KingshEATh’s 2nd Birthday | KingshEATh Streetfood Market

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Me: I said Kingsheath, HEATH!

Matt: oh

So after a slight detour through Kings Norton, we arrived at the market.

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Bathed in sunshine, the square was alive with people eating and chatting, live music playing and wonderful smells of all the different foods cooking.

BrumYumYum who organise the monthly market were celebrating KingshEATh’s second Birthday, and plenty of people had turned up to join in the celebrations : the place was packed!

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I’ve never seen people queue for so long but be perfectly happy about it. I presumed that they were regulars who perhaps knew the food was worth waiting for!

I joined the queue for MeatHeads.

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I was desperate to try one of their meatball subs after being far too full to try one at last weekend’s Streetfood Market in Brindley Place.

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The Zeus Ball Sub: Lamb Balls with Feta, Mint, Preserved Lemon, Olives, topped with  Yoghurt & Mint Sauce and Olive Tapenade. Yum.  I tried to eat this delicately and failed. Choosing instead to adopt the simpler, but less ladylike, apply-food-to-face method, this disappeared in no time at all!

The meatballs were super tender and juicy, and the olive tapenade was so zingy and fresh. And the potatoes: cooked to perfection, they were fluffy on the inside while the skins were chewy and sweet in their herby dressing.  Worth the wait.

Next stop: The Sunday Kitchen’s Dirty Great Griddled Sandwiches. What a name! We were sold.

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I chose the Masala Chicken, Sweet Lime Slaw and Goat Curd. Lou & Harriet who are the clever people who make these beauties, told us how they had sampled the goat curd in Cambridge somewhere, and liked it so much that they actually built this whole sandwich around it. It was sounding promising. I love it when people talk so passionately about the food that they produce, it just makes you want to eat it even more, knowing how much love has gone into it.

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It was incredible. Like seriously good. The goat curd, tangy and slightly sour against the warm spices on the masala chicken, and the fresh zesty coleslaw. Oh my. Try it.

Full, but still wanting more, I bought some sweet things to take home with us.

The guys at Bake were busy.  As I got up close, I could see why.

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I obviously bought a couple of things!

Mrs Mills Cakes, with it’s towers of Rocky Road and Brownies, looked divine.

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I bought a Banana Chip and Peanut Butter Granola Bar. (Although now looking at these photos, it is beyond me why I didn’t buy more).

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Not overly sweet or cloggy, you could taste all of the ingredients. Although I would have liked more peanut flavour. It does contain peanut butter, but maybe some whole peanuts as well would have been good. I do like peanuts though!

The cakes from Bake went down a treat with a cup of tea in the garden.

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The Raspberry White Chocolate Lemon Cake, tasted as if it hadn’t been drizzled with, but in fact SAT in a bowl of lemon sugar syrup, it was so moist. The white chocolate icing was dense, creamy and fudge-like. The tart raspberries were a welcome contrast to the overwhelming sweetness. AMAZING.

I also bought a slice of Salted Peanut Millionaires Shortbread. I’d not tried dark chocolate with peanut before: this was much more sophisticated than a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.  The shortbread base was buttery, and crumbled as soon as your fork hit it, it was so good. The caramel was FULL of peanuts, and salty and delicious.  Topped with the smooth dark chocolate ganache, this was really rich. But oh so good.

I’d just like to point out at this point, that I did SHARE this food with my husband and daughter, although a diet of lettuce for the next week is still required.

Brum Yum Yum run the KingshEATh Streetfood Market every second Saturday of the month.

Street Food Festival | Brindley Place

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Street Food Festival | Brindley Place

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Easter Sunday. A day of stuffing your face with huge amounts of chocolate, roast dinners and whatever else you might fancy. I didn’t let the side down.

Breakfast was hot, buttered toast spread with a ridiculous amount of marmalade, made using a wholemeal seeded loaf I’d baked that morning.

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After a Cadbury’s Easter Egg Hunt at Birmingham Back to Backs on Hurst Street, we headed into town on the hunt for more food.

We hit the jackpot in Brindley Place.  Transformed into a huge Street Food Festival, the place was buzzing!

How do you choose when everything looks and smells so good?!

Sticky Fig Catering seemed like a good place to start: Smoked Pulled Pork served with Coleslaw in a Brioche Bun. Oh yes please.

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Man alive, this tasted GOOD! Matt and I bought one between us, but it took all my strength to share this beauty with him.  The roll was buttery and sweet, the meat was tasty and plentiful, and the pickled chillies were bursting with flavour. I mean, just look at it. Something that looks that good,  can only taste amazing.

Verity wanted a pizza. Bare Bones Pizza have a wood fired oven in their van. IN THEIR VAN. What a great idea that is!

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Once it had gone through thorough testing and evaluation, she ate every last piece. Well ok, we might have ‘helped’.

It was hard not to notice Pip’s Hot Sauce : a bright red beacon amongst all the other stalls.

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I am a chilli lover. Bring on the heat, I can take it. Much to the annoyance of my husband, who likes to think he’s as hard-core as I am: he’s not.  He held himself together well, but I could tell from his eyes that Pip’s Super Hot La Boca Del Diablo sauce was burning his insides. I thought it was yummy. Rather than just tasting ‘hot’, you really get the fresh chilli flavour.

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I bought a bottle of the Calabaza Malvada Hot Sauce. Made with pumpkin, cumin and scotch bonnet chillies, this is actually at the milder end of the scale of all the sauces they have.  Matt, who makes all of  the sauces with his partner Pip, suggested using it as a marinade on meat, or stirring it through roast veg towards the end of cooking.

On to pudding.

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I’d seen that the guys at White Heat were advertising Lemon Pie, and I was intrigued. I could see that they were cooking all of the  food from fresh, so how were they going to make a pie?

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A thick layer of Italian meringue was spooned into a serving bowl, before Gaz grabbed his blowtorch (gotta love a bit of on the street, blowtorch action) and cooked the top until it was beautifully caramelised.  He then sprinkled it with a layer of oaty crumble, before dolloping on a huge spoonful of homemade lemon curd. Topped with another layer of crumble, the pie was made.

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I had to fight off both Matt and Verity just to have some of this to myself! A  deconstructed lemon meringue pie, there was just enough crunch from the crumble to bring together an otherwise very wet pudding. Yum.

Stuffed, we left the market to spend the rest of Easter Sunday eating chocolate with my family.

The market is on for just one more day, Monday 6th April, so get down there if you can.

Brindley Place, Birmingham B1 2JF

The Botanist | Temple Street Birmingham

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Up until fairly recently, my sister’s idea of a fancy cocktail was a Malibu and coke.  But just lately she’s been telling me all about the bars she’s been trying around the city, and her instagram feed has become dotted with beautiful pictures of all sorts of exotic drinks: a Hummingbird from Turtle Bay, Mai Tais at Island Bar. So when I was invited to preview a new cocktail bar restaurant, I absolutely had to take Alex with me!

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The Botanist is stunning.  Untreated wood floors, a mix of vintage looking furniture, and the most beautiful and unusual lighting fixtures. Alex said that if Laura Ashley made bars, then this is what it would look like. And I think she’s right: it has quite a feminine feel, but with industrial touches like the wrought iron gates, and lamps constructed from rope pulleys and watering cans.

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I’d had a peek at the cocktail menu on their website a week or so ago, and it’s impressive.  As the name of the place would suggest, the use of herbs and other edible plants feature heavily: a Raspberry & Thyme Martini? Yes please!

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Everything, seriously, EVERYTHING on their cocktail menu sounds amazing.  But hard as it was, I chose one. A Watermelon Martini: Fresh watermelon, Green Mark vodka, watermelon syrup, lemon juice and sugar. Yum. Alex ordered the Strawberry & Cucumber Breeze: Fresh cucumber, mint, Beefeater gin, apple juice, vanilla syrup, cranberry juice, strawberry liqueur, lemon juice and strawberry purée.

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As I expected, they tasted delicious. The only obstacle was trying to drink it without impaling myself on the huge wedge of watermelon!

We were taken to be seated in the restaurant, and wow! The place is actually huge! You can’t tell how big it actually is from the bar, as a wall divides the two areas.

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Alice who served us, was so enthusiastic about the menu, you couldn’t help but want to try everything!

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Our starters arrived looking an absolute picture. I mean, Plum & Apple Chutney in a teeny tiny wheelbarrow – off the scale cute!

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The Chicken Liver & Rum Pâté was hidden beneath a ginger crumb in a small terracotta pot. It was a huge portion, but the ratio to bread was perfect. The chutney was mellow and sweet, not at all overpowering.

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The pork crackling was light and puffed, not like the stuff you get that you fear will break half of your teeth. And oh my, the Salt & Pepper Onion Petals were the stuff of dreams. They had a subtle Chinese Five Spice flavour, which the manager Julian confirmed was used in the batter, along with some other secret ingredients and, of course, some herbs.

So far impressed, out came the mains. Lamb Tagine with Pearl Couscous for me.  A rich and meaty sauce served over chilli and pomegranate flecked couscous. The meat was tender, but a little fatty for my taste.  Alex chose one of their Chicken Hanging Kebabs™.

 

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Just a tip: when they say to pour the melted butter slowly over the hanging kebab, it’s for a very good reason. Alex was a bit too enthusiastic and ended up with half of it spraying out onto the table and almost all over her shirt.

More cocktails? Oh go on then!

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The Botanist Pornstar (ahem): Black Cow vodka and Passoã shaken with fresh passion fruit, strawberry purée, rose syrup, pineapple juice and lemon, served with a shot of Prosecco.  Not the prettiest of cocktails, despite the name, but that hardly matters when it tastes that good.

The Botanist: Green Mark vodka, Havana 3 rum, elderflower liqueur, red amaranth, mint, jasmine syrup and lime juice topped with lemonade.

Carrot & Ginger Crush: Fresh ginger, mint, carrot juice and apple juice served over crushed ice with an optional dash of tabasco. Now this was unusual. It had a clean, fresh taste, I suppose coming from the carrot and mint, but with a heat that caught in the back of your throat. The apple juice sweetened it a little, but we both agreed that it needed a little more sugar in it.

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Orange & Thyme: Appleton VX rum, Grand Marnier, orange juice, lime juice, vanilla syrup and fresh thyme. I LOVED the fresh thyme in this.  I wont normally touch Grand Marnier, but this was a delight. Try it.

Alice told us how the Sticky Toffee Pudding was a long standing dessert in their other branches found in Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Chester and Alderley Edge. So good that it would never be taken off the menu. Sold.

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I was only going to try a little as I was so full by this point. I ate it all. Enough said.

Alex tried the Strawberry & Marshmallow Kebab. It wasn’t the most attractive looking desert: toasted marshmallows dripping down a kebab of fresh strawberries.  She said it tasted nice enough, but would have expected something more impressive.

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Would we recommend The Botanist? Definitely. The food was lovely, the surroundings were beautiful, but for me, the real draw is the cocktails.  I’ll be back again and again, working my way through that beautiful menu.

The Botanist, 14-16 Temple Street, Birmingham B2 5BG

Opens Monday 6th April.

We were invited to attend this press lunch by WPR Agency. All food and drink was complimentary. However, I was not paid to write this post. All opinions are my own.

Harborne Farmer’s Market

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It’s rare for me to go anywhere near a high street on a Saturday.  People. Everywhere.

So although the Farmer’s Market in Harborne has been running for some years now, I’d never actually been.   It’s not the largest market I’ve ever visited, and was apprehensive as I walked towards it, worried that it would have little to offer. I was wrong. The organisers have obviously got a quality over quantity approach to choosing stall holders.

The first stall that caught my attention was KUSKUS Foods. The food looked bright, vibrant and fresh. It smelt amazing! Mo, who introduced himself as the chef, was so enthusiastic about what he had created, you couldn’t help but want to tuck in.  I chose the falafels, cooked fresh that morning, and his ‘raw’ hummous which contains the usual chickpeas but with some secret herbs and spices.

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VERDICT: The. Best. Falafels I’ve ever eaten. Full of flavour, moist (what a word) and made with lots of visible ingredients – unlike the sawdust textured versions you usually find in the supermarket. The hummous had a real zing to it, and I loved the chunky texture.  I actually had a pot of supermarket own brand hummous in the fridge which I then tasted in comparison, and wow. Worlds apart. My normal hummous tasted flat, bland and disappointingly smooth. I am converted.

Another great find was Quirki Chilli. A beautifully aromatic crushed chilli paste made in my hometown of Sutton Coldfield. Made from three different chilli varieties, from the mild to the super hot, this definitely has a kick! Suggestions on how to use it include as a dip, paste or marinade.  I thought it could perhaps be used in place of the usual harrisa paste in one of my favourite recipes.  An adapted recipe based on a magazine cutting that my mom passed to me years ago.

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A triumph!

The market runs twice a month, every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month. Details can be found at  www.skettsfarmersmarkets.co.uk.