June’s food and drink adventures

Its time for my favourite blog post, where we can look to the month ahead and plan our food and drink adventures.

June events

June starts with a gin masterclass at The Bureau. If wine is more your tipple then the Argentinian Wine Dinner at Opus or Rhone Valley wine tasting at the Leamington Wine Company might be for you.

Dive into the seafood recipes of Kerala, in the Pop Up Dosa dinner at the Hare and Hounds and experience the Best of British and European ingredients as Peel & Stone prepare a five course dinners for guests.

If you dare, venture to The Electric Cinema where acclaimed food artist Annabel de Vetten will be serving twisted culinary delights during the Hannibal screening.

Mid month the UK’s biggest consumer food show rolls back to the NEC. New chefs for the BBC Good Food Show Summer include Michel Roux Jnr, the Hemsley sisters and Andy Bates.

For a Father’s Day present with a bit more bite, The Original Patty Men are one of the challenging teams at the UK Burger Battle in Digbeth on Sunday 21 June.

At the end of the month, employees and visitors can pick up some tasty treats at the Local Produce Market in Brindleyplace which is back for the summer months.

All in all another appetising month!

August food and drink events

Worcester Produce

You don’t have to go on holiday this month – you can explore Mexican cuisine in Leamington Spa and a Cajun crayfish boil in Brum. Or you could enjoy local produce in Northamptonshire and celebrate a local brewery’s anniversary. All details are on the events page.

October food and drink events

Thank you for your suggestions of food and drink events for October, which are now on the events page.

Birmingham Whisky Club

There are food festivals in Solihull, Stone and Alcester to go to, or you could try whisky tasting and an Aberdeen Angus beef dinner in Birmingham.

Treat your tastebuds with a German influenced Brum yum yum street food market, savour truffles at Restaurant 23 and explore the Rioja wine region at The Pickled Piglet.

Wherever you go I hope that you have a great time!

May food and drink events

Carl Finn

The dates for your diaries in May include an Aubrey Allen BBQ and the Alcester Food Festival. Check them out on the Events page.

You’ve still got time to catch Jazz Sunday at Brownsover Hall Hotel (Sunday), The Bard’s Birthday Supper at The Encore (Tuesday 23rd) and the Heritage Potato Dinner at Opus (Friday 26th).

April Food Events

Carluccios Easter biscuits decorating

As Vermillion in Rugby says adios to their paella night, The Encore toasts the Bard in a special supper for Shakespeare’s birthday. April diary dates for foodies are now on the Events page.

Kitchen School a new food experience for Birmingham

At the Gastro Card fundraising lunch for Birmingham Settlement at Opus, diners heard the latest news from Kitchen School.

TrevorLand JayneBradley MartinHolcombe

Pictured left to right: Trevor Land Gastro Card, Jayne Bradley Kitchen School and Martin Holcombe Birmingham Settlement.

Kitchen School’s Director Jayne Bradley explained how this social enterprise in Harborne aims to contribute to people’s health and wellbeing, by building a passion to grow, cook and eat good food.

“To achieve our vision we will teach the skills and share the knowledge to make cooking and eating an engaging and positive experience.

The school will offer a wide programme including cookery classes for parents and children, artisan skills of bread making, brewing, butchering and pickling, nutrition advice and international cuisines seven days a week.”

The initiative is supported by local chefs, including Glynn Purnell. Glynn says “We support Kitchen because improving people’s health and food standards in Birmingham starts with making sure people have the right knowledge and importantly have fun cooking.”

Kitchen School is due to open in December. Check www.kitchenschool.co.uk for updates or follow Jayne on Twitter @kitchenschool.

 

March Food Events

British Pie Week

From British Pie Week, a vegetarian tasting menu at Blue Bistro and a charity fundraising lunch by Gastro Card at Opus, to a coffee roasting talk at The Arden Hotel, an Easter Food Fayre in Hatton  and a Good Friday fish supper at Mallory Court there are some great food events for your diary in March. Have a look at the Events page for more details.

Table Talk

For the first week of the New Year, I’ve been looking for the best restaurant promotions that offer value for money without compromising on quality.

The Chef's Dozen dish

 

 

 

 

 

 

With their first appearance in the Michelin guide this year, The Chef’s Dozen is offering to beat the Winter blues with a four course meal with a sparkling cocktail for £28 per person. Available Tuesday to Friday in January. www.thechefsdozen.co.uk

High Pavement Warwick

 

 

 

 

 

I spotted an offer for High Pavement in Warwick on Travelzoo.  For £39, two Travelzoo subscribers can visit Warwick’s newest restaurant for a two course dinner, plus a side dish and cocktail each, saving up to 54% on the usual bill. Choices for   mains include lamb osso bucco with braised beans and pancetta or fillet of sea bass with lemon and tarragon fries and caper mayo. www.travelzoo.com/uk.local-deals

THe White Horse lunch

 

 

 

 

Choose from hearty lunch options such as free range Gloucester Old Spot sausages with kale mash and lentil and spinach burger with houmous and fries, at The White Horse in Leamington. Together with a drink this midweek offer will set you back £18 for two people until the end of January. http://www.thewhitehorseleamingtonspa.co.uk/

opus

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opus is offering a grilled Aberdeenshire 7 oz rump steak, served with chips or salad   and peppercorn sauce, plus a glass of house wine for £15 during weekday lunches   and 6pm Saturday dinner. http://www.opusrestaurant.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

Review of 2012

As this is my last post for 2012, I thought I’d look back on some of the highlights of the food and restaurant scene in Birmingham and Warwickshire.

Scooping awards and accolades – The Malt Shovel in Barstoncelebrated being named Warwickshire Dining Pub of the Year in the 2013 Good Pub Guide.  Pub Restaurant Chef of the Year was Rob Hartwell from Rose & Crown in Warwick. The Bluebell Henley in Arden won Good Food Guide Readers’ Restaurant of the year for the Midlands. Blue Bistro in Coventry was awarded Best Newcomer in the Warwickshire Life Food and Drink Award and Peel’s in Hampton Manor were awarded Best Restaurant of the Year. Restaurant Bosquet in Kenilworth (with chef Bernard Linier pictured below) impressed Birmingham Post’s Richard McComb to pick up a McComb Award for Dining (MAD).

Bernard Lingier

 

 

 

 

 

Birmingham’s reputation as a fine dining city continued with Purnell’s named the BMW Squaremeal Best UK Restaurant. Lasan and Simpsons were included in the Sunday Times Top 100 Restaurants of the Year, as voted by Harden’s readers. In Restaurant magazine’s Top 100 Restaurants in the UK Loves featured. Purnell’s, Simpsons and Turners all retained their Michelin stars.

Purnell's

 

 

 

 

 

 

The region’s hotels saw significant investment and heavyweight chefs drafted in to support new openings. Marcus Wearing consulted on the menu for Hotel La Tour’s Aalto restaurant, where I became a fan of their afternoon tea.  Hogarth’s completed a £4m make-over and chef Martin Blunos was appointed as Culinary Director.

Hotel La Tour scones and afternoon fancies

 

 

 

 

 

 

The popularity of single ingredient restaurants spread from London to the Midlands. High quality steak and chicken cooked well won new customers for the New Inn in Harborne and The Flat Chicken in Stratford. Barbecuing meats was the hottest cooking trend of the year, with the openings of Argentinian Fiesta del Asadoon the Hagley Road and Brazillian Rodizio Rico in The Mailbox.

The competition for the most glamorous makeover was a tie between The Warwickin Hockley Heath and The Star & Garter in Leamington, which was given a £500K make-over by the Peach Pub Co.

The Warwick

 

 

 

 

In the culinary Olympics it was a cook-off between the French and Italians. Funky brasserie Le Truc Café and Purnell’s Bistro opened to give Brummies a Gallic twist to their dining. While the award-winning San Carlo Group launched Fumo in Waterloo Street. The cocktail bar, restaurant and late lounge serves small dishes of Venetian tapas known as Cicchetti (pronounced chi-KET-tee).

Fumo appetisers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chefs on the move included Solihull chef Mathew Ebdon joining The Beeches in Hampton in Arden and it was all change at Edmunds in Brindleyplace, who welcomed Dider Philipot to head up the French fine dining restaurant as Andy Waters left to run the restaurant at The Queens at Belbroughton Worcester.

Didier Philipot Edmunds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sunglasses and crowds came out for food festivals. Kenilworth followed the successful Stratford and Leamington food festivals by launching their first Foodie Fortnight promoting local restaurants and food producers. I went to the Chilli Festival in Brindley Place for the first time and admired how the contestants kept their cool, as the torture of hotter and hotter chillies were administered. The Colmore Row Food Festival returned for a second year and filled Victoria Square with tasters from local restaurants including Saffron and Opus.

Birmingham Chilli Festival stall

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Leamington Spa Restaurant 23 moved to bigger premises in Holly Walk and the bar/ restaurant / club Altoria opened its three floors to diners. High Pavement in Warwick and The Lazy Cow in Stratford were welcome additions to the towns’ dining offers.

High Pavement Warwick

 

 

 

 

 

Going to events meant that I was able to meet lots of local producers. I met the Mini Jar Company and Napton Water Buffalo Company at the BBC Good Food Show Winter, Tan Rosie and cheesemaker David Jowett at the Stratford Food Festival and  Jabberwocky at the Leamington Food Festival.

David Jowett

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artisan food producers saw the benefits of collaboration in Kings Heath Birmingham. Lucky13 Bakehouse, Change Kitchen, Cuffufle Chutney, Wanton & Furious and Capeling & Co joined forces to form B14 collective. Delish Deli in Rugby moved to bigger premises and Summersaults opened their new deli next to their vegetarian restaurant.

Summersaults deli counter

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our regional food sector is thriving and I hope that my blog has highlighted how easy it is to shop local, eat local and support Warwickshire’s food heroes.

 


 

Table talk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Almanac in Kenilworth is hosting a Celebrity Waiters Night on 30th August, with Ian Bell, to raise funds for Acorns. The three course dinner, with a glass of fizz, starts at 7pm for £20. http://www.thealmanack-kenilworth.co.uk

Still a week left to enjoy sweet native 1lb whole lobster £15 with fries or a summer salad at Opus restaurant (until Saturday 1st September.)  http://www.opusrestaurant.co.uk

If you still need to squeeze into summer holiday clothes, then the Low Cal menu at Essence in Alcester and Stratford could still sate your appetite. Pre-book in advance at http://www.eatatessence.co.uk