Thursday 31 December 2015

New Year's Eve 2015- Don't forget to shimmer!

After all the excess of Christmas, it's time for one last party before it's back to reality.

I've put together a shimmering outfit which would be perfect for a New Year's party.

The shoes are Valentino Rockstuds available here. I adore these and they were the most expensive part of the outfit. The skirt is from Oasis but has since sold out, sorry! 

As for accessories, a smart black clutch such as this one from Whistles keeps it minimal, and you could even add silver mirrored sunglasses.

A gem necklace is the finishing touch, along with a manicure of course.

Wishing you all a fabulous New Year, see you in 2016!

Friday 18 December 2015

Festive Tipples - Soft drink ideas from Heartsease Farm

Christmas is scarily close now and with just under a week to go, the celebrations are well and truly underway!

The lovely people at Heartsease Farm got in touch to showcase some of their delicious drinks and I really wanted to show that there is an alternative to the hard stuff!

Whether you're driving, working or just don't need the alcohol, Heartsease Farm has a range of luxurious sparkling drinks that are just as indulgent, without the hangover.

As well as the sparkling Apple and Rhubarb and Fiery Ginger Beer flavours, they've also released a special Spiced Winter Cranberry flavour too.

I really loved the Cranberry flavour, and the fact that it's sparkling really did make it feel like a luxurious drink in itself, no compromise. Simply serve over ice in a decadent crystal glass.

There are plenty of ways to make your own cocktails too,  for example, by adding a cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise, cranberries and orange slices and heating through.

Alternatively, there's a great alcoholic cocktail you could try using the Fiery Ginger Beer, where you simply pour 50ml spiced rum and the Fiery Ginger Beer into a glass and garnish with a star anise and wedge of lime into a champagne coupe.


Have you got any ideas for a great non alcoholic Heartsease Farm cocktail?

*This post contains PR samples

Wednesday 16 December 2015

Food Review: Revolution Birmingham

Vodka Revolution was at one time, my favourite place to go for drinks. There was one incident at university when I somehow ended up with the chilli shot on the shot roulette, but I digress.

Revolution, as it is now known, is quite different, having changed names, upped the food offering and given the decor a makeover.

I arrived at Revolution on Broad Street at lunchtime and was greeted by a really friendly waiter. Given the choice of tables, I opted for a padded booth.

We started off with drinks, of course, but being a lunch the drinks were non alcoholic. I tried a Naked Sunset, a blend of mango and passionfruit purees with fresh lime, orange and pineapple juice and lemonade. This was light and refreshing, whilst my companion had a Whisky Sour which really woke him up!

The drinks menu is huge, with plenty of choice based around of course, vodka, non vodka spirits, shooters, as well as non alcoholic cocktails too. Intriguingly, there's also a make your own cocktail option which I would have loved to have tried. We were told that they make 69 different cocktails, and that the bars are arranged so they can be made quickly.

Onto the food, I chose a cheeseburger and went skinny, which meant I went without the bun. I love the way that restaurants offer this option, as it's great for gluten free diners like me.  I also tried the sweet potato fries, which was beyond exciting, as sweet potato fries are so rarely gluten free!!

My companion had the glazed roast chicken, half a roast chicken glazed in chipotle BBQ, served with red slaw and fries.

The burger came with a slice of tomato, smoked cheddar and mayo and was served with red slaw. I also opted to add on an avocado, because who doesn't love avocado?

The portion sizes for both our meals were pretty big, and we did have trouble finishing off our dishes, but that has never been a bad thing in my book. The sweet potato fries were literally a mountain, but very crunchy on the outside.

Both of our meals were tasty, and miles away from what I was expecting. The chicken was tender and served with a lovely sauce, the slaw was fresh and the fries were crunchy and tasted just cooked. I would have preferred the burger to be slightly less cooked, but I hadn't asked for this.

To round off, we were pretty naughty and had the Salted Caramel Chocolate Fondue to share. In reality, I ate most if it, oh well! This was an absolutely divine combination of melted chocolate and salted caramel in a huge pot, surrounded by breadsticks (I didn't eat these), strawberries and marshmallows to dip. This does usually come with banana too, but sadly they were out of this when I visited. The fruit and fondue was such a crowdpleaser, and I tried my best to polish off the sauce when the fruit was finished.

I was really impressed with the service, atmosphere, decor and cleanliness of the restaurant. The staff were super helpful, the interior is fabulous with industrial touches, but still cosy, and cleanliness was also excellent.

The food itself was of a very good quality, and the allergen information is fantastic and very clear. The standard menu is clearly marked to say what is gluten free, and the chef was happy to adapt where necessary and able.

Overall? I'd definitely come back. There are also some fantastic food offers, with a daily dish available at a special price which I'd be interested to try. There are also offers available if you sign up to the Revolution Card.

*I was invited to dine as a guest of Revolution

Friday 11 December 2015

Food Review: Hyatt Regency Christmas Afternoon Tea

Around this time last year, you may remember I was invited to try out the new festive afternoon tea at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham.

This year, I've very kindly been asked back again, and knowing how delicious it was last year, I couldn't wait to hit reply.

Weaving my way through the Birmingham German Markets, I was already feeling festive before I reached the hotel. Inside, the hotel itself is so beautiful, especially at this time of year. The Christmas tree in the foyer is huge! Here's a quick picture of the tree and my sparkly outfit.

Image c/o Hannah Love Icon Fantasy Ego

Sitting down at the table at the back of the foyer, I joined a number of bloggers including Emily from Emily's Recipes and Reviews and Hannah from Love Icon Fantasy Ego at a beautiful table that was laid out especially for us.

Firstly, we were treated to a glass of champers, followed by a choice of teas. I opted for English Breakfast, my favourite!

Next, the main event. We were served simultaneously, and an army of waiters and waitresses came out to bring our three tiered stands. Mine of course, was gluten free, so was slightly different to the others.

Here are some images of the standard Afternoon Tea

The standard festive afternoon tea includes:

Finger Sandwiches
Cured Salmon and Dill Mustard Dressing
Roasted Turkey and Cranberry Chutney
Honey Roasted Ham and Gherkins
Brie Cheese and Tomato
Prawns with Marie Rose Sauce

Freshly Baked Cranberry and Orange Scones served with Clotted Cream and a Selection of Jams

Hyatt Pastry Selection
Profiteroles with Spiced Cinnamon Cream
Dark Chocolate covered Gingerbread Men
Mince Pies

Full Afternoon Tea is £19, or £24.50 served with Mulled Wine

My Gluten Free Afternoon Tea included the exact same sandwiches on gluten free white bread as well as:

Freshly Baked Gluten Free Scones

Hyatt Pastry Selection
Cadburys Chocolate Bombe with Salted Caramel Filling
Bird's Custard Mousse and Strawberries
Lime Chiboust

I must be a traditionalist, because the turkey sandwiches were my favourite, but I also enjoyed the brie and tomato. The salmon and dill mustard sandwich was very unusual, and I have to say I'm not a fan of dill, but it was an inventive combination.

After the sandwiches, we were treated to another drink, this time, mulled wine. I don't know what they do to the mulled wine here, and whether it's down to the beautiful, relaxed surroundings, but I swear this tastes so much better than anything you'll find at the German markets.

My favourite part of the afternoon tea was the dessert. For someone with a huge sweet tooth, this was heavenly. I was given desserts from the special Birmingham Afternoon Tea menu, as you can see from the addition of Cadburys chocolate and Birds custard. The chocolate bombe was basically death by chocolate, and rather than eating this delicately with a spoon I unashamedly ended up with sticky fingers! The mousse was delightful and a lighter dessert to balance out the naughty bombe, and the lime chiboust was again, lovely and light.

Festive afternoon tea is a real treat, and if you can make the time to go before Christmas, I'd highly recommend a trip to the Hyatt Regency.

*I dined as a guest of the Hyatt Regency hotel.

Thursday 26 November 2015

Food Review: Buffalo and Rye

Buffalo and Rye has been in the works for a little while now. The latest stablemate in the Bitters and Twisted family, there have been whispers of a whisky joint opening in Birmingham since summer.

Finally, I was lucky enough to be one of the first few people to experience Buffalo and Rye.

Buffalo and Rye is a whisky and American food joint, complete with cocktails, burgers, ribs, hotdogs and pancakes.

We got to try out food, and drink, and even watch a mini cocktail masterclass in action.

Tom, the General Manager, was the first to welcome us into the venue. Smaller than any other Bitters and Twisted venue, Buffalo and Rye is located right next door to sister venue Bodega. The interior heavily features wood along with plenty of quirky touches such as the 60's futuristic bar stools and mini Star Wars figurines, as well as Americana inspired soda cans and an overall industrial feel.

As a welcome we chose a cocktail each from the Elderflower Fizz mocktail (I chose this one and loved it, very refreshing) and a Mountain Dew Collins. I really wanted this, because I used to love Mountain Dew!

In addition to cocktails, we were able to try a wide selection of dishes on the menu including the Buffalo Black Burger Kale and Butternut Squash salad, Pimp Doggy, Pancakes with Maple Syrup and Bacon, Pancakes with Blueberry Jam, Maple Syrup and Clotted Cream, Pancakes with Caramelised Bananas, Cinnamon Toffee Sauce and Chocolate Sauce, Buffalo Chicken Wings, Chilli Cheese Fries, Parmesan and Truffle Oil Fries and Smoky Beans.

First off, we tried the Buffalo Wings. I have to say, I don't normally eat wings but I made an exception for these. Thankfully, they were neither too messy nor too spicy for my taste. So often, wings are crazy hot, but these were just the ride side of spicy and there was Pip's Hot Sauce on the table ready for anyone who needs a little extra kick. The sauce was flavoursome and the wings were generously sized.

Next, the hotdogs. Sadly I didn't try these but here's a picture for you; very American right?

The chilli fries topped with cheese were heavenly. Don't think of the calories, but what a treat when you do fancy a blowout. There was plenty of sauce and lots of french fries buried underneath too.

Smoky Beans, a combination of beans and pit meat, was delightful and full of rich smoky flavours.

How about a double beef patty with black pudding wedged in the middle and smothered in cheese, sauce and onions? Sounds like it shouldn't be allowed to taste good, but oh boy, this was unexpectedly fabulous. I don't even like black pudding, but in this guise I was so sold.

For something completely different, we also tried a Kale Salad. Unbelievably, I thoroughly enjoyed this. Perhaps I was feeling guilty. As well as kale there was also chickpeas, roasted butternut squash, pine nuts and feta cheese in this dish. This was healthy and super tasty too, and I would definitely order this again.

Out came a whole host of pancakes so we could try the brunch selection. If you're having a lazy weekend, I can imagine this would be fantastic alongside a bottomless coffee which is also available at just £1.75.

Finally, the cocktail masterclass. We were shown and then able to taste, the Apricot Smash and Bourbon Honey Mule. I tried the former, mainly because it has apricot jam in it. This was pretty strong and definitely for whisky lovers. The Bourbon Honey Mule was slightly sweeter, with Angostura bitters and ginger beer.

Buffalo and Rye don't take bookings for groups of under six, but they do offer you a discounted drink at Bodega if you're waiting for a table.

Buffalo and Rye is located on Bennett's Hill.

*I was invited to try out the new menu as a guest of the venue

Saturday 21 November 2015

Event: Style Birmingham Live

Style Birmingham Live 2015 was held on the busiest weekend in the city's history. Ok that may not be a fact but it felt like it. On the same weekend that saw John Lewis and Grand Central open, the Birmingham Weekender, Rugby World Cup Fanzone and matches and more happening, I decided to take the stylish route and visit Style Birmingham.

Hosted by Mark Wright and stylist Mark Heyes, Birmingham Museum's Gas Hall was turned into a catwalk showcasing the best of AW15 trends.

The full list of trends shown is here:

Masculine Chic
Pastel 60's

Lavish Alice

American Heritage
Haute Hippie

Tweed with a Twist

Red Hues

Vintage Mix

Drama Queen


Winter Florals
Cutting Edge Fashion

80's Remix

There was also a hair tutorial demonstrated by Francesco Group hairdressers, where hair grips were used to create a head piece.

Not only did I get to watch the catwalk show, but I also visited the Backstage Beauty event at House of Fraser to see Amy Conway, Bobbi Brown Pro Artist for the UK and Ireland present her makeup masterclass.

Style Birmingham was so much fun, I can't wait for next year!