Sunday, 30 August 2015

Culinary Captures - August 2015


Here is August’s round up of all things foodie and kitchen based on what I’ve encountered this month.  Although on this occasion, it’s all about eateries and the news of new events hitting the food scene!
 

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Lower Slaughter Village
Photo: Word In Veg Ways

Another recent visit to the Cotswolds left me feeling uber-relaxed whilst taking some time out to enjoy some peace and quiet in the gorgeous village of Lower Slaughter near Broadway. 
The Slaughters Pub/Restaurant
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

It really is real-life chocolate box imagery there and with its tiny stone bridges and clear water river, lunch at the village gastro pub ‘The Slaughters’ is a must and a good spot for taking it all in over a meal. 
Gooseberry & Elderflower Ice Cream
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

The trip was completed with a visit to the Old Mill Museum shop where they sell home-made organic ice cream and my choice du jour had to be Gooseberry & Elderflower acknowledging a bit of seasonal flavouring. 

The serenity of eating ice cream on a summer’s day can never be beaten I don’t think……….



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Redemption Restaurant
Photo:  c/o Redemption

I’m really excited about Redemption, London’s first alcohol free bar movement, which has secured its first permanent site in Notting Hill following previous pop up successes in Hackney, Holborn and Portobello.
Photo:  c/o Redemption

Redemption is the brain-child of Catherine Salway, ex Virgin Group Brand Director and Executive Chef Andrea Waters who is an experienced restaurateur, vegan & raw chef, and nutrition expert.
Photo:  c/o Redemption

Set up two years ago, the company is proving healthy food can tantalise the pickiest of taste buds, with a selection of delicious, yet nutritious, dishes, including starters, mains and desserts, and non-alcoholic cocktails.
Photo:  c/o Redemption

Since its inception, Redemption has been the only bar/restaurant in London whose menu has been designed by nutritional therapists.  Whilst the alcohol-free cocktails have been a talking point, the food has grown in popularity as more people are looking to take a break from sugar, wheat, dairy and meat.  

Choices on the menu include:
Spicy Vietnamese salad - green mango, cucumber, mint, carrot, coriander, spring onion, chilli and micro shoots with nam jim

*  Maki rolls - filled with red quinoa, avocado, enoki mushrooms, sesame seeds and micro amaranth shoots

*  Candy beet ravioili - ruby beetroot sheets with cashew cheese, pea shoots, and watercress pesto & yellow pepper coulis

*  Lettuce spray - a Japanese-inspired innovative, nutritious and refreshing cocktail of iceberg lettuce, lime, cucumber, wasabi and aloe vera

*  Apple mockjito - muddled apple press, fresh mint and lime, served over ice and topped with soda

*  i scream sundae - sugar-free coconut milk 'ice-cream' with fresh vanilla, served with fresh berries and raw cacao sauce

*  Tomato tonic - a herby healthy version of a bloody mary - fresh tomatoes, sage, a hint of garlic, sweetened with agave syrup, shaken and served over ice

A new selection of good-for-you desserts will satisfy any sweet tooth with dairy-free, sugar-free ice cream sundaes with raw chocolate sauce and summer berries.
Redemption ensures that no animals are harmed or killed in the creation of its dishes, which are all vegan. Food will be sourced locally, and where possible organically, and there will be a zero waste strategy.

I love their ethos and hope that they will extend their brand nationwide, as the one who is often (socially) the nominated driver, having a well thought through non-alcoholic offering is very, very appealing.

For more information visit their website and/or their restaurant:
www.redemptionbar.co.uk
6 Chepstow Road, London, W2 5BH.

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When I visited The Plough Harborne earlier on in the year for one of their legendary Sunday lunches, I was intrigued about their plans for expansion and so I was thrilled to hear that they have now been made public!

This November sees the launch of ‘Upstairs at the Plough’ which is a £750k project which will accommodate two new private dining and meeting rooms.  The two private dining areas are flexible and can hold 30 covers combined or for 40 people standing if you are having an informal event.  For meetings, it will have wi-fi and audio systems making it ideal for business gatherings.
Image:  c/o The Plough

As demand has dedicated, the ground floor also gets a re-vamp with an increase of an extra 40 covers, a new bar featuring artisan whiskies and craft beers with a new pizza kitchen and coffee bar alongside it.

The Plough keeps growing and growing and I for one can’t wait to see the new make-over!

Fancy trying their veggie Sunday roast for yourself?  Read my review here.

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Not quoting Bob Geldolf, but for those that “Don’t Like Mondays”, fear not, ‘Meat Free Mondays at The Mockingbird’ has now arrived at the Custard Factory in Birmingham to wipe away those Monday blues.

Brought you in conjunction with The Vegan Grindhouse (already a stalwart at most local streetfood events), there will be 2 sittings each Monday with the opportunity for you to try some vegan food and to accomplish the ‘Meat Free Monday’ challenge which we all know about.

11am-2pm sees the vegan all American brunch style menu (waffles, scrambled tofu etc) and then 5pm – 9pm sees the vegan evening menu commence featuring food from different regions of the USA, such as burritos, Philly cheesesteaks, meatball marinara subs, mac'n'cheese and all American sides and desserts.

In addition to the food, Meat Free Mondays will also feature free film screenings in the theatre, music and a range of vegan beers, soft drinks and plant-based milks for coffees and teas.
 
Who doesn't like Mondays now?

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

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Veggie BBQ at The Highfield


Having enjoyed their main menu earlier in the spring, I was invited to sample The Highfield's BBQ menu this month in their relaxing patio & garden area coupled with the opportunity of trying out their marquee facility.


The Marquee

Sadly our visit was plagued by rain showers however, this meant that we test out the marquee to full effect.  The marquee provides an elegant shelter against inclement weather with room for about 25 people plus chairs and tables, it makes for a great ‘plan B’ if the weather isn’t BBQ friendly but you still want to be outdoors.  Incidentally, it is also available for hire – as long as your party spends a minimum of £250 in total on food and/or drink, the marquee is yours!
Wood Burner in the Garden
 

For meat-eaters, there are a variety of meats and kebabs to choose from and for us veggies, we get a bespoke menu just for us.
Veggie BBQ Platter

Including: Halloumi & Vegetable Kebabs, Jacket Potato, Corn on the Cob, a filled pitta bread pocket with roast vegetables plus accompanying coleslaw and salads. 
Salad Bar

Nice, wholesome, standard bbq fare, presented on a wooden board with cute galvanized pots of sauces, makes for it to be all the more contemporary.  Only thing I would say is, I would have welcomed some kind of veg packed/herb infused homemade veggie burger to complete the platter just so there would be a comparable item against the meat menu.
Dessert Bar

Modestly priced at £9.75 per person for the veggie option, this is a lovely way to enjoy the ambience of The Highfield, alfresco style and it’s a different way of dining out (literally)!
Dip Your Own Strawberries

So whilst the light nights and the warm(ish) weather are still here, enjoy these last few weeks of summer at The Highfield over a bbq platter and just think – all the fun of a BBQ meal without any of the washing up or tidying away – bliss!! J
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Note:  To read my review of The Highfield's main menu offering, click here.

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Disclosure:    This post has been written following a kind invitation from The Highfield to sample their BBQ 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. 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 



 
 

 

Monday, 17 August 2015

My Top 15 Veggie Foods at Birmingham Independent Food Fair 2015


I can’t believe it’s been almost 12 months since the last Birmingham Independent Food Fair!  Where has the time gone?!

And whilst those that attended have been enjoying the memories of last year’s event, organiser Ahmed Ahmed has been busy planning 2015’s Fair.

Birmingham Independent Food Fair 2014
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

The main change is that the event is now spread over 2 days across the weekend of 12 & 13 September.  With currently 40+ traders signed up to participate and more in the pipeline, it promises something for everyone with food and drink representing all corners of the globe yet having a geographical common bond that they are all from the Birmingham area.

I find food festivals a great opportunity to explore what’s new and to see maybe what I’ve been missing out on.  As a vegetarian especially, I always feel quite gratified if I come across a new find at a festival it gives me that “I’m glad I came” kind of a feel.

Another change this year is that the ticket prices are lower, and are just for entry.  This means it's up to you to go around and discover which treats you want to spend your cash on once you're in there.
 

Reviewing the list of traders due to participate, they are all worth checking out with many (such as Henley Chocolates and Platinum Pancakes) that I am acquainted with already and with whom I look forward to catching up with, as well as new foodie peps that I am keen to find out more about and sample their wares!

So here’s my selection of 15 traders that I have got veggie treats planned for their stalls and who are flying the flag for Birmingham whilst uniquely expressing their diversity through the medium of food:

Photo:  c/o Nibbles Corner
Nibbles Corner
Who doesn’t like Mac n Cheese?  It’s the go-to in comfort food for rainy teatimes and cold wintery days.  Whilst this is also a predictable veggie option, if pimped up to your spec it will make you want to re-visit this old classic with fresh inspiration!  Using a variety of new toppings such as spinach & sundried tomatoes and having locally sourced cheese on hand, it’s been given a make-over well worth a try.   


The Southern Oven

Recreating  a New Orleans street food vibe in a Mardi Gras themed marquee no less is what the team at Southern Oven are offering.  Sweet Iced Teas and (hopefully) veggie Louisiana Po’Boy sandwiches will be on offer guaranteeing a taste of the Deep South.


Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
Chung Ying

Mmm, I love Chung Ying food – their Cantonese dim sum are gorgeous and always something for veggies – so go grab one or three to try!

 
Photos:  Word In Veg Ways
Le Truc

The team at Le Truc are very pro-veggies and will always be able to rustle something up for any of their veggie patrons and their adorable creations are definitely worth checking out.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Photo:  All Greek Deli


All Greek Deli

I could spend ages perusing the shelves at their Stephenson Street shop but what I love is their baklava and the fact that they sell halva by weight!  Never tried halva?  Now’s your chance!!


Mama Eti’s

Although based in Bournville, Mama Eti’s offers Indonesian food.  A unique chance to try something different which isn’t always readily available.  They will also be selling spices, chutneys etc to try at home too.


Crave de Taste

A community interest company from Hockley, they will be offering vegetarian and vegan fare using organic produce where possible to recreate the flavours of Jamaican cooking.


Penang Café

With Malaysian food increasing in popularity, here’s an opportunity to see why that is so.  Amongst many other dishes, I’m keen to taste their Malaysia Brulee dessert!

Photo:  Shake That Ting
Shake That Ting

For those who are young or young at heart, milkshakes and smoothies form the basis of this fun trader.  So if you’re not counting the calories, there are treats a-plenty!


Photo:  Moorish Bar
Moorish Bar

Fusing  Middle Eastern/North African food traits together, the Moorish Bar has falafel wraps, hummous and salads to name a few for those in search of something a little exotic.  Rounded off with a cup of Arabian coffee, you’ll have a food souk right in front of your eyes!


Amantia

Everyone’ s loving tapas right now with Amantia joining the  city’s food scene recently, I’m already sold on their aubergine fritters with honey!


Pan Piano

Mediterranean with a hint of Asia Minor influence leads to flatbreads with pomegranate, halloumi and other goodies at this Turkish/Greek stall.


Greens Vegan Catering

A magnet for all vegans, Greens offer speciality scones, curries and salsas.

Photo:  Vegan Grindhouse
The Vegan Grindhouse

A favourite at many of the local streetfood events, they have built up quite a following with food enjoyed by vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters alike.


Vinatasty

Vietnamese food has become more prominent in recent years and Thuy Pham will be bringing along her Dragon Fruit Crunchies for sampling.  A delicious opportunity to try this fruit if you haven’t done so already.




For more information about the event, please visit:  http://www.bhamindfoodfair.co.uk/

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Note:  All traders featured have been selected by choice and no incentive has been given to promote them.  All photographs have been credited accordingly.























Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Dinner at The Rose & Crown Warwick

 
Photo:  Courtesy of The Rose & Crown

Photo:  Courtesy of The Rose & Crown

The night we visited The Rose & Crown in Warwick, it was the start of the Warwick Folk Festival, so the town and especially this gastropub, were in full swing.
 

Invited to sample the menu and to check out the pub in general, we picked a great night to visit, a little folk with one’s food is no bad thing.
  
 
 
 
 
 

Music to one side, this 17th century inn is now part of the Peach Pubs Group and whilst being very 2015, alongside the en vogue decoration and lighting, the historic beams remain as a nod to the past.
 

The restaurant area was very busy and Giles (the manager) mentioned it is like this normally anyway without the influence of the festival, so that’s a good sign.
 

Giles and his team were very passionate and knowledgeable about the pub’s offerings and were able to discuss all the menu items with us in detail.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this, us vegetarians like to ask questions so having knowledge on tap was ideal!

To accompany our drinks of New Zealand Sauvigon Blanc and Lawson Lager from local brewery Purity (indeed we were flying the Warwickshire flag that night), we decided to go for the following menu options:
 
Choosing our Starters, My Carnivourous Husband (MCH) opted for the vegetarian choice on the Specials Board and I had one from the standard menu and as both starters were veggie, we could try each other’s which I love doing when it happens that way.
 

MCH had the Veggie Haggis Scotch Egg, Marinated Courgette Salad, Gooseberry Ketchup (£6.75).  A grainy mock-haggis mixture was tightly packed around a soft boiled egg to create the ‘scotch egg’ effect.  The haggis had a rich texture and was quite filling and the egg was cooked just right.  The gooseberry ketchup, which isn’t often seen, was very tangy and a very good pairing with the haggis/egg.  The portion size was excellent as well.


I had the Twice Baked Quickes Cheddar Souffle, Apple & Walnut Salad, Aspall’s Glaze (£6.75).   I’ve never quite mustered up enough courage or patience to try making soufflé at home so it is nice to have the chance to try it when dining out.  Taking a forkful, it was very soft and light (as it should be) upon first taste and then, almost out of nowhere, there was a blast of cheese that came through which was sharp and contrasted really well against the fluffy soufflé base.  Served with walnuts, apple slices and Aspall’s Cider Glaze, to a degree, I thought of it as a ‘posh Ploughman’s lunch’!  I really enjoyed it as did MCH who sampled it too.

For our Mains, again from the Specials Board, MCH had the Posh Fish & Chips Beer Battered Haddock and Hake, Crab Croquettes, Triple Cooked Chips, Peas and Tartare Sauce (£17.50).  The fish was fresh and the batter was light and hints of beer could be tasted within.  The chips (being triple cooked) were more crispier than they would be normally which he liked.  MCH wasn’t overly keen on the crab croquettes although he felt they would be more eagerly embraced by dedicated seafood lovers.  The tartare sauce was rich, zesty and tangy.
He accompanied his main course with a side order of Green Bean, Fennel & Tomato Salad, Mayes & Green French Dressing (£3.75) which worked well with the fish although the salad was a touch too vinegary when eaten on its own. 
As a whole fish dish, he liked the idea and presentation, commenting it was again a good portion size.

My choice of Main was the Queen Anne’s Artichoke Tart, Chicory & Frissee Salad, Lemon & Caper Dressing (£11.75).
It was a good opportunity to have artichokes which sadly don’t feature as much as they should do on menus.  A good sized portion but perhaps a little too much pastry (for me) for the tart base.  The salad was very crunchy and a nice divergence against the moussey tart filling.   It definitely needs a side order of vegetables and/or potatoes to make it into a more structured main course I felt.  I had a side of New Potatoes with Sea Salt (£3.75) which were lightly buttered and were perfect for the tart.
Photo:  Courtesy of The Rose & Crown

MCH chose his dessert from the Specials Board (again) and went for the Dip Your Own Strawberries (£6.75).  Similarly to the asparagus theme that ran across the Peach Pubs group in springtime, big, ripe locally grown Staffordshire strawberries were presented in little mock plant pots and a fringe of faux grass dressed the tray.  The pots contained Valrhona melted chocolate and Chantilly Cream, both of which were thick and sat well on each strawberry.  MCH said the dipping element made it a fun dessert to have and ideal if you wanted to end the meal on a sweet note, but not have anything too heavy.

I ordered the Lemon and Polenta Drizzle Cake, Elderflower Sorbet (£5.75).  It was served warm, strong lemon flavours were present and the crumbly crust against the sharpness of the sorbet made for a good combination.  In addition, it was a good palette cleanser and rounded the meal off well.
Wall Decoration is in honour of the
pub name, not my surname (pity)!!

The Rose & Crown is a quaint, yet contemporary place to dine which equally lends itself well for drinks having a spacious bar area and outside courtyard for that.  Vegetarians have some selection, the veggie specials are really good and I hope the pub continues to think up more good specials in this creative vain.  Also, the staff can adapt dishes upon request to make bespoke meals which is music to a vegetarian’s ears.
With frequently changing specials boards and regular events, it is definitely worth a visit, especially if you are teaming it with a visit to Warwick or nearby Stratford Upon Avon.
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Disclosure:  This post was written following a kind invitation to sample the evening menu at The Rose & Crown Warwick.   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.