Thursday, 6 October 2011

My "Moment" with Rachel's and Hand-Picked Hotels

Sometimes in life, perfect pairings are created...such as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, strawberries and cream or Brad and Angelina.  One other such perfect pairing that has recently come to my attention is the delightful union of Hand Picked Hotels and Rachel's Organic!

Culinary expert and Hand Picked Hotel's Head Chef Lucy Hyder has partnered with Rachel's as part of their "Moments" campaign.  Celebrating that moment in the day when you can relax and unwind with your favourite, luxurious Rachel's Organic product, the "Moments" campaign asks us to reflect on that special time when time stands still and we can enjoy an oasis of calm in the storm of our hectic day!

I was absolutely over the moon to be chosen to enjoy my own special moment with Rachel's and Hand Picked Hotels, when I was invited to the sumptuous 4* Buxted Park Hotel in East Sussex for an exclusive cookery and dining experience to help celebrate the partnership.

I am already a big fan of Rachel's.  I love their passion and commitment to producing gorgeous organic products in harmony with nature. Ever since reviewing a selection of Rachel's products back in March, the brand has been a firm family favourite.  The superior tasting dairy products made with love and the company ethos make Rachel's a quality brand with a big heart.

Hand Picked Hotels boast seventeen superb country house hotels throughout the UK, Scotland and Jersey, where elegant architecture and exquisite interiors blend seamlessly with modern comforts and technology and you are encouraged to kick off your shoes, feel at home and relax.  They stand at the forefront of a renaissance in fine British hospitality.  These hotels are built for pleasure and enjoyment with attentive friendly staff who really care.  They offer a fine dining  experience with emphasis on sourcing local produce where possible, creating a better quality and flavour of food made with creative passion and culinary flair.  Combining such luxury with the relaxed atmosphere of home is a perfect combination for those of us who enjoy the finer things in life without any pretensions.

It makes perfect sense that these two brands, who do so much to indulge us in blissful "me time",  should go hand in hand!  A perfect pairing indeed!

On October 5th, I drove the 4 hours down to East Sussex accompanied by my eldest daughter Megan to be guests at Buxted Park Hotel with Rachel's.  From the moment I arrived at my VIP parking space in the courtyard I knew I was in for something special.  When we were shown to the King George V Suite, our home for the night, my feelings were confirmed! This two roomed suite was fit for royalty!  Antique furnishings, original features, works of art, a marble fireplace and outstanding views of the estate make this a truly indulgent experience.  But there is no feeling of is relaxing, homely and comfortable.

Buxted Park Hotel
Our view of some of Buxted Park's 312 acres!
We were treated to a cocktail reception and an introductory presentation in the hotel's cinema.  From there we made our way into the kitchens to enjoy a cookery demonstration with Head Chef Lucy Hyder.  She was amazing.  A visionary who transforms simple, quality ingredients into outstanding dishes where textures and flavours combine to deliver a contemporary gourmet meal.  She was down to earth, with a passion for home cooked comfort foods and home grown, seasonal produce. Her attitude to sustainability was wholesome and honest and I loved how she spoke so passionately about food.  Lucy has created some inspiring recipes using Rachel's Organic Yogurts that she demonstrated to us.  Gourmet Cookery Schools are held at the Buxted Park Hotel where you can learn the tips of the trade needed to cook gourmet dinner party dinners at home.

Lucy Hyder (and me!)
I will be sharing a recipe from Lucy Hyder using Rachel's Organic yogurt in another blog post coming soon!

Using Rachel's Natural Yogurt on Lamb Tagine
In the evening we gathered in the Crystal Bar for exquisite canapes and champagne.  From there we made our way into the sophisticated and contemporary Dining Room where we ate from the bespoke Rachel's Menu.  We were served food matched wines throughout and were overwhelmed by the amazing dining experience that we were given.

Vegetarian Canapes
Gazpacho, Celery Sorbet and Vodka Jelly
Goat's Cheese Risotto and Cherry Tomatoes with Balsamic Glaze
Mediterranean Vegetable Pave with Chick Pea and Apricot Cassoulet
Cranberry Sorbet
Chocolate and Almond Tart with Apricot Sorbet
I can honestly say I have never enjoyed a dining experience like this in my was exquisite.  The vegetarian options were inspired.  The flavours in each dish worked so well together. I was really blown away by the attention to detail, the skill and the craftsmanship involved in the production of this meal.  My compliments to the chef Lucy Hyder and her team!!

Check out the Hand Picked Hotels website for details of locations, dining experiences, events and special offers available at the seventeen locations.

Go to the Rachel's Facebook Page for a great competition...just share your moment and create your very own pot!  Here's mine!

Find out more about Rachel's on the website. Look out for the Rachel's new TV ad too!

**The experience was completely complimentary...I feel so privileged to have had my moment with Rachel's and Hand Picked Hotels! It was wonderful! **


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