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

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Glyn Purnell Is Going To Cook Up A Storm For Cure Leukaemia

Michelin-starred chef, Glynn Purnell will host an exclusive evening with blood cancer charity Cure Leukaemia on Monday March 5 at Warwickshire County Cricket Club’s Edgbaston Stadium.

Cure Leukaemia continues its long standing partnership with Edgbaston to showcase an evening of culinary talent at the brand new Jaguar Suite. Glynn will be directing a live cooking event with assistance from Edgbaston head chef, Dave Hill along with Warwickshire’s Director of Cricket Ashley Giles (also a Cure Leukaemia Patron), Captain Jim Troughton and BBC WM Radio DJ Phil Upton.

Guests will be given the opportunity to be involved in Q&A sessions in between each course and all attendees will receive an executive gift once the kitchen challenge has ended.

The evening is the first official event Glynn has helped organised since Cure Leukaemia announced him as a Patron for the Midlands based charity.

Glynn comments on becoming a patron: “It’s an honour to be a part of Cure Leukaemia and what better way to kick off my involvement than hosting an event at Edgbaston. Everyone has been so welcoming and it is fantastic to be able to combine my passion for food with hosting an event of this nature to raise awareness of the life changing research and treatment.

“I’m looking forward to helping promote the ground-breaking work at Cure Leukaemia. The pioneering research and life-saving treatments that the nurses carry out day-to-day is astounding, and so important because we’re still searching for cures to this illness.”

Glynn was made famous by his appearance on BBC’s Great British Menu where he championed local produce and created exciting and innovative dishes. Glynn owns and runs a string of successful fine dining restaurants in Birmingham city centre, Purnell’s, his Michelin starred restaurant which opened in 2007 and more recently, The Asquith and Ginger’s Bar.

Jackie Kelly, General Manager at Cure Leukaemia said: “We’re thrilled to have fellow Birmingham-based Glynn as a Patron of the charity. This event would not have taken place without Glynn’s support, the evening will be one to remember for all, a VIP event for all good food buffs  and cricket fans alike.”

Cure Leukaemia is a long-standing partner of Edgbaston and last year the venue donated more than £75,000 and renamed its iconic Eric Hollies in honour of the charity at last year’s npower Test Match between England and India.

For more information and to book tickets for this exclusive event, please Contact Ruth Bishop on 0121 371 4367 or email info@cureleukaemia.co.uk.

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

BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Awards

We’re back and our first post of 2012 comes from the lovely Charlotte of Go Free Foods,  a company which provides quality cakes free from wheat, gluten and dairy but as tasty as ‘regular’ products. Not content with being a MD of her own company, Charlotte is also a food writer, recipe developer, cookery demonstrator and food blogger for Hello Magazine.com. So over to Charlotte to hear about her day at the BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Awards.  

It was a great thrill to receive tickets to attend 2011’s BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Awards. It’s, to my mind, of great importance that the BBC champion independent and artisanal food producers from farm to fork, so to speak, and I took great interest in finding out more about the nominees, spanning from cheese makers, to a micro brewery in Bristol. For a full list of nominees, take a look at the Food and Farming Awards website here.

The awards were recorded in Birmingham at the NEC, at the same time as the BBC Good Food Show, so it was an excellent opportunity to take a good look around the show at the same time. I always love to catch up with friends and see what new food producers are up to at these shows.

My guest for the day was Vanessa Kimbell. Running late from delayed trains into Birmingham, we practically sprinted through the NEC to make it to our seats in time, hurriedly catching up on our news as Sheila Dillon, the wonderful presenter of the Food Programme on Radio 4 took to the stage.

BBC Food Farming Awards - Sheila Dillon

Throughout the presentation, which was also being recorded to be broadcast on Radio 4 (it was repeated on Christmas Day morning) at the same time, we were shown some delightful videos of the shortlisted food producers and what made them so special.

Each award was presented by a well known figure; with those presenting including Rick Stein, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Richard Corrigan and Adam Henson from Countryfile.

All of the awards were tremendously well-deserved and indeed so were those of the runners up. There are many genuinely exciting and innovative food producers, farmers, cooperative owners and artisans all over the British Isles, and it’s great to celebrate the valuable work they do.

I chatted to Richard Corrigan after the awards, who was just bubbling with excitement about the quality, skill and expertise which goes into the production of so many wonderful foods. We talked about just how far this has come on in recent years, and how the quality of so many foods being produced in the UK easily rival any being made abroad nowadays. Particularly so on the cheese front. You can here Richard talk about the Loch Arthur Creamery cheese makers on BBC iplayer, which won the Best Food Producer website.

Adam Henson and I discussed the changes in farming which have taken place in recent years, including the focus on sustainability and the positive impact this can have on farmers.

BBC Food Farming Awards - Adam Henson

I was also lucky enough to chat with Adrian Dolby, runner up in the Farmer of the Year Award, and his delightful wife. The work they do on the Barrington Park Estate is tremendously valuable.

I was so thrilled to have the chance to chat to some of the winners and runners up after the awards ceremony. The lovely ladies at Alder Tree Fruit Ices told me about their lovely products (which were absolutely delicious, my blackcurrant fruit ice disappeared in no time). They are predominantly a fruit farm, who use home grown seasonal fruits in all their ices. They, I think, are destined for great things.BBC Food Farming Awards - Golspie Mill

I tried some sensational bread from Golspie Mill (runner up in the Best Food Producer category) whilst chatting to the lovely Wayne Wright, a passionate chef at Harper Adams Community College. An inspirational chef, with a great philosophy and winner of the Best Public Caterer Award.

BBC Food Farming Awards - Wayne Wright

Next time we go on holiday to the Lake District, we will be stopping off in Bolton, that’s for certain. Their sensational market won the Best Food Market Award. All I can say is that I wish there were more food markets like this. A great community market, where people can actually go to do their weekly shop! I’m all for farmers markets and there are so many excellent ones around, but the issue I have is with the cost of some of the products on sale. It’s just not realistic for very many people to buy a significant proportion of their weekly shop there. Bolton Market is different, selling great value, local produce and is, as a result, really well supported by the local community. Below are Malcom Veigas from Bolton Council, who accepted the award.

BBC Food Farming Awards - Bolton Market

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall was the deserving winner of the BBC Food Champion of the Year Award, for the Hugh’s Fish Fight campaign, working tirelessly to change the rules and regulations surrounding fishing quotas and fishing wastage. We were shown a clip from the television campaign which Hugh fronted to highlight the issue, and I was truly horrified by the practices which are in place, which have to be followed defying common sense or logic.

Finally, I chatted to Valentine Warner, a great champion of British produce, who was really excited about the awards and what they mean, and is very keen to support the work of BBC Radio 4 in running the awards.

BBC Food Farming Awards - Valentine Warner

Please do take a look at the nominees and winners and remember…support local when you can!

Thanks to Charlotte for her insight into what was a great day. You can see more of what Charlotte’s up to on her blog Charlotte’s Kitchen Diary

Festive Greetings

Here at MFB we’re enjoying some quality family time over the festive period and hope all our members, readers and friends are too.

Christmas Cupcake

WISHING YOU MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR

We will be back in the New Year – see you in 2012.

Festive Food Bank Time

Today we have a guest post from one of our longest members of Midlands Food Bloggers, Charlene from No Love Sincerer. At this time of over indulgence she highlights a cause that should be close to every foodies heart. 

A couple of months ago, Edwina Curry, a former Conservative minister, stated that she did not believe that people in this country go hungry. Do you agree with her comments?

As food bloggers we are, as a breed, usually well-fed. We cook good food, eat in nice restaurants and even get sent food for free to review a lot of the time. It is easy to forget that there are people in this country who do not have the luxury of being able to afford both heating and food. Food poverty is an issue in the Midlands, as well as a wider issue throughout the UK. This BBC article from earlier this year explains how a ‘Food Bank’ in Stourbridge saw a 45% rise in demand since 2010.

That’s why I want to tell you about Food Banks. Food banks have been set up throughout the UKby the Trussell Trust, a charity working to fight poverty. They have now launched over 100 food banks in theUK, which they report fed over 60,000 people who were experiencing food poverty last year.

Food Bank

You can help your local food bank by donating money, food or time. This map will allow you to find your nearest food bank along with their contact details and web address, so you can find out where and how you can help, should you wish to. There are already a number of food banks in theMidlands area, with more under development.

My nearest food bank is in Coventry , and we have been collecting tins of food for the cause at work. Supermarkets have also been getting in on the action, with non-perishable food donations being collected at most of the major supermarkets in the area. Here is an explanation of how the food bank works.

It being the season of good-will and all, I thought it would be worth highlighting this very worthy cause. I hope you will consider helping in whatever way you can.

Thanks to Charlene for this great article. 

Bite ‘n’ Write

We at MFB were very happy to hear of a food bloggers conference here in Birmingham, Bite ‘N’ Writeorganised by one of our members – Annie Ko. We had managed to get a few of our lovely bloggers to go along and here is a quick overview of the day from Louise of Comida y Vida

An event for food bloggers right on my doorstop, a chance to learn to some information and get tips to improve my blog, and an opportunity to meet some of my fellow bloggers with whom I have tweeted with for a long time … well I couldn’t resist.

Bite 'N' Write badge

I booked the ticket for Bite ‘n’ Write so long ago, that by the time November 19th arrived I was too excited for words, if a little nervous at leaving Baby G with Daddy for the longest time yet …. 14 hours!!

So bright and breezy I jumped on a train to Birmingham and once in the lobby of New Street searched out a few of my fellow attendee’s. How to spot a blogger in a busy public place is perhaps a discussion for another day but I wouldn’t recommend walking up to a stranger and asking them if they are a blogger …. you will most certainly get a strange look!

Once the troops had gathered, including the my fellow MFB members Jules of Butcher, Baker, Julia of Wannabefoodie and Kath the Ordinary Cook, together with the very lovely Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog and Charlotte of Go Free foods, we set off for the venue. The event was held in the Old Library room at the Custard Factory.

I won’t go into detail regarding all the workshops that were held during the day as many other blogs have put it far better than I could including Louise at the Vegetarian Experience. I haven’t any decent photo’s to share with you either as was too busy taking in all the information, but here’s my highlights:

* The photography workshop by Craig Fraser of Frasershot was the best start to the day. An interesting look into how professional food photography is carried out and some simple tips to create stunning pictures at home. Who knew silver card and a tampon could be such useful tools?

* Judith Lewis of Mostly about Chocolate and SEO specialist gave an insight into optimising your blog which I found interesting but which was a tad too technical or not of interest for some of my fellow attendee’s.

* The tasting by Artisan du Chocolat was a particular high, a chocolate high that is! We got to learn all about chocolate and taste a wide range of their products. I particularly liked the mint one and the Masala Chai. I loved the look of the O’s too.

* Jeanne of Cook Sister gave a really interesting talk about writing and how to make your blog attractive to readers with tips on the design and content of the blog.

So those were my highlights, but for a fair review I must mention my disappointment with some aspects of the day. The main issue for me was the the lack of time and setting to mingle with the other food bloggers. Whilst I got to know the people on my table it was difficult to find time to meet everyone else. Also the venue was not the greatest with a serious heating problem leaving me drinking cups of coffee just to stop from turning blue, and the meaty non-indian lunch was a bit of a let-down.

I applaud Annie Ko for having the intrepidity to get up and organise something like this event, especially after such a short time blogging, and considering it was her first event it was good. However, there are many things to be improved upon and I would hope that these are put into place to make sure this can become an annual event.

I finished off the day with a get together with some of my tweeties for some delicious food and wine at Jamie’s Italian.

By Louise of Comida y Vida on behalf of MFB.