Tag Archives: Christmas

Garden & Gun Jubilee Oyster Roast

Garden & Gun is a southern lifestyle magazine which hosts an annual Jubilee outside of Charleston. The weekend of events kicked off last night with the hotly anticipated oyster roast at Charles Towne Landing.

Garden Gun Jubilee Oyster Roast entrance

We arrived after dark to the wooded winter wonderland, with bluegrass singers greeting us at the gates.

Garden Gun Jubilee Oyster Roast Reindeer

Garden Gun Jubliee Oyster Roast entrance walkway

Garden Gun Jubilee Oyster Roast entrance bluegrass

Garden Gun Jubilee Oyster Roast view

Garden Gun Jubilee Oyster Roast beer

We snagged some drinks and had a wander round.

Garden Gun Jubilee Oyster Roast drinks

Garden Gun Jubilee Oyster Roast roaming

Garden Gun Jubilee Oyster Roast Steamed Oysters

Rappahannock Oyster Co. out of Richmond, VA was was churning out heaps of steamed oysters.

Garden Gun Jubilee Oyster Roast Shucking

Garden Gun Jubilee Oyster Roast Shucked

Once you manage to shuck them from their shells, they are a tremendous salty, juicy treat!

Garden Gun Jubilee Oyster Roast sign

The Jubilee is a festive seasonal marketplace showcasing some brilliant vendors and designs that represent the best of the south.

Garden Gun Jubilee Oyster Roast Vendor Sara Grimshaw Designs

Sara York Grimshaw Designs

Garden Gun Jubilee Oyster Roast Vendor Goat Sheep Cow

Goat.Sheep.Cow.

Garden Gun Jubilee Oyster Roast Farmshed

Garden Gun Jubilee Oyster Roast Swing

The catering was deliciously southern.

Garden Gun Jubilee Oyster Roast Chile Verde Merroir Tasting Room

Garden Gun Jubilee Oyster Roast Tuna

Garden Gun Jubilee Oyster Roast Tuna plate

Tuna with kimchi & black rice | Rappahannock Oyster Co., Richmond, VA

Garden Gun Jubilee Oyster Roast Weiner fixins

Toward the end of the evening, Wild Weiners of Charleston was providing hot dogs with all the fixin’s.

Garden Gun Jubilee Oyster Roast Vendor Weiners

Garden Gun Jubilee Oyster Roast Hot Dog

A nice bite before carriages!

It definitely looks to be a wonderful weekend at the Jubilee. Get your tickets and go!

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Petersham Nurseries Candlelit Carols

Petersham Nurseries is one of the gems of suburban London. It’s not your typical garden center – it’s possibly the chicest, bohemian greenhouse wonderland I’ve ever encountered.

The vast grounds near Richmond were saved from developers by an Italian businessman and his Aussie wife, and they’ve since redesigned the gardens, opened a Michelin star restaurant, a rustic teahouse, and a vast garden shop full of salvaged homewares, antique furniture and vintage garden décor.

And it happens to be the premier place in town to rekindle that old-fashioned Christmas spirit!

Petersham Nurseries Teahouse

The event was a candlelit evening of Christmas carols and shopping!

Petersham Nurseries Shop

As we entered the packed dirt-floored nursery, we were handed a ticket for a free cup of mulled wine. Crumbly mince pies were also on hand to nibble as a group of singers from Barnes Choir filled the café with the beautiful harmony of Christmas carols.

Petersham Nurseries Mulled Wine Ticket

Petersham Nurseries Carols Mulled Wine Mince Pie

Petersham Nurseries Carols Sip

Petersham Nurseries Carols Santa

Petersham Nurseries Carollers

Petersham Nurseries Carols Tree

Petersham Nurseries Carols

The space was heaving with fir trees and berries, shiny red baubles, and twinkling fairy lights – it was a magical Christmas dreamland!

Petersham Nurseries Shop Plants

Still humming “Jingle Bells”, we wandered around perusing the shop! My eyes didn’t know which way to look first – left or right, up or down. Every inch of the place was covered in vintage prints, gilded mirrors, antique chandeliers, homemade wreaths, scented candles and soaps, and heaps of Christmas ornaments.

Petersham Nurseries Shop Walls

Petersham Nurseries Shopping

Petersham Nurseries Shop Putti

Petersham Nurseries Shop Baubles

Petersham Nurseries Shop Crocuses

Petersham Nurseries Shop Mirror Reflection

Petersham Nurseries Shop Hobnail Pitcher

Petersham Nurseries Shop Baubles Tree

This shop is one of my top recommendations for finding unique Christmas gifts!

And I couldn’t pick a place with more charming Christmas cheer.

Le Chalet at Selfridges

Christmas is two weeks away!

And is this not the most enthusiastic face you’ve ever seen on a man about to head into the holiday hullabaloo that is Christmas shopping on Oxford Street?

Eddie Tube

Our destination: Selfridges.

Essentially, the British version of Macy’s – and a magnet for retail tourism.

Their window displays have become a destination in their own right. Framed in twinkling pine boughs, this year’s theme is fairy tales. Leave it to a department store (founded by an American) to take the enchantment and imagination of childhood fantasies and sell them back to us as merchandising.

Selfridges Bagpiper

Selfridges Window Display Gold Fairytale

Though the fairy tale theme is hardly original, consumers are especially susceptible to their familiar notions of romance and happiness during the holiday period. If, for some people, that happiness just happens to be Chinese handbags stamped with the name of a certain Project Runway star, who am I to judge?*

Selfridges Window Display Winter 2014

Selfridges Window Display Villian

Selfridges Hat in Hand Outside Pine Boughs

Selfridges Window Paddington Tax

Paddington Bear is back on the scene again.

Selfridges Window Paddington

I even bumped into him as we staggered through crowds on the 4th floor Christmas Shop.

Selfridges Paddington

After checking our lists twice and whizzing through the queues for the register, we made tracks to the roof terrace for lunch at the Alpine-themed Le Chalet.

Selfridges Le Chalet Entrance

Selfridges Le Chalet Table

Seated by the window with a view over Mayfair’s pink skies, we could wrestle our bags under the table and order a much-needed drink.

Selfridges Le Chalet Window Seat

Selfridges Le Chalet View

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And I’m not talking about a glass of chardonnay…

At Le Chalet, it’s all about the “Choctails”! Served from the hot chocolate bar, these cocoa toddies are deliriously sweet and incredibly boozy! Sip with extreme caution!

Selfridges Le Chalet Choctails

Hazelnut "Choctail"

Hazelnut “Choctail”

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I ordered the Hazelnut, and it was blinkin’ delicious!

While the sugar rush hit our bloodstream, we ordered a few nibbles to fortify us through the rest of the shopping day ahead.

Gooey raclette with sliceds of dry cured beef, pickles and potatoes

Gooey raclette with sliceds of dry cured beef, pickles and potatoes

Selfridges Le Chalet Raclette

Cornish crab with pickled celeriac & mustard

Cornish crab with pickled celeriac & mustard

Peppered tuna with wasabi avocado

Peppered tuna with wasabi avocado

The interlude was just what we needed before round two of Christmas madness resumed.

Selfridges Yoda

A very jolly day out shopping, we had!

*His bags are selling like hotcakes to the English gals (seriously)! So out of awe and admiration to the guy, here’s a tribute to everyone’s favourite reality fashion show personality.

Snippets from a Cotswolds Christmas

Sadly, I couldn’t make it home to America for Christmas this year. But with my trip stateside now just a couple of months away, I spent my holidays in the next best place – my home-way-from-home in the Cotswold countryside.

Before the onslaught of Christmas dining began, I fancied starting things off with a healthy salad at Daylesford Organic. It’s an adorable little farmshop near Kingham with a delightful cafe. Only trouble was by the time we sat down for lunch, all the best salads were already sold out. Leaving me with my second not-so-healthy choice, a twice-baked Daylesford Blue cheese soufflé. Go figure.
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Jerusalem artichoke risotto with truffle oil & garlic breadcrumbs

Jerusalem artichoke risotto with truffle oil & garlic breadcrumbs

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I love this place.  A working organic farm, serving food that changes every day, depending on the weather and the time of year. Truly seasonal British fare.

On Christmas Eve, we had to get stuck right in helping prep for dinner. On the menu this year, Christmas goose – glazed with honey, and stuffed with apples and rosemary.

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The perfectly-roasted result

The perfectly-roasted result

I caught the carver having a cheeky taste!G6

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The fireplace lit, we got dressed for dinner (with a little help)…D15 D14 D16

Did a last-minute check all the presents were accounted for under the tree…
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dinner

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope Santa spoiled you all. xx

Tea at Fortnum & Mason

If I had to sum up England using only three words, one of them would definitely be “tea.” As the largest per capita tea consumers in the world, Brits can’t get enough of the stuff. They drink heaps of it. My fiancé’s first memories of drinking tea begin when he was aged 7 years old. Afternoon tea is a ceremonial embodiment of English culture and, here and in London, it’s been elevated to an art form.

Whenever someone asks me what to do in London – be it a weekend holiday, a business trip, or a layover at the airport – I say, have tea. It’s traditional, it’s refined, it’s an occasion.  As the official grocer to the Queen, Fortnum & Mason is known for its ubiquitous luxury hampers, and is bursting with gourmet British foodstuffs. It has been proudly sourcing tea for over 300 years, and was the first department store to offer afternoon tea to their customers.

It was the last weekend before Christmas, all the gifts were wrapped and under the tree, and it was pouring down rain – so I could think of no better place to spend the afternoon! We headed right up to the recently renovated Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, atop Piccadilly on the Fourth Floor. It’s a stunning space accented all over in that signature robin egg blue.

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The Tasting Room is the perfect place for a private lunch, or an exclusive afternoon tea.

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In our private room, we didn’t have to hush our voices (or our laughter) – we were free to have our little tête-à-tête without worrying about any nearby diners eavesdropping on our very civilized and intellectual discussions.9 10

Twice-Baked Shropshire Ham & Barbers Cheddar Soufflé with Honey Mustard Butter Sauce

Twice-Baked Shropshire Ham & Barbers Cheddar Soufflé with Honey Mustard Butter Sauce

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I ordered Fortnum’s Savoury Afternoon Tea. I love how the English linger over high tea. It’s so relaxed. The waiters don’t rush you. You are free to nibble each selection at your own leisurely pace. First, come the savouries – finger sandwiches, followed by savory canapes – exotic breads, delicate pastries, with delicious piquant toppings.

Finger Sandwiches: Cucumber with Cream Cheese, Rare Breed Hen Egg with Mustard Cress, Rare Roast Beef with Gherkin & Caper Dressing, Fortnum's Smoked Salmon with Lemon Dill Butter, Coronation Chicken

Finger Sandwiches: Cucumber with Cream Cheese, Rare Breed Hen Egg with Mustard Cress, Rare Roast Beef with Gherkin & Caper Dressing, Fortnum’s Smoked Salmon with Lemon Dill Butter, Coronation Chicken

Afternoon Tea Savouries: London Smoked Salmon on Blini with Lemon & Caper Cream Cheese, Carpaccio of Venison on Mushroom Toast with Horseradish Cream & Hazelnut, Tomato Savory Financier with Pesto Cream, Black Olive & Silver Anchovy with Pistachio Praline, Rosary Goat's Cheese on Walnut Shortbread with Beetroot

Afternoon Tea Savouries: London Smoked Salmon on Blini with Lemon & Caper Cream Cheese, Carpaccio of Venison on Mushroom Toast with Horseradish Cream & Hazelnut, Tomato Savory Financier with Pesto Cream, Black Olive & Silver Anchovy with Pistachio Praline, Rosary Goat’s Cheese on Walnut Shortbread with Beetroot

No afternoon tea is complete without scones…

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And tea! Your own little pot, which the “tearistas” keep filling up with hot water to keep it constantly steeping for a refreshing classic “cuppa.” P17 P18 P19

We spent the better part of the afternoon stirring and sipping our cups and taking in the fine English tradition of tea. Afterwards, I couldn’t help tugging a reluctant arm into the Christmas Shop for quick browse. I loved wandering around through an endless array of ornaments and holly, taking in those familiar holiday scents – orange, cinnamon, and pine.

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A visit to 181 Piccadilly always promises a magical afternoon whatever the season – but this afternoon was what London Christmas dreams are made of.