Experience: The Meeting Place with Jack Daniels

Regular readers will be aware I’m a whisk(e)y aficionado. What you might not know is Jack Daniel’s is a whiskey, not a bourbon; it could be a bourbon if it wanted to be but it’s not. It’s a regular bourbon until it enters their charcoal filtering method and then, it’s described as a ‘Tennessee Sipping Whiskey’or a Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey, if you look closely on the label.

Another thing you may not be aware of is that the month of September is Jack Daniel’s Birthday, as his exact birthday is not known.  Instead of picking an arbitrary date, the month of September does just fine apparently; even the man himself comes back to celebrate according to the sign!

 

IMG_20170912_185834

In celebration of this, a couple of friends and I had the chance to visit The Meeting Place at The Rainbow Venues in Digbeth to raise a glass.

To celebrate in style, they had the entire three floors transformed into an old style Western Saloon with panelled walls neon signs and barrel tables to give the whole venue a real American feel. I was really impressed with the effort put into it especially with the food stalls upstairs (more on that shortly).

First stop, of course, was the bar.  I mean, you can’t celebrate Jack Daniel’s without some in your hand, can you? With master cocktail maker Rob Wood (creator of Smultronstalle) behind the bar too, there is really no excuse either!

The cocktail list was extensive and covered a few the other Jack Daniels offerings rather than the usual Old No. 7:

  • Double Jack & Cola Does what it says on the tin and a classic. Jack Daniel’s & Cola
  • Frozen Jack & Cola For those wanting an icy take on the above (also now an aspirational item for me to have, an alcohol slush machine)
  • Apple Jack Jack Daniel’s and Apple Juice – something I’ve never tried before but really nice as a sipping cocktail.
  • Lynchburg Lemonade Jack Daniel’s, Triple Sec and Lemonade, a nice fresh, citrus bursting alternative to a Jack & Cola.
  • Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Cider A new drink from the minds behind Jack Daniel’s. This is a crisp Apple Cider blended with Jack Daniels Old No. 7. The general consensus was we were not big fans.
  • Tennesee Cooler Jack Daniel’s Honey, Apple Juice and Ginger Ale. Now, this is going on the cocktail rotation at BG Towers; sweet, sharp and spicy all in one go. A winning combination in our group.
  • Red Dog Smash Jack Daniel’s Ltd Edition Red Dog Saloon Whiskey, Herbal Liqueur, Lemon Juice and Apricot Jam. This wasn’t one I tried but one of my friends tried it, and he much preferred the Cooler as this was a touch too herbal for him.
  • Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire Shot Jack Daniel’s Red Hot Cinnamon Liqueur – described as smooth Jack with a fiery finish, and I’d agree wholeheartedly with that.

We needed something to soak up all this alcohol so it was time to hit the rooftop garden for some of Brum’s best street food.

For food, they’d laid on The Flying Cows and Low ‘N’ Slow stalwarts of the local food scene. I’ve written about Andy a few times now and then. The food choices sounded mouthwatering, both with a Jack Daniel’s twist:

DSCF6989

The Flying Cows

  • Steak Burger, Jack Daniel’s Glazed Smoked Bacon, Monterey Jack Cheese, Lettuce & Red Onion
  • Steak Burger, Jack Daniel’s Pulled Pork, Swiss Cheese, Red Onions & Lettuce
  • Veggie Burger, Halloumi Cheese, Jack Daniel’s Red Onion Chutney

DSCF7006

Low ‘n’ Slow

  • 18 Hour Smoked Pork Shoulder Bun, Sweet Heat BBQ Sauce & Lemon Herb Slaw
  • Wild Cherry Smoked Baby Back Ribs with Sweet Heat Glaze (1/2 Rack).

I was sorely tempted by the Baby Back Ribs but I wasn’t appropriately dressed for a rib feast!  Instead, I went for the Pork Shoulder Bun and I wasn’t disappointed.  The meat was what I’ve come to expect from Low ‘n’ Slow with Andy and Donna pulling off a master work in slow cooked meat. Sweet with just enough tang from the lemon herb slaw to balance the sweetness from the BBQ sauce.

After devouring the burger, it was time for a trip to Lynchburg for a wander around the distillery through the magic of VR. It was very impressive and a great way to see the process without having to fly to the States.

DSCF7019

Back to the bar and time for some music. We were treated to two of Birmingham’s best local bands, The Americas and Broken Witt Rebels who gave barnstorming sets to end the night.

DSCF7030

DSCF7034

When: 12/09/2017

Where: Jack Daniel’s The Meeting Place Pop-Up, The Rainbow Venues29 Lower Trinity Street, Digbeth, Birmingham, B9 4AG

Who: Jack DanielsThe Rainbow Venues, SmultronstalleLow ‘n’ Slow, The Flying Cows, The Americas, Broken Witt Rebels.

Disclaimer: For this visit, I was a guest of Jack Daniels UK and Euology PR, who provided all food, most of the drinks and some natty merch in the shape of a bandana and a few lanyards; 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.

Talk: Squaring Up with Gizzi Erskine

Something rather Square and American has come to Great Western Arcade in the shape of Square UK’s  first ever pop-up shop,  and follows in the footsteps of Square’s first physical store in New York, which opened last month.

To celebrate opening in Birmingham they have also had a few speakers over the last few days including Ree Ree Rockette (lifestyle blogger) and Paul Hardwood (Birmingham Brewery Company), who’s talking on Thursday 14th September.

 

I had chance to hear the amazing Gizzi Erskine talk about her life and career with Birmingham’s own amazing Full to the Brum (Laura)

IMG_20170911_185223_160

It was a fantastic talk, covering her bohemian upbringing, and her mothers introduction of world food to her diet at a different age. Her difficulties with completing her normal education and then moving in to being a trained body piercer.

We then moved on her enrolment at Leith’s Cookery school being the most intense and fulfilling experience of her life and balancing cooking in professional cooking with completing her course.  She was also lucky to work at St John with Fergus Henderson  provocateur of ‘Nose to Tail Eating’ and her first day at work boning a goat.

This led to her becoming a pioneer of Pop-Up cookery with her friend and fellow St John employee Abby at an art gallery in Brick Lane in 2001. With three course dining and a pay what you want ethos.

Gizzi also won the intern prize at Leiths to work at Good Food magazine and was lucky to go to the Good Food show in Birmingham as a warm up act for Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay, and from then on was being chased to become a TV Chef, starting behind the scenes on Full on Food with Heston Blumenthal and Richard Corrigan, and then on to Ready, Steady, Cook. She found her feet on the second series of Cook Yourself Thin and the battles between being an authentic chef and meeting TV’s demands.

She’s now taken her early inspiration of Eastern cuisine into her latest show (Gizzi Erskine Seoul Food airing now on the Good Food Channel), and her love of Bao buns via way of Dave Chang (Momofuko), and the amazing boiling pot of fusion cuisine in New York.

We also learnt about her experience in setting up K-Town,  a pop-up eatery inspired by New York’s Korean quarter in Shoreditch in 2012, the story of how Korean Fried chicken came to be, and how she’s now looking to Malaysian and Thai food and how that wave will soon hit the UK.

 

IMG_-cx2hv9

An hour wasn’t long enough to hear her talk and was great to see the warmth, wit and genuine passion for food coming through and I’ll be attempting to make food from her books at some point in the near future, where she gives lots of technical advice.

A big thank you to Square for giving me a heads up about the talk (free and open to the public).

IF YOU POP DOWN BEFORE SATURDAY 16TH SEPTEMBER AT 6PM

Local business owners will also be able to pick up a free Square Reader if they visit the pop up shop and sign up for Square in September.

OPENING HOURS:

Square’s pop-up shop will be open from 4th – 16th September from 09:00 – 18:00 Monday to Saturday and 11:00 – 17:00 on Sundays.

There’s one more free masterclass being held (tomorrow at the time of writing) and I urge you to get down if you have chance.

FREE EVENT

  • Thursday 14 September at 18.30: Birmingham Brewery Company’s Paul Hardwood will talk about the challenges and joys of giving up your job to follow your dream – in his case to launch a ‘Brummie Beer’ range – a tasting of which will be held after his talk

WHERE: The Great Western Arcade, Unit 6, Colmore Row, Birmingham, B2 5HU

With the Square card reader, businesses can take card payments with no monthly contracts or hidden fees, and get their money the next business day. It takes minutes to get started, and sellers can quickly and securely begin accepting chip & PIN and contactless payments from Visa, Mastercard and American Express.

Square’s card reader costs £39 +VAT, but to celebrate Square’s first UK pop up shop, local business owners can get a free Square Reader if they visit the pop up shop and sign up for Square in September.

For more information visit www.square.com/westmidlands

 

When: 11/09/2017

Where: Square UK Pop Up Shop, Great Western Arcade, Unit 6, Colmore Row, Birmingham, B2 5HU

Who: Square UK, Gizzi Erskine,

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!

DSCF4759

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.

DSCF4783

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

 

A very ‘Tesh’ty Pop Up – Ben Tesh takes over Urban Coffee Company

Pop ups are becoming a big thing in the foodie world. Allowing chefs creativity before establishing roots and letting them be experimental with dishes for the curious.

Former Turner’s chef Ben Tesh is moving into Birmingham city centre to host a new Summer of restaurant pop-ups at Urban Coffee Company in Church Street.

To launch the new dinner dates, Ben is hosting a special event on Saturday 28 May. From 7pm, he will be serving six courses for £39.50 alongside a wine flight for £20 and is promising the finest seasonal ingredients.

Ben Tesh pork sourdough starter (small)
Starter – Pork Deep Fried in Sourdough Batter with an Emulsion of Pine Needles

Ben is creating a menu where dishes such as Langoustine, lamb with seaweed and sea kale, plus Yorkshire Rhubarb with preserved cherry blossoms could feature and intends to delight diners with his culinary skills honed at Michelin starred restaurants.

Ben Tesh cured mackerel (small)
Main – Cured Mackerel in Charcoal Oil with Oyster Emulsion and a Granita of Pressed Apple and Sorrel Leaves

Excited about being able to cook for Birmingham foodies, Ben says: “Pop-ups give me the ability to be more creative, flexible and experimental with my food. I love how they break down that barrier that separates the chef and customer in most restaurants, so allowing me to be really interactive with my customers, which is something I love. The direct feedback is great way to keep learning and keep evolving my cooking for people to enjoy.”

Tickets are on sale now, to book one of the 30 places, email  info@ben-tesh.co.uk.

Vintage Variety at A Lost Society

Those in Birmingham’s foodie scene are probably aware of Josh Porter, former Chef de Partie and co-founder of one of last year’s hottests pop-ups, En-Place.

With new partner, food writer and blogger, Jade Hollingworth, taking over front of house duties, Josh has stripped back the menu with a twist on early Prohibition era 20th Century dishes.

DSCF3803

This was Josh & Jade’s first pop up and it was situated at the 6/8 Kafe in Millennium Point. We had a great view across Millennium Point, which felt very empty at that time of night. Jade and Josh, however, had made the space feel inviting with candles on the tables, background music featuring acoustic takes on modern songs and low lighting to make it feel like a cosy living room.

For drinks, it was a case of BYOB (bring your own bottle) if you wanted alcohol. I chose a very nice Chateauneuf du Pape, whilst Wifey went for an English Rose.

We had a surprise to start!

DSCF3804

Josh had added an extra little touch to the menu with an Amuse Bouche of Parmesan Gougères, and Chicken Liver Parfait garnished with Beetroot Gel and a tiny touch of Thyme. The parfait was delightfully creamy with the beetroot gel adding a touch of acidity. The Gougères reminded me a little of a savoury coconut macaroon in texture. These warm little parcels were surprisingly light and the parmesan came through well, like a cheese version of fluffy eggy bread.

DSCF3809

Wifey didn’t know what to expect with the Princess Style Consommé, a dish she had not come across before. The broth came presented in a stunning glass teapot which unfortunately, I didn’t get a snap of bit you can see on their Twitter

Instead of the traditional chicken breast, a period appropriate chicken mousseline was accompanied by crispy chicken skin and pickled vegetables. The chicken skin was like, well, a chicken scratching and absolutely scrumptious. The chicken mousseline was very tender and airy on the tongue, whilst the pickled veg gave a delightful crunch all enhanced by the beautifully clear broth.

DSCF3811DSCF3813

The next dish was a Ceviche of Sea Trout with edible flowers, accompanied with Pea and Wasabi Sorbet and Rapeseed Oil Powder. Wifey is not a fan of raw fish, but the ceviche method had cured the fish and it was smooth and tasty. The flower texture tasted great but I would have liked a bit more bite in the pea and wasabi sorbet (perfect for Wifey).The rapeseed oil powder was very subtle and blended well with the fish.

DSCF3821

The ‘main’ for the night was Breast of lamb with asparagus, buttery potatoes and Sauce Paloise (a twist on Bearnaise with mint instead of tarragon). The asparagus was slightly charred and tasty, the potatoes were salted and tasted like miniature jacket potatoes. The lamb was crispy on the outside yet still tender and went really well with the Paloise.

DSCF3832DSCF3828

To finish was a lemon tart, made by Jade. It was served on its own and therefore, not overshadowed by the fripperies of ice cream, sorbet or cream. The tart was delicious, with a crisp pastry case. The filling was set well, tangy and topped with caramelised sugar. A simple dessert done well, which some restaurants could learn that overblown accompaniments usually hide the main focus.

DSCF3838

A final, unknown until presentation, treat was a Petit Fours of Financier with sliced and pickled pear & treacle sauce. The almond cake was light and airy whilst the pickled pear and treacle sauce were sharp and rich, creating a great flavour profile when combined.

Josh and Jade popped over at the end of the meal and it was good to see a couple so passionate about what they are providing, and bringing back some hidden gems from days gone past. Their next pop up is on 14th May with a different menu to that above, which you can find more information and get tickets for here.

When: 09/04/2016

Where: A Lost Society Pop Up

Who:  6/8 Kafe, Floor 2, Millennium Point, Curzon Street, Birmingham, B4 7XG

Lunchtime Liaison – Hibiscus Grove at Sketts Fine Food Fair, Victoria Square

Rather than purchase the regular meal deal from one of the insidious supermarkets slowly taking over the Colmore Business District, my wife and I popped along Colmore Row to Victoria Square.

It was a glorious day and Sketts had put on one of their fortnightly food fairs which are on every first and third Wednesday of the month. Continue reading “Lunchtime Liaison – Hibiscus Grove at Sketts Fine Food Fair, Victoria Square”

Taste & Liquor Entrance

TASTE & LIQUOR, SOUTHSIDE BIRMINGHAM: An inaugural event for my inaugural post

Birmingham’s having a very busy weekend! The Dragonboat Race is on at Brindleyplace, Villa are playing right now in the FA Cup and there’s a new pop-up food festival down in Southside. No prizes for guessing where I went to.

www.tasteandliquor.com
Taste & Liquor Poster

Taste and Liquor opened today so there was no better way for me to start off this blog than a visit to a brand new foodie event. Open 12pm – 6pm  every Saturday for now onwards, it’s designed to be a mixture of food, socialising, pop up shops and sport / film events. After a walk around Jewellery Quarter with my better half and the clock approaching 2.30pm, the tummy was rumbling and it was time for some grub.

Parking nearby at the Arcadian car park It was a short stroll down to the Nightingale Club, where Taste & Liquor is based, with the tantalising aroma of Jerk Chicken, meat and sourdough accompanying the journey.  Next to the LoveWaffles van and All Terrain Caffeine Land Rover on the left hand side was the entrance.  A pound entry for myself and my wife got us in (it’s free for under 1’s) took us in. It was packed by the time we arrived, surely a good sign, and though in a small space there was lots of choice available. The event is open to all ages and it’s good to see a lot of future foodies enjoying the various delights available.

Continue reading “TASTE & LIQUOR, SOUTHSIDE BIRMINGHAM: An inaugural event for my inaugural post”