Sunday, 21 August 2016

Review: Nourishing Noodles

Everyone has been at it for months if not longer and yet I am new to the spiralising party, but hey, better late than never.

As a vegetarian, the whole spiralising phenomenon should have appealed to me right from the start but I have to say, I didn’t want to commit to buying an expensive bulky piece of kit that I may/may not get on with.  But I found a cute little hand-held spiraliser on one of the discount voucher websites which turned out to be worth the gamble.

So, with spiraliser in one hand, courgette in the other, I was quite proud of my Zoodles/Courgetti (whatever you wish to call them) when the curly ringlets appeared on my plate at the end of the process.  Feeling all gung-ho, I wanted to do more and so I was pleased when the Nourishing Noodles book came my way to review, timing couldn’t have been better!

Photo: c/o Race Point Publishing

Guiding people like me to understanding how far you can push your spiraliser, Nourishing Noodles byChris Anca, published by Race Point Publishing (£14.99) offers nearly 100 recipes that showcase the versatility of vegetables and how diverse salads or veggie side dishes can be with a few cheeky techniques.

Written for an American audience originally, it features their scale of measurements (eg: cups), but has UK equivalents on the side and also a few words here/there which are more Stateside but it doesn’t detract from the focus of spiralising and there are lots of photographs to provide inspiration and the recipes seem easy to follow.

The recipes cover all mealtimes during the course of a day from Breakfast to Supper with also a few mini recipes for add-ons to a dish such as herb or spice mixes which is quite useful.  It also promotes healthy eating with plenty of suggestions for those that are into ‘raw food’ eating as well.  Recipes include:   Cucumber Sprouts Thai Noodle Salad and Fresh Spring Rolls and take a peek below for details.

This is a really good book to help you get acquainted with spiralising and to get more out of it but is equally good if you just want some recipe ideas that will help you vary your salad/vegetable preparation routines if you’re bored with your current repertoire.


Disclosure:    This post has been written following receipt of a complementary copy of Nourishing Noodles.
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.  

Photo:  c/o Race Point Publishing

Makes 5-6 spring rolls

1/3 medium carrot, thin spirals
1 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
½ tsp raw honey or maple syrup
1/3 medium zucchini, thin spirals
½ Lebanese cucumber, thin spirals

1 cup (150 g) cashews
½ cup (120 ml) water
2 tbsp Mustard
2 tbsp maple syrup
1-inch (2.5 cm) piece green (spring) onion, white part only
¼ tsp sea salt flakes
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice
1 pinch chili flakes

5–6 rice paper wrappers
1 avocado, halved, pitted, and sliced lengthwise
1 small handful sunflower sprouts
10–12 mint leaves
10–12 cilantro (coriander) leaves

1 Place carrot noodles in a large bowl. Add apple cider vinegar and raw honey or maple syrup to the bowl and massage noodles for 30 seconds. Add the zucchini and cucumber noodles to the bowl, next to the carrot noodles (do not mix noodles).

2 Place all dipping sauce ingredients in a blender and process until creamy and smooth. Pour into dipping bowls.

3 To make the rolls, dip the rice paper wrappers in cold water for 2–3 seconds, then place them on a clean, dry cutting board, rough sides up. Add a small handful of each of the noodles right below the centre line and top with avocado, sprouts, mint, and cilantro.

4 Lift the side of the wrapper closer to you and tuck it tightly on top of the filling. Lift the sides of the sheet and tuck them tightly on top of the filing.

5 Begin to roll away from you, applying gentle pressure on the filling to keep everything in place; this pressure will help create a firm roll.

6 Repeat steps 4–5 for remaining rolls.

7 Serve immediately with dipping sauce on the side.

Recipe extracted from Nourishing Noodles by Chris Anca, published by Race Point Publishing (£14.99).


Photo:  c/o Race Point Publishing


Serves 2 (as a light meal)

1 tbsp tamari
Juice and pulp of ½ lime
1 tbsp coconut nectar
½ tsp grated ginger
¼ tsp cold-pressed sesame oil
½ tsp chia seeds
1 pinch chili flakes

2 large handfuls sunflower sprouts
4 small radishes, thinly sliced
2 small handfuls finely chopped mint
1 small spring onion, thinly sliced
2 Lebanese cucumbers, thin spirals

2 large handfuls baby spinach or seasonal greens of your choice
1 tbsp white and/or black sesame seeds
2 lime wedges

1 Place all dressing ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

2 Add the sprouts, radish, mint, and onion to the dressing bowl and toss until thoroughly coated. Massage vegetables for about 1 minute to help soften them. Let sit for 5 minutes.

3 Add cucumber noodles to the bowl and toss until thoroughly coated.

4 Arrange a large handful of baby spinach or greens of choice on each plate, then top with coated noodles.

5 Sprinkle on sesame seeds and serve with lime wedges

Recipe extracted from Nourishing Noodles by Chris Anca, published by Race Point Publishing (£14.99).

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Review: Folkington's Presses

This time of year is when I want something thirst-quenching but with flavour, that’s refreshing but won’t leave me even thirstier than how I began.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

So when I saw Folkington’s Gently Sparkling Presse range, I liked their flavour combinations and the fact it presents itself brand-wise as having ‘natural’ ingredients rather than being packed with additives.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Their Lemon & Mint flavour is certainly dominated by the Sicilian lemons within and gives a strong citrusy punch right at the last gulp.  Sharing it out amongst a couple of us, we all agreed, this flavour was definitely very refreshing, it was lovely.

The Elderflower Presse version was very pleasant and although refreshing too, the flavour wasn’t as strong as the lemon & mint one.  But quintessential British nevertheless.

Photo:  c/o Folkington's

When I was ready to try the Rhubarb & Apple one, I found it had disappeared from the fridge as My Carnivorous Husband had already drank it, so I can’t comment on its taste personally.  However, he said it was very palatable with a subtle hint of sweetness.

These are great as standalone drinks but would also work beautifully as a mixer, especially with a good vodka or in a jug of Pimms!  Very much a ‘summer drink’.

I would definitely have them again and I might even get to try the Rhubarb & Apple one next time!!!

Take a look here for stockists and for recipe suggestions whilst the summer is still with us!


Disclosure:    This post has been written following receipt of samples from Folkingtons.  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.  

Friday, 12 August 2016

Foodies Festival - Birmingham

June saw the return of Foodies Festival in Birmingham back in its residence of Cannon Hill Park.
Mine was only a fleeting visit due to being somewhat of a ‘social butterfly’ that weekend sadly (places to visit, too little time), but nevertheless, I was still able to take it all in and enjoy what was on offer albeit for a short while.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Visiting on Saturday morning, arriving prior to the 11am gate opening, I thought I’d be first in the queue but clearly others had the same idea as me to get there pronto as there were a good number of people there ready and waiting.  The advantages were that before the crowds descended, we could have a good look round without too many people to jostle with.
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Some of the usual traders were there from the Birmingham food scene as well as one or two I recognised from last year’s festival.  But equally, there were some new faces including some new streetfood vendors.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

I particularly loved Coco Labelle in their powder blue van boasting inspired foods from Sicily, Jamaica and Malaysia.  I wanted to try their sweet potato offering but it had already been prepared with chillis (which I’m allergic to) so I couldn’t have any.  I was gutted and they too were genuinely disappointed they couldn’t help me.  May be next time….
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

A whole marquee was dedicated to Mary Berry’s range of sauces which attracted a swarm of people who were dipping cut up baguette chunks into sample pots – and very nice they were too.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
Harry from GingerBeard’s Preserves overheard my enquiry for soda bread and gave me his own recipe which I keep meaning to try (and when I do, I’ll blog about it).

Seeds of Change were giving out free chive seeds and again, I am yet to grow mine but hopefully I’ll have a nice batch of herbs on my kitchen windowsill before too long.  (Really must get my act together)….

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
New Bailey’s Coffee was being offered out as samples and I have to say, it was incredibly moreish.  With a good amount of Bailey’s in it, I could have gotten quite merry had I have had a standard mug full, so probably a good thing it was restricted to one sample per person.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Also, I was lucky enough to catch up with Katy Beskow (Lil Miss Meat Free) who was preparing for her demo in the theatre tent.  Having done an interview with her a few weeks prior so it was lovely to meet her in person.  Amongst other dishes, she was going to make a vegan panna cotta which looked really delicious.
With still a good month of the summer to go, there are plenty of cities yet to host their version of Foodies Festival, so if there is one near you, it is definitely worth visiting, making a day of it and seeing what foodie delights you can pick up and if you’re not driving, just head straight for fabulous cocktail stands!

Disclosure:    This post has been written following a complimentary invitation to  attend the 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, 9 August 2016

Review: Caffe Concerto - Grand Central

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
The trains are almost incidental at New Street station with glamorous shopping & dining hub Grand Central Birmingham above it, it is all about the food there these days!  Or at least that is the way I see it.  With eateries galore, chowing down before you board is now very much part of the journey process and you no longer have to make do with stale pasties and tepid coffee en route to the platform, the choice now is vast.
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

One example of which, holding court on the top tier of Grand Central is Caffe Concerto.   An open air, glass fronted eatery, where you can pop in to buy a take-away cake or take your time over a full sit-down afternoon tea.  Mother and I did the latter.
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

They are keen to demonstrate the vegetarian element of their afternoon tea range and I too was eager to see what that entailed.    
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

They have a number of standard sandwich fillings as part of the range, but being fussy and wanting to ascertain their flexibility, I made some suggestions of what I’d like at the time of my advance booking. 
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Arriving a fraction early, we waiting for our tea to be assembled, indulging in a bit of people watching from up above over a glass of Prosecco whilst also being nosey as to what other patrons were consuming on their tables.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
When our pretty pink vintage-style cake stand arrived, giving it a good look up and down, it was triple tiered with sandwiches, scones and then cakes/tartlets at the top.
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

I was really pleased to see that my sandwich suggestions had been taken into consideration and also my specification of no butter on the bread had also been honoured, so thumbs up straightaway for that.  The fillings of Goat’s Cheese & Onion Chutney, Avocado & Cheese, Cheese & Tomato Chutney and Houmous & Red Pepper were all very delicious and were a good variety within, albeit there was still a bit of cheese fest, it was still a welcomed change from plain old cheese or egg which I find extremely predictable.   
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

The scones were warm and crumbly with a good portion of clotted cream accompanied by little miniature jars of jam you would typically see at hotels and the like, but again, that was plentiful to fulfil smothering the scones with.
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

The top layer consisted of cakes included:  macaroons, fruit tartlets and cheesecake.  I enquired if the gelatinous topping on some of the cakes was vegetarian friendly and our waitress confirmed it was.  She said that the company observe the halal rules of catering and therefore standard gelatine wouldn’t be used, again that was good to hear.
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

With both of us having tea (to drink), I was surprised when the pot we had was only enough for one person, so we had to ask for another.  It also came in a metallic teapot with a tea bag which didn’t fit the rest of the afternoon tea experience.  Whilst I can understand that arrangement for customers that are popping in for a quick cup of tea as it is easy and functional for both parties, but in view of the price point of it and the general leisurely concept of afternoon tea, it would’ve been nice to perhaps have a different style teapot to match the cake stand and to have leaf tea with a strainer, that would’ve complemented it wholly.    This is one suggestion I would make.
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
Overall, it is a well-run café with an equally smiley, welcoming team.  The heavy to/frowing of customers either sitting in or buying goods to take-away are testament to their popularity which has been already secured in London.  In fact, their display of cakes and ice creams are a vision you can’t really walk past without at least at stare (art gallery fashion), the presentation of which is immaculate.
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

A very nice afternoon tea service which I would recommend for vegetarians, especially if you ask for ‘different’ sandwich fillings ahead of going and do ensure you bag yourself a good seat for people watching….


Disclosure:    This post has been written following a kind invitation from Caffe Concerto to sample their afternoon tea.  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.      

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Culinary Captures - July 2016

With summer holiday breaks, birthdays and other fun things going on, if you’re like me, no doubt you’ve been trying to maximise those sunny days when they happen and try to get out and about!

So, if you’re wondering what’s new or just want an idea of somewhere to go or something to do, then check out the info below!

Photos:  Word In Veg Ways

I must applaud Malmaison Birmingham who were running an excellent deal of 3 courses plus a cocktail from their fixed summer menu for £19.95 per head (when booked online – selected timings – check offer expiry date).  With fixed menus, sometimes you can have compromised portions and few choices.  But I have to say, the portions were hearty and even though there were only a few veggie choices, the staff went out of their way to make me something that suited which I really appreciated.  Also, their knowledge of each dish’s ingredients was extensive and they knew all of the non-vegetarian elements within and advised me accordingly.  We came out very impressed!  Really worth checking out this offer or keeping your eye on future ones.

Photo:  c/o BFDH Awards

The Birmingham Food Drink & Hospitality Awards were recently held at Edgbaston Cricket Ground where nominated restaurants, chefs, venues and traders were all bidding for their category’s prize.  I was nominated for the Best Food & Drink Blogger category with the winning trophy going to Independent Birmingham (well done!).  But thank you so much to everyone that took the time to vote for me – I truly appreciated it.  It was great to be part of it and to also have the excuse to drink Prosecco on a Monday night!  Take a look at the winners here.

Photo:  c/o The Highfield
Photo:  c/o The Highfield

Looking at the leisure side of things, the ever popular The Highfield in Edgbaston has alongside it now The Highfield Town House.  Converted from a listed 1860’s villa, the boutique hotel has individually designed rooms that feature décor from Cotswold manufacturers and offers contemporary comfort complemented by the gastro offerings at The Highfield next door.  Located near enough to access Birmingham city centre but yet far away enough to enjoy a peaceful suburban slumber.


Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

As you will have seen in my post last month, I am all over Rofuto – Birmingham’s new Japanese restaurant.  As well as their gorgeous food, they are now offering yoga classes.  At 16 floors up, it is somewhere different to get your inner zen.  Oh, and a top tip -  do try their veggie sushi whilst you’re up there!

Note:  All items/services featured have been personally selected and I have not received any incentive or compensation to feature them. 









Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Review: Allergen Free Bread & Cakes

I probably take bread and its inner fluffy pillowness and crusty exterior for granted, based on the fact I could eat it by the barrow load and not have any side effects.   

Sadly for some, just a slither of bread can set off a whole catalogue of allergies spiralling into varying levels of general unwellness.

Having had first-hand experience of this are the owners of The Incredible Bakery Company who made it their mission to create a range of bread products that would suit their family members who have allergies.

Their award winning range of breads and pastries are:  free from gluten, dairy, eggs and soya and don’t possess any of the top 14 common food allergen types.

Although as I say, I’m fortunate not to have to worry about allergens, but I too have family members that have to be mindful of certain things they eat so I was keen to sample some allergen free bread to put myself in their shoes and to see what they thought of the range too.

The Incredible Bakery Company sent me a mixture of different bread types including paninis, with flavours that are very en vogue right now such as buckwheat, oat and red quinoa.
Oat Loaf

They don’t look any different to freshly baked loaves that you would buy from an artisan bakery although when you cut into them, they do have a slightly richer colour (compared to white bread). 

Taste-wise (sharing it around my family), we felt it definitely differed from ‘normal’ bread, perhaps a little drier, but nevertheless all in all pleasant enough and enhanced when coupled with a spread or topping.  Mum commented she didn't feel as bloated after eating it which is a positive.

I probably wouldn’t buy the range for myself as I can eat traditional bread comfortably, but I would buy it for any family or friends that I had visiting that would benefit from allergen-free goods.  
Ginger & Date Buns
They are a good, realistic bread alternative and definitely offer a life-line to those who want to have their cake and eat it…..
Disclosure:    This post has been written following receipt of samples from The Incredible Bakery Company.  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.  





Monday, 18 July 2016

Review: Spanish Feasting at Amantia

Noting that a number of my Facebook comrades show a lot of love towards Amantia in Birmingham, I was pleased when an opportunity came my way to see for myself what it is that draws them back there time after time.
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

So arriving at 12pm on the dot one Saturday afternoon recently, we were the only diners at Amantia.  Having the restaurant all to ourselves with Hispanic melodies piped through the speakers as our only  companion, it did leave me missing that typical restaurant buzz you get, but as the lunchtime period wore on, it became fuller and fuller – atmosphere enhanced and I felt “this is more like it”.  Clearly, not everyone is gagging for lunch at 12pm pronto like me.
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
Nestling into the purple chairs which matches their purple décor throughout, I noted a few ornamental Spanish gestures on the walls and on display shelves, but nothing overwhelming, it was just enough. 
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Although I had had a cheeky glance at the menu before visiting, I was pleased to see a confirmed number of veggie dishes on there and a good variety outside of the usual remit of paella.
Photos:  Word In Veg Ways

Mum and I decided to go tapas style for our starters and we chose wholly vegetarian dishes to maximise sampling opportunities for us both.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Over a glass of Erlal wine and for me their rose version, we had:

Ensalada de Legumbres (Butterbean, chickpea, lentils, tomato, onion and coriander salad)
This was a good mix of lentils and beans in a light oily dressing with a little kick from the coriander.
Pimientos & Lentils
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Pimientos Piquillo Rellenos Red Peppers (Piquillo red peppers filled with cream cheese and a garlic herb mix).  These were very pleasant and sweet, the cream cheese broke up the pepper and the garlic gave it a bit of a ‘hit’.
Aubergine & Honey
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Bernjenas Con Miel - Aubergine & Honey
These were lightly fried battered aubergine wedges drizzled with honey.  A good combination of aubergine + honey together, however, I would’ve preferred them without the batter and just griddled/fried with honey on top.
San Francisco Mocktail
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

More wine for Mother and a San Francisco mocktail (sweet yet refreshing) for me whilst we waited for our mains.
Gratinado de Verduras
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

I opted for the Gratinado de Verduras  - Aubergine, Potato and mushroom stew/gratin.  I really cannot get enough of aubergines – can you tell?  But this was a good mix of vegetables, gratin style with melted cheese on top although I would’ve liked to have had a little more seasoning within to give it more edge.
Sea Bass
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Mum had the Lubina Con Salsa Verde  - Sea Bass on a Mediterranean herb sauce.  It was a hearty portion and well cooked, she really enjoyed it.
Side Orders
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Our side dishes of Sauteed Potatoes and Salad were equally well seasoned and well dressed.
Chocolate & Almond Ganache
Photo:  Word In VegWays

We did our usual trick of ordering two different desserts and sharing/tasting each other’s.  Mum went for the Chocolate & Almond Ganache – very chocolately, rich, dense with a mousse base.

Spanish Almond Cake
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

I went for the more delicate sounding Tarta de Santiago - Spanish Almond Cake and the almonds came through quite heavily (as opposed to just a hint of), so this is definitely one for nut lovers (of which I am one) but yet it was light.  This is a good option if you want to round your meal off with a dessert with nothing too heavy.

Overall, there is a good quota of vegetarian dishes across the menu, which is a plus as tapas/Spanish food doesn’t always have a vegetarian bias and certainly not in Spain, so I was pleased to see a good level of choice on there.
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Whilst it has a good lunchtime trade, I imagine it would be more atmospheric in the evenings but nevertheless, Amantia is a wonderful addition to the ever expanding eatery/boozer destination of Bennetts Hill/Colmore Row in Birmingham. 

The Spanish G&T was recommended to me before I went and I forgot to ask for it, so that’s a good enough excuse to engineer a second visit in my view!   
Disclosure:    This post has been written following a kind invitation from Amantia to sample their 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.