Sunday leftover Roast chicken and Chestnut mushroom Risotto.

Some think that Risottos are scary and problematic.  For me, I’ve always been able to knock out a good one.  Maybe it’s my knack, I feel I can inject passion into risottos and pastas, so potentially my calling.  On Monday, I endured as many do a pretty arduous day at work.  Things are not particularly great work wise at the moment.  Think it’s Brexit waves that are causing unease in my particular case.  I arrived home however in a good mood, this is due to the fact that I have now taken up swimming every morning before work in the intention that I will be less stressed and moody.  This has been working well until I pulled up in front of my house.  I glanced up at my bedroom window, the light was on so knew the husband was home and probably watching TV.  I don’t have a problem with the husband watching his favourite shows.  I do have a rule though that whoever is first home should make a little effort on the aesthetics of the domestic dwelling.  I sadly wasn’t feeling the domestic vibe, as the way the curtains and blinds were arranged was a dead give away of what was to come.  I looked at Jenny’s house next door, spotless curtain arrangement as always, and walked slowly to my front door.  It didn’t get any better.  The washing up was still there from the previous evening, plus extra.  The dog had displayed his affection in the liquid form despite the french doors being open so he may come and go as he pleases to the garden.  I decided a little vino would be appropriate at this point, the husband popped his head into the kitchen and asked why I was drinking.  I noticed he had a funny hat and glasses on and wondered if I’d missed something or was this a vague attempt to cheer me up or was this now his new look.

I told him to leave me alone to get back control of the kitchen and my inner peace, tidied up whilst mumbling and cracked on with supper.

  • I grabbed a large pan, glugged a generous amount of olive oil into it, chopped a large onion finely, two garlic cloves and fried gently for 2 minutes.  I added 3 teacups of Arborio rice and coated it so it reached the translucent stage.  I then added in half a punnet of chestnut mushrooms, a glass of dry white wine and a pint of chicken stock.  The next 18 minutes of your life is crucial to your Risotto’s success.  I like a wet risotto with a bit of Al dentiness, so took to my stirring a nurturing. This is the stress reliever bit, and does wonders for me.  After 13 ish minutes I added my chopped leftover chicken ( around a breast and a half), stirred for a further 3 minutes, then finished with some chopped Tarragon, a good knob of butter, lashings of Parmesan and some black pepper.  I was ready to be nice, so called the hubby from wherever he had scurried off to….


Swansea weekend.

Swansea has never featured on my bucket list of places to explore. My daughter however had Swansea as her first choice for Uni so this weekend we paid our first extended visit.  Firstly on collecting a starving child we checked in to the Marriott.  Probably not my choice next time to stay there as quite tired, coupled with a large Wedding party who seemed to have monopolised the place.  Kudos to their stamina though, dancing from 5pm until Lordy knows when!  We dropped our belongings off and had a wander.  Location fabulous, as you leave the back of the hotel, stunning beaches to wander for ever on.  We were recommended two great eateries by Michelle on guest relations, the first,  we had dinner at Bouchon de Rossi which was just a ten minute stroll away from the Hotel.  I loved the ambience and the menu and chose Langoustine Thermidor and a Fillet au poivre. Both my dishes were cooked to perfection, tasty and hit the spot.  Service was a little intimidating and not as fluffy as I would have liked however Wine was lovely – a sublime example of a buttery and elegant Viognier.  I slept not too badly considering the Wedding guests were still knocking around at 4.30am, then I guess the empty booze bottles had to be emptied somewhere, sadly for us it happened way too early on a Sunday morning and directly under our bedroom.  Untederred, we had breakfast before wandering off to the Mumbles for a bracing walk.  Wow, what a spectacular place, absolutely stunning coastline and sandy beaches coupled with fish and chip air, rows of beach huts where families were taking in one of the last sunny days before Winter.  We opted for lunch at Langlands Brasserie.  What a tremendously busy and fabulous place.  Now sitting firmly as one of my favourite dining spots.  The Sunday Lunch menu was extremely well executed and priced, service was really excellent considering the volume of people to serve.  My Moules, Bouillabaisse washed down with a good ol Gavi were just the ticket.  I cannot wait to return to pick up the daughter for Christmas, just need to find a good local Boutique Guesthouse to frequent for the next four years sporadically.   The Langland Cove B&B looks promising……..

Lazy Monday one pot roast chicken.

I was away this weekend so didn’t manage my token hour of ironing or my weekly roasting of anything mildly interesting ( usually chicken).  Tonight I sniffed that my boys felt they had been hard done by, and myself still in the recovery position from several quaffable whites, 3 glasses of champers,  a smooth côtes du Rhône, and five baby guinesses ( sang to the tune of 12 days of Xmas) thought that dinner should not be an almighty affair.  Here’s what I did…. Bought a smallish chicken ( only 3 of us, feel free to upgrade) placed into a roasting dish with a quartered onion, 3 garlic cloves, 200 grams of New potatoes, and roasted with a glug of olive oil at 190 degrees centigrade.  After 40 mins, Chucked in 5 halved carrots, tossed about with some Tarragon.  Then 15 mins down the line, added 100 mls of dry white wine, 100 mls of water, a  chicken stock pot and 2 handfuls of garden peas.  A big mix and you have your favourite flavours with minimum effort.  I served with a Yorkshire pud and some cauliflower cheese.  Monday delight!!

The Perfect Family Break…

Three months ago, the family and I booked a two week break to Side in Turkey. Every time I was asked where I was going on my holibobs this year by a friend or colleague, I was met with glazed expressions, sarcastic and flippant comments such as “you’re brave”, “it’ll be quiet”, “don’t stray into Syria”……

Needless to say when the attempted Coup was broadcasted with many scary images on TV and Social media, nerves really kicked in.

Arguments, wobbles, calls to our Travel agent took place over five days. We were refused the option to change our plans to another destination. Coupled with winding down from work I was a stress mess.

The evening before we were due to travel, as a family we decided that we would go and make the most of it. That night I slept un fitfully, dreaming of the worst possible situations and woke in a cold sweat.

Once we had arrived in Antalya, I was all of a sudden examining vehicles – goodness know where I picked up my risk assessment abilities.

The one hour transfer to Side was of course without a hitch. Security in Turkey is at an all time high and the only sign of a second attempted Coup was my Coup de Champagne on arrival at our resort.

Travelling with three teenagers, I worried that I would not be able to satisfy their partying needs, as of course I didn’t want to let them out of my sight.

Needless to say, I had one of the most stress free, beautifully relaxing holidays ever, and our break could not have been more perfect.

Turkish hospitality is sublime, the coast line is amazing, the food is fresh, delicious, tasty and extremely varied not to mention extremely reasonably priced. The Turkish vino and Efes beer is easily quaffable.

Side is a beautifully stunning town with a harbour, steeped in history. It’s heartbreaking to see the tourism being affected so drastically in such a beautiful place on earth. 

In the end after extensive research, I allowed the three teens a few nights out in Side. There are two really good clubs where you can dine as well before they turn clubby. Security and police presence at night is tight and vehicles are stopped at a barrier at the top of the strip and banned from town. That naturally offered reassurance to me.

All in all, a perfect breakaway and cannot wait to go back……

Eleven Reasons to dine at Eleven Madison Park.

I am one lucky lady, my husband surprised me with an evening at what can only be described as the most amazing place I’ve ever been to.  I’m in New York for the weekend, and we’re ramming in as many gastronomic delights as possible without spontaneous combustion. Rather than write for days, which I could about this place, and bore you rigid, here’s Eleven reasons why one should dine here if you possibly can……

  • 1- White Gift box on table on arrival….. I loved the fact that thus eaterie is so minimalistic, the whole vibe leaves you wanting more.  On arrival, we had a little box containing what looked like little cookies.  They were little cookies – savoury cheddary ones, which got me off to a good start.
  • 2- Champagne Trolley…. We ordered two glasses of champers, husband hoping that two House ones would be brought to us.  He didn’t say it, but I knew it.  What a delight to have a little trolley wheeled to us with a selection from the House to a Krug half bottle.  I selected the House, as it was going to be a long night, and did not want a tiff at the first hurdle.  Good wifey points.
  • 3-The Menu itself, no faffing around with endless bits of paper, all thinking removed from the process.  You’re here on our territory you play by our rules.  I like that I’ve realised.  We asked the wonderful Sommelier to choose matching wines, husband of course gave him a sensible budget per glass and by Jove the chap nailed it and delivered. We were asked what ingredients we didn’t like, and they set to work. Amazing.
  • 4- Minimal explanation.  This is a very clever move.  Food does the talking, and when I mean talking, it was mind blowing. Never have I witnessed such flavours.  The other great thing though, staff are so well informed.  I picked up the crockery for inspection, a chap appeared to tell me the story about the owner being good mates long ago with the crockery creator, and now the crockery is sur la table.  Cute story.
  • 5-Kitchen tour- AMAZING kitchen, one does not feel like a spare part once taken in, instead positioned behind a little table whilst a lovely lady makes granita that one can savour whilst admiring the serene environment. Calm chefs laughing and collaboratively working.  A joy to watch.6-The food itself, was just to die for.  I adored everything from the beautiful snacks presented in Bento boxes, I embraced the take on Eggs Benedict, presented in a Caviar tin with Caviar neatly quenelled on top.  All courses were in fact perfectly executed.  Even the whetting of the appetite cup of Chicken broth, right before the Beef course…….Divine!

  • 7-That crockery again!  Simple, rustic and added to the “we’re not trying too hard feel.”
  • 8-The Staff!  Each and everyone of them a joyous experience to watch going about their business.  All perfectly groomed, enjoying their work life.  Genuinely you could feel and see it.9-People watching.  I love observing others.  What a mixed clientel! I was genuinely in awe of the lady opposite me, and how many of those Martinis she managed to quaff.  My type of girl.

  • 10-The little quiz!  We were presented with 4 bars of chocolate and had to guess and mark on a piece of paper, which animals milk was used in each bar by taste.  I got them all right…. Not that difficult, but was told I’m very clever.  Liked that a lot! ( no prize other than a bitter aftertaste from the sheep’s milk choccie).
  • 11-The menu in a tin to take home.  Just Incase one forgot what one had eaten, a very neatly presented menu folded into a cute tin. Great idea and perfect presentation.  Easily portable.
  • I hugely enjoyed my culinary experience.  Only one small critical point is that I cannot stand seeing staff all lined up when you enter a restaurant.  One has to walk past like eleven people all in a line.  Disperse and look busy!  Quite intimidating.

My Teen’s top sayings….

10-“Do we really need to come with you? Why don’t you spend quality time with Dad?” 

9-“Do you realise that your constant nagging really has the opposite effect on me.  I really cannot concentrate on revision and that’s basically down to you..”(Only said good morning.)

8-“Why do we not have anything exciting to eat/drink in this house?” (well because every time I come home with shopping, it’s like you’ve just finished a hunger strike)…..

7-“Have you not finished my laundry yet? I gave it to you ages ago”  ( I had to look for it myself, and Gawd only knows what infectious disease I picked up in the process.)

6 “When do WE get paid?” I mean really…..

5-“Ha ha lol, such and such suggested we go to Amsterdam/ Magaluf/ Ibiza for a break… Haha lol” (testing the water on a major scale)

4-“Whats for Dinner/breakfast/brunch/lunch”(added Brunch for sophistication.)

3-“Ha Ha lol, been invited out tonight, and need a lift, Ha Ha lol”(testing the water.)

2-“You look really pretty today, we should do a girlie day, you know, Lunch, new outfit, new highlights….” (Ha Ha looooooool)

1-“What’s your PIN number again?” (You can give it a shot love)….

Whispering Angel 2015- Chateâu D’esclans Provence.

  • I’ve gone abit quiet on the old blogging front.  Not quite sure why.  Maybe my day job has been too hectic and I’ve toned myself down a notch.  Who knows really.  This morning I thought, it’s been a good 18 days Suzanne since you shared something with your public.  It’s payday today, treat yourself old gal to a bottle of something special.  I dutifully listened and stopped off enroute to work.  I’m into Rosés massively at the moment, and headed straight to the aisle adorned with bottles of the pink stuff.  Having bleated on and on about the Jolie- Pitt vino recently, I thought something new in the same price bracket may be the order of the day.  I opted for a bottle of 2015 Whispering Angel (£16.99 Waitrose). Busy day had, fast forward  to 7pm ce soir.  I chucked the bottle in the freezer for 30 mins whilst I attended to laundry, children who should be revising, but in actual fact could major in FIFA 16 and Ex on the beach, stuck the tea on and turned my thoughts to my vino.  The weather is dismal so was more in the mood for a Cab Sauv to be honest but I stuck with the programme.   Oh my,  as Anastasia Steel would say, this wine is just sublime.  Strawberries, elderflower, Lychée, freshness, gorgeousness draped in more gorgeousness. This wine is just pure virginity and sheer class combined.  My goodness I fell in love in a split second.  Dear Chateâu D’esclans, I  am your ambassador- pick me, pick me…. I’m yours…