Firstly, let me introduce myself. My name is Vicky but I am also known as the ‘Mad Hatter’ behind the blog Brumderland… Now that’s out the way, I will give you my thoughts on Nicholl’s & Perk’s second annual ‘Midlands Whisky Festival’, at thestudio Birmingham
The ‘Midlands Whisky Festival’ was originally just held in Stourbridge but made it’s way to Birmingham in 2016. I was lucky enough to be invited to the Stourbridge festival this year and had a particularly jolly time (so jolly, in fact, that I don’t remember the journey home – but that’s a whole other story) but hadn’t been to their Birmingham edition as yet. Now, I’m going to have a little gripe… The marketing and press calls the festival ‘the biggest of its type outside London’ (source: The Birmingham Mail), which is a bit of a bone of contention for me.
Whilst I certainly don’t say it’s a small festival, having attended events in Birmingham and indeed Scotland which are bigger in the number of stands and attendees, I find it a bit cheeky for them to put it into their press. Indeed, even in Birmingham, Whisky Birmingham (going into it’s 6 year next year) definitely has more stands (40+), more whiskies and potentially more attendees… But that might not bother you as it bothers me, so I will brush over that and carry on.
The first introduction to the festival for attendees was a bagpipe player ‘welcoming’ people in on Cannon Street. Now, I know a lot of people might dig it but Cannon Street seemed to work as a bit of a speaker, amplifying the sound of the bagpipes. This meant my slowly forming headache wasn’t getting any better in the 20 minutes we waited for the doors to open. The people next to me in the queue were equally unimpressed, although this was a quirk, it wasn’t welcome by all attendees at 11:45am in the centre of the city. Now… Honestly, moan over and onto the good stuff… The festival itself.
The doors were opened promptly at midday and checking in was pretty smooth. We were handed a guidebook as we were waiting, so could peruse the dram selection and plot a route before we got into the venue. It’s not a huge venue (The Studio venue actually has rooms over several floors but the festival just occupies two of these) and is accessible through lifts, etc, so it’s quite easy to navigate. It offers plenty of toilet facilities and water points, making it a great spot for a festival of this nature.
Being experienced whisky festival attendees, we headed straight to the topmost floor of the event (knowing that most newbies will head for the most easily accessible floor first) to say hello to some friends in the whisky industry and try our first drams of the day. After attending a delicious whisky matched dinner at The Plough just a week earlier, our first stop had to be Douglas Laing. We had spoken to David (their UK Ambassador) about their limited edition releases of Rock Oyster and Scallywag, so had to give these a try. Loving both peated and coastal whiskies – the Cask Strength edition of their Rock Oyster was an immediate winner with both me and Mr Brumderland. Their Scallywag is more of a sherry bomb (which isn’t necessarily my favourite variety of whisky) but was very pleasant. After trying those drams, we were set up for the day and ready to discover the rest of the treats instore!
The top floor was full of delights… From the delicious fruity and smoky Bunnahabhain, to the outright peated deliciousness of Elements Of Islay (with their AR8 being a highlight of the day) and the mellow tones of Irish whiskies from Jameson and Redbreast… We enjoyed old favourites and brand new releases whilst enjoying a lovely chat to the friendly reps, who are full of useful and insightful information.
On the first floor of the event there was more fun to be had… As well as the base for the retailer (Nickolls & Perks), who were selling many of the whiskies on taste at the event, there was more stands to be sampled. This was also where the outdoor balcony was located for the cigar masterclass/smokers and the food offering (which was a choice of baps, chips and a couple of other carbalicious bits and bobs). We didn’t try the food on this occasion (having had a massive breakfast to set us up for the day) but it looked like good stodge for ‘ booze soaking up’ purposes.
The stands on the first floor ranged from the deviously easy drinking Benromach, to American classic Wild Turkey and peated legends Ardbeg. Ardbeg were actually releasing their newest member of the family, the An Oa, on the day of the event – so it felt like a really special treat talking to their rep (the lovely Max) and getting to be one of the first consumers to sample this delightful dram. We’ve termed it the ‘fun aunt’ of the Ardbeg collection, due to it being far less ‘full on’ than something like the Corryvreckan and more chocolatey, smooth and gentle.
I didn’t get to attend any of the masterclasses on the day but the line up looked pretty comprehensive with some great brands in the mix. Whether you’re a whisky newbie or a bit of an expert, festivals are a great way to try a range of brands and styles without breaking the bank. I snagged Brummie Gourmand’s press invitation to this event but tickets are priced very reasonably at £40 (which include all whiskies on taste and a ‘Dream Dram’ token – which is the chance to try something rarer or a little more expensive). If you want to learn more about the wonderful world of whisky or just try something new, I would definitely recommend attending an event like this.
Midlands Whisky Festival boasts a great variety of brands, a venue offering everything an event like this would need and a laid back atmosphere. The next event will be in Stourbridge in 2018. Maybe I’ll see you there?
About Brumderland / Vicky Osgood
George has been writing Brumderland since 2015, and is a well respected events, PR and marketing manager with a passion for everything Birmingham .You can find her work at brumderland.co.uk.
Disclaimer: For this visit, Vicky was a guest of the team at East Village PR, and Vicky was gracious to attend on my behalf. As with all posts on this site, this blog was Vicky’s personal, unaltered, opinion. Brummie Gourmand strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.
Until I arrived at Steelhouse Lane, I hadn’t realised that this was a fully working Custody Suite just 2 years ago.
Having missed the opportunity of visiting when it was featured in Hidden Spaces last year, I jumped at the chance of going when I saw it would open again in August.
Ryan was otherwise engaged in some geek-related adventure so my partner in crime (ahem!) was friend and work colleague Debbie aka alternatevisionphotography.
Housed in a beautiful brick building opposite Birmingham Children’s Hospital, we were greeted by a display of past uniforms. Once inside, my first impression was how bright it was with the natural daylight coming through ceiling. The corridors on each floor are intimate, and it felt quite warm inside. There was no sign of air con or ceiling fans so I imagine during the hotter summer days, it might be cooler in stay in the cells.
The small holding cells consisted of a thin plastic mattress (similar to the type you have in school PE lessons) and the metal loos. Interestingly enough, the cisterns are outside the cells where they had to be flushed from.
What caught my eye on the ceiling was a black arrow, which we were told pointed to the direction of Mecca – makes more sense than my guess, which was the direction you had to stand if an officer entered the cell.
Some of the cells had a display of mugshots of former inmates, which added an eerie feel to it. It’s still hard to think this was a fully working custody suite a couple of years, as it looks like time has stood still in some parts of the building. Check out the radio and the tape recorder for interviews.
On the upper floor, old uniforms, helmets, hats, accessories and equipment were displayed. The quality and feel of the hats and helmets had gotten thicker and more protective throughout the years. The jackets are pretty heavy too, I can’t imagine how it must feel to wear that every day.
The station has a direct route to the holding cells at Birmingham Magistrates Court by way of a hidden tunnel under Coleridge Passage.
I really enjoyed the tour; it would be great to see the place open regularly in the future as a tourist attraction to add to Birmingham’s ever growing places to visit. The September opening was to be the last one, as part of Birmingham Heritage Week.
Where: Steelhouse Lane Police Station, Steelhouse Lane, Birmingham B4 6NW
Who: Hidden Spaces
It’s not often I write about places outside of the city centre. As I live, work and do my radio show in the two or so square miles that make up the heart of the second city, it’s hard to winkle me out of it without a big pin.
In this case, the pin was the inestimable Paul Fulford, renowned Birmingham food writer who invited me to Raja Monkey, a name that’s been on my ever growing list of venues to seek out for a long time.
It’s nestled along the Stratford Road in the suburb of Hall Green, a few miles out from the city centre and easily reachable by train or bus. It’s a funky venue serving cuisine in the style of Indian roadside dhaba (think of a truck stop with awesome food). It’s also part of the well regarded Lasan Group who also own Lasan (naturally and currently being refurbished), Izza Pizza, Nosh & Quaff and Fiesta Del Asado.
Raja Monkey is perhaps the most relaxed of their venues. Their whole ethos is a small menu of dishes, flavoured well and served simply; you’ll never see words like ’roundel’ on this menu. It’s an intimate venue, with booth to the front observing the kitchen and tables to the rear. The walls are all colour-washed in bold shades and there’s traditional artwork and enamel signs, with vintage window shutters thrown in the mix. All of it blends well and comes across as tasteful and not overdone.
To keep us sated whilst going through the menu, we had Papad (Poppadoms) served with onion salad, yoghurt dip, mango chutney and a spicy pickle. We were also asked about dietary requirements whilst being handed the menu, always a nice touch.
The poppadoms were crisp and slightly salty, which is my preference, whilst the sauces all complimented each other well. With a chilled bottle of Cobra, they went down lovely.
To start, I chose the Frankie Dosa, from their ‘Famous Dosa’ section of the menu. It can also be ordered as a main if you wish. If you’ve not heard of Dosa imagine them as an Indian version of a crepe but made from rice and black mungo bean. This one was stuffed with stir fried mutton and pickled onions.
It’s great to see mutton on menus again. An oft neglected meat, it’s much more flavoursome than lamb, taking on a gamey flavour and a slightly tougher texture. It’s a meat that has fallen out of popularity over the last few years but it’s worthy of your consideration. This example in particular was rich, with the gamey meat matched by the pickled onion. The accompanying dipping sauces were to fully enjoy the crisp dosa. Paul chose the Mutton Kebab to start which came with a side salad and sauces and smelt heavenly.
For main, I had Chicken Curry, that’s exactly how it’s described on the menu, no schpiel, nothing, just ‘Chicken Curry’ and the price. I loved that! It’s nice to see a venue sticking to the basics with good quality, no nonsense cuisine. The curry itself was delicious – big hefty chicken chunks in a rich peppery sauce, evenly spiced with no overpowering punch of coriander (which I’m not a big fan of). To accompany, I chose a plain naan. This was how I expect a naan to be – warm, fluffy and airy with a crispness at the same time. It was perfect for mopping up the sauce, although I was a little envious of Paul’s chapatis at the same time. They looked equally as delicious.
Talking of Paul, he had the Chicken Bhuna with the aforementioned Chapati. I had a little taster and it was beautiful. The chicken was tender with the caramelised onion masala sauce the perfect partner. Something I’d love to try more of next time I go.
For dessert, I chose the Gajar Halwa possibly the only other famous dessert, other than carrot cake, to be mainly composed of carrots. It’s made with grated carrot milk, sugar, water and cardamom. It was DELICIOUS, the carrot still had crunch but was also almost velvety at the same time, dissolving in the mouth. This version came topped with vanilla ice cream, which oozed into the steaming Gajar Halwa and elevated this dessert up a notch into perhaps one of the best comfort foods for an autumnal evening.
Paul’s dessert looked no less delicious, he chose the Rasmalai another traditional favourite from the sub-continent. It can be described pretty much as a cheesecake without the biscuit. A cured cheese (a little bit like paneer but not as firm) soaked in clotted cream and flavoured with cardamom, with a bit of pistachio on top. If you’re not a fan of hugely sweet desserts, I’d give this a whirl.
All throughout the meal, Paul and I talked about a wide range of topics from local newspapers to kitchen refurbishment to what we think is going to be the next hot cuisine (Malaysian & Phillipino were my choices) and the frippery of certain food service.
Then I realised what I miss from the suburbs sometimes; catching up in a restaurant where you don’t feel rushed to be in and out and you can enjoy great tasting, simply served food in an unfussy environment, dedicated to making its guests feel like they’re at home. I couldn’t think of a better place than Raja Monkey to do it.
I mean that’s what Autumn is for, right?
Where: Raja Monkey, 1355 Stratford Rd, Birmingham B28 9HW
Disclaimer: For this visit, I was a guest of Paul Fulford and Raja Monkey who provided all food and drink. 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.
Rob Wood is one of my favourite Brummie Cocktail Construction maestros with a passionate attention to detail and a focus on curious taste collaborations with a twist so it’s great to hear he’s working with The Plough on their new cocktail highball menu…
The Plough in Harborne has launched a cocktail list in collaboration with Robert Wood, one of the best bartenders in the UK. Taking in seven carefully curated highballs, the drinks are made fresh in-house and have been designed to take no longer to make than a spirit and mixer.
The list which will be takes in ubiquitous ingredients alongside lesser-known flavours. The Coconut & Ginger highball contains Coconut rum, Yuzu (a Japanese fruit) and root ginger beer whilst the Elderflower & Pink Grapefruit highball contains pink peppercorn.
Robert Wood, who is a former Drinks International Bartender of the Year and Cocktail Challenge ‘Supreme Champion’, said, “Everything The Plough does has a unique twist and I wanted to maintain that theme with the development of the cocktail list. It was important that we created cocktails that people would be happy to try in a pub setting and imperative that they could be served as quickly as possible without scrimping on quality or flavour. We worked closely together to develop a list that was accessible whilst pushing boundaries. The result is a selection of really great cocktails that can be made in under 30 seconds.”
James Thewlis, Development Manager at The Plough, said, “When we began considering the introduction of a cocktail list at The Plough there was only one name that sprung to mind. We knew that Robert would be able to develop a list that was innovative yet relevant to our customers. The list complements our offer perfectly; the drinks are so fast to build yet fresh and the response we’ve had so far has been fantastic.”
The list of Highballs available:
- RASPBERRY & HIBISCUS – Hibiscus vodka/framboise/cream soda
- BLACKCURRANT & GARDENIA – Gardenia gin/cassis/oolong soda
- GREEN APPLE & MATCHA – Apple liqueur/fino sherry/green tea soda
- JAPANESE PLUM & CHERRY BLOSSOM – Jinzu gin/umeshu/cherry blossom
- RHUBARB & ROSEHIP – Rhubarb gin/rose wine/rosehip/prosecco
- COCONUT & GINGER – Coconut rum/yuzu liqueur/root ginger beer
- ELDERFLOWER & PINK GRAPEFRUIT – Pink peppercorn vodka/pink grapefruit/elderflower
All priced at £7.00
Menu designed by Robert Wood @inrobwetrust
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!
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:
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
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.
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.
Curry is a funny thing for us Brummies. We like to think we know a thing or two about one of the world’s most favourite dishes, and even have our own style to differentiate from other curry hot spots with the Balti.
I mean, we love a “Birmingham Balti” so much the Birmingham Balti Association (BBA) tried to protect the term back in 2015.
Travelodge, asked me to find out more about this culinary classic on their behalf, so Wifey and I left the city centre and travelled the short distance to the heart of the Balti Triangle.
And where else could we go but the place which claims to have invented the dish. Adil’s say they brought the dish to the UK, opening on Stoney Lane in 1977 and, after a brief spell on Ladypool Road, is back at home in the epicentre of the Balti Triangle fully refurbished and sticking with their blend of fresh Kashmiri cuisine and Balti’s abound.
The interior is light (much lighter than the pictures show above!). We popped in just after opening on Sunday and they were already busy with takeaway drivers flying in and out.
Prior to having a thorough read of the menu, we were supplied with poppadoms and a rainbow of sauces, Mint Yoghurt (white sauce, sweet, cooling), Chilli Chutney (orange sauce, mild, tomato tang, sweet), Coriander & Green Chilli Sauce (the verdant green one, our favourite, sweet and tangy with a spicy after-kick) and their Hot Sauce (well balanced on spice and delicious).
To balance out those hot sauces, we had some Mango Lassi. One of the most popular drinks on the sub continent of India and a blend of yoghurt and milk with fruit, if requested. The other choices were Strawberry, Sweet and Salty. Ours was icy cold, thick and not overly sweet; the perfect partner for spicy food.
The menu (available here) is comprehensive with a wide variety of starters, rice and naans, and even the choice to make your own Balti from a selection of 10 meats or vegetables, 10 sauces and 14 extras giving a mind-boggling 1400 combinations!
For starters, we couldn’t choose so we plumped for the Meat Platter with pretty much all of them on. Lamb Seikh Kebab, Chicken Seikh, Chicken Tikka, Lamb Tikka & Chicken Wings were all served on a sizzling platter with onions.
The platter was much bigger than expected and would be enough for three persons rather than just the two of us!
- Lamb Sheikh – A good and chunky lamb mince laced through with coriander and gave a solid umami taste
- Chicken Sheikh – Something a little different for Wifey and I, who stick to the traditional lamb version, this was a nice suprise. It had little flecks of chilli running through, adding a nice spice without overwhelming the mouth.
- Chicken Wings – These slid right off the bone whilst being crispy on the outside, seemingly by using wizardry.
- Lamb Tikka – These were thickly coated in a Tikka coating, a good and chunky size.
- Chicken Tikka – My favourite starter, soft, beautiful, sweet and smoky and an aroma to intoxicate the nose.
It was a hearty portion, plenty enough to share and available for 2 or 4 depending on hunger levels.
After a short rest, it was onto our mains. We decided to go with Chef Specials rather than picking our own, to see what the creative minds in the kitchen get up to.
I chose Balti Tikka E Khaas (combination of Chicken Tikka, Lamb Tikka, Chicken Kebab, mince & peppers cooked in a Balti sauce) mainly as it had more of that wondrous Chicken Tikka in it. Wifey chose the Balti Makhan Chicken (diced pieces of Chicken breast cooked with butter, methi & almond powder) as she’s not a fan of anything spicier than a paprika crisp!
For sides we chose Pilau Rice and a Medium Naan, listed on the menu as suitable for 2-3 persons.
Before we get onto the mains, that MEDIUM Naan, which took up the length of the table. They have an even bigger Table Naan option, which I can only imagine is dragged in on a heard of oxen or can be used as a makeshift sled! The naan itself was delicious and made with a stronger flour than I usually experience, giving it a slightly salty edge. The pilau rice was neon yellow in colour and well cooked, not a sticky grain in sight.
My Balti Tikka E Khaas was in a thicker Balti sauce than normal, having been laced with a rich spicy meat. The chunky bell peppers added depth and colour, and the big pieces of meat each added their own character to the dish. Wifey’s Balti Makhan Chicken, was reported back as rich and tender to the point of melting in her mouth with a rich, but light, creamy sauce.
There was so much food we couldn’t actually finish it, and the remainders came home with us nicely packaged in takeaway boxes. Dessert menus were offered but politely declined to ensure buttons didn’t fly across the room.
It won’t be our last visit to the new look Adil’s and we’re already planning who to take along next time.
If you’re planning a trip the Balti Triangle and Adil’s there’s at least three Travelodge options nearby.
Birmingham Central Bullring (2.3 mi)
Birmingham Yardley (3.5 mi)
Birmingham Maypole (4.1 mi)
It’s well served by public transport with the 3 bus and 34 bus stopping right outside, and the inner circle (8 bus) a few minutes walk away. There’s also handy off street parking nearby if you’re driving too!
Where: Adil’s, 148-150 Stoney Lane, Birmingham B12 8AJ
Disclaimer: For this visit, Travelodge paid for my meal but all views remain my own or Wifey’s. The restaurant manager didn’t know why Wifey and I had cameras in hand and asked us on the way out if we were there for a certain review website.
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’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.
To make a donation, please pop into The High Field today or go online to https://mydonate.bt.com/events/herdsforchange/
To find out more about Herds for Change and why the Enonkishu community needs help, please take a look at the short video here Peach Herd 2017 Introduction Video 6 mins YouTube
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. Pictures supplied by Pracey PR.
It’s National Burger Day today, so what better way to celebrate then telling you about my visit to one of Birmingham’s hottest new venues, The Meat Shack at Thorp 17.
The Meat Shack are not new to the Birmingham food scene, in fact they’ve been established for 5 years as a streetfood vendor, and have served their faithful followers at Birmingham streetfood Mecca, Digbeth Dining Club for a long time. It’s great to see that they’ve put down roots in the heart of Southside so how could we not go down for a visit.
The interior is light and airy with a nice few touches of street art and corrugated steel to liven things up. We arrived early evening and we were glad we did, between arriving and finishing the place went from reasonably quiet to queuing out of the door. I think the burger smell had got to the Birmingham masses it certainly had got to us, it was also great to see cocktail extraordinaire Gary Anderson settling in to his new role as General Manager, his affable nature shining through whilst taking our drinks order.
I was dining with Wifey and “Award Winning #BrumHour” who joined us to see what all the foodie buzz had been about. The tap ale had ran out so I settled for a Sadler’s Dakota American IPA (yeasty, malty with citrus bite), Wifey on the Fentimans Elderflower (refreshing) and #BrumHour on the Hoxton Cidersmiths Craft Cider (green apple, tangy).
After drinks it was time to choose from the menu…
It’s short, but some of the best are, and all the usual bases are covered, including a veggie option.
Between us we covered off:
- Mr C – beef patty, american cheese, iceberg lettuce, red onion, pickle, ketchup, shack sauce (Wifey)
- Bella Emberg marinaded deep fried halloumi, mushroom duxelle, dutch cheese, ketchup, chipayo, crunchy onion flakes, iceberg lettuce, red onion (#BrumHour)
- Dutch Piggy beef patty, dutch cheese, american cheese, streaky bacon, iceberg lettuce, red onion, pickle, ketchup, chipayo with an extra Sloppy Kiss shack beef and pork meat sauce on top (me).
I actually was enjoying the burger that much i forgot to take notes, but it was just amazing, it lived up to the stair case with dripping filthy goodness. The bacon was crisp, the ‘hand smashed’ beef patty flavourful, cheese drippy and the sloppy kiss lifted it to a different level with a sweet meaty extra tang, I was half expecting a golden shaft of light to peek out from the clouds and hit the tray, whilst a chorus of angels hummed in the back ground, the contents were THAT good.
My only, very minor, criticism was the bun. Which was very nice and oft with a touch of crisp from a light toasting. It was a touch to tall for my preference, with a slab of ingredients that size it makes a large mouthful and a slightly less voluminous bun would’ve been appreciated.
Noises from around the table confirmed the others were enjoying their burgers as much as I. Wifey even finished hers which is an unusual occurrence to say the least.
For sides we chose both Frickles and Onion Rings and 2 portions of Chipayo Fries, with #BrumHour opting for his Sloppy Kiss to be planted there.
The fries we nice, well seasoned and the Chipotle Mayonnaise added a nice zing to the proceedings. Onion Rings are always a good guide to quality and are Wifey’s default order whenever we go somewhere new and they’re on the menu. These were solid, crispy, golden batter which wasnt oily with a beautiful sweet onion inside which pretty much just melted away on contact. Don’t take my word for it Paul Fulford praises them mightily too here.
And the Frickles, what can I say about the Frickles. British peoples first instinct when pickling is the humble onion, or if you’re feeling racy an egg from the mysterious giant jar at the chippy. My favourite has always been a nice pickled cucumber. It’s sweet, it’s tangy it’s crunchy and it’s heaven with a beef and ham sandwich.
With the light battering supplied on these bad boys they’ve been lifted to an art-form. The batter adding extra crunch and that extra savoury edge. I’d have been happy as a pig in muck with a bucket of these and a cup of that delicious blue cheese dip.
The one thing I’d like to see, and agreed with the next table along, added to the menu would be a nice side salad, or coleslaw or something to just take the edge off the mostly fried nature of the menu and pretend we were at least being somewhat healthy.
Wifey and I had just enough space to get in a dessert. We both plumped for the take on Eton Mess with fresh peaches and mango amongst whipped cream, decadent and delicious. Next door had the Chocolate Torte and reports between mouthfuls were very positive nods. The dessert menu is under development at present so expect to see more options soon.
One of the things going around the foodie scene is if there’s enough Birmingham foodies to support two amazing burger restaurants in the city (these guys and the Digbeth chaps, OPM). In a city with over a million people, and a food scene which has exploded over the past few years, it’s daft to think that both wont thrive and co-exist happily.
For me and my cohort it was a very happy, fulfilling and positive first visit. It certainly wont be our last if we can beat the queues. I’m a man who needs his dripping filthy goodness after all, I mean how else do I maintain my figure.
If you’ve not been yet, GO NOW, today’s as good as any…
Who: The Meat Shack
Now this is something a little different. Though I blog about food so much, I’m not an amazing cook. Patisserie is something I know next to nothing about apart from making a half decent flapjack. If this sounds like you and you want to change it, and you’re free on Tuesday 5th September, read on…
Ever wanted to truly master the art of meringue making? Keen to conquer perfect peaks and piping techniques? Ever wondered what the difference is between French, Italian and Swiss meringues? The Crown Inn in Hallow, Worcestershire will hold its first meringue masterclass on Tuesday 5th September.
The masterclass will be run by Bakery Product Developer & Pastry chef Elle Townsend, who has designed award-winning cakes for the likes of Harrods, Fortnum & Masons and The Conran shop.
The masterclass takes in a demonstration of fool-proof techniques including:
- An overview of the meringue landscape including the difference between French, Italian and Swiss meringue and tips such as ingredients and products to guarantee success
- A demonstration taking in fool-proof techniques, how to add colour and creativity and baking trouble-shooting
- An opportunity to have a go at piping techniques to create various effects under Elle’s expert guidance
- And of course, tasting! Elle will bring a selection of her award-winning meringues for guests to taste
Elle’s passion for food began at Nottingham Trent University, where she realised she could combine her love of baking with her passion for craftsmanship. Following stints in hotels and restaurants, Elle began working with artisan patissiers before moving into product development and cake design, working with Harrods, Fortnum & Masons and The Conran Shop.
Tuesday 5th September, from 7pm. Tickets are £20 and include a glass of Prosecco on arrival.
To book your ticket simply call The Crown Inn on 01905 640 408.
Follow The Crown Inn’s story here: