Dim Sum, according to Chung Ying Centralowner James Wong, originates from an ancient Chinese love story. The Emperor would lay on lavish feasts for his concubine, and when she expressed concern over her expanding waistline, the Emperor ordered his chefs to create tiny but beautiful dishes to satisfy her. When he presented them to her, he said “these are little pieces of my heart I give to you”…
After the fantastic launch event I was invited to a few weeks ago, Bun & Bowl, Birmingham’s only Burger and Shrimp restaurant, invited me back for the full-size experience. Of course I was happy to oblige, so I headed over last Friday after work to sample the delights of their entire menu.
We arrived at 7, where it was quiet but welcoming, and straight away we were seated by the huge windows with…
This week I was lucky enough to have my latest review published by the lovely folks over at Dine Birmingham. Head over to their site for mine and a plethora of other reviews from Birmingham’s best bars & eateries and get inspired!
A sunny weekend can only mean two things. Beer. Garden.
Luckily for me, last weekend was a scorcher and the good folks at Wychwood Brewery had sent me some of their ales to try while I enjoyed the sunshine on my patio.
I like to think of myself as a beer connoisseur. What that really means is, I enjoy drinking it, and I certainly enjoyed sampling these 3 offerings from Wychwood. The first, and probably most well-known of the 3, was Hobgoblin. A staple of any good ale joint and a perfect example of Wychwood’s fantasy themed personality and quality craft beer. Hobgoblin is a Ruby beer with a toffee note, a refreshing bitterness and a hint of fruit. It’s not the sort of beer you swill willy nilly, it’s 5.2% abv and complex flavour means it’s one to be savoured.
The next on my list was Imperial Red. Slightly lower abv at 4.7% and with a sweet, malty taste, this one went down a treat, but my favourite had to be the Black Wych. At 5% abv it packs a punch, but with a real smoothness. This porter style beer has a rich, chocolatey flavour, a hint of caramel aftertaste and just enough bitterness that it doesn’t become sickly.
If you enjoy something a bit different than your average watery lager, then I recommend giving Wychwood Brewery a go. With a wide range of permanent ales, monthly seasonal specials and a Lord of the Rings-esque image, their unique style and flavours are a hit with me. Long live the Black Wych!
I turned up just after the 6pm start time and the place was already buzzing. Andy Sax was playing live, the complimentary champagne was flowing and there was a good selection of food doing the rounds. The interior was stylish but casual, so you felt comfortable coming in straight from work, and the open kitchen was a really nice touch.
Straight away we were offered a Shrimp Bloody Mary with a spicy prawn artfully balanced on the celery salted rim of a shot glass, with Spicy Bloody Mary inside. I didn’t quite know what to expect, but it was really good! The prawns were cooked to perfection and really tender, with just enough spice to be tasty without being hot.
Next up were Oriental Express prawns, marinated in ginger, garlic, lemongrass & coriander, they were absolutely gorgeous. Again, grilled to perfection and so tasty. In fact they were so good I had to have 2!
Then the burgers started arriving…
These little beauties were so popular we had to re-position ourselves closer to the kitchen to ensure we got a taste of everything, but it was so worth it. We had mini Naked Chicken burgers with tender, marinated chicken and mini Naked Beef Burgers with succulent beef, seasoned to perfection. Even the buns were fantastic, with a crispy glaze and soft, chewy interior. We were also treated to maple glazed bacon on skewers, which I can say with conviction, were like meat candy!! Then we also got to dive into huge bowls of the most amazing sweet potato fries and Bun & Bowl’s spicy wedges with sour cream topping.
The other thing about this place is the staff. Everyone was so friendly, interacting with customers, making conversation, ensuring everyone was happy and their drinks were topped up, even the owner Mike Nayla was there chatting to customers and enjoying the evening.
All in all it was a brilliant launch night with a great atmosphere. The burgers really are something special, and the prawns were that good I will definitely coming back for the full size versions!
On Monday, I started a 21 day clean eating programme, loosely based on the Paleo diet, in a quest to improve my fitness and eating choices.
This programme means no caffeine, avoiding all sugar, no grains (including bread, flour, wheat etc.) and no processed foods whatsoever. Meals are to be 1/3 protein and 2/3 veggies cooked in coconut oil, with carbs like sweet potato and brown rice allowed on certain days. It also includes daily HIIT exercises to improve fitness and burn fat, and recommends taking a clean greens supplement to help with energy levels.
I was expecting it to be an absolute nightmare… no toast, no cheese, no tea, hell! But to be honest I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Breakfasts have been a winner, as vegetable frittatas, boiled eggs and asparagus soldiers and even a clean full English with grilled bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms and egg, have been going down a treat.
Lunch has been primarily salad based, with eggs, tuna, chicken and pork all starring with an assortment of vegetables, but it’s dinner where I’ve really got creative.
Ratatouille has become a slow cooker staple, stir frys have made a comeback into my repertoire with a vengeance, and I’ve even managed to make a clean version of steak & chips, with fried mushrooms, peppers & onions plus baked Cavolo Nero ‘chips’ (they’re almost better than the real thing… almost…).
All bar one major sugar craving which I curbed with a Thai green curry last night, I haven’t massively missed caffeine, sugar, processed foods or snacking, but the most revolutionary thing? Yes I miss bread. A lot. I am a bread fiend, but without starchy carbs at every meal, I actually don’t feel as hungry. I can go longer between meals, and my slowly flattening stomach is a pretty nice bonus too. The daily HIIT exercises have been really tough, but worth it when a 12 minute workout can get you sweating like you’ve been in the gym for 2 hours, and it really is making a difference. It’s only been 1 week and I’ve already lost 4 inches, 1 from my waist, 1 from my hips and half from each thigh and each bicep. I’ve also seen a drastic improvement in my asthma, especially when exercising.
So even though most of the people I know think I’m nuts, maybe this clean eating thing is worth a shot.
I’ve got another week & a half to go, be prepared for many more clean foodie photos!
Last week it was my birthday, so I decided to treat myself to a celebratory meal at Fiesta Del Asado with a few friends. Everyone I’d spoken to about this place waxed lyrical about how amazing their food was and what a wonderful atmosphere the place had, so we ventured up the Hagley Road for our first experience of Argentine cuisine.
On arrival, it was quiet but had a homely and welcoming feel. The open kitchen filled the dining room with sounds and smells, and the staff were friendly and attentive to our every need.
After perusing the wine list, we quickly decided on a bottle of Malbec to share. When in Rome! Now, I don’t profess to know anything about wine, and I’m not usually one for red, but this was really pleasant, with enough fruitiness for me to enjoy. Then it was onto the food menu. It isn’t exhaustive, which I really liked (I sometimes get dazzled by too much choice) but it was pretty obvious we were all going for a beautiful piece of beef. Before that though we just had to try some starters. We ordered the Salchichas a la Parilla, with a traditional Argentine black sausage flavoured with paprika and caramelised onion, Rabas Fritas, also known as Calamari, and Gambas al Ajillo, tiger prawns with chilli and garlic.
The starters were amazing, the prawns were sweet, tender and flavoursome, the squid was crispy on the outside and melting on the inside, the but Salchichas were just stunning, smoky like chorizo, with a flavour and texture almost like black pudding. I was well impressed already.
For the main course, I ordered the Bife de Costilla, a 40oz T-bone steak, to share with my partner. No word of a lie, this steak was the thickness of a Dictionary, cooked to a perfect medium rare and absolutely delicious alone, and accompanied by the chimichurri, Malbec reduction and bearnaise sauces it was served alongside. The beef had just the right amount of fat marbling to give it a wonderful flavour, and the chargrill from the Parilla really made it sing.
I can’t stress enough how brilliant this meat was. It was so tasty, and so tender, it is one of, if not the best piece of meat I’ve had in this country, and we didn’t let a mouthful go to waste. We had ordered a side of the Papas Fritas too, chips served with parsley and garlic, which were also absolutely lovely, but a struggle to eat after that epic portion of meat!
We were so full afterwards that we skipped dessert and coffee, but after that superb meal, we really didn’t need anything else. If you’ve never been to Fiesta Del Asado, I urge you to go. You can book a table of up to 4 online. I will definitely be going back, and I won’t be waiting until my next birthday!
I’m not one for fad diets by any means. Especially not the ridiculous, celebrity endorsed, starvation inducing type where you are expected to survive on maple syrup and cayenne pepper alone. However, on my quest to enjoy as much food as I possibly can and keep a healthy body and fitness level, I have been introduced to Paleo style eating.
Paleo is short for Paleolithic - as in The Paleolithic Era - as in cavemen. It’s not so much a fad diet as it is a conscious decision to eliminate processed foods like grains, refined sugars and dairy products. It’s touted to help wean you off surviving on sugar and caffeine, increase energy levels naturally, and along with daily exercise, help you shed body fat, especially that stubborn stuff exercise alone isn’t shifting.
Now, I am a carb junkie and a huge fan of everything dairy (especially milkshakes and greek yoghurt) so to give Paleo eating a go seems like an impossible challenge, yet still I have signed up for a 21 day Paleo style detox starting tomorrow…the day after my birthday.
Am I nuts? Probably. Can I do it? Possibly. Am I going to try? Hell yeah!
So, as of May 12th, I’m going to document my Paleo progress here, and see exactly what eating like a caveman does for me.
Wish me luck!