Wrath – Feel the Heat! at Bodega Birmingham

You may remember I was invited to attend a special bloggers event at The Jekyll & Hyde a few weeks back, hosted by the wonderful Vicky Osgood of Brumderland, and the team at Bodega.  The name of the event was Greed and it was particularly apt with the amount of food I ate!

Tonight was Wrath and the host venue was Bodega Birmingham, another part of the Bitters ‘n’ Twisted group. They are currently in the process of having a menu tweak, introducing some seasonal specials and supplying some tasters. Along with a special Tequila master-class, I couldn’t say no to that! So it was a descent to the Sugarloaf bar to immerse myself in South American cuisine & liquor.

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It’s hard to think Bodega has already been in place for 5 years! Wifey and I moved into the city centre about 5 1/2 years ago. It’s the first time I’d been downstairs into the Sugarloaf bar. The décor was inspired by Dia de Meurtos with lots of sugar skulls on the wall.

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We were welcomed with a Margarita to kick off proceedings.

Odu, the GM, welcomed us in and explained the ethos behind the menu and their plans going forward. They’re keeping the fusion of South American cuisine; next year, the core menu will be kept but a range of seasonal specialities will be introduced. Some of the big hitters were on for tasting tonight such as Xim Xim, Veggie tacos and Dirty Rice.

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First up was the Brazilian Xim Xim. The dish originated in Africa as a stewed combination of dried shrimp, ground nuts and coconut. It’s now arrived at Bodega, by way of Brazil, and has changed a little. Tonight’s dish was a mix of chicken, prawns, peanuts and coconut cream, served with dirty rice and tortilla.

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The dish reminded me slightly of a Chicken Korma with the creaminess of the coconut. There were soft chunky chicken pieces, which partnered well with paprika peppiness of the dirty rice.

Next on the tasters were the vegetarian tacos, served in soft tortillas and stuffed with sweet potatoes, black beans and avocado.

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It was a slightly healthier option and with a beautifully fresh flavour. iIt can even be done gluten free with lettuce instead of a tortilla.

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A mango salad was next on the agenda with a zingy raspberry vinaigrette

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The sweet savoury punch was different to your usual side salad but I would have been happy with just a bowl of that all night!

Pre-desserts, it was time for a masterclass with Marcelle, the head bartender.

The three spirits we were to learn about were tequila, rum and a drink I’d not come across before, cachaca.

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Tequila takes its name from the city of Tequila and is made from the agave fruit nectar. Apparently if you drink good quality tequila made from pure agave nectar, you won’t get a hangover the next day. Bodega stock over 50 types of tequila. These include a range of tequilas from the highland region of Jalisco. Jailsco is the only other area allowed to brand their agave spirit as tequila; anything else is a Mescal.

Tequila is enjoyed in Mexico like a good malt whisky and is served neat. You can find good inexpensive tequila; it just needs a gimlet eye to sniff out a bottle.

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Next up on the spirit tour was cachaca, a distilled spirit made from sugarcane juice. It’s Brazil’s favourite spirit and forms the basis of quite a few cocktails such as a caipirinha.

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Caipirinha is the most popular cocktail in Brazil. Invented in Sao Paulo in 1918, it was designed as a remedy for Spanish Flu with cachaca, honey and garlic. The garlic was quickly replaced by lime. It’s probably one of the most easy cocktails to make, with sugar and lime crushed together, then liqour, ice and a slice.

A little break before the final part of the masterclass meant it was time for pudding.

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We tried a white chocolate and mojito cheesecake, served with a raspberry coulis.

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The bitterness of the lime, mint and raspberry really took the edge off the sweetness of the white chocolate mousse and had a chunky crispy base.

The final dish was a Pastel de chocolate pegajoso, served with a vanilla ice cream and pistachio praline and It was also gluten free!

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A flourless sticky chocolate cake, it had a peculiar texture, almost a cross between cakeand mousse. Its rich flavour tasted of intense dark chocolate, which was lifted by the vanilla ice cream.

Back to the masterclass and onto the Navy’s favourite, RUM! Rum is made from the same plant as cachaca, the sugar cane. However, it’s made from the by product (usually molasses) of refinery rather than distilled from fresh sugar cane. The most well known rum based cocktail is probably the Mojito.

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Made from white rum, sugar, lime juice, mint and ice it’s apocryphally attributed to Sir Francis Drake. Whilst in the Caribbean, an epidemic of scurvy occurred on board. It was known that the local South American Indians had remedies for various tropical illnesses; a small boarding party went ashore on Cuba and came back with ingredients for a medicine which was effective. The ingredients were aguardiente de caña (a crude form of rum) added with local tropical ingredients, lime, sugar cane juice and mint. It’s now Britain’s most popular cocktail.

We finished off the evening (bar a few more cocktails and a photo I can’t remember taking).

Anyone know who these two are?

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If you know who they are, please let myself and brumhour know 😉

Sugarloaf holds up to 75 people and has its own bar, dance floor, DJ booth and sound system as well as the convenience of its own toilets.

They’ve hosted birthdays, anniversaries, product launches, corporate mixers, sporting events and even wedding receptions, offering full buffet facilities as well as a sit down meal for 30 people. Plus, you can add one of their cocktail master classes to your event!

Sugarloaf can be hired at most times during the week except Friday nights.

Disclaimer: For this evening, we were guests of Brumderland and Bodega who provided all food and most of my drinks; this provides no bias to the review. 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.

When: 05/10/2015

Where:  Bodega Birmingham, Bennetts Hill, Birmingham

Who: BrumderlandBodega Birmingham, Bitters & Twisted

Meaty Delights at Rib Nights – Cafe Opus

I previously went to Rib Nights at The Church Inn back in my pre-blogging days of November last year. It was a great experience and I looked forward to the next one, so when I heard it was returning at Cafe Opus, I booked in straightaway.

Cafe Opus took over the space in the Ikon Gallery back in February 2013, and  part of its profits goes towards the gallery. It’s one of Wifey and I’s favourite brunch spots, especially with the view of cherry blossom over Oozells Square in late spring.

Continue reading “Meaty Delights at Rib Nights – Cafe Opus”

Blooming Marvellous Art & Grub – BMAG & Edwardian Tea Room

Not your typical invite for a foodie event but the team at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (BMAG for us locals) wanted to show off their Edwardian Tea Room and a few new galleries as part of their update.

Wifey & I had visited the tea rooms prior as part of Birmingham Cocktail Weekend and we’re big fans of the ‘Birmingham: its people, its history’ exhibit.

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Continue reading “Blooming Marvellous Art & Grub – BMAG & Edwardian Tea Room”

Provisions by the Pavilion – Bournville Ale & Streetfood Festival

Late Summer, the sun was shining, and Wifey and I made a change from our usual City Centre haunts and ventured a little further afield to historic Bournville. those who know a little about the history of Birmingham  will know the vast majority of it was built for the workers of Cadbury. What you may not know is there are no Public houses in Bournville and Rowheath Pavilion (today’s destination) only began to serve alcohol at their members bar in the 1960’s.

So a unique destination for an Ale and Streetfood festival, lets check it out!

Rowheath Pavillion
Rowheath Pavillion

We arrived when the festival was in full swing. with a wide variety of stalls (and queues) to see and enjoy.

First stop was one of my personal favourites, Low’n’Slow, who’ve been subject to a few of my previous posts.

Today was no exception to Andy’s meaty maestro-ness and Wifey and i picked up lamb shank taco’s with Feta, Salsa and Coriander.

Lamb Shank Tacos from Low'n'Slow
Lamb Shank Tacos from Low’n’Slow

The lamb was soft, tender and melted in the mouth. It combined great with the crumbly, tangy cheese. A great start to our food for the day.

After lining the stomach it was time for a drink, however, a quick trip to the bar turned more into an expedition.

Bar Queue at Rowheath Pavilion
Bar Queue at Rowheath Pavilion

Of the two real ale bars, one was completely out and the second was down to one ale. the regular bar had opened up to help the flow of regular drinks, but a queue was tailing back and growing by the minute. the Ale and Streetfood festival turned more into a Streetfood Festival.

Good job I love streetfood!

Back outside it was time to visit the vintage Citroen H Van of the team from Pietanic, whom we previously saw at Sarehole Mill.

Pietanic Van
Pietanic Van

The choice this time was a Chicken & Chorizo pie with a mini iceberg of mash in an ocean of gravy (groan).

Chicken & Chorizo Pie from Pietanic
Chicken & Chorizo Pie from Pietanic

The mash was made from skin on potatoes to add extra texture but still kept a good amount of creaminess. The pie again was excellent. It was a struggle to wrestle it from Wifey’s hands as it was her first experience of Pietanic. From what morsel I salvaged the chicken was well done yet soft and moist. the chorizo added a welcome spicy pop without overriding the chicken.

Next along the food tour was another streetfood stall previously featured, Scratch Cooking, this time swapping wings for Paella

Scratch Cooking
Scratch Cooking Caterers

A beautiful slow cooked paella with plenty of seafood bubbling away nicely.

Scratch Cooking Caterers Paella
Scratch Cooking Caterers Paella

A generous portion was served up for me to take back to Wifey.

Paella from Scratch Cooking Caterers
Paella from Scratch Cooking Caterers

Wifey loved it, nice big prawns, fresh mussels  and veggie rice. The portion was too much for her. The only thing which was a misstep came from the heat. By the time I’d got it back to the seating area the the dish was more warm than hot but still with enough heat to keep it enjoyable. A bit more warmth would just make it better.

Whilst Wifey was going through her Mediterranean feast. I went for something a little more North American with Caribou Poutine, who’e been running pretty much as long as this blog, so a relative new comer to the Brum scene. It hasn’t stopped them making a splash with events such as Taste & Liquor, Brum Yum Yum and Digbeth Dining Club.

Poutine is a Canadian speciality involving chips / fries gravy and cheese curds. sounds a bit different from the usual cheesy chips eh!

Caribou Poutine Menu
Caribou Poutine Menu

I chose the Miss Piggy as I still felt the need for more meaty goodness. A bit of slow cooked pulled pork, streaky bacon and sausage seemed a marriage made in heaven to go with chips, curds and gravy.

Miss Piggy from Caribou Poutine
Miss Piggy from Caribou Poutine

it was HOT (heat  not spicy) and cooked my fingertips on the way back to the eating area. I can see why it’s so popular tough, a mammoth portion of fries were hidden under mounds of meat and cheese curds.

The dish was one of those which gives you an almost Ready-Brek glow of warmth and heartiness. I can see why its so popular in the cooler parts of Canada, even on a late summer day it gave me a cozy feeling. I’ll certainly be back again for more soon.

To burn off a few calories Wifey and I went for a stroll around the park prior to making our exit. We were originally going to have a waffle to finish but the queue, which had been large all day seemed to be even longer. I’ll have to get them next time!

Waffle Queue
Waffle Queue

Here’s a few of the other traders present whom we wish we could have got round too. Surprisingly my appetite does have a limit so we couldn’t do them all!

A special shout out to the amazing Pip from Pip’s Hot Sauces (available on-line!).

And with that we were done for the day and get back to the city centre!

When: 27/09/2015

Where: Bournvlle Ale & Street Food Festival, Rowheath Pavillion, Rowheath, Bournville, Birmingham

Who: Low’n’SlowPietanicScratch Cooking and Caribou Poutine

Bavarian Bites – Reinheitsgebot! Oktoberfest at Purity Bar

A funny thing about Oktoberfest, it runs for 16 days with the last day being the first Sunday in October. Which of course means most of Oktoberfest is in September. Which is why one autumnal evening in late September, Wifey and I descended down to Pure Bar & Kitchen‘s basement for a few beers, wurst and Oompah!

Downstairs Bar at Pure Bar and Kitchen
Downstairs Bar at Pure Bar and Kitchen

I’ve reviewed Pure Bar previously (here) but this was a special occasion with a set menu and entertainment, the menu even included beer too (which they were more than happy to swap for wine for Wifey).

Beer, Wine & Menu
Beer, Wine & Menu

The beers were a little bit special to match the Bavarian bites, the Beyreuther Festbier my particular favourite.

Oktoberfest Menu
Oktoberfest Menu

And with that on to grub in the form of two delicious Bratwursts!

Pure Bar & Kitchen Bratwursts
Pure Bar & Kitchen Bratwursts

I dived into the pork one first. topped with popcorn-like Crackling on top with a smoky pork hot dog loaded with saurkraut underneath. It was Wifey’s fave dish of the evening. The crackling stands well up enough on it’s own I’d be happy to have a bowl as a bar snack, it was that good!

Sausage-wise I preferred the beef. It was tender, delicate and melted in the mouth. The sharpness of the saurkraut really brought out the umami in the beef and Wifey had to suard hers from my wandering foodie hands.

Billy's Big Brass Band
Billy’s Big Bavarian Brass Band

With our main’s under way Billy’s Big Bavarian Brass Band kicked up playing a mix of variations on modern tunes and traditional Oktoberfest music (Ein Prosit anyone?). The stand out song was ‘Polka Face’ which you can find on my Periscope (@brummiegourmand).

Then the desert course:

Apple Strudel & Beer Ice Cream at Pure Bar & Kitchen
Apple Strudel & Beer Ice Cream at Pure Bar & Kitchen

A curious take on a strudel, more an apple spring roll. However, the taste was spectacular.The roll was a light filo style pastry with a chunky , sharp and sweet filling. I couldn’t detect any cinnamon which makes a nice change and allowed the apple to stand put on its own. The toasted oats under the beer ice cream were amazing and worked well with the malty, almost savoury beer ice cream.

All in all , a great evening with outstanding food. Wifey and I will be back again soon, as their Christmas menu looks very tempting…

When: 24/09/2015

Where: Pure Bar & Kitchen, Waterloo Street, Birmingham

Who: Pure Bar & Kitchen, Purity Brewery

A Kings Feast – Kings Heath Street Festival

Well, that took longer than expected to get back to you all! My main laptop died last weekend, hence the delay in getting back to blogging. No matter, the spare has been brought in so I can continue telling you lovely folks about food in and around Birmingham. Anyway….back to it.

As you may be aware, we had been to Birmingham Independent Food Fair in the morning so our bellies were a little full. However, there’s always more room for streetfood! A short bus ride away is Kings Heath, a bustling suburb with a burgeoning streetfood scene (mainly due to BrumYumYum and their #KingshEATh at the Churchyard).

Today’s event was a slightly different affair from the usual as York Road was closed off by Enjoy Kings Heath to celebrate all that’s great about Kings Heath. It was a busy affair:

Kings Heath Street Festival
Kings Heath Street Festival

Continue reading “A Kings Feast – Kings Heath Street Festival”

Brum Bites – Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station

You may not believe it but I occasionally do non foodie things around Birmingham, as well as stuffing my face.

On the same day as Day 1 of  Birmingham Independent Food Fair 2015 as part of Birmingham Heritage Week, Hidden Spaces opened up Curzon Street railway station to the public. Wifey, I, and a few friends went for a poke around.

Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station

The building, though vacant, hasn’t lost its imposing stature

Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station

An astounding triple height ceiling with a recently refurbished octagonal skylight

Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station

The mummified cat was absent, perhaps it had found another life.

Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station

Backstory on the station.

Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station

Down into the basement

Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station

Looks like the party finished a long time ago.

Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station

Hidden spaces signage in the old phone exchange room.

Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station

Looks like the keys to half of Birmingham!

Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station

Breakfast menu for the long gone Rosa’s cafe; if it was open now, a bacon and sausage sandwich for 60p would put Mr Egg to shame.

Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station

The old phone exchange box featuring logo from the 80’s!

Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station

Other parts of the basement.

Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station

Old yellow bin! Remember them?

Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station

View over Eastside

Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station

Conservation award from 1984, shame the conservation did not carry on.

Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station

Better view of the octagonal skylight

Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station

Boarded (and broken) windows

Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station

Better view of Eastside with Bullring and Beetham Tower in the distance

Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station

Rotunda

Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station

First floor balcony

Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station

View up to the second floor, with some 60’s spot lights

Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station

Back outside

Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station

View from across the road

Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station
Hidden Spaces at Curzon Street Station

Hopefully, HS2 will help to restore this architectural gem back to its former glory. Our tour was done, now back to the Birmingham Independent Food Fair.

When: 12/09/2015

Where: Curzon Street Station, Birmingham

Who: Hidden SpacesBirmingham Heritage Week

Because I Feel Foodie! Birmingham Independent Food Fair 2015 – Day 1

Birmingham Independent Food Fair is now in its second year, following on from #futurefoodies @ Hotel LaTour in 2013 (#futurefoodies was Wifey and I’s first foodie event in Birmingham and we were the first visitors to arrive!).

Created by the minds behind Dine Birmingham, Birmingham Independent Food Fair is a flagship event in Birmingham’s foodie scene, bringing together streetfood vendors, suppliers, independent stores and some of Birmingham’s best bars and restaurants.

This year, as per the previous year, the event was held at Millennium Point, it’s also two days long which means double the time for food!

 Wifey and I popped along to see what was happening (settle in, this will be a long one!).

The sun was shining as we strolled along through Eastside Park to the food fair and got to see a glimpse of the goodies, with the outside stalls, before picking up our wristbands.

Streetfood stalls outside Millennium Point
Streetfood stalls outside Millennium Point

Continue reading “Because I Feel Foodie! Birmingham Independent Food Fair 2015 – Day 1”

Vast Victuals with Vicky’s Kitchen at the Victoria

The Victoria is currently going through a menu renaissance. Their kitchen was previously run by Soul Food Project who’ve since move to the other side of town to The Church in Hockley.

Victoria Exterior
Victoria Exterior

Now run by Vicky’s Kitchen, the current retinue of burgers and pizzas is being expanded to include some classic and inventful American inspired cuisine. To celebrate the occasion, myself, Wifey and a good selection of Birmingham’s blogging community were invited along to have a sample.

Continue reading “Vast Victuals with Vicky’s Kitchen at the Victoria”