Monday, 2 May 2016

Review: MinMin Noodles via Deliveroo

I've had these photos saved for some while so I can't remember the exact circumstances in which I ordered this meal. I'm imagining it was a Friday evening, there was nothing in the fridge and I said "sod it we're having a Deliveroo and I want noodles. What haven't we tried before?"

Minmin noodles it was! Minmin is a noodle bar not far from me near the Arcadian. It appears modern, casual and popular from outside but I've never actually been. Spoiler alert: It's now on my list.

I only wanted noodles but my eyes were caught by the starters. I chose Salt and Chilli Pepper Chicken Wings (£4.50), which were coated in flour, deep fried and served with a kind of chilli salsa. Although they weren't as crispy as they would be after the journey, the coating was lovely, the meat was plentiful and there was a gentle heat running through.

Edd picked the mysteriously named MinMin Skewers (£4.50). We knew it was something in panko breadcrumbs with wasabi mayo and peanut sauce. When we opened the box there were an assortment of breadcrumbed shapes and sizes. These included a king prawn, aubergine and halloumi. It was quite fun to guess what each was going to be, though not the best for those with dietary requirements!

The panko breadcrumbs remained amazingly crunchy and the foods inside were not overcooked.

Onto my noodles. I chose Udon noodles (£7.80) with Chinese Triple Roast and Edd had the same but with fried rice (£7.80). These turned up in giant, sturdy tubs, perfect for sitting on the sofa with while watching a film on a lazy Friday. As well as generous portions of char sui pork, pork belly and delicious roast duck, there were plenty of crunchy vegetables too.

At less than £30 including the Deliveroo fee, this was a bit of a bargain. The food turned up hot and fresh and well packaged. Only the chicken wings suffered slightly in delivery. This was also some of the best packaging I've had from a Deliveroo order- I love when you can eat directly from it!

Did you know Deliveroo has been in Birmingham a year now? It's become one of my favourite treats. Birthdays, Fridays, hard day at work days... I love being able to get restaurant quality food which I can eat in my PJs! I also like the mix of big chains and quality independents (like Min Min).

I met up with the community manager for Deliveroo Birmingham last week and he had lots of exciting news to share with me, including plans for special lunch deals and picnic hampers for the summer. I'll share more when I know more.

More importantly: If you haven't tried Deliveroo yet and you're in the catchment area (pop your postcode in on the home page to find out) you should definitely give it a go. You can use my referral link to get £5 off your first delivery


MinMin Noodles, Bromsgrove Street, Birmingham 

Photos by Edd

All food paid for myself.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

The Botanist turns one and launches new cocktail menu

The Botanist! Since it launched to great hysteria last year, it's been pretty much packed every day. I've tried to visit on more than one occasion with a friend or with my mum only to find a long wait for food or no tables. Safe to say it's been pretty popular.

A great deal of The Botanist's popularity comes from its pretty, green house style aesthetics. This isn't going to be for everyone- many have dismissed it as gimmicky. I don't mind a gimmick and I like the atmosphere in The Botanist. I've only eaten there a couple of times and it's basically up graded pub grub. Which I enjoy, especially when with my non-foodie friends. The prawn skewer is top notch. 

Another thing I like about The Botanist is the nightly live music, which gives it a great atmosphere. Onto the focus of this post though- the drinks.

In the Easter holidays I went to their first birthday celebration where I had a few of their signature cocktails, which I talked about in my post about their cocktail master class (which is highly recommendable). 

We also had a little tray of canapes which were actually rather nice. There was also a lovely cake, which we all took a slice of, wrapped in a napkin of course.

It was a very nice evening and I fully enjoyed the atmosphere, the music and the company.

A week or so later and I was back for a preview of their new cocktail menu. For the apparently few people in Birmingham who haven't visited, they have a massive cocktail menu, mainly fruity and floral twists on classics.

The menu has been re-designed to make it easier to spot what you want. It is now split into flutes, martinis, long, short and classics.

There is also a rather sweet gin list- with a gin from every area of the country that The Botanist has opened in. Birmingham is, of course, represented by Langley's.

The Botanist have lovely glassware and very pretty presentation. Every drink that came out looked exciting and made you wonder what it was. Prices are standard for city centre cocktails, between £7 and £10 depending what you order.

We were talked through the new menu by Aaron, who is one of the team behind the cocktails. There is a very clear vision. They know their customer- what they like, what they're comfortable with and what can be pushed.

We went through ten samples of cocktails from across the menu.

The Lemon Balm Tini was one of my favourites. I'm all for a grown up drink, but sometimes you want something that tastes like lemon sherberts.

Blackberry and Mint Julep seemed to be popular around the group. The whiskey was in there but not so much to frighten off non-whiskey drinkers.

We also tried one of their mocktails, a Berry Good Time, which was super fruity and not immediately obvious that it was a mocktail compred to the other drinks.

The most popular drink around the table was the Apricot and Mint Daiquiri, from the Classic Botany section. I love the look of a lot of the drinks in this section- I didn't get to try a Rosemary Negroni but I'm definitely going for it next time I'm there.

My personal favourite was the Vodka Martini. I'm very into Martinis at the moment and I tensed a little at the idea of it being messed with! But the slight hint of lemon balm and a kaffir lime leaf worked very well indeed. It was still sharp and crisp and grown up.

My second favourite was a Honey and Sage Manhattan. I've got into Manhattans recently too but I'm a bit less precious about them so when I heard the name my response was "OOOOOOH". Again, it retained the grown up-ness of a Manhattan. They automatically serve it sweet (rather than dry or perfect) which the honey compliments.

I like the shake up of the cocktail menu at The Botanist. Tidying up the menu was a good idea as was using fresh fruit instead of syrups where possible. The vast majority of cocktails on the sweet side, but that suits the brand. I don't mind a sweet cocktail from time to time and I'll certainly enjoy working my way through the twisted classics section- that Rosemary Negroni has got my name on it.

The Botanist, Temple Street, Birmingham

Photos by me.

I was invited to the birthday but wasn't required to blog. I also had a great deal of complimentary drinks at the cocktail tasting in return for an honest blog post. 

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Event: Bournville Food and Drink Festival

Bournville is a ridiculously pretty suburb (village?) ten minutes train journey out of the city centre. I associate it with Cadbury of course and have spent quite a lot of time teaching the kids about how the area was set up for the workers. Of course, Cadbury is barely a factory anymore so their staff aren't really living in the area. The walk from the train station took me past rows of perfectly painted terrace houses so I had fun picking out the one I would live in if I earned £££.

Anyway, this post isn't about how pretty Bournville is and how I wish I was rich. It's about the very lovely Bournville Food and Drink festival. I missed last years but it's back for 2016 with events in April, July and November. I'm not a time traveller so this one is about the April event.

It is held at Rowheath Pavilion, a community hub with a large grassy area behind it. It's free to enter and has music, children's entertainment, food and drink stalls and a bar.

Drinks were purchased through a slightly odd system. You queued up to buy a special glass and some tokens. Once you have your glass, you can swap your tokens at the bars for beer, cocktails, wine or spirits. As it was a lovely sunny day, I chose a refreshing cider.

Here I am looking serene, even though a small human is apparently about to kick me. 

We squeezed our way round, said hello to some friends from Yelp and tried to decide what to eat. The street food vans were squashed into rather a small space a la Digbeth Dining Club- it would have been nice to have a little more room.

There were many of the big hitters from the Midlands street food scene- Low 'n' Slow, Baked In Brick, Pietanic and Bournville Waffle Co to name a few.

Edd instantly wanted a venison toastie from Jabberwocky. Jabberwocky were one of the first street foods Edd and I ever had so they hold a special place in our hearts.

Jabberwocky toasties aren't just any toastie- the fillings are rather special and they even have sweet sandwiches- see the rocky road below. They change their fillings frequently. I once spotted a pigeon breast toastie.

That was one delicious toastie to eat in the sun with a cider. The fillings were generous, the cheese was gooey and the bread was golden. What more do you need?

I decided to go for Cafe Horchata because I wanted tacos and I haven't tried this vendor before. Naturally, I'd managed to choose the longest queue.

I waited a long time to get my tacos. Once I've waited twenty minutes or so I start to get a bit panicky but also don't want to move because I've committed!

Never mind, look how cheerful I was when I got to the front- plus Edd had gone on a mission for more alcohol while I waited. The owners of Cafe Horchata were very sweet but rather flustered. I don't think they were fully prepared for how busy they would be. "Definitely three people next time!" they promised.

Cafe Horchata serve up Mexican street food i.e. tacos. Tacos are my favourite street food at the moment and after trying super ones from Low 'n' Slow and Muy Loco Tacos, how would these match up?

I very much liked that you could mix and match and that there was an interesting non-meat option.

I chose the baja cauliflower, crumbled chorizo and shredded ancho chilli pork.

I loved the texture of the crumbled chorizo and the baja caulifower had a great texture- I think this may even have been my favourite. The pickles on top added the crunch I love in a taco.

Worth the wait? This time yes, but I hope they will be a little quicker next time! I'd love to try the other flavours they come up with.

After tacos, more drink and more chat it was time for a little shopping. At the back of the festival there were a select number of stalls from local food sellers- Kneals Chocolates, Pip's Hot Sauce and Curds and Whey. I got a bit over excited and made purchases from all three.

We always stock up when we see Kneals. This time we sampled some fantastic new bars such as the 41% cocoa with vanilla and another which contained cacao nibs. I love the way Kneals are playing with flavours, textures and cocoa percentages. I'm booked in to do a chocolate workshop with them at The Plough next month so there will be a full post soon.

I also picked up some Fuego Del Verde (green) sauce from Pip's, which is the mildest one. I'm getting more into hot sauce but I need to be able to share it with Edd! I figured I'd work us up the scale. I also succumbed to cheese and purchased some award winning Manchego from Curds and Whey.

A beautiful afternoon in the sun, with excellent music, top quality produce and a lovely setting.
If you like the look of the festival, you can go along to the next one 1st-2nd July.

Bournville Food and Drink Festival, Rowheath Pavillion. 

Photos by myself and Edd.

All food and drink paid for ourselves. We sampled a LOT of free chocolate but he's just nice like that.