; hand-poured, wax-sealed, numbered and labelled ‘Reserva de la Familia’. Since 1995, to honour the extraordinary tequila, the Cuervo family has teamed up with the Mexican artist of the moment to design a one-off gift box, creating collectible limited editions.

A tequila to be appreciated and sipped, served best over ice.  The Reserva de la Familia collectible box is available from Selfridges for £84.68 RRP.

SALUT! THE WORLD’S BEST TASTING SILVER TEQUILA

This Christmas, why not treat someone to a bottle of award winning tequila Jose Cuervo, Platino. The silver tequila comes in a striking blue wooden box, making it an ideal gift for those who appreciate the fine Mexican spirit.

Made from 100% blue agave, Platino boasts an exquisite flavour thanks to the Cuervo family’s secret recipe and unique handcrafted production process that has developed over 200 years at Casa Cuervo. Its light herbaceous aromas give way to hints of vanilla and this smooth tequila is best served in luxurious cocktails.

An ideal gift for foodies, and all discerning drinkers, the Cuervo Platino gift box is available from Selfridges for £55.44 RRP.

THE IDEAL STOCKING FILLER FOR THE WHISKY ENTHUSIAST: The Talisker® Single Malt Scotch Whisky Flask and Glass Pack

 The makers of Talisker whisky this year has created the perfect solution to honour the award winning malt; a striking special edition of the Talisker 10 year old 20cl that comes together with a unique Talisker rocking glass and a hip flask. The perfect stocking filler, savour the whisky at home or in the hipflask whilst enjoying the great outdoors on your Boxing Day walk.

At a recommended price of £19.99 and available from whisky specialists.

FOR JOHNNIE WALKER® LOVERS: The Johnnie Walker Black Label Gift Pack

The Johnnie Walker Black Label gift pack includes a bottle of the smooth Scotch whisky, along with two elegant tumbler glasses, all enclosed in a stylish black case. Aged for 12 years, Johnnie Walker Black Label is a unique blend with a smooth, deep and complex character.

Available to buy from selected whisky specialist stores, the Johnnie Walker Black Label gift pack has an RRP of £29.99.

 

The Johnnie Walker Red Label Gift Pack

To ensure you’re spoilt for choice when deciding what to buy the whisky enthusiast in your life, the makers of Johnnie Walker have also created two Johnnie Walker Red Label gift packs.  The first pack contains two complimentary bespoke tumblers embossed with the famous Johnnie Walker striding man, along with a bottle of the world renowned whisky, famous for its bold and characterful taste. In contrast to Johnnie Walker Black Label, Red Label has been created to drink long. Just adding water will unleash the robust, sweet and smoky blend to its full potential.

The Johnnie Walker Red Label Glass Pack is available from selected supermarkets throughout the UK, priced at £21.99.

GRAND MARNIER® ADDS A CHRISTMAS TWIST TO ITS CLASSIC BOTTLE

Grand Marnier has created The Red Ribbon Limited Edition Bottle to shake up your drinks cabinet during the party months.

Renowned for its distinctive flavour and character, Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge is a delicate blend of fine cognacs and distilled essence of tropical oranges. Slowly aged in French oak casks, Grand Marnier has an incomparable roundness and subtlety, making it a fantastic ingredient for Christmas drinks.

The Red Ribbon Edition is available to buy from October in Harvey Nichols and Selfridges, with an RRP of£29.99.

THE ULTIMATE GIFT FOR COCKTAIL AFICIONADOS: Tanqueray® gin limited edition

Tanqueray gin has created Tonight’s Edition.  The bottle of Tanqueray gin, honoured with a Royal Warrant in 1925, is enclosed in a high quality, premium silver shrink sleeve and embossed with the iconic Tanqueray seal; a must have for any cocktail enthusiast.

The gift pack comes with the seal of approval from Erik Lorincz the head barman at the world famous American Bar in the London Savoy.  It also includes a recipe to create the perfect Tanqueray & Tonic so you can recreate the glamour of the cocktail bar in the comfort of your own home.

Tanqueray gin’s complex combination of refreshing juniper, peppery coriander and aromatic angelica give it an elegant taste that sets it apart from the rest and has helped make it one of the world’s most awarded gin.

The Tanqueray Tonight’s Edition is available at all major supermarkets this Christmas, with an RRP of £22.99.

A GIFT FOR THOSE WHO LIKE THE FINER THINGS IN LIFE: The Ron Zacapa® 23 Gift Box

Zacapa 23 Solera is regarded as one of the finest rums in the world. The ultra-premium RonZacapa 23 gift box comes complete with two bespoke tasting glasses.  It is the result of a unique combination of soil climate and ultra-high-grade cane sugar and is produced using only the first pressing of the sugar cane, the virgin cane honey.

This is skillfully distilled and then transported to the aging facility, known as ‘the house above the clouds’ sitting as it does at 2300m above sea level. Not only is the location unique, but the cool air serves a practical purpose of slowing the ageing process to craft rums of impeccable quality.

The Zacapa 23 gift box includes a 70cl bottle with two elegant bespoke Zacapa sipping glasses, and is available exclusively from Selfridges RRSP from £65.

Chillies Hanging On The Christmas Tree

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I love this idea!!!

If you are trying to work out what colour scheme to go for on your christmas tree, or whether to have tinsel or baubles, or both – then how about hanging a selection of dried chillies on your tree, don’t they look amazing?!

There’s a wide variety available in all different colours, shapes and sizes at the South Devon Chilli Farm (buy online at www.sdcf.co.uk).

Harvey Nics 5th floor cafe gets fab revamp

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The iconic Harvey Nichols Fifth Floor Café has undergone a complete refurbishment – its first in twenty years, and has re-opened this month as a bigger and brighter, open plan space, with a new interior that includes the expanded Espresso bar and a new kitchen with a brand new food and drink menu.

Overlooking the Knightsbridge rooftops, the Café has always been a famous breakfast meeting spot and the new menu is simply delicious, featuring everything from irresistible Belgian Waffles with winter berries, lavender cream and berry compote, a super healthy breakfast pot with granola, greek yoghurt and Bramley apple to smoked salmon with potato cake and poached egg, a full English, continental breakfasts and a healthy selection of smoothies and fresh juices.

Clearly the full English was unavoidable, so the two of us shared that alongside the smoked salmon with poached egg and potato cake, oh and not forgetting the scrumptious extra portion of hash browns I ordered on the side.. sorry i couldn’t resist!

While the food was almost faultless – I prefer my egg to be a tiny bit softer, and the potato cake a little less charred around the edges – I have to say the salmon, black pudding and hash browns were to die for and the juices and smoothies were delicious and healthy, especially the ginger, carrot and orange, and the apple, cucumber and elderflower.  YUM.

As we near Christmas, don’t forget to stop in the food halls, amazing place for present shopping!

One in seven lacks the skills to cook a meal from scratch!

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One in seven lacks the skills to cook a meal from scratch!

While British cuisine is having somewhat of a revival, this is clearly not making its way into household kitchens, as home cooked meals have dropped by 20% since the 80s.

According to new research by Kenwood, only four out of the average household’s 21 meals a week are cooked from scratch, whilst consumption of ready meals or takeaways has significantly increased.

The study also showed that kitchen nerves are more prevalent in men than women, and in particular amongst the under 35s, who find cooking more stressful than older generations.

This could be down to the fact that ready meals are so good these days that people don’t see the need to cook at home; or perhaps they no longer have as much time to cook, trying to fit food around busy social lives; or it could simply be attributed to the fact that we now have a generation who didn’t see their parents cook much, so therefore were not exposed to necessary home cooking skills – which I think is really sad!

Mark Swift, Director of Marketing at Kenwood, comments, “It’s a great shame to discover the extent to which cooking from scratch is on the decline, and the impact that this is having on our cookery confidence and ability in the UK. Cooking from scratch is a great way to de-stress and it’s also an important way to teach children about correct nutrition, and pass on cooking knowledge so they know their way around the kitchen.

What hope does Britain have of our ensuring our food revival continues, if we aren’t able to pass valuable cookery skills onto the next generation?