In association with Jimmy’s Iced Coffee

Seriously, where have you BEEN?? No one drinks their coffee hot anymore. That’s so 2012. Also, it’s the summer. Keep up.

Iced coffee though? I’m a big fan. I even make my own sometimes, although it’s a bit of a faff setting up the coffee machine and my homemade ice cubes always taste a little bit of fish fingers. Much better to have an expert make it for you and package it up in a handy, well designed carton.

Oh hey there Jimmy’s!

Jimmy’s iced coffee

This is their hot off the press new family. Pretty sassy yes?

I’ve been a fan of Jimmy’s Iced Coffee for a couple of years now, so I was more than happy to share my thoughts on why iced coffee is way better than hot. View Post

In association with Bella Italia. All views my own.

Although we have about 47 different Italian restaurants in Taunton, we don’t have a Bella Italia. We have been to Bella Italia in Bristol in few times, but about four or five years ago I had a slightly odd experience with some goats cheese bruschetta and I’m not sure we’ve been since.

My general impression, a few years ago, was that the food was FINE. Nothing more though.

What I’m saying is that if you’re seeing ‘Bella Italia’ and wrinkling your nose up a bit because you’re not 100% sold then I hear you. I felt exactly the same until this week.

BUT….

(And this is a big but)….

WE ARE BOTH WRONG.

I took Bee and Belle along to Bella Italia in Baldwin Street in Bristol this week to try out the new menu, which launched this month, and I honestly could not have been more impressed. Bella Italia has clearly come a long way since the goats cheese incident, and we stuffed ourselves silly (in the name of research) trying out a whole host of fantastic dishes.

Bella Italia totally exceeded my expectations and all three of us said we would definitely go back again. Every single thing we tried was delicious, plus I learnt a lot of things that I didn’t know about the restaurant and their ingredients.

Next time you’re going out for a meal, do think of Bella Italia.

Here are SEVEN reasons why:

They serve lovely cocktails

I know, this one isn’t about food, but cocktails? Come on. You know you want one.

I tried a ‘Sicilian Southside’, which is prosecco, limoncello and mint. It’s not a combination I’ve tried before but I will definitely try it again. There’s also a mocktail section on the menu – Bee had a passionfruit cooler.

Bella Italia cocktails View Post

Eating out is one of my very favourite things to do. As a family, food forms the basis of most of our outings.

‘What do you fancy doing today?’ one of us will ask another.

‘How about we go over to Wells?’ the other will suggest.

‘Shall we meet at midday? Just in time for lunch?’

And then we’ll meet and have lunch and look in a token shop or glance at Wells Cathedral so it feels like we actually HAVE had an outing, and then we go home again.

I think you get the idea.

I’m always pleased then when I get asked to try out a new restaurant, and I was SUPER pleased to get to visit Symonds at Redwood as the menu looked LUSH.

Symonds is set within Audley Redwood village, a luxury retirement village just outside Clifton in Bristol. The minute we got there I wanted to retire – the setting is beautiful and the apartments look lovely. There’s a fitness centre with loads of classes, a swimming pool, hair salon, and even a library. A library!

There’s also a bar and Symonds restaurant. It’s basically everything I need. I could picture myself at the bar mid-afternoon with a gin and tonic, hair done, library book in hand. Bliss.

Unfortunately you have to be at least 55 years old to actually live in one of the apartments, which is not that far away really, so it was basically a retirement research trip.

You do NOT have to be 55 though to visit Symonds. The bar and restaurant opened to residents at the end of last year and then to the general public in January. It’s beautifully decorated and opens out onto the gardens where you can sit in warmer weather. As well as evening meals Symonds do lunches and afternoon teas, which I’m sure would be lovely in the summer on the terrace.

Symonds restaurant Bristol review

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homemade party rings

Nothing says party like a party ring does it?

When I said out loud in my office today that I thought I might go home and make some party rings, the response was overwhelming. Much discussion ensued about the key foods that make up a good party – egg sandwiches, pink wafers etc – but the consensus was that if you turn up to a party with a packet of party rings then you win. You get the girl.

Can you EVEN IMAGINE then how popular you would be if you turned up to a party with HOMEMADE party rings?

Having already experimented with homemade Jaffa Cakes, homemade Jammie Dodgers, and a rather dubious batch of homemade Chocolate Hobnobs, which didn’t make the blog as I didn’t want to be sued for the cost of your resulting dental work, I thought I would have a go at making my own homemade party rings.

Follow my simple party rings recipe and you too can wow your party guests as you present them with a beautiful plate of Instagram ready treats. View Post

While I was stuck inside last week hiding from the snow I developed a new hobby – making biscuits that look a bit like biscuits you might see in the shops.

It’s fun.

Basically you think up a biscuit you like, and then you try to make your own. I started with the Jaffa cakes, which were super fun and very tasty, especially on the second day when the jelly had soaked into the sponge a little bit and made it lovely and moist.

Next up I had a go at homemade Jammie Dodgers.

homemade jammie dodgers

Check out those bad boys!

Now although I do like a Jammie Dodger in real life, I do find they can sometimes be a bit MUCH. Do you know what I mean? They’re pretty thick and full on. (Like some boyfriends I’ve had.) For my homemade Jammie Dodgers then I wanted to make something a little bit more delicate, so I used a simple shortbread style recipe for the biscuits and made them thinner than regular Jammie Dodgers. View Post

In association with McDonald’s

Ever since I went to McDonald’s in Exeter recently to make a Big Mac live on Twitter, (as you do), I’ve been trying to remember the first time I ever ate a McDonald’s.

I know that we didn’t have a McDonald’s in our town when I was young, but I couldn’t remember when it did open. I asked my sister Annabel, who is four years younger than me but has a much better memory. She reckons it was the early 1990s, which would have meant I was probably at least 14 or 15.

‘I remember being very excited it was opening!’ she told me. ‘I also remember the smell of the chips being so irresistible that Grandad (Eric) had taken me to the drive-thru after school once for some reason and actually asked if he could have a chip WITHOUT CUTLERY AND WHILST DRIVING.’

Our family WhatsApp group did NOT know what to do with this information. My Grandad (Eric) was not the sort of man to do anything whilst driving, let alone eat a chip.

‘MY LIFE IS A LIE,’ wrote Bee, unable to process the information.

Needless to say that I can’t remember a time when a cheeky Big Mac has not been a part of my life.

Big Mac close up

McDonald’s has changed a lot however since I used to take Bee in as a toddler. View Post