Eating out in 2016

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).

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The Other Side of Brum Chinatown

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Suckling piglet and rice £8.60

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

Copenhagen, noma vs hotdogs

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IRTD?

I’ve never seen The Bridge nor any of the other Scandi TV noir that is voguish right now. So when at least half a dozen people asked if I went the bridge after coming back from Copenhagen I was bemused, what bridge? There are lots of bridges in Copenhagen, the only one that came to mind was the unfinished bridge that would link Nyhaven to Christiana. It would have made walking from our hotel to noma a five minute stroll instead of a ten minute taxi. You can see it on google earth, it’s a short footbridge with a Knievel sized gap caused by funding wrangles. They’ve been trying to close the gap for years now, we were told by Stuart, sous chef at noma and chief the day we ate there. We’d been planning all year to go to noma with our friends, sisters YKL and YSL. Without their special contacts we’d never have had the experience of dining at four of Copenhagen’s finest restaurants. In dining order; Amass, Relae, Noma and Bror. So special thanks to you both for taking us around and making it such a brilliant experience.

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L’Enclume

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Collage de l’Enclume

If you ask me what my favourite restaurant in the country is I will not hesitate to say L’Enclume in Cartmel. We first went in 2010 and tend to revisit it every year or so, usually in different seasons. Last week was our fifth time and even though in the interim the baton has been handed to a new head chef there’s still that seemingly effortless perfection to the cuisine. At its core are the ingredients, all taken from the lush Cumbrian land and coast. Every bite is a reflection of the season and locale, the essence of every ingredient amplified using cutting edge techniques but naturalistically presented with simple grace on the plate. There’s a sense of whimsy in the way the food is almost too beautiful to eat, but when you get over this the flavours actually hit you between the eyes.

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UK Burger Battle 2

The Gone Burger from The Flying Cows

The Gone Burger from The Flying Cows

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.

Birmingham Chinatown Roast Meat Battle II

The window to my soul

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.
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Mr Txuleta’s Txuleta

Do not adjust your set, deep crimson txuletas. Galician left, Basque Cider House right

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.
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Birmingham Samosa Tasting

Love triangles

Love triangles

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.
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2014 in Food

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.
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