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.

#GBTour – Chase Distillery at The High Field

I like gin and I’m very glad it’s currently having a revival. It’s a curious spirit, being made from another (vodka, if you didn’t know) and steeped with a variety of botanicals.

So you can imagine how happy I was when this appeared through the post from the people at Chase Distillery.  There was also an invite to sample their wares at their #GBTour, part of the 10th anniversary of Chase Distillery, which highlights the crisp and dry Williams GB Gin. The Birmingham stop involved a supper at The High Field, an offer I couldn’t refuse!

Arriving at The High Field in glorious sunshine, I saw their transportation for the evening (a lovely Land Rover Defender 90, if I’m correct; why did they ever stop making them?). After a few snaps, it was inside to have a quick globe of G&T on The High Field’s terrace, before settling upstairs (happily seated next to the estimable Paul Fulford).

The evening promised to be a celebration of gin with a ‘Ginfused’ three course meal tied with three cocktails, each a different take on how to use gin.

Our first course was Gin Cured Salmon with Cucumber Salad and Lime Mayonnaise accompanied by a Gin Twist (GB Gin, Cucumber, Lime, Elderflower Liqueur, Tonic), served chilled than the traditional hot cocktail.

The salmon was light with juniper notes, and the zesty lime mayo perked up the dish remarkably. The Gin Twist reminded me of cucumber water cut with lime cordial. It was very refreshing and took the edge off the heat.

Our second course was Braised Lamb Shank, Rosemary Gnocchi, Broad beans, Peas and Juniper Jus, accompanied by a GB Fruit Twist (GB Gin, Red Vermouth, Chase Blackcurrant Liqueur).

The lamb, braised for 24 hours, was tender as you’d expect and fell off the bone. The greens delicious, with a crisp al dente bite. The rosemary gnocchi was a tad disappointing.  I know they can come baked, boiled or fried (fried in this case), but as flavoursome as they were, I found them a tad cloying to the roof of my mouth. I hankered for a roast potato or two, especially to go with the wonderful lamb and tart juniper jus.

The GB Fruit Twist was a nice cooler with the vermouth giving a red wine vibrancy, undercut with fruits, and a dry finish coming from the gin.

Our final course was a Gin & Raspberry Summer Pudding with Clotted Cream, accompanied by Rasberrilicious GB (GB Gin, Lemon Juice, Raspberry Juice).

The summer pudding really cheered me up, as Bill Bryson says

“It’s a funny thing about English diners, They’ll let you dazzle them with piddly duxelles of this and fancy little noisettes of that but don’t f#ck with their puddings, which is my thinking exactly.”

Mine too Bill, mine too! This was a lively example of a proper British dessert, thick carb-olicious bread, stuffed with fruit (and a not inconsiderate amount of gin) and unctuous, glossy, rich clotted cream, evoking memories of happy Sunday lunches at my Nan’s.  The plate was polished back to the ceramic!

The cocktail, on the other hand, was a touch too tart for my tastes with lemon and raspberry juices giving an acidic edge.  As an dessert, this could have done with a touch of sweetness

And the evening came to a close, all gin heavy but hangover free the next day (wonderful!). Goody bag in hand with a miniature G&T to make at home and a summer pudding recipe (inserted below), I stepped out into a sweet summer twilight as my carriage in the form of my long suffering Wifey awaited.

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When: 14/06/2017

Where: The High Field, 22 Highfield Road, Edgbaston, B15 3DP

Who: Williams Gin, Chase Distillery, The High Field

Disclaimer: For this visit, I was a guest of the wonderful team at The High Field & Chase Distillery (who also sent me a natty bottle and book), this provides no bias to the post. This blog is my own personal opinion and strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.

 

 

 

Feliz Segundo Aniversario! Brummie Gourmand is 2!

It’s hard to believe it’s been TWO YEARS since my first post. I gave an update on what the first year had held so I thought I’d give you an update on Year 2!

This year has been an interesting one so far, having been shortlisted for the Midlands Food Drink and Hospitality Awards Blogger of the Year, the first anniversary of Geeky Brummie on Brum Radio, the launch of the Geeky Brummie Podcast, and lots and lots of blogging.

Some personal highlights have been:

and

  • Enjoying Beef & Malbec at Gaucho

Choosing just a dozen of the things I’ve been up to was difficult so head on through the archives to read more!

To finish, a quick thank you, again, to long suffering Wifey and thank you to all those who’ve taken time to read my little corner of the internet. Here’s looking forward to year 3!

Autumnal Comfort at Ju Ju’s Cafe

First off, I must apologise to Ju Ju’s. Wifey and I have been living near Canal Square for 6 years now and we’ve had a fair few visits, including a decent amount of breakfasts prior, but not since starting the blog.

Since Julia and the team have now opened the back room to offer more dining space, we thought it was nigh on time for another visit.

Wifey had booked after hearing about Ju Ju’s Autumn deal of “2 for £25” where you could have two courses for two persons for £25.

We chose to supplement our meal with additional starters, as the weather outside had put a chill in the air.

I picked their soup of the day, a Chilli Beef, whilst Wifey had Smoked Salmon with a potato cake.

 

My stew was perfect for an autumnal day, it was warming and spicy with a definite paprika kick to give a smoky flavour.

Wifey’s smoked salmon was “beautiful”. The salmon tasted fresh, the chive sauce giving a creamy note, and the potato cake was soft and crispy at the same time melting in the mouth.

For mains, I chose their Luxury Welsh Lamb Burger, a prime lamb burger in a soft bun with caramelised onions, layered with sliced tomato & topped with goat’s cheese.

Wifey had Roast Chicken Supreme, chicken breast topped with a mushroom sauce and served with roast potatoes and seasonal vegetables

Wifey’s chicken was moist with a variety of mushrooms, including oyster, in a smooth sauce. The vegetables were cooked and seasoned well, making a comforting dish for long night.

My burger was HUGE! I mean look at it!

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It was served with a huge slice of goats cheese, which had partially melted into an oozy deliciousness. The onions were sweet and sticky; the lamb was delicious, a thick grained mince with a minty flavour running through. The chunky chips were very hot and came with a cute little vinegar bottle. They were extra chunky and crispy.

To finish, we went all out with pudding.  Wifey went for Eaton Mess served in a sundae glass with crushed meringue, berry compote & whipped cream.

I had their Sticky Toffee Pudding, covered with a rich sticky toffee sauce and served with a scoop of vanilla Cornish ice cream

Wifey’s Eaton Mess was creamy as you’d expect, not overly sweet with big chunks of meringue hidden throughout.

My Sticky Toffee Pudding came with a rich glossy glaze of toffee sponge over a light sponge. The ice cream was luxuriously velvety, rich and super cold, a nice counterpoint to the hot soup at the start of the meal.

 

After the meal, bellies full and appetites sated, we went for a nose around the new extension to the restaurant.  Decorated in a punk take on Modern British design, it’s a bit of a difference to the continental cafe style of the front room.  Julia and her team are always welcoming, treating you like old friends – great example of what cafe service should be.

We’ll be returning again soon, more than likely for a Sunday lunch, and won’t be leaving it as long next time!

When:17/11/2016

Where: Ju Ju’s Cafe, Canal Square, 100 Browning Street, Birmingham, B16 8EH

Who:  Ju Ju’s Cafe

Whisky, Wine and all things fine -Stilnovisti Whisky and English Wine Takeover

A few months back (!), I had chance to spend an evening with Birmingham Whisky Club and the wonderful Colin Hampden-White, whisky writer extraordinaire. We were to taste a wonderful selection of Stilnovisti whiskies and learn about Whisky Quarterly magazine at the Upper Room of The Wellington.

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Stilnovisti is the oldest alternative investments company in Central and Eastern Europe, and manages investments for private and corporate clients in Poland and abroad,
focusing on assets such as wine, whisky and art. Their whisky portfolio is not usually released to the public so tonight was a special treat to dip into this elusive collection.

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Colin gave a remarkable talk on his own career, starting off with becoming a photographer for The Scotsman in 2001, moving to the Times, FT and Conde Nast and then moving onto having his fine art photography in galleries by 2008.

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His other passion, whisky, led to the creation of Whisky Quarterly magazine. Perhaps the most exclusive Whisky magazine in the world, available only through subscription. Rather than just whisky reviews, it concentrates on stories of the people who run distilleries and who work within the field, covering the heritage of the whisky and the lifestyle that surrounds it. Previous issues are made available 2 quarters behind for free on their website!

Back to the beverages, we tried 4 whiskies from the Stilnovisti Private Reserve:

  1. Mortlach 4th fill sherry hogshead (315 bottles) 58% – this was a very young and very pale whisky, and given as an example given of how bottling a young whisky may not be the best idea. It was a touch on the harsh side and felt very ‘raw’
  2. Aultmore 2008 6yr old 1st fill sherry butt (534 bottles) 64% – our second taster was a much more rounded and balanced drink, which shows the alcohol content is not the only factor when it comes to taste.
  3. Ledaig 2005 8yr old 2nd fill (280 bottles) 58% – this was my personal favourite of the night. From Tobermory distillery, this was their peated expression. I’m a huge fan of peaty whisky and this was no exception, smoky and floral it was a superb dram.
  4. Rage Whisky [Peatside] – 4yr old Bourbon / Madeira casks (490 bottles) 63% – the final taster for the night, this was a very nice drop with a well rounded flavour.It was a different experience to the others but was my second favourite from the evening.

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Stilnovisti is now on its third bottling and is a large investor in especially new make whisky, with over 10,000 casks purchased in the previous few years. It was a fascinating chance to see some whiskies which you’d never see again in the wild, presented with wit and charm and genuine love by Colin.

More recently, Wifey and I tried another sort of alcohol. The English Wine Takeover from The Food and Drink Events Company (sister to the Birmingham Whisky Club) at The Bond Company in Digbeth.

English wine has had a bad rap in the past few years. Though English sparkling wine has started to gain popularity, there is now a wide range of reds whites, roses and dessert wines for all occasions.

After wandering through the main hall with a wide range of wines on display.and making a few purchases, we popped outside to have a snack from the amazing team at Peel & Stone:

We picked up Aunt Sally’s picnic box, with cheddar, honey and mustard roasted ham, pork and apricot sausage roll, pickles, sauerkraut, beer chutney and a hunk of sourdough (which we were greedy and grabbed some New York Deli and Raisin multigrain too).

Wifey loved the sausage roll, the apricot adding a sweetness to the meaty filling inside a light pastry. My favourite bit was the bread, we loved it so much we bought a sourdough and a New York  Deli to take home after being advised it freezes and keeps really well.

Back to the wine and we were lucky enough to snaffle the last two tickets to the Gusborne Sparkling Wine Masterclass hosted by Laura Rhys.

Based in a small village in Kent and starting with a 20 hectare plot (expanded to 40, and a second vineyard in West Sussex) and growing a variety of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, classic champagne grapes. These three are used across their range of wines. They first planted in 2004 and released their first wines in 2010 to critical acclaim.

We sampled 4 of their selection:

  1. Brut Cuvee – A classic blend of 40%+ Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and the remainder Pinot Meuiner. It was rich and velvety with a complex nose.
  2. Blanc de Blanc – Made from 100% Chardonnay and pressed in a champagne press to give the grapes a gentle squeezing. The wine is aged for a minimum of thirty six months on lees and three months on cork with two fermentations to get the best out of the grapes. This was much softer and fruitier than the first with a clean citrusy palate.
  3. Blanc de Noirs- This was a blend of 80%+ Pinot Noir with the remainder Pinot Meuiner – This one was a stunner, with a strong acidity, really making the Pinot Noir shine
  4. The final taster was their award winning English Rosé, which had beaten our the Bollinger Rosé at a blind taste. Made from 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay and Pinot Meuiner, it was an astounding little beverage and one of the best examples of a sparkling Rosé I’ve tasted

It was a very fun and informative talk from Laura and it made us appreciate how good English Sparkling Wine can be.

Feeling lifted by the wines, we had another wander around the producers there and even got to taste a non-sparking Gusborne White and Red.

It was a thrilling introduction to the world of English wine and mine and Wifey’s english wine knowledge was expanded immensley by our visit.

Birmingham Whisky Club runs regular Whisky events throughout the year and discounted for members, you can find their website here, and regular updates on twitter at TheWhiskyMiss and WhiskyMsJnr

The Food and Drink Events Company also run a variety of events throughout the year which you can find out more on their website and Twitter.