Sunday, 28 October 2012

Boutique Breakfast at The Salthouse Hotel, Ipswich

I stayed at The Salthouse Harbour Hotel in Ipswich when away with work recently and it was so nice! It's not often hotels actually make you feel at home. The hotel is situated right on the harbour side and in the summer months would be stunning. There are lots of totally random pieces of artwork throughout the hotel which really catch your eye. The hotel offers breakfast delivered to your room at no extra cost so I went for it and ordered this tray of brekky delight to be delivered at 8.45am.

The breakfast was so well presented I didn't even freak out at the sausage on my plate after I lifted the silver dome (I HATE sausages). I liked the little tiny pots of jam, marmalade, honey, brown sauce, red sauce and mustard...what is it about miniature pots of things that make you smile? Anyway I didn't use the sauces but they look great now in my kitchen cupboard ;-)

Wilmslow Artisan Market

I went to Wilmslow last Saturday for the latest Artisan Market. Perfect way to spend a Saturday morning. I say morning because it got absolutely packed by 12 o'clock. It was so nice to see so many people out supporting the 'shop local' message. And shopping they were, not just browsing, the people of Cheshire like to spend their cash! I bought some pineapple chilli sauce from The Delicious Sauce Company who were featured in last month's Cheshire Life magazine. I also bought two bottles of real ale from The Wincle Beer Company. Here are some of the photos I took on the way round...

Find out more about the Artisan Market here:

M&S Pasta Bar, Cheshire Oaks

M&S opened their second biggest store in the world at Cheshire Oaks, Wirral earlier this year and it is pretty impressive. It feels futuristic and airy with iPad equipped, helpful shop staff over two floors, plasma screens, two spacious coffee shops and masses of car parking space. The entire clothing range is on offer including the higher-end Autograph and Swarovski Crystal embellished line. Described as 'the most carbon efficient and premier M&S to date', it is hard not to be impressed by what M&S have done here.

I really like the Deli bar-Pasta bar concept they have launched downstairs in M&S Food. It feels like they are going along the Selfridges food hall route with tall stools and glistening wine glasses. Yet the prices are pretty reasonable. The menu offers wine and fizz too so you can feel like a proper lady who lunches. I chose the butternut squash and sage raviolli with tomato and basil sauce which was simple and fresh. The food at the Pasta bar is cooked in front of you and is a bit of a crowd-pleaser with shoppers stopping to watch. One lady even came up to me mid mouthful and asked what my lunch was like as she was thinking of bringing her grandson for something to eat 'as a treat'. Well done M&S. The Wirral needs and loves this type of thing.

Read more and watch a video about M&S Cheshire Oaks here:

M&S Cheshire Oaks
2 Stanneywood Avenue
Ellesmere Port CH65 9LF

The Gob Stopper, Hale

I love the window displays at The Gob Stopper in Hale. Described as a 'retro vintage sweet shop', The Gob Stopper is one of the most inviting looking shops on Ashley Road. This is their latest window display for Halloween featuring a cute dog.;-)

The Gob Stopper
156 Ashley Road
WA15 9SA

Fondue Lounge, Elviria, Marbella

One of the best steak restaurants in the Marbella area has got to be The Fondue Lounge. Argentinian steaks are the restaurant's speciality. However the desserts at The Fondue Lounge are pretty special too. Four of us shared this mega fruit and Belgian chocolate fondue dessert. Not for the faint hearted, this dessert is seriously RICH. Especially when following a fillet steak with peppercorn sauce and a third of a bottle of Malbec. Bikini diet this is not.

The Fondue Lounge
Centro Comercial
Los Pinares

The Beach House, Elviria, Marbella

If you holiday in or around Marbella on the Spanish Costa del Sol you are certainly not stuck for choice when it comes to eating out. I think this year was the fifth time we have holidayed in Elviria, Marbella but it was only the first time we ate at The Beach House. Probably because its rather expensive however you definitely get what you pay for.

This is precisely the type of restaurant I like. Balearic background music, international diners, white decor with tables and parasols stretching out on to the beach which gives a stunning view of the sunset. On seating the waiting staff come round with a pre-dinner cocktail menu which is a fabulous touch. For my main meal I chose sea bass with Thai green sauce with pak choi, coconut rice and served in a banana leaf. It was beautifully presented and very light. Perfect washed down with an ice cold glass of sauv blanc.

The Beach House was packed the Saturday night we dined there and always looked busy when we walked past in the daytime. Full of couples, large parties, families and first dates, The Beach House is a chic choice of restaurant with a relaxing atmosphere. No Marbella-Belles in sight.

The Beach House Restaurant 
Urb. Coto de los Dolores Carril del Relojero Elviria 29604 Marbella Malaga Spain

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Lunch at The Black Swan, Lower Withington, Cheshire

I read about The Black Swan pub in Living Edge magazine and decided to give it a try one Saturday afternoon after a drive through Alderley Edge. We found the pub down a small country lane not far from Jodrell Bank astrophysics centre. The description of The Black Swan in the magazine sounded nice but I was not prepared for such an incredible, welcoming, beautiful, female focussed pub.

The decor at The Black Swan is stunning. If Cath Kidston decorated pubs this is what it would look like. The sofas are all covered in pretty floral fabric, the lampshades are like my Nan used to have (but in a cool way), the signage and menus are all carefully hand scripted and they have a real open fire which the staff come along and top up now and again.

The Black Swan pub is the 'little brother' of The Swan Hotel & Spa in The Lake District and has just been opened following a reported six month £500,000 refurbishment. There is definitely evidence of its Lake District roots with Beatrix Potter-esque pictures and imagery dotted around the walls.

The Black Swan Cheshire menu is impressive too with everything from soup and sandwiches through to fish and chips and scones with jam if you just want afternoon tea. There are four flat breads on the menu- one lamb, one chicken, one chorizo and one vegetarian. I chose the veggie flatbread served with roasted vegetables and masses of rocket and watercress on top. It was much bigger than I expected! My husband had the tomato, fennel and red pepper soup with a cheddar cheese and chilli jam sandwich. To order your food you write your choice down on a little piece of Black Swan branded paper and present it at the bar which adds to the quirkiness.

Upstairs at The Black Swan pub there is a dining room which looks like it would be perfect for a private celebration and outside there is a British garden party style beer garden, wood fired pizza oven and boules pitch. Whoever designed the refurbishment of The Black Swan has serious vision.

The Black Swan Cheshire is officially my new favourite destination pub. I just wish it was even closer to home.

The Black Swan
Trap Street
Lower Withington
SK11 9EQ

01477 571770