2013 review

Happy New Year!! Before I share news on restaurant openings, restaurant offers and events for 2014, please indulge me while I take a quick look back over last year.

I was lucky enough to meet some fabulous new producers, attend great events and savour the culinary talent of local chefs and share them with you on my blog. So here are some of my highlights from 2013.

Kings HEATh street food market Birmingham Mail

It took until 2013, but Birmingham’s first monthly street food market burst into our lives. Duncan Stanley’s Kings HEATh market launched and proved an instant hit. This is monthly food extravaganza where the 20 or so traders feed customers with every international dish that you can think of. With a couple more years’ experience under their belt, congratulations to the Digbeth Dining Club who brought home the Best Street Food Event from the British Street Food Awards in London.

BBC Good Food Show

More accolades were served up to local businesses. For the first time the BBC Good Food Show held a competition for the best street food in the Midlands. The candidates were so good that there were three winners! The Jabberwocky and Fresh Rrootz from Leamington and Squisito Deli from Warwickshire won a lot of new fans at the BBC Good Food Show in April.

It is no coincidence that I voted for these three food heroes, they are passionate about what they do and love introducing people to great food, so I feature them regularly on Midlands Gourmet Girl.

SONY DSC

Not to be left out, Leamington Spa launched its first street food market Eat Street. @EatStreetLeam This small, but perfectly formed, market delighted local office workers and students, desperate for a changing lunchtime menu.

Seeing your food cooked freshly to order in front of you and being able to engage with the chefs that prepared it for you will always be a winner. In the more traditional restaurants, three chefs made notable entrances.

Andy Waters

Andy Waters made a triumphant return to Brum by opening Waters on the Square. As his own restaurant Chef’s Dozen closed, Richard Craven found a new home just outside Stratford upon Avon, leading the brigade at the Fuzzy Duck . Also on the move, Alex Claridge left the Warehouse Café and catered for vegetarians at the funky new Bistro 1847 in the Great Western Arcade.

The Village Moseley Birmignham Mail

Bistro 1847 was one of a host of new venues that opened in Birmingham city centre as steak house Anderson’s opened a new place in the country. I think that the residents of Moseley are the luckiest in the eating and drinking stakes, as three good looking new venues opened. The Village, Bohemia Bar and Caféphillia are making Moseley one of the best neighbourhoods in Birmingham to eat and drink.

The Regency Arms Leamington Spa

Not to be outdone, Leamington Spa is catching up with Birmingham as a foodie hotspot too. The Regency Arms showed how good quality food helps make a pub a neighbourhood favourite.

The Larder bundt cake

Being able to do more food and drink shopping locally became attractive, with the new Cheeses in Warwick and Barkers Deli in Warwick, The Larder in Leamington Spa and Squisito deli’s new shop in Rugby.

Warwick Rocks food and film festival Leamington Observer

Two new food festivals shook up the traditional expectations of a food event. Thanks to funding from Warwickshire County Council’s Operation Footfall, Warwick launched a new food and film festival. http://www.warwickrocksfestival.co.uk . Under their successful Warwick Rocks branding the town rocked for a week of food markets and drive in movies in August.

Future Foodies Birmingham PostWith another first for Birmingham (or Birmingyum as it is being known) food blogger Ahmed from Dine Birmingham created and launched the inaugural #FutureFoodies. This exciting food and drink fair brought local independent producers together with social media – which will return in June 2014.

All in all a great year!

Thank you so much for reading my blog and following me on twitter, I really appreciate your support. I blog for love (not money) and will continue to keep the site focussed on unearthing those brilliant local independents for you.

As well as the regular reviews, destination guides and essential diary dates I have a few surprises in store for you this year, so keep following for updates!

Gastro Card saving diners pounds

Recently named as Food Heroes by Visit Birmingham, for their support of food businesses and initiatives like #FutureFoodies, Gastro Card is going from strength to strength.

I spoke to Business Director Sally Bowen, (pictured third from right with Hotel La Tour’s Sue Castle-Smith and bloggers Jo Brigdale and Ahmed Ahmed) to find out why foodies in the Midlands can’t get enough of their dining loyalty scheme.

Future Foodies

Gastro Card say that if you eat out regularly at their restaurants, then you can save over £500 per year with your £30 purchase. Since May, fine food and wine lover Sally has been putting this to the test by eating at 14 various Gastro Card restaurants in Birmingham where she has so far saved £272.56!

Sally comments “If you enjoy eating out with family, friends or with business on a regular basis, then the Gastro Card can save you pounds – I am not sure the same can be said of my waistline though!”

Hotel La Tour lobby

 

Gastro Card features some of the best independent restaurants and hotel dining rooms in the Midlands, with a variety of special offers that you won’t find anywhere else. You can find any Gastro Card restaurants featured on this blog with this GC sign so that you don’t miss out on any special offers like these;

  • 25% off food bill for up to four people at Aalto restaurant, Hotel la Tour in Birmingham
  • Three courses for the price of two at Oscar’s Bistro in Leamington
  • 10% off afternoon tea at Stratford upon Avon’s Ettingham Park Hotel

Gastro Card

SPECIAL OFFER FOR READERS Enter the code MGG at www.gastrocard.co.uk to receive a discount on the price of a Gastro Card and start saving pounds on eating out.

#FutureFoodies Wednesday 26 June

#FutureFoodies image

A man after my own heart, fellow blogger Dine Birmingham is passionate about promoting Birmingham’s culinary scene. He is currently working on hosting the city’s first social media event #FutureFoodies to showcase local, independent, food and drink businesses.

Hosted by Hotel La Tour, the evening will introduce food and social media journalists to a fantastic range of artisan producers, restaurants, retailers and culinary training academies. Some of the participants who will be on the menu include;

STARTERS

Lewis's Moslely bread

Lewis’s of Moseley, Kitchen Cookery School and Ubuntu Handmade Bread.

MAINS

Le Truc dish

Le Truc Cafe, Digbeth Dining Club, Heart of England Fine Foods, Punjabi Rasoi, Wrapchic and University College Birmingham.

DESSERTS

Hotel la Tour dessert

Aalto Restaurant, ‘Brigadeiros’ by Miss Apple Sweets, Devenish Girl, Cupkakery.

DRINKS

birmingham whisky club

Aston Manor Cider, Beer Geek Brewery, BYWine and The Birmingham Whisky Club

For further information, or to enquire about joining the guestlist, please send a tweet to @Dine_Birmingham, including the hashtag #futurefoodies. http://www.dinebirmingham.co.uk/futurefoodies

A rosy future for cider

When we watch chefs on TV they often have a bottle of wine on hand to splosh into their dishes. In the search for creativity and enhanced flavours, beer and cider are also being used as ingredients.

cider apples

West Country chef and cider advocate Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall explains why he uses cider in his cooking;  “Good cider apples have sweetness and acidity, as well as a spectrum of wonderful flavours ranging from the tannic to the perfumed. Crush the fruit and ferment its juice, and those flavours gain a whole new boozy, toasty, sweet-sharp dimension. Using cider in cooking is a bit like using fruit and wine and perhaps a little vinegar and a pinch of sugar all at the same time. No wonder it can bring a dish alive.”

Local cider maker Aston Manor share the love for this ingredient and have collaborated with Birmingham chefs to put some fizz into new dishes using cider.

Back in December I reported on their collaborations with Pushkar, who created the deliciously slow-roasted ‘Drunken Duck Batak’ with Malvern Oak cider. The bakers at Yorks Bakery Café also made a Toffee Apple Cider Cake with Kingstone Press cider.

Fleet_Street_Kitchen_kingstone_press_cider_recipe

Aston Manor’s latest partnership is with Fleet Street Kitchen. When head chef Steve Wakefield was invited to create a dish using Kingstone Press cider,he came up with a fabulous cider marinated lamb cutlets, on a rosemary rosti with apple jus and cider sauce.

As the UK’s largest independent cider maker, Aston Manor has more than 300 acres of orchards in Malvern. This year they are planting 1,000 acres of new orchards to add 350,000 more trees.  Managing Director Gordon Johncox said: “In our thirtieth year this is a planting scheme on an enormous scale. This both signals and supports our intention to work with growers to source the best fruit to be able to make top quality cider.”

Look out for more of their anniversary celebrations throughout the year, including the inaugural #FutureFoodies event in June.