I try not to be too obvious on this blog but what is the point of having a blog if you can’t make slightly hubristic end of year lists? Every food blogger does it, I like reading them so let’s not beat around the bush, read and marvel at what I’ve eaten this year. You might like the look of it, and decide that you’d like to eat there too (see it’s actually informative and not showy-off at all).
Chinese food, you’re probably getting bored of it by now. Takeaway sweet and sour pork comes way down the fast food list after curry, Nandos, KFC and new wave “streetfood”. Going out for a meal? Sesame prawn toast, chow mein, lemon chicken, shredded crispy duck and all the other Anglicised Chinese food is seen as the safe option for a crowd with fussy eaters. But it doesn’t have to be like this. The Chinese food that I know has never been like that anyway. With more and more mainland Chinese folk living in the city, the options are expanding beyond the watered down Cantonese fare we all grew up eating in the UK. Fiery mouth numbing dishes from Sichuan, mutton skewers from the North, hotpots and hand-pulled noodles. Never let them show you the English menu ever again. I’ve written guides about the great mainstream food you can get in Birmingham Chinatown but now here’s a guide to get really under the crispy crackling skin of Chinatown. Continue reading
They say the stomach has a separate brain, neurones that control it independently from your actual noggin. If it could speak then maybe it would disgorge this stream of wonderful culinary memories from the year gone.
Here is a list of my top dining experiences. See what I’ve been cooking up in 2015 in my companion blog.
Belated photos from the last UK Burger Battle 15th Feb on this clickity link here (perfectly safe for work).
On the night London posse Gone Burger beat local beef slingers The Flying Cows in the diners and judges vote. Well done guys, their burger was a classic chargrilled pattie in a sesame seed bun. It was well seasoned and the simplicity of it won over the diners. The Flying Cows burger looked fantastic but the pulled pork did nothing for the burger. The beef itself was superior tasting but really under seasoned. A shame because a local win would have been great!
Another fabulous event from Ahmed and the team, so good it won the readers award for best event in Birmingham on designmynight.com. The next one is 26th April and you can get your tickets here.
I could probably eat a whole Cantonese roast duck by myself as my final meal, I’d slip away happy and content. It’s not an extravagance, all you’d have to do for me is go to any Chinatown and pick one up from a roast meat shop. But imagine if you went to the wrong shop, I’d curse you with my last breath. Real soul food is comfort food unique to oneself, only you know what makes that dish just right and satisfies your soul. So in as much as it’s in my own interests that you buy me the best roast duck you can possibly find on my last day (hopefully not soon) here’s an updated Birmingham Chinatown Roast Meat Battle. You might also find it useful when deciding where to eat the best dish Birmingham has to offer, triple roast rice 三燒飯, which includes crispy belly pork 火腩, char siu pork 叉燒 as well as roast duck 燒鴨.
There are food moments I’ll never forget. Eating at Asador Etxebarri in the rolling Basque hills between Bilbao and San Sebastian is one of them. Victor Arguinzoniz is a grilling genius, the menu is a masterpiece. Every ingredient the best the region has to offer, cooked simply over fire using pioneering instruments and techniques. The main part of the meal ended with a Galician beef chop, a txuleta (or chuleta in Spanish), perfectly charred on the outside and crimson rare inside.
Every Brummie knows a good samosa when we eat one. They started to appear as office treats around the turn of the millennium. Asian colleagues would come in laden with boxes of meat or veg samosa and sometimes paneer spring rolls. Always warm, the smell filled the office, you’d be drooling into your keyboard whilst you wait for the “come get em!” email to ping into your inbox. Like a flash you’d have downed two, one meat one veg of course, it would be rude not too. So much better than cheap and nasty supermarket doughnuts or sweets.
It’s that time of the year that food bloggers regale you with lists of dishes in restaurants or corners of the world you’ll never go to and if you like that sort of thing you’ll not be disappointed. I’ll be doing that later, read on. But first I want to describe my favourite home cooked dishes of 2014 because you know me, I like to cook nice things. It means we don’t have to schlep to France or India for canelé or curry, we can bring these places to our kitchens and have the joy of creating something delicious.