#WifeyWrites: Orientee Artisan Bakery & Cafe

Dale End probably isn’t the first place you would think of to open an Artisan Bakery, is it?  But Orientee is hoping to change opinions on that!

Bakery

After following them for a few months on Instagram, ooh-ing & aah-ing at their oh so lovely pics of  bread & pastries, I was pleased to see they finally had an official opening date of 17 September.

Last week, I popped along to their soft launch for foodbloggers / foodies. It’s just a few doors down from the Peaky Blinders bar, under the ramp part of Priory Square.

My lunch date was Geeky Brummie crew member and freelance writer @philipellis.

The moment you walk into Orientee, you are welcomed by friendly staff and the irresistible smell of freshly baked bread, both signs that this is a place where you can relax and feel at home.

And with the promise of authentic Chinese pastries (they sadly weren’t ready in time for the opening), I’ll be adding Orientee to my list of Birmingham cafes that are perfect to sit with a book, a cuppa and a treat.

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Having decided where to sit, menus were popped down and we had the chance to admire the simple chic interiors: hand painted wall scrolls, not too dis-similar to ones that hang in my parents’ home, placed against faux brickwork wallpaper.  I felt the need to go and touch it, after Phil asked it was actual open brickwork; got me fooled!

Food & Drink

Anyway onto the food and drink, which is probably why you’re reading this. They have a good selection of brunch dishes and hot drinks.  I ordered a flat white (my usual) and Sweetcorn Fritters, one of Orientee’s vegetarian options.

 

Whilst waiting for the food, we caught up on what we’d been up to during the week.

The food arrived and we tucked in.  My Sweetcorn Fritters were sweetcorn, courgette, red pepper and spring onion, chilli jam, crushed beetroot, served with a minted yoghurt and a poached egg.  The fritters themselves were soft, light and piping hot, the hit of the chilli jam just perfect for my palate; the yolk of the egg oozing out beautifully.

Phil’s choice was very pretty looking too. His thoughts?

I went for The Rejuvenator, a colourful, light and tasty mix of edamame, beetroot, avocado, feta and hummus, complete with a poached egg and freshly baked focaccia. Virtuous and extremely satisfying, washed down with a rich and earthy Matcha and Sea Salt Hot Chocolate.

There are options to add bacon, salmon and extra halloumi or make it vegan, by replacing the feta and egg with crushed beets and extra corn. 

Brunch

Phil thought it was the “perfect Sunday brunch spot, with options on the menu that will sort out any hangover, from the usual big breakfasts and Eggs Benedict to vitamin-rich vegetarian dishes. Or if you’re feeling in need of comfort, honey-glazed pork chops and fried rice.”

Orientee’s breakfast and brunch choices cater for all palates. Given the traffic running past on a regular basis, the calm interiors is enough to escape the High Street for awhile if you’re out shopping or even wanting somewhere quiet to work.

Upon leaving, one of the bakers popped out to say hello and told us about the different breads they make ranging from Russian Rye to Italian Foccacia. We were invited to take away samples of the breads to try at home, which I can confirm were delicious. A couple of colleagues at my office tried them, and Ryan and I had them for dinner later that evening with soup.

Return

The pastries weren’t quite ready during my first visit but I stopped by during my lunch break when they officially opened with #BrumHour.

I thought I’d try the latte this time while Dave had the peach oolong tea.  Their proper menu includes soft drinks, and there are separate breakfast and lunch menus. We also chose some sweet treats: me a Lemon & Poppy seed slice with cream cheese icing, and Dave a Lemon Cheesecake doughnut. He also went for the avocado on sourdough toast, which was very crunchy and he devoured it…..after his doughnut! My cake was light, not too sweet and moist.

You know I will be returning to try the rest of the menu…and the cakes.

 

 

 

 

News: Bitters n’ Twisted Venues Support Acorns Hospice with #AcornsFriday

 

I’ve been to a few of Bitters’n’Twisted‘s venues, and I’m happy to tell you about their wonderful partnership with Acorns Childrens Hospice from Friday…

Acorns Friday santas

November 24th aka “Black Friday”, the day the internet and shopping centres go wild for pre-Christmas bargains.  Bitters ‘n Twisted wanted to do something a little different to crazy sales and mad purchasing and offer something back to our nominated charity, Acorn’s Children’s Hospice.

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Bitters ‘n Twisted Venues (Island Bar, The Victoria, The Jekyll & Hyde, Bodega (Birmingham, Worcester, Leicester and Derby), The Rose Villa Tavern, Marmalade and Buffalo & Rye will be donating £1 to Acorn’s for each cup of warm Winter Cider sold on Friday 24th November, renamed #AcornsFriday

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What’s more, from 1st Dec – 31st Dec for each cup of Brother’s Winter Cider sold in any of the venues, Bitters ‘n Twisted will donate 50p to Acorn’s – resulting in a big cheque being given to the charity in January.

 

NOTE: This is not a sponsored post or endorsement, just news of something happening in the food scene in and around Birmingham you might want to know about.

GUEST POST – #BRUMHOUR GOES FOR A SPOT OF AFTERNOON TEA AT ROFUTO

Last month, it was Wifey and I’s 3rd wedding anniversary so we flew over to Jersey for a few days to visit my brother-in-law and his family, and ate too much food (more on that soon!).

So when an invite popped up, in my stead, I sent the fantastic Social Media superstar, #BrumHour (aka Dave Massey) to enjoy an afternoon tea with Rofuto.

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Afternoon Tea at Rofuto has launched on Saturday afternoons from 12pm-4pm at Rofuto, providing a more relaxed approach than the dining experience already offered in the evenings. The modern Japanese influence can be felt throughout this new menu. A glass of Prosecco is our arrival drink and we are seated at high long tables. There’s much on the Afternoon Tea menu to distract.

Rofuto, at the top of Park Regis, provides a unique space in Birmingham, from its sleek eye-catching bar to the panoramic views across our lovely and surprisingly green city. However, I’m slightly afraid of heights so I’m not that willing to go near the windows. But I’m not here for the view. I’m here for food!

We begin with Coronation Chicken Bao Buns, a steam bread-like bun. It’s lighter than I was expecting and certainly a change from regular sandwiches.  Next is Smoked Pepper and Avocado Nigiri, with rice and then there is Salmon Uramaki (I don’t eat fish or seafood so I’m not able to pass comment on this).

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Tea

There’s a selection of teas to choose from including Lapsang Souchong, Sencha Green Tea, Rooibos and Earl Grey.

Next, we move onto sweet starting with a lovely mini Salted Chocolate Caramel Gateaux, a Rose Lychee Macaroon which I ate with one bite. I’m not 100% convinced I’m delicate enough for this menu! Saying that, next I tried a White Chocolate Peanut Butter Lolly which was great. There was a great Yuzu Cheesecake with Blackberry and a Mango and Coconut Sesame Roll.

We are then treated to Scones, and the debate about jam first or cream first begins, so I have on with jam first (the Cornish method and then cream on top.) and the second one I have is cream first (the Devonshire method). There’s also some Lemongrass Curd to choose from, which tasted great.

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Menu

I really enjoyed the food and think that Afternoon Tea at Rofuto is a great alternative to those looking for something different with a touch of class. One of our fellow bloggers who was with us has specific diet requirements, and it was great to see they created a specific set of items to include this.  It shows they are flexible, with some notice, to create a tailored menu.

Visit Rofuto for Afternoon tea on Saturday afternoons from 12pm-4pm, the session lasts 2 hours including free flowing Prosecco. £25pp.

Find out more here: http://rofuto.co.uk/afternoon-tea/


 

About #BrumHour  / Dave Massey

Dave Massey created #BrumHour in 2013 with an aim of getting businesses and individuals to network with Birmingham. Join #BrumHour Sundays at 8pm on Twitter.

 

When: 27 October 2017

Where: Rofuto160 Broad Street, Birmingham, B15 1DT

Who: Rofuto, #BrumHour, East Village Agency

Disclaimer: For this visit, Dave was a guest of Rofuto and East Village who provided all food and drink. As with all posts on this site, this blog was Dave’s personal, unaltered, opinion. Brummie Gourmand strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.

 

GUEST POST – PHILIP ELLIS GOES TO SAN CARLO WITH GRANA PADANO

A few weeks ago, it was Wifey and I’s 3rd wedding anniversary so we popped over to Jersey for a few days to visit my brother-in-law and his family, and ate too much food (more on that soon!).

So when I had an invite to the renowned San Carlo, in my stead I sent the superlative Philip Ellis, freelance journalist extraordinaire to enjoy a bit of cheese and wine with Grana Padano

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To celebrate its 25th anniversary, San Carlo teamed up with Italian cheese producers Grana Padano to create a very special menu. I went along to the restaurant’s Temple Street location in Birmingham for my first ever taste of Grana Padano, along with three luxurious courses inspired by this decadent cheese.

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The event kicked off with a tasting of three separate vintages of Grana Padano. The 11 month is softer and less grainy than older vintages, with a creamy texture and mild, buttery flavour that makes it ideal for family dining. The 16 month is crumblier, and its stronger flavour makes it a popular choice for cooking. The Riserva, aged for a minimum of 20 months, is much more potent, with a deeper, nuttier flavour; the perfect addition to a cheeseboard.

We then moved onto lunch itself, where we sampled each dish from the menu invented with the aim of showcasing the strength and versatility of Grana Padano as an ingredient.

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The first course was Gnocco Croccante; large, crispy coated gnocchi, served in a thick, creamy Grana Padano sauce with shavings of fresh black truffle. The gnocchi was served with a fresh, light Pinot Grigio which cleared the palate rather than overpowering the flavours of the cheese.

Next came a rich, delicious and incredibly hearty winter risotto with mushrooms, served quite spectacularly in a gigantic wheel of Grana Padano; a genuine showstopper. This was paired with a pale rosé, which prevented the rice-based course from becoming too heavy.

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Third and finally, the cheesiest dish of them all – gnocchi in a gorgeous gorgonzola sauce, served in an edible Grana Padano basket with a glass of full-bodied red wine.

You might think that a three course meal where cheese is the star ingredient in each dish might be overwhelming, but the chefs at San Carlo have come up with three delicious creations which highlight the subtler flavours as well as the stronger ones. Even after the final course was served, guests still found themselves picking at the extra pieces of Grana Padano on offer!

 


 

About Philip Ellis

Philip is a WriterJournalist, and Broadcaster in the United Kingdom who mainly focuses on exploring inter-connectivity of social media, entertainment, politics, culture, technology and relationships. He has written for The Huffington Post, Teen Vogue and Style Birmingham. You can find more of his work at freelancephilip.co.uk

When: 26/10/2017

Where: San Carlo, Temple Street, B2 5BN

Who: San Carlo, Grana Padano, Philip Ellis

Disclaimer: For this visit, Phil was a guest of San Carlo and Grana Padano who provided all food and drink. As with all posts on this site, this blog was Phil’s personal, unaltered, opinion. Brummie Gourmand strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.

 

GUEST POST – BRUMDERLAND GOES TO THE MIDLANDS WHISKY FESTIVAL

Firstly, let me introduce myself. My name is Vicky but I am also known as the ‘Mad Hatter’ behind the blog Brumderland… Now that’s out the way, I will give you my thoughts on Nicholl’s & Perk’s second annual ‘Midlands Whisky Festival’, at thestudio Birmingham

The ‘Midlands Whisky Festival’ was originally just held in Stourbridge but made it’s way to Birmingham in 2016. I was lucky enough to be invited to the Stourbridge festival this year and had a particularly jolly time (so jolly, in fact, that I don’t remember the journey home – but that’s a whole other story) but hadn’t been to their Birmingham edition as yet. Now, I’m going to have a little gripe… The marketing and press calls the festival ‘the biggest of its type outside London’ (source: The Birmingham Mail), which is a bit of a bone of contention for me.

Whilst I certainly don’t say it’s a small festival, having attended events in Birmingham and indeed Scotland which are bigger in the number of stands and attendees, I find it a bit cheeky for them to put it into their press. Indeed, even in Birmingham, Whisky Birmingham (going into it’s 6 year next year) definitely has more stands (40+), more whiskies and potentially more attendees… But that might not bother you as it bothers me, so I will brush over that and carry on.

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The first introduction to the festival for attendees was a bagpipe player ‘welcoming’ people in on Cannon Street. Now, I know a lot of people might dig it but Cannon Street seemed to work as a bit of a speaker, amplifying the sound of the bagpipes.  This meant my slowly forming headache wasn’t getting any better in the 20 minutes we waited for the doors to open. The people next to me in the queue were equally unimpressed, although this was a quirk, it wasn’t welcome by all attendees at 11:45am in the centre of the city. Now… Honestly, moan over and onto the good stuff… The festival itself.

The doors were opened promptly at midday and checking in was pretty smooth. We were handed a guidebook as we were waiting, so could peruse the dram selection and plot a route before we got into the venue. It’s not a huge venue (The Studio venue actually has rooms over several floors but the festival just occupies two of these) and is accessible through lifts, etc, so it’s quite easy to navigate.  It offers plenty of toilet facilities and water points, making it a great spot for a festival of this nature.

Being experienced whisky festival attendees, we headed straight to the topmost floor of the event (knowing that most newbies will head for the most easily accessible floor first) to say hello to some friends in the whisky industry and try our first drams of the day. After attending a delicious whisky matched dinner at The Plough just a week earlier, our first stop had to be Douglas Laing. We had spoken to David (their UK Ambassador) about their limited edition releases of Rock Oyster and Scallywag, so had to give these a try. Loving both peated and coastal whiskies – the Cask Strength edition of their Rock Oyster was an immediate winner with both me and Mr Brumderland. Their Scallywag is more of a sherry bomb (which isn’t necessarily my favourite variety of whisky) but was very pleasant. After trying those drams, we were set up for the day and ready to discover the rest of the treats instore!

The top floor was full of delights… From the delicious fruity and smoky Bunnahabhain, to the outright peated deliciousness of Elements Of Islay (with their AR8 being a highlight of the day) and the mellow tones of Irish whiskies from Jameson and Redbreast… We enjoyed old favourites and brand new releases whilst enjoying a lovely chat to the friendly reps, who are full of useful and insightful information.

On the first floor of the event there was more fun to be had… As well as the base for the retailer (Nickolls & Perks), who were selling many of the whiskies on taste at the event, there was more stands to be sampled. This was also where the outdoor balcony was located for the cigar masterclass/smokers and the food offering (which was a choice of baps, chips and a couple of other carbalicious bits and bobs). We didn’t try the food on this occasion (having had a massive breakfast to set us up for the day) but it looked like good stodge for ‘ booze soaking up’ purposes.

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The stands on the first floor ranged from the deviously easy drinking Benromach, to American classic Wild Turkey and peated legends Ardbeg. Ardbeg were actually releasing their newest member of the family, the An Oa, on the day of the event – so it felt like a really special treat talking to their rep (the lovely Max) and getting to be one of the first consumers to sample this delightful dram. We’ve termed it the ‘fun aunt’ of the Ardbeg collection, due to it being far less ‘full on’ than something like the Corryvreckan and more chocolatey, smooth and gentle.

I didn’t get to attend any of the masterclasses on the day but the line up looked pretty comprehensive with some great brands in the mix. Whether you’re a whisky newbie or a bit of an expert, festivals are a great way to try a range of brands and styles without breaking the bank. I snagged Brummie Gourmand’s press invitation to this event but tickets are priced very reasonably at £40 (which include all whiskies on taste and a ‘Dream Dram’ token – which is the chance to try something rarer or a little more expensive). If you want to learn more about the wonderful world of whisky or just try something new, I would definitely recommend attending an event like this.

Midlands Whisky Festival boasts a great variety of brands, a venue offering everything an event like this would need and a laid back atmosphere. The next event will be in Stourbridge in 2018. Maybe I’ll see you there?

 

 


 

About Brumderland / Vicky Osgood

George has been writing Brumderland since 2015, and is a well respected events, PR and marketing manager with a passion for everything Birmingham .You can find her work at brumderland.co.uk.

 

When: 16/09/2017

Where: Midlands Whisky Festival, thestudio

Who: Brumderland, Midlands Whisky Festival

Disclaimer: For this visit, Vicky was a guest of the team at East Village PR, and Vicky was gracious to attend on my behalf. As with all posts on this site, this blog was Vicky’s personal, unaltered, opinion. Brummie Gourmand strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.

 

 

 

Review: Food Attack at The Meat Shack

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.

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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).

After drinks it was time to choose from the menu

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 Emberg marinaded deep fried halloumi, mushroom duxelle, dutch cheese, ketchup, chipayo, crunchy onion flakes, iceberg lettuce, red onion (#BrumHour)
  • Dutch Piggy beef patty, dutch cheese, american cheese, streaky bacon, iceberg lettuce, red onion, pickle, ketchup, chipayo  with an extra Sloppy Kiss shack 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…

 

When: 18/08/2017

Where: The Meat Shack, Upstairs @Thorp17, 17 Thorp Street, Southside, Birmingham, B5 4AT

Who: The Meat Shack

 

Colmore Food Festival 2017

It seems to be coming around quicker every year.

The Colmore Food Festival is one of the highlights of Wifey and I’s year. Bringing the cream of the Colmore BID‘s bars, restaurants and cafes in a showcase over a Friday and Saturday.

You can read previous years’ posts herehere and here.

My photography skills seem to have forgotten about anything but food and drink this year but it was a similar set up to last year, with the stage next to the Town Hall and a central seating area with the stalls looping around it.

Wifey and I went both days (of course!) and we tried a fairly decent selection, photos below:

Day 1

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My first dish of the day (prior to Wifey’s arrival) was the Slow Cooked Ox Cheeks from Purnell’s Restaurant accompanied with watercress puree, pickled shallots and wasabi crumble.

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Chicken Katsu Curry, breaded chicken, mild katsu curry sauce and sticky rice from the lovely chaps at Chung Ying Central.

We tried both dishes from Nosh & Quaff , usually found on their starters list, The Rib Tips (a very popular dish for the festival), deep fried lumps of pork belly tossed in their house BBQ sauce, and their Buffalo Wings, Free-Range Cotswold Chicken Wings with a smoked butter and Habanero sauce.

After that much food, it was time for a beverage so we popped over to the cocktail maestro from Purnell’s Bistro, Gary Anderson (on what we learnt was our last time getting a cocktail from him, prior to his move to The Meat Shack as their new GM). We had a Strawberry Feels, Bombay Sapphire Gin, Elderflower, Lemon, Apple & Mint, and Pineapple & Sage Daiquiri, Bacardi Rum, Lime, Pineapple, Sage & Pink Peppercorn.

And that was the end of Day 1

Day 2

After a fun day in the radio studio (for Geeky Brummie, it’s worth a listen, I promise!), it was time for more food and booze!

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First stop of the day was Opus  / Bar Opus Wifey had the Pork Belly with spiced cherries and I had a Parma Violet with gin, creme de violette, lemonade and parma crystals.

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Next it was time for our now traditional Colmore Food Festival must-have from Jojolapa, the Momo’s (chicken dumplings).

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My next stop was Gaucho and their Beef Empanada and (not pictured) Vacio (bavette) steak which came accompanied with Humita Saltena (creamed sweetcorn).

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Then it was a return to Purnell’s Bistro, and another Strawberry Feels, Bombay Sapphire Gin, Elderflower, Lemon, Apple & Mint, the third variety of cocktail we had was their Summer Lovin with Grey Goose Vodka Peach, cranberry, Orange and Lime.

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Wifey also popped to Purnell’s Restaurant, with the Ox Cheek swapped out for Beef Blade accompanied by watercress puree, pickled shallots and wasabi crumble.

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There was also time for a bit of Dim Sum, from Chung Ying Central.

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The final dish of the day was Black Forest Cake from The Bureau, and some Tom Collins from The Jekyll & Hyde (not pictured) we were pretty much done for the year. and with that, it’s on until waiting for 2018’s Food Festival!

When: 30/06/2017 – 01/07/2017

Where: Victoria Square, Birmingham City Centre

Who: Colmore Business DistrictPurnell’s Bistro / Ginger’s BarChung Ying CentralNosh & Quaff, OpusBar OpusJojolapaGauchoThe Bureau and The Jekyll & Hyde

 

Victoria Square hosts a play with a food theme – The Hand That Feeds

As regular readers are aware, I love food and theatre, so I thought it’d be nice to tell you about something coming up for free!

‘The Hand That Feeds’ is a theatrical song cycle about food crime. Food crime, which involves fraud at any stage in the production or supply of food or drink, is a widespread and growing problem that affects us all. The project was conceived of by Kate Cooper, founder of The New Optimists: a forum for regional scientists.

The Hand That Feeds’ is composed by Sara Colman,written by Mez Packer and directed by Graeme Rose.

It follows the story of Robbie, “a hardworking family man” raised in Birmingham who comes to realise the impact of his role in the food supply chain and the difference he can make.

The project aims to raise public awareness of the issues and the widespread implications of food crime — both locally and nationally — and to create a platform for discussion. The New Optimists’ conviction is that a fun arts-based events can have a big impact in enabling a wider audience to engage in social matters, such as food crime, where the role of science, here the forensics of food fraud, play a big part in making our world a better place.

The content was built with people from across the food supply network in Birmingham, the largest economic sector in the city. As well as the core professional actor- musicians, The New Optimists are working with Castle Vale Community Choir, who will be the ensemble for the piece.

Professor Chris Elliott, who led the Government review into the integrity and assurance of our food supply network after the horsemeat scandal, and who coined the term ‘food crime’, is the Scientific Advisor on the project.

The free, outdoor performances of ‘The Hand That Feeds’ are taking place on / at:

Saturday 10th June: 12pm near St Cuthberts Church, Caste Vale, B35 7PL

&

Tuesday 13th June at 1pm in Victoria Square, B1 1BB

Audiences are encouraged to follow the conversation both in the run up to and during the live shows with #StopFoodCrime.

Founder Kate Cooper said: “The New Optimists is a forum of top-notch regional scientists from diverse scientific disciplines, keen to make our world a better place. Their work matters and The New Optimists is about getting their work — and their informed perspective — in on decision-making. This musical is one of many ways to do so.”

Follow them online at:

http://newoptimists.com

Facebook:  newoptimists

Twitter: @newoptimists

 

Feliz Segundo Aniversario! Brummie Gourmand is 2!

It’s hard to believe it’s been TWO YEARS since my first post. I gave an update on what the first year had held so I thought I’d give you an update on Year 2!

This year has been an interesting one so far, having been shortlisted for the Midlands Food Drink and Hospitality Awards Blogger of the Year, the first anniversary of Geeky Brummie on Brum Radio, the launch of the Geeky Brummie Podcast, and lots and lots of blogging.

Some personal highlights have been:

and

  • Enjoying Beef & Malbec at Gaucho

Choosing just a dozen of the things I’ve been up to was difficult so head on through the archives to read more!

To finish, a quick thank you, again, to long suffering Wifey and thank you to all those who’ve taken time to read my little corner of the internet. Here’s looking forward to year 3!

The Spring Menu has sprung at Cheval Blanc

If you’ve not read my previous post about Cheval Blanc, you may not know they’re a little bit obsessed with wine and pairing it with great food.

So when I was invited to see what Cyd was cooking in the kitchen as part of their new spring menu, I pretty much ran to Moseley there and then!

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From the creative minds behind The Humble Pub Co, the establishment is ran by GM / Sommelier Abigail Connolly and Chef Cyd Tachdjian. The decor is light, eclectic and, like most things Moseley, a touch on the bohemian.  Not forgetting the most fabulous wine cellar in the area:

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Anyway, onto the menu. Cyd has highlighted some fantastic sounding dishes such as Cured Cold Smoked Mutton Leg, Chicken Liver & Port Pâté, and Poached Duck Egg Meurette & Sourdough Toast.

After a meet & greet and a touch of wine in the front, we were taken into the back room for a more private dining experience.  Cyd was cooking just behind us whilst we settled down into our seats.

Cyd took us through a whistle stop tour of the menu and mixed up a few of the dishes, whilst Abigail paired them with aplomb.

First up was a Earl Grey Tea Cured Salmon, Celeriac & Granny Smith with a grain mustard dressing, paired with a Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc, a Domaine Masson-Blondelet 2014 Les Angelots (Pouilly-Fumé).  

The Earl Grey salmon was delicately smoked with a delightful bergamot edge to it, paired with a sharp tang of the apple and celeriac, lifted by the sweet-hot mustard dressing.

The Sauvingon Blanc was strong on a lime acidity but tempered by a rich green fruit nose.

Next to the table was my favourite dish of the evening, Confit Duck Wings with Honey, Orange and Ginger Glaze & Rocket Salad paired with an Australian Cabernet Franc, a Jamsheed Wines 2016 Ma Petite Francine, from the Yarra valley.

The wings were in, a word, amazing! I would’ve been very happy with a bucket of these, a bottle of wine and a corner to park myself in for the remainder of the evening. Duck is a favourite meat of mine but it seems to be used mainly in French (as with Cyd) or Chinese cuisine and not much else in between, as it’s a gloriously flavoursome meat. These were no different: deliciously sticky and scattered with sesame seeds, and like manna from heaven. I tried to be polite and use cutlery but alas, like the savage I am, fingers soon got messy! I’m not a massive rocket fan (I find it too bitter for my palate) but I can understand the need for it to cut through the honeyed dressing.

The wine was a perfect compliment to Cyd’s gastronomy, a Cabernet Franc, made in Beaujolais style. It’s bottled after four months in a clean style, no finings or filtration for this one. What this means to the wine is it retains a lot of the fruit and tannins; it bursts with juiciness with a lilt of herbs. This would be a wine which, if not careful, would disappear by the bottle quickly.

If Abigail and Cyd wanted to make an absolute fortune, a bucket of these wings, maybe a sharing dish of Boulangère Potato (or Pomme Frites if I could be so vulgar), and a bottle of Ma Petite Francine on a table for 4 in the sunshine would make a very, very, happy evening for all involved!

For our third course, a Red Mullet Fillet, Tomato Compote, Green Olives and Capers and Crab Arancini paired with a South African Chenin Blanc, the AA Badenhorst Secateurs.

Whilst serving, Cyd told us he thinks mullet is a hard done by fish.  It has a light delicately flavoured flesh but requiring pin boning, it’s one that doesn’t appear on menus too frequently, which is a real shame. This portion was delicious and happily bone free. The fish broke up almost on contact with the fork and had a lovely clean flavour on the tongue. The crab arancini was well stuffed with seasoned crab meat. I loved the compote and the olives but capers are my enemy:  sour, salty and a flavour I’ve grown to have a deep personal dislike of, so they were quickly marshalled to the side of the plate.

The Chenin Blanc was fresh with an almost fruit crumble nose and taste to it, a gently spiced fruit flavour which went well, balancing between the light mullet and rich crab.

Our final savoury dish of the evening was a Corn Fed Chicken Mousseline, Crispy Chicken Skin, Potato Gratin, Beans and a Morels Mushroom and Cognac Cream Sauce and paired with a Turkish Öküzgözü A 2011 Kavaklıdere Prestige.

It’s not often you see a creamy sauce on chicken nowadays, it’s usually accompanied by a “jus”. But this was delicious, the well cooked chicken mousseline was liberally doused with the creamy congac and morel mushroom sauce, morels with that unique enigmatic nutty flavour combining well with the rich cognac. The rosti was also a delight, crisp on top but soft in the middle, yum!

Three words you wouldn’t have heard half a decade ago but now gives happiness whenever it’s heard: Crispy Chicken Skin.  Not exactly sustenance, this crackling of the poultry world is a delight wherever I see it, and this was no exception. Even though it was more of a garnish for the dish, I put it aside till last as it’s that much of a favourite and I savoured every last microsecond (a little secret but don’t tell anyone, try gribenes!).

Öküzgözü, means “bull’s eye” in Turkish and its a grape variety grown throughout the Anatolian region.  I’d never heard of it before this meal but it’s a big, bold red to counterbalance the richness of the dish.  The main flavours I could get were cherries and raspberries.

Trio of Desserts

To finish, Cyd spoilt us with not one but three desserts. We had Chocolate & Pear Cake, Rhubarb Tart & Blueberry Cheesecake, and an Australian Muscat, Stanton and Killeen Rutherglen Muscat.

All three desserts were sweet and decadent but my personal highlight was the blueberry cheesecake. I’m a glutton for a cheesecake at the best of times but this was fantastic with big bold blueberries oozing down the side, a little mouthful of bliss.

The muscat was also delicious with a rich raisin and nut flavour, and a perfect round off to an almost perfect meal.

I’ll be looking forward to a future return to Cheval Blanc soon.  Hopefully it will feature a bucket of duck wings and some crispy chicken skin… …excuse me whilst I put on a couple more stone in mentally!

When: 10/05/2017

Where: Cheval Blanc, 145 Alcester Road, Moseley, Birmingham, B13 8JP

Who: Cheval Blanc

Disclaimer: For this visit, I was a guest of The Humble Pub Co, Cheval Blanc & Paul Fulford, 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.