Last week I was thrilled to be invited by Ledigo PR to a blogger’s brunch hosted by local Wilmslow company, Simply Argan. Held at the beautiful Victor’s in Hale, the event was an opportunity to learn more at the company, what they do and how their products can be used.

I tootled along to it with my friend Ellie, of Eleanor Graceful, and we were seated with Emmi and Emma. Other blogger guests included my friend Janet from SoHale, who I’ve worked with over at Made in Cheshire for around a year now, and the fabulous Missy Thorley from Contour Allure.

Whilst we sipped on our yummy ‘Good Morning Sunshine’ smoothies, the lovely ladies from Simply Argan talked us through their products. I only recently got onto the whole argan oil vibe – my friend Natalie bought me some beauty products a few months ago and I really liked them – so it was really interesting to listen to how and where they source their oil and how it can be incorporated into your daily beauty regime. We were lucky enough to have been gifted some amazing – and very generous amount of – products in our goody bags and they talked with such passion about the benefits of their high quality oil.

Victor’s is one of my favourite places to visit anyway because of their gorgeous wisteria-covered room and beautiful interior and their delicious chocolate covered pancakes only served to cement them in my mind as a local brunch hotspot.  After a week of healthy eating they were definitely deserved and were so good Ellie even felt she had to dip in and steal some from my plate 🙂

It was a really lovely morning and I couldn’t wait to use my products.  I’d initially been scared about using argan oil shampoo – although my hair wouldn’t be described as greasy, it definitely doesn’t lack moisture and I was worried anything oil based would be too heavy.  Nevertheless I gave them a go and I was really pleasantly surprised by them.  First thing to note is the shampoo and conditioner smell insane – when I read the ‘smell’ was argan and violet I didn’t expect it to smell like actual Parma Violet sweets but it does and it’s amaaazing.  The second thing to note is they literally leave your hair feeling silky smooth.  Seriously – I was ready to be signed up as a hair model as I walked down the street.  I’d say, on the whole, I was more impressed by the conditioner than the shampoo as I felt the shampoo didn’t lather as much as I like, although, I do suspect that was down to the ingredients being a lot more natural than other brands so perhaps it’s a case of swings and roundabouts.  Either way, I’m sold and would definitely repurchase both again.

For similar reasons to my hair, I was a bit dubious about how well my skin would react with the night oil.  I generally don’t use any oil-based products on my skin for fear of getting a shiny face but curiosity, coupled with having been sleeping really badly recently, prompted me to try it.  I mention my sleeping because the night oil contains lavender to aid you getting to sleep and generally just relaxing you.  I can honestly say, hand on heart, my skin didn’t feel greasy at all the next morning, it just felt really soft, so I’m definitely happy with the outcome.  I would say though, not to put it on if your hair is clean – ultimately you’re going to end up with it touching your face at some point in the night so it’s probably best to do it on a night when it needs a wash.

The two other products we were gifted were the pure argan oil and the coconut and vanilla coffee scrub.  The pure argan oil is, like the rest of their products, 100% organic and in this product hasn’t been diluted or mixed with anything that would impair the effectiveness of it.  It’s great for using on your body and hair and apparently has really good results for things like stretch marks and scars.  I have a pretty big scar on my calf that was a result of an ice skating injury so I’m keen to start using this to see if it improves the look of it at all.  I’m SO excited to use the coffee scrub because I’ve heard such amazing things about it.  Even through the sealed packet it smells incredible and I have a feeling it’ll be a great exfoliator pre fake tanning so I’ll report back on how that goes when I give it a whirl.

It was fantastic to meet the lovely ladies behind the brand and it was such a fab event.  If you’ve not tried Simply Argan before I urge you to give them a go – they’re natural, fair trade, organic and not tested on animals so you really don’t need any more excuses.

Have you tried Simply Argan?  Let me know in the comments or tweet me @jacintadawn.

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Wetherspoons Altrincham | Veg Out Altrincham | Jacinta Dawn Russell

Being a lifelong vegetarian and a passionate supporter of Altrincham, I was really excited to be asked back to judge this year's entries for #VegOutAltrincham.  Conveniently coinciding with National Vegetarian Week and organised by ATCP's Angela Stone, the competition's main purpose is celebrating all that Altrincham has to offer and really showing off what a diverse and fantastic selection the town has due to its many and varied eateries.  With all judges being prolific tweeters, it's not only great publicity for the establishments involved but also highlights to followers what's available in the town and maybe, just maybe, might convince a meat-eater to give a veggie option a spin.

Oxford Road Cafe | Veg Out Altrincham | Jacinta Dawn Russell

Breakfast power wrap at Oxford Road Cafe

Eating meat and fish has never really appealed to me (although apparently as a toddler I was rather partial to a salmon and cucumber sandwich!) and it's really great to see vegetarian options becoming more and more prevalent in recent years.  In a health-conscious world, I think people are starting to become more aware of what they're eating and the food industry has really had to up its game with providing healthy, delicious and nutritious meals.  Altrincham has no shortage of cafes and restaurants and is fast becoming a bit of a foodie hub of the North so it's not hard to find something suitable to satisfy your stomach.

Oxford Road Cafe | Veg Out Altrincham | Jacinta Dawn Russell

Oxford Road Cafe's gourmet vegetarian burger

It was great to join not only Angela but other Altrincham supporters Alex McCann and Judie Collins, as well as Vegetarian Society's Dan Gibbon-Walsh on the judging panel.  As the competition was assessing breakfast, lunch and dinner options, there had already been a heat the night before and I believe those judges had been incredibly well fed!

There was a mix of both chains and independents in the competition and Wetherspoon kicked the morning off with a hearty vegetarian breakfast.  Although not my go-to sort of food, it couldn't be faulted and you can't really go wrong if you've got Quorn sausages on your plate.  I rarely frequent a Wetherspoon and I was really surprised with how nice, and what good value, the food was.

Oxford Road Cafe is a firm favourite of mine - although, I'm not going to lie, usually for the Nutella waffles! - and I wasn't disappointed with their offering.  Entering both the breakfast and lunch categories, we were presented with a breakfast power wrap and their gourmet veggie burger.  I'd never have normally considered a wrap as a breakfast option and it was amazingly tasty but it was the burger that really wowed me.  Put mushroom and halloumi in front of me and you're onto a winner anyway but this burger was absolutely something I'd eat time and time again.

King's Court Cafe | Veg Out Altrincham | Jacinta Dawn Russell

Veggie breakfast at King's Cafe

King's Court Cafe | Veg Out Altrincham | Jacinta Dawn Russell

LOVED this amazing roast pumpkin wrap with houmous, feta and baby spinach

King's Court Cafe | Veg Out Altrincham | Jacinta Dawn Russell

Chickpea curry at King's Court Cafe

Oxford Road Cafe is a hard act to follow but King's Cafe Bar did an amazing job.  I'm a really big fan of this place anyway - it's my go-to place for meeting my clients - and the food was as super as any other day.  The veggie breakfast was great (it included a refreshing change from the Quorn sausage) and was by far, in my opinion, the best vegetarian alternative to the traditional full English I tasted that day.  I'm not a massive fan of curry, so their chickpea curry dinner entry wasn't my favourite, but nevertheless I could appreciate what a lovely dish it was.  The roast pumpkin wrap, however, was right up my street - it was honestly my favourite tasting of the day.  I absolutely love hummus and feta and, despite worrying the pumpkin may be a little hard, the third component worked so well.  An absolute must to try if you're in Altrincham for lunch.

Burrito Picante | Veg Out Altrincham | Jacinta Dawn Russell

Burrito Picante's naked burrito

Who doesn't love a burrito?  I was really excited to try Burrito Picante's lunch entry as I hadn't yet been in and had heard really good things about them.  Their spicy 'naked' burrito hit all the right spots and I really liked the hotness of it.  The 'naked' bit means it comes in a box without a wrap so it's a slightly healthier option too - winner!

Eat Kaizen | Veg Out Altrincham | Jacinta Dawn Russell

Eat Kaizen's superfood salad

Eat Kaizen | Veg Out Altrincham | Jacinta Dawn Russell

EAT:Kaizen's spirulina scrambled egg breakfast

I've been such a fan of what EAT:kaizen has brought to Altrincham ever since I attended their launch party a few months ago.  Everything they serve is delicious, healthy food that fuels your body and works to put you in the best state of mind.  I've tried some of their food and smoothies before and it's honestly so nice to have really healthy options available that taste really good.  They submitted both a breakfast and a lunch option and both were fantastic.  The superfood salad was something I'd have definitely chosen off the menu and it didn't disappoint - I loved the pecan nuts and the mint and tahini yoghurt dressing was the perfect flavour to accompany the greens.  In all honesty, I wasn't really looking forward to their spirulina scrambled egg breakfast at all.  Although I'm not vegan (I'm actually trying but I just love cheese too much!), I don't really eat eggs if they're on a plate in front of me - in a cake, absolutely; on a plate, no thank you.  I've just never really enjoyed them and they don't really appeal to me.  So, although I probably wouldn't pick it off the menu again, I can't help but say I was blown away by Kaizen's breakfast.  The scrambled eggs were, hands down, the nicest I've ever tasted, the salad was lovely and I just absolutely loved the coconut, it was such a nice flavour in the dish.

Slug & Lettuce Altrincham | Veg Out Altrincham | Jacinta Dawn Russell

Quorn sausage vegetarian breakfast

Slug & Lettuce Altrincham | Veg Out Altrincham | Jacinta Dawn Russell

Yummy! Halloumi & avocado ciabatta at Slug & Lettuce Altrincham

Slug & Lettuce Altrincham | Veg Out Altrincham | Jacinta Dawn Russell

What an ending! Vegetarian sharing platter at Slug & Lettuce Altrincham

The last stop was the Slug & Lettuce.  Although a regular haunt of some of the panel, again it's not really a place I'd naturally think to go for food.  The good old Quorn sausage made an appearance again in their vegetarian breakfast and all in all it was a really lovely plate.  Their lunch entry was, again, right up my street - a really tasty halloumi and avocado ciabatta that I would definitely have again. (Are we seeing a trend here that I just love halloumi? Absolutely.)  Their pièce de résistance, a vegetarian sharing platter, wasn't, if I'm completely honest, something I really enjoyed - it was a bit too deep-fried and 'American' for me - but what I will say is that the rest of the panel enjoyed it very much and it was really great value for money if you're out with friends.

It never fails to surprise me what amazing businesses there are in Altrincham and there's certainly no shortage of places to go if you're feeling a little peckish.  Next time you're out and about, here's where you can find this heat's entrants:

 

J D Wetherspoon: 1-7 Ashley Rd, Hale, Altrincham WA14 2DP

Oxford Road Cafe: 19 Ashley Rd, Altrincham WA14 2DP

King's Cafe Bar: Kings Court, Railway St, Altrincham WA14 2RD

Burrito Picante: 47 Railway St, Altrincham WA14 2DD

EAT:Kaizen: 84-86 Stamford New Rd, Altrincham WA14 1BS

Slug & Lettuce: 31-33 Stamford New Rd, Altrincham WA14 1EB

 

Head over to Angela's twitter @ATCP1 for details of the Tuesday heat's entrants and for news on the winners!

Jacinta Dawn

 
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Throwback to last year’s Altrincham French Festival – what an amazing day it was!  The French Festival is a now annual event that runs in Stamford Park, Altrincham and is a truly brilliant family fun day out celebrating all things french.  I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in it since it’s conception in 2013 as the Music, Entertainment and Programme Coordinator and this year I’m thrilled that Taffeta Events is planning and managing the new charity dinner the night before at Bowdon Rugby Club.  Both events this year are going to be absolutely fabulous and it’s all about raising as much money as we can for Marie Curie – an incredibly deserving charity!
For more information see www.altyfrenchfestival.co.uk and www.taffeta.events.
Jx

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