Thursday 28 September 2017

Food Review: Fiesta del Asado

Fiesta del Asado is a rare jewel in the city. The upmarket steak house is part of the Birmingham-based Lasan Group, the name behind Nosh + Quaff, Raja Monkey, Izza Pizza and of course Lasan.

The Argentinian steak house, the first to open in Birmingham, has a loyal following and is well known for its steak, all of which is seasoned with their house dry rub and served with fresh chimichurri.

Dining on a Monday night, I was surprised to see that the restaurant was still busy with groups of work colleagues and the occasional couple.

Taking a seat at the front of the restaurant, in the bay window, I started off with a full-bodied glass of Rioja to whet my appetite.

Wanting to save ourselves for mains, my companion ordered a few nibbles including the Jamon iberico de bellota (£6.89) and pimientos del padron (£2.99). The peppers come pan-fried and salted, whilst the jamon came neatly laid out on the plate and is from free-range, acorn fed animals that have been cured for three years minimum.

Onto the main event; the steak. There are so many places to eat steak in the city now, but Fiesta del Asado was indeed an early player on the scene. There's plenty of choice from the smallest steak, the 8oz bavette to the largest, the 20oz marucha sin hueso, taken from the feather muscle, chuck and blade. 

There is even a hearty 40oz steak for sharing, the bife de costilla which comes in at £55.99. 

I opted for the 10oz sirloin as I prefer a leaner cut, whilst my companion opted for a very modest 8oz bavette.  I also added a fried egg, as is traditional, and we ordered a side of fries. 

As I was choosing my steak, the waitress was incredibly helpful when it came to understanding my preferences, and advising based on size and cut. This level of knowledge is something that truly marks an eatery out as specialist, and it's safe to say that the staff here were well versed in cut and cooking.  

What can I tell you about the steak? Well for starters, let's talk about the seasoning. Yes, the steak itself may look plain, but it is in fact full of flavour. Remember that rub I mentioned earlier? Although I couldn't say what's in it, let's just say that it is beyond doubt, one of the tastiest, most flavoursome steaks I have ever eaten. Add to this the fresh chimichurri and that delightful oozing egg, and there is plenty more than just steak going on here.

I would advise ordering a side each at least, as the steak's do come with salad and a little roasted vegetable, but if you have a larger appetite it's well worth adding on the very reasonably prices extras. 

The fries also deserve a special mention, for their delightful seasoning of salt and parsley. These crispy fries were very moreish, and we couldn't stop nibbling on these even after the steak was just a memory.

For desserts, alas there is not much by way of gluten free, so I opted for a double espresso.

What makes Fiesta del Asado stand out? For me it's the service, attentive staff, and unforgettably seasoned steak. Next time, I'm coming back for the bad boy itself, the 40oz bife de costilla, and I may not need any help.

*My meal at Fiesta del Asado was complimentary. 

Friday 15 September 2017

Event: Chung Ying Blogger's Banquet

Chung Ying Garden is one of Birmingham's best known Chinese restaurants, with a reputation that stretches back over 30 years.

I was invited to sample nearly 100 dim sum at the Chinatown restaurant alongside some of Birmingham's finest food bloggers.

Famed for the variety of dim sum on offer, Chung Ying Garden serves up nearly 400 different dim sum, and we were able to try nearly 100 of these on the night.

Above the main restaurant on Thorp Street is a banqueting suite that's available for private hire. A great location for birthday's and celebrations, the room is big enough for a sizeable function.

After a welcome drink, we were seated at the table and the food began to come in. One by one, each dish was laid out on two long tables, and it was clear that nobody would be leaving hungry.

As a gluten free diner, William Wong was able to easily talk me through each dish and exactly which ones I could and couldn't eat. Many of the dumpling dishes are made from rice and not wheat, with the tell-tale sign being that many of these where white and steamed.

Char Siu Braised Noodles

Chicken Feet

It was great to see someone so knowledgable available to guide me through the menu which made the whole experience so much easier; thank you William!

Dry Beef Ho Fun

Egg White and Diced Vegetable Fried Rice

Singapore Noodles

Seafood Fried Udon

Onto the dishes; there are too many to go through individually, but I will share with you my favourites and also some of the more unusual dishes.

Singapore Noodles

Some of my favourites included the Pan Fried Turnip Paste, King Prawn and Vegetable Crystal Dumplings, Steamed Beef with Ginger and Spring Onion, Dry Beef Ho Fun, Steamed King Prawn Dumplings and Singapore Noodles.

Steamed King Prawn Dumplings

I tried the Ox Tendons and this may sound scary, but was actually delicious. Similarly, who knew that Pan Fried Turnip Paste could be so delightful? It was sweet and had a great texture; don't be afraid to try either next time you're in!

Steamed "Rabbit" King Prawn Dumplings

Steamed Sponge Cake

Won Ton Soup Noodles

Some of the more unusual dishes included Chicken Feet (I tried just a tiny bit of this but sorry guys, I still can't stomach it!) and Steamed Honeycomb Tripe in Satay Sauce (sorry, I couldn't even try this!)

Steamed Ox Tripe with Ginger and Spring Onions

Steamed Ox Tendons

There was also Congee on offer, a kind of rice porridge, which was a very healthy option and something I have never seen before.

It was great to try so many new dishes at Chung Ying Central and the hospitality was, as always, a pleasure. The team and dirctors here are incredibly friendly, helpful and knowledgable, and I always thoroughly enjoy my time at any of the Chung Ying Group restaurants.

*Thank you for the invite EV Agency and Chung Ying. I was invited to dine as a guest of the restaurant.

Monday 11 September 2017

Event: Malmaison Hotel Birmingham Shake It Up SPArty and Cocktail Making

Work + Play is Birmingham Malmaison Hotel's recently launched event space. Whether it's for board meetings or birthday's, Work + Play is a great space for both.

I was recently invited to attend an event called Shake It Up at Malmaison Birmingham by EV Agency, an evening of manicures, blow dry's, makeovers and cocktail making, all whilst enjoying dishes from the summer menu.

For a food and beauty obsessive like me, this is as close to heaven as you can get!

Making my way up from the bar area to the Work + Play space, I was greeted by the EV team, a host of Birmingham bloggers and a glass of fizz.

Here, it was explained that we would be able to make cocktails to match our mani's, what more could a girl ask for?

Moving into the main space, I headed towards the BLOW Ltd station for a quick hair refresh. The girls are so efficient and it took just 20 minutes to get my glam over!

Next, I had a peek at the ESPA stand, the products which are used in the Malmaison spa, and was able to try out a custom blend of ESPA products including the Skin Rescue Balm, Tri-Active Advanced Night Booster and Essential Cleansing Mask.

I skipped the mani as there was just too many other stands to visit, but the manicures all came out looking shiny and beautiful. Here's Ting from The Ting Thing having her nails attended to:

Next, I tried out the products from CoverFX for the first time, and was so impressed I rushed straight out to buy them!

Now for the food, we were able to try out some delicious dishes from the Summer menu, and the team were extremely helpful in identifying what I could and couldn't eat as a gluten free guest, and even whipped up something special for me!

This was the platter of mains that was laid out before us, and it was as delicious as it looked! The dishes included Summer Minestrone Soup, Poached Salmon Hollandaise, Summer Vegetable and Cherry Tomato Linguine and Chargrilled Chicken Breast and crunchy Thai Salad.

Although I couldn't eat all of it, I was bought a special gluten free version of the Smoked Mackerel Pate and the Slow Roasted Beef Brisket.

Both of these dishes were beautifully presented and created especially to cater for my dietary requirements. They were absolutely delicious and I wouldn't hesitate to go back and dine at the Malmaison Brasserie just to try these again. The beef in particular was simply divine and I would recommend it if you are planning to try the Summer Fixed Price Menu.

Onto dessert, there was Banoffee Cheesecake, Warm Steamed Summer Pudding and Berries and Mascarpone laid out for us to try. Without even asking, I was offered the Berries and Mascarpone without the shortbread crumb. This was by far one of the best gluten free dining experiences I have ever received and the level of service and attention to detail was second to none.

There was also a spot of cocktail making on the menu that was pretty amusing! If you watched my InstaStory on the night you would have seen that we were in a very giggly mood. Here's me with my finished cocktail:

We had a fantastic evening and it was great to get a rounded view of everything that Malmaison has to offer, from food and cocktails to facials and manicures.

*Thank you to East Village and Malmaison for the invitation.