Monday, 13 February 2017

Event: Stila Glitter Undergound Collection Launch at Harvey Nichols Birmingham

What do you think of when you think of the Seventies? Is it flares, Saturday Night Fever and Studio 54? How about the glamorous side of the decade? Think David Bowie and Cher, the sparkle of the disco ball and that of the dazzling disco era itself.

For Spring 2017, Stila has gone glam with the Glitter Underground collection. These modern metallics, inspired by the dazzling 70's come in gorgeous jewel tones to make eyes, lips and cheeks shine bright, no matter what your skin tone.  

I was invited to a special Stila preview at Harvey Nichols to meet Kaci Harabedian, International Director for Stila Cosmetics and Sascha Jackson, UK Lead Make-Up Artist.

Hosted in the Style Concierge, I headed to the Stila counter to experiment with some of my favourite Liquid Lipsticks before being whisked away to a hidden room to meet the Stila girls.

In the Style Concierge, Haci and Sascha were sat waiting to show us the beautiful new Stila Glitter Underground Collection.

The girls showed us the new products including the Matte 'N Metal Eye Shadow Palette, Magnificent Metals Glitter and Glow Liquid Eye Shadow, Heaven's Hue Highlighter and Glitterati Lip Top Coat.

Magnificent Metals is a stunning sparkling glitter eyeshadow, that's so intense and pigmented. Glitter can often be difficult to pull off or look sparse, but this is intense and rich. With a lightweight, water based texture, this dries quickly and doesn't leave any fallout.

Here's a swatch of all the colours from the Magnificent Metals Eye Shadow Collection. The shades include Diamond Dust, Molten Midnight, Smouldering Satin, Rose Gold Retro, Bronzed Bell, Smoky Satin, Gold Goddess and Kitten Karma.

The Matte 'N Metal Eye Shadow Palette is full of wearable shades, with six subtle matte nudes great for everyday, and six metallic shades to amp up the volume. This is everything you need for day to night glamour! Even better, each vertical line of four shades is designed to be worn together, so no guessing!

Heaven's Hue has an incredible texture, almost like a soft bouncy pillow! These unique highlighters are soft, light, and literally melt into the skin, making the skin look warm and glowing. Available in three colours, Kitten, Transcendence and Bronze, these are so wearable for everyday illumination or bronzing.

Lastly, we were shown the new glitterati Lip Top Coat. In two shades, one for neutrals and one for berry shades, this top coat is perfect for wearing over matte colours, like my favourite Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick, to add a sparkling finish.

What do you think of the new collection? Which one is your favourite?!

Friday, 3 February 2017

Food Review: Indico Street Kitchen, Shirley

Shirley is enjoying something of a renaissance at the moment, with a shiny new shopping centre and host of shiny new restaurants to go with it.

The latest restaurant to open at the Parkgate Centre is Indico Street Kitchen. Another Indian restaurant, you may say, but here's one with a difference.

Inspired by Indian street food vendors, the interior is unlike any Indian restaurant you've seen before. An explosion of primary colour, pop-art inspired paintings adorn the walls, whilst the real talking point is the ceiling covered in red, yellow and blue umbrellas.

Onto the food, we arrived for a midweek meal only to find filming to be taking place by Hajra Lalljee for The Place to Eat on AndTV. After a brief stint being interviewed(!), we returned to the menu's. Starting off with drinks, I opted for a non alcoholic Mumbai Mojito (£4.50) whilst my dining companion went for the Cashew and Banana Smoothie (£4.50). We also tried out the Goa beer (£4.95), recommended to us as it's gluten free.

Although the menu does state which dishes contain nuts, dairy, are spicy or vegetarian, it doesn't state which dishes are gluten free. However, the manager was able to show me a print off of which dishes I could eat.

To start, I picked the Aloo Tikki (£4.50) whilst my dining companion went for the Lollipop Chicken (£4.99). The Aloo Tikki was presented in two large patties, covered in chickpeas and a tamarind chutney sauce. The Aloo Tikki themselves were plain potato with coriander, onion and spices, and I would have liked to have seen these made with peas. However, the addition of the sauce and chickpeas made it a much more substantial starter and stopped it from drying out, as the dish does benefit from a sauce. The Lollipop Chicken was in a league of its own. Attractively served with a clean bone, the chicken itself was soft and encased in a sweet, sticky, crunchy batter. A delicious sweet starter, I see why these are called lollipops!

For our mains, I had the Chicken Biryani £9.50) and a side of Daal Makhani (£5.95), whilst my dining companion had the Mattar Paneer Tiffin Box (£11.50). There was also a huge selection of meat including tandoori chicken, grilled kebabs, salads and kathi rolls. 

A Tiffin Box is a traditional Indian lunch box used by street food vendors to deliver hot lunches to city office workers. At Indico, the Tiffin Box includes a curry, in this case Mattar Paneer, a portion of daal, rice and 2 chapattis as well as salad and raita. For me, this was the star of the show. For the price, it offers excellent value, whilst the novelty of being able to sample a little of everything is something that I'm drawn to. The curry itself was just right, mild and not too creamy, instead offering up tomato flavours.

The biryani was flavoursome, packed with spices and vegetables, it is served with raita, a yoghurt dip. This benefitted from the addition of the lentil Daal as it kept things interesting. If I'd have been hungrier, I would have tried the masala fries too! 

Unbelievably, we still had just a tiny bit of room for desserts. My dining companian opted for the Pistachio Kulfi, which came served on a stick and dressed in chopped pistachios. I opted for the Gajar Ka Halwa, carrot grated and cooked in condensed milk, served with vanilla ice cream. We were both very happy with our desserts, and I recommend ending on a sweet note.

Overall, Indico was a great dining experience. The music and atmosphere when we visited was just right and the decor is eyecatching and a real talking point. I also love the way that the kitchen is open and framed by painted buses to reference the Highway Dhabas who inspired this kind of street food.

Bright, lively and full of fun, Indico is a fabulous addition to the dining scene that's perfect for relaxed midweek meals with friends and family.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Event: Rajdoot's 50th Birthday in Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham

Can you believe that Rajdoot is 50? It's extraordinary to think that celebrities including The Beatles and Princess Margaret have dined at one of Birmingham's oldest Indian restaurants.

Today, Rajdoot sits on the corner of George Street, proudly facing outwards towards the city centre. Serving traditional North Indian cuisine, Rajdoot is family run and always has been since opening in 1967.

Last week, I was invited to celebrate this special occasion with loyal customers and friends of Rajdoot.

Greeted with prosecco and smoked masala nuts, we mingled at the bar whilst listening to the sounds of the sitar and tabla. Creating a heady atmosphere, we were seated at our tables ready for the seven course banquet.

We dined on Papri Chaat, crisp fried dough wafers topped with chickpeas, potatoes, yoghurt and tamarind chutney.

Next up was Dal Puri, fried puffed bread which is pierced and filled with green lentils, potato, tamarind and mint chutney.

Onto some seafood, we dined on Tandoori Prawn Lollipop, marinated in ground spice and and a tomato chutney glaze. This was cooked in a tandoori oven and had a great crisp texture to the exterior. The same could be said of the Paneer and Pepper Kebab that came next, homemade paneer coated in ground spices drizzled in a balsamic vinegar glaze.

Our first main was Rajdoot Butter Chicken. Rather than being served in pieces in a butter chicken sauce, our chicken came out as a quarter chicken, on the bone, marinated in butter, yoghurt and fresh tomato gravy, finished off with Rajdoot's own home roasted spices and garnished with fresh cream. There was no doubting the portion size of this and it was substantial in itself.

However, there was still a traditional Rajdoot 1966 Thali to be served. A mixed spread of Lamb Rogan Josh, Daal Makhani, Stuffed Baby Aubergine and pilau rice with peas, the hgihlight for me was the stuffed baby aubergine. The Lamb Rogan Josh was packed with the kind of flavour that only comes from a substantial amount of time spent in marinating and slow cooking.

Finally, we finished off with a sweet treat, a trio of desserts including Gajrella, Gulab Jamam and Kulfi.

As well as some emotional speeches and a few words from our European MEP, Neena Gill, there was also a raffle with money raised going to Birmingham Children's Hospital.

Thank you for a great evening Rajdoot!

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Food Review: Brunch Menu Launch at Mughli, Selfridges Birmingham

Happy New Year! Welcome to my first post of 2017. First up is a peek at the brand new Brunch menu launching at Mughli Market in Selfridges, Birmingham.

What does an Indian style brunch entail, you may ask? At Mughli market, the new weekend brunch menu includes classics such as French Toast and Omelettes with an Indian twist, alongside more traditional Indian dishes such as Keema Pau and Mango Lassi.

Serving up mughlai cuisine from the northern regions of India and Pakistan, the brunch menu covers the expected (tea, coffee and capuccino), the luxurious (mimosa) and even the unexpected (thums up indian cola).

Food wise, there's plenty to choose from. Feeling virtuous? There's lashing of thick, creamy yoghurt served with fresh fruit fingers and a passionfruit coulis on the menu. Delicious and healthy, this is a great choice if you're starting off the year on a healthy high.

Hungry for something with a kick? Try the Keema Pau, a hot hit of lamb keema served with or without a fried egg on a fresh bun. Filled to the brim, this is a great options for the hungry diner, and the egg is a great, cooling addition.

The French Toast is served sprinkled with icing sugar alongside a delicious serving of apricot jam, whilst the Chilli Cheese Toast is spicy but sweet thanks to the hidden layer of chilli jam hidden beneath the melted cheese.

Another option for anyone with an appetite is the Keralan Roll. Chunks of light and crispy fried chicken drizzled with raita on a toasted bun, served with or without a fried egg, make this an acceptable fried chicken brunch choice.

Whilst you're there, there's no excuse not to treat yourself to a Mimosa or Mango Lassi to complete the experience.

If you're heading into the city with friends, I'd suggest ordering a few dishes and sharing to make it a real experience.

Brunch in Birmingham with a twist? Mughli has it covered.