Friday, 1 April 2016

Heartsease Farm’s launches new pressé that changes flavour according to your mood

Feeling down, or feeling cheery? Heartsease Farm is launching a new revolutionary pressé that caters to your mood. This new innovative drink has a molecular structure that can actually alter its property combinations; changing its flavour to match your ‘temperamental cravings’.
Heartsease Farm’s new formula senses when you have high level of endorphins in your blood stream, otherwise known as ‘happy hormones’, and changes its flavour accordingly. There is a chemical reaction between the endorphins in the drinker’s bloodstream and the molecules in the drink. The higher the level of endorphins, the more the flavour is altered and swings with your mood. Once you reach your personal endorphin threshold, which is different in all of us, the flavour actually changes to a completely different fruit within the same family. So a raspberry can become a blackberry or a peach may now taste like a plum.
William Watkins, Managing Director and founder of the company said ' Our main focus has been to put Heartsease Farm at the forefront of the race to modernise the public’s “drinking experience”, pioneering a change in the world of beverages. Our scientists were put to work to try to discover a way to alter the core properties of a drink, so that the flavour would change according to the mood of the drinker. We have succeeded in what we wanted to achieve; and much, much more. We are thrilled with the result’.
Heartsease Farm’s new product was trialled on a thousand people, with overwhelmingly positive results. Rebecca Smith from Birmingham, said, ‘I would never have believed this was possible – it’s just incredible.  I tried the new drink on Monday and Friday and it really did taste different. What a clever drink!’
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Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Review: Sixth Sense Salon Experience and System Professional Energy Code Launch

Sixth Sense Salon in Sutton Coldfield has long been on my "to visit" list. A few weeks ago, I was invited to the official launch of the System Professional Energy Code range at the salon. Although I couldn't make it, I was able to come in last week to find my Energy Code and sort out my unruly locks with a cut and blowdry.

Just off the high street, the salon was easy to find and I parked up nearby. Dean was on hand to welcome me when I arrived and I even got to sit and enjoy a coffee.

My appointment was with Style Director Tash who went through some questions to find my Energy Code before we got started on the cut and blowdry.

The questions were all around your derma (scalp), fibra (hair fibre quality) and forma (hair texture), looking at what you do and don't like about your hair, the products you use already and how you treat your hair with colour, heat and styling products.

From this, I found my unique Energy Code which is S1, H1, L4 and B5. This translates to the Smoothen Shampoo, Hydrate Conditioner, Reconstructive Elixir and Balance Lotion.

After the consultation with Tash, Morgan washed my hair and I even got a mini scalp massage too. This was done in a separate room which was fully equipped with a TV which was a great touch.

Onto the cut, Tash was really thorough in asking what I wanted without leaving me confused. It can be so difficult to answer the question when it's left wide open, but by leading me through each part of the style Tash gave me a fabulous cut that I was really happy with. For example, I was happy to cut off quite a bit of hair in order to get it back to being really healthy, but I had the option to remove just the ends too if I wanted to keep the length.

Finally, I asked for a bouncy blow dry. This is where I was most impressed. Using a round barrelled brush as a roller, Tash teased my hair into a big bouncy style. What's most impressive though is that the style lasted 5 whole days before I washed it. To be honest, I probably could have left it for a week, and it remarkably didn't get greasy in that time. What miracles Tash?!

Overall, I was really happy with my experience at Sixth Sense Salon. The staff were all really professional and talented, I loved the fact that there are screens everywhere to keep customers entertained, and the salon itself is really modern and clean.

Here are 5 reasons why I'd go back:

  • The longest lasting blowdry I've ever received
  • Stylists who listen to what you want and need
  • A haircut that works for me and is easy to look after 
  • Relaxed and modern salon 
  • Great parking nearby (don't laugh!)

A big thank you to both Dean's, Tash, Morgan and the team.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Afternoon Tea at Marco Pierre White Birmingham - Mother's Day Father's Day and even Easter

The good folks at Marco Pierre White's in Birmingham have seriously upped the afternoon tea ante. Afternoon tea as you know it is all about sandwiches, scones and cakes. However, MPW has come up with not one, not two, but three variations on the traditional afternoon tea. As well as traditional afternoon tea, the team has dreamt up a Mother's Day, Father's Day and Easter afternoon tea.

Gentleman's Afternoon Tea

I was kindly invited the try out all three, and as always, as a gluten free blogger, my experience was a little different from everyone else's. As well as offering up the three different afternoon tea's above, I was treated to a special gluten free version.

To start, we have the Mother's Day afternoon tea. Mother's Day is on 6th March this year guys so don't forget!!

Here's what's included:

Sandwich Selection
Mini Brie & Spinach Quiche
Beetroot Gazpacho
Mini Fruit Pavlova
Petit Fours
Sponge Cakes
Shortbread Finger

In chronological order, Easter is next on 27th March. if you're thinking of getting friends and family together here's what you can enjoy:

Sandwich Selection
Scotch Quail Egg
Rabbit Ballotine
Hot Cross Bun
Chocolate Egg
Petit Fours

Finally, Father's Day is on 19th June. MPW has created a gentleman's afternoon tea for the occasion. Sadly, I didn't have a gent to try this out for me but I do have pictures!

Tamworth Streaky Bacon Sandwich
Open Roast Beef on Ciabatta
Fishfinger Sandwich on Ciabatta
Homemade Scotch Egg
Homemade Sausage & Stilton Roll
Welsh Rarebit on Cheese Scone
Baked Guinness Pudding with Brandy Cream
Bottle of Crafty Dan 13 Guns IPA or Purity Longhorn IPA or Purity Lawless Lager

Onto my special gluten free version. My afternoon tea was a little bit of a mix between the Easter, Mother's Day and traditional afternoon tea and included:

Chocolate egg and raspberries
Plain scone, clotted cream and jam
Meringue nests topped with cream, kiwi and raspberries
Almondy cake
Sandwich selection

It was so kind of the chefs to put this together for me :)

The sandwiches were lovely, and the scone in particular was fantastic. I loved the addition of raspberries with the chocolate egg, it made me feel a little bit healthier!!

Which afternoon tea is your favourite? Personally, I love the look of the Gentleman's Afternoon tea and the guys amongst us seemed to really enjoy it.

Are you taking your mum or dad out for a special treat? All the above are available to book for £29.99 including a glass of champagne for Mother's Day and either the above beer or a glass of champagne for Father's Day. Available daily from 12-5pm. Further details here.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Food Review: The Studio Menu Tasting - Winter 2016

Usually, when I'm writing a food review it's about a pub, bar, or restaurant that I've been to. This time, I'm reviewing the food on offer at The Studio Birmingham. A fabulous meeting venue just around the corner from Snow Hill station, I've been here before for events and always enjoyed the laid back modern vibe.

Chocolate and Orange Bread and Butter Pudding (not GF!)

Well, they also have a great kitchen and if you're lucky enough to come to an event or conference here, you'll be able to try some of the tasty home cooked food. Freshly prepared by in house chefs, the ingredients are purchased locally and they are committed to the environment and sourcing food from as close as possible.

Goats Cheese and Pepper Stuffed Mushrooms

Onto the food, they laid out six days worth of food to represent the fact that the menu changes daily, and asked us for feedback. I dutifully filled out my forms, but I thought I'd show you the pictures too.

We were able to try not just hearty, filling, main meals, but also side dishes and desserts too. I couldn't try everything as I'm gluten free, but I was able to try the majority of dishes, and the chef was incredibly helpful and knowledgable too in knowing exactly what was in each dish. Too often, this isn't the case, but here it was clear that the team knew what they were cooking and exactly what was in each dish.

Aubergine Parmigiana

Onto the food. The Aubergine Parmigiana was served with garlic bread (non GF), but the dish itself was delightful. Not too much tomato, a good balance of salt and herbs and meaty pieces of aubergine made this a filling and satisfying dish.

Bubble and Squeak with Leeks and Cheddar

The bubble and squeak was actually a side dish to the chicken marengo dish, but I adored it! I've never eaten it before but I'd happily eat it again on a regular basis.

The stuffed tomatoes pictured at the top of the post were another highlight. These were veggie too and proved that you don't need to eat meat to put together a meal.

Moroccan Chicken with Chickpeas (and couscous)

Moroccan chicken was another hit for me, full of flavour and a rich tomato sauce.

Root Vegetable Gratin with Cheesy Crumble

The gratin was in fact an accompaniment to the Moroccan Chicken but stood out for me as being again, tasty, hearty and yet again, vegetarian.

Salmon En Croute (not GF)

Sausage Wellington (not GF)

Quinoa and Stir Fried Veg

Quinoa is so darn healthy, it's difficult sometimes to make it taste good. A round of applause to the chefs who managed to make it taste downright yummy. 

Baked Rice Pudding with Fruit Jam

Lets just take a minute to appreciate that the fruit jam that came with the rice pudding was homemade. Also, I love rice pudding. Will someone make me some, thanks.

Star Bar Chocolate Cheesecake (not GF)

Sticky Date Pudding with Burnt Caramel (not GF)

There were a few other standout dishes for me, I adored the chilli brisket with cajun wedges and sour cream, chicken marengo and the mushroom and spinach korma (with garlic naan). Sadly my pictures didn't come out very well though, sorry!

If you get a chance to book an event here then I would definitely recommend doing so as the venue is in a great location, very modern, bright and of course the food is fantastic. I wish that they did take out too because I would be first in the queue for their healthy and tasty dishes!

Monday, 25 January 2016

Cocktail Masterclass at Bar Opus and Afternoon Tea Launch

I haven’t been to Bar Opus since our Dine Birmingham get together a while back where we shared a few nibbles, drinks and also took pictures for the website.

However, I was recently invited to join a cocktail masterclass with a difference. Not only did we get to make cocktails, but we also got to play a game of dares and crown the King or Queen of Bar Opus. There was event a sneaky surprise in the form of… Afternoon Tea! But more on that later.

We were greeted by Sam, the Bar Manager, who took on the role of MC for the afternoon, showing us around two cocktails, a number of dares, crowning a winner and also generally keeping us on track. Tim from Bar Opus was also on hand to demonstrate each drink and help us out.

Taking our places, we were each given a work station, ready set up with everything we needed to make the first cocktail, a Mellow Yellow. 

The Mellow Yellow is an existing drink on the menu that takes it's name and colour from Limoncello. I'm partial to a sip of this after a long, Italian meal, but I've never had it in a cocktail before.

Here's the recipe in case you wanted to make this at home:

25ml Limoncello
12.5ml Chase Great British Gin
12.5ml Sugar Syrup
12.5ml Fresh Lemon Juice
Topped with lemonade

I couldn't wait to get tucked into this drink as I have a sweet tooth, and this did not disappoint.

However, there was more to come. Next we made a Chase Me, a cocktail which is soon to be introduced to the cocktail list. Named after the gin, this was similarly sweet, and after following Tim's lead, I took a sip and couldn't believe that this cocktail was even more delicious than the last. Flavoured with rhubarb and vanilla, this tasted like a beautiful vanilla panna cotta with a rhubarb coulis. Delicious!

50ml Chase Rhubarb Vodka
25ml Monin Vanilla Syrup
12.5ml Lemon Juice
75ml Apple Juice
Shaken and strained

Next, Sam judged the King or Queen of the bar based on mixology, knowledge, taste, presentation and free pouring. After a little deliberation, Chloe was crowned Queen of Bar Opus!

Throughout the class, we'd also been playing a version of Ring of Fire, where we had to chase rhymes, act out dares and answer questions. Whoever failed a task had to choose an element to add to our group drink. At the end of the class, the last person left to lose a dare had to drink the drink. In this case, it was Vicky from Brumderland, but us being us, we had actually managed to make a rather nice little cocktail.

Finally, out came a giant martini glass from behind the bar, named a Floozie in the Jacuzzi after our very own local landmark.

Unbeknownst to us, we were also treated to Afternoon Tea, something which Bar Opus has just launched. Including finger sandwiches, cakes, scones, clotted cream and preserve, it's offered with unlimited tea for £15pp, with Juniper, a Spanish style G&T or a Martini for £17.50pp, or for those wishing to really push the boat out, with a glass of prosecco for £18.50pp.

The afternoon tea was very generous, and I even got to try my own gluten free version too.

Big thanks to Sam, Tim and the team at Bar Opus for hosting us.

Cocktail masterclasses are available to book at £15 per person and last 1 hour.

Monday, 18 January 2016

OOTD: Grey jumper and a bomber jacket

How to keep cosy and stay stylish? That's a good question. Without the LA weather, it's hard to style up an outfit when inevitably you'll have to throw a coat and scarf over it.

This outfit manages to be warm, stylish and pretty comfortable too. The secret weapon here is the roll neck jumper; no scarf required!

The jumper has been my absolute saviour this winter and kept me so cosy, whilst the jacket is great for days off and to wear casually.

I've only just realised that I've paired a pair of Nike trainers with a Prada bag, how's that for Sports Luxe!

Outfit details: Bomber Jacket / Jumper / Trainers / Jeans /Bag (similar available here)

Images c/o Emily