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

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.

Table Talk – 6 October

So in this week’s round-up I’ve got news of an American diner in Coventry, award-winning street food in Birmingham, a new menu for a Warwickshire pub and a new opening in Atherstone to kickstart your weekend.

Spangles Coventry

Spangles diner in Coventry is getting ready to leave Fargo Village. Their home for the past two years is now too small for them so they will be opening a new 160-seater venue for sweet treats and  afternoon teas. Spangles owner Kelly Isles said: “It’s all really exciting the new diner is going to be so fun and very different style and will bring something really exciting that’s never been in Coventry before.”

Baked in Brick European Street Food Awards 2017

Congratulations to Baked in Brick who won Euro Street Food Award for Best of the Best Street Food. Chef Lee’s winning dish was beef shin ragu and mushroom calzone, 24 hour beef chilli cheese wrap, wood fired mackerel fillet spiced with Egyptian dukkah and roasted butternut squash calzone. Catch him at Digbeth Dining Club.

The Duck on the Pond Southam

The Duck on the Pond in Long Itchington (near Southam) is celebrating a year since its reopening with a brand new menu. All will be revealed at an exclusive seven-course tasting experience on 10th October with tickets for the dinner at £25.

Steamin Billy bitter

Leicestershire-based Steamin’ Billy Brewing is to re-open The White Horse in Atherstone at the end of October, following a refurbishment. When open, the pub will offer stone-baked pizzas, steak and burgers alongside craft beer, cocktails and wine.

Meet the producer – Tigg’s Sauces

Fresh from picking up their Young Producer Award from Speciality Food magazine, Tigg’s Sauces are causing a stir at food festivals across the country.

Tiggs Sauces

The judges “loved the intense flavours of these sauces and the innovative pack formats they come in.”

Brother Sam and Jacob produce the most versatile dressings/sauces/marinades around – based on recipes handed down to them by their Granny Tigg. Made with only the finest, freshest and most vibrant ingredients they are 100% natural and free-from gluten, dairy and  nuts. In five amazing flavours – Sweet Original, Bold Beetroot, Cool Basil & Pea, Subtle Pepper and Mustard and Smokin Tomato.

You can catch Tigg’s Sauces at the Stone Food Festival this weekend, and Northampton Winter Food Festival, Malvern Christmas Food Festival and Ludlow Medieval Fair in November . Check the website for more details and full stockists.

October events to fall for

October 2017 events

For a mellow October I have picked a dozen events for you to eat, drink and discover some of the best chefs and producers in the West Midlands.

The first is a Salt & Earth pop-up by  Nikki Astley (formerly Two Cats Kitchen ).  He has chosen the recently opened Kanteen in the Custard Factory as a venue to showcase an eclectic menu with Latin American and Eastern influences  – including octopus. There are six dates to choose from.

I will be heading over to Staffordshire for the Stone Food & Drink Festival at the weekend and seeing what local producers have in store for foodies.

Shropshire chef James Sherwin is holding a special tasting dinner at Alderford Lake, Whitchurch. Look out for an exclusive competition on the blog to win a pair of tickets for the Saturday 28th October Wild Shropshire evening later in the week!

Two other themed dinners have caught my eye this month. Taste of Leamington is a mini tour of Sabai Sabai, Momenti, Eleven and Oscars restaurants in the town to raise funds for local charities. Over in Brum, chef Tom Aikens will be in his Mailbox restaurant to host a five course Beef Dinner, which includes a butchery demonstration.

There is no shortage of drink events being held in October either. The Wine Gang will bring their Winter Wine Festival to The Cube, Birmingham for a day of tasting over 200 different vintages. If you would like to learn more about natural Austrian wines, then  Carters of Moseley has a Meet the Winemaker event to try. The Bluebell in Henley in Arden is showcasing  South African wines, meanwhile over in Kenilworth The Cross is repeating its popular Costswold Gin Dinner.  It is a taste of the deep South with New Orleans cocktails at The Church in Birmingham and Westons Cider will be celebrating the harvest with an evening tour and light supper in Ledbury.

Full details over on the October events page.

If you go to any of my recommended events I would love to hear how you get on. Also if there is anything coming up in November that you think I should know about, drop me a line on midlandsgourmetgirl@gmail.com


Table Talk – 29 September

From French cuisine to fish and chips, this week’s Table Talk caters for all tastes with a new opening in Birmingham, an award winning restaurant in Leamington and a guest chef appearance at a local food festival.

All Greek Deli

It is easy to miss the rather lovely All Greek Deli, as it is tucked away in Stephenson Street just by New Street station. But from Christmas the owners aim to change that by opening their first restaurant in the suburb of Moseley. The 40 –seater venue will serve breakfast through to light dinners and will be in good company with Carters of Moseley, Loki Wine and Italian deli Sapori de Sole as neighbours.

Oscars bistro Leamington

Congratulations to Oscars, for winning the best restaurant in Coventry and Warwickshire Tourism and Culture Aaward this week. The French bistro in Chandos Street, Leamington has been owned and run by Aubrey Allen for over 15 years.

Solihull Fod Festival

One half of the Hairy Bikers –  Dave Myers  –  will be cooking at the Solihull Food Festival this weekend. With several demos from Friday to Sunday to choose from, tickets for seats at Dave’s cooking demonstrations are £5, which includes entry to a prize draw to win a selection of Le Creuset cookware.  http://events.solihullbid.co.uk/solihull-food-and-drink-festival/

Rumours of a new fish and chips with fizz place opening up Stratford upon Avon are yet to be confirmed so watch this space!

Table talk – 22 September

Apparently the West Midlands has both the best burger and best real ale pub! Find out who picked up these accolades, as well as who is celebrating a birthday and mixing up a new cocktail list, in this week’s Table Talk.


Warwickshire burger boys the Flying Cows went to Manchester for the British Street Food Awards and returned with the prize for Best Burger. Their recipe contained Dexter beef, cheddar, Swiss cheese, red onion, club sauce and glazed streaky bacon in a seeded brioche bun.

Red Banger street food

Happy birthday Fargo Village! Coventry’s creative quarter will be three on Saturday and celebrating all weekend with a craft market, food by Red Banger and the Vegan Grindhouse, plus drinks by Twisted Barrel Ale.

The Pig & Tail cocktail

The next time you are in the Jewellery Quarter, have a look at The Pig &Tail’s new cocktail menu. The list includes Smoked Kentucky, with bourbon, caramel syrup and apple liqueur. Between 3pm and 7pm Tuesday to Friday they are two for £10 too.

The Weavers real ale house

Congratulations to one of the region’s smallest pubs for winning CAMRA West Midlands Pub of the Year. The Weavers Arms in Kidderminster has eight guest ales, six craft ales, plus four real ciders on the hand pulls as well as a gin menu of 12 different blends for customers to enjoy.

Next week there will be details on the  new cafe opening in Stratford upon Avon and the return of Hawkers Yard in Birmingham to look forward to.