Fall for these food and drink events

Take your pick from this cornucopia of food and drink events in the Midlands this month.

November events

In Warwick you can sip tea at Warwick Street Kitchen or shots of Chase Vodka at Square Wine and enjoy the next in the series of Dine with Wine evenings at High Pavement. I’ll be in town mid month for Rob Eatwell’s ‘Feather & Fur’ menu at the Rose & Crown.

Help celebrate both the Thai Festival and their 10th anniversary at Sabai Sabai restaurant in Moseley, or try a raw food evening with the Latvian supper club Two Cats Roaming at 6/8 Kafe.

Put your skills to the test and learn how to cure and smoke your own meat with Italian deli Squisito, or go the whole hog and butcher a pig with the Loaf chefs.

Get your bake on at the Cake International Show and return to the NEC for the BBC Good Food Show Winter at the end of the month.

Wine lovers can discuss vintages with Tim Atkin at Hampton Manor or stock up for the holidays at the Christmas Wine Fair.

For next year I’m planning an even bigger and better events calendar, where you can search for food and drink events by area and category. By subscribing to my blog you will automatically receive these updates.

Bellissimo! Squisito is shopping for an award

They are already one of my local food heroes, but it probably means more to Alex and Sara Chambers of Squisito deli to hear it from Carlsberg Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards. The Italiaphile couple from Monks Kirby are shortlisted as a finalist in this year’s competition.

Squisito’s village lost all its shops, so Alex and Sara reopened the Victorian butchers shop in Yelvertoft village Northamptonshire just under a year ago to sell their extensive range of fresh, home-made and locally sourced produce.

Sara says “Wherever possible, Squisito food is made to authentic Italian recipes with ingredients typical to its area of origin, but grown or reared locally in England. Over 85% of our ingredients are grown, reared and sourced within 35 miles of Squisito HQ.”


Sara’s homemade faggots in caramelised onion gravy  sit alongside Cobblers Nibble cheese, milk from Newlands Farm in Hannington, Fosse Meadows chicken, fresh pasta and sauces, organic biodynamic veg, bread and a selection of unique products from Squisito’s farmers’ market friends like the rare breed long horn sheep from Grandborough.

The couple are currently working on a new Italian-style coldroom so they can dry age more beef and make more sausages to hang as salami, as well as launching a new Fish Friday service where customers can email orders for fresh fish from Cornwall.

The Carlsberg Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards winners will be announced 17 October, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Squisito will bring home the Local Food Hero award for the shop’s shelves!

November events

November events start with a bang at Coombe Abbey’s Gunpowder Gala.

In Birmingham you could be quaffing wine with Olly Smith at the Hotel du Vin or port at Opus restaurant.

Leamington Wine Company

The Leamington Wine Company will be getting into the festive spirit with their Christmas tasting of over 100 wines while at Hill Top Farm the party continues for their 10th anniversary.

Pika Pika burger

For a pop-up with a difference there are Japanese burgers in Kings Heath and an Italian deli in Moseley.  The last event for the month is the UK’s biggest food show from BBC Good Food Show Winter at the NEC.  More details on the Events page.

The Italian Job

Last night my partner and I were guests of Alex and Sara Chambers, the Italophile couple in Warwickshire behind Squisito deli. After a cocktail in The Jekyll and Hyde bar we moved upstairs to the Gin Palace, where the Italian Job was silently playing.

The Jekyll and Hyde Gin Parlour

A friendly crowd were looking forward to the Squisito pop-up. 34 people in the room made it sociable but a bit of a squash – especially for my 6ft 4 boyfriend, whose arms and legs looked giant sized in the dinky Victoriana chairs. Our fellow diners included some Jekyll & Hyde regulars, foodies who had enjoyed Alex’s sausages at local farmers markets and one lady who had heard Squisito mentioned on Radio 4’s Food programme!

As we were seated, two long thin wooden boards were placed at the centre of the table and slices of salumi and prosciuttio were placed. On hand were Lucky 13 Bakehouse dinner rolls, with Calabrian olive oil and Puglian green olives. Nobody could name them, but the moreish peppery biscuit-like snacks also rapidly disappeared.

Squisito salumi

Our antipasti selection was a burst of vibrant colour and flavours – courgette carpacccio, rocket and pecorino cheese, tomato and basil on pane carasau (that looked like a poppadom) chicken liver crostini, ricotta drizzled with chestnut honey and Alex’s salsiccia.

Squisito pop-up

Even with a menu, there was still a sense of excitement as to what was coming next and the convivial sharing and passing plates of food around the table made it feel like a family feast, rather than a group of strangers in a restaurant.

Half an hour between the antipasti and the primi courses perturbed some people, but it was worth the wait for the pappardelle pasta with black truffle butter, chives and Grana Padano cheese. As a recent convert to truffle oil, I wasn’t surprised when my boyfriend accepted seconds from Fee’s giant saucepan that was ladled out at the table.

Squisito Fosse Meadow chicken

The basil and lemon salmoriglio gave a playful zing to the chunk of rolled Fosse Meadow chicken. With marrow, chard and rosemary roast potatoes I liked being able to taste all of the summery ingredients without the meat being drowned in sauce.

My favourite course formaggi was coming up and the boards were back out for us to try slivers of gorgonzola, taleggio and Sardinian pecorino with pink peppercorns and Worcestershire honey. One of the cheeses had an almost black rind with a smokey flavour that I forgot to ask what it was called.

Squisito formaggi and dolci

Due to the train timetable we unfortunately missed the Plymouth gin and tonic sorbet, raspberry gin and Autumn bliss, raspberry semifreddo and dark chocolate studded with toasted almonds. I hope that photo gives you an idea of how light and refreshing the closing course was.

During the night Alex served and chatted to guests while Sarah was upstairs in the kitchen, so we didn’t get a chance to see (and thank) her for a lovely meal until the end of the evening.

Alex and Sara Chambers

On the back of Alex’s t-shirt is the phrase ‘Provenance is knowing the person who made your dinner by first name’. By the end of the evening my boyfriend had paraphrased it as ‘Provenance is knowing who made your tummy happy’ ©Ross Martin 2013.

You can catch Squisito at the next Brumyumyum in Kings Heath on Saturday 14 September and details of their supper clubs are on their website.

My week

Table setting

I’ve got a packed week of events coming up. I’m going to the Squisito pop-up at The Jekyll and Hyde on Tuesday, a networking event at The Grosvenor Hotel in Rugby on Thursday and food shopping in Leamington at the new artisan food market on Friday. Just enough energy left for the Rude Food Fiesta on Saturday!

Check the Midlands Gourmet Girl Facebook page for photos and if you’re at any of these events why not say hi?

BBC Good Food Show Summer

Yesterday I was at the opening day of the BBC Good Food Show Summer. Whether you’re visiting for the first time or are a seasoned visitor, here are my five top tips for making the most of the show.

1. Download the iPhone app

BBC Good Food Show app

The BBC Good Food Show Summer app helps you to plan your day, with the latest theatre timetables, the show floorplan and current exhibitor list, ticket offers plus tips on accommodation and where to eat.

2. Use the Shop & Drop service

BBC Good Food Show deli products

Forget the hassle of pulling a trolley around or carrying bags, as you buy products leave them at the drop off point to collect later.

3. Talk to the producers


They all have great stories to tell and one of the main reasons for them being at the show is to find out more about their customers. Many producers launch new products at the show, so you can be among the first to try something different.

4. Watch a demonstration

BBC Good Food Show demos

The atmosphere in the theatres is buzzing and you get to see TV chefs in action. This is the biggest consumer food show in the country, where 41 chefs and food personalities appear on seven different stages.

5. Sample food from Midlands Best Street Food Winners

BBC Good Food Show chillies

This is a new feature for 2013. The four winners – The Jabberwocky, Ross & Ross, Squisito and Fresh Rootz are situated between the Good Food Show and Gardener’s World Live opposite the Visitors Entrance to Hall 18. Have a break from the crowds and some fresh air at the outdoor seating area.

Tickets are available for Friday 14th and Sunday 16th June (Saturday is sold out) http://www.bbcgoodfoodshowsummer.com

Best Midlands Street Food Winners

Congratulations to the four winners of the BBC Good Food Show competition for Best Midlands Street Food – Squisito, The Jabberwocky, Fresh Rootz and Ross & Ross Food.

Squisito Tuscan sausages

From Farmers Markets to supper clubs and private events, Squisito share their love for Italian food and seasonal ingredients from Warwickshire all over the Midlands. http://squisito-deli.co.uk

The Jabberwocky Barny and Flic

The Jabberwocky is a green 1986 long wheelbase VW Transporter van, where Barny and Flic create their gourmet toasties. http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk

Fresh Rootz street food

Martin and Andy from Fresh Rootz, create healthy vegetarian and vegan food to appeal to children and adults alike. http://www.freshrootz.co.uk

Ross and Ross Food

Ross Bearman and Ross Whitmill from the Cotswolds create terrines and potted meats, using great British produce and traditional artisanal methods. http://www.rossandrossfood.co.uk

You can enjoy all of the winners’  tasty snacks at the BBC Good Food Show Summer from 12 – 16 June at the NEC.


The best bangers for National Sausage Week







Now in its 15th year National Sausage Week, from 5 – 11 November, aims to highlight the range of quality assured sausages.  Here are some local butchers and food producers who stock great bangers.

Aubrey Allen in Leamington has award- winning Warwickshire Whizzer sausages with a spicy blend of pork, chilli, mustard seeds and paprika.  Check their website for details of free delivery. http://www.aubreyallen.co.uk

The family business AW Lashford & Son has been making sausages, pies, faggots and paté for over 100 years in Birmingham. The huge range of ingredients includes Balti seasoning, smoked bacon, venison and turkey among the 50 varieties. http://www.lashford.co.uk

Squisito produce a unique range of over 30 handmade Italian sausages, plus specialties from around the world from South African Boerevors to Mexican Chorizo. They are made from family recipes using Italian cuts and methods so they contain absolutely no additives, artificial preservatives, water  or gluten. You can also learn the craft on the Artisan Sausage Making at home course.  http://www.squisito-deli.co.uk/

Know your dough – bread making courses








After watching the bread making challenge on Great British Bake Off this week I really wanted to get stuck into kneading dough, when I remembered that I’ve never made bread before! So for other novices like me, here are three local bread making classes in Warwickshire.

Real Bread campaign members receive 10% off the introduction to baking at The Revel Bakery at Malt Kiln Farm Shop in Stretton under Fosse. Work with a professional baker and qualified tutor to take the basic ingredients and create loaves that you can replicate at home. The cost is £75 per person with all equipment and lunch provided, as well as follow up support. Tel: 07818 008752

Squisito bake with a Sicilian wood fired pizza oven and an AGA Rayburn, so students can experience and try alternatives you would not normally have at home. Their  Artisan Baking at Home course features Squisito breads for breakfast, locally sourced ingredients, the bread you have made during the day to impress your mates plus a full set of Squisito recipes and a year’s free backup advice. http://www.squisito-deli.co.uk

Recently reviewed by Sally Shalam in The Guardian, B&B Machado Gallery in Barford  machadogallery.co.uk also offers a one-day bread making course for £25 per adult or £35 adult and child and you eat what you make for lunch. Baking is also on the class menu.

mac Food Market







Following a successful launch in May, the Midlands Arts Centre is running their Food Market monthly starting from 29th July.

There’s a great range of local producers taking part and the line up for Sunday includes:

jACKrABBIT – – Ideas and products for growing, preserving and cooking home grown produce.

Squisito – Homemade Italian food.

Beans and Leaves – Speciality coffee and tea blends.

B14 Artisan Collective including Cuffufle Chutney, Change Kitchen and Trishul Chocolate

Yummie Brummie collective including Urban Harvest, Miss Macaroon, Devenish Girl Bakery and Albert’s bread.

Beez neez – Quality local honey.

Tan Rosie – Caribbean sauce, spices and snacks

From 10.30am – 3.30pm, the Food Market will then run on 26th August, 30th September, 28th October & 25th November.