UK Burger Battle

UKBB

Last Sunday saw the launch of UK Burger Battle. From the man that bought us the brilliant Rib Nights, this next venture was a cook off of epic proportions! Two street food burger crews took the stand down at Spotlight in Digbeth, the usual home of Digbeth Dining Club, to cook for an excitable and downright salivating crowd. Nothing beats that smell of grilling meat for getting the tastebuds tingling does it?! This first battle pitched The Flying Cows, from Rugby, against award winning The Beefy Boys from Hereford.

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So what mouthwatering burger goodness did they have on offer?

The Flying Cows: The High Flyer; Dry aged grass fed Dexter steak with Aubrey Allen smoked maple bacon topped with Swiss cheese, cheddar cheese, pickled red onions, gherkins, FLC sauce, lettuce, and Peel & Stone pork fat brioche bun

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The Beefy Boys: The Butty Back; Third of  a pound Hereford dry aged beef burger with slow smoked Hereford beef brisket, topped with Butty Back BBQ Sauce, Swiss cheese, American cheese, lettuce, onions, and red cabbage slaw

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The event ran from 4pm, and there was 4 hours to grab your two burgers and free drink (all included in the ticket price of £20 – we got an earlybird ticket) and there was music, a retro video games room, and a roving magician to keep you entertained while you ate. There was a bit of a queue for the burgers, but you’re never going to manage to eliminate this at such an event.

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The High Flyer

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The Butty Back

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For me there was a pretty standout winner, in the Flying Cows burger, a feeling seconded by hubby Lee and most other foodie friends I chatted to on the night. For me the things that won me over were the fantastic tang and kick to the sauce, and the pickled red onions although I wasn’t as keen on the bun. I thought the Beefy Boys burger was excellent, but there was that special ‘zing’ missing. The bun and the brisket were fabulous though. The judging panels’ (consisting of a couple of michelin starred chefs and a few others) vote also went to the flying cows, but the peoples vote swung the other way to the Beefy Boys. Probably a fair result! A fab fun foodie night was had by all. Rematch anyone???

Bloggers Festive Afternoon Tea @ Hotel La Tour

I’m a fan of afternoon tea, and I’ve been to Hotel La Tour on a few occasions now and always really enjoyed it.

My latest visit was for their festive afternoon tea, for a food blogger meet up organised by the lovely Emily from Recipes and Reviews.

We were joined by another 8 bloggers, some of which I know - Alex, Taylah and Laura and some new faces to me, although Ive chatted food with most of them on twitter; Terri, Natasha, Emma, Hannah and Sophie!

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The afternoon tea was traditional in its components – finger sandwiches, scones and sweet treats. I really enjoyed their ham and tomato chutney sandwich as well as the smoked salmon, and as usual, their welsh rarebit dip was gooey cheesy yumminess. Scones were warm and soft and the sweet treats looked an absolute delight on the plate. My favourite by far was the walnut whip christmas tree!

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Another successful afternoon tea at Hotel La Tour and a fabulous way to spend an afternoon with 9 other like minded foodies. Thanks again to Emily and to all the brands that contributed to our goody bags below!

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Roz  :)

Yo! Sushi at Christmas

This Year Christmas has come early at Yo! Sushi, with the addition of 3 luxurious dishes exclusive to their Selfridges branches.

Yo! Sushi were kind enough to invite me along to the Selfridges in Birmingham to try them out.

Each dish comes in at £15, but you can rest assured that these plates are a lot bigger than the usual small plates from the conveyor belt, plenty enough to share. They are also offering a glass of Sake with gold flakes, at a cost of £5.

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The dishes on offer are;

  • Miso Black Cod – Delicious sweet shiro miso and sake marinated Atlantic black cod served with Japanese steamed rice, garlic braised tender stem broccoli and garnished with a moreish yuzu miso finish and lotus root crisp
  • Norwegian Halibut Tataki – A beautiful plate of 20 delicate slices of Norwegian halibut served and cut usuzukiri style, garnished with crispy garlic, sliced chilli, shiso and a konbu infused ponzu dressing

  • Deluxe Sashimi – The perfect dish for any sashimi lover seeking variety – a premium selection of delicious fresh salmon, Yellowtail tuna, sweet Hokkaido scallop, sustainable tilapia and sweet Alaskan pink shrimp with ikura and yuzu infused tobiko and caviar.

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The dishes were all beautiful, and the fish lovely and fresh. My favourite was by far the halibut which was delicious! The broccoli with the black cod packed a really strong hit of chilli which I loved but may be a bit much for some. It was nice to hear from the manager about how they get fresh fish deliveries first thing each morning from their supplier, and how the chefs are in the kitchen from 7am to prepare the food.

To complete our meal we also tried some of the special yellow plates that are always available int he Selfridges branches, year round. I love their Beef & Garlic Teriyaki, and also tried the Fresh Crab & Mango ISO for the first time. My dining companion and fellow blogger Laura from Full to the Brum also tried the Scallop Katsu. All these dishes are also really tasty.

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You can catch these festive exclusives at Yo! Sushi Selfridges until January the 4th!

 

Disclosure: We tried this menu as a guest of Yo! Sushi, but were not required to write positively about the food or experience. 

 

#AldiFestiveFeast with Jean-Christophe Novelli & Aldi

This winter, celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli has teamed up with Aldi to bring a Christmas Feast to the Great British public. They have been busy touring the country over the last few weeks, stopping off in Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester and London, finishing up last Wednesday in Birmingham, where I was lucky enough to be invited to attend and find out more about Aldi’s festive offerings.

The Festive Feast Tour offered the public a chance to ‘tweet to eat’ to win places at the feasts for themselves and a guest, and tuck into a 5 course meal, prepared by Jean-Christophe himself.

The setting for the Birmingham event, was the beautiful Restaurant Adams, an elegant fine dining restaurant in the city centre. The restaurant was certainly in the festive spirit with a lovely Christmas tree and beautiful table centrepieces.

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The menu sounded lovely, and was made completely with ingredients available in Aldi. We started with a glass of prosecco, and then the starter of Sundried Tomato, King Crab and Caviar was served. 

 

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image courtesy of Aldi

Next up was a twist on a turkey dinner, Turkey Wellington with garlic, parsnip and sweet turnip mashed potato and stuffed cabbage. We were also able to try a couple of Aldi’s fantastically priced wines with dinner, including a 2014 Clare Valley Realising, only £6.99 in store.

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image courtesy of Aldi

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Image courtesy of Aldi

 

 

 

Dessert was, of course, a traditional Christmas Pudding followed by a cheeseboard.

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We finished off with one of Aldi’s delicious mince pies and a coffee whilst the man himself, Jean-Christophe came round and chatted with all of us, and it was nice to see how passionate he was about the ingredients and the tour.

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It was a lovely festive evening, we were all surprised to see that the bill per person, for all the food & WINE would only have been £20.35! Bargain. If you need me, you’ll find me in the wine aisle at Aldi! Happy Christmas!

 

Disclosure: Thanks to Aldi for inviting me free of charge down to the #AldiFestiveFeast. I was not required to write about the experience, positive  or otherwise.

Review: Manchester House

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Manchester house has had a lot of hype around it. The Restaurant Wars program that aired a while back really stirred things up for the Manchester food scene and what Aiden Byrne looked to be doing at Manchester House looked nothing short of spectacular. Unfortunately early reports of the food after its opening didn’t seem to quite live up to the expectations and I read a lot of reviews that seemed to be ‘style over substance’. In the last 6 months or so though, these seem to have taken a turn for the better, with a little reigning in of the style and a lot better substance. But really, judgment shouldn’t be passed until you’ve been yourself. We went up at lunchtime, and were impressed with the friendly greeting and service throughout, the staff were very knowledgable and you could see the training was getting through. We opted to eat of the lunch menu, where you can 2, 3 or 6 courses.

To start with, we were treated to a bread course, an interesting twist on getting the usual basket of bread. This was a goats milk brioche, with whipped goats cheese accompanied by a turnip velouté with horseradish and chestnuts. For me this really hit the spot and I really enjoyed it.

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Lee’s starter was Roasted Jerusalem artichokes, liver parfait, ballotine of pigeon confit, while I went for the Sicilian Red Prawns, John Dory, crisp sweet millet and shellfish Sabayon. My dish was fantastic – the red prawns sweet, all the fish perfectly cooked, velvety sabayon and the little crunch of the millet. A delight to eat. Lee’s starter was also very good – the liver parfait probably the standout, although I don’t think it blew him away like my starter.

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For the main course we both went for Goosnargh duck breast and tongue, parmesan and pistachio. It came as two parts, the duck, egg and charred broccoli, and then a little egg shell filled with duck tongue topped with parmesan foam and pistachio. The duck was lovely a pink, but the skin could have done with more rendering. The broccoli was lovely, as was the duck tongue. Something about the dish didn’t quite come together for either of us though.

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Moving on to the desserts and these were both outstanding. Mine was Chocolate, lime and pineapple. Chocolate ganache, vanilla sponge, meringue, caramelised compressed pineapple, lime sorbet and foam. We’re coming up to the end of 2014 and this was the best dessert I’ve had all year, surpassing the one from Le Champignon Sauvage. A fantastic combination of flavours and textures that just left you wanting more and more. Lee had the Apple and lemon thyme, vanilla, crème brûlée and bramble ice cream which was possibly even prettier than mine, and by his account tasted just as good. Elegant, refreshing, harmonious, and again, his favourite dessert of the year. Thumbs up!

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Tea, coffee and treats rounded off the meal, and in my opinion there is no better way to finish of a meal than a little box of macarons. We fought over the flavours, and the best one was the apple crumble.

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Despite a marginally underwhelming main course, the excellence of the rest of the food really made up for this and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and the lunch menu gives great value.

http://www.manchesterhouse.uk.com

 

Disclosure: We paid in full for our meal and the restaurant were not aware that we may write about the experience.

Review: Turtle Bay, Birmingham

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A few weeks ago I joined some friends for a slap up meal and couple of drinks at Turtle Bay in Birmingham We all live in varying bits of Birmingham, so our meet ups move around to reflect this, so this month we were trying Turtle bay for our bi-monthly meet up – almost slap bang below our friend Kates flat in Brum City Centre. So convenient for her infact that she’s already tried it a few times so had the head start on us in knowing what to order!

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Now I don’t do loads of reviews of ‘chain’ restaurants on the blog – mainly because I don’t eat at them that much as there’s always somewhere different to try, but Turtle Bay is one that has caught my eye. It seems to have a bit of a vibe about it, and judging on how packed it was at 7pm on a weekday it seems a lot of others have caught on to this vibe too. I’d heard pretty mixed things – usually the case with chains as the chefs and service vary so much from site to site, and night to night, but not one to pre judge I always like to find out for myself.

To drink I tried one of their list of inviting sounding cocktails – the Vanilla & Passion Fruit Mojito, which was delicious and Oh so drinkable.

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There was a lot of choice on the menu, and the majority of the dishes sounded very inviting – although the word ‘jerk’ did feature rather a few times, I don’t think there was much that you couldn’t have found on the menu that wasn’t flavoured with jerk – chicken, ribs, pork, burgers, steak, prawns, salmon, lamb…. you get where I’m coming from. So if you don’t like jerk flavour, you may have a little bit of a limited selection!

I decided to go for the (jerk free!) Chilli Fried squid – Crisp fried spiced coated squid, mango mole, fresh lime & coriander mayo. I was pleasantly surprised that the squid was tender, and the  various dressings were really tasty, tangy and pretty spicy! I guess you could say they overpowered the squid itself, but to be honest it didn’t matter that much.

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Other starters round the table were more squid as well as Duck rolls – Slow roasted shredded duck, onion, tamarind, soy sauce, chilli & sugarcane, sour orange chutney, and Sweetcorn Fritters – Fried sweetcorn fritters with hot sauce.

Mains wise I went for the Trinidad curry chicken – Chicken breast, mango & coconut, sweet onion chutney, rice ‘n’ peas, flatbread. Again I was pleasantly surprised by the dish – it had a lot of flavour, and the sweetness of mango and crunchy flakes of shaved coconut worked really well. I could have done with a bit more flatbread to mop up the sauce at the end.

Others tried the Mo’ bay chicken – Chicken breast, creamy jerk spiced sauce, onions, plantain, dressed salad and Jerk chicken – 12 spice & herb jerk marinated & grilled, sour orange chutney, Caribbean slaw, and general consensus was good!

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I can’t say that Turtle Bay provided the best food I’ve ever eaten, and the service was a bit on the slow side, but it was flavoursome, cooked well and pried reasonably and made for an enjoyable meal with friends.

http://www.turtlebay.co.uk

 

Disclosure: We paid in full for our meals.

Review: The French by Simon Rogan

 

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The French by Simon Rogan is located inside the historic Midland Hotel in the heart of central Manchester. It was Rogans first venture outside the sleepy village of Cartmel in Cumbria, home to his iconic L’enclume, which remains in my husbands and I’s opinion, the place where we had the best meal of our lives. This being said, it wasn’t surprising that we were hotly anticipating eating at the French.

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The chandeliers that dominate the high ceilinged room are pretty magnificent, and are a great contrast to the simplicity of the tables and furniture, a nod to the decor back at L’enclume.

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We had planned before going to ‘just’ have the 6 course menu (we were eating a lot in a few days!) but we just couldn’t resist the 10 course once we got there. Mainly because of the inclusion of one particular dish. I’ll get to that later! We started with some ‘snacks';

  • Trotter, ham fat cream, sage
  • Baked potato with cheese
  • Mackerel, celery and tomato

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As usual, we were astounded by the flavours they manage to get into things so small – each tiny element bursts with the most intense taste. All 3 were superb, I can’t really say anything more. Bread as usual, perfectly cooked. Lee adored the buttermilk roll, I preferred the bittersweetness of the treacle one. There was a third bread as you can probably guess by the gap in the picture, I don’t remember what it was, we’d devoured it already!

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So next up was something that on paper, doesn’t sound like my cup of tea – Smoked Maran yolk with yellow turnip, truffle and a broth of mushrooms, but boy does that prove to me that I shouldn’t ever judge a dish without tasting it – the depth of flavour of the broth, the silky smooth egg made for a winner of a dish.

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After this came the one course, and one ingredient that by itself swayed us from the 6 to the 10 course menu. Ox in coal oil, pumpkin seed,kohlrabi and sunflower shoots. The coal oil is that one thing that Lee feels is simply the most amazing thing that has ever been invented. We first tried it in a dish at L’enlcume with venison and since then that dish has remained probably the best one we’ve had. This one again gave it a run for its money and the sunflower seeds added yet another dimension.

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Breaded oyster, buttersquash with bacon buttermilk and mint was next. Another well rounded, interesting dish.

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After this, Pickled beetroot with sunflower seeds, yoghurt, horseradish and cresses. The pickling of the beetroot was spot on, and he managed to transform an ingredient that its well known I’m not that keen on.

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The ‘fish’ course was Butter poached hake, salt baked abalone,leeks and cockles. The leek elements were my favourite bits of this dish – pureé, charred and perfectly suited the flaking fish.

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The second best dish of the night came next, and combination of ingredients and flavours which ate just perfectly; Valley venison, roasted parsnips, cavolo nero with crab apple and cider. I’ve never eaten crab apple before but it added a lovely bit of sharpness. I could have eaten this dish 5 times over.

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Now onto the dessert courses – neither as good as the savoury courses in our opinion. All interesting flavours, clean fresh and well cooked but nothing blew our minds. First was the Blackberries, liquorice, malt,duck egg and pear and lastly the Baked quince, bay leaf, ginger biscuit and brown butter ice cream. This ice cream was delicious though, and the stand out bit of the puds for me.

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We really couldn’t fault our meal at the French, and it would go straight in the top 5 of our all time meals. The service was fab, friendly and not too stuffy, it is nice when staff of such an upmarket place are able to have a bit of a laugh and a joke as well. It astounds me why they weren’t awarded a Michelin Star this year, but I’m sure it will come.

http://www.the-french.co.uk

 

Disclosure: We paid in full for the meal, and the restaurant were not aware we may be writing about the meal.