I’ve been to a few Peach Pubs in my time (here, here, and here), so it’s nice to hear about their charitable foundation and their work:
Pub goers popping into The High Field in Edgbaston are being asked to put their change from buying a round – or any cash they can spare – towards Herds for Change, a project aimed at delivering vital and sustainable change in the Mara, Kenya.
This week and until the 3rd September the pub has declared it Peach Foundation Cow Week, when The High Field and its sister pubs owned by Peach Pub Company are aiming to raise £250, or more, each to buy a cow for the Maasai community in Kenya as part of Herds for Change, the latest fundraising campaign carried out by its charitable arm, The Peach Foundation.
The goal is to raise £130,000 to buy a breeding herd of eight pedigree bulls and 400 cows for the Enonkishu community in the Mara. The profits will be ploughed back into the community and used to support the livelihoods of local families.
Each cow costs £250 and regulars and new faces alike coming to The High Field are being asked to donate their change or whatever they can to help raise the money – there’s a special cow money box on the bar for collecting donations.
“This is an opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of people living in the Maasai community in the Mara, Kenya, a part of the world where the ecosystem has become increasingly fragile,” says Sarah Robinson, general manager of The High Field. “Global warming, lifestyle changes and the mismanagement of land all pose a serious threat to the wildlife and the communities who live in the Maasai.
“Over the years here at Peach we have played a part in supporting the Maasai tribe, the wildlife and the community’s traditional way of life, helping to create a hippo sanctuary and plant a forest. Now, we are moving onto the next important chapter in the bid to safeguard the long-term future of the Mara and its people. We are creating the Peach Herd and raising money to buy cows for the Maasai community, and we want Edgbaston to be able to provide at least one, if not two cows!
“So we’re asking everyone who pays us a visit over the next couple of weeks to let us hang onto their change for the cause or put whatever they can into the cow money box on the bar so we can make Herds for Change a big success and make our mark in the Mara,” she says.
After collecting money to buy the herd, a team from Peach and some of its suppliers will be travelling out to Kenya to buy the cattle and deliver them to the Enonkishu community on 9th September.
My knowledge of the Vietnam War and Vietnam in general is limited to a few war movies and an episode of Top Gear. So when I was invited by Brum Bloggers and the Hippodrome to fill in this shocking lack of knowledge on my part, how could I say no…
Based around Puccini’s Madam Butterfly, this takes the frame of the story and moves it into Saigon, Vietnam at the end of the war. It focuses on the relationship between a bar girl, supplanted from her village life into the chaos of war era Saigon, and an American GI who falls madly in love with her; their threads weave throughout the late 1970’s to take in Atlanta, USA and Bangkok, Thailand.
Since its London premiere in 1989, Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s legendary musical Miss Saigon has become one of the most successful musicals in history.
To celebrate the tour, The Hippodrome’s Circle Restaurant has launched a special summer menu to compliment the production, which we were here to taste, along with a viewing of the musical itself.
We went in through the Thorp Street entrance which is a bit of a gem, hosting the Dance Exchange and a range of private venue spaces available to hire, for some pre-show nibbles and cocktails.
The cocktail we tried was a Sun & Moon, Archers peach liqueur and orange juice, which was fruity and summery, setting the tone for the rest of the menu. The nibbles, included pea and mint soup, and goats cheese bruschetta. It certainly got our appetite going for our visit to the Circle Restaurant for Acts I & II of the menu.
The Circle Restaurant is open usually 2 hours prior to each performance (matinees & evenings) and the menu is designed around each performance to take advantage of seasonal produce and to match the theme of each production. A boon for us bloggers, it has floor to ceiling windows overlooking the main entrance, giving wonderful light for photographs too! They’ll also hold your table for the interval so you can return for drinks or dessert without stress.
As we wouldn’t be able to get through all of the menu in full size portions, we were given tasters to ensure we could experience the full range on what’s on offer. For Act I, we were given an immaculately presented slate of starters to sample
White bean soup with basil pesto (V) – A good creamy delicate flavour from the white bean, giving a velvety mouth feel, this was counterbalanced by the punch of the pesto with its powerful basil lifting the savoury taste.
Vietnamese prawn summer rolls with sweet chilli sauce – The less well known cousin to the ubiquitous spring roll wrapped in rice paper rather than pastry. This gives it a much fresher edge than it’s deep fried cousin, with sweet chilli adding a touch of verve.
Salt beef croquette with salad of mooli, shallots and capers – My favourite from the start selection. Salt Beef is a delicious thing and its savoury texture matched well with the crispy coating. The mooli and shallots added a fresh edge but I still have my irrational hatred of capers, so they went unloved to the corner of the plate.
Goat’s cheese mousse with marinated tomatoes and walnut toast – Mousse was the perfect description; it was so light and airy, and made me think of a savoury take on a Mr Whippy. The marinated tomatoes were a solid accompaniment giving acidity and the walnut bread adding crisp.
To partner all this wonderful food, I had a Marques De Morano Rioja Tinto, which was lighter than expected, and went perfectly with the tapas style light bites.
With that, it was onto Act II.
Chilli & coriander crusted pork tenderloin with soy & sesame braised savoy cabbage – The pork was well cooked and the coriander crust gave it an extra dimension from normal. The cabbage was divine, its soy and sesame braising really giving it some punch and this is something I’m going to be stealing for my own cabbage in future!
Pan-seared fillet of coley with rice noodle, samphire, ginger and spring onion broth – It’s great to see a sustainable fish getting some limelight on the menu. Wifey and I often have coley from the supermarket as an alternative to salmon, and it’s a solid substitute for cod or haddock. With a gentle pan searing, the fillet had kept most of its character and flaked wonderfully into the broth. The broth itself was good with samphire, salt and ginger and spring onion adding heat. I liked the rice noodles but maybe a vermicelli style rather than the Udon ones present would’ve suited the dish, as they were hard to fish out of the pan (nudge-wink). I expect this is not an issue on the full sized version however.
Honey-brushed confit of duck leg with celeriac purée, bok choi and star anise jus – Confit is a word that brings joy into the heart of any glutton and this is no exception. Duck leg is a meat that takes well to a confit with the rich unctuous fatty deliciousness, given a touch of sweetness with the honey. The celariac puree was a delight and I’m no stranger to a bit of bok choi, providing crunch and a touch of bitter to take away the sweetness of the meat.
Yellow curry lentil scotch egg with asparagus & new potato salad (V) – This took the majority of us by suprise! I thought the lentils were going to be replacing the breadcrumb (me not noticing the little (v)), but they fully en-robed the egg, giving a really nice variation on the traditional scotch egg. The curry spices gave an almost fizzle on the tongue.
Miss Saigon – Part 1
Post munching, it was time for us to take our seats for the first act of Miss Saigon. I’m not going to spoil it too much if you haven’t seen it but you’re suckered in by the first minute. The whole performance is song based with little to no dialogue between each transition. However, it’s performed with such verve and gusto amongst incredible staging and set pieces, you’re instantly struck dumb with your eyes greedily trying to absorb each detail.
The leads Sooha Kim (Kim) and Ashley Gilmour (Chris) gave incredible performances. My heart was won by Red Concepcion (The Engineer) providing humour amongst the drama, bouncing around the stage and eliciting cackles from the audience. The supporting cast (Ryan O’Gorman as John, Gerald Santos as Thuy and Na-Young Jeonas Gigi) were great with beautiful voices. The ensemble were amazing, every number was pulled off with panache and an energy.
We start in Dreamland, The Engineer’s bar in Saigon and a popular hotspot for American soldiers looking for a good time and escape the horrors of war. It’s here GI Chris first meets barlady Kim and we get to see the blossoming of their relationship in contrast to the Us soldiers losing their grasp on the country. We see the repercussions of the USA’s involvement and the finale leads to The Engineer and Kim escaping Vietnam to Bangkok to try and reach America for a new life and a reconciliation with Chris.
After a shocking finale to the first act, it was time for interval and for us bloggers a visit to the Gowling Suite, one of the private hire facilities available on site, for a quick run around the dessert menu.
Green tea panna cotta with sesame tuille – The green tea panna cotta was nice, with matcha green tea giving a savoury sweet balance.
Bitter chocolate tart with lychee, strawberry & mint compote – I’m a chocolate fiend so a bitter chocolate tart was always going to be a winner. A solid, sticky bitter and sweet tart, lovely with the strawberry and mint compote cutting through with an element of sharpness.
Poached peach & pistachio cake with raspberries and vanilla set custard – Pistachio is something I usually come across as an ice cream flavour, so it was nice to see something a little different. The cake had a gorgeous soft texture and the nutty pistachios went well with the sweet peach.
It was time to run back upstairs and reach the amazing finale.
Miss Saigon – Part 2
Again, another great opening piece to the second act which moves us from Saigon to Atlanta with Chris and John struggling to deal with post war life, their PTSD and John’s work with Bui Doi, the neglected street children left behind by GI fathers and Vietnamese mothers. We’re also introduced to Zoë Doano as Ellen, Chris’s new wife who has helped him to get over his post war trauma. Over the other side of the world in Bangkok, we see The Engineer and Kim’s new life echoing Dreamland in the first act, and their desperation in trying to reach America. By chance, they get in contact with John’s organisation which leads to a trip to Bangkok with John, Chris and Ellen. The tumultuous final scene leads to an end which will tug at the heart strings.
A special mention must be made to the set dressings. They are, in a word, stunning with an amazingly quick turn around between pieces.
If you’ve not seen Miss Saigon before, or if you want to relive a previous production, I can’t recommend it highly enough and it’s great to have a food option to match and make it a full evening.
Miss Saigon runs until Sat 23 September at Birmingham Hippodrome. For tickets, call Information and Sales on 0844 338 5000 or visit their website for details.
Disclaimer: For this visit, I was a guest of Birmingham Hippodrome, arranged by Brum Bloggers, this provides no bias to the post. This blog is my own personal opinion and strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.
It’s National Burger Day today, so what better way to celebrate then telling you about my visit to one of Birmingham’s hottest new venues, The Meat Shack at Thorp 17.
The Meat Shack are not new to the Birmingham food scene, in fact they’ve been established for 5 years as a streetfood vendor, and have served their faithful followers at Birmingham streetfood Mecca, Digbeth Dining Club for a long time. It’s great to see that they’ve put down roots in the heart of Southside so how could we not go down for a visit.
The interior is light and airy with a nice few touches of street art and corrugated steel to liven things up. We arrived early evening and we were glad we did, between arriving and finishing the place went from reasonably quiet to queuing out of the door. I think the burger smell had got to the Birmingham masses it certainly had got to us, it was also great to see cocktail extraordinaire Gary Anderson settling in to his new role as General Manager, his affable nature shining through whilst taking our drinks order.
I was dining with Wifey and “Award Winning #BrumHour” who joined us to see what all the foodie buzz had been about. The tap ale had ran out so I settled for a Sadler’s Dakota American IPA (yeasty, malty with citrus bite), Wifey on the Fentimans Elderflower (refreshing) and #BrumHour on the Hoxton Cidersmiths Craft Cider (green apple, tangy).
It’s short, but some of the best are, and all the usual bases are covered, including a veggie option.
Between us we covered off:
Mr C – beef patty, american cheese, iceberg lettuce, red onion, pickle, ketchup, shack sauce (Wifey)
Bella Embergmarinaded deep fried halloumi, mushroom duxelle, dutch cheese, ketchup, chipayo, crunchy onion flakes, iceberg lettuce, red onion (#BrumHour)
Dutch Piggybeef patty, dutch cheese, american cheese, streaky bacon, iceberg lettuce, red onion, pickle, ketchup, chipayo with an extra Sloppy Kissshack beef and pork meat sauce on top (me).
I actually was enjoying the burger that much i forgot to take notes, but it was just amazing, it lived up to the stair case with dripping filthy goodness. The bacon was crisp, the ‘hand smashed’ beef patty flavourful, cheese drippy and the sloppy kiss lifted it to a different level with a sweet meaty extra tang, I was half expecting a golden shaft of light to peek out from the clouds and hit the tray, whilst a chorus of angels hummed in the back ground, the contents were THAT good.
My only, very minor, criticism was the bun. Which was very nice and oft with a touch of crisp from a light toasting. It was a touch to tall for my preference, with a slab of ingredients that size it makes a large mouthful and a slightly less voluminous bun would’ve been appreciated.
Noises from around the table confirmed the others were enjoying their burgers as much as I. Wifey even finished hers which is an unusual occurrence to say the least.
For sides we chose both Frickles and Onion Rings and 2 portions of Chipayo Fries, with #BrumHour opting for his Sloppy Kiss to be planted there.
The fries we nice, well seasoned and the Chipotle Mayonnaise added a nice zing to the proceedings. Onion Rings are always a good guide to quality and are Wifey’s default order whenever we go somewhere new and they’re on the menu. These were solid, crispy, golden batter which wasnt oily with a beautiful sweet onion inside which pretty much just melted away on contact. Don’t take my word for it Paul Fulford praises them mightily too here.
And the Frickles, what can I say about the Frickles. British peoples first instinct when pickling is the humble onion, or if you’re feeling racy an egg from the mysterious giant jar at the chippy. My favourite has always been a nice pickled cucumber. It’s sweet, it’s tangy it’s crunchy and it’s heaven with a beef and ham sandwich.
With the light battering supplied on these bad boys they’ve been lifted to an art-form. The batter adding extra crunch and that extra savoury edge. I’d have been happy as a pig in muck with a bucket of these and a cup of that delicious blue cheese dip.
The one thing I’d like to see, and agreed with the next table along, added to the menu would be a nice side salad, or coleslaw or something to just take the edge off the mostly fried nature of the menu and pretend we were at least being somewhat healthy.
Wifey and I had just enough space to get in a dessert. We both plumped for the take on Eton Mess with fresh peaches and mango amongst whipped cream, decadent and delicious. Next door had the Chocolate Torte and reports between mouthfuls were very positive nods. The dessert menu is under development at present so expect to see more options soon.
One of the things going around the foodie scene is if there’s enough Birmingham foodies to support two amazing burger restaurants in the city (these guys and the Digbeth chaps, OPM). In a city with over a million people, and a food scene which has exploded over the past few years, it’s daft to think that both wont thrive and co-exist happily.
For me and my cohort it was a very happy, fulfilling and positive first visit. It certainly wont be our last if we can beat the queues. I’m a man who needs his dripping filthy goodness after all, I mean how else do I maintain my figure.
If you’ve not been yet, GO NOW, today’s as good as any…
Like American Whiskey (yup the one with an e). Like a pop-up, celebrating Jack Daniel’s? This might be for you…
Whether it’s fine whiskey cocktails, delicious BBQ food or incredible live music. Find your taste of Tennessee courtesy of Jack Daniel’s
Fine sippin’ whiskey, world-class BBQ food and live music experiences are what Tennessee is all about, which is why, this September, Jack Daniel’s is bringing a Taste of Tennessee to Birmingham with “The Meeting Place”, a southern spread like no other.
The word Tennessee is believed to be derived from the old Yuchi Indian word, ‘Tana-see’, which translates to ‘The Meeting Place’. This one-off gathering in one of Birmingham’s coolest spots will bring 200 people together to experience some famous southern hospitality and enjoy drinks, food and music inspired by Tennessee.
Mr Jasper Newton ‘Jack’ Daniel registered his distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee in 1866 next to a cool, cave spring water at ‘the hollow’ which just happens to be perfect for making whiskey, and the reason every drop still comes from the same place today. The folk at Jack Daniel’s think that is something worth celebrating, which is why they are inviting friends to find their taste of Tennessee here in the UK.
Inspired by the bustling bars and Honky Tonks of Jack’s home state, The Meeting Place will partner with some of the best venues in Birmingham to bring together some of the city’s best drinks, music and food.
No Tennessee gathering is complete without live music, and there will be a quality line up to match the food and whiskey cocktails. Throughout the night musicians will play Tennessee inspired tunes to entertain the crowd.
It’s no secret I’m a gin fan, and it’s nice to see the local chaps at the Langley Distillery have partnered with Selfridges and Bar Opus to make a Birmingham exclusive gin, named Birmingham Gin.
This London Dry Gin is carefully brewed with coriander, angelica root, liquorice and orange peel at the Langley Distillery in Birmingham. The chic bottle is decorated with copper foils dots, which are inspired by the iconic Selfridges discs and the 150-year old copper still in which the spirit is distilled, and is avilable exclusively at Selfridges Bullring for £44.99.
Bar Opus at One Snow Hill is now the first bar in town to be serving the Birmingham Gin. The expert booze technicians have created three bespoke Birmingham inspired cocktails to match this new flavour.
A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to accompany Dave Massey aka #Brumhour to try a new summer cocktail at Rofuto in the Park Regis.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll already be aware Ryan has visited a few times to sample food and whisky. As I’m not a big fan of whisky so it was interesting to see how I would fare with this sake based cocktail.
Rofuto is based on the 16th floor of the Park Regis Hotel, at the Five Ways end of Broad Street. It offers lovely views of the Birmingham’s skyline, which is best seen at glittering night rather than the many cranes and scaffolding during the day.
They have created a Japanese inspired twist on the classic summer drink Aperol Spritz with Sake, peach liqueur and yuzu juice.
Whilst catching up with Dave, our mixologist got to work on the cocktail. Sadly no pictures of the creative process but you can happily enjoy the video shot by Rofuto:
For someone who doesn’t like Sake, this was actually perfect for me because the peach liqueur and yuzu juice added a lovely sweetness. I also liked the Vog prosecco that was used to make our drink.
The drink is on their current cocktail menu and available now.
Disclaimer: For this event, I was a guest of BrumHour and Rofuto who provided the drink; this provides no bias to the post. This blog is my own personal opinion and strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.
Now this is something a little different. Though I blog about food so much, I’m not an amazing cook. Patisserie is something I know next to nothing about apart from making a half decent flapjack. If this sounds like you and you want to change it, and you’re free on Tuesday 5th September, read on…
Ever wanted to truly master the art of meringue making? Keen to conquer perfect peaks and piping techniques? Ever wondered what the difference is between French, Italian and Swiss meringues? The Crown Inn in Hallow, Worcestershire will hold its first meringue masterclass on Tuesday 5th September.
The masterclass will be run by Bakery Product Developer & Pastry chef Elle Townsend, who has designed award-winning cakes for the likes of Harrods, Fortnum & Masons and The Conran shop.
The masterclass takes in a demonstration of fool-proof techniques including:
An overview of the meringue landscape including the difference between French, Italian and Swiss meringue and tips such as ingredients and products to guarantee success
A demonstration taking in fool-proof techniques, how to add colour and creativity and baking trouble-shooting
An opportunity to have a go at piping techniques to create various effects under Elle’s expert guidance
And of course, tasting! Elle will bring a selection of her award-winning meringues for guests to taste
Elle’s passion for food began at Nottingham Trent University, where she realised she could combine her love of baking with her passion for craftsmanship. Following stints in hotels and restaurants, Elle began working with artisan patissiers before moving into product development and cake design, working with Harrods, Fortnum & Masons and The Conran Shop.
Tuesday 5th September, from 7pm. Tickets are £20 and include a glass of Prosecco on arrival.
To book your ticket simply call The Crown Inn on 01905 640 408.
If you’ve been down the clubbing centre of Birmingham recently, you may have noticed 6 on Broad Street has disappeared and has instead been replaced by Rosies, Broad Streets newest Super Club. Wifey and I were invited to pop down and have a preview prior to opening tomorrow (with their launch party hosted by DJs Scott Mills & Chris Stark off of that Radio 1).
Owners Stonegate Pub Company have sunk £1 million into the refit to split the venue into five themed rooms over two floors.
Downstairs is the Montana bar with a large cocktail menu of Martinis and Mojitos with exposed lighting and bare woods giving it a rustic, relaxed feel, and streetfood style stuffed crust pizza on sale throughout the afternoon and into the evening.
Perhaps the biggest room upstairs is DAO (A Chinese proverb for the way). It takes it’s inspiration from a combination of Las Vegas and Pan Asian influence with an Asian inspired cocktail menu and LED “chopstick lighting”.
For those who like their clubbing a little more nostalgic there’s Retro with neon paint a light up dance-floor and a cheese filled party playlist.
Playing R&B will be The Vault which we sneaked into as it’s getting ready for its big showing tomorrow night and there’ll be hidden ‘VIP Bourbon booth’s overlooking the DJ and dancefloor.
And the final room is the Laundrette, a speakeasy bar with the illusion of being a laundry with a touch of quirky character and even a roof terrace to look out over the city skyline.
With one of the biggest investments in Stonegate Pub Co’s history they’re hoping to show their dedication to Birmingham’s clubbing scene and look out for more happenings over the weekend.
Disclaimer: For this preview evening, I was a guest of Stonegate Pub Co. & Lucre PR, wifey and I enjoyed a couple of complimentary cocktails and got a goody bag to take home. This provides no bias to the post.
This blog is my own personal opinion and strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.
Regular visitors and residents to Sutton Coldfield will no doubt already know about the Brewhouse and Kitchen, which has been open for the past few years. They’ve now extended this into their new Hop House Garden with a pizza shack amongst the new features.
There’s also a Facebook competition too!
More info below:
With a fire pit, pizza oven shack, 15 litre serve yourself keg table, outdoor games and cosy covered areas with Wi-Fi and individual power sockets, the Hop House Garden has something for everyone to enjoy this summer season.
The arrival of the all new pizza oven shack offers a mouth-watering new menu, bringing everything from classic margherita and pepperoni choices, to spicy slices for the more adventurous types, including Thai Me Up, a creation covered in Siracha Thai chicken, red onion, red chilli and crispy beansprouts.
In line with the new garden and pizza menu, Brewhouse & Kitchen will also be tapping its first Hop House Garden beer, a welcome addition to an already impressive selection of on-site brews.
To celebrate the launch, Brewhouse & Kitchen will be running an exclusive competition on their Facebook page from this week, giving lucky diners the chance to win a seat at the Keg Table and pizzas for up to 10 people each week for four weeks. Customers can check Facebook for details on how to enter.
Melvin Symmons, General Manager at Brewhouse & Kitchen Sutton Coldfield, comments: “We’re so excited to be opening our Hop House Garden and launching our new menu!
“There’s nothing quite like this in Sutton, and we can’t wait for customers to come and enjoy the delights of the new pizza shack, cosy up next to the outdoor fire pit, and pour themselves a pint of our brand new beer from the Keg Table!”
The launch of the Hop House Garden will be taking place on Friday 18 August from 5pm, giving customers a first glance at the garden with free pizza, live music from Electric Pollen, beer tasters and much more to enjoy.
Those who have walked down the canal side, between Brindleyplace and Mailbox in central Birmingham, have probably noticed the poor dilapidated state the former James Brindley Pub was getting into. It was a 90s hotspot but closed its doors in 2008 for the final time after facing stiff competition. The building has since sat there unloved, the glass arch steamed with condensation, the windows shuttered…
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