Monday, 27 March 2017

The County Hotel: Mother's Day Afternoon Tea with a Twist!

What can be more quintessentially British than Afternoon tea?! I'll tell you what! Downton Abbey inspired Afternoon Tea, that's what! It has became tradition to do Afternoon Tea for Mother's Day so when I seen The County Hotel advertising their Downton Abbey twist, I had to see if it really was an amazing as it sounded.
On entering the hotel we were directed to the 1st floor in the suite. We entered the room and were instantly transported to a distant time gone by. All female staff were dress in traditional maids outfits, tables were dressed with antique candelabras, draped in pearls whilst the butler tended to people. Once out booking had been confirmed we were shown to a table and my Mam was handed a lovely potted flowering plant, which was a gift from The County Hotel to all Mother's attending. I didn't see any mention of this little touch through social media etc so this was really unexpected and heart warming!

Once we were seated we had a chance to take in the atmosphere. There was a projector at the front of the room with a showreel of old clips of Newcastle through the years. Fenwick in the early days, trams and even street parades whilst the Downton theme tuned tinkled in the background. Not long after we were greeted with a lovely pot of tea for us to share (the Hendricks tea sets were gorgeous and totally necessary!)  

After sipping tea for a short while, the lovely butler informed us that food would be arriving very soon and right on queue, it did. The typical cake stand filled with treats graced our table. We started with sandwiches, of course daaahlings. Curried egg (very apt), salmon and cucumber - my personal fave, and ham with mustard seeds. 

Then moving on to the scones, topped with jam & clotted cream then mini Victoria sponges. Totally crucial key players in every afternoon tea. But we all know the top layer is what everyone lives for... That's where the culinary gems are. We started we the praline whipped chocolate mouse topped with cinder toffee, very rich but just enough.


Next up was the lemon drizzle cheesecake. Perfectly formed lemon topped cheesecake laid on a crunch base sprinkled with chocolate shavings. Both me and my mam loved this! Tangy and smooth and we wished there was more.

Then 2 macaroons, perfectly melt in the mouth texture, and also fruits of the forest mini tarts topped with blueberries, strawberry & kiwi chunks. 
Whilst we got lost in the food whirlwind we were well looked after and our pot of tea was topped up numerous times. Because afternoon tea aint' afternoon tea if the ta is cold. The staff were amazing in making sure we both had an amazing experience and I seriously enjoyed this... oh and my mam loved it too. I kept forgetting this wasn't for me but I loved every second. My mam loved the experience and couldn't stop talking about all the little details once we got home. And as a fan of Downton Abbey I found myself imagining what it would have been like to be served on like a Lady.  For anyone looking to dine at The County Hotel I would highly recommend this, and truly feel that the staff went all out to make us welcomed and well served!

Oh and for what we couldn't manage, we had boxed up for us to take home to enjoy later. Perfect. Go check out the newly refurbished County Hotel and check out their other services too!

Until next time...

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Mother's Day Skincare Discovery

So, hand's up who loves a pamper session?! All of you, right?! So when I received this Kathleen Caviar Enriched Eye Cream retailing at £78.00 I was excited to open the parcel. I think that price tag warrants the "luxury" genre on any beauty shelf... for someone looking to spend a little extra on luxe skincare Kathleen have it nailed.

With it being Mother's Day I wanted to share a little skincare discovery for my wise and beautiful Mam. Very recently she was diagnosed with a skin condition know as Rosaea. I had heard of the condition but symptoms look slightly different depending on the person so I didn't recognise the first signs. We thought it was originally an allergic reaction to hair dye. However, once diagnosed it made perfect sense! We can no longer share the same skincare products... cleanser, face masks, moisturisers etc. Meaning we've had to find products which doesn't aggravate the condition causing dry skin, itchiness, redness & blotched blemishes mainly to the skin area.

Buried in the box, I opened up the package to seen what it held. I uncovered a silver holographic box and opened it to find the magic pot of eye cream. Small but mighty.

When I received the Eye Cream from Kathleen Skincare, I was pleased to read that their products are natural & organic, free from alcohol (one of the main ingredients in many skincare products which irritate Rosacea), parabens, sulphates & synthetic colours among others. The luxurious Eye Cream is infused with an amazing 23 natural and marine ingredients including caviars. Caviar is bursting with amino acids and vitamins which help to promote luminous skin. Admittedly, I hadn't had a chance to try this latest trend in skin care yet so this was exciting to see up close.

The cream looks like any standard eye cream and is to be applied gently using your ring finger gently patting into the skin. This cream targets wrinkles and dark circles with its extensive list of ingredients from sandalwood to ginseng root to give a natural glow. Each ingredient seems to have its own purpose and on the mission for firmer and more glowing skin it's good to know that Kathleen are really addressing our skin needs with so many natural ingredients which are so easily replaced with chemicals in mainstream beauty. Another good thing about this Kathleen cream is that it can be used as a day and a night cream... meaning you don't have to buy separate creams for day time and night time.
We're so pleased to have found a skincare product she can use on a daily basis which will not affect her skin condition and also target fine lines and give a glow too. If anyone else has recommendations for rosacea compatible skincare products we'd love to hear about them. Please leave any suggestions in the comments section!
Until next time...
The Original Redhead

Saturday, 18 March 2017

A Taste Of Sunderland: Restaraunt Week Preview

So if you read my last post about Sunderland Restaurant Week you'll be familiar with what is to follow. If you missed it (you can read about it here), let me fill you in. Last year, Sunderland hosted their first ever Sunderland Restaurant Week which celebrated what the city has to offer in eateries. sprinkled with offers and deals giving people the opportunity to try lots of different dishes. So it's up again for year number to, and to show you all what they're offering I got to test out a few of the establishments involved. Just like last time, we started off at Café Purple - which is a 2 minute walk from the metro station for people travelling by public transport. We started off with an array of cocktails, if you're looking for insta shots, this is your place!

After the delicious cocktails, we were presented with an antipasti sharing board. This had a selection of cheeses, meats, fruit, dipping sauces, carrots & nuts. I didn't know where to start but their last cheese board was amazing so I dove in! I would recommend this if you're looking just to snack with the girls over a few drinks or if you're looking for a lovely sharing starter before a main dish. The blue cheese is so moreish and paired with the fruit and dips this has something for everyone...

Moving on from Café Purple, we then headed to Royale Thai. A restaurant which we did not visit last time round so this was a new experience. We were brought wine to the table - I love a glass of red when eating. We waited for the food to arrive which were sharing platters with a little of everything including spring rolls, chick satays, fish & golden dumplings.

My personal favourites were the spring rolls and the chicken satays!

After scoffing starters we gallivanted to next on the agenda. City Bistro which is ran by Sunderland College's culinary students. On entering, the scene is set with low lighting, tables set beautifully with wine glasses and cutlery and ambient music playing in the background. For me, this was a lovely setting to dine in. It truly felt like a top restaurant and you wouldn't even think this is ran by student. We were presented with a menu and we got to pick from a selection. I went for the cod with cauliflower, fondant potato, herb crumb & parley cream whilst others opted for a chicken breast or vegetarian leek option.

The cod was cooked to absolute perfection, a little over seasoned on the skin side for my liking but I that's just preference. The fondant potato and parley cream were the perfect accompaniment for the cod. A dish I would recommend hands down and also would recommend taking a visit if you've never ventured there yourself.

If you're loving the look of this place, it makes for a lovely venue for special occasions as they do taster menus from 5, 7 or 10 courses. 5 courses is £30, 7 comes in at £38 and then a whopping 10 courses for just £45. Considering the quality of the food, paired with the setting and attention to detail I think the prices are superb for an alacarte style menu. I think this seriously is a hidden gem in Sunderland if you're looking for fine dining in a city setting, City Bistro is one to watch.

Moving on from City Bistro, we went to Port of Call. This was visited last time around but not for desserts. I ordered a black coffee after all of the food I needed a little caffeine kick! Then with pancake day on the horizon we ordered pancakes with a selection of toppings. I opted for the traditional lemon & sugar.

Whilst waiting for pancakes to arrive, a dessert board arrived - basically a sugar overload! This included cakes, missispi mud pie... I think?? And an oreo jar filled with Oreo goodness. I tried the chocolate cake which reminded me of the cake from fave childhood movie, Matilda. Chocolate cake. Needs no explination, good and chocolatey. I didn't dare try anything else but temptation crossed my mind! I awaited my pancakes but after a long day and then the clock ticking late in the evening with slow service I had to leave before they arrived. Which was a shame considering the dessert board but it had been quite some time...

 Until next time...