Saturday, 13 May 2017

BBQ season: honey and orange chicken recipe

BBQ honey and orange chicken recipe
Is the weather finally coming to its sense and letting the sun out to play?  Is it BBQ season finally here?  I think so.
I have fond memories of barbeque when I was a child in Brazil, in the land of plenty we have so many choices. We usually throw anything on the grill, from meat to vegetables to fruits.

Back in April on a sunny Friday, I decided it was time for a barbeque the weather was asking for a bit of grilled food and beer.  I was given some Duvel  a  subtle bitter Belgium beer with a refined taste of hop and delicate effervescence. It has a pleasantly sweet aftertaste.

Like wine and food pairing, beer is usually paired according to strength, body and the main flavour of the dish. I decided to do a little experiment food and beer matching.   Duvel has plenty of body and a distinctive flavour which matches  perfectly with sweetness. Having a look around my pantry,  I found some sweet oranges,  and with a little inspiration from the classic Duck a l'orange. I came up with this delicious recipe that can be prepared in advance.  Just throw the chicken in the BBQ when your guests arrive.
BBQ honey and orange chicken recipe

BBQ honey and orange chicken recipe

Serves: 3-4 people

500g  of chicken thighs  (skin on)

for the marinade
Pinch of Maldon smoked salt
100ml of Worcestershire sauce (1/2 cup)
juice of 1 lemon
25ml of Orange juice (3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons of honey
fresh oregano - 3 sprigs
2x cloves of garlic, minced

Oranges in segments (optional)

1) Poach the chicken in a large pan for 30 minutes, do not let it go beyond the simmering point.   Drain and reserve the chicken aside.
2) In a large bowl add all the ingredients for the marinade. Mix well until incorporated. 
3) Drizzle the sauce over the chicken and let it marinade in the fridge for at least 4 hours or better if overnight.
4) Take the chicken out the refrigerator. Prepare your grill (bbq)  and cook the chicken till piping hot. If having the oranges grill them as well - It's delicious!  Serve immediately.

I don't know anyone who doesn't  enjoy a BBQ.  Do you?
BBQ honey and orange chicken recipe

Disclosure: I was sent Duvel as a gift. All opinions are my own.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Isle of Harris Gin

The rise of gin sees no end.  Lots of different choices surround us, and everyone has a different gin recipe. I remember making gin in London a couple of years ago. I really enjoyed the process, and I think I still have my recipe somewhere...

The other day I was introduced to Isle of Harris, a new gin from the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, has just landed in London, from the most remote located spirit producer. Infused with local hand harvested and sustainably sugar kelp and made with other eight meticulously chosen botanicals this gin capture the local maritime spirit.

Where is the Isle of Harris?

'Harris is the southern part of the Scottish Hebridean island of Lewis and Harris. It’s known for sandy beaches like Luskentyre and Scarista on the west coast, and for rugged mountains in the north. In the east is an area of miniature fjords called the Bays. The 16th-century St. Clement’s Church in the village of Rodel has three richly carved tombs. Harris is also the original home of Harris Tweed, a luxury handwoven cloth.'
In late 2015, the Isle of Harris Distillery opened in Tarbert; this new 'social distillery' is the first one on the Isle of Harris.
The Isle of Harris  Distillers is improving the local social, financial landscape by employing young and more experienced labour alike. Their aim is to create an enterprise that will prosper over the generations to come.

Tasting Isle of Harris Gin

Gin is clear alcoholic spirit distilled from grain or malt and flavoured with juniper berries and other botanicals. This gin is made in a small copper still called 'Dottach' .

Isle of Harris gin has a sharp juniper note with pine needles, followed by bitter orange, lime and grapefruit. A sophisticated floral note of roses, green herbs, coriander and gooseberry supported by mixed spices.

On the palate -  a fresh, clean, well-balanced juniper and pine gin with the underline of fruity citrus flavours and crushed coriander.  It has a distinctive smooth dry and 'flinty' taste.

Its finish is long and clean with juniper, and citrus peel notes that fade away leaving the sweet vanilla and black pepper and a faint sugar kelp as a reminder of the sea.

The Isle of Harris suggested serving

It was recommended 'on the rocks' with an addition of a few drops of their own sugar kelp aromatic water, with a wedge of pink or red grapefruit or lime. Served in a long glass, with ice and with a good quality tonic water.  

For those with a more creative mind, this Gin is actually splendid in cocktails too inclusive Martinis!

Here is another suggestion from the Isle of Harris folks:

50ml Isle of Harris Gin
3-4 drops of Sugar Kelp Aromatic Water
Walter Gregor's Scottish Tonic with Quinine
Red or Pink Grapefruit

'We like to 'build' our favourite serve, savouring the smoothness of the Isle of Harris Gin unadulterated before any additions are made. So pour a good measure into a wide rimmed glass and sip neat. If you want to enhance the maritime elements of the spirit, add a few drops of our Sugar Kelp Aromatic Water to taste. Then introduce ice, large blocks if possible to avoid dilution, and taste once more. If you feel tonic is required, add just a splash, try not to drown the gin flavours. Finally rim the glass with a wedge of Red or Pink grapefruit showing plenty fruit flesh and add a slice to your final drink. Enjoy!'

To Buy Isle of Harris gin and sugar kelp water:

The Social Distillery:
‘For And By The People Of Harris’ 

Ambassador Opportunity:
Anyone interested in the role can find out more at facebook/isleofharrisdistillers

Disclosure: I was a guest at Isle of Harris gin event. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Italy, Veneto: A luxury stay at Almar Jesolo

Here we go again on another beautiful, luxury adventure - this time in Italy. Almar Jesolo Resort & Spa is an exceptional 5-star resort and spa just 50 minutes east of Venice. Situated right in the middle of the Jesolo Lido, it is a 15km strip of beach – the longest promenade in Europe.  Jesolo is a quaint seaside town that can be easily explored by foot or bike.  It's within easy reach of the beautiful floating Venice or the equally famous Verona, by car/taxi and ferry or a combination of both. 

The property overlooks a golden sandy beach with a cinematic walkway to the promenade and beyond. The beach is known for their small piers all along the coast.  In the summer, the hotel places white chairs, beach umbrellas as well as white double beach sunbeds for their guests.

The Almar Jesolo pride themselves on extraordinary quality and incredibly attentive and superior service.   The hotel facilities are superb, clean and well staffed.   From the moment you check-in to check-out all your desires and requests are attended to, without any questions.  The service is professional, friendly and discreet.   The staff speak perfect English and are fluent in other languages too.

The rooms are just gorgeous; spacious, comfortable and high-tech. My 8th-floor apartment overlooked the sea and the pool downstairs.  The bed is what we call in England Emperor size, with crisp white bedding.  The room has one walk-in shower room with all facilities and the other a bath and his & hers basins. The living room was a delight with a desk and plugs for everything you could image.  A beautifully fragrant bouquet of flowers and a bottle of their prosecco were waiting on my arrival. 

The balcony was quite big, with two loungers, towels, a table and chairs and plenty of room to move around.  Space is not a concern in this place. The decor was very relaxing with designer touches throughout the property.

It's silent all around, it's a place to relax and forget about the world. A place to concentrate on yourself and recharge your batteries.

Wellness, Spa and Beauty services at Almar Jesolo

Being a wellness and spa resort, Almar Jesolo offers an extensive list of pleasurable body treatments, massages and beauty treatments that put you on the right path to wellness.  

I had a 'Journey between Heaven and Earth'  a 90-minute full body massage  - It was so relaxing I fell asleep, only to be woken when the therapist asked me to turn around... I thought I was dreaming....  The whole experience took place in the very exclusive Almablu's hidden gem - a luxurious room overlooking the sea, a very private part of the Spa, that can be booked for 3 hours for treatments, private sauna and jacuzzi.  A fantastic experience.

They have two lines of products: Almablu, which was an absolute delight at my massage session and the Eau d'Altitude, made with Dolomitic water. The latter is a cosmetic line made of the unique and innovative formulation using water from San Martino di Castrozza - characterised by a high degree of purity.  I am loving using this product at home too.  They can purchase online: Eau d'Altitude,

The Spa and the covered whirlpool (32C)  are very calming places. There is a sauna, steam baths and steam rooms for every taste.
Finnish sauna, Himalayan salt sauna and soft sauna, steam bath, salt steam bath and a Mediterranean bath - each at different temperatures. Another feature is the ice room with frozen cold water or ice for massages.  The Kneipp Therapy treatment is a coloured dual hot tub (hot and cold water) where you soak in hot water before plunging into cold water, this stimulates the blood flow, tones the muscles and increases the elasticity of the tissues.

There is also a well-equipped gym set in a glass cube, including the floor,  that overlooks the sea.

Eating at Almar Jesolo

Despite the fact it is a wellness resort, Almar Jesolo caters to everyone's needs and tastes. I had a couple of lunches by the pool.
Carbonara Almar Jesolo style

Mediterra Restaurant

The restaurant at Almar Jesolo is beautifully designed. It overlooks one part of three adjoining pools at differing temperatures and the pristine white table, chairs and loungers surrounding it.
With temperatures at around  26C with a light breeze in April,  lunches were served by the pool - the menu was light, exciting and quite creative.

I had an excellent modern Venetian dinner at Mediterra Restaurant.

A Modern Venetian dinner at Mediterra restaurant

Fried ravioli filled with pumpkin  paired with Champagne - a delightful starter

Local Sardines onion confit slowly cooked, sweet dried  tomatoes white raisins, micro herbs, pine nuts  and paired with champagne

Black ink risotto with sheep cheese ricotta and  pistachio+lime+ricotta purée and grated hard ricotta rosemary flower matched with Pinot Grigio from Friuli ( northern Italy) -  great taste of sheep cheese and black ink rice

Veal liver, polenta and croutons, onion Cooked with butter, vinegar, milk low for 20 minutes paired with red Valpolicella - a full of texture and very flavoursome

Dessert: We went off-piste to Sicily, and I had the Dolce Lampone
Lampone: Pistachio based biscuit, jelly, blackcurrant, velvety and extraordinary light diplomat cream and chocolate reduction matched with Sicily dessert wine, Muscat de Alexandria the wine is quite soft with low acidity, bright and floral and not too sweet.  The perfect ending to the meal.

I really enjoy this meal. Very creative cooking and lots of techniques. I choose to have the Venetian dishes on the evening menu. There are plenty of other choices for all tastes and needs.

The River Lounge Bar

An around the clock and informal bar serving light meals, snacks and the lunch time menu from the Mediterra restaurant. They serve excellent cocktails and drinks in minimalistic and pastel beige coloured surroundings, overlooking a large water feature.  Very calming.

Almar salad - juicy tiger prawns, green leaves, bloody oranges - very light and tasty.

Spritz at River Lounge bar

Tea time at The River Lounge Bar

They have a couple of choices, the Detox Tea (in keeping with the wellness theme) and the Chocolate Tea, where all items are, as you expect, cocoa based - an absolute delight!
I felt quite sad to leave Almar Jesolo after 3 days and 2 nights. It's a fabulous place to recharge and reconnect with oneself.  Highly recommended.  It's not as expensive as I thought, quite reasonable for what you get - Pure Luxury!  For more info:  Almar Jesolo

Nearest airport: Marco Polo Airport about 40 minutes away without traffic in the Summer (high season).  I hear that local and airport traffic is terrible in the high-season, Summer, so expect delays.
Highly recommended. 

Almar Jesolo video

Disclosure: I was a guest of Almar Jesolo. All opinions are my own.

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