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    Musings, Reviews

    Yellow sticker wins from M&S

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    Bargains galore!

    It was a very busy day yesterday and I wanted to treat myself to something nice on the journey home, so I popped into Marks and Spencer.  Low and behold, not only did I pick up an iced bun but I also stumbled across some gems in the reduced section!

    So tea last night was a Count on Us stonebaked ham & mushroom pizza and a side of vegetables (potatoes went to my housemate), for just £1.50!  Considering the pizza was in the reduced section and part of the healthier-foods range it was delicious – thankfully not too much cheese (a plus for me, though maybe not for everyone), a lovely base which wasn’t too crispy or stodgy, plenty of ham and mushrooms that didn’t go soggy.  One I’d happily go back and pay full price for.

    Plus I managed to bag some salmon to go in the freezer for another day too.  Who doesn’t love a good bargain?!

    Restaurant reviews, Reviews

    Revolution Birmingham’s Cocktail Masterclass

    A few weeks ago I was invited to attend a cocktail masterclass with some fellow Birmingham-based food and lifestyle bloggers.  Having previously worked for a cocktail bar in a non-bartending role I felt a bit like a spy, but the aim of the game was to make some drinks and have some fun, so that was soon forgotten.

    cosmosandflames

    We were introduced to our bartender for the class, Michael, who was charming, friendly and made sure our group had a lot of fun – not easy when most of us had just met that night.  Revolution had also laid on some canapes from their new menu to complement the drinks we were sampling too.

    We started the night with a Strawberry Woo-Woo.  Not my favourite cocktail, I find the raspberry vodka, peach liqueur, strawberry and cranberry mix a bit too sweet, but it’s a fairly inoffensive drink to get the evening underway.   This was paired with a cheese bon bon, which actually sort of worked.

    Up first was possibly the world’s most well known drink, the Mojito.  I’m not sure I’ll be able to take this drink seriously after hearing “slap it, rim it, stick it in it” used in response to the mint (also, bit confused by the addition of puree to the drink, which I’ve not seen before).  The pairing of the Mojito with tempura prawn was an excellent choice, however.  Next, another well-known drink, the Cosmopolitan, was paired with a tortilla chip and guacamole, which wasn’t nearly as interesting as watching the bartender teach us to flame orange over the drink.  The dairy-ladened Tennessee Mud Shake wasn’t for me, but its sickly-sweetness seemed to leave the rest of the group impressed.

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    If that was the theory, it was time to put our lesson into practice and make our own drinks!  I’d found all the previous drinks too sweet for my tastes so I opted to make a more classic cocktail; a Whisky Sour using Monkey Shoulder whisky, egg white, lemon and a dash of bitters. Yum!  We passed around each other’s drinks to give people a chance to try them all and when we were suitably merry it was time for the party games, which were particularly entertaining considering most of us had only just met.

    Finishing the evening was a Revolution classic – a line of flavoured vodka shots balanced on top of glasses, domino style.  We were told Revolution has its own vodka factory up north which makes a lot of the flavoured vodkas – though thankfully none of us had to try the chilli vodka.

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    There’s no denying it this masterclass is a lot of fun.  Sure, if you want to learn the history of cocktails this isn’t going to be the class for you and there were a few slip-ups with info.  But if you’re looking for a fun activity for a hen/stag do or a birthday then this is a good way to start the night.

    Masterclasses start from £24.95 per person and there’s more information at their website:  http://www.revolution-bars.co.uk/cocktail-masterclass/

    Disclosure: I attended the masterclass free of charge but was under no obligation to write a positive review – all opinions are my own, as are the photos (please don’t use them without permission).

    Recipes

    My first frittata

    frittata

    Mixed pepper and courgette frittata

    There are about a million reasons why I’d never made a frittata until recently.  Mainly nerves; I’d always worry that it wasn’t cooking quickly enough and end up with some sort of scrambled egg mush.  Tasty but never very pretty.

    But on a mission to find something I could eat for breakfast that was healthy, had some of the all important 5-a-day and portable for when I wanted an extra 15 mins in bed, I thought it was about time to try again.

    Frittatas are somewhat similar to omelettes, which I love for breakfast – if someone else is making them.  But with more density and the filings incorporated the frittata seemed like a good bet for a weekday breakfast.

    Like any good blogger I read a few blogposts from other people and they were all pretty similar; use two eggs per portion and a mixed of whatever other ingredients you want, don’t panic and brown it under the oven.  Turns out it really is that simple.

    So here’s my mixed pepper and courgette frittata.

    • four eggs
    • two peppers – one green, one red
    • one courgette – slice and cut into half-moon shaped
    • from the store cupboard
      • salt and pepper
      • oil

    Using a small amount of oil cook the courgette and peppers until soft – you know how you like them.  Whilst they’re cooking crack the four eggs into a bowl (that’s big enough to add the vegetables into too), season with salt and pepper and combine so the yolk and white are mixed.  Once the veggies are cooked to your liking, add them to the bowl of egg, combine and then transfer back to the pan.  I left mine on a low heat until the whole thing looked a bit solid – although the top still looked like it needed some help so I stuck it under the grill to brown.  Alternatively you can bake the frittata.  Entirely up to you.

    Afterwards I left mine to cool, which meant I nearly lost it to my housemate for dinner, but it survived.  I cut it into quarters, put it in an airtight container in the fridge and then for the next two mornings had frittata for breakfast.  Simple and delicious!

    I’m planning on making some more, switching up the ingredients and possibly making thicker ones.  The great thing about them is they keep well and if you can never really be sure when or what you’re having for lunch or dinner, it’s a great way to make sure you get something healthy and tasty in first thing.

    Restaurant reviews, Reviews

    Five Guys in Birmingham

    I love burgers.  Deliciously juicy meat sandwiched between fresh, fluffy bread; there’s just something so simple but mouthwatering comforting about a good burger.  I’ve tried a lot of burgers in my time, but when I heard American burger chain, Five Guys, was coming to Birmingham I was excited.

    Located in the epicentre of the city’s shopping centre, The Bullring, Five Guys have taken over the old Del Villagio location and turning it into a traditional red-and-white checkered burger joint.  All that white and bright lights feels a bit of a mix of clinical and greasy spoon, but it’s not the venue we’re here for, it’s the burgers and it feels like that’s what the decor is getting at.  And if you don’t get it straight away, all the glowing reviews and soundbites on the wall will spell it out for you.

    Anyway, the food.  The menu is pretty simple; burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs and fries.  There are a few variations, but the main thing is the toppings of which there are many, 15 to be precise.  I opted for a regular burger with BBQ sauce, lettuce and mushrooms; regular fries; and a soft drink, which came to £13.25.  Once ordering you walk round the counter and wait for your food.  Or rather visit the drinks machine whilst your food is being cooked.

    I probably should’ve been marvelling at the Fordist-machine-line preparation of my food, but the drinks machine had me mesmerised.  Said to have 100+ drinks options I can well believe it and I went for Diet Coke with vanilla and cherry, which was just delicious.  If I ever win the lottery I want one of those installed in my house.  Oh yes, and there’s free refills.

    After a short wait watching the production line put together my food I wondered how well this works on a busy Saturday lunchtime, but more pressing was the guy on the fries counter who was portioning chips into drinks cups and then adding another portion and a half into the bags.  If you thought £4 was steep for a regular fries, you’d be mistaken – it’s actually a pretty good deal considering what you get for your money.

    After collecting my grease-spattered brown bag I took a pew and dived in.  I’d heard stories that the fries were over-seasoned and I didn’t find this to be the case; I thought they were pretty good with or without sauce, but I think it’s probably personal preference – personally I like someone else to sort it out for me.  The burger, wrapped in tin-foil didn’t look like the messiah of burgers I was expecting, but tasted pretty good.  I was a little disappointed at the amount of BBQ sauce particularly as there wasn’t any sandwiched between the two patties (I didn’t realise a regular burger had two of them).  But it certainly wasn’t the worst burger I’ve ever had; I’m just not sure it was the best either.

    Overall the experience was fine – think the environment of fast-food queue & wait mixed with the quality of gourmet/handmade co/kitchen style burger restaurants.  I wasn’t blown away by my experience, but I didn’t feel particularly short-changed either.  I just expected something a little more wow.  Five Guys is a welcome addition to the city and I’m sure I’ll be back, I just can’t see myself making a special trip to go.

    https://www.fiveguys.co.uk/ 

    Musings

    A new dawn!

    Spring is on its way and it’s about time I did something with this blog!

    I’m going to make it a little more personal and, hopefully, collaborative.  I’ll be posting my trips to drinking and dining establishments in Brum, recipes and of course the odd news story which is well worth sharing.  Is there anything in particular you’d like to see this blog cover?

    Look out for some posts soon!