Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Sneak Peek: A Taste of the Caribbean at Huddersfield's Turtle Bay

Don't get me wrong, I love winter. It's my favourite season, in fact. For me, hot cocoa and central heating are an absolute match made in heaven and I enjoy few things more than cosying up for the night, drink in hand and trashy TV on the box.

But I have to say, this year summer felt like it came and went in a flash and as a result I've since been pining for a bit of sun on my skin and a chance to head outside without shrouding myself in layers.
Cue Huddersfield's soon-to-open Turtle Bay restaurant, then. It offers a taste of the Caribbean (no sun here, I'm afraid - but plenty of rum cocktails!) here in good old Blighty and a chance to feel, well, like you've hopped aboard Doc's Delorean and headed back to summer.

Along with a handful of food and lifestyle bloggers, I was invited (thanks, Faith PR!) to take a sneak peek at the venue and tuck into some delicious Caribbean food. Who was I to say no?!

So on a cold and miserable Tuesday night I headed down to get a glimpse of what has got to be the most exciting thing to happen to Huddersfield since this went viral.

Left: a glimpse at some of the graffiti, top right, scotch bonnets (they'll take your head off!) and bottom right, the bar
Joking aside, though, as an honorary Huddersfieldian (is that a thing?!) I'm chuffed to say there's plenty going on round here - and the restaurant (the most recent for the chain) is just one of a few great places sprouting up lately. I can't wait to try out this tea house, for one.

Inside, Turtle Bay has that low-key Caribbean 'ting' down. It looks brilll - all bright colours, quirky graffiti and a cool bar (brimming with Red Stripe and more bottles of rum than you can shake a swizzle stick at) smack bang in the centre of what looks set to be a new favourite eatery for the town.

Arriving at the venue, it was lovely to be able to roam around and take in what they've done to the place - resident Hudds folks tell me the venue, formerly Cotton Factory, looked a stack different before - taking pics, and generally having a good snoop.

With delicious rum cocktails thrust into our hands by the very attentive Faith PR, it was time to learn a little more about Turtle Bay and its beginnings. 

So, what about the restaurant itself then? Colin Scott - the company's development and training chef and the man in charge of us rowdy blogging rabble - did a great job of telling us all about the restaurant and the food while keeping things light and entertaining.

We discovered that Turtle Bay is about capturing the soul of the Caribbean, not just about the food - and certainly not about creating a completely authentic dining experience. While there's plenty of attention to detail here, Colin did tell us the menu has been tweaked a little. After all, every one's idea of authentic Caribbean food is different - even in the Caribbean itself.

The night was a culinary blur of delicious delights; a hearty help-yourself affair to a host of dishes and a chance to learn more about Caribbean specialties and cooking techniques.

On the menu on the night was a tasty kidney bean rice dish, curried goat and the best - and spiciest - jerk chicken I've tasted. I didn't dare try it with this though: an authentic - and hot! - Caribbean sauce.

I could go on and on telling you all about the cooking techniques and the delicious dishes on offer, but instead I'll leave you with some facts:

* It ain't Carribean food unless it's cooked in a 'Dutch pot'. It's the equivalent of a stewing pot for us, but apparently, for Caribbeans at least, it's a tradition they swear by. It 'just doesn't taste the same' if it's cooked in anything else
* The jerk chicken we know and love, isn't truly traditional. Jamaican jerk is actually a method of cooking pork, but as chicken is more readily available today, that's what you'll most commonly see on restaurant menus and at street food bars
* Jerk seasonings include scallions, onions, scotch bonnet peppers, salt, thyme, allspice and black pepper
* Caribbean rum cocktails will make you very light-headed. Ahem.
* Rum, pineapple, cake and coconut ice cream make an absolutely winning team.

Food very much gobbles, we left few short hours later we left the venue, full to the brim with delicious Caribbean delights and back out into the cold autumnal air.

I might well be dreaming of summer, but I know I now know I'll be able to stave off any withdrawal symptoms with a reservation here.

And if you're thinking of getting yourself along there too, get booked in fast. If that food and those cocktails are anything to go by, Turtle Bay is going to be swimming with visitors. You heard it here first.

Are you in Huddersfield, or close enough that you can pop along to Turtle Bay when it opens? There's a VIP event tomorrow night (Thursday, October 29), organised by those lovely folks over at Faith PR. Send them a cheeky email via the site's contact page and I'm sure they could add you to the guest list if you ask nicely enough.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Christmas Gift Guide: For Her

I don't know about you, but the Christmas build up starts as early for me. It doesn't matter how old I get; in fact, I seem to become more enamoured with the festive season with each and every year.

Where as a little 'un, Christmas for me was about presents and only presents (probably!), now it's all about food and family. Only kidding. And presents!

So, because I know some of you out there get as excited as me in the run up to December 25, I'm bringing you a quick rundown of some of my favourite gift ideas for her. Well, let's not generalise here actually; I know more than a few chaps who love baking, for one. And well, who am I to judge a fella who likes a bit of foundation.

With that in mind, I'm coming atcha with a mid-priced selection of gifts I hope you'll love...

1. Vintage Glass Cake Dome - With the Great British Bake Off back on our screens (how is it nearly the grand finale already, though? Sob), I've been upping my own baking game and whipping up all sorts in the kitchen. Check out my Instagram account for some of my latest bakes, including a pretty delicious-looking bundt cake that looks like a doughnut. As I hate having to mess around with tin foil when it comes to wrapping up a cake; I don't know what I'm doing wrong but it always ends up ripped to shreds (the foil, not the cake). So I'd love a glass cupcake dome like this - and I think you would too.

2. Penhaligon's Perfume Gift Set - I rarely, if ever, watch QVC, but the other day I got word of a show featuring my all-time favourite fragrance brand, Penhaligons. Well, of course I had to tune in. Some 20 minutes later and I was on the site purchasing a fragrance and body lotion combo for myself, while my other half re-purchased one of his old faithfuls, too. If you've yet to try the brand's beautifully heady perfumed concoctions, this miniature Penhaligon's fragrance collection offers the perfect way to give it a go without paying full whack for a bottle you might not like.

3. Ankle Boots - For me, Christmas is as much about the wintery season that comes with it as it is about the big day itself. I love the build-up, particularly in term of clothes. For me, few things are more exciting - sad, I know - than pushing my summer clothes to the back of my drawers and dusting off big, cosy jumpers and autumn/winter boots. I've already spotted a pair I like the look of over at Jones the Bootmaker; they've got a whole host of gorgeous ladies' boots to suit all styles - and leg shapes! I particularly like these Madison ankle boots; the perfect heel height and ideal to slip on with all kinds of cosy autumn outfits. I. Can't. Wait.

4. Korres CC Cream - Lately, I've been paring back my beauty routine to include a host of simpler products. While I'm getting older, I realise that simply piling on layers and layers of foundation just isn't going to cut it. So I'm embracing my fine lines and instead wearing a lighter base. I'm a big fan of Korres' Wild Rose CC cream, which offers all the coverage I need without swamping my often blemish-prone skin. Give it a go if you're looking for something a little less weighty for the winter months, too.

5. Make-up Bag - For me, no Christmas would be complete without a brand new cosmetics bag. I think I've had one every year since I've been old enough to wear the stuff, and it almost seems like it wouldn't really be December 25 if one of these wasn't waiting under the tree. I don't know; there's something quite nice about getting a new cosmetics bag, isn't there? I love adding my newly-purchased winter make up to it as it really does beat chucking a couple of half empty mascaras and an old lippy into a stained, well-used make-up bag. I love this one by the Handpicked Collection; simple and stylish, it's feminine without being OTT.

So, tell me (because I'm nosey like that) what's on your Christmas wish list this year? Got your eye on anything on the list (above), or spotted something cool and quirky elsewhere?

* Collaborative post. All views are my own

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

'Kors' Blimey! Meet Michael's Latest Fragrance...

When it comes to fragrances, I tend to 'stick with what I know'. And by that I suppose I mean I don't stray from the ones I like - namely fruity or floral scents and usually amongst the mid-priced collections in places like Boots and Superdrug. Favourites include the deliciously fruity  Nina by Nina Ricci and the old classic Anais Anais, by Cacharel.

When I'm feeling particularly flush, I'll opt for this absolute beauty by Penhaligon's. So lovely is it that I almost feel guilty wearing it for anything less than a really special occasion.

So when I heard word of Michael Kors' self-titled fragrance - one of his latest items in his ever-growing, high-end collection of fashion and beauty - I wasn't so sure it'd be for me.

For a start, it's fairly pricey (at £79 a bottle), but it's also not as flowery in scent as I go for. Instead, this is a 'sophisticated (something I very much ain't - ha!) and sensual fragrance that is both traditional and exotic.

But do you know what? I love it.

It's feminine, but not in an 'in-your-face' sickly sweet-smelling way. Clean and fresh, it's subtly sexy and perfect for day or night.

The top notes are a delicate mix of florals and sweet spices, blended with freesia and Moroccan incense. Michel Kors - the absolute golden boy of celebrity fashion - has gone for an exotic product here. Think the sort of thing you'd spritz on for a Hawaiian holiday.

But it's got style, too. Aromatic floral accords of tuberose, blue orris, white wings peony and arum lilies keep the fragrance delicate and ladylike while still ensuring a young and fresh end product.

The addition of rich musk and vetiver base notes add a glamourous touch - and it really is a scent to smell for yourself. Next time you're passing your local Debenhams, head in and give this one a spritz. You might like it, you might love it - hey, you may even hate it. But see what you think.

There's also a beautifully indulgent body creme, also available at Debenhams. A real treat in a hefty glass jar, this makes for a perfect Christmas pressie for someone who loves Michael Kors. Plus, if you order online, delivery is completely free if you spend over £30.

What's your go-to fragrance of the moment? Have you had chance to try Michael Kors' latest?

Disclaimer: This product was sent to me for review consideration. I have not been paid to write this post, neither am I affiliated with the brand in any way. All views are my own and 100% honest, as always.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

MeMeMe Angel Face BB Cream: A Review

Some years ago now, back when beauty blogging had only just become 'a thing' I purchased a then little-known product from a brand called Me Me Me.

The product was Seventh Heaven and it was billed as a skin-smoothing primer, for use under make-up or on its own as a cool complexion perfector. I loved how soft it made my skin felt, as well as how easily foundation seemed to glide on my face after application. It really is worth checking out if you're looking for a good primer.

But then time passed and, as usually happens when you find something you love, I used the last dregs of the product and just never got round to repurchasing. Years passed and, I hate to say it, but I almost forgot about the wonder product that was once my go-to pre-foundation step.

And then the brand contacted me, telling me about a brand new addition to its range: Angel Face - and I found myself revisiting the website and vowing to pick up Seventh Heaven once again.

About Angel Face, then...

It's a BB cream (or blemish balm cream), which is kind of like a tinted moisturiser and comes in at a similar sort of price. At £10.95, the product - available in four shades - is well worth a look.

Offering 'sheer, illuminated coverage', Angel Face combines skincare and make-up to ensure a silky, light-weight and effortless application.

It's formulated with botanical extracts like jojoba oil and it's enriched with vitamins, too.

I chose the porcelain shade and while it's difficult to capture the product's shade and consistency well enough on camera, I will tell you this: it's thick enough to conceal blemishes, without being too thick that it acts as a mask.

It's one of those products that doesn't cake your skin, but still conceals where it needs to. I took this away on holiday and I have to say the coverage was spot on for the daytime. It's definitely one for anyone looking for a lighter coverage, but it'll still make light work of any redness or blemishes, too. Give it a go!

Until next time...

Disclaimer: This product was sent to me for review consideration. I have not been paid to write this post, neither am I affiliated with the brand in any way. All opinions are my own and 100% honest, as always.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

An Instagram Filter for Your Face? Meet Magic Minerals...

I've only recently signed up for Instagram - and I've got to say, I love how decent it can make my complexion look after even the biggest nights out. Hello, Juno filter (my fave)!

So when I heard word of a new beauty product that promises similar results - beautifully glowing skin in an instant - my interest was piqued. 

And here it is: Magic Minerals by Jerome Alexander

Now this product has got TV shopping channel written all over it; packaging-wise, it just looks like something you'd see on those adverts, each one touting the next big 'wonder' product you think you need, but actually don't.

But does this live up to its hype? That being a blemish, age spot, fine line and uneven skin cover up?

Mmmm, not quite. But hold on one cotton-picking, Instagram filter-ering minute...

It's still well worth a look.

Basic black packaging and wiry application brush aside, this is a pretty-looking product. And we all love something that looks as great on our dressing table as it does on our skin, don't we.

What does it do for your skin, though?

For me, it acted as quite a nice skin booster. I'm prone to redness (that'll be the damn adult acne) but a good sweep or two of this really calmed down my angry-looking skin tone. It also brightened the skin a bit.

I wouldn't say it's a miracle product (few beauty products actually are), but it's well worth a look if you're looking for a subtle glow. Perfect after those nights out, Juno Instagram filter aside.

Available for £9.99 over here, this could become a go-to product when your skin's in need of brightening up. Plus, it looks lovely. Like a unicorn has just sprayed its glittery loveliness all over it. Or something.

Have you tried this product? What did you think?

Disclaimer: This product was sent to me for review consideration. I have not been paid to write this review, neither am I affiliated with the brand in any way. All views are my own and 100% honest, as always.
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