Author: Megan Hallinan

Would you trust a robot with your wine choice? A review of Clara Wine

How much do you know about wine? I mean, really know about wine? I’m sure most people would know if they prefer a Merlot over a Pinot Noir, the latter seeming to be the ‘wine of choice’ in recent times, the ‘flat white’ of the wine world. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely in that category of people who will quite happily jump onto a new ‘trend’ in wine. And for me, the reason I’ll do that is because quite frankly I’m daunted by trying to properly understand the wine world. People do courses and exams in this, there’s so much to learn! I know that I like wine, and I know what flavours I like, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I know how to choose a bottle in a shop or restaurant. I often find myself in the wine aisle in Sainsbury’s staring at their ‘fine wine’ stand ahead of a dinner party without a clue what I’m really looking for. And as the old saying goes, ‘never judge a book by its cover’, …

On Safari in Chyulu Hills, Kenya

In October last year I spent my 30th birthday at the spectacular Ol Donyo Lodge in Kenya with Tim. I wrote about our experience of staying at the lodge and the superb food and drink in an earlier blog post here. But now is the time to talk about the most exciting part of the holiday – the safari! We’d never been on safari before and we did a bit of research, helped very much by the brilliant Turquoise Holidays who we booked with. For us, we wanted an all round experience of a beautiful hotel, excellent food and wildlife. We certainly hit the bullseye with Ol Donyo. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, Ol Donyo is on a reserve so you have the best of both worlds – plenty of wildlife around the greener grounds of the reserve, as well as out on the open plains. In this part of Kenya you don’t get hippos and rhinos, but pretty much everything else! And at Ol Donyo there are a number of different …

Blood Orange Sorbet with Solerno Liqueur

Towards the end of last year I was kindly sent a bottle of Solerno, the world’s first blood orange liqueur. It’s not like anything I’ve tried before, with a zesty but fruity kick. Hand-picked from the slopes of Sicily’s Mount Etna, Solerno is made from blood oranges (Sanguinello, and known locally as Arancia Rossa, for the deep crimson hue of its flesh) harvested at the height of their season in the Mediterranean winter. I also love the bottle, inspired by Venetian Murano style glass. It’s certainly an impressive design for our growing collection of spirits! This drink makes me think of holidays in Italy on warm summer evenings spent on rooftop bars overlooking the Sorrento coast, or on leisurely boat trips around Capri. Italy is one of my favourite countries in the world and it holds a lot of special memories – we even got engaged in Florence, in the gardens of the Four Seasons hotel. I was thinking about how to use it at home and I decided I really wanted to try a recipe that …

Quick & Easy Beef Wellington Recipe

For Tim’s birthday this year, I thought I’d have a go at making a beef wellington. This was going to be no easy feat considering his birthday was mid-week and I’d have to prepare and cook it after getting back from work at 7pm. I’d never made one before so it was a massive gamble, but I actually managed to do a pretty great job – I don’t mean to sound arrogant, it’s more that I was genuinely astounded at how well it turned out, it may well have been a fluke! Either way, I got lots of lovely comments from people on social media when I posted photos of it, so I thought I’d share the recipe as it really wasn’t very difficult! Recipe: Makes 2 individual beef wellingtons, one per person Ingredients Jus-Roll puff pastry 320g ready rolled sheet 2 organic steaks, approx 200g each 150g chestnut mushrooms, roughly chopped 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme 50g chicken liver pate 6 slices of Parma Ham 1 egg (beaten to make an egg wash) Olive …

Birthday Lunch at The Black Swan at Oldstead

Ever since my Mum moved back to Yorkshire, I’ve been dying to visit The Black Swan in Oldstead, but felt like I needed an ‘occasion’ given its Michelin-star quality food (and prices!). I finally had the perfect excuse for my 30th birthday in October and asked my Mum if a trip there for lunch could be my present (a bit cheeky, but it worked, and she got to enjoy it too!). I booked at the start of the year last year as it’s high in demand. Mid-way through last year it was voted the ‘Travellers Choice Best Fine Dining Restaurant in the World’ by TripAdvisor, so I was glad I got my booking in before then, as I’m sure the requests went through the roof. It all seems so baffling for a tiny restaurant in a humble little village such as Oldstead. Despite it being around 20 minutes from where my Mum lives and where I grew up as a child, we didn’t know anything about it until its incredible rise to fame over the …

A Sunday Lunch at Fire Stables, Wimbledon

This is a long overview blog post from late last Summer which I’m finally getting around to writing up. But it’s about a Sunday Roast, so maybe it’s actually more suitable as we’re now in Winter and chillier weekends when a good heart-warming roast dinner is just what you need. I say it’s about a Roast Dinner. It was technically a combo of roast and seafood. I’ll explain… We live in Tooting and while we often pop into the centre of Wimbledon for shopping or the cinema, we hadn’t explored the village before. That was until we visited Fire Stables. It’s about a 15-minute walk from the station into a very charming party of Wimbledon and looks out onto a quiet street – in the summer it quite literally opened out onto the street with folding back doors/windows and so that’s where we sat, soaking up the sunshine. It’s part of the Young’s network, but what I love about these pubs is that you would never know they’re part of a chain unless you really …

Making Snowballs with Warninks Advocaat

When I was a teenager growing up in Cyprus, my favourite Winter tipple was the mighty ‘Snowball’. I have absolutely no idea why it was a popular drink over there, but our go-to pub used to do a brilliant one which my friends and I loved. And I knew that somewhere deep in my photographic archives (aka Facebook!) there were some pictures. And dear reader, I found them. WHAT is that haircut? I think I was going for the Noel Fielding look… So to summarise, I really do love a Snowball but I have to admit, I’d forgotten my love of this Advocaat-based Wintery drink! Earlier in the month, the team at Warninks kindly sent me a Snowball ‘kit’ with everything you need to concoct one of these beverages, along with a Christmas jumper which has had a lot of outings for the past few weeks, including our annual friends’ Christmas jumper lunch! For those of you who’ve never tried Advocaat, you might be wondering what on earth it is (and why it’s so yellow!) …