This week… love is in the air

I’d like to tell you that I’ve had a fabulous week, maybe wining and dining at a Michelin restaurant or cosy bistro. In fact, the highlight of my week was the safe delivery of a new washing machine, the old one having flooded the kitchen floor. Welcome to my world.

It’s snow joke

An arctic snow storm in southern England.

Waking up every morning in lockdown to Groundhog Day is tedious. This morning I awoke to an Arctic blizzard, and rushed out onto my balcony in my dressing gown like an excited child. A simple reel on Instagram had 5k views in the first hour. It’s the little things.

Food history

L to R: A grainy black and white photograph of the kitchen brigade circa 1900; the same kitchen table today. Photos Waddesdon Image Library.

If you enjoyed series The Crown and the romance Bridgerton then this one is right up your street. Waddesdon Manor was created by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in the late 1800s as a summer retreat from London (much like the recent scramble to escape the city). Weekend house parties provided luxury and refinement for guests including Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII. Such esteemed vistors called for particular artistry in the kitchen. The menus were such a success that the Queen sent her own chef to learn from Ferdinand’s. Archives record a royal feast of consommé, trout, quails, beef and chicken, ducklings garnished with buntings (small birds, presumably as mentioned in the nursery rhyme ‘Bye baby bunting, daddy’s gone a-hunting’), Soufflés a la Royale decorated with gold leaf, and Beignets a la Viennoise.

Intended originally to open to visitors opening in February, a new exhibition History of the Manor Kitchen featuring exhibits such as table linen, keys, domestic equipment and even an early 1920’s espresso machine, is now available online. It’s so good that museums are adapting to the restrictions of the pandemic and being creative in offering alternatives to connect with audiences.

A sub-zero love affair

A new virtual festival by British brand Shackleton opens this week.

The Antarctic has captured imaginations for centuries and retains a sense of romance despite its harsh conditions. Shackleton the British brand that creates expedition-grade apparel for explorers and adventurers, is holding a seven-day online festival starting tomorrow. Antarctica Now will feature free talks by filmakers, scientists, photographers and explorers. Learn more about this fascinating region and how important it is to preserve it. Check out some of the fascinating first-hand stories too. (25 to 31 January). Register to receive the link.

Romantic dining at home

Although dining out at your favourite eatery won’t be an option this Valentine’s there’s no excuse for not treating your special someone to a slap-up meal. Restaurants have really geared up in recent months to deliver restaurant quality fare to your home. To give you time to plan ahead here’s three suggestions to make a romantic evening in go smoothly.

The Griffin at Dale Valentine’s menu. L to R: Griffin Pembrokeshire Cod with asparagus and samphire; indulgent Chocolate pudding with chocolate sauce.

The Griffin at Dale is located on the Pembrokeshire coast and is known for its fish and seafood menu. A new range of menu boxes for grown-ups are packed with fresh pre-prepared ingredients and instructions for you to cook a three-course restaurant style meal. I haven’t tested the menu or delivery service but the menu choices sound excellent and I like that the food arrives fresh not frozen. The produce is delivered in recyclable packaging to ensure the ingredients stay chilled for up to 48 hours unopened, with a fridge life of three days. Let me know if you order in and how it goes.

Choose from king prawns with a sun dried tomato sauce as a starter, followed by a mains of either a fillet steak or cod loin with a creamy white wine sauce, both with all the trimmings. No self-respecting Valentine’s supper would be complete without an indulgent chocolate dessert. Price from £58 for a three-course meal for two, plus delivery. Last date for orders Monday 8 February 12 noon for courier delivery to your home anywhere in the UK the following Friday 11 February.

Spice it up

Spicy fare for Valentine’s from Mandira’s Kitchen.

This one is probably for long-term lovers rather than a first date, owing to the spicy nature (if you get my drift). Mandira’s Kitchen menu includes a selection of samosas; Chicken Rezala / Paneer Butter Masala; Cashew and Cranberry Pulao (that last one sounds delish); Alu Gobi; Dal Makhani; Naan Bread; Spiced Crackers; Tomato and Date Chutney; Mango and Cardamom Gelato; Chai and some free heart shaped chilli chocolates. Price £50 including delivery. To make things even easier, Mandira’s Kitchen has also teamed up with Albury Organic Vineyard and Silent Pool Distillers to give you the option of adding wine or gin to your order. Order online for either collection from the Kitchen at The Silent Pool, Guildford or delivery to any UK Mainland address. Again, I haven’t had the pleasure of reviewing but would like to hear how you get on if you choose the spicy route.

“Whether you’re in a relationship or single, lay the table, light the candles, pour some wine and enjoy Valentne’s this year. We need to celebrate every occasion with joy.”

Executive dining

Chateaubriand Fillet of Beef available from Noble House Prepared.

Noble House Prepared team is headed up by Executive Chef, Owen Sullivan, who has led the restaurants of Michelin star chef Gordon Ramsay. Their Valentine’s Day choices include spicy Harissa and Pomegranate Chicken or Chateaubriand Fillet of Beef. The starter is renowned Formans Hand-Sliced Smoked Salmon. If you prefer there’s a Vegetarian Butternut Squash and Goats Cheese Pithivier. All dishes come with sides. Here the dessert is an Intense Chocolate Pot with Cream and Lime made with 70% dark chocolate for a good cacao kick. A British Cheesecake with Passion Fruit Jelly is a second, less imaginative, option. Wines can also be included in your order. Food is delivered frozen with cooking instructions. Last orders for Valentine’s Day by 10 February to ensure delivery in time. Prices from £40 for a meal for two, excluding alcohol. Delivery is nationwide excluding Scottish Highlands, Northern Ireland and all the UK Islands.

From scratch…

L to R: Menton Lemon Tart by Michelin-starred Chef Mauro Colagreco; and Barbajuan by Michelin star Chef Aurélien Véquaud.

If you prefer to cook something of your own but would welcome a new recipe to try, several major Michelin-starred chefs from the Côte d’Azur France have shared gourmet and seasonal recipes online. Post your photos and tag @visitcotedazur and #CotedAzurFrance. Tag me in too!

That’s it for now. I wish you a safe and healthy week whever you are in the world.

As always please check the Foreign travel advice web site for the latest on domestic and international travel guidelines.

Unless otherwise stated, I have no affiliation with the brands mentioned but simply aim to share places and products that have caught my eye. I will always state if a post is sponsored or gifted. In addition, during the current pandemic I haven’t had the chance to review any of the hotels, resorts and so on.

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