Table Talk – Friday 15th December

Maravilla Sour Purity Brewing Company

Earlier this year I visited Bruges and really got into fruit –flavoured beers, so I was pleased to read that Warwickshire’s Purity Brewing Company has launched a new Belgian style limited edition brew. Maravilla Sour is a ruby coloured raspberry sour, available at the brewery shop and online.

Origianl Patty Men

In the newly released Hardens Restaurant Guide, Birmingham has the UK’s fifth largest number of high scoring restaurants. As well as the expected Michelin-starred eateries Harborne Kitchen and Original Patty Men are also highly rated.

Restaurant 23

Sad to hear that one of my favourite local restaurants has closed. Restaurant 23 in Leamington shut after a gas leak in October, I just assumed that this was a temporary measure, but their Facebook and Twitter pages haven’t been updated since then. If anyone knows what has happened to Curtis Stewart and the team do let me know.

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A Victorian afternoon tea in Coventry

As Coventry is still basking in the glory of winning the UK Capital of Culture2021, I thought I’d share with you one of the city’s small cultural attractions.

The Priory Visitors Centre is slap bang in the middle of the city centre opposite Nando’s.  Built over the remains of Coventry’s first cathedral, excavation work gave archaeologists the opportunity to uncover details of much of the original cathedral and tell the story of this amazing part of Coventry’s history.

Priory Visitor Centre & Undercroft is now open as a social enterprise and last weekend I took my mum there for a Victorian Afternoon tea.

Victorian afternoon tea

Our menu for this experience was prepared to authentic recipes by Leigh Waite from the Heritage Pantry – maker of the famous Coventry God Cakes  – and included these afternoon tea treats to get us into the festive spirit:

Cheese “Oliver” Twists

Surprisingly, one of our teatime favourites is a Victorian invention – we’ve added a touch of Dickens to fit the season

Potted Beef and Potted Ham

Another teatime classic, home cooked meats, all prepared, potted and butter sealed, served with oatcakes.

Pork pies with apple and cranberry with oatcakes 

Hand Raised Christmas Pies

A duo of classic pork pies, hand raised by CH Rowley Ltd of Arley, in the time honoured way, and topped with homemade cranberry and apple chutney, plus cider apple sauce.

 Dainty Sandwiches

Another classic – no afternoon tea is quite right without them, and they are the epitome of what a fine lady might have served up to her tea guests. We had cucumber and egg.

 Christmas cakes

Mr Fezziwig’s Festive Fruit Cake

Traditional mini sized fruit cakes, made to a Victorian recipe, and topped with a touch of marzipan and Royal icing.

 Heritage Pantry tipsy cakes

Mr Dickens Delight

A classic Tipsy style cake, inspired by the fabulous Mrs Beeton’s recipe.

 Victorian cakes

Rum Butter Tarts

Delightful little tartlets filled with fruit and spices, a change from mince pies to add a twist to our tea.

 Classic Victoria Sponge Cakes

The ultimate cake to grace our seasonal Victorian tea plate. They came in different flavours, such as almond, or even orange, but the mini cakes on our platter today were in the modern sandwich form of the cake that we know so well.

 Tiny Tim’s Treats – Handmade Rum Truffles

Crystallised chestnuts and handmade rum truffles.

All washed down with lashings of tea and mulled wine! For £20 per person it was great value and a lovely way to experience an afternoon tea with a twist.

Check The Priory Visitor Centre’s  Facebook page for future events.

 

Table Talk – Friday 8th December

Chefs

Bit of a chef’s special in this week’s Table Talk, as we look to Birmingham and Worcester for the latest moves and news.

After two years as head chef, Nathan Eades is leaving Michelin-starred Simpsons this weekend. Nathan is off from Birmingham to a lead the brigade at The Wild Rabbit Inn, a pub in the Cotswolds.

Congratulations to Louisa Ellis for securing a place in Masterchef: The Professionals 2017 semi finals. At only 22 Louisa is the only female chef in this stage of the competition. By day Louisa is the senior chef de partie at The Wilderness in Birmingham.

The Crown Inn in Worcester has appointed Chris Monk as the pub’s new head chef. Formerly of Le Champignon Sauvage, Chris has introduced a new seasonal a la carte menu that Birmingham blogger Meat and One Veg rated highly.

 

 

 

Table Talk – Friday 1st December

Amore wine importers

While I keep my fingers crossed for Coventry’s bid for City of Culture to be successful, it is heartening to see the growing number of independent food and drink businesses in Coventry. Another to add to the growing list, is a new Italian wine importer Amore . Set up by two cousins who buy Italian fine wines direct from vineyards to bring customers great wines at reasonable prices.

Kitchenorium dish

If you haven’t been to a supper club in someone’s home before, check out Cat Dutton in Leamington. Her Kitchenorium nights in January include  – Sunday Smorgasbord, Midweek Meat-Free, Comfort Food Feast, Turkish Tuesday or Veganuary Adventure. Evenings are priced from £24 BYOB.

San Carlo Gran Cafe

On Monday (4th) Italian restaurant group San Carlo will open their new Gran Café, with all manner of sweet treats from luxury gelato and sorbets to cakes, desserts and afternoon teas. Located on the ground floor of Selfridges in the Bullring, the café will also serve gourmet sandwiches, freshly-baked croissants, pastries and muffins.

Festive food and drink events

December 2017 events

There is a very obvious theme to December’s events and it is unavoidably CHRISTMAS!

With markets, fairs and winter food festivals to pick up gifts and an après ski pop-up, you’ll find a host of festive food and drink events to enjoy in December.

It all starts this weekend with the Winter Seasonal Market at The Bond, Kington Winter Food Festival and Christmas Food & Craft Fair at Weston Park.

Next week the Christmas spirit continues with a Festive Fayre at Farmers Fayre, Victorian Christmas Market in Stratford upon Avon and Apres Ski Lodge pop-up in Birmingham.

Over in Worcester there is a festive tasting at Becketts Farm and Christmas Fair at Waylands Yard to put in your diaries.

Table Talk – Friday 24th November

Ryan Swift, The Belfry Hotel The Caterer

Chef Ryan Swift has left Dormy House and joined The Belfry as Head Chef of its Ryder Grill restaurant. Previously of The Edgbaston and Hampton Manor, Ryan told The Caterer: “Being from Tamworth I have always known about The Belfry with its long-standing reputation for excellence, so I am delighted to be starting here and cannot wait to get stuck in.” (Pic: The Caterer)

Fifth Spire Gin

Gin fans should hope over to Selfridges in Birmingham, as it is now the exclusive stockist of Fifth Spire gin, which is distilled in Lichfield  Best friends Tom Lindsey and Rory McKerrell  create their  gin using twin copper stills – one of which contains the main botanicals the other is only used for fresh citrus fruits. When combined, the result is a smooth spirit that has a classic gin base and waves of citrus notes.

Lost & Found Bloody Mary

When you only have Saturdays and Sundays to make the most of brunch, why not make it last with a ‘bottomless’ one? The Lost & Found in Bennetts Hill has a menu packed with delicious dishes, such as Eggs Royale, smashed avocado with chilli and lime, and Turkish eggs – poached eggs, whipped yogurt, spicy chorizo butter served on toasted sourdough. For £22 per person, guests can add two hours of bottomless Bloody Marys, Mimosas, Bellinis or Prosecco to their order.

100 whiskies in one day

While I’ve been away on a short Winter break, my inbox has been filling up nicely with news and events of tastings, pop-ups, new openings and festivals.  I will be adding details to the blog this week, starting with the Birmingham Whisky Festival  on Saturday 25th November.

Birmingham Whisky Festival

Taking place at the Birmingham Council House, the festival is run by whisky expert Eddie Ludlow and his team at The Whisky Lounge.  This year’s event includes brand new workshops, plus the opportunity to try some especially rare and exclusive whiskies with the ‘Under the Counter Drams’ selection.

Whether you’re a whisky novice, or know your Scotch from your Bourbon, this is the place to taste the best of homegrown Scottish whiskies, as well as an incredible selection of drams from all over the world.

The full session ticket includes entry to one session; a commemorative Glencairn Crystal tasting glass; a bottle of water); the Festival Guide; up to four hours sampling 100+ whiskies (not including ‘under the counter’ drams); an orange and white token for under the counter drams. There are also very special ‘Taster Tickets’ that admit ticketholders to the last two hours of either of the Saturday sessions for just £15.

Exhibitors include Talisker, Laphroaig, Highland Park, Kavalan, Aberlour, Springbank, Nikka, Elements of Islay, The Quiet Man and The Macallan.

Table Talk – Friday 3rd November

The One Elm in Stratford upon Avon has reopened its doors after a top-to-toe refurbishment.  As well as transforming the look and feel of the pub, the refit has brought a brand new all-day menu of top-notch pub dishes, made with great quality fresh ingredients.

The One Elm bar high res (1)

New to try are free-range Scotch eggs and brown sauce and Westcombe cheddar and ham hock croquettes bar snacks; the Two Elm double burger with cheese, lettuce, tomato and burger sauce as well as a new grill and sizzler menu features seriously good chicken, king prawn and marinated halloumi sizzlers and great steaks from Aubrey Allen.

Hotel Chocolat chocolates

Thinking of Christmas yet? Luxury British chocolatier and cocoa grower, Hotel Chocolat, is opening a brand new store in Birmingham New Street on 8th November where you could stock up on gift ideas or simply treat yourself.

As well as a huge selection of boxed chocolates and single-origin bars, shoppers can also purchase cocoa-infused interpretations such as cocoa gin, cocoa beer,  spiced cocoa nib ketchup, cocoa balsamic and chocolate orange marmalade.

 

November, November events to remember

November 2017 events

From chocolate to game I am getting a warm glow writing about the fabulous food and drink happenings in November. Remember that this is the only guide you need to the best events this month!

Not one but two Chocolate Festivals are being held this month – the first in Warwick on Saturday followed by Shrewsbury on the 18th and 19th.

In Stratford upon Avon it’s luxury all the way with a champagne tasting dinner Salt and a charcuterie and cheese dinner at the Arden Hotel.

A brand new event to look forward to in Birmingham as Digbeth Dining Club together with Original Patty Man launches Sear & Smoke for a complete meat-fest.

Sauce Supper Club is hosting a very special event on Monday 20th November, with a champagne reception and stunning six-course menu – designed and delivered by six different Michelin star chefs and their teams! The all star line-up is Tom Kerridge and friends Luke Tipping, Brad Carter, Richard Turner, Rob Palmer and Adam Bennett.

Fancy learning all there is to know about whisky? Then head over to The Star & Garter in  Leamington, or is port is more your tipple Hotel du Vin in Birmingham is hosting a Port & Portuguese Wine Dinner.

Game is on the menu at The Moat House, Acton Trussell, and to get us in the mood for Christmas, food historian Dr Annie Gray is hosting a talk onMrs Beeton’s Christmas.’

More details are over on the Events page and please don’t forget to check the venues’ websites for booking information.