Saturday, 30 January 2016

Culinary Captures - January

It is really the end of January already?  I can’t believe how fast time has flown, Christmas only seems like 5 minutes ago!

Nevertheless, the foodie world is busying itself for the year ahead with lots of new promotions and restaurants opening, it’s exciting times all round.

So, scooping up the news that has come my way, here is a round-up for January of things that have caught my eye.



Interestingly, the United Nations has declared 2016 as The International Year of Pulses (IYP) to draw attention to the  nutritional power of these foods. They’re healthy, nutritious, affordable and sustainable, and with a renewed focus on these benefits, they are pinned to become the new go-to staple for chefs and nutritionists in 2016.
Photo:  c/o

From a staple ingredient to a gourmet dish, pulses are a healthy and affordable way to expand your recipe repertoire. Some of the best loved foods include pulses as a main ingredient: baked beans, hummus, falafels, soups, stews, curries, tacos, dals and for the more adventurous, green banana and beluga lentil fritters with coconut salsa and chilli coulis or a broad bean and chickpea falafel with sprouted lentil tabbouleh and schoog.

The Gate Restaurant in London has developed a series of delicious recipes using Pulses to inspire people across the country, which can be found on the International Year of Pulses website www.Pulses.Org, which also includes over 60 National Signature Dish recipes and over 200 innovative pulse recipes.
What’s your favourite pulse dish?

Bistrot Pierre

With 14 restaurants already UK-wide, this spring sees the French inspired chain sashay its way to Birmingham!
With the promise of ample vegetarian fayre, I was told about one of the bistrot's top selling dishes, the Tartes Flambée, which can be made as a vegetarian option. 

Tartes Flambee
Photo:  c/o Bistrot Pierre
Ajay, Director of Food Development, joins co-owners Rob and John during annual research trips to France to source new recipes ideas and new wines to bring back to the bistrots. He said:
“The Tartes Flambée was introduced on menus last year after we were inspired during a trip to Alsace. The origins of the dish came from an Alsatian tradition hundreds of years ago where a small piece of dough would be placed in a wooden oven to test its temperature before cooking. Accompanied with onion and cheese, it became very popular and eventually a dish in its own right".

“We initially trialled the dish exclusively in the Torquay bistrot and after receiving such positive feedback from customers we decided to introduce the Tartes Flambée across all 14 bistrots and it’s been a resounding success."
"It’s one the bistrot’s most popular dishes and is available as a lunch item, evening meal appetiser and now is also available on our new children’s menu so younger diners can enjoy the traditional Alsatian dish too. We source the recipe of the dough directly from Alsace and use one that goes back hundreds of years. Rather than using a traditional wooden oven we cook the Tartes Flambée in a stone oven which is heated from the base. The dish is cooked fresh to order and only takes about eight minutes to prepare and cook – c'est delicieux!”

I love a dish with a bit of a story attached to it!  Has anyone tried one already?  Put me down for one of those when Bistrot Pierre arrives in Birmingham! 

Veggie/Vegan Cookbooks

On the back of a lot of people trying out Veganuary or just trying to be healthy this time of year, the demand for appropriate recipes is high.  Publishers Apple Press have released a number of books focusing on certain healthy ingredients and lifestyle options.  Although I haven’t read them myself, they are definitely of interest and you may think so too.

Superfoods 24/7 by Jessica Nadel brings delicious, healthy antioxidant-rich ingredients to every meal and has over 100 vegan recipes to choose from.  Having read her Greens 24/7 I know this will be a good read too.
Photo:  c/o Apple Press

Photo:  c/o Apple Press
Launching this year, the ‘We love’ books at Apple Press highlights healthful trends that have captured the imagination. Kale and Quinoa are highly regarded superfoods to eat and in We Love Kale and We Love Quinoa books, they show how you can maximise their potential.
Photo:  c/o Apple Press

Incidentally, kale is low in calories, yet high in fibre, this zero fat ‘queen of greens’ is the perfect ingredient. Packed with nutrition, kale is high in iron, Vitamin K, and powerful antioxidants, it keeps you healthy whilst tasting delicious.   We Love Kale has over 50 recipes to choose from ranging from smoothies to enchiladas and brownies to ice creams.
Equally, quinoa is among the least allergenic of all the grains, making it a fantastic wheat-free choice. It contains all nine essential amino acids making it a complete-protein source and an excellent choice for vegans who may struggle to get enough protein in their diets.  Again, We Love Quinoa will help suggest how you get the most of this versatile ingredient.
The Star & Garter Events
Photo:  Source:  Star & Garter
New on Leamington Spa’s dining scene, in my last Culinary Captures piece I mentioned the pub’s menu offerings. 

To complement it, The Star & Garter have arranged a number of forthcoming events to suit all tastes including a night for those that wish to paint the town red with a little dancing or perhaps partaking in a designed gastro experience to maybe simply just wish to treat a loved one to a nice relaxing meal package – it’s up to you! 

For a summary of what’s on offer see below or visit their website for more details.
Retox Party - Friday 5th February 2016Food specials and dancing!

Valentine's Weekend - 13th - 14th February 2016Sharing specials all weekend.

Spring Menu Tasting - Friday 4th March 2016, 6pm - 10pm VIP spring menu tasting.

Mothering Sunday - Sunday 6th March 2016Prosecco Brunches and the Sunday Best Menu available from noon until 9pm.

Wine & Cheese - Wednesday 16th March 2016A VIP event in the Private Dining Room where you can meet suppliers and taste a selection of the best wine and artisan cheese on offer.

Easter Weekend - 25th - 28th March 2016.
Spend all weekend at The Star & Garter starting with DJ night on Good Friday, sample Easter Sunday Best continuing then on Easter Monday with Brunch specials.

St George's Day - Saturday 23rd April 2016 Celebrate with the best of English where local produce and wonderfully sourced British beers will be available.

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

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