1H+K – Vaasa (Finland)

Once in a while you stumble upon the perfect little restaurant that has it all: great food, ambience and service. 1H+K is that place, although it happens to be in Vaasa, Finland so I’m not able to pop in nearly as often as I’d like. However, I did make the most of my short stay and enjoyed dinner at 1H+K twice.

1hk-stairs

1hk-pentik

1H+K stands for one (1) room (huone) + kitchen (keittiö) and that’s exactly what it is, although there is a private dining room available (they call it a cabinet). The restaurant (ravintola) is tucked away on the first floor above the Pentik shop but it isn’t part of the store. It’s completely independent and is accessed through the main entrance with its own staircase. However, you can spot the restaurant from inside the shop.

1hk-inside-view-pentik

1hk-view-from-pentik

Its relatively hidden premises is part of the charm. It’s like discovering a secret location for those “in the know”. It certainly feels as though it’s the type of place only locals know about, as there is no English version of their website. Fortunately, I was able to find their main menu on their Facebook page that included the English translation. The dishes feature local produce and seasonal cooking, which means that the menu changes a few times a year and remains small (as it should be) with 4 or 5 items per course.

1hk-interior

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Vera, Drink Up! – Shepreth, Cambridgeshire (UK)

On 9 July 2016 Vera, Drink Up!, a collaboration between Vera’s Gin Club and Cambridge Eat Up!, took place at The Plough in Shepreth, near Cambridge. It was presented by “Vera” (gin expert Lyndsey Spellman) who took us through the history and horticulture of three gins. Lyndsey’s presentation was entertaining and interactive and she had everyone laughing and having fun from the very beginning.

The Plough Shepreth Vera Drink Up Tables

Vera Drink Up Lyndsey Spellman

The Plough Shepreth

Lyndsey leads a monthly Vera’s Gin Club at The Plough (I wrote about it here). As a member of Cambridge Eat Up!, the Facebook group for foodies, I wanted to include Vera in a foodie event so Lyndsey and I organised Vera, Drink Up!, a food and drink extravaganza featuring 3 premium gins + Fever-Tree tonic, Vera’s fun and informative gin presentation and a plateful of exquisite food by Romano’s.

Romano's Collage

Vera Drink Up Collage

We held Vera, Drink Up! from 5pm to 7pm so we could include a hearty dinner. The monthly Vera’s Gin Club features more gin (5 gins) and less food (The Plough’s nibbles) but for this special occasion we were fortunate to have a tasty menu created by the fabulous Paola Davies-Romano. The Plough were kind enough to lend us the space and have Romano’s as guest kitchen for the event. We also had The Foraging Fox on board, who supplied us with bottles of their delicious beetroot ketchup.

Photo courtesy of The Plough

Photo courtesy of The Plough

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Gin Festival – Cambridge (UK)

The Gin Festival took place at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on 8-10 April, 2016. Tickets sold out in record time and I was delighted to attend the Friday slot with my husband Paulo. Aimed at gin novices and connoisseurs alike, the Gin Festival was a lot of fun and I enjoyed discovering the fantastic variety of gins in a laid back setting.

Gin Festival Cambridge Crowd

Gin Festival Balcony View

The event was well organised and each ticket holder received a branded balloon gin glass and a handy Gin Book.

Gin Festival Glasses

Collage Gin Festival

All of the gin brands at the festival offered samples but with a staggering selection of gins at 4 different bars (A, B, C or D), it was a good idea to purchase tokens (4 for £20). One token per G&T and two tokens for a cocktail, served at the bar upstairs. The gin-based cocktails included Drunken Tulip, Northern Soul, Rhubarb Rumble, English Garden, Red Snapper and Negroni.

Gin Festival Bar C

Gin Festival Cocktail Bar Sign

Gin Festival Cocktail Bar

I took the time to go through the booklet as it contained information about the gins on offer and which bar they could be found. I also brought my own tote bag to carry the Gin Book and any other promo material I picked up from the brands. It was also handy for carrying my gin glass when I needed to keep my hands free.

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Pinkster Gin Tour and Tasting – Barley, Hertfordshire (UK)

Those who have heard me rave about my favourite gin, Pinkster, will understand my sheer delight at being invited to a tour and tasting at Pinkster HQ, near Cambridge. You may have even seen Pinkster’s eye-catching displays in some shops, such as Cambridge Wine Merchants, and at events and fairs. They really do their branding well!

Collage Pinkster Gin

Pinkster Gin 2

Pinkster Gin 3

My visit on 15 June was very well organised by Pinkster’s newest team member, Lyndsey Spellman, who is quite the gin connoisseur herself. It was a real treat to have a peek into Pinkster’s premises. I didn’t know what to expect but given the fact that taxis were arranged, I knew there was going to be a lot of gin flowing. Yessss!

Collage Pinkster Gin 2

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The Cholmondeley Arms – Cholmondeley, Malpas, Cheshire (UK)

I’ve been to The Cholmondeley Arms several times since I first discovered it in 2012 on a trip to Chester. It’s located in the village of Cholmondeley, near Malpas in Cheshire. I always make a point to visit this picturesque pub for lunch when I am in Chester or Liverpool as it is on the way back to Cambridge. Paulo and I recently returned to the ‘Chum’ for a much anticipated lunch.

Sign - The Cholmondeley Arms

Sign – The Cholmondeley Arms

Pub - The Cholmondeley Arms

Pub – The Cholmondeley Arms

It’s one of my favourite pubs as the food, drink and ambience are quite special. The pub is a former Victorian schoolhouse built in 1862 and was first converted in 1988. It was refurbished a few years ago by the new owners who celebrated its past as a schoolhouse. The result is a beautifully decorated and charming place to spend a few hours over great food and drink. They have a dizzying selection of gins and some excellent local beers. The menu consists of freshly made classics that are expertly prepared and presented.

Charming interior and exterior

Charming interior and exterior

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