Gastro Goings On

I’ve been a busy girl lately, so in between me stuffing my face at all of the newly opened eateries in Grand Central, here’s a snapshot into what’s been going on in my life in the last month!

Reading: Gizzi’s Healthy Appetite
I’ve long admired Gizzi Erskine. Her 60’s style, straight talking attitude and delicious food have made her somewhat of an inspiration to me. Her book ‘Cook Yourself Thin’ has been a staple in my kitchen since my student days, and her new addition Gizzi’s Healthy Appetite is fast becoming one of my favourites.

Full of healthy, nutritious dishes that you’d actually want to eat, from crispy kale chips to indulgent potato latkes (which I made for Sunday brunch with poached duck eggs. Bloody delicious!) I want to make and eat everything in it.

What I most love about this book is that Gizzi is fighting back against eating fads and taking clean eating back to its roots – unprocessed, pure & natural – rather than banning entire food groups for no apparent reason. A wise investment!

Gizzi’s Healthy Appetite retails for £25 but right now you can pick it up in Waterstones for £18. This interview in Glamour gives you an insight into Gizzi’s inspiration for the book.

Eating Out: Birmingham has had foodie goings on nearly every day for the last month, so here’s a snapshot of the ones I’ve been attending.

September saw the return of Birmingham Independent Food Fair run by friend and fellow foodie Ahmed Ahmed of Dine Birmingham. The 2 day event filled Millennium Point with independent producers, restauranteurs and street food traders and continued to put Birmingham’s food scene on the map for a second year. I went along to sample some of the fabulous beers on offer from Cellar Door Drinks, had the most amazing hotdog and sweet potato fries from Curbside Kitchen, tried out Jerk flavour pork scratchings and indulged in a Black Forest Gateau cupcake from BAKE.

I also picked up this absolutely beautiful Middle Eastern spice tin from Spice Kitchen UK with an authentic Masaai cloth from Africa as a cover. It looks gorgeous and tastes even better!

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On the subject of Dine Birmingham, I also got to go to Sutton Coldfield’s newest Indian restaurant Ganesha Dining in Streetly. Great service, a stylish bar and dining room and an amazing starter all featured. Keep an eye on Dine Birmingham for the full review coming soon.

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I also got to test out my poker face at The Botanist Ladies Poker Night with the fabulous Vicky from Brumderland. We were treated to an evening with a poker pro, learning the basics of the game and competing with fellow ladies, all washed down with a welcome drink and a specially made cocktail, plus nibbles including crispy pork crackling (served with a wheelbarrow of apple sauce), salt and pepper onion petals and cumberland chipolatas. I didn’t win, but I did have a fabulous time. Look out for more Botanist events coming soon.

Then finally I got to see the brand new Harvey Nichols in Birmingham and of course, grab a bite to eat. The new store is ultra modern, stylish and really impressive. With metallic highlights everywhere, statue-like mannequins and a beautiful, bright shopping floor, I really enjoyed being in the new store (even if it did make me feel a bit inadequate style-wise!)

The restaurant and bar are accented with darker, richer colours and more muted metallics to create a little oasis of calm in the store.

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It was lunchtime when I went in, so although I was desperate to get a full taste of the menu curated by Birmingham’s own Glynn Purnell, as I was short on time I grabbed a table in the bar and had a look at the streamlined bar menu. I ordered the beef burger with smoked applewood cheese.

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There are good burgers and then there is this burger. Every element was perfect and the balance of flavours was spot on. The beef was extremely juicy and well seasoned, the sweet and savoury pickles came through really well, the tomato relish was tangy and sweet, the cheese was smoky and creamy and the lettuce gave a satisfying crunch. I also loved the fact that it was served on a seeded bun that held together right to the last bite, rather than the soft brioche which is fashionable at the moment. I’m definitely convinced that I need to come back for the full menu very soon!

Cooking: My kitchen has seen a lot of action recently. From my entry into the Grana Padano Top Chef challenge

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… to my investment in a Spiralizer which I will be reviewing in full soon.

I’ve also begun working with Blend Bros, a brand new company specialising in high protein cooking sauces. As a gym goer, I know the importance of protein when trying to sustain a healthy diet and exercise routine, but sickly, disgusting protein shakes really aren’t my thing, so I was very interested when I heard about Blend Bros.

I have sample size packs of three flavours – Thai Jungle Curry, Mexican Pibil Stew and Spanish Tomato & Chorizo. I’ll be cooking up all 3 up next week and sharing the results here.

Then I was sad to hear that the gourmet delivery service Food Discovery Box has stopped doing subscriptions. I received my last regular box in September with a collection of interesting products from brands I wouldn’t have otherwise heard of, including a dark chocolate melt drink, a chocolate orange cake mix and some sticky plum jam. Let’s hope there’s more in store from them soon.

So that was September! There’s tonnes more happening around here in October, including the second installment of Brumderland‘s events with Bitters & Twisted, reviews of Byzantium in Kings Heath and Praza by Pushkar in Edgbaston, plus some Autumn inspiration.

Until next time!
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