New Bletchley Park-esque Pizza Express in CMK

Pizza Express Midsummer Arcade reopened earlier this month after a Bletchley Park inspired makeover. Want a peek? Read on…

The Wheatsheaf Bow Brickhill

Reopened for business following new owners but what’s changed? EVERYTHING. Read on…

Review: Essence All About Nudes Eye Shadow Palette + FREE Giveaway

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Flicking through the September issue of Cosmopolitan I find myself engrossed in an article from beauty journalist Lucy Partington. 

In it she explains that before she became a beauty journalist, she lived with the assumption that when it comes to beauty, you get what you pay for. She isn’t the only one and I’m sure a lot of us are guilty of thinking “the higher the price tag, the more the product must be desirable, more efficient or superior” #MakeUpSnob. 

One particular product that caught my eye in disbelief was the mention of an eye shadow palette from a brand of makeup I had never heard of before called Essence. Stocked and sold at Wilko stores. 

JUDGING BEST LOCAL FOOD & DRINK PRODUCE FOR MKFLA 2016

Yesterday (Saturday) I was up bright and early and made my way to Paris House in Woburn. It was the day to deliberate and decide on the winners of the Best Local Food & Drink Produce for the Milton Keynes Food & Leisure Awards 2016.

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 A cup of English Breakfast Tea to start and then it was down to business. My fellow judges were Michelin star holder and owner of Paris House Phil Fanning. MK Food & Leisure Awards Chef of the Year winner 2015 Jeffrey Payne. And fellow blogger and local food lover Rob from Robs Ribs.

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First up was the food nominees:

Kandola’s Kitchen – Chocolates
Gunter Weber – Rural Honey
Frosts Food Hall – Chicken Liver Pâté
Fistful of Spice – Caribbean Hot Sauce Mango Chilli
Virtual Orchard – Cider Vinegar
The Indian Orchard – Garlic and Tamarind Pickle
Jam Moo Kow – Plum & Cinnamon Jam
Wodehill – Croxton Ewe Cheese
Amazing-Grains – Rye Bread

How many of you knew that these products existed? Well worth checking them out and I’d love to hear what you think of them or maybe you could message me with a local product that you love that that didn’t make it in this years shortlist that you would love to be considered for next years awards?

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Then it was the turn of the drinks category:

Hornes Brewery – Triple Goat Porter 4.6% vol
Bucks Star Brewery – Cloudy Artisan Beer 4% vol
White Park Brewery – Oast House 4.8% vol
Concrete Cow Brewery – MK IPA 5% vol

Deliberations were hard but by the end of the morning we had decided on our winners which will be announced at the Awards Night on May 8 at The Sculpture Gallery, Woburn Abbey.

There’s still time to vote for lots of categories in the Milton Keynes Food & Leisure Awards 2016 and have YOUR SAY on who gets crowned the best of the best in our area

If you love my ramblings and want to keep up to date with what’s happening in my life join me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram

JUDGING THE Milton Keynes Food & Leisure Awards Chef of the Year Cook Off 2016

Yesterday was quite a different sort of day for me. I got up early and went to college…

Well, the Brasserie at Milton Keynes College Bletchley campus to be precise. It was time for the Milton Keynes Food & Leisure Awards chef cook off 2016. A live cooking contest between local chefs from a whole range of local pubs and restaurants. A bit like Masterchef that you see on the TV and best of all, I was going to be a judge. Me!   

There were eight chefs competing for the coveted title of Chef of the Year:

Jack Behjet – The Crooked Billet
Brendan Flynn – Bell & Bear
Grae Conyers – Nonna’s
Daniel Novak – Woburn Brasserie
Neil Grimble – The Black Horse, Woburn
Chris Doyle – Oliver’s Restaurant, The Woburn Hotel
Spencer Orlington – Bistro Live
Vikram Kumar Sharna – Maaya Indian Kitchen & Bar

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All the chefs were to cook up three courses. A starter, main and dessert.

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The starter was a mystery box challenge. Eight identical boxes of ingredients were given to each chef and they were given just one hour to discover the contents of the boxes, conceive an idea for a starter, cook and then present it to us. This was so interesting to watch and to observe the thought process of a chef creating a dish from scratch.

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The main course was up to the chef. It was their chance to show off the very best dishes in their repertoire.

The dessert course was to present a trio of desserts. One, had to be a chocolate fondant. One, had to be a cheesecake, but the flavour was negotiable. The third part of the trio was to be chosen by the chef, a dessert that they felt complimented the other two parts.

It was not an easy task judging, but judge we must. All the chef’s worked exceptionally hard and turned out some stunning dishes on the day. Scores have been tallied and the Milton Keynes Food & Leisure Awards Chef of the Year 2016 will be announced at the glittering awards ceremony at Woburn Abbey on May 8.

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The Judges

 

Reckon you’re a good judge? There are still many categories that YOU can have your say in. Deadline for voting is 30 April 2016 and you can vote on their website http://www.mkfla.co.uk/

Special mention to The Brasserie who received an award in recognition of their talent and hard work from the High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire on the same day I was there. Congratulations! 

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Why Maaya opening in The Hub is about more than just a decent curry.

 

As a girl who was born into this crazy town –which I call a city, duh- I have this belief just like lots of my fellow MK’ers. We know our area, we helped create it and watch it grow, we believe we are MK. Born in the early 80’s when MK was just a child itself, it’s been a wonderful journey of us all growing up together. Place and person.

Now we know the stick that being from Milton Keynes gets. Those outsiders who just don’t quite ‘get it’. The slanderous calls of MK being nothing more than concrete cows, a soulless place without heart, and of course, those roundabouts. We can handle that, we all know that MK just fits us. It works and we love it.

But what I think is bittersweet now we are older is we see what MK is capable of, much like a mother sees in their child. Whilst MK has been very busy over the years attracting major businesses and investments, large modern retail parks and an iconic shopping centre. We are of course proud of all those things, we’re all pleased to see the progress but we’ve also been secretly disappointed and have complained that we don’t seem to nurture our home-grown enterprises. Some will go as far to say that CMK has lost, before its even really begun to create, its own identity.

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Maaya, an Indian restaurant opening in The Hub doesn’t scream the stuff of front pages or breaking news. MK is home to some four hundred restaurants or more. So what is the big deal you ask?

First off, it’s an independent restaurant and the product and hard-work of four local businessmen, each with fantastic credentials. With two restauranteurs, a PR company owner and an IT Business Consultancy expert. It sounds a perfect mix of expertise.

Now let’s not forget opening anything within the grey blocked walls of CMK ‘the city’ to us MK’ers is not to be taken lightly. Rents and rates commanded in this area are a big part of the reason why I believe, we as a town have been labelled as sterile or without personality. Unique one off shops and restaurants can dream about opening up there, but normally it remains in the dreamlike state. We hear time and time again about chain restaurants opening up its fourth or fifth site within MK and we all collectively let out a sigh. Uninspiring, we are letting ourselves down. We know, MK is better than this.

You’ve got to hand it to the owners of Maaya then, opening up the first independent restaurant in the very trendy and popular The Hub with such style, finesse and most importantly, great food.

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Last Thursday, I ate from their banquet menu and was so impressed with the quality and freshness of the food. Then last night I was lucky enough to be invited to their VIP launch evening and rubbed shoulders with The Mayor of Milton Keynes, a local pop singer and a pakora or two… yum.

Maaya has a great location with the perfect city ambience inside. It feels modern and swanky, without making you feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. What sounds like it has come straight out of London is the very impressive Chef’s private table which is upstairs on a balcony overlooking the restaurant. Perfect for Birthday parties or special occasions. When you dine at the chef’s table, the chef himself serves your food. It’s a wonderful touch.

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So people of Milton Keynes, foodies, hungry bellies, cocktail sippers. This is what we’ve been crying out for and it’s here. A non-chain, high quality, local restaurant in the most exciting area. It cannot be the last but it sure is the first for The Hub.

Eat, drink, live MK. Maybe we are one step closer to stamping our concrete cow hooves over this *cough* city.