To kick off the official Afternoon Tea Week in the UK a few weekends ago, a group of bloggers and I were invited by Starwood Hotels to sample 4 of their afternoon teas in one day. If you’re not familiar with Starwood Hotels, they are the owner, operator and franchisor of some of London’s most beautiful hotels including W Leicester Square, Le Méridien Piccadilly, Sheraton Park Lane and Park Tower Knightsbridge. I had barely eaten any breakfast that morning to prepare my stomach for all the deliciousness that was about to come and none of us were disappointed!
Before my trip to Asia I took a little trip to Italy for one night as I joined a Winemakers Dinner at Frescobaldi in London. Frescobaldi is conveniently located right off Regent Street on a hidden side street. As I turned the corner I saw a lively and cosy street with people enjoying wine outside of the restaurant. I was happy to see some familiar blogger faces. I joined them straight away but knew I had to pace myself as there was plenty more wine to come. We started off with some delicious canapés before heading inside for the dinner. The selection of canapés included cucumber cubes with crème fraiche and anchovies, crab cake with avocado, and ham and melon.
As soon as I stepped into the restaurant I was amazed. Frescobaldi has done such a fantastic job on the interior because it really felt like you were at cosy winery in Italy. They are the first UK restaurant from the famed Tuscan wine making family, the Frescobaldi’s. When we sat down at the table we had all been allocated seats with our names on it which I thought was a nice touch.
First up as a starter we had sea bass carpaccio with cherry, paired with Attems Pinot Grigio Ramato 2014 & Attems Sauvignon Blanc 2015. The carpaccio was delicious and went so well together with the cherry, olive oil and salt on top.
The second course was courgette ravioli with veal ragu and almonds, paired with Attems Cicinis 2013 & Pinot Grigio 2014.
The main course was lamb rack with pea purée and dauphinoise potatoes, paired with Luce 2012, Toscana i.g.t. “20th anniversary”. This lamb rack was perfectly cooked and unbelievably juicy. The bottle and taste of that Luce really stood out.
For the dessert we had semifreddo with melon. If I was to point out anything in the whole meal which didn’t quite live up to the wow factor of all other dishes, it would be the dessert but it wasn’t bad by any means.
With each course we had wines to complement the food. The wines were some of the nicest I’ve had. Typically when you read wine bottle descriptions, you find that it is meant to have hints of certain flavours but you can rarely taste it. Between each course the Head Chef Roberto Reatini would explain the dishes as well as the paired wines and they tasted exactly how he described. My favourites were the Pinot Grigio Ramato 2014, Cicinis 2013 and the dessert wine.
They hold regular Winemakers Dinners to introduce guests to wines from the Frescobaldi Estates served alongside Tuscan-inspired food. Tickets cost £80 which may seem a bit steep but it was honestly such a nice experience from beginning to end.
I was invited as part of a bloggers dinner but wouldn’t have shared it if I didn’t recommend it.
This year was a big one for the royal family as they celebrated the Queen’s 90th birthday on the 11th of June. We saw Regent Street decorated with England flags, the Queen hosting a picnic with 10,000 people at The Mall and I celebrated in the most traditional English way by having a Royal Tea at the Wellington Lounge, Intercontinental Hotel in Park Lane, with May from Red Velet London.
Anyone who’s ever been to Spain will know what good quality tapas should taste like. There are few places in London that are able to live up to the same level of quality that you get in Spain. Barrafina in my books has been a great example of good tapas and recently I came across Boqueria. Boqueria, unlike Barrafina, does take reservations and I was seriously blown away during my visit! This is rare for me when it comes to restaurants because the more I eat, the pickier I become.
This year has been big in terms of experiencing new sporting events. I went to the opening of Formula One in Melbourne in March, two weeks ago I attended Polo In The Park and this week I got to go to the Royal Ascot thanks to Appletiser who kindly sent me a pair of tickets. Nona and I booked a day off work to attend the Ladies Day which is traditionally the busiest day of the five-day event.
Our train from London arrived in Ascot at 10.42 and it was already quite crowded. The train was packed with people in their fancy outfits and some had already started drinking! The doors at Ascot open at 10,30 and I recommend arriving quite early if you want to get a good spot in the park or take nice pictures without a huge crowd. Nona and I were so excited and spent the first hour roaming around, taking pictures and just getting familiar with all that the Queen Anne enclosure had to offer!