GUEST POST – CARAMELLATTEKISS GOES TO THE BULLS HEAD WITH LANGLEY’S GIN

A few weeks ago, it was Wifey and I’s 3rd wedding anniversary so we popped over to Jersey for a few days to visit my brother-in-law and his family, and ate too much food (more on that soon!).

So when I had an invite to the lovely Bulls Head (or is it the The Garrison?), with the new brand ambassador  for Langley’s, Katie Rouse. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend, George aka Caramellattekiss, being a massive gin fan, was willing to step into my shoes.  Let’s see how she got on.

 

 

When two giants of the Birmingham drinks scene pair up, you know you’re in for a treat. I went along to one of Birmingham’s old pubs, The Bull’s Head, for a master class with homegrown gin company, Langley’s Gin.

Upstairs in the gorgeous Club Room, I settled in with a group of keen gin fans, to be led through the history of gin by our excellent guide, Lucy. She talked us through gin’s journey from its humble beginnings as a medicine in Peru, through to the ‘Dutch Courage’ drunk by English soldiers during the Thirty Years War, to Mother’s Ruin in the booming gin era; the disappearance of gin as vodka came into vogue, right up to the new boom in gin production of today. As a gin fiend, most of the history wasn’t new to me but Lucy was knowledgeable, funny and passionate about her subject.

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We started with a classic; the Langley’s Aromatic G&T. Made with Langley’s No. 8 and Double Dutch Tonic, garnished with grapefruit and basil, this G&T was an excellent starting point. Double Dutch isn’t a particularly bitter tonic so it makes for a good, light base, with fresh flavours of citrus. No. 8 was originally marketed to men so the botanicals are stronger flavours than other gins, and include coriander seed, nutmeg and cloves.

 

 

Our opening drink was accompanied by a sharing platter of Chicken Skewers and Cauliflower Pakora. The skewers are served smothered in a honey mustard dressing and chargrilled, locking in bags of juicy flavour. The pakora are lightly fried, with not a hint of oiliness, and are a surprising hit for such a simple dish.

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The platter was followed by a Lamb Kati Roll, which is a lamb kofta rolled in a warm paratha flat bread. The lamb is gently spicy but a little dry for my taste. Our accompanying drink was my favourite of the evening, the Old Tom Buck. This has big flavours of tangerine, perfectly accompanying the citrus flavours in the gin. The gin has a little spice to it, which worked well with the Kati Roll.

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Finally, we tried a Masala Martini, a twist on the classic martini, inspired by the Indian twist to the Bull’s Head food menu. Vermouth is distilled with chai masala before being mixed with the gin. This was a divisive drink, with some finding the dry flavours too much. I was impressed and enjoyed the unusual combination of the boozy flavours with the warming chai spices.

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For dessert, I tried a new item from the Christmas menu. Blood Orange Sorbet is deceptively simple but served with a drizzle of bitter dark chocolate, the flavours sing. The sorbet is incredibly citrusy, sweet, with a hit of sour and very refreshing. The bitter chocolate is a perfect addition, and I hope this Christmas item makes it to the permanent menu.

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Langley’s Gin School is a great excuse for well-crafted cocktails, tasty food and some gin knowledge, delivered in the gorgeous surroundings of The Bull’s Head. I’d definitely recommend it for any gin fan.

 


 

About Caramellattekiss / George Elsmere

George has been writing Caramel Latte Kiss since 2010. By day, she works in Marketing, but by night I’m a blogger and a cosplayer. Caramel Latte Kiss began as a personal style blog, but has grown into covering food, coffee, cosplay and my adventures in the second city. she also co-presents as part of Geeky Brummie team on Brum Radio, presenting 60 minutes of all things geek every Saturday from 12pm. You can find her work at caramellattekiss.com/.

 

When: 26/10/2017

Where: The Bulls Head, 38 Bishopsgate Street, Birmingham, B15 1EJ

Who: Langley’s GinThe Bulls Head

Disclaimer: For this visit, George was a guest of The Bulls Head and Langley’s Gin who provided all food and drink. As with all posts on this site, this blog was George’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.

Experience: Rob Wood brings Cocktails to The Plough

My second post in a row outside the ring road, shocking isn’t it?

But I heard the golden words “Rob Wood” and “Cocktail Menu”, especially when it’s at The Plough too. All three boxes ticked, I grabbed Wifey and we hightailed it out of the city centre to the plush surroundings of Harborne.

For those who’ve visited The Plough, the bar gets busy quickly especially when it’s Taco Wednesday or Chicken Wing Sunday. So their concept was this:

“Fast cocktails but highest quality possible, How can we make the best cocktails we can as fast as we can, quickly?”.

And who better to assist than Cocktail Master Rob Wood, who also consults on the side as well as running his own bar, Smultronstalle.

We went upstairs to their private rooms aka “Next Door at The Plough” with a few other bloggers and invited guests to see what the man himself had come up with…

And the answer was Premix – somewhat of a dirty word in cocktails until recently.

Rob and The Plough’s view was it’s the best way to keep quality and consistency, whilst allowing for a fast moving bar without the usual pre-requisite “cocktail faff”. By doing the hard work ahead of time, it reduces the time customers spend standing at the bar and helps break down the snobbery barrier between bartender and customer.

This philosophy ended up in seven highball cocktails each with a spirit mixer.

Rob went on to explain that each drink is designed with four elements: primary, secondary & tertiary flavours plus a spirit group, with the depth of flavour coming from the sourcing of most appropriate ingredients for each drink.


First on the list was Raspberry and Hibiscus.

Made with Hibiscus flavoured vodka to begin with and added Creme de Framboises, it’s also an excuse for Rob to use his favourite cream soda, Soda Folk Cream Soda.

For the cocktail itself, there was rich raspberry which subsumed into the vanilla from cream soda, then onto the bitterness of hibiscus and to finish, the dryness of vodka.

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Our second cocktail featured another creme, this time Creme de Cassis, to provide the blackcurrant. The gardenia (a member of the the coffee family of plants) was steeped directly with gin and then topped up with a Soda Siphon, which had been steeped with Oolong Tea. A crisp and refreshing drink which had the sweetness of blackcurrant, sufficiently dulled to an acceptable level.

Next another tea combination with Green Apple and Matcha Tea.

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This exploited the lighter flavours from Matcha with the robustness of sharp green apple. It’s Willy’s Cider Apple Sours (and that one for some reason Chase keep quiet..) cut with Fino, the driest of sherries, and a dash of Matcha syrup. As there’s a lot of flavour going on, it’s topped up with Belu Mineral water. Sweet, sharp dry and with that dusky Matcha flavour all rolled into one.

Keeping in the Oriental theme, we then went to Japanese Plum and Cherry Blossom.

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The tonic in this cocktail is Thomas Henry Cherry Blossom Tonic, a curious flavour which I’ve never tried before although I do like a Sakura flavoured Kit Kat from time to time when I can find one. For the Japanese Plum element, they used Shairume Ginjo Umeshu a Sake fortified with plums, in a similar process to sloe gin. To round off the drink, there is the addition of Jinzu Gin, a 40% gin distilled with sake. It was pretty much a G&T as far away from a G&T can possibly be, and I think it was very plummy drink, perfect for moving from late summer into autumn.

The next combo was a Rhubarb and Rosehip.


This was an experiment in how to make a Pimms Cup style drink unique to The Plough. And I’m glad as I personally detest a Pimms Cup.

Rob had put a touch of himself into the drink with the addition of Fitzpatricks Rhubarb and Rosehip cordial . A personal favourite from his childhood growing up in Lancashire, it originated from the last temperance bar in the UK (he also recommends the Sasparilla). To combat this beefy cordial, Rob countered the flavour with Slingsby Rhubarb Gin . With a touch of local Brummie about it (not that Slingsby would tell you that), he added some Rose Wine and topped up with Prosecco, the hottest wine since Pinot Grigio. It was the antithesis of a Pimms Cup and refreshing for a nice summer’s day in the garden.

Next was something a little more tropical with a hint of Japanese too, the Coconut & Ginger.

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This was Koko Kanu a Jamacian rum with a strong coconut flavour, married together with Yuzushu. Yuzu fruit has a very complex, very acidic, very aromatic flavour, somewhere between a mandarin and a grapefruit if you will. The rum added roundness and sweetness to balance the citrus, with the topper up of Ginger Beer to finish which cuts the complexity whilst at the same time, the ginger not overpowering the other flavours, prefect for a chilly evening.

Our final drink of the night was an elderflower and grapefruit combination.

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This was spicier than expected due to a pink peppercorn infused vodka bringing the heat (and the colour) to the mix, and mixed with a dash of pamplemousse (grapefruit) liqueur and topped up with Elderflower Presse. The fourth ingredient in this case was cucumber, which changes the texture and flavour of drink as it imparts its flavour throughout.  It was really different every sip of the way down.

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After all this imbibing, there was an impromptu Q&A with Rob Wood after the drinks.  It was fascinating to hear his views on the revival of the cocktail scene in the UK and the issues that come with that, with very few genuine carers of the profession shared between a wealth of venues. It was incredible to hear the amount of detail and thought put into this menu of seven drinks with liquid densities, prep time, ease of creation and, most importantly flavour, all having a role to play.

We were that impressed and the consensus around the table is if The Plough wanted to make even more money, they should sell miniatures of the pre-mix at Christmas.  I’m sure these would be welcome gifts all round.

Rob’s passion comes through and we could have listened for hours but alas, taxis waiting, it was time to head home and enjoy a fine, if chilly, autumnal evening.

Many thanks to the team at The Plough and Rob for a fascinating evening exploring alcohol in its many forms.

The list of highballs in full:

  • 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

 

When: 03/10/2017

Where: The Plough, 21 High St, Birmingham B17 9NT

Who: The Plough, Rob Wood

Disclaimer: For this visit, I was a guest of therelationship.co and The Plough who provided all drink 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.

 

News: Cocktail Collaboration at The Plough – Harborne

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

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!

 

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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:

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

Experience: Thực đơn for Miss Saigon at Birmingham Hippodrome with Brum Bloggers

My knowledge of the Vietnam War and Vietnam in general is limited to a few war movies and an episode of Top Gear. So when I was invited by Brum Bloggers and the Hippodrome to fill in this shocking lack of knowledge on my part, how could I say no…

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Based around Puccini’s Madam Butterfly, this takes the frame of the story and moves it into Saigon, Vietnam at the end of the war. It focuses on the relationship between a bar girl, supplanted from her village life into the chaos of war era Saigon, and an American GI who falls madly in love with her; their threads weave throughout the late 1970’s to take in Atlanta, USA and Bangkok, Thailand.

Since its London premiere in 1989, Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s legendary musical Miss Saigon has become one of the most successful musicals in history.

To celebrate the tour, The Hippodrome’s Circle Restaurant has launched a special summer menu to compliment the production, which we were here to taste, along with a viewing of the musical itself.

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We went in through the Thorp Street entrance which is a bit of a gem, hosting the Dance Exchange and a range of private venue spaces available to hire, for some pre-show nibbles and cocktails.

The cocktail we tried was a Sun & Moon, Archers peach liqueur and orange juice, which was fruity and summery, setting the tone for the rest of the menu. The nibbles, included pea and mint soup, and goats cheese bruschetta. It certainly got our appetite going for our visit to the Circle Restaurant  for Acts I & II of the menu.

 

The Circle Restaurant is open usually 2 hours prior to each performance (matinees & evenings) and the menu is designed around each performance to take advantage of seasonal produce and to match the theme of each production. A boon for us bloggers, it has floor to ceiling windows overlooking the main entrance, giving wonderful light for photographs too! They’ll also hold your table for the interval so you can return for drinks or dessert without stress.

As we wouldn’t be able to get through all of the menu in full size portions, we were given tasters to ensure we could experience the full range on what’s on offer. For Act I, we were given an immaculately presented slate of starters to sample

 

Act I

White bean soup with basil pesto (V) – A good creamy delicate flavour from the white bean, giving a velvety mouth feel, this was counterbalanced by the punch of the pesto with its powerful basil lifting the savoury taste.

Vietnamese prawn summer rolls with sweet chilli sauce – The less well known cousin to the ubiquitous spring roll wrapped in rice paper rather than pastry. This gives it a much fresher edge than it’s deep fried cousin, with sweet chilli adding a touch of verve.

Salt beef croquette with salad of mooli, shallots and capers – My favourite from the start selection. Salt Beef is a delicious thing and its savoury texture matched well with the crispy coating. The mooli and shallots added a fresh edge but I still have my irrational hatred of capers, so they went unloved to the corner of the plate.

Goat’s cheese mousse with marinated tomatoes and walnut toast – Mousse was the perfect description; it was so light and airy, and made me think of a savoury take on a Mr Whippy. The marinated tomatoes were a solid accompaniment giving acidity and the walnut bread adding crisp.

 

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To partner all this wonderful food, I had a Marques De Morano Rioja Tinto, which was lighter than expected, and went perfectly with the tapas style light bites.

With that, it was onto Act II.

Act II

Chilli & coriander crusted pork tenderloin with soy & sesame braised savoy cabbage – The pork was well cooked and the coriander crust gave it an extra dimension from normal. The cabbage was divine, its soy and sesame braising really giving it some punch and this is something I’m going to be stealing for my own cabbage in future!

Pan-seared fillet of coley with rice noodle, samphire, ginger and spring onion broth – It’s great to see a sustainable fish getting some limelight on the menu. Wifey and I often have coley from the supermarket as an alternative to salmon, and it’s a solid substitute for cod or haddock. With a gentle pan searing, the fillet had kept most of its character and flaked wonderfully into the broth. The broth itself was good with samphire, salt and ginger and spring onion adding heat. I liked the rice noodles but maybe a vermicelli style rather than the Udon ones present would’ve suited the dish, as they were hard to fish out of the pan (nudge-wink). I expect this is not an issue on the full sized version however.

Honey-brushed confit of duck leg with celeriac purée, bok choi and star anise jus – Confit is a word that brings joy into the heart of any glutton and this is no exception. Duck leg is a meat that takes well to a confit with the rich unctuous fatty deliciousness, given a touch of sweetness with the honey. The celariac puree was a delight and I’m no stranger to a bit of bok choi, providing crunch and a touch of bitter to take away the sweetness of the meat.

Yellow curry lentil scotch egg with asparagus & new potato salad (V) – This took the majority of us by suprise! I thought the lentils were going to be replacing the breadcrumb (me not noticing the little (v)), but they fully en-robed the egg, giving a really nice variation on the traditional scotch egg. The curry spices gave an almost fizzle on the tongue.

Miss Saigon – Part 1

Post munching, it was time for us to take our seats for the first act of Miss Saigon.  I’m not going to spoil it too much if you haven’t seen it but you’re suckered in by the first minute. The whole performance is song based with little to no dialogue between each transition. However, it’s performed with such verve and gusto amongst incredible staging and set pieces, you’re instantly struck dumb with your eyes greedily trying to absorb each detail.

The leads Sooha Kim (Kim) and Ashley Gilmour (Chris) gave incredible performances. My heart was won by Red Concepcion (The Engineer) providing humour amongst the drama, bouncing around the stage and eliciting cackles from the audience. The supporting cast (Ryan O’Gorman as John, Gerald Santos as Thuy and Na-Young Jeon as Gigi) were great with beautiful voices. The ensemble were amazing, every number was pulled off with panache and an energy.

We start in DreamlandThe Engineer’s  bar in Saigon and a popular hotspot for American soldiers looking for a good time and escape the horrors of war. It’s here GI Chris first meets barlady Kim and we get to see the blossoming of their relationship in contrast to the Us soldiers losing their grasp on the country. We see the repercussions of the USA’s involvement and the finale leads to The Engineer and Kim escaping Vietnam to Bangkok to try and reach America for a new life and a reconciliation with Chris.

After a shocking finale to the first act, it was time for interval and for us bloggers a visit to the Gowling Suite, one of the  private hire facilities available on site, for a quick run around the dessert menu.

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Curtain Call 

Green tea panna cotta with sesame tuille – The green tea panna cotta was nice, with matcha green tea giving a savoury sweet balance.

Bitter chocolate tart with lychee, strawberry & mint compote – I’m a chocolate fiend so a bitter chocolate tart was always going to be a winner.  A solid, sticky bitter and sweet tart, lovely with the strawberry and mint compote cutting through with an element of sharpness.

Poached peach & pistachio cake with raspberries and vanilla set custard – Pistachio is something I usually come across as an ice cream flavour, so it was nice to see something a little different. The cake had a gorgeous soft texture and the nutty pistachios went well with the sweet peach.

It was time to run back upstairs and reach the amazing finale.

Miss Saigon – Part 2

Again, another great opening piece to the second act which moves us from Saigon to Atlanta with Chris and John struggling to deal with post war life, their PTSD and John’s work with Bui Doi, the neglected street children left behind by GI fathers and Vietnamese mothers. We’re also introduced to Zoë Doano as EllenChris’s new wife who has helped him to get over his post war trauma. Over the other side of the world in Bangkok, we see The Engineer and Kim’s new life echoing Dreamland in the first act, and their desperation in trying to reach America. By chance, they get in contact with John’s organisation which leads to a trip to Bangkok with John, Chris and Ellen. The tumultuous final scene leads to an end which will tug at the heart strings.

A special mention must be made to the set dressings.  They are, in a word, stunning with an amazingly quick turn around between pieces.

If you’ve not seen Miss Saigon before, or if you want to relive a previous production, I can’t recommend it highly enough and it’s great to have a food option to match and make it a full evening.

Miss Saigon runs until Sat 23 September at Birmingham Hippodrome. For tickets, call Information and Sales on 0844 338 5000 or visit their website for details.

 

When: 24/08/2017

Where: Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre,  Hurst Street, Southside, Birmingham, B5 4TB

Who: Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre,

Disclaimer: For this visit, I was a guest of Birmingham Hippodrome, arranged by Brum Bloggers, 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.

News: Birmingham Gin from Langleys hits Selfridges & Bar Opus

It’s no secret I’m a gin fan, and it’s nice to see the local chaps at the Langley Distillery have partnered with Selfridges and Bar Opus to make a Birmingham exclusive gin, named Birmingham Gin.

This London Dry Gin is carefully brewed with coriander, angelica root, liquorice and orange peel at the Langley Distillery in Birmingham. The chic bottle is decorated with copper foils dots, which are inspired by the iconic Selfridges discs and the 150-year old copper still in which the spirit is distilled, and is avilable exclusively at Selfridges Bullring for £44.99.

Bar Opus at One Snow Hill is now the first bar in town to be serving the Birmingham Gin. The expert booze technicians have created three bespoke Birmingham inspired cocktails to match this new flavour.

Brummie Mary 
Birmingham Gin, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, volcano salt, ground black pepper, sriracha sauce, fresh lemon
£6.50
Brumtini 
Birmingham Gin, dry vermouth, grapefruit bitters, grapefruit garnish
£6.50
Midlands Mojitio 
Birmingham Gin, fresh lime, sugar, mint, ginger ale
£6.50
Both Gin and Cocktails are available now.

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 Clive Reeves PR.

Wifey Writes – Sakerol Spritz at Rofuto with #BrumHour

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to accompany Dave Massey aka #Brumhour to try a new summer cocktail at Rofuto in the Park Regis.

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If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll already be aware Ryan has visited a few times to sample food and whisky. As I’m not a big fan of whisky so it was interesting to see how I would fare with this sake based cocktail.

Rofuto is based on the 16th floor of the Park Regis Hotel, at the Five Ways end of Broad Street.  It offers lovely views of the Birmingham’s skyline, which is best seen at glittering night rather than the many cranes and scaffolding during the day.

They have created a Japanese inspired twist on the classic summer drink Aperol Spritz with Sake, peach liqueur and yuzu juice.

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Whilst catching up with Dave, our mixologist got to work on the cocktail.  Sadly no pictures of the creative process but you can happily enjoy the video shot by Rofuto:

 

For someone who doesn’t like Sake, this was actually perfect for me because the peach liqueur and yuzu juice added a lovely sweetness.  I also liked the Vog prosecco that was used to make our drink.

The drink is on their current cocktail menu and available now.

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Disclaimer: For this event, I was a guest of BrumHour and Rofuto who provided the 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.

When: 05/08/2017

Where: RofutoPark Regis Hotel, Five Ways, Birmingham

Who:  RofutoPark Regis Hotel

Preview: Rosies Birmingham

If you’ve been down the clubbing centre of Birmingham recently, you may have noticed 6 on Broad Street has disappeared and has instead been replaced by Rosies, Broad Streets newest Super Club. Wifey and I were invited to pop down and have a preview prior to opening tomorrow (with their launch party hosted by DJs Scott Mills  & Chris Stark off of that Radio 1).

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Owners Stonegate Pub Company have sunk £1 million into the refit to split the venue into five themed rooms over two floors.

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Downstairs is the Montana bar with a large cocktail menu of Martinis and Mojitos with exposed lighting and bare woods giving it a rustic, relaxed feel, and streetfood style stuffed crust pizza on sale throughout the afternoon and into the evening.

Perhaps the biggest room upstairs is DAO (A Chinese proverb for  the way). It takes it’s inspiration from a combination of Las Vegas and Pan Asian influence with an Asian inspired cocktail menu and LED “chopstick lighting”.

 

For those who like their clubbing a little more nostalgic there’s Retro with neon paint a light up dance-floor and a cheese filled party playlist.

 

Playing R&B will be The Vault which we sneaked into as it’s getting ready for its big showing tomorrow night and there’ll be hidden ‘VIP Bourbon booth’s overlooking the DJ and dancefloor.

 

And the final room is the Laundrette, a speakeasy bar with the illusion of being a laundry with a touch of quirky character and even a roof terrace to look out over the city skyline.

 

With one of the biggest investments in Stonegate Pub Co’s history they’re hoping to show their dedication to Birmingham’s clubbing scene and look out for more happenings over the weekend.

 

Disclaimer: For this preview evening, I was a guest of Stonegate Pub Co. & Lucre PR, wifey and I enjoyed a couple of complimentary cocktails and got a goody bag to take home. 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: 17/08/2017

Where: Rosies Birmingham, 259-262 Broad St, Birmingham, B1 2HF

Who: Rosies Birmingham, Stonegate Pub Company

Siamais-ing

Now, Chinese food is a bit of a problem for me. As Wifey’s parents owned their own restaurant for many years, I’m a little bit spoilt when I go over for dinner.

However, Thai food, that’s a treat that I don’t often get to do, which is rubbish as there’s plenty of restaurants in Birmingham offering amazing Thai food.

The newest restaurant on the block is Siamais at Oozells Square Brindleyplace.

The new owner is Nishil Nathwani, creator of the Aluna cocktail bar at The Mailbox.  His parents previously ran Thai Edge, who occupied the space prior to Siamais.

The cocktails pedigree from Aluna has carried over as part of the dual concept of Siamais, accompanied by a range of South East Asian dishes.

The decor is a mix of traditional items like baskets and lanterns but in a modern setting. The reason for tonight’s visit was part of a ‘blog date’ arranged by Birmingham Bloggers. I’d decided to catch up with a good friend in the shape of Mr David “BrumHour” Massey.

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After getting settled down, we started off the evening with a bit of a show. The Bang Pai Falls  is from their Book of Siam, their specially themed cocktails. The description was “Overproof Rum with Cherry & Vanilla notes and cranberry juice. Names after the clear blue waterfall, you’ll see why!” It was a bit of a showstopper and there were a lot of onlookers in the restaurant (for the first time) when it arrived:

We decided to call him Steve as I thought it looked a little like the monkey from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’!

Onto our starters, I chose Soft Shelled Crab, a deep fried soft shelled crab smothered in chilli and salt.  Dave went for Chicken Tom Yum Soup, a Thai classic with chicken, kaffir lime, lemongrass, mushroom, galangal, chilli and coriander.

My Soft Shell Crab had a crisp batter with the nicely balanced flavour of crab coming through.  A touch of black pepper would have possibly lifted if further. The crunchy legs were my favourite part, with a flavour akin to a crab version of pork crunch, if you get what I mean.

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Dave was certainly enjoying his Tom Yum Soup. I snagged a piece of chicken and some broth. The chicken was delicate, with the lemongrass coming through as a strong note, and the heat of the galangal and chilli following in quick succession. One thing I would’ve loved on the side was a prawn cracker or two to steal some of the broth from Dave when he wasn’t looking.

Our second set of cocktails, which turned out to be our first (more on that later) arrived:

Mine was the Dark Side of the Moon, Glenmorangie, blood orange and cherry. It was sweet and silky with a citrus finish and a whiff of whisky to the nose, but it didn’t linger on the palate as some whisky cocktails can.

Dave plumped for an Apple & Kiwi Mojito, white rum, mint, kiwi and apple syrup. I snagged a sip and it was a nice take on a classic mojito, with the kiwi adding an extra dimension and green apple keeping the bite.

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For main I chose Lamb Massaman Curry.

I’m actually reminded of another visit to a Thai restaurant a few years back, when four of us ordered rice and three mains to share as we’d stopped for lunch. I was insistent on ordering Lamb Massaman, much to the grumbling of my fellow diners who wanted one each of red, yellow and green curries. I’d nipped to the loo just after the food arrived and upon my return to the table, one solitary piece of lamb was sitting in a small puddle of the middle of the dish. I was most upset!

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If you’ve always stuck to green or red curry, I’d really suggest giving this a try. It’s a completely different dish to the others. Made, in this case, with coconut milk, potato, peanuts and onion along with star anise. It’s one of Thailand’s most popular dishes and I can see why, it’s certainly one of mine. I was happy to devour the lot and the accompanying sticky coconut rice quickly to avoid a repeat of my previous experience.

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The erstwhile #Brumhour chose a Chicken Red Curry, chicken, coconut milk, bamboo shoots, aubergine, basil and red chilli. I once again did the blogger thing of darting my fork in to relinquish a piece from his plate. The chicken was again tender with a velvety spicy sauce.

Returning to the subject of #Steve, he had been bubbling away quietly in the corner of our table whilst we tried our others and got on with munching our starters and mains. We ordered dessert and I was moving Steve into position (he’s a sharing cocktail after all) and I dropped him…

… right on top of another glass, and contents pouring freely…

…and the whole restuarant paused for a breath.

Luckily the staff, probably warned that two of the most clumsiest and cloddish bloggers in Birmingham were due to visit, were marvelous. Within mere seconds, we’d been ushered to a new table and the disaster recovery team had swept the glass, mopped up the moisture and cleaned the table and chairs, whilst Dave and I were still rigid with adrenaline and embarrassment. I turned redder than Dave’s curry!

Thankfully nerves were returned back to normal with the arrival of #SonOfSteve and dessert:

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For dessert, I selected the Coconut Cup, a half coconut shell filled with coconut ice cream

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It was a really nice palate cleanser after a couple of heavy dishes, a light fragrant ice cream with nice chunks of coconut flesh throughout.

Dave went for something, in his words ‘photogenic’, so he had the Chocolate Ghirlanda, a coronet of dark chocolate with crunchy meringue, rich chocolate ice cream, white chocolate sauce and dusted with cocoa. Now if that doesn’t sound decadent, I don’t know what is!

It was rich, sweet, unguent and gooey, chocolate and all in all, deliciousness.

And that was it for our #mandate.  We survived and so did #Steve (less his innards). I’ll be back again, with Wifey in tow, when I next get a craving for Massaman… mmmmm… Massaman…

When: 27/07/2017

Where: Siamais, Six Brindley Place, 7 Oozells St, Birmingham, B1 2HS.

Who: Siamais

Disclaimer: For this visit, I was a guest of Spray Marketing and Siamais, arranged by Brum Bloggers, 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.

 

 

 

 

Haig Club Skybar – Lowland Whisky with a Sky High view

I do love The Cube  Architecturally, the building is stunning and it has a great mix of living, dining, drinking, spa treatments and even a bowling alley on the way apparently…

Its newest resident is Haig Club‘s new Bar, next to Marco Pierre White Steakhouse on level 25 of The Cube. I was invited to see the new bar, try the cocktails being whipped up by head bartender, Jack Spencer and sample some of their small plates!

 

If you haven’t heard of the brand, you’ll recognise their partners in the shape of David Beckham, who is even present at the bar in the shape of an autographed poster, and Simon Fuller of Spice Girls & Pop Idol fame.

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The whole ethos of Haig Club is to bring it up to date and give whisky a modern, easy drinking feel. Their main product is the single grain Haig Club (obvs), in its distinctive squat cobalt blue and copper bottle, echoed in the bar design. Their more recent addition is Haig Clubman made in ex bourbon casks to be a much sweeter whisky.

The 25th floor gives some stunning views and there are some great landmarks to spot out of the corner of the building like the Peace Gardens and Beetham Tower. It looks even prettier at night (as Birmingham does!).

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Whilst we did the usual blogger mingle and catching up with friends old and new, we tried a whisky and Coke, always refreshing combination, before taking our seats ready for a quick talk from Jack

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Jack went over the difference between the Club and the Clubman giving us neat samples of both. I prefer the slightly more ‘robust’ of the two Club whilst the majority of the rest of the group went for the Clubman.

Both had been designed as easy ‘blending’ whiskys for cocktail making and pairing. They are what I’d call a neutral whisky so if you’re not a big whisky drinker, this may be worth you trying to start out.

All the cocktails for the evening were showcasing the Haig Clubman and Jack has created over 20 cocktails, using both Haig Club and Clubman to tempt your taste-buds if you want to vary away from the menu.

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Our second cocktail (or first if you don’t count whisky and Coke as a cocktail) was Pears in Paradise, a combination of Haig Clubman, Pear Liqueur, Cloudy Apple Juice, Cinnamon and Lime with a slice of pear too! These reminded me of the pear drop sweets every grandparent seemed to carry in their pocket when I was growing up. It was a shade too sweet for my liking but still nice and refreshing.

Time for food!

Our first round of dishes was Smoked Duck & Sesame Skewers, rolled in HoneyChicken Satay SkewersBlack Pudding Bon Bons with homemade brown sauce and Patatas Bravas. All quite rich and powerful savoury and sweet flavours to punch with the Pears in Paradise.

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The next beverage on the list was Clubman Apple Mule, Haig Clubman, Apple Juice, Ginger Beer and a slice of dried apple for those who worry about my fruit and veg intake. One of my faves of the night, a really nice refreshing summer cocktail with a spicy lilt to the end from the ginger beer.

The next round of food was Moules Mariniere (the first time I’ve seen it as a small plate) in a nice rich white wine & cream sauce. There was also some Aromatic King Prawns which lived up to their name, being huge and a nice spicy aroma. The Iberico Ham & Dijon Crocquettes were also huge with a reach, creamy, chive sauce wrapped around chunks of ham, topped off with a panko breadcrumb outer. The final dish of this round was their Chorizo & Black Pudding Sausage Rolls in puff pastry.  The sweetness and spice of the chorizo and black pudding combined well, though the puff pastry was a bit too ‘shrapnel heavy’ for me.

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The next cocktail was a Ginger Julep, Haig Clubman, Ginger Liqueur, Mint and Lime. The sharpest out of the three and yet the sweetest at the same time, with the lime juice having fisticuffs against the spicy and sugary ginger liqueur, which made for an interesting sip.

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Our final trio of dishes was their Scotch Eggs, soft boiled eggs rolled in Cumberland sausage meat and panko breadcrumbs, Chorizo Frito al Vino, chorizo glazed with sweet red wine, and more Patatas Bravas.

The Chorizo was my favourite dish of the evening and was also nosily appreciated by the whole table; the scotch egg was lovely too.

The final cocktail and treat was to watch Jack show off his skills with a Berry Beauty, Haig Clubman, Chambord, Grand Marinier, Sugar Syrup, Raspberries and Burnt Rosemary.  All poured in a glass pyramid.

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I finished my fruity cocktail whilst looking at that beautiful view. If you fancy something a little bit different in a cocktail bar and those stunning views, you should check it out.

When: 06/07/2017

Where: Haig Club Bar,  Level 25, The Cube, Birmingham

Who: Haig Club Bar, The Cube

Disclaimer: For this visit, I was a guest of the wonderful team at Rewired PR and Haig Club Bar. 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.