Vertigo Adventures High Ropes Review

October 22, 2016

A few weeks ago the family and I were invited to try out the new Vertigo Adventures in Welwyn Garden City, and what a thrill it was!
Offering both high- and low-ropes courses alongside zip-wire action, breath taking plunges and daring challenges the new course is set test even the bravest of thrill seekers. 
 Vertigo Adventures Welwyn Garden City
Vertigo Adventures Welwyn Garden CityVertigo Adventures Welwyn Garden City

We started on the Monkey Trail which is 10ft tall. This can be used by anyone aged five and above, so doesn't sound too tricky, but with nine elements to tackle, from Sky Islands to Twin Tube Tunnels, there’s a variety of challenges for little monkeys to conquer.
I have to admit this course was probably the trickiest of them all as it takes some time to get used to the height - 10ft doesn't sound like much, but when you're up there and the wind picks up it can be pretty nerve racking!

Vertigo Adventures Welwyn Garden City Vertigo Adventures Welwyn Garden City
 Vertigo Adventures Welwyn Garden City Vertigo Adventures Welwyn Garden City

We then headed to the Hawks View which stands over 40ft high giving you a bird’s-eye view of 126 acres of parkland the course is situated in.
The course includes a Trapeze Walk and even zip line - I have to say after the first two obstacles I lost my nerve and shuffled back to the main platform (I didn't realise the course so much upper body strength!), but the rest of my family continued and said it was a real adrenaline rush).
A video posted by Charlotte Clarke | London Blog (@charaimeeclarke) on

Next we got to Plummit from the Summit by taking  a leap of faith on the powerfan, which was ridiculously fun and turned my legs to jelly. We had to step off the platform just like a bungee jump, which really tested our nerve. This was (in my opinion) the best activity of the day, and looking back I wish I had done it again as the first time it flashed.
Next was Flying Fox, a 50m-long zip from the top of the tower, which was fun but slightly overshadowed by the thrill of the Plummit we had experienced just before. 
 Vertigo Adventures Welwyn Garden City
We ended the day with a very competitive Crazy Climb to see how far we could ascend to the tower before abseiling back down to earth.

Vertigo Adventures is open from 9am to 5pm peak season and during school holidays, and 10am to 3pmin winter. Packages will be available for either one element of the course, or mix-and-match to include all five. As it's only a 20 min train from Kings Cross and set in such a lovely setting, I'd thoroughly recommend the activity course as a fun family day out.

Seasonal Dinner Parties | Autumnal Mushroom Supper Club Review

October 01, 2016


Is there any food more autumnal than mushrooms?

Instantly transporting you to a woodland full of burnt leaves and crisp mornings, their rich savoury flavour is one you either love or hate.

Seasonal Dinner Parties
Seasonal Dinner Parties Seasonal Dinner Parties

Luckily mushrooms are one of my favourite foods, so when chef and food writer Liz O’Keefe invited me to her pop-up supper club at Café from Crisis London, Aldgate, I was super excited.

The seven-course mushroom tasting menu promised to highlight the joys of seasonal eating, so who else better than my fellow mushroom loving cousin Rachael to accompany me?

apple and blackcurrant

The evening started with a tango apple and blackcurrant aperitif. The apples are a new variety being trailed on Loddington Farm in Kent and were freshly picked that morning. Their sweetness paired well with the sharp blackcurrants and it was a refreshing sip filled with British hedgerow flavours.  

mushroom spaghetti mushroom spaghetti

We were seated on a table with a fellow food blogger and her husband-to-be. We spent the evening exchanging family stories, laughing and drinking a few bottles of wine in the relaxed atmosphere. The amuse bouche of mushroom spaghetti was sprinkled with garlic flowers and pine nuts, making it a tasty single bite with a difference.

mushroom platter
mushroom platter Seasonal Dinner Parties

Our first course sparked conversation throughout the venue as it was an interactive tasting platter of wild mushrooms from The Mushroom Man (real name Michael Hyams).
Featuring a variety including porcini, girolle, saffron milk cap and king oyster my cousin and I both tried one each, comparing opinions with each other and the rest of the table. The mushrooms were served with nutmeg, pink peppercorns, black truffle, confit egg yolk and bread, and it was really interesting to decide which accompaniment was best for each mushroom.
I don't think I've ever though about mushrooms this much, but it was a lot of fun! In hindsight I wish an illustrated guide to each mushroom was provided as we couldn't name our most/least favourites once the dish had been cleared - it would have been nice to have taken away some mushroom knowledge from the dish.

autumn stew

I thoroughly enjoyed the next course of Chanterelle stew, which was a mixture of blue moon pumpkin, smoked garlic and sour cream garnished with bright purple butterfly sorrel from Westlands Wow which gave the dish a fresh lemon uplift. 

Seasonal Dinner Parties  victoria blackberry

Next up was a venison and wild mushroom parcel stuffed with a variety of mushrooms and served alongside nettles, Victoria blackberries and horseradish shoots. The contrast of the gamey meat to sweet sharp berries and the delicate heat of the horseradish shoots was a wonderful and unique pairing.

Seasonal Dinner Parties  autumn apple pie

This was followed by big plate of warming apple custard pudding with a rich caramel sauce and edible flowers. I'm not sure if mushrooms were present in this dish (I'm going to assume not), but it was a welcome addition to the meal. The sauce was the star of the dish and it was a hearty portion that screamed 'autumn comfort food'.

goats cheese truffles

Luckily the last two courses were relatively light. A plate of 'truffles' were presented to us, but not as we knew them. Goats cheese was stuffed with porcini mushrooms and blackcurrants, offering a different take on a cheese course. This was followed by sweet fruit jellies using soft fruit from grower Anthony Snell of Windmill Hill Farm (who also provided the beautifully fresh blackberries and blackcurrants).
We enjoy some fabulous food and captivating company and I would thoroughly recommend the experience. The only criticism I have was that a good pinch on salt was needed on each savoury dish, but if you're a salt addict like me you can always solve that issue by bringing your Maldon Pinch Tin.
If you'd like to attend the supper club more information on the next Mushroom in Winter event on the 24th November is available here.

Busaba Ethai | Summer Menu Review

September 05, 2016

Busaba Ethai is one of my safe, go-to restaurants for a satisfying mid-week meal. The service is always friendly and fast, the interiors are sleek, the menu has something to offer even the pickiest of eaters and it's great value for money.
When the restaurant chain asked me to visit their Stratford Westfield branch to review their new Summer Specials menu a few weeks ago I jumped at the chance - I always order the same meal every time I visit so it was a great opportunity to venture outside of my comfort zone.
Busaba Ethai summer menu charlotte and russel dovey
We started our meal with a bottle of white wine and crispy prawn crackers with sweet chilli sauce. The atmosphere of the restaurant is lively yet relaxed, with floor to ceiling glass windows that allow lots of natural light to filter through. Sitting by the window, we enjoyed a spot of people watching before our food arrived.
Busaba Ethai summer menu
Duck and pineapple lettuce bites came up first with cucumber, mint, shallot and a sweet chili lime dressing. At £6.95 it makes a great sharing dish and was a light yet fragrant dish which set the tone for the rest of our meal and a A zingy side of Thai slaw (pictured back left, £4.95) added a much needed crunch with chow-chow, green beans, ginger and lime.

Busaba Ethai summer menu
Pictured on the right at the front is the grilled chicken and mango salad (£11.95) accompanied by baby gem leaves, cherry tomatoes, mint, sweet chili lime dressing and a wonton crisp, and at the back a Thai Summer beef salad (£12.95) featuring slow cooked beef, cherry tomatoes, dressed green vegetables and wonton crisp. Both delivered a mixture of textures and an array of flavours, and I particularly enjoyed the fruity lift of the mango and lime.
Busaba Ethai summer menu

The heaviest dish of the day, the Patpong chicken noodles (£11.95), includes flat rice noodles, shiitake mushrooms and green beans stir-fried in curry base with crunchy chow chow. On the menu it read beautifully, however when served it was WAY too hot for me to handle. Our waiter noticed me struggling and kindly bought me some coconut milk which helped sooth my burning mouth - although it wasn't the perfect dish for me, I know some of my fiery friends would enjoy it.

Busaba Ethai summer menu

The Bang-kick prawns (£7.50) were quickly gobbled up and we could have easily eaten another plate. However, the real 'star of the show' was the Fish curry with starfruit (pictured top, £13.95) - its light and zesty sauce was addictive! Served with sweet coconut rice, this dish delivered the typically aromatic flavours I associate with Thailand and has become my favourite dish on their whole menu.
If you're looking for a restaurant for a mid-week catch up, weekend lunch or relaxed dinner, Busaba Ethai should be top of your list.


Jim Beam Taste of Kentucky Menu | Joe's Southern Table and Bar

September 02, 2016

Jim Beam Taste of Kentucky

Southern cuisine has serious soul. From barbeque to sophisticated Creole classics, Southern cooking is famous for big, big flavour.
Joe's Southern Table has teamed up with Jim Beam this summer to bring you the biggest dose of Southern flavours and hospitality around. with their Taste of Kentucky menu.
Satisfy your cravings with a feel-good BBQ feast offering comforting flavour infusions. Each of the dishes are infused with one of the Jim Beam flavoured bourbons and paired with a delicious Jim Beam cocktail. It doesn't get much better than hearty portions of homestyle favourites, and we're glad we arrived with a huge appetite as Joe was servin' up pretty massive portions. 
Jim Beam Taste of Kentucky 
Jim Beam Taste of Kentucky Jim Beam Taste of Kentucky
Russell and I were joined by the lovely Yasmin (one of my favourite London blogger gals) and her partner Matt.
We started the meal with a portion of Southern Fried Wings in Tabasco and Jim Beam Honey Sauce. This was skilfully paired with a honey and Vanilla Bourbon Milk Punch made with Jim Beam Honey, vanilla syrup and milk, garnished with a honeycomb. This food/cocktail combo worked particularly well as the milk gave a cool and cleansing contrast to the sweet, hot and sticky chicken.   
Jim Beam Taste of Kentucky
Jim Beam Taste of Kentucky Jim Beam Taste of Kentucky 
Next up was a Pulled Pork Bun with Jim Beam Apple BBQ Sauce accompanied by Smoked Chicory Apple Sours, made with Jim Beam Apple, fresh lemon juice, sugar syrup, angostura bitters and chicory essence.
The apple based drink was a classic partner to the pork dish and the crunchy slaw gave a much needed crunch to the melt in the mouth meat. Wisely, us girls didn't finish our plates as we knew another burger was coming, however Russell finished it with ease, joking he could do with another...
Jim Beam Taste of Kentucky
Russell's dreams came true and we were all served a Joe's Burger with Jim Beam Red Stag-glazed bacon, cheese and pickles. Yes that's right... another burger and fries EACH. 
The burger was served with a Black Cherry Old Fashioned, made with Jim Beam Red Stag, Demerara sugar syrup, whisky bitters and orange zest. The cherry added a subtly sweetness that worked well with the glazed bacon whilst the zesty orange cut through the heavy burger.
Jim Beam Taste of Kentucky
As you can imagine we all rolled home after our meal with substantial food babies. 
 If you've got a big appetite and you're looking to satisfy your soul, this comforting menu from Jim Beam is the answer to all of your dreams.

How To Make Your Wine Taste Better | The Soiree Wine Aerator Review

August 24, 2016

Soiree Wine Aerator

It is no secret that food and beverages taste better when mixed with a hearty dose of oxygen, which is why experts loudly slurp everything from coffee to soup. 

By incorporate more oxygen into a dish or glass it allows mellow flavours to develop. Traditionally this is why people are told to decant wine or open a bottle of red half an hour before serving, but realistically I always forget to do this and end up with a bitter Merlot with my Friday night steak.

Soiree Wine Aerator

I was recently sent The Soiree, a wine aerator that fits onto any standard wine bottle, which is meant to do the job of a decanter simply by pouring wine through it. The little gadget has dimples in the glass increasing the surface area which is meant to infuse liquid with oxygen.

I have to admit I was sceptical about its claims, however it genuinely does aerate your wine! Russell and I noticed the subtleties and character of the wine emerge immediately upon entering our glass, and it does taste like an "open" wine just by pouring through it!

Soiree Wine Aerator  

We invited the family round for a taste test comparing the aerated and 'poured straight from the bottle' glasses of wine and most believed they weren't even the same bottle as they tasted so different. We now pick up cheaper wine and use The Soiree to transform it into something delicious. This little gadget has fast become a kitchen essential we couldn't be without; we even bought it on a recent holiday to the Lake District!