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Foodie things Hull Bloggers Product Review

A taste of the Gin Explorer Box*

I have no secrets when it comes to gin. 

It is my favourite.

I will drink it in a cocktail, with a cold, crisp tonic, or – if the occasion calls for it – neat, perhaps over ice.

The front of a greetings card with a guinea pig saying 'hic' as if drunk peering over the top of a glass. Next to that the text reads 'who's a ginny pig?'
Gin and guinea pigs? A match made in heaven

Gin has been for so long the butt of everyone’s joke, where retorts of ‘mother’s ruin’ echoed over the bar, and where it’s only drinkers in my world were ex-boyfriends’ mums. But, you’ll be glad to know that this is no longer the case.

Gin has become one of those fancy drinks you don’t mind ordering at the bar; it’s simple when served with tonic, but oh-so sophisticated, and craft gins made with care and attention are at the forefront of the gin-drinking world. This is where the Gin Explorer Box comes in; a monthly box crammed with gin samplers, accompanying tonic or other mixers, and a little snack to bring it all together.

Craft gin to your door? What more could you wish for!?

The opened box with shredded yellow paper, bright blue tissue paper, and a box with the front cut out displaying four tiny bottles of gin. A tub of corn kernels sits in front, with a bottle of cucumber-infused gin to the right of that.
A beautifully packaged box including gin-flavoured sweets

The four gins I received arrived in a gorgeously packaged box, complete with a booklet describing each gin and the flavour notes associated with it. These gins included Leeds Gin, Nelsons Rhubarb and Custard gin, Thompson’s Grape gin and Hernö gin, alongside two bottles of cucumber-infused sparkling water, and a spanish snack of salted giant corn kernels. I also received a sample of Bath gin to keep me sweet whilst I waited (im)patiently for the box itself.

A box with another box containing gin samples, the Bath gin bottle the main focus of the picture and a bottle of cucumber infused water to the right of it.
Including the little bottle of Bath gin I had five gins to test (no complaints, there!)

This was such a treat for me, and I particularly enjoyed the Nelsons Rhubarb and Custard flavour: light pink so not off-putting, with a rich fruity flavour and a hint of vanilla sweetness to bring the gin to life. I also very much enjoyed the other gins with the Qcumber water, over ice and with a slice of lemon. It made the perfect festive tipple, but I can only imagine just how wonderful this pairing would be during the height of summer or on a balmy evening. Divine!

I absolutely loved this box, and love that you can purchase a full-sized bottle with a slight discount to tide you over whilst waiting for the next box. It was such a perfect raffle prize for me, so thank you to Gin Explorer for being part of the Blogger’s Halloween Party! 

Why not treat the gin lover in your life? If they’re anything like me, they’ll love you forever!

If only it were acceptable to sip a g&t right now…

Heather x

Categories
Foodie things Hull Bloggers

Napoleons Casino: Dine In Style*

Over summer, which seems like a ridiculously long time ago (owing to my MRes ridiculousness and a year of madness seen in my previous post I’m back…), I was lucky enough to be invited to Napoleons Casino and Restaurant in Hull’s bustling city centre to try out their Dine In Style menu.

Food and a little bit of roulette…is there a better way for a postgraduate research student to unwind?!

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Walking up to the bright lights on a cool summer evening, I wondered what the night would have in store. I don’t often frequent casinos, and I’d never usually consider a casino a place to go to for dinner. But I was in for a rather pleasant surprise.

Shortly after arriving, I was greeted by the helpful staff and signed in,  and then we ascended a rather glamorous-looking staircase leading up to a candle-lit restaurant with an extensive bar and a relaxed atmosphere. Shown to our seats, and given a lovely bottle of red to share, we pondered over the delights of the menu and peered over into the casino area, bustling with people eager to wind down after a busy week.

wine-by-candlelight

 

Though it was difficult to pick three courses from a delicious selection, I opted for three dishes that I hoped would warm up the chilly evening. To start, I had the delicious garlic mushrooms on toast; mixed mushrooms sauteed and slathered in garlic butter, sat atop crispy ciabatta and were garnished with microherbs and aioli. A delicious starter to whet the appetite.

garlic-mushrooms-on-toast

 

For the main course, I went for a bowl of comforting haricot bean cassoulet paired with garlic and parsley ciabatta. The cassoulet was richly flavoured, with intense tomato sauce flavoured with garlic and herbs. Just the thing for a cool summer night. The cassoulet was topped with a crumb, complementing the warming cassoulet perfectly.

haricot-bean-cassoulet

As if two courses weren’t enough, we were also treated to a third! I chose the pear and ginger creme brulee: a soft, creamy custard with stewed pears, top with a glazed sugar crust and served with a tiny gingerbread man and ginger syrup. And yes, it did taste as good as it looked!

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After our delicious meal, we played on the American roulette with our £5 chips. Though I’d never played before, I came away with some winnings, and it was the perfect ending to a lovely night.

napoleons-chip

My experience at Napoleons Casino has completely altered my perceptions. I had a great night, with some delicious food, and as their Dine in Style package is such great value for money, I’m sure many of you will also be surprised at what Napoleons has to offer. The  Dine in Style package starts at £22.95, with a £5 value gaming chip, increasing to £27.95 on Friday and Saturday nights. A fantastic night and something a little bit unusual!

 

napoleons

 

Why not visit any of the venues in Hull, Sheffield, Bradford, Leeds or London to find out for yourself? You may not come home a winner, but I can guarantee you’ll come away feeling well and truly stylish.

Hope you’re feeling good. I’m wrapped up attempting to get through a pile of lesson planning…wish me luck!

Heather x

Categories
Foodie things Product Review

Food and Drink: Things I’m Loving*

Hello, you! Hope you’re doing well today. First, I have a little confession to make. You may have noticed that it’s been super quiet here, and I apologise. I think I might have to reduce the number of posts I’m uploading. Life is busy, and right now, my dissertation needs to come first. I hope you understand, and just know by September I’m hoping to have a lot more time to write up posts. I have a long list of things I’m wanting to share, so as always, thanks for being wonderful and patient. 

Anyway, here’s a post I hope you enjoy (warning…it might make you thirsty!)

If you know me, you’ll know that I  love food. I am that annoying person who’d like to think they’re a real ‘foodie’. I love cooking, I love experimenting, and most of all, I love eating. Food is such a wonderful thing to feel passionate about. I love nourishing my body and aim to eat as healthily as possible. I’m fortunate that my healthy eating habits were formed from a young age (thanks mum and dad!) and I try and eat a good balance of protein, fats, carbs and vegetables. I’m also a real fan of refreshing,  tasty drinks; I’m an avid tea lover, and my tea cupboard is stuffed with so many varieties and flavours. I love a refreshing cool fizzy drink every now and then, but what I do hate is that horrible sugary film left on your teeth or – where the diet versions are concerned – nasty artificial sweeteners to replicate that sugary taste we all love. So when Gaia recently got in touch and asked if I fancied trying out some new products – tea and  a healthy version of fizzy drinks – I jumped at the chance.

Meet my two new favourite drinks; ICHAI tea and Ugly Unsweet Water! 

ICHAI

I admit, I’m quite new to chai blends. I never really tried a chai tea that lived up to my expectations; they lacked the spicy warmth I was promised, or were oversweet, sometimes in powdered form with dried milk and were – oftentimes – a real disappointment. This is where ICHAI comes in and changed all my chai-related expectations. Meet ICHAI: a caddy of loose leaf tea blended with real spices and all-natural ingredients. Available in eight different flavours, these teas are of the finest quality with absolutely no artificial flavours, additives or preservatives, for the purest, most delicious chai pleasure. 

I was lucky enough to receive four of the blends to try starting with the Classic Chai #8 : blend of tea, ground cinnamon, green cardamom and a hint of ginger, clove and star anise for a deliciously balanced and calming blend. You can see the amazing, fragrant mix of spices, you can really appreciate the flavours in the final cup.

Next is Vanilla Chai #7; sweet, indulgent and comforting, this chai is a sumptuous blend of cinnamon, vanilla pods and a hint of cloves for a sweet and indulgent take on the classic chai tea.

Thirdly is Ginger Chai #3: dried ginger root added to the blend to provide a spicy, warming cup that settles, cleanses and invigorates. This blend won the Great Taste award in 2015, and you can see why! 

Finally we have a caddy of Spicy Chai #1: a deeply warming blend with cinnamon, green cardamom, black pepper, cloves and ginger, creating a warming blend perfect for even the chilliest of days.

I’ve been enjoying these blends with milk and a little honey, and I have to say the Spicy Chai and Vanilla Chai are proving to be my favourites, although I’m really enjoying all of them!

Helen, ICHAI’s creator, spent years working as a plant biologist working with Unilever, and her work to create the best tasting plants has continued with the creation of ICHAI. Helen wanted to create traditional chai with the finest ingredients to produce the best taste and aroma. The spices are grown to maintain their optimum flavour, ground to the optimum particle size, using the correct machinery to produce an exquisite-tasting chai and an intense drinking experience. I’m not claiming to be a plant biologist like Helen, but she’s doing something right as they taste absolutely fantastic! I can’t wait to get my hands on the other flavours.

Ugly Unsweet Water

Ugly are changing the way we think about fizzy drinks with their new range of unsweetened fizzy drinks, with natural flavours, no artificial colors or sweeteners. Ugly kindly tells us we’re sweet enough already (thanks, Ugly!) and maintains that their drinks are delicious without that  awful sugary film or horrible artificial sweetener aftertaste. These are best enjoyed chilled, and come in two flavours: lemon and lime, and pineapple and grapefruit. I absolutely loved both of these, but the pineapple and grapefruit has to be my favourite. I was pleasantly surprised by their cool, crisp taste, and would love to see these in vending machines on campus! They’re fab on a hot day, and if I could I’d be drinking one as I write this!

So there you have it; some truly delicious drinks to quench your thirst this Wednesday afternoon. What do you think of the ICHAI and Ugly drinks? Thanks so much to Gaia, Helen and the Ugly team for letting me try these delicious products; I’m a real fan!

Look after yourself today, 

Heather x