Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Balthazar London, The Bobbi Brown Afternoon Tea

Recently my very good friend, Jade, was in London for a whistle-stop break, having recently moved to Abu Dhabi. This coincided with a family wedding and trip to Ireland for a week of her stay, so we had a very small window of opportunity to catch up so booked something lovely, befitting the occasion.

We both love an afternoon tea in London, and both love good make up, so the Bobbi Brown Afternoon Tea at Balthazar – a celebration of the brands’ 25th year, in sandwiches and confectionary was the obvious choice.

These were some of the best afternoon tea sandwiches I’ve had in a while, with a nod to tradition in the cucumber sandwiches and smoked salmon with a lemon crème fraiche – both delicious. We opted out of the egg mayonnaise, as neither of us is keen on egg, so just loaded up on more of the alternatives, but absolutely devoured the grilled chicken with guacamole – slightly more modern and a mouthful of heaven. 

Bobbi Brown afternoon tea at Balthazar, London

The true star of the sandwich show though, was a definite homage to the New York heritage of both the Bobbi Brown make up brand and Balthazar; a pastrami, pickle and mustard fougasse - insanely good. The bread alone was like a culmination of all that’s good in Mediterranean produce, olive oil, olives, sun dried tomato and then topped with a strong, salty melted cheese – just divine, and the filling oh-so New York and oh-so good. Perfection.

Staff here, were very willing to replenish the sandwiches too and offered before we could ask which is a nice touch and isn’t offered everywhere.

There was a plate of both plain and raisin scones – equally warm, soft and crumbly with the mandatory clotted cream and jam – perfectly acceptable and glorious with our English breakfast tea.

However the true masterpiece from the kitchen’s head pastry chef, Regis Bearegard and his team of artists, were the very recognisable and iconic Bobbi Brown make up items in confectionary format. 

Bobbi Brown confectionary at Balthazar, London

There was a sache torte, the traditional Austrian chocolate torte with a rich, unctuous chocolate cream filling, but this had been re-imagined as the Bobbi Brown gel eyeliner and the filling was in fact, a blackberry jam. Visually very attractive and a treat for the taste buds too.

A marshmallow red dusted kiss was perfectly edible but did fall slightly short of the taste and artwork sensations of the remaining cakes.

The foundation stick was a tempered chocolate cylinder filled with a delicious praline mousse and on top of a passion fruit sticky biscuit – it looked fantastic and tasted great too.

My favourite two items were the infamous shimmer brick that Bobbi Brown is well-known for and any self-respecting make up lover has in their armour, this was a rhubarb tart, infused with Champagne – what’s not to like? The other favourite being the rouge; a redcurrant macaroon with a lemon Chantilly filling, really delicious and very recognisable.

The Balthazar Bobbi Brown afternoon tea is reasonably priced at £27.50 for the basic afternoon tea or £37.50 with a cocktail or glass of Champagne. I can’t indulge at the moment due to my pregnancy, but Jade certainly did.

Each guest also receives an invitation to have a personalised lip make-up lesson at the Covent Garden Bobbi Brown store too, which is a fantastic coup.

My daughter, Bridget is nearly two and she woke up from her pram thirty minutes before we left – the staff were incredibly accommodating of her too, and this made all the difference for me. This is the second time I’d been to Balthazar with her in as many months – it’s becoming a family favourite for us.

The Bobbi Brown Afternoon Tea will be available at Balthazar until Thursday 29th September and is available daily.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Greek Chicken One-Pot

This is a gorgeous, quick and easy Greek-inspired chicken one-pot dish that’s packed full of flavour, takes very little time to prepare and goes with an array of different accompaniments, from bread, rice, couscous, and as I have done here: chips and pitta.

I created it, based on my favourite Greek flavourings, and out of necessity for a number of things left in my fridge – new one coming tomorrow, so we’ve been ‘running it down’.

I used a red onion, garlic, two different coloured peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes in this dish – but what really gives it some punch is the salt, pepper and dried oregano coating the chicken has before going into the dish to be fried – a real taste of the Mediterranean for me, just delicious and exactly what I’d been craving having putting up with Instagram snaps from Mykonnos and Athens all week from my brother and his partner.

This is a great food for all of the family too - our toddler Bridget absolutely wolfed it down.

Serve with a Mythos or a lovely Greek wine such as a Robola de Cephalonie – yammas! This serves 3.

Greek Chicken One-Pot

Here’s how:
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Greek olive oil
  • 1 orange pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 100g mushrooms
  • 50g cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tin plum tomatoes or passata
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 50g Kefalotyri (Can use Pecorino Romano)

Firstly pour the olive oil into a cast iron casserole dish and place on the hob, on a low heat, to warm through. Pre-heat the oven to 180°.

Slice the red onion and garlic and add to the pan to slowly soften and flavour the oil.

In the meantime, mix the salt, pepper and oregano and scatter over a plate or bowl, then dip each chicken thigh into the mixture, using a fork to turn and evenly coat.

Once the onions have softened, add the chicken to the pan, keeping on a low heat and sear on each side.

In the meantime, wash your hands after handling the chicken; then slice the peppers and mushrooms and set aside.

Once the chicken is whitened, add the peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes and allow to cook for a couple of minutes. Add the tin of tomatoes and the paprika and stir.

Now cut the Kefalotyri or Pecorino Romano into small cubes and scatter over the dish, place the lid on the casserole dish and then pop into the warm oven for thirty minutes.

Serve with your preferred accompaniments – enjoy.