Hotel Chocolat opens new store on Birmingham New Street with chocolate cafe and Vegan chocolate Christmas range.


’Tis the season to be jolly and it ‘Tis the season for chocolate. Well maybe. Though it’s certainly the season to over indulge on the good things in life and that includes Vegans too.

Luxury British chocolatier and cocoa grower, Hotel Chocolat, has announced the opening of a brand new store in Birmingham New Street, This latest addition, which opened on the 8th November forms part of the company’s boutique portfolio that boasts locations across the UK, Channel Islands and Europe.

Located slap bang outside the Frankfurt German Market its certainly has the location for a top break from the shopping place to unwind.

This latest opening continues the company’s strong design ethos that successfully marries the dual personalities of Hotel Chocolat – namely the sophisticated, fashion-led side of its stylish products and the earthy, authentic aspects of a hands-on cocoa grower. CEO, Angus Thirlwell explains, “Each and every one of our stores is designed to be a real sanctuary for our guests, which connects with the escapism of Hotel Chocolat – so we go to great lengths to ensure they are restful, elegant places that are easy to navigate. But we also want them to reflect that we are one of the world’s few cocoa growing chocolatiers, which is why you’ll find weathered wooden cabinets going hand in hand with sleek, polished surfaces.”

At Hotel Chocolat you’ll find everything from elegant gift boxes of chocolate to your everyday chocolate fix, all made according to our mantra – More Cocoa, Less Sugar – for a satisfying cocoa hit. Our house white chocolate contains 36% cocoa – more than you’ll find in many milk chocolates – while our house milks are 40% and 50% and our house dark is 70%.

That’s not to mention our range of rare and vintage chocolate bars, which includes single-origin chocolates made with premium cocoa from around the world, and even single-côte chocolate – made with beans from a specific terroir, or growing environment – the cocoa content of which can be up to 100%.

Looking for something unusual? For fans of a particular drink there are our cocoa-infused interpretations such as Cocoa Gin and Cocoa Beer, or our new teaolat: a light, all-natural infusion that blends herbs, spices and cacao shells for a refreshing cuppa that’s tailored to your mood.

Meanwhile, foodies will love experimenting with the range of sweet and savoury condiments, including Spiced Cocoa Nib Ketchup, Cocoa Balsamic and Chocolate Orange Marmalade.

You can also set down your Christmas shopping bags and take a weight off at the café, over a range of drinks such as hot chocolat’s, Coffee Chocolat Lattes and teaolat, as well as snacks including an irresistible seven types of brownies.

With ten types of hot chocolate including the divine sounding salted caramel, there’s plenty of choice.

The Birmingham New Street café is also featuring their NEW cocoa nib Ice Cream of the Gods, which is exclusive to select stores only. Infused with St Lucian Theobroma cocoa nibs, direct translation ‘cacao, food of the gods’.

Their will also be fifteen Vegan items in stock in the build up to Christmas. Hotel Chocolat are building up their range.

You can also have Vegan friendly chocolate in your drinks (darker percentages) with coconut milk been the alternative milk served.

Birmingham New Street café opened on 8th November and there will be a customer shopping day on 17th November. Visitors to the store on customer shopping day will be treated to free chocolate samples, as well as café samples and 15% off throughout the store. That’s as well as being able to discover the range of new season chocolates.

www.hotelchocolat.com

Thanks for reading,

Andy😊

Thanks to Hotel Chocolat for the details and all photos are theirs apart from the external shots of the cafe which are my own.

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Christmas at Bar Opus: celebrate with cocktails. 



Bar Opus Winter Cocktail Menu 

Bar Opus’ winter cocktail menu is just what the doctor ordered during this festive season. Featuring a range of sophisticated and elegant drinks. From brunch Martinis to an Opus Manhattan, indulge in classic cocktails made by expert mixologists and with a distinguished Bar Opus twist. Prices start from £6.50.

 CHRISTMAS COCKTAILS

 Bar Opus is getting into the festive spirit with these Cheerful Christmas Cocktails for £6 each

 STOLLEN SOUR

Amaretto, Dry Curacao Orange Liqueur, Madeira, Fresh Lemon.

Sweet and Sophisticated with a hint of Christmas Spice.

 MINCE PIE MARTINI

Gin, Sweet Vermouth, Demerara Rum.

Spiced and Fruity… Santa’s drink of Choice!

 SNOWFLAKE MARTINI

Belgian White Chocolate, Vanilla Vodka, Crème De Cacao.

Naughty or nice, This one’s for you.

 Christmas Party Punch Bowls

 Make Christmas your own bespoke event – FOUR easy steps to your perfect Christmas Party

 STEP 1) Pick your date, and call 0121 200 2323 to book your space at Bar Opus (ask for Irene!)

 STEP 2) Once your date is secured, take a look at our creative list of seasonal cocktails, wines and beers

 STEP 3) Steal the show with our unique Christmas Party Punch Bowls

 Choose one (or more) of our festive concoctions for your event, see below

 FISHBOWL serves 30 glasses (£75) | SUPERBOWL serves 90 glasses (£225)

 St. Clement’s Punch

Gin, Prosecco, Citrus Fruits, Frambois, Sugar Syrup

Peachy Punch

Prosecco, Peach Brandy, Peach Nectar, Orange, Soda

Winter Warmer

Bourbon, Dry Cider, Ginger Ale, Apple Juice, Angostura Bitters, Sugar Syrup

Fruity Punch

(non-alcoholic – 30 glasses £50)

Blood Orange, Cranberries, Mint, Sparkling Apple, Lime


They look full of festive merriment. Enjoy. 

Thanks for reading, 

Andy 😊

#Digmas: Christmas Fair with Vegan stores and Veggie/Vegan food. Saturday 26th November.


Merry #Digmas:

Brum’s favourite independent Christmas fair and family day out returns to the Custard Factory!

Kick off the festive season in style at #Digmas, Birmingham’s favourite independent Christmas fair and family day out. The fun-filled event will return to the Custard Factory at the heart of Birmingham’s Creative Quarter on Saturday 26 November from 11am to 6pm. 

Entry is free. There’ll be something for everyone in the family; from street food, gin, craft beer and market stalls for the adults to Santa’s grotto, face painting and craft activities for the kids.

Tara Newman, Head of Events at the Custard Factory, said “#Digmas is a Digbeth tradition for foodies, friends and families looking for an alternative to the usual pre-Christmas crush on the high street. It’s the perfect opportunity to pick up some unique stocking fillers, enjoy a day out and get into the festive spirit”.

At the heart of the Custard Factory there’ll be a lively indoor market with high quality art and crafts from the Paperdolls Handmade Markets plus locally-made cakes, chocolates and other goodies. 

There’ll be Vegan stalls filled with gifts, and fashionistas can peruse the rails of clothing from a selection of leading brands.

Shoppers will enjoy browsing the Custard Factory’s resident shops who will all be open during the day’s festivities. They can enjoy a cup of mulled wine or hot chocolate whilst revelling in live music by the lakeside from Bostin Brass, The Glamophones and a cheerful carol singing quartet.

Foodies will tantalise their taste buds with some of the best street food in the city and dishes include macaroni cheese,  warming soups, spicy curries and irresistible churros and chocolate. Plus cakes by Mrs Mills. The covered food court will have a great atmosphere with a DJ playing festive favourites, perfect for meeting up with friends to enjoy a glass of gin or craft beer from the pop-up bars.

The kids will have a great time too with a visit to Santa’s grotto and a packed programme of festive storytelling performances, craft activities, cupcake decorating and face painting.

 #Digmas is free to enter and all ages are welcome to enjoy the fun, food and festivities. Advanced booking for some activities is recommended. 

http://www.custardfactory.co.uk/digmas2016 for more information.

Alongside all of the fantastic entertainment, food and activities already revealed, they have been working with local organic and Vegan friendly drinks company U-Juice to curate a friendly selection of vegan stalls at #DIGMAS! Food & drink, clothing, jewellery, beauty products and lots, lots more – all produced ethically and organically.


Other Vegan and Veggie friendly traders also thete will be Aah Lovely, (handmade gifts including ceramics, bags and cards), Dr Ice ( Men’s grooming products), Viva la Vegan (organically made clothing and best fashion brand award winners), Hugletts Wood Farm Animal Sanctuary, (handmade gifts) Badger’s Dairy Free, (side dishes), Purely Vegan (Vegan Grocers) The May Bakery (Vegan cakes, cupcakes and cookies) Honest Skincare, and Custard Factory resident Clink craft beer have a Vegan range too. 

The May Bakery.

Street Food from Littlesixtythree ( soups and stews) locally produced served with fresh crusty bread and Quarter Horse Coffee and Hot chocolate. 


Yumlaut: traditional German Sausage with Vegan-friendly and deliciously named ‘Veggie Brat’.

Churros Susanna: Churros and chocolate. Plus dairy free. Sugary happiness. 


Veggie Foodie favourites The Indian Rasoi: Indian Street Food and curry to warm you up. 


Holy Moly Macaroni: Macaroni cheese who are launching on The Birmingham  street food scene at #Digmas, plus offering a Vegan option that replaces cheese with butternut squash. Comfort food with a difference. 


Holy Moli Macaroni.

Plus drinks from Gin Box and Clink Craft Beer who will have vegan/veggie choices. 

Read more about the Vegan stalls on offer on Sat 26th here: 

#DIGMAS 2016 – First Vegan & Ethical Market at the Custard Factory

Looks a lovely way to kick off the Christmas period, and celebrate Birmingham’s independent and creative scene. 

The Custard Factory and sister venue Fazeley Studios are based in Digbeth a short walk from Birmingham New Street and The Bullring shopping centre in the heart of Birmingham. The area has long been established as one of the countries leading creative and digital business destinations, with a thriving business community residing alongside Birmingham’s independent retailers. 

Home

http://www.fazeleystudios.com/

Thanks for reading, 

Andy 😊

The Glamophones who will be singing at #Digmas.

All images and photos courtesy of The Custard Factory. 

Happy Christmas And Winter Solstice from Veggie Foodie.


   
Today is the shortest day of the year. The Winter Solstice an astronomical phenomenon marking the shortest day and the longest night has captured the thoughts, feelings of writers for many a long year. Maybe the day will bask in bright sunshine, or maybe the darkening tinge of bleak winter will seem ever more apt, more poetic. 

Officially the first day of Winter, it’s always been a time of reflection and close down for me, the space between two worlds, the pre and post Christmas/holiday period. A time to think, to hold what’s dear close, to enjoy time with family and friends, those that I hope make us smile and look forward with renewed vigour and inspiration. 

The winter solstice is celebrated by many people around the world as the beginning of the return of the sun, and darkness turning into light. The Talmud recognizes the winter solstice as “Tekufat Tevet.” In China, the Dongzhi Festival is celebrated on the Winter Solstice by families getting together and eating special festive food.

The term ‘solstice’ derives from the Latin word ‘solstitium’, meaning ‘Sun standing still’. In the UK Stonehenge is most associated with the Winter Solstice.

The December solstice marks the ‘turning of the Sun’ as the days slowly get longer. Celebrations of the lighter days to come have been common throughout history with feasts, festivals and holidays around the December solstice celebrated by cultures across the globe.

The Feast of Juul (where we get the term ‘Yule’ from at this time of year) was a pre-Christian festival observed in Scandinavia at the time of the December solstice. 

One of my favourites at Christmas The Yule log is associated with this. 

People would light fires to symbolise the heat and light of the returning sun and a Juul (or Yule) log was brought in and dropped in the hearth as a tribute the Norse god Thor.

The log would be lit from the remains of the previous year’s log which had been carefully stored away and often slowly fed into the fire through the Twelve Days of Christmas. Tradition dictated that the re-lighting process was carried out by someone with clean hands.

  
The Yule log is brought in.
For my little blog that also means a time of silence. This year I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my musings, my ramblings and my love of good vegetarian food and the joys a good meal can bring. 

The new year will bring some new opportunities, some changes I’m sure to my blog and to life as we know it (as a new year always does).

So from me I would like to wish every single one of my readers a lovely warm food and drink filled holiday and Christmas time. 

Happy New Year and thanks for reading and sharing a small part of me.

 It’s been a good year. Here’s to the next one. 

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite seasonal poems: 

Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost.

Whose woods these are I think I know. 

His house is in the village, though; 

He will not see me stopping here 

To watch his woods fill up with snow. 
My little horse must think it queer 

To stop without a farmhouse near 

Between the woods and frozen lake 

The darkest evening of the year. 
He gives his harness bells a shake 

To ask if there is some mistake. 

The only other sound’s the sweep 

Of easy wind and downy flake. 
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, 

But I have promises to keep, 

And miles to go before I sleep, 

And miles to go before I sleep.

Andy 😊

  

Photos courtesy of : 

1 GoddessandGreenMan.co.uk

2.Grassclothwallpaper.com

3: Emerrychristmas.hol.es

Winter menu review: An 1847 Christmas in Birmingham. 


  

What does Winter mean to you? A cosy fire, warming comfortable food, deep intense flavours, Christmas, Milky sunshine, snow?

 In 1847 (the year the vegetarian society which Bistro 1847 takes its name from was formed) Winter was very different, but had for some those comfy elements. For others poverty and cold filled the darkening destitute days with a penniless existence. There was fog in London, Famine in Ireland, times were hard and a Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens had been written four years before. 

For me, food is best comforting, warming seasonal and filled with the intensity of deep flavours and cheerfully rich colours that only a Winter time dish deserves. So you’ll find root vegetables, cabbage, red onion gravy, kale and hearty mash on the menu. 

Bistro 1847 are in full on expansion mode. Openings recently in Bristol and Brighton supplement the Manchester and Birmingham restaurants. Dishes served with contemporary flair and passion which just happen to be Vegetarian with good Vegan options and menu make 1847 unique in Birmingham. With a neighbourhood feel in the city and cocktail list its charming. 

I visited with my parents and brother to try the new Winter menu’s delights, one mild lunchtime. 

We enjoyed two courses, a main and a desert. 

   

Merguez and Mash: 

Spicy Puy lentil sausage, turnip and sage mash, red onion gravy.

A hearty vegan friendly main course, big flavoured, spicy, a deep intense gravy. It’s comfort food at its best. It’s simple in design, almost traditional, but those hearty slightly exotic flavours pack a punch that creates a harmonious wintry and Christmas memory lane delight of a main. 

To accompany it I enjoyed a glass of decent house red that worked, bringingout the deep flavours of the sausage and red onion gravy.


  

  Chocolate and Pear:

Soft ganache, port poached pear, gingerbread, mulled wine gel. (Vegan)

A gem of a pudding, and the best I’ve tasted at 1847. It felt luxurious and with a deep and full flavoured port poached pear which set off the soft, dark chocolatey ganache,  it was heavenly, creamy (but no cream) and made me think, can I have some more please? 

    ‘Fish and Chips’

Ginger ale battered Halloumi, triple cooked chips, savoury lemon curd, green pea and Basil. 

A Bistro 1847 signature dish that my brother lapped up. A variation on the norm due to the added ginger ale. Cheese heaven! 

  

My parents also had the Merguez and mash. They said it felt like winter on a plate. 

  
  A welcome to Winter

  
  Cheese board. 

My Dad enjoyed his British cheese plate for desert, which he said was a good size with the right amount of varied biscuits. Local to 1847 they come with grapes and homemade chutney. Nice cheeses. 

 

A trip to Bistro 1847 is a refreshing and inventive experience for Vegetarians and Vegans. When the classics are spun into another more modern realm of intricacy, simplicity and beauty then Winter feels more 2015 than 1847. Dishes are more precise, but not less indulgent and comforting for it. With the core elements of familiarity and comfort 1847 have taken the season and made it now, but with a certain doff of the cap to the past. It is on this level where it succeeds and in its discovery where appetites are more than satisfied. 

Thanks for reading 

Andy 😊

Disclosure: We paid for our own meal at Bistro 1847. My views are my own and honest of my experience of the dishes eaten. 

   
 

http://by1847.com/menus/b-menu.pdf

http://by1847.com/menus/b-menu-desersts.pdf

Bistro 1847, 26 Great Western Arcade, Birmingham B2 5HU.

http://by1847.com/

Two courses on the winter menu cost £19.50 and three cost £25. 

Christmas Dinner at The Highfield, Edgbaston


It’s taken awhile for me to visit The Highfield, a lots been going on in the last few months, but I’m so glad I left a first visit until Christmas as our first experience was exceptional.

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Last Friday Ruth and I with my parents visited to try out their Christmas menu.

The Highfield sits in leafy Edgbaston opposite Simpsons restaurant (the place ruth and I had our first Christmas meal at) and near the lovely Edgbaston bar and hotel.

It’s white colour stands out, a lovely villa type building that looks the part from the outside and inside is as cool as a cucumber and on a busy Friday before Christmas was buzzy and lively.

Initially the service was leaden and as lumpy as Carvery custard, but greatly got better though I was unsure why the waiter that took us to our table told me I couldn’t have a Langley’s Gin Martini at the table, very odd.

Ruth chose her obligatory Cosmopolitan and I chose a Langley’s gin and tonic with juniper berries. Both were stunning, and a great way to begin a meal, good choices.

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So to the food.

My parents and Ruth chose the mushroom soup and porcini cream which they all loved and it certainly looked delicious.

I chose the whipped butternut squash, goats curd, and baby leaves, tossed seeds. A really enjoyable dish, the whipped squash cooling and delicious against the crunch of seeds a thoroughly lovely starter.

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Myself and my Mum both chose the veggie option as we both are, which I would say was a surprising delight of flavours and a real joy as a main course.

The shallot, and chestnut Bourguignon, beetroot relish dish was very memorable. The depth of flavour of the red wine sauce with the chestnut and the zing of the shallots, a superb dish. All main courses were served with vegetables and it proved a worthy Christmas dinner main course.

My Dad and Ruth both had the turkey and this went down well too.

To end I had the White chocolate Valrhona cheesecake which was creamy and very enjoyable too. An excellent cheese cake. Light and with a lovely delicate Baileys flavour running subtly through.

As a gastro pub The Highfield is certainly adept in the kitchen, as a bar a place to have a drink and move on.

The cooking at every level was a notch above expectation for a Christmas dinner and wetted my appetite for a Sunday lunch in the new year.

The veggie options were original and very rewarding.

Our Highfield visit, well better late than never. One to return to again and again.

A buzzy gastro pub and restaurant, with cracking thoughtful food.

The High field
22 Highfield Road
Birmingham

0121 227 7063

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