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! 

Floatworks | Floatation Tank Review

August 20, 2016

The last few months have gone by in a blur - I've started a new job, Russell finally opened his gym, the builders are back at our house again and I only have three days of annual leave left for the rest of the year.

It's rare that either of us get any 'me' time, let alone moments to fully relax and unwind, so when Floatworks asked me to review their floatation therapy I was rather excited to be able to block an hour out of my day to do nothing.

The only time I've ever heard of float tanks is from the Simpsons, and that was a rather psychedelic experience, so I was keen to see whether I could truly switch off all those nagging 'to-do list' thoughts.

Based in Vauxhall, the centre is located in St. George Wharf a minutes walk from the station. I was greeted by the friendly reception staff who explained they regularly float and have found it very calming.

I was shown to a room with a the egg shaped Isopod floatation tank and shower. Everything you need is supplied for you, from towels and SLS free organic toiletries to hair dryers and straighteners - you don't even need a swimming costume (as the room is private it's best to let it all hang out). Vaseline is provided to protect any cuts and surprisingly comfortable earplugs keep the water out whilst you float.

The floatation experience is created using a super-saturated Epsom-salt and water solution which is heated to skin temperature.

This creates water similar to the Dead Sea, with the high salt content allowing you to float effortlessly on the surface of the water - it honestly is a very odd feeling, but once you allow your muscles to relax it's like lying on an invisible lilo.

Once the lid is shut the environment in the tank is controlled so that the air is also skin temperature (once I was settled I honestly couldn't tell which parts of my body were in or out of the water).

The 45 min float initially starts with a blue light on and soft music playing; this then slowly decreases and allows you to relax in complete darkness until then end, when the music will begin playing again to gently wake you up should you full asleep.

To begin with I have to admit I wasn't very relaxed, the sensation was so new to me I wanted to test it out - after a lot of swirling about I managed to splash the very salty water in my eye (don't worry, they have a little water spray in the tank to wash it out with) and after learning my lesson I allowed myself to simply lay there.

The thing I found most interesting about my experience is that the tank was pitch black, so I found myself not knowing if my eyes were shut or not. I can't say I completely switched off, but for my first float I felt really relaxed after and the high magnesium content of the Epsom salts really helped my aching muscles relax. 

After a long shower I headed upstairs to the Hollywood room to blow dry my hair, then found a comfortable bean bag in their chill out room, sipped a peppermint tea and let the experience soak in. If you're planning a visit I'd recommend leaving yourself some calendar time to enjoy the experience so you don't have to rush off.

The Sticky Bundits | Sushi Burger

June 21, 2016

sushi burger

A few weeks ago I whizzed to London Bridge on my lunch break to enjoy a treat with Tabl. Hosted by The Urban Kitchen and Sticky Bundits, my mid-week lunch was filled with new and exciting tastes.

I arrived at the venue hot and flustered on a rather humid day, so was happy to be greeted with a cold birch water and refreshing salad of Asian-Pickled vegetable salad with smoked trout and Thai basil. 

urban kitchen salad

As I had to scoot off and get back to work the lovely guys behind Sticky Bundits whipped up their signature sushi burger for me 'to go'. The concept of a sushi burger (two 'buns' of griddled sushi rice filled with deliciousness) was completely new to me, but there was no doubt in my mind that the dish would be delicious - and it was.  

I chose the 'Okonomi-Yummy', which is a seasoned chicken thigh with a moreish sweet and smoky sauce, pickled ginger, red cabbage, kewpie mayonnaise and a sprinkle of seaweed. 

sushi burger
I hastily made my way back to the office whilst attempting to eat the burger without dropping a morsel. All I can say is WOW. The chicken was so juicy and the sweet and savoury flavours of the rice, sauces and cabbage gave such an interesting flavour combination - it was like nothing I've ever eaten before.

If you'd like to try a sushi burger yourself then pop down to Lower Marsh market on Thursdays or Fridays or catch them at Maltby Street Market on Saturdays. 

sushi burger