Sunday, 26 June 2016

Event: RVT Two Cats Takeover

There's been so many exciting events and takeovers recently. I love a takeover or pop up as you generally get to try something different or it's an easy way to try a place you've been meaning to go to.

This event is in the former category.

Saying that, this event was catered by Two Cats, who I reviewed before, so I'd had some of the food previously.

We were at Rose Villa Tavern for an afternoon of Russian food, drink and tradition. Food by Two Cats, drinks using Snow Queen Vodka and this event was put together by I Choose Birmingham. It was inspired by a scene in House of Cards when Frank Underwood sniffs bread, eats pickles and drinks vodka.

It made sense that it was held at Rose Villa Tavern as they have over 100 vodkas.

We sat at our shared table and took a look at the menu. I was expecting vodka and a few snacks, not a full on meal!

First we were presented with sourdough bread, pickles, smoked butter and salo, which is cured fat (and also the name of a horrid sounding film when you google it).

I tried pickles with vodka last time I was at RVT and the whole thing makes complete sense.

So you sniff the warm, rich bread, drink the crisp vodka and eat a sharp pickle. I love this tradition- it's the sort of thing Edd and I would get our friends to do when they come over!

Next up, the Haladnik, a kind of gazpacho. In the restaurant it was much prettier but this one tasted just as good. Check out my review of Two Cats to see the prettier version!

We were given a martini with a bit of a twist. I do like a straightforward classic martini, but this one hadn't been messed with too much. Vodka, vermouth and the twist of lemon bitters. It was still crisp and clear but with a slight edge of something else.

More food! Something I haven't had before and something I have had. I hadn't tried the Russian Fur Coat Salad before and I was a little apprehensive. When it turned up though, it looked so beautiful with generous chunks of herring on top of a pile of potato salad. The fish was lovely, not too salty, but salty enough to cut through the rich potato and mayonnaise.

Next, pelmeni, which are little goats cheese dumplings in a sweet onion and garlic broth. Again, I've tried these before in the restaurant and they are delicious but a lot prettier when they haven't got hundreds to make!

We were also given our second cocktail, a long drink of vodka and tonic with diced radish and micro amaranth. Believe it or not this was a bit of an acquired taste.

I like to think I'm up for different flavours but I did find this a bit of a struggle. It was like a salad in a drink. Initially I found it quite refreshing but only really wanted to drink about half. It was an interesting experience but not one I would be choosing again.

But the food wasn't over! We still had smoked beef stroganoff. I find stroganoff a little too heavy but I did enjoy the smoky flavours and the hearty grains it was served with. 

Finally we tried the Snow Queen vodka chilled, with lemon balm for fragrance. I'm really getting into vodka at the moment, particularly chilled. Having it chilled makes it a little easier to drink neat though this doesn't let all the flavours come through. Snow Queen is one of the new vodkas coming through, with the clean, crispness you expect from vodka but with a rounded, almost creamy finish. 

Finally, there was a competition to win a magnum of vodka. Unfortunately I did not win but it was fun to join in.

Such an interesting afternoon. I left feeling well fed and like I could have just had a nap in the pub! This is the second I Choose event I've attended ( the first was at Butcher's Social) but this one was under the banner of their events company Crushed and Cubed.

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Two Cats Kitchen
Rose Villa Tavern 

Monday, 20 June 2016

Review: The High Field

When Edd and I tried the new High Field Town House a couple of weeks ago, we obviously had to book in for dinner at the pub next door and try their new summer menu.

The restaurant was lit with the evening sun and full of groups of friends and couples having a lovely time.

We picked a couple of G&Ts (later moving onto Aperol Spritz) and browsed the menu.

There was plenty of seasonal veg and local meat. I usually go for a salad at The High Field but Edd and I decided to go for a sharer board as a starter.

The Butcher's Board (£14.75) was a generous starter for two but would work for three too. I can also imagine sharing this for lunch. It consisted of pulled chicken sliders on brioche buns, salt beef croquettes, rare roast beef, air dried pork, chutney and bread. The air dried ham was from Dorset- it was great to have English ham. The croquettes were fantastic  and worked very well with the cornichons. 

As well as the Butcher's Board there is also a fish board and veggie board, both of which sound lovely. 

For my main, I went for the special, a twist on fish and chips. This was a generous portion! Pan fried fish (sea bass? They did tell me) soft shell crab, pee puree and plenty of chunky chips. After my giant starter, I didn't quite get through this but I loved the fish, fresh pea puree and the watercress dotted around. Plus chips are always a bonus.

Edd chose lamb cutlets with minted potato gnocchi (£19.75). I had been eyeing this up as I love lamb cutlets but I'd been worried it would be too heavy. Happily for Edd, it was a surprisingly light dish. The gnocchi was very unusual, as the edges were more charred than I would expect, plus the interesting addition of mint. Nevertheless, they were light and tasty. The lamb was perfectly cooked of course and the mint and pea accompaniments kept things fresh.

I was very full but I made room for Pimms jelly and gin and tonic ice cream. This was just as fun, fruity and summery as you would expect.

Edd chose Eton Mess- cream, berries and meringue. It was sweetly (hipsterly?) served in a kilner jar but really there's not much you can do to mess up an Eton Mess so it was creamy, sweet and delicious.

Our bellies full and happy, we headed over to The Edgbaston for end of night cocktails. I really enjoyed my Miss Beauregarde, inspired by Violet from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. A delicate, floral drink with an edible golden ticket on the side.

Edd and I had a lovely evening in Edgbaston. You can also read about my stay at The High Field's new boutique hotel.

Photos by Edd and myself.

Food was complimentary, we paid for drinks. 

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Event: Island Bar with Brumderland

The final Brumderland event took place at Island Bar. Island Bar was the first Bitters and Twisted venue to open and one I have been to on many an occasion. Upstairs is a tiki bar and downstairs is more of an 80's vibe.

Our event was taking place in the tiki bar. We were greeted with a banana colada which was a twist on a pina colada made with fresh banana. I don't usually like pina coladas but the banana made it much fresher.

They've really gone for the fun tiki theme- everywhere you look there are lots of little touches.

 There were a few activities set up, including cocktail making at the bar.

We were shown how to make a classic Rum Runner, Made with rum, blackcurrant and banana liqueurs and orange juice, this drink was shaken then strained over ice.

Shaking cocktails is always good fun.

Here's me with Emily of Good Girl Gone Brum shaking up a storm.

Next, it was time to try layering a shot. I've done this before with a spoon (you pour the spirits carefully and they layer) but Island Bar showed how you can do it without a spoon as long as you have the correct amounts of each spirit. We made a B52 which is Baileys, Kahlua and sugar syrup.

I was so proud of my layered shot! It was kahlua, followed by sugar syrup followed by baileys- it had to be this way or it wouldn't work.

Next we made a Flaming Mo, which is an extremely sweet concoction set on fire.

Using the blow torch was amazing fun if a little terrifying.

I've always loved Island Bar so it was great to have a go at making my own drinks. It's a great place to dance and drink on a Saturday evening but it's also great to hang out there mid-week when it's a little more chilled out.

Thanks to the two Vickys for arranging all these fantastic events at the Bitters and Twisted venues. I have now visited all of them and have discovered some new favourites.

Island Bar, Suffolk Street, Birmingham

Photos by myself and Edd.

Drinks were complimentary,