You may have seen my post about my trip to London with Megabus, well a week later it was Kariss‘ turn to come up to Birmingham and visit me. I wasn’t really sure what we could do in Birmingham as the weather wasn’t very nice so I decided that indoor activities would be the best thing!

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We started off by getting on a train at Birmingham New Street and heading for Bournville where we visited Cadbury World. Cadbury World is somewhere that we had both been before (I have been many times!) however not for a number of years. Unfortunately we were both a bit disappointed as it has changed quite a bit since we were younger and I’m not sure if it’s because we are both adults now but it didn’t seem as exciting. You don’t get to see as much of the factory as you did 15 years ago and the chocolate that they give out isn’t as great as it used to be – there’s no Dairy Milk Caramel anymore! One part that we both enjoyed was the part where you can choose a cup of melted chocolate with different toppings. I went for marshmallow and honeycomb pieces which was delicious!

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We then got back on the train into the city centre and I showed Kariss around the Bullring which is Birmingham’s huge shopping centre. We had a look around the shops and did a lot of swatching in Kiko before getting a Starbucks so we could sit down and chill out for a bit. After our Starbucks, we decided that we were both ready for our dinner so we went on down to Handmade Burger Co in the Bullring as I am absolutely obsessed with their Denver Chips. I went for a chicken burger with chorizo and cheese and Kariss decided to go for a burger in yorkshire puddings instead of a bun!

After our food, we went for a wander down Broad Street and the canal to find Kariss’ hotel before I went back home.

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On Sunday, we got up bright and early to visit the Sealife Centre. Again, this is another place that I haven’t been to for years and since my last visit they’d got some new additions – penguins! We spent absolutely ages watching the penguins, they’re all fascinating and I loved watching them swim and hop about. We spent a good hour and a half having a look at all of the fish and even watching the 4D movie.

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We then braved the rain and walked back into the city centre to Grand Central where we indulged in some food from Yo Sushi. I am completely obssessed with the beef teryaki, it’s my favourite dish so I had to make sure I had some of that. It was then time for Kariss to get back on the Megabus and travel back to London, so I walked her to the Hill Street stop where we said our goodbyes.

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Chi Kitchen is a Pan-Asian restaurant located on the third floor of Debenhams in Birmingham’s Bullring. The restaurant features a champagne bar and also has a Grab and Go bar on the first floor. I’d walked past the restaurant many times but had never actually been in, so I was really excited when I was asked if I would like to go along and review it last week.

“The word Chi means energy in Chinese. Our aim, therefore, is to build a brand that not only offers great food, but also provides good energy to existing Debenhams customers, and the new customers that Chi Kitchen will attract. We chose to use the Chinese symbol for fire to represent the brand, which again has a strong meaning behind it. By linking the word Chi, and the fire symbol together, Chi Kitchen plays on the way fire can be converted into energy. Fire also relates directly to the restaurant interior, as our robata grill is a central feature at all of our sites.”

When we arrived at the restaurant, we were seated by the window which was nice as we could look over Birmingham whilst we ate. We had a look at the menu and picked a couple of starters and a main dish each, however the manager came over and asked if we would like to try some more dishes that he recommended and we ended up with a big feast between the two of us!

We started off with cocktails to drink, I went with a mojito and Tom went for a Raspberry Dream which we both thoroughly enjoyed and the manager also bought over a champagne cocktail which was made with mango juice and amaretto as well as the obvious champagne. We both liked this despite not being fond of champagne – the mango juice really sweetened it up and gave it a great flavour.

A selection of starters were brought out to us including prawn crackers with a sweet chilli dip, smoked salt and chilli chicken which was my personal favourite, battered sweet potato fries, wagyu beef kushiyaki, popcorn shrimp and shrimps in a coconut sauce which Tom has been dreaming of ever since.

After filling up on the small plates, it was then time for the large plates to come out. I had picked the crispy shredded beef which was as delicious as I’d hoped it would be and is definitely something that I would go for again. I also chose the chicken katsu curry which I didn’t enjoy as much as I thought I would – I found the chicken to be quite tough although the sauce and the rice were really nice. Tom picked the Korean steak which is served on a chive and wasabi mash which we both loved – the meat was so tender and the mash had such an amazing flavour. We also had the chilli and lime sea bass, however Tom wasn’t so keen on the sauce but said that the fish itself was really nice.

We will definitely be back to Chi Kitchen as soon as we both have been paid – we left the restaurant satisfied and full and have both been thinking of the food since then!

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This afternoon I was invited to a bloggers’ event at The Stable on John Bright Street in Birmingham. Just a two minute walk away from Birmingham’s main New Street station, The Stable is a quirky pizza, pie and cider restaurant which was founded in Dorset in 2007. There are now fourteen restaurants across the south of England, with Birmingham being the first one to open up in the Midlands. Each restaurant has its own unique menu featuring dishes named after places in the local area. All of the ingredients used on the pizzas are sourced from local farms.

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As The Stable serves over 80 different varieties of cider, the afternoon was kicked off with a talk from Alan of Hogan’s cider who introduced us to a range of different real ciders. I’m not a fan of cider at all, so I was a bit hesitant to try some of them as I knew I would probably not like them. We were encouraged to smell each cider before we tasted it and to describe what we thought we could smell in each one. As expected, I wasn’t keen on any of the ciders however I did enjoy the cider brandy which was not surprising as I’m more of a spirits lover.

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Then we were onto the part that I was the most excited about! We were taken into the kitchen in groups of four and were allowed to cook our own pizzas. We had a look at the menu and decided what we wanted to make, however it ended up with us just putting whatever we liked on them with the encouragement of the chefs, the manager John and the bar manager Craig. I chose pulled beef (my favourite!), pepperoni, jalapeños, smoked cheese, goats curd, double Worcester cheese and mozzarella (I really went overboard on the cheese, but can you blame me with so many different varieties?) and when the pizza was cooked, I had a drizzle of sour cream over the top.

This was honestly one of the nicest pizzas I have ever tried and I’m not just saying that because I made it (although I am a massive fan of my own cooking), the sourdough base was fantastic and I especially loved the smoked cheese. Unfortunately, I’d already filled myself up on the garlic bread that we had at the beginning so I didn’t manage to finish all of my pizza but I can guarantee that it was delicious.

I’m definitely going to be visiting The Stable again, there was such a friendly atmosphere in the restaurant and you could tell that every member of staff genuinely enjoyed working there. I keep meaning to visit the one in Winchester every time I’m down there but I never get around to it; I’m going to have to make sure I go now!