There aren't many dates that get put in my diary months in advance and stay there, no questions asked. But Tequila and Mezcal Fest 2017 was one such marker penned date. And there's not long to wait for it now. Next weekend - Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th October - sees the festival of my dreams return to London, for two days of Mexico's finest showcased at The Boiler House in the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. Not only will over 50 of Mexico's top tequila and mezcal producers (including Patron tequila's master distiller - Francisco Alcarez - on his first ever trip to the UK) be on hand to talk you through the production, tasting and pairings of Mexico's very best drink brands, there'll also be food from temper (goat tacos), Barrio (al pastor tacos) and Cafe Pacifico (a selection of pork, beef chorizo and/or veggie tacos), mariachi bands, Mexican art, folklore dancers and even an Aztec ceremony! 

Whilst sipping on your classic tequila cocktails (Margaritas and Palomas) you can grab yourself a Mexican brunch, or get stuck into a Bloody Maria or Michelada (beer with lime and spices). Adriana Cavita from Peyotito London and Ibiza will be doing demos on how to make the perfect guacamole, and the secret behind Mexican ceviche - 12:45 on Saturday, and there will be talks and seminars on topics like "What the f*ck is mezcal" - 15:15 on Sunday, "How to make the perfect Margarita", and "The tequila masterclass" - 18:00 on Saturday. 

Saturdays sessions run from 12-4.30pm and 5.30-9.30pm and Sunday's session is 1-7pm. Tickets are £20 and include samples of tequila and mezcal and free entry to seminars and masterclasses. But I reckon the bright idea is to go VIP - for £40 a ticket you get fast track entry (which you'll want if the event's as popular as it was last year), two cocktails, two dishes, samples of tequila and mezcal, and free entry to all the seminars and masterclasses.

The currency for the festival is pesos, so get ready to change your money at the door - and a percentage of the proceeds from the festival's ticket sales will be sent to The Cruz Roja Mexicana and TOPOSMX to support the current relief efforts in Mexico following the recent devastating earthquakes. 

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If you follow my blog then you may be aware there hasn't been much to follow recently.... starting a new job, getting a dog, lots of summer pop ups and catering gigs and deciding to climb the highest free standing mountain in the world are all excuses I can throw into the mix. But I'm back. With a big one! And lots more to follow so keep reading over the next few weeks for new restaurant reviews, trips to Italy with Riso Gallo, Cotes du Rhone fueled evenings and more. But today's post is all about the mountain...

In August last year Lucy and I volunteered to help some friends with a pop up they were doing to raise money for a small charity called Trekstock, who support people in their 20s and 30s who have or have had cancer. Off we headed to Palm 2 in Clapton to spend the day cooking and making cocktails for 60 guests. On the night of the event we met the CEO of Trekstock, and after a couple of glasses of wine (the beginnings of all good decisions) we'd signed up to the 2017 Kilimanjaro challenge. And that was that. A year later, after a mega fundraising effort which included 5am car boot sales, our own huge Hot X BBQ pop up we put on with Hardeep Singh Kohli and Neil Rankin for 60 people on Easter Friday (which we raised £3.5k from alone), and donations from many generous family and friends, the departure date rolled around and off to Tanzania we went. The trip was organized by Trekstock through 360 Expeditions who ran the actual trek itself and arranged everything from the minute we landed at Kilimanjaro airport. Before we left we'd had all the information we needed with regards equipment, training prep and medical requirements. Everything was covered and all our questions answered. So we were good to go.

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