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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!

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Last Wednesday I went along to a blogger event at McDonald’s in Small Heath, Birmingham. I’m not a f McDonald’s regular but I do love the odd double cheeseburger and chocolate milkshake so I thought it would be a great opportunity to go along, find out more about the company and see what goes on behind the scenes.

When I arrived at the restaurant, I was greeted by Sarah from the PR company who had organised the event and then I was introduced to Martin, the Franchise Manager. After telling us all about his history with the company, Martin gave us a tour of the restaurant and explained how the brand has progressed over the past few years and what the future plans are. You may have noticed that your local branch has had a bit of a makeover – the new decor is very bright and modern and a lot of new technology has been installed.

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With the addition of the touch screens, life has been made much easier for both the customers and the staff working at the branch. With these, you are now able to select exactly what you want, you can see pictures of the food as you are making your selection and you are easily able to customise your order. This is very handy for someone like me who is extremely fussy – I can select a ‘plain’ cheeseburger and I am able to check the order before I pay and it goes through to the kitchen to ensure that everything is correct and I am going to get exactly what I want. When using the touch screens to complete your order, there’s also the option of table service; all you need to do is let them know which part of the restaurant you are sitting in (it’s split up into three different zones) and then leave the receipt on the side of the table. When your food is ready, a member of staff will then bring it over to you which is a great idea if you are dining as a family with small children.

The Small Heath branch also has Samsung tablets installed into one of the tables so customers are able to play games whilst they eat, one of the tables even has charging points for phones which is very handy and there is free wifi throughout the store.

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We were then taken into the kitchen so we could see how the food was prepared. The first things we were instructed to do upon entering the kitchen was to put on an apron, hair net and cap and wash our hands thoroughly – something each staff member has to do every half an hour. We were then shown how the patties are cooked on the grill – did you know that the standard patty that you get in a cheeseburger or a Big Mac only takes 42 seconds to cook?

It was then time to learn how to create a Big Mac! We watched as we were talked through the process, starting from toasting the three parts of the bun in a massive toaster which gets the job done in 17 seconds, to adding the special Big Mac sauce, onions, lettuce and cheese to adding the two patties at the end. As I mentioned earlier, I’m a fussy eater so when it came to making my Big Mac, I opted to go without the sauce, onions and lettuce; Martin let me put an extra slice of cheese on to make up for it though! I really enjoyed the whole process and the end result tasted pretty damn good. I’m not sure if I would be able to work there and produce as many as they do – up to 85 an hour and still get everything right.

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Although I am a meat-eater, I am always open to trying out veggie options of meat; I do really like vegetarian sausages and have enjoyed the odd veggie burger in the past. Quorn have a vast range of meat-free options and I’ve been amazed that they have tasted so much like the real thing, a lot of the time I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference between the meat and the Quorn!

National Vegetarian Week is coming up next month from May 16th – 22nd and I’ve decided to try out some vegetarian recipes during the week to see if I could possibly be persuaded to cut back on my meat consumption a little bit.

 

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I’ve had a look on the Quorn website and there are so many different recipes for all of their products, some of them I would have never thought of trying myself and the one that immediately caught my eye was the Pulled Quorn and BBQ Sauce buns. This is something that I would usually have but with either pork or chicken, so I would be really interested to see how it compared.

Ingredients

  • 4 Quorn Meat Free Chicken Fillets, defrosted
  • 100ml BBQ sauce
  • Coleslaw
  • 75g white cabbage, finely shredded
  • 75g red cabbage, finely shredded
  • 75g carrots, grated
  • 50g red onion, finely chopped
  • 2tbsp mayonnaise, low fat variety or natural yoghurt
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard (optional)
  • Seasoning
  • 4 brioche bread buns

Method

  1. Hand shred the Quorn Meat Free Chicken Fillets and mix with the BBQ sauce. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes
  2. Mix together all the coleslaw ingredients and season to taste, chill until required
  3. Tip the shredded Quorn Meat Free Chicken Fillets in the BBQ sauce onto a baking tray and bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 180C/Gas Mark 4 or until core temperature is reached
  4. Divide the coleslaw between the buns and fill with the Pulled Quorn

For more information on eating Quorn as a source of protein, have a look at the Mycoprotein Information site.

This post has been written in collaboration with Quorn. The recipe is property of Quorn.