Category Archives: Warwickshire

Midlands Supper Clubs

When I told friends that I’ve been invited to attend two Supper Clubs, their responses ranged from intrigue at trying something new to trepidation of dining at a secret location. I’m torn between Italian cuisine in Warwickshire or a French menu in Birmingham to try, so I hope that writing this post helps me to decide which one to go to!

Historically born out of out of paladares of Cuba, London, New York and Amsterdam were quick to popularise the idea of Supper Clubs. As a pop-up dining experience that caters for individual tastes, Supper Clubs have evolved as an alternative to ordinary restaurants or stuffy dinner parties. With a recent survey by YouGov revealing that 40% of us now think that dinner parties are too expensive, time-consuming and stressful to bother with, Supper Clubs are most definitely here to stay.

Inspired by the idea of sharing good food, every month Alex and Sara Chambers throw open the doors of their Warwickshire home and invite strangers to dinner. As owners of Squisito Deli, the couple extend their love of Italian cuisine to foodies who join them at the Squisito Supper Club for a five course meal.

Squisito Supper Club menus make the most of fresh seasonal produce that are also prepared with the Slow Food ethos. Frolesworth free range chicken with green olives and Squisito preserved lemon, Sardinian pecorino with pink peppercorns and Warwickshire honey all featured on their last event.

Squisito is the only Supper Club that I am aware of in Warwickshire, but there are a few more running in Birmingham.

The Tan Rosie Caribbean Supper Club is a chance to sample Caribbean dishes from Jamaica, Grenada, Trinidad and Cuba in the hosts’ living room in Erdington. Chef Monica says that their Supper Club is “a great way to eat fantastic home-cooked food, meet new people and broaden your knowledge of Caribbean food in a fun, friendly and safe environment.”

Over in Bearwood, baked scallops and prawns in saffron cream and duck in balsamic syrup with dauphinoise potatoes were main courses for the first Supper Club held at the end of May. Cake maker Rachel (one of the Crafty Muthas) and professional chef Richard have teamed up to run a new monthly Supper Club for up to 20 people. Rachel says that guests can expect “a five to six course meal served over a good three to four hours with background music, atmospheric surroundings and plenty of chat!”

Judging by the response on Twitter, Le Truc Cafe’s first event on Saturday 9th June could well be a sell-out.  Du pain, du vin and beaucoup de fromage are promised at La Soiree Popette in a secret location in Birmingham.

So what makes a successful Supper Club? Genial hosts who genuinely food and cooking, a popular cuisine and chance to try something new seem to be the winning combinations. With a bring your own drinks policy, £25 is the average price that you can expect to pay for a truly memorable Supper Club evening.

Whether you want to try out recipes on friends, be a chef patron of your own restaurant for the night or just entertain for less money, running your own Supper Club is the dining revolution you’ve been looking for.

If you’d like to run your own Supper Club, then there is only one site that I’d recommend. Kerstin Rodgers, also known as mrsmarmitelover, is a food blogger and pioneer of supper clubs in London –  launching one of the first in the UK back in 2009. Her blog is packed with recipes, photos and tips on running a great Supper Club that is stylish and individual.

Alternatively, enjoy the experience by being a guest and check   http://www.supperclubfangroup.ning.com to find your nearest Supper Club.

http://www.squisito-deli.co.uk

http://www.tanrosie.com/supperclub.html

http://welovebearwood.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/bearwoods-got-taste.html

http://www.letruc.co.uk

www.marmitelover.blogspot.co.uk

By Tracy of Midlands Gourmet Girl

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Lazy Sunday Brunch

I love going out for Sunday brunch, it is the perfect way to spend the morning and breeze your way into a lazy day. I’ve been a bit greedy lately and I have been out for Sunday brunches two weeks running and both times were at one of Peach Pubs in Warwickshire. My first trip was to The Almanack in Kenilworth and the second to The Rose and Crown in Warwick. I thought about writing two separate posts, but as I virtually had the same breakfast at both, it seemed better to have one joint post.

I have been to The Almanack a couple of times for brunch and have always enjoyed it. On this occasion I was visiting with a friend who I hadn’t seen for a while, so there was much to catch up on. The Almanack is quite a large, light, open pub which has a modern retro interior. You can see the whole of the venue wherever you stand. We ordered our coffees at the bar and went to find a table. We hadn’t booked a table, but that wasn’t a problem as there was enough room. When I have had brunch here before my choice has been pancakes and maple syrup accompanied by crispy bacon, however on this occasion I felt I should have a more healthy and substantial choice. My friend suggested the salmon muffin, with egg on a bed of spinach and hollandaise sauce. I went with her recommendation. Whilst we waited for our food, we chatted and took in the atmosphere. There was a good mix of families, friends and couples, which created quite a buzz and a relaxed atmosphere. Our food didn’t take very long to arrive but we were both a bit underwhelmed by it. There was only one half of an English muffin, with a little salmon, although there were two eggs. My friend commented that the last time she had this, there was a whole muffin and more Salmon. On the whole this was a nice meal, the flavours worked well together and our eggs were just runny enough. However, I was disappointed by the quantity of food based on what I have had in other venues for the same price. The service was of an acceptable standard, the food arrived within a short time and our plates were cleared in a timely manner. Before we knew it, it was early afternoon and we were surrounded by people eating their Sunday lunch! So definitely time to get on with the rest of our day.

The next week I found myself in The Rose and Crown, where I have not eaten for many years and not at all for brunch. I was meeting a different friend and this was a social as well as a business brunch. Having rushed from the car to the pub due to the rain, it was lovely to get inside a warm pub which as soon as I walked in the door I felt the relaxed atmosphere. This has a more homely feel to it and is in an L shape, with a real fire. I had booked a table for us this time as I know it can get very busy, but if I hadn’t there would have been tables available. I chose to sit by the fire so that I could warm up and dry out. Whilst waiting for my friend I ordered a coffee and reviewed the menu. Again I felt I needed to choice something more substantial so I opted for the free range eggs royale and my friend had a sausage muffin. When our meals arrived I was amazed at how much was on my plate, this time there was one whole English muffin, an abundance of salmon, two eggs and hollandaise sauce. My friend’s was as you would expect, two sausages on an English muffin. I felt the service here was a slot slower, I had to wait quite a while for my coffee and it took quite a while then for someone to come back to us to take our breakfast order. Due to the awful weather we were offered a Rain Cheque, which gives us a free dessert next time we have a meal at the pub. We thought this was a great initiative.

Having experienced more or less the same brunch at two of the Peach Pubs, there was evidently a difference in the dishes, which I would have thought would have been consistent due to being part of the same independent chain. However, overall I would recommend either of the two places as they both provide a relaxed atmosphere and a good standard of food. The use of the golden syrup and black treacle tins for the sugar is quite quirky and I like the little saucer of smarties you got with your drink.

By Lula Belle from Glamour in the County

Finest Beef For All

Image by James Day

A special event was recently hosted by Michelin Chef  Andreas Antona celebrating the World’s finest beef, and raising awareness for grading British Beef.

Andreas is passionate about beef, and in particular considers Scottish the finest in the World. However he stresses, “Beef is not all of equal quality and that makes it especially important for diners and chefs alike, to be able to identify the very best that is available.”

“British beef should be graded” the Midland’s leading entrepreneurial chef Andreas Antona told specially invited guests at Beef, his Kenilworth Steak House restaurant. “After all” he explained, “restaurants are graded by Michelin and the AA with stars and rosettes, so it only makes sense to do the same to the produce they serve.”

Guests were treated to a tour of the Master Butchers Aubrey Allen in Coventry, including their extensive ageing rooms, and a presentation on their unrivalled support from farmer to fork ensuring quality is paramount throughout the process.

Simon Smith of Aubrey Allen commented, “We are very proud of our relationships between some of the worlds’ finest Beef producers and the team at Beef who like us put animal welfare, consistency and quality first, our philosophy hasn’t changed since the company formed in 1933. Andreas has visited the wonderful producers up in the North East of Scotland with us to see first hand the natural environment that helps to produce the ‘champagne’ of beef for his customers to enjoy at Beef.”

At the lunch, hosted by Andreas, guests were able to sample and compare beef cuts from around the world, at the award-winning in Kenilworth restaurant, including USDA (US) Wagyu (Japan/Australia) and Scottish.

Andreas commented, “Everyone has a favourite cut, breed and method of cooking, but I like finest Scotch beef, aged for over 21 days, and cooked simply on our custom char-grill. There is a lot of misleading information in the public domain, and through events like this we aim to share our passion, knowledge and understanding with others, so we can support outstanding quality.

James Day of Midlands based Lifestyle Dining Club Gourmet-life.co.uk who helped organise the event added “to bring together such good quality ingredients, and experienced chefs who respect such ingredients, and who cook them to perfection is something that is worth celebrating. Andreas’ passion for quality beef is evident, and to share this with others was a real opportunity and a great success”

Louise and I were lucky enough to be invited to this event. It was so amazing and we learnt so much. We hope they do another one of these events soon! 🙂

By Jo of Jo’s Kitchen

on behalf of MFB

The Street Food Revolution

Here is a guest post from one of our newest member’s, Felicity of Jabberwocky, a VW transporter that, along with Barny the chef is taking the good street food message all across Warwickshire. You can check out the blog of their adventures here.

The Street Food Revolution

Over in America, where everything is bigger, the craze for fast food is something of a national pastime. It’s no surprise then that street food there has taken off in a big way, with huge vans serving weird and wonderful concoctions on the street and a TV show to make sure everyone was aware of it.

Over here the revolution is gradually picking up pace as people move away from the tired-looking burger and begin to explore new alfresco pleasures. In 2010 the first competition to find the best British street food was held, and in 2011 the prize was a pitch at the Olympics, a sure fire sign that the country is taking notice of the humble “mobiler” and beginning to change habits of a lifetime.

I say habits, because as a nation we can be a tad reluctant to embrace change. As someone firmly ensconced in the catering side of the divide I constantly come up against willing volunteers who would love to try something new if offered for free, but would run a mile before parting with hard earned cash, because they “might not like it”.

These fine folk have a very valid point, of course. There is an excellent case for going to a restaurant you know and like rather than risking “that new place”, because the resulting dining experience might be mind-bogglingly bad and ferociously expensive. Incidentally, that’s where the blogging community comes in handy, offering impartial advice without the amusing and wonderfully reactionary bile of Trip Advisor.

However with street food the internet cannot (yet) provide the same wealth of information, so we will occasionally be faced with a whole new van of food, and no up-to-date information on whether we will like it. Here is where I think we need to take a chance. Street food, by nature, is cheap and cheerful. This applies to the van serving the wholesale burger and those selling the artisan, hand cooked falafel or the gourmet noodle box alike.

So I would like to leave you with a simple request, on behalf of all my fellow mobilers out there: if you find yourself tempted by the same old things, take a chance with you lunch, and try something different. Even if it doesn’t work out you have not broken the bank, and if you pass your feedback to the food van they will probably even be grateful to hear it, I know I would be.

I may well be preaching to the crowd here, but I think independent food is worth fighting for, and there is no better time to start than where you’re feeling a touch on the peckish side and fancy a “something or other” on the go.

By Jo of Jo’s Kitchen

On behalf of MFB