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!

A Barbers for Everyman

A few weeks ago, I was invited down for a free haircut or beard trim at the newly relaunched Everyman Barbers.

Everyman has been in Birmingham for over a decade and to celebrate in style, they’ve had a £150,000 refurbishment of their Temple Street store and launched a new mobile app to boot too!

To celebrate the relaunch, they decided to serve free whisky from the always amazing experts of Birmingham Whisky Club with live musical accompaniment by local double bass player Tom Moore.

They’ve gone for a cool grey with muted wood for their refurbishment, which has really given the place a much more open and calming feel.

Getting past the till to the waiting area, it’s nice to see a range of magazines and even a gaming console to while away the time until your favourite barber is available.

Picking up a nice little glass of Gentleman Jack from The Whisky Miss herself, Amy of The Birmingham Whisky Club, I sat down ready for my beard trim. My beard hair is rather coarse and even daily oiling doesn’t keep it in check after it reaches a certain length.

Happily my barber gave it a good shaping and even gave a few tips and tricks on care and maintenance for the future; I left the store much happier than I came in.

They’re opening their Leicester store shortly on the 30th March, joining the other stores in Birmingham, Bristol, Nottingham and newly opened Derby.

Everyman Barbers offer student discounts, corporate discounts, rolling live sports, free wifi, gaming stations and complimentary drinks, as well as their app (on both iOS and Android) so you can get your loyalty stamps in check too!

When: 23/02/2017

Where: Everyman Barbers, 19 Temple Street Birmingham | B2 5BG

Who: Everyman Barbers, Birmingham Whisky Club

 

Disclaimer: For this visit, I was a guest of Everyman Barbers, 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 venues in and around Birmingham.

Megashake-it-off at Cafe Opus

Wifey and I are not strangers to Cafe Opus housed in the Ikon Gallery, located conveniently off Broad Street in Oozells Square, Brindleyplace. It’s a favourite for a spot of breakfast or a light bite when visiting the Ikon.

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But tonight’s visit was for something different. Cafe Opus have recently brought Megashakes to the menu. These oversized milkshakes are gaining popularity and are designed to kill the craving for serious sweet-tooths.

For tonight, I and fellow bloggers had been given chance to add to their current menu with our own creation, and it was a challenge I couldn’t say no to.

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An array of additions had been laid out for us including 3 base milkshakes, ice cream and a row of toppings.

Sitting down with my selection, I went to work with a caffeine theme in mind.

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My creation was the Cafe Gourmand:

  • Vanilla milkshake
  • A shot of Espresso
  • Chocolate ice cream
  • Caramac Buttons
  • A cookie
  • Chocolate sauce

The inspiration for this was the French rapid dessert and Espresso combination. Unfortunately, I didn’t win but there was some tough competition – I did get ‘Most Creative’, though.

 

The other ‘runner up’ was Sarah + Laura‘s ‘Finding Love in a Sweet Treat’ shake! It won the ‘Most Attractive’ category: vanilla milkshake, strawberry and vanilla ice cream, Haribo, popping candy, fizzy laces, and a cookie hidden somewhere…

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The eventual winner was George Elsmere (Caramellattekiss) on behalf of Brumhour, a very worthy winner:

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It was great fun having a go at creating our own and I’ll definitely be back soon to try the winning drink.

Disclaimer: For this event, I was a guest of Bar Opus and Clive Reeves PR who provided all food and drinks; 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.

When: 06/11/2016

Where: Cafe Opus, 1 Oozells Square, Brindleyplace Birmingham B1 2HS

Who:  Cafe Opus, Opus Group

Feeding Time at Foodies Festival

For a change, there was some blue sky present this summer. It was a glorious sunny Sunday and for the third year in a row, Wifey and I escaped the city (just about) and headed to Cannon Hill Park.

The main reason for our visit was not the usual excellence of the MAC, or for a run. Instead, it was to  have a taste of the Foodies Festival. Now in it’s 11th year starting in Brighton at the end of April, and then touring the country with food festivals in ten locations throughout the Summer.

The Birmingham event showed off some of Birmingham’s best talent with Nathan Eades Richard Turner, Brad Carter, Ben Ternent and James Wong.

Also TV talent was in attendance in the shape of Great British Bake Off Winner, Nadiya Hussein, and MasterChef’s Tony Rodd and Dhruv Baker.

Accompanying the demonstrations were some streetfood stalls, bars and produce to purchase and try.

The first stop off for Viv and I was a bit of Caribbean spice in the shape of the Levi Roots camper van, serving up wings and nibbles. Wifey managed to grab a wing smothered in Reggae Reggae sauce, with a bit of chopped spring onion and mayo.

The wing was nice and hot, and the Reggae Reggae sauce worked well as a marinade. We’ll definitely be trying it at home at some point.

Next stop was keeping in the Caribbean theme with a visit to the Appleton Rum Bus.

This Jamaican Rum is a firm favourite of Wifey’s extended Jamaican family and it’s nice to see it reaching the UK!  We were shown how to mash sugar cane, which reminded us of our holiday to the Dominican Republic a few years back. Wifey got to pretend to be bus driver, had a rum tasting of Appleton’s signature blend and then finished off with a couple of cocktails.

A Jamaican Mule for me made with ginger ale and lime whilst Wifey plumped for a Fruit Punch with Orange, Pineapple and Grenadine. Both were delicious and didn’t last very long!

Onwards to the Chef’s Theatre and we bumped into Birmingham’s best Chilli Sauce provider in the shape of Pip! Pip’s Hot Sauce is  a devilishly spicy chilli sauce brand,
crafted in small batches to ensure quality and made right here in Birmingham.

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We picked up a bottle on the way for Wifey’s dad, a bit of a connoisseur of fiery stuff, and arrived at the theatre in time for Nathan Eades’ chef’s demo.

Nathan Eades has taken over Head Chef duties at Simpsons for just under a year now, after a successful run at his own, Epi @ The Courtyard in Bromsgrove, and pop ups at The Kitchen Garden (Kings Heath) and The Pickled Piglet (City Centre).

For today’s demonstration, Nathan was cooking Seared Scallops with asparagus, shrimp and squid ink.

 

It was a fascinating demonstration with lots of good foodie tips on preparation, and getting your ingredients weighed and sorted prior to cooking saving a lot of time.

After witnessing that display, it was time to get munching. Our next stop was a Prosecco and Squid bar for Wifey.

A hefty portion of squid and chips with a squidge of mayo. The squid in batter was quite light, not suffering from excessive chewy-ness and the chips not too greasy.

My lunch also went with an aquatic theme but with an added quack.

I had a portion of crispy rotisserie duck, spring onion and hoisin sauce accompanied with duck fat chips.

The duck was a touch on the dry side but otherwise flavoursome, and the chips were amazing like crispy roasties and chips combined.

To cool off, it was time to return to an annual favourite of ours, Whipsmiths. These guys do Liquid Nitrogen Ice-cream in their Cryo-mixer, a purpose designed liquid nitrogen ice-cream machine, and allows operators to handcraft individual portions of ice-cream in just 30 seconds.The queue took 30 minutes but it was worth it.

Wifey had a green combo of Pistachio and Matcha whilst I went for Popcorn and Coconut. If you’ve never tried it, it’s a lot creamier than normal ice cream as the crystals have less time to form, therefore, are smaller and smoother. Wifey’s ice cream was almost savoury in flavour but disappeared rapidly, mine was crunchy with some real popcorn thrown into the mix.

And that was pretty much it.  We’ll be returning next year, however, the majority of stalls in the streetfood aisles were repeats of previous years, hopefully next time there’ll be some further variety as we’re running out of things to try!

When: 05/06/2016

Where: Foodies Festival, Cannon Hill Park, Edgbaston / Moseley,  Birmingham, B13 8RD

Who:  Foodies Festival,

 

 

 

A Round of Art – Portraits Untold at BMAG

BMAG (Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery) is one of my favourite gems of the city.  An extraordinary place for art with some stunning pieces, and plenty to do for all the family. Next Saturday (16th July) will be a little extra special as the Portraits Untold project visits the Round Gallery.

antiquities5Portraits Untold sees acclaimed award-winning disabled artist, Tanya Raabe-Webber, undertake four live portrait sittings with high profile sitters. The idea is that the sitting will fuse digital, traditional drawing and painting techniques in an interactive live environment, inviting audiences to take part in person and online.

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At BMAG, Tanya will be painting John Akomfrah, a hugely respected artist and filmmaker, whose works investigate memory, postcolonialism and the African diaspora in Europe and the USA.

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The sitting will take place in front of a live audience, who are encouraged to draw their own portraits of the sitter through traditional drawing and the use of digital drawing apps.

Drawing materials will be provided and audience members with mobile devices are encouraged to download free drawing apps before coming to the event.

 

The event, which will also be streamed live online, has been devised to reach new audiences through a variety of platforms to make art more accessible. Audiences, both live and watching online, will be able to send their digital and digitized drawings through to the artist on the day through social media.

Throughout the sitting, Tanya will fuse digital and traditional drawings, and versions of the audience’s drawings with her own to create a multi-layered portrait. The sitting will also involve a series of discussions about the lives of the two artists and their thoughts on diversity, which audiences will be able to take part in.

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Portraits Untold will take place in the Round Gallery at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery across three two-hour sittings.

For more information, visit www.portraitsuntold.co.uk, like Portraits Untold on Facebook at www.facebook.com/portraitsuntold and follow @PortraitsUntold on Twitter.

 

 

Tanya Raabe otherwise known as Tanya Raabe-Webber, was born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, has been a practising Visual Artist, devising artworks exploring and challenging identity, a disabled self and the nude in contemporary Art since 1987. She gained a BA(HONS) in Graphic Design at Leeds Polytechnic, an MA in Communication Design at Manchester Metropolitan University and a PGCE in Higher Education from Huddersfield University. Tanya has exhibited as a solo artist and in group shows nationally including screening Who’s Who at National Portrait Gallery, Exhibitions at Holton Lee, Dorset, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, The Bluecoat, The A Foundation, Liverpool, Oriel Wrexham, Laing Gallery Newcastle since 1990.

John Akomfrah is a hugely respected artist and filmmaker, whose works are characterised by their investigations into memory, postcolonialism, temporality and aesthetics and often explore the experience of the African diaspora in Europe and the USA. Akomfrah was a founding member of the influential Black Audio Film Collective, which started in London in 1982 alongside the artists David Lawson and Lina Gopaul, who he still collaborates with today.

Cocktail Craziness – Pride at Island Bar

It’s now the final round of our tour of sins with Bitters ‘n’ Twisted, and hosted by the wonderful Vicky Osgood of Brumderland. Previous events can be read about here:

   Greed  Wrath  Inferno

Lust  Gluttony Envy

 

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Situated just off Suffolk Street in the heart of the city and less than a minutes walk from Beetham Tower, it’s a bit of a Brum stalwart.

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The Island Bar is coming up to it’s 10th anniversary after opening in 2006, though in my hazy memories of youth it feel like it’s been there since before I can remember! Downstairs has a funky retro bar but upstairs (where we were located for the evening) is a Tiki Bar, bringing a slice of Hawaii to Brum.

The Island Bar is centred around a particular beverage, as are all B&T venues, this one being the sailor’s favourite, rum!

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Starting off with a ‘Banana Colada’, a fun twist on the classic Pina Colada, this creamy little beverage got us into the cocktail mood whilst general manager Simon Gilligan talked us through what fun we were to enjoy this evening

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First up we made B52’s:

This is a classic cocktail of Kahlúa (coffee liqueur),  Cointreau (triple sec) and Bailey’s (Irish Cream). Built (rather than stirred or shaken) correctly, it separates into distinct layers giving a really pleasing effect and always a good one to make when showing off. The Island Bar has taken a unique twist on this, putting the Irish Cream last rather than the Triple Sec giving it a little bit of a mini pint of Guinness look.

I made a right mess but you can see Dave Massey of #BrumHour and Laura of Brum on a Budget making their fantastic efforts below:

Next up was a very special little drink. The Island Bar’s famous Flaming Moe!

A tribute to this classic Simpsons cocktail (you know the one with the Cheers theme parody). No Cough Syrup in this one but instead  heady mix of Wray & Nephew Rum, Orange Liqueur and Cotton Candy flavoured syrup, all set on fire in spectacular fashion!

Our final cocktail to make was Island Bar’s most well known cocktail and named after a legendary old Birmingham night club, The Rum Runner.

This one was made of Appleton Rum, blackcurrant liqueur, banana liqueur, grenadine, and orange juice. A rather fruity mix and slipped down lightly, I even got to test out my shaking skills:

Don’t forget The Bitters & Twisted cocktail trail is back and runs until the end of June. Across 8 Birmingham venues, including: Island Bar, The Victoria, The Jekyll & Hyde, Buffalo & Rye, Marmalade, The Rose Villa Tavern, Bodega Cantina and The New Inn. Each have their own special cocktail in aid of Acorns Children’s Hospice with 50p from the sale of each special cocktail going to the charity. At the end of the trail, every full cocktail trail card exchanged for a free cocktail will generate an extra 50p for Acorns.  By my accounts, that gives you a day a cocktail so get cracking!

You know, I could get used to this bartending lark…

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Disclaimer: For this evening, we were guests of Brumderland and The Island Bar who provided all drinks for Wifey and I; 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.

When: 26/05/2016

Where:  The Island Bar, Suffolk Street, Birmingham

Who: Brumderland,  The Island BarBitters & Twisted

 

Whisky, Wine and all things fine -Stilnovisti Whisky and English Wine Takeover

A few months back (!), I had chance to spend an evening with Birmingham Whisky Club and the wonderful Colin Hampden-White, whisky writer extraordinaire. We were to taste a wonderful selection of Stilnovisti whiskies and learn about Whisky Quarterly magazine at the Upper Room of The Wellington.

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Stilnovisti is the oldest alternative investments company in Central and Eastern Europe, and manages investments for private and corporate clients in Poland and abroad,
focusing on assets such as wine, whisky and art. Their whisky portfolio is not usually released to the public so tonight was a special treat to dip into this elusive collection.

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Colin gave a remarkable talk on his own career, starting off with becoming a photographer for The Scotsman in 2001, moving to the Times, FT and Conde Nast and then moving onto having his fine art photography in galleries by 2008.

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His other passion, whisky, led to the creation of Whisky Quarterly magazine. Perhaps the most exclusive Whisky magazine in the world, available only through subscription. Rather than just whisky reviews, it concentrates on stories of the people who run distilleries and who work within the field, covering the heritage of the whisky and the lifestyle that surrounds it. Previous issues are made available 2 quarters behind for free on their website!

Back to the beverages, we tried 4 whiskies from the Stilnovisti Private Reserve:

  1. Mortlach 4th fill sherry hogshead (315 bottles) 58% – this was a very young and very pale whisky, and given as an example given of how bottling a young whisky may not be the best idea. It was a touch on the harsh side and felt very ‘raw’
  2. Aultmore 2008 6yr old 1st fill sherry butt (534 bottles) 64% – our second taster was a much more rounded and balanced drink, which shows the alcohol content is not the only factor when it comes to taste.
  3. Ledaig 2005 8yr old 2nd fill (280 bottles) 58% – this was my personal favourite of the night. From Tobermory distillery, this was their peated expression. I’m a huge fan of peaty whisky and this was no exception, smoky and floral it was a superb dram.
  4. Rage Whisky [Peatside] – 4yr old Bourbon / Madeira casks (490 bottles) 63% – the final taster for the night, this was a very nice drop with a well rounded flavour.It was a different experience to the others but was my second favourite from the evening.

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Stilnovisti is now on its third bottling and is a large investor in especially new make whisky, with over 10,000 casks purchased in the previous few years. It was a fascinating chance to see some whiskies which you’d never see again in the wild, presented with wit and charm and genuine love by Colin.

More recently, Wifey and I tried another sort of alcohol. The English Wine Takeover from The Food and Drink Events Company (sister to the Birmingham Whisky Club) at The Bond Company in Digbeth.

English wine has had a bad rap in the past few years. Though English sparkling wine has started to gain popularity, there is now a wide range of reds whites, roses and dessert wines for all occasions.

After wandering through the main hall with a wide range of wines on display.and making a few purchases, we popped outside to have a snack from the amazing team at Peel & Stone:

We picked up Aunt Sally’s picnic box, with cheddar, honey and mustard roasted ham, pork and apricot sausage roll, pickles, sauerkraut, beer chutney and a hunk of sourdough (which we were greedy and grabbed some New York Deli and Raisin multigrain too).

Wifey loved the sausage roll, the apricot adding a sweetness to the meaty filling inside a light pastry. My favourite bit was the bread, we loved it so much we bought a sourdough and a New York  Deli to take home after being advised it freezes and keeps really well.

Back to the wine and we were lucky enough to snaffle the last two tickets to the Gusborne Sparkling Wine Masterclass hosted by Laura Rhys.

Based in a small village in Kent and starting with a 20 hectare plot (expanded to 40, and a second vineyard in West Sussex) and growing a variety of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, classic champagne grapes. These three are used across their range of wines. They first planted in 2004 and released their first wines in 2010 to critical acclaim.

We sampled 4 of their selection:

  1. Brut Cuvee – A classic blend of 40%+ Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and the remainder Pinot Meuiner. It was rich and velvety with a complex nose.
  2. Blanc de Blanc – Made from 100% Chardonnay and pressed in a champagne press to give the grapes a gentle squeezing. The wine is aged for a minimum of thirty six months on lees and three months on cork with two fermentations to get the best out of the grapes. This was much softer and fruitier than the first with a clean citrusy palate.
  3. Blanc de Noirs- This was a blend of 80%+ Pinot Noir with the remainder Pinot Meuiner – This one was a stunner, with a strong acidity, really making the Pinot Noir shine
  4. The final taster was their award winning English Rosé, which had beaten our the Bollinger Rosé at a blind taste. Made from 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay and Pinot Meuiner, it was an astounding little beverage and one of the best examples of a sparkling Rosé I’ve tasted

It was a very fun and informative talk from Laura and it made us appreciate how good English Sparkling Wine can be.

Feeling lifted by the wines, we had another wander around the producers there and even got to taste a non-sparking Gusborne White and Red.

It was a thrilling introduction to the world of English wine and mine and Wifey’s english wine knowledge was expanded immensley by our visit.

Birmingham Whisky Club runs regular Whisky events throughout the year and discounted for members, you can find their website here, and regular updates on twitter at TheWhiskyMiss and WhiskyMsJnr

The Food and Drink Events Company also run a variety of events throughout the year which you can find out more on their website and Twitter.

 

 

 

Truffle Hunting in The Chocolate Quarter

The Jewellery Quarter is having a bit of a renaissance recently, attracting new and creative independent stores.  One of the most recent editions is a new chocolaterie in the form of The Chocolate Quarter.

On #StarWarsDay (aka May the 4th for non-geeks), I had the hardest job in blogging to go and attend a chocolate making class and investigate this little (chocolate) gem courtesy of The Chocolate Quarter team, Kembes, Maninder and Jay, and Susie of Susie81Speaks.

The shop is artfully simple in its decoration to show their wares and gift packs. They’ve made use of the previous occupiers map of Birmingham to great effect showing off happy local customers.

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I could even find BG towers on the map!

To start off, we had a cup of Aztec drinking chocolate, made traditionally with just chocolate and a touch of water. It was rich, smooth and unctuous and there was a range of spices, including chilli, cinnamon, nutmeg and inger, to spice up your drink.  I picked the ginger, which worked really well.

Following our drink, we had a quick talk about the history of chocolate and how to taste chocolate correctly with samples of three different dark chocolate from Madagascar, Tanzania and Ecuador. All were high values of cocoa mass and all different in taste and texture. The Madagascan is grown in a humid and acidic soil but with a very strong citrusy taste.  The Ecuadorian variety  came from close to the Equator having a longer day, giving it a much smoother taste.  The Tanzanian climate was probably the most closest to what you’d expect a dark chocolate to taste like. We also learnt white chocolate was not a true chocolates (gasp!) due to its lack of any cocoa mass.

Jay took us through making our own chocolate truffles and how to fill our truffles with caramel, then tempering the chocolate from 45 to 33 degrees for sealing and coating our filled truffles. The tempering was the hard part, requiring constant stirring and the addition of beta crystals to give the chocolate that firmness and shine.  The bloom most people see in chocolate is where the beta prime crystal melts away, allowing the fat to come to the surface and discolour the chocolate.

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Then it was our turn. We had 4 little hollow spheres to fill and coat…

I tried my best but still managed to get messy! After filling, we dipped them in the molten tempered chocolate and then rolled them in our choice of coverings. I went for icing sugar, cocoa powder, coconut and one just chocolate.

 

We went through a few flavours created especially for Father’s Day gifts, which we tasted and reviewed.

The three flavours were Stout, made with Jewellery Quarter’s own Jewellery Porter from Two Towers Brewery; Smoked Bacon made with real salty bacon and a dash of Laphroaig to give it a smoky kick; the final was Whisky made with Hard to Find Whisky of choice Glen Garioch. My favourite was the Stout which was rich and creamy. Whisky was very whisky and the Smoked Bacon was a touch too smoky for me. There was enough variety for everyone and I’m sure there’ll be some very happy dads come Father’s Day!

To finish off proceedings, we had a very tasty chocolate fondue with a selection of things to dip in, my favourite being  honeycomb. After that, I waddled home very slowly and let the choco-coma seep in!

Chocolate Quarter also offer private events and parties, including those after a delicious stag or hen do twist, and can even create bespoke chocolates! You can also buy delicious Chocolate Quarter delights online here!

Disclaimer: For this event, I was a guest of the Chocolate Quarter who provided all food and drinks; 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.

When: 04/05/2016

Where:  The Chocolate Quarter, 1A Spencer Street,Birmingham, Jewellery Quarter, B18 6DD

Who: The Chocolate QuarterSusie81Speaks

 

Beverage Botany – The New Cocktail Menu launches at The Botanist

You know, it was actually the Botanist that got me into blogging. Wifey won two VIP passes to the opening back in April 2015…

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It was fantastic to see a new venue open and that caused a buzz on Birmingham’s foodie scene, and I decided to add my bassy lungs to the mix.

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Since then, we’ve been back multiple times and I’ve been back for a few work lunches too, with the hanging kebabs always a firm favourite. Tonight wasn’t about food however, as The Botanist had invited me to investigate their refresh of the extensive cocktail menu, which was back to the classics and adding some inventive twists.

The menu is beautifully designed on heavyweight paper, something for the stationery geek in me! The drinks themselves (more than 45!) are comprehensive and covers mojitos, manhattans, slings, martinis , caipirinhas and daiquiris to name a few. It’s divided into sections covering, long, short, martini’s, classics and flutes to help guide your eye to the relevant section. There’s even a few beer and cocktail pairings: a mini cocktail topped up with beer served with the can, complete with tasting note, and served on a flight board.

Of special mention is the gin list- with gins locally sourced from each of The Botanist’s venues across the country. Birmingham being represented by the always excellent Langley’s Gin naturally.

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Aaron Smallman, our host for the evening, was to take us across a magical tour of 10 cocktails from the menu starting off with two of their new special creations:

The Thai Chilli Crush was a powerful little number made with fresh red chilli, micro Thai basil, apple and lemon juice with Tanqueray gin and green apple liqueur and served with a chilli in it. It was a great way to start off the evening as the chilli and lemon juice really zinged you up.

The other drink was a Blackberry and Rosemary Fizz: blackberries, rosemary, sugar syrup, lemon and apple juice shaken with Tanqueray gin and sloe gin, topped with soda. Very tasty and it disappeared quickly!

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The Lemon Balm ‘Tini, a new showing, was also a firm favourite around the table. This martini containing micro lemon balm is a fantastic herb, giving a strong fragrant lemon citrus note on the nose and gave a taste not unlike lemon sherbets…

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Also a solid fave was the Blackberry Mint Julep, made with muddled fresh blackberries, mint and sugar syrup, a dash of aromatic bitters, bourbon and blackcurrant liqueur. It was short and sweet with the bourbon coming through at the end of the palate.

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Talking of blackberries, we had a sample of one of their new mocktails Berry Good Times fresh blueberries, blackberries, mint and a touch of raspberry syrup. Shaken with apple and cranberry juice, it was a nice refresher.

For those who like their cocktail a little more classic, there was a Botanist vodka martini -Belvedere Vodka stirred with lemon balm, kaffir lime leaf and Lillet Blanc, served dry with the lime and lemon giving it a wonderful citrusy kick.

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The Apricot and Mint Daiquiri was certainly the most popular drink around the table. Apricot purée, mint, lime juice, vanilla sugar syrup with golden rum and apricot liqueur, the golden rum was a nice twist on the usual white or dark rum and it’s a very successful re-interpretation of such a classic drink.

My favourite drink was also another twist on a classic.

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Knowing my predilection for all things whisky, you won’t be surprised my favourite was a Honey & Sage Manhattan. Made with Wild Turkey Honey, sage, Lillet Rouge vermouth and a dash of lemon bitters, it was a fantastic little specimen with sweet and savoury notes and a underlying warmth from the Wild Turkey and vermouth.

It was a great fun evening, a good way to experience the new variety of cocktails on offer.

 

For those who have visited The Botanist previously and haven’t found a cocktail to your liking, I recommend paying another visit and seeing what’s on the new menu! For a limited time, you can also try this saucy little number:

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Made to commemorate one of Europe’s largest dance festivals, DanceXchange has worked with The Botanist’s experienced mixologists to create the celebratory cocktail, which will be available throughout the festival launching on 5 May. The dance-inspired cocktail is an exciting mix of Bombay gin, Aperol, and Elderflower cordial, topped off with a tangy orange zest garnish.  The winning name will be revealed shortly so keep your eyes peeled on the Botanist twitter feed!

Disclaimer: For this event, I was a guest of The Botanist who provided most of my drinks; 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 venues in and around Birmingham.

When: 20/04/2016

Where: Botanist Birmingham, Temple Street, Birmingham B2 5BG

Who:  Botanist BirminghamNew World Trading Company

 

Get feeling foodie on a Friday! #FridayNightFoodie is back!

In the run up to Michelin starred maestro Glynn Purnell’s Friday Night Kitchen on October 7th at Villa Park’s Holte Suite, Twitter followers are being given the chance to win a pair of tickets!

The #FridayNightFoodie competition runs from Friday 1st April and every Friday afterwards and Twitter followers are encouraged to send in a picture of their Friday night dinner using the hashtag #FridayNightFoodie and tagging @GPFNK

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The ultimate winner gets two tickets to the event in October, in aid of CureLeukaemia and their winning dish will be in the cookbook.  Here’s how it works:

  • Starting 1st April, @GPFNK followers need to send in a picture and short description of their Friday night dinner using #FridayNightFoodie (FRIDAYS ONLY!)

  • Each week will have a theme, giving people the chance to challenge themselves to make something out of their comfort zone, rediscover an old favourite or find a new favourite recipe

  • The first theme is nice and easy to get started – your signature dish! Whatever it may be, it’s your chance to show them what you’re made of

  • Each week they will pick a winner. The top dish will become one of their finalists and will automatically make it into this year’s cookbook – to be handed out at the event (here’s a sneak peek at last year’s book!)*

  • Glynn himself will pick the overall winner from all the weekly finalists and that person will win two tickets to the event

  • There’s no limit to how many times you can enter – the more weeks you try, the more chance you have of making the list of finalists

*Just so you know, they may use Tweets, photos and anything else sent in throughout the competition as part of the cookbook – it can be a recipe from an existing book, just let them know when you send it in!

They’d love for you to join their quest this year to find their new #FridayNightFoodie, last year had over 100 entries which they’d love to beat!

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If cooking isn’t your thing, tickets are now on sale for the fun-filled, live show-cooking event that over the last two years has gained the reputation of being the best Friday night out in the Birmingham social calendar.

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The ‘Yummy Brummie’ will be joined by X-Factor winner Sam Bailey.

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The East Londoner, now living in the Midlands, will join Glynn on stage to assist with the cooking along with other celebrity friends of Glynn, before performing for over 400 guests at the prestigious Midlands venue.

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Award-winning presenter Suzanne Virdee will host the evening alongside Heart West Midlands presenter Ed James and BBC Coventry & Warwickshire presenter Phil Upton. The night will include on stage guests discussing and cooking their favorite dishes with Glynn before the audience enjoy the dishes themselves.

The one and only raffle prize on the night will give guests the chance to win a meal cooked at home by Glynn and his Purnell’s team for up to six people a money can’t buy experience. Glynn and his team will turn up, cook Sunday lunch and clean the kitchen up before they leave!

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To round off the evening, guests will be treated to live music from The Subterraneans, the resident band from The Jamhouse, and Heart FM DJ Russ Morris until 2am.

You can book now at gpfnk.co.uk/shop/. Tickets cost £135 per person and VIP tickets £155. Tables of ten can be secured for £1350 and VIP tables for £1550.