Tuesday, 6 December 2016

November in Food

Foodie photos from my phone last month.

Whisky tasting and dinner at The Plough

Did you know they have a wine tasting school at The Plough called Spit? Edd and I headed over to Harborne to meet a friend for dinner and then for a Whisky and chocolate pairing.

For dinner I had vegan quinoa chilli with avocado cream and a massive pile of flatbread. It was delicious. I'd just been to the dentist the day before and didn't want anything too chewy. I wouldn't have chosen this dish usually but it was spicy, tasty, almost sweet. Loved the avocado cream too. Oh and I ended up taking the flatbread to work the next day!


The whisky tasting was great too, though I'm far too good at drinking neat alcohol these days. 


Brunch at York's

Is it a month if I haven't had something at York's? Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, chai tea and extra beans!


Gift from Dad

You know how my Dad likes to get me random food occasionally. Last month he brought me some Dairylee lunchables and I very much enjoyed them.


Christmas Costa

I have a lunchtime Costa at least twice a week and I've been working my way through the Christmas specials. Honeycomb latte is defo my favourite. Bonus shot of my classroom too.


Hot vimto

Twitter BLEW UP when I put this on there. By which I mean, a couple of people asked me where I got it from. Obviously, gift from Dad.


Keg and Grill

Lots of naan, pilau rice and chicken curry after a swim, what a joy.


Edwardian Tearooms at BMAG

Just a lovely place to spend time.


All the Deliveroo

I don't know what happened last month but I had a LOT of Deliveroos. I suddenly realised that they don't have to be giant burgers and I could, of course, have a salad. With chips, obvs.



Birmingham German Market

I don't care what you think; it's not Christmas if I haven't had my chocolate covered fruit on a stick.


All food and drink paid for myself.

Photos taken on my phone. 

Saturday, 26 November 2016

The Master and Martini


I've attended many a cocktail masterclass now and they do tend to be aimed at beginners. So it was rather lovely to attend a grown up afternoon at 40 St Pauls, learning about one of my favourite drinks, the martini.

Let's be clear; these were proper martinis. Gin or vodka, vermouth, bitters and a garnish.


We spent the afternoon in the company of cocktail genius Rob Wood and other martini fans.



We started with a modern vodka martini, sweetly served with a little Japanese olive boiled sweet. Sounds bizarre, tasted surprisingly good.



We tried a variety of gin martinis after this, from the early vermouth-heavy ones, up to the drier martinis we expect today. I do like a dry martini but I'd never really thought about having bitters in my martini before.






We were then able to mix our own martini! Rob provided us with a variety of gins, vermouths, bitters and garnishes.


Edd and I worked together to make a dry gin martini, with Plymouth gin, dry vermouth, lemon bitters and a pickled onion. Don't scoff- a pickled onion in a martini is a thing of beauty. It's called a Gibson, look it up. Maybe don't go straight for this if you've never had a martini though.


I learnt lots that afternoon and am looking forward to experimenting with bitters, putting a tad more vermouth in my martinis, keeping my vermouth in the fridge and never-ever wiping the lemon rind round the rim of the glass.


40 St Pauls

Rob's new venture Smultronstalle

Tickets were complimentary in return for Edd's stellar photography.

Photos by Helen and Edd

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

New York Day Two


Finally, a post about New York! I'll be blogging about my New York trip day by day as there is too much to possibly fit into one post. Naturally, expect a lot of food and cocktails as that's my thing, but there will be sightseeing too.

We were staying in the Lower East Side, so a great deal of my food and drink will be focused in this area. Eventually I plan to do a little round up of the area, but that will be after I've gone through each day.

My decision to stay in the LES came from wanting to be in Manhattan but not too close to Midtown. I don't like staying in heavily touristy areas as the food and drink options tend to be expensive and not very good. I wasn't in New York for shopping, to go to Hard Rock cafe or Bubba Gump Shrimp or whatever. Anything else in the Midtown area could be reached by subway.

The Lower East Side is a really interesting area historically. There will be more on that in later posts, but I mention it because of where I went for brunch on the first day.

Russ and Daughters Cafe


The Lower East Side was traditionally an area of European immigrants. The Russ family moved from a town which is now in Poland, to New York at the turn of the last century. Russ and Daughters shop was set up in 1914, selling traditional Jewish foods such as lox, bagels etc. & Daughters was added to the title in 1933 and is possibly the first shop with &Daughters in the title!

Anyway, they a cafe in 2014 on Orchard Street and it is a pleasing mix of local history and modern tastes. We turned up just as they opened on Friday morning, were seated and given water. It was a little like walking into the past- very light and white, with faux marble tables, ceiling fans over head and an open kitchen where you can see all the bread and fish. There was a beautiful smell in the air. Edd ordered a coffee and I chose a green tea, despite the cocktails looking very appealing.


Everything sounded amazing and it was difficult to choose. Edd chose Eggs Benny ($18) which was smoked salmon and spinach on Challah bread, topped with two poached eggs and a lovely light hollandaise. Challah is a Jewish braided bread; we found it similar to Brioche.




I chose Lower Sunny Side ($16) which was lots of delicious smoked salmon, two perfectly fried eggs and sweet potato latkes, kind of like a tasty potato rosti. This sort of thing is just what I want for breakfast. Also aren't those the prettiest eggs you've ever seen?


That's my happy face.



Shake Shack

After breakfast, we got ourselves American sim cards from t-mobile (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) and then walked up towards mid-town. We had no real aim for this first day.


We weren't even looking for food but we came across Shake Shack at Madison Square Park and became excited. The queue didn't look so bad so we got ourselves into it. We were given menus to look at as we queued but it actually went quite fast.

It was at the Shake Shack till that I realised the New Yorkers had no idea what Edd and I were saying. This isn't something I'd anticipated. Later I realised that we were smiling too much. Seriously. I found the Shake Shack ordering experience weirdly stressful considering it's a small menu and fast food.


Anyway, we finally placed the order, paid and were handed a buzzer thing which you take round the corner and wait until it buzzes.


Edd had the SmokeShack, a cheese and bacon burger with chopped red pepper. I had the classic ShackBurger, which was a cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato and 'ShackSauce'. We also shared a portion of their crinkle cut chips.


I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed eating my burger in the sun, sipping an iced tea and looking at the little birds hopping about the place. Complete contentment!

Now can we have one in Birmingham please?


It was getting rather warm at this point and we'd walked a lot. We walked a little further uptown and found the Empire State Building. Obligatory photos taken, we decided it was time to head back to our apartment.


10 Below

It really wasn't necessary to eat anymore but 10 Below was right next door to our apartment building and it seemed rude not to. 10 Below is one of the shops serving up Thai Ice Cream Rolls; a New York foodie trend that was all over instagram this summer. Give me this over Freak Shakes any day!


Basically, you pick your ice cream flavour from the board, order it and give your name (they were still struggling to understand me at this point so I ended up with the wrong flavour and name). Then you get called over to a station and they make your rolls. Cream and your flavour of choice (such as fresh fruit, biscuits or syrup) are chopped on a chilled work surface, spread out and rolled up. You can then choose sauces and toppings. Watch this video for a better idea!

Mine was Chips Ahoy! flavoured with condensed milk, strawberries and bear biscuits. Obviously it was just ice cream, but with an interesting texture from the rolls and the flavours were fun. I wish I'd been able to go back but queues were heading out of the door everytime we walked past.


September Wine

Something which threw us was that supermarkets don't sell wine or spirits in New York. Edd and I are used to popping to a supermarket on holiday and buying a bottle of wine. Instead, you can buy beer from a convenience store, or head to an off-license. We headed to an off-license/liquor store and purchased some lovely Brooklyn vodka, long since gone now of course.


One of the things I enjoyed in New York was buying bits and bobs from the shop that you couldn't get at home, so we brought some lemonade and flavoured sparkling water. I didn't love either or feel like I was missing out so that was good.


A few drinks in us, we got ready and headed out to Sweet Chick.


At Sweet Chick, we tried out or new technique of not smiling at people when we talked and it worked really well! How depressing. 

Anyway, Sweet Chick is a really cool bar and fried chicken restaurant. They sell a variety of chicken and waffles amongst other things. 


We were seated at the bar, which made us feel initially awkward but then very relaxed. We loved the serious booze-led cocktails (All around $12). My Queen of New York looks pretty and light but had a good quick of Cognac. Later we asked for Negroni's (not on the menu) and these were perfect too.



So, onto the chicken and waffles. As I said, these come in a variety of options; not all ones you'd be expecting. They even flavour the waffles accordingly.


Edd chose Fried Chicken Parmesan ($18). The fried chicken was topped with a tomato sauce and absolutely loads of mozzarella. The waffles were sun dried tomato and basil flavour. I wasn't expecting the cheese to work with the chicken but it was a gooey treat. 


Meanwhile I had to go for Buffalo Fried Chicken ($18). This was the crunchiest, tastiest chicken I've ever had, in a glorious hot and tangy Buffalo sauce. The waffles had chunks of carrot and celery in and were light and a great compliment to the chicken. The blue cheese sprinkled on top was unnecessary for me, but I'm not a big blue cheese fan. Anyway, nothing could overshadow the joy of the chicken. I still think about it sometimes. 


Russ and Daughters (127 Orchard Street)
Shake Shack (Madison Square Park)
10 Below (132 Allen Street)
Sweet Chick  (178 Ludlow Street)

Photos by Helen and Edd.

All food and drink paid for ourselves.