BBC Good Food Show Summer, returns to NEC this June, plus competition to win two pairs of tickets.


This Competition is now closed.

Michel Roux Jr. will be returning to the NEC this summer for the BBC Good Food Show 2018.

One of the summer’s most popular days out will return to Birmingham again this June, as BBC Gardeners’ World Live and the BBC Good Food Show Summer take over the NEC for four days.

With one ticket, visitors will gain entry to both spectacular events, which will attract over 500 exhibitors from the culinary and horticultural worlds from Thursday 14 June – Sunday 17 June.

As well as the hundreds of stands, the Shows also bring a star-studded line-up of some of the country’s favourite gardeners, chefs, experts and bakers.

The line-up includes BBC Two’s Gardeners’ World lead presenter Monty Don plus co-presenters including Carol Klein, Adam Frost and new to the Show this year, Mark Lane and Arit Anderson. Fellow television personality Alan Titchmarsh also joins the team on Friday.

At the BBC Good Food Show, firm favourites Mary Berry, James Martin, Tom Kerridge, Michel Roux Jr. and many more will be cooking up a storm on stage in the Big Kitchen, with plenty more chances to see them around the Show.

This year’s BBC Good Food Show sees the return of a selection of fantastic shopping areas including the Producers’ Village and the Drinks Emporium.

New to the 2018 Show is the Eat Well Zone, showcasing the best in vegan and vegetarian products, with expert advice and recipe ideas at the Show’s Summer Kitchen stage.

Some of the best Veggie and Vegan stands are:

Blacks cheese (cheese stand)

Proper Nutty (Peanut butter stand)

Nutriplanner

Juvela, (gluten free foods)

The Brownie Bar ( brownie stand) see image below.

There’s also a WH Smith at the show. The Hairy Bikers will be present at some point signing books of which their most recent is a vegetarian cookbook called ‘The Hairy Bikers go veggie’ so pop by if you’d like it signed or any other cookbook you have at home. Other chefs will be there also at allocated times.

Stepping outside, you’ll find inspirational Show Gardens and top shopping for your garden. The Made in Birmingham garden will feature a railway embankment plot with allotment, wildflower meadow and a working steam engine with Pullman Dining carriage.

The Wyevale Garden Centres Solutions Garden will display stunning best practice ways to deal with common issues such as soil types or shady areas; the Tesco Every Little Helps Garden offers up ideas for small changes that can make big differences; the Beautiful Borders will be full of small space ideas, plus much, much more. The Floral Marquee and Plant Village is a haven for plant lovers with over 100 dedicated places to buy quality plants, seeds and bulbs.

Whether inside or outside, you’ll find the best in cooking and gardening inspiration with four days of free entry stages showcasing a full mix of plot to plate inspiration, live demos, Q&A’s, talks and plenty of advice. Plus, the chance to chat to more artisan producers and gardening experts than you can fit into one day.

Ticket holders will gain entry to both Shows, with children under five going free and discounts and free tickets available for groups of eight or more. For an extra special treat, the VIP and VIP Luxe packages include front row seats in the Big Kitchen super theatre and BBC Gardeners’ World Live Theatre, access to exclusive lounges and much more.

Adam Frost, who will be giving his insight in the BBC Gardeners’ World Live Theatre on the Thursday and Sunday of the Show, said: “This year’s Show is really about helping gardeners make every space count. I’ll be live on stage, talking about the progress of my own garden and giving lots of design tips, as will many fellow Gardeners’ World presenters, including Monty Don and gardening legend Alan Titchmarsh too. It’s the perfect show for anyone looking for exciting garden inspiration to try at home – see you there!”

Tom Kerridge, who will be cooking live in three Big Kitchen sessions, said: “There aren’t many events that compare to the BBC Good Food Show at the NEC Birmingham. With the size of the venue, the amount of delicious food and drink to sample and buy, and the expert demonstrations, it really is an amazing day out.”

For more information and tickets to BBC Gardeners’ World Live and the BBC Good Food Show and, visit www.bbcgardenersworldlive.com or www.bbcgoodfoodshow.com

To celebrate the return of the two shows this Summer I’m running a competition to win two pairs of tickets.

All you have to do is retweet my post on Twitter or like the competition tweet to be in with a chance of winning.

The competition begins on Monday 7th May at 11am and ends on Friday 11th May at 11am.

Keep an eye on Twitter for my competition tweets and then follow me @andydhare and retweet, or like to be in with a chance of winning.

I will then randomly select the two winners and contact them via Direct Message on Twitter to let you know you’ve won, and your details will be passed onto a third party who will contact you and send the tickets out to you.

Good luck!

This competition is now closed.

Thanks for reading,

Andy 😊

T&C

1. The event runs from the 14th-17th June at the NEC Birmingham.

2. Tickets are Only valid on Thursday, Friday or Saturday Admission.

3. Prize includes 2 pairs of entry passes-no travel expenses or accommodation is provided.

4. General admission tickets do not include a seat in the Big Kitchen. Seats are available to purchase on the day for £3 subject to availability.

5. Not all celebrities appear on all days.

6. You must have followed @AndyDHare on Twitter and retweeted/like the competition tweet to be entered.

7. Giveaway ends at 11am on the 11th May 2018.

8. Winners picked at random and will be notified by message on Twitter after 11am on the 11th May.

9. Contact information will be supplied to a Third Party who will post your winning tickets directly to your home address.

10. The prize is for two pairs of general admission tickets so there will be two winners.

11. Prize cannot be swapped for cash or sold on.

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Restaurant Review: Pushkar’s Vegan Festival.


I don’t mind confessing to it but Ruth and I have always had a love for and indeed at one point minor obsession with Pushkar. When we first met we spent so much time eating there that it became our regular place to visit for that time when you needed a bit of affordable class in your life. Of course there were others who tempted our purse strings to loosen and our desire for a Lasan curry got in the way sometimes of the monogamy completely.

Recently due to an arrival of young Hare, it’s well documented in this blog we don’t get out much into the big smoke of the city. In fact we don’t get out that much at all unless I’m reviewing the park or which route is the best to take to take him to school. So Pushkar has been a distant stranger over recent times of our lives. Call it a separation rather than divorce, but that far away feeling felt more distant than a European holiday or a Michelin starred lunch.

So the arrival of a Vegan festival that runs until February 28th, pricked up my ears as a superlative idea, and a blog post came out immediately. Quick work considering my blog absence recently.

Pushkar in my personal opinion is the dining out jewel on Broad Street. It has a welcoming bar, friendly informed staff and has a quality menu of well cooked and tasty high end food. It’s popular for those reasons. The right reasons. The Vegan festival menu though surprised me for its dazzlement and detail. So many dishes that would all fit on Pushkar’s main menu and show a sensitive touch of thought for the plant based way. It demonstrated on paper at least that this could be done. The question though could it deliver?

Things are done elegantly here. An opening course of Chukander Ki Galouti is a lovely beetroot cake with beetroot chutney. Crisp on the outside, soft inside, it melts in the mouth and has a delicate spicing. Made perfectly.

Ruth’s Corn Palak Ki Tiki, chopped spinach filled with spice corn, a lovely tiki, with good flavour and beautifully presented.

Corn Palak Ki Tiki

Chukander Ki Galouti.

A brilliant kesari Puktan Subz, main course shows true skill to balance flavour and spicing without one overwhelming the other. A Butternut squash gravy has depth and immerses the vegetables, green beans, carrot and mushroom to provide a filling main with the heat of the cumin seeds giving a punch. Perfect with the roti and Naan.

Another main the Jeera Aloo Sharkandi is the star of the show tonight. Boiled potato, and sweet potato tempered with cumin seeds, green chilli and coriander leaves is outstanding and finds a true friend in the Kesari main alongside it. A delicious bowl of Loud singing and lip smacking ensures.

We also tried Moong Ki Daal, another lovely dish of yellow lentils tempered with garlic, ginger, and green chilli. A top Daal and full of gentle warmth on a cold night.

Accompaniments included a Corn rice, basmati infused with saffron and Corn which was nice, a Koda Ki Roti, Rag flour bread. A ‘Super Cereal’ which was quite heavy I found but not bad as an alternative to Naan bread.

An Aloo Paratha was more to my liking. A superb dunking in bread, superb with the Kesari Puktan Subz.

Our Dessert of Carrot, coconut Pudding was a triumph of harmonious flavours, gentle and sweet. I loved the flavours. Delicious in every way.

We also enjoyed a vegan friendly Merlot with our food.

Service is informed, attentive and enthusiastic for the menu. A relaxed feel that’s top notch in standard.

So the Vegan festival menu didn’t disappoint.

Dishes are varied, and full of good spicy flavour. The menu shows a thoughtfulness and a lot of technical skill to balance the ingredients, I’m impressed by the restaurants keenness to adapt and present the food in a sophisticated and tempting way. All of the dishes tried were winners and demonstrated that Indian food which is not known necessarily known to be vegan friendly can be developed with some consideration. A beautiful menu that hits the right notes. Pushkar style.

Thanks for reading,

Andy 😊

Our food and drink was complimentary for review purposes to promote the Pushkar Vegan Festivals. All thoughts and words are my own.

Vegan friendly popodoms and sauces are available too. Please ask for them as we had the non vegan variety which were lovely. Hence no photo.

Also there are vegan friendly cocktails available.

http://pushkardining.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/vegan-menu-3354.pdf

Pushkar can be found at 245 Broad Street, Birmingham.

Rola Wala arrives at Birmingham Selfridges.


The arrival of any new Indian cafe/restaurant is a cause for celebration for me and countless other veggies and vegans as it means we’ll get fed well.

Birmingham – the city of the balti – is about to experience a flavour explosion when Rola Wala brings its authentic Indian street food – plus the spiciest chilli chutney – yet to the city this week.

A refreshing new take on Indian street food, Rola Wala (which means ‘man that rolls’ in Hindi) is opening in Selfridges Birmingham on February 19th where it will serve a range of fabulous flavour-packed dishes from the mildest dal to many other tempting veggie and vegan dishes.

Balti-loving Brummies will also rise to the challenge of Rola Wala’s eye-watering Scorpion sauce, made from the Scorpion chilli, which peaks at a tongue-stinging 1.4 million Scoville heat units on the Scoville scale.

If Birmingham’s hottest chutney is a step too far, enjoy Rola Wala’s freshly made dishes that feature layers of complex spicy and savoury, sweet and sour tastes.

Try spice bowls filled with sweet potato saagwala, and vegan-friendly red dal served with sourdough naan or nutrient-rich red rice from Sri Lanka.

Complement the main course with a range of sides, including  Kashmiri Cauliflower Popcorn Bombay Birdsnest Fries, Avo’ Chaat Salad, and the incredible ‘Red Channa Dal’ – a spice-fuelled twist on India’s favourite comfort food.

And for every meal bought, Rola Wala helps to feed a hungry child living in poverty, by donating a meal through charity One Feeds Two. Since the restaurant launched, it has provided 350,000 meals.

Rola Wala is the brainchild of Australian Mark Wright and was born on the streets of London via Mumbai and Kolkata. It launched in 2012 when he tested out his ideas at street food markets in London after a trip to India.

After regularly appearing at street food markets in the capital, Mark and his partners Mark Christophers and Danny Vilela set up their first restaurant in Leeds, with two more sites opening in Spitalfields and Oxford.

Mark said: “Three years ago we had a gazebo with a hole in the roof, and wet hair at a festival, now we’re opening our fourth bricks and mortar restaurant in the heart of the Bullring in Birmingham – the home of the balti, some of the best Indian food in the country…and the most passionate foodies!

“For our new restaurant, we’re keeping it ultra casual, just like we did on the streets – with an incredible range of dishes inspired by our time in India – sourdough naan rolls, flavour-packed spice bowls, and inspired sides made using all-British meat, spices from North India, onions from Mumbai, and limes from Kerala.”

Sam Watts, general manager of Selfridges Birmingham, said: “Street food is a huge trend in Birmingham and we’re excited to bring this concept to our food hall, where you can celebrate some of the best cuisine around – from a simple cup of coffee and a cupcake to ramen, katsu and American diner classics. Rola Wala provides our customers with yet another fantastic option for casual dining.”

To welcome new customers, Rola Wala is offering 50% off any meal until the end of February. To sign up for a money-off voucher, visit https://rolawala.com/selfridges/. Students also get 20% off their bill.

Though not fully veggie or vegan in anyway, Rola Wala is sure to prove popular with meat free diners in Birmingham looking for a quick and different food stop.

Thanks for reading,

Andy 😊

https://rolawala.com/menu.pdf (example menu only that may differ in Birmingham)

With thanks to Clive Reeves PR for the information and photos.

Vegan festival comes to Pushkar Bar and Dining in Birmingham.


Pushkar has always been one of my favourite restaurants in Birmingham. Fine hospitality, cocktails and superb food make for an exemplary experience and one Ruth and I have enjoyed on many occasions since it opened. The Veggie dishes are varied and offer plenty of choice and are of the highest quality using the best ingredients and using keen spicing. Fine dining at its best.

Now, Broad Street’s, award winning finest is running a limited-edition vegan menu, bringing an exciting fresh and flavoursome interpretation to veganism.

Head Chef, Vinod Singh has created a menu inspired from his childhood featuring the up and coming super cereal ragi. Generations ago many Indians in the southern part of the country ate ragi in many variations which provides a lot of health benefits which are now over looked. Pushkar are brining this new trend to the fine dining market promoting its nutritional benefits such as high protein content, rich source of minerals containing 5-10 times more calcium than other cereals, its ability to help control diabetes and its anti-microbial, anti-cancer and anti-aging potential. Because of all these benefits ragi is now becoming more renown and is popular in celebrity diets for a healthy lifestyle.

The festival starts from 1st February ending 28thFebruary and features a variety of dishes proving vegan food can be just as exciting and will be accompanied by a vegan drinks menu.

Pushkar’s Head Chef, Vinod Singh commented: ‘Pushkar is known for its fine dining experience and this is giving people the opportunity to experience vegan food like never before and to feature a dish I grew up on and which can benefit people’s health, is great. It is a menu created to show the benefits of veganism and how exquisite the food can be.’

http://pushkardining.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/vegan-menu-3354.pdf

http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/lifestyle/food/7-health-benefits-of-ragi-6-great-ragi-recipes/

This festival Seems a perfect opportunity to indulge in Pushkar’s scrumptious dishes. You won’t regret it I can assure you.

Thanks for reading,

Andy 😊

You can find Pushkar on Broad Street in Birmingham city centre.

http://pushkardining.com/

All images and information published with thanks from Pushkar.

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.

Veggie Brunch/Lunch watch: Bloom, Kings Heath, Birmingham.


I could live here.

That could well be the end of my review but alas that would insult my indulgence and yes your intelligence and would beg the question why? Well the plate of food I tried here at Bloom in Kings Heath is easily the best plate of food I’ve eaten anywhere this year. It could quite possibly be edging towards bern the best brunch dish I’ve ever tasted. It’s mind bogglingly good. Harmonious flavours, interesting ingredients, originality in its essence and cost, the bargain of the century. It’s informal dining at its best, though there’s nothing casual about the dishes coming out of the kitchen.

So Let me introduce you to the Vegan friendly Carrot Gnocchi, Red beets, sherry radishes, gingered swede, caraway pickled walnuts, and orange hemp seed dressing. £7.5

Complex flavours, a melt in the mouth texture. When a dish is this good it’s hard to find fault and dwelling on the superlatives is the same only rational response. The use of carrots to make gnocchi is new to me, but works in a way that is beyond words. The Sherry radishes, a delightful crunch with subtle sherry overtones, and the majestic red beets, an exotic touch. Autumn on a plate, a beautiful hug me all over and hug me again moment. I’m speechless even now. A divine treat on a plate.

Ruth was also happy (well it was her Birthday lunch) with her Bubble and Squeak, Boston Baked Beans, Poached hens egg, pea shoots, with Grilled Haloumi or streaky bacon £8. She ate it with bacon but for veggies haloumi is an option. Beautifully presented (as my dish was too) it had a good flavour, with the homemade beans hitting the spot. She felt she should have had the haloumi though instead of the bacon which she felt would have worked better to make a fuller more well rounded dish.

Our food was washed down by two excellent liquid Cuddle Beers Which Complimented the two dishes well.

Bubble and Squeak dish.

To follow we ordered two cakes from the selection which were of high standard and lovely with the coffee. Well worth having on their own.

pumpkins, pumpkins pumpkins.

The flat white (£2.50) we ordered was excellent. The perfect execution. Possibly the best in the area.

Inside this cosy buzzy place plants hang deliciously against clean white/grey walls and the wood interior makes for a Scandinavian vibe that is homely and inviting. The service is charming, friendly and informative of the food and enthusiastic for the menu. It’s refreshing and a reason to return alone.

If you want traditional brunch fare then it’s not for you. If you desire to be challenged and try top end food for a bargain price (though not cheap) then this is the place for you where innovative exciting Vegetarian dishes (there were five on the short menu.) are amended frequently and the chef cares enough to bravely mesmerise the diner.

Bloom stands out like a (good) sore thumb amongst the average curry houses in Kings Heath. A place for every occasion. It can only be good for the area. It’s what it needs.

It’s a Kitchen with ambition and it’s mine to work my way through its menu. Sharpish. Blooming lovely.

Thanks for reading,

Andy 😊

We paid in full.

Thanks to Alasdair for the hospitality.

You can find Bloom at 32 Poplar Road, Kings Heath, Birmingham. B14 7AD.

No reservations taken.

Served 9.30-2.30pm

Open Wednesday through to Sunday. Day times only.

< img src=”https://vegiefoodie.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/img_0189-2.jpg&#8221; height=”2448″ class=”wp-image-7582″ width=”3264″>

Restaurant Review: Tom’s Kitchen, Mailbox, Birmingham. A chic, smart place for veggies.


So once more Ruth and I were let out of the house together, as parenting duties were suspended for the evening. Not only were we let out but we ambled up to the big smoke (City Centre) nosebleeds in tow and wondered how long it may have been since we ate together in the city centre. Awhile in fact is the answer, so bless Tom’s Kitchen for having us and been trusting with our rusty city etiquette.

I’ve known a few Tom’s in my time. Sound as a pound chaps who’ve been reliable and good to hang around with. My son likes the Tank Engine chap and he says he’s cool so that’s ok with me, though that Controller chap I’m not sure of to be fair.

This Tom is Michelin Starred Tom Aitkens. You may remember him from The Great British Menu. Other outposts of the restaurant are in London and Istanbul.

Tom’s Kitchen in The Mailbox is a natty place. It has a Chic feel, step inside to cosy booths, dark wood, a sophisticated feel and a nice warm atmosphere and you have the makings of a good meal. With its dim lighting It has a nice romantic feel too which gives it an edge in an area of more vociferous chains and pale imitation Food. In fact Ruth and I felt relaxed as soon as we entered.

I start with the insanely good Macaroni Cheese with added Truffle. Loveliness in a warming bowl, not made for pretty photos but a depth of rich cheese, with that just perfect hint of truffle running through, An ingredient when overdone can slam bam ruin a dish in one foul swoop, trust me! A dish to devour and then devour it again, a comfort food award winner, though annoyed i didn’t order any bread to mop up the runaway cheese. Humph!

Now, here’s the thing. I’m not one to order a mostly cold salad like dish in the evening. I’m more of a lunch time punter for that accolade. But then I go and do it. Why? Oh why? Because in this instant I fancied been a revolutionary soul in my own skin. Away from my son, anything goes. Well only if it’s veggie or vegan.

The dish in question was the Courgette Dukkah, fennel and Turmeric. A zingy dish of complex flavours that had a lovely Summery taste. The Dukkah, breadcrumbed courgettes that added a warmth to the cooling salad with fennel. A lovely dish that was well worth diverting from the norm for.

Some quality shared chips.

And, afterwards Chocolate and peanut butter Marquise.

Chocolate decadence, sticky, beautiful and rich with the good things in life. Eat it slow as it’s too nice to rush. Taste it and sigh.

Staff were lovely. Though we sat early evening for dinner we didn’t feel rushed or pressurised to order quickly. Enthusiastic, professional service goes a long way.

There were some grumbles. I’d like to see a vegetarian main course dish on the specials, especially with the abundance of fresh veg produce in Autumn and maybe the mains themselves (apart from

The Dukkah) could be a bit more adventurous and vary and not just follow the burger (though I hear it’s seriously good) or risotto route, though I’m not doubting they would be lovely examples of two fine dishes and well worth trying.

Tom’s Kitchen is an excellent and smart restaurant. The use of fresh seasonal produce is done well. The veggie dishes have simple bold flavours which show off the key ingredients well and demonstrate a real skill in the kitchen.

The dishes follow a British staples line and are comfort food made well. I like the fact the portions are generous and the wine list is excellent and offers good choices that compliment the dishes.

The added cocktail menu that included for us a superb Negroni and dry Gin Martini, are good examples of the quality on offer. They were both done well.

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Tom’s Kitchen for Vegetarians. Especially if you

are with meat eaters it’s a good choice to make everyone happy and with dishes made well and changing seasonally it’s well worth discovering.

We also drank a delicious glass of Trebbiano and Sangiovese. Top notch wines.

Thanks for reading.

Andy 😊

Thanks to the lovely PR company Rewired for the invite, and for their patience with the arrangements. Our food and drinks were complimentary (at the restaurants discretion) and all opinions made are my own.

https://www.tomskitchen.co.uk/en/birmingham/restaurant/

Tom’s Kitchen, 53 The Mailbox, Wharf side street, Birmingham, B1 1RE.

The Royal Shakespeare Theatre’s Roof Top restaurant introduces Vegan menu and afternoon Tea in Stratford-Upon-Avon.


‘Do you think because you are virtuous, that there shall be no more cakes and ale?’

Food and Shakespeare are intrinsically

linked. His plays are full of references.

Shakespeare used food and drink as metaphors to create accurate impressions of the times he lived in. For example the quote above from the great Othello play Act 2, scene 3 is one of the best. Often meal times were a recipe for drama.

The scene in Macbeth when the new king invites everyone who’s anyone in Scotland to his table to determine who’s with him and who’s against him, is a good example. He fails to be a good host which shows us he’s unfit to be king.

But on hearing this news from the RSC my eyes didn’t smell onions, and I didn’t weep anon, but quite the opposite in fact.

I’ve eaten at The Roof Top restaurant before a few years ago after a play. To be fair the vegetarian options didn’t inspire me greatly and I felt compared to Ruth’s options a bit short changed.

Not now though.

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has introduced a new Vegan pre-theatre and dinner menu alongside a Vegan afternoon tea at their theatre venue in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Visitors to the Company’s Rooftop Restaurant, which boasts fantastic views across the river Avon, can now enjoy a three-course vegan fixed price menu.

Starters include warm marinated vine tomatoes, roasted baby beets, basil puree and rocket, or giant couscous with red quinoa, fig, toasted almond and red onion salad and pomegranate molasses.

Mains range from Turkish aubergine and chick pea stew with freekeh pilaf, herb salsa and pine nuts, or fusilli with butternut squash, red onion, chestnut mushrooms, fried sage and creamy walnut sauce.

The meal can be rounded off with sloe gin poached pear served with blackcurrant sorbet or Autumn fruit compote with Calvados custard.

Diners can also tuck into a traditional afternoon tea vegan style which includes scones, sandwiches and a range of desserts including dipped chocolate fruit, tartlets and chocolate cake.

A range of specially crafted vegan muffins and croissants are also available from Susie’s Café Bar based at the Company’s The Other Place down the road from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. The Company also offers an array of gluten free dishes.

Executive Chef, Simon Malin, said: “As with our shows – we are always looking to make our food offer as accessible to as many people as possible – which is why I am excited to introduce our brand-new vegan offer to open up more of the RSC to people looking to have a great shared culinary experience.”

For more information on the RSC’s brand new vegan pre-theatre and dinner menu visit – www.rsc.org.uk/rooftop-restaurant/menus/vegan-and-gluten-free-menus/vegan-pre-theatre-menu<http://www.rsc.org.uk/rooftop-restaurant/menus/vegan-and-gluten-free-menus/vegan-pre-theatre-menu>

For information on the RSC’s new vegan afternoon tea check out – www.rsc.org.uk/rooftop-restaurant/menus/vegan-afternoon-teas<https://www.rsc.org.uk/rooftop-restaurant/menus/vegan-afternoon-teas>

Photo caption:

The RSC’s brand new vegan offer which includes Turkish aubergine and chick pea stew with freekeh pilaf, herb salsa and pine nuts and afternoon tea. Photo credit Sara Beaumont, courtesy of the RSC.

The RSC Vegan pre-theatre menu is served Monday to Saturday from 11.30am-3.30pm and 4.30pm-6.15pm. Two courses are available from £21 or three courses for £26.

RSC vegan afternoon teas are available from 11.30am every day except Saturdays where they are available from 1.30pm to 3pm.

www.rsc.org.uk<http://www.rsc.org.uk/>

So ‘call for dates and quinces in the pastry.’

The RSC are set to be good hosts for Vegetarians and vegans!.

Thanks for reading,

Andy 😊

Last quote from Henry IV Part 2: Act 2, scene 4.

The onions quote from Romeo and Juliet: Act 4, scene 2.

Thanks to the RSC press team for the information and images.

Product Review: Riverford Quick and light organic vegetarian recipe box.


Ruth and I love to cook food from scratch. Even after young Hare has gone to sleep we still do, which quite often results in some late suppers eaten as our eyes dip into the land of nod.

So when Riverford contacted me and asked if I’d like to try an organic vegetable box for Organic Week I jumped at it. I’ve never ordered a veg box before. I don’t know why, but after sampling the two recipes we cooked over that week we’ll be certainly ordering again.

Riverford deliver around 47.000 boxes a week to homes around the UK from their local organic farms.

The good thing about the boxes are that there’s no weekly commitment, you just order when you wish.

With Riverford a box of ingredients arrives and in the case of the Vegetarian quick box for two people a promise of getting food out in just 30 minutes is made. Could this be too good to be true. Sometimes in our house it’s over an hour.

The aim of the box is to cook fresh but taking away the stress of the preparation which includes the chopping of veg. All veg for the two meals is clearly labelled and measured for you, chopped and cut, so you can be on the way quickly. All spices and sauces are individually wrapped and a recipe is provided. And away you go.

The thing that strikes both of us is the quality of the ingredients and vegetables. They smell and feel fresh, the colours are vivid and and some had dirt still on them. The recipe cards were on the top of the box and all the ingredients enclosed in the box as portioned out to match the recipes were used, so no wastage.

The recipe cards or booklets were beautifully produced and very comprehensively put together. The clarity of the instructions and lay out assisted greatly in the artificial light and the step by step instructions were spot on.

We decided to make one dish each.

The first evening Ruth made the Miso Mushrooms with Kale, Green Beans and sticky rice. For me this was my favourite. Lovely flavours, healthy and filling at the same time and maybe not something we’d make usually. It packed a punch and made in 30 minutes just as promised. A very healthy dish where the quality of the ingredients shone through and were showcased perfectly.

The second night was my turn. The beautiful sounding Spinach and lentil Mulligatawny with Apple, carrot and ginger salad.

Again this dish was made in thirty minute, and again the instructions were clear and simple to follow. The dish itself was lovely. Good simple but healthy flavours with the quality ingredients giving the dish a lift. I found it easy to make and the addition of the salad gave a contrasting crunch. In fact the two components of the dish could be eaten separately, but together they certainly complimented and gave a filling effect.

One of us had the salad at the side and one on top of the mulligatawny both ways worked well.

I finished some of the mulligatawny off the next day and the flavours had more of a depth from been chilled over night in the fridge. A lovely dish which we both enjoyed.

What did I think?

Ruth and I both enjoyed the recipe box and recipes. The quick and light vegetarian box was a great success. The recipes were well written, presented beautifully and were completed in the time stated.

The ingredients were of the highest quality and the individual packaging kept them fresh and separate from each other.

I’d advise reading the recipe through before starting cooking but once all of the ingredients are laid out in front of you it’s easy to get going. The meals were full of flavour and filling and low in calories at the same time. For people with little time to make fresh food in the evening or who fancy trying different recipes that they may not normally make the vegetable boxes are an ideal way of treating yourself .

As I’ve said there’s no commitment to buy but you can do so when you feel ready. That’s ideal in my opinion.

The recipe box is perfect for two people and for Vegetarians it’s a lovely way to eat and a fun vibrant way to make and explore new dishes as well.

We’ll definitely be ordering again sometime soon.

Thanks for reading,

Andy😊

I was sent the Riverford quick and light organic vegetarian boxes complimentary for the purposes of my blog review. All opinions stressed are my own and Ruth’s. I have not been paid or sponsored for this post.

The Riverford Vegetarian quick box costs £24.95 for two speedy meals for two people. There is also a 3 meal version for £33.95.

Riverford Organic farmers limited is based in Buckfastleigh in Devon.

Known also for its abbey and homemade drinks made on site.

I know it well.

https://www.riverford.co.uk/

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ted up the next day.

Restaurant Review: Raja Monkey, Birmingham.


Birmingham’s current fondness for all things Indian Street Food is in a word becoming interesting though maybe the beginning of its undoing. With two new street food places due to open before Autumn snuggles into Winter, and one recent one Indian Streatery doing well in the centre of Birmingham, you may easily forget the original cafe in Brum that is the funky Raja Monkey.

Owned by the good kids of the Lasan group it strikes one instantly of the organisation and sophistication of its big brother Lasan (though on a smaller more intimate street food scale). Here you find the same high quality ingredients, the same beautiful attentive, polite and obliging service, and the same attention to detail in the cooking, that has heralded lasan as one of best, if not the best Indian palace of gastronomy in Birmingham.

The dishes are simpler here at the roadside Dhaba like Raja Monkey and more authentic.

The dishes show a vibrant complexity of flavours, spicing and cooking that is the sale of the century when you tally it with the price of the dishes.

To say the food is outstanding is in a way to undersell the joy that I experienced. I’ve been before (with Ruth) and salivated over the veggie Thalis and supreme dosas. And yes I’ve eaten so many takeaways from these guys that I’d hate to count up the total bill. Yet compared to some other more recent openings on the Indian Street Food trail Raja Monkey is the Manchester United to the Aston Villa (and I’m a villa fan). One that others should learn from in its effortless simplicity and devotion to the diner having a fine night out.

On this occasion my dining partner wasn’t Ruth, but a guy called Paul (Ruth did know where I was, so I wasn’t dodging fatherly duties, but then I may have been slightly!)

To say Raja Monkey is intimate is an understatement though it’s size doesn’t detract from the comfort of the comfortable long bench seats that recreates the informal rustic street food cafe look well. The walls adorned with retro pictures and artefacts with the faint sound of Indian music in the distance conjures up the road side cafe image it sets out to be.

The food is influenced by the Southern Indian cuisine of the continent.

Set off from the busy Stratford Road in the Hall Green part of Birmingham, Raja Monkey greets and meets that neighbourhood eatery concept well.

The Popodoms or Papads we ate whilst looking at the menu were crisp, served with a deliciously sweet yogurt Raita that had a delicious flavour.

I ate a Samosa Chaat, Chickpeas, potatoes, fried samosa pastry, served cold, piled high, with a soothing spicing that tickled the mouth and danced in the club of classic curry dishes and then somehow betters them making you sigh and dip into your cold beer with joy. An instant satisfying joy.

I also tried the Pau Bhaji, a deeply satisfying Street Food snack of mashed veg Bhaji with roasted pau buns, brioche like with uplifting flavours and spicing made with panache. A very satisfying starter.

We both moved onto a Vegetable Kadai a melange of veggies in a masaledar gravy. Colourful crunchy vegetables with an appetising appearance. Rich with tomatoes, a good chilli heat gave the veg a rich textured flavour that rewarded generously.

Mopped up with an appreciative Roti it was a sensational dish of perfect spicing and immaculate cooking.

A delight of a vegetarian curry.

To finish, a lip smacking soft and spongy Rasmalai was enjoyed. A melt in your mouth texture, and the perfect refreshing pallet cleanser after a spicy curry.

A pudding of pure joy.

Raja Monkey Excels with its Brilliant Vegetarian cooking. They make use of quality ingredients and thoughtful spicing with an artistic touch of sophistication, all without the pomp. It’s self confident and on a Tuesday night the food hit the curry longing spot like a Romalau Lukaku shot on the turn.

Raja Monkey always been good, but to be honest now It excels.

For a sublime, but informal curry with a great value price maybe it can’t be beaten in Birmingham and for Vegetarians if it’s not on your list of places to visit or revisit then I’m afraid you don’t deserve promotion to the Premier league.

A true road side cafe.

Thanks for reading,

Andy 😊

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Thanks to Paul Fulford for the invite to dine with him at Raja Monkey. My food and drink was complimentary but all views expressed are my own.

Our Food was washed down by a couple of Cobra lagers.

Raja Monkey, 1355 Stratford Road, Hall Green, Birmingham, B28 9HH.

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commend a take away from Raja Monkey. Menu on website.

http://www.rajamonkey.co.uk/

My previous review is here:

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/vegiefoodie.com/2015/01/23/raja-monkey-authentic-indian-street-food-in-birmingham/amp/