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24 August 2015

Lovely readers, 

Although the domain URL for my blog is staying the same - www.wandertowonder.com - my site is now on SquareSpace, and therefore the RSS feed has changed. If you read my blog through FeedBurner, Feedly or any other RSS-related platforms, this is my new feed URL that you can input to stay updated and be alerted of new posts:


I have not quite yet figured out how to update my Bloglovin' so that my posts are published on that feed as usual, so if you normally use BL to catch up my posts, it might be worth giving my Facebook page a "like" - that way, any new posts on WTW will appear on your newsfeed. 

Of course, liking pages on FB is not for everyone, so you can subscribe by email or simply bookmark Wander to Wonder and check back when you feel like it.

Thank you and see you over on the new site!

afternoon tea at amaranto, the four seasons hotel

18 August 2015

While I enjoy my fair share of sugar-laden food (I could never turn down a WA café cake, for example), I'm definitely more of a savoury girl. Because of that, I don't find myself craving the afternoon tea experience all that often - for someone who doesn't prioritise cakes in their diet, how special can a meal of a few sandwiches and desserts be? 

Well, my recent experience at Amaranto at The Four Seasons Hotel has reminded me of why this is such a classic and timeless treat for the Brits and beyond. When it's done well, afternoon tea is a delicious and luxurious occasion - especially paired with free-flowing champagne! 

My sister and I booked for a girly date of carbs and bubbles through Bookatable's star deal, £49 each for a choice of afternoon tea (traditional, picnic, Italian or vegetarian) and as much champagne as you like for two hours. Most of the high-end afternoon tea menus look fairly similar in content, so we weren't sure what to expect from the quality of food itself and how it would compare to others we'd tried, but we were certainly not disappointed.

First, we were presented with a three tiers of colourful and beautiful cakes and sandwiches. The sandwiches included:

Organic egg, Montgomery cheddar, mustard cress on malted bread 
Cucumber, cream cheese & wasabi on walnut bread 
East End smoked salmon & prawn cocktail on brown bread 
Roast organic chicken, sage & onion stuffing & mustard mayonnaise on white bread

Before we started eating, my sister and I were chatting and laughing about the time we made cucumber sandwiches for our mum on mother's day when we were younger. What a lucky mum...! We were wondering how cucumber sandwiches became such a thing, because we'd never tasted any remarkable ones. Surely it must be the most flavourless sandwich invention?

I then bit into the one we were served, and was blown away! I hung my head in shame for dismissing the humble cucumber sandwich, because this one was so good, it was my favourite amongst them all. The cranberry in the soft bread was the best part, bringing out the taste the cucumber and cream cheese. My next favourite was probably the chicken - a real, proper roast chicken sandwich with stuffing - but the others were lovely, too. We were both pretty impressed by them all.

Then came the cakes...

Rhubarb & custard lolly 
Pistachio & strawberry tartlet 
Pimm’s choux 
Chocolate & raspberry macaron 
Seasonal trifle

We didn't quite manage to finish these as we were saving ourselves for the scones, but they were also a big hit. A little too sweet for me, but that's my personal taste - the Pimm's choux was unique and delicious, and the macaron tasted like the richest chocolate brownie!

But then came my favourite part...

The warm, perfect scones. They were adorably mini-sized, but not too much so. It just meant that I had a few... and each time was pretty generous with the clotted cream, I can't lie. They came with sweet jars of strawberry jam and lemon curd, too - I stuck to the strawberry, but I imagine the lemon could make for a tasty twist.

Scones are something that I absolutely love, but rarely eat - I'm not so dedicated that I bake them myself, and I've tried one too many dry and disappointing ones in the past that has put me off buying them at bakeries. So it was particularly nice to feast on them in such a decadent setting, all washed down with more champagne - we each managed about 3 glasses, which was pretty good going! Thankfully we had plenty of food to soak it all up...

I always have a good time with my sister, but it was an extra special and luxurious afternoon, hanging out in such a beautiful place with beautiful food! There was live piano playing, the staff were friendly and smiley, the champagne was the icing on the cake, and 3 hours went by in a flash. I would definitely recommend this deal for its value for money (really, you get a whole lot of food and plenty of bubbly) - it would be perfect for a celebration, or a "just because" treat. You can book here, and Bookatable also has a large selection of other "free-flowing champagne" deals that may take your fancy. 

I have a feeling that I'll be reminiscing about this afternoon tea for a while, and that my next one won't be so far in the future...

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disclaimer: our afternoon tea was complimentary, courtesy of Bookatable. all opinions are my own, as always. 

sunset on balbriggan beach

14 August 2015

We're back from a very special few days in Ireland, and I'm still on a happy high from all the celebrations and quality time with my favourite girls. One of my very best and oldest friends was getting married, and I headed over to Ireland (near Dublin) on Saturday to help prepare for the big day!

The wedding was on Monday, and we stayed for a couple of nights at the bride's parents' home right by the sea, which is beautiful. I was a bridesmaid alongside another of my best friends (E, not to be mistaken with husband E) and S (the bride)'s lovely sister, and this having been my first time as a bridesmaid, I feel like it's a piece of cake! We really didn't have a whole lot to do as everyone involved had been so organised, and we spent the weekend relaxing, eating and having fun with the S's family. 

On that Saturday evening after dinner, S, E and I went for a walk along Balbriggan Beach, and were treated to the most extraordinary sunset. None of these photos are touched, filtered or photoshopped, and it was just breathtaking. 

All the more so as I walked beside the two friends who have grown up with me, coped with me for nearly 14 years, and both of whom I love to the moon and back. Witnessing S getting married and being part of such a wonderful occasion will always be one of my happiest memories, and I felt so proud and privileged to share it with her nearest and dearest. 

I'm getting all emotional again, so I'll let the pictures to the talking! 


12 August 2015

If you love wine and cheese as much as I do, not only are you immediately my friend, but you'd also love Vindinista. It's the cosiest, friendliest wine bar with a difference, and I'm so glad to have discovered it!

It's actually only been open since this February, hence why I didn't know about it until an invite pinged into my inbox, but it seemed from the buzzing customers on a Tuesday evening that others have been in the know for a while. 

Tucked away in Acton, West London, they pride themselves in being the neighbourhood wine bar with a twist - serving off-the-beaten-path wines in an intimate setting, with a tempting food menu to snack on while you sip.

When E and I arrived (we only live a quick bus ride away, which is dangerous), Stacy, the owner, gave us a warm welcome and we settled by the window on comfy counter seats (you can imagine the blogger in me rejoicing - "this is the perfect lighting!!") to flick through the menu. Although E knows a fair amount about wine, we are no connoisseurs, so when Stacy suggested that he would choose a few wines that best represent Vindinista, it definitely sounded like the best plan.

Out he came with 4 different wines for each of us, and very helpfully labelled them so we knew exactly what we were drinking. They were (quoting their descriptions):

Tornal Zenit 2013, Hungary - a volcanic wine that's a bit like Picpoul
Bullshit Grauburgunder 2014, Germany - SO much more than boring Pinot Grigio

Suertes del Marqués 7 Fuentes 2013, Tenerife - fresh, a little bit funky & a white pepper finish
Li Velli Askos Susumaniello 2013, Italy - plush & aromatic con molto va-va-vooma

Although we actually enjoyed them all, our unanimous favourite for the white was the Bullshit, and E preferred the Susu for the red, while I liked both equally (but they are completely different). They were all very easy to drink, and I loved the variety - it helped to listen to Stacy's enthusiastic and educational descriptions of them beforehand, too! Who knew that Tenerife produced such interesting wine? 

Of course, we couldn't enjoy all that wine without cheese... or charcuterie, or rillettes. I felt like we were reliving our Bordeaux days! The food did not disappoint - top quality cheese, the meat was delicious, the rillettes was spot on (and a generous portion, may I add), all accompanied with delicious sourdough and fig & hazelnut bread. We both absolutely love meals like these, and polished off every bite. They also have a truffled cheese toastie on the menu that sounds pretty amazing, that's on the agenda for our next visit...

We sat for a while, chatting as the evening settled and more and more customers came in. They clearly have their regulars - there were small groups of friends gathering together, couples, a lady enjoying a glass of wine in the corner whilst working on her laptop. I really enjoyed the atmosphere there, and I'm not surprised that the place was filling up on a school night.

I realise that Acton isn't particularly central and it may be a little out of the way for some, but if you enjoy bars like these - small, intimate ones, original and with character - it's well worth venturing a little West for. As for us, we really have no excuse and I'm sure we'll be showing our faces again in the very near future.

74 Churchfield Road
W3 6DH
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