Newsletter 7 December 2011

Christmas food special, win a Christmas feast, Southbank Chocolate Festival and the latest openings and foodie news…

For this week’s coolest events, latest restaurants & bar news, as well as delicious food & drink ideas and exclusive offers, check out our free weekly e-magazine! (And don’t forget, this is just the archive version. If you want this news delivered to your inbox on-time every Wednesday, simply subscribe to the newsletter by filling in your details in the form on the right!)


News & Events…


Southern Comfort Mystery Machines

1289 Newsletter 7 December 2011Southern Comfort is giving its Facebook fans the chance to party New Orlean’s style courtesy of their Mystery Machines promotion.  The catch – you won’t know where you’re going!  The winners and three friends will be picked up by one of the Mystery Machines and whizzed off for what should be a night to remember in and around London.  They aren’t revealing much about what the night involves but there’s no chance of it turning into a night with a pint down the local as the Southern Comfort team has promised an evening of amazing places and interesting faces.

Chocolate Festival @ Southbank, 9-11 December

London’s Southbank Centre will be transformed into a chocoholic’s paradise, with over thirty different stalls selling and sampling chocolate in all its forms, from warming hot chocolate to artisan truffles.   Visitors can also chat to some of the UK’s top chocolatiers and attend a series of free tutored tastings and demonstrations in the Chocolate Cookery Theatre.

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Cocktail Nights @ Natural History Museum Ice Rink, until 15 December

Overlooking one of London’s most stunning and famous buildings and set amidst 76,000 sparkling white pea lights (don’t ask how much the electricity costs!), the Natural History Museum Ice Rink is one of London’s must visit outdoor Christmas attractions.  After an evening of bumps and falls, visitors can relax in the café where they will be serving cocktails to sooth the pain as well as a menu of sweet and savoury treats.


New Openings…

The Lucky Pig, W1

1291 Newsletter 7 December 2011Situated in the heart of Fitzrovia, The Lucky Pig provides in-the-know Londoners with classic cocktails and old fashioned glamour in an intimate drinking den.  The design of the bar has drawn on elements from the Art Nouveau period and old New York to create a space packed full of intriguing design features, including mismatched furniture, plush upholstery, Chinese parasols and one-off art pieces.  Lining the side of the venue will be a collection of cubby holes (including tables suspended from the ceiling) seating up to 8 people.   The atmosphere is understated fun, with a piano to encourage impromptu performances, a range of classic-inspired cocktails and champagne served without a sparkler in sight!

Flûte, W1

1293 Newsletter 7 December 2011With two locations in Manhattan – including Flûte Midtown, winner of the coveted Nightclub & Bar Award 2010 for Wine Bar of the Year – and one in Paris, Flûte is world renowned for offering a mind-boggling list of champagnes and sparkling wines.  Flûte Bar & Lounge in London promises more of the same – a place to mingle in casual yet stylish surroundings and drink some fabulous yet keenly priced bubbly.  Accompanying the drinks selection will be an equally innovative menu of light bites, spearheaded by a spring roll bar serving no less than 20 different fusion creations.  The music will also serve to set the mood, with a playlist created by top New York DJs Duane Harriott and Alec DeRuggiero.

Hollywood Arms, SW10

1292 Newsletter 7 December 2011Like any self-respecting Hollywood actor wishing to extend their career, The Hollywood Arms has undergone major surgery to revitalise its offering amongst the young upstarts in Chelsea’s pub scene.  Post extreme makeover and looking years younger, this glamorous venue boasts a number of stylish and contemporary rooms, including The Blanchard Room – an über elegant upstairs lounge and The Aviary Room – a luxurious conservatory-style dining space.  The new menu keeps up with the current trend for sharing plates, including Grey Goose vodka-cured salmon, Potted Wiltshire rabbit with sourdough and their signature ‘Darcy’s Lady’ – six shots of chilled Belvedere Bloody Mary topped with a floating oyster.

Mari Vanna, SW1

From Russia to Knightsbridge with love comes Mari Vanna, a new restaurant offering our wealthy Eastern European friends a taste of home.  The menu offers “babushka cooking” – homely cooking inspired by the cuisine of Armenia, Georgia and Uzbekistan, albeit with a contemporary approach.   Dishes include Russian veal dumplings with a light herb sauce and Mari Vanna’s signature dish – Borsch with Pampushka (beetroot soup with beef).   As you would expect of a restaurant designed to court Mr. Abramovich & chums, the décor mixes the blingest chandeliers and ornaments with traditional Eastern European dolls and trinkets.  It will also come as no surprise that the bar will house some of the finest vodka’s in town.

Christmas Food Special…

‘Simplest Turkey’ from Pipers Farm

1298 Newsletter 7 December 2011If the idea of Christmas cooking is more appealing than the reality of all of the sausage wrapping, figuring out cooking times and other arduous preparation required, Pipers have the answer with their ‘Simplest’ free-range turkey.  About as fool-proof as one is likely to get, Pipers bone and roll the white and brown meat into two separate joints and stuff them with their homemade apricot & hazelnut stuffing.  They also provide turkey stock to make delicious gravy and bacon wrapped chipolatas.  Just stick it all in the oven, relax with a glass of something boozy, and in around 1 hour you should have your Christmas feast waiting for you!  £6.50/portion from

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Aldi Four Bird Roast

If, like in my household, you can’t decide which bird to get in the oven for Christmas, Aldi’s Four Bird Roast lets you have them all!  The handmade Four Bird Roast includes turkey, goose and duck breast layered with a pork, sage and onion stuffing, all wrapped in a basted chicken breast.  The delicious dish also includes a marmalade glaze, specially created by TV chef Phil Vickery.  You’ve probably seen something similar at other supermarkets for upwards of £30, so Aldi’s version is great value at just £9.99 for 1.48kg.

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Heston from Waitrose Mince Pies

Following the success of his Christmas pudding last year, Heston has turned the traditional mince pie recipe on its head.  The unique recipe provides a filling of zesty lemon curd, aromatic rose water and apple puree mixed with lemon and orange juice to deliver a moist texture and rich flavour.  In a somewhat controversial move, Heston has also opted for all-butter puff pastry instead of shortcrust.  Finally, each box comes complete with a sachet of pine scented sugar to sprinkle over the pies for that traditional Christmas aroma.  £3.29 from Waitrose

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Tesco Finest Deep Filled Mince Pies with Courvoisier VS Cognac

If Heston’s take on mince pies is too revolutionary for you, we found Tesco’s to be the best of traditional variety on supermarket shelves.  The shortcrust pastry is thick and buttery, whilst the juicy filling contains sultanas, raisins, currants, glace cherries, almonds and walnuts for a sweet taste with just the right amount of tartness.  Lacing it with quality Courvoisier VS Cognac helps to bring all of the flavours together for a satisfyingly luxurious flavour. £2.50 from Tesco

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M&S The Collection Perfectly Matured Golden Christmas Pudding

Never ones to do things by half, add a little sparkle to this year’s Christmas festivities with this tasty number from M&S. Topped with golden almonds, golden cherries and special ‘Golden Glitter’ sauce and bursting with vine fruits, nuts and brandy soaked cherries, this is about as indulgent as Christmas pudding gets.  They haven’t cut corners on the booze either, with the pudding enriched with brandy, port and stout. £12.99 from M&S

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Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Kirsh & Cherry Filled Christmas Pudding

For something a little different to the traditional Christmas pudding, this cherry filled version by Sainsbury’s should hit the spot.  It looks like a regular Christmas pudding on the outside, but break into it and you will be met with a filling of boozy kirsch soaked cherries.  With the fruit filled centre, it’s lighter than a traditional Christmas cake, leaving plenty of room for any other treats you had your eye on!  £6.50 from Sainsbury’s

Fudges Savoury Nibbles Selection Tin

You’ve had breakfast, switched the telly on, poured yourself a drink and settled down for a spot of Only Fools & Horses.  But something’s missing; that’s right, you’ve forgotten your snacks.  These nibbles by masters of all things biscuity, Fudges, provide a great selection of savoury treats to munch on as you watch the seasonal repeats.  Each box comes filled with plenty of variety, including Goats cheese straws and Stilton & walnut flatbread and the bite sized morsels shouldn’t fill you up too much before the main event either. Widely available for around £8.50. Stockists details at

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Walker’s Christmas Hamper

With their rich, buttery flavour and hearty, comforting texture, it’s no surprise that shortbread biscuits are so popular over the chillier months.  With their unmistakeable red tartan packaging, Walkers are probably the most popular brand around and for Christmas they have put together a tempting hamper of their delicious biscuits.  Featuring everything from shortbreads, biscuits and oatcakes to fruitcake and mincemeat tarts, the hamper is great as a gift or simply as a completely indulgent treat selection to indulge in over the festive period.  £29 from

Win a Christmas feast with Copas Turkeys!

1301 Newsletter 7 December 2011Reared to full maturity in cherry orchards in Berkshire, Copas turkeys are game-hung and hand-plucked, providing a beautifully dense meat, that doesn’t even require basting. To match their mouthwatering Turkey, Copas has also come up with a range of delicious accompaniments, including gravy, stuffings and condiments, all made to Brenda Copas’ secret recipes.  For more info, visit

The Prize

The prize includes a 6kg Copas Traditional Turkey (to feed 10-12 people), Copas Very Very Special Traditional Gravy and the Copas Christmas Solution, which includes Sage & Onion Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce and Boxing Day Chutney – everything you need for the Christmas table!

To enter, simply send an email with your details and ‘Copas’ written in the subject line before 10 December to: