Sunday, 30 July 2017

Percy Pig's Official 25th Birthday Party

I never buy sweets. I eat them when they're offered to me, sure. But I prefer chocolate on the whole so don't tend to buy sweets for myself.

Well, there is one exception to the rule. And that is Percy Pigs.

The pig is a legend. Due to some clever marketing on the part of M&S and the sheer deliciousness of the sweets, Percy Pigs have become iconic.

All Brits know Percy. And I've never met anyone who can resist him. The seductive little fella.

My siblings and I loved him when we were little, my colleagues and I love him now. My friends have always loved him.

Imagine my excitement then, when I learned Percy was this year turning 25, just two months before I was set to hit the milestone myself.

And that excitement went up another notch when I received an invitation to Percy's birthday party. His official 25th birthday party! What an honour.

Let me tell you, it was a lot fancier a soirée than my birthday party will be (not through lack of my trying - there's only so much you can do with a tiny London flat and a journalist's salary.)

Along with a select group of lucky journalists and bloggers, I entered on a hot pink carpet and was greeted with a choice of a Percy on the Beach or some rosé sparkling wine.
How could I choose? Obvs I had both.

Here's the recipe for the Percy on the Beach, should you want to taste the deliciousness yourself:

The room was insanely beautiful. It was so pink and essentially what my dreams consist of.
The most gorgeous bunches of pink roses and peonies atop every surface (my dream flower combo), cute retro glass jars of every different type of Percy for us to pick n mix, and huge pink pom-poms adorning the room.
And of course, I was most excited to meet the guest of honour.
Although you might think I wore pink trousers especially for the occasion, the fact of the matter is that on any given day there is a 90% chance I will be wearing pink. Safe to say I felt very at home.

We mingled, sipped drinks, scoffed canapés and discussed our favourite Percies - mine, should you care to know, are veggie Percies (I prefer the texture, they're more squidgy).

And then it was time to sit down for dinner.
The chefs said they'd tried to put the essence of Percy every course, and each dish was inspired by a different top chef too.

The starter was plated up in a retro way - it was wild seabass with citrus nage and turned courgettes, inspired by Marco Pierre White.
The mandarin definitely conjured up Percy vibes and it went down a treat with the lovely sauvignon we drank.
The main was amazing: Heston inspired ricotta tortellini with summer vegetables, greenhouse pesto, potato and a confit garlic foam.
It was accompanied by orange wine too which I loved.

Pudding was, as you might imagine, sensational.
Citrus compressed grapes with yogurt sorbet, meringue and rosemary oil, inspired by René Redzepi. It was very sweet and did taste like Percy, but it was herby at the same time which was unexpected.

Oh, and the Asti we drank alongside the pudding was so delicious. I'd forgotten how much I love Asti. I'm so basic. But who says bubbles are just for the start of the night? Asti with pudding is going to be my new thing.

And just because we hadn't had quite enough sugar, we finished the meal with mandarin sherbet dib-dab...
And blackcurrant and Parmesan marshmallows.
Yes, really. Not going to lie, it was a bit weird and confusing. But hey, you win some, you lose some.

It had been a wonderful evening and I feel very privileged to be able to celebrate Percy hitting the big 2-5.
Here's to Colin the Caterpillar's 21st next year!

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Baths, bars and breathtaking beauty in Budapest for the weekend

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of spending the weekend in Budapest. 

On a flight that was at least half hen-dos - Friday flights from Gatwick at this time of the year are always hen and stag central RIP me - we whizzed on over to Hungary, and it was my first visit to the country so I was mad excited.

Over the course of the weekend, we explored as much as we could, and guys, Budapest is beaut.
We tried to eat as much local cuisine as poss too - feast your eyes on this chicken paprikash, which was entirely delumptious.
Most people know Budapest is famous for its natural baths, but rather than go to the arguably prettier but more touristy central ones, my pals and I decided to venture out to Margaret Island - this gorgeously green island in the middle of the river - and try out the baths there.
The water was the most delightful warm temperature, but not so hot that it didn't cool you down which was great because BOY OH BOY was it a toasty weekend.
Oh, and in Budapest you can get wine spritzers in plastic bottles and we were all over that.

If you didn't know, Budapest is actually split into Buda and Pest, which are separated by the river.
Amongst all the historic buildings, there are a lot of ruins and run-down areas, but Budapest seems to make it work somehow.

You probably know about the ruin bars as they're pretty famous - we tried going to the best-known one but when we rocked up at about midnight there was a queue down the street that seemed to be made up of solely Brits, so we decided to skip it and find somewhere we thought a touch more authentic round the corner, if less famous.

Fun nightlife, has Budapest.
A post shared by Rachel Hosie (@rachel_hosie) on
And we were lucky with the weather in the daytime too.
I found that the different areas of the city had completely different feels.

The spot below, by the opera house on a beautiful big, wide, tree-lined street full of designer shops, reminded me of Paris.
And then across the river in Buda, we found this beautiful area that felt more like Prague with a touch of Bavaria.
I suppose I haven't really told you the main reason I was in Budapest in the first place, and it was both random and awesome.

The Red Bull Air Race was taking place in the city over the weekend, and I was there to interview Ben Murphy, former Red Arrows leader and current aerobatic pilot.

The race is insane and amazing - in the tiniest of planes, the pilots zoom down the river, slaloming through bollards and looping all over the shop.

Most excitingly for me, I got to fly with Ben - a proper G-flight with loop-the-loops and flying upside-down and everything!
You can see a little taster of what it was like in the video below...

Man, I bloody loved it. It reminded me that I am at heart a bit of an adrenaline junkie, and I've decided I need to make the things I've always wanted to do happen. Like sky-diving. The question is... where?
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