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    Musings, News

    An award win and a massive thank you


    A couple of months ago I found out I’d been shortlisted for a couple of awards and I’m so very pleased to be able to say that on Friday night I went home with one…the award for Blog of the Year from the Birmingham Awards.

    Thankfully no one made me say anything on the evening because I was already struggling to walk (I was so convinced I wouldn’t win I wore pretty but impractical shoes) and would probably have just come out with something even more ridiculous that usual.  Bless the presenters, I think I pretty much tried to run away from the stage as soon as I got there because being the centre of attention is something I actively avoid…and being in photographs, if I can help it.  I know everyone says it but the competition really was strong, and I consider two of the others shortlisted friends, so it feels like a massive honour to have won.

    I’m pretty terrible at taking compliments, or people being nice to me generally, but it really does mean the world to me that people read my little part of the internet.  I said in my interview that I measured success by the people who talk to me on Twitter and Facebook, comment on the blog, ask for dinner recommendations, suggest places for me to go or tell me stories about how the blog got referenced by one of their friends or in their university classes…but now I have a physical manifestation of that for next time I’m losing the will to live, trying to take photographs at midnight so I can publish a new post.  So, really just thank you to everyone who gets involved.  Thanks to my long suffering friends and family who’ve learnt to live with me taking photos of their food or drinks before they’re allowed a mouthful; to my fellow bloggers for their hints, tips and encouragement; and a special thank you to my mum – loads of people have told me how much they like reading about our dinners together and she’s been a massive support (and receiver of parcels).

    Full to the Brum was started to try and add to the chorus of voices shouting about Birmingham’s thriving food and drink scene, as well as for me to blather on about my dinner.  In the last year I’ve noticed more Birmingham based food blogs which makes me incredibly happy, particularly as the dining and drinking scene in the city seems to have really gone up a gear this year.  Long may it continue.

    Ps. That photo was taken by Edwin Ladd of Social Frames


    Recipe: Toad in the Hole


    I totally wanted to start this post with a “winter is coming” meme but given that I gave up on Game of Thrones a couple of episodes into season two that seemed a bit silly.  Anyway, this weekend Birmingham had a dusting of snow and I’ve dug out my Christmas winter jumpers and finally figured out how the heating in my new flat works.  It also means I’ve begun to think of comforting, wintery foods which will warm me from the inside out.

    For me, Toad in the Hole fulfils that entirely.  I think part of this is because it contains some of the same elements as that of a good roast dinner – meat, veg and Yorkshire pudding.  But it’s such an unfussy and fairly quick recipe that means it’s as easy to eat for a Sunday supper as it is for an after work dinner.  My previous housemate Ruth and I used to make veggie versions with quorn sausages, which works just as well, but for me I prefer the real deal.

    Ahead of the BBC Good Food Show, Debbie & Andrew’s sausage asked me to check out their gluten, dairy and wheat free sausages.  Having a lactose intolerance means that I’ve tried out a fair few ‘free from’ range things and some of them can be a bit naff, so I wanted to try these with a standard dish to see how they’d cope – and they were just as good as regular sausages, in fact they were nice and meaty so really worked well in the Toad in the Hole.  Although, I’m now thinking I probably should’ve tried this with dairy-free milk and gluten/wheat free flour, but that’s for another day.

    Toad in the Hole
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
    Cuisine: British
    Serves: 2
    • 4 sausages
    • 1tbsp oil (I used rapeseed oil)
    • 70g plain flour
    • 0.5 tsp salt
    • 1 egg
    • 90ml milk
    To serve
    • gravy
    • broccoli
    • carrots
    1. Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7
    2. Put the oil and sausages in a roasting tin and bake for 15 mins until browned (I used one that was 18x24cm)
    3. Whilst the sausages are cooking, make the batter. I just dump everything in a bowl and whisky really well. If you're more cautious add the flour, salt and egg and mix those using an electric whisk and add the milk slowly.
    4. Take the sausages out of the oven (be careful of the sizzling oil)
    5. Pour the batter into the roasting tin
    6. Put back into the oven and cook for 25-30mins, until the batter has risen and is golden
    7. Whilst the batter is cooking, boil the broccoli and carrots and make up the gravy


    Debbie & Andrew’s will be at the BBC Good Food Show Winter this week and have exclusively developed a Christmas selection of sausage delights which will be on sale; from chipolatas to meatballs and bacon wrapped cocktail sausages, to make things a bit easier over Christmas (or just as a snack, if you’re me).  They will be at stall M230 at the NEC from Thursday 26th – Sunday 29th November, so worth going to check them out.

    To celebrate, Debbie & Andrew’s are giving away a Firelight Eating Kit, which includes a cool bag, recipe book and vouchers for their sausages.  Entering is pretty simple, just check the rafflecopter below (terms and conditions for the competition available here).

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    Competition, News

    Competition: tickets to the Good Food Show Winter and Thomas Dakin Gin

    Dakin_66196_w1-v1I know there are a few places offering a competition to win tickets to the BBC Good Food Show winter from 26th – 29th November 2015 at the NEC, Birmingham…but what about tickets to the show AND a bottle of gin? Yeah!

    On offer are a pair tickets to the show for any day excluding Saturday (which is pretty hectic, so probably best) and a bottle of Thomas Dakin Gin, a new small batch gin which launched in July this year.

    Thomas Dakin Gin is a small batch, classic-style, London dry gin, steeped in its historical roots and named after a key pioneer in 18th century British gin production.  It’s distilled in a baby pot still using a secret recipe of 11 botanicals, including juniper, orange peel and red cole – a botanical used in the 18th century better known today as horseradish.

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    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.


    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.

    Events, News

    Marco Pierre White at The Cube


    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.


    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.


    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.


    Competition, News

    Competition: Win tickets for Love Wine festival

    love wine_linea_rgb_web

    Fancy being a lush for the day?  The Love Wine festival is taking place at Hotel du Vin (obviously) on Saturday 7th November and I’ve got a pair of tickets to the first session to give away.

    The Love Wine festival has over 30 exhibitors; including a number of Birmingham wine merchants, as well as artisan foods to buy and try, and wine-related accessories (Christmas is a’coming people).  Wine celebs Helen McGinn from the Alan Titchmarsh Show and Joe Wadsack from BBC Food & Drink will be taking people on Wine Walks – which sound pretty great.  If that’s not enough then a Master of Wine (which is an actual title) and Queen of Fizz will be hosting masterclasses on everything from styles of Bordeaux wine to South American Superstars.  There’s also a free goody bag and Riedel tasting glass (rrp £13) to take home too!

    The event, which promises to be a great one, has a ‘fun, relaxed and informal approach to wine’ and has been organised by BYWine, qualified wine experts who give impartial, independent wine advice and events.  Oh and it’s guilt-free fun because Love Wine has a charity partner, Cure Leukaemia, who will benefit from ticket sales.  So you can do your Christmas shopping, help a charity and drink some wine…what better way to spend a Saturday?!

    If you want to go to the Love Wine festival then tickets for the festival are on sale now, and you can get a sneaky 15% off using the code LW15. Or…the lovely people at Love Wine have said I can give away one pair of tickets to the first session, which takes place from 11.30am – 3pm on Saturday 7th November.  Entering the competition is easy, and there is more than one way to win, just head to the rafflecopter below to find out more – but hurry, the competition closes on Sunday 1 November!

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