Things to do in May

May events

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!

 

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Winter warmers

If the weather outside is frightful here are some January events guaranteed to warm you up!

January events

This month you can brighten up a Winter’s day with a glass of Nyetimber English wine, as part of Mallory Court’s winter afternoon tea, or laze away your weekend at the new back room brunch by Peel & Stone in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter.

The Pump Rooms in Leamington Spa and the Library of Birmingham are just two of the venues piping in the haggis to celebrate Burns’ Night. Another cause for celebration is the luxurious four course dinner at Turners Restaurant Taste of Winter dinner.

If yo ucan wait until the end of the month, Scoff Street Food returns to Fargo Village in Coventry after their seasonal break.

As usual all details can be found on the Events page. If you are going to any of these events let me know  – I’d love to hear what you think of them.

Midlands Gourmet Girl update

I have changed the blog slightly by deleting the Competitions, Drinks and Profiles pages, but don’t worry I will now be incorporating these features into the Home / news page.

Table setting

I’ve also added a new Table Talk page, with weekly updates on the best deals and incentives from local restaurants, bars and hotels. This week you can find out how to get 20% off at Turners, £10 off the Olly Smith Wine Dinner at Hotel du Vin and 15% off your bill at Opus restaurant in Birmingham.

Good Food Guide Readers’ Restaurant of the Year

Good Food Guide

Turners Restaurant in Birmingham has been named as one of the frontrunners for the Midlands region in the Good Food Guide’s Readers’ Restaurant of the Year.  Last year The Bluebell in Henley in Arden scopped the accolade.  Voting is open until 14 April and everyone who submits a nomination will be entered into a free prize draw for a meal for two at the regional winning restaurant most local to them.

http://www.thegoodfoodguide.co.uk/awards/how-to-nominate

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.