Saturday, 11 October 2014

Event: Birmingham Independent Food Fair

You may remember back in 2013, the team behind Dine Birmingham hosted an event called Future Foodies at Hotel La Tour.

This year, the event was back in a slightly different format and new name; Birmingham Independent Food Fair.

Saying exactly what is on the tin, the event is a celebration of Birmingham's Independent food scene, something which I'm passionate about. There is an absolute wealth of independent restaurants, cafes, producers and suppliers in the city and it's surprising to many when they realise just how lucky we are to have so many great venues to choose from.

For a small entry fee, foodies were able to come in and try out 8 samples from any of the traders including food and drink. Once you've tried out some of the food on offer, you could purchase anything from bread to paella or chocolate from the stand of your choice.



Don Diego giant paella

Le Truc samples

Le Truc stand 

My favourite sample - the Le Truc goats cheese with beetroot and caramelised nut brittle

Some of my favourite samples came from Le Truc, where I got to try out this amazing goats cheese popcorn. A piece of goats cheese, flavoured with some secret ingredients and served with beetreet, rocket and a caramelised nut brittle, I couldn't get enough of this! I also loved the chocolates, particularly the fruity truffle from Henley Chocolates and the fantastic wheat free South East Asian cuisine from Hibiscus Grove Food Co. I also had a chat with Alok from Soul Tree Wine and had a mini education in wine tasting which I really want to improve on!



Peel and Stone loaves - my favourite picture!

Squisito stand

Wandering around the Millennium Point venue, I tried out some fantastic food from Le Truc, Henley Chocolate, Kneals Chocolates, Don Diego and The Authentic Tapas group and there was plenty of choice.

BAKE cupcakes

BAKE Peanut Butter Cake - YUM


Henley Chocolates - Passionfruit flavour I think but gorgeous and fruity!

Henley Chocolates - Truffles



I was lucky enough to be able to attend as a blogger and access the VIP area where Hotel La Tour had put on a champagne breakfast and canapes later on in the day. You may have even seen my tweet! The hospitality of the Hotel La Tour team was gracious, super friendly and extremely professional, definite 5 Star service! I also bumped into the beautiful Chloe from Gastonomic Gorman and had a quick snap as well as a chat.

My tweet! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter

With Chloe from Gastronomic Gorman 

Hotel La Tour VIP Area

Hotel La Tour VIP Area

I took my camera and tried to capture the atmosphere for you guys, hopefully you'll be able to see how busy it was and it only got busier as I came in pretty early. My favourite picture is of the loaves of bread from Peal and Stone. Like it?

Did any of you go the Birmingham Independent Food Fair? What did you think?

Big thank you to Ahmed from Dine Birmingham for having me :)


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Event: Kirsty Lo Birthday Party

Kirsty Lo is not one to do things by halves.  When it came to her birthday and the launch of her website, www.kirstylo.com, Kirsty pulled out all the stops and hosted a bash at the Marco Pieree White, Laurent Perrier Champagne Bar in The Cube, Birmingham.

One of the most glamorous venues in Birmingham, the glam Take Me Out star hosted an evening celebration and even had the Mayor of Birmingham make a speech!

As the party was in such a fabulous location I couldn't let the side down so went for this little monochrome body con number. Needless to say it's the tightest dress I've ever worn!!

Here's a few pictures from the event with Anita from Delicious PR.





A big thank you to Kirsty Lo and Happy Birthday to you lovely! Also, a big thanks to Karen Julia Photography for taking pictures on the evening. To see all the pictures from the night click here



Monday, 6 October 2014

Event: Selfridges Blogger Event with Mixed Gems Beauty

Rose from Mixed Gems Beauty recently hosted a fabulous beauty blogger event in Selfridges Birmingham.

Hosted in a private room, we met up at the Marc Jacobs Daisy Dream stand and were given a token to use in their special vending machine. I received a sample of the new fragrance whilst there was also a full sized bottle up for grabs!

We made our way upstairs and found a room laid out with stands from brands including NARS, Kiehls, Creme De La Mer, GHD, Tom Ford, Charlotte Tilbury and Estee Lauder.

However, before we dug into the make up the first thing we noticed was this fabulous display of personalised Krispy Kreme doughnuts. YUM! This was such a thoughtful touch and there was a frenzy as we all clambered to take a picture with our doughnut.

Krispy Kreme doughnuts


But I digress. As well as having a catch up and natter, we were able to sit down and spend some quality time with the beauty hall girls and find out more about products new and old.

Kiehls Calendula Toner - with real flowers!

Kiehl's Creme De Corps (it's on the Christmas wishlist!)

Kiehls Hydro Plumping Retexturizing Serum

Kiehl's Calendula Toner

I sat down with Nikki from Kiehls to talk about their new product, the Hydro Plumping Re Texturizing Plumping Concentrate, a serum that is packed full of hydrating glycerins to provide up to 72 hours moisture. I was also drawn to the Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol Free Toner as I love natural products. Inside the bottle you can see REAL FLOWERS!! Amazing. I also love the Creme De Corps and just need to dive in and purchase this beauty; look at that soft whipped texture.

Amy's manicure in progress

Amy's Nars nails

Nars eyeshadows

The Nars stand

I then had a look at NARS where Amy from PYT had her nails done and we both had a play with the beautiful and soft eyeshadows. I then went over to Estee Lauder where they are offering 8 minute beauty makeovers. I opted for the lip makeover and tried out this gorgeous Pure Color Envy Lipstick in Eccentric and was also reminded of how accenting the cupids bow with a highlighter makes a huge difference.


Charlotte Tilbury Lip and Cheek Colour 

Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Palette The Dolce Vita - how pigmented is that bottom left colour?

Charlotte Tilbury Bronzer and Highlighter

Charlotte Tilbury lips make up bag

Charlotte Tilbury 10 signature looks

Beautiful Charlotte Tilbury make up bag

Charlotte Tilbury has some of the most divine products out there in some seriously glam packaging.

Lastly, I got to try out some insane items from Tom Ford!

Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate Palette (I need these!)

Just as the evening was wrapping up I managed to squeeze in a few minutes with Karen from Creme De La Mer, but I'm dying to go back for a full consultation!

A big thank you to Rose for hosting event and to all the Beauty Hall girls who took the time to meet us and leave us with some fabukous samples to try out. As always it was lovely to see you all :)

Monday, 29 September 2014

Italian adventures

Evening all! Just a quick service announcement to say I'm back from my trip to Italy. I've been away to Florence and Rome for a week so sorry for the lack of posts but I will be back with you this week to share a few shots from the Eternal City.

Ciao!

Friday, 19 September 2014

NOTD: MUA Nail Varnish in Shade 2 Black

Another one of my little treats, this was an impulse buy in Superdrug at just £1 as I was looking to replace my old bottle of black nail polish.

MUA can be really hit and miss, with some products performing as well as designer brands such as Bobbi Brown and others missing the mark. Which category does this nail varnish fit in?

MUA Nail Varnish from here

I applied one coat of this varnish and was surprised at how easily it went on. The lid is quite easy to hold and the brush is a good size that doesn's shed. One coat seemed thick enough so I didn't go in for a second. However, although the polish was thick enough to cover the nail with a good opaque coat, it still left gaps in the polish where it didn't cover the nail. Also, within a day I'd already started to see chips and wear on the nail tip, as pictured.

Although it is a great price and easy to use, the bottle itself is a little small at 6.2ml and it chips far too quickly.

However, I have noticed that MUA has stopped selling this particular polish and the new polishes come in much nicer bottles and have I assume been reformulated. I'd still be tempted to try out the new nail polishes especially the Essie dupes and hopefully this was just a one off.


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Bicester Village Haul ft Fendi, Barbour, The White Company and Jack Wills

On the hunt for a Prada purse, I recently visited Bicester Village on a sunny Sunday to see what was new in at one of my favourite shopping spots.

Halfway between Birmingham and London, I met my London-based friend there for some lunch and retail therapy.


Here's what I bought:

Jack Wills

The first shop to tempt me to part ways with my hard earned, I've managed to lose my navy hooded jacket and decided to take a look and see if I could find a replacement. I quickly picked up a bargain plain grey marl jumper for £19 and blue hooded jacket for £32 in Jack Wills. Bargain.


The White Company

Next up, I headed to The White Company for some serious interior and home inspiration. I dream of a White Company bedroom but for now, I consoled myself with a candle and candle lid. Although it is pretty pricey for a candle, they are fabulously scented and on the wish list for any candle connnoisseur along with Jo Malone and Diptyque.

Barbour

My favourite find of the day, I managed to pick up a Barbour jacket at the newly opened Bicester Village store. I've wanted one of these for years and never quite been able to justify it, but after trying on a few styles, I managed to find a Barbour that just seemed to suit me better than any I've seen before. Mine is green rather than navy, which is what I thought I'd end up buying, and I haven't worn it yet thanks to our long summer. However, as soon as the rain comes I'll be in this!

Fendi

Last but not least, this was a little bit of luxury! I love the Fendi brand and to me, it conjures up images of Italian glamour and luxury. Although I was tempted by a bargain 2Jour bag, I settled for this adorable Fendi stripe make up bag instead.


And the Prada purse? Well, I picked up all of the above for less than the price of a Prada purse at Bicester. Although I did manage to pick out a lovely style in a timeless colour, I still felt that I should maybe wait until next time for the big splurge.

Happy shopping!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Boston Tea Party Harborne Food Review

Boston Tea Party is a small group of cafe/restaurants that have slowly been popping up around the country.

Not available on every high street, BTP is a place to eat ethically sourced, simple food that is made on site daily. The milk is always 100% organic whilst the eggs and meat are free range.

The restaurants also give back to the community, acting as a social hub and place for everyone from mums to knitting and reading groups to meet and drink.

There are now 15 BTP's around the country, each designed to respect the building and locale, and I was kindly invited to review the newest BTP in Harborne, near Birmingham.

The School Yard is a compact food and drink destination in Harborne, just outside of Birmingham, and is home to Prezzo, Urban Coffee Company and of course Boston Tea Party.

Walking through the side door, it's hard to believe what's inside as you enter the shared courtyard space lit up with fairy lights strung amongst the trees. Making my way to BTP I walked past the outside courtyard seating into the main building. A converted Victorian school, the BTP space is full of quirky details and original features. With plenty of seating downstairs, I found the bar and said hello to BTP manager Dagmara.

Bike art 

We took a tour of the space, from the easy to access downstairs area and private outdoor space to the quieter upstairs area which can be hired out for free by groups and for events such as book groups, crafting sessions etc.

Upstairs seating

Finally we made our way back down and I took a look at the menu. Visting BTP for an evening meal, I could have opted for a burger, toasted sandwich or salad, but I love a good breakfast so decided instead to try out something different. I couldn't resist the Raspberry and Mango smoothie and it came out super fast having placed my order at the bar. Fruity, fresh and lively, I slurped it down so quickly!

Raspberry and Mango Smoothie 

Next I ordered my meal. Although I was tempted by the Kedgeree, Mushrooms on Toast, Veggie Breakfast and 'Get Your Goat, You've Pulled' toasted sandwich, I chose the Eggs Royale with avocado which is an English muffin topped with poached egg, avocado and hollandaise sauce - yum! Alongside the Royale I also tried out the Moroccan Mint Tea.


Eggs Royale

Having visited the Birmingham BTP I knew that they make a fantastic Orange and Almond cake and had my sights set on this before I'd decided on my main. Needless to say that this moist, orangey, marmalade laced cake rounded off the meal nicely.

Moroccan Mint Tea

There's also a huge variety of drinks available from smoothies and milkshakes to homemade iced teas, wine, craft beer and an unusually wide selection of teas and coffees.

As a gluten free foodie, I was especially impressed with how well BTP caters for gluten-free diners. The menu is clearly labelled with GF, the staff are really clued up on what is suitable to eat for those on a GF diet, and they can even use GF bread in a lot of dishes to make them gluten-free!

Orange and Almond Cake

Anyone who's been to a BTP will know that they make some incredible cakes that come out on huge wooden boards. They also make GF cakes on the regular, and as well as my Orange and Almond cake which is gorgeously gluten-free, they also had a GF brownie in when I visited.

Bakewell Tart cake slab

I had a great experience at Boston Tea Party Harborne and thoroughly enjoyed the food, atmosphere, service and fascinating building.

Although it's known as a daytime venue, they are open late until 11pm, making it a great place to go for a quiet drink or bite to eat in the evening. Harborne is a great place for evening drinks with plenty of pubs and restaurants to choose from. Boston Tea Party offers something really different to the pubs and restaurants, with a tasty menu, interesting space full of different seating areas and friendly staff. I'd definitely recommend that you try it out and I've already been back!