Thursday, 31 December 2015

Bar and Beyond Chelmsford

A few weeks ago myself and a few other Essex bloggers were invited along to the newly opened Bar & Beyond for something to eat. This trendy new watering hole has taken over the old Chicago's premises and completely revamped it into something wonderful. When we walked into the new venue I was amazed at what they have done with the space, the theme throughout it industrial and covered in graffiti and looks fabulous. They have paid special attention to details such as tin cans for glasses and metal camping bowls for your food to be served in, and I myself love kitsch little accents like that. The seating are all old fashioned looking chesterfield sofa's and armchairs which look wonderful against the concrete flooring and the neon paint splattered on the vast walls. The venue itself is really spacious due to it being the old Regents Theatre building so it has high ceilings and original features that have been used to their advantage in the renovation.

bar and beyond, chelmsford, essex

After settling down on the sofa's one of the waitress' brought over a beautiful metallic gold bottle of fizz for us enjoy complete with ice fountain fireworks to wow us all.

Bar and beyond, chelmsford
Bar and beyond chelmsford

Shortly after, our burgers arrived which wasn't a moment too soon because I was famished. I had chosen their classic joe veggie burger which comes with fried onions and jalapeƱos. There was a mountain of jalapeƱos in there, so it's perfect if you like it spicy, I however had to pull a few out to save my tongue melting out of my mouth.

burger at bar and beyond, chelmsford
classic joe, Bar and beyond

Their triple cooked chips come served in little galvanised buckets and are absolutely amazing, firstly they're huge and so crispy I could have eaten a few buckets to myself. Their sweet potato fries are delicious as well, perfectly crisp and tasty. The only thing I would have liked to see on their menu is a couple more options for vegetarians, for the non meat eaters there was only the option of two burgers, one being the 'naked' which like the name suggests is a plain veggie burger in a bun or 'classic joe' like I had, so not very exciting and leaves a huge gap in their menu that I would be interested to see if they fill as they become more established.

Bar and beyond chelmsford

The venue is ideal for a celebration as they have three packages available for booth/table hire:

Platinum Pack includes:
1 x Booth with Table Service
1 x Crystal Head Vodka
1 x Laurent Perrier Rose Magnum
12 x Cans of Red Bull or Sugar Free Red Bull

Gold Pack includes:
1 x VIP Booth or Suite
1 x Bottle of Moet Champagne
1 x Bottle of Ciroc Vodka
8 x Standard or Sugar Free cans of Red Bull

Silver Pack includes:
1 x VIP booth or Suite
1 x Bottle of Bottega Gold or Rose Prosecco
1 x Bottle of Russian Standard Vodka

Bar and beyond, Chelmsford Essex
bar and beyond Chelmsford
Bar and beyond chelmsford

Bar and beyond serve a menu of classic cocktails, possibly in the future there will be some more exciting and signature cocktails. But for the time being I'm sure you'll find something to take your fancy.

Bar and beyond chelmsford
Bar and beyond chelmsford

 What Bar & Beyond say about them self:

Bar & Beyond is the first of a new concept for the UK late-night bar market. The Bar and beyond ethos offers a split level experience with food served at the bar from 5pm and then after dark; 'going beyond' is a high quality club experience with state of the art sound system and some of the best DJs around.
Bar & Beyond has been designed so you can have a great time from the moment you walk through our doors, whether that’s relaxing with a bite to eat during the day or partying the night away and we’ll be enjoying every minute alongside you.

Bar & Beyond, Chelmsford6 Moulsham StreetChelmsfordCM2 0HREssex01245 348696

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Lush Haul

I don't tend to do haul posts very often, mostly because I'm not really the sort of person to splurge and buy a large amount of anything. However I managed to amass a few items from Lush after 2 recent trips to my local store where I was seduced by the Christmas range.

Lush Haul
Lush Haul

I'd walked around and sniffed nearly everything in the store and settle on this bundle of goodies. I favour the bubble bars because I like the way they make mountains of bubbles, and also because I don't really understand bath bombs. All they do is fizz around in your water and make it pretty colours but you can't wash with them so you still have to use another product to do that bit. So you've paid £3.00 for something that dyes your water a nice colour, at least with a bubble bar you get more bang for your buck.

Lush Haul
Rose Jam Bubbleroon

I can't wait to use the rose jam bubbleroon, anything that smells like turkish delight gets my vote! It will make mountains of sweet floral bubbles with a little dash of glitter.

Luxury Lush Pud

Now I know I said I don't understand bath bombs, but it doesn't stop me being seduced by their pretty colours, the luxury lush pud is going to make my bath water look colourful and seeing as its predominate ingredient is lavender this one will be saved for a bedtime soak.

Floating Island

Floating island is a bath oil and one that I'll be using for a decadent soak in the tub. I get quite dry skin so this is a good choice for me.

The Experimenter

The experimenter is one I'm looking forward to using quite a lot because I saw this one being used as a demo in store and it was amazing. It's so colourful and even has popping candy in it! I feel like a kid at the candy store.

Star Dust

Star dust drew me in because of it's amazing smell of vanilla and rosewood. It's absolutely beautiful with its small flecks of glitter.

Yog Nog Soap

Yog Nog smells delicious with its notes of fudge, soya yoghurt and nutmeg. If I could warrant the extreme cost or indeed had the space in my bathroom I would buy the whole big round soap! That wouldn't be at all excessive would it?

Yog nog bath bomb

I know, I know, there's a lot of bath bombs here for someone that doesn't "understand" them; but with the similar fragrance to the soap I was just sucked in! Yog Nog smells so warm and delicious because of the cinder toffee, clove and ylang ylang. Completely suckered!

Bar Humbug

Bar Humbug is not necessarily something I would buy myself because for some reason I can't seem to smell it's fragrance very well, which was also the butt of many a joke whilst we were making these. (yes this was made my own fair hands, which is why it looks less appealing than the ones in store)

Holly Golightly

Holly Golightly is so festive looking with its Holly leaf and berries and ton of silver glitter. It has a subtle spicy smell and was more than enough to fill my bath with so many bubbles twice over the festive period.

Lush Haul

Did you buy yourself any of the Christmas treats this year?

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Gingerbread House Party

Every year I obsess over all the beautiful gingerbread houses on the Internet.  I seem to have hundreds pinned on pinterest as well, and I always aspire to create one just as wonderful as the pictures. I thought long and hard about it and like most things gingerbread decorating is better done with friends. With this is mind I decided to create a a gingerbread house party and seeing as my best friends children were going to be the star guests I wanted to make it as magical as possible. Queue my mind running away with me and the ideas getting very elaborate!

I hit the Internet for inspiration, and it was there in abundance. I drew up my plans and started creating how I would decorate everything.

I wanted to create a dessert table with some lovely treats, I settled on the below.

dessert table, gingerbread house party

To minimise on the amount of work I had to do in the lead up to the party when my time was going to be very short, I purchased the gingerbread houses ready made from Tesco for £4.00 each, so they just needed to be stuck together and were good to go. This is a great shortcut if you plan on arranging a party yourself, it saves you the time and stress involved with making them yourself and is a life saver if you're not a confident baker! They were fabulous for store bought DIY's and were really well made and so simple to put together and came with packets of icing with a nozzle that made piping easy. In the past when I have bought pre made gingerbread houses the icing was terrible quality and came in a pack where you snipped the corner off, so I was really impressed with the standard of the kit from Tesco.

Gingerbread House

I wanted drinks on hand for adults and children to be able to help themselves to, so I settled on mulled wine for the grown ups as I could have this prepared and staying warm on the stove so people could serve themselves when they wanted a top up. For the children I made chocolate orange milk served in cute little milk bottles rimmed with hundreds and thousands.

chocolate orange milk

I didn't want the kids running high on sugar so I wanted to have a savoury option to eat especially as the party would be taking place shortly after lunch time. I wanted something quite simple and non stressful that people could help themselves to when they were hungry. I made olive and mushroom pizza with a healthy red pepper houmous & celery sticks as the side, with some fancy crisps for snacking.

The party was a real hit, the children (and adults) enjoyed themselves and the kids even asked if we could do it again next year!

gingerbread house party

Head over to my instagram to see some pics of the finished houses.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Jamie Oliver's Recipease Cooking Class

This week I was lucky enough to be invited along to Recipease in Notting Hill by Far Fetch for a networking evening for bloggers. A night of learning to cook Mexican street food and getting to chow down on it all afterwards was my idea of a good time. If Mexican food isn't your thing, don't panic they offer lots of different classes so I'm sure you'll find something to suit your taste.

Recipease is located a stones throw from Notting Hill Gate tube and has a very prominent plot right on a corner. The building itself is completely glass fronted and incredibly modern so if you choose to eat there you'll have an uninterrupted view of the west London Streets below. Upon stepping inside the buzzing atmosphere was undeniable, maybe it's the open plan set up that contributes to that feeling, but it certainly put me in a great mood from the get go and I was excited to start cooking.

Jamie Oliver's Recipease

We made our way upstairs and laid eyes on our work stations for the evening, the beautiful granite worktop is set out in a large square in the centre of the room with sleek black hobs that honestly looked so high tech we had to ask the chef how to switch them on! You're able to lock your bag etc away in a locker so it won't be getting in your way whilst you're trying to cook, then you gather around, glass of prosecco in hand to watch the chef demonstrate your first couple of tasks. In our case this was the spicy corn salsa, soft corn tortillas, and sticky chipotle chicken or veggies for the vegetarians. Demo over we were sent back to our stations to create street food magic in our pairs. 

Jamie Oliver's Recipease

All of your ingredients are set out on a chopping board at your station, so it was a little on the confusing side to try and remember which ingredients and how much were to be used for each dish, a little recipe card would have been handy just to jog your memory, especially as it's quite loud in there so unless you were directly in front of the chef it was pretty hard to hear what she was saying. Onwards and upwards we managed to make our corn salsa, make and press our tortillas and get our chipotle dish underway. Then we gathered back around to watch the next stage; making our tomato salsa, guacamole, and spinach and feta filling.

Jamie Oliver's Recipease

We descended back to our hobs to hungrily make the remainder of our meal. Try as we might our food didn't look quite as pretty on our boards as the chef made hers, but we couldn't wait to get stuck in. Behind us were some large rustic wooden tables and benches where we took a seat to devour our creations and boy were they good. 

Jamie Oliver's Recipease

The evening was really fun, and the food was definitely tasty. There are just a couple of things I think Recipease could do to improve the experience: 

  • The previously mentioned recipe card to follow so you don't have to worry that you forgot to add ingredients to your dishes. 
  • A knife that actually cuts, I understand that some people that may do this class could quite well be a little stupid and chop off their finger with a really sharp knife but mine was struggling to cut a tomato and spring onion! 
  • Lastly is some kind of recipe sheet of all the food you've made to take away with you. Some of the ingredients were pre done for you to save on time such as the chipotle sauce and the marinade for the chicken so it would have been lovely to have this in a recipe so you can recreate the dishes at home.

Other than that I had a lovely evening and it's a wonderful way to spend a unique evening with your friends. I'm very grateful to have been invited along by the Far Fetch outreach team, they were lovely and so friendly.

Notting Hill Gate
W11 3QB
020 3375 5398

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Hostess with the mostess

With all the entertaining we do around Christmas time I thought I'd do a round up of some great items to keep things looking extra special this festive season.

1. Noel table runner from Marks & Spencer £19.50 this runner would look lovely down the centre of the table either over a plain white table cloth or on its own if you have a lovely wooden table. Perfect to keep things simple on a buffet table if you have having an open house or a festive get together.

2. Silver rope napkin rings from Marks & Spencer £15.00 another beauty from M&S, these beautiful silver napkin rings would look stunning with the contrast of red napkins, or you could go with a frosty theme and team them with white or silver napkins and frosted foliage.

3. Metal Trivet from H&M home £7.99 this gorgeous snowflake shaped trivet would look lovely sitting in the middle of your table awaiting a hot casserole dish, surround it with plenty of tealights to really set the mood for your dinner party.

4. Glass glitter swirl placemats, Star by Julien Macdonald from Debenhams £19.20 if monochrome is your thing then these beautiful place mats are definitely for you. They would look stunning against a white tablecloth, teamed with crisp white plates and black and silver accessories. This would most certainly make your dinner party pop.

5. Snowman stacking mugs from Dunelm £9.99 these mugs are super cute for the holiday season, keep them out by a hot chocolate station throughout Christmas so people can help themself to a warming drink.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Christmas Street at Intu Lakeside

Christmas is most definitely creeping up on us, the shops have all donned their Christmas apparel and Intu Lakeside is no exception. This year they are debuting their new Christmas street which is located outside the ground floor Marks and Spencer food hall, by car park 9. The normally bare expanse of space has been given a Christmas makeover and will be lighting up the faces of children throughout the festive period (and maybe the face of the odd adult too!)

Christmas Intu Lakeside
Intu Lakeside Christmas street

The area is full of kiddie rides and German market style food stalls, which makes it the perfect place to stop off for a festive snack before your Christmas shopping commences. You can soak up the Christmas atmosphere whilst enjoying a cup of mulled wine, or hot chocolate for the little ones which they can personalise by adding a variety of flavoured syrups and toppings to. Then they can run off and play in the snow with Elsa and Olaf in the Frozen snow globe!

Giant Frozen Snow Globe
Lakeside shopping centre Christmas, Michelle Louise Love

To save yourself the hassle of long queues to visit Santa in his grotto, you can now book your time slot online. This is a godsend for those with small children who don't appreciate waiting in line for ages before getting to meet the big guy to tell him what they want under their tree this Christmas. There are even some great little additions in the grotto halls to play before meeting Santa. A special little device that scans you to see if you've been naughty or nice and sends the results electronically off to Santa will keep kids and adults alike occupied until it's their turn to go in, along with a little machine to send your Christmas wishes off to the north pole.

Intu Lakeside Christmas Grotto

The grotto is really interactive, so different from the garden sheds of my childhood! Upon entering the grotto you will be greeted by lovely elves who really immerse you into the Christmas story and are clearly all about making sure the kids leave with a smile on their face and belief in their heart. I think that our job as adults is to make Christmas magic for kiddies for the few short years of childhood and that is truly at the heart of the staff here at the Christmas Street.

Michelle Louise Love, Christmas
Intu Lakeside Christmas Grotto
Intu Lakeside Christmas Street
Intu Lakeside Christmas Street
Intu Lakeside Christmas Street

Sweet treats are a plenty, you can choose from chocolate covered mallow to gingerbread men as big as your head and all sorts in-between. Perfect stocking fillers or teacher gifts or maybe even something nice for when you get home and put your feet up with a cuppa after all the shopping you've done.

Christmas, Michelle Louise Love

Intu Lakeside Christmas Street

The Christmas street is open daily until Christmas Eve, as is the Grotto and tickets are £6 per child. More info can be found on the Intu website here.

I may be an adult but I enjoyed my trip to the fab festive area and think it's worth a look when you next head to Lakeside.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

5 Reasons to love Autumn | Blogtober

We all know Autumn is my favourite month, but here's 5 reasons you should love it too:

1. Cosy jumpers, socks, scarves, hats. Basically cosy anything! It's the nicest feeling to put on a piece of clothing that is toasty and warm from the drier.

River Island

2. Boots, the shops are filled with them and it is now acceptable to don a pair of boots every day.

River Island

3. Nights snuggled by a fire or candle light with a big old glass of pinot noir (because red wine is for winter)

4. Walks in the woods to admire the beautiful red and orange leaves and to collect pine cones.

5. Hot chocolate, hot toddy, hot apple cider, basically this time of year is a great excuse for drinking (and eating) warming comforting goodies. Check out some of the great recipes below for inspiration

Caramel coffee toddy
Hot buttered jamie
Chai hot toddy
Salted caramel hot chocolate
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