Sunday, 2 September 2018

Review: Live Life On The Veg - The Highfield


Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
I like The Highfield.  You know what to expect as soon as you walk in the door.  I’ve been many times over the years both in a blogging capacity and as general diner and have had the same smiley experience from them on all occasions, so I know that their approach and welcome is genuine.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Last month, I visited The Highfield in my guise as a blogger to check out their Tuesday night special ‘Live Life On The Veg’ menu.  A new concept for them, responding to the rise in vegetarianism and the spike in veganism, they are offering a menu that allows non-meaters variety as opposed to a just couple of menu choices which is the norm.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

How it works is that you can either have a dish on its own or you can have a taster of each one via the Tapas Style offer.  As I was dining with my flexitarian Mother, we thought it made sense for us to have the tapas style so that we wouldn’t miss out on anything.



With my horrendously inconvenient chilli allergy, I had to discuss with our waiter Joe if the dishes were suitable for me.  Sadly, the Courgette Fritters weren’t as they had a chilli base, so we were offered the Aubergine, Roast Pepper & Onion Tart instead and also the Summer Vegetable Salad, Orange & Toasted Cashews with Oriental Dressing (which are on the menu as a standard items).

The Kitchen
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

One thing that I applaud The Highfield for is their flexibility.  They’re very keen to adapt their dishes to ensure that allergies and preferences are catered for.  This is very important for vegetarians (and for non-chilli eating veggies like me!) who may feel that all that is on the menu is all you can have when it isn’t the case.  This is one thing I think that The Highfield need to promote on their menu and elsewhere as appropriate, to ensure that people have the confidence to ask for changes if needs be.

Okay, so here’s a roll-call of what we had:


Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Aubergine, Roast Pepper & Onion Tart – a light, flaky pastry base with shredded aubergines and peppers on top.  The vegetables were lightly fried, and the dish wasn’t as heavy as it sounds.  If purchased as a main course, it would need some green vegetables to pad it out with.  Overall, very enjoyable.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Cherry Tomato Rigatoni, Garlic Crumb, Ricotta & Basil – although pasta is the epitome of go-to-veggie-food, this was delicious.  Very buttery, crunchy, with a bit of punch from the garlic.


Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Vegetable Bimbap, Fried Egg & Gochunjang Sauce – I would describe the bimbap as a light, fancy, stir-fry.  The gochunjang sauce was replaced by soy sauce for my portion to avoid any exposure to chilli/spice.  When splitting this up for Mum and I to eat, I gave the egg to Mum which was speckled with nigella seeds.  Again, a very light dish, with a little salty edge from the soy sauce.  Mum said that the egg really complimented the stir fry and with a slither of the sauce (which she could have) it made it tangy.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Caramelised Goats Cheese, Confit Shallot & Pumpkin Seed Salad – beetroot and goats’ cheese are great partners anyway and again in this dish, they worked well.  The cheese was baked slightly to soften it and its sharpness when dipped into the balsamic glaze around it, brought a collective of all the flavours together.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Burrito, Avocado & Coriander – the different textures worked well together, it had a little kick, but it was pleasant and probably wouldn’t have been noted by someone not sensitive to spice.

Photo: Word In Veg Ways

Summer Vegetable Salad, Orange & Toasted Cashews with Oriental Dressing – fresh, crunchy, with a mixture of textures with a little hit of citrus  and ideal for those watching the calories.

Hendrick's English Garden Cocktail (left) with Hendrick's Gin, Elderflower & Apple Juice
Country Rose (right) with Apple Juice, Cranberry Juice & Elderflower Cordial
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Even as served in tapas style, the portion sizes were good and for £30.00 for 2 people it is an ideal option for mid-week eating and a great affordable price to dine out on.

Pink Grapefruit, Lime, Soda
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

What’s very inspiring is that The Highfield team are working and training with Mildred’s team in London.  For those that know their veggie food, Mildred’s is a renown vegetarian/vegan restaurant near Soho which have an avid and almost a cult-like following down in London.  So working with Mildred’s, it clearly sends a positive message about how serious The Highfield are about creating a quality vegetarian offering.

Equally, what is great about Live Life On The Veg is that their menu changes weekly so that you know it won’t be a predictable cycle of the same dishes.

Chocolate Cake as dessert - fabulously fudgy!
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

It was great to see other diners enjoying the Live Life On The Veg menu and Joe was explaining that more and more Tuesday night diners are opting for it which is fabulous all round to hear.  My only suggestion would be that it would be good to see the boundaries pushed on the options and to move away from easy choices like pasta and burritos.  I think that with the know-how from Mildred’s, the sky’s the limit.

Lemon Posset as dessert - fresh, taste of real lemons comes through!
Photo: Word In Veg Ways

I shall be going back, and I definitely recommend it.  So, swap Meatfree Mondays for Tuesday at The Highfield, take a friend and go tapas style.

PS:  Tuesday 23 October is a Live Life On The Veg Special with Daniel Acevedo from Mildred’s.  See here for details.


Disclosure:    This post has been written following a complementary invitation to dine from the Life Live On The Veg menu .  This review was conducted honestly without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review.  For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website.   






Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Review: Baltic Restaurant, London


Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

London is littered with independent, international restaurants so why would I go to a chain place when I can check out one of these instead?  A couple of months ago we did just that.   Myself and MCH went to Baltic in Southwark, sister venue to Ognisko, it serves primarily Polish food with a few dishes from other Eastern European countries on the menu as well.  


Photo:  Word In Veg Ways


Literally just a minutes walk from Southwark tube station, the tardis-style building although quite small on the outside, the former 18th century coach builder's works opens up into a long, airy, open spaced restaurant with some of the original character retained within its modern fit-out.  Its contemporary feel doesn't boast any fluffy Polish object d'art like say The Karczma does in Birmingham, so by its neutrality alone you wouldn't think that it had, as it names suggests, any Baltic links, but when you scratch the surface, it certainly does.


Photo:  Word In Veg Ways


And the food endorses this and basically we couldn't wait to tuck in.  Our appetisers arrived and in true Slavic style, we enjoyed a selection breads including rye, along with the obligatory pickled gherkin and a portion of cwikla (beetroot & horseradish spread).  This is something I often put together at home for a snack, we love this combo and so were very happy to be served this.


Kasza & Spring Onion
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways


MCH never refuses a steak so he had Bavette Steak with Horseradish, Chilli and Pickle Dressing served with Salad and Chips, totally devoured it, enjoyed it - had nothing but praise for it.


Kopytka
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways


For my main, I had Fried Kopytka Dumplings with Chestnut, Spinach and Mushrooms with a side order of Kasza with Spring Onions.  Kopytka translated means 'little hooves' because of their resemblance to them and in essence they are similar to Italian gnoochi.  The spring onion gave the kasza (cooked buckwheat groats) a boosted flavour, cutting through the nut-like taste of the buckwheat, together it worked very well and coupled with the kopytka dish, it gave it added texture and variety.



Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Driving later on in the day meant we didn't go for any vodkas or liqueurs (mores the pity) but for those with the opportunity and the appetite there were plenty on offer to try.



Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

MCH and I were very endeared with our luncheon experience at Baltic and it gave me a chance to practice my Polish skills with someone other than my Mother.  


Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

A wholehearted recommendation and a definite visit to Ognisko is planned next time we're in the smoke.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Foodies Festival Day Out

I'll tell you what I like about Foodies Festival, it's that it is a great day out to just chill and graze.  My visit to the one in Birmingham last month was helped by the good weather (granted), but also the informality of it all with lots of places to take a pew, relax, eat and simply sit and people watch in comfort suited me right down to the ground.  

In between all this sitting down and relaxing, so who and what did I see?

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways


Generally, I enjoyed mooching around the variety of traders, some new, some I'd never seen before.  

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways


Lunchtime involved my Mother tucking into some Polish bigos from Dobra Kuchnia, whilst I went for a mozzarella crepe from Vive la Crepe which was delicious.  




Photo:  Word In Veg Ways


My Mother liked the fact they made it in front of you and she commented she liked it was freshly made upon request and although it didn't look that big when put together, it was actually very, very filling once you started chowing down through those layers.


Photo:  Word In Veg Ways


Taking a break from the main crowd, with a Purbeck Dorset ice cream cone in hand, we went to see Stephen Carter Bailey (Great British Bake Off Finalist) in the demo tent. 

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways


Unfortunately, post-demo, the stampede to sample Stephen's quiche at the end of the session left my Mother a tad disappointed as her bid to get to the front didn't work, although she was placated with some of his cheesecake which was very insanely good, so 50% success rate wasn't too bad on the freebies I guess.   



Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

I also managed to meet him backstage for a chat and a photo and he was as charming as he portrays - he even apologised to my Mother about the lack of quiche.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways


At the end of his slot, it was nice to get another quick celeb photo with Glynn Purnell who is as smiley as he comes across on TV, sadly we couldn't get in for his actual demo.  It was a bit of a stampede (like with the above mentioned quiche) to get a seat - next time hopefully.  He's a popular man is Glynn.

I do like going to Foodies Festival as it gives me a chance to check out new things and (as I always take my Mother) it acts as an opportunity for us to have a day out together too.  Had I not been driving, we would've headed straight to the Pimms stand.   Perhaps, like with Glynn, we can do it next time, hopefully.

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Disclosure:    This post has been written following receipt of complementary tickets for Foodies Festival.  This review was conducted honestly without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review.  For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website.   



Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Strawberry Picking

It's been a glorious summer so far hasn't it?  There's been almost a 'Darling Buds of May' feel about it, with endless sunshine, warmth, light nights....  Plus the adorable opportunity of alfresco dining with nature's soundtrack of birdsong in the background as dusk falls, whether that be in the garden or in a country pub - love it!  It's things like this that get me through when it's wet and soggy in November and I remember these moments knowing that they'll return again the following year.

And what could be more 'Darling Buds of May' than fruit picking?  That wonderful feeling of parking up in a field, punnet in hand, the sun beaming down as you rummage in the strawberry plants to find the ripe red jewels....  Although it's not quite a blink-and-you-miss-it season, it still is only for a short time so you have to time it right and especially so if weekends are your only opportunity to go.   A lot of fruit farms have a variety of produce so if you miss the strawberry season, there will be plenty of other things to choose from and often things you can't find on the High Street such as loganberries or tayberries.

There's something satisfying about PYO (pick your own), brings out a little hunter-gatherer spirit in me and it also brings back a lot of pleasant memories of travelling to the farms in Evesham as child and picking different fruit - strawberries in the main.

Orchards in Pershore College

I suppose why I'm writing this is because after a visit to the Confetti Fields in Wick last week, I visited Pershore College en route home as they had a big PYO sign outside.  I was totally amazed that this hidden gem had such a large orchard and berry plants and also, I had no idea that it was a horticultural centre/college. So many fruits to choose from,  but we kept it traditional and chose strawberries.  The taste was so sweet and 'real' - so much better than shop bought ones if I'm honest.  Just reinforces how the taste of something can vary depending on how it is made or grown.  

Strawberry Plants at Pershore College

My little visit has definitely ignited a passion to visit more fruit farms this summer and beyond.  Supporting a local business, picking what you want (and how much you want) and having some time out to do something calming & fun - it's win-win!

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Foodies Festival Comes Back to Birmingham


Foodies Festival has now become a fixture on Birmingham’s events calendar and once again it returns to Cannon Hill Park in Edgbaston ready to accommodate the 30,000 food lovers that are set to visit.

Photo:  c/o Foodies Festival

Organised to take place between 22-24 June, it is billed as being ‘the UK’s biggest celebration of food, drink and live music’.

TV chefs taking the stage will be Kenny Tutt, winner of BBC Masterchef 2018, Great British Bake Off 2017 Winner Sophie Faldo and finalist Steven Carter Bailey.  Local foodies Michelin-star awarded Brad Carter (Carters of Moseley), Rob Palmer of Peels Restaurants as well as ‘Yummy Brummie’ hero and My Kitchen Rules presenter Glynn Purnell will also be making appearances.


Photo:  c/o Foodies Festival

Thirty food stalls with over 100 artisan producers’ goods will be present as well as The Drinks Theatre showcasing mixologists and sommeliers from Fizz Fanatics, Spanish Sensations Tastings and Waitrose.

Photo:  c/o Foodies Festival

Those with a ‘have-a-go’ spirit can take time out for Prosecco and Parmesan Masterclasses or a bit of chocolate-making, cake decorating or kombucha tea brewing or can step into a workshop on gut friendly bacteria or plant-based proteins.

Younger foodies can have fun in the Kids Cookery Theatre, craft area and play zone with bouncy castle and face painting.

Supported by Musicians Against Homelessness, the live music stage will see talented emerging bands and solo artists perform with tickets raising money for UK-wide homelessness charity Crisis along with celebrity performers Toploader, The Hoosiers and 90’s Britpop favourites Dodgy.

Photo:  c/o Foodies Festival

Vegetarians will be able to enjoy many highlights including the on-trend Avocado Trailer, Frozen Yoghurt bar, crepe stand and also Greek Souvlaki and Exotic Tagine have veggie options on their menus.


Photo:  c/o Foodies Festival

That’s quite a lot going on don’t you agree?  Sounds good, yeah?  All we have to do now is pray for dry weather so we can soak up the atmosphere and a few sun rays.  Hope to see you there…………

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