Harrogate Gin Festival

Gin is a recent favourite of mine, after a shocking run in with too much of it at a party a long, long time ago I swore off it. Then as it suddenly became the drink du jour I decided to dip my toe, or tongue in this case back into the world of Gin! So when the guys and gals from Gin Festival got in touch to invite me along I clearly had to say yes!

So here’s some info about it, and if you fancy winning two tickets of your own head over to my Twitter right now!

The Gin Festival hits the Harrogate International Centre (Hall C), on the 9th & 10th December 2016 with more than 100 gins, top craft distillers and a whole world of ginformation!

With a fantastic range of unusual gins and a real dedication to the perfect serve, nobody does a Gin and Tonic like Gin Festival. Taking place over 2 days, Gin Festival Harrogate runs for the following sessions, for £7.50 (+ booking fee) per ticket:

Friday 9th – 6.30pm-11pm

Saturday 10th – 12.30pm-5pm

Saturday 10th – 6.30pm-11pm

On arrival you will be handed your very own Gin Festival Copa Balloon Glass and a brochure that tells you all about the gins at the festival.

The bars operate on a token system and do not take cash so you will need tokens to get your drinks! Tokens are £5 each with one token paying for a single measure of gin, garnish and a Fever-Tree mixer.

Throughout the event there will be live music and entertainment, talks from gin industry experts, delicious food and lots of chit chat with other gin lovers!

New to gin? Don’t worry! The friendly staff are full of recommendations to get you going.

Gin Festival Harrogate Gin Festival Harrogate

Gin Festival was established in 2013 by Jym and Marie Harris. They wanted to go out, enjoy fantastic entertainment and great food whilst drinking the best gins and learning more about all things juniper. They wanted this all under one roof – but it didn’t exist. So they created Gin Festival.

Three years later and Gin Festival has grown from a single event to a phenomenon. Delighting attendees nationwide with four, fabulous gin bars, showcasing the very best in British and international gins as well as the finest gin liqueurs. To create the perfect serve, each gin has a carefully matched garnish alongside a specifically paired Fever-Tree Tonic or Mixer.

Gin Festival isn’t just about the Gin and Tonics though, there’s a regular cocktail bar serving up fantastic gin-based libations, as well as additional seasonal treats. You can chat to the distillers and brands who love to make gin, drink gin and share a sample or two. If they get you hooked, attend one of the amazing masterclasses where you can learn all about gin how it’s made, it’s history and beyond. Alternatively, just relax. Soak up the atmosphere, relish every gin and tonic drunk, try delicious street food and enjoy the entertainment.

Every fabulous gin, jenever and gin liqueur that can be tried on the bars, as well as irresistible gin themed gifts, are sold at the on-site off-licence and online at www.ginfestival.com/shop.

Let me know if you’re going, I’d love to see you there!

Carbs, spice and hot men with beards…you can see why I was a fan of Rola Wala Leeds, Indian inspired street food at it’s finest!
Rola Wala Leeds

The fab folk at Rola Wala invited me down to try their two new wrap fillings, and considering my mums recent conversion to veggie-land, and one of the new fillings being a veggie’s delight, we hop footed it over quick sharp!

A recent survey, commissioned by Rola Wala, revealed that Tikka Masala is still the number one choice for the Yorkshire city when it comes to Indian food.

Following the survey results, the guys at Rola Wala decided it was time to shake things up & decided to take on the challenge of reinventing the people of Leeds’ Indian favourite, with the aim to prove that Indian doesn’t always mean a standard Tikka or Korma. 

Mark Wright, founder of Rola Wala, said

“It’s all about appreciating the ingredients. At Rola Wala we’re passionate about celebrating chillies. These intense little numbers are no longer just there to gain you macho points, instead they give every single dish a deep flavour that definitely can’t be matched.”

Rola Wala Leeds

Rola Wala Leeds Rola Wala Leeds

The process at Rola Wala has a Subway kind of vibe, every kind of filling you could possible want all lined up and ready to be jam packed into a wrap, rice bowl or cauli bowl. Not only do you have a vast array of choices, all of the ingredients are cooked fresh and the wraps and bowls are under 500 calories, which makes this fast food healthy too!

Once you have all the main ingredients including paneer cheese, you can add pickles, red cabbage, and these crunchy corn kernels who add another amazing layer of texture to your meal.

Finally you have the sauce/topping, depending on the fire and spice levels you like there’s something for everyone, I went for the mild one with an extra dose of yoghurt.

I went for the Nagaland Lamb,  inspired by Nagaland, a region in the North East of India, famous for growing the ‘Naga Chilli’, one of the world’s hottest. It is also one of the fullest flavoured chillies; sweet with a wonderfully fruity flavour. Taking inspiration from a Lamb Vindaloo, coupled with the sweetness of a Naga Chilli and with spices like mustard seeds, cumin and bitter fenugreek seeds, Rola Wala has created a unique dish with slow cooked British lamb, made fresh in Leeds, with a medium heat – to say this is hot would be an understatement but paired with the mild dressing and a lot of yoghurt it was bloody awesome! 

Rola Wala Leeds Rola Wala Leeds Rola Wala LeedsMum opted for the Vegan Keralan Cauliflower, jam packed with big, nutritious fruits and vegetables. It’s the perfect mix of sweet, spicy and a little tart, including; sweet potato, pineapple, coconut, chickpeas, coriander, tamarind. As well as spices like numeric, cumin and mustard seeds. It’s slightly saucy and the PERFECT accompaniment to a cauliflower rice bowl, our low carb option with 70% fewer calories than white rice.

Mum had hers in a wrap with all the toppings and the fiery sauce and her yumming throughout definitely gave the impression she was a fan! In fact we’ve planned a visit when we go Christmas shopping next week, think we’re both going to try the cauli bowl this time!

I’m a regular at Rola Wala and have been since they opened in Trinity Kitchen, Leeds, and now I have another reason to go!

One of the best things about Rola Wala is the staff, they are inspired, knowledgable and genuinely love the food they create, which makes for an even more enjoyable experience…plus some really rather handsome guys work there. So carbs and boys, winner!

*I was invited along by the Rola Wala team to eat for free with my mum, but as always this review is entirely honest.

You can keep your John Lewis advert and your town light switch on, there’s only one thing to get me in the festive mood and that’s Christmas at Bettys. They transform their windows and reveal the most beautiful, inspiringly tasty array of Christmas goodies, and this year has been nothing short of magnificent!

Bettys At Christmas

The added bonus being I was invited along to indulge in the wonder that is Christmas at Bettys and as expected the huge cynic in me was overwhelmed at not only the beauty of the room but the attention to detail and delight that the team create.

Bettys At Christmas Bettys At Christmas

I could hardly get in the door before being blown away by this years show-stopper, the Lebkuchen gingerbread Swiss chalet house (a whole one as shown above will set you back £500). Inspired by Bettys Swiss heritage, and not only sold in a chalet, but as individual iced houses, for cost £5.95 each and I think my lucky clients will be getting a little box of them this year! If you follow me on Instagram you’ll more than likely have ohhh-ed and ahhh-ed over it already!

Bettys At Christmas Bettys At Christmas Bettys At Christmas

It wasn’t just the sleek and sophisticated treats on offer, in fact Bettys do whimsical just as well! These Christmas Puddings & Santa’s and perfectly iced gingerbread snowmen.

Bettys At Christmas Let’s not forget the tradition that is a Yule Log, and this isn’t just any Yule Log, this is a Bettys Yule Log. A light Swiss chocolate sponge filled with a layer of rich, Swiss dark chocolate ganache. Topped with Swiss chocolate & stem vanilla butter cream and hand-decorated with marzipan mushrooms and ivy leaves and a light dusting of sugar snow. Heaven!

It wasn’t just tasty treats we we’re there to coo over, in fact I was more enthralled by the table dressings. There we’re three tables, each with a different theme, from modern, glistening golds to traditional greens and reds. It’s definitely inspired me and my decorating this year.

Bettys At Christmas Bettys At Christmas After all the creativity and delight we sat down to a super-duper tasty afternoon tea, surely what Bettys are best known for. With pages and pages of teas from all over the world, you’ll always be able to find the tea you love. The staff are incredibly knowledgable and will guide you through the process of choosing the best one for your taste.

Bettys At Christmas Bettys At Christmas Bettys At Christmas Bettys At Christmas Bettys At Christmas Bettys At Christmas Presented on a stunning silver stand and filled to the brim with crustless sandwiches, scones topped with cream and jam and finally the cherry on top of the cake was literally a plate crammed full of pastries and sweetness. I mean look at that empty plate at the end!

The whole afternoon & evening was as wonderful as expected and it definitely gave me a nudge towards getting in the festive mood! They even sent me home with a beautifully wrapped gift from under the Christmas Tree which was adorned with edible decorations.

Bettys At Christmas Bettys At Christmas Bettys At Christmas As well as the stunning Yorkshire stores including Harrogate, York, Northallerton, Ilkley and Harlow Carr Gardens, all of whom have the Christmas treats in stock, you can also buy a number of them online, and they really would make the most delightful present for the person you love this year or like me as a way to show clients just how much you appreciate them!

Few things in life make me as happy as eating exquisite food, drinking beautiful wine and spending time with people I rather like. So a trip to a new restaurant is always a winner in my books, which is why despite being in the midst of the most hectic weeks I’ve had in a long time, I headed over to York, dressed to the nines and indulged in an evening of gastronomic delights.

Hudson's Tasting Menu York

Hudson’s is nestled within the walls of the stunning Grand York Hotel, which was once the iconic former headquarters of the North Eastern Railway Company. With the first train leaving the city in 1839, York was an early adopter of the railway. Hudson, a local man, was instrumental in its success, ensuring that the plans of George Stephenson, whose new railway from London to Newcastle was to bypass York, were changed.

So to the food, created by Craig Atchinson, who has a passion for game, foraging and gardening, he’s is a perfect fit for the rural county where he can source all his ingredients locally. Local grouse, rabbit, fish and wild edible ingredients all feature on the restaurant’s menu.

craig atchinson hudson's york

We started the evening with a couple of G&T’s in the adjoining bar, accompanied by lots of chatting and catching up. Soon though it was time to get to business, and begin our tasting adventure…

We started with pressed apple & dill on a squid ink cracker, two tiny bites of heaven! The only quirk of the evening I wasn’t sold on was the large pebble it was served on, however that didn’t take away from the delicate yet flavour-filled amuse bouche.

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Next up was the most theatrical of the courses, a Cryogenic Mojito, served simply and doused in dry ice to freeze the shards of brown sugar and mint leaves in preperation of us to grind them together in the pestle and mortar, before adding the beautiful sorbet to it, which brought to life the flavours of a mojito.

It was fantastic to be able to get involved in the creation of our meal and most certainly added to the enjoyment of the evening!

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This was swiftly followed by a wooden tray filled with beautiful artisan breads and a new experience for me, beef butter, the most moorish topping to warm sourdough. I must admit, I’m a sucker at the best of times for a bread basket, but this was something special and despite knowing it would fill us up, we scoffed the lot.

Hudson's York Tasting Menu

I’ve always turned my nose up somewhat at solely vegetarian meals, however this cacophony of vegetables was so beautiful I could have eaten in many times over! Made up of preserved roots, woodland mushrooms nestled on a bed of Goat’s crabley. It was a tiny plate of perfection. 
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The best thing, in my opinion, about tasting menus is the simple fact it gives diners the chance to try dishes that they would other wise avoid. This course was that course for me, I would never choose ox tongue, however this had been slow cooked for two days and was matched with tart heritage tomatoes and a creamy cream cheese along with a jus that for the life of me I cannot remember the name of, but what I can remember is the mumbling yummy sounds throughout the course.
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Just as I was thinking to myself that maybe it would be nice to have a slightly more substantial course, the North Atlantic Stone Bass appeared. 

I have to take this opportunity to rave about the table ware at Hudson’s, it was quite honestly swoon-worthy, quirky and matched perfectly to the colour palette of the menu. These kind of little touches just added to the joy and entertainment of the evening.

The Stone Bass was paired with fennel, coastal herbs, buckwheat and a seafood bisque, again another course I would have loved to have eaten all over again, and must admit when I next eat at Hudon’s I really hope to see something similar on the menu.

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The final savoury course simply had to be beef, to me no menu is right without a perfectly cooked steak. The 90 Day Salt Aged Beef Sirloin was coupled with carrot cooked in wagyu fat, wood blewits and grains. 

I always think of myself as a classic steak and chips kind of girl, and then a plate like this arrives in front of me and I cannot imagine eating steak any other way. Cooked rare with a touch of medium, perfectly buttery to cut into and the blend of flavours that surrounded it only added to the deep, rich steak experience.
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The first of the two desserts was meadowsheet ice cream, I don’t know about you, but I had never heard of meadowsheet and was very grateful for the highly knowledgable waiting staff who informed me it was a herb that is found from time to time in beer and has an almond like flavour. 

This taste sensation ice cream was surrounded by Oakchurch raspberry, honeycomb and oxalis the largest genus in the wood-sorrel family don’t you know! 

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The finale to our outstanding meal was this simply beautiful dessert, a selection of strawberry and elderflower, with meringues, set creams, sorbet and jelly.

It was the most stunning meal, and both Nick and I raved about it throughout and I’ve gone on to rave about it ever since to pretty much anyone who’ll listen. 

The tasting menu at Hudson’s, priced at £65 per person and is available 7 days a week, if you are heading to York soon I can highly recommend it! There is also a paired wine option too!

Huge thank you to Hudson’s for inviting Nick and myself along to indulge in the tasting menu, and although the bill was picked up by Hudson’s all the opinions are most certainly my own.

Last week I was invited down to the iconic fashion brand Brooks Brothers at McArthur Glen Designer Outlet in York to take part in a white shirt challenge. The challenge was simple, find a white shirt you love, then utilise the vast stores within McArthur Glen to style the white shirt my own way.

Since deciding to embrace a more masculine style, this white shirt challenge couldn’t have come about at a better time. What made the day even more enjoyable was spending it with Ally (Digital Diva) who LOVES her clothes and has a real handle on her own style which I hugely admire, she has the wardrobe of dreams!

I have to be honest, I haven’t stepped foot into McArthur Glen for years, however it used to be a family favourite for January sale shopping. After so long between visits I was thrilled to see many of the favourites still there, but also an array of fashion, lifestyle and interiors stores have opened, brands such as LK Bennett, The Kooples,  Kurt Geiger, Hobbs, Le Creuset & Michael Kors to name just a few. Even better though, they always have amazing items at a fraction of the normal price.

I hadn’t shopped in Brooks Brothers before, in fact I couldn’t have told you anything about them, however it was fascinating to find out they have dressed almost all of the US Presidents, and if it’s good enough for Obama, it’s good enough for me! If you want to know more about the brand heritage and history you can here.

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To bring the joy of white shirts to more people, Brooks Brothers have created the White Shirt Bar, in a retro American truck. It was fabulous! Even better, this White Shirt Bar is travelling the country…

white shirt mcarthur glen white shirt mcarthur glen white shirt mcarthur glen white shirt mcarthur glen

The McArthurGlen x Brooks Brothers White Shirt Truck will be stationed at the following centres throughout the entire UK tour:

York 26 Sep – 09 Oct

East Midlands 10 Oct – 16 Oct

Ashford 17 Oct – 23 Oct

Bridgend 24 Oct – 30 Oct

Before we hit the shops we had chance to chat with Josie & Charlie, (FashionMumblr & Man About Town) who were both really fantastic, we chatted about everything from blogging woes to fashion loves, brands we adore and of course a token bit of gossip, which is a given for lunch times! One of the fab team from McArthur Glen snapped us all looking very happy!

white shirt mcarthur glen

We also got chance to meet and chat with Millie Macintosh, who launched the White Shirt Bar, she was really lovely to chat with, and wore the most fabulous shoes! We even had time for a cheeky selfie!

millie macintosh brooks brothers white shirt millie macintosh brooks brothers white shirt 1Back to the challenge…I went for an over sized mens shirt, having big boobs means fitted shirts are a no-go, despite what swathes of brands say! The quality of Brooks Brothers shirts are second to non, they are rich and dense whilst hanging on the body perfectly. They have sharp, firm collars and cuffs which give that crisp, classic style effortlessly.

I decided to style my shirt two ways; stylish & work ready and casual & down time

Before I headed off to the shops I decided on a list of must haves;

  1. white trainers
  2. a great scarf
  3. blazer or jumper

 

white shirt mcarthur glen

These three things are wardrobe must-haves, they are versatile and work hard, things I require from my clothes.

I will be telling you more about what I bought in my style post next week, so be sure to pop back to see how I styled the white shirt…