Entries in Marks and Spencer (74)


Mother's Day 2016 gift ideas from Marks and Spencer

 Mother's Day is on Sunday,  (6 March 2016).  How do you like to celebrate your Mum?  We usually take a road trip then a long walk on the beach and eat dinner together.  The most important thing is spending time with Mum and cheering her on for the powerful and positive impact she has had on our lives.  This post will hopefully spark inspiration for you as you shop for your mum.

 Marks and Spencer have lots of beautiful foodie gifts for Mother's Day presents. This year the packaging is beautiful - colourful, striking and vivid.

The butterfly tin filled with buttery rounds of shortbread offers Mums a memorable keepsake box to enjoy for years to come whenever the shortbread is eaten.

Mini Chocolate cupcakes come in five flavours chocolate, coffee, rose, creamy milk chocolate and are presented in a watercolour flowered box.  

These are little bites of delight.

Sour Cherry and pistachio nougat from Marks and Spencer is made in Ireland and it is the best nougat I have eaten outside of Greece.  Light and chewy with the crunch of fresh nuts and a burst of sour cherries, this nougat is a pleasure to eat.

 These jelly fruits made by Pablo Garrigós Ibáñez in Spain are part of Marks and Spencer are part of their Taste of the World range.  These jellies are bursting with fruity flavour and have a firm texture.  They come in a pristine white box and each one is shaped like its actual fruit.  The strawberry and nectarine where my favourite.




Pink Marc de Champagne truffles served with this wonderful Asti wine which is full of flavour and lively citrus notes.  This bottle comes from the Canelli Hills in Northern Italy.  Asti is such a celebratory drink and it is lovely to toast Mums with, especially those who prefer their sparkling wine to be sweeter than normal.

 These little Viennese kisses scented with elderflower are delicious to nibble on with a cup of earl grey tea.  Sipping tea and eating little biscuits what a lovely way to spend an afternoon.


 Marks and Spencer have a wide range of teas as well as some very special herbal teas.  My favourite is the mint and strawberry tea, I can even imagine it iced in the summer.  This tea is a new flavour and works really well at breakfast.


These luxury chocolates are a sublime mix of flavours and come beautifully wrapped.  They are a great present not only for Mum but for others who hold a special place in our life like Aunties, friends and cousins.

My favourite was the coconut


Marks and Spencer's Mum in a Million roses make a gift that will grow and grow and grow. Mum in a million roses give off the most striking turkish delight scent.

 These frilly tulips are very special and unusual.  They are part of Marks and Spencer Autograph range of flowers.  Buy two or three bunches and wrap them in brown paper for a very stylish gift.


This Award winning Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine packed with rich fruity flavours.  From Stellenbosch in South Africa it is aged in French Oak which brings coffee flavours to the wine.

From chocolate to sparkling, white or red wine; tea and biscuits or beautiful flowers Marks and Spencer have plenty of gifts on offer for Mother's Day 2016.


That's it for now ...



Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Valentines '16 from M&S

Marks and Spencer have some fun, fabulous and fantastic ways to celebrate Valentine's Day with your loved one.  There is nothing better than snuggling up together with a good glass of wine and some together time.  And of course what could be better than some delicious chocolate.  In this post i am going to share some of Salt and Sparkle's favourite things from the 2016 Valentine's Range.

This Graham Beck The Rhona Rosé NV available from Marks and Spencer is one of the most elegant wines.  When I was president of the University of St Andrew's Wine Society I organised a wine tasting with one of South Africa's most successful wine makers Pieter Ferreira from Graham Beck.  Pieter's passion for wine was infectious and since that rainy night in the old grey toon, I have been a lover of Graham Beck's wine's, especially their sparkling wines.  From its elegant pale salmon hue to its fine mousse and luscious flavours of creamy red berries, this is a notably stylish and highly appealing sparkling rosé.  The wine is a blend of nearly equal parts Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Chardonnay ensures finesse and vibrancy, while Pinot Noir adds intense berry fruit flavours.  It is a wine of a rich and refined style, the grape varieties are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier.  

French almond-flavoured macaroons, crisp on the outside with soft chewy centres presented in the most styish box.  Macaroons are the most romantic of sweetness.  At a French-Spanish-American wedding in New York City pyramids of macaroons with glasses of Graham Beck The Rhona Rosé NV available from Marks and Spencer.  Romantic and elegant, simple and sweet, what a perfect way to spend Valentines with your loved one.  

 That is the thing about Valentine's simple and pure is the most romantic.

 Marks and Spencer have lots of fun treats for Valentine's as well, from heart shaped marshmallows and pink and red foiled chocolate hearts.  Valentine's should be fun, not prissy and serious, but fun and joyful.

 Marshmallows and chocolate hearts fun and chic.

 These caramel chocolate ladylove bugs from Marks and Spencer are my favourite - sweet, salty and full of soft luscious caramel.

 Don't you love fairy lights?  They are my favourite thing.  I love sparkling lights.  Dark rooms light my little lights now that is romantic and Valentines Day should be cozy and soft, full of romance.

 Jellies = jolly.  Ever so slightly childish but oh so full of fun.  Marks and Spencer have got our love for childhood delights like sweeties down perfectly.  These hearts, hugs and kisses are chewy, tasty and great for sharing with your loved one.  A kiss for you and a hug for me, a kiss for me and a hug for me.

What about packing a big foil covered heart into your loved one's lunchbox - hashtag loveyou - Marks and Spencer have a range of fun and fabulous hearts and lollypops perfect for that.





These little jewel boxes with gold foil messages are filled with four chocolate caramels from Marks and Spencer, are not only sweet and tasteful they are great for keeping keepsakes in long after February 14.


A good bottle of red wine is always good, this Marqués del Romeral Reserva Rioja 2010 is a wonderful wine.  Rich and mellow, it has a deep red hue the colour of garnets.  With ripe red-berry fruit and subtle vanilla and toast undertones. The finish is long and smooth.  This wine from Marks and Spencer is a classic mature red for those who like their wine traditional. Made from a blend of classic Spanish grapes - Tempranillo, Graciano and Mazuelo and classified as a Reserva, this wine was aged in American oak barrels for two years and a further year in bottle. The winemaker was Elena Adell.

Valentines cards can be romantic or sweet, funny or sentimental.  They aren't only for loved one's we are in romantic relationships with, but for friends and family - beacause it is always the right time to tell someone you love them.  This Dalmatian card or this card that is also a framable print that says 'I Love You' from Marks and Spencer are just a couple of a range of marvellous cards in store.

 Then there are velvet boxes of chocolate made in Ireland.  Hearts filled with caramel, white chocolate truffles, milk, dark and white chocolate packaged brilliantly by Marks and Spencer. 





And, if you would like something different from what I have suggested you could try the tasty treat of Marks and Spencer Valentine's Dine in for Two

Love Love Love

Love Love Love

Love Love Love

Love Love Love

Love Love Love

One day cannot encapsulate it or contain it.


A universal feeling we all experience. But more than a feeling.  A way of life.

One that brings great joy. One that can create intense pain.

Valentine's Day is not the be all and end all, it is a day of fun and laughter.  A day just like others but a day when we can join together and celebrate love.

Let's celebrate LOVE.

Happy Valentine's Day.

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable




Three ways with Pancakes

I unashamedly love pancakes.  Whether lacey and crisp, thick and fluffy, hot off the griddle or toasted with tea and jam, they are nearly my favourite food.  Definitely in the top three.

They are my go to food for celebrations - one I always make for family breakfasts or when we have friends staying.  They are brilliant for heartache or a late night snack.

This Shrove Tuesday I urge you to get on the pancake train.  Whether you make them yourself, or enjoy some of my favourites from Marks and Spencer - just make sure you get some.    They have thick buttermilk pancakes and thin lacey crepes, as well as ready to pour batter.  Buy several packets of crepes and lots of toppings, invite your family or friends over and enjoy some time around the table this Pancake Day.

Lemon and Sugar will always remain the ultimate toppings for me their sour sweet simplicity wins everytime.

These thin Marks and Spencer crepes I have warmed in a pan, dusted with icing sugar and served with M&S raspberry coulis and some honey nuts as a grown up dessert or for afternoon tea with a cup hot tea served with a slice of lemon.

However I do love to see children's faces light up when they sit at my table for pancakes because I like to give them lots of varieties of toppings and they love it, grown ups look on in awe but they can't help but join in the fun.  Pancakes and toppings are so exciting.

Mini Marshmallows, chocolate malt balls, salted chocolate balls and toffe sauce, piled onto a warm crepe then roll.  Children love rolling pancakes into long sausage shapes. One bite contains crunchy chocolate, sqishy marshmallows and soft crisp pancake.

Marks and Spencer do the best toppings on the High Street.  There are Belgium chocolate cubes, fudge cubes, jazzle sprinkle sparkles and two fantastic sauces.

I bet even you will sneak a spoonful or two of the salted caramel sauce, straight from the jar. I always keep a jar in the larder, it is a silky dulce de leche, as perfect on a rice cake as it is with ice cream, or spread thinly unto pastry on the bottom of a chocolate torte.

Then there is the grown up nutuella a rich darkly deeply chocolate truffle sauce, delicious hot or cold.  Melt some and stir in some frozen raspberries, a touch of maple syrup place into little small glasses and allow to cool in the fridge then serve as little pots alongside a stack of thin lacey crepes.  

Marks and Spencer have some delicious pack of frilly crepes that come in packs of sixes, either with or without lemon sauce.

This Marks and Spencer special chocolate truffle sauce is another storecupboard staple.  Set the jar on the edge of a cooker or somewhere warm to allow it to soften just before you use it.

Then my latest love are savoury pancakes and they couldn't be a simpler, tasty healthy tea.  To make on, take a Marks and Spencer Crepe, warm it in a pan, add some spinach sauteed with cherry sante tomatoes , add some crumbled goats cheese, and then wild rice, sweetcorn, red peppers and quinoa balls from the new Eat Well Marks and Spencer range of grains. Close the crepe to a 1/2 moon and serve with a spinach salad.

How do you like your pancakes?

That's it for now ...


Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Favourite Christmas Cheeses from Marks and Spencer

The three ladies were debating the merits of turkey curry, versus turkey stew for a Christmas Day evening party for 16 people.  The coment I kept hearing was 'I don't want to do much cooking. It is Christmas day, after all.'

I was absolutely exhasuted just listening to this conversation that seemed to go back and forth, without actually finding a resolution.

Trying to keep quiet at times like this is not my forte, especially when I have solutions that are elegant and easy; and involve lots of lovely cheese from Marks and Spencer.

These peppery breaded camembert when cooked until the insides are molten and bubbly ooze soft sweet cheese, that goes well with a cranberry port sauce.  They make an elegant starter, or a side dish; or even relaxed kitchen supper.  I serve mine with a chopped spinach salad, and Marks and Spencer red and black pepper mixed nuts.  The crunchy bite of the nut making a comfortable juxtaposition against the hot slippery cheese.

Cheeseboards are as verstile as they are stylish.  They can work for a wide range of occasions and feed lots of people well at once.  I always prefer a cheese plate at parties to dishes of canapes.  It is filling, works well for boys who always complain about the lack of proper food at a drinks party.  I have yet to hear boys or men complain when offered cheese.  This Marks and Spencer slate plate comes with four cheese from local British and French suppliers.  

I serve it with grapes and Marks and Spencer red black pepper nuts.  If you have to bring a well rounded cheeseboard with interesting cheeses - a mix of smoked Leicester, mature cheddar, camembert and a blacksticks blue.

When I travel I always take note of ideas and whys and ways with food, I think will come in handy at a later date.  Such as a cheese board served in cubes of cheese.  I first tried this at an Art Gallery in Oakville, just outside Toronto.  Several types of cheese had been cut into cubes and then served with cocktail sticks for people to help themselves with a range of chutneys, crackers and little pieces of meat. 

A genuis idea that I quickly adopted to great success - because when you serve cheese like this, you have a) an idea how much you need to serve roughly 4-7 cubes per person, b) it is easy for the guest to help themselves to some cheese, without having to cut it, getting the knife stuck or leaving the plate looking messy.

It is always good to leave the cheese plate looking lovely for the person who comes behind you.  

Another way to serve cheese, is melted and oozing.  Bake camenbert is one of my favourite ways to serve this particular type of cheese, and it makes an instant fondue.  I even have a ittle camenbert bowl to bake the cheese in.  The Marks and Spencer French Camenbert is silkly smooth and perfectly ripe at the moment.  If you don't have a dish you can bake it in a small roasting tin with a foil lid.  

To prepare for baking unwrap the cheese, then pierce some holes in the top grate with a microplane grater a clove of garlic over the top, press into the cheese.  Then add a couple of teaspoons of white wine.  Bake in a hot oven for 20 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and really runny.

Serve with a range of unsalted nuts and crackers, or Marks and Spencer cheese crisp bites.  I particularly like the rosemary and pistachio ones.

 Whenever you have to serve lots of people I always think it is a good idea to opt for an indoors table picnic.  Plates laden with cheeses, pate, parnsip crisps,nuts,chutneys and black grapes. 

 Serve these with a range of Marks and Spencer crackers or sliced bakery breads.


 Marks and Spencer cheese and biscuits or crackers, with a bottle of something fruity always make a welcome hostess present or actual Christmas present.

 I love giving these waxed shaped cheddars which come in a range of flavours like balsamic pickled onion, cranberry and blueberry.  The cheese is tangy and sour with a rounding sweet note on the palate.  Cheese for Americans who don;t like flavoursome cheeses, this is not.


 Do you love mulled wine?  I do enjoy it but I have a confusion to make, I don't love it.  I find it too full bodied and heavy when heated.  And, unless it is well made it is usually rocket fuel as opposed to drinkable glugg.  Enter Marks and Spencer Rose wine - for any of you who preper a lighter mull this rose is absolutely delightful.  Ripe, fruity sweet but not sugary, zingy without being sour.  It refreshes and cleanses the palate.

 There is nothing like a glass of port at Christmas - whether you drink it and eat cheese at the same time is up to you.  There are lots of schools of thought on this, I suggest you do what your tastebuds enjoy.

Mix this fruity beauty with blood-orange juice, some clementine juice and Marks and Spencer citrus-flavoured vodka and fresh lime juice to make a punch - serve it in a bowl with big glass cups.  Or pour into champage, or over chocolate ice cream, or simply sip slowly.

A bottle of red wine is always a welcome present.  Marks and Spencer have a really good range of wines on the High Street.  Such as this Grenache shiraz mourvèdre from Australia.  The Marananga Dam Grenache Shiraz Mourvédre has a vintage of 2012 and is a wonderfully rich, spicy red with heart-warming flavours of ripe plums, mocha and black pepper.  For this exclusive blend, renowned winemaker David Powell used fruit from 50 year old vines, blending rich Grenache with peppery Shiraz and savoury Mouvedre. He then matured the wine for 18 months in French oak barrels for added complexity

Merry Christmas everyone,

That's it for now ...



Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable




Sparkling Christmas refreshers from Marks and Spencer

Sometimes you want a drink but you don't really want a drink.  Instead you maybe want something that has a touch of alcohol, but is already mixed.  These bottles of sparkling coctails from Marks and Spencer fit the bill everytime.  They are light refreshing and great to drink at any time of day.

Office parties, breakfast, drinks for a last minute party, something bubbly with the girls, these Marks and Spencer sparkling cocktails are just the ticket.  This grapefruit Mimosa fizz is sharp and zesty, delicious with pancakes, for breakfast or brunch is one of my favourites.

I like to top mine with a little frozen fruit - cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, or a slice of frozen peach or mandrin all work perfectly.

Kir RoyaleA cocktail of premium sparkling white wine and fruit juice. Ideal for getting celebrations started. Light and bubbly - a delicious low alcohol alternative to other sparkling wines.

With several flavours including Kir Royale, Bucks Fizz, Sloe Gin Fizz, Bellini, these light and refreshing wine based cocktails from Marks and Spencer are perfect to bring in that party feeling.

When you have a glass of wine a snack is nearly derigeur.  Marks and Spencer have a great range of Christmas crisps - pancetta, parnsip and maple are a firm favourite, as are these American snack mix.  Salty and morish, they work well in bowls for people to nibble on.  The sparkling berry processo crisps are fizzy and come with edible gold stars.

For those who don't want salt, plates of shortbread, such as these Marks and Spencer toffee crunch biscuits are small and perfect for nibbling with a glass or two of fizz.

There is something lovely about sharing a nibble and a glass of something bubbly with friends over Christmas.  Marks and Spencer have well thought out party drinks and snacks that mean no matter how tired you are this party season there is something easy to enjoy.

And Christmas for me is about being enjoyable and easy, bringing people together to enjoy each other companies.

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable



Sloe Gin

We'd meet on Rose Lane.  She would already be coming out the door as I would arrive.  Cashmere scarf and beanie hat trailing behind her.  Although smaller than me, her stride was quicker.  It didn't take long to get to the bar.  We were there for our ritual, 'last orders'.  That one drink before bed, and a bit of chatter between friends after an evening of hitting the books.  Her reading up on art history, me examining the creation of the modern Middle East.  Our noses clear and heads free, the books were away until the early call of study the next morning.  

We would take it in turns to order a drink - usually only one, as we arrived about 10 minutes before last orders. Although if someone bought us another one we would drink it.  Or if an after party was mentioned we usually went.  In front of the fire, without a fireplace, in one of the most minimalist buildings in Scotland she sipped white wine, I allowed the syrupy smoothness of sloe gin to slip down.  My love affair with last order drinks has long since gone, but my love for sloe gin has remained.

This year a freezer power cut meant my hand picked sloes had to be thrown away before the gin could be made, so I was looking for alternatives.  Luckily for me Marks and Spencer have a very drinkable Sloe Gin, made in France, on their shelves.

Marks and Spencer sloe gin is infused with sloes, juniper, coriander, lemon & orange peel, angelica, orris root and fennel seeds. 

I like to serve sloe gin without mixer, over ice, with a sprig of rosemary, and a slice of clementine studded with a clove.  It is the drink of friends, one to be shared with laughter in front of a glowing peat fire.  

When you serve drinks it is always important to have good nibbles, luckily Marks and Spencer have a great range of those as well.  The Parsnip, pancetta and maple chips have just the right amount of salty sweetness. Buy two or three bags as it won't take long to eat them.

Or if you are looking for something sweet, serve them with these handmade mince pies which are made in Magherafelt in Northern Ireland especially for Marks and Spencer.  These are without doubt the best Mince pies in the world ever ever ever ever EVER.  You just won't find a better one for sale.  I love the mini one's they look elegant and are the right size to eat more than one and not feel guilty when you do.  Marks and Spencer support of local producers in Ireland is very important to us at Salt and Sparkle.

How do you like to drink your Christmas gin?  This sloe gin from Marks and Spencer makes a heady addition to a glass of prosecco, or champers.

This Gin makes a welcome hostess gift, and is just that little bit chicer than a bottle of wine.

Merry Christmas

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable



Gin and Tonic

Gin and Tonic the most refreshing of drinks.  As long as it is well made, with good gin, lots of ice and a twist of lemon or lime, this drink is always a winner.  It was in Prague on tour with the Belfast Philharmonic Choir when I was but a teen, my love for a good gin and tonic began.

Lately, I just haven't wanted to drink gin and tonic.  A first for nearly 20 years, or a bit longer.  Even though its refreshing I feel I want something with just a little more kick, but I don't want a sugary syrup laden ice packed drink.  Instead I want the sophisication of a gin and tonic, but with just that little something else.  Something more, I didn't know what until ... 

Enter Marks and Spencer Clementine Gin  the drink I have been looking for, has found me.

With a light fire on the tongue this gin from Marks and Spencer is made in France.  It is slightly sharp and succulent.  Add a splash of tonic - always get a good tonic, or some clementine juice, and this drink is a winner.  Its fire mellows to a warming glow.

Hold the slices of lemon or lime with this gin.  Instead serving it with chunky sliced clementine starred with cloves, that bring a smoky sweetness to the flavour.

It is a great gin to create a Christmas Cocktail, and would work really well in my Christmas morning Poinsetta cocktail.  In a large jug with lots of ice, mix, a bottle of prosecco, 5 measures  clementine gin, 1 carton pomegranate juice, and 3 measures of orange liqueur.

Drunk over ice, with a mixer or lightly warmed - Spiced Clementine Gin from Marks and Spencer, is one of the drinks of the season. 

Sip slowly with friends, served with Marks and Spencer Prosecco sparkling berry crisps.

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


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