Monday, 21 July 2014

Chasing away the post honeymoon blues at Ametsa with Arzak Instruction courtesy of Give Truly

Mr Silver and I had an amazing time on our honeymoon adventure, but sadly all good things must come to an end.

When we arrived home from honeymoon we had a huge pile of post containing the usual bills, junk mail and bank statements. But there was one very exciting item in our mountain of mail:

Review of Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

A beautifully presented box with an exciting invitation inside...

Review of Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

Inside was a VIP invitation for Michelin starred lunch for two at Ametsa with Arzak Instruction. Don't you always feel like a kid at Christmas when you receive an exciting package in the post?

When I give someone special a gift, I want give him or her something thoughtful and meaningful. I don't think there's anything better than a wonderful experience, for example when I gave Mr S a trip to Paris for his birthday or when I treated my best friend to Pollen Street Social for hers... I think the best gift of all is time spent together, it's cheesy but true! TRULY offer exactly these kind of gift experiences on their website so that you select the perfect present for your partner, mum, dad, friend or colleague. They haven't cornered the pet market yet but I can drop that in the suggestion box if you need something for your dog!

The very generous folk at TRULY had spotted me on twitter and offered me a choice of their luxury gift experiences to review for SilverSpoon London. As I browsed their website I was astounded by the collection of gifts that they had on offer; everything from Michelin dining experiences, to luxurious city breaks, to spa trips in the Himalayas. They can even fly you into space...well close to it anyway ;)

The option I chose was slightly more down to earth; and the Belgravia-based restaurant, was very conveniently located in walking distance from our flat.

Review of Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

I found the whole process with TRULY incredibly smooth. All you need do contact the TRULY Concierge who arranges everything for you. She assured me we wouldn't need to bring the voucher and we could just show up and give our name on the door. 

I'd wanted to visit Ametsa with Arzak Instruction ever since it opened and Mr Silver and I were incredibly excited to experience our post-honeymoon treat! 

From my comfortable red leather sofa I had a great view of the dining room.

Review of Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

Review of Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

Review of Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

The dominant element of the restaurant is the feature ceiling which is created from 7,000 glass test tubes containing different coloured spices. The test tubes create a wave-like effect which is both artistic and unusual; though I did think it would be unfortunate if one ever broke and created a shower of spice! 

So why the long-winded name? Arzak, the original restaurant in San Sebastian, is one of the top ten restaurants in the world. Chef Juan Mari Arzak leads the kitchen and produces reworked versions of traditional Basque dishes using local ingredients and innovative techniques. His daughter, Elena Arzak Espina is his partner in running the kitchen and the business. Together they collaborated to bring their concept to the UK and Ametsa with Arzak Instruction was born. 

The TRULY gift experience includes the set lunch option offered by the restaurant. As is customary, we also ordered a glass of champers each to wash down our Spanish feast. 

Review of Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

Review of Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

Review of Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

The set lunch commenced with a selection of tapas.

Review of Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

A strawberry soup was a light and refreshing way to start, a bit like a strawberry smoothie. It was an interesting twist on a gazpacho soup, and one that worked very well. 

Review of Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

Bread wrapped in Iberico ham surprised us. It looked somewhat heavy but the bread was light, crisp and airy and the ham gave a delicious salty tang. 

Review of Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

The lamb meatballs were delicately presented with an adornment of flower petals. These were tasty but I would have loved an extra spicy kick of paprika coming through in the flavour. 

Review of Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

Black ink squid. Squid is one of my favourite seafood options and Ametsa's version was tender and juicy with no hint of chewiness. I did have to double check with Mr S that it hadn't turned my mouth black, but he gave me the all clear. 

There were two options for main course from the set menu:

Review of Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

Mr Silver chose a lovely succulent piece of pork belly for his main course. The meat course was perfectly paired with a side dish of nectarines. 

Review of Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

Personally, I don't like fruit with my savoury dishes but Mr Silver loved the combination. 

Review of Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

I chose hake with celery. My fish was incredibly well cooked and seasoned, the flesh of the fish gently fell apart under my fork and I enjoyed every mouthful.

Review of Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

It was accompanied by a light crispy salad, made even more zesty by the inclusion of grapefruit. 

For supplement of £6.50 we had the option of adding dessert. On seeing the word 'custard' on the menu, Mr Silver was not going to say no to this! 

Review of Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

The dessert was comprised of pineapple ice-cream topped with clove custard. The refreshing pudding sat under a tent of toasted milk...god only knows how chefs devise the clever feats of gastronomic genius! 

The finally our meal included coffee and petit fours.

Review of Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

 Which included a fudge bite, a small spicy cake and what can only be described as a large jelly tot. When we finished our lunch there was no need to think about paying for our meal, TRULY had taken care of everything and all we needed to do pay for our extras. I have to say thank you very much to TRULY for such a kind wedding gift, it was was the perfect way to cheer us up post honeymoon and a fabulous way of spending time together.

Ametsa with Arzak Instruction
The Halkin Hotel
Halkin Street

020 7333 1234

Disclosure: My experience at Ametsa with Arzak instruction was gifted to me by TRULY but this does not effect my opinion, the company offer excellent service and fantastic experience ideas. The lunch at Ametsa was both delicious and excellent value.  

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Friday, 18 July 2014

Talking Weddings over Afternoon Tea at The St Ermin's Hotel

Back in May, before I went away on honeymoon, I visited the recently refurbished St Ermin's Hotel in Westminster, tucked behind busy Victoria Street and close to St James Park.
Afternoon tea at the St Ermin's Hotel

The interior of the hotel is pretty and lady-like with a gorgeous chandelier hanging from the high ceiling. The signature restaurant of the hotel is the Caxton Grill, serving Modern European food cooked on the Josper Grill, I've not tried it yet but my mum is a fan! 

 I would be dining at the tea lounge, located at the top of the grand staircase above. 

Afternoon tea at the St Ermin's Hotel

Joining me in a tea for three were Liesl Lamare and Mimi Zouch. I had met Liesl at the Olivier Laudus Wedding Accessories boutique launch and we soon discovered that we had lots in common and vowed to meet again after my wedding madness was over. Mimi and Liesl met at a wedding planning academy and realised they shared a similar work ethic, strong business heads and a love of weddings. They set up Zouch and Lamare and quickly established themselves as leading wedding planners. Their high standards and dedication to both suppliers and clients means that the weddings that they produce are second to none and always totally unique in order to suit every couple.

The three of us settled down to enjoy our tea and a catch up. The St Ermin's Tea comes with half a bottle of champagne each, which was a perfect way to toast my nuptials and Liesl and Mimi's fantastic success. 

Afternoon tea at the St Ermin's Hotel

We chose our teas and admired the gorgeous girly crockery.

Afternoon tea at the St Ermin's Hotel

Afternoon tea at the St Ermin's Hotel

We were having such a lovely time talking about weddings, honeymoons and blogs that I forget to take many photos but St Ermins presented the tea beautifully on a rack that reminded me of bookshelves. 

Afternoon tea at the St Ermin's Hotel

Sandwiches were chicken and mango, prawn marie rose, cucumber and cream cheese, beef and horseradish and smoked salmon and caviar. The classic combinations were very tasty and it was great to enjoy a taste of the traditional, but I would have liked another more innovative savoury too. The only element I wasn't to keen on was the cranberry bread used for one of the sandwiches, but I do love the look of pink bread!  

Afternoon tea at the St Ermin's Hotel

Scones were orange, plain and raisin and were deliciously light and fluffy

Sadly, I didn't get any good close ups of the cakes though these were the highlights of the tea. I also must confess I didn't try any myself as I was going to the Anges Sucre Macaron event and I didn't want eat too much sugar in the week before my honeymoon. But the other ladies raved about the peanut butter cake with chocolate and salted peanuts and rated the rum and lime chocolate truffle. I stared at the juniper and lemon macaron but decided to save myself for the evening's treats. Have I mentioned I love macarons...

In summary, good cakes (apparently) but more exciting savouries maybe? Anyway the hotel was gorge, champagne flowed and the company was so fabulous, a lavender infused scone or avant garde canape might have gone unnoticed anyway :)

St Ermin's Hotel
Caxton Street
020 7222 7888

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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

What to eat at the Perfect Wedding - Our Menu Tasting

I have a huge obsession with beautiful hotels, they may just be buildings but many hotels carry important memories for me.

My favourite hotel in London is The Dorchester. It reminds me of afternoon tea with my friends, Sunday lunch with my family and romantic dinners with Mr Silver. It seemed only natural that we would have our dream wedding at my favourite luxury London hotel. 

It may not be a castle in the countryside but it's my city Princess Palace.

Back in April we headed to The Dorchester to decide on the menu for the big day! The gang were myself, Mr S, Mr and Mrs S senior and my mum, Susan Silverspoon. My dad didn't wanted to come, he's not a foodie and would rather have lunch at KFC. So with my dad happily with the colonel it was left to the five us to have an epic day of eating and drinking!

Wedding tastings at The Dorchester take place inside the actual kitchen.

For me, being inside the kitchen is like being at the very heart of the hotel. I love seeing where all the magic happens!!

Inside the kitchen is the chef's table located in the Krug Room.

A beautiful room with plush red leather chairs and a gorgeous glass table. The room is behind a crystal glass wall to give you a feeling of privacy whilst still being in the exciting atmosphere of the kitchen.

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know I've been in the Krug Room before.

Eeek...I'm wearing the same dress as I did on my first visit...must be my Dorchester dress ;)

Obviously it was very important to try everything that we would be serving on the wedding day. Starting with the most important thing of all...

Champagne! And it was one of my favourites...Laurent Perrier.

We were also planning to serve a cocktail at the wedding.

Obviously it was absolutely vital to try these...

A Dorchester Bellini with mango and champagne. It was good, but it did remind me a little of Orangina...

Mr Silver and I are both Jewish and we are having a traditional Jewish wedding. Jewish people have many dietary rules and regulations and food that is acceptable for Jewish people's consumption is called 'Kosher.' There are many foods that appear in people's day to day diet which are deemed non-kosher and not acceptable under Jewish law. For example pork and shellfish are non-kosher and therefore completely unacceptable; other meats are allowed but must be killed in accordance with Jewish law in order to be acceptable. Okay...RE lesson over! 

Regular readers of my blog will know these aren't rules that I stick to, neither Mr S or I are very religious, but we still couldn't serve non-kosher food to our guests. Unfortunately having a kosher caterer would have added a huge cost to our wedding, so we opted for 'kosher-style' or inoffensive food. 

Inoffensive food allows for no meat so our menu would be made up of vegetarian options and fish (but not shellfish). It also meant the chef had to be very creative as he was limited by the ingredients.

Starting with the canapes! 

They obviously knew SilverSpoon was coming! 

Each little spoon contained an absolutely delicious morsel of food. On the left was pumpkin ravioli with an amaretto sauce. It was perfect pillow soft pasta with an silky smooth cream sauce. 

On the right was the fish tikka. A lovely spicy piece of fish served with a coriander and mint chutney. 

Baby new potatoes with sour cream and keta caviar were the only thing I really didn't like. It was like eating a block of uncooked potato. I didn't find them visually appealing either. 

Vegetable dim sum with chilli dip...well I just love dim sum so you can't go wrong! 

Aubergine fritters and tempura artichoke were both gorgeous, hot and crispy with a light batter. 

Tuna spring roll and vegetable spring roll. Everyone loves a spring roll!

The thing I always find at Jewish wedding is that there is copious amount of salmon due to the many food restrictions. But the chefs at the Dorch made salmon exciting again with salmon tartare in Vietnamese rice wrappers, gravalax on a crispy bagel and a smoked salmon cornetto. 

Finally for the canapes, a silver spoon of Thai fish cakes. Opinion was divided on this one...the parents said no, but me and Mr S liked it. 

While we were enjoying the canapes we guzzled various different wine options so that we could choose what to serve with the meal. 

Next the starters were bought out. 

Duo of ahi seared tuna and salmon on soba noodles. This is exactly the kind of dish I'd order in a restaurant, the tuna was perfectly rare and the accompanying ponzu sauce added a perfect kick. 

The tomato tart was delicious with fine and crispy pastry.

Sesame crusted seabass was my favourite of the starters. It may not be as pretty as a picture but I loved the salty and spicy wasabi soy sauce that accompanied the dish. 

For main course we sampled:

An incredible mushroom ravioli with leeks. The Dorchester really know how to do an excellent ravioli.

Black cod on pak choi and ginger with baby corn. We all loved the Japanese dish, though the mums weren't keen on the plain rice and we agreed it may be better with noodles. 

Seared fillet of sea bass with honey-marinated vegetables and saffron and tomato emulsion. The dish didn't blow us away but was certainly tasty.

Ahh... the obligatory salmon! Served with tagliatelle of vegetable and Vermouth sauce. The salmon was actually beautifully cooked and not as mundane as I thought it would be. 

Are you bored of fish yet? 

Not to worry desserts are here!

Fresh strawberries in balsamic dressing was a lovely light palate cleansing dessert and I very much enjoyed the Chantilly cream and Bourbon vanilla ice cream. However, Mr Silver and I felt that this was a little safe and not an exciting way to end the meal. 

Mango tart tartin was a gorgeous warm and comforting dessert. Mr Silver Senior and I couldn't stop trying more! 

Finally, vanilla flaming brulee, mini chocolate fondant and raspberry sorbet. Mr Silver and I loved the dramatic impact of the dessert and the mini chocolate fondant had that perfect gooey centre, as perfect as the Marks & Spencer advert... what a dream trio of puds!!

Finally, my mum's favourite part of the meal! Coffee and chocolates.

And a totally decadent espresso martini...

The perfect end to a perfect meal!! 

You'll have to wait until my wedding post to see what we chose but I really hope you enjoyed reading about our tasting. What would be your perfect wedding menu? 

I've received my wedding photos back and scheduled a post about the wedding for early August, watch this space!!

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