Sunday, 28 February 2016

BOROUGH BOX DISCOVERY CLUB

I do love it when surprise packages arrive in the mail (especially when it contains food!), and was recently sent one of the first Discovery Club Boxes from BoroughBox. 

In case you haven't heard of them, BoroughBox is a company that connects foodies with the best producers of food and drink from around the country - delivering great tasting, delicious, artisanal goodies straight to your door. 
They also have their own great range of products in the form of BoroughBox branded gifts and the Discovery Club.

So what is the Discovery Club?
The Discovery Club is a monthly subscription of incredible artisan and specialist foods, that supports small batch producers around the UK. They are hand-picked by experts Andy Lawson (founder of BoroughBox and passionate foodie) and Dr Deborah Quinn (wellbeing specialist).
You have the option of choosing either a one-off gift, 3 monthly or 6 monthly subscription plan, and your specially selected box will then be delivered for free - simple and straightforward.

Here's a brief preview of what came in the box...


There were some lovely products from Taste Croatia (a husband and wife team, Chris and Ana-Maria), which included Pumpkin Seed Oil (great for salads) and a couple of delicacies for fig lovers. The Figs in Honey which has no added preservatives is great to have with yoghurt/porridge or as a warm soothing drink when mixed in hot water with lemon, whilst the traditional Fig Cakes – Smokvenjak – which is 100% natural, containing only figs, lemon juice, almonds, herbs and raisins, was ideal as a tasty high-energy natural snack. 



The Pink Himalayan Salt, from trader Spice Mountain, is a great alternative to table salt or for cooking purposes, and because it also has a stronger salty taste, it helps to reduce salt intake. The Patatas Fritas from Bonilla a la Vista was crisp and lightly salted, which served as a great snack when I was traveling (!)


There was a bottle of thirst-quenching Organic Juice from Chegworth Valley, a family owned and run fruit farm situated in the heart of the Kent countryside. Their range includes a wide variety of single varietal and blended apple and fruit juices as well as an Organic range, certified by the soil association.  The juices are produced from tree ripened, hand selected fruit which is pressed on site at the farm in small batches, often within hours of being picked.  This is then lightly pasteurised to preserve the natural colours and flavours of the juice before being bottled on site.
A pretty green tin contained organic loose green tea leaves from Organic Life which is great for tea lovers like myself. And a more indulgent treat was a bottle of sparkling prosecco from Scavy & Ray, that I'll be enjoying on one of my quiet evenings in.



 And of course there were also some naughtier, more indulgent snacks inside, including the sweet, crumbly Whirld Handmade Fudge and a pretty box of luxury Pearls from Artisan du Chocolat.
Because every healthy diet should always include a healthy balance of treats.



Overall, it was a nice selection of food items which I definitely found interesting and useful for every day consumption. 
It's a great concept for those looking for something different and interesting from your everyday shop, and even as gift ideas for friends or loved ones. 
Check out the BoroughBox website to find out more.

The Cheekster, signing out x


Wednesday, 24 February 2016

NORDIC BAKERY: ASTRUP EXHIBITION BREAKFAST

Most of you would already be familiar with Nordic Bakery and their delicious baked delights, especially their cinnamon buns.
Nordic Bakery recently collaborated with Dulwich Picture Gallery in conjunction with their exhibition of Norwegian artist Nikolai Astrup, where they also have a photography exhibition specially commissioned by the gallery showcasing Astrup's Norway at the Dorset Street store.

I had the opportunity to partake in the art breakfast to celebrate this collaboration, which started with a brief talk from some of the curators from Dulwich Picture Gallery, whilst we dived into the basket of fresh cinnamon buns and other tasty treats.






After the breakfast, we were whisked away in our own private minibus to Dulwich Picture Gallery - I have never quite ventured into this part of town, which was actually quite a quaint area.

Dulwich Picture Gallery is the world’s first purpose-built public art gallery: it was founded in 1811 when Sir Francis Bourgeois RA bequeathed his collection of old masters “for the inspection of the public”. The building was designed and built by the leading architect Sir John Soane (1753-1837) and allows visitors to experience exceptional art in an intimate welcoming setting.
They run a unique programme of innovative exhibitions that approaches art and artists from new and different angles; introducing new artists to the UK, or rediscovering forgotten famous artists.







Known as one of the most renowned Norwegian artists, Astrup was an expressionist whose work transformed the rugged Norwegian landscape into vivid, fairytale-like works of art.
The first of Astrup's work outside of Norway, this exhibition brings over 90 oil paintings and prints, including works from private collections that have never been exhibited before. His works were inspired by his home in Jolster where he grew up, his farmstead at Sandalstrand and the Lake Jolstravatnet - each one unique, expressing different moods with the change of seasons.





There is also a Forest Folk digital display held in the Mausoleum that plays upon the theme of metamorphosis prevalent in Astrup's work. The display features two huge screens on which forest creatures respond to visitors' movement.




These stunning pieces are best appreciated in person so I would highly recommend a visit - a great way to immerse yourself in some culture, whether on your own, with friends or even for a family day out.
The exhibition runs from 5th February until 16th May 2016 - you can check out the Dulwich Picture Gallery website for more information.

The Cheekster, signing out x


Saturday, 20 February 2016

A. WONG, LONDON

After about a year since we expressed an interest in visiting A. Wong, we finally got ourselves organised for a lunch meet just in time for Chinese New Year.
The dim sum menu is only available during lunch time and as opposed to our table of ~10 for our usual dim sum brunches, we were only allowed a maximum of 6 diners for lunch time. The dim sum is priced per piece and we were required to email our order request to them a couple of days beforehand



We ordered a pot of tea for the table, which was served with some goji berries on the side that we could soak in our tea to add sweetness to it.
The first dish to be served was the Shanghai steamed dumplings with ginger infused vinegar, otherwise known as Xiao Long Bao - perfect mouthfuls which released the delicious broth inside as you bite into it.


The clear shrimp dumpling was served with sweet chilli sauce and topped with citrus foam. A modern take on the har gow which tasted okay, although I'm not too sure about the foam... 
The quail egg croquette puff had a nice light, crispy texture and concealed within was the egg which still had a lovely slightly gooey consistency.



We also ordered a few portions of sesame butter smoked chicken which was served shredded and the Chinese chive pot sticker dumplings. They were tasty, but not quite as good as the other dishes.
The crab, seafood and bean curd cannelloni was a bit hard and too chewy for my liking.




One of my favourites was the 'Breakfast in Causeway Bay' sticky rice rolls, filled with crispy dough stick and lava floss. I do love rice and enjoyed the chewy texture combined with the slight crispiness of the dough sticks, or what I would usually refer to as you char kway.
I would happily order this again on my next visit.



The Xian City 'lamb burger' was a much smaller portion than we were all expecting. The bowl of filling for the 'burger' consisted of lamb, sesame, coriander, chilli and Xinjiang pomegranate salad. The buns were nice and fluffy but were quite small, and there seemed to be more filling than buns. The meat was tender and there was a nice mix of flavours, but I have to say that it was quite tricky and messy to eat.



And of course we didn't miss out on the steamed duck yolk custard buns, a firm favourite around the table and I would definitely order more of it in future - if only I could have taken a whole box of them home with me (!)



There were unfortunately several items missed off our order, which included the Shaanxi province honeycomb oat noodles - the ones prepared were apparently not up to par hence they didn't serve it.
Overall, service was a bit slow, and it was a bit hit and miss with the dim sum dishes, but I think I've narrowed down some that I liked that I would order more of the next time I visit.
The prices of the dim sum are also pretty decent and the meal cost us £26 per person.
One to add to the list of dim sum places to try if you haven't already, or you can also check out their other menus from their website here.

The Cheekster, signing out x 

 

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

BELGO, HOLBORN

Currently with five restaurants scattered across London, this was surprisingly my first time visiting Belgo, which specializes in Belgian food and beer. The Holborn branch has recently re-opened its doors after a refurbishment, and although I am not aware of how it looked before, it certainly looks pretty impressive inside the interior is rather spacious, with an industrial style decor of exposed brick walls and metal fittings.

Previously a former Lloyds Bank building, it still echoes some of the banks facilities, with the basement safe now the Belgo beer cellar. The new layout has maintained the Belgo signature open plan kitchen, rotisserie chicken displays and the iconic 'Delirium - Pink Elephant' beer tap. Belgo's concept has focused on keeping things simple with their mix of their famous moules, frites and bieres - Belgo Holborn is the first branch to feature the new logo, which has been updated to give equal billing to the range of succulent rotisserie chicken, grills and tempting cocktails, which I'm sure is positively great news for all!

Upon arrival, I was greeted with a sweet and refreshing Fruli Mojito  before being whisked over to my table where more beer awaited me (!)
Belgo is well-known for serving 52 handpicked, craft, bottled beers - many are exclusive in the UK to Belgo and are shipped directly from Belgian monasteries where the beer is produced using traditional methods dating back thousands of years.
 I don't often drink beer, but I did taste the Mongozo Gluten-free Buckwheat made using orange peels and coriander, Delirium Tremens, a strong golden Belgian ale, and Fruli, made from pure strawberry juice and Belgian white beer, which was sweet, fruity and my favourite amongst them - clearly because I have a sweet-tooth.
I also surprisingly did enjoy the Brugse Zot, otherwise known as 'Bruges Fool', a golden beer brewed in the historical town center of Bruges.








Now on to the food where we were served some sharing/taster dishes from their menu. We began with some starters: Cheesy Croquettes, King Prawns in Garlic Butter, and Belgo Smooth Brussels Pate finished with Delirium Jelly.




From the mains, we had a taste of their famous moules served two different ways (Traditionelle and Marinière), double cooked frites, and their take on surf 'n turf with asparagus.






And just in case we were still thirsty, there was plenty more beer and shots to go around...





We finished off with some waffles with dark chocolate and white chocolate sauce, and a cherry coulis.


It was overall a nice taster of what Belgo has on offer, and I would be interested to visit again for a full dining experience, and more of those moules.
Thank you Belgo for a fun evening, and I look forward to returning soon.



The Cheekster, signing out x

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