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    Friday, 13 April 2018

    MY FAVOURITE EXOTIC CUISINE + A RECIPE FOR HALLOUMI FRIES

    I don't know about you but whenever I travel anywhere, the most important aspect of my trip is always the food! I spend days and even weeks planning out the restaurants I want to visit and plotting exactly which dishes I need to track down to try.

    I absolutely loved the food in Rome...and all the incredible tapas in Spain...and the tacos in Mexico. But of all the food from across the globe, Middle Eastern cuisine has to be my absolute favourite - which I've been lucky enough to try on visits to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
    bowl of helium fries with pomegranate seeds
    The food is so bold and colourful and takes influences from all across the Middle Eastern and Levant regions. Think big bowls of fresh and fragrant tabbouleh and fattoush salads. Platters of perfectly griddled meats and cheeses. Plump juicy olives. Bowls of creamy hummus and warm delicious baked falafels. It's literally my dream. 

    What I also love is the fact that there's so many fantastic Middle Eastern restaurants popping up across London. Think Honey & Co, Yalla Yalla, The Palomar and the infamous Halloumi fries at Oli Baba's. Oh, how I dream of the Halloumi fries at Oli Baba's...

    If you haven't heard about them before, you have to change that ASAP. They're deep-fried slices of cheesy dreaminess. Crisp on the outside and warm and salty on the inner. I was addicted as soon as I tried them so I decided to try and re-create my own version so you can enjoy them for yourself at home!
    Halloumi fries in a bowl topped with pomegranate
    What you'll need:
    1 block of Halloumi cheese
    1 tbsp Plain Flour
    1 tsp Sumac
    1 tsp Paprika
    Pomegranate Seeds

    For the dressing
    1 tbsp mayonnaise
    1 tbsp paprika

    What you'll need to do:
    1. First, cut your halloumi into thick chip sized strips (about 1-2cm wide) and set to the side while you prep the flour mix 
    2. To do this, spoon the flour, paprika and sumac onto a plate and stir until evenly mixed
    3. Next take your halloumi, blot it dry with a piece of kitchen towel and then roll each strip in the flour until coated on both sides. Make sure you brush off any clumps. 
    4. Now it's time to prepare the oil. You need to be super careful with this next step as the oil you're working with will be blistering hot! Fill a shallow pan with oil (make sure the pan has a heavy base) and heat. You can test it's at the right temperature by dropping a piece of bread in and when it browns in 20 seconds, it's ready!
    5. Once the oil is heated to the right temperature, drop the halloumi strips into the oil in small batches and fry for around 2 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Make sure you stand back as it's going to bubble and spit!
    6. Once cooked, remove and transfer onto a piece of kitchen roll to soak up any excess oil. Leave to cool while you make up your dressing.
    7. In a bowl, stir together the mayo and paprika with a splash of cold water until it's at a runny but still creamy consistency.
    8. Transfer the fries to a bowl. Top with your pomegranate and sauce and they're ready to serve! 
    What are your favourite exotic cuisines? Let me know in the comments below!

    * This post was sponsored by Destination 2 Luxury Holidays

    Wednesday, 11 April 2018

    THE BLOOM ROOM AT P.F CHANG'S ASIAN TABLE

    Is it even really Spring if your Instagram feed isn't absolutely awash with gorgeous floral displays?! If you're looking for the perfect spot to nail your next Insta-pic then I think I've got just the place for you - and it's right in the heart of the West End at P.F. Chang's Asian Table.
    It's a fab Asian restaurant located just off Leicester Square and for a limited time only, they've transformed part of the restaurant into a pink lover's dream!

    If you haven't heard of the restaurant before, don't worry because it's fairly new in town! They're huge in the States and have just recently made their way across to London with a huge restaurant spanning two floors. The Head Chef, Deepak Kotian, also hails from Japanese institution Nobu - so you know you're in good hands!
    If you make your way downstairs you'll be greeted by the most incredible wall of cherry blossom in celebration of the Japanese tradition of Hanami - aptly named the Bloom Room!

    And what better way to enjoy your surroundings than with one of their specially crafted cocktails? There's two on offer but you HAVE to order the gorgeous Sakura Dream - made with vanilla vodka, pink grapefruit juice, guava juice, lemon juice and orgeat syrup - and finished with lemongrass foam and a caramel swirl.
    The whole place is an Instagram dream and the food is incredible too. All the dishes are made for sharing and you'll find everything from fragrant curries and stir-fries to inventive dishes like fish and lotus 'chips'.  We fell in love with the spicy, slightly tangy Chilli Jam wings and you definitely don't want to miss their signature Dynamite Shrimp - crispy tempura battered shrimp served with lashings of spicy Sriracha aioli and spring onions.
    My favourite part though was the desserts. They've been created as a limited edition treat for the duration of the Bloom Room experience and are the perfect accompaniment to your cocktails. There's the Cherry Blossom Cheesecake - a refreshingly light cheesecake with hints of citrus, rose and cherry blossom and the Pink Paradise - a huge French macaron filled with fresh raspberries and a delicious matcha ganache served with rose ice cream. Make sure you order one of each!
    Oh and also make sure you take a friend (or willing boyfriend) who'll agree to take pictures as there's SO many photo opportunities and if you share a photo on Instagram with #BloomRoom, you'll be entered into a weekly draw to win a £100 dinner bill!
    What I'm Wearing: Blazer / Belt / Disco Leggings / Boots

    You need to be quick though...it's only around until the 30th April and there's very limited tables so get booking! The Bloom Room is open Monday - Sunday from 6.30pm until closing and you need to quote 'Bloom Room' when you book!

    P.F Changs Asian 
    10 Great Newport St, London WC2H 7JA

    * We were invited to review the restaurant

    Sunday, 8 April 2018

    BEECH HILL HOTEL AND SPA – THE EPITOME OF LUXURY IN THE LAKES (GUEST POST)

    When it comes to choosing a place to rest your legs after a long day absorbing the beauty of the Lake District, you’re not short of options. How though, do you choose the right place for you? My good friend Sophia has been lucky enough to be a guest at some of the most beautiful bases in the area and will be sharing her top tips to help you find your own little spot of luxury over the next few weeks. Because, if you’re anything like me (indecisive and slightly dubious), a little steer is only a good thing....

    Is Beech Hill Hotel & Spa right for me? 
    As much as I hate to be vague here, Beech Hill Hotel ticks the boxes for every type of guest that the Lakes attract (I know, I’m sorry!). If you’re looking for a venue that offers you serenity and a spa, Beech Hill can cater for it. If you’re looking for a venue sitting practically on Lake Windermere, enabling you to wake up and channel your inner Bear Grylls, Beech Hill can cater for it. If you’re looking for a venue where you can enjoy a fine dining menu then Beech Hill can cater for it! Essentially, it’s that person you know who has everything and no matter how hard you try, you can’t fault them (don't worry, I’m quietly envious of that person too).

    What are the bedrooms like? 
    Traditional yet spacious, these bedrooms are fit for purpose. The bedding is that high quality, fluffy welcome that you long for after a lakeside excursion and many of the 57 bedrooms have private balconies or access to the garden (which we’ll get to later!) This means that you can simply open the glass doors, breathe in the fresh Cumbrian air and enjoy the unrivaled views of Windermere and the vast, calm waters – something that is surprisingly hard to come by in the area!
    Large hotel bedroom
    How’s the food? 
    Before getting started on the grub, let’s pause a moment (slightly out of character for me!) and talk about the restaurant itself. Burlington’s is situated in the hotel and it’s what I’d call ‘traditionally beautiful’. If you’re lucky enough to get a window seat, you’ll be enjoying your meals whilst looking out at breath-taking views. The evening menu is sophisticated and bursting with flavours and you’re very quickly transported from a cosy hotel to a fine dining restaurant. I mean that quite literally, as the lovely waiters will briskly escort you to your table from the bar, but not before you’ve enjoyed canapés on the sofa first!

    I went for the Stornaway Gold Medal Black Pudding followed by the Crispy Duck Confit, which had the most amazing flavour and succulent texture. The marmalade glaze that covered it is something I’d like to try at home but alas, my cooking skills only take me as far as spreading marmalade from a jar! Dessert was recommended by the waiter and was the hot strawberry soufflé. Light and sweet – it was exactly what I needed after the rich duck dish.

    Will the spa relax me? 
    It’s impossible not to feel relaxed when you visit Beech Hill. Its rooftop hot tub (yes, you heard me right) is perfect all year round and offers stunning views of Lake Windermere whilst you’re being tickled by the warm bubbles of the Jacuzzi. If you do decide that you want to remain under a roof (although I can’t encourage you enough to experience the hot tub!), you’ll be able to enjoy the tranquility of the indoor pool and plush beds.

    Is it pricey? 
    Rooms start from £115 for a Classic Single (breakfast included) and go up to £358 for its luxurious Ruskin Suite (breakfast included). The restaurant’s two-course menu is £26.95 but you can also choose from a three course (£34.95) or five course (£39.95) feast.

    The best part of this hotel – what is it? 
    For me, the highlight of Beech Hill has to be its proximity to Lake Windermere. Finding a venue which has its gardens touch the lip of the lake is rare and it means that you will be leaving your break having only inhaled the freshest air imaginable. Not a deal-breaker for some but when you’re returning to London and it’s ‘Eu De Pollution’, you’ll definitely appreciate this like I did!
    View of the Lake District
    Are there any offers that I can take advantage of? 
    I always prefer to make the most of a deal when I go away - it makes the whole experience feel a little more exciting and like I’ve been a true bargain hunter (I choose to think that David Dickinson, Martin Lewis and my very own mother would be proud). Beech Hill has tonnes of offers available but my favourite is the ‘Romantic Lakes Escape’, details below:

    Save over 50% on all the extras that make this Lakes Escape so charming. Stay two nights including 5 course dinner on the first night, bed and breakfast on the second. Plus chilled Louis Dornier Champagne & Strawberries in the room on arrival and tickets for a cruise on Windermere. And take your time on departure with a late check out to 1pm. Offer is available to be booked Sunday through to Thursday and is subject to availability and terms.

    I don’t know the Lakes very well, are there activities nearby? 
    Absolutely! You can take a short walk down to the ferry port, make the most of the miles and miles of mountainous / lakeside paths or you can hire a bike and whizz off on wheels. If you take the short ferry over to Ambleside, you can also enjoy the gentle Lakeside stroll down to Wray Castle.

    I need to book! 
    You can book directly through the Beech Hill Hotel here: https://beechhillhotel.co.uk/rooms/

    * Sophia's received a complimentary stay in exchange for this review