Sunday, 21 May 2017

Finding that balance...

Sometimes when things get hectic it is good to take a step back and introduce some time to unwind in to your daily routine. I have been on a couple of trips away recently for work and things have been very busy, with lots of deadlines to meet. I always feel bad about saying no to things, but lately I have introduced the word ‘no’ in to my vocabulary a lot more frequently. I went through a phase where I was saying yes to everything and feeling obligated to do so. As a result, I began to feel increasingly overwhelmed and unhappy and I found I had very little time to spare to do the things which I love. 


I am fortunate to live close to the water and there a boating lake close by, which is such a relaxing place to walk. This week I wanted to switch up my routine and instead of going walking at night, I decided to go for a walk during the day when I can. I am fortunate that as a writer I work freelance, which allows me to manage my own daily routine and I decided that it was high time I added a little headspace to my day. 


It was perfect timing when I was sent some goodies by Prana Protein* this week, which included a selection of tasty protein bars and powders as well as a cup which I now take on my daily walk with me. Even just an hour of the day devoted to walking outside and soaking up the beautiful views makes me feel so much better and it also increases my productivity and creativity as I feel so refreshed after walking.
A recent work trip to Prague reminded me how much I enjoy walking; we went on a couple of long walking tours of the city and it was such a great way of enjoying the surroundings. Even at home, familiar views seem to take on a new appearance when you have the time to focus your attention on them fully.


You know that I am all about balance and I love to indulge in treats. Writing about food is my passion as well as my job and I love eating, but I am trying to take a more balanced approach to that too in order to feel a little healthier. This week I swapped my usual lunch of a sandwich for salads, so that over the weekend I felt I could indulge a little more. We went to Llandudno today and ate fish and chips on the beach as we watched the rolling waves. It was so calming and peaceful and it highlighted once more that the simple pleasures are often the most enjoyable ones in life. 



I felt more at peace today than I have for some time and from now on I am going to prioritise having time for myself more often. I think that most of us lead increasingly busy and pressured lives, so much so that it can be difficult to recognise when we need to switch off. I hope you all have a lovely week ahead and this is just a little reminder from me that it is vital to put yourself first occasionally! 


During the week ahead I am determined to keep up this new routine of day time walks, even just half an hour of walking with my phone switched off and good music on my headphones makes me happier. 




What do you like to do to unwind and do you think it is important to make time for yourself? As always, I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.


Until next time,

Camille 

xo



*I was sent some complimentary samples by Prana Protein, opinions expressed herein are my own and honest. 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Sunday Lunch at Stanley's Bar and Grill...

There is something comforting about a classic Sunday lunch and this Sunday we went along to have lunch at Titanic Hotel in Liverpool.
We spent the weekend in Anglesey, enjoying plenty of sunshine and walks by the sea, so we had a good appetite when we arrived at Stanley’s Bar and Grill*, the elegant restaurant within the Titanic Hotel. The lofty ceilings and exposed brickwork of the former warehouse space give it a stylish appeal and daylight floods in from the windows which overlook the riverside terrace. The bright, open plan space is an attractive environment in which to dine, and you can watch the chefs at work in the busy open kitchen which flanks the dining room.


You can choose between two or three courses for Sunday lunch (£21 or £24.95 per person) and there is a range of sophisticated dishes on offer, including a starter of glazed beetroot and goats curd salad with pickled celery. I went for the French onion soup with Gruyere cheese toasts for my starter, I love this classic soup and I liked the texture of this one which was full of sweet onion flavour while the toast added the contrast of nutty Gruyere.  


The baked Camembert chosen by my dining companion was creamy and rich and the accompanying fig chutney added tangy sweetness while the toasted nut bread was perfect to dip in to the cheese. 


For the main course we both opted for a classic Sunday lunch; the roast sirloin was tender and well cooked and the duck fat roast potatoes, cauliflower gratin, Yorkshire pudding, seasonal vegetables and gravy completed this traditional meal. A good Yorkshire pudding is one of the key components of a great Sunday lunch in my opinion and this one was golden and well risen, as well as being a generous size. 


My roast chicken breast was succulent and the tenderstem broccoli, asparagus and carrots added freshness which complemented the meat. The duck fat roast potatoes were golden and crispy and the gravy and creamy cauliflower cheese gratin made this a plate of Sunday satisfaction. The presentation was striking too, with the food looking very alluring served on cast iron trays. 




There is something about a languorous Sunday afternoon spent enjoying a roast dinner and a good bottle of wine, which always leaves me feeling restored and ready to face the week ahead with renewed vigour. A Sunday lunch is up there with fish and chips as one of my favourite comfort food meals and it is always a treat to go out for a roast rather than cooking it at home. 


There is always room for dessert and we shared sticky toffee pudding with caramel and banana ice cream which was a delight; the caramel sauce tasted delicious against the banana ice cream, which for me evoked the childhood enjoyment of banana milkshake.


I can never resist chocolate and our second dessert choice of milk chocolate cheesecake with Madeira sorbet and candied hazelnuts was a refined dessert with a smooth chocolate flavour and refreshing balance from the sorbet. 



Stanley's Bar and Grill
Titanic Hotel
Stanley Dock,
Regent Rd,
Liverpool
L3 0AN



Service was attentive and friendly and we enjoyed an excellent Domaine de Brondeau Lalande 2008 Bordeaux from the varied wine list, which paired well with the meal.
I like the fact that there is a couple of alternatives on the menu if you don’t happen to be in the mood for a Sunday roast, such as polenta with Italian cheese, chilli, poached egg and asparagus which sounded tasty. We left feeling relaxed after such an enjoyable meal, which was the perfect way to unwind after a busy weekend.

What do you all think, do you like Sunday lunch and which of these dishes would you like to try? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,

Camille 

xo



*I was invited to review Sunday lunch at Stanley's Bar and Grill, this meal was complimentary. Opinions expressed herein are my own and honest.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Dinner at Castle Street Townhouse...

Castle Street in Liverpool is one of best areas of the city for a varied selection of restaurants and bars and Castle Street Townhouse* manages a balance of sophistication and modernity which makes it the perfect place for a relaxing night out. Castle Street Townhouse recently appointed new General Manager Robert Andrew Scott, who has worked at a variety of impressive locations including Michelin Star restaurants. This is an all day dining venue with breakfast, brunch (try the bottomless brunch!) and dinner all on the menu. The stylish bar area is somewhere I love to watch the world go by and the elegant dining room has interior design features which foster a feeling of opulence such as marble surfaces, plush velvet booths and striking bowler hat lighting which fits in with the location in the business district of the city. Castle Street Townhouse has recently introduced a brand new dinner menu, so we went along last night to experience it. Some of the new starters include chicken liver parfait with toasted rye bread and rocket as well as twice baked soufflé with cheddar and wholegrain mustard sauce. There is an impressive selection of main courses to choose from, such as Chateaubriand and Hake fillet with spinach hash, avocado, chilli and chorizo. We settled in at a booth table which gave us a great view of the restaurant space. 


We sipped a fruity Sangiovese and enjoyed a selection of bread with oils and olives as we decided what to order.



I went for the fishcakes with lemon mayonnaise and rocket for my starter, which were tasty and satisfying with a golden crumb and the zesty lemon mayonnaise worked well with the peppery rocket. 


My dining companion selected the Buratta with pear, walnut, honey and truffle oil. I loved the presentation of this dish and the honey and pear added sweetness which contrasted with the creamy Buratta and the intensity of the truffle oil. 


I was in the mood for pasta, so I ordered the Fettuccine in a creamy prawn and pea sauce for my main. The portion size was generous and the creamy sauce was light with plenty of succulent prawns and added sweetness from the peas. I could not resist adding a side of hand cut chips and I am so glad that I did. The humble chip can be one of life's greatest delights when done just right and these were exceptional, triple cooked until golden they were both chunky and crispy! 



My dining companion loves a good steak and his rib eye with triple cooked chips and peppercorn sauce was a hearty plate of comfort food. The appeal of this classic meal relies on the individual components being just right and the steak was cooked medium rare to his preference, so it was both tender and juicy. The peppercorn sauce was smooth with a subtle peppercorn flavour which added just the right amount of zing and of course I do not need to mention again how good the chips were! He also ordered a side of seasonal vegetables, I would recommend ordering a side dish as there are plenty of tempting ones to choose from. 



On to dessert and I am always a fan of traditional puddings, so for me the sticky date, toffee, banana and honeycomb was the ideal indulgence to complete the meal. The toffee sauce was rich in flavour and the dates and honeycomb added to the enjoyment. 


My dining companion went for the equally decadent chocolate brownie with salted caramel sauce and mint chocolate chip ice cream. Putting chocolate and salted caramel together is always a formula for success and the ice cream provided a refreshing contrast to the brownie. 



We relaxed over coffee and soaked up the surroundings, Castle Street Townhouse is the type of place which makes you want to linger, with a welcoming ambience, excellent service and great food. It reminds me of restaurants in Paris and New York, combining charming old world grandeur with contemporary polish. Try the acoustic Sundays, when you can enjoy a Sunday roast accompanied by live music and the extensive cocktail menu is not to be missed too. 

Castle Street Townhouse
Castle St,
Liverpool,
L2 4TA

0151 363 7509


What do you all think, do you like the sound of Castle Street Townhouse and which of these dishes would you like to try?  As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.


Until next time,

Camille 

xo


*I was invited to review Castle Street Townhouse, this meal was complimentary. Opinions expressed herein are my own and honest.


Monday, 1 May 2017

Discovering Shrewsbury...

I always love the chance to explore a place I have not visited before and this weekend it was perfect timing because I felt like going away and I was invited to experience the historic town of Shrewsbury by Original Shrewsbury.*
We arrived on Saturday afternoon and I was immediately struck by the pretty architecture of the winding streets, which are lined with buildings which are often crooked and full of character due to their age. This medieval riverside town sits next to the River Severn and it is the type of place which makes you feel like exploring because there is so much to see everywhere, in fact I must have taken hundreds of photographs during my stay.




After our arrival, first on the itinerary was brunch, which was just what we needed after a long journey and we settled in at a cosy table for two in the charming Number Four, a café bistro in the heart of the town which specialises in delicious brunches and tasty lunches. 


We started the weekend in style with a glass of Prosecco for me and a beer for my partner, as we perused the menu, with options such as homemade fishcakes and croque monsieur to choose from.


We enjoyed bread with olive oil and balsamic as we awaited our food; there was so much amazing food on the neighbouring tables that I knew we were in for a treat!  


I was immediately drawn to the eggs Florentine, one of my favourite brunch dishes which consists of two poached eggs on a bed of spinach, served on toasted English muffins with Hollandaise sauce. The eggs were perfectly poached and the Hollandaise was creamy and rich with a subtle tang. I paired this with a side of home cut fries with Béarnaise sauce; the generous portion of crispy fries were the ideal accompaniment. 



My partner went for a tasty crispy chicken wrap and he too ordered a portion of fries with aioli. They were irresistible!



Number Four
4 Butcher Row,
 Shrewsbury
 SY1 1UW


After such a pleasant brunch we strolled to the hotel, Drapers Hall is a restaurant with rooms which dates back to 1485; it is tucked away on St Mary’s Place and the hotel offers individually designed suites and rooms with king sized beds and plenty of historic appeal thanks to winding wooden staircases and striking lighting.


We were warmly welcomed and shown to our room; we were booked in to the Teal Room, which had an elegant wooden carved bed and views of rooftops and church spires. 


Tea and coffee were provided and there was a television, armchair and books and magazines to make sure our stay was as relaxing as possible.



 The bathroom had a contemporary square edged bath and shower, gilt framed mirror and supplies of mini toiletries which are always handy on a trip away. 


Drapers Hall
St Mary's Place
Shrewsbury
SY1 1DZ

http://drapershallrestaurant.co.uk/



After a cup of coffee, we set off to explore some more and found ourselves enchanted by the sights such as Shrewsbury Abbey. Every street resonates with a sense of history; this was the birthplace of Charles Darwin, born in 1809 and there are over thirty churches to explore as well as cobbled lanes and The Market Hall used by drapers trading in woollen cloth in the 1600’s as well as farmers selling corn. There are numerous interesting streets with quirky names and impressive views await you around every corner. 


Later we headed back to the hotel to change for dinner, we had a table booked at The Lion and Pheasant, renowned for simple and delicious cuisine with seasonal elements, made with produce from Shropshire and beyond. The building is so charming with low wooden beams and candlelit tables and the service was excellent as was the food. 


We sipped Dona Paula Malbec as we enjoyed freshly baked bread with whipped lemon herb butter, which was incredibly light with subtle lemon flavour. 


An amuse bouche of silky spiced cauliflower soup with toasted almonds was a tantalising start to the meal.


I chose the butter poached turbot, tortellini, spring vegetables, crayfish cream sauce and lemon thyme oil which had a perfect balance of sophisticated, bright flavours.


My partner chose the seared sirloin and braised beef, ricotta gnocchi, wild garlic, chervil root, pied de mouton, bone marrow and brioche crumb, another beautifully presented dish with impressive flavours.


It was time for dessert and our first choice of a stunning lemon tart, pink peppercorn, dill iced parfait, Italian meringue and blood orange conjured up hazy summer warmth while the peppercorns added contrast. 


The second dessert of chocolate delice, salted caramel chocolate, caramelised pecan and condensed milk ice cream was a chocolate dream and indulgent without being overpowering, this was my idea of a perfect dessert. 


The Lion and Pheasant 
 49-50 Wyle Cop, 
Shrewsbury 
SY1 1XJ



The next day we cruised along the River Severn on the Sabrina, a boat named after the water nymph said to guard the river. We soaked up the tranquil scenery as swans and ducks drifted by and we took in the many buildings of note which line the river. The 45 minute cruise is a good way to unwind and to see plenty of scenery, it is a must during a weekend break in Shrewsbury. 


Check out the Sabrina boat tour here:


All that fresh river air gave us an appetite, so we stopped off for lunch at the cheerful and bright vegan bistro O’Joy on Wyle Cop, which serves nutritious plant-based food.



My partner ordered the sandwich of pan fried vegan 'haggis', made from oats, seeds and vegetables and served with vegetable crisps and mixed leaves. This was a great lunchtime option which was satisfying and inventive. 


I chose the butternut squash soup, which was thick and hearty with a pleasantly earthy flavour and added texture from the topping of seeds. They also do a great breakfast menu here, with options including homemade baked beans on 3 grain organic flour toast. Don’t miss the vegan ‘cheese’ board too, which consists of a variety of cashew nut ‘cheeses’. 


O'Joy
81 Wyle Cop, 
Shrewsbury
 SY1 1UT




Shrewsbury is described as ‘the original one-off’ and I have to agree, I was enthralled by this unique town where there is so much to see and do. I will definitely be returning as it makes the ideal place for a short break, with plenty of places to explore, eat, drink and shop. Thank you to Original Shrewsbury for hosting us for this trip, we loved discovering the town and I can't wait to return.


What do you all think, do you like the sound of a historic town with so much to see and do and have you ever visited Shrewsbury? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,

Camille 

xo


* My accommodation, meals and activities were complimentary for review purposes. All opinions expressed herein are my own and honest.