Everything but the Chef

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I’m not one to shy away from trying something new, and no more so is this true than with cooking. I love to cook and I find it easy to follow a recipe.

Our bookshelf is full of tomes containing delicious dishes. Granted, the Heston Fat Duck book or Gordon Ramsey 3 Star Chef rarely get used (if in fact ever – who has Liquid Nitrogen in their kitchen!) but Nigella, Jamie, Delia and more recently Nom Nom Paleo are used frequently.

It was with genuine interest then that I read about Hello Fresh on Alex’s blog. What a great idea! Recipes to cook at home with measured ingredients sent to you. I decided to give it a go.

At £42 for a no-strings trial box it contains ingredients and recipe cards for three meals for two people (they do a four person box too). Not bad given that we usually shop on a weekly basis for three meals out of five and it works out the same if not more than this.

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The box arrived on Tuesday and all the ingredients were carefully packaged in wool and ice to keep them cool. After unpacking and cooing over the cute branding (such a marketing geek!), I was ready for our first meal.

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The recipe cards that come inside the box are really easy to follow and since everything is (mostly) measured out for you, it’s really very easy indeed. No chef’s course skills needed here!
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The Harissa Chicken with Pomegranate Tabbouleh that I made yesterday was so tasty and I was very proud that my attempt looked just like the picture on the card. It was also enough for three (with our portions anyway) so Mum got to enjoy it too. So delicious!

What I like about this way of eating is that you don’t know what you are going to get in your box (although you can absolutely specify allergies/dislikes at the time of ordering) so you are automatically taken out of your usual food routine (in our case Chilli, meat & veg, smoked haddock, omelettes). You also then have the cards to keep forever.

I’m looking forward to making the next two recipes and I will definitely be ordering again. You should give it a go, you won’t be disappointed.

Erin, Love from Cornfield… X

Local Living: Pop Up Restaurant at The Vine King

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I’m a big fan of trying something new, whether that’s a trend, watching a new film, a new place to eat or at the extreme, finding out about a different culture on our travels. It was to my joy then that this new experience happened upon us, and that it was on our doorstep.

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The VineKing in Reigate is a small, independent wine merchant who up until around two years ago only had one shop in Reigate. Situated a the bottom of our Road, it’s our go-to place for trying something different wine-wise. Plus its always handy for that emergency bottle! These are the guys that started to stock a very nice, small range of Red Zinfandels, a wine we both fell in love with after going to the Californian wine country on our Honeymoon.

Erik is a very proactive MD who’s empire is now four shops, two in Reigate, one in Horley and one in Weybridge. Holding many events, the Summer and Christmas tastings are calendar highlights along with a myriad of different events throughout the year. It was a leaflet in-store for this activity though that really caught our eye … A Pop Up Restaurant.

The concept of a Pop Up is not a new one and working in London gives us access to many. However, one on your doorstep, that offers such great value, is not to be missed.

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The Vineking PopUp is chefed by Maxwell Mackenzie, formerly of Marcus Wareing, and I’m literally not joking when I say the food on the night we went is some of the best we’ve eaten, made even better by the fact the facilities he’s cooking on are so limited (its a wine shop, not a kitchen!)

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The premise is that the food that is cooked is then paired with wines that the shop sells – one traditional pairing, and something a little different. At four courses, suffice to say it was a Good job we were walking home!

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The whole evening is such simple genius, its a wonder someone hasn’t done this before (they may have but not to my knowledge) and as its local to us it makes it even more special. At £55 a head including the wine (£35 without), as a date night or something a bit special, its worth the money. We have definitely paid more for lesser meals in the past.

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However, its not just about the food and wine of course. It’s the atmosphere, and the exclusive feeling you get when you are sitting at one of the 24 places in the shop. The pairings are all explained individually by very friendly and knowledgeable staff, and if you don’t like something, you’re given more of what you do like.

I really urge anyone that can spare a weekday evening (only downside due to inevitable hangover after 6+ glasses of wine) to go along. There is a bit of a wait but it will definitely be worth your while.

Erin, Love from Cornfield… X