Splendid Sausage Co. Launches The Whoa-Nut And Something Is Afoot…

Whoa!! I hear you cry… what’s that? Well dear reader, let me introduce you to the latest dessert to hit the Manchester streets.

Splendid Sausage Company

This… this is a whoa-nut. We’ve seen cronut, a cross between a croissant and a donut. I wasn’t a fan but this whoa-nut I can get behind. Hand poured waffles are deep fried at Splendid Sausage Co. before being topped with the day’s special toppings to create the perfect dessert either to eat in or on the go. There is a lemon meringue version (as pictured above) as well as a mixture of 4 kinds of chocolate known as ‘chocolots’ (pictured below).

Splendid Sausage Company

Having the sweetest tooth ever I didn’t have to be asked twice if I wanted to try one of these beauties. I popped straight in to be welcomed with the raspberry and white chocolate version. I mean, raspberries are fruit so that makes them nearly healthy right?

Splendid Sausage Company

The waffle is sugared like a donut yet still slightly crunchy on the outside like a waffle. I was so confused that I had to eat the whole thing to be sure it tasted good. The verdict? It does. They are slightly chewy and the toppings fit perfectly in the little dimples of the waffle. I started all refined with a fork but soon ditched that to pick up my whoa-nut and eat it with my hands. I’m a fan and, at £2-£3, you get more for your money than a run of the mill Krispy Kreme. Now if someone could make sure they have sold out each time I’m passing my personal trainer will thank you.

Whilst I was trawling Twitter this afternoon I also spied this… I don’t know what is going on but something is certainly afoot at Splendid Sausage Co. HQ! I suggest you keep your eyes peeled for more…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXaE5twPxng&feature=youtu.be

I wasn’t asked to pay for my whoa-nut. This is an honest and unbiased review of the sugary goodness that they are. 

Slimmer Saturday: Clean Eating and Dirty Training with Cheshire Personal Trainer

Regular readers will know that I have been eating and training differently over the past month or so. I would be lying if I said this has been simple but, instead of feeling hungry and exhausted after every workout, this has been more difficult from a mentality point of view.

I’m not one of those people who claims to have tried every diet under the sun and none of them work. I was a big kid, always was, and found the motivation at the age of 19 to do something about it. I lost just under 6 stone on the Weight Watchers diet and managed to keep the majority of the weight off. I’d like to say it was easy and the weight just stays off but that is certainly not the reality. If I’m honest I think I was bordering on some form of eating disorder. I would weigh myself 3-4 times a day and got into a dreadful eating habit of going to Weight Watcher meetings once a month to help maintain my weight. This meant that after my monthly weigh in I’d eat a chippy tea then, for the next 3 weeks, eat very little because I thought I had to ‘make up’ for my ‘naughty’ meal. I was losing more and more weight and decided enough was enough. I stopped going to my monthly meeting and tried to do things my own way.

Life being life things changed and I found my weight slowly creeping up. I love food (as you can probably tell from a lot of this blog!) and various lifestyle changes meant it was getting out of control. Something had to change and then I was introduced to John Preston aka Cheshire Personal Trainer. I’ve tried personal training once before and vowed, at the time, never to put myself through it again. The guy  spent the whole hour telling me how unfit I was and how I should be able to lift/move/push/press an awful lot more so you can imagine I was more than nervous at the thought of going back into that environment.

Instead of detailing every step I have gone through over the past month I wanted to give you some pointers on how I’ve changed my life with John’s help and some useful sites you can refer to for help. I need to stress that I am not a nutritionalist nor am I trained to give advice on healthy eating and diet. This has been working for me and a few people have asked me to write about it so that’s why this post is here. As always, you should seek advice from your GP before you make any drastic changes to your lifestyle.

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  1. Change the way you eat

Most ‘diets’ tell you to eat low fat, low calorie food. The supermarkets are full of foods claiming to help you lose weight and lose weight fast. The biggest thing I have learnt over the past few weeks is that this is not a quick fix. There are loads out there claiming to help you lose weight in a matter of weeks ready for that summer holiday. Your health is a lifelong thing, not something you do for a few weeks then go back to how you ate before. I now eat as clean as possible. That means higher protein to keep me satisfied and higher fat. If you look at the ingredient labels for low fat foods you would be amazed by some of the stuff they add to make it taste anywhere near as good as the full fat version. This, in itself, is worse for you than the fat they have taken out! Fat isn’t the enemy… I now eat butter, cheese, good quality oils. All stuff I have been told is bad for me in the past. Below is what I eat on a normal day when I am not training:

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Breakfast
Protein pancakes with raspberries and Total Greek yoghurt

Lunch
Tuna and feta cheese with salad topped with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Afternoon Snack
Carrot and pepper cut into batons with some natural peanut butter

Tea
Good quality burgers topped with goats cheese on a bed of spring greens

You’ll notice that this is very low carb but I include potatoes into my evening meal on days I train. I also allow myself one night a week where I eat what I want. It helps me keep balance and stop craving foods I don’t eat every day. I know that I can eat that chocolate bar if I want, I’ll just wait until my ‘cheat’ night. It also means I can still write restaurant reviews but will make more of an effort to eat the healthier, cleaner options on a menu.

You can find some great recipes for clean eating here:
Fitter Food
Primal Will
Nic’s Nutrition
Paleo Porn
Hungry Healthy Happy

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         2. Change the way you train

Every time I go to the gym there are rows and rows of people pounding the treadmills who are still there when I am done and leaving. Cardio burns calories, that’s true, but what about exercising in a way that continues to burn calories even when you aren’t working out? That’s where lifting comes in. Lean muscle works harder than fat meaning you are not only leaner but happier. That might sound farfetched but I love the feeling being able to lift heavier and for more reps has on my confidence. So much so that I have ditched my failsafe old leggings and baggy t shirts for new gym gear! When embarking on a new lifting programme I think it is really important to take some advice from the professionals. I am a member of Team Lean at Cheshire Personal Training where I go twice a week with a group of 5 other people. We work together to encourage and motivate each other with workouts set to push us to our personal limits. I’m never going to be able to lift as much as some of the other members in the group but you know what? That’s ok. I’m working to MY ultimate limit and that’s encouraged at Cheshire Personal Training. I’ve noticed a huge difference in just 1 month. I can lift heavier and for more reps. I can keep up better too. We regularly do tabata style sessions and I used to have to miss rounds to get my breath… not anymore. I can keep up and my stamina is building by the week. John is helping me be the best I can be, for me. Not for anyone else or to show a loss in lbs on the scales. Which brings me to my last point…

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         3. Measure don’t weigh

I’ve been a slave to the scales for most of my adult life. Slimming clubs focus on weight loss as a sign of success. I do weight myself still, I can’t really help it but at the same time I am measuring myself. Let me tell you, I’ve lost centimetres from every part of my body. The most interesting thing is learning where my body is getting leaner first. I’ve lost the most from around my waist and hips but my legs are taking longer to catch up. I’m a typical pear shape so this isn’t a surprise to me. I know my legs will catch up sooner or later!

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So there it is. I’ve got a long way to go but in just a month I can tell the difference. I’m leaner (huge thanks to the lovely people who have told me this over the last few weeks!) fitter and I’ve had no IBS symptoms whatsoever. Who’d have thought it? All this has come from my time with Cheshire Personal Trainer and I’d recommend them, not just for your personal training sessions, but for constant support, nutrition advice and feedback. You can follow Cheshire Personal Trainer on Facebook or Twitter.

Ultimately you need to do what is right for you and this, this is right and working for me. I’ll be keeping you up to date with my latest recipes, finds and tips as I continue on my journey to a healthier life. Please let me know if you are following a healthier lifestyle and what you are doing, I’d love to know!

I pay in full to be a member of team lean with Cheshire Personal Trainer This is an honest and unbiased post of my experiences. I’ve used some images taken from John Preston at Cheshire Personal Trainer.

 

Caribbean Calling With Chairman’s Reserve Rum At Montpellier’s

I happen to think I am a bit of an expert when it comes to the world of rum. It is my tipple of choice and I love the huge differences between the different ages and colours of the spirit. When Dave told me of his evening celebrating Chairman’s Reserve with Montpellier’s I knew there was nowhere else I would be that evening.

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We were greeted with a taste of the white label rum which, despite its clear colour, is still aged for 3 to 4 years. The colour it picks up from the ageing process is gently filtered out to leave a perfectly clear rum perfect to be mixed. There is a heavy vanilla scent on the nose with white chocolate on the palate.

 

Following this we were given a tour of the different rums available from Chairman’s Reserve, and there’s a lot! Finest is unique as it uses old Jack Daniels and Buffalo Trace barrels whilst ageing. These give it fudge and honey on the nose with a burnt wood taste on the palate. My favourite is the Finest Spiced variety which is infused with bois bande (a wood used in rum shacks and known locally to the Caribbean as an aphrodisiac), cinnamon, clove and nutmeg among other spices. The result is a sweeter and smoother spirit with raisin notes on the nose and a caramel taste on the palate.

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Montpellier’s had been set a challenge to create some dishes and cocktails using the rum that would pair together well. First up was a goats cheese salad with an El Presidente made using walnut liqueur, red vermouth and Chairman’s Finest. The slight bitterness of the walnut worked really well to cut through the creaminess of the goat’s cheese. A wonderful start!

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Our main course was a chicken mughlai – a spiced chicken stew originating from Mauritius with a spicy cocktail! Ginger infused rum with balsamic, Chairman’s Finest white, lime, sugar, chilli and pickled ginger. For me the mughlai needed a touch more seasoning and some of my rice was still uncooked. The cocktail had clearly been sat on the bar a while as it tasted like pickled onions before a good stir! Afterwards it brought out the creamy flavours of the stew although not a favourite of the evening for me.

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Dessert was much more promising with poached pears, rum and vanilla ice cream. These were flambéed before our eyes and served with a spiced rum daiquiri. The orange and raisin in the drink gave the vanilla ice cream a lovely kick, a lovely end to the meal.

 

Before we left we got to try the Forgotten Casks rum. The rumour is that in 2007 a huge fire hit St Lucia where Chairman’s Reserve is made. The cellar team buried a number of casks to stop them being destroyed and forgot where they were until 2011, when they were found. The result is a new limited edition rum aged for 10 years with toffee notes on the nose and a whiskey flavour on the palate.

 

A lovely end to the evening and a tour of the Chairman’s Reserve range. Huge thanks to Dave and Montpellier’s for the detailed introduction to this award winning rum range, it is clear why it is the 5th year in a row they have won the coveted prize of Best Rum in the World at the ISC!

I attended this event as a guest and wasn’t asked to pay. This is an honest and unbiased review of the event.

 

Recipe: Protein Pancakes

Eating clean can be pretty boring. I got a bit sick of raspberries and greek yogurt for breakfast especially when anything else would mean I’d have to get up ridiculously early to eat before work. I am not a morning person and anything I can prep the night before a work day is a big positive for me. The lovely Sal published a recipe for protein pancakes on her blog and I thought I’d try my hand at some. I tinkered about with the ingredients and different variations before coming up with these…

Ingredients – Makes 2 servings

1 large egg
2 large egg whites
28g scoop of vanilla protein (I use MyProtein Elle True Diet)
1 small banana
1 teaspoon olive oil

Method

Pop all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Meanwhile heat a none stick frying pan with a little olive oil. Using a dessert spoon pour 2 spoonfuls of the batter into the centre of the pan and cook until little bubbles form on the surface.

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Use a slotted spoon to turn and cook for a few minutes on the other side until golden brown.

I get around 8 small pancakes out of this batter mix and find it works best when the banana isn’t too ripe. I find when they have just changed colour to yellow from green they are the perfect consistency for this recipe.

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I love them warm with either bacon or sausages on a Sunday morning or cold with Total Greek yogurt and raspberries. What’s more, they keep until the next day so I can grab and go before work. Perfect!

Do you make protein pancakes? What do you enjoy them with?

New Menu At Nando’s With Get Your Eat On At The Arndale Centre, Manchester

Last week Nando’s gathered a group of bloggers and journalists to celebrate the return of Get Your Eat On; a celebration of food and drink at the Arndale Centre in the form of a collection of different discount vouchers for the various outlets, large and small. Nando’s have also just launched a new summer menu so it was the perfect opportunity to show what was new.

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We were greeted by the manager of the Arndale Centre branch and given a tour of the Nando’s history. Did you know the cockerel mascot is a symbol of faith, justice and good fortune from Portugal? And Nando’s may be a global chain, yes they have restaurants worldwide including branches in Australia, Malaysia and Singapore, but each restaurant is unique and not a carbon copy of all the others? The idea came about when 2 friends discovered peri peri spiced chicken at a small restaurant in South Africa and decided to bring the idea to the masses. They now have a huge following with many celebrity fans such as David Beckham and Ed Sheeran who are now exclusive Nando’s Black Card owners.

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Not privileged enough to be worthy of such an honour we were treated to some new menu treats.

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First up was the new chicken thighs – boneless thigh meat smothered in Nando’s medium sauce. They were much more tender than the regular breast meat I usually go for with a crispy skin to add to the flavour.

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The sweet potato wedges were a bit too big for my liking. The smaller ones were crispier so had much more flavour than the larger pieces on our plate. I liked the lemony sauce a lot though, giving a sharp contrast to the sweet potato’s flesh. My favourite thing on the new menu was this pretty salad complete with avocado and toasted seeds. The zesty dressing cut through the fattiness of the avocado making it a hearty main meal when ordered with the chicken. It is also perfect for people following a clean eating diet like me!

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Onto Nando’s wing roulette where your daredevilness is put to the test. Will you get a medium wing? Or will your mouth be on fire having chosen the extra hot variety? I wasn’t brave enough to try but others on the table had a great time with this plate of wings! We finished the meal with some new Rubro drinks that are available in either lemon, peach or berry flavours.The rooibos tea drink is still which I found strange being used to fizzy drinks coming out of a can but they were refreshing and a good way of cooling down your mouth after losing to wing roulette!

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A special guest bid us farewell with goodie bags filled with Nando’s sauces to try at home. I’ll have to try the wing roulette with some friends as I have a bottle of the extra extra hot variety now in my possession!

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You can take advantage of the Arndale Centre’s food discounts by clicking on the picture above. Available until the 31st August there’s some great ones to try including free edamame at Yo Sushi and 15% off at A Coffee Break. Let’s face it, with this wet weather you may as well take shelter with a good deal.

This event was provided complimentary by Nando’s Arndale Centre. This is an honest and unbiased review.

Beauty: Boots No7 Protect And Perfect Advanced Serum

Anti ageing skincare addicts all over the world will remember the time when you couldn’t get a bottle of Boots No7 Protect and Perfect Serum for love nor money. When it was first launched 7 years ago, promising to be just as good as products 4-5 times the price – I’m looking at you Crème De Mer, people queued for hours to get hold of one. I know, my Mum was a fan and used it until discovering Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair a few years later. Fast forward to 2014 and Boots No7 have upped their game with a range of serums aimed at different age groups.

So what’s new? Well the serum still contains Matrixyl 3000 (a blend of peptides which is absorbed into the skin and helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles) but the Advanced Serum also contains salicylic acid to help fight those blemishes many of us are still burdened with in our late twenties/early thirties. The Matrixyl 3000 has been boosted with 30 times more peptides than the original serum too. Sounds scientific doesn’t it! But does it work?

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I was sent the Advanced Serum to test which is aimed at the first signs of ageing and people aged around 25-35 years old. As a 32 year old woman this was perfect for me and I have noticed fine lines around my eyes and forehead over the past few years.

Gone is the glass bottle to be replaced with a plastic tube with a thin nozzle allowing you to control exactly how much you dispense at any one time. This is a real benefit for me. As a user of Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair with its pipette style nozzle I am forever putting far too much on my face. The plastic tube doesn’t look as pretty sat on your dresser but, for £24.95, does that really matter?

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The serum is a milky white colour but soaks into the skin effortlessly to form more of a gel like consistency than a cream. It’s so light I was able to apply my make up within minutes of it sinking in and my foundation goes on really smoothly afterwards. This is an obvious winner as it eliminates the need for my (very expensive) primer. The product also has a lovely fresh scent; perfect for any gents who fancy trying an anti ageing serum without smelling all floral and perfumed.

Boots No7 have tested this product on 189 Boots customers with 80% saying this serum provides the best anti ageing results they have seen. I’m not sure how accurate this result is considering we don’t know what other products these people have tried but Boots promise you will see more radiant looking skin in 2 weeks with a reduction in fine lines in 4 weeks.

For me? I had more radiant looking skin within a week. It was smoother, glowing and felt really soft after using this product. When it comes to fine lines I don’t think there has been any improvement on my skin as yet. I’ve been using this product for 5 weeks and I can’t say my lines have been reduced in any way. I’ll keep using it though and will buy it again because, at £24.95 a tube, it’s worth it for a clear complexion and no requirement for a primer!

Have you tried this serum and had good results?

This item was sent for review purposes. This is an honest and unbiased review.

Beauty: Save The Blow Dry – The Queen Of Shower Caps

Being a curly haired girl the shower can be my worst nightmare. Any curly haired girl knows that less is more when it comes to washing it but my new stepped up gym routine means I need to shower more than I need to wash my hair. My hair frizzes at the mere sign of moisture never mind getting wet so I have been in a bit of a predicament… then I was asked to try the new Save The Blow Dry shower cap. Could my prayers have been answered?

Save The Blow Dry is a new shower cap with a double layer promising to keep out humidity and condensation that can flatten your hair leaving it dry and bouncy. The cap has a phalate free plastic covering and a micro weave towel lining which is super absorbent. This cap actually has two uses as you can turn it inside out (with the plastic now the lining) to use when treating your hair to an intensive hair treatment mask. I’d usually wrap my hair in a towel but this is much less messy and means I can stay in the shower whilst the mask works it’s magic.

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My Save The Blow Dry is turquoise with a hair accessory design all over making it pretty to look at. Unfortunately I don’t look pretty in it but then no one else sees me in the shower so it isn’t a major issue!

The plastic is thick and great quality, no ripping is going to happen here. The cap is comfy to wear with a stretchy band so should adjust to any size head. I have quite thin hair so had to pin it up before putting the cap on. This wasn’t great for me as it was an extra step I needed to do before putting it on but it does show that people with thicker hair will also be able to use this product.

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The soft micro weave towel on the inside really does work! I used this after I had straightened my hair as a test. The slightest hint of moisture and my hair would have kinked all over the place but not with this! It allowed me to have a shower after a gym session without having to spend hours drying my hair afterwards. Perfect for those early morning gym visits before work.

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The branding is cute with a clothes style label on the side. You can also get the cap in pink which is covered in pretty bows. It retails at £14.95 which I do think is a little steep for a shower cap. Having seen the benefits I would buy one but then I don’t think I would have bought one had I not tried it first, if that makes sense! I would definitely recommend one if you have frizz prone hair though and need to shower more than you need to wash it. Let me know what you think!

This product was sent for review purposes. This is an honest and unbiased review.

Guest Post: Moretti Gran Tour With Birra Moretti

You can guarantee I have to go away with work for the night and something unmissable pops up in Manchester the same night. This time it was the Moretti Gran Tour hitting Old Granada Studios and Charlie agreed, somewhat selflessly, to go in my place:

Italian food done well is a beautiful thing.

I can still remember my astonishment after walking into an all-you-can eat venue in Bologna. It was late, we were tired, most places were closed, this was cheap, open and the owners knew more English than we knew Italian.

The food was divine. Beautifully simple dishes including a lasagne using only a bechemel sauce and green beans, pizza topped solely with Parmesan.

I have to admit I’ve rarely found anything that’s come close in the UK.

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One of the closest was the Gran Tour pop up at Old Granada Studios sponsored by Italian beer company Birra Moretti. To put it plainly, I was in heaven.

The event was held over a weekend – Friday to Sunday – and offered, for the mere price of £10, beer, food (x 2), coffee and gelato. An absolute bargain and mimicking a lot of our other street food style pop-up events, the industrial setting was perfect.

The welcome through the gate was smelt before it was seen – wood fired pizza from Pizza Pilgrims on one side, the delights of Forza Win and their porchetta roasting on the other. Your eyes widened in delight, your mouth watered, your tummy growled in anticipation.

Sadly, we arrived too early and these delights weren’t ready yet, we were far too eager. So we decided to do things a little bit backwards and, after grabbing a tall draught beer, we headed to Gelupo Gelato, their flavours representing the whole of Italy. From the rich dark chocolate of the Bonet, to the light sharp citrus of the Sicillian Lemon and Thyme, we were worried we’d started with the best and it was all we could do not to lick the little pots of creamy heaven clean (there were children around, I didn’t want to teach them bad manners).

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It was then I spotted the Arancini Bros. I have a bit of a problem with arancini. I hate to call it an addiction, but the crisp breadcrumbs surrounding tomato risotto, surrounding mozzarella and the oozing Tallegio, surrounded by mushroom risotto were so good, I pondered bigamy. Apparently I wasn’t the only one, there was an Italian lady there who felt exactly the same way – though she restrained herself a little and only gave him a kiss on the cheek.

We had barely scratched the surface.

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Two different types of gnocchi were available from Pasta e Basta – beetroot with a soft salty cheese sauce, and potato with a wild boar ragu. The gnocchi were soft full of flavour and very filling and it was around this point we were grateful for elasticated waists and flowing skirts.

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The deep fried meatball calzone from the Cheeky Italian was a sight to behold, soft rich meat balls, crispy pastry. I did feel it was a shame they’d popped him at the back of the venue in a tiny little corner, but the personality of Teejay more than made up for it. I do think that he, the Arancini Bros and the fabulously charming and elegantly mustachioed chap from Gurmetti would have been an  team in the middle of the venue. Three true characters who charmed our socks off.

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Grabbing a second beer – I had to try La Rossa, the sweeter and more boozy sister of Birra Moretti – we discussed our last nibble. Though we wanted pizza, we wanted porchetta, we even wanted the gorgeous looking ravioli from the Cooking Cooks, there was only one winner and that was Giacomo, his moustache and their torta fritta.

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Pillows of dough fried until they are both soft and crisp at the same time, topped with guanciale – also known as ‘face bacon’ – wonderfully thinly sliced cured bacon, with a good distribution of fat and meat. I don’t love it because it’s pronounced -gwancharlie. Honest. It’s just a bonus.

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This foray into some of the best that Italy can offer in the UK was one of the best events I’ve been to in a while. Great food, great beer, talks from the stall holders, demonstrations and all for £10?

Can we do it again?

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Massive thanks to Charlie for going in my place, I hope it comes back to Manchester soon so I get to go!

The food and drink was provided for free due to Charlie being a guest of Birra Moretti. This is an honest and unbiased review of the food, drink and experience.

What's Happened? What's Happening?

Champagne Tasting At Reserve Wines, West Didsbury

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If you have read my blog before you may have seen I go to a fair few alcohol tastings in and around Manchester. Usually based around a spirit I find them a great way to try lots of smaller samples of a brand whilst hearing all about it from an expert. So imagine my delight when I realised Reserve Wines in West Didsbury were holding a tasting dedicated to my favourite tipple ever, champagne! I know bits and bobs about champagne but was excited to learn more so signed up.

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The evening was hosted by Simon Hore from Thorman Hunt and kicked off with some history about champagne. Did you know it can only be called champagne if the grapes come from the Champagne region of France? Cava and Prosecco are made in a very similar style but have to be called something different due to not being grown in the region. Also did you know that England may have been the first place to actually create sparkling wine? Charles Merret documented how adding sugar to wine would cause it to fizz way before champagne was first made, or so they say. I love a bit of theory!

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Our first champagne of the night was Gremillet made from 70% pinot noir and 30% chardonnay grapes grown in the Aube region of Champagne. They have 35 hectares (Moet et Chandon have 1000 hectares to give you an idea of how small this actually is!) of vineyards so this is a small production but boy, is it good. A real easy drinker with a smooth finish and a light taste of biscuit on the palate. This retails at a ridiculously reasonable £23.99 and I came home with a bottle, it was too good not to.

Next was the Veuve Fourny Premier Cru where there are even less hectares of vineyards, just 17! This champagne is 100% chardonnay grape which is called blanc de blanc in the champagne world. Aged for 2.5 years it has peaches on the nose and is a lot fizzier than the Gremillet. On the palate it is sweeter and creamier. Retailing at £29.99 it is still excellent value although not my favourite.

We sampled two other champagnes from the Veuve Fourny range including the Brut Nature Non Dose and the Premier Cru Rose. Both have less bubbles with the rose being a particular favourite of mine for the light strawberry notes and light taste. It is very dry but still wonderfully easy to drink and retails at £33.99. The Brut Nature Non Dose is also less fizzy than the Premier Cru with a lovely crisp green apple taste in the mouth. My friends said it was the sort of champagne they could envisage drinking in a park with a picnic in the height of summer and they are totally right. At £29.99 it wouldn’t break the bank either!

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Stopping for a quick bite we were treated to a mini portion of fish and chips from Fish Bait next door. They were delicious and who’d have thought fish and chips would go so well with champagne? The fat cuts through the creamier notes of the fizz letting the fruity notes come flying through. Lovely.

Anyway back to the fizz itself and we moved onto the Paul Dethune Ambonnay Grand Cru. This was a favourite for many on the night and it isn’t hard to see why. Aged for 2.5 years it is light with very fine bubbles and a hit of sherbet on the nose. So much so I had a bit of a sneezing fit having inhaled too much! The 80% pinot noir and 20% chardonnay grape combination made this similar to the first champagne in a way but with more citrus on the palate. This one costs £33.99.

Moving onto Lallier which hails from the Ay region. It is believed Ay was discovered by the Gallo-Romans back in 344 and it’s wines are mentioned in Pliny the Elder. Can’t beat a bit of history with your fizz! This champagne was the driest so far with softer bubbles making it less harsh on the palate than it could have been. Retailing at £28.49 it is also a good price.

Last and not least for most was the Billecart-Salmon Vintage 2004. Aged for 10 years this was very savoury on the nose with a fresh taste of melon on the palate. It was a little too dry for me but it was certainly a favourite on the night amongst the guests. Retailing at £62.50 this is one for a special occasion.

A fabulous evening was had by all and at £20 for the tasting I am not surprised. we got to try 7 champagnes, eat fish and chips as well as learn lots of interesting facts about the world of champagne. Thanks to Reserve Wines for hosting the event. They hold regular tastings so give them a follow on Twitter and I’ll probably see you there sometime, I can’t wait for the next one although my one piece of advice would be to take a cushion, sitting on wine crates can be somewhat uncomfortable if you have a bony bottom…

This event was paid for in full.

Beauty: Glossybox July 2014 Review

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I’ve not done a Glossybox review for a while. I used to compare Glossybox with Birchbox but I ended up accumulating so many samples I didn’t know what to do with them all. I’ve since unsubscribed from Birchbox and was going to leave Glossybox due to some really poor samples over the past few months. I’m really behind with my Glossydots (surveys you complete to review the products) so decided to get them up to date so I would qualify for my free box. Imagine my delight when I was halfway through America week on the blog and an American themed box dropped through my door? It was like fate! Let’s see what was in my box this month….

Color Club nail polish in Glossy Seal – £8

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I love Color Club nail polishes. They have a thick consistency not dissimilar to my all time favourite nail polish brand Jessica and just as wide a range of colours. They are none toxic and use cruelty free ingredients which is a nice touch and hail from New York City, my favourite place in the world. This colour is a light navy and perfect for the blue part of the United States flag, I feel a bit of nail art coming on! It genuinely only needs one coat and lasted 3-4 days without chipping. It’s a winner for me and something I will be picking up on my trip.

Bellapierre Cosmetics Mineral Lipstick – £20

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As you will know by now I am not a fan of bright lipsticks so I was a little disappointed to see the colour I got in my Glossybox was Mandarina. It is described on the Bellapierre website as a light natural pink but I found it to be a bright orangey red colour, perhaps it is a different shade in the States? It is highly pigmented and wonderfully soft in texture with a healthy dose of vitamin C and E to keep the lips hydrated. I gifted this to a friend who loves it so I think I just need to find the right shade for me. The swatch above is one swipe of the bullet.

Absolute New York Eyeshadow Primer – £4.99

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I love a good primer and am a real convert to foundation primers especially in the summer months. I find they keep my face in place much longer than it would without, my current favourite being Benefit Porefessional. I was excited to see an eyeshadow primer as I do tend to get a fair bit of creasing on my lids. The product is quite thick and needs smoothing on with a fingertip after applying. I have to say this was one of the most disappointing things I have ever used. My eyeshadow creased QUICKER than it would have done without the primer! Absolute fail, I’m so glad I didn’t buy this product and certainly won’t be buying it in the future.

Carmex Lip Balm – £2.60

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Carmex is readily available in our beauty stores and a cult classic in the UK as well as the USA so I thought this was a bit of a cop out on Glossybox’s part. That said I had run out of my last tub so it was a welcome addition to my makeup bag. I love how Carmex is clear and very moisturising with a ‘tingly’ sensation making my lips plumper and redder than normal. A real plus and a bargain at £2.60

NYC Cosmetics Beautifying Blushable Crème Stick – £2.99

I discovered NYC Cosmetics on a haul spree in Duane Reade NYC and haven’t bought anything from the brand since so I was pleased to see a crème blush in this month’s Glossybox. I received the shade Never Sleeping Pink which is a bright light pink similar to MUA’s cream blush in Bittersweet. It is highly pigmented like Bittersweet and the swatches above are just one swipe of the stick. I like a stick applicator to mean less mess but this does need a fair bit of blending due to the pigmentation but it will last an absolute age! The colour lasts all day and has a lovely dewy finish, not like the ‘cream to powder’ it claims to be. I prefer this effect though.

That’s it! I was a little disappointed to see others received a Mary Kay mascara in their box instead of my NYC blush and I was also hoping to learn about new brands I could look up when I go on my trip. I’ll just have to keep looking! Do you recommend any products I need to pick up whilst there?

This product was paid for in full.

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