Thursday, 9 March 2017

Event: Pizza Making at Bardolino Birmingham with a Gluten-Free twist

If you're gluten-free or gluten-reducing, you'll know that pizza eating isn't always as simple as dialling up the nearest pizza place and picking your favourite topping. Instead, it's a carefully considered decision based around strategically identifying the nearest or best gluten free pizza provider and hoping your dining companions will agree to go along with your decision.

However, Bardolino Birmingham has come to the rescue, and as well as being popular for it's standard pizza's, is also offering gluten-free pizza for all you gluten-free girls!

I was invited along to a pizza making class at the canalside restaurant recently, where we were able to roll, toss and sprinkle our way to pizza joy.

When we arrived at Bardolino, we were able to prepare for our pizza making session and really get in the mood by donning chef's hats and some very classy navy and white striped aprons to keep our togs flour free.

In the middle of the room, the table was laid and laden with all manner of pizza toppings including mushrooms, spinach, salami and bresola as well as cheese and passata of course.

The team were really accommodating, and explained that although I was welcome to roll and throw my own normal pizza along with the rest of the group, when it came to eating, the chefs would prepare my gluten-free base in the kitchen to ensure there was no cross contamination.

Once we had taken our places at our stations, each place had a fresh ball of pizza dough ready to be kneaded. Our teacher showed us exactly how to mould out the dough, tease it out into a round pizza shape and finally, throw it! I only managed a very small throw for fear of it ending up on the floor!

Step 1 - Dough ball

Step 2 - Tease out the dough into a circle

Step 3 - Throw it!

Step 4 - Add passata

Step 5 - Add cheese

Step 6 - The final product (nearly)

Now onto the toppings, we were like children in a candy store! With so many fresh toppings to choose from, it was tough to decide exactly what to put on my pizza. In the end, I decided to go for symmetry and added spinach, tomato and prosciutto.

This one was just for show however, and my pizza was expertly made in the kitchen and featured spinach, mushroom, bresola beef and an egg in the middle.

Finally, after all that hard work, we were able to sit down and enjoy the fruits of our labour; don't worry, the pizza I made did not go to waste! My gluten-free pizza was delicious, very crispy, light and the ingredients were delicious and high quality.

I had a great time making pizza with the Birmingham bloggers and would definitely come back again.

*With thanks to Bardolino.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Event: Making Mussels at Cheval Blanc, Moseley

A warm bowl of steaming hot mussels is a rare treat, especially in landlocked Birmingham, where seafood is a speciality rarely enjoyed.

But wait! Cheval Blanc in Moseley invited myself and Emily from Good Girl Gone Brum to learn how to make this delicious delicacy.

A weekly addition to the menu, mussels can be enjoyed at Cheval Blanc every Saturday and Sunday in a variety of forms for just £5. Served with crusty sourdough bread, it can also be matched to a delicious wine for an additional fiver.

Prior to the hard work commencing, we were able to sit at the bar and enjoy a tipple or two. Despite Cheval Blanc being a wine bar, I decided on a G&T instead whilst Emily went for a more traditional approach and enjoyed a glass of wine.

Back to our lesson. We were invited into the kitchen with Cyd to learn how to tempt these fleshy morsels to flavour greatness. At the back of the Moseley restaurant is the kitchen where Cyd whips up dishes such as venison carpaccio, pate and arancini. 

Here, Cyd went through the process of showing us how to make a beautiful bowl of Curry Madras Mussels. 

(Serves two)

500g mussels per person
15g finely chopped shallots
15g grated carrots
1tbsp chopped chives
2 tsp curry madras powder
10cl white wine
10cl double cream


Warm up 1tbsp clarified butter in a pan. Raise the heat to 220 degrees, add shallots and carrots followed by curry madras. Add white wine, let it reduce, add double cream and let it reduce until almost dry. Cook for a few minutes. Add a sprinkle of chives and voila!

The lesson was filmed for the Cheval Blanc website and the link to the video is here if you'd like to see Cyd in action and hear me talk about the evening.

Of course, we had to taste test the final product and I can definitely say that I will be back for another serving of these delicious delights.

*With thanks to Cheval Blanc Moseley for the cookery class and complimentary mussels.

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.