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    Events, News

    Quickly – Vote for Birmingham’s best take away

    curry_night_inI’m crap at playing favourites, I blame having one of those minds that overthink a lot, but really I think it’s because context is king…sometimes I’m willing to overlook crap service for great food, other times I just need alright food that does the job from kind staff and no washing up. So when the British Takeaway Awards asked me to nominate my favourite takeaway, I nominated a few.  Because I could. More about that later.

    First, I need you to go to http://www.thebtas.co.uk/ and nominate your favourite takeaway in Birmingham. Or maybe Solihull, or Sandwell, wherever you live. Basically, I want to see us flying the flag for the B postcode. It’ll take you a minute or so (it’s really quick) and you’ll be in with a chance to win £1000 or some takeaway vouchers – and who doesn’t love free food?

    Here are a couple of the ones I’ve voted for…

    Cherry Reds – other
    I have a total soft spot for Cherry Reds – their fish finger sandwiches, but also the sausage sandwiches and their classic Diddy English breakfast. And anything involving halloumi. The Kings Heath cafe supplied the sustenance on a house move years ago, to which I will forever remain grateful, and the one in town provided many working lunches over the years – plus a bonus game of how high could I stack the cartons like a fort in the office.

    Original Patty Men – American (I guessed)
    Okay, confession time.  I’ve never actually ordered ‘to go’ from OPM, because frankly I’d only ever get as far as the kerb outside…who wants to wait to eat OPM’s glorious burgers?!  But take out they do, and the BTAs want to hear about take out, so nominate I must.

    Now, go go go nominate!

    Events, News

    Kings Heath Action For Refugees present Eat & Greet

    I’ve sort of stopped doing events notifications on here because there’s just so frigging many going on in Birmingham that I can’t keep up, but my friend is helping out with this one and it is for a really good cause.

    Eat & Greet is taking place on Saturday 20th August from midday to 5pm at the New Life Baptist Church on Kings Heath High Street (it’s pretty much opposite Asda, you can’t miss it).  It promises to be an exciting foodie experience, with contributions from some cracking local restaurants and eateries including Peel & Stone, Damascena, The Real Junk Food Project and more.  And if you fancy it, feel free to bring a dish of something delightful to share too.

    As well as some great food, there’s live music from the likes of Anna Palmer of local band Dorcha, Balsall Heath’s David Benjamin Blower and Amit Dattani.  And if you’re feeling a bit creative, there’s a craft corner – with activities for both children and adults; Paperdoll Handmade Market will be delivering a lovely crafty activity for children and for adults, the Birmingham Craftivists will be there with their subversive bunting…which is the best kind of bunting in my eyes.

    They’ve also got some great raffle prizes donated from the likes of PlayStation, Cosy Club,The Electric Cinema, Connolly’s Wines, 40 St Pauls, The Vegan Grindhouse, The Botanist, CircusMash and more.

    The whole shindig is in aid of raising money for Leros Solidarity Network, who support refugees fleeing conflict.  Leros is a small Greek island which has seen huge numbers of refugees from fleeing the brutal war in Syria.  LSN is funded purely through donations and provides critical initiatives to help provide a humanitarian response to the crisis.  There will be people from LSN, as well as volunteers who have spent time volunteering in refugee camps in Calais at Eat & Greet, but for more info on LSN head to; http://www.lsn-uk.com/

    Tickets are £5 for adults and £2 for children over five, plus you can also buy a ticket for refugee and Asylum Seekers living in the city.  To purchase tickets, head to http://www.wegottickets.com/event/363530

    Events, News

    BBC Good Food Show parcel

    As part of being a BBC Good Food Show blogger, I had the pleasure of receiving some goodies from some of the exhibitors through the post, to whet my appetite for the event (and hopefully yours), which takes place later in the month.Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at 22.13.03

    The items in the box included;

    • country grain loaf from Hedonist Bakery (stall C90)
    • omega sprinkles from Munchy Seeds (stall J112)
    • smoked garlic from The Garlic Farm (stall J56)
    • rapeseed oil from Mellow Yellow (stall F60)
    • gran riserva 7 year old aged balsamic vinegar from Taste Gourmet Spice Company (stall J80)

    The smoked garlic I could smell as soon as I opened the box and decided to put three cloves into a soup I made for work – it was fragrant and tasty and I’m hoping to pick up some more at the show because I think it’ll make great garlic mayo.  Talking of, at the summer show I picked up some garlic mayo from Mellow Yellow which was delicious and I’ve been using their rapeseed oil in my cooking (as it’s said to be less saturated fat than other oils and is a rich source of vitamin E).  The omega sprinkles have been making a nice addition to porridge to give it a little crunch.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to try the bread, and I’m saving the gran riserva 7 year old aged balsamic vinegar because I’m trying to think of something special to do with it – I sort of want to try it in a strawberry and balsamic cocktail, odd as it sounds.

    Personally the BBC Good Food Show winter is always a highlight in my calendar because it’s a good excuse to spend the day surrounded by food and people who are as equally enthusiastic.  As well as plenty of stallholders (lots have samples for you to try), I like being able to sit and watch some of the chefs cook – the supertheatre is always fun, but for me the smaller stands around are equally too.  I also really the sound of Stoves British Treasure Hunt, which is a hunt for five British range cookers hidden around the NEC Birmingham and the chance to win food vouchers worth £500.

    mellow-yellow_rapeseed_oil_garlic_mayo

    If you want to look back on my previous experiences, I’ve blogged about my trips to BBC Good Food Show summer 2015 and BBC Good Food Show winter 2014.  I’m looking forward to revisiting some of the stalls from last time, in particular Bluebird Tea Co (stand F71) and the Black Liquorice Co (stand G94) for some of their firecandy.

    The BBC Good Food Show takes place at the NEC Birmingham from 26 – 29th November.  Tickets are on sale and you can get 15% off Standard Entry tickets using the code BL15 until the 8th November (sorry, I meant to post this sooner). Or head to their website where I think there’s an online discount offer too.

    https://www.bbcgoodfoodshowwinter.com/

    Events, News

    Marco Pierre White at The Cube

    marco_pierre_white_watched

    As I’m stood watching Marco Pierre White ask a bunch of culinary students if they’ve ever made a roux, all I can think about is being in secondary school wondering why the hell I needed to know how to make white sauce. Well played Mrs Hodgkinson, well played.

    Marco Day, as it has been named by the team, celebrates the day when the chef visits the restaurant which bears his name. He’s come along to do a demo to some local culinary students and other guests. The celebrity chef starts by regaling us with stories about Keith Floyd’s yellow oven, which he’s taken with him to demo on, and telling students to move closer so they can see the cooking.  For a man dubbed “enfant terrible of the UK restaurant scene” today he seems to be playing the role of a wise, slightly eccentric teacher wrapped up in a gruff exterior – it feels refreshingly honest.  You’d think a chef whose named adorns several steakhouses up and down the country wouldn’t bother with the practicalities, but here he is cooking for us – lobster macaroni, a simple but incredibly well executed dish – and there’s enough for everyone to try.  Afterwards he holds court with the students, asking questions and making sure to speak to everyone.

    lobster_macaroni

    After the demo a group of us head up to the 25th floor of the Cube to Marco Pierre White’s Steakhouse Bar & Grill in Birmingham.  It is, without a doubt, a stunning perspective of the city with skyline panoramic views.   At night the view makes the city feel positively electric; it’s easy to see why so many people start their night there, sipping a drink and surveying the city which even from here has such a buzz.  But we’re here for lunch and even on an autumnal day the sun is shining and the view is superb.  We’re handed the table d’hote menu, which is a fancy way of say a set menu, although we only have time for one dish.  To carry on the seafood theme, I went for the salmon with chips.  A fellow guest asks me if it rocked my world, and whilst I’m not sure a piece of salmon ever could, it was pleasant, particularly the crunch of the pan-seared skin – although I would’ve perhaps liked a little less oil.

    salmon_chips

    http://www.mpwrestaurants.co.uk/restaurants/steakhouse-birmingham/

    Disclosure: I was invited to Marco Day by their PR team and wasn’t obliged to write or say anything. Which given the reputation of MPW was probably a wise move.

    Events, News

    Birmingham Halloween events

    Halloween is my favourite non-holiday.  It’s basically an excuse to throw off social conventions and embrace your inner weirdo (which isn’t too far from the surface with me)…I’m already wearing my anatomically correct skeleton earrings in preparation.  Birmingham seems to have really embraced Halloween this year and if you’ve found yourself all dressed up with nowhere to go, then you might find some of these events of interest…

    Taste and Liquor’s Halloween Feast at Botanical Gardens

    12049258_10156183842870089_8946495882174826779_nTaste & Liquor have teamed up with Botanical Gardens to host an alternative Halloween full of spooky forest trails amongst the heritage grounds, exploring secret pathways…and street food.  During the day there’s stuff for the kids (face painting, arts and crafts), but the fun carries on into the evening.

    Delicious, mouth watering street food will be supplied by Press De Cuba, Good Grub, Southern Oven, Fancy Fries, Bailey’s Caribbean, Smokin Spice, Pork Society, Little D’s Crepes and more.  The Rum Bar will be serving a selection of the finest rums and cocktails – both hot and cold.

    Free entry to Members of the Garden and usual door entry price.

    Taste and Liquor at St Paul’s Square 

    Apparently not content with hosting one Halloween celebration, T&L are also hosting a DIY session of creepy tunes, street food, trick or treat and live music on the stunning grounds of St Paul’s Square on All Hallow’s Eve from 6.30pm – 10.00pm.  Taste and Liquor’s aim is to celebrate West Midland’s local history and giving access to thousands of places usually closed to the public with unique pop-up street events…and St Paul’s at Halloween does sound pretty awesome.

    CocktailXChange & Malmaison announces “Halloween Dinner & Dance” at Birmingham Hotel of Horror

    Saw’s Jigsaw invites you to a Dinner & Dance at Malmaison Hotel at the Mailbox in Birmingham on Friday 30 October, where you’ll be treated to a three course dinner accompanied with matching cocktails and mini-talks from Reyka Vodka. On hand will be magician Gavin Parsons with his mind-bending tricks and an afterparty with music provided by DJ Manzo from Hero Records.

    Tickets are on sale now and if you’re lucky you might still be able to get 20% off by quoting “SCARY” at the checkout.

    Food Birmingham’s Kings Heath Halloween Food Festival

    From midday til 8pm in the Kings Heath Village Square, Food Birmingham will be hosting a food festival with fancy dress, face painting, live music, horror themed games stalls – and they’ve got a big marquee in case it rains.

    Some of the food vendors include; Smoqued Food, Leave it to Esmie, Z C’s Food – Caribbean, Change Kitchen – Thai, Burger Bar, Rolling Smoke BBQ, Veg out café, The Hungry Penguin Pancake Company, Nibbles Corner – Macaroni and Cheese, and Pizza Traders.  Some stalls will be offering exclusive discounts to Food Birmingham card holders too.  Oh and there will be an array of spooky-themed cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks on sale too.

    Check out their Facebook event page for more info.

    This is Halloween at The Church (JQ)

    12030413_599900513485730_7980480914743435536_o“Halloween is one of our favourite times of the year” says The Church and it shows because they’ve got a competitive pumpkin carving on the 29th followed by a Halloween party with international DJ Dom Servini (Wah Wah 45’s) and the always incredible Paul Manzotti (Hero Records) to keep you “dancing until your costume falls off”!  The DJs start from 9pm and it’s free entry.

    The New Inn (Harborne)’s Harry Potter Halloween

    Hogwarts comes to Harborne as The New Inn on Vivan Rd host a Harry Potter themed Halloween.  Expect muggle menus, potions class (aka themed cocktails – the Elixir of Life one looks pretty cool), a Spell and Quidditch on the Lawn…which sounds crazy enough to work.  Banquet style seating is limited, so might be worth booking some spaces.  Oh and they’ll have the Sorting Hat too, so you can be sorted in true Harry Potter style.  Check out their Facebook event page.

    The Victoria’s Halloween Weekender

    12088527_10153398633697182_2404715358829698444_nOne evening of merriment isn’t enough for the team at the Vic, they’ve got a whole weekend planned.  Friday night sees Takin’ Care of Business serving up the finest slices of hip-hop, soul and rock ‘n’ roll all night long, and there’s a double whammy on Saturday of Shimmy Ya downstairs with the finest R&B and hip-hop and Darrol Bradford with a blend of soul, funk, pop, and nostalgia.  Sunday sees the return of Takin’ Care of Business to curate the soundtrack to mask the sounds of hoards chomping on some Day of the Dead burger specials and spooky sides.  They’ve also promised a particularly gruesome special cocktail menu.  Fancy dressed in encouraged.

    Oh and they’re also competing with their sister venue, Island Bar.

    The Butcher’s Social (Harborne)

    Spending Halloween in an old butcher’s shop sounds pretty fitting, does it not?  Well the fine folks behind The Butchers Social are making it even more appealing with The Evil Butchers Halloween party.  Fancy dress is essential, entry is free and there will be a DJ & more (I’m not sure what ‘more’ is but it’s intriguing). The party starts from 7pm.  Oh and they’ll also be unveiling the winner of their carved pumpkin competition (winner gets a £15 bar tab).  Check their Facebook event page for more info.

     

    Events, News

    Food events at part of the Birmingham Literature Festival

    BLF_logo

    Stories and food are pretty much my two favourite things, so putting them together is a bit of a stroke of genius by the Birmingham Literature Festival – and they have done, several times.  There’s everything from pies to Baltic cuisine and short stories about food at the festival this year, as well as some non-food related talks but obviously that’s for another blog.

    Here are a few of the food related talks at the Birmingham Literature Festival taking place in Birmingham (obviously) this October…

    10 October – Baltic Breakfast at Cafe Opus in the Ikon Gallery

    Taking a journey into the literary traditions of three Baltic nations, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, this event involves short readings and a light breakfast featuring dishes popular in the Baltic.  Novelist Pauls Bankovskis from Latvia, and poets Indrė Valentenaitė and Laurynaus Katkus from Lithuania will share a selection of their work in English translation and there will be short readings in all three languages.

    Tickets are £12 available from http://www.birmingham-box.co.uk/event/baltic-breakfast/

    13 October – cooked up at the at Cafe Opus in the Ikon Gallery

    Cooked up is a short story collection of food fiction from all round the world, looking at why food is such a rich creative inspiration.  Four of the authors, Susannah Rickards, Pippa Goldschmidt, Nikesh Shukla and Elaine Chiew, will share stories and discuss the topic of food and its ability to inspire. Plus there is also a two course supper (at an additional cost of £10) inspired by some of the stories which is available after the readings.

    Tickets for the talk are £8, dinner is an additional £10, available from http://www.birmingham-box.co.uk/event/cooked-up/

    17 October – Stuart Marconie at The Rep

    Stuart’s new book is called The Pie at Night which is handy as the ticket includes an award-winning pie from Birmingham butchers Walter Smith.  The Pie at Night is Stuart’s search for the North of England at play and what this entails, comparing new with old and going on an adventure taking in trips to tapas bars, caravan parks, dog tracks, art galleries and a curry mile, amongst others.

    Stuart is also the author of Cider with Roadies, Pies and Prejudice and Adventures on the High Teas and hosts a bunch of regular radio shows on BBC 6music.

    Tickets are £12 available from http://www.birmingham-box.co.uk/event/stuart-maconie/

    If you’re interested in the (non-food) related talks or generally want more info about the Birmingham Literature Festival, then their website is http://www.birminghamliteraturefestival.org/

    Events, News

    Hemsley + Hemsley cooking demo at Selfridges this Saturday

    Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley with the SpiralizerIt seems everyone is going nuts for spiralizers and this Saturday, celebrity chef sisters will be showing shoppers at Selfridges how to spiralize like the best of them.

    Authors of bestselling cookbook The Art of Eating Well, Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley will be transforming a variety of vegetables into noodle-like spirals and showing shoppers how to include them in dishes.  The spiralizer has become a popular must-have kitchen gadget as it allows diners to swap out noodles and spaghetti for vegetable versions.  Or, if you’re me, just looks like a good excuse to play with your food.

    From 12 midday to 6pm at the cook shop on Level 1 of Selfridges Birmingham, you’ll will be able to watch the Hemsley + Hemsley Spiralizer in action as well as live cooking demos from Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley, who will be showing how to make some of their favourite recipes, including sesame chicken salad with cucumber noodles and beef ragu with courgetti.  The sisters will also sharing their top tips for eating healthily and signing copies of their books.

    Adam Hockney, general manager at Selfridges Birmingham, said: “Courgetti, along with other spiral vegetables, has taken the food world by storm, so we can’t wait for Jasmine and Melissa to show us how easy it is to make it with their Spiralizer. The sisters will also be signing copies of their bestselling book, The Art of Eating Well, which is packed full of recipes, hints and tips to use with this handy gadget.”