• Review: Castello Cheese ‘Bacon Blues’ burger at Ed’s

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  • Review: Face Masks from AHAVA #skincare #deadsea

    moo
  • Review: DRINKmaple Maple Water

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  • Review: Nurofen Heat Patches

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Review: Castello Cheese ‘Bacon Blues’ burger at Ed’s

Ed’s diner has been a favourite of mine since I first visited when it opened at Bluewater in Kent many years ago, so I was very happy to hear that they had teamed up with Castello Cheese, whose products I have reviewed in the past. I was recently offered some vouchers* for the chance to try out the Castello Cheese ‘Bacon Blues’ burger at Ed’s.

The limited edition Bacon Blues’ burger is Ed’s burger of the month and is available until Sunday 2nd August. The burger is a marriage of Ed’s beef patty and Castello’s Burger Blue cheese with each slice having been cut to just the right size and thickness to melt on the burger. The burger is topped off with strips of bacon, a slice of tomato, onion rings, dill pickle, and a dollop of Ed’s Easy Diner’s infamous sauce.

You might remember that I am actually a vegetarian, so it was up to my husband and sister to try out the Bacon Blues’ burger (as my husband can’t eat grains he went for the bun-free option).  The beef and blue cheese compliment each other perfectly, with the strong flavour of the blue cheese offering a tang whilst the bacon gives the burger added a depth of flavour.

The Castello burger blue cheese is perfect for someone looking to try something new, as it has a strong flavour but is not so overpowering that it will give your tastebuds a real shock. My husband detests ‘plastic cheese’ which can be found in most diner burgers, so he was very happy to be able to enjoy a quality cheese in his tasty burger.

Whilst my sister and husband tried the doubly meaty bacon blues burger I went for the cajun spiced veggie burger plate which came with fries, onion rings and coleslaw. Having had many a tasteless veggie burger in the past I found this one to be full of flavour. It was a little on the hot side at the end, but I am hardly known for my resistance to chilli!

My husband and sister seemed delighted with their burgers with the added flavour from the blue cheese and bacon. We award the Castello Cheese ‘Bacon Blues’ burger at Ed’s 4 out of 5 stars.

 

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4stars

Review: Face Masks from AHAVA #skincare #deadsea

This year I have been on a mission to try new skincare products, so when AHAVA got in touch to see if I would like to try some of their Dead Sea Mineral face masks* I was very happy to take them up on their offer! In all honesty I didn’t know much about Dead Sea Minerals before trying the products so it has been interesting to see how they work and the effect on my skin.

AHAVA was founded in 1988 and have a range of Dead Sea mineral rich face & body products. They have invested a lot of time and money into research, development and testing on the therapeutic effectiveness of Dead Sea minerals, which have powerful rejuvenating properties, in their skincare innovations.

The AHAVA range are free of parabens and SLS/SELS. They are allergy tested and approved for use on sensitive skin (like mine!) They are not tested on animals, which is important to me as an animal lover, and are produced without petroleum, GMOS or harsh synthetic ingredients. AHAVA say that their products are naturally rejuvenating and are formulated with the finest skin-friendly ingredients that the Dead Sea has to offer.

So, how did I get on? I was sent the purifying mud mask, the hydration cream mask and the extreme radiance lifting mask.  

The purifying mud mask is designed to be offer deep cleansing and purification for the skin with an element of detoxification to produce a beautiful, clear complexion. It contains Kaolin clay, Glycerin hydrates, Jojoba oil and Vitamin E for soft, supple skin. The mask is a blend of natural Dead Sea mud and minerals, it is greyish in colour and has a light texture which is easy to apply. There is a faint mud-like scent which is not unpleasant. I applied a generous amount of the mask to my skin and left it for several minutes before rinsing away. After use my skin felt nicely cleansed and I was surprised to discover that my skin was not tight and crying out for a good drink straight away. I can kind some cleansing products can be a bit tough on my poor skin. Overall I like this mask.

I was very excited to try the the hydration cream mask which is described as an active, rich, moisturising cream mask which works to infuse dry skin with intense hydration. Yippee! My skin was very happy to get a thorough drink. I again used a good dollop of mask and massaged it into my thirsty skin. It has a thick texture which is a reassuring sign of quality. You can choose to rinse after 3-5 minutes or leave the mask on all night – which of course I did! My skin certainly felt hydrated in the morning and not quite so desperate for it’s morning dose of moisturiser.

The extreme radiance lifting mask is designed to promote softness and firmness of skin, as well as evening out skin tone. It has a lovely fruity fragrance and a very light texture, almost gel-textured. Ingredients include Dead Sea minerals, natural extracts and fruit acids. I applied the mask after cleansing my face and left on for 10 minutes as per the instructions. I found it very refreshing and cooling which was pleasant. I have yet to use it often enough to see a real difference in the firmness of my skin,  however, once rinsed off I found that my skin felt soft and smooth. I do have some uneven skin pigmentation so I hope that it will help to balance this over time.

Overall I found the selection of AHAVA face masks a joy to use, with lovely textures and fragrances. They certainly felt as if they had a positive result with my skin feeling clean, hydrated and fresh after use. I award them 4 out of 5 stars and look forward to incorporating them into my skincare regime.

To find out more about their products you can find them at their Ebay Store

moo

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4stars

Review: DRINKmaple Maple Water

Maple Water is a growing trend for people looking for a refreshing and healthy beverage option. I have to admit that it’s something new to me, so when DRINKmaple got in touch offering me the chance to try out their maple water product* I was happy to give it a go and see what all the fuss is about.

If you were to walk up to a maple tree in Vermont North America and stick a tap into it, maple water is what will flow out. It’s basically the sap of the maple tree which can be harvested in spring when the tree starts using the reserves of nutrients collected of the winter. No trees are harmed in the DRINKmaple harvesting process, in fact this is a sustainable product.  It is 100% natural, offers hydration along with a hint of maple flavour as well as 46 different nutrients. DRINKmaple only uses organic maple trees.

Due to it’s nutritional content it’s great for consumption after exercise to help replace the salts you sweat out. Nutrients include vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, antioxidants, electrolytes and prebiotics. Maple water is low in calories and contains half of the sugar found in coconut water with no added sugar or preservatives. Maple water is great for people with allergies as it’s free of gluten, dairy & animal products.

As a confessed fizzy drinks addict I am always looking out for products which will satisfy my thirst and stop me consuming unhealthy products. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the maple water in terms of taste or texture, so when I had a sip of the clear water and found it to be a refreshingly, smooth and slightly sweet I was happily surprised. The flavour of the maple is very subtle so it doesn’t feel like you are gulping down mouthfuls of syrup, but has a pleasant taste. You can drink the water on it’s own or use it as an ingredient in smoothies. It’s great chilled!

I really like the DRINKmaple maple water. As for the nutritional benefits I can’t really say I have noticed a difference after only a short amount of use, but i has a great taste and is certainly refreshing on a hot day. I would be happy to have one of the handy travel bottles tucked into my handbag or along on a summer picnic. I award the DRINKmaple maple water 4 out of 5 stars.

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4stars

 

Review: Nurofen Heat Patches

One of the problems about working in digital marketing and blogging is that my poor wrists have a bit of a rough time. Every so often I get pain from a repetitive strain type injury which can last up to a week and I often have to seek some sort of relief.

Nurofen recently got in touch to offer me the chance to try their Heat Patches* and seeing as I have recently been experiencing my RSI pain I decided to give it a go. My husband, who is a sports masseur and student osteopath, is always telling me to try therapeutic  heat and cold to sooth sore muscles but I had never tried heat patches.

If you want to try pain relief without medication then Nurofen Heat Patches might be for you. Lasting up to 8 hours they are designed for soothing back, neck and shoulder pain by helping to relax muscles and increase blood flow.

They are easy to use – simply open the sachet and it activates immediately on it’s own with the reaction starting when exposed to the air. Apply the patch (it works best when you apply the patch to clean, dry, non greasy skin) to the sore spot and it takes about 15 minutes to reach optimal temperature.

There are a few safety elements you need to keep in mind so if the patch feels too hot or your skin becomes irritated, remove the patch straight away. Luckily when I tried it I had no problems.

I applied the patch to my sore wrist and it slowly heated up to a nice temperature. Although not designed to soothe tendon pain like mine the patch did go some way towards making me feel better.

I award the Nurofen Heat Patches 4 out of 5 stars and would happily use them in the future to help relieve pain.

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4stars

Review: Proposal Rings from Nude Jewellery

When asked about the perfect proposal most people would say something along the lines of a romantic meal out, a weekend away, or even a flash mob. No matter what the build up to the proposal the climax is ultimately someone getting down on one knee and presenting a stunning diamond ring. But what if that diamond ring isn’t their style? They might say yes to the person, but no to the ring.

When my now husband proposed to me there was no big gesture and (don’t be horrified) no ring – but of course I said yes to him because the idea of spending my life with him meant more to me than any attempt to impress me with a giant diamond. We went out the same day and selected my engagement ring together which actually felt really special and exciting.

So what are the other options if you don’t have an engagement ring lined up? Well, the people at Nude Jewellery have come up with a novel idea: proposal rings, which offers an alternative to worrying about getting the right engagement ring, but still having something to present for an exciting and romantic proposal with you and your intended being able to choose the perfect ring later. I was lucky enough to have been sent one of their proposal rings* to review.

Nude Jewellery has a range of proposal rings with a unique handmade quality at an affordable price of less than £150. The rings are set with semi precious and precious gemstones. Nude Jewellery also offers to deduct the price of a proposal ring from their range of engagement rings should you wish to commission one from them.

My ring has a fantastic diamond shape made in sterling silver, with a gorgeous deep purple amethyst. I really admire the skill and effort which has gone into making the piece. I definitely feel that had my husband proposed with a beautiful proposal ring like this one as a placeholder for a more traditional engagement ring I would have been thrilled.

I really love my ring and it’s now the only piece I wear on my hands along with my engagement and wedding rings. I award it 5 out of 5 stars for being an elegant and quality piece I am proud to wear. Learn more about Nude Jewellery and their range of unique engagement rings here.

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Review: Memphis The Musical

Although I love musicals I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like, so when I was offered the opportunity for two tickets* to attend a performance of Memphis The Musical I jumped at the chance. I had heard great things of this musical with some of my friends having seen it before, so I was excited to see what all the fuss was about.

Memphis The Musical is a story inspired by true events, based in 1950s Memphis, Tennessee and follows the lives of the people of the underground music scene which celebrated black music when the general populous thought ‘race music’ was heathen and generally not suitable for white ears.

Huey, a white boy DJ born and bred in Memphis is enchanted by the blues, soul and rock ‘n’ roll sound and discovers an up and coming black singer, Felicia,  in an underground club. Memphis The Musical follows the pair of them through the trials and tribulations facing black female musicians in a white man’s world,  public opinion about ‘race music’ and the forbidden love of mixed race couples.

This musical will have you toe tapping all the way through with a fantastic showcase of music and dance, and will lead you on an emotional roller coster as you watch Huey and Felicia battle their way in their personal and professional lives. Beverley Knight blew me away with her powerful and soulful vocals, for me she really stole the show. Matt Cardle  plays opposite Beverley as Huey Calhoun and brings an element of humour as well as passion to the show.

Memphis The Musical offers an extraordinary mix of electrifying music, soaring emotion and roof-raising energy which will leave you feeling uplifted, energised and with a new level of respect for those of all races who fought for equality and the right to express themselves through music in a difficult time.

Since seeing the show I have been enjoying the soundtrack and finding myself singing the songs everywhere I go. I award Memphis The Musical 5 out of 5 stars and can’t wait for an excuse to go back and experience the power and pain of this performance.

Images courtesy of Memphis, 2014, Credit: Johan Persson

5stars

Review: Vita Coco Coconut Oil

My husband has insisted on using Coconut Oil for cooking food for a while now, so when Vita Coco the well known Natural Coconut Water brand recently got in touch with me to offer me the chance to try out their newest product; their own Coconut Oil* I jumped at the chance. One of the big trends for the last few months has been the use of Coconut Oil as a healthy option in the kitchen, but did you know that it is also great for the skin and hair?

The Vita Coco Coconut Oil is 100% Raw, Cold pressed and Organic and can be used in the kitchen (cooking, baking and frying), as well as a cosmetic for hair, face and body as a moisturiser and  conditioner and even on your teeth! Vita Coco declares that their Coconut Oil is a all-purpose beauty product and that we should “Eat it, Wear it, Swear by it”. Coconut Oil is full of antioxidants which have many properties which can improve the condition of skin and hair, as well as anti-ageing properties.

Coconut oil makes a great treat for your hair, either as a frizz-dampener or as a conditioning mask – simply apply throughout your hair and leave for around 60 minutes before washing out to leave your hair feeling nourished and hydrated. Coconut oil can also be used as a facial cleanser, moisturiser, mask and make up remover via a cotton pad or use it to moisturise and sooth dry lips (you will need to try and not lick it off which can be hard as it does have a pleasant coconut flavour!)

It’s also great as a under-eye skin pick me up to help get rid of puffiness and dark circles. It has a very light texture, similar to water and is very easy to apply to skin. Make your own body/lip scrub by mixing salt or sugar into your Vita Coco Coconut Oil, this makes a great exfoliator, great for summer tan upkeep! The oil leaves the skin soft and supple – so use it simply in it’s raw form as a lotion, the oil will be a liquid at room temperature so it is easy to scoop up and lather on dry or sunburnt skin which it will cool.

Coconut Oil makes a great carrier oil for perfumes and aromatherapy recipes using essential oil so try something creative and make your own summer scent like “Cleopatra’s secret” made with coconut oil (of course!), lemon oil, jasmine oil and rose oil which has a great floral fragrance. As many commercially made perfumes contain all sort of chemicals, making your own is great for anyone with sensitive skin.

As for cooking with this nutrient rich oil it’s easy to use as a replacement for other cooking oils but also makes a great addition to a smoothie with Vitamin E, Vitamin K and Iron amongst it’s nutritionally beneficial offering and offers a nice summery flavour.

I award the Vita Coco Coconut Oil 4 out of 5 stars for offering me a great multi-purpose product to keep my hair, skin and nails looking great this summer. It is available in three sizes: 250ml and 500ml glass jars and a 750ml PET jar.

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4stars

Review: Crystal nail file from Flo Accessories

When I was younger I was a terrible nail biter. Biter, ripper, picker… you name it, I would destroy my nails and end up with ugly stumps. Not at all attractive! One day I decided that I would leave them alone in peace and let them grow out into healthy nails. To this day I have managed to mostly behave and my nails are generally much happier.

Of course now that I am looking after my nails I have a number of tools I use fairly regularly to keep them in shape. This includes hand moisturisers, nail clippers/ scissors, emery boards and nail files. Although I look after them better now, I prefer my nails to be short and spend time trimming and shaping them whenever they are getting a  bit long. This usually means a visit from the clippers and then a nail file to shape off any rough edges.

Flo Accessories recently got in touch offering me the change to check out their Mini Crystal nail file*, and I was glad to see the difference between my usual emery boards. The mini crystal nail file is designed for on the go use and particularly for travellers who want the convenience of a handy nail file without the fuss of a full sized tool. With rounded tips it’s designed to go through airport security without a glitch as it is flight safe.

The mini crystal nail file comes with a thoughtful matching protective carrying case, great for slipping into your handbag or carry on luggage and keeping your file from being damaged in transit. Being made from crystal the file is easily cleaned and reused, simply wash it off in a sink and it will be renewed and ready to go again. No need to throw it away.

I really like the nail file. It is very effective at sorting out rough nail edges and leaves my nails smooth with no danger of catching or snagging on fabrics and causing a painful torn nail. The case comes in very handy, protecting both the file from the inside of my bag and the inside of my bag from the rough surface of the file! It has quickly become a hand bag essential for me.

Flo Accessories can be found in Boots, on  Amazon, “world of duty free” shops at UK airports and of course their website. I award the Crystal nail file from Flo Accessories 4 out of 5 stars.

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4stars

UK blogger travel guide: Kent!

Since moving back to Kent from London mid-March I had been waiting for an excuse to get out and rediscover the area in which I grew up, so when thinkmoney got in touch looking for bloggers to put together a guide for a day out in their local area I was happy to get involved! I was provided with a budget of £40** for the day of activities and was given free reign to put together my recommendations for a great day out in West Kent.

When I was younger I spent a lot of time at a local bird of prey centre in Eynsford called Eagle Heights which opened in 1996 with around 30 birds and a collection of rescued reptiles under their roof. In fact I believe I spent most of my weekends there with my family watching the outdoor flying displays, marvelling at the indoor aviaries,  demonstrations and learning about their conservation campaigns.

Since 1996 Eagle Heights has rapidly expanded and now it has a large array of  Birds of Prey, a big reptile house as well as a collection of mammals including Husky Dogs, Meerkats, Camel, Coati Mundi and Arctic Fox. Eagle Heights offers both indoor and outdoor aviaries, a large indoor lecture room, large flying arena, play area, shop and a small tearoom with flying displays held throughout the day making it a great day out, particularly for a family with children.

Eagle Heights also offers you the chance to take part in special experiences so you can get up and close with the birds and animals under their care. Experiences include: Husky Hikes, Meerkat Experiences, Owl Experiences, Hawking and Falconry experiences as well as photography workshops for any budding photographers looking for some exciting subjects.

Tickets: Adult: £7.95, Child(4-14): £4.95, Student: £5.95, Disabled: £5.95, Carer: £5.95, Children 2 years and under go free.

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West Kent has a lot of history and Lullingstone, just down the road from where I live, has one of the most outstanding Roman Villas surviving in Britain today.  Having grown up with 2 history buff parents meant that I spent a lot of time exploring castles, ruins and other historical locations including Lullingstone Roman Villa which is owned by English Heritage.

Lullingstone villa’s construction began around AD 100 and was adapted over the years to suit the tastes and beliefs of successive wealthy owners, reaching its peak of luxury in the mid-4th century. The villa boasts spectacular mosaic floors, rare wall paintings, a heated bath complex and an in-house church.

Lullingstone Roman Villa is protected from the elements by a large complex which enables you to walk around the outside of the remains as well as see it from above via the mezzanine level. It’s great for learning more about the UK’s Roman past and perfect for children learning about British history. I particularly like the mosaic depicting the mythical Bellerophon mounted on the winged Pegasus killing the Chimera surrounded by the four seasons.

There are some great displays including everyday items, costumes for kids (or grown up kids) to try on, two human skeletons to marvel at and my personal favourite, floor tiles depicting the various animals which walked across them before they had dried. There is a film which runs every so often giving you a brief history of the villa and showcasing some of the villa’s special features.

Prices: English Heritage Members: Free, Adult: £.6.60 Child (5-15): £4.00, Concession: £6.00

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Lullingstone doesn’t only offer historical sights but also has a fantastic venue for anyone with green fingers (or aspiring green fingers). Lullingstone World Garden is the creation of Tom Hart Dyke who, after surviving a dramatic kidnapping in 2000 in Colombia when hunting orchids, returned home to his family estate of Lullingstone Castle and started building a garden showcasing plants from around the globe.

The  garden is designed to pay homage to the achievements of plant hunters throughout the Victorian and Edwardian era who explored the world bringing Britain some of the most cherished and popularly grown plants and flowers now found in our gardens today.  The garden is laid out like a world map with species from the same country placed together so you feel as if you’re taking a world tour as you walk around.

My favourite feature of the World Garden is The hot and spikey. This is a special green house which showcases cacti, succulents and bromeliads from South America, South Africa, Mexico, South West USA & the Canary Islands. The hot and spikey house is full of extraordinary specimens and I particularly like seeing all the colourful flowers which you don’t necessarily associated with cacti.

If you want to grab a snack or lunch during your visit The Castle Marquee in the Castle grounds offers a selection of sandwiches, baguettes, jacket potatoes, soup, ploughman lunches (I enjoyed the cheese ploughman’s) salads and traditional cream teas. Kentish ice-cream is also on sale in the gift shop. Picnics are welcome if you prefer to bring your own. The World Garden in Lullingstone makes a great day out for plant lovers of all ages and is a truly fascinating experience.

Prices: Adult £8.00, Child £4.00 (5-15 yrs old), Senior citizen £6.50

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Another great spot if you enjoy history is the Shoreham Aircraft Museum which not only offers the chance to see some of the local artefacts from the Battle of Britain and the air war over Britain during World War Two but boasts some fantastic vintage memorabilia in their cafe. My parents, as local history and archeology buffs, know the museum and its founder well.

The museum was founded in 1978 by local enthusiasts, whose passion for the Battle of Britain period resulted in the establishment of a permanent display in 1988 showcasing hundreds of relics excavated by the group from crashed British and German aircraft in Kent, as well as donated items. The artefacts come from a range of  WW2 aircraft including Spitfire, Hurricane, Me109, FW190, Ju88 and Do17.

There is an extensive collection of flying helmets, uniforms and insignia on display alongside a comprehensive display of Home Front memorabilia and serves as a lasting tribute to all those airmen who fought in the skies over southern England during the Second World War.  Proceeds from the entry fees are used for recovery and preservation of the artefacts.

The tearoom is really delightful. It serves a range of delicious home-made cakes including cream teas (scones with cream and jam accompanied by a nice cup of tea) which you can enjoy in the lovely teagarden, which is exactly what I did on my visit to the museum.

Prices: All: £3

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Take another peek at history at Eynsford Castle, a stone Norman castle owned by English Hertiage which is largely non-rebuilt and has seen natural decay. Despite this the stone walls are still impressive and offer a rare peek at this striking early Norman style.

The castle was built between 1085-7 and mostly went undisturbed by later building activity. Eynsford Castle is unusual for this time period because it lacks the distinctive keep or great tower, instead the main living apartments were placed on the first floor of the castle’s hall.

The ruins of Eynsford Castle can still be explored by visitors today. You can marvel at it’s principal defence system – the extensive curtain wall enclosing the site, parts of which survive to their full height of 9 metres (29 feet) high and is almost 2 metres (7 feet) wide at its base.

There was a gatehouse which allowed entrance to the Castle via a wooden drawbridge over the wide, shallow moat. Both the foundations of the gatehouse, built in the late 11th to early 12th centuries, and the space the moat would have taken up are visible today.

I will admit there isn’t much to do at Eynsford Castle as it is basically a ruin, however, it makes a lovely picnic spot and a fun place for kids to explore and blow off some steam.

Price: Free.

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I hope this has inspired you to seek a day out in West Kent. It is really a beautiful place to visit with some great entertainment for all the family. I certainly enjoyed getting to know my childhood home again and look forward to exploring more of what it has to offer in the future.

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Review: Kentish Preserves from Heidi Jane

Since moving back to Kent I have been trying to support the local businesses as best I can and I very much enjoy walking down to the village hall to visit the weekly farmers market where you can pick up anything from cards and knitwear to plants and all the ingredients you’d need for a good Sunday lunch.

Today I am reviewing some preserves from Heidi Jane who is based in my village and offers homemade Kentish jams, marmalades, chutneys, pickles and mustards all made from locally sourced, seasonal produce where possible. All music to my ears.

Heidi has been refining her range of products for more than 5 years and makes batches of flavours in a traditional french copper kettle. Isn’t that amazing? Flavours in the range include old school as well more modern combinations.

The Kentish Preserves I picked out to try were the Tomato & Chilli Jam and the Beetroot Relish, both of wish look so lovely with vibrant colours in their elegant packaging.

The Tomato & Chilli Jam is made from tomatoes, sugar, red wine vinegar, chllis, ginger, anchovy extract and garlic. On opening the jar I was immediately hit by a zingy and tempting fragrance. It is hot and sweet with a nice thick texture. This jam is begging to be paired with a mature cheddar and devoured with some crusty bread.

We are big beetroot fans in our house, so the Beetroot Relish was right up out street. Heidi’s version is made with beetroot, tomatoes, cane sugar, red wine vinegar, onions, balsamic vinegar, fresh horseradish, olive oil, garlic and sea salt. This relish has a peaty flavour from the beetroot with an extra punch which comes from the garlic, horseradish and vinegar. I’d recommend using the relish on a burger (beef or mushroom), paired with goats cheese and sweet potato chips. Yum!

Both of these accompaniments would go really well on a fabulous cheese board with some lovely crackers with different textures. Alternatively you can use them as a glaze when preparing meat, especially on the BBQ, or revive your boring leftovers with a blob or two!

My husband and I both really love the jam and the relish due to the tasty flavour combinations and the fact that Heidi uses local products. Big thumbs up from us. We award them 5 out of 5 stars and look forward to trying more of Heidi’s delicious range.


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5stars