My top picks of where to eat and drink in July begin and end with a gin event.
Juniper fans are in for a treat this month as there are several tastings and events on just for them. There is a Whitley Neill tasting at The Fat Pug and July culminates with a three day spectacular Gin in the City.
But there’s plenty more for non gin drinkers! If cider and rum are more your tipple, head over to Rugby for The Merchants Inn’s week long celebration and wine connoisseurs may want to snap up a ticket for a Michael Chapoutier at Slurp in Leamington.
Festival wise, we have the urban celebration of local bars, restaurants and hotels in the Colmore Food Festival in Birmingham’s Victoria Square and the first outing for Nuneaton Food Festival.
If you can’t resist a cocktail or two, then Friday 13th – Sunday 15th July should already be in your diary, as the Birmingham Cocktail Weekend takes over the city centre.
For extra special dinners, head to The Old Vicarage in Burton on Trent for their French Rustic Evening or you could chow down at the new Italian Supper Club in Shrewsbury.
For something a little bit different, how about learning about the array of edible plants and mushrooms growing all around us on the Warwickshire Wild Food Foraging Course Walk, or mastering new skills with Aubrey Allen’s Butchery Class and BBQ?
As usual all of the details are over on the Events page. Wherever your culinary journey takes you to in July have fun!
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.
Tomorrow I will be sampling ALL the gin at a festival in Leamington and kicking off a month of events in April. Also on:
Weston Park is wishing a fond farewell to their head chef Guy Day with two special demos and tastings.
Whiskey fans will be torn between sinking a few drams at The Plough or The Alchemist who both have tastings on.
You can’t go wrong pairing craft beer with Aubrey Allen steaks, so head over to The Star & Garter in Leamington to meet the brewer too. Still in the spa town, enjoy tapas and raise funds for autism at the Season’s restaurant tapas and quiz night.
At Warwick Kitchen, Price’s Spices are hosting their first restaurant pop-up and in the Custard Factory you’ll find street food fans tucking into everything from German sausages to curries, these are both brand new events.
You’ll have to wait until the end of April to show off your chilli-eating skills at Eastnor Castle’s Chilli Festival.
My top tips for what to do are always popular, so as usual please check with the venues on ticket availability and enjoy filling your bellies!
May sees Birmingham welcoming three new food and drink events to the city’s Eastside – Street Banquet, the En Place pop-up and English Wine Festival. Foodies are bound to give these exciting events a warm welcome.
As the weather gets more clement the smell of charcoal fills in the air, with BBQs being fired up at both The Highfield in Birmingham and Aubrey Allen in Leamington Spa.
All good food needs a refreshing cold drink and there are opportunities for mixologists to learn new skills and savour classic cocktails at Leamington’s Restaurant 23.
Grape lovers will be spoilt for choice at the New Zealand wine tastings in Warwick and the English Wine Tasting with the Birmingham Wine School at The Old Joint Stock.
As an early Fathers Day present, the Beer & Butchery course at Becketts Farm or the Chase Distillery Dinner at Turners Restaurant may fit the bill.
Check the Events May 2015 page for all the details and get the dates in your diaries as they are bound to sell out quickly!
I’ve added some new activities to the Events page.
If you’re brave enough to venture into town wearing beach wear and flip flops, head for the Australia Day BBQ in the The Royal Pug’s back garden in Leamington Spa. You can also raise funds for guide dogs in Stratford upon Avon, sip Seresin wines at Binswood Hall, watch the Queen’s butcher at The One Elm’s Aubrey Allen steak night, or improve your wellbeing with nutritionist Amanda Ursell.
October’s food and drinks events page is the fattest blog post I’ve ever written!
Chefs taking on new challenges include Adam Stokes pairing up with Purity Bar & Kitchen, while the Eden Hotel Collection chefs battle it out in their annual competition against each other.
For drinks events how about a tutored wine tasting with a screening of Sideways at The Electric, an introduction to sherry at The Bluebell in Henley in Arden, a Bordeaux tasting with Loki Wine or German beerfest at The Wild Boar in Warwick.
Seasonal markets are back at The Bond, this time with a new afternoon tea and cocktail masterclass and Birmingham’s newest gastropub The Highfield is hosting its first Steak Night with Aubrey Allen.
With even more opportunities to meet producers, sample themed menus, shop at markets and celebrate at festivals lets keep it local!
If you are tucking into a Sunday roast right now then don’t forget to take a photo as it could win you a great prize. By sharing your love of the UK’s favourite meal during British Roast Dinner Week, you could win a £200 meat pack from Aubrey Allen.
The Chef’s Butcher is inviting diners to share their favourite pictures of roast meals with all the trimmings from Monday 29 September to Sunday 5 October via Facebook and @aubreyallen using the hash tag #AubreysBiggestRoast.
Photos can be taken of roasts served in pubs, restaurants, hotels or at home and must be posted by midnight on 5 October.
If you watch Masterchef, Saturday Kitchen and Sunday Brunch thinking that you could do better, then this is the competition for you!
The search is on to find the UK’s home-grown culinary superstar, with the launch of Aubrey Allen’s ‘Home Cook of the Year’ competition with the help of celebrity chefs, Brian Turner CBE and Andreas Antona as judges.
Aspiring home cooks of all ages are invited to enter by submitting their most favourite three course menu, which includes a cold starter, a hot main course using Aubrey Allen’s succulent ‘Farm Assured’ Cornish lamb and their very best dessert.
Four finalists will be short-listed to take part in the final at the Leamington Spa Food & Drink Festival on Sunday 7 September, which features a live cook-off for the main course, as well as tastings of their pre-prepared starter and dessert.
Peter Allen from Aubrey Allen, The Chef’s Butcher said: “This competition is designed to highlight the amazing culinary talent that’s practised in the home and we’re welcoming entries from all generations who don’t have any professional cooking experience.”
In addition to being crowned ‘Home Cook of the Year’, the winner will receive two places at Aubrey Allen’s Butchery School and two places at Simpsons Cookery School, including dinner for two and an overnight stay at Simpsons in Edgbaston, Birmingham.
Entry forms are available to download from www.aubreyallenleamington.co.uk and entries close on 15 August 2014.
So get your thinking caps on and you could scoop the Home Cook of the Year title, plus these fabulous prizes from Aubrey Allen and Simpsons.
Whether you father is green-fingered or loves a wee dram, here are five gift ideas that are much better than socks for Fathers Day.
Garden Organic’s Adopt a Veg scheme helps to grow and preserve the UK’s vegetable heritage. The adoption contributes to fund the work of the Heritage Seed Library, which works to conserve a unique collection of rare and endangered vegetable varieties. http://www.adoptaveg.org
With 60 years’ experience between them, Aubrey Allen Master Butchers Simon Kelly and Martin Crombie will teach you some great practical skills in their Butchery course. The evening class in the Leamington Spa shop also includes supper and a few glasses of wine. http://www.aubreyallenleamington.co.uk/ButcherySchool.aspx
These Whoop Ass Cowboys from Harvey Nichols are lined up to deliver some hot flavours. Each member of the hot sauce gang has a different flavour to liven up your table. With a Chipotle Fire Hot Sauce, Hickory Heat Hot Sauce, smokey Habanero Hot Sauce and Chipotle Barbecue Sauce, and the Jalapeno Steak Sauce.
Indulge his sweet tooth for chocolate with Hotel du Chocolat’s For My Father collection. All dark, deep and roasted flavours, with a rare and vintage Rabot 1745 Madagascar 72% Dark Organic 70g Bar and Praline Selection H-Box, perfectly matched with a 37cl bottle of Special Reserve Ruby Port.
Hopefully he’ll share a wee dram if you buy him the Dalmore 15 year old single malt Scotch whisky gift set from Selfridges. Dalmore is matured for 13 years in American bourbon casks, followed by a year in sherry butts. This boxed gift set also includes a 40ml bottle of King Alexander III.
With a farmers market and annual food festival, Leamington Spa is quite rightly showing off its great local produce, chefs and restaurants. I hope that my guide, on the Destinations page, helps you navigate eating and drinking at some of my favourite venues in this compact spa town.