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birmingham

Sky By the Water Shines

Sky By the Water Shines

Resort world. Billed as a stand-alone location destination…even by flight. I never bought it myself and dreamt up a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory World would attract more of a global following, with a crazy glass elevator ride and all.

With its good connections to the city centre and airport it is a shiny lakeside hub of chains but a new independent diamond amongst the monotony has been born, Sky by the Water.

The first-time solo venture for Brummie Head Chef Aaron Darnley. I had the joy of working with Aaron back when Le Petit Blanc sat on the blossomed fringes of Brindley Place and even as a fresh-faced commis chef, he had a drive that surpassed some of the other hardworking chefs behind the hot plate. His food now sings from the crockery and I could recognise the culinary journey he has been on since then with Andy Waters, refining classic French dishes with a British twist.

The Monday night found us celebrating, and Resort world was a good geographical location for all off our party, which included a birthday boy, the birthday boy mama, teenager and a pregnant lady plus foodie fanatic me and my beau!

Staff were slick and attentive, and the large shiny restaurant was surprisingly busy with guests for a a start of week dreary February evening. The NEC’s Caravan and Camping show was bringing many an international diner to the venue. The sparkling interior left a reflection on the windows that gave the impression that the 7th floor restaurant had a twinkling city view; I would not go that far, but it was a view. Interior although glamorous did seem slightly confused, reminded me of a swanky casino.

We all opted for starters. Teen Josh ordering mushroom risotto despite not liking mushrooms; now this was a test! I splashed out and had the scallops, apple and black pudding. Other dishes included ham hock, goats’ cheese and a chicken liver parfait. We broke our fast with some warm, in house baked mini baguettes, that were soon devoured.

My scallops were cooked to perfection and plump, the acidity of the apple cut through the richness of the black pudding and I now had an additional side of mushrooms to delight in too. Josh gobbled up the rich risotto despite not enjoying the texture of the fungi (que my plate) and he did delight in the flavour. Would we be able to entice the same enthusiasm for his ravioli which was to come with Mediterranean vegetables (not a vegetable fan).

Mains saw the fillet steak well cooked and came with a disproportionate mound of triple cooked chips (they were eaten). My succulent chicken breast and gnocchi was shared with Josh in exchange for aubergine, courgette and more mushrooms. A trio of pork saw the family banter cease and be replaced with pleasurable sounds of flavour enjoyment.

Plates were well and truly cleaned, and beautiful mama-to-be was certainly keen to try a dessert. Plates are balanced in portion so you can enjoy 3 courses. The dessert offerings are led by Daryll Collins of Bake of final fame. The renouncing top pick was the caramel shortbread which in comparison to other courses was hefty. The malted milk glace got prize for best ever ice-cream tasted by Josh, and I had to agree it was rather special. Cheesecake was deconstructed which did not meet the birthday boys delight but his celebration plate of chocolates made up for that.

The food was well executed and punching high in comparison to the cost. The quality way surpassed what many high end gastro pubs offer for the same price tag. We all left satisfied and in cheery mood that the fine offerings were fit for celebration. You can indulge in plenty of cocktails and fine wine, afternoon tea and more! Check out their website.

 

A dog, a boy, and a baby walk into an Italian...

A dog, a boy, and a baby walk into an Italian...

I’ve had the joy of dog sitting this last week, an absolute gem of a Labrador. Not wanting my new 4 legged side kick Juno to get in the way of my dining I had to rethink some of my moves.

A sunny Wednesday found me caring for a friends son, hosting a pooch and meeting a pal with a baby! All hungry and eager for some lunch we were quite the awkward table. Not if you are visiting Laghi’s deli though.

This independent deli and restaurant found at the top of Five Ways is a true Italian gem. From quality food, to friendly service and accommodating prices- these folks are doing all the right things.

The presence of a dog and a 6 month old didn’t baffle the host of waiters. Lunchtime trade saw them busy but service was still attentive. They were happy to talk us through the generous lunchtime menu where one course and drink sets you back £8.99 and you can have 2 courses for £12.99. The place mats also include Italian facts and some of the language to practice with the native waiting staff.

Nine year old Noah, had 2 courses starting with a garlic bread and following with a vegetable pizza. We roared with laughter as the garlic bread arrived, pizza size. A kind fellow he shared a few slices and his hollow legs teamed with the light and fluffy dough meant there was little evidence left. My bruschetta was piles high with ripe tomatoes and well seasoned and topped with parmesan.

Mains included a chicken Milanese served with salad and crunchy fries, a deep-fried calzone (panzerotti), an Italian street food was oozing with ricotta. Noah’s pizza was thin crust and gooey with cheese and an assortment of Mediterranean vegetables. Even he was beaten by the size and took a few slices home for dinner.

We took a sneaky peak at the dessert menu but we had, had our fill. It turned out we were chatting with the pastry chef who was keen to talk and had been helping on the floor over a busy lunch. She keenly recommended the donuts (bombolini) she makes, so we grabbed a couple to take away. Light and fluffy and filled with Nutella, custard or homemade jam. Bouissimo!

The deli has coffee and sandwiches to take away (check out their in-house focaccia), Italian produce to buy and runs a more extensive menu in the evening with a host of specials depending upon what is seasonal.

A recent acquaintance was talking business to me and said that there are 3 pillars to consider: price, convenience and quality and often the three do not align- I have been thinking about this lately, often in relation to food (naturally). Here at Laghi’s they have it al! I look forward to returning!

 

A Yummy Brummy Institution

A Yummy Brummy Institution

A cold January night made all the more bright with a colourful trip to Bodega.

Bodega has stood the test of time and still delights. Its fine foods are reasonably priced with a fun and friendly vibe that can’t fail but please.

A warm greeting from the staff found us perusing the menu soon with a cocktail in hand. I opted for a pomegranate cooler that was refreshing and not too sweet- I like to taste my liquor. While my partner in crime, (@BeckyBeaucoup) opted for a porn star martini, which was gorgeously decorated with passion fruit cup filled with prosecco.

Keeping it veggie and vegan, as my date is a herbivore we began our Mexican fiesta with Bodegas famous nachos- they truly are the best in the city. Crunchy fried tortillas piled high with molten cheese, creamy homemade guacamole, punchy salsa, sour cream and crunchy jalapenos. A queso filled mini quesadilla was creamy and delicious. The portions are generous, so after having practically licked the plates of our starters we were feeling rather full.

We did our best to gobble up the vegan main of fluffy quinoa loaded with butternut squash, pinto beans and spinach. A mountain amount of healthy goodness, juxtaposed to our halloumi burger order! A tasty fried slab of squeezy cheese tucked inside a tortilla coat with rocket and gooey caramelised onions. I wished to eat more of the super crunchy sweet potato fries that accompanied it but my top trouser button was saying otherwise. Thankfully they do doggie bags so I had quinoa to take away.

My sweet date has a love of all things dulce, so we ordered a couple of desserts! A refreshing selection of sorbets and a banana caramel cheesecake. The latter was not too sweet and came with some amazing moreish warm caramel on the side. The sorbets were a fine pallet cleanser, refreshing and flavoursome.

A swift couple of margeritas later and we were ready for home! Delighting in snapping some of the cool and vibrant interior as we left.

Bodega is a like a Brummie institution now. I have friends who have lived in the city and left and always make a point of visiting here when they return. It is warm and friendly in vibe, food and drinks! Like a big Birmingham cuddle with a Mexican twist…my only desire, that they bring local condiment queen, Pips hot sauce back to the table.

 

We Have Brum Brunch Covered

We Have Brum Brunch Covered

I had always been lead to believe that brunch, that delightful meal that is sandwiched between breakfast and a late lunch was hailed from the USA, however recent investigations proved me wrong. It was in fact an English custom from the 18th century and if we turn to our local history we find one of the Daddy’s of the industrial revolution, Mathew Boulton was a big fan. He also enjoyed a tipple. Head to Soho house to see his cellar and annual plonk consumption, it was hefty. If you enjoy a drink late into the moon rise then you probably like a lengthy snooze to recover and a good meal to start your mid morning. I introduce brunch! Below are some tip top recommendations for all sorts of scrumptious brunch dates around our marvellous city.

Saints Kitchen

Nestled on the cities only Georgian square we find a quality neighbourhood eatery. Where weekend brunch is their speciality and sourcing foods locally is their game. Strong barista coffee, Peel and Stone bread and slow cooked briskets and perfect poached eggs. The menu is full of tempting dishes with influences from around the world and plenty of additions available making it great for all tastes. Try the huevos rancheros or the coconut milk pancakes. Menu served all day if you are particularly lazy at rising.

Lewis’s

The King of all day brunch in Moseley, Lewis is a purveyor of excellence and this sings from his tempting counter treats, to his Lebanese inspired big plates and his timeless classics, for example ‘the spinach one’ eggs Florentine. He keeps up with times with snazzy additions like slow cooked jack fruit and breakfast trifles, all washed down with fuelling coffee and a village vibe. Fabulous spot for people watching, especially on farmers market days.

Damascena

The pandoras boxes that are Damascena in Moseley, Harborne and the city centre invite a calmness and zen like feeling to your brunch needs. Punchy peppermint tea soothes, spiced eggs delight and baklava that can be nibbled with friends. Breakfast, brunch and lunch melt into each other at this successful expanding concept.

Otto

Sourdough pizza masters are now opening earlier at weekends and catering to all our brunch needs in a fusion fashion. Think sour dough pizza bases made by highly skilled chefs, cooked crisply and quickly in their500 degree woodfired oven and topped with all sorts of deliciousness; crispy bacon, home made hollandaise, and luscious eggs. Nom Nom.

Natural Healthy Foods

A healthier hit and keeping vegans delighted you shall find lots to rejoice about at the newly refurbed Natural Healthy Kitchen. Plant based alchemy occurs in the form of whipped tofu-egg style and secret recipe beans. They have heaps of exotic drinks to work your way through and can whip up a fine coffee with all kinds of non dairy alternatives. Grab some mean sweet treats to take home too.

Bar Opus

Perhaps you are not starting the day after the night before, maybe you are starting the afternoon of the night now! Opus offer a cracking Bottomless Brunch. For 1 hour you can sup to your hearts content from a selection of their masterfully created cocktails, larger or cider while dining on their quality feeds. Hearty steak and eggs or a healthier smashed avocado on an English muffin. Eat out on the terrace if the sun is shining.

Lord Clifton & Red Lion

These sibling pubs offer brunch from 10am in the Jewellery Quarter and serve award winning mean feeds from lighter sandwiches to full plates of local butcher breakfast treats. Or keep it more American with fluffy stacks of pancakes with maple syrups. Both sizeable locations so great for big groups and the odd game of table tennis.

The Plough

The Plough in Harborne is a community hub for the ever-evolving leafy suburb. Brunch takes on a traditional format done superiorly with a few surprises including the delicious potato and okra hash with Chickpea, Poached Egg and Chilli. A big space so great for families and larger groups, in fact why not spend the day here in their delightful beer garden.

Scott’s of Harborne

A cosy addition to the Harborne scene that offers top quality homemade food all through the day and start your morning properly with one of their tasty brunch menu items- a breakfast burrito or locally made Peel and Stone toast topped your way with a host of enticing ingredients. It does get busy and is limited in space so prepare to wait or arrive early.

 

2017, what a foodie year for Brum

2017, what a foodie year for Brum

Top 5 Foodie Openings in Birmingham 2017 

The foodscape of Birmingham is constantly changing and heritage buildings that have lain empty are being brought back to life with pizzazz and finesse. Here at BFT we like to celebrate independent Birmingham born business so lets take a look at what has tickled our taste buds in 2017. 

Indian Streatery 

It is the story from which movies are made ... if there were a street food genre! This family business was born from discussion around the dinner table and then took the street food scene with such success that they now have their own site. So in demand, they are open 7 days a week offering grab and go lunches Mon-Fri and sit down fayre with cocktails in the evening. Laid back setting, punchy flavours with personal names and warm, friendly service. This successful set up is all about family! 

 Medicine Bakery 

I have hailed these baking buttery gods as fantastical in my previous blog but I cannot get away from the freshness of their flavours and the journey keeps evolving.  The ample space is now open all week for you to sit and enjoy your goodies along with a fine roasted coffee. A beautiful back room for craft collective themes (linking snuggly to the heritage of the building) means there is a fun Christmas market and yoga on a Sunday and more to be announced in 2018.    

 Bulgarian Village Kitchen 

 Tucked behind John Bright Street this spacious venue transports you to a Bulgarian getaway. The interior is simple but effective, the menu translates curiously but this family-run business means that staff are friendly and keen to explain their nations most favourite dishes. As the plates of cured meats, grilled skewers and deep fired cheese begin to arrive you appreciate the home cooked recipes and much loved foods. The restaurant on my visit was energetically busy with a host of Bulgarian customers which has to be a sure sign of an authentic taste of home!  

 Meat shack 

The street food evolution is in full cycle. Meat Shack daddy, Paul Collis had a religious following from Digbeth Dining Club and beyond, even dabbling in Michelin alchemy with Brad Carter. He has now got his own venue serving up some of his 'filthy, dripping' magic in the form of burgers, loaded fries and deliciously fine deep fried gherkins. Vegetarians are catered for and Thorp 17 can quench your thirst in craft beer. Menu changes frequently with the seasons, so you have to keep going back! 

Natural Healthy Foods 

Time to refuel with a little bit of healthy, vegan fare. Prepare to be delighted as a vegan, tickled as a vegetarian and curiously amazed as a carnivore. This fresh in food and in innovation kilo bar, allows you to help yourself to a range of dishes that are then weighed to be paid for! Lots of daily changing choices that are delicious and nutritious can be eaten in or taken away. Lots of wholesome shopping products to pick up too. Sister to the Natural Healthy store in Digbeth and Purely Vegan in Kings Heath, where you can indulge in a vegan afternoon tea! 

 

 

THE TOP FOOD SHOP STOPS IN BRUM.

THE TOP FOOD SHOP STOPS IN BRUM.

Best places in Birmingham to buy foodie treats. 

This Christmas I am keen to avoid buying nonsense that people don't need  - it only ends up cluttering houses and even more commonly lying in land fill spaces. Instead, I would rather support local businesses and share a little luxury in the form of food and drink treats that you can indulge with loved ones during the festive feasts that end December. These treat stops are not just for Christmas...they are all year loveliness! 

Andersons Deli 

I love this small deli space crammed with offerings that make it a slice of foodie heaven in the Great Western Arcade. The welcoming staff are connoisseurs in cheese and beyond. They are keen to offer advice and samples (oh go on!) to ensure you get just what you were looking for – even if you didn't know what it was. It is not unusual to see huge platters of cured meats and cheese being sent across to the arcades neighbours , Loki Wine, where you could pop in for wine lovers gifts too. Best for cheese, meat, condiments and chutneys. 

Hard to find Whisky 

There aren't many shops you need to get buzzed into...this is one! Half museum, half shop, there are some magnificently rare find whiskies in these four walls and it is staffed by walking whisky encyclopedias. It is an afternoon out for spirit lovers without indulging on all that is on offer. Their tasting events and workshops would make delightful gifts too. They also stock a wide range of other spirits. Best for boozy gifts and experiences. 

York's Cafe  

This Birmingham born coffee shop brand not only sells delicious drinks and nibbles, they also have the gadgets you need to make brews at home. From ergonomic tea pots to snazzy coffee presses they have lots to offer for the coffee fanatic and tea guzzler in your life. Sitting back with a cuppa and a cake while shopping, who said gift buying was tiring! If you are at the Ikon branch, pop into the gallery gift shop for all your cards, books and jewellery needs. Best for coffee and tea fanatics. 

Naturally Healthy Foods 

Tucked away in a back street in Digbeth next to the Warehouse café, this little gem of a shop has lots of treats for those who are following specialist diets or need to consider allergies. Looking for stocking fillers for vegans or gluten free delights? This is a one stop shop. There are international products and local produce. They frequently run tasting days, so you can sample products to see if they suit your tastes. Best for vegans, vegetarians and diet specific gifts. 

Miss Macaroon 

Changing the world one macaroon at a time. Conscious clear consumption, this community interest company means profits from the sales of their artisan macaroons are ploughed back into the business to assist in offering training opportunities for young adults to gain patisserie qualifications and work experience. The macaroons sing for themselves a host of exotic, tantalising flavours and colours scientifically created using skills and technology that means they are moreish on the eye and even more on the mouth. You can even design your own and have them delivered. Best for shared indulgence. 

The Chocolate Quarter 

John Cadbury and the Bournville factory means Birmingham is famed for its chocolate and it is a pleasure to find cocoa creations still made in the city. A husband and wife duo who make all their own chocolates on site, you can see the marble tops in use as they experiment with new truffles and products. A hot urn of pure hot chocolate churns in store and the smell engages the taste buds. Lots of gifts to choose from for all desires and ages plus a host of chocolate experiences that can be bought as v