Thursday, 8 January 2015

December in food

December! The month of absolute gluttony. I had some pretty good foodie moments in December but I also had an ear infection so I lived off cereal bars and water for about three days. Luckily I was better for Christmas!

Wagamama New St

I reviewed my meal at the new Wagamama in Birmingham. I ate some delicious lamb cutlets and was impressed with the fittings. More here.


UK Burger Battle

I also reviewed a new venture from the founder of Rib Nights- the UK Burger Battle. I was still feeling a bit ill and sorry for myself at this point so I'm looking forward to round 2 when I will be tip top as it is the first weekend of half term! Read more here.



Coast to Coast Christmas Meal

My friends and I went for lunch together the weekend before Christmas. We all ate from the Christmas menu. I had goats cheese bruschetta, the maple bacon burger and then pecan pie. The maple bacon burger stood out as the highlight- they were NOT stingy with the maple sauce! I was too excited to take a picture of the burger so I've included my friend's cheesecake instead. This meal definitely made me want to head back to Coast to Coast.





Aspen Rocks!

I attended quite a bizarre venue for my work Christmas do. It was held at a hall in the NEC which had been turned into a winter wonderland. There was a drinks and canapé reception, a three course meal, acrobats, fairground rides and dancing. It was a lot of fun and because there was so much to do you never ended up in awkward small talk with your colleagues. The food was nice, not incredible, but it never is at these mass catered events. I had salmon to start and a 'duo' of chocolatey puddings. The main was an uninspiring chicken thing.



The Victoria

Last Sunday Edd and I headed to our super quirky 'local' The Victoria for 2 for £12 pizzas. Mine had a butternut squash puree topped with goats cheese, chilli jam and lots of rocket. I was craving vegetables and freshness so it was perfect.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Blogger Secret Santa 2014

I LOVE Secret Santas and swaps and things like that, so when Char at T*Rexes and Tiaras announced her Secret Santa I signed up straight away!

I've kept the person I brought for a secret but hopefully she liked what I got for her!

I don't know who MY Secret Santa was either but they were very efficient and I received my gift at some point in November...it sat taunting me but I was strong and didn't open it until Christmas.




Inside was a beautiful bracelet from Past Times.

Bracelets are my favourite kind of jewellery so I was really pleased.

I love the cute fox!

Thanks to my secret santa and to Char for arranging it.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

UK Burger Battle- Round one!

I recently wrote about my amazing afternoon at Rib Nights. Before I'd attended I'd spotted that the gentleman who organises that event had a new venture under his sleeve- the UK Burger Battle! A more casual affair than Rib Nights, the battle was held at Spotlight in Digbeth, the same venue as Digbeth Dining Club.


It had a similar vibe to DDC. Spotlight's bar was open, long benches were set out indoors for us to sit at and enjoy our burger, with a DJ playing and a magician making his way round. I do wish it had been a little quieter and lighter indoors so I could focus on the taste of the burger (pretentious, moi?) I was recovering from an ear infection at the time so my senses were a little all over the place, I'm sure everyone else had no trouble at all


 So we made our way in, gave our tickets in to the ladies at the gate (one of whom recognised me from the interwebs- hello Full to the Brum!) and were issued with wrist bands.

We had all evening to pick up our burgers- one from each team- and vote for our favourite. Unlike Rib Nights, we knew which burger was from each team.

First up! 'The Butty Back' from The Beefy Boys. Now, this is an award winning burger from an award winning team, so I had high expectations.


In case you can't read that, it featured pulled slow smoked beef brisket, BBQ sauce made from Butty Bach beer, swiss and American cheese, lettuce, onions and red cabbage slaw on a brioche bun. As well as the burger itself!



 
We queued up and watched the team in fascination. We were there quite early in the event but they already seemed confident in their system. The queue went down pretty quickly and we soon had our giant burgers in our hands!
 
I liked the texture of the brisket and how cheesy it was! The bun was great too, but I couldn't really taste the sauce or the slaw.

 

We sat in the bar to eat and drink our drinks which were included in the ticket price. I had a delicious alcoholic ginger beer.

Next- 'High Flyer' from The Flying Cows. I must admit I was rooting for this team as they weren't the obvious choice. Plus their burger sounded fabulous- I loved the maple bacon.

 
Swiss and cheddar cheeses, maple bacon, pickled red onion, lettuce, FLC sauce (don't know what that is!) gherkin and a brioche bun from local bakery Peel and Stone.




Now this is where I made an error. I moved onto the second burger way too quickly. I didn't think I was full but after a couple of bites it became evident that I was.

The beef was beautiful, the bacon was beautiful but the bread was not my friend. I wasn't getting the onion or the gherkin and I kept having to have little breaks. I felt super sad and I so want to try this burger when I'm actually hungry.

So in the end I voted for The Beefy Boys because that's the one I enjoyed the most. It was seriously good though!

We left early-ish because we both had work the next day but the party went on all night, with music, arcade games, a magic show, a burger eating challenge and the announcement of the winners!

The public vote went to.... The Beefy Boys!
The judges vote went to....The Flying Cows!

So they're both winners! I was pleased with this result.

The next event is 15th February and you can buy your tickets here. I'm pleased it's this date as it's the first weekend of half term and I can stay later! Apparently there are going to be a few changes in terms of when the entertainment starts and more seats so I'm looking forward to seeing what it's going to be like and pacing myself a little better....

Friday, 2 January 2015

Boots No7 Advent Calendar- the best bits

Last year I had the Boots Advent Calendar and there was no going back to chocolate after that! There were several offerings this year from big brands such as The Body Shop and Benefit but I was waiting anxiously for Boots to announce one as I'd been saving my advantage card points all year!

I put my email address on the waiting list and bought it on the day it was released. The calendar was about £35 which is far cheaper than others available and very good value considering No7 isn't super cheap. It's not as pricey as Benefit but I'd say it's in line with The Body Shop.

I tried to hold back from peeking at the list of items on the back but it was difficult as I had it for a whole month.

I had intended to blog this every week listing all the products in the calendar but then I remembered that I am NOT a beauty blogger and that I couldn't possibly think of something to say for 25 different beauty products. So this is a round up of my favourite bits and bobs.

Image from graziadaily.co.uk
 
I'm not going to go on about the packaging because I honestly didn't care- it sat in a corner behind a door all month, it was the content I was interested in!
 
Favourite skin care items
 
Protect and Perfect Intense Day and Night creams
 
 
 
 
These are a little rich for regular use for me. However, at this time of year with frost nipping at your nose outside and central heating drying you out inside, it's nice to give the skin some TLC! The day cream settles into my skin surprisingly well and is a perfectly good make up base. The night cream is much heavier and I am using it sparingly.
 
Youthful Eye Serum
 
 
 
I've got really good at using eye cream every night! I like this one because it's quite light and feels cooling. I'm not exactly short of eye creams (Edd's Mum passes all her samples onto me!) but I would consider buying this one.
 
Favourite make up items
 
Lash Impact mascara
 
 
 

I like this mascara a lot! It actually grabs onto my lashes and makes them seem longer and curlier.
 
High Shine Lip Crayon
 
 
 
Like those Clinique ones but cheaper. This is a lovely wearable (for me) pink. There was another shade, a much lighter pink which was nice but very close to my natural lip colour so I've basically used it as a lip balm.
 

Skin Illuminator
  
 
This was day one in the calendar! This is a shimmery cream which I have been mixing with foundation  for a glowy look on a night out.
 
So yeah, I'm not a beauty blogger. But I know what I like and I sure liked this calendar! Hopefully it will be back next year- I've already started saving the points.
 
Happy New Year by the way! Hope you all did something fun or just stayed in or did whatever you felt like doing.




 
 


Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Review: Wagamama, New Street, Birmingham

When a friend let me know that the new Wagamama on New St were holding an opening event in which you got a free meal for giving your opinion, I knew I had to get involved! Otherwise I probably wouldn't have rushed to visit this new restaurant. I've been to Wagamama in Solihull and at Brindley Place, I felt I knew what it was all about.

The new restaurant is a big change and a big improvement. Gone is the white theme and in comes wooden tables in a variety of arrangements- some for couples or fours, some of the long communal tables and a bar around the open kitchen which is where we sat. At first I found it a little uncomfortable watching the chefs at work- I felt bad sipping my wine as they slaved away grilling and stirring and plating up. Once I got used to it (and they basically didn't notice us as they were so busy) it was pretty interesting to watch.

The menu has changed and now includes some very tasty looking 'chef's specials'. I know a lot of people have a favourite which they always go for at Wagamama but I don't so I was excited to see some new options. I plumped for teriyaki lamb chops while my friend Sophie chose her favourite chicken katsu curry. Our free meal could include sides OR a dessert and we chose dessert, though the sides looked super tasty. I would definitely like to try chilli squid or prawn lollipops in the future.

Sophie's curry is a favourite with a lot of people- I've never tried it but she said it was delicious. Panko breaded chicken is served in a tasty (not too spicy) curry sauce with salad and sticky rice. There was a LOT of rice, she couldn't get through it. I liked the idea of breaded chicken with a curry sauce.


I loved my lamb cutlets! I particularly enjoy cutlets or chops anyway, and combined with a tasty, sticky teriyaki sauce they were even better. I liked the addition of red chili slices to add a little heat. The cutlets were seriously satisfying. They came with udon noodles and some greens which rounded off the meal perfectly. This was a great plate of food and I'm excited to try some more of the specials, such as pomegranate glazed poisson.



Then we moved onto the puddings. I had high expectations for mine seeing as I had given up prawns for it! I chose the banana katsu which is panko breaded banana, deep fried and served with salted caramel ice cream. I loved the idea of translating the katsu curry idea into a dessert and I love salted caramel.
Well, my high expectations were met. The breaded banana was a fun texture and the salted caramel was a dream!

Sophie went for mocha balls- little balls of coconut, raspberry and toasted sesame flavoured ice cream coated in a layer of sticky rice. As fun as this sounds, we both felt this dessert was a little uninspired. The sticky rice didn't add anything texture or taste wise- I would rather have a crunchy coating or nothing at all.

While we were waiting for our food we had a go at making an origami star using the instructions on the table. It was harder than it looked, mine looked more like a frog, boo!

The waitress was really lovely, she kept apologising for non-existent problems! As it was their first service, things moved maybe a little slowly but of course we were there to be experimented on! I don't think I would have known it was the opening day if I hadn't been told. I liked this new branch a lot, it had a great atmosphere and my food was delicious! As we left we completed a little survey and were given bags to say thanks. I'll definitely be back to New St Wagamama!

Monday, 22 December 2014

BBC Good Food Show

As I mentioned in my November in Food post, I was lucky enough to win tickets in a Twitter competition. Thanks Brum Hour Blog! I've always wanted to go so it was very exciting.
 
Our tickets didn't include entrance to the Supertheatre but there was plenty to watch, sample and purchase!
 
 
 
 
 





Farrington's Mellow Yellow Rapeseed Oil

I've used this rapeseed oil since having a free bottle in a Hello Fresh box so we were pleased to spot the Farrington's stand! We had a chat to the lady there and she was really pleased that we'd discovered them through Hello Fresh as she had put that promotion together. We picked up some more oil and a balsamic dressing.



 
 We ate delicious paella for lunch.
 



 
 Wine Tube Map

This is a fantastic concept which I found out about through Yelp. I attended a wine tasting via Skype in which we were led through one of the wine lines. The idea is that you find a wine you like and then 'travel' along the line it is on to find new wines. We went along to say hello to Nikki who created the map but the tastings were all full and she looked busy so we thought we'd better not disturb her.
 




Cake!
 

We had to pick up a delicious tart and a meringue of course.



Urban Herbs

As well as selling lots of fresh herbs, Urban Herbs have also started selling mini jars of dried herb mixes. I picked up a few of these in cute little bags as Christmas gifts.


We picked up some pretty awesome gift bags on the way out! Teapigs tea is gorgeous and it's always handy to have microwave rice.


Here's some of our purchases...