Turtle Bay VIP Opening PeterboroughTurtle Bay VIP Opening Peterborough 16

A few weeks ago Turtle Bay Peterborough held a VIP preview dinner ahead of the restaurant’s grand opening to the public that weekend. I was thrilled to be invited along to share in the celebrations and get a sneak peek at the new restaurant. Here’s how it went down!

Turtle Bay VIP Opening Peterborough

Food and cocktails at a Caribbean restaurant seemed the perfect way to end the hottest June day on record in 40 years. The cheerful beach-shack inspired decor instantly put me into a relaxed holiday mood with it’s wooden ceiling fans gently whirring to provide a welcoming respite from the heat outside.

Turtle Bay VIP Opening Peterborough

Vibrant murals, twinkling fairly lights and a central island hut bar made of reclaimed wood all added to the laid back tropical effect.

Turtle Bay VIP Opening Peterborough

We sat down and proceeded to make our way through the extensive cocktail list. The Raspberry Reggae with dark rum, raspberries, fresh lime and lemonade was a refreshing favourite of mine, as was the Caribbean Pimms which put an exotic twist on the British classic. The fella picked the Island Iced Tea; a heady concoction of white rum, silver tequila, vodka, gin, triple sec, fresh lemon & diet cola. After taking a sup I wished I’d ordered one for myself!

Then the food started to arrive. As it was a preview evening we were treated to sharing platters with all sorts of spicy delights to tickle our tastebuds and offset some of those potent cocktails!

Turtle Bay VIP Opening Peterborough Turtle Bay VIP Opening Peterborough Turtle Bay VIP Opening Peterborough

One of the platters was entirely vegetarian and yet packed full of flavour with delights including sweet corn fritters, crispy okra, and spiced curried chickpeas.

Turtle Bay VIP Opening Peterborough Turtle Bay VIP Opening Peterborough

Next it was the turn of the Turtle Bay signature dishes, both Caribbean classics.

First, Curried Goat which was so tender that it practically melted in my mouth.

Turtle Bay VIP Opening Peterborough

Then, Jamaican Jerk Chicken which fell off the bone and was succulent and full of flavour.

Turtle Bay VIP Opening Peterborough

I was feeling fit to burst at this point but Kat and Emily insisted that I had to at least take a nibble of the desserts. The chocolate brownie looked pretty run of the mill but turned out to be a melt in the mouth delicacy – it was almost too soft to pick up, a sumptuous chocolatey goo!

At some point I met the rather awesome Mayor of Peterborough whom I have a sneaking suspicion is Santa Clause on Summer vacay. After asking if his chain of office got heavy he was good enough to let me try it on and it went rather splendidly with my dress! I think I could get used to wearing it actually…

Turtle Bay VIP Opening Peterborough 16

Meanwhile, the boys had developed a bromance with the bar’s rum expert and together were making their way through the vast selection – there are over 40 Caribbean rums to choose from which they seemed to take as a personal challenge.

Turtle Bay VIP Opening Peterborough 16

Turtle Bay VIP Opening Peterborough 16

I ended up joining them for a shot which turned out to be 75% alcohol. “That really burns.” I spluttered, eyes tearing up…

The next 100 photos taken that night are out of focus. Oops.

Despite having work the following morning I have no regrets as it was the most fun night out that I’ve had in ages. Great food and drink in the company of the best friends a girl could wish for and a big dose of Caribbean spirit!

Turtle Bay Peterborough – Restaurant and Bar

Location: 46 Queensgate Shopping Centre, Westgate, Peterborough, PE1 1NH

Happy Hour Cocktails (2 for 1): 11.30am – 7pm and then again after 10pm

Opening times: Sunday to Thursday 11:30 am until late, 1.30am on Fridays and Saturdays

Website: Turtle Bay Peterborough

LovedByLaura

*Disclaimer: All food and drink was complimentary and it would be remiss of me not to say a massive thanks to Turtle Bay for putting on such an awesome evening filled with warm hospitality. Rest assured however that the views expressed in this post are my own, honest opinions.

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Favourite Foodie Finds July 2017 Doisy and Dam Soffles

As you might have read in this post I’ve been doing my best to eat healthily and stick to a calorie controlled diet. Goddammit though it’s hard when there is just so much good food out there calling to me! Here are my favourite foodie finds this month…the good, the naughty and um… the downright dirty!

Favourite Foodie Finds

Doisy & Dam Superfood Chocolate Bars*

Favourite Foodie Finds July 2017 Doisy and Dam Soffles

I know, I know, I’m talking about being on a calorie controlled diet and then the first thing on my list is chocolate…stick with me though! I’ve found that if I go for a richer, better quality chocolate then I’m satisfied with a few pieces instead of feeling the need to guzzle the whole bar. Thus I feed my craving without completely blowing out all the good work.

Favourite Foodie Finds July 2017 Doisy and Dam Soffles

I also feel better about eating these bars because they’re billed as a ‘tastier, healthier range of chocolate’ made with the highest quality organic chocolate and truly original superfood pairings.

Favourite flavours:

Maca, vanilla and cacoao nibs bar made with 74% organic dark chocolate – smooth chocolate with a little crunch from the nibs and a sweet almost milk chocolatey flavour that isn’t at all bitter despite the high cocoa content.

Goji and Orange – this totally counts towards my five a day doesn’t it? (Let me pretend okay?)

Date & Himalayan Pink Salt – I put off trying this as I thought I was going to hate it. OMG though it’s amazing. The sweet date pieces combined with the salt remind me of salted caramel – how have they even done that?! It’s witchcraft I tell you.

Oysters

Favourite Foodie Finds July 2017 Oysters

I have wanted to try oysters for years and finally plucked up the courage. I wouldn’t say that they set my world on fire; salty was the overall taste that I got from them unsurprisingly, but they are certainly a bit of a showstopper when served in a tray of ice and lemon which all adds to the experience. They are extremely low cal too – winner!

In London the price tag will bring a tear to your eye though. I was at Searcys St Pancras Champagne Bar and 6 Jersey oysters cost £17. Factor in champagne to accompany them (of course!) and a main and you’ve just eaten next month’s rent.

Soffles Pitta Chips*

Favourite Foodie Finds July 2017 Soffles

I’m rather partial to toasting pitta bread and dipping it in salsa and these chips are the step up from that! They’re 100% natural and low in fat, although a bag does still come in at over 200 kcals so I have been sticking to having them as a weekly treat.

When I first tried one I thought they were way too thick, but after crunching my way through a couple I found them getting more and more addictive. I don’t really need to eat a whole bag of them to myself as they are quite filling so they’re great for sharing.

Favourite Foodie Finds July 2017 Soffles

Favourite flavours:

Chilli and Garlic ‘Mild’  – The fella prefers the ‘Wild’ version which are kicked up a spicy notch but I like mine with just a hint of chilli.

Salmon and Spinach Curry

Favourite Foodie Finds July 2017 Soffles

I forgot that my car tax was due and so the last week before payday I banned myself from food shopping and had to make do with whatever was in my fridge and freezer. I found a fillet of frozen salmon and decided that I wanted to curry it since I couldn’t afford to go out and buy a whole host of expensive ingredients, but have a whole shelf of spices that never get used.

A quick search on google led me to this recipe which worked a treat! I served the salmon with cauliflower rice to keep the calories and carbs down. It’s just so quick and easy to do since everything goes into one pot that I’ve cooked it several times since.

Dirty Bacon Burgers at Dirty Burger

Favourite Foodie Finds July 2017 Dirty Burger

The dirty bacon burger is the juiciest, chunkiest most flavourful burger that I’ve had a the pleasure to eat this year, and that’s saying something as I’ve had some tasty burgers!

Dirty Burger restaurants are styled to look a bit of a downtown dive, but you can tell that they’re actually super trendy from the Cowshed toiletries in the restroom and the fact that a burger will set you back between £7 and £9 despite coming out on a plastic tray wrapped in paper! The soft drinks are also quite extortionate, I ordered a diet coke and it came out in a can which cost me £2.50 – ouch!

Forget about that though, the quality of the burgers are what you’re really paying for. I don’t know what they dip the bun in but it’s mouth wateringly flavourful and the bacon seems more like gammon to me because it’s so indulgently thick.

A word of warning: Napkins are a must, wet wipes would be preferable. You WILL get dirty eating these bad boys!

LovedByLaura

*Disclaimer: Items marked with an asterisk are PR samples. All views expressed are my own true and personal opinions.

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Bird Of Smithfield Spritz Garden Rooftop Cocktails

Last Thursday we took an afternoon off work and headed down to London to make the most of it. There, I introduced the fella to Bird of Smithfield, one of my favourite haunts in Farringdon. It’s a Georgian townhouse which contains bars and restaurants over it’s five floors.

I’ve enjoyed many a quirky cocktail in the glitzy Birdcage bar in the basement but never before have I made it all the way to the rooftop terrace. After the past week’s monsoon like weather, however, it was something of a novelty to be able to relax whilst sitting outside so up and up we went!

Bird Of Smithfield Spritz Garden Rooftop Cocktails

Bird Of Smithfield Spritz Garden Rooftop Rainbow Shots

In Summer Bird’s rooftop terrace is given a seasonal makeover to become the Spritz Garden, a secret green oasis adorned with jasmine trees, flamingos (not real unfortunately) and perhaps most importantly a bar! It’s a perfect antidote to the sticky bustle of the city on a hot day.

Bird Of Smithfield Spritz Garden Rooftop Cocktails Bird Of Smithfield Spritz Garden Rooftop CocktailsBird Of Smithfield Spritz Garden Rooftop Cocktails

Harry the bartender was busy whipping up a bevy of refreshing Spritzers for us to try but after I spotted a few dark clouds looming on the horizon he stopped to show us how they cope with the unpredictable British Summer. The Spritz Garden is equipped with outdoor heaters and a retractable canopy roof to keep everyone dry and cosy!

Bird Of Smithfield Spritz Garden Rooftop Cocktails

We ended up trying all 3 Spritzers… it would have been rude not to really after seeing them lined up so prettily just waiting for us to dive in!

Bird Of Smithfield Spritz Garden Rooftop Cocktails

Bird Of Smithfield Spritz Garden Rooftop Cocktails

My favourite was the Belle Spritz which was a vodka infusion with cranberries, kaffir lime and manzanilla, mixed with sherry and soda.

Bird Of Smithfield Spritz Garden Rooftop Cocktails

The runner up for me was the classic Aperol Spritz which had a crisp refreshing tang that made me want to transport myself to a sandy beach somewhere (with the cocktail in hand obviously).

Bird Of Smithfield Spritz Garden Rooftop Cocktails

The fella’s top choice was the gin infused Garden Surprise, with orange zest, lavender, rosemary, lime, soda and Prosecco. It turns out that London loves it’s gin too – it’s the best seller on the menu!

Bird Of Smithfield Spritz Garden Rooftop Snack Menu

Due to our, shall we say, ‘relaxed’ approach to planning we’d managed to turn up in between the times that the lunch menu and bar snacks are served. I was left kicking myself as I still haven’t tried the food at Bird’s and always slaver over it on Instagram!

It also meant that by the time we’d rounded off the drinks with a cool glass of Prosecco we were both feeling decidedly merry and in need of something to soak it all up. We bade our farewells and somehow made it back down the five flights of stairs in one piece, vowing to return on another fine day!

Bird of Smithfield Spritz Garden Rooftop

Location: 26 Smithfield St, London EC1A 9LB

Nearest Tube: Farringdon

Open: Until late September, Monday to Friday 12pm to 10pm and Saturdays 5pm to 10pm

LovedByLaura

Disclaimer: Thanks go to my friends at Bird Of Smithfield for inviting us along to experience all that the Spritz Garden has to offer and providing us with complimentary spritzers during our stay. All vodka infused views expressed in this post are, however, my own!

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Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

It finally happened… I found something to rival Afternoon Tea!

“What?” I hear you say.

“There’s nothing in the world better than a lazy afternoon tea with perfectly sliced crustless sandwiches, fresh scones and the daintiest sweet treats?”

Well yes I thought so too. But then the lovely folks at Amara (the home interiors website that fulfills all my luxury lifestyle dreams) threw a bash at The Sanderson Hotel and I discovered the Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party!*

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

Amara’s Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

Now technically, every afternoon tea I’ve ever been to has been rather a tipsy affair, (*cough cough* no tea thanks  just keep topping up the champagne *cough cough*) but this one is so up my street that I’m sitting here grinning like the Cheshire Cat as I think back on it.

I’m kicking myself for not taking pictures of the Sanderson’s open air Courtyard Garden, the stunning setting for our Tipsy Tea. It’s a lush leafy oasis of flowering plants, cascading water fountains and a reflection pool – the most perfect summer setting for a get together. (Note that it also has heaters for when British summer has it’s ‘snow in July’ moments.)

Alas though, upon arrival I was handed a glass of deliciously crisp and refreshing Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque champagne and was soon having a good old chit chat with the other bloggers gathered and the team from Amara so I didn’t get a chance to whip out my camera.

The Tipsy Evening Tea was another matter however! Where food is concerned, if it’s beautiful the camera comes straight out and every inch of this feast deserved to be captured.

Drink Me

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

Dangerously for my somewhat empty stomach, we started with a flight of cocktails to get us in the mood. There were two tea based cocktails but I zeroed in on the mini martinis which were far more my, erm, cup of tea? One was a mini espresso made with cherry liqueur and orange marmalade  and the other was dark chocolate and raspberry liqueur. Neither tasted particularly alcoholic so the Tipsy Tea soon lived up to it’s name!

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

As the champagne flowed the teastands were set before us with a flourish and I was soon clapping my hands together in sheer delight as the fun of it all. I mean, could there be a more perfect theme for a tea party than The Alice in Wonderland?

I started off with Alice’s Naughty Orange and Cointreau Drink Me potion, a scrumptious concoction served in a mini milk bottle with a straw.

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

Eat Me

Next, the scones. Soft, freshly baked, still warm from the oven cheese scones with a herby butter that I couldn’t get enough of. Heaven.

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

The sandwiches were equally delicious, including a caramelised cornish crab bridge roll and a smoked salmon Scotch quails egg with caviar and cream cheese.

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

By far my favourite was the Stack of King of Hearts ham and parmesan croque-monsieurs however. So much so that far later into the evening we were offered some extra helpings and I couldn’t resist polishing off another!

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

Down The Rabbit Hole

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

And then, of course, we come to the Sweets which were perfectly on theme. The dark chocolate and rum chessboard gateau almost finished me off. It was so light and yet so rich somehow at the same time, but then I had to try the pocket watch macaroons which were so light and perfectly balanced that somehow I managed to find room for two!

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

The showpiece of the Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea is of course the Wonderland marshmallow magic mushrooms, hidden inside a grass topper so you have to dig in to find them.

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

If you’re looking for a fun quirky food experience in London I really can’t recommend the Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party enough. It’s quirky, it’s a feast for the eyes, it’s delicious and it comes with a cracking cocktail menu. All things guaranteed to make Laura a happy bunny! (Or should that be White Rabbit?)

Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

Where to find it: The Courtyard Garden at Sanderson London

Address: 50 Berners Street, London, W1T 3NG

Nearest Tubes: Goodge Street, Oxford Circus or Tottenham Court Road

Price: from £58 (£79 including a glass of premium champagne)

LovedByLaura

*Disclaimer: I was invited to this complimentary tea by the team from Amara.com (who might I say were an absolutely lovely bunch that I’m looking forward to catching up with again soon!) All views expressed however, are my own.

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Protein World #30DayChallenge

Up until this year I’d always dismissed the idea of calorie counting. My approach to weight control has always been to just eat well most of the time and then allow myself some naughty cheat days in moderation when needed.

Earlier this year, however, I was going through a bit of a tough time and suddenly all of my resolve went out of the window. I rapidly lost half a stone and when I got my appetite back put it back on just as quickly and not in a good way. I was being lazy, eating takeaways and lots of sugar and carbs and it just left me craving more.

For the first time in my life I decided that I needed some help to put some structure and control around my diet so I accepted an invite from Protein World to take part in their 30 Day Challenge – a lifestyle plan based around their Slender Blend Protein powders.

Here’s how I got on!

The Protein World Slender Blend 30 Day Challenge

Protein World #30DayChallenge

So what is the Protein World 30 Day Challenge? Well, it’s a 30 day weight loss programme based on the following guidelines for women:

  • 2 Slender Blend protein shakes per day
  • 1600 to 1800 calories on training days (six days a week recommended)
  • 1200 to 1400 calories in total on non training days (one day a week)

You can buy the Slender Blend protein powder on it’s own or as part of a package of complimentary Slender Plan products for a reduced price. I received:

  • The Slender Blend* (Chocolate and Vanilla) – a Non-GMO, low calorie protein powder
  • The Slender Blend Porridge* (Chocolate and Vanilla) – a high protein, sugar-free & gluten-free breakfast powder containing chia and flax
  • Hunger Buster capsules* – designed to help suppress your appetite
  • Fat metaboliser capsules* – designed to help kickstart your metabolism to help you burn calories faster
  • Protein World Shaker* – with a mesh insert to help you mix shakes without lumpy bits
  • A booklet with comprehensive meal planner (which links to recipes on their website) and instructions for full body workouts

The Important Question – Does it taste good?!

Protein World #30DayChallenge

The Slender Blend vanilla protein powder surprised me by tasting really good! I mix it with 250ml cold water if I’m out and about but if I’m at home I blend in a handful of frozen strawberries which bulks it out so that it fills a whole jar. Either way the shakes are nice and filling and keep me going until lunchtime which I wasn’t expecting if I’m honest.

The porridge is good too although as this needs to be cooked on the hob I only tend to eat it on weekends when I have a bit more time. My preference is the chocolate flavoured version.

Protein World #30DayChallenge

I’ve also tried the overnight oats peanut butter recipe from Protein World’s online recipe store. It doesn’t look all that appetising but tastes seriously scrumptious! The only downside is that the calories are on the high side for what I’d usually allow myself for my breakfast.

Protein World #30DayChallenge

How I Got On With The Plan

I found it difficult to stick to the plan to the letter but understood the general principle so I adapted it to suit my busy lifestyle. I was supposed to take the capsules every day but they remain unopened in my cupboard as I wanted to achieve any weight loss in a natural way. I also haven’t followed the exercise plans so I haven’t really toned up at all!

To counteract my lack of exercise I aim for the lower 1200 to 1400 calories a day, which I make sure I stick to by logging my food into a diary using MyFitnessPal. This app has been a game changer for me and makes calorie counting a doddle. I even used it when I went to Wagamama which helped me to find the healthy options on the menu.

The shakes are only 150 kcals each so when it’s practical for me to have them twice a day this makes staying within the calorie allowance really easy whereas on days where I can’t do this or can’t have shakes at all I find keeping within 1200 calories a lot harder. I went out for lunch today and had some sweet potato fries. I could have cried when MyFitnessPal informed me that a portion of them alone is 508kcal!

For dinner I try and make fresh low cal dinners if I can but there are of course days where I don’t have time to cook or just want to be lazy and free up some time. On those I’ve found that Weight Watchers frozen meals are a winner as most are below 350kcals but are really quite tasty and hearty.

Weight Loss Results

Protein World #30DayChallenge

For the 30 days on the challenge I faithfully stuck to having a Slender Blend shake or porridge for Breakfast and another for either lunch or diner, along with one other normal, calorie controlled meal and some healthy snacks.

I’m 5 foot and started off weighing 7st 13lb and had dropped to 7st 9lb after a month which far surpassed what I’d expected to achieve.

It’s now been four months and I now drink one shake a day and two regular meals. Realistically with any kind of ‘diet’ you need to stick to it and when I have off weeks and cheat weekends I do tend to put on a pound and then have to be really good the next week to even things out again, but on the whole my weight is much more stable.

Going on a calorie controlled diet won’t be the right solution for everyone, but it has helped me to take control of my diet and feel better about my health, so I’ll never say never again…

…well not about calorie counting anyway! :p

LovedByLaura

Disclaimer: Protein World kindly provided me with the products to take part in the 30 Day Challenge in return for my honest account of my experiences.

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