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    Pop-up and Event reviews, Reviews

    Summer Dine at The Bullring

    bruschetta_jamies_bullringI remember when the Bullring opened.  I also remember when they added bits on and opened Spiceal St.  And yet for some reason I never really remember about the Bullring when I think about dinner.  Actually that’s a lie, my friend and I will sometimes go for a cheeky Nando’s before heading off to have a Grey’s Anatomy marathon, but that’s because it’s by her bus stop.

    So when an invite to Summer Dine at the Bullring landed in my inbox, I thought it would be a good excuse to get reacquainted with the place.  It was also a chance to have a look at the Bullring Plus app, which is free to download and has a bunch of discounts on it – a few of which are under the Summer Dine idea.


    We started the night in Jamie’s Italian with drinks and nibbles.  I’ve been to Jamie’s a few times pre-blog and had some pretty mediocre experiences so it was nice to go back and see if things were better this time around.  We ordered what felt like one of everything on the starter menu, due to an excellent waiter whose enthusiasm was infectious. It was certainly a good re-introduction; the fried ravioli in particular was pretty stand out and something that could tempt me back to give the place another try.

    For mains we headed to Chaophraya for a mini-cooking class, to make our own dinner.  I’ve blogged about my experiences of going to the full class earlier in the year and was looking forward to learning more.  This time we made a Thai red chicken curry which was delicious…and I got to take home some leftovers for tea the next night.


    The fun thing was cooking almost entirely from scratch, grinding the spices in an old style pestle and mortar, adding in more ingredients and making something that really was tasty.  I’ve made a few curries from scratch in my time but having an expert on hand to tell you what to do and why was very helpful.  And I was pleased to be able to take the paste home to make more curry after the leftovers were finished.

    And then for pudding we heading into the main part of The Bullring to Joe Delucci’s Gelato.  Despite us running late, the staff had stuck around to tell us about what they sell and seemed genuinely enthusiastic about what they offer – particularly when we asked about their favourite flavours.  As someone who doesn’t always get on with dairy, ice cream is a rare treat but it was nice to hear they do fat-free, dairy-free and gluten-free flavours and not just naff sorbets like some places – things that taste like actual ice cream.


    And then, with some mint choc chip ice cream, I headed for the bus home.  Much like the rest of the Bullring, the food offerings are mainly from national chains which isn’t to everyone’s taste but there is a wide range of cuisines which will cater for most people; from Italian, French and Thai to burgers, pizza…and chicken.   And after a long day shopping, finding something to keep almost everyone happy is kind of what you want really.

    Disclosure: I was invited to the summer dine experience by the Bullring’s PR team and the food was provided complimentary.  As ever, all views remain honest and my own…and I’m not entirely sure what a cheeky Nandos is, but I love that some people are losing their **** over it.

    Round ups

    January round up

    Eesh, is January over already? It’s one of those months that nearly everyone seems to hate and for a chunk of the month I certainly wasn’t its biggest fan.  But I was certainly cheered up by hearing all about a raft of new openings in the city, in fact there were so many I had to write two posts – and then another with a sneak peak of one of those.olivemag_jan15

    For those whose New Year’s Resolution was all about making a change, one of those new venues was advertising a selection of job opportunities.  Or maybe your resolution was more about learning to cook; if so then I headed off to a monthly Thai cooking class and got over my fear of deep-frying things!

    I also managed to finally get round to blogging some of my December antics – including the inaugural UK Burger Battle which was a hell of a lot of fun.  There was also more burger antics with the Meatshack’s Christmas pop up at Carter’s and another Moseley hot spot.

    But I also managed to talk about some events that were happening this year, both whisky related; January’s Burn’s Night and the fantastic return of the Whisky Birmingham Festival.  I also finally made it to Bar Opus thanks to Yelp Birmingham.  And there were also a few surprises too, including a childhood favourite making an appearance at Cherry Reds and the most wonderful was a mention on Olive Magazine’s website.

    And so it’s on to February! I’ve got a bunch of exciting blogposts – a trip to Lasan, Australia Day kangaroo burgers, a Valentine’s Day menu and much more.  But before I sign off, I’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone who shared, liked and commented on here, it really does mean a lot.

    Masterclasses, Pop-up and Event reviews, Reviews

    Chaophraya Cooking School Birmingham

    Moving into a house with a small kitchen and starting a food & drinks blog means that I don’t really do a lot of cooking anymore, which is a bit of a shame as I really enjoy it. The treat of going out for dinner is always lovely, but there’s something quite satisfying about cooking up your own dinner. So when Lynsey from Chaophraya asked if I wanted to be a guinea pig for the Bullring-based branch’s first cooking school, I was keen to give it a go.

    Chaophraya, located in the Spiceal St area of the Bullring, opposite St Martin’s, is somewhere I’ve never been before, although people I know have,  and there were a fair few people in which was good to see, considering it was a Tuesday night. Alev from Bella & Robot and Natasha from Nutella Tasha were also willing guinea pigs so once we were all assembled we headed upstairs where the room had been re-arranged for a make-shift cooking school.

    After being introduced to the chef, we were each given our own station to work at and our own minder to make sure we had help. But first we had to dress for the occasion and were given an apron and chef’s hat each. I usually don’t wear an apron when I cook but it did give it a nice sense of occasion.

    DSC_1024First up we were taught to make spring rolls. Chef introduced us to chopping in a professional manner, which he seemed impressed I managed to almost pick up (it’s watching all those cooking shows). The folding of the spring rolls was a little trickier, in so far as making sure they were all about the same. Then it was the bit I’m less keen on, the frying, but the assistance from our minders made this a lot less daunting. Once we’d fried a few it was time to sit down and enjoy the spoils of our hard work.

    Main course was a beef and basil stir-fry with oyster sauce. This was perfect for me, I love oyster sauce and if I make stir-fry at home then this is usually what I’ll go for, but advice from Chef on using fish sauce to balance the sweetness gave it a really lovely taste and something I’ll be trying at home.


    For dessert it was banana in coconut batter with syrup. Chef showed us how to peel a banana so it was handled less before going into the coconut batter. After giving it a good mix we dropped the chunks of banana coated in batter into the hot fat and waited for it to cook. I’m not a massive fan of bananas generally but the creamy banana, sweet syrup cut through the batter and was lovely, although I couldn’t eat a lot of them.

    DSC_1036Even as someone who is pretty familiar with Thai cooking and making stir-fries at home, I really enjoyed the evening. The chance to learn some new skills and get advice from a Chef was fantastic – in fact I’d have liked more about the hot, sweet, sour and salty principles in Thai cooking. I was also impressed with their flexible attitude to dietary requirements, which didn’t seem to phase them at all.

    The class costs £60 per person which at first seems a lot, but a three course meal, expert tuition and a goodie bag to go home with (ours contained a fresh apron and hat, ingredients to make the dessert and a bottle of beer) it seems pretty reasonable. I’d say they’re aimed more at people who aren’t used to cooking Thai or East Asian food but even people who are familiar with the cuisine are likely to pick up something new. The dishes change each month, so if you’re interest it’s worth emailing who’s also the person you need to contact to book the classes too.

    Disclosure: I was invited to Chaophraya’s cooking school free of charge in exchange for being a guinea pig.  Frankly I don’t remember agreeing to write about it at all, as the invite came out of the blue, and so I definitely didn’t have to be nice about it. But I’d particularly like to thank them as my first thought of deep fat frying is no longer that episode of Spooks.