Monday, 22 August 2016

Event: Johnny Loves Rosie Blogger Breakfast

Johnny Loves Rosie is a brand that I loved way back when. Known for selling accessories with a cute, whimsical twist, Johnny Loves Rosie stocks everything from belts and bangles to earrings and headbands. Stocked by asos and River Island to name just a few, the brand has even been worn by Little Mix and Louise Thompson from Made In Chelsea.

Although the brand has been around for some time, it was recently taken over by Victoria Taylor and is headquartered in Bromsgrove, near Birmingham.

I was invited to a Blogger Breakfast to get to know the brand, take a look at some of the pieces and get the inside scoop on what to expect in the coming months.

Held at Cote Brasserie in the Mailbox, I arrived to meet Victoria and Charlotte from the brand and sat down next to Heidi from Heidi-Likes. I got to meet some fabulous bloggers including Sherry Scribbles, Call Me Liz and Ally in Blunderland.

The table was beautifully decorated with fresh flowers, specially typed menus and a surprise box from Johnny Loves Rosie.

We were salivating over these cute pieces such as the watches and chokers, and I had to follow Heidi and try on the cat ears.

Sitting down at the table, we were treated to tea, coffee, and freshly squeezed orange juice, as well as a choice of breakfast items such as granola, croissant and fresh fruit, or smoked salmon and scrambled eggs.

I went for the latter with gluten free toast, and as you can see it was heavenly! I've never tried scrambled eggs with chives before but it really works.

After we'd eaten, I took the opportunity to chat to the owner Victoria and she let me in on a few secrets. As well as talking about what's hot right now (chokers of course), she predicts that belts are making a comeback.

We also spoke about what's coming up, and she showed me a sample of one of the new personalised bags. These pouch style bags will come with foil letters and will be customisable! Can you spot them on the table? I can't wait to see these and they should be out later this year.

A big thank you to Johnny Loves Rosie for inviting me to their first Blogger Breakfast.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Event: El Borracho De Oro Press Dinner

Spanish food has always been somewhat underrepresented in the city of Birmingham. However, El Borracho De Oro is a new Spanish tapas bar and restaurant in town. Opened over a year ago, it has shamefully taken me this long to take a trip to the Birmingham restaurant.

I visited the restaurant for a press dinner on a balmy evening, where it was only right that we started the evening off outside; the perfect spot for an ice cold sangria. I picked a white Sangria for a change and sipping this outside on the grassy terrace felt particularly European.

Don't fancy sangria? There's a huge selection of wines by the glass, as well as wines by the bottle, beers, spirits and cocktails. 

Proudly boasting that everything on the menu is Spanish, authentic and fresh, the menu is a mix of tapas of every variety. There's a great choice of cheese, bread, ham or jamon of course and even an egg selection. 

We were offered a selection of tapas to try by Emma, the owner of the restaurant, who ensured we were able to try a variety of dishes to get a feel for the menu.

To start, we tried the cured meats selection (£10.50) and cheese selection (£8.95) along with a few nibbles in the form of breadsticks and almonds. Expertly sourced, the jamon was salty and perfect with booze, and the cheese varied and rich in flavour. I especially loved that the cheese was served with quince paste, an absolute favourite of mine and something that is particularly hard to find.

For the rest, there was also bread topped with tomato (£4.50), croquettes of cheese and ham (£4.50) and fried courgette flowers stuffed with cod (£8.50).

Next, I dived into plates of fresh mussels (£7.50). Served in a rich buttery sauce made of hazelnuts, paprika and white wine, these were the highlight of the meal for me. As much as I couldn't taste the nuts, the sauce, named fisherman's sauce, was heavenly and easily scooped up with the shells.

The others also tried the chicken cannelloni Barcelona style (£8.50) before the Iberian suckling pig, deboned and glazed served with an acid apple puree (£9.95).

Finally, there was churros for all, and I enjoyed scooping up the chocolate sauce alone!

All the dishes we tried were pretty reasonably priced, with the vegetarian tapas coming in at a great price for dishes that were so beautifully and carefully prepared.

Everything we tried had so clearly been made from scratch, and the sauces in particular were testament to this. So much time and care as well as expertise goes into crafting these small plates of morsels, and each dish had a personality all of its own.

I'm waiting to find an excuse to go back as there are so many other dishes I'd love to try. The staff were also really good at telling me which dishes were gluten free, so I'll be back to try a properly gluten free feast!

Have you guys been to El Borracho yet?

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Event: Annexe Birmingham New Menu Launch

Have you ever heard of Annexe? I hadn't up until recently, but it seems that this Mediterranean-inspired restaurant has a great reputation in Birmingham. Opened five years ago, the restaurant is pretty sophisticated, with a French feel in the evenings thanks to its intimate atmosphere and traditional wooden decor.

I was invited along to the new menu launch a few weeks ago and was able to try a number of dishes created by new chef, Daniel Andrade.

Walking into the intimate space, we were welcome with champagne and the sultry sounds of live jazz. With bread and olives to snack on, we perched by the wine table before mingling with the crowds and saying hi to the assembled Birmingham bloggers.

Soon, the samples started to arrive in tiny, carefully arranged plates.


We had been invited to sample dishes from the new menu's, and there is both a three course and five course option priced at £39 and £59 respectively. These have been carefully wine-matched and come in at between £19 and £49 depending on the number of courses ordered and how big a glass you'd like (such a good idea!).

There's also a huge amount of choice, on these menu's, with between four and six choices per course. This being said, I'd definitely recommend researching the menu before you visit.

Chicken and Black Truffle

Some of my highlights from the menu include the sea bass chowder, artichoke, fava and Jersey Royals, rabbit rillette, cherry and pistachio texture, lobster corn bavarois corn bisque and dill and scallop ceviche, watermelon, yuzu, chervil and mint.


I was also especially taken with the beetroot slaw, goat's curd fritter and marcona almonds.


Although I couldn't taste everything as not every dish was gluten free, the dishes I did try were full of interesting combinations, unexpected pairings and delicate flavours. Some of the more unusual flavours included mozzarella ice cream and strawberry gazpacho, dishes that you probably wouldn't expect to see in a restaurant that isn't Michelin-starred or AA Rosette rated.


The wine matches were also good, offering plenty of classic favourites and new matches.

Mozzarella Ice Cream

I'd love to come back here for a proper trial of the food. There are very few places to try a five course tasting menu for less than £60, and based on the samples I tried I'd be excited to go back and try out the dishes properly.

Have any of you been to Annexe?

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Event: Marco Pierre White Birmingham Rooftop Terrace VIP Launch

When you receive an invite to Marco Pierre White's Rooftop Terrace VIP Launch, you know you're going to need a new dress.

Sadly the only thing I could find was a black summer number, but I digress.

As one of the hottest places to be seen in Birmingham, we locals and visitors alike love to flock to the rooftop terrace when the sun's out. But when the rain starts to come in, we've always had to duck for cover; until now.

Having undergone a £100,000 transformation, with a new conservatory to shield us from the elements, guests can now enjoy the rooftop views come rain or shine, and there are even new heaters and blankets on hand.

Promising free flowing Bottega prosecco, the invitation wasn't wrong as I made my way up to the 25th floor to see the newly revamped terrace.

Supplying us with Bottega served in stylish test-tube like glasses as well as nibbles from the new Light Bite Menu including Mushroom Arancini and Glazed Pork Belly, the terrace was full of the city's glitterati.

There was even a gold Bottega motorcycle on display!

Are you visiting the MPW terrace soon?

Photo credit: Mark Little Photography

*With thanks to MPW for the invitation

Monday, 11 July 2016

Food Review: Giraffe Restaurant Grand Central Birmingham

Since opening last September, Grand Central has become a foodie hotspot in Birmingham, bringing with it a host of new restaurants such as Caffe Concerto, Tapas Revolution and Giraffe.

It was Giraffe in Grand Central that I was kindly invited to review last week, and I took along a few friends and a poorly son to try out the menu at this new eatery.

Giraffe is known as a family friendly restaurant, and is so called because 'giraffes are so tall, they see a different view of the world'. Exploring foods from around the world, it's fair to say that it's difficult to pin point any singular type of cuisine, however, the menu encompasses dishes from the USA, South America and China.

Meeting outside the restaurant, we were seated at a table that was part booth, part table and shown the menu. I asked for the gluten free menu and was given an extensive allergens folder. For my friend's son, we also took a look at the children's menu.

Firstly, we ordered our drinks. The girls both ordered the Mango Colada and I ordered the Orchard Pig Strawberry, Blackberry and Apple juice.

My friends son ordered from the children's menu which came to £6.50 for a meal, drink and a dessert. He went for the breaded fish fingers with beans and chips, and we requested a colouring sheet and crayons too.

We really pushed the boat out with dinner and ordered a real variety to get an idea of what was on the menu.

For starters, I ordered the Halloumi Skewers, which came served with a light pea salad. Seasoned with fresh lemon, my two skewers were grilled and tasted light and fresh.

F ordered the Chicken Gyoza, which came in a large portion of five pieces. Golden dumplings were heartily filled with a soft chicken mixture and the pastry was not too thick and crispy in the right places. The accompanying sweet sticky sauce went down a treat.

M ordered the Salt and Pepper Squid, which was served soft in light crispy batter, complemented by a mango and chilli sauce which was sweet, with a kick.

For mains, we then went for two portions of Huevos Rancheros, one gluten free, one normal, and Chilli Beef Burritos.

First up, the eggs. These could be fried or scrambled, but we both went for fried which is more traditional. My gluten free version came on two small tortillas instead of one, but both were thin and crispy pizza style tortillas topped off with salsa, avocado, beans and cheese. Hurrah for this alternative to Avocado Toast, that Instagram cliche!

The Burrito was huge, generously filled to bursting with a beef and rice mixture, topped off with sour cream and cheese as well as pink onions, a Mexican specialty.

As there weren't too many Gluten Free dessert options, I had my friend's son's dessert of Strawberry and Banana Lollipops with a chocolate dipping sauce. F went for the Churros and M for the Banana Waffle Split.

The churros were hot and crispy, exactly as you'd expect.

My dessert was also, as you'd expect, fresh and would have been healthy if I hadn't eaten all the chocolate!

The waffle dessert was the real star though. A thick, warm waffle topped off with melting ice cream, caramel and chocolate sauce. Cinnamon finished off the flavour mix and surprisingly, this wasn't too sickly at all.

I was impressed with the service, relaxed and fun atmosphere and most of all, by the variety of dishes on offer. The fact that Giraffe is so family friendly is a real plus, and there is a dish for all tastes here.

The staff were very clued up on how to use the extensive allergens menu, and I was pleased to see the chef's were able to make simple substitutions which meant I could finally enjoy Huevos Rancheros!

*With thanks to Giraffe for my partly complimentary meal.