Lifestyle

Friday Favourites: South West Wine School

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Wine fascinates us with all the varieties, colours and flavours which are infinite; and being able to identify a specific wine is pretty much in everyone’s wish list. At The Amazing Blog we always enjoy learning more about the origin of the wines, how it affects the characteristics with the difference in taste or texture and so on. This is why we were intrigued to find out more about the South West Wine School with their Wine and Spirit Education Trust courses.

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The South West Wine School, was co-founded by Jonathan and Hayley Reynolds with the aim of providing first class wine education across the country. Both with numerous years of expertise, Hayley holds the DipWSET diploma, while Jonathan is WSET Level 3 certified and said “I have recently taken and passed my WSET Level 3. It provides such a comprehensive education on everything related to wine, from growing vines, winemaking and the different grape varieties to serving recommendations and food and wine pairings.” This year, they are holding WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) courses to give you the chance to get your diploma, just like Jonathan and Hayley. Sponsored by the likes of Salcombe Gin, Eversfield Organic, Enotria & Coe, Vineyard Productions, The Eco Laundry, Kingston Estate and Deer Park Country House, this event couldn’t look more promising. They offer comprehensive education from growing wines, learning about the different grape varieties, to winemaking and serving recommendations. They are also members of associations like Food & Drink Devon and Taste of the West.

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) was established in 1969 for the UK wine trade. It provides optimal education courses and certifications recognised globally as the international standard in wine and spirit knowledge for both wine enthusiasts and professionals. The courses will take place at the South West Wine School’s headquarters in Wakeham Farm, in South Devon and will be primarily taught by Hayley Reynolds and Rebecca Mitchell (also DipWSET certified). The next available courses begin in September and go along until the end of November.

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Please see the following dates:

WSET Level 1 is on Thursday 5th September, Wednesday 9th October and Wednesday 6th November. Sign up to obtain the WSET Level 1 diploma. This course is ideal for those who are new to the wine industry. You will learn about the world of wine, explore the types and style through sight, smell and taste and gain skills to describe wines accurately to know what the best food is for pairing. Sign up for a 7 hour day course beginning at 10am for £155.

To achieve the WSET 2, they are doing 3 day courses, a total of 21 hours, for £395. This qualification is suitable for those seeking a deeper understanding of wines. From wine regions, grape varieties and styles, to classifications and labelling terminology, this course is excellent to be taken to the core of the wine industry for those aiming to achieve an intermediate level of knowledge. Moreover, you will also receive an overview of the key categories of liqueurs and spirits. WSET Level 2 – 3 day courses: Wednesday 11th, 18th, and 25th of September. Or Tuesday 12th, 19th, and 26th of November.

WSET Level 3 – 6 day course: Tuesday 10th, 17th, 24th September continuing Tuesday 1st, 8th and 15th October. In order to take the WSET Level 3 course, you will need to have passed the Level 2. This level is for those wanting to become professionals and work in the wine industry. This is a much more in-depth course, touching up on grape growing and the mastering of wine making. Once completed, you will be able to confidently assess wines accurately, delving deeper onto style and quality. The course is 6 days long and has a price of £695.

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They welcome the professional, enthusiast or beginner to these courses. You can sign up here and embark on this journey to become wine expert obtaining an international qualification. Perfect for ticking off on your wish list!

Friday Favourites - Summer Cookbooks

 

Today The Amazing Blog wants to share with you some of our #amazingfinds with four new cookbooks that have encouraged us to create some fantastic international dishes for our friends. Our gastronomic journey starts with India moves onto to Morocco and then the Philippines and returns back to the UK just in time to put the BBQ on!

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Let’s kicked off by something of a whirlwind of inspiration in the culinary prowess of Asma Khan, who moved to the UK in 1991 from Calcutta without any knowledge of how to cook, but a firm belief in the power of food to bring people together, and the opportunities created through this to forge new friendships, learning of different cultures and traditions along the way. Although it was British constitutional law which focused her attentions to begin with, having finished her doctorate in 2012, she turned her entrepreneurial talents towards the kitchen, and has been gaining awards and garnering attention ever since. As a descendant of the ancient Rajput Suryavanshi Bargujar clan on her paternal side, and pioneering tea planters in Darjeeling from her maternal ancestry, Asma’s heritage is undisputed, and her book ‘Asma’s Indian Kitchen’ is a delicious romp through India’s rich history, and culinary voyage. “Your food should feel like an embrace” she tells us, and such warmth emanates from the pages. Beautifully photographed and with anecdotes peppered throughout, her book really is a delight to enjoy in and out of the kitchen! Her Shahi Kofta - or lamb meatballs in a rich gravy - are a sensation, as are her stuffed bell peppers - or Bharwa Simla Mirch to use the correct terminology … useful to know, especially if you fancy trying out her award-winning restaurant Darjeeling Express in Soho. Published by Pavilion Books for £14.99  and available here .

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If Morocco is more your thing, then Nargisse Benkabbou is offering up “Casablanca - My Moroccan Food” to encourage us to whip out that tagine, and start making magic with the amazing flavours of her culture, but often with a mix of Western dishes too. Again, here we don’t just have a culinary manual to enjoy, but rather more an introduction to how these foods fit within the gloriously colourful culture and traditions. Nargisse began sharing her feasting knowledge originally through a highly successful blog, ‘My Moroccan Food’, and this book is the natural result of those posts. If you are partial to a spot of marinating - and who of us aren’t - then try the Sweet Chermoula Seared Beef, which promises a ‘flavour bomb’, and we love the idea of a dish taking us to far-flung places with the aromas of Casablanca which are promised in the Amlou Rolls.So many temptations to try, and written with a warmth and friendliness utterly reminiscent of Morocco herself. Octopus Books have brought us this one, priced at £20 and available here 

 

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Perhaps the Philippines as a gastronomic destination gets your taste buds going? The New Filipino Kitchen is another huge spectrum of different tastes and flavours from the myriad of islands with so much to explore, and brought to us digitally thanks to Jacqueline Chio-Lauri who has edited a collection of fascinating stories, giving extra meaning to each recipe from a wide ranging assortment of cuisine masters - and all for us to try from the comfort of our laptop. Describing the chapters under the heading of simply ‘seafood’, ‘meat’ or ‘desserts’ feels a little like short-changing this extensive jaunt around those 7000 or so islands which make up such a vibrant nation. However, the ‘New Filipino Kitchen’ is a serious contender for our attention if culinary escapism is your thing. Quite unique with the information it relays, this book could send us into a frenzy - imagine if you will ‘Stuffed Fish Grilled in Banana Leaves and Eggplant Salad with Toasted Pancetta’, or to translate that properly and pay due homage, ‘Inihaw Na Isda At Ensaladang Talong’ … Well Imagine it no longer, simply turn to page 36, and enter Tasting Heaven! Both digital and hard copies are available on Amazon here from £15.18

 

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Now, it would seem churlish not to include a cookbook with origins a little closer to home, and of course there is an enormous library of titles to choose from, but one which stands out with an irresistible edge is the “Fresh Veggie BBQ” by David & Charlotte Bailey,encouraging us to embrace the outdoor option of serving up a meal from a vegetarian friendly barbecue menu. Completely eschewing any notion that vegetarian food has to be less colourful or indeed tasty, David and Charlotte give us 60 recipe options like ‘Caramelized Bananas with Vanilla Ice Cream’, ‘Rosemary Sweet Potato Chips’ or - and this one is seriously tempting ‘Wild Mushroom & Artichoke One-Pot Pie’ to dispel those myths completely. However, this time of course our kitchen is found in the great outdoors through the tradition that is ‘barbecue’ which of course is a culture within itself. With advice on the different options open to us, from using dutch ovens to the very impressive discipline of burying our ingredients in hot ash and embers - otherwise known as ‘rescoldo’, we have an encyclopaedia of vegetarian goodies to try out -and with the weather back here at home offering us it’s most favourable conditions (Ok well that was in July perhaps not August!) We can’t be the only ones twitching to get those charcoals burning! Published by Pavilion Books with an RRP of £14.99 here the ‘Fresh Veggie BBQ’ is a must.

…And with all these delicious ideas, we’re preparing to cook up a storm this Bank Holiday weekend!

War Paint Makeup For Men - Concealer/ Tinted Moisturiser

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Stand by your beds troops, we are about to be brought to attention - or is that ‘TEN-SHUN’? Well, whichever is besides the point, just so long as our skin is primed and ready for action… if not, the very exciting range from Warpaint Makeup For Men that has been lined up with military precision on this desk at The Amazing Blog is just what you need. Brace yourselves boys, we have got to pull our socks up and focus on bringing our grooming regime up to scratch, or accept defeat in the face of … well the face really!

Warpaint Makeup For Men, was launch by Daniel Gray who shares with us his struggle with body dysmorphic disorder, which propelled him on his journey starting the brand and helping other, he tells us: “I still struggle every single day with how I look but every day I’m learning how to handle it and I wouldn’t have progressed and come as far as I have if it hadn’t of been for makeup”. He also went on to say, “I’m in no way saying that makeup is a cure for bullies, or a miracle serum for low self-esteem and lack of confidence. But using makeup has really helped me manage my BDD and by creating War Paint, I hope it opens a door for men to also get the support they need from makeup.” The brand has broken the stigma that makeup is just for women by creating this masculine looking range of vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics. Apparently, there is a difference between men and women’s skin, men’s skin ranges from nearly 25% thicker due to the testosterone production which in turn creates more sebum and increases the oil produced.

Taking care of our skin is nothing new, in fact unless we have been cowering under a stone for the past 20 years, then each of us will have to some extent a daily routine of keeping our skin in as perky a condition as possible - the fact we are here tapping away merrily on the laptop at all is evidence of that. However, the inevitable has become mainstream, and now simply maintaining what Mother Nature gave us, is not enough - now we have to be making the very best of what we have with the help of Warpaint- great name to help recruitment, and great product for those of us who have already signed up and are now committed to showing ourselves at our best on the frontline!

The Tinted Moisturiser  is three products in one - a foundation, moisturiser and concealerLight and easily absorbed, the tint just gives an extra depth to your skin tone, and if you need help choosing what skin type you are, then head over to here to see all the options to discover. For heavier blemishes or scars, we have the Warpaint Concealer in our arsenal to help cover those up, containing tea tree oil to boost the epidermis whilst in action. As a tip, we found using the handy shaped Face Sponge to apply the concealer which is available as part of the full range, made life a lot easier, but both products can be applied with the fingers if unarmed combat is more your thing. Costing £22 for 30ml of the Tinted Moisturiser here and £18 for a 5g pot of Concealer here, funding this weaponry for the daily battle ahead isn’t going to break the bank. All products are available through their website  here. BTW with every one their Concealers that you buy, War Paint will donate 50p from each concealer sale to CALM Campaign Against Living Miserably. This charity promotes the freedom of talking about the burdens that men face and the positive affect that a simple chat can have, when you’re just not feeling quite yourself. So remember troops - YOUR skin needs YOU!

Friday Favourites: Sculpture School Workshops

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Summer is almost over, meaning more than half of the year has flown by; we wonder how you’re doing with your New Year’s resolutions? At The Amazing Blog we are trying to keep on track with a few, one of which included having fun whilst learning a new skills. Before the end of the year, we hope you’ll join us at The Sculpture School for a workshop to tick off that ‘do something new and creative’ resolution from all our lists.

Located in Devon, The Sculpture School, is one of the few establishments in the UK dedicated to teaching contemporary realist sculpture. It’s opened its doors to a new studio and workshops - perfect to help get your creative juices flowing. Tutored by Andrew Sinclair MRBS, the world-class sculptor behind the infamous David Bowie bronze sculpture in Aylesbury. You’ll have the chance to learn professional techniques and methods in order to create your own masterpieces.

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Andrew Sinclair’s portfolio has an impressive range of works of art from commission at the Royal Box at Ascot, Epsom Racecourse and Crosby Hall, to his most recent work a monument for the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment; unveiled in May in Halifax (home of the Regiment for over 300 years). His techniques have taken him around the globe, with Andrew is his colleague and co-founder Diane Coates, whose renowned for her dynamic forms, anatomical detail and sensuous lines; so who better than these two to inspire and teach you how to sculpt? Diane had always focused on painting and pastel arts; however, in 2006, she ventured into the field of sculpting. In particular, she’s recognised for her naked bronze sculptures, and has taken her work internationally with collections across Europe and the Middle East. Together they founded The Sculpture School, with the aim of changing education in sculpture and craftsmanship.

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Whether you are a beginner, experienced, or a professional sculptor they’ll be a workshop tailored for you, plus you’ll even leave the course with a sculpture of your own. These are some of the upcoming dates available:

  •       10-13 September: Level 2 Figurative Sculpture

  •        18 September: Taste of Sculpture

  •        1-4 October: Tutored Sculptor’s Retreat

  •        25-27 October: Moulding and Casting

  •    5-8 November: Level 2 Portrait Sculpture

  •        3-6 December: Level 1 Figurative Sculpture

Price wise, the workshops range from £65 to £645 per person and have a length of one to three days long. The price rates vary according to the duration of the program and the type of workshop. To see the full price list, sign up and learn more, visit The Sculpture School website here and see some of the great testimonials here.

Urban Cordial

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As the temperature rises, our taste buds are craving something refreshing to cool us down, and the array of choice in the soft drinks sector is greater than ever before. However, with our awareness primed these days to know exactly what we are drinking, the challenge now is to source the perfect taste, but without all those sugary additives which are going to send our glucose levels rocketing. Fortunately, we at  The Amazing Blog only have to look as far as  Urban Cordial who have brought their delicious concoctions to market with a mouth-watering array of pairings. How do Strawberry & Sage , Pear & Ginger, Blackberry & Lavender or Apple, Lemon & Fennel  sound as an introduction to the range? Pretty impressive, when further investigation revealed that these tantalising flavours are just the tip of the iceberg - or should that be ice cube?

Now, a cordial may conjure up images of Grandma’s pantry, but these colourful offerings pack quite a punch in the zing department - both in each bottle’s contents, and also outside on each brightly illustrated label. All of course are alcohol free, and made from the best ingredients, although Urban Cordial are justly proud of bringing these to us with a laudable mission of sourcing their fruit on quality of taste and nutrients, rather than how they may be shaped! In a bid to incorporate a solution to the serious global problem of food surplus, Urban Cordial do not discriminate on appearance and is to be congratulated on saving over 30 tonnes of fruit from landfill.

Each bottle costs £5.50 plus £4.99 p&p, and the complete range is available for the bargain bulk price of £44.00 and with p&p free on orders over £40 here everyone’s a winner! However, some small independent grocery stores and also one or two of the larger high street names are taking up the option to supply, so getting our hands on these wonderful libations, is thankfully, becoming easier for all of us.