NIO COCKTAILS // NEW PRODUCT

Thank you to Novos for the following content.

Introducing NIO cocktails –

NIO stands for ‘Needs Ice Only’ meaning there’s no specialist equipment or ingredients needed to delight in an expertly crafted drink. The steps are simple: get a glass, fill it with ice and simply tear the corner of your sachet and pour the ready-made cocktail in.

Each drink has been expertly crafted by NIO’s Head Mixologist, Patrick Pistolesi, who is also the Head Bartender and Found of Drink Kong, which is on the top 50 Best Bars list.

On the menu, there are 15 pre-batched cocktails to choose from. Whiskey fans can enjoy an Old Fashioned, a Manhattan or Whiskey Sour while Gin-lovers can delight in a Gimlet, Gin Sour or Gin Proved. Not to mention all the classics. 

Unique to NIO, all cocktails are sealed in mini flat boxes which can be safely delivered to letterboxes nation-wide. Customers can choose from a 3, 6 or 9 box option. Perfect for picnics in the park or a tipple in the yard, with warmer weather and signs of life returning to some normality, it’s something we can all raise a glass to.

GERMAN DONER KEBAB ‘THE BOSS BOX’ // PRODUCT REVIEW

We recently teamed up with the guys at Deliveroo to get our hands on the new Boss Box from German Doner Kebab. GDK is somewhere we have visited before & really enjoyed, so when we received the invite to take part in this new project, we knew we would be in for a treat. We were gifted with a voucher each to be used via Deliveroo to purchase The Boss Box from GDK – very straightforward! We used the Lakeside branch of GDK as we were visiting anyway, & we opted for collection rather than delivery.


We each enjoyed a meal of The Boss Box, which contains the following
– a kebab of your choice (we both went for the Doner Durum Wrap, mixed meats)
– a side of either Chilli Cheese Bites or Doner Spring Rolls (we had one of each)
– Fries
– 3 of GDKs signature sauces
– a ‘slim’ drink of your choice
(we also added on a few extra bits with the remainder of the vouchers)


The box that the meal itself is presented in is sleek. The box is glossy & black, & certainly gives any other takeaway packaging a run for its money. The box itself to the inside is also presented very neatly – sections are divided so your meal is perfectly spaced, plus there are handy little holders for the sauces too which makes a huge difference & saves the faffing of having to pick up the pots to dip your fries in.


Now onto the food, GDK never disappoints, portion sizes here are extremely generous, & you can add extra salad at no extra cost (which we both did), although saying this, it probably isn’t necessary to do so. The kebabs are fully loaded with meat (you can choose between beef or chicken, or both) & are beyond filling – neither of us finished our kebabs! We did however finish all of our sides. The chilli cheese bites are absolutely delicious (we even ordered extra of these bad boys!), & again, the Doner Spring Rolls are exceptionally generous when it comes to their sizing. Everything at GDK is always bursting with taste & flavour, the only thing that sort of lets the meal down is the fries – the fries are more ‘chips’ as they are slightly chunkier, & to be honest, you could probably do without these anyway as the kebab is just so filling!

The Boss Box will set you back £12.99 but we would say that it is total value for money – you get a lot of food there.

Thank you very much to both Deliveroo & German Doner Kebab.

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EAT OUT TO HELP OUT // FISH ON THE QUAY (MALDON) MENUS

BRICK LANE BAGEL CO. // RESTAURANT REVIEW

So here it is… our first ‘lockdown’ outing post! The team at Brick Lane Bagel Co. got in contact with us during lockdown to invite us down to their Theydon Bois branch, which remained opened during lockdown as part of essential services. We were offered a lunch for two, which we thoroughly enjoyed! Our lunches of choice were…
– salt beef bagel with mustard & gherkins
– chicken escalope bagel with melted cheese, lettuce & mayo
plus a couple of drinks (coke & a latte), followed by a delicious, fresh jam doughnut (which we shared between the pair of us as we were full from the bagels!)

The bagels were hearty & delicious! The bread itself was so fresh & so soft, it really contributed to the yumminess of the bagels. The salt beef was ever so tender & truly did melt in the mouth, plus the sheer amount of it was very generous too. The salt beef bagel was absolutely brimming with flavour, thanks to the mustard & gherkins complimenting the beautiful salt beef. The chicken escalope bagel was sensational! A nice big chunk of chicken, served with lashings of lettuce & mayo, plus an oozing cheese centre – it was incredible. Almost like the taste of a chicken burger but much, much better. We opted to have our bagels halved so that between the pair of us, we could each try both different filling, and despite both flavours being exceptional, we agreed that the chicken escalope was our favourite of the two, moreso because it isn’t something either of us would normally go for, but were recommended to try. Following on from our delicious bagels, the pair of us shared a yummy jam doughnut, which just like the bagels, tasted ever so fresh. What also impressed us with the doughnut was the size – forget the typical supermarket sized doughnuts you’d find in a bag, this was double, & of course way better!

What we also picked up on during our time at Brick Lane Bagel Co. was just how busy it was, the business proves to be doing exceptionally well & is clearly a roaring success. During our visit there were always customers present, filling all of the outside seating, despite the lockdown circumstances – this was fantastic to see!

We would also like to point out that this was the friendliest service we have experienced so far – prior to our visit, during & after. Everyone involved could not do enough for us from the staff in the shop itself, to the marketing behind their Instagram page. This is definitely what fantastic customer service is, and it honestly does make all the difference.

Thank you very much to Brick Lane Bagel Co. for inviting us down, we look forward to visiting again.

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EAT OUT TO HELP OUT // GOVERNMENT SCHEME

August is fast approaching which means we are closer to being able to make use of the Eat Out To Help Out scheme – a great way for us as customers to try out lots of new places, & also a way for the hospitality sector to start making a recovery. In order to support the scheme, I’m going to be posting menus from various restaurants that will be taking part in the scheme. Menus will primarily be posted to Instagram @essexfoodies, & will also feature on a highlight specifically for Eat Out To Help Out on my Instagram page.
If you’d like to get a menu featured, send over a PDF copy to essexfoodies@gmail.com & I will be more than happy to get this up!

ESSEX CONFECTIONARY // SWEET DELIVERY SERVICE

If you have a sweet tooth, then this is the home delivery for you! A little while back I was very kindly delivered a selection of goodies from the team at Essex Confectionary. I have to say, delivery was extremely quick & I did not expect the sweets to arrive as fast as they did (no complaints here!)
I was given a pick n mix pouch which was absolutely stuffed with colourful sweets. There were a variety of jellies, both new & old school as well as a classic Refresher in there too. These pouches start at £5 for 500g, which to be quite honest, is really reasonably priced in comparison to what you’d pay in a shop or at a market. I was also given a Malteser box which was packed with, you guessed it, Malteser treats! These are charged at £7, making them ideal for a present. I would say that all of the goodies from Essex Confectionary are ideal for a loved one as a surprise, a birthday gift or even just a treat for yourself. They even offer Big Night In bundles which are perfect for movie nights (a great idea if you’ve got kids to entertain, & certainly a lot cheaper than a cinema trip!)

All sorts of treats are available, whether you are a jelly fan or more of a chocolate fan. I loved everything that I received, & I would certainly make an order for myself.

Thank you to Essex Confectionary!

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COMPETITION TIME!

COMPETITION TIME! Fancy getting your hands on a box of @power.of.peanuts peanut bars? Keep reading..

I have teamed up with the guys at @power.of.peanuts to offer one lucky winner & a friend to get their hands on a case of POP’s delicious fibres bars packed with protein. To enter, simply like the Instagram post, follow both @power.of.peanuts & @essexfoodies on Instagram, tag your bestie & in 3 words sum up your friendship! 
*Please note that you will need to enter this competition via Instagram. Any entries made outside will not be counted.

Closing date for competition is Friday 31st July 2020 with winner announced on Monday 3rd August 2020. UK only. Good luck!

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BAILEYS RASPBERRY RIPPLE COOLER // COCKTAIL RECIPE

Thank you to Taste PR for the following content.

Created by drinks columnist Abbie Moulton, the Baileys Rapsberry Ripple Cooler is an indulgent and treat-worthy cocktail that’s perfectly light and scrumptious for a summer afternoon. This cocktail hits the trend of being perfect for al fresco evenings with its grown-up fruity flavours. It’s the perfect adult treat for picnics and small garden get-togethers! 

Ingredients
[0.9 units per serve – recipe serves 2]
100ml Baileys Original Irish Cream [1.8 units]
80ml coconut milk 
1 x 500ml tub vanilla ice cream 
1 x small bottle raspberry puree, or a tin of raspberries in syrup
Handful of fresh raspberries
Serve in a stemless wine glass / water tumbler

Method
– Blend 100ml Baileys Original Irish Cream with 80ml coconut milk and a handful of ice. You should get a light, foamy mixture
– Add 1 generous spoonful of raspberry puree to the bottom of each glass
– Top with two or three scoops of ice cream
– Drizzle another generous helping of raspberry syrup
– Pour over the Baileys Original Irish Cream & coconut milk mix, so it comes to just below the top of the ice cream 
– Drizzle over the raspberry syrup 
– Top with fresh raspberries and enjoy!

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MISS TEASMITH – PRODUCT REVIEW

So recently here at Essex Foodies I have had the absolute pleasure of sampling a selection of fine loose leaf teas courtesy of Miss Teasmith. I received samples of 5 different flavours/styles of teas, all very different from one another. The different teas were made up of – 

Ceylon Chai – comprising of Sri Lankan black tea & the spices of this tropical island.

Dark Romance – comprising of Sri Lankan black tea, cocoa shells & nibs, liquorice & mint, described as ‘pudding in a tea cup!’

Rooibos & Passion – comprising of rooibos, passionfruit, rose petals & rhubarb pieces (no caffeine).

Empa-Tea – a ginger & lemongrass herbal infusion.

Earl on the Moor – an orange black tea blend, made with blood orange & lavender.

Each of the teas were exceptionally different from one another, as to be expected, and each offered their very own take on a cup of tea. To start with, the Ceylon Chai was very bold, & very strong. Personally, I love a strong cup of tea (only a splash of milk, no sugar for me), so this is certainly something I would go for every day, alongside Earl on the Moor. EOTM has been my favourite out of the teas as it offers a slight twist on a classic, yet remains mellow & smooth. As I say, I would happily drink these every day! Next up we have got Empa-Tea. I found this tea a little too strong for my liking, I’m not a huge fan of really creative teas so I found this a little bit too overpowering for myself, not because the tea itself was too strong, but more because I find ginger can sometimes be a bit too much, however I would recommend this if you like your teas slightly more different tasting & you like a stronger, more different flavoured bold tea (think along the lines of peppermint for example). Onto Dark Romance, this was the tea I was most excited to try as it offers a completely different take on a cup of tea, described by Miss Teasmith herself as ‘pudding in a teacup’ – essentially dessert with less calories, perfect! I really liked the idea of this tea being dessert like, & it really did get me wondering just what it would taste like, so when the time came, I was not disappointed! The tea is lovely & strong yet sweet & dessert like – something very unusual but a welcomed twist. Lastly we have Rooibos & Passion, another tea I was very much looking forward to trying. I love all things passionfruit, so this was one I was certainly intrigued by. The tea itself was almost peachy, very smooth & full of fruity character. Almost tasting just like summer (think of those iced teas you would purchase in a supermarket on holiday!) It’s a strange way to describe a drink but I would say it was very feminine – perfect for a girls afternoon for example, so forget cocktails, & pour yourself a tea, hot or perhaps wait for it to cool, serve chilled & over lots of ice on a lovely sunny day. 

Thank you so much to Miss Teasmith for getting these lovely teas over to Essex Foodies, with lockdown still ongoing my plan is to enjoy them with friends, as restrictions ease, with some lovely socially-distanced afternoon teas. To get your hands on these goodies, simply visit www.missteasmith.com & sign up for 20% off of your first order, as well as free delivery over orders of £25.

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COSMO WORLD BUFFET (ROMFORD)

A little while back we were invited to Cosmo – a world buffet restaurant located in Romford. After hearing such good things & reading rave reviews about the restaurant, we were really excited to try it out for ourselves.

Our first visit left a lot to be desired – service was quite poor, & in all honesty there wasn’t really any reason for it to be, the restaurant wasn’t particularly busy but we were left unimpressed when not a single member of staff came over to check if everything was okay or to offer any more drinks. The food wasn’t especially great either. In particular we found it to lack a little in flavour (although it’s hard to judge & generalise when there is so much on offer). 

This feedback was all passed on to the marketing agency who organised the opportunity for us, which was then passed back on to the restaurant, & as a result we were invited back for a second visit.

The second visit was much, much better. Service was exceptional & the staff honestly couldn’t do enough for us, from the moment we entered to the moment we left! Drinks arrived a lot quicker the second time round, & we were checked on several times to make sure our glasses weren’t empty – a much better result.

The food the second time round was also better, we wouldn’t go as far as saying the food here is great but if you’re looking for somewhere to go that can cater for everyone then this is definitely the place. With so many cuisines to choose from, it’s perfect for those that are fussy! In particular we found the Chinese cuisine to be the best – this was the most flavourful & probably the best quality. The Indian dishes we found to be quite hot but not an enjoyable hot. We did also sample some bits from the teppanyaki counter which included the steak, salmon & prawns. Portions here are really limited (you can pick a maximum of 2 meats/fishes per visit) & we found that the wait was quite a while, especially on a Friday evening. It also seemed to be a bit of a free for all with people trying to jump the queue & shouting at the chef to see if their food was ready.

All in all, our visits here were okay, the second visit was a lot better & it was great to see the restaurant take on board what we had fed back previously, it goes to prove that feedback in essential & can really make a difference – (which is what we are here for!) We would like to point out that our visits were not negative but could definitely be improved. It’s probably not somewhere we would pick to visit out of choice, but this is also due to other factors including distance & price – we tend to find buffets aren’t value for money if you’re not going to eat loads & loads!

Thank you so much to Cosmo for having us & to Holly @ Distinctly PR for organising!

https://www.cosmo-restaurants.co.uk/

KELLY BRONZE TURKEYS // CHRISTMAS LEFTOVER IDEAS – BOXING DAY TURKEY WRAP

Thank you to Belle PR for the following content

Paul Kelly’s Boxing Day Turkey Wrap

Ingredients

  • Brussel sprouts
  • Mayonnaise
  • Tortilla wraps
  • Leftover stuffing
  • Leftover KellyBronze turkey (and skin)
  • Kellybronze hot cranberry jelly

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Lay the cooked turkey skin flat in a baking tray and cook in the oven for approx. 10 minutes or until crispy.
  3. Grab a wrap and spread the mayonnaise and cranberry sauce in the centre. Add the brussel sprouts, turkey, stuffing and once crisped, the delicious turkey crackling.
  4. Fold over one side of the wrap, followed by the bottom and finally roll over until the filling is fully enclosed.
  5. Slice in half and enjoy!

KELLY BRONZE TURKEYS // CHRISTMAS LEFTOVER IDEAS – CROQUE MADAME

Thank you to Belle PR for the following content

Ingredients

  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 3 eggs
  • 10g unsalted butter
  • 200ml whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 6 slices of white bread
  • 100g Wensleydale cheese (with cranberry)
  • 100g Gruyere cheese
  • 1 jar of KellyBronze hot cranberry jelly
  • 400g leftover KellyBronze cooked turkey

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. To create the bechamel sauce – add the butter and thyme leaves to a saucepan on a low heat. When the butter has melted, stir in the flour and leave to cook for two minutes. Then add the milk and whisk until smooth (no lumps!) Increase the heat and leave to simmer for a few minutes until the sauce has thickened.
  3. Remove pan from the heat and add the mustard and Wensleydale cheese. Return back to the heat for 30 seconds until cheese has melted.
  4. Slice the bread into six 1.5cm thick slices. Spread the cranberry sauce onto three slices, then add the bechemel sauce and grate on some gruyere cheese. Add the turkey, some more gruyere and then sandwich together with the remaining slices. On the top of the sandwich, add a little more béchamel, a sprinkle of gruyere and bake in the oven until the cheese has melted and is golden brown in colour.
  5. Whilst the sandwiches are in the oven, grab a frying pan, add a knob of butter and fry three eggs until the whites are cooked but the yolks are still runny.
  6. Remove the sandwiches from the oven when golden brown, and place one egg on top of each.
  7. Eat and enjoy!

THE MOUNT (CHINGFORD) // CHRISTMAS MENU

Tonight we are visiting The Mount in Chingford to try out their new festive menu (below). We cannot wait to share our thoughts!

THE DUKES HEAD (BILLERICAY) // FESTIVE MENU

Tonight we are visiting The Dukes Head in Billericay to try out their new festive menu (below). We cannot wait to share our thoughts!

THE GEORGE & DRAGON (EPPING) // FESTIVE MENU

Tonight we are visiting The George & Dragon in Epping to try out their new festive menu (below). We cannot wait to share our thoughts!

TURTLE BAY // MOTHERCLUCKER VEGAN BURGER

Thank you to Cab PR for the following content

WHAT A MOTHERCLUCKER! TURTLE BAY LAUNCHES PLANT-BASED BURGER FOR WORLD VEGAN DAY

Caribbean restaurant, Turtle Bay, has launched a meat-free ‘Motherclucker’ burger to coincide with World Vegan Day on Friday November 1st. Featuring a vegan chicken style patty, vegan burger bun, jerk vegan mayo, rocket, smashed avocado, pickled pink onion and jerk BBQ sauce, the Vegan Motherclucker is priced £7.50 and available at Turtle Bay restaurants nationwide. It is also available as part of the £10 lunch deal – any burger or roti plus one side and one homemade soft drink, Monday to Friday from 12pm-3pm.

ESSEX VEGAN WINTERFEST // EVENT

Thank you to Excellart for the following content

Vegan Christmas Wonderland at the Essex Vegan WinterFest

Enjoy the ethical festival feel-good factor at the Essex Vegan WinterFest this December. Colchester Charter Hall will be playing host to an exciting family Christmas food and shopping experience. Whether you fancy trying some festive food, are looking for new recipe ideas or are fed up with buying the usual gifts for the family and are looking for something that’s plastic-free, this event will have everything you need to create the perfect cruelty-free Christmas…

The 2019 Essex Vegan WinterFest will take place at Colchester Charter Hall on Saturday 14th December 2019 from 10.30am – 4.30pm. This unique WinterFest features over 100 fantastic stalls offering a wide variety of festive vegan produce, including Christmas cakes, mince pies and chocolate. There’s also clothing from Viva la Vegan, Wear Your Voice and Vegan Slogan Clothing, plus Ethical gift ideas from stalls like Seraphina Jewellery, Eden Perfumes (with Viva La Vegan) and Organically Epic. 

Hot takeaway food includes delicious dishes from Greek Vegan Deli, Home Kitchen, Vdogs and Veg Heads. There will also be free Bute Island Sheese samples to enjoy, plus food stalls, Deliciously Honest, Dinky Doos, Happy Cat Coffee, Honest Edibles, kt london, O’Donnell Moonshine, The May Bakery, The Olive Branch and Vegan Sweet Tooth London. There will also be all day informative talks and exciting cookery demos to inspire.

And in the true Christmas spirit, the event also helps local homeless people, whilst also helping to reduce food waste. Stall holders are asked to donate any surplus food at the end of the festival, and a group of volunteers distributes it to homeless people after the event, providing a hot meal as well as cold dishes.

The Essex Vegan WinterFest takes place on Saturday, 14th December 2019 from 10:30am – 4:30pm at Colchester Charter Hall, Cowdray Avenue, Colchester, Essex, CO1 1YH. Entry is from just £3 (under 16’s free) and this includes entry to all areas and activities. Standard tickets are purchased at the door on the day. VIP tickets, £15, include fast track entry and a goody bag full of vegan products, samples, discounts and offers can be purchased in advance but sell out quickly. For more information please visitwww.veganeventsuk.co.uk or www.facebook.com/VeganEventsUK

CAFE ROUGE // £5 PERKBOX DEAL

Cafe Rouge & Perkbox have partnered to bring this fantastic deal together. All you have to do is simply login to Perkbox (if you’re employer is part of the scheme) & purchase the Cafe Rouge main for £5 voucher. The £5 voucher will get you a main of either a burger or croque, both of which are served with fries/house salad. This means that once you’ve added a drink on, you can get a meal in for under a tenner – bargain!

SHWINGS // UNLIMITED TUESDAYS

Shwings is easily one of my favourite places to eat in Chelmsford. It’s fast, it’s cheap & in all honesty, it’s probably the best place when it comes to value for money. On a Tuesday, Shwings offer unlimited wings for a bargain price just under 13 quid a head (including soft drink). You can obviously add sides (I always go for their loaded fries – they are the best!) or you can stick entirely to wings if you are on a budget!

Flavours include;
– honey & chilli (my favourite)
– Shwings wings (garlic piri-piri)
– smoked bbq
– buffalo
– jerk
– hoisin
– sweet Thai chilli
So there really is something for everyone!

*Tip – order 2 portions at a time so you are not waiting once you’ve finished the first portion

THE MOUNT (CHINGFORD) // CHRISTMAS MENU

If you’re looking for a meal a little less formal & definitely on a lower budget then this is your answer! The Mount, situated on Chingford Mount is ideal for a quick catch-up & bite to eat over the festive period. This is somewhere we have eaten before & can recommend!

BARN FARM DRINKS // PRODUCT REVIEW

A little while back, we received a lovely selection of juices from Barn Farm Drinks – all locally produced on the Essex/Suffolk border.

Each flavour was presented in a tall glass bottle (perfect for recycling) & boasted a large serving. All of the flavours were as tasty as each other &
offered something unique – I would say they were not the standard/plain raspberry, apple, blackcurrant flavours you’d normally find, but rather a welcomed mix!

I would definitely choose to have these again, & would certainly pick them over a bottle of Coke any day!

Thank you to Barn Farms Drinks for gifting us with their drinks.

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TURTLE BAY // NEW HALLOWEEN COCKTAIL

Thank you to Cab PR for the following content

TURTLE BAY CELEBRATES SPIRITS WITH NEW RUM COCKTAIL THIS HALLOWEEN

Proving that Halloween isn’t just about trick-or-treating and sweets for children, Turtle Bay is introducing Rum Thief – a spooky new cocktail for guests to enjoy.
Set to become a permanent fixture on the renowned Turtle Bay cocktail menu, this brand new concoction contains The Duppy Share rum alongside lime, vanilla and raspberry, making it the ultimate Halloween treat with a Caribbean twist. 
Named after the ‘Duppies’, the mischievous, rum-loving Caribbean spirits swoop between distilleries stealing the best of the rum. With its balanced blend of fiery Jamaican and smooth Barbadian rums, The Duppy Share has tropical fruit flavours up front followed by a warm buttery finish that is perfectly complemented in the Rum Thief.
Offering more treats than tricks, on Wednesday 30th October the popular Caribbean restaurant is also gifting thousands of scratch cards to users of its official app, which will reveal a number of different cocktail prizes. If you’re a user of the Turtle Bay app and lucky enough to receive the Halloween treat, then visit your nearest restaurant and claim your prize, which could be a round of six brand new Rum Thief cocktails from Thursday 31st October to Sunday 3rd November. 
For more information or to book a table, visit: www.turtlebay.co.uk or find out more about Duppy Share here: www.theduppyshare.com/our-story

*Scratch cards will be sent on 30 October to a random selection of Turtle Bay app users only.
**The prizes sent can only be redeemed from Thursday 31 October to Sunday 3rd November.

GIN & TONIC LOAF // RECIPE

Thank you to Baking with Ames (@bakingwithames) for the following content

Dairy free gin and tonic loaf 

What you’ll need: 
For the loaf For the syrup
200g dairy free butter 125g caster sugar 
200g caster sugar 125ml tonic water
4 eggs, beaten 2 tbsp gin
200g self-raising flour Icing sugar
½ tsp baking powder
The zest of 1 lime
100ml (3 fl oz) gin

How to make: 
– Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan) mark 4. Line base and sides of a 900g  (2lb) loaf tin with baking parchment, or insert a premade loaf tin case. In a large bowl beat butter and sugar until pale in colour and fluffy. 
– In a separate bowl / mug beat the eggs together, and gradually add to the butter and sugar mix. 
– Now, fold in the flour, baking powder and lime zest. Make sure everything is fully mixed in and add the gin. Spoon into your loaf tin and bake for around 45 minutes – you may need longer so always check with a skewer to check it’s cooked through. Your skewer should come out clean when its cooked. 
– While your loaf is cooking start making the sugar syrup. Heat the caster sugar and tonic water in a small pan, until the sugar dissolves. Once dissolved, boil the syrup for 2 minutes. 
– Spoon 3tbsp of the syrup into a small bowl and mix in 2tbsp of the gin – this will be used to soak your cake. Remove the pan of remaining syrup off the heat and let it cool. 
– When your cake is cooked, poke holes into the top with a skewer and drizzle the syrup/gin mixture. Once you’ve done this, take the cake out of the loaf tin and allow to cool on a wire rack. 
– Meanwhile, when the sugar syrup has cooled mix in some icing sugar until you have a glossy white mixture perfect for drizzling over the top of your cooled loaf. 
– When the loaf is cool drizzle your icing and leave to set before serving.

CAFE BRAZIL // CHRISTMAS MENU

We’re treating you to another Christmas menu – this time it’s Cafe Brazil’s festive offering! This is one I’m going to be checking out- I think it’s great value for money, & you will also receive a complimentary glass of fizz – what’s not to love?!

DUSK (BRENTWOOD) // WHAT’S ON

TURTLE BAY // COMPETITION TIME!

Thank you to Cab PR for the following content

Turtle Bay and British Virgin Islands launch competition with more than a thousand prizes up for grabs including a luxury trip to the Carribean

Popular Caribbean restaurant, Turtle Bay, has partnered with British Virgin Islands Tourist Board to offer one lucky winner the ultimate Caribbean experience to the British Virgin Islands (BVI)*.

Each week, from 2nd September 2019 until January 2020, one hundred prizes will be up for grabs at Turtle Bay restaurants across the UK, including a once in a lifetime holiday for two, sailing with Dream Yacht Charter around the islands of the BVI for seven nights, including round trip flights from London Gatwick, full board meals and five-star accommodation.

To be in with a chance of winning all you need to do is pop in to your nearest Turtle Bay, enjoy the best Caribbean cuisine on the block, and you will be given a special competition card containing a unique code to unlock an online competition entry page here: www.turtlebay.co.uk/win*.

The grand prize draw will take place in January, but not to worry, whilst you wait to find out if you’re heading to one of the world’s most sought after destinations, Turtle Bay will be selecting an additional one hundred winners each week and treating them to Caribbean-inspired giveaways.

Bottles of rum, BVI GIN, complimentary meals, cocktails and huge discounts vouchers are just some of the incredible prizes up for grabs, not to mention the ultimate prize to experience stretches of white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and a taste of the best life.

To enter simply visit your nearest Turtle Bay. Every time you visit you’ll get a feel-good entry code to use online to enter the competition. Visit www.turtlebay.co.uk/win for full competition instructions and terms and conditions.  

COCONUTS ORGANIC VEGAN ICE CREAM // NEW PRODUCT

Thank you to Tremplin Marketing for the following content

Coconuts Organic is a fabulous vegan ice cream that genuinely tastes as good as the dairy! Made with coconut cream and unrefined coconut sugar and just a few other natural ingredients to this base, It’s certified organic, officially vegan, and probably the best non-dairy ice cream you’ll taste!

With Christmas and Veganuary coming up, they have loads of delicious flavours; Mint Choc; Creamy Coconut; Rum ‘n Raisin…..and lots more!

Coconuts Organic (formerly Coconuts Naturally), the vegan ice cream made famous on BBC Dragon’s Den, announce a significant step in the growth of the business as they secure Tesco listing. From June 17th , Coconuts Organic will be available in more than 600 Tesco stores around the UK, with two brand new flavours (Choc Orange Swirl and Double Caramel) exclusive to Tesco. The timing of the store listing will coincide with the official rebrand when Coconuts Naturally will become Coconuts Organic – the same award-winning, all-natural ice cream, but with a new name and striking packaging! Launched in 2015 by entrepreneur Cecily Mills, the Cornwall-based business has achieved more than 100% sales growth every year in its first three years (partly thanks to the ever-growing customer appetite for vegan products) and has firmly established itself as a dominant player in the free-from category. Commenting on the announcement; CEO and Founder, Cecily Mills said; “Securing a listing with Tesco UK is a real milestone for the business, and we are so excited to share our two new flavours with Tesco shoppers. This has been a huge year for us – starting out with a successful crowdfunding campaign, and now the rebrand, new product launch and coming on board with Tesco. For me personally, it feels like a huge achievement to have Coconuts Organic in supermarket freezers across the country.” In addition to the Tesco listing, Coconuts Organic is currently available UK-wide, via Ocado and in independent stores and cafes via two national distributors. Internationally, the product is available in Dubai. The brand is also developing its international expansion plans, with a particular focus on the Middle East and Asia.

JAGERMEISTER FLOATING BAR // HALLOWEEN EVENT

Thank you to ZINC for the following content

JÄGERMEISTER FLOATING BAR “THE DARK SPIRIT”  SETTING SAIL THIS HALLOWEEN

A cursed canal cruise with cocktails

Jägermeister UK in partnership with Ladies & Gents bars, are summoning up an unearthly phantom boat, named “The Dark Spirit”, to sail the canals of London this Halloween.

Setting sail twice daily from Camden, the macabre barge will wind its way along London’s ancient canals and through the mysterious 1km long Victorian-designed Islington Tunnel. 

Onboard, the talented team from Ladies & Gents will reward brave souls with an assortment of ice cold shots and delectable cocktails showcasing the intricate flavours of the dark spirits’ 56 different herbs and spices. 

The boat can hold up to twelve people per sailing and is fully enclosed to protect the precious cargo from elemental forces. There’s a wood burning fire aboard to keep guests (both alive and undead) from the chills. 

Tickets cost £20 and include two hours on “The Dark Spirit” floating bar plus two cocktails. Additional cocktails will be available for £5 each. 

Tickets are on-sale now via Design My Night for 23rd October – 3rd November. 

Let’s Get Dark! 

Tickets:

https://www.designmynight.com/london/bars/camden/ladies-and-gentlemen/a-cursed-canal-cruise-with-cocktails

About Jägermeister
Mast-Jägermeister SE is firmly rooted in Wolfenbüttel, Lower Saxony. Here, and only here, the company produces Jägermeister, the herbal liqueur with the stag – and the biggest German spirit brand. First invented over 80 years ago, Jägermeister is based on a secret recipe of 56 different herbs, flowers and roots. In 2018, Mast-Jägermeister SE sold more than 7.5 million 9-litre cases of Jägermeister in over 140 countries. What means Jägermeister reached ninth place in the definitive Impact International rankings of the top 100 premium spirits, underpinning its position as the world’s most successful herbal liqueur. 

About Ladies & Gentlemen bars
Ladies & Gentlemen Londons favourite five star dive bar is well known for its epic parties, micro distillery, experimental kitchen and of course a lock in or two. Over the last 6 years L&G bars at their Kentish town, Camden Road and floating bar based in Kings X have focused on the forgotten art of hospitality and above all fun. Owner William Borrell has been included in the Evening standard top 100 influential people shaping the UKs hospitality scene with his unique approach to bars, pops up and special projects.

TURTLE BAY // NEW MENU

Thank you to Cab PR for the following content

Turtle Bay launches a new menu with more options than ever before, including Caribbean brunch for the very first time!

Curry Aubergine, Mr Fabulous’ Jamaican Patties, Five Alarm Chicken Curry – just some of the mouth-watering dishes you can get your hands on – and sink your teeth into – on the brand new menu at Turtle Bay.

For the first time ever, diners can start the day at Turtle Bay with a scintillating selection of breakfast items packed full of Caribbean flavours, such as Curry Goat Hash and Blackwell Breakfast – porridge served with a shot of Blackwell Rum. Other brunch offerings include dishes like curried chickpeas, jerk sausage and sweet plantain for both adults and ‘Little Turtles’ to enjoy.

Some of Turtle Bay’s specialities and iconic dishes will remain (so fans don’t need to panic) but in addition the new menu features a variety of reimagined dishes, and fresh new and exciting delights to try. There will be a selection of sharing platters and classic Caribbean curries to choose from. Inspired by street vendors from across the islands, cutters are Caribbean-style tapas dishes – perfect as a starter, for sharing or as a side. Not forgetting the fiery jerk flavours and scrumptious soul food that Turtle Bay is renowned for.  

There are even more veggie and vegan options than ever before too, as the new menu features a mouth-watering selection of dishes including Chilli Smashed Avocado Salad, Jerk Tofu a Vital Vegan Platter and more. 

Even the puddings on the new menu pack a punch. From the Chilli Chocolate Brownie to the Caribbean Mess, Banana Toffee Cheesecake, Fiery Root Ginger Kickin Ice Cream and more, these sweet treats are not to be missed, especially when you can sample two for £9, three for £13.50 or four for just £17 – get your spoons at the ready and prepare to tuck in!

Turtle Bay’s new lunch meal deal is available Monday to Friday between 12pm and 3pm, where diners can choose any burger or roti, plus one side and homemade soft drink for £10. Set menus will also be on offer all day Sunday to Thursday, with options to feast on two courses for £12 or go the whole hog and devour three courses for £15. 

Turtle Bay is all about slowing down, hanging out and feeling good, and this is exactly what its new menu will deliver. With the ultimate food freedom, customers can ‘lime’ away the hours in the restaurant, from 10am until late into the evening.

Go to www.turtlebay.co.uk to see the new menu and set your taste-buds on fire. 

LIVE DOSA // CHRISTMAS MENU

Today, we have another Christmas menu for you! Live Dosa is a really lovely family owned & run restaurant in Chelmsford. The team here will do all they can to accommodate & make you feel welcome, so again, another one to consider over the festive period.

BEERWULF – THE SUB // PRODUCT INFO

We have recently been lucky enough to receive The Sub, a product from Beerwulf that is designed to give you the perfect pint from the comfort of your own home. We are yet to try the product out (waiting for the right time!) but before we get reviewing, we wanted to share a little info on the product & provide more of an insight on the product & what it offers. Thank you to Beerwulf for the following content;

“Discover your new favourite gadget, The SUB. Bring the bar home with pub quality pints. The stylish design and small footprint of the home draught appliance means you can proudly tap premium beer from any countertop. All your favourite beers such as Heineken, Lagunitas IPA, SOL Birra Morreti and some more crafty ones available in 2L kegs. The SUB is easy to us, fun and a real conversation starter. Perfect for BBQ’s, watching sports at home, lazy Sunday lunches and Christmas soirees, they are the perfect addition to any home. Just plug in and you’re ready to play.”

With all this in mind, we are very excited to try out The Sub!

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BANANA TREE // CHRISTMAS MENU

Christmas Party-booking season is upon us & it can be very daunting not knowing where to go! Whether it be a Christmas catch-up with friends or an office party, it really can be baffling & often difficult when working on a budget at such an expensive time of year. We have taken it upon ourselves to find some of the best menus & best deals out there, & to start, we have the wonderful Banana Tree. We have visited this restaurant & we thoroughly enjoyed it, so we are confident in saying that their Christmas Menu is definitely one to be considered.

POP! PEANUT BARS // PRODUCT REVIEW

A little while back we very kindly received a box full of POP goodies! The box contained a variety of POP peanut bars, flavours including raisin & dark chocolate, peanut butter & dark chocolate, & coconut.

Each of the bars were delicious & crunchy, & made a fantastic mid morning snack, thanks to them being fabulously filling!

We also LOVED the packaging & the branding behind POP – the bright colours are very appealing, & very striking – you would definitely spot the bars on a shop shelf!

Thank you to the team at POP for getting these out to us – we are excited to these guys grow!

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BESOS // NEW PRODUCT

Thank you to Mediaworks for the following content

New alternative liqueur set to wet the whistle
The alcohol market is set for a new delightful tipple to excite consumers as Besos, the alternative liqueur, is released. Unlike rival brands in the sector, Besos is a palate pleaser that is free of dairy, lactose, gluten, soya and nut, and doesn’t curdle when mixed. With a smooth and smoky finish, this Spanish plant-based brandy provides a distinctive taste. Also available in the Besos range is chocolate flavour — ideal for a cosy night in or a gift for a loved one.

Peter Smith, Managing Director of Besos, commented: “With no allergens, Besos de Oro is the ideal choice for anyone looking to enjoy an alcoholic beverage. We’re proud to provide a drink that can be enjoyed by all members of the public, no matter what their choice of lifestyle or dietary requirements. For over half a century the Irish Cream Liqueur has been the favourite tipple for millions of people all over the world, but times change — as do cultures, beliefs and fashion. Besos has taken this family favourite and made it the drink of the moment. Forget lactose intolerance, gluten, nut and dairy problems. Forget cruelty to animals — Besos has solved these issues and shown it’s possible to mix ethics, allergy free and scrumptiousness in the same glass.”

The liqueur has an elegant design too, with each bottle packaged in a sleek, modern and crisp casing. Produced in the North East, it has now been launched on the new Besos website for £20.

For further information and the latest Besos news, follow the alternative taste of Spain on Facebook and Instagram.  

BAILEYS PINA ALMANDA // COCKTAIL RECIPE

Thank you to Taste PR for gifting us with a bottle of Baileys Almande & for the following content

Ingredients
[1.7 units per serve]
50ml Baileys Almande
50ml Coconut milk
60g Fresh pineapple chunks
25ml Pineapple juice
25ml Captain Morgan White Rum
1 x Fresh pineapple, whole (for garnish)
Crushed ice

Method
– First, prep your garnish: cut fresh, whole pineapple into slices and then into triangles. Top the glass with one pineapple triangle and one pineapple leaf & have the crushed ice ready in the glass
– Add 60g pineapple chunks to blender
– Add 50ml coconut milk and 25ml of fresh pineapple juice
– Add 50ml Baileys Almande, 25ml Captain Morgan White Rum
– Blitz well and strain 
– Pour over crushed ice into tall glass

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BAILEYS ALMANDE PASSIONFRUIT & CHILLI MARTINI // COCKTAIL RECIPE

Thank you to Taste PR for gifting us with a bottle of Baileys Almande & for the following content


Ingredients
[1 unit per serve]
75ml Baileys Almande
75ml Passion fruit syrup
50ml Pineapple juice
¼ teaspoon chilli powder
1 Passionfruit, whole (for garnish)
1 x Chilli, whole (for garnish) 
Cubed ice

Method
– First, prep your garnish: Cut the whole passionfruit into two halves, add a small slice to the chilli pepper and slot securely to the rim of the glass
– Add 75ml Baileys Almande, 75ml passion fruit, 50ml pineapple juice & pinch chilli to shaker with lots of ice
– Shake well and strain into coupe glass
– Float passionfruit half.
– Top tip: if you don’t have a cocktail shaker at home, you can use a clean jam jar with a lid, or the container of your blender

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BAILEYS ALMANDE ICED COFFEE & TAHINI TWIST // COCKTAIL RECIPE

Thank you to Taste PR for gifting us with a bottle of Baileys Almande & for the following content

Ingredients
[1 unit per serve]
75ml Baileys Almande
100ml Coldbrew coffee
100g Muscavado sugar
50g Coconut milk 
1/2 teaspoon Tahini paste, smooth
Cubed ice

Method
– For the caramel: blend 50g coconut milk with 1/2 teaspoon tahini paste, & strain
– Add 100g muscavado sugar to a medium pan on medium heat
– Stir in coconut milk and stir for one minute
– Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes and allow to cool
– Add
– Fill glass halfway with coldbrew coffee.
– Fill remaining half with Baileys Almande
– Drizzle over another spoonful of tahini caramel
– For added wow factor and to really impress your guests, drizzle melted vegan white chocolate around the rim of the glass

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COPENHAGEN // ESSEX FOODIES ABROAD

Back in August I visited the very beautiful (& expensive) city of Copenhagen. The city offered plenty of sights & some beautiful food. Below are the various dishes enjoyed throughout the trip!

The trip of course started with the classic airport Wetherspoons breakfast. Here we have eggs royale & American breakfast. (Wetherspoons – Windmill, Stansted Airport).

Lunch at Sole D’Italia, Copenhagen – spaghetti carbonara & spaghetti bolognese. Such a photogenic lunch!

Margarita pizza from Gorms Pizza @ Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen. One of the nicest plain pizzas I’ve ever had albeit expensive for what it was coming in at around £16! I highly recommend checking Gorms out.

A delicious Danish pastry from our hotel, Osterport. All of the food served for breakfast here was fantastic, a great variety & just very tasty! My favourite was definitely the fresh pastries – warm & delicious! We stayed on a B&B basis, & I would suggest doing this if you ever think about staying in Copenhagen as going out can be quite pricey. The hotel which we stayed at charged around £10 per person per day for breakfast which I thought was very reasonable, when realistically if you popped out for a coffee & pastry, you’d be looking spending around 6 quid or so anyway.

Next up we have dinner here in Malmo, Sweden. Malmo is only a short train journey from Copenhagen so we spent an afternoon here, & we had dinner in a lovely Indian restaurant called Green Chili. The food here was perfect, & was similar in price to Copenhagen.

And last but not least, lunch at Kayak Bar, Copenhagen. We stopped off here a couple of times as it is such a cool place! Again, it’s a little bit on the pricier side but that is to be expected with cities. The food here was very simple, the menu was limited but it was very nice! This is definitely somewhere nice to sit of an evening & enjoy some light food & powerful cocktails!

BAILEYS ALMANDE // NEW PRODUCT

Thank you to Taste PR for the following content & for gifting us with a bottle of Baileys Almande. A series of Baileys Almande cocktail recipes will shortly follow on our blog – keep your eyes peeled.

Dine alfresco with Baileys Almande and tips from Rosie Birkett

Fresh air, a gentle breeze, and sunshine on the skin. Everything about summer makes us want to be outside. To make the most of the warmer weather, the Baileys Almande team has teamed up with Rosie Birkett, food writer and lover of all things alfresco, for her expert advice on how to celebrate the season of sun by eating, drinking, and dining in the open air.  From how to style your space, to what food and drink to serve, Rosie’s got all the advice needed to turn even the smallest of spaces into a seasonal retreat – including food pairings with three delicious new cocktails featuring Baileys Almande – a dairy-free liqueur that blends beautifully with the finer flavours of summer. The collection is made up of favourite timeless drinks, that are indulgently light-tasting, dairy-free and don’t compromise on taste. So whether you want to host an intimate get-together with friends, throw your home open to all the neighbours or make your nearest and dearest feel like they’re in an at home oasis, here are Rosie’s top tips for bringing those outdoor moments to life this summer: 

1.Make the most of what you have
Whether it’s a doorstep, balcony, garden, or tiny terrace, almost any outdoor space can be transformed with a little bit of love. The first step is to choose your space so you know what you’re working with, then you can start to add to it. If you have a space that’s a little wilder or more overgrown, play to that. I love to use the wildness of my garden as a backdrop and work with the naturally beautiful shapes of the leaves, trees, moss and herbs growing. 

2. Prepare in advance
Make the most of your alfresco moment with friends by getting as much prepared in advance as you can, so that you can relax and enjoy the day. I like to choose dishes that I can make in advance – an orzo salad can be made in the morning and will sit happily in the fridge until needed. There are loads of cocktails that can be whipped up and prebatched in advance too. Put a new spin on traditional cocktails by making them dairy-free – try a Baileys Pina Almanda. All the ingredients can be blended together and then chilled, ready to be poured over ice after dinner, as a fun, light twist – just as tasty as the classic colada. 

3. Have fun with flavours
When it comes to what you serve, have a think about how your drinks and food can work together. Cocktails are surprisingly versatile thanks to the vast range of flavours they can cover. For instance, a vibrant and zesty Baileys Almande Passion Fruit Chilli martini cocktail works amazingly with a fruit dessert. One of my favourites at the moment is peaches with this twist on a martini cocktail, an absolute classic. As peaches and cherries are bang in season, I’ve roasted them together to bring out their flavour and sugars, and topped with a cardamom spiced crumble with toasted almonds and pecans, spooned over gorgeous clouds of sharp, creamy coconut yoghurt. This works really well with the deliciously light taste of Baileys Almande.

4. Set the scene
Once you’ve chosen your space, a few little touches can really bring it to life – add cushions, chairs, a table, candles, and plants to transform the area. If your alfresco gathering is going to stretch into the evening, think about lighting for once the sun sets to add atmosphere and ambience. I love to mix and match by repurposing old jam jars for tea lights, using lanterns and thick church candles and playing with festoon lights, stringing them up on a wall or fence. 

5. Set the table 
You can build a lovely collection of tableware without spending a fortune. Keep an eye out in second hand shops and in the homeware sections of bigger stores for nice pieces of glassware, plates and platters. You can mix up second hand pieces with a few newer, smarter bits. It doesn’t all need to be matching – I have a really eclectic mix, and a little goes a long way. Reusing milk bottles for cocktail vessels can bring a retro feel to the table too. 

6. Finish in style
Leave your guests with a lasting impression with the end of meal coffee by creating something visual – it’s easier than you’d think. Try a Baileys Almande Iced Coffee & Tahini Twist, where iced coffee is topped with creamy layers of Baileys Almande. As the liquid mixes it creates an insta-worthy swirl in the glass that guests will love. I like to add vegan chocolates to pair with this coffee cocktail. The chocolates are super simple to make, by adding melted cacao butter, cacao powder and maple syrup a filled with a ganache of almond butter, with a dash of Baileys Almande. The deep, dark, fruity notes of the chocolate works wonderfully with the sweet creaminess of the cocktail for an indulgently light tasting, dairy-free alfresco treat. 

LIVE DOSA – POTHICHORU EVENING // UPCOMING EVENT

Live Dosa is a Chelmsford restaurant which have had the privilege of being invited to a couple of times. The last time we visited was for their 5th anniversary celebrations, & they really did pull out all the stops. Food was perfect & the entertainment was incredible – these guys know how to put on a party! On the 13th & 14th November they will be holding another event evening which we would recommend checking out! All details can be found below.

MERSEA MUDCAKES // PRODUCT REVIEW

Last week, we received some delicious brownies from local company Mersea Mudcakes. The brownies arrived to us via the post, in a really cute little branded box, so we knew exactly what the package was! Inside of the postal packaging was another box containing the box. Delicately padded too with shredded tissue paper, the whole package was just very cute & thought through (perfect for a gift!)

The brownies inside also looked just as good, (if not better!) The brownies we received were salted caramel flavour – definitely one of our favourite choices. The brownies looked perfect – they were thick, chunky & looked perfectly spongey just as brownies should. What made them even better was their taste – no doubt about it! They were rich & chocolately, so one square piece was I would say more than enough. The salted caramel flavour was light but nice, every other mouthful offered a little hint of the flavouring – delicious. With this all in mind, I would without doubt like to try out Mersea Mudcakes other offerings!

The package as a whole was fantastic, the way the brownies were boxed up & presented was really lovely & gave a good first impression, & then the brownies themselves just topped it all off!

A huge thank you to Miriam @ Mersea Mudcakes for sending these out to us, they were very warmly welcomed!

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LINDA MCCARTNEYS // PRODUCT REVIEW

Following one of our recent posts on National Hotdog Day, we were very kindly gifted with some vouchers to use towards Linda McCartney’s vegetarian range. As someone that eats meat daily, I was a little sceptical of what the products would be like but I’m quite open minded & willing to try out new foods, so this was the perfect opportunity to do so. I did a little research to try & find the cheapest place to get my hands on the products, as the vouchers offered £2 off per product, & ideally I didn’t want to have to add any money on. Upon investigation, I found that Tesco were actually stocking the range with prices starting from £2 – spot on! So I got myself down to Tesco & stocked up on a variety including the following;
– vegetarian red pepper & chorizo sausages
– vegetarian red onion & rosemary sausages
– vegetarian mozzarella 1/4lb burgers
– vegetarian pulled pork 1/4lb burgers
I’m yet to try each product, I’ve only got round to trying the red pepper & chorizo sausages as of yet & I have to say, I’ve been really pleasantly surprised. The sausages are packed full of flavour & (sounds quite strange) have a nice texture to them – meat sausages can sometimes be a bit gritty, these are not at all, I can see why people go for them! I’m excited to try the rest of the products out, I won’t be going veggie any time soon but I could certainly incorporate veggie substitutes into my diet!

Thank you to Taste PR for gifting us with the vouchers.

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BAHLSEN PICK UP! BARS // PRODUCT REVIEWS

A little while back we were gifted with a handful of packs of Bahlsen’s Pick Up! bars. The bars are made up of a biscuit outer layer filled with a chunky slab of chocolate – delicious!

These were not something I’d tried before but am now addicted to! They’ve become a staple in the home treat cupboard as well as a little office pick me up. They are the perfect size too, & compliment a cup of tea very well. These will certainly be purchased again – I’ve seen them on offer in Tesco for a pound so it’s a no brainer really. Many thanks to both Bahlsen & Taste PR for getting these out to us!

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THE OJOS FOODS // PRESS RELEASE

Thank you to The Ojos Foods for providing us with the following content

THE OJOS FOODS LTD, LUTON

The Ojos Foods – Gold Fork Award Winner

The Ojos Foods already winner of 3* Stars, has won The Golden Fork Award and been nominated for the Supreme Champion Trophy with their premium Cured Beef “El Abuelo Maragato Halal”. These achievements put The Ojos Foods and El Abuelo Maragato amongst the elite. Only 20 products were selected for the The Golden Fork Awards including well known high street names and El Abuelo was the only Spanish Product.

The Ojos Foods were nominated again in the prestigious GREAT TASTE AWARDS 2019. These awards, held in London since 1994, are considered the “Oscars” of food. This year, 12,772 products have competed from more than one hundred countries. This year, four of The Ojos Foods Spanish products have been recognized:

The unique cured beef, El abuelo Margato Halal, is the only Spanish product to be awarded the prestigious 3 stars and Golden Fork Award 2019. Using the best “know how” and made only with natural ingredients the cured beef delivers a GASTRONONICAL MASTERPIECE, described by the experts as “Tender, sweet, velvety… simply phenomenal”.

The Ojos Foods starred winners are:

El Buey – 2* – Described as “The flavour is delicate, clean and very appealing, the fat offers sweetness and interest, adding depth. A delightful product made with care and attention to detail, the judges found it hard to fault this product”

Omeya Halal Beef Salami – 1* – Described as “Rich dark colour and good distribution of fat. The texture is moist and meaty and there is good mouth feel – not greasy. There is a perfect balance of seasoning and sweetness and a pleasing warmth of pepper at the end”.

Chorizo de Geras -1* – Described as “A fine looking Chorizo, beautifully prepared and presented. The fat content is good, the paprika heat well judged and the gentle smoke adds further pleasure. The fat release brings a succulence to the mouth. The finish is balanced and long.

Almost 13,000 products entered the Great Taste Awards, with the judges selecting only 20 to make it to Golden Fork Award Final. “When a company is considered a “multi-Great taste winner” it means that the black and gold star label adds much more value to your product in terms of credibility, when we talk about product quality. This opens doors to new buyers and translates into sales” explains Encina Barragan, The Ojos Foods Business Owner.

BELLA CAFE & LOUNGE // BRUNCH REVIEW

Last weekend we visited the lovely Bella Cafe & Lounge (formerly known as Bella Gelato) in Rayleigh. The restaurant is conveniently located just off of the high street, with parking very close by.

At first glance we could see that the cafe/restaurant was exceptionally busy, which indicated something was definitely right here! We arrived & were very quickly shown to our table.

We soon placed our orders, & our breakfasts of choice were the Lebanese breakfast & the traditional breakfast, & our drinks of choice were the chocolate milkshake & coco loco smoothie. Our drinks naturally were first to arrive & they looked amazing! The chocolate milkshake was thick & delicious (& polished off in minutes) whilst the smoothie was exotic & bursting with sweet flavour. Both drinks were very generous on size, & the glass that the smoothie was presented in was in the shape of a pineapple – a really cool touch. Our breakfasts arrived fairly quickly as well considering how busy the restaurant was which was great & definitely shows that the team here work fantastically together & under pressure, so hats off to each & every member of the team! Both breakfasts were huge & looked beautiful on their plates. The Lebanese breakfast was delicious – somewhat similar to a traditional breakfast but with a few pleasant twists, including spicy sausages, poached eggs sprinkled with a little spice, flatbread & outstanding grilled peppers & halloumi. Everything about this dish was incredible! The halloumi especially was cooked perfectly – I would go as far to say that this was probably the best halloumi I have ever had. I would hands down take this breakfast over a traditional fry up any day of the week! The other breakfast was a traditional breakfast, & was unquestionably delicious! Again, everything was cooked perfectly, especially the wonderfully photogenic & instagrammable poached eggs & I’m told the sausages were something else! We followed our breakfasts with a couple of coffees & a brunch ‘dessert’. Our coffees of choice were cappuccino & latte, & our desserts of choice was the strawberry pancakes. After such a filling breakfast, we opted to share a dessert as we knew we wouldn’t be able to get through one each – we definitely made the right choice in doing so because the pancakes were again very, very filling. Both coffees were lovely & smooth, & worked perfectly with the pancakes. The pancakes were outstanding – drizzled with white chocolate & served with fresh cut strawberries, everything about these pancakes was perfect. Absolutely faultless.

I would most definitely return to Bella, the service we received was fantastic, & the food was incredible – not only to eat but also get photos of, as it was so well presented! I’m certainly going to be visiting again, I’m intrigued as to see what the rest of the menu offers throughout the day. Thank you so much to the team here for inviting, warmly welcoming us, & looking after us!

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BANHOEK CHILLI OIL // PRODUCT REVIEW

We have recently been gifted with premium product Banhoek’s Chilli Oil – delicious chilli oil made in South Africa. We are very excited to try this in many ways! So far we have used this a couple of times, firstly smothered over corn on the cob & secondly, used to fry some tomatoes along with some added chilli flakes – fiery & extremely tasty!

We’re looking forward to trying this out in various ways, & we would love to know how you’d use the product – feel free to leave a comment!

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KULA CAFE // BRUNCH REVIEW

A couple of weeks back we were lucky enough to be treated to a lovely brunch at Kula Cafe – a cute little cafe located right in the heart of London’s bustling shopping district, Bond Street. The cafe itself is situated on James Street, along with many other cafes, bars & restaurants, the perfect spot if you’re looking for lunch whilst shopping.

We were given menus on arrival, & as the day was beautiful we decided to take a seat outside. Seats outside are quite limited, so you’ve got to be ready to pounce as soon as one becomes free. At first, the cafe didn’t appear to be too busy (I think we’d probably missed the breakfast-time rush) but soon began to fill up both outdoors and in – although we were advised that the cafe does get so much busier – I can only imagine how hectic this must be!

Shortly after arriving we placed our order – and on our menus were;
Drinks
– salted caramel & toffee frappe
– Hollywood diet juice
Brunch
– egg florentine halloumi
– halloumi omelette
(we love halloumi here at Essex Foodies!)

Both drinks were delicious! The frappe was creamy & sweet, whilst the juice was fruity & refreshing. Both drinks were of a medium size which was perfect, too much frappe can be too sickly & too much fruit juice can be acidic, but the sizes here were fine & lasted us throughout our visit.

Both of our brunches were also delicious, we were blown away by the sizes of the portions & their generosity on ‘extras’ on the plate. The omelette was served with with a salad garnish as well as a slice of toast, definitely more than enough to set you up for a day of shopping! The omelette itself was completely full to the brim with cheese (no complaints here whatsoever!), & layered with perfectly cooked halloumi – my friend enjoyed this dish & she completely rated it. I went for the eggs florentine halloumi, which was a dish made up of poached eggs, hash brown, Hollandaise sauce, avocado, sauteed mushrooms, halloumi & salad all served on a bed of toast. I was honestly not expecting the dish to be as huge as it was, but I soon managed to work my way through it! Everything about the food was perfect, it looked lovely, was full of flavour & was very filling & kept us going throughout the day without the need to snack on anything – ideal if you are up in London for the day really. I would also say that this give you great value for money, some places would charge extra for the sides of toast & salad but Kula include these, certainly worth noting.

Once we’d finished our ‘mains’ if you like, we were then surprised with a massive Eton Mess waffle! This dessert was humungous but again, we soon found our way through this between the pair of us – my advice here would be that if you do visit, be aware that these desserts are really, really big & would easily be enough for 2 people.
The waffle itself was fluffy & fresh, & all the toppings were again fresh & worked beautifully alongside the waffle. The waffle was stacked with whipped cream, ice cream, meringue & fruits including strawberries, raspberries & blueberries as well as a fruity sauce. It was nice to have refreshing toppings to it rather than it be overloaded with rich chocolate for example (especially with the weather).

The pair of us were astounded by the quality of the food at Kula, everything that we had was superb. Not only was the food very photogenic, but it was tasty – there are no other words for it in all honesty! We would most definitely visit here again, & would recommend trying out Kula if you are ever close by!

A massive thank you to all at Kula for welcoming & looking after us!

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KAPOW SAUCE // PRODUCT REVIEW

The lovely people at Kapow sauce recently reached out to us & gifted us with a bottle of their fantastic, versatile sauce. The sauce at first glance doesn’t give much off in the sense of what flavour it is or what it is meant to resemble, however upon further investigation (looking through the website https://www.kapowsauce.com/), you will discover that the sauce offers a sweet, smooth taste followed by a spicy kick.

With the sauce being so versatile, you can use it in many ways, such as a dipping condiment, to a marinade or even a pasta sauce. At Essex Foodies, we are keen to try it in as many ways as possible, so we will have a post to follow displaying in the many ways in which we have tried it, for the time being here is what we have used it for/with thus far

First off, we tried as a dipping sauce paired with M&S’s Meat’zza & garlic baguette. The dip was perfect with the meat’zza and gave it the oomph & kick that it lacked.

A solid 10/10 paired with the Meat’zza – cannot wait to have this again!

Keep your eyes peeled to see what we will be trying Kapow with next.

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SHAKEN UDDER MILKSHAKES // PRODUCT REVIEW

We have been recently been lucky enough to be approached by a local marketer, who very kindly managed to get us some of the Shaken Udder milkshakes sent out. Shaken Udder milkshakes are produced very locally so being able to review these was definitely something we could not turn down! I’d already seen & heard all about these milkshakes (they are very popular at my place of work & are always picked up along with a meal deal).

We received some cartons of the chocolate flavoured milk, which I would describe as rich, creamy & full-flavoured. The cartons I have to say do look rather small however you should not let this deceive you as one carton is more than enough – any more & it would’ve been far too rich for my liking, plus little cartons are handy for on the go (or even for lunch boxes). The cartons are also really cute & feature a little joke on the back (just like Penguin bars!)

After trying Shaken Udder for the first time, I am definitely inclined to try out more flavours & I look forward to doing so.

A huge thank you to both Nikki & Shaken Udder for getting these out to us to review.

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JAGERMEISTER // MULE COCKTAIL

Thank you to KINC for the following press release

‘Mix it Up for Summer’ with the Jägermeister Mule cocktail
A light and refreshing mix of Jägermeister with Ginger Beer

This summer Jägermeister is introducing the Jägermeister Mule, a refreshing mix of Jägermeister, ginger beer, cucumber and lime with slightly spicy after notes. The cocktail is the brand’s meisterful reinterpretation of the classic Moscow Mule, with a twist. 

Florian Beuren, UK Brand Ambassador at Mast-Jaegermeister UK explained. “The flavours in the Jägermeister Mule work together in harmony to create a really refreshing serve that lets the signature taste of Jägermeister come through. Ginger is one of the core five ingredients in Jägermeister so the ginger beer works well to amplify this. The addition of lime and cucumber balances the fiery tones of the ginger resulting in a simple yet complex serve.”

The cocktail is now available at some of the most exciting bars in the capital including Night Tales, Aqua Shard, Tramp, NT’s and Liquorette amongst others, plus you can find it at over 800 bars across the UK. 

Jägermeister Mule is also perfect for creating an exciting but simple serve at-home to enjoy during pre-drinks, with a special brunch, or at a summer BBQ. In supermarkets limited edition bottles will come with a free ginger beer voucher plus a guide to creating the perfect Jägermeister Mule at home.

Jägermeister Mule Recipe 
What you’ll need:
50ml of ice-cold Jägermeister
Ginger Beer
Lime
Cucumber
Ice 

Method:
– Toss a handful of ice cubes into a nice long glass
– Pour over 50ml of ice cold Jägermeister, without spilling a drop
– Fill to the brim with your ginger beer of choic
– Make it fruity with a wedge of lime, squeezed in for maximum taste
– Top it off with a slice of refreshing cucumber
– Jägermeister

About Jägermeister:
Jägermeister, the unique herbal spirit known for its iconic bottle was developed by Curt Mast from a secret recipe 80 years ago. A blend of 56 different herbs, blossoms, roots and fruits from all over the world, this undisclosed recipe has not changed since it was first made. The pure and natural botanical ingredients are extracted in their raw, unprocessed form through a gentle, weeks-long process of cold maceration to create Jägermeister’s base. The base, housed in more than 400 oak casks, then “breathes” for one full year to guarantee a high-quality finish, and authentic taste. Jägermeister contains 35% alcohol by volume. Made by Mast-Jägermeister SE and family owned to this day, the liquid launched in Wolfenbüttel Germany. 

Best served as an ice-cold shot at -18C, or as a long drink in the popular Jägermeister Mule – a concoction of the herbal liquid, ginger beer and lime. With irreverent perfectionism at its core, the brand has steeped its roots in the music industry through its festival activation, JägerHaus, and ongoing partnerships with Soho Radio and Reform Radio. 

BANANA TREE // NEW MENU REVIEW

The marketing/Instagram team at Banana Tree recently reached out to us to inform us of their new menu & invited us down to get our opinion on it – an offer we could not refuse!

We visited a few weeks ago now, & were very impressed with what was presented to us. Banana Tree is somewhere that I have visited previously so I knew what to expect, & had an idea of what sort of thing would be on the menu. I visited with my Mum who had not previously been. So first up, we had the prawn cracker basket which is served with a sweet chilli dip. The crackers were undoubtedly a hit with us, we didn’t leave a single one, & the sweet chilli sauce was the perfect condiment to pair with them, it gave a subtle kick to the crackers but didn’t overpower them. For our starters, we had the vegetable spring rolls & Mekong prawns. Both starters were served up very efficiently & were piping hot when they reached our table – perfect. The spring rolls were fresh & crunchy, served with lettuce wraps that completely complimented the dish. The prawns were perfectly cooked – the prawns themselves melted in the mouth, & again the chilli salsa really worked well with & complimented the seafood. As a whole we thoroughly enjoyed our starters & would certainly go for these again, I would also suggest getting them as sides maybe if you like picky bits along with the main course. Looking at the menu, the starter dishes are varied & I think there is definitely something for everyone on the menu, you’ve got the bulk standard dishes such as chicken satay which you can’t go wrong with, as well as the more adventurous dishes that not everyone would probably go for. All in all, we were more than happy with our starter choices.

For mains, we each had a main dish along with a side. Between us, we had;
– Blackened chilli beef with chilli salsa
– Classic sweet & sour stir fry with crispy chicken
– Soya noodles with beansprouts
– Egg fried rice

I have to say, I was very impressed with the beef, as I’ve said before in previous posts, beef can be a tough one to crack but this was perfect, the meat was soft & not chewy in the slightest, a win all round! The noodle dish paired perfectly with the beef also. I was also a little cautious with the beef dish as it was notably a spicy dish on the menu however the beef itself was fine & wasn’t spicy at all – it was only the salsa that had a kick, so nothing to worry about if you ever order this!

The sweet & sour chicken was exceptional! It was full of flavour, loaded with lovely vegetables that gave a crunch to your bite & the chicken was tender, just as it should be. We both loved this dish & would order again & again – it’s a classic that you can’t go wrong with.

Each of the side dishes were also perfect, the noodles were tasty & filling, but also not overpowering in flavour & neither were they too salty or heavily doused in soy sauce – definitely the best thing to pair with a meat dish to bulk it up a little. The rice was also lovely, this was very, very filling but tasty & fluffy, just as rice should be!

What we liked the most about our main choices was that they could be shared, you’re not just limited to what you ordered. This also fits in with what I said about the starter dishes – you could definitely order these & enjoy them alongside your mains.

The main courses were a solid 10/10!

Last but not least were desserts. The dessert menu offers some traditional Indo-Chinese delicacies, so not necessarily things you’d always go for or even heard of, but we came across the warm chocolate Indo-fondant and each enjoyed one of these. The dessert was delicious! It was lovely & warm, rich & sticky, & was very well complimented by the coconut ice-cream served with it. This dessert was simply one of the best we’ve had in our time of reviewing. In particular, we really enjoyed the ice cream. This was creamy & full of exotic coconut flavour.

We really enjoyed our time at Banana Tree & loved the food! We would certainly recommend checking them out. Banana Tree also offer a vegan menu so there really is something for everybody to enjoy. Thank you to all of the team that looked after us on our visit, & for the marketing team for inviting us, we look forward to returning!

PLANT POPS – POPPED LOTUS SEEDS // PRODUCT REVIEW

A little while back Essex Foodies were gifted with a selection of these intriguing little snacks – & what a treat they were!

Plant Pops are a healthy popped lotus seed snack in a variety of 3 flavours, including;
– Himalayan Salt
– Smoked Chilli (a huge hit in my office!)
– Peanut Butter

The popped seeds are light & airy with not a lot to them, making them very more-ish, but with such low fats, this is not a problem – you can keep eating them!

At first I was a bit sceptical – any sort of healthy snacks would never be my first choice, give me crisps any day of the week, but these were a game changer & totally exceeded my expectations. Finally a healthy snack I would say yes to!

These are most definitely worth a try, especially if you’re a grazer (like myself), you can snack guilt-free.

Thank you to Plant Pops for getting these out to us!

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COOKIES & CONES // DESSERT BAR REVIEW

We have recently been lucky enough to be invited down to Cookies & Cones in Leigh-On-Sea. Cookies & Cones, as you may have guessed by the name, is a dessert bar – serving a variety of cookie doughs, waffles, sundaes & much more.

On our visit we had the pleasure of indulging on waffles & cookie dough desserts, along with some sweet & flavoursome coffees. I visited along with my Mum & our choices were –
(Myself) – White chocolate chip cookie dough served with Lotus Biscoff ice cream, biscuit crumb & sauce (I am a HUGE fan of Biscoff!) & white chocolate shavings, washed down with a caramel latte.
(Mum) Waffle served with chocolate ice cream, white chocolate sauce, sprinkled with hundreds & thousands, & washed down with a cappuccino.

Each of our desserts were perfect & just the right amount, I think sometimes desserts can be a bit too much, especially with waffles, I can only ever manage to eat about half before feeling too full & bloated, however Cookies & Cones have got this right & give you a slightly smaller waffle than average – no complaints at all!! It’s a shame to waste, so this was much more preferable to myself & Mum. The cookie dough was also the right amount, & the contrast between the warm cookie dough & the cold ice cream was very complimentary. Our drinks were also perfect – my latte was deliciously milky & wasn’t overpowered by the caramel syrup (I think sometimes the syrups can ruin coffees if too much is used!) & Mum’s cappuccino was perfectly frothy.

The pair of us thoroughly enjoyed our desserts & drinks, & were very well looked after by all member of the team, who were all so accommodating! A huge thank you to Cookies & Cones for inviting us down & for making sure everything was perfect for us.

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DUSK // INTERNATIONAL FINE DINING AWARD

Congratulations to Dusk on winning this fantastic award. We had the privilege of visiting this exceptional restaurant when it first launched & can totally see why it has come this far so soon. Thank you to Avocado Media for supplying the following press release.

PRESS RELEASE
DUSK Restaurant scoops Global Hospitality Award

DUSK Restaurant in Brentwood, Essex, has scooped a prestigious LUXlife Magazine Global Hospitality Award for fine dining, within months of opening.

Following a soft opening in June ahead of a glittering official launch at the beginning of July, the restaurant and shisha lounge as quickly established itself as one of Essex’s top destination venues, and is busy throughout the week and fully booked every weekend. Having already generated thousands of social media followers, it is apparent from customer comments that DUSK has become the place in Essex to go and be seen.

A unique venue, DUSK provides a multi -purpose hospitality destination, offering dinners a selection of world cuisines, with a choice of fine, casual and private dining experiences with live music and entertainment in the popular alfresco shisha lounge.

The award for Best Fine Dining Shisha Experience, came as a complete surprise for venue co-owner Sharif Uddin, who had not known the venue had even been nominated.

“I knew we were doing something right, because of the overwhelming positive customer feedback, the packed tables and the fact that we already have a top four restaurant of over 3,000 listings on TripAdvisor – for any cuisine – in the whole of Essex. But to win such an accolade, so quickly. came as a complete shock,” he said.

DUSK’s executive head chef Steve Gomes is no stranger to winning top awards.  He received two AA Rosettes for his former restaurant, Moksh – the first Indian restaurant in Wales to achieve this. He was named ‘Ethnic Chef of the Year’ at the Craft Guild of Chef’s Awards and represented Wales on BBC2’s Great British Menu. He won ‘Curry Chef of the Year’ at both the Welsh Curry Awards and the English Curry Awards. He has held the title of ‘Best UK Indian Chef’ with the Cobra Good Curry Guide for a large part of a decade; and was crowned the ‘Outstanding Asian and Oriental Chef of the Year’ at the House of Lords.

“This latest award is a great achievement for the entire team in delivering a unique fusion of Mediterranean and Asian cuisines, using the finest produce sourced locally,” said Gomes, adding, “It’s also a great testament to the adventurous nature of the people of Essex, who have taken to our cooking style with such enthusiasm.”

LUXLife awards coordinator Edward Faulkner commented: “DUSK has demonstrated excellence and commitment to the hospital industry.  We showcase the individuals and enterprises who offer outstanding gastronomic delicacies.  The awards acknowledge the best establishments offering sumptuous cuisine from across the globe.” 

Published quarterly, LUXlife covers all aspects of highend lifestyle, including the finest, food and drink, hotels and resorts, health and beauty, automotive, jewellery, art and technology from around the world.  It is distributed globally to an affluent readership of 280,000, attracting over 1.8 million views in the past year. www.lux-review.com

With three discrete dining areas each with its own menu, the restaurant, which caters for up to 400 customers, has been transformed with an investment of almost £1million by restauranteurs Sharif Uddin and Shakil Islam.

Sourcing the finest produce from local farmers, butchers and fish mongers, Gomes has designed a menu which requires a second reading to appreciate fully. The ‘Fish and Chips’ is in fact John Dory in a premium batter, with rose infused ketchup, grape tartar sauce chips and a peas mouse.  Another signature fish dish is Black Cod, pan-fried and served on a bed of cherry tomatoes and garlic, topped with rhubarb aioli, infused with CO2 essence, served with steamed rice.  A unique Turf and Surf, pairs lamb shank with lobster. 

There is also a DUSK Till Dawn dish, featuring a prime marble 3-5 wagyu ribeye steak, with a stilton cheese sauce, quail’s egg, roasted potatoes, sautéed pakchoi and C02 tomato gazpacho.

For vegans, there is a Tofu Shashlik with almond milk roux, served with rice and chips – and special versions of the Momo, Ratatouille, Hakka Noodles, American Chop Suey, and on Sundays, a Toad in the Hole.

No alcohol is sold on the premises, but customers may bring their own.  There is no corkage charged – representing a considerable saving for connoisseurs of fine wines and premium spirits. The bar stocks the largest range of alcohol-free drinks in the UK and serves a vast array of mocktails, still and sparkling wines, and beers.

The extensive shisha menu features Savacco, Sarbuzz and Al Fakher flavours, priced from £25. The premium Shapes Shisha costs £130, with a £15 premium for the ice upgrade.

Inside DUSK there is space for around 130 diners to sit in the main restaurant, with an occasional pianist and an open kitchen barbeque area. Outside, there is another 150 seats in the alfresco dining area in pergola with detachable roof where people can smoke flavoured shisha and eat from the street food menu.

For weddings and private functions, there is a separate banqueting room overlooking the golf course, which can cater for parties of more than hundred dinners.

Business partners Sharif Uddin and Shakil Islam, own five other Essex venues. The portfolio comprises Aladdin’s shisha lounge in Ilford, Empire shisha lounge in Romford plus and three Kushi Indian restaurants in Lakeside, Canvey Island and Gidea Park.

With parking for over 500 cars, a short distance from junction on the M25 (J28) and served by a fast train service from London’s Liverpool Street Station.

Stephen Gomes is a Welsh executive chef and TV television personality, originally from Mumbai, he is renowned for his molecular gastronomic take on Indian recipes. He is a fourth-generation chef, His father, James Gomes, worked at India’s first five-star beach hotel there, before working in, USA and UK, as an executive chef in hotels and restaurants. Stephen’s grandfather served as a chef on board a battleship during World War II.  His great grandfather was Head Chef at the Eastern Shipping Company during the Raj.

In 2015, he was awarded two AA Rosettes for Moksh; the first Indian restaurant in Wales to do so. He was named Ethnic Chef of the Year at the Craft Guild of Chef’s Awards 2015.  In August 2015, Stephen was chosen to represent Wales on BBC2’s Great British Menu. Other accolades including the Ethnic Chef of the Year Award at the UK Craft Guild of Chef’s award 2015; Goldstar Welsh Curry Chef of the Year at the Welsh Curry Awards 2014; and Goldstar English Curry Chef of the Year at the English Curry Awards 2013. He has held the title of ‘Best UK Indian Chef’ with the Cobra Good Curry Guide for a large part of a decade. At a ceremony at the House of Commons, Stephen Gomes was crowned the Outstanding Asian and Oriental Chef of the Year 2017.

Lounge/Shisha Dining (last order 23:00)
CLOSED MONDAYS (excludes Bank Holidays)
16.00 – 23.55 Tuesday – Thursday
16.00 – 01.00 Friday – Saturday
13.00-00.00 Sunday

A la carte Restaurant
CLOSED MONDAYS (excludes Bank Holidays)
18:00 – 22:30 Sunday – Wednesday
18:00 – 23.00 Thursday – Saturday
13.00 – 22.00 Sunday

Restaurant: Over 12s Dining Only
Shisha Lounge: Strictly Over 18s
Bring Your Own Alcohol Venue no Corkage
Vegan/Gluten Free options
Smart/Casual Dress Code Restaurant
No hats, No tracksuits, No sportswear
No alcohol sold on premises

DUSK
Ongar Road
Brentwood
Essex
CM15 9SS
T: 01277 424 987
enquiries@duskbrentwood.co.uk
www.duskbrentwood
@duskbrentwood

THE HALL (LAKESIDE) // LAUNCH

Intu Lakeside have recently undergone a bit of a renovation & are bringing lots more than just shopping to the centre, including this fantastic new food hall. We were lucky enough to be invited down to the launch day & be among the first to try it out.

The event was invite only, & on arrival our names were ticked off on the guestlist before being shown inside. We were then given a voucher (to the value of £10) which could be spent in any of the 6 eateries in The Hall, & presented with a much appreciated glass of fizz.

The 6 street food inspired eateries at The Hall include:
– Baoziinn Chinese
– Fanny’s Kebabs
– Burger & Beyond
– Fundi Pizza
– Mother Clucker
– Curry On Naan Stop

My friend whom I visited with chose to eat from Curry On Naan Stop, & I opted for Mother Clucker.

Each of our meals were great – there was a bit of a wait for both however this was to be expected with the venue being new, & how busy it was, however staff did everything they could to cater for all & made sure everything was perfect. I even managed to blag some extra chicken in my burger for waiting, & my friend managed to get her hands on some free fries – win win all round! We will be back for sure to try out the other stalls!

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SACLA // PRODUCT REVIEW

At Essex Foodies we have recently been lucky enough to be gifted with a small selection of rich & tantalizing Italian ingredients from the team at Sacla – a massive thank you to Sacla for getting these out to us!

In our package we received the following;
– ‘Nduja pesto
– Red pepper pesto
– Truffle pesto
– Tomato & olive intenso pasta sauce

We are of course looking forward to trying each ingredient out & sharing our creations with you. Keep a look out to see what we will be pairing each ingredient up with.

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DR LEGBAS EMPORIUM OF COCKTAILS & CURIOSITIES // LAUNCH

As part of our ongoing reviews with The Royal Hotel, we were invited down to this spooky cocktail evening. The hotel have now launched a monthly event whereby you can enjoy absinthe-based cocktails along with ghost stories in the basement of the hotel, better known as Dr Legbas Emporium.

The evening was certainly an experience & most certainly one to attend in the coming months if you’re into your spooks!

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BAHLSEN BISCUITS // NEW PRODUCTS

“Sometimes when you’re on the hunt for your favourite biscuit, you just want to get straight to the point and know exactly what it is you’re eating. 
Bahlsen Biscuits realised that maybe people weren’t quite getting it when it came to its delicious biscuits First Class and Messino, so they’ve had a shake up and are now very fittingly Luxury Jaffa Cakes and Praline Squares – it doesn’t get much more self explanatory. 
The zesty richness from the Luxury Jaffa Cakes, and the smooth hazelnutty centre sandwiched between chocolate and a wafer of the Praline Squares creates two unforgettable treats that you won’t want to miss out on.”


Thank you to Taste PR for the content on this post.

FAIRFIELDS FARM CRISPS // PRODUCT REVIEW

Essex Foodies have recently been gifted with a selection of crisps from Essex based Fairfields Farm. Fairfields Farm is a family run farm dedicated to the production of crisps situated in Colne Valley, North of Colchester. The farm sees the entire production of the crisps take place including the potatoes grown & harvested to being hand cooked & package all on site.

The selection we were very kindly gifted offered a fantastic variety of flavours of which included;
– Sweet chilli
– Bacon & tomato
– Sea salt & Aspall cyder vinegar
– Cheese & onion
– Lightly sea salter
– Sea salt & black pepper
– Tomato & herb lentil bites
– Jalapeno & lime lentil bites

We’ve not yet managed to munch our way through all of the packs but once we have, we will give a run down of our favourites & more of an insight of our thoughts.

For more information on this brand & to order yourself please follow this link – https://fairfieldsfarmcrisps.co.uk/.

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THE LEATHER BOTTLE // RESTAURANT REVIEW

Last Friday Essex Foodies made a trip to this wonderfully cosy pub set in the pretty & picturesque village of Blackmore. The pub is super easy to find, & took around 15 minutes to reach from from Chelmsford by car – so not too far out at all. Upon arrival & at first glance, the first thing we noticed was just how (with cars) busy it was – this was not a problem for us as we had a table booked, however with this in mind, if you plan on visiting (which you should do once you’ve finished reading this), I would strongly recommend booking just to make sure you are not left waiting.

So first off, we were shown to our table which was inside & looked out onto the gorgeous beer garden – the garden being in full swing all thanks to the wonderful sunshine we’ve seen recently. We ordered our drinks & had a glance over the menus – we were given the evening menu & the specials menu. The menus I would say offer typical pub dishes but with a modern & much more gourmet approach – simple but to an exquisite standard.

After glancing over both menus, we soon came to decide what we were going for – both my starter & main I chose from the specials menu, & Mum opted for both courses from the evening menu. Everything on the menu sounded fantastic but there was just something about the specials that just stood out for me, so on the menu for myself, there was to start – haddock & leek fishcakes followed by the chicken wellington, & for Mum there was the prawn & crayfish cocktail to start followed by a main of beer battered haddock & chips (definitely always a winner on a Friday evening!)

The kitchen wasted no time in getting our starters served up, both plates arrived within around 10-15 minutes which was perfect.

As you can see from the above photographs, the food was remarkable! Mum commented on the size of her prawn cocktail & said that it was huge – we tend to find that normally with prawn cocktails you get less of the fish & definitely more of the lettuce, however this was not the case at all here – there was more than enough, & the bread was also generous with 3 slices on the side. Another thing that Mum was really pleased with was, believe it or not, the butter! I can vouch for this also though – most places will normally serve you really hard butter that doesn’t spread at all, this was perfectly spreadable & didn’t contribute to any holes in the bread! It’s the little touches like this that really do make a difference & you do notice.

The fishcakes that I had were impeccable. They were light, fragrant & very more-ish. The haddock was a good choice as the main ingredient as it’s not overly (as silly as it sounds, a fishy-fish) but gives a nice subtle flavour which is very well complimented by the fresh taste of leek. If these were a main at the restaurant, I would definitely go for them.

On to the mains! As you know, I went for the chicken wellington & Mum the beer battered haddock & chips. I think the pictures below say it all really! The haddock & chips was a roaring success with Mum – she loved every bite. The fish made a welcome change to the usual cod, it was delicate & flaky, with a crisp & fresh batter. Chips were second to none! You cannot beat a good pub chip. The meal itself is available in either small or large, Mum went for the small & this was plentiful, especially after a starter. At first glance she did question whether it would be enough but this soon changed as she quickly became full.

The chicken wellington was tender, juicy & delicious. The chicken itself was wrapped in prosciutto ham & spinach enclosed in a perfect & glossy pastry casing. I would absolutely recommend trying this dish, it was slightly unusual & made a change from beef wellington but in a good way! The chicken was served on a bed of wild mushroom sauce which was lovely & rich, & with green beans & new potatoes. I personally find green beans can be a tough one to get right & they can often ‘squeak’ but these did not – they were perfect & not a single thing was left on my plate! Even the potatoes were cooked to perfection.

After finding a little more space in our tummies, & after eyeing up the menu we of course decided to go for desserts.

I was torn between desserts – sticky toffee pudding is my all time favourite (I love to try & have this everywhere so I can find the best) & my go to, but with the weather being as gorgeous as it was, I could not miss the opportunity to go for the summer-fitting mango cheesecake. Mum followed in my footsteps & went for the summery eton mess. We were both delighted with our choices. Both desserts were fruity & tangy, & in all honesty, the right amount after the other 2 dishes we’d had. The pair of us would definitely pick these desserts again & again.

Another fantastic little feature is that the pub also boasts an extensive gin menu which also gives guidance on which tonic to pair to each gin – perfect with or without dinner!

We unquestionably loved our evening here, so much so that Mum booked a table whilst we were there & was back over the same weekend – this doubtlessly shows just how favourable we found this place to be. Everything was spot on, even down to the tiniest detail such as the butter (as mentioned). The pub offered such a warming & cosy atmosphere, & this was on a hot summer’s day so I can only imagine just how lovely it would be in the winter – I’m certainly excited to make a visit over Christmas as I think this will be lovely, & I will certainly be back before then anyway!
To put it simply, The Leather Bottle offers good, honest food & exceptional service & this is really everything I look for when it comes to planning an evening out. Thank you so much to all at The Leather Bottle for welcoming & looking after us, everyone here is a real credit & should be proud of their work! We look forward to visiting again soon in the very near future.

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BALTI NIGHT // TAKEAWAY REVIEW

Last weekend, this award-winning takeaway based in Braintree very kindly provided a meal for myself & a couple of friends. My friends are already huge fans of this Indian takeaway, & are very friendly with & know the staff there, so after mentioning Essex Foodies to them, Balti Night very generously invited Essex Foodies to try it for themselves. As my friends already eat here regularly, this review will be based on just what I ate & experienced.

So first off, we ordered our food in the shop itself, so we got to see firsthand just how busy it was. The shop was packed with queue just starting to form outside of the door, & continued to stay busy whilst we were there. The phones were also relentless, with each line answered the entire time we were in the shop. I would say that we were in the shop itself at around 7.45pm, so I would imagine that it only got busier as the evening went on. I think the demand here speaks volumes & shows exactly why this takeaway has picked up as many awards as it has, which leads me on to mention just how many awards this place has won & been nominated for – their walls are completely dominated by various certificates.

On to the food, on the menu for me there was;
Mixed starter, which consisted of hot onion bhaji, chicken seekh kebab, meat samosa & crispy king prawns
Poppadoms (goes without saying)
Chicken tikka chilli masala
Pilau rice
Saag paneer (my favourite Indian dish, something I order every time!)

So that was really my typical sort of order asides from the main – I would normally play it safe with a korma or dry chicken tikka, but seeing as this was going to be reviewed & written about, it was really best to mix it up & go for something slightly different – & I can safely say that I think I should definitely do this more often, & starters I would normally go for tandoori prawns, or a dry tikka starter but the mixed starter was recommended so this is what I went with.

The starter certainly allowed you to try what I would say are probably favourites – I enjoyed each & every one, the seekh kebab is not something I would ever think to pick, but this was a nice surprise, the meat was tender & bursting with tandoori flavour, likewise meat samosas would not be something that I would pick either but after trying them here, I think I have been converted! The hot onion bhajis were crispy & provided a nice warmth, & finally the prawns were cooked to absolute perfection, they were soft but with a nice crisp bite to them. The starter gave me an insight to what the rest of the meal was going to be like.

Main – so typically I’d normally go for a meat dish with rice & a side or two, depending who I’m with & if I’m sharing! In this case, the food was not shared, it was everyone for themselves – (not all bad, more for me, ha!)
The pilau rice was the perfect accompaniment for the chicken tikka chilli masala as it played the offset when the chilli became too much, however saying this, I would say that the chicken tikka chilli masala was in no way too hot, it could just have a little bit of a kick to it now & then – I’m normally a korma girl but this was by no-means too much for me. I would order this again for sure. Saag paneer – I’m a sucker for a saag paneer & I think I’ve completed my quest in finding the best. The dish here from Balti Night was rich & creamy, with the biggest chunks of paneer I’ve ever scooped up (my mouth is salivating thinking back on it!) With each mouthful, I wanted more.

I would doubtlessly say that Balti Night has claimed top spot for my favourite Indian takeaway, it’s a shame that they’re based in Braintree & I’m Chelmsford, or I’d be ordering lots more! These guys work tirelessly & it’s clear to see why they’ve received so many awards & why their shop is as busy as it is.

Thank you so much to the guys here for inviting me down & for allowing me to review them – I will most definitely be putting my order in when I’m next in the area & I know that my friends will sure as hell be ordering again in the very near future!

#AD #GIFTED

DUSK // RESTAURANT REVIEW

Mid-July saw the opening of one of Essex’s hottest, most prestigious restaurants, which we were thrilled to be invited to. The evening promised glamour & sophistication, which it undoubtedly delivered.

Upon arrival, you get a feel for what the restaurant is going to offer – the cars parked to the front of the restaurant say it all & leave little to the imagination.

The venue itself boasts various different rooms/lounges, including a main dining area, a function room, shisha lounge & bar plus grounds overlooking the stunning Bentley Golf Club. We were lucky enough to be given a guided tour around the venue, & each & every aspect of it is simply stunning – certainly somewhere you could hold a wedding party reception, or perhaps a work-do Christmas party. Once shown around the premises, we were led to an outside decking area, overlooking Bentley Golf Club, to enjoy more drinks & delicious canapes. Each of the canapes we tried were outstanding, our favourite of the selection were the chicken tikka bites (which a few of the staff also told us were their favourites).

We were also lucky enough to be treated to a three-course meal & drinks (please be aware that the venue does not sell alcohol, however there are no objections to bringing your own). The menu was set, so the only choice to be made was chicken or beef – you had the options of butter chicken or roast beef for mains.

The menu offered a starter of prawn, green apple & lemon cappuccino, mains of either honey lemon roast beef served with baby yorks, twice fried chips & summer berry gravy or butter chicken with rice & freshly baked naan, & a trio of desserts which was made up of chocolate delice, lemongrass brulee & almond croquant & pistacho ice cream.

All aspects of the meal were incredible – the food was mouthwatering, & the presentation second to none, even down to the cutlery, everything was perfect & aesthetically pleasing. The ingredients used are certainly some of the best – the prawns were some of the best I’ve ever had – the starter consisted of just 3, however they were plump & juicy, just the right amount for a starter dish. The beef was also cooked to perfection, sometimes beef can be a tough one to crack & can often be quite chewy or laced with fat, however this was melt-in-the-mouth. My Mum went for the beef dish & she loved it. I went for the butter chicken & have to say, I think this was probably the best butter chicken I’ve ever tried. The dish itself was not the typical mild butter chicken, but had a fiery twist to it – a real winner. Desserts were also a huge success, they were not something we would typically pick off of a menu however both of our plates were cleared, so there’s not much else to say on that front. As the food was to such a high standard & ever so tasty, I would certainly return to see what the rest of the menu offers.

Thank you to Dusk for inviting us along to their launch & a huge, huge thank you to each & every member of the team who did everything they could to make the evening what it was. We loved every second of our evening & would quite firmly state that the food here is probably one of the best we have yet reviewed!

#AD #GIFTED

PAGO FRUIT JUICES // PRODUCT REVIEW

Recently at Essex Foodies, we have been lucky enough to receive a fruit-juice filled package from the lovely people at Pago. The contents of the package included a selection of individual fruit juices complete with a cute Pago branded glass (the exact size to fit in one bottle of juice in fact!)

The selection of fruit juices included;
– Cloudy apple
– Cloudy cherry
– Multi-vitamin tropical
– Tomato (perfect for a Bloody Mary for those who love a cocktail or two!)

Each of the thirst-quenching juices have been delicious, & in all honesty, very more-ish (especially the tropical for myself.) Each juice is also individual so there is no hassle of using within a certain amount of days once opened. One thing that we are also very happy about is the fact that the bottles are glass meaning they are completely recyclable (yay!)

Thank you very much to Pago for getting these out to us, we have most definitely enjoyed each & every flavour!

You can find out more about the brand & order online here – https://www.pagofruitjuice.co.uk/