I Won a Competition – Dinner at a Michelin star restaurant


Someone has to win!

Do you ever bother to enter competitions? Usually people don’t. Well I won dinner for two at Michelin star restaurant Murano By Angela Hartnett’s in London’s Mayfair.

IMG_1027The three course Italian menu plus canapés had wines to accompany each course. We started with a glass of prosecco and canapés. Prosciutto of course on an Italian menu, and arancini, fried rice balls mixed with truffles, mozzarella and ementhal cheese. Our first course was a creamy summer risotto using Italian carnaroli rice mixed with asparagus and peas, and topped with crunchy pine nuts. Our mains, we all had the same, were Hogget short loin cooked with crispy sweetbreads, almonds and goats cheese. None of us at the table knew what Hogget was, but it appears to be sheep’s meat somewhere between lamb and mutton! I love lamb but sadly this wouldn’t have been my choice as a bit too tough or perhaps it needed a jus!

Dessert was apricot and caramel cream in a puff pastry served with a lemon and lavender sorbet. Everything was beautifully presented and the service couldn’t be faulted.

It all came about as I am a Gold Card holder of the Automobile Association, andIMG_1033 decided to look at what that meant. There was a competition with a chance to win dinner for two at Angela Hartnett’s Michelin star restaurant Murano in Mayfair. As this is up my street, I entered and actually won. For the occasion, the AA took over her restaurant for the evening. Angela was at the restaurant, and took time from the kitchen to talk to us. She has a lovely sense of humour. A protégée of Gordon Ramsey Angela was awarded an MBE in 2007, and opened her own eatery the following year where she still cooks. Currently, Murano has 4 AA rosettes, and is one of the Good Food Guide’s top 50 restaurants for 2015. Murano is the first independent restaurant to be in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot.

Murano By Angela Hartnett

20 -22 Queen Street, London W1J 5PP. www.angela-hartnett.com     T. 020 7495 1127

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British Museum promotes Treasures from the Waddesdon Bequest

IMG_1010_2The Rothchilds were among the greatest collectors of the 19th century. The Waddesdon Bequest was donated to the British Museum by Baron Ferdinand Rothschild on his death in 1898. The Baron’s aim was to possess a special room filled with splendid, precious and intricate objects in the tradition of the European courts of the Renaissance and Baroque periods.

The public can now also enjoy the items on display, which have been moved to what used to be the reading room of the British Museum, made possible through a donation by the Rothchild Foundation. The collection, originally housed in the New Smoking room at Waddesdon Manor, has since June 11, 2015 been moved to a more prominent position at the British Museum. The Baron wanted it to be free. “You collect things to tell people you are not going anywhere”. The collection demonstrates how, within two generations, the Rothchilds expanded from Frankfurt to become Europe’s leading banking dynasty, and reflects the way in which they enhanced their power and status through discerning collecting. They valued virtuosity, and demonstrated discernment and a sense of history in selecting their treasures. Baron Ferdinand’s ambition was to rival the great court collections of Europe.

Film at the side of some of the displays allows visitors to see the intricate detail of the items that might otherwise be missed. An amber tankard from the 17th century has panels carved out, representing the seven deadly sins. Not to be missed is the Holy Thorn Reliquary, made to contain a thorn supposedly from the Crown of Thorns that was placed on Christ’s head before the crucifixion. The Reliquary is enamelled with gold, sapphires, rubies and pearls. Several of the exhibits are known forgeries.
The Bequest is named after Waddesdon Manor near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, a FrenchIMG_1008 chateau built by Baron Ferdinand from 1874 – 83. At the back of the room on the wall housing the collection is a film showing rooms at Waddesdon which is now a National Trust property.
Admission free. The British Museum, London.

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Osteria Francescana at Sotheby’s London

Originally posted on Spoonhq - Food PR & Restaurant PR Blog:

“The Jimi Hendrix of Italian Chefs”*

Massimo Bottura to bring Osteria Francescana, his three-Michelin star restaurant in Modena, Italy to the Contemporary Art Galleries of Sotheby’s London
27th, 28th and 29th June 2015

“Cooking is about not only the quality of ingredients, but also the quality of the ideas”
Massimo Bottura

Massimo Bottura © Paolo Terzi

London, 1 June 2015 – One of the world’s most creative culinary forces, Massimo Bottura, will bring his celebrated three Michelin-starred restaurant, Osteria Francescana, from the medieval Italian city of Modena to the contemporary art galleries of Sotheby’s London auction house this summer.

Transporting the conceptual premises of contemporary art into the kitchen, Massimo Bottura is a leading figure amongst a new generation of Italian chefs. Juxtaposing tradition and innovation with art and design, Bottura draws inspiration from a myriad of avant-garde contemporary artists – an approach that has won him the number three place on list of the World’s…

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Must See “Alexander McQueen” at the V&A

PARIS fashion week march 2006 READY TO WEAR FALL WINTER 2006/07 ALEXANDER Mc QUEEN

PARIS fashion week march 2006

Alexander McQueen’s Savage Beauty Exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London which runs until 2 August is one of this season’s must-sees exhibitions.

McQueen who grew up in London’s East End made the town the epicentre of his work. Ten rooms in the V&A showcase the dominant themes and concepts within McQueen’s body of work. Many of the rooms have dim lighting with music or footage from his catwalk shows. The sections are built around garments that span the breadth of McQueen’s collections from his MA graduate collection in 1992 to his unfinished 2010 collection.

Throughout his career, McQueen loved to push craftsmanship to its creative limits with designs that were largely about form, and how soft malleable fabrics can realise it. “You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That’s what I’m here for, to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition.
I want to create pieces that can be handed down like an heirloom”, he said.

The Cabinet of Curiosities forms the heart of the exhibition and is presented in a double-height gallery with 120 garments and accessories. Screens show film footage from his many catwalk presentations.

McQueen found a muse in Isabella Blow who introduced her protégé to Nadja Swarovski. The latter who is sponsoring the exhibition, opened his eyes to the creative potential of crystal.

If fashion is your thing its worth investigating the accompanying lectures being held during May and June including one on Friday 5 June with Sarah Burton, the creator of HRH The Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress, on ‘Designing McQueen’.

During May and June there are also brief courses for those in their teens and early2._Butterfly_headdress_of_hand-painted_turkey_feathers_Philip_Treacy_for_Alexander_McQueen_La_Dame_Bleu_Spring_Summer_2008_copyright_Anthea_Sims_1 twenties.

T. 020 7942 2000

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Stately, dog-friendly, splendour in Truro

The Alverton Aerial View

Hidden away, but only minutes from the town’s centre, the 34 bedroom Alverton Hotel in Truro is impressive to say the least. The east wing was built as Alverton Manor in 1830, and later became a nunnery. A chapel, now known as the Great Hall, and designed by the same architect as Truro Cathedral, was added. In 2012 the building was converted to a dog friendly luxury hotel, the city’s only 4 star hotel, which recently won the best wedding venue award in Cornwall at the South West Wedding Awards 2015.
We were given an executive suite. Spacious with its own small lounge area, it was stylishly decorated in shades of green and fawn, with mullioned windows, that was typical of the rest of the building. Near the billiard room, there was easy access to beautifully maintained gardens for Poppy, my dog.
The restaurant is designed in a way that doesn’t make it look empty if there are only a small number of diners. Their new head chef Simon George is talented. The menu is small with beautifully presented food. I wasn’t sure what to eat, but was pleasantly surprised as my meal tasted better than the menu description. The kitchen were also happy to alter my starter of pan-fried scallops to exclude cream, creating a delicate white wine reduction flavoured with grain mustard. For the mains, I had lamp rump that came pink as requested. Dessert, chocolate orange fondant, chocolate sponge cake oozing with dark chocolate, was served warm, Sadly their wine list is limited as is the choice of wine by the glass.
The hotel presents well and is stylishly decorated with courteous and helpful staff.IMG_0781_2 What is so surprising is the lack of detail. We stayed in an executive suite and yet for a 4 star hotel there was no towelling dressing gown or slippers. There was a good selection of toiletries by the upmarket brand Gilchrist & Soames, and yet there was only one shower gel to share between the two of us. While I appreciated the tea and coffee making facilities in the room, I had to ask for herb teas. The big plus, however, was that Poppy was welcome everywhere except in the restaurant, and had we chosen to, we could have eaten in the bar and had her with us.
T. 01872 276633 IMG_0782

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A View to Die For

The main reason for staying at the 60 bedroom, Greenbank Hotel in Falmouth has to be its location overlooking the harbour and of course for me the fact that they have dog-friendly bedrooms. Ours, with picture windows looked over to the hamlet of Flushing, with lots of boats between bobbing on the water.
Below our bedroom, I could see a small patch of sand and, of course, hear if not see the inevitable seagulls. Above us, a gutter had moss growing out of it perhaps a bird was nesting. Our room is quite small and the decor dated except for a flat screen television. There are several dog-friendly bedrooms and ours was one of them. The bathroom is old fashioned too. Their executive rooms are larger and more modern, with the deluxe category also having a small balcony. This is a truly typical English seaside hotel.
Downstairs the bar and lounge have been modernised. The dining area was extended with a new chef Nick Hodges who is currently finding his feet. There are picture windows everywhere to make the most of their amazing position on the water’s edge. Outside the lounge, an open area has tables and chairs and is a great place to enjoy a drink, weather permitting. Poppy, my dog was allowed in this area but smokers are too and at night, perhaps because of its location if anyone is smoking, the place smells of tobacco, a deterrent to sitting there.

The hotel dates from 1785 when it was a coaching inn and is Falmouth’s oldest hotel overlooking a stretch of water formerly called “King’s Road” where packet ships moored whilst awaiting mail, cargo, and passengers from London. Rat and mole from Wind in the Willows first came to life in a series of letters written here by author Kenneth Grahame to his son in 1907.

The Fal River Festival, on for 10 days from May 22 to 31, 2015 has a diverse mixture of events which take place at dozens of locations around the water. The programme includes outdoor theatre, circus performances, stargazing, foraging, underwater photography workshops and film screenings on the King Harry Ferry.


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Amazing Holiday Value in Italy

Valle Di Assisi, Italy

view of hotel and Assisi

Valle di Assisi is a 4 star dog friendly hotel in Umbria just below Assisi of St. Francis of Assisi fame. From the outside, my heart fell as I looked at the two storey modern building with Best Western emblazoned on the front. Appearances can be deceiving. Once inside I was in a smart, high tech hotel.
Set in 70 hectares surrounded by vineyards, olive trees and organically cultivated fields there are also villas and self-contained apartments. It produces its own wine and olive oil. Guests can go fishing in their pond, and there is an outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, and bikes, available for use by guests within the property.
It took a while to work out the high tech electronics in my bedroom. The lights only worked when the plastic key was in the slot but then I had to work out the illuminated buttons, which turned on the lights or stand in the right spot for the lights to come on. The shutters on my floor to ceiling windows were opened and closed by remote control, opening completely if I pushed the button in the right way to reveal an outdoor veranda with table and chairs, and the most wonderful views of the landscape with Assisi in the distance, 5 kilometres away. In my bathroom the deep corner bath had its own whirlpool and back rests on two sides so that, had I been with a partner, there would have been space for us both.

Children's pool

Children’s pool

The Assisi Cantico Spa has a swimming pool with two whirlpools, a sauna and steam room. An ice-making machine was there for anyone brave enough to cover themselves with ice, and hot and cold showers with colour lighting, appropriately blue and red. A heated room with loungers finished off the experience where I was able to relax with a glass of water while some of my colleagues were pampered with a massage. Sadly time didn’t allow for me to enjoy this experience. The hotel is family friendly with a children’s swimming pool which is in its own self-contained area.
Dinner was served in Recanto, their semi-circular first floor restaurant with floor to ceiling windows where in the distance we could see the twinkling lights of Assisi. The outdoor terrace was not in use as it was too cold but must be a very romantic spot to eat in the warmer months.
What better way to start a meal than with a glass of Prosecco, Italian white sparkling wine. Our menu introduced us to some of the specialities of the region. Prosciutto, thinly sliced pieces of cured pork; bruschetta, slices of bread rubbed with garlic and baked in the oven with extra virgin olive oil; omelette with slices of black truffles; and spaghetti coated with olive oil, and sprinkled with truffle shavings.DSCF2316
If visiting the area, I would definitely recommend both the hotel and restaurant. Worth looking at for an economical stay as the hotel, out of season, is very reasonable with flights into Perugia courtesy of Ryanair.

T. 0039 0758044580 www.valediassisi.com


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