How much do you know about wine? I'm lucky enough to have been on quite a few wine tastings and talks, and have a brother who is the ultimate wine buff, but if you're not sure what makes one wine sweeter, or tastier, or fruitier than the next, then I know the best place for you to find out. According to Google, Vinopolis is "a London visitor attraction operated by Wineworld London that presents the subject of wine and oenology through exhibits and wine tastings". It is essentially a wine museum, where you can eat, drink and learn about wine. I visited for one of their Wine Tasting Experiences, and though I didn't learn anything new, I had a lovely time sampling some wines I otherwise wouldn't have come across.

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Cooking with pastry is a wonderful thing. It's so rewarding making your own and creating a dish with it, but sometimes time isn't on your side and you need a quick alternative. And often for this I turn to pre-made pastry to create something that looks impressive and tastes delicious, but can actually be thrown together in less than half an hour. I use pastry a lot, especially when cooking for friend's parties, so thought I'd share a few of my go to recipes here for you, starting off with a savoury favourite.


1/2 squash, diced into cm cubes
Olive oil
1 pack spinach
1 tub ricotta
1 pack Jus Rol puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
Handful sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 200C. Toss the squash in a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and cook in the oven until soft - as I chop the squash so small this only takes around 15-20 minutes to cook.

Put the spinach in a steamer, and steam over boiling water for a couple of minutes. Once done, put the spinach and ricotta in a bowl and mix together, adding the squash and mashing it in, until you're left with a thick spinach/ricotta/squash paste. Taste and season if necessary. Unroll the puff pastry and make a thick line of the paste lengthways along the pastry. Brush one edge of the pastry with beaten egg and roll the pastry up to create a tube around the paste. Seal the edge by pressing down with a fork, brush the pastry all over with beaten egg and sprinkle the sesame seeds on top. Cook at 200C for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.
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There's nothing more fun than eating at a pop up - every time is something different so you never quite know what to expect. I love them so much that I started doing my own one just over a year ago, and when I was invited to The Little Yellow Door in Notting Hill for an evening of drinks, bloggers and food by The Wandering Chef I couldn't resist.

I arrived at The Little Yellow Door - which is just that, on the wettest, windiest Wednesday for a while and was practically blown up the stairs when the door opened. Regaining my composure, my coat was taken and I was given a block of lego in return which would be exchanged for my first drink of the evening. The Little Yellow Door is a licensed premises, set out like someone's living room. There's an eclectic mix of furniture and art around the room, which has 2 long tables at one end, the bar at the other, and a huge projector halfway down the room playing The Big Lebowski. Menus are hidden inside magazines which cover the coffee tables at the bar end of the room. We were warmly welcomed in by the "flatmates" who made sure we had everything we needed including our first drink - The Libertine - an Earl Grey infused gin, lemon, gomme and egg white cocktail served in a china teacup that was a strong as it was sharp, and utterly delicious. This was swiftly followed with a house punch, an ever changing recipe served out of a huge silver urn on the bar. Last Wednesday's was a fruity and refreshing concoction. No sooner had I said hi to London blogger Angie who had organised the night, than it was time to take our seats for the meal.

The Little Yellow Door is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and though we were there on a Wednesday, we had the "Friday night experience" - where drinks are served and food is a feast of a meal at the tables, before the room is transformed for the after party. You need to book in advance to eat there and tickets are available here. Thursdays and Saturdays focus more on drinking than eating, but TLYD are launching a weekly Wednesday night mid-week dinner from the 11th February.

So time for the food - I don't know what I was expecting but for some reason I didn't think I would be bowled over by the food (and I also didn't know beforehand that it was The Wandering Chef)- I stand corrected! The food was seriously good, and the Italian feast we were served went something like this:

Starters were platters of burrata with mint pesto, cured tomatoes, smoked aubergine, confit onions and rye crisps; prosciutto, lardo, peach, basil and almonds; smoked beef carpaccio, mustard dressing, crispy capers  and salted ricotta - my favourite of the starters, I can't get enough of capers!; and arancini of mushroom and asparagus with truffle and porcini mayonnaise. This set the tone of the evening - fabulous ingredients, cooked perfectly that packed a massive flavour punch.

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I know it's still a few weeks away, but I'm sure there are many people already panicking about what to do for their lovers on Valentine's Day this year. Well, I've got a suggestion for something a bit different. As Valentines falls on a Saturday this year, I've decided to do an A Little Lusciousness pop up - where we're going to share the love! Forget cosy tables for 2 and hushed restaurants as people whisper sweet nothings into their lovers ears - my pop up will be one big table, for everyone to share the love. Come on your own, with your lover or bring some mates. It's going to be a lively, fun night, full of delicious food and drink.

The menu for the night is as follows, but can always be altered if you want to come but don't like or can't eat something listed below - just mention your preferences in the comments section when booking and I will send you alternate options to choose from. As always, everything is homemade by me using seasonal, organic produce.

Sparkly blood orange and passion fruit cocktail
Shellfish soup, rouille and crusty bread slices 
Calvados pot roast Guinea Fowl, slow roast shallots, cauliflower & Jerusalem artichoke puree with horseradish, buttered cabbage 
Whisky chocolate tart, rhubarb semi freddo
Cheeseboard, homemade salted biscuits and spiced chutney
Coffee, fresh mint tea and homemade chocolates
Tickets are priced at £35 each, and include all of the above. I provide soft drinks on the night for those that prefer them, and it's bring your own booze, so you can bring a bottle (or two!) of whatever you fancy!! So come and join us in West London for a different type of Valentine's night this year :)
Guinea fowl from a pop up I did last year - clean plates all round afterwards!

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Last weekend was our anniversary. We always like to get away somewhere in the UK for the weekend, as it's right after Christmas - and while Christmas is such lovely family time, there's no "us" time, so it's the perfect weekend for a little jolly in the countryside. I obviously take over all planning, to find the perfect place to stay that's within walking distance of a well rated pub or restaurant. The boy would do the planning, if I let him, but I don't, and that's ok. It means I'm happy with the place we end up staying, and he's happy too!

So off we went to Churt in Surrey for 2 nights last Friday evening. I've spent a fair bit of time in and around Sussex but my only venture to Surrey has been to Kingston, and I don't think that really counts. So as we drove down the A3 then off into the countryside proper, I was squealing with excitement as we wound our way through tree lined rounds and found ourselves outside The Devil's Cradle in Churt, which was to be home for 2 nights. Now I wouldn't necessarily write about a romantic weekend away on my blog, but I have to tell you about this, as both the B&B that we stayed in, and the pub that we spent nearly every waking hour in were both so perfect. I found the B&B through Google searches. We now only ever use AirBnB when we go away, but I couldn't find the perfect place I had in mind so turned back to Google and found The Devil's Cradle - a self contained chalet, with under floor heating, it's own kitchen, a wet room shower and four poster bed. It costs £75 a night without breakfast and £85 with - between us - £170 for 2 nights in paradise!!

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MoneySuperMarket know how to throw an EPIC house party! On a Thursday before Christmas I spent the evening drinking Veuve Clicquot, dancing to Annie Mac dj-ing and having mice pulled out of eggs in wine glasses by the best magician I've ever seen, along with 79 other people in East London. But let me start from the beginning....

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I'm SO excited! One of my favourite local pubs closed months ago for a refurb by its new owners - and now it's reopened. I've been waiting (not very) patiently for months and I can confirm that Ealing Park Tavern is back and better than ever.

I was invited to go and try out the new menu so headed down the day before New Years Eve with the boy. We started with drinks, as always. They've got a new cocktail menu and a friend of ours making the amazing cocktails there. I went for the porn star martini which was refreshing and the perfect balance of sharp, sweet and fruity with the shot of Prosecco.

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What do you look for when you book a holiday? Is it sun, snow or sand? Do you like to be by the sea or in the countryside? Activities or beach loungers? For me, it's pretty much all about the food. Though I don't necessarily book holidays based on the local restaurants I would never book a holiday that involved visiting somewhere that didn't have good local produce. Because where there's good produce, then there's definitely good food, and you don't need a fancy, Michelin restaurant to eat it in. All you need is the basics - locally sourced, fresh food and you're on to a winner. Celebrity Cruises do just this (and a bit of the fancy stuff too!), and have teamed up with Great British Chefs to create delicious monthly recipes and ideas. Celebrity Cruises were voted Ocean Cruise Line of the Year in the 2014 Food and Travel Awards. They've asked bloggers to put together a menu of the 3 best courses they've eaten while travelling, and whilst I've been to some amazing places in my life, it's actually the fresh, basic food I've eaten while travelling in Southern Europe that's really got my tummy rumbling. So here's my dream travel menu, which due to so much time spent by the coast involves quite a lot of fish and seafood, which I thought was apt for a cruise based menu...

Starters - I've chosen 2 starters that I've loved eating on my travels. Both were in Spain - the first in a swanky, modern restaurant in Seville where we had delicious octopus and Parma ham, so simple, yet done perfectly.  
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