Sunday, 27 September 2015

Pop Up Dining at Nomad

Foodies around Birmingham will know of Alex Claridge.  Somewhat of a food maverick, he has spent time over the past few years at Urban Coffee Company, Hotel la Tour and Bistro 1847 waving his creative gastro wand over their offerings and turning his ideas and their menus around.

With his strong empathy towards us vegetarian brethren, I like to keep my ears to the ground as to where Alex will be next and as it happens, his focus is his latest project  - Nomad.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Nomad  as the name suggests, embraces the premise of nomadic tendencies:  eg:  the venue for the sessions isn’t fixed and mimics the lifestyle of a wandering rover - the menu is based on foraged goods which also means no two days trading are the same.

Using the harvested goods from their allotment and what their team of foragers have sourced both locally and from other parts of the UK, this approach keeps the menu fresh, observantly seasonal and imaginative.

With options for carnivores and vegetarians available, myself (obviously) and My Carnivorous Husband (MCH) both had the vegetarian option, which he chose to have in his bid to eat more meat free meals.  (No, I’m not turning him but he is warming to the fact that eating meat free occasionally is beneficial).

At the time of dining, Nomad’s venue was Kitchen Garden CafĂ© in the Kings Heath area of Birmingham (popular for pop-up events).   The romantic in me feels its secret-esque gate on York Road and winding path lined with shrubs and plants provides an element of mystique that sets you up for the mystery of what you’ll be having during night ahead.

Now the scene has been set, here is what we ate:


The purpose of this course was to taste the different textures of tomatoes and to experience them in non- conventional ways.  Making you think about what you’re having and how diverse an ingredient can be.

It was explained that the tomatoes are marinated in herbs for 24 hours and then strained for 24 hours through muslin to gain that intense flavour.  From there, the dishes are created.
Tomato Infused Meringue
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Numero uno in the trilogy of this first course was a piece of tomato infused meringue simply presented on a black plate.

An instant melt on the tongue, the visual of it deceives you for a moment where you think it will be sweet (as per a traditional dessert meringue) and instead it is like fizzy tomato soup – totally confusing your senses.    Whilst on paper, it shouldn’t work, in reality it does and is totally wonderful.

Part deux of the trio was Pearl Barley Tomato Risotto & Marjoram.  Big fans of pearl barley as we are, we looked forward to this.  The sauce was herby, the barley cooked well, but the tomato although present, wasn’t as strong as we anticipated but nevertheless an enjoyable dish.
Strained Tomato Water
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Part three was Strained Tomato Water.  Served in a vintage style teacup, this is the water from the  tomatoes that were strained overnight (as per the meringue above).  It was strong, intense, salty, packed with flavour which played with the tastebuds.

Fennel Turnip Sunflower
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Fennel Turnip Sunflower

A pretty little combination of poached turnips, fennel chutney, pickled fennel, sunflower brittle, bijous cucumber melons, wood sorrel and fennel flowers.

You taste the savoury herby elements first and then the sweetness kicks in – for instance the sunflower seeds in caramel balance out the aniseediness of the fennel.  Fennel is an underused, understated vegetable so it was good that it was being pushed to its limits here.  Bijous cucumber melons – how often do you get them?  Loved having them, they were like little tiny cucumbers yet so different to what we eat ordinarily.  All in all, it was like a meal in itself.

Manouri, Oyster Mushroom
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
Kelp Broth
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Manouri, Oyster Mushroom

A dish made up of leek fondue, burnt leek and samphire with kelp broth and stone crop.

This was a hybrid venture using nature’s gifts from the sea and allotment.  The wonderful saline tastes of the sea via the samphire and kelp woven with the earthy flavours of leek and mushrooms gave it a contrasting twist with the addition of the mallow tasting Manouri cheese.

Beetroot, Goat's Butter, Kohlrabi, Blackberry
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Beetroot, Goat’s Butter, Kohlrabi, Blackberry

Pickled blackberries, confit of beets in goat’s butter, sliced kohlrabi, with edible flora to top it off.

A combination that wouldn’t be in my mindset to put together ordinarily.    But the firmness of the beetroot against the tartness of the blackberries worked well in unison.  The taste of the butter came through gently at the end of each mouthful.

Borlotti Bean, Marrow, Goat's Cheese, Celeriac
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Borlotti Bean, Marrow, Goat’s Cheese, Celeriac

A combination of borlotti beans, goat’s cheese, charred lettuce, braised carrots in a pea & mint puree with marrow chips (marrow grown at the allotment).

The beans and goat’s cheese (the ultimate in ‘cheesey beans’) was gorgeous!  It was like a garden on a plate.  All of these are items feature in regular meals, but their presentation and way they were cooked makes you think about their versatility.  For instance, to have the marrow chipped and chargrilled was excellent.


Sea Buckthorn Tequila & Cocoa Nib
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Sea Buckthorn, Tequila & Cocoa Nib

A mixture of pineapple juice, sea buckthorn juice, chocolate liqueur and tequila.

I pre-empting your question of “what is sea buckthorn?”  Well, it’s a bush bearing small orange coloured berries and it grows well on coastal areas in England/Western Europe where the salt spray from the sea prevents other larger plants outcompeting it.

Sampling a little of the raw juice on its own – it is very acidic and sour, like a lemon (and is sometimes used in lieu of lemon I’ve been told), but the sourness goes away rapidly and it is quite pleasant.

Returning back to the combo, it was like a mini cocktail served as a shot.  Taking in the cocoa from the glass’s rim, you sample the drink getting that hint of sourness first which then turns into sweetness and then the kick of alcohol but it wasn’t overbearing.

Rhubarb, Muesli, Yoghurt
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Rhubarb, Muesli, Yoghurt

This course had an almost breakfasty feel with the blend of rhubarb & praline parfait, homemade toasted muesli and honey yoghurt, but it worked well as part of a dinner menu.

There was a hint of fresh ginger in the muesli and a great pairing with the rhubarb.  Superb combo as part of the dessert offering.

Raspberry, Shortbread, Herbs
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Raspberry, Shortbread, Herbs

Raspberry crumbled shortbread, raspberry sorbet, freeze dried raspberries, raspberry jelly (veggie friendly) and raspberry sauce with thyme flowers.

It was every which way you can imagine consumption of raspberries to be –with varying textures it proves the humble raspberry can be so more than just a garnish on a dessert. 

The taste of herbs was subtle in the thyme scented gluten free shortbread and a good pairing with raspberries.



We both came away thoroughly enjoying the meal we had experienced.  We loved the whole ‘wonder what we’ll get next’ element and each course was a talking point.  The American waitress who looked after us was amazingly hospitable, extremely knowledgeable and passionate (an extension of Alex’s enthusiasm I believe).

The vegetarian menu was just as wonderfully thought through as its meat counterpart and therefore visiting Nomad is ideal for anyone with dietary preferences.

As its evolution continues,  take a look at Nomad’s site for their latest news. 

As before, I will be following closely too, keep my ear firmly to the ground…………..
Disclosure:    This post has been written following a kind invitation from Alex Claridge (Nomad) to sample their  vegetarian 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. 













Sunday, 6 September 2015

Shopping is a Deli-ight (Express & Star Article)

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it dozens of times – I really love delicatessens!

So much so, I’m almost evangelical about it.

In my latest article for Express & Star online, I’ve written about their purpose in supporting one’s weekly shopping routine and how, for even veggies, they play their part in providing an offering that differs from chain supermarkets.

So for those who are yet to experience delicatessen culture, it is worth breaking your retail routine, perhaps trying that outlet you walk past but never step into and acquaint yourself with new products, a new way of shopping and ultimately indulge feeding your curiosity.

Click here to view the article.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways