Friday, 28 August 2015

RESTAURANT REVIEW | Marriott at Waltham Abbey.

Marriott, Waltham Abbey, Essex, Restaurant Review, Food, fdbloggers, Food, Dinner, Dining,

Recently, I was invited to visit the Marriott Hotel at Waltham Abbey and sample their revamped Thyme Restaurant menu which prides itself in making delicious courses with locally sourced ingredients.

I am quite enjoying all these recent invitations to try out local restaurants, not only because of the food but also because of the chance to get dressed up and have some adult time with hubby. We got our glad rags on, slapped on a bit of lippy (me not hubby) and set off in plenty of time to allow for any Friday night traffic on the M25. 

We had a lovely, friendly welcome by the concierge Edgar and were shown to our table by the window. The courses looked delicious and as I wasn't drinking I was delighted to see a selection of mocktails on the drinks menu.

Crabcakes, Starters, restaurant review, Marriott Hotel, Waltham Abbey, Essex, lbloggers, fdbloggers,

Garlic Prawns, Starters, restStarters, restaurant review, Marriott Hotel, Waltham Abbey, Essex, lbloggers, fdbloggers,

For starters I opted for the crab cakes and Patrick had garlic stuffed prawns. For mains I sampled the Ballotine of chicken and Patrick had a rump steak with a peppercorn sauce. The chicken was my favourite of the two savoury courses, it was plump, juicy and full of flavour and came with a delicious, crispy but fluffy potato rosti and spinach. I, of course, tried some of Patrick's steak for the purpose of this review and it was soft and succulent; cooked perfectly medium  - rare as he requested. Patrick's order came with chunky chips which were full of flavour. Patrick enjoyed both of his courses although felt that the prawns were a little messy and that a little bowl of lemon water was perhaps needed to wash his hands after.

Steak, Chips, Mains, restaurant review, Marriott Hotel, Waltham Abbey, Essex, lbloggers, fdbloggers,

Chicken, mains, restaurant review, Marriott Hotel, Waltham Abbey, Essex, lbloggers, fdbloggers,

For dessert I couldn't decide between ice cream or the chocolate brownie. Our lovely waitress Jade who was so helpful, friendly and approachable advised the brownie was her favourite and suggested me ordering that and her getting me a scoop of pistachio ice cream on the side. I WAS SOLD. Pistachio ice cream is my favourite and is why I wanted to order ice cream in the first place and now I was having two desserts. Heaven.

The brownie came with mascapone and a coffee liquor and it was heavenly. Everything you want a borwnie to be. Thick, moist but dense, full of flavour and satisfying. Yum. I was especially happy to have a scoop of cold pistachio ice cream to dunk my warm brownie into. Patrick had a delicious cheese board the portion size of which was very generous.

Dessert, Brownie, restaurant review, Marriott Hotel, Waltham Abbey, Essex, lbloggers, fdbloggers,

Dessert, Cheese Board, restaurant review, Marriott Hotel, Waltham Abbey, Essex, lbloggers, fdbloggers,

Overall, we had a lovely meal at the Marriott. The restaurant itself is very spacious and has a lovely chilled atmosphere, it wasn't noisy and you don't feel like you are all dining on top of each other which is something I detest when eating out. The staff were friendly and attentive and the hotel itself was lovely.

I did also film the evening for my Youtube channel which you can watch now by clicking below.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

LIFE | Why I miss video rental shops.

1990's, Video Rental, Nostalgia, memories, VHS, Saturday Night,
*Photo Source: Pinterest.

Sky Movies. Netflix. I do love having a huge digital library of film and TV shows, available to watch at just the click of a button, especially when an old gem of a film I haven't watched in years pops up, I'm first in for a mini fist pump.

However, despite enjoying the modern world we live in where everything is at our fingertips whether it be the answer to an obscure question or wanting to order a new outfit, there are times I miss stuff from the old days. I spoke once before about missing CD's and why physically owning an album you had yearned for for so long will ALWAYS be an incredible feeling and after watching an old episode of Friends (the one where Monica bumps into Richard and her knickers are stuck to her jacket) I realised I missed something else too: Video Rental Shops.

Going to 'The video shop' (as we always called it unless it was Blockbuster, then we called it Blockbuster) to choose a film for the evening was part of the evening. It enhanced the experience. Walking through the door, the bell rings, taking in the smell of the place and the never ending walls stacked high with hundreds of videos that all just looked so enticing. I will never forget as a kid looking at the covers of the horror films and thinking how frightening they looked or me and my brother daring each other to cruise the 18+ aisle through all the rudey videos. What larks.

In the end we would have picked a video each (unless there was an offer on of course) the term of the hire was set by the shop and you knew how long you could rent it for by the sticker on the front. Newer releases would only be a couple of days due to high demand and obviously older films you could keep for longer. That was always an epic win, finding the film you desperately wanted to watch and the sticker saying you could have it a whole week. DAYUM sometimes it's good to be alive.

We also had a 'Video Man' who visited once a week (or maybe once a fortnight I can't remember) who had a van with a mini library of videos. I remember being beyond excited when I saw adverts on the TV for the release of 'The Little Mermaid' onto VHS as I hadn't seen it at the cinema and experiencing sheer excitement when the video man turned up later that week. Please please pleeeeease don't be out of copies of The Little Mermaid Mr Video Man, PLEASE!

I just had a little flash back, weren't there rental cards for the videos also? If the card was poking out of the top of the VHS case it meant it was available to rent but if there were no card, someone else was renting it. (You were given the card with the date it needed to be returned by and the video casette was put in a blank VHS box while the actual box was put back on the shelf).

Ahhh memories.

I honestly cannot remember the last time I stepped into a rental shop. It is amazing being able to rent films and whatever else sitting on your arse in the comfort of your own home wearing a face pack but in all honesty, cruising the video aisles was part of the fun and something I now miss. I can kinda understand why people a lot older than us feel like we are missing out on a lot of experiences and interaction. Technology and the internet does so much stuff for us now and it makes us less sociable. We don't need libraries because we have the internet, we don't need video rental shops because we have Sky or Netflix, we don't need shops because we can buy whatever we need online. It is quite sad. Don't get me wrong I am an avid internet user, I love netflix and love shopping online (clothing being delivered to my door is like Christmas over and over) but I do sometimes miss that simpler time. Good GOD I sound so old. 

I love technology and it is opening up so many new opportunities but no matter what, I will always have fond memories of hearing the words: 'Right, you have just five minutes to choose one video each, I don't want to be in here all night'.

Anyone else feel the same?

Monday, 24 August 2015

FOOD | Essex Bloggers at Cafe Rouge, Loughton.

Essex, Loughton, Cafe Rouge, Food, Review, fdbloggers, bloggers,

A few weeks ago now us Essex Bloggers were invited along to Cafe Rouge on Loughton High Street to have a catch up and sample their new menu.

If you haven't visited a Cafe Rouge before then - as the name gives away - it is a french themed restaurant and the Loughton branch certainly had a rustic, french theme to the decor which was lovely especially as it was a beautiful day and because of the open front to the cafe, it felt bright and airy inside the venue.

The staff were very attentive and friendly and the menu looked delicious! We all found it really hard to make a decision on what to order. In the end I opted for the 'Poulet Breton' -  'Roast chicken supreme with mushrooms, courgettes, leeks, herb wine sauce and mustard mashed potato' It was absolutely divine! The chicken was juicy and succulent, the sauce was amazing and the mustard mash, well, any dish that has mustard mash as a side is a winner in my books and it was perfectly flavoured and creamy too. Delish!

Essex, Loughton, Cafe Rouge, Menu, Review, bloggers, fdbloggers, Poulet Breton, chicken,

We all had a really lovely afternoon chattering away about all things bloggy and eating delicious food. Before we knew it we had been there a couple of hours and were needing to head home!

I had only ever eaten at a Cafe Rouge once before this and that was about seven years ago! I am not sure why I haven't eaten at one since especially when, with one at Intu Lakeside, there is one practically on my doorstep but because of the lovely lunch I had here and how good the other girls dishes looked, I know I will make sure I make I don't leave it so long until next time!

If you want to see a little bit more, I also vlogged the afternoon and you can watch that now by clicking below!

Thank you Cafe Rouge, Loughton for having us!