30 January 2015

Nachos & Mojitos at Bodega - Birmingham

Mexican food became very fashionable in the noughties. After a meal out in Canterbury for my sister's 18th Birthday, my family discovered fajitas and it soon became my favourite thing to eat. As a starter, my mum would make nachos - nachos as I knew them, anyway. They had to be lime Doritos, covered in grated cheddar and chopped chilli and roasted in the oven for ten minutes. If you haven't tried them, you really must. Sometimes, the simpler the better.

But only sometimes. When nachos go all out - and they are done right - they are incredible, and the ones at Bodega were just that.
The tortilla chips were homemade and you could tell - crisp, light and full of an earthy flavour that factory-made Doritos just don't have, I knew from the first bite these were the best nachos going. 

Rhi and I had spent the day wandering around Birmingham - this was the same day as our visit to The Old Crown Coffee Club - and we were tired and hungry. We nabbed the last table before the place was fully booked for the night, and quickly ordered something to eat and drink.

One day I'll live in a flat large enough to warrant hanging lights like this from the ceiling.

Happy hour at Bodega means selected cocktails are discounted to £4.50 each, so naturally we ordered a few. Mojitos are one of my favourite cocktails to drink and remind me of last summer when I was a bit obsessed with this lime and mint combination.Paired with the cheesy, fiery nachos, the drinks were delicious, and if I didn't have to catch a train home we would have stayed longer and ordered more.

If you're in the area - central Birmingham that is - you must visit Bodega. Rhi swears by their burritos and I can't recommend their mojitos and nachos enough. Find out more here.


21 January 2015

The Old Crown Coffee Club – Birmingham

So, January blues are a thing. Who knew? I think I'm okay now, I mean, I can look back on the Christmas period with a feeling of fondness(!) instead of wishing it were still here like an ex boyfriend... There's always next year! Anyway, I can see summer now, lighter days, visiting Scotland, London, friends and family. I'm getting out of this silly little rut.

While I was sorting my life out I found some photos I had taken on a festive trip to Birmingham with my girl Rhi. We were ffrrrreeeezing, I remember, and all we wanted was a cup of coffee in a comfy little coffee shop. And we found one! Birmingham, like all cities, has hidden gems, you just have to look for them, and if you walk just ten minutes out of the city centre, you'll find a plethora of little shops and cafes waiting to be enjoyed.

We stopped at The Old Crown Coffee Club - an extension of The Old Crown pub, which had a nice homemade feel to it - you know, not too many bare brick walls or 'kooky' members of staff.

We got two coffees - black americano for me and cappuccino for Rhi, and couldn't decide between the adorable gingerbread man and chocolate brownie, so got both, even though we had just devoured a meal at Wagamamas.

The coffee was roasting hot, just how I like it, and the gingerbread man was almost too perfect to eat... almost.
The brownie was rich - fudgey and packed with chocolate chunks. The Old Crown Coffee Club gave us everything we needed to warm up again, and what made the visit most memorable was the chairs in which we sat. They were super springy and deceptively comfortable, making it hard to leave, but we had Christmas shopping to do (sorry, that's something you thought you wouldn't have to think about for another 11 months).

If you're shopping in Birmingham this weekend and fancy a coffee break away from the busy city centre, go for a wander, it's worth enjoying your coffee with quiet conversation. 
Find out more about The Old Crown here.


5 January 2015

Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream – Science Cream – Cardiff

Ice cream isn't exactly a winter warmer, but when it's made right in front of you by scientists and with liquid nitrogen you know it's something you have to try, whatever the weather.

I visited this unique parlour in Castle Arcade just before Christmas, when eating three puddings in one day was considered normal and replacing lunch with ice cream was just another celebration of the season. Craig and Alicia ordered a chocolate orange cookie concoction and I watched and took photos of the geeky-cute men making ice cream in a matter of minutes right in front of us. It was very cool.

Made with fresh, local ingredients, the ice cream is whipped up in these food mixer type machines – I'm sure they're much more technical than that – and -6° liquid nitrogen is added to turn the cream into ice cream. The white smoke billowing out of the bowl added to the science-lab atmosphere, without it feeling clinical at all.

I worried that the focus on this novel idea might detract from the product itself, but the ice cream was fantastic. It was rich and creamy, not too sweet, and full of flavour, and the cookies were crispy-chewy-delicious too.

Is this the latest gimmick doomed to fail? I hope not. Science Cream is fun, cute and the product tastes great. Unsurprisingly, it's a little on the pricey side, but you get what you pay for and more. It's the whole experience – the aesthetic of the place, watching the ice cream being made right in front of you, the scientists in white lab coats. Maybe the novelty will wear off, but this parlour is bound to thrive in the summer months, and I'll be going back for sure, if only to get my fix of that indescribably delectable ice cream.

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