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…

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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.

Choc-A-Block at Colmore Food Festival

Has it really been a year since the last food festival? Time flies fast in the second city!

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 two days.

You can read last years posts here and here.

This year the stage had moved to the side of the Town Hall, giving wider avenues to progress down and choose your particular solid or liquid treat, a very sensible move. In the centre, there was a garden with seating hosted by The Opus Family (more on them later).

Wifey and I visited 3 times over the weekend, Friday lunch, Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, but still didn’t get around to trying half of it!

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First stop was the marvellous Gary of Gingers Bar (located in Purnell’s Bistro). With a whisk of his magic fingers, 2 non-alcoholic cocktails were presented to us of G2O, a blend of Orange, Passion-fruit and Lime. This was a perfect refresher and helped with the brisk walk we both had from the other end of Colmore Row in the summer sun.

After slaking our thirst, we popped into the Opus Garden for a spot of lunch via Opus at Cornwall Street. Wifey and I both had an Opus classic: this was a Lincolnshire Leek and Haddock Fishcake, topped with a Poached Egg and butter sauce.

I’m not normally a leek fan but this was great with the haddock. The poached egg was perfect with a rich golden yolk.

Then, it was back to the office for a few more hours until the freedom of the weekend.

For our return, it was straight to Purnell’s Restaurant, always a firm favourite at the Food Festival. We were glad we got in when we did as they sold out pretty sharpish afterwards.

We went for the Pork Belly, accompanied by Pickled Pineapple, Black Pepper and Pork Crumble. We were impressed by crispy, crumbly, spicy pork belly accompanied  with the sweet sharp tang of pickled pineapple. I’m now sad to be waiting another year before seeing what they cook up next year!

Next stop was to an old favourite, The Jekyll & Hyde, serving a wide selection of gin based beverages. We went for a portion of Dr Jekyll’s Fruit Punch, it definitely packed one and was very moreish.

A few stalls away was Asha’s for a Lamb Saffron Biryani, this Lamb Biryani is cooked with three year mature basmati rice, green cardamom, saffron and cloves, served  with poppadoms, raita and gravy. As expected from one of Birmingham’s most renowned restaurants, very moreish and didn’t last long between Wifey and I.

Next, a break from the food, Seekasaurus was in attendance at the food festival with lots of coloured Dino’s lurking about the stalls and one midway up a lamppost. Wifey and Laura from Full to the Brum went for an explore whilst I popped back to Gingers Bar for another quick beverage.

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This was a Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri Slushie, deliciously sweet and boozy.

That about wraps it up for Friday evening.

After compèring the hour of radio that is The Geeky Brummie Show on BrumRadio.com,it was time for visit number 3 for lunch and maybe some more alcohol!

First stop of the day was Jake’s Coffee Box, it’s  great to see an independent as good as Jake’s get to showcase themselves like this, and it’s at the heart of what the Festival is designed to be.

We chose one of Jake’s Picnic boxes, the first being the Savoury Box, with 2 Mini Gourmet Sausage Rolls (Pork, Shropshire Blue & Caramelised Onion, Pork Leek & Sage), accompanied by a homemade Scotch Egg, Rocket Salad, Cherry tomatoes and Black Pudding Crumb. The sausage rolls were delicious especially the caramelised onion one, which Wifey was particularly fond of. The Scotch Egg was also  great with a smooth creamy yolk and a hard albumen.

We also saw the Sweet Box, this contained a Triple Chocolate Brownie, Strawberries, Raspberries and Clotted Cream.

Next stop was booze! And a return to the Opus Garden. We were on the flip-side this time and visiting Bar Opus.

I chose a Marmalade Frozen Kalippo, which was Chase Marmalade Vodka, Lemon Juice, Orange Juice and a touch of Rosemary. Wifey chose The Great Chase, which was Chase Vodka, Chase Elder-flower Liqueur, Lemon Juice and Soda.

After that bit of booze, we made ourselves comfy in the deckchairs and watched a cooking demo by Jojolapa and hosted by Phil Oldershaw.

After that, Wifey couldn’t resist getting a portion of Momo’s, which nice and doughy and packed full of delicate chicken. They were accompanied by spicy rich tomato sauce.

Finishing off with another pair of cocktails from Gingers Bar (of course), it was time to bid a fond farewell to The Food Festival for another year!

When:08/07/2016 – 09/07/2016

Where: Victoria Square, Birmingham City Centre

Who: Colmore Business DistrictPurnell’s Bistro / Ginger’s BarOpus @ Cornwall StreetJojolapaPurnell’sThe Jekyll & Hyde,  Jake’s Coffee Box & Bar Opus at One Snowhill

 

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

 

Wanna Get Flexible? – #Envy at Marmalade

It’s now round six of the seven sins (+ 1) 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

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Marmalade is located just under The Rep on Broad Street and is wonderfully eclectic in its decor with quotes from well known plays on the wall.

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In keeping with the other Bitters’n’Twisted venues, Marmalade has chosen a flagship spirit, this one being Vermouth. Vermouth is a fortified wine spirit used in a surprising amount of cocktails including the Negroni, pictured above, named ‘Better the Devil You Know’. With Vermouth, Spritzer and Blueberry Syrup, it’s on the B’n’T cocktail trail where you can experience something different at each of their venues. The cocktail menu is quite comprehensive covering twists on modern classic, all with literary twists on the names…

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To pair with these cocktails, Marmalade are now offering what they’d like to call a Flexitarian menu, catering for carnivores, omnivores, pescatarians, lacto-ovo vegetarian, vegetarians and vegans. So a pretty comprehensive choice then! It’s served small and main plate style to encourage social dining. There will be themed drinks to match shows on at The Rep, so keep an eye out to see what comes up.

To help you choose your dish and cocktail combo, the staff will assist to pair your choices to suit all tastes.

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Our first pairing was the La Vie en Rose cocktail (Beefeater gin, Creme de Cassis, Picpoul Dry White Wine, Peach Bitters, served with an edible flower) accompanied by fried, sesame coated Halloumi in a bed of crispy rocket. It was very delicious and disappeared quickly, the crispy crunchy coating went well with the meaty cheese. The cocktail was a bit sweet for my palate but balanced well with the salty cheese.

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The second pairing was tequila marinated salmon with wasabi dressing with an, as yet unnamed, tequila cocktail! The salmon was delicious with the wasabi dressing and a kick of heat. The tequila cocktail was heavy on the grapefruit to give it the tequila a citrusy kick, and partnered well with the heat of the wasabi. Maybe instead of the too easy ‘Tequila Mockingbird’ they could call it ‘A-Citrus Pinch’.

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Next was marinated Beef Skewers paired with Captain Ahab’s Grog. Captain Ahab’s Grog is a heady combination of Ginger Preserve, Brugal Dry Spiced Rum, Apricot Liqueur, Lime, Plum Bitters and Pomegranate Juice, this toed for my favourite cocktail of the night with a delicious spicy kick from the ginger and Brugal. The steak was deliciously chewy and partnered with mediterranean vegetables, a great dish to get you into a summery mood.

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The final dish was a vegan option and (surprisingly for me) my favourite dish of the evening. It was a delicious chestnut mushroom and hazelnut pate on toast with red onion jam. It was quite close in texture to your usual liver pate and enhanced by the  sweet onion jam. The paired cocktail was a ‘Midsummer Day Dream’ with Aperol, Limoncello, Fresh Lemon, Raspberry, Homemade Rose & Orange Bitters, topped with soda and served with orange. This was my other tie cocktail, it’s very floral but worked perfectly with the earthiness of the pate.

The new menu, which features all of the dishes above, has already launched. So if you fancy a visit to a place where they can cater for all dietary types or if you’re seeing a play and want to grab a quick bite (and a cocktail) beforehand, I’d recommend it.

Disclaimer: For this event, I was a guest of Brumderland and Marmalade 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: 03/05/2016

Where:  Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Centenary Square, Broad Street, Birmingham

Who: BrumderlandBitters & TwistedMarmalade

 

 

Gluttony – Vodka at The Rose Villa Tavern


It’s hard to believe I’ve done four of the seven sins (+ 1) with Bitters ‘n’ Twisted, and hosted by the wonderful Vicky Osgood of Brumderland. Previous events can be read about here:

Greed     Wrath     Inferno     Lust

Tonight was going to be a boozy evening as we were treated to a vodka pairing tasting experience to celebrate their large range of exciting vodkas.

 

We began with a Winnie the Pear cocktail, with Grey Goose Le Poire, organic pear juice runny honey, spicy fresh ginger and lemon juice! The combination was nice and tart with a rich pear taste (as expected!).  After catching up with the other bloggers attending, we settled down for a talk by Ian the manager.

We were to be taken on a European tour with a varied selection of vodkas on offer, along with some bar snacks ready for pairing and a peruse of the cocktail menu:

Whilst we had a nibble, Dave from Brumhour discovered the sausage went very well with the honey at the bottom of our Winnie the Pear cocktails!

Readying our palates with a few pickles, a traditional Polish palate cleanser, then it was time for our first neat vodka of the evening:

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Five Vodka is a new(ish)comer to the market via Penderyn Distillery making it Welsh. It was developed whilst they were waiting for their first whiskeys to mature and is made from Brecon water from an aquifer below the distillery, which gives it a distinctive flavour. Slightly overproof at 43%, it had a little bit of a burn to begin with but developed into a delicious fruity note.

Next along was an English vodka from the guys at Chase Distillery, (also the minds behind Tyrrell’s Crisps) and made in the tallest still in Europe. We were treated to a chilled and a room temperature sample to see the difference in flavour. A significant amount of the edge was taken off with the chilled sample, however, the roundness of the flavour was dulled. It was actually very sweet in flavour and much more noticeable in the room temperature sample.

For pairing, we munched down on the cousins of the vodka with some Tyrrells crisps. Then another palate cleanser with some beetroot.

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To take a break from the alcohol, we had a break with a St Clements Mocktail, possibly one of the first ever mocktails.  Created in 1981 by Lt. Keith Freeman, this was a delicious twist with a sugary slice of orange.

Reyka Vodka, as you can probably guess for the name, is an Icelandic vodka which likes to bill itself as the greenest (ecologically) vodka in the world and is made with glacial spring water. All ingredients at present come from within a square mile of the distillery. The taste was very clean and smooth with a mild spice to the finish.

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Time for a cocktail break! This time,  for a Polish twist on a South American Classic with a Capiroska! It was super tasty with Luksusowa Vodka combined with lime and brown sugar.

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The next vodka on the list was Belvedere billed as “The Whiskey Drinker’s Vodka” served room temperature in a chilled glass. It is an apt description for the drink which had a sweet and spicy peppery taste.

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Our final drink of the night was the  ubiquitous Vodka and Coke but this time made with quality ingredients. This was a combination of Skyy Vodka and Fritz Kola. This ‘super premium’ American Vodka is distilled four times then filtered 3 times, giving a clean and crisp taste. Fritz Kola is a vegan German cola with a not insubstantial 25mg of caffeine per 100ml. It was a great way to finish off our boozy evening.

To help soak up the excess of alcohol, RVT even laid on a few treats for us to sample from their American Diner style menu:

 

We were treated to nachos, sliders and my personal favourite chicken wings!.

If you want to try vodkas in Brum, RVT are well on their way to building up to 100 different brands and would be a great place to start!

Disclaimer: For this evening, we were guests of Brumderland and Rose Villa Tavern 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: 02/03/2016

Where: Rose Villa Tavern, Warstone Lane, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham

Who: BrumderlandRose Villa Tavern, Bitters & Twisted

Inferno – Preview Day at Buffalo & Rye with Brumderland

You may remember I was invited to attend a special bloggers event at Bodega Birmingham, part of the Bitters ‘n’ Twisted group hosted by Brumderland. They now have a new sibling right next door called Buffalo & Rye which offers a taste of Americana in the City Centre – perfect if you want to get away from the overload of German tat one street away during this festive period.

 

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Continue reading “Inferno – Preview Day at Buffalo & Rye with Brumderland”

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

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”

Greed: Pure Gin’ious at The Jekyll & Hyde

I was invited to attend a special bloggers event by the wonderful Vicky Osgood of Brumderland, and the team at Jekyll & Hyde. Go, go now and have a look at Vicky’s website  (it’s amazing), I’ll wait right here for you to get back!

The Jekyll & Hyde (part of the Bitters ‘n’ Twisted group), has introduced a gin inspired menu to match their Victorian Gin Parlour and fellow bloggers and I (no wifey this evening) were invited along for a taste, with a few gins to help it down…

Continue reading “Greed: Pure Gin’ious at The Jekyll & Hyde”