I’ve been to a few Peach Pubs in my time (here, here, and here), so it’s nice to hear about their charitable foundation and their work:
Pub goers popping into The High Field in Edgbaston are being asked to put their change from buying a round – or any cash they can spare – towards Herds for Change, a project aimed at delivering vital and sustainable change in the Mara, Kenya.
This week and until the 3rd September the pub has declared it Peach Foundation Cow Week, when The High Field and its sister pubs owned by Peach Pub Company are aiming to raise £250, or more, each to buy a cow for the Maasai community in Kenya as part of Herds for Change, the latest fundraising campaign carried out by its charitable arm, The Peach Foundation.
The goal is to raise £130,000 to buy a breeding herd of eight pedigree bulls and 400 cows for the Enonkishu community in the Mara. The profits will be ploughed back into the community and used to support the livelihoods of local families.
Each cow costs £250 and regulars and new faces alike coming to The High Field are being asked to donate their change or whatever they can to help raise the money – there’s a special cow money box on the bar for collecting donations.
“This is an opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of people living in the Maasai community in the Mara, Kenya, a part of the world where the ecosystem has become increasingly fragile,” says Sarah Robinson, general manager of The High Field. “Global warming, lifestyle changes and the mismanagement of land all pose a serious threat to the wildlife and the communities who live in the Maasai.
“Over the years here at Peach we have played a part in supporting the Maasai tribe, the wildlife and the community’s traditional way of life, helping to create a hippo sanctuary and plant a forest. Now, we are moving onto the next important chapter in the bid to safeguard the long-term future of the Mara and its people. We are creating the Peach Herd and raising money to buy cows for the Maasai community, and we want Edgbaston to be able to provide at least one, if not two cows!
“So we’re asking everyone who pays us a visit over the next couple of weeks to let us hang onto their change for the cause or put whatever they can into the cow money box on the bar so we can make Herds for Change a big success and make our mark in the Mara,” she says.
After collecting money to buy the herd, a team from Peach and some of its suppliers will be travelling out to Kenya to buy the cattle and deliver them to the Enonkishu community on 9th September.
I like gin and I’m very glad it’s currently having a revival. It’s a curious spirit, being made from another (vodka, if you didn’t know) and steeped with a variety of botanicals.
So you can imagine how happy I was when this appeared through the post from the people at Chase Distillery. There was also an invite to sample their wares at their #GBTour, part of the 10th anniversary of Chase Distillery, which highlights the crisp and dry Williams GB Gin. The Birmingham stop involved a supper at The High Field, an offer I couldn’t refuse!
Arriving at The High Field in glorious sunshine, I saw their transportation for the evening (a lovely Land Rover Defender 90, if I’m correct; why did they ever stop making them?). After a few snaps, it was inside to have a quick globe of G&T on The High Field’s terrace, before settling upstairs (happily seated next to the estimable Paul Fulford).
The evening promised to be a celebration of gin with a ‘Ginfused’ three course meal tied with three cocktails, each a different take on how to use gin.
Our first course was Gin Cured Salmon with Cucumber Salad and Lime Mayonnaise accompanied by a Gin Twist (GB Gin, Cucumber, Lime, Elderflower Liqueur, Tonic), served chilled than the traditional hot cocktail.
The salmon was light with juniper notes, and the zesty lime mayo perked up the dish remarkably. The Gin Twist reminded me of cucumber water cut with lime cordial. It was very refreshing and took the edge off the heat.
Our second course was Braised Lamb Shank, Rosemary Gnocchi, Broad beans, Peas and Juniper Jus, accompanied by a GB Fruit Twist (GB Gin, Red Vermouth, Chase Blackcurrant Liqueur).
The lamb, braised for 24 hours, was tender as you’d expect and fell off the bone. The greens delicious, with a crisp al dente bite. The rosemary gnocchi was a tad disappointing. I know they can come baked, boiled or fried (fried in this case), but as flavoursome as they were, I found them a tad cloying to the roof of my mouth. I hankered for a roast potato or two, especially to go with the wonderful lamb and tart juniper jus.
The GB Fruit Twist was a nice cooler with the vermouth giving a red wine vibrancy, undercut with fruits, and a dry finish coming from the gin.
Our final course was a Gin & Raspberry Summer Pudding with Clotted Cream, accompanied by Rasberrilicious GB (GB Gin, Lemon Juice, Raspberry Juice).
The summer pudding really cheered me up, as Bill Bryson says
“It’s a funny thing about English diners, They’ll let you dazzle them with piddly duxelles of this and fancy little noisettes of that but don’t f#ck with their puddings, which is my thinking exactly.”
Mine too Bill, mine too! This was a lively example of a proper British dessert, thick carb-olicious bread, stuffed with fruit (and a not inconsiderate amount of gin) and unctuous, glossy, rich clotted cream, evoking memories of happy Sunday lunches at my Nan’s. The plate was polished back to the ceramic!
The cocktail, on the other hand, was a touch too tart for my tastes with lemon and raspberry juices giving an acidic edge. As an dessert, this could have done with a touch of sweetness
And the evening came to a close, all gin heavy but hangover free the next day (wonderful!). Goody bag in hand with a miniature G&T to make at home and a summer pudding recipe (inserted below), I stepped out into a sweet summer twilight as my carriage in the form of my long suffering Wifey awaited.
Disclaimer: For this visit, I was a guest of the wonderful team at The High Field & Chase Distillery (who also sent me a natty bottle and book), 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.
I’m no stranger to The High Field, so on hearing they’re having a very spacial musical guest next month, I thought I’d let you know, especially as there’s only 250 tickets so likely to sell out soon!
On Saturday 15th July 2017, The High Field will be hosting a very special evening in aid of charity when Belinda Carlisle, one of the biggest selling female global artists of all time, makes a one-off appearance at the Edgbaston venue.
This exclusive event, which is limited to just 250 guests, will feature a short acoustic set of songs from Belinda as well as drinks and dinner in a glorious garden setting. It will raise money for Belinda’s own co-founded charity ’Animal People Alliance‘ and the UK Charity Branch of ’Her Future‘.
Tickets for this special event are now on sale and include fizz and canapés on arrival, followed by a three course vegetarian or vegan dinner with a menu created for the night by The High Field’s head chef Ian Meek.
After enjoying good food and drink in the stylish surroundings of The High Field, which was named the Best Gastro Pub in Birmingham at the inaugural Birmingham Food Drink & Hospitality Awards, guests will enjoy a short acoustic performance of Belinda’s songs. There will also be a silent auction with some brilliant prizes to be won, special guests and even the opportunity to win breakfast with Belinda herself at a secret location the next morning.
All the proceeds from ticket sales will be given to the two charities close to Belinda’s heart to support the vital work they undertake. Animal People Alliance’s mission is to offer high quality care to street animals in need, alongside robust employment opportunities to survivors of human rights abuses and other vulnerable populations in South Asia. Her Future UK provides shelter, education and high-wage employment to survivors of human trafficking and extreme abuse so that they may remain forever free; since 2005, the charity has helped thousands of women and children to build a bright and independent future.
Launching the evening, Sarah Robinson, General Manager of The High Field, says, “This is a fantastic opportunity to support these two amazing charities whilst enjoying good food and drink in a unique venue. “We are thrilled to be joined by Belinda Carlisle and to have this unmissable opportunity to listen to her music in such an intimate setting,” says Sarah. “As lead singer of the Go-Go’s, the most successful female band of all time, and one of the world’s biggest selling female artists, she is a true pop icon, and we are honoured that she will be performing here in support of these two great charities.
“It’s going to be a wonderful evening full of excitement and surprises, and we hope that as many existing and new guests will join us to help raise as much money as possible for charity,” she says.
Belinda Carlisle, says, “Animal People Alliance is a charity, based in Kolkata India, I co-founded with Paul Suit in 2014. Whilst still in the early days, we are starting to have a real impact, with our mission to provide quality care for India’s street animals, employment for survivors of human rights abuses and other vulnerable populations. We want to change the future generation’s consciousness towards animals, and raise awareness of the need to treat animals humanely.
“I’ve always dreamed of having an animal sanctuary and I have such a love of India. I had an idea on how great it would be to combine both with the invaluable help of Her Future, of which I’ve seen first-hand the work they do, and I’m humbled even to be in the same room as Sarah Symons (the co-founder of Her Future Coalition and inspiration of Her Future UK), as she does the work of angels.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of the charity evening at The High Field, and grateful to all the generous people and businesses who are making this event happen. I will be performing a short acoustic set of my hits as music is still a big part of my life, as is Animal People Alliance,” she says.
There are just 100 tickets for this special evening costing £150 each, to include fizz and canapés followed by a three-course vegetarian or vegan meal, and a further 150 tickets at £75 each for those not wishing to dine, with a silent auction and some amazing raffle prices from sponsors. To book, please email email@example.com to request tickets. Full payment will be required by 11th June 2017. For updates on Animal People Alliance follow us on Facebook @animalpeoplealliance
The charity evening at The High Field with Belinda Carlisle takes place on Saturday 15th July 2017 from 5pm until midnight.
The High Field is at 22 Highfield Road, Edgbaston, B15 3DP. Tel: 0121 227 7068.
A few weekends ago, Wifey and I swapped out Birmingham for somewhere a little different. Kenilworth is just over 20 miles drive or a train ride away from Birmingham. It’s a great destination for a day out with the renowned Kenilworth Castle and Stoneleigh Abbey nearby.
Wifey and I had another reason for visiting too. It’s also a location for one of the Peach Pubs collection, The Almanack
The Almanack is one of the more modern looking Peach Pubs, nestled in under a new apartment building. It had an impressive decor with lots of nice little touches, including a selection of Sunday newspapers to read if you were there to relax.
We were here to try their Sunday Best Menu, which has a regular selection of roasts and some of the highlights from the main menu.
Not feeling up to a full roast, Wifey and I decided to pick a few from the highlights of the main menu,but first, a bit of bread and butter to get our bellies in the mood.
The bread was a warm wholemeal seeded mini loaf accompanied by garlic butter.
It was served a little like a hassle-back potato, sliced part the way through. It was devoured with relish with the bread hitting the trifecta of soft, airy and sweet. The tangy peppery garlic butter could have done with being a touch less on the garlic flavour.
We skipped starters, to keep room for dessert, and went onto the mains.
For my main, I went for a Chicken Caesar Salad. This came with a free range chicken breast, crispy bacon, anchovies and a classic Caesar salad.
The chicken was moist and tender with a crispy seasoned and blackened skin. The bacon was as expected, crispy and sweet and salty at the same time. The anchovies gave an additional salty blast to the rich dressing. The lettuce was nice, crisp and fresh.
Wifey went for something a little more fishy. Cod (substituted from Monkfish on the menu) and Scallops with Bombay Potatoes, Indian Salad and Mint Yoghurt.
This came to the table with a wonderful smell of the Indian spiced potatoes and the fresh clean smell of great fish. The cod was light and separated on touch. The scallops came to the table with the roe (always a nice touch) and had the clean sweet taste you’d expect. The Bombay potatoes were light, buttery and with just enough spice as not to overwhelm the fish. The Indian salad was made up of Rocket, Tomato, Red Onion and seeds added a touch of colour to the dish and disappeared quickly!
As it was Sunday,we couldn’t miss out on a bit of Apple & Rhubarb Crumble.
This was served at the table from a great big enamel dish full of the stuff. It came with a decent jug of custard from which you could pour as little or as much as you want to personal preference. The crumble topping was sweet, chunky and packed with oats. The fruit filling was rich and not too sweet and combined perfectly with the delicious sweet custard.
And to wash it all down, we had a coffee with a latte for me and an Americano for Wifey with some Smarties to finish.
And with that bellies full and happy smiles off back to Brum.
A few weeks past, Wifey and I were in the doldrums of post Xmas haze. The celebrations of the festive period were far behind and Chinese New Year looks far away. Therefore, we were glad we had booked a ‘staycation’ covering Oxford and Cirencester. Always a good chance to try a few more restaurants too.
After a driving down on a sunny Sunday afternoon, Wifey and I were ravenous. Dropping the bags at the hotel, we made a beeline for the city centre and ended up at Thaikun as Wifey was in the mood for noodles. This Thai chain has branches in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Manchester, Nottingham, Cambridge and of course, Oxford.
Inside was spacious and as can expected, very Thai with canoes, rickshaws and Thai signage bedecking the interior.
Whilst trying to work through the extensive menu, I ordered a draft Singha (only available in their Oxford branch) whilst Wifey had a very coconutty Thaisky cocktail from their special cocktail list.
We found we couldn’t choose any particular dish so opted for their starter and main platters and a side of sweet chilli crackers.
Our starter platter, “Sukumvit 38” consisted of:
Honey Pork – crispy and chewy with a velvety texture, very moreish!
Chicken Spring Rolls – nice and mild with a good amount of meat
Fish Cakes – flavourful, with an underlying chilli aroma and taste
Salt and Pepper Squid – nice light batter but a touch greasy and underseasoned for me
Whereas, our main platter “Pinto Siam” contained:
Stir Fried Pork Belly in Red Curry Sauce – this was nice and crispy, and a little bit spicier than I’m used to with Chinese pork belly.
Chicken Massaman curry – easily my favourite dish, nice and sweet with plenty of star anise flavour coming through the creamy overtones.
Beef in Oyster sauce – nice veggies but the beef had a little too much of the chargrill for me.
Coconut Rice – we’d swapped this out from the Egg Fried Rice that usually accompanies a platter. It was sticky with a mild coconut aroma and flavour coming through.
Post meal, we caught the bus back to the hotel to sleep it off.
The next day started with a general shopping trip and wandering around the city centre to get our bearings sorted.
After picking up a few bags, we stumbled upon Beerd, a spin-off from Bath Ales and billed as Oxford’s first “craft beer and pizza bar”. Based in Oxford’s last surviving Victorian pub, the tiled interior was very pretty and curiously all draft beers were served by the schooner.
I picked a “Cubic”, a triple hopped pale ale. As expected, it was a very citrusy and hoppy beer and didn’t last long! Wifey had a “very nice rose”.
They had a lunchtime offer of a £5 pizza which we added an additional two toppings for £1 (prosciutto and pepper). To accompany, a side of sweet potato fries and homemade garlic mayo. The pizza was thin, crispy and not doughy, though it could have done with a tad more sauce. The proscuitto was flavourful and earthy and was complemented by the sweet pepper. The fries were longer cut than usual but nice, hot and crispy. The garlic mayo was fresh and with a not overpowering garlic flavour.
Post pizza, we headed to the cinema, our cultural day starting tomorrow.
Day 3 began with a large breakfast at Cafe Loco, a little walk from the main part of the city centre by the Alice in Wonderland shop.
Wifey picked an Eggs Benedict Royale and I had a Full English.
The breakfast was an uneven experience. Wifey’s eggs came with a hard yolk rather than soft boiled. The smoked salmon was nice, as was the muffin. However it was swimming in hollandaise which was way too salty to me, but fine for Wifey.
Mine came on a cold plate, never a great starter for me. The toast was pre-buttered, a trend which I’m happy to do without. My beans were congealed, the tomato had seen the grill for approximately a femtosecond. The bacon and eggs were just there, not bad or good, just “meh”. At least the sausages (though small) were flavourful and the highlight was the fried mushrooms. Very nice and Wifey liked these very much, having swiped most of them!
Appetites mostly sated, we stopped at the day’s first museum. The Ashmolean is the world’s first university museum and is made from the collections of University Art Collection and the original Ashmolean Museum. It has a very wide range of collections covering from Ancient Cyprus to Modern Chinese Paintings. Entry is free (suggested donation boxes abound if you wish to give a small sum). Wifey and I highly recommend it if you’re in Oxford with a few hours spare. We’ll be back in April for the Andy Warhol exhibit.
The Natural History Museum holds the University’s internationally significant collections of geological and zoological specimens. The first exhibit we came across was the live beehive which was fascinating, I even managed to find the queen (pink dot on the back).
Next to what all young and old paleontologists love, the dino’s!
Nestled into the rear of the Oxford University Museum Natural History is the Pitt Rivers museum, one of my favourite museums in the world. The museum contains archaeological and ethnographic objects from all parts of the world and all time periods, arranged according to type of object rather than place of origin or date. They are displayed to show how the same problems have been solved at different times by different peoples. Unfortunately, the low light meant no pictures but I suggest you go and see what you can find. You can even get a torch.
Museums done, time for more food. After returning to the hotel, Wifey and I took a detour out of the city centre and visited The Fishes in the little village of North Hinksey.
A member of the Peach Pubs group (see previous posts here and here), it’s a beautiful gastropub which even Raymond Blanc is a fan of!
We started with Bread and Olives. The mini ciabatta style bread was warm, fresh and doughy with a very punchy garlic butter. The plump olives were nice and salty with a good tang.
For starters, we shared a Scotch Egg with Chorizo stew and Truffle Mayo. The breadcrumbs were just right and combined with nice meaty sausage meat. The egg inside was a soft texture and soft with a golden yolk (perhaps a touch runnier would have been nicer). The chorizo stew tasted more of tomato than anything else yet was a very pleasant accompaniment. The truffle mayo was very creamy but needed more truffle to come through.
For mains, I chose the lamb with butternut squash whilst Wifey picked the sea bream and shallots. We shared a side of honeyed carrots and parsnips.
My lamb was delightfully tender, it fell apart with a touch of the fork. It was beautifully seasoned and the mint just was powerful and gave a piquant counter to the sweet butternut squash.
Wifey’s sea bream was light and flaky with crispy skin. the slight saltiness of the fish combined well with the lightly pickled shallots.
Our honeyed parsnips and carrots had a good mix, with earthy and al dente parsnips and sweet soft carrots.
To finish, Wifey had Mango Sorbet and a coffee and I had just enough room for a slice of St Clements Cheesecake. The curd was utterly delicious and I mopped it around the plate with the tuile. The cheesecake itself was at the same time heavy with a light flavour and a good crumbly base. The sorbet was a refreshing end to a full meal.
With that, it was ta-ta to Oxford and off to our next destination, Cirencester…
It’s not very often I’ve ventured outside of Birmingham for this blog. That’s something I aim to change in 2016. So when I was invited to visit Leamington Spa to experience The Star & Garter’s Ultimate Grill Night with Aubrey Allen. It was the perfect opportunity to kick off the new year.
Just outside the town centre (about 10 minutes from the station), The Star & Garter has been part of the Peach Pubs family for the past 3 1/2 years. You can read about my visit to another Peach Pub, The High Field in Edgbaston here. Now run by Colin Barber, formerly owner of Mixology in London in between living in Verbier, he’s been tempted by the team at Peach to bring a gastropub star to Leamington.
With a recent refurbishment in November, it has been transformed giving the venue a calm and relaxed feel with muted tones.
The main reason for tonight’s visit was to be introduced to their Grill night menu, with fish and pork options and a range of steaks, all supplied via Aubrey Allen. Every Thursday, there will be Grill Night with a selection of meats and fish fresh from the griddle, cooked by Head Chef Jakub Fijak and his team. Jakub has worked in a few of the Peach Pubs, after a period in Jersey and including spells at The Fishes in Oxford and The Almanack in Kenilworth.
With the meat option comes a selection of potatoes and sauce; ranging from triple cooked chips to baby jackets on the spuds side, and peppercorn to blue cheese on the saucy side. A well chosen pick of sides are available too, which include onion rings and garlic prawns:
Whilst we perused the menu, Russell Allen, Managing Director of Aubrey Allen came over and talked us through the range of cuts available. Aubrey Allen have an illustrious history; family run since 1933 and by appointment to Her Majesty, they provide meat to some of the best restaurants in the UK including Simpsons, the Manoir, The Waterside Inn and Opus, (as well as being available through their own deli bar). With a pedigree like this, you know you’re in for some quality:
Tonight’s selection of meat consisted of:
Spider Steak – cut from the rump and also referred to as the Oyster Steak. A little muscle that looks almost like a spider web due to the striations of fat within the roundish muscle. It sits on the hip and because cows only have 2 hips, there are only 2 per animal. This had been matured using their 28 Day dry-aging method which you can watch here.
Onglet Steak – variously known as the ‘Hanger’ and ‘Butcher’s’ steaks. Cut from the diaphragm and famed for its intense flavour, the onglet earned the title of butcher’s steak as it would often be kept back from sale. Traditionally used for casseroles, the steak is best served up to medium to keep its flavour.
Rump Cap Steak – a speciality in Brazil known as the ‘Picanha’, the cap sits on top of the ‘heart’ of the rump. It also traditionally ends up on the BBQ in South Africa too!
Fillet Steak – perhaps the quintessential steak, sourced from the tenderloin. It is the least used muscle and therefore, tender every time it is cooked.
Free Range Iberico Pork Cutlet – sourced from the legendary Jimmy Butler, these acorn fed pigs give a pork cutlet marbled throughout, like some of the best steaks.
It was difficult to choose but I went for a medium-rare Onglet steak partnered with triple cooked chips and blue sauce.
Whilst we waited for our steaks to be cooked, I investigated the other sauces provided, Tracklements covered the mustard and horseradish and a pot of their own BBQ sauce. The BBQ sauce was a thing of wonder with an almost smoked pork flavour. It was delicious with just about everything we ate.
My companion, not a fan of myoglobin (which most people confuse with blood), was convinced to swap from his usual well done steak to a medium Spider steak with baby jacket potatoes and peppercorn sauce and a side of onion rings.
The onion rings were delightfully crispy, with a nice light batter and sweet well cooked onion interior.
The spider steak was a thing of beauty. Freshly griddled, there were no complaints from the other side of the table and it was quickly demolished. The accompanied mini jackets matched their bigger cousins, with a lovely soft and floury texture. The peppercorn sauce provided a low even tempered heat.
My onglet steak was delicious. Cooked to medium, perfectly in my eyes, with a deep pink centre. The meat was moist, tender and perfectly complemented by the crispy triple cooked chips. My blue cheese sauce started out with an Gruyere type smokiness which then subsumed into the sharpness of the blue cheese.
To finish (even though I don’t know we had any room left), we went for a coffee and dessert. I chose a blood orange sorbet whilst my companion went for a banana and salted caramel, all from Jude’s free range ice creams.
My blood orange sorbet was a rich orange flavour. It was a scrumptious like eating a chilled orange.
The banana and salted caramel ice cream both had a nice natural flavour, with none of the artificial taste that you usually get with banana flavouring.
And with that, we were done, sated after a great meal. For me, it definitely won’t be long until I’ll return to a Peach Pubs again and the Star & Garter especially.
If you’d like to try out the steak night yourself, this takes place every Thursday at the Star & Garter you can book by calling 01926 359 960 or through their website here
Disclaimer: For this event, I was a guest of The Star & Garter 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.
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