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.