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    Events, News

    New Optimists present Food Futures

    The New Optimists, supported by Arts Council England, are hosting an interesting new art exhibition at the mac on Saturday 27 September, at 7.30pm.

    Four talented young artists are presenting a work in progress performance which aims to offer some possible futures for food to consider, question, embrace and challenge the audience.

    This performance is inspired by the scientific findings of the Birmingham 2050 Scenarios Project, where over 70 people, including 40+ regional scientists, took part in a two-year scenario planning exercise about possible food futures for Birmingham.

    There will also be a post show discussion, which will include the creative team, the audience and eminent scientists working in Birmingham.

    To book tickets, or for more information, visit http://macbirmingham.co.uk/

    Recipes

    Recipe: Roasted Chickpea and Vegetable Wraps

    I’m a big fan of this recipe for several reasons: it’s simple and easy to make; can be made with store-cupboard ingredients and whatever veg you have knocking around, and its origin.  Whilst looking for something my then-housemate and I would both eat and enjoy, I stumbled across Thug Kitchen – an expletive-ridden food blog which is mainly vegan, but doesn’t feel preachy.

    The original recipe is for Roasted Chickpea & Broccoli Burrito, and the first time I had it that’s what we did.  But this time round I decided to ‘pimp’ the recipe, and added more vegetables and doubled the spice mix.  It was already enough to make 6-8 healthy portions of burritos, but in an effort to get more veg into my diet I added mushrooms, aubergine and yellow courgette too – the latter of which was because a kind neighbour was giving them away for free.  The result is enough to eat as a decent lunch without the wraps…although I will warn you this is kinda spicy.  If that’s not your thing, maybe tone down the chilli powder or add a pinch of sugar.

    Roasted Chickpea and Vegetable Wraps

    2 cans of cooked chickpeas, drained
    1 large onion
    1 red pepper
    1 large broccoli
    1 small yellow courgette
    1 aubergine
    8 medium sized button mushrooms
    4 cloves of garlic
    1 lime
    Wraps and condiments to serve
    Spice mix:

    • 6 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 3 teaspoons chili powder
    • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

    You’ll also need a roasting tin – the sort of one you use for roast chicken is ideal

    Method

    1. Heat the oven to about 200c
    2. Chop the onion, pepper, courgette, aubergine and broccoli so it’s fairly small – you don’t want it to be too much bigger than the chickpeas
    3. In a bowl add all the ingredients for the spice mix and combine.
    4. Add the spice mix to the vegetables and give it a good stir, it should give them all a reddish coating.
    5. Put everything in the roasting tin, if they’re not already, and roast in the oven for 20minutes.
    6. Whilst the vegetables are roasting, chop the garlic into small pieces and quarter the mushrooms…I’ve said about 8 but use however many you feel is best.
    7. Take the vegetables out of the oven, add the garlic and mushrooms, give it a good stir and put it back in the oven for another 15 minutes.
    8. Once everything is cooked, juice half a lime over the mixture for some extra zing.  The vegetables should still have some bite to them, but the broccoli might look a little burnt.

    roastedchickpeasandveg

    Restaurant reviews, Reviews

    Review: Revolution Birmingham’s new food menu

    Broad St wouldn’t be my first thought for a food destination in the city.  With its heavy concentration of pubs and bars, I can see why a lot of people head to it at weekends to drink and dance the night away, so when I was invited to Revolution Birmingham to check out their new food menu I was curious.

    photo 1 (1)The new menu has been developed by executive chef, Mark Rush and his team, and has an Americana inspiration, which is evident when you look at the menu – there’s burgers, nachos, burritos and pizzas, diner food meets Tex-Mex.  They’ve also upped the amount of food that can be easily shared – sliders, a selection of small plates and three types of chicken sharers (fried, on the bone, and grilled).

    After quizzing our waiter on the new menu, I opted for the Sliders.  My housemate, who’s American and therefore surely qualified to judge the authenticity of Tex-Mex food, went for the Chicken Burrito.  We also ordered a portion of skinny fries and on recommendation, fat chips with chorizo ketchup.

    photo 2

    I was a little surprised by the presentation of the sliders.  The buns looked liked they’d been cut out of larger ones, which was certainly rustic but didn’t offer a great first impression.  The meat patties looked homemade, which is a plus, and though crispier on the outside that I’ve have liked they were juicy.  One slider was topped with pulled pork, which was moist and had a lovely light sweet-BBQ taste.  The skinny fries were as all skinny fries are, perfectly adequate.  My housemate said the chicken burrito was warming, tasty and filling, although the spicy red rice was a little too much and could’ve done with some more salsa to balance it out.  We both agreed the fat chips and chorizo sauce were delicious – the sauce had a smoky tasty which would’ve gone equally well with nachos, and the chips were crunchy yet fluffy, definitely the best choice for chips on the menu.

    photo 3

    Although quite full, I was curious by the Chocolate & Blueberry Fluffwhich – think a sort of eggy bread sandwich stuffed with chocolate sauce and marshmallow fluff, with a blueberry sauce dip.  Our waiter cautioned us to give the blueberry sauce a try before pouring it over our fluffwich, and he was right to do so, it was tart and contrasted the creaminess of the chocolate and marshmallow, which I enjoyed but I could easily see this being off-putting for chocoholics.  Though described as a sweet batter, it didn’t weigh the dough down and had a sort of eggy bread thing going for it, which really worked.

    With bars up and down the country, it’s clear Revolution have hit upon a concept which allows people move from dining to drinking with ease.  Whilst Broad St might not be a destination spot for me, Revolution would be a good place to start your night off there and line your stomach…and I might even be tempted to forgo the popcorn at the nearby cinema and pop in for a fluffwich instead.

    http://www.revolution-bars.co.uk/

    Disclosure: My meal was provided for free by Revolution bar. I was under no obligation to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.

    Product reviews, Reviews

    Review: Twining’s Salted Caramel Indulgence Green Tea

    I’d heard about these on Twitter and have been on the look out for them ever since.  And by look out, I mean I had to visit three supermarkets before I found a sole, slightly battered box of Twining’s Salted Caramel Indulgence Green Tea in Tesco on Colmore Row.

    Salted Caramel was a big thing for a while and seemed to be appearing in everything, so it seems fairly reasonable there’s now a tea with it.  Twining’s have described them as “Sweet but somehow slightly salty. Fresh tasting, yet somehow rich and warming. This tea is simply full of contradictions – accompanied by the most irresistibly indulgent notes of caramel. If you love the idea of green tea, but also like the sweeter side of life, this may be the blend for you.”  Twinings have also added Gingerbread Green Tea and Caramel Apple Green Tea to their range, although I didn’t spot these…if I did, the Gingerbread Green Tea would definitely be in my shopping basket.

    I quite like green tea; I find much of the bitterness is due to not leaving them to brew for long enough although I can see how if you’re a milk-and-two-sugars tea drinker you might still find it a bit bitter.  The Salted Caramel Green Tea though, does actually counter that bitterness well.  There’s a lovely lightness to the tea and a there’s a good caramel smell which is lightly echoed in the taste and masks some of the bitterness.  I didn’t find much saltiness, just a touch, which is a bit of a shame but they’re still rather lovely.

    It’s worth mentioning that these aren’t cheap for tea, even compared to other Twinings products – £2.49 for 20 teabags.  They’re definitely more of an indulgence than a drink everyday kind of tea (that’s currently Twinings Jasmine Green Tea), but definitely worth treating yourself.

    http://shop.twinings.co.uk/shop/salted-caramel-indulgence-green-tea.html

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    Drinks

    Have you spotted us in Area Guide?

    Screen shot 2014-08-31 at 20.08.54I love giving recommendations to people on places to go eat and drink – I get asked so often it was part of the reason I started the blog, so when Area Guide asked if any food bloggers were interested in writing a piece for their food and drinks themed issue, I couldn’t help myself.  I wanted to make it something a bit more interesting, so I went with five places in the city you can go for an after work drink that aren’t pubs – or Not a Normal Nightcap, to give it a bit more of a punchy title.

    Area Guide‘s food and drinks themed issue, to tie in with the Independent Food and Drinks Festival is available to read here.

    This is by no means an exhaustive list, but five seemed like a good number (there’s nothing wrong with going to the pub for an after work drink either, but that seemed a bit obvious to include in the article).  I’m also thinking of doing a few more ‘Five places…’ posts, so watch this space!

    Reviews

    Le Monde Birmingham

    With a new seafood restaurant opening in Brindley Place fairly recently and a request by my mum to go somewhere interesting for dinner, Le Monde seemed like the perfect place.

    My mum and I arrived on a Saturday night at 7.30pm and we were a bit worried as it was a little quiet, although it was a little hard to tell as the room was really rather dark.  We were greeted and, after declining to have a drink at the bar, we were quickly sat and given menus, although our waiter rapidly pointed out the iced bar full of fish and urged us to go and have a look.  Two members of staff behind the fish bar explained the variety of fish on show, explaining which ones were specials and answering any questions that we had.

    IMG_4021.PNGWe were told that we could order at the counter, but given we hadn’t really been given the chance to look at Le Monde’s menu we declined.  Initially I found the idea of being corralled to the fish bar a little awkward, but it did give a good visual idea of the dishes on offer.  My mum tends not to eat very big meals, so being able to see the size of the scallop and prawn starter convinced her to share mine.  With two skewers, each with a good sized scallop and prawn, I would happily have eaten the two myself as they were delightful; the scallop in particular which was lovely and light with just a touch of sweetness.  Sadly though, I don’t remember much about the red pepper pesto accompaniment.

    IMG_3927.JPG

    For mains I opted for a dish on the menu, swordfish, which I adore but don’t often see on menus.  Again, this was lovely.  Being a more meaty fish, this still retained its flavour and was well finished with a simple “knob of lime, chilli and coriander infused butter to bring out the flavour”.  My mum opted for a special, after having been enticed by the fish bar, which I believe was Halibut (I could be wrong) and she was very impressed with.  Both of us also chose chips to accompany our meals and these were utterly fantastic – rather than be an afterthought, they were just like the chips you get at the seaside; marvelous.  We also shared a side of broccoli with almonds, which were crunchy and were perfectly fine.

    If there was anything to be disappointed about, it came next – we waited what felt like a very long time for my order of Chocolate Brownie which was supposed to have a second flavour, but neither I nor my mother could taste it, so it hardly seems worth mentioning.  The Brownie itself, when it arrive, was nice enough but nothing worth shouting about.

    Despite the lengthy wait for dessert I was impressed with Le Monde and would willingly go back.  Expect to pay about £35 for three courses, minus drinks, which means it’s not an everyday dining experience, but would definitely be the kind of place I’d happily go for a bit of a treat.

    http://www.le-mondebirmingham.co.uk/

    Events, News

    Conjurer’s Kitchen Halloween Cake Class

    Screen shot 2014-09-01 at 23.30.12If there was any kind of cake class you should be biting someone’s hand off to get to, it’s surely got to be one of Conjurer’s Kitchen‘s.  In fact I didn’t even realise they did them, but after stumbling across Annabel’s bloody anatomical heart cupcake a few years back I’ve been a fan of her work…and now you can make them yourselves!

    Conjurer’s Kitchen is running a Halloween themed cake class on, well, Halloween afternoon, of course.  For the devilish price of £66.60 (it had to be really) you’ll learn to make the bloody anatomical heart cake, all kept neatly in a blood stained box.  In fact you’ll go home with 4 to 6 of them – and a ‘Bloodbath’ cocktail in a test tube to take home too.

    The class is taking place at La Banca on the Pershore Rd.  For more details and I’m guessing to book a place, contact 07890 480 952, info@conjurerskitchen.com or visit the website for more details – http://www.conjurerskitchen.com/blog/halloween-cake-class