Monday, 20 February 2017

What we ate and where we stayed in Reykjavik and Iceland

I have so much that I want to share about our amazing five day trip to Iceland that I really don't know where to start. My head is buzzing with recipe development ideas (mostly involving Lamb and Skyr) but I'm going to kick off by sharing a selection of what we ate in Reykjavik, the island's capital and where we stayed on our trip. Suffice to say we had an absolutely amazing holiday and totally fell in love with Iceland. The price of everything is eye-wateringly expensive (£15 for a cheese and ham sandwich!) but the food throughout our entire stay was absolutely wonderful no matter where we ate. Cafes at motorway service stations and tourist attractions in the UK could learn a lot from those in Iceland. 

We spent the first night in Keflavik which is where the airport is situated. Our accommodation was at Hotel Keflavik and was absolutely ideal for a one night stay. Breakfast there was particularly good and we soon learned to eat as much as we could to fill us up for the day ahead! For our first Icelandic meal we headed to Kaffi Duss at the opposite end of the town where I had the most amazing Grilled Icelandic Lambchops with red cabbage, rhubarb jam, baked potato, and brown sauce (thankfully not of the HP variety!) Boy had Lobster Soup with Whipped Cream, Foodie Loon had Bacon wrapped monkfish with glazed vegetables, potatoes and house specialty lobster sauce. Girl had Pizza. You can bring a horse to (Icelandic) water but you can't make it drink. 

For the following four nights of our stay we were in a luxury 2 bedroom apartment at the Grimsborgir Hotel. This was absolutely perfect for us with terrace, bbq and a private hot tub plus a buffet breakfast served in the main hotel itself. It is located just off the 'Golden Circle' route close to Pingvellir National Park. We had optimistically hoped to spot the northern lights from our hot tub but unfortunately cloud throughout our stay put paid to that. Our travel agent Kate at Travel Counsellors had organised wine and mini deserts for our arrival which was much appreciated. So glad we chose to stay outwith Reykjavik and hire a car, it was definitely the best option for us and provided much more freedom than being tied to tour buses. 

I had a checklist of both sights and food to tick off in Reyjjavik. First stop was Harpa, the capital's twinkling concert hall with seemingly ever changing glass panels overlooking the harbour. Much fun was had by both little and big people building towers on the beach with black volcanic rocks before heading along the waterfront to Jon Arnason's ship like Sun Voyager sculpture. Hot Dogs are a huge thing in Iceland and the place to go in Reykjavik is Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur which translates to 'the best hot dog in town'. We ordered one with the works - ketchup, sweet mustard, fried onion, raw onion and remolaði, a mayonnaise-based sauce with sweet relish. If truth be told I was rather underwhelmed although I did like the raw and crispy onion combo. Bitafiskur - pieces of dried fish - were an absolute must try. These are best served with lashings of Icelandic butter. Perhaps not for everyone but I got a real taste for them. The perfect snack with a tipple, much like pork scratchings. Reykjavik Chips was recommended to me by a number of people and most definitely did not disappoint. We went for a family box to share which unfortunately meant that we didn't have a cone to insert into the holes in the table. The chips themselves were amazing, skin on, twice cooked served with your sauce of a dozen different sauces. A Gull beer on the side finished them off perfectly.

Probably the most iconic building in Reykjavic is Hallgrimskirkja (as also cleverly seen in the the Reykjavic Chips logo - go back and look!) The silhouette of this immense white concrete church is stunning whilst the interior is very simple bar a huge pipe organ. We took the opportunity to light a candle in the church in memory of my cousin Valerie. She had traveled to Iceland and had hoped to do so again but sadly passed away last year. We used the money she bequeathed to fund our holiday. Well worth taking the elevator trip to the top of the 73m high tower for fantastic views. The sun came out at this point and we had a fantastic vantage point over the multicoloured houses of the capital. Time for a wander around the Old Harbour in search of further sustenance. Saegreiffin - The Seabarron was our destination located in a turquoise harbourside shed. The interior is far from salubrious with communal benches and plastic barrel seats. We tried their famous lobster soup and a grilled fish kebab. The kebab was fantastic but I found the soup rather wishy washy.

Whilst in the vicinity of Hallgrimskirkja I'd been told to look out for Braud & Co Bakery. The smell of their warm cinnamon buns baking was amazing and the taste more than lived up to the enticing aroma. Eaten so quickly I never even got a photo but well worth following your nose to their highly graffitied building. Lunch on our final day in Iceland was at Kaffivagninn. A slightly confusing self service system of ordering but we got there. Main meals come with a portion of their soup of the day and a coffee. A selection of traditional scandanavian and Icelandic dishes were on the menu and the cold Danish Smørrebrød looked tempting but we all opted for hot fish dishes quirkily served in frying pans. Fishpan Cod Loin au gratin with shrimp and bernaise for me, Panfried Fish Balls with onion butter and remoulade for boy and Fish Stew with rye bread and butter for Foodie Loon. Girl went to Subway for her lunch but joined us for desert of apple cake. Baby steps. 

Lamb and Fish are most definitely the most prevalent items on menus in Iceland although there was also chicken, pork, pizza, pasta and vegetarian options available. We really didn't see much at all in the way of beef. We did see both Puffin & Whale on menus but chose to avoid both for ecological reasons. Even without that concern I think fermented whale would be a step too far for my palate and no way would girl have let me eat Puffin as they are just too cute. My only souvenir from Reykjavik? Yup you've guessed it. Gin.

For further Icelandic inspiration Helen has blogged about travel and gastronomy at Fuss Free Flavours and Kavey Eats has sent a fascinating series of Postcards from Iceland. More Iceland travel and recipe posts to follow from me too. I've got a pan of Icelandic Lamb Soup bubbling away at the moment just waiting to be blogged about...

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Foodie Quine - Eating in Iceland and Reykjavik. Lamb, Seafood, Lobster Soup, Hot Dogs, Reykjavik Chips, Saegreiffin, Braud & Co Bakery, Kaffi Duss, Bitafiskur.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

#experiencemercure Ardoe House Masterclass, Aberdeen

We're all really bad at not appreciating the things that are on our own doorstep. Ardoe House Hotel on the outskirts of Aberdeen is a place I've been on a number of occasions but pretty much always for functions or corporate events. As such I've never stayed in the hotel or made the most of their dining offering. To give it its full title, Mercure Aberdeen Ardoe House Hotel and Spa, is a beautiful 4-star 19th century mansion house set in 30 acres of tranquil Aberdeenshire countryside. It boasts 120 bedrooms and is situated just 3 miles outside the Granite City thus providing the perfect backdrop for a relaxing weekend. As such I was delighted to be invited to kick start my February with a culinary masterclass and overnight stay. My BFF was equally delighted to be asked to attend as my plus one but expressed reservations as to how hands on the masterclass might be. I was assured that it was just a demo so you can imagine her horror when she spotted aprons on the chairs!

On arrival at Ardoe we checked into our spacious twin room which was stylishly furnished with super comfy beds plus a seating and work desk area. The large bathroom had a walk-in shower and was kitted out with toiletries, robes and slippers. Complimentary soft drinks and snacks awaited alongside a Nespresso machine and an #ArdoeMasterclass Picnic Hamper was delivered containing a selection of scones with cream and jam, scotch egg, pork pie, chocolate brownies, local crisps and sparkling mineral water. Time to head down to the Masterclass and meet up with fellow bloggers John of The Everyday Man, Claire of Bee Waits and Alex & Ziggy of Scotland Travelaholic. Leading the Masterclass was Ardoe's Executive Head Chef Richard Yearnshire assisted by Senior Sous Chef Alan Clarke and Pastry Chef Daniel Grant. Time to don our aprons and roll up our sleeves!

The menu and recipes for the Masterclass had already been delivered to our room along with our Hamper and details of the event timings. The first instruction was 'the preparation of the pork belly needs to be cooked in advance over a three day period'. Luckily Richard explained that for a number of elements they would be working on a 'here's one we made earlier basis'. Phew, not sure we could have waited 3 days for our dinner. Richard took great pains to explain the ethos of the fine dining offering at Ardoe's Blair's Restaurant. As much as possible of the food is local with an emphasis on quality and provenance. A myriad of textures, flavours, temperatures and cooking techniques are used to prevent palate fatigue. We were wowed with techniques using brining, sous vide, salt baking, dehydrating, pané, vac packing, gels, jus, syrups and souffles.

Thanks to Ziggy at Scotland Travelaholic for the above couple of photos. I made a complete pigs ear at my attempt to shuck a humongous Isle of Skye Scallop. When it came to plating up we were again offered the chance to try our hand, I stepped back for this opportunity fearing another faux pas. However when it came to whipping up the souffle my BFF stepped forward and folded in the egg whites and cranachan base like a true pro. By this time our mouths were watering as we'd watched the first two courses being prepared, cooked and plated up but hadn't eaten a thing. The cooking smells were tantalising and when the souffle arrived from the oven we all grabbed a spoon and dug in. It would only have flopped and the sorbet melted if we hadn't.

A quick change of clothes to dress for dinner and at last with rumbling bellies and eager anticipation we headed to Blair's Restaurant to enjoy our Mercure Masterclass Meal. As expected everything tasted absolutely wonderful and all eight of us agreed that we enjoyed our meal even more having seen all the time, skill, techniques and sheer passion that had gone into creating it. Bar the scallops, pork and venison my personal favourite elements were the pork crackling ring, the Sloe Gin jus (surprise surprise!) and the onion tarte tatin. A sensational journey for the palate which truly captured the farm to fork ethos.

Hand Dived Scallops, Pork Belly, Beetroot Flavours.

Loin of 24hr Braised Shoulder of Venison, Onion Tart Tatin, Salt Baked Vegetables, Blackberry and Sloe Gin Jus.

Cranachan Souffle, Barra Berries, Whisky Sorbet

We enjoyed a post dinner drink in the Lairds Bar before retiring for the night. However upon entering our room we were met with a further treat to enable us to create our own Hot Toddies as a nightcap. It would have been rude not to partake! A hearty cooked breakfast was the order of the day to start Sunday morning before heading to the Spa for a swim, steam and sauna. The perfect end to a relaxing and educational #experiencemercure weekend break. 

Disclosure: This is a commissioned post for Mercure Hotels. We ate and stayed as guests of Mercure Aberdeen Ardoe House Hotel and Spa. All views expressed are my own. 
Thank you for supporting the brands who make it possible for me to continue to share my Edible Scottish Adventures with you. I’m super choosy and promise to bring you only the cream of the crop.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Ice Cream Cookiewiches ♥ Ice Cream and Choc Chip Cookie Sandwiches

14th February. Valentines Day. It's the sweetest time of the year for some, but for others it can be the day they love to hate. Whether you're celebrating with a loved one, drowning your sorrows a la Bridget Jones, doing it a day early with your girlfriends for Galentines Day or burying your head in the sand about the whole thing I've got some delicious deserts to share with you. It's your prerogative if you choose to share them with a significant other or keep them all for yourself. Cookies, Ice Cream and Sprinkles. Could there be anything sweeter?! Combine them all for the ultimate Sandwich and you have a heavenly desert. This year I will be spending Valentines Day in Iceland (the country) so it seems only appropriate that I've teamed up with Iceland (the shop) to showcase their Luxury Dessert range and share my recipe for Ice Cream Cookiewiches.

Can I share a secret? Valentine's Day is probably the worst time of the year to eat out as a couple. Prices are hiked up, people are squeezed in, there's an atmosphere of enforced romance, the staff really don't want to be there. The ideal solution could be a special meal at home. However if you go for that option you run the risk of spending more time slaving over a hot stove that gazing into each others eyes across the table. Time to harness the #PowerOfFrozen from Iceland Foods. Their range of frozen produce is tasty, convenient and absolutely perfect for when you want to enjoy quality food whilst spending time with someone special and not be stuck in the kitchen. With decadent desserts in mind I popped along to my local Iceland store and picked up a fantastic haul from their Luxury desert range. All were effortlessly easy to prepare with defrosting times ranging from 10 minutes to 1-1/2 hours. With a few accessories you can pimp and preen their presentation to perfection. 

French Crème Brûlée 

2 individual terracotta pots filled with a Madagascan vanilla custard base with caramel pieces included to create a crunchy glazed topping.

These cook from frozen under the grill in only 4-5 minutes. Deliciously decadent and reusable terracotta pots to boot. Be sure to let them stand for a further 5 minutes so the top crisps up nicely.

Raspberry & Prosecco Semifreddo
A creamy raspberry and Prosecco Italian style dessert made with marscapone cheese, topped with a raspberry compote and Heritage raspberry crumb. 
This only needs 10-15 minutes to defrost. Pure indulgence and simply must be served accompanied by a glass of Prosecco for the full effect.

2 Pot Au Chocolat
Creamy dark chocolate dessert made with real Belgian chocolate served in individual terracotta pots.
2 Exotic Mousse with Coconut
A thin sponge layer topped with passion fruit and mango mousse with mango pieces, coated in mango icing and decorated with desiccated coconut.
2 Chocolate & Hazelnut Marquise
A layered desert on a crunch hazelnut and milk chocolate base with chocolate flavoued sauce, chocolate flavour brownie and dark chocolate mousse. Decorated with dark chocolate velvet dusting.

Why have one desert when you can create your own sharing platter of three? The exotic tropical mouse makes a wonderfully refreshing contrast to the indulgent dark chocolate.

Very Berry Individual Cheesecakes
2 individual baked vanilla cheesecakes, topped with a sweet berry sauce, raspberries and wild blackberries.
These creamy fruity cheesecakes and their Westcountry Salted Fudge counterparts make the perfect end to a special Valentine meal.

If you'd like to go a step further and make your own desert, you can head to the freezers at Iceland and combine ready to bake cookie dough with luxury ice cream to make Ice Cream Cookiewiches. These can be made in advance and you can mix and match the flavours of cookies and ice cream to suit. The 100's and 1000's are optional and could be substituted with chopped nuts, grated chocolate or popping candy. My kids were the taste testers for this creation and they absolutely loved them! Cookiewiches (or Sandookies??!!) are the perfect sweet treat to share with any loved one on any day of the year. We should really celebrate love all year round for everyone special in our lives.

Ice Cream Cookiewiches ♥ Ice Cream and Cookie Sandwiches 
Makes 3 

1 Box Millie's at Home Ready to Bake Triple Choc Cookie Dough
Magnum Tub White Ice Cream
Hundreds & Thousands Sprinkles

Bake the cookies from frozen according to the pack instructions and allow to cool completely.
Remove ice cream from the freezer and stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.
Squeeze the pack and crack the thick Magnum white chocolate shell.
Spread a generous layer of the ice cream on the underside of 3 of the cookies and sandwich together with the remaining 3.
Tip some hundreds and thousands sprinkles into a small shallow bowl and roll around the edges of your cookiewiches.
Place the cookiewiches in a freezer proof container and return to the freezer for at least an hour before serving. 
Let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes before serving. 

For further Valentine's recipes utilising the #PowerOfFrozen take a look at these delectable deserts from my blogging colleagues
Veggie Desserts - Pistachio Blondies with Raspberry Swirl Hearts
Recipes From A Pantry - Lime, Mango & Pineapple Loaf Cake

The Hedgecombers - Wintry Summer Pudding

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Ice Cream Cookiewiches ♥ Foodie Quine - Ice Cream and Choc Chip Cookie Sandwiches and a round up of Iceland Foods Luxury Valentine Dessert Range #PowerOfFrozen

Linking up to CookBlogShare

Disclosure: This is a commissioned recipe for Iceland Foods. As always, all views expressed are my own. 
Thank you for supporting the brands who make it possible for me to continue to share my Edible Scottish Adventures with you. I’m super choosy and promise to bring you only the cream of the crop.

Friday, 3 February 2017

An Audience with Nick Nairn at Dunblane Hydro

I love how things can sometimes go full circle. Back in May 2013 when I'd been blogging for less than nine months I was terribly excited to be invited to my very first blogger event. A tasting in the Kailyard by Nick Nairn at Dunblane Hydro. Fast forward to last Friday night and I was invited once again to the Hydro, this time for an overnight stay and to attend An Audience with Nick Nairn. In the intervening 4 years my path has crossed with Nick on a number of occasions so it was lovely to join him as he celebrated 30 years in the business as a successful chef, TV presenter and entrepreneur. With Stephen Jardine as the host with the most we knew we were in for an enjoyable night.

Shonagh Gordon (Sales Manager at Dunblane Hydro) Foodie Loon & Foodie Quine
With drinks and canapés from 7pm we had a wee bit of a rush to head south on a Friday night and as we hit the A9 after Perth snow began to flutter. Whilst I've been to Dunblane Hydro on a number of occasion I thought it best to rely on the Sat Nav for directions given the dark night and inclement weather. Big Mistake. The automated voice announced "You have reached your destination" in the middle of a housing estate! We could actually see the hotel but couldn't reach it! When we finally checked in at 6.55pm the receptionist told us that guest getting lost enroute was a regular occurrence. A quick change into a frock, spritz of perfume and tszujing of hair and make up (that was just foodie loon!) and we were were presentable. Alas such was the rush that I didn't manage to photograph our room in its pristine state. Suffice to say it was spacious, clean, comfortable and modern with a huge bathroom and lovely views over the hotel grounds.

The Edinburgh Gin and Tonic was most welcome after our slightly stressful arrival and we mingled with other guests in the Wallace Lounge before heading through to the Strathallan Suite for the main event. It soon became apparent that the evening would consist of a Game of Tartan Thrones. These gorgeous chairs usually sit at the front door of the hotel and we took the opportunity to take our own selfies in them the next morning. Nick and Stephen arrived on stage and reminiscent of This is Your Life the evening began with a selection of embarrassing baby and teenage photographs moving on to Nick regaling tales of his life in the Royal Navy from the age of 17 and his discovery in the Far East that there was more to food than mince and tatties. Time to eat our first two courses which comprised of Smoked Scottish Salmon and Cauliflower Veloute before the next part of the story.

With a passion for food, Nick left the Navy and despite never having been to catering college, working in a restaurant or being tutored by any chef he formulated ambitious plans to open a restaurant in a disused Mill at Braeval, near Aberfoyle. Aged 27 his first job in the industry was his own restaurant. It was by no means plain sailing with many hiccups along the way and 100+ hour working weeks but the reward came in 1991 when he became the youngest Scottish chef to win a coveted Michelin star. Time for main course of Slow Braised Daube of Scotch Beef before the concluding part of the tale. 

Television beckoned and Nick grasped the opportunity with both hands initially fronting his own shows Wild Harvest and Island Harvest before becoming a well loved celebrity chef on Ready Steady Cook. Multiple books followed by the opening of two Cookschools, three seasons of the Great British Menu and cooking the main course at the banquet for the Queen’s 80th birthday. More recently he has been gallivanting with his chef buddy Paul Rankin in Ireland, Scotland the USA and Canada in Paul & Nick’s Big Food Trip. Closer to home he continues to shout from the rooftops about Scotland’s fabulous natural larder and work towards ways in which Scotland can continue to improve its relationship with food through better school meals and food education. Following dessert of Malt Whisky Cream with Macerated Berries it was time for the fun part of the evening - the audience Q&A session. With the offer of a half day for 2 at the Cookery School up for grabs for the best question there were plenty of hands in the air. Amongst other things I now know that Nick's food heaven is Scottish Seafood, hell is Reindeer Testicles and last meal would be a Bacon & Egg Roll cooked by Paul Rankin. 


The evening ended with a chance for guests to meet Nick, grab a selfie and purchase a cookbook or one of his ubiquitous cook school board scrapers. Entertainment continued with a live band (most definitely not Jim MacLeod and his Scottish Dance Band) but we headed through to the Cocktail Bar for a nightcap. A wonderful selection of Scottish gins, alas no premium tonics, but knowledgeable barman and all the correct garnishes meant we enjoyed Strathearn, Eden Mill, Rock Rose and Caorunn before I caused great consternation by ordering a Baileys and Amaretto in the same glass. I can assure you that it is truly a wonderful 'one for the road'. After a comfortable nights sleep, breakfast up to 11am at the weekend was most appreciated and we enjoyed the full Scottish with black pudding and haggis before heading to the leisure facilities for a quick swim, steam and sauna. A wonderful start to the weekend, Dunblane Hydro is truly a little luxury in the heart of Scotland.

Disclosure: We ate and stayed as guests of DoubleTree by Hilton Dunblane Hydro. All views expressed are my own. Additional photography courtesy of Dunblane Hydro.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Valentine Food and Drink Guide

Now we're in February it surely must be acceptable to say that love is in the air?! Although admittedly there have been Valentines cards in the shops since Christmas, Easter Eggs too - but that's a step too far surely. No matter how you look at it, food and love are inextricably linked.

"The way to a man's heart is through his stomach" Anon
"There is no love sincerer than the love of food" George Bernard Shaw
"Cooking is like love: It should be entered into with abandon or not at all" Harriet van Horne
"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well" Virginia Woolf
"My weaknesses have always been food and men—in that order" Dolly Parton
"People who love to eat are always the best people" Julia Child

Whether you are looking for ideas or dropping hints or simply love good food I've got a selection of luxury food and drink goodies that would be perfect for sharing with a loved one or indulging in alone Bridget Jones stylee come 14th February.

Gin for the Win... 
It's no secret that the love of my life is Gin so it's only proper that I offer some Valentine Ginspiration. In the spirit of recycling I give my husband the same Valentine card every year. It says "I love you more than Gin and Tonic". The jury is still out on the validity of this statement. 
There's an abundance of choice out there for the discerning Juniper connoisseur so without further ado here's my seasonal pick if you are shopping for the Gin lover in your life. If the Gin lover is you, do feel free to forward a link to the significant other in your life. I find a direct approach works much better than subtle hints. 

Sipsmith was the first copper distillery in London for nearly 200 years and was really the start of the UK's gin revival. Every bottle of Sipsmith is hand-crafted in genuinely small batches in either Prudence, Constance or Patience (the three copper pot stills) Prudence has a swan neck hence the logo. 

Ever since I spotted their Lemon Drizzle variant popping up on social media I've been desperate to try it and it didn't disappoint. Gin + Cake is truly a winning combination. The Lemon Drizzle is made with a London Dry backbone and then the Sipsmith team painstakingly peel hundreds of fresh lemons for each batch. It's a labour of love that is most definitely worth it. 

London Dry Gin 70cl £29 
A particularly dry gin with a zesty, citrus finish 
The quintessential expression of a classic London Dry Gin. Bold, complex and aromatic – smooth enough for a Martini, yet rich and balanced, perfect for a G&T. 

Lemon Drizzle Gin 50cl £25 (exclusive to M&S or direct from the distillery shop
Delectable, naturally sweet, and brightly citrusy 
This recipe takes a classic London Dry backbone and layers on sweet, sun-dried lemon peels, lemon verbena from Jared’s garden for aromatic sweetness on the nose and vapour infused fresh hand peeled lemon for sharp bite and floral notes to dial up the spritz. 

Available from: Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Ocado, Asda and Morrisions £24.00 70cl

BLOOM Gin, with it's stunning eau de nil floral bottle and pretty heart gift tag, is the perfect gift for a gin lover who loves a floral, delicate gin. Dare I say it, perhaps one for the ladies. It's distilled by one of the world's few female Master Distillers, Joanne Moore. Now there's a job I'd like to have! They kept that one quiet in the careers guidance talk at school. Joanne chose the flowers of chamomile and honeysuckle, with the citrus fruit pomelo to make up the three main botanicals for BLOOM. It's beautiful new bottle and delicious floral flavour appeals to non-gin drinkers and gin aficionados alike. The heart gift tag gives the recipe for two easy cocktails: BLOOM & Tonic and French 75 which will be a sure hit on Valentine's Day. Why give flowers in a bouquet when you can give them in a bottle of Gin?

Hand-foraged. Hand-signed. Great taste.

Conker Spirit Dorset Dry Gin is a home-grown dry gin courtesy of Dorset’s first gin distillery. It would make a superb addition to any drink collection or the perfect gift for your loved one this Valentine’s Day. I first discovered it back in September 2015 when I was in Dorset visiting River Cottage. I was taken by both its stunning good looks and its coastal flavours. Each bottle is hand-signed and made in batches of 60 at a time – giving it an extra special touch. The distillery is nestled in the sandy backstreets of Bournemouth and the Gin is defined by the fresh Dorset notes of marsh samphire, elderberries and handpicked New Forest gorse flowers. 

Perfect with Prosecco...
Prosecco really has become the fizz of choice with an 80% rise in the sales of sparkling wine in the last 5 years we just can't get enough of it. Less expensive than Champagne it can be enjoyed as an aperitif, with meals and is perfect for celebrations. For Valentine's day why not pimp your bubbles pink with the addition of a liqueur to create a Royale.

70cl £22 at selected Marks & Spencers

Chase your valentine round the Mulberry bush for this colourful tipple. Traditional sloe gin – a product long steeped in British tradition – serves as the primary inspiration behind Boodles Mulberry. Made with mulberries, a touch of raspberries, Gin and a blend of natural ingredients, Boodles Mulberry is a liqueur perfect for sipping both warm and cold. For Valentines Fizz make a Boodles Royale with 1 Part Boodles Mulberry Gin to 3 Parts Prosecco or Champagne. Garnish with Lemon twist and serve in a champagne flute.

Flamingos are pink, violets are blue and Chambord is a black raspberry liqueur perfect for you!
20cl £7.50 at all major supermarkets
20cl Chambord bottle with a 75cl bottle of Martini Prosecco and a pair of bespoke Chambord flutes £6.50 from selected Asda 

Chambord is a luxurious French black raspberry liqueur, with intense raspberry and vanilla notes, which is perfect to enjoy with Champagne or Prosecco as a Chambord Royale. The iconic bottle reflects the legend that Chambord was inspired by a luxurious raspberry liqueur produced for King Louis XIV during his visit to Chateau Chambord in the 17th Century. 

Beer, Wine and Spirits... 

Champagne is the quintessential romantic drink and at at only £14.99 you can definitely afford to splash out on a bottle of Henri Dellatre Rosé Champagne from Lidl UK. Ideal for those planning on celebrating the occasion at home or simply looking for a pre-dinner tipple to enjoy before heading out for the evening. Rose Champagne has become increasingly popular in recent years, this is an elegant, smooth example, not too highly flavoured and very easy to drink - Cheers! 

The Henri Dellatre Rosé Champagne is just one of 39 bottles in Lidl’s latest Wine Cellar Collection, which also includes a selection of lower alcohol wines (meaning you don’t have to break the diet or bank this Valentine’s!) The limited edition range hit shelves on the 26th January, and will be in stores until stocks last.

There's absolutely no reason why you shouldn't fall in love with Beer this Valentines day...

Hand brewed in Aberdeen just up the road from me, Fierce Beer have made a real impression in a short space of time with a range of bold, strong flavours across Pale Ales, Fruit Beers and Dark Porters. Local, natural and a wee bit quirky are the keywords with flavours ranging from peanuts and coffee to honey and chilli. The two latest additions to the range are Tropical Tart and Easy Shift. 
Fierce beers are currently available in craft beer shops across the UK, as well as some Spar and Oddbins shops in Scotland.

Raspberry Wheat Beer 5.0% ABV
Based on a pale, lightly hopped wheat beer, the refreshingly crisp fruitiness, aroma and rich colour of Raspberry Wheat comes from the addition of fresh raspberry puree during maturation. Balancing tartness with sweetness, on its own this brew is a delicious Valentines aperitif to share with your loved one, as well being as a great partner for goat’s cheese, rich pate or anything chocolatey!
Yakima Red 4.1% ABV
Meantime’s Yakima Red is brewed with British and German malts and boasts a deep ruby colour and medium to full body. Cooking up a storm for your loved one this Valentines? Meantime Yakima Red is a wonderful match for veal, crispy roast pork, ham hock or charcuterie.

Fallen Brewing, one of Scotland’s leading craft breweries, has just become one of the first breweries in Scotland to install a canning line and move its entire beer range into cans. Established in 2014, Fallen Brewing is situated in the old Kippen Railway Station with views towards The Trossachs and The South West Highlands. The range is made using only pure, soft Scottish mountain water and the best hops and malts from around the world. 
RRP from £2.10 for 330ml from independent shops including The Woodhouse Farm Shop, Cork and Cask, Cornelius and Beer Hive in Edinburgh and Hippo Beers, Good Spirit Company and Valhalla’s Goat in Glasgow. 

Welcome to the world where twin passions of sweet potatoes and artisan distilling are mixed daily. 

I am both smitten with the name and the concept. If you thought Sweet Potato Fries were awesome you ain't tasted nothing yet. Each sweet potato spirit is hand crafted using specially selected, raw ingredients and distilled three times in copper pot alembic stills, using methods passed down over years. Oh so stylish 50c bottles and wonderful flavours. The core range are as below but I also tried out Toffee Apple Moonshine which is a new addition to the lineup along with Plum Gin, Chocolate and Chilli Moonshine and Pink Marshmallow Moonshine.

Moonshine The UK's first Sweet Potato Moonshine bolsters a heady mix of vanilla, warm peach and apricot skins with a smack of golden caramel to finish. 
Spiced Rum Dive into waves of ginger, treacle and lemon blossom coming up for air only to be enveloped by cherry, peach and warm spices with a tap of cracked-caramel to finish. 
Raspberry Liqueur The sharpness of raspberries and the perfume of violet petals gives way to a light fruit sugar rush with a long and refreshingly gentle acid hit to finish. 
Orangecello Liqueur A choice for the friskier liqueur lover, pair Orangecello with champagne for a Sweet Mimosa. 

Why not say it with sausages this Valentine's day?! HECK have created a Valentine's Day card with built in breakfast. Go the whole hog with four heart shaped 97% British pork patties. This delicious declaration of love is available exclusively from Waitrose.  Perfect for a hearty breakfast. 

What could be sweeter than Honey for your Honey? Cut straight from the hive with nothing added and nothing removed. Produced by a family run farm in Exmoor, Devon this pure and natural honeycomb would be the perfect addition to any Valentine's Day Breakfast in Bed.

If you thought that a heart shaped sausage was cheesy then you ain't seen nothing yet! This utterly delicious Godminster Cheese Duo Heart Box Set is made in the heart of rural Somerset at Godminster Farm. Happy cows provide the milk for the signature cheddars, which have been in production for over 70 years. This lovely set of two cheeses contains a full-bodied 400g Cheddar sealed in Godminster's signature burgundy wax in a charming heart shape. Alongside is a rich and smooth 200g round oak-smoked Cheddar, smoked with sustainable chippings. 

Where you choose to spread your MUDD this Valentines day is entirely up to you... I've been spreading the Salted Banoffee on Broiche Rolls and it's rather wonderful. 

Salted Chocolate Mudd – 100% Cocoa is combined with fresh cream, pure golden syrup, farmhouse butter & Angelsey Sea Salt for the ultimate in spreadable indulgence.
Chocolate Honey Mudd – 100% Cocoa, & Farmhouse butter are blended with English heather honey creating a sumptuous & smooth taste triumph.
Salted Banoffee Mudd – Fresh Bananas are combined with double cream with an added twist of Anglesey Sea Salt together creating a flavour extravaganza.

Traditional Scottish Butcher & Game Dealer

Love me Tender on Valentines Day with a prime Scotch Beef steak from Macbeth's. Available online via mail order throughout the UK Macbeth's is a traditional Scottish Butcher & Game Dealer based in Forres, Morayshire. All their beef comes from the family farm, Edinvale in Dallas from the traditional native breeds of Highland, Shorthorn and Aberdeen Angus cattle. Grass fed the award winning well hung beef steaks are aged for a minimum of 21 days. The Guild of Fine Food Great Taste Awards dished out a gold star awards to their sirloin and rump steaks whilst their rib eye steak was awarded 2 gold stars. Whichever cut you choose you'll find that Macbeth's steaks are full of flavour and wonderfully tender. A real luxury product that will make the perfect romantic candlelit dinner à deux. 

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Foodie Quine Luxury Valentine Food and Drink Guide 14th February 2017 Steak, Champagne, Gin, Cheese, Honey, Prosecco, Beer, Liquers, Wine.

Disclosure : Thanks to all the brands and PR's who provided products for review. All views expressed are my own. I’m super choosy who I work with and promise to only ever bring you the cream of the crop.