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    Pop-up and Event reviews, Reviews

    Colmore Food Festival 2016

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    Food, drink, adventures and dinosaurs…these are a few of my favourite things.  Or, you know, would be if I were in the Sound of Music.  But as if I needed any more excuse to go to this year’s Colmore Food Festival, this year there were dinosaurs! Or the superb Seekasaurus had hidden some mini dinos as some of the stalls.  Which is an excellent excuse to visit more stalls that I’d initially intended.  Good work Seekasaurus, good work.

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    After having been to the Colmore Food Festival in 2015 (and judged an award) and 2014, I have now developed an excellent plan to get the best out of it – minimal dinner the night before, light breakfast and no elevenses so by lunchtime I’m ready to eat.  Seriously, there’s always so many good things on offer at the Colmore Food Festival that a proper meal plan is in order – where else are you going to be able to pay £4 for a dish prepared by a Michelin-starred restaurant?!  That’s the beauty of the Festival, it seems like nearly all the food and drink establishments in the Colmore Business District get involved, everyone from independent and chain coffee shops to real ale pubs, Michelin-starred and fine dining restaurants, bakeries, cocktail bars and so much more.  And because it’s all organised by the Colmore Business District BID people it runs over a Friday, meaning those of us who work in the area can pop out for an tasty lunch and after-work treat, through to Saturday for families – and it’s free entry, and conveniently located slap bang in the middle of Victoria Square, outside the Council House.

    opus_cbdfoodfest16First up I visited Nosh & Quaff for some of their chicken wings in a smoked butter and habanero sauce.  I remain a bit mixed on my feelings towards these because the wings themselves were great; the batter remained crispy whilst slathered in a sauce which, frankly, got to be too much for me.  I get it wings are messy and they sure were, but it would’ve been better if the sauce was on the side more so for flavour than anything.  Then it was off to Opus on Cornwall St for fishcake and poached egg which was deliciously light and flavoursome, with a positively oozy egg yolk, definitely a winner.  For lunch-pudding, I picked up some salted caramel macarons from Miss Macaron which were supposed to wait until late afternoon, but realistically lasted until I got back to the office…which is about five minutes after leaving the festival.

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    This time round I split my time and headed back to the Festival for a spot of post-work, start-of-the-weekend dinner.  I headed straight to the Jekyll & Hyde stall for a spot of their punch and some lamb biryani from Ashas, which was also delicious – and worth all the good comments on social media. I’d heard a few people mention how good the scotch eggs from Jake’s Coffee Box were – and I’d heard they had a Seekasaurus, so I went off to try one of these.  I wasn’t quite expecting the scotch egg to be quite so big (seriously, it was a meal in itself) but it was delicious.  I may also have yelped in delight at the sight of the little mini dinosaur…hence the first photo.

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    After some serious Seekaraurus searching with Viv and Ryan (aka Brummie Gourmand), it was time for a final cocktail (or maybe it was really pudding, I’m not sure how you’d describe this); a frozen strawberry daiquiri from Ginger’s Bar, but it was deliciously boozy and a great way to end the festival.

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    Disclosure: I paid for everything myself, apart from the daiquiri which was a treat from Ryan and Viv. I also left all the dinosaurs behind for others to find, because I’m charitable like that.

    Pop-up and Event reviews, Reviews

    Colmore BID food festival 2015

    The Colmore BID Food Festival is a total highlight for me.  I handily work just down the road from Victoria Square and have had the dates in my diary for months.  Even when we had some events planned that day I’d found a way to make it work so I could attend on the Friday…because I didn’t want to wait another day!

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    Even though I work a stone’s throw away from most of the restaurants, bars and cafes exhibiting at the Colmore BID Food Festival, it’s always a great opportunity to visit some of the old favourites and ones that I’ve only ever been to a small number of times.  It also makes a nice change from uninspiring sandwich lunches.  Having the opportunity to sample a £3 dish from a Michelin-starred restaurant or get a preview of a soon to open venue is also a massive draw, as is the live music and cooking demos.

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    After last year, I was keen to see if anywhere could beat my favourite dish – Opus’ pudding.  So when I was asked to judge the Best Dessert as part of the  Colmore BID Food Festival 2015 I was definitely game.  Having been such a busy month or so I hadn’t really clocked how many places were doing dessert and whilst the idea of trying ten different dishes sounded a bit…excessive, even for me.  In the end I tried some cracking cakes and biscuits from Yorks Cafe on Newhall St and Urban Coffee Company, tiffin from Centenary Lounge at Snow Hill and a pineapple cheesecake from Bureau.

    But in the end the two best desserts came to the violet cream with meringue and blueberries (which tasted like Parma Violets) from Purnell’s and the salted caramel profiteroles from Old Contemptibles.  I had to run back to work before I could announce my winner, the decision was that difficult!  So I headed back on the Saturday where I bumped into Ting who was presenting her Best Cocktail award.  And then it was over to me.  In the end I’d chosen the Purnell’s dish for  Best Dessert for being a lovely summery dessert that was fresh and light and the kind of thing you’d happily eat again…and just to check I had another on the Saturday too!

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    Thanks to Clive Reeves PR and the Colmore BID Food Festival team for inviting me down – I had a blast, see you next year!

    Disclosure: After unofficially crowning the Best Dessert last year, I was officially invited back this year to judge the award for real and so my dishes were complimentary.  I did go back and try some savoury dishes which I paid for myself though.

    Events, News

    Local chefs at Foodies Festival Birmingham

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    L-R – William Noblett (Ju Ju’s), Nathan Eades (Epi Restaurant), Glynn Purnell (Purnells), Matt Cheal (Simpsons), Ryan Swift (The Edgbaston) and Robert Grzesik (The Warehouse Cafe)

    I’ve blogged about it a few times, but wanted to remind people the Foodies Festival Birmingham is taking place this weekend at Cannon Hill Park. There’s a whole raft of top chefs who will be showcasing their wares, including lots of local ones…

    Glynn Purnell – Purnell’s
    Matt Cheal – Simpsons
    Aktar Islam – Lasan Group
    Nathan Eades – Epi Restaurant and St Andrews Hotel
    Ryan Swift – The Edgbaston
    Robert Grzesik – The Warehouse Cafe
    William Noblett – Ju Ju’s Cafe
    James Wong – Chung Ying
    Nick Turner – Hotel Du Vin
    Ping Coombes – 2014 MasterChef Winner
    Dhruv Baker – 2010 MasterChef Winner
    Jackie Kearney – The Hungry Gecko
    Katy B – ‘Little Miss Meat Free’ Great Vegan Bake Off Winner 2014
    Rachel Green – Top TV Chef

    Michelin-star chef Glynn Purnell, Matt Cheal of Simpons, Nathan Eades of Epi Restaurant & St Andrews Hotel, and Aktar Islam of Lasan Group will cook their favourite summer recipes at the Aga Rangemaster Chefs Theatre and share top tips for impressing family and friends with at home.

    Foodies Festival, the UK’s biggest celebration of food and drink, will be transforming Cannon Hill Park into a foodie heaven this with top chefs, new tasting theatres, pop-up restaurants, artisan producers and more street food than you can shake a satay stick at.

    For those who’d rather shake a cocktail stick, there’s also plenty of drink-related stuff planned too.  The Foodies’ 10th anniversary will be celebrated in the New Wine, Champagne and Craft Beer Theatre, where experts Laura Clay and Charles Metcalfe will guide visitors through this season’s best British bubblies from the UK and around the world, while beer expert Melissa Cole hosts masterclasses in the New Craft Beer Theatre, matching foods with locally produced alcoholic and non-alcoholic craft beers.

    There’s also ‘How to Sniff Chocolate like a Rockstar’ and Chocolate Safari masterclass with Coeur de Xocolat; local experts guide visitors through Urban Bee Keeping and Cheese Tasting; plus 3D cake modelling, Chocolate Making and Sugar-Craft masterclasses; and a few food competitions too.

    With a Street Food Avenue feasting hub offering a huge selection of dishes from around the world (including Japanese, Thai, Brazilian, Argentinean, Indian, Mexican, French and African), plus Artisan Producers Market and bars selling Giant Pimm’s Teapot or Captain Morgan Mojito Galleon there should be plenty to do!

    Tickets (ranging from £8 – £38) are on sale now at www.foodiesfestival.com or by calling 0844 995 1111

    Competition, News

    Competition: Foodies Festival Birmingham, 15 – 17 May

    Chocolate TheatreRemember when I blogged about a three day food festival coming to Cannon Hill and I said I’d be running a competition soon? Well admittedly my use of the word soon has been a bit later than expected but I’m hoping to make it up to you with THREE pairs of day tickets up for grabs to the Foodies Festival Birmingham.

    For those that can’t be bothered to click the link to the previous post about it, the Foodies Festival Birmingham is a three day extravaganza taking place in Cannon Hill park from 15 – 17 May. There promises to be a whole load of food related fun, including live demos from some of Brum’s finest as well as some Masterchef types, street food, artisan markets, chilli eating challenge and a load of cake stuff.  It sounds pretty ace and I’m planning treating it like an actual festival minus the camping.

    Anyway, Lanyard Media are giving me the chance to give away some free tickets. There’s three pairs of day tickets up for grabs and you can enter in a bunch of ways, all described in this rafflecopter below…

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Disclosure: I’m running the competition because Lanyard Media agreed to let me give away three pairs of tickets. I accept no responsibility for anything because I just about cope looking after myself. More T&Cs on the rafflecopter.

    Events, News

    Foodies Festival rolls into Birmingham in May

    Chocolate TheatreMichelin starred chefs, tasting theatres, street food and artisan producers are all set to land in Cannon Hill Park in May for what promises to be a big slice of food heaven.

    The Foodies Festival, which was launched in 2005 in Scotland, is making its way to Birmingham on 15 – 17 May in Cannon Hill Park.  Birmingham chefs, including Glynn Purnell, Matt Cheal of Simpons, and Atkar Islam of Lasan Group will be at the Aga Rangemaster Chefs Theatre to cook up their favourite summer recipes and share top tips.  The Chefs Theatre will also play host to 2014 Masterchef winner Ping Coombes who will be cooking up her signature dishes.  Ping will be joined by MasterChef 2010 winner Dhruv Baker and finalist Jackie Kearney too.

    Local experts will also be on hand to guide visitors through raw food, Japanese soul, oyster shucking and bee keeping.  Vegan blogger Little Miss Meat Free will also be on hand to share her vegan recipes and help inspire visitors interested in animal-free food.

    E-Foodies-080613-0168Brummies can toast to the Foodies Festival’s tenth anniversary (and first in Birmingham) at the New Wine and Champagne Theatre with experts Neil Phillips and Charles Metcalfe, who will be guiding visitors through the best of British.  SommALEier / beer connoisseur Melissa Cole will also be on hand to give a food and beer pairing masterclass too.  There will be pop up bars and a cider farm to quench drinkers’ thirsts further.

    There’ll also be plenty of food on sale, including Japanese, Thai, Brazilian, Argentinean, Indian, Mexican, French and African all available on Street Food Avenue – and seating available in the Feasting Tent.  Those wanting to keep the foodie feast alive after the three day festival will be well catered for by the 200 exhibitors, including Biscuit Butter, Snowdonia Cheese, Tipsy Tarts, Fudge Heaven and Riverford Organics, in the Artisan Producers Market.

    Bakers will also be well served with a Cake and Bake Theatre with top local cake makers and bakeries sharing their tips, as well as masterclasses on 3D cake modelling, chocolate making and sugar-craft.  There will also be a Chocolate, Cake and Bake Village selling a range of baking essentials, including jams and gadgets.

    Young foodies will be catered for with Children’s Cookery Theatre where they can explore their taste buds and learn basic cooking skills.  And daredevils can take part in the chilli eating competition, to try and break the record of 14 different varieties of chillies eaten to win the Chilli Eating Crown.

    Tickets are available for the Foodies Festival in Birmingham from the their website, as one day or three day tickets, with some VIP packages available too.  There’s an early-bird two-for-one offer available, just quote FOODIES241.

    Look out for my competition to win tickets, coming soon!

    www.foodiesfestival.com

    Events

    A food festival for Bearwood

    Not content with just being a fantastic food co-op, the lovely people behind Bearwood Pantry have set up the area’s first food festival, due to take place on Saturday 25th October.

    The festival will host a number of stallholders (see below), including the Bearwood Pantry themselves, but it’s the communal table, Swap Shop and Bearwood Recipe Book that makes this a real community affair.  Visitors with surplus fruit, veg and homemade goodies are asked to bring them along for the ‘Swap Shop’ and exchange them for other treats – it might be time to defrost those blackberries!  Attendees are also being asked for any recipes they’d like to see included in the Bearwood Recipe Book, which sounds like a great idea and I can’t wait to see that in print.

    The Food Festival is taking place at Bearwood Baptist Church Hall, Rawling Road, B66 4HA, from 11.00am until 4pm on Saturday 25th October 2014.  But if you can’t make it, the Pantry sets up at Thimblemill Library in Smethwick every Thursday between 7 and 8.30pm.

    Stallholders on the Saturday 25th October include…

    • Barwood Pantry, a food co-op with handmade bread, local organic meat, vegetables, fruit, dairy produce, and dried goods
    • Antonios Food Emporio’s Mediterranean delicatessen specialities
    • Barek Oscarek serving traditional Polish sausages, dumplings, stews & potato cakes
    • Bouchon Wines, importers of Burgundy wines and Crémant sparkling wines
    • Charlie’s Mom’s Chocolate Factory with her legendary chocolates and fudge
    • Chocolate Dreams with a molten Belgian chocolate fountain
    • Have Some Cake, hard to resist French macarons and vegan cakes
    • Lil’s Parlour with their range of ‘ultimate brownies’
    • Maidens Fayre with a tasty range of chutneys and pickles
    • Maison Mayci baking artisan bread and pastries
    • Pimpernel’s Delights, Continental products and creperie
    • Veg Out cafe with vegan/vegetarian burgers and falafels
    • Plus small local producers making homemade savoury pies, jams and preserves, Mexican sweet breads and authentic vegetarian Indian food.

    For more info, visit www.bearwoodpantry.com

    Pop-up and Event reviews

    Colmore Business District Food Festival 2014

    This time last week I was heading back to the office full of all the delights from the Colmore Business District’s Food Festival…and what a great event it was!  The CBD food festival has been running for a few years, but this year really felt like it’s best one yet – the sun was shining, there were plenty of people for a great atmosphere but the queues were minimal and moved quickly.

    With stalls spanning the breath of Colmore’s fine food and drink offerings, there was everything from fine dining to coffee shops, gin parlours, real ale, dim sum, hot dogs and more.  Most of the stalls were selling items for the £3 mark, which was a great move and seemed to add to the quick turn over in people waiting.  There was also a demonstration stage and a live music stage with a great band playing when I attended – though sadly I didn’t catch their name.

    Feeling a bit spoilt for choice I opted to start with sweet chilli chicken from Jojolapa, a place I’ve heard really good things about.  The chicken was well cooked but I found the sauce too sweet without enough kick to it for my taste, which was a little disappointing but not enough to put me off visiting.

    I stopped off at Urban Coffee for a taste of a Yipsy Macaron which was light, chewy and lovely.  Then after a short wait whilst men with clipboards inspected the stall, it was The Bureau’s Deli Dog for main…a lovely meaty sausage with fresh bread bun.  I wasn’t overly keen on the onions, but then I rarely am on hot dogs, but overall a very nice and easy to eat dish – perfect for a food festival!

    After some time watching the band on stage I headed to Opus Restaurant, based on Cornwall St in the Colmore Business District.  I fancied something sweet and their Strawberry Bombe did not disappoint.  Desserts always seem to get a bit forgotten about in restaurants, but this sphere of meringue with a strawberry and mascarpone filling and strawberry sauce was just stunning.  Fresh, light and a perfect summer pud, it made you want to scoff it down and savour it all at once.  The meringue was crisp and chewy and just perfect.  I enjoyed my trip to Opus last year, but this made me want to return sharpish.

    The Colmore Business District is a fine showcase of the delicious food on offer in the heart of Birmingham city centre.  It runs for two days once a year, and already, I can’t wait until next year.  http://colmorebusinessdistrict.com/

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