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.

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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.

 

Table Talk – Friday 27 October

Lo pan fries, macaroons and chocolate creme eggs are on the menu for this week’s Table Talk.

Slims Pork Chop Express pulled pork sandwich

Anyone playing crazy golf at the Custard Factory could fill up at the new Slim’s Pork Chop Express.  Focusing on slow-smoked meats and secret sauces, Slim’s takes inspiration from the 1986 cult classic film ‘Big Trouble in Little China’ and combines two of the UK’s favourite cuisines  – barbeque and Chinese. Diners will be offered snacks from brisket pots and burgers to chicken and waffles, plus  Slim’s special Lo Pan Fries.

Miss Macaroon

Next week, Miss Macaroon is celebrating the first birthday of their Great Western Arcade macaroon and Prosecco shop. This lovely little store not only sells sweet treats, but all sales fund Macaroons that  Make A Difference catering and retail employability training courses, work experience and paid jobs for long term unemployed people aged 18-35.

Sweet As creme egg

Anyone with a sweet tooth should be heading over to Warwick next weekend for the return of their annual Chocolate Festival. The legendary creme eggs from Sweet As will be on sale, as well as cakes, biscuits, brownies and all things chocolatey from 10am to 4pm in the Market Square.

Taste of Staffordshire 2017 winners

On Friday night the great and good from Staffordshire’s food and drink sector gathered at Lichfield Cathedral to find out who had won Taste of Staffordshire awards. Congratulations to the winners:

 Four Seasons restaurant Swinfen Hall Hotel

Independent restaurant of the year
Four Seasons restaurant at Swinfen Hall

THree Horseshoes Country Inn

Best Casual Dining Restaurant
Three Horseshoes Country Inn, Leek 

Lymestone Brewery

Brewery of the year
Lymstone Brewery

The Sun Inn Stafford

Pub of the year
The Sun, Stafford

Afternon tea at the Red Lion, Bradley

Afternoon tea of the year
Red Lion, Bradley, Stafford

Essington Farm

Farm Shop of the year and Food Producer of the year
Essington Farm

Poms Kitchen Lichfield

Tea room and coffee shop of the year
Pom’s Kitchen & Deli, Lichfield

Nelsons Gin Staffordshire

Drink’s manufacturer of the year
Nelson’s Gin, Uttoxeter

Hasbean coffee

Specialist food and drink retailer of the year
Hasbean

Keith Bott Titanic Brewery Beer Today

Industry Ambassador
Keith Botts MBE, Titanic Brewers, Stoke on Trent

(Image from Beer Today)

Table Talk – 20 October

Table Talk 20 October

A couple of ideas of how to spend the weekend if you like gin, chocolate and Italian food. Enjoy!

Fumo, Selfridges Birmingham

The stylish Italian restaurant Fumo is now open on the fourth floor of Selfridges. This is the second Birmingham outpost for the popular family owned eaterie, with some new exclusive dishes on the menu.

Okens Kitchen tarts

Keep your eyes peeled for a new deli opening soon in Warwick. Scran will offer breakfasts, coffee, salads and baked goodies from Oken’s Kitchen.  Premises are currently being refurbished at 1 St.John’s.

Sacred Gin 40 St Pauls

Probably the smallest bar in Birmingham has scooped a major award. Congratulations to 40 St Pauls for winning Best Gin List in the country. They are also the first bar in the UK to stock Sacred Gin’s new sloe gin – a must for juniper fans.

Henley Chocolates

Chocoholics should head over to Brindleyplace on Saturday, where from 11am – 5pm Chocival will feature music, entertainment and a variety of food stalls. On sale will be a range of indulgent and unusual chocolate treats – from cookies to cakes, gooey brownies and chocolate flavoured cask beers, Central Square  is going to be choc-a-block with cocoa flavoured goodness!

What’s on in October

This month is flying past and if you have missed out on some of October’s great events, don’t worry there are still a few more left to go from my top tips for you to enjoy.

Lichfield Autumn Beer Festival

Friday 20th – Saturday 21st October
Autumn Beer Festival
Guildhall, Lichfield

This popular festival returns to the Lichfield Guildhall where you can enjoy a fine selection real ales and ciders from local and regional breweries. Live music on each evening plus pork pies and a choice of refreshments.

Herbert Art Gallery Coventry

Friday 27th, Saturday 28th & Tuesday 31st  October
Nightmares & Nibbles
The Old Grammar School, Coventry

As part of the Day of the Dead festival, Vortex Creates is hosting a Nightmares and Nibbles spectacular where you can join Dr Frankenstein at the medieval hospital for a sip and a nibble at the grand unveiling of a secret laboratory. This lab and clinic explores the properties of the human body and soul creating miracle cures for those daring to try this selection of tasty yet gruesome delights £25 inc half a bottle of wine.

Matt Cheal

Monday 30th October
Sauce Supper Club with Matt Cheal
The Winehouse, Lichfield

Chef patron of Cheals of Henley, Matt is the host for this month’s supper club. He will be creating a six course tasting menu for guests that costs £65 per person.

Pub lunch – Bulls Head, Birmingham

The Bulls Head Birmingham

When you’re hungry on a Saturday lunch time, Broad Street isn’t the best place to be in Birmingham. Luckily for us, my partner remembered that The Bull’s Head is tucked off a side street near Cineworld, so off we went for a pub lunch.

Bulls Head Birmingham bar light

Owned by Davenports Brewery this is a pub steeped in history. Davenports began in 1829, and their range of revival cask beers harks back to some of the very original secret brews. Highgate Brewery was established in 1898 and is best known for its classic Midlands dark beers Mild and Old Ale. Dares, established in Birmingham in 1927, is a name the brewery has resurrected to brew a small batch craft beers.

Bulls Head Birmingham inside

The pub was recently refurbished and has a touch of Victorian gothic within a comfortable, traditional pub interior.

Back room Bulls Head Birmingham

We were only there for a quick bite so chose three dishes from the street food inspired menu. My partner dived straight into the Barons all day brunch and declared the 10 inch award winning Lashfords sausage ‘the bomb’. He had a full server of two rashers dry cured smoked bacon, mild spiced baked beans topped with a fried egg, served with toast and fries. He swapped the grilled tomato out for more toast (which was a bog standard sliced white bread) but still thought it was good quality for the £9 cost.

Bulls Head breakfast

I tucked into a chicken burger, with a chicken breast marinated in honey and mustard. It came in a rustic brioche bun with fresh Asian slaw tossed in yogurt sauce, lettuce and tomato. I declined the crispy fried onions, but kept the skin on fries and mint and cucumber dip. I was happy to pay £8 for this filling meal. My only gripe was that the greaseproof paper stuck to my chicken and call me old fashioned but I do like my food to be served on plates!

Bulls Head chicken burger

As a side we also had one of the pub’s signature dishes – Cauliflower Pakora. Fresh, crispy bites with Asian slaw served in a poppadom with and choice of dip was a good choice. At £6 it was a hearty portion and provided more than enough for the two of us to share.

Bulls Head cauliflower pakora

I wasn’t really sold on the dry heat of Asian slaw, but the Kati Rolls will be worth a return visit to try next, alongside the select but well thought out gin menu of premium brands and mixers.

*The pub did not know that I was reviewing our lunch and we paid for our meals.

The Bulls Head, 38 Bishopsgate Street, Birmingham  https://www.facebook.com/thebullsheadbrum/

 

Table Talk – 13 October

Table Talk 13 October

In the news this week……………. Spanish restaurant Amantia in Birmingham will be hosting monthly wine tasting evenings with tapas and flamenco for £35, starting from tonight (Friday 13th).

Thursday 19th October  is a date for frommage fans. Aubrey Allen is hosting an informal tasting with a selection of cheeses paired with wine for £10 that starts at 6.30pm in the Leamington store.

Congratulations to the Lion and Pheasant in Shrewsbury, for winning Shropshire Dining Pub of the Year from the Good Pub Guide.

No 9 Church Street in Stratford upon Avon will be now open for Sunday lunch on three dates – 15th October, 19th November and 17th December, serving traditional roasts including Aubrey Allen beef.