Silver Service and Steam with Vintage Trains

Out In Brum - Vintage Trains - Locomotive and CoachSlam doors opened and we boarded the train accompanied by the quiet hiss of released steam impatiently waiting to push us off in to the winter morning. The mighty Earl of Mount Edgcumbe locomotive, silhouetted in early morning light, would take us to the Christmas market at Lincoln from Tyseley station, criss-crossing country tracks, tacking between obscure stations, and avoiding speeding intercity services. We took our comfortable paisley seats in the Pullman dining car and watched other passengers decide whether they’d sit facing where they were going or where they had been, while they chattered excitedly over the crisp white table cloths, bud vases of sleeping irises, and breakfast crockery.

Out In Brum - Vintage Trains - TableFrom Tyseley Works Railway Station, just a couple of miles from the city centre, occasionally you can take a steam train service to various attractions, organised by Vintage Trains. In a world where time is of the essence to the point where one can purchase pre-cut apple slices, there’s something awfully luxurious about surrendering yourself to the whims of steam. A trip to Lincoln for instance will take you over four hours. You’ll spend that time glued to the view, spotting the spotters in fields and on bridges, at the end of platforms, with cameras and microphone in hand waiting to capture the chug chug chug and whistles of this now rare sight. We saw dozens, maybe a hundred of them, in all, not to mention all the people at stations waiting for their own trains who whipped out their camera phones as we pulled through their stations.
Out In Brum - Vintage Trains - PorridgeYou’ll be well fed, of course. At our 7.15am start Chef and the team had already put in quite a bit of prep in the tiny rolling kitchen to feed his passengers a hearty three course breakfast, and three course dinner on the return. Our hostess, Momma Steam as her team of waitresses called her, had also been aboard a while ensuring cutlery shined and that champagne was chilling.

Coffee was welcomed after an early start, and then our first breakfast course arrived – porridge with whisky soaked raisins. Start the day as you mean to go on, right? It was a silver service affair, with friendly staff balancing chafing dishes while walking along the Out In Brum - Vintage Trains - Breakfastnarrow aisles. Breakfast lasted around two hours, it was a leisurely pace. The second course was pastry, a buttery croissant, and toast. The main event was a full English breakfast. Chef told us he gets his sausage and black pudding from Birmingham meat market’s City Butchers, and it was very nice, as was the rest of the generous breakfast. After another coffee, and a glass of chilled prosecco, we were almost there.

Vintage Trains arrange trips throughout the year, you can go for a romantic meal for St. Valentines day, take the Shakespeare Express to Stratford, take a Christmas trip to York, or steam through the lake district up to Carlisle. They have different prices, and you can Out In Brum - Vintage Trains - Coachespay for different levels of catering and service. Drinks prices were very reasonable. We went the whole hog for a special Christmas trip to the renowned Lincoln Christmas Market. All the trips sell out quickly so book early to avoid disappointment.

Lincoln Christmas Market runs for just a few days in December. We went on the Saturday and it was incredibly busy. The town is pretty and the market is set up in and around the historic castle, at the top of Steep Hill. And boy is it steep! Products on offer include winter ware, wooden toys, candles, cheese, beers, ciders, blankets, and all your usual stocking filler fodder. We had a nice time wondering around most of it, but retired after an hour or so to a pub with some friends who live in Lincoln.Out In Brum - Vintage Trains - Chamagne

We departed Lincoln around 5pm, enjoying a bottle of cold Champagne (£39) before dinner. The carriage was warm and snug as the night blacked out the view. Our starter arrived, a tasty chorizo and chicken soup. I was impressed the waitresses were managing to serve from a terrine without spilling a drop. The main course was a roast beef dinner with Yorkshire pudding (of course), roast and dauphinoise potato, and veg. Dessert was a Christmas spiced apple crumble with custard. I noted that they were offering non-dairy alternatives if required.  Food quality and service was very good.

Out In Brum - Vintage Trains - LocomotiveWith the remnants of red wine from dinner (a reasonable Amarone at a cheap £22), and a couple of bargain Grey Goose vodka and cokes (£3.50), we trundled on, arriving back at Tyseley around 10pm. It’s a lovely day to spend with a significant other or friends and family for a special occasion. We finished the trip feeling relaxed and contented.

You can take a look at the Vintage Trains website here:

Here is the train we were on whistling whilst passing through a station (courtesy of a deep link to John Edkin’s on YouTube):

And here she is leaving Lincoln in darkness, again whistling, and chug chug chugging (courtesy of a deep link to Joshua Rawson’s work on YouTube).

Posted in Article, birmingham restaurant review, birmingham review, Price: Average, Price: Cheap as Chips - Inexpensive, Price: Get your dad to pay - above average, Price: My eyes are watering - expensive, restaurant review, Special Event | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Nomad Restaurant

Out In Brum - Nomad - ExteriorIt’s the second time in three weeks I’ve attended a venue that I can describe as “in close proximity to a sex place”, the first being OPM which is a stone’s throw from Taboo Cinema, and the second being the new more permanent home of Nomad restaurant on Dudley Street, opposite “Adult World”. Don’t let that put you off either venue, as they’re both extremely close to the Bullring shopping centre and New Street Station, and the change of scenery adds a frisson of quirkiness. Take a date and it will definitely illicit a “where are you taking me?” reaction.

We’ve covered Nomad’s food, prepared by chef-owner Alex Claridge and his head-chef Brian Smith many times as they’ve moved between pop-up venues including the Kitchen Out In Brum - Nomad - Interior 1Garden Cafe in Kings Heath and Urban Coffee in the city centre. Call me an unashamed Nomad fanboy if you will, but I still think that the team here offer something different to the other eateries in town.

I’ve eaten ingredients at Nomad that I’ve had nowhere else before or since including wood ants (crunchy lemon), melilot (a weird vanilla flavour crossed with hay, I wasn’t a fan), and sea blight (like samphire). These curios are crossed with more standard fare, and the combinations are showcased at Nomad in a ten course (maybe nine, maybe Out In Brum - Nomad - Musselseleven) for £50. The menu changes very frequently depending on seasonality, and what the team have been able to harvest from their allotment, or collect foraging.

Water is served filtered at £2 a large bottle, with profits going to the Water Aid charity. I’m not a fan of bottled water unless it’s a necessity while travelling, so I think that’s a great idea. Obviously we had booze as well. You can add a wine flight for a reasonable £20, or take wine by the glass (£3/£5) or bottle (£25). However you won’t get winemakers, varietals, and vintages on the menu, you’ll order by description: “herbaceuous, preserved lemon, tropical finish”, or “plum chutney, spiced, big personality”. The team here want dining with them to be a fun and memorable experience – there will be things you like, and things you don’t, and invariably something you’re not quite sure about (mine was the melilot syrup cream).

The exterior of Nomad is unobstrusive, blink and you’ll miss it. You’ll see a bronzed glassOut In Brum - Nomad - Burnt Leek door with their logo, just to the left of the phone box. The interior is tranquil, with comfortable seating enabling a lengthy three hour dinner. You can look in to the kitchen at the pass, and see the chefs titivating dishes before they are served. The waiting staff will talk you through the options, suggest wines, and explain the considerable detail of each of the dishes.

Given the number of courses, many are small tasters, but by the time we had eaten the lot we were pleasantly full. I know people worry about leaving hungry from fine dining establishments, but thankfully I think most of the good ones have given nouveau cuisine (big white plates with nothing on them) the heave ho and understand we all want feeding. We started our ten or so courses with what Out In Brum - Nomad - Burnt Leekcould only be described as a particularly phallic looking carrot. It had been cooked slowly for twelve hours with thyme. It was soft, sweet, and earthy, and mildly comic, presented with a flourish by the waiter.

Two seaside-reminiscent mussels with a little shallot came next on a bed of shiny mussel shells. Then on to a dish of sweetly cooked leek with a bitter burned tinge, with slightly peppery yarrow flowers and grated cured egg yolk. This was followed by mallard breast, salsify, chestnuts, and sprouts. I love sprouts and any bitter flavour, but for those worried, there were just a few of the outer leaves of a sprout dressing the plate. The mallard duck was slightly, but not unpleasantly, tougher than duck I’ve tried before (which would ordinarily be a Gressingham duck whichOut In Brum - Nomad - Jeruselum Artichoke is a Pekin / mallard cross breed apparently – I had to google it). The bronzed salsify added a sweetness to the dish. Then on to a wintery favourite of Jerusalem artichoke with parsley root, and a gentle garlic cream. My partner thought this dish was all too single texture but to me it was comforting.

Next up was the first of the two “mains”. Cornish red-mullet with lacto-fermented ramson, and nori potatoes. A fleshy fillet of golden mullet laid crisp across the potatoes and light garlic ramson. The next of the two mains was a vol-au-vents style pie of mallard, salsify, mushroom and chestnut. Sort of a rework of one of the starter dishes in a different context.

On to puddings, plural of course. A rum and raisin parfait carried strong flavour and a Out In Brum - Nomad - Red Mulletpuree of tea infused raisin added a bitter edge to take off some of the sweetness. Second dessert was poached pear with a light almond sponge and melilot syrup cream. The cream had perfume notes of the melilot – as I said above, I’ve still not made my mind up on this, but it was an interesting new ingredient. Final dessert was a bitter chocolate sorbet, with sea buckthorn. I wondered how chef would manage a dairy free chocolate sorbet but the chocolate was so intensely rich there was no need for dairy, the chocolate flavour was dark and had hints of red fruit. The sea buckthorn added its slight sourness to the dish.

Out In Brum - Nomad - Rum and Raisin ParfaitIt’s an interesting offering. The location is quirky, the service fine dining, and some of the dishes are experimental. You’re probably not going to get great hunks of meat but you’ll get delicious curated ingredients and stars like that lovely mullet. Dinner with the wine flight will cost £70 a head, which I think is good value compared to similar quality establishments. Unsurprisingly given the Nomad cult following January bookings are almost full. If you like a different experience, and love unusual food, then get booked in for a special dinner out, romantic or with friends, this place fits the bill and is bound to delight.Out In Brum - Nomad - Chocolate Sorbet

I have not talked at all about the craziness of some of the events the Nomad team run, under the moniker “Nomad – No Rules”.  They’re known to be a little extreme, in activity, participation, and food.  If you attend one of those events, don’t say I didn’t warn you!  You can get more information about all of their projects on the website here:  You can also find out more by following them on twitter here, and by following the chef’s here: @lyndon_alex and @451Brian.
See our reciprocity promise here. Including this review, nine out of ten most recent reviews we’ve paid in full. Unusually we accepted an invitation for a freebie dinner at Nomad, though we paid for drinks.
Out In Brum - Nomad - Alex Claridge

Posted in Area: Central Shopping, Area: China Town, Area: Grand Central, Area: Hurst Street / The Gay Village / South Side, Area: The Bullring, Birmingham Restaurant, birmingham restaurant review, birmingham review, Cuisine: English, Cuisine: Fine Dining, Cuisine: Modern Mixed, Price: Average, Price: Get your dad to pay - above average, Venue type: Restaurant | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Goodbye (for now) Butchers Social, hello Harborne Kitchen

Out In Brum - Butchers Social - Hot Chicken WingsIt would appear to have escaped the attention of many people that The Butchers Social, on Harborne High Street, closes on New Year’s Eve. The pop-up venture that was opened by chefs Jamie Desogus and Mike Bullard initially for just one night back in March, caused such a stir that the venue has remained open ever since. As I live just a ten minutes’ walk away from it, its closure is coming as quite a blow, I have definitely drank the koolaid and become part of its cult following.

Why would they close such a successful venue you ask? It was always Jamie’s and Mike’s intention to dramatically transform the old Walter Smith’s butchers shop in to “Harborne Kitchen”, a restaurant that will focus on innovative British dishes, and that has been operating as a pop-up in various locations for a year or so. In fact we’ve already reviewed one of their pop-up nights and you can take a look at the kind of excellent food and experience they’ll be offering on our review here.

Out In Brum - Butchers Social - FridgeThe builders will be moving in on 2nd January, and while the regulars will no doubt be disappointed at the demise of The Butchers, the team are currently on the look-out to find alternative premises in South Birmingham, or possibly the city centre, so the Butchers brand can live on. “It took us a week to transform the Butchers and we can do it again,” said Mike. “We are looking for somewhere that we can quickly take over and get up and running by February.” If you know of any locations that might be right, tweet the guys @ButchersSocial .

With the understanding that when good venues come along you have to jump on them, the chefs took over the butchers shop knowing they’d have many months with it empty before their plans for Harborne Kitchen were ready to proceed. Faced with those months of Out In Brum - Butchers Social - Outdoorswaiting due to planning issues, they decided to clean up the premises and with just a makeshift bar and some borrowed speakers, opened up for one night only in March. ‘We didn’t know if it was going to work, or if anyone was going to turn up,” said Jamie. “But people were queuing out the door.”

The success of that first night, and with a growing fan-base on two subsequent weekends, Mike and Jamie took the risky step of quitting their jobs and running the Butchers full-time, transforming it with pallet tables, a marquee area outside and some bespoke graffiti but with a nod to its meaty past by retaining the wall tiles and using the old fridge as a walkway. They’ve gained a reputation for producing a constantly evolving menu, inspired by often-overlooked ingredients, and a range of great local beers. Chicken wings with flavours including salted Out In Brum - Butchers Social - Courgette Flowercaramel, lemon meringue and cider, star anise and orange have become legendary, while live music events have proved extremely popular.

While Mike and Jamie are looking forward to getting the new restaurant and pop-up started in 2016, for now they are concentrating on the final days of the Butchers Social. Christmas Eve will see Brummie musician Simon Boswell return for a gig, and tickets for the closing bash on New Year’s Eve are selling fast. At £35 a pop and with unlimited chicken wings, it’s sure to be the perfect way to bow out after a rather exciting year.

“The Butchers Social has continued to evolve since we started it in March and we’re grateful for all the support from our customers,’ said Jamie. “2016 is going to be a huge year for us,” added Mike. “We’re looking forward to opening the Harborne Kitchen and for people to find out for themselves what it’s all about.”

p.s. Grammar Nazis – Don’t bother tweeting me about the lack of apostrophe in “The Butcher’s Social”, it appears to be something of an in joke with the team, I’ve also see them style it “Butcher’s” and “Butchers’”! It makes me twitch every time I see it!

Posted in Area: Harborne, Article, Birmingham Restaurant, birmingham restaurant review, birmingham review, Cuisine: English, Cuisine: Fine Dining, Cuisine: Modern Mixed, Cuisine: Street Food, Price: Average, Price: Cheap as Chips - Inexpensive | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Original Patty Men

Out In Brum - Original Patty Men OPM - Fries and BurgerThe Original Patty Men, or OPM to the initiated, have made frequent appearances at Birmingham’s street food events like Digbeth Dining Club for a couple of years, and invariably their stall would serve crowds of hungry people who’ve waited all week to get their hands on one of OPM’s deliciously filthy burgers. I don’t think you can call yourself a serious burger fan until you’ve had Big Vern’s Krispy Ring, which must be a thousand or so calories of Krispy Kreme doughnut sliced and sandwiched with their signature seasoned 35 day aged longhorn beef meat patties, maple cured bacon, and cheese.

We love Brum’s street food scene but we sometimes fancy an amazing burger when there’s no street food available. Brilliantly for Brum and those people who like a nice sit down, OPM have solved that by opening their own restaurant a stone’s throw from Selfridges in the city centre, in partnership with Siren Craft Brew.  OPM have come a long way in a short time, as Chefs Scott O’Byrne and Tom Maher Out In Brum - Original Patty Men OPM - Interiorstarted with no experience in the kitchen, but a background in design which is evident in the branding.

Although in distance it’s only maybe two-hundred metres from the staff door of Selfridges, the area it’s in is really rather down-at-heel. To find it you’ll need to walk down the hill beside Moor Street train station, turn left under the dark dank railway bridge, then take the first right down Shaw’s Passage opposite Taboo sex cinema, and it’s in one of the railway bridge arches on the right hand side before the closed internet café. Just around the corner from vegetarian Warehouse Café. There’s ticket parking on the street should you wish to drive, and of course Moor Street Car Park is just two minutes away. Digbeth and Eastside have not managed to capitalise on the second city’s Out In Brum - Original Patty Men OPM - Shaws Passagedining transformation and success over the past decade, but I hope that interesting independents like OPM, Digbeth Dining Club at Spotlight, The Karczma, and the popular Rico Libre tapas restaurant, will start to take advantage of the much more reasonable rents and rejuvenate the area. Landlords in the city centre would rather their properties remain empty while they wait for the big chains to spend mega bucks, than nurture an up and coming business.

The interior is functional and well styled. Spray paint art of a cow in the style of an Immaculate Heart of Mary painting, with the heart replaced by a burger, adorns one wall. The activities of the kitchen are clearly visible from the tables and the waiting staff flit around efficiently. On a Saturday Out In Brum - Original Patty Men OPM - Neonlunch time there were tables available when we went in but all of them were full by the time we left. They’ve got two railway arches and I hope that in the summer the right hand one, which is where you’ll enter the restaurant from, will have outdoor seating.

All the draft beers from Siren were extremely hoppy, which I’m not a fan of, so I opted for a tin of Anchor lager which was good. There seems to be a bit of a thing for overly hopped beer at the moment so I know it will suit the crowd even though it doesn’t suit me. While we contemplated the menu the sound of trains passing overhead Out In Brum - Original Patty Men OPM - Darrons Fancy Burgerquietly reverberated around the cosy venue. We opted for the O.D.B. triple cooked skin on fries which come loaded with spice mix, jalapeño slaw, mayo, crispy onion, and spring onions. We also had some of the tasty slow cooked barbecue beans. The sides were really good. For my burger I chose Darron’s Fancy – beef patty, sriracha (chilli) mayo, ripe tomato, strong red Leicester cheese, and crushed pork scratchings, in a sesame bun. It was unctuous and hearty, and the first bite caused a rivulet of meat and cheese juice to run down my hand to my wrist, a sure sign of a good quality filthy burger. We also had the Bacon Cheese burger, with sweet bacon and fairly heavy on the mustard, it was also very tasty.

For research purposes we shared a slice of Kit Kat brownie, the sweets are brought in fromOut In Brum - Original Patty Men OPM - Kimmy Loves Cake Brownie Kimmy Loves Cake, who had been highly recommended, and rightly so. The brownie had a perfect balance between cocoa and sugar, not too sweet, and with a cool velvety mouthfeel.

For two burgers, fries, beans, two beers, and a brownie, our filling lunch came to a modest £30. The service was great, the food excellent, and the vibe cool but not try-too-hard. I suspect when word gets around, you’ll be fighting for a table hear, so get in early to avoid the rush is my advice.

Out In Brum - Original Patty Men OPM - Railway ArchOut In Brum - Original Patty Men OPM - Anchor Lager

Posted in Area: Digbeth, Area: East Side, Cuisine: English, Cuisine: Street Food, Price: Average, Price: Cheap as Chips - Inexpensive, Venue type: Restaurant | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fybin & Loin at Norjske

Norjske Deli Open Evening Large-1373It’s all about Edgbaston at the moment. Specifically Highfield Road, not too far from the top of Broad Street. While Simpsons Restaurant has been a stalwart restaurant of the well heeled in these parts since 2004, the last couple of years have seen some new kids on the block – The Edgbaston Boutique Hotel and Cocktail Lounge, The Highfield Restaurant, and also Norjske. They’re all very different in style: Simpsons, having undergone its refit over the last year now looks a warm Scandinavian cool; The Edgbaston have gone for a rich byzantine art deco; The Highfield are more comfy country pub; and Norjske a bright Nordic look.

Norsjke have just upped their game in terms of a food offering. The chef team Fybin & Loin, aka Gavin and Ade, have taken over the deli where during the day all kinds of gourmet produce and sandwiches can be purchased. They’ve also taken over the bar and seating upstairs as a full service restaurant. We went for a bite to eat on a Friday evening, Out In Brum - Norjske - Interiorabout two days after they opened. The team have big plans and we look forward to seeing the venue develop over the coming few months.

I won’t talk about the wine as they tell us they’re about to completely change the wine list so are running this stock down. I will say that, of course, we had too much. Hic! The food menu is suitably short, but plenty varied, for a small quality venue. It’s kind of a 2.5 courses sort of affair, in that there aren’t many starters nor desserts – I’ll explain…

We started with breads from the fabulous Brummy bakers Peel & Stone, and excellent butter from Nether End Farm, with Muffelata which is a dip of pickled vegetables and olives, and Santorini Fava, a puree of yellow lentils, garlic, thyme, onion, and lemon. The dips were packed full of punchy flavours, a perfect light start to a Friday night supper. Out In Brum - Norjske - LambWell. I say light. I ate about a loaf. I was carbatosed (I’ve just added that to Urban Dictionary) by the end, and slightly traumatised that I still hadn’t managed to eat all of the bread nor all of the Santorini Fava.

After the really tasty dips I had the Jimmy Butler’s Maple Cured Pork Ribeye. This was a really pretty dish to which my photo does not do justice. The ham was cushioned on soufflé-like burnished Comté cheese, which complimented wonderfully. I loved the baby apple that was served with it. Though it had many components it was a very balanced dish, and was paired with truffle and pecorino roasted potatoes.

We also had a dish of Hake a la Plancha, with carrots, and black cabbage. Again a well Out In Brum - Norjske - Porkpresented dish. Though this one had a foam, which I’m never sure about. We tried the the cannon of lamb, which had great flavour and was served with gigandes – enormous butter beans cooked with tomato and herbs. We also enjoyed the ox cheek with wobbly bone marrow.

For dessert we tried the brownie which was very rich, and very excellent Portueguese Pastel de Nata, sort of a light egg custard tart. They’re virtually a religion in their own right in Portugal, but I don’t think anyone could complain at Fybin & Loin’s proffering to the pastry gods – just set sweet custard cream filling rested in almost croissant like buttery pastry cases. I’m rarely bothered by desserts but these were serious patisserie.Out In Brum - Norjske -  Pastel Nata

Excluding drinks dinner will set you back less than £25 a head I reckon. I can’t wait to see what else the team will offer when they’re fully up and running. Give it a go soon.

Some links:

Fybin & Loin Website

Fybin & Loin on Twitter

Norjske Website


Posted in Area: Edgbaston, Cuisine: English, Cuisine: Fine Dining, Price: Average, Price: Get your dad to pay - above average, restaurant review, Venue type: Bar, Venue type: Cafe, Venue type: Gourmet Shop, Venue type: Restaurant, Venue type: Wine Bar | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Independent Birmingham – Online Shop

Independent Birmingham BullIndependent Birmingham was launched in August 2013 as a website designed to bring to the masses the great independent companies that Brum has to offer.  We’re lucky to have a wealth of independent coffee shops, restaurants, bars, arts venues, and shops, but they’re so easily overshadowed by the marketing of McBusinesses.  Now the mass-marketers have realised the appeal of an independent they’re trying to muscle in on the act – there are a few chain places now dressed up like independents that aren’t (Lost & Found is for instance a Marston’s PLC pub).  Independent Birmingham is trying to make sure we know about all the great independents so that we can support them.

You can join Independent Birmingham (link here) to get discounts from dozens of the city’sIndependent Birmingham Card best indes, including Chung Ying Central, Bodega, Itihaas, Cafe Opus, Brewsmiths, The Lord Clifden, Island Bar, The Bureau, Rigs Fitness, Mac Birmingham, Ikon Bookshop, The Electric Cinema and many many more.

Now you can also purchase art, plants, apparel, cards and suchlike from Birmingham artists and designers from the Independent Birmingham Online Shop.  You could find the perfect Christmas gift for that special Brummy in your life, how about an “Alright Bab” necklace?  There’s plenty of items without a direct connection to the city though, other than being produced or designed here.

Creator of Independent Birmingham, Joe Schuppler, said:

“The word independent spans further than food and drink, and we want to show the world just how immensely talented and creative some of Birmingham’s inhabitants are. We want to make it easier than ever before to discover local. We want you to be able to tell people ‘Happy Birthday’ through our shop, to cover that blank wall through our shop, and to have your next coffee through our shop.

“The shop will start off with a cadre of immensely talented local artists, photographers, illustrators and designers and will evolve over time. From posters to mugs and paintings to tote bags, the idea is to bring together local talent and provide them with a huge platform to sell their fantastic work.

“Tens of thousands of people visit the website every single month in search for something different, something unique, just like them – and we want to be able to give people the opportunity to buy distinct and individualistic products, whilst supporting Birmingham’s creative community and celebrating the strength of the city at the same time.”

You can find the Independent Birmingham website here:

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BBC Good Food Show Winter – DISCOUNT

BBC Good Food Show Winter 2015 LogoHave you been to the Winter BBC Good Food Show at the NEC? This year it’s running from Thursday 26th to 29th November 2015. The show is an homage to all things foody – from top producers, unusual independents, famous chefs, publications, brewers and bakers, and french-stick makers. There’s not much going on in food & beverage that won’t be represented.

There will be hundreds of stalls, the wares of many you’ll be able to sample, and once you’ve sampled the award winning cheese and charcuterie, cakes, biscuits, pickles, jams etc. you’ll want to buy some. We always go with the intention of only buying “a couple of bits” – twice we’ve had to buy wheeled trollies whilst there to get our hall of goods home. Partly that’s due to the booze sampling. Craft ales, flavoured vodkas, and small batch booze produced from around the world will be enough to get you in a mood conducive to parting with your cash!

As well as the potential for Christmas gifts and stocking up the larder, a trip to the show is Out In Brum - Smoked Garlicentertaining in itself. There’ll be cookery demonstrations with TV food personalities including Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, Michel Roux Jr., John Whaite, and another twenty or so, and you’ll also be able to pick up a cook-book and get it signed by your chef idol.

We’ve been sent some freebies from the show (see our Reciprocity Agreement) including some smoked garlic from The Garlic Farm. I’ve used a massive clove of it tonight on some lightly sautéed sugar snap peas, and it was sweet, smokey, and delicious. In fact I’m resisting the urge to go and eat more of it on toast – it’s smoked so though not fully cooked it’s soft and mellow.

If you’re going to get tickets be sure to use the discount code “BL15”, which will save you 15% on standard entry tickets (Terms and Out In Brum - Garlic Sugar Snap PeasConditions apply, see below). Tickets are available from the website here:

Ticket Discount Code Terms and Conditions: 15% off valid on Adult & Over 65s Standard Entry tickets only. Not valid with any other offer. Not valid on VIP or Gold theatre tickets. Offer valid 02/10/15 – 08/11/15. All admin and transactional fees included. 1 Standard Supertheatre seat included with advance tickets, subject to availability. Gold seats available for an extra £2. Not all celebrities appear on all days, see website for details.

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