Tuesday 21 March 2017

Press lunch at Grand Pacific Manchester...

Last week I was delighted to attend a press preview lunch at Grand Pacific, the exotic new restaurant and bar from Living Ventures. Located in Spring Gardens, an area filled with striking architecture, the  imposing style of the building makes an impression as soon as you arrive.
I attended a tour of the site when it was still under construction, which offered a fascinating glimpse in to the history of the grandiose Grade II Listed building which was once the Manchester Reform Club.
Grand Pacific is inspired by the golden age of high society and there is a lavish ambience as you sweep up the staircase adorned by a dramatic peacock chandelier, in to a mirrored hallway which gives way to the spacious bar and restaurant beyond. The design was created by Interior Designer, Michelle Derbyshire and potted palms create a sense of a forbidden oasis while the elegant bar is the perfect place to sip one of the cocktails which include hibiscus Collins, lassi punch and Earl Grey sling. Large windows, polished wooden floors and fireplaces give a nod to the refinement of a bygone era and cut crystal abacus inspired screens pay homage to the location in the original financial district of the city. The overall impression is one of understated sophistication with an atmosphere which makes you want to linger. 

We took our seats, eager to peruse the menu which draws upon eastern influences for a wealth of tempting dishes such as chirashi sushi bowl, prawn and mussel laska and Thai waterfall seared beef salad.

My starter of Thai fishcakes with pineapple sweet chilli dipping sauce was aromatic and tasty and the pineapple dipping sauce complemented the fishcakes with a hit of tangy sweetness.  

My dining companion was equally impressed by his chicken and spring onion gyoza with soy, sweet potato and miso. The gyoza were incredibly light and the tender chicken and spring onion filling was full of subtle flavours.

I was treated to one of the Grand Pacific signature cocktails, the Peacock, which comes garnished with a feather. The intriguing blend of Bacardi Carta Blanca, Blue Curaçao, Pineapple Juice and Kiwi & Lime Juice was a tropical delight. 

For the main course, my eye was immediately drawn to the tempura Szechuan sea bass with crispy noodles, pineapple and cucumber. The portion size was very generous and the tempura batter was light and golden with a delicately spiced flavour while the sea bass within was tender and flaky. 

My dining companion selected the 10oz rib eye steak and the quality of the 28 day aged British beef was outstanding while the kimchi and grilled heart of palm added contrast and the fiery wasabi crème fraiche worked well with the succulent steak. 

A dessert I can never resist is chocolate fondant and the Grand Pacific take on this classic dessert was sublime, with creamy vanilla ice cream, salted caramel sauce, honeycomb pieces and roasted peanuts which added further decadence to the dish.

My dining companion enjoyed his crème brûlée with jasmine tea bread and rose petal jelly. The creamy brûlée was delicious with the fragrant tea bread and the rose petal jelly brought a summery sweetness to the dessert. 

After lunch, we were presented with 'the wax seal' a drink made from Bulleit bourbon, Belsazar red, plum sake, bitters and water which is mixed and aged in a Bulleit barrel. There was a choice to either drink this after the meal or to keep it as a souvenir and I decided to take mine home to savour at a later date. 

Some of the Grand Pacific high teas were also showcased throughout the afternoon, and with tiers of dainty sandwiches and cakes on offer this is sure to become a popular destination for high tea in the city. 

Grand Pacific is a beguiling addition to the Manchester restaurant and bar scene, a tranquil oasis which blends exotic mystery with irresistible food and drink. Dining here is akin to to experiencing the grandeur of days gone by, combined with the pleasure of contemporary and polished menus. 

Grand Pacific 
50 Spring Gardens 
M2 1EN

What do you all think, do you like the sound of a restaurant and bar which conjures up far flung places 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,



Thursday 16 March 2017

The Daniel Wellington Classic Petite...

It is always a pleasure to bring some style content to the blog and I am pleased to share with you the new elegant timepiece from Daniel Wellington, the Classic Petite*. The watch was recently launched globally and it is a new addition to their range, with a 32mm dial which makes it the ideal choice to take you from day to night as the smaller dial makes it the perfect addition to any outfit. I can see that it will quickly become one of my favourite watches to wear on a daily basis because it is understated and perfect for meetings and work events. 

The Classic Petite is available in either silver mesh strap with white dial or black dial, or rose gold mesh strap with black dial or white dial. I love rose gold accessories and you all know I love to wear black, so I selected the rose gold strap with a black dial. I love the sleek and minimal design of this and I have already been wearing it so much. Use my discount code COCOCAMI to get 15% discount on the website:

Having a new classic timepiece to wear got me thinking about time in general and what a relative concept it is; it's funny how things which we want to go swiftly tend to drag whereas the opposite is true of good times because they always seem to go quickly. 

On a serious note, life passes by so rapidly which is why it is important to make the most of every moment and try to be happy as much as we can. I think a pretty watch is a great addition to any wardrobe because a sophisticated timepiece goes with every outfit and adds a finishing touch to each look. The #DWClassicPetite is a striking watch and I will be wearing it so much from now on. 

On the subject of time, I thought I would share with you a couple of things which I enjoy doing during my free time:

Settling down with a good book is something I do not have time for often these days, but I love to snuggle up and read a book at night and my Kindle library just keeps growing. 

I love rap and RnB music and one of my favourite memories is seeing The Game live in Manchester. I listen to music all day long and I always have my headphones with me. 

Eating and drinking 
This is obviously no surprise to regular readers of this blog, but the pleasure of good food and drink is one I really treasure in life and delicious food and drink can make the simplest moment seem special. 

Long walks
I don’t get to spend as much time outdoors as I would like, so going for a long walk in the fresh air is one way I love to unwind whenever I can. I grew up living in a farmhouse surrounded by fields, so being in the countryside makes me very happy. 

Spending time with the family pets
My family have a pet sheep, horse, cat and dog and spending time with them makes me smile and relaxes me. Growing up in the countryside, I was always surrounded by animals. I love them so much and I go home as often as possible to see them. 

Having a long bubble bath or doing a mini facial at home always makes my evening relaxation time so much better. 

As a writer, this goes without saying, but pouring out my thoughts in to written words is not only work for me but also something which makes me happy. As well as the food and drink articles I write, I also enjoy writing fiction. 

I love to travel and discovering new places is always a pleasure, I am looking forward to getting away on a couple of breaks this year. 

Above all, time is so precious and it is important to spend some of it doing the things we enjoy. I am pleased to have a stylish new watch to get me through those times when I am running around and the Classic Petite makes me feel ready for busy days! 

Don’t forget to follow Daniel Wellington on Instagram too: 

What do you like to do to unwind during your free time and what do you think of the new Daniel Wellington Classic Petite? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post. 

Until next time, 



*The Classic Petite was sent to me by Daniel Wellington. Opinions expressed herein are my own and honest. 

Friday 10 March 2017

Cambium Restaurant at Careys Manor Hotel...

As part of our recent stay at Careys Manor Hotel and Spa, we had dinner at Cambium Restaurant* which is renowned for fine dining. Located within the hotel, the restaurant has gained 3 AA Rosettes and Chef Alistair Craig creates menus which focus on simplicity and flavour. There is an innate sense of style to the interior design which is contemporary and understated, with neutral colours, booth tables and decorative features such as bespoke oak leaf golden screens which give a nod to the natural environment of the surrounding area. 

After a warm welcome, knowledgeable sommelier Michael talked us through the ideal wine pairings for our meal and we started the evening with an excellent 2016 Argentinian sparkling Malbec rosé from the Gouguenheim Estate which is produced in small batches. This was summer in a glass, a light and fruity wine which paired well with the amuse-bouche of shallot soup which had an airy texture and plenty of nutty parmesan. Next to arrive at the table was a selection of freshly made granary, rosemary focaccia, milk roll and sourdough bread; the herby and fragrant rosemary focaccia was just incredible with the sea salt butter. 

My starter of panisse with chicory, raisins and almonds was a good springtime dish with a bright flavour, crispy texture and added sweetness from the raisins. 

My dining companion was impressed by his onion orzotto, which I also sampled, this had a creamy consistency, a delicious tang from the beer pickled onion and a sharpness from the blue cheese which added contrast to this sophisticated starter.

I was charmed by the flavours of my main course of parsnip samosa, lentils, onion bhaji and yoghurt; this was the epitome of Indian food served in a fine dining style. The golden pastry yielded to an earthy parsnip filling which was complemented by the onion bhaji, while the creamy yoghurt worked well with the other elements. This was a stunning dish which showed skill and imagination. 

The agnolotti of butternut squash with pine nuts, sage and cavolo nero chosen by my dining companion was equally refined, the freshly made pasta and the sweetness of the butternut squash sat well with the bittersweet cavolo nero and fragrant sage.  Michael recommended the Musar Jeune, Hochar from the Bekaa Valley (2012), this was my first time sampling a Lebanese wine and I was wowed by its fruity silkiness and spicy finish; it is easy to see why Chateau Musar is a renowned vineyard. 

My dessert of chocolate delice with milk ice cream was indulgent without being overly sweet, with the milk ice cream providing a good balance to the intensity of the chocolate. 

My dining companion was intrigued by the ‘blue cheese’ dessert, a springy and delicately spiced pecan almond anise cake with white chocolate ganache and orange curd. The orange curd lifted the dish with a zesty note which worked well with the white chocolate ganache which had blue cheese running through it. I loved the juxtaposition of sweet and savoury ingredients which showed a flair for the unexpected. Michael was on hand to offer his advice on dessert wine and I ordered a glass of the Moscato d’Asti, Pio Cesare, Piedmont, Italy (2015) which had a beautifully fruity and floral quality reminiscent of elderflower. 

We soaked up the ambience as we enjoyed handmade petit fours and coffee, concluding a relaxing evening. Service from Restaurant Manager Frederico and his team was excellent; congenial and attentive without being intrusive and the calm environment as well as the outstanding food made this a memorable dining experience which I look forward to repeating in the future.

Lyndhurst Rd, 

What do you all think, do you like the sound of a fine dining meal which showed inventiveness 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,



*I was invited to review Cambium as part of my stay at Careys Manor Hotel and Spa, this meal was complimentary for the purposes of this review. All opinions expressed herein are my own and honest. 

Monday 6 March 2017

A weekend at Careys Manor Hotel and Spa...

I love to share travel reviews with you here and I recently had the pleasure of returning to the New Forest to review a stay at Careys Manor Hotel and Spa*, which is set in a tranquil location in the heart of the picturesque village of Brockenhurst. We arrived late in the afternoon after a long drive and we quickly felt relaxed after a warm welcome and a swift and efficient check in at reception, where a roaring log fire and comfortable sofas created a homely ambience. There are 77 rooms and suites at the hotel, an 18th century building which was once a manor house, the stately building still retains many of its original features.

There are three restaurants within the hotel, the 3 AA Rosette fine dining Cambium Restaurant, French style bistro Le Blaireau and Zen Garden which serves authentic Thai cuisine. Careys Manor also boasts its own multi award winning spa, SenSpa which has state of the art hydrotherapy facilities such as herbal sauna, crystal steam room and ice showers and the spa offers a range of treatments from massages to facials. The multitude of dining options are a big plus point as is the well-equipped spa. We were shown to our room, where a welcome bottle of chilled prosecco, handmade chocolates and SenSpa products awaited, which were thoughtful touches.

My first impression was that the room was spacious and light and the neutral colour scheme gave it a restful air. The comfortable bed dominated the space and there was a desk, flat screen television, two armchairs and tea and coffee making facilities too. Each room is equipped with a king sized or super king sized bed, each of which are handmade locally and adorned with duck feather pillows and a variety of luxurious bed linen also sourced locally.

I liked the fact that this felt more like a suite than a room, with attention having being paid to both comfort and amenities (iron, ironing board and hair dryer were included which was helpful) as the inclusion of armchairs and desk catered to both work and relaxation needs.

The bathroom was equally well-appointed, with bath and shower as well as mini products by The White Company which were handy.

We stayed in a garden room (which come with either patio or balcony) with a glass door which opened directly on to a pretty garden area; there were chairs outside which made this the perfect place to soak up the morning sunshine on our second day and it was such a peaceful spot overlooking the manicured lawns.

We made a coffee which we enjoyed outside while we perused some of the magazines which were left in the room (another example of the attention to detail this hotel excels at) and then it was time to head to the pool.

I love the pool area at Careys Manor which is part of the SenSpa located within the hotel which offers full hydrotherapy and spa treatments. We decided to unwind with a swim before dinner; there are lounge beds around the 14m pool where you can relax and read one of the newspapers or magazines which are provided poolside.

There is also a jacuzzi at the edge of the pool, which is the ideal place to unwind. After swimming, we went back to our room to get ready for dinner, as we had a reservation at the hotel’s stylish Cambium Restaurant (separate review to follow) after dinner we went for a walk around the village before retiring to our room to enjoy some prosecco. We slept so soundly, the vast bed was very comfortable and when we awoke for breakfast I felt so refreshed. Breakfast was served in the Zen Garden, where a full menu of hot breakfast dishes is available alongside a continental selection.

We were seated by the window overlooking a waterfall and we sipped smoothies as we decided what to order. I ordered one of my favourite breakfast dishes, Eggs Benedict which was delicious with a creamy Hollandaise sauce over the two perfectly poached eggs.

 My partner had a bacon breakfast roll and we also selected continental items from an impressive array including pastries, toast, muesli, chia seed pudding, fresh fruit, juice, cold meat and cheese.

After breakfast, we relaxed in the sunshine; luckily it was a lovely morning so we sat outside our room overlooking the garden. At 10.30 it was time to head back to SenSpa as we had an aromatic detox massage booked, a lymphatic drainage massage using cold pressed, organic oils blended with essential oils. The hour-long treatment was so soothing; this full body massage is designed to rid the body of toxins and I felt rejuvenated afterwards.

Completing the spa experience, we then had a lunch reservation at Zen Garden where we sampled the food from Spring Green, a London based company which specialise in healthy meals made from nutrient rich ingredients. You can customise your order, choosing a base salad with a range of dressings and toppings. We started the meal with fresh fruit smoothies which were a refreshing treat and my partner had the super beetroot burger with sweet potato fries, pink slaw and green leaves.

I decided on the botanical salad (broccoli, kale, sugar snap peas, baby spinach, peas and quinoa) with a topping of grilled Halloumi with squash purée, lime and tahini dressing and herb and coconut mayo.

I sampled my partner’s burger which had a subtle flavour of earthy beetroot which paired well with the sweet potato fries and greens. I was stuck by the generous portion size, the patty of the beetroot burger was big and there was a good amount of fries. My salad was equally satisfying and tasty with bright flavours from the abundance of green vegetables which worked well with the creamy halloumi and the zesty lime and tahini dressing which added zing. The meal demonstrated that eating healthily needn’t be boring as the mains both had a variety of flavours and they were very filling. On to desserts and we sampled both the Night Sky, raw chocolate and banana ice cream with crispy chocolate circles and the Cacao chai bowl, with raspberries, cacao chips and goji berries. The ice cream had a rich texture reminiscent of mousse and the intense chocolate flavour had a delicious hint of bitterness. The Cacao chai bowl was fruity and smooth and both the desserts were indulgent despite being free from refined sugar.

Careys Manor is the perfect place to unwind, the hotel has so many amenities and such a wide range of dining options, that it makes a great destination for a weekend away. The location, right in the heart of the New Forest is an added bonus and the staff are extremely helpful. The attention to detail here is excellent, with so many items you may need during your stay having been provided, which is just what I want from a hotel. I always forget something when I am travelling and in this case I forgot my hairdryer, so I was pleased to find there was one in the room. For a special break, I would recommend booking a garden room as the outdoor area made our stay even better. It was so nice to open the door and walk directly from our room in to the garden with a cup of coffee. The award winning SenSpa is another attractive attribute of this hotel and the range of treatments on offer is impressive. You can keep your spa robes on while dining in the Zen Garden Restaurant too, which means you can go straight from your treatment to a relaxing lunch. This hotel is excellent for a luxurious and tranquil break and its location makes it ideally situated for exploring the surrounding area.

Careys Manor Hotel and Spa
Lyndhurst Rd
SO42 7RH

01590 624467

*I was invited to review Careys Manor Hotel and Spa, my stay was complimentary for the purposes of this review. All opinions expressed herein are my own and honest.