Thursday, 20 July 2017

La Belle Assiette

A few weeks ago I spent a lovely evening with friends, chatting lots and eating delicious food. The best thing about it was that this was all in my own living room. 

Hosting a dinner party is the sort of thing I've imagined doing but always seems like a bit of a hassle- buying all the food, cooking and then the washing up- urgh!  

Hiring a private chef doesn't seem like the sort of thing normal folks do. Luckily, La Belle Assiette make it straightforward to find a local chef, who will have menus to choose from, will talk to you by phone or email about preferences and requirements, turn up at a time of your choice, cook a delicious meal (plenty of cuisines available) and do the washing up! The costs are per head and more reasonable than you'd expect at around £39 a head.

My dinner party was cooked and served by the lovely Suzanne Russell who cooks stylish modern European food. She previously worked at one of my favourite Birmingham restaurants Annexe (sadlu due to close) and now works as a private chef and caterer.

We spoke on the phone and I let her know about my guests' dietary requirements and what time I could be there to let her in. She arrived around two hours before the meal was due to start, with an exciting box of goodies. It was such a treat to have a professional working in my kitchen, filling the flat with beautiful aromas of garlic.

My flat isn't really set up for dinner parties, but I pulled the folding table out and gathered chairs up. Luckily Suzanne set the table with her own props such as candles, flowers and napkins, giving it such a restaurant feel. She put out some delicious olives, bread and oil for us too.

Our first course was a pea veloute, served with a little crab, chilli and broad bean topped toast. A fresh and light start to the meal. Everyone polished it off. One of my friends can't have peas so she had a butternut squash veloute instead- I've never seen anyone finish a bowl so quickly!

The fish course was scallops. I could smell these being cooked and it made my mouth water. The scallops were perfectly cooked, a little garlicky, with pearl barley, salsa verde and tenderstem brocoli. Give me this every day please.

The presentation was beautiful too: simple and elegant.

It was lovely to watch Suzanne plating up the main course, carefully selecting the rainbow chard she'd grown herself.

The main was one of my favourite things: pork fillet wrapped in prosciutto, carrot, rainbow chard and beautifully smooth garlic mash.

Pudding was a delightful gingerbread cake with candied pistachios, pistachio cream, a giant, gorgeous slab of honeycomb and ginger limoncello. What a perfect dessert- sweet but not heavy, light but indulgent.

I can't recommend La Belle Assiette and Suzanne enough. It's all very straightforward to organise through the website. I'd recommend it for any special occasion where you want to gather friends and loved ones and share a delicious meal with them. So if you'd like to hire a private chef in Birmingham then take a look at the website.

My previous La Belle Assiette experience.

Photos by Helen.

Food was complimentary for review purposes. 

Monday, 17 July 2017

Tapas Revolution

I've been a big fan of Tapas Revolution since they came to Birmingham with Grand Central. I liked the simple and consistent menu and the casual feel. How could they improve? Why, with cocktails of course.

I went along to sip some of the new creations along with some tapas. What could be better?

The cocktails are Spanish twists on classics, made with good quality alcohol and not overly reliant on fruit juice. First, a Pimento and Mandarin Daquiri (£8.50) and a Sparkling Rose Margarita (£7.50). The Daquiri is rum, mandarin and melon and allspice liqueur. The Margarita was tequila, Aperol, rose water, lemon sherbet and raspberry fizz. Both were zingy, fruity and summery with plenty of alcohol.

Second round of drinks were the Blood Orange and Cherry Royal (£7.50) and a Veterano Julep (£8). The former is gin, lemon and the allspice liqueur, topped with Cava. This was splendid and really unusual.
The Julep was made with Brandy, strawberry and pomegranate. This one was a little too fruity for me. I prefer something stronger.

To line the stomach, there was tapas, of course. My favourite Padron Peppers (£4.95) cod with capers and sun dried tomato,  a seasonal salad with peas, potato, asparagus and egg.

More must-trys: octopus with sauteed potato and lots of paprika, super crispy pork belly in a rich, sweet and spicy sauce.

I always enjoy my trips to Tapas Revolution. The food is consistently good, fresh and feels authentic. I shared five tapas dishes and this was plenty for a summer dinner. Expect to pay around £6 per dish and you can be in and out in an hour.

Tapas Revolution

Photos by Helen and Edd

Food and drink were complimentary for review purposes.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

June in Food

Bits and bobs I didn't write about in June.

A clever idea, in which you watch a classic film and buy a matched beer to go with it. I watched High Fidelity with an Island Records Session IPA. The film itself was interesting. I liked the music and its sideways look at relationships. The beer was just my type of thing; light and a little fruity. 

I spent a sunny evening drinking white wine and nibbling on delicious Thai food at Sabai Sabai to celebrate their new summer menu and the news that they will soon be opening a restaurant in the city centre. 

Highlights were sweetcorn fritters, crispy squid, salad cups and sticky chicken with rice.

Always delightful. I chose smoked salmon with cream cheese and a bottle of iced tea.