Birmingham

Birmingham

A Brim full of Asha's

Every now and then, something magical happens. That is you are going about your day and all of a sudden you find out about a new restaurant that you've never heard of, but everyone else has, and the best part - they are raving about it.


It's like this at Asha's on Newhall Street in Birmingham, a stones throw from Colmore Row. Birmingham now has its very own brimful of Asha. Following on from the success of restaurants in Kuwait and Dubai, this is a place of serenity where the most passionate diners of Indian cuisine can sample the best, most authentic recipes and ingredients you can find this side of Bombay.


I have to say that while many of my favourite Indian and Pakistani restaurants in the city understand how to cook a few dishes very well, their menus are often boring, with little effort or time spent on the design, the look or feel, even the descriptions of the food. Asha's on the other hand understands how to create every dish, extremely well. Building something magical is all about creating a dream, hypnotising the senses into believing that you're really somewhere special, that perhaps for the time that you step into the restaurant, until the time that you leave - you are not even in Birmingham but somewhere far away. 


With Asha's I felt like I was dining in the late summer at a presidential quarters that I visited many years ago after a trip to the Taj Mahal in Agra.  As soon as we step into the place the ambience hits you. The space is large but intimate, decorated in warm, welcoming oranges, reds, yellows and blacks. The lights are dim but the restaurant glows. Immediately we are greeted by the manager Jaimon and introduced to our waiter Sachin, both with a true understanding of the restaurant, not just the food, which both know inside out, but also how every flavour, taste, dish, accompaniment, go together. 


First off Sachin insists that we sample one of the amazing cocktails. My partner is driving so opts for a Mango Ginger lassi which has a melting creamy texture and my Ras Rush is a spectacle of red fruits and vodka.


A basket of freshly prepared papdoms arrives at our table shortly after - countless variations of sizes, flavours, some cheesy, some original each with it's own intricate decoration of chutneys and special dips to bring out the very best flavours.  Asha's has a place in the Michelin Guide in the West Midlands and it's so easy to see why. With 4 new private dining rooms, the restaurant can cater for all small and large bookings, tailor made to your requirements.


Jaimon, the general manager was superb at juggling absolutely everything you could ask for in a perfect host, from darting in to the kitchen every few minutes to oversee things were going well, to effortlessly conversing with many tables of diners, guests, members of his staff seemingly all at the same time. Passionate about the restaurant we quickly began to understand a little of what makes Asha's tick, and Sachin's gracious service, and expertise added a further dimension to the meal.


From the Barrah Kebab - baby lamb chops marinated in ginger-garlic, yoghurt and spices to the Papdi Chaatdeep fried flour pastries, Indian savoury vermicelli, mashed potatoes, sweetened yoghurt, 
and sweet and sour chutney, the starters were enough to feel as though we had private chefs cooking for us on a Ganges sunset cruise. The lamb had such delicate flavours that minutes after I had finished, I was left with no choice but to pick up the wooden skewers and suck the remaining spices clean.

Asha's is one of those experiences where you wish that you had more room to feast. Two, three courses is simply not enough as every dish, that each person orders, and all the plates that pass by on their epic journey to other diners' tables is the most tantalising dish you have seen for .....well a very long time.



For the main I go for sharing a Saffron Rice and happen to notice an entire page of the menu dedicated to various breads. The choice is endless and as I look up from our table, I can see one of the chefs through a glass window spinning the dough for a fresh garlic naan, expertly tossing the mixture in larger and larger circles before setting the bread to cook.

This goes perfectly with my Chicken Dhaba - a dish which perfectly mimics a joyful road side dish I sampled on the way to Himachal Pradesh in 2005. My partner, being vegetarian chooses an Aloo Mutter Gobi all washed down by a recommendation from Sachin -  a cucumber lemonade. This is a refreshing combination of fresh cucumber, mint, fresh pressed lemon juice and sugar blended together and topped with lemonade, and with each mouthful of deliciously spicy food, this drink softened the senses and whisked you off into heaven once more.


The dessert menu was almost too much - every mouthwatering description jumping out of the page. So in true sampling style we went for the desert platter which included 4 of the restaurants signature puddings:

The RASMALAI - a Classic Indian cold dessert served with sweetened milk. The KESARI PISTA KULFI   - a Home-made Indian ice-cream made with pistachio, saffron and milk reduction. The GAJAR KA HALWA - straight from India made with grated carrots and milk reduction, and my favourite, the sweetest GULAB JAMUN.


This was a restaurant to remember, and if you haven't been here, you can sample all of the above, for roughly £35 per head - including drinks. For food of this standard, that is extremely good value for money and a perfect reason for a return visit in the not too distant future.


Asha's world famous Chef master classes are now also back up and running, led by legendary head chef Guneet Singh Bindra. For more information and also for an interesting read, you can find out all you want to know by visiting www.ashasuk.co.uk or call 0121 200 2767 to book a table.

Philpotts outperform the competition for business lunches on the move

In 1986, a small enterprise launched with the sole aim of becoming the nations number 1 sandwich retailer for modern businesses. It was to be named Philpotts and the original shop which was founded in Chester still stands
today.

The Birmingham Gazette thought it was high time to sample one of the legendary lunches on the go and met deputy manager Lorraine Hall who was happy to show us around the Colmore Circus shop floor.

Philpotts are the leading independent sandwich chain in the UK, with 23 shops across the UK. It's obvious from the tightly knit team and immaculate counter displays that the business pride themselves on only using the freshest and highest quality ingredients available, and all of their soups,
porridges and sandwich mixes are made fresh each morning.

Birmingham is home to four Philpotts stores, located at Great Charles Street, Bennetts Hill, Colmore Circus and Edgbaston.

Local businesses can benefit from a special menu offering a wide selection of breakfast items, sandwich platters, savouries and fruit and muffin platters.

Individuals can create their perfect handmade bespoke sandwich or salad and accompany them with desserts, cakes and biscuits. I went for the daily specials - a roast chicken on a freshly baked baguette followed by a tasty chocolate mousse and a signature Philpotts Pork Pie.  They are now doing noodles which are a delicious alternative to the more traditional sandwiches and salads.

In April 2011 Philpotts launched its fully transactional click & collect website www.philpotts.co.uk, where customers can order their bespoke lunch online and collect from their local shop at a time to suit them.

September 2011 also marked the introduction of the lunchtime offer - buy any ready to go £3.50 sandwich, wrap, baguette or pasta salad and choose from a bag of Tyrrells crisps or a piece of fruit and a canned drink or bottle of water for free.

For more information please visit www.philpotts.co.uk

An eye opening experience makes everything clear at last

I suffer from Bronchiectasis, a permanent abnormal widening (dilation) in one or more of the airways (bronchi). Extra mucus tends to form and pool in the parts of the airways that are widened. Widened airways with extra mucus are prone to infection. For a long time I woke in the morning with a sore chest and full of catarrh in my nose and throat. Two years ago I started back at the gym and after building up my cardiovascular training I was finally able to have a relatively normal life again, however the headaches which I had for years didn't seem to budge. After a long and drawn out period of visits to my GP and regular dosing up of paracetamol, my partner (who wears contact lenses) asked me if I had ever had an eye test.  I decided that this was probably a good thing to do as I could no longer read a registration plate clearly at the legal distance required so off I went to Specsavers...who else?

Specsavers was founded in 1984 by Doug and Mary Perkins, who started the business in their spare bedroom on a table-tennis table. The couple had moved to Guernsey after selling a small chain of West Country opticians. In the early 1980s the UK Government deregulated professionals, including opticians, allowing them to advertise their products and services for the first time. They seized the opportunity and opened their first Specsavers, value-for-money, quality eye care opticians in Guernsey and Bristol, followed shortly by stores in Plymouth, Swansea and Bath. They aimed to offer a wide range of stylish, fashionable glasses at affordable prices for everyone. They wanted the company to be seen as trustworthy as a local independent but with the huge buying power of a national companythat meant savings could be passed on to the customer.

Specsavers is still very much a family run business with family values to match and over the past few years, the company has donated more than £1 million to various charities. Recipients include Guide Dogs, Deafness Research UK, Diabetes UK, anti-bullying charity Kidscape, Sightsavers and Fight for Sight, among many others.

On arriving at my appointment in Specsavers Kings Heath, store  director Peter Squire greeted me and explained how the process would work. First was a tour of the various departments and I was amazed to see what had looked like a small shop floor turned out to be a complete smooth operation, with countless members of staff each with their own individual area to manage, or support, spanning several corridors and floors.

Firstly, the pressures in my eyes were tested which was a rather unpleasant experience as it was my first time.

Then another test is completed before a hearing test was performed, an area which the company has been involved in since 2002. Remarkably, despite a history of poor hearing, and a succession of operations in my childhood seeing both grommets and ear tubes fitted to my ear drums, in my later years it seems that I now have A1 hearing.

I then experienced the fundus camera, which plays an imperative role in the prevention of many eye conditions such as glaucoma and diabetes. It enables the store to take a photograph of the eye which can be used to track the health of the back of the eye for comparison purposes on my next visit.

After the preliminary tests are done I proceed to my scheduled appointment with my optometrist, where state of the art technology tests my eyes.

This is where it gets really interesting. My sight is so bad in fact that I am far down the spectrum of needing glasses. I actually have a strong prescription on the right eye. There's also something called an Astigmatism - a type of refractive error of the eye.

It's not something that someone who hasn't worn glasses can easily adjust to however, and so my prescription does need some alterations before I feel comfortable. The staff at the store are extremely accommodating though, and ensure that every effort to re-check the order is made before I am given the correct lenses. These are then fitted, adjusted and checked to ensure maximum comfort.

Specsavers offers a wide range of designer glasses including Karen Millen, Bench, FCUK Vision, French Connection, Gok Wan and Jasper Conran all available at high street prices.

If however, your budget is a little larger, you can find additional ranges of designer glasses and sunglasses at opticians such as David Clulow, who can be found amongst some of the most exclusive boutiques and shopping centres in the country.

My rep at David Clulow is extremely knowledgeable and from my prescription quickly points out that as I have got quite a strong prescription, for my sunglasses, I can't choose a frame with too much of a curve on. This would distort the lenses and isn't something which is advisable but despite this, many people around the world choose the wrong frames, which can actually worsen the eyes in the long run.

The good thing about David Clulow is that they have a number of alternative designer brands. This includes those such as Marc Jacobs, Bvulgari, Tom Ford and Chanel to name a few.

I opted to go with some Prada Aviators because they have flat lens distribution which will work well for my prescription.

The major thing to understand when thinking about getting your eyes tested is that looking into your eyes can show the early signs of other underlying conditions, and so should be part of your general health care routine. Whether you are looking for a great value high street name or a high end exclusive service, both Specsavers and David Clulow are excellent companies to help get you started.

To book an appointment visit www.specsavers.co.uk or www.davidclulow.com

Somewhere over the rainbow…

In the late 90s Birmingham’s music scene revolved around a handful of nightclubs in the city being Gods Kitchen at the Sanctuary, Bakers, Miss Money Pennies, Hush, the Que Club and it pretty much stopped there.

Things were different back then. There was no facebook or Twitter, there wasn’t even myspace.  People were out on the town several nights and week and the explosion of the house scene saw Birmingham become a Mecca for some of the best parties this side of Miami.

Birmingham City Council didn’t fine or even license promoters back in the day either, meaning that nights like Gods Kitchen regularly saw a crowd of 2000 + with just as many queing outside being turned away.

Then as the naughties kicked off with a depressing bang, everything changed. The club scene experienced a commercialisation which would change Birmingham forever.  For three or four years the cool kids had to go underground and between 2001 and 2004, the country went up in smoke.  House music lost its massive appeal as the Superclub was labeled dead by DJ and Mixmag respectively.

The whole city was swept away by the birth of UK hip hop, and the emergence of Drum and Bass as a replacement for Jungle music. The Medicine Bar was here. For a long time, many ravers changed their chemical days for a backdrop of Cheech and Chong films and rizlas packed with a new kind of smoke….Cheese.

Nights of rappers and drum and bass MCs quickly replaced the house generation and The Custard Factory complex housed literally hundreds of world class events putting Birmingham on the underground map of the UK.

But eventually the custard factory and the medicine bar also changed and the old ravers discovered a new kind of music. This was when in 2005 Lee McDonald and Adam Shelton birthed a daytime party called BELOW playing deep, underground house. Fuzz’s partner in The Rainbow, Chris McLaughlin, was reluctant to change the Friday and Saturday reggae vibes and so,instead, BELOW was born on a Sunday daytime.  This was an instant hit with the loyalists of Birmingham’s musically minded crowd who had long been waiting for the re emergence of a special kind of dance music, and electro was the answer they had been waiting for.

Sadly though in 2007, a rival promoter tipped off the authorities that the quirky Rainbow Courtyard didn’t tick all the health and safety red tape and in fact lacked an adequate fire exit. Sadly, The Courtyard was condemned and BELOW had to go on the road finding alternate, non-commercial spaces across Birmingham using drained pools, strip clubs, restaurants, parks, beer gardens, 60s retro clubs, car parks and even roof tops in their quest to party.

Time went on and it was apparent The Rainbow couldn’t afford the work need to get the place up to scratch: they were forced to offer the sale of the lease to Lee McDonald. Without delay, Lee approached Adam Shelton and a third investor, Kent (who at the time owned a vegetarian restaurant in another city hotspot, Custard Factory) and the triumvirate duly took over the Rainbow.

BELOW continued to go from strength to strength and created a movement in Birmingham introducing the masses to the more underground side of house. In 2007,BELOW promoters Lee and Adam found a large warehouse space on the same road as The Rainbow Pub on Adderley Street. In May 2007 they threw a FREE Warehouse Rave to which over 1600 people attended. Weeks later The Rainbow Warehouse was born.

Being selected by The Prodigy above all other venues in the UK, to establish their emergence on the live scene, said everything about this new world class venue. That same summer Lee McDonald felt more should be done with the unique adjoining outdoor area that stretched underneath a disused Victorian viaduct. As such, he converted the whole space into a beach for the summer with 20tonnes of sand, tropical trees and the DJ booth a beach hut.

Bigger Than Barry’s secret guest for a show on the beach was Annie Mac that when word got out sold out instantly but Lee really wanted to put something in there regularly so thought a Sunday daytime gay party would be a winner.

Without wasting anytime he approached Jordan Patel, a local lad who was familiar with the gay market and suggested he put a team together to do a 3tillmidnight party. Jordan approached Will Power and Dee and GLAS was born (Gays, Lesbians and Straight) The party exploded and quickly become one of the biggest gay brands in the UK pulling a crowd from all over the UK playing more commercial bass heavy music.

A 2009 noise abatement order was The Rainbow’s Waterloo. Emulating a tactical master plan worthy of the Iron Duke, The Rainbow took the fight to the environmental Taliban. Within 10 days 22,000 people had signed up to a Save The Rainbow face book group (indicative of the emotion the venue stirs) - newspaper editorials covered the story almost daily, BBC TV Inside Out scheduled a programme on the subject and BBC Breakfast broadcast live to the nation from inside The Rainbow.

Locally based 60 million record selling UB40 performed a fundraising concert at The Rainbow Warehouse to ‘Raise the Roof’ – with proceeds enabling a sound insulating roof to be installed, that stymied further council action.

Photography by Tamsin Mae photography
In 2010 FACE was created - a weekly underground house night. Lee was finding it difficult to acquire quality promoters with an interest in filling the Rainbow so he decided to put a team together and approached Scott Rourke and Elliot Croft. The event was weekly and brought in the consistency that was so badly needed.

In May 2010 the venue started its most ambitious period of metamorphosis yet. How do you get more underground than The Rainbow? – only one way – turn the cellar into a venue. The Cellar Door (opened in May 2010)- is under the very floorboards of the The Rainbow itself.

CELLAR DOOR - UNDERGROUND, OVER CLAIMED, The Rainbow validates this status by digging deep & excavating an innovative & intimate new space - below the surface. Kitted out with a Funktion One System and low ceiling it became a no frills rave pit.
It gave a third room of music to appeal to a wider audience.

Lee McDonald was later approached by Rue Jay a successful promoter in the midlands to put on a new weekly after party and Rocknrolla was born pulling in a solid 500+ crowd on a weekly basis with the highlight being sunrise from the gardens terrace. It’s popularity grew and they booked some leading names in the more commercial side of dance, Funkagenda, Audio Bullies, Judge Jules, D Ramirez, Jamie George, Example and many more.

The latest project and even more ambitious will be to throw a series of raves in a disused scaffold yard… ‘The Arena’ (BELOW to open April 2012) is at the opposite end of Adderley Street. Bringing massed ranks of more Victorian railway arches under the over-reaching curve of The Rainbow’s embrace – The Arena is set to witness musical mayhem and battles reminiscent of The Coliseum - whose amphitheatre architecture it mimics. This massive site alone can cater for a capacity of 5000.

The Rainbow Complex now contains 9 separate venues on the same street that can be utilized for events of 200-5000 in isolation, or combined via a road closures to create a unique self contained Urban complex for 10,000 - licensed until 6am. This is unprecedented anywhere else in the UK.

For more information, listings, galleries, and the best music you can find this side of Miami, visit www.therainbowvenues.co.uk

You can also employ the talents of Tamsin Mae Photography by clicking here

Forget counting sheep to fall asleep, one is all it takes

The Birmingham Gazette is undertaking some of the most in depth parenting features you will find anywhere over the next 12 months, helping new mums, and dads to get to grips with their newborns' needs making sure they have all the best knowledge and advice for a great head start.

Everyone knows that for all the joys new babies can bring, the early days of parenting aren’t always a walk in the park. Thankfully, following the invention of Ewan, the dream sheep™ tired parents everywhere can finally get a good night’s sleep!

Ewan emits soothing sounds at a low base frequency and a calming pink glow, which when combined, help settle babies and toddlers into a peaceful sleep. The heartbeat and womb sounds are actual recordings, not computer generated and there are a variety of soothing sounds to choose from including rain, harp to name just two.

Ewan can be used at home in the cot or Moses basket but also when out and about too - he can be secured to the pushchair or car seat by his Velcro tail. Ewan’s tail is also great for securing a dummy or teething ring to, so there’s no worry about it getting lost or falling out of the cot or buggy. There is a 20 minute timer and automatic shut off with full volume control and it is easily powered with 3 xAAA batteries.

Stockists include I want one of those, Amazon and www.easidream.co.uk

Noel Gallagher set to fly into Birmingham's NIA with new band


As one half of the infamous ‘Gallagher brothers’, the return of Noel Gallagher has been a long-awaited one but the wait will soon be over when he visits Birmingham’s NIA with his solo moniker, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.


Since the big Oasis split in 2009, which saw Noel and brother Liam publicly parting ways, the two have been hitting headlines with various solo projects and now Noel has announced that he’ll be heading to Birmingham on 1 March 2012, as part of a seven date tour of the UK and Ireland. The news comes the day after Noel’s first solo album hit the top of the UK Album Charts.


The band, which hails from Manchester and features former Oasis session pianist Mike Rowe, The Lemon Trees’ drummer Jeremy Stacey and percussionist Lenny Castro, will perform tracks from their debut album including ‘The Death of You and Me’, which was released this summer and received rave reviews. The live show will also see Gallagher perform the band’s new song ‘AKA... What a Life’, which made its debut on a Vauxhall television advert, and ‘If I Had A Gun’.” Not forgetting his roots, Noel will also treat fans to some of his best-loved classics.


The concept for Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds came after the Oasis star was inspired by Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac and a track called ‘High Flying Bird’ by 60s American psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane. It marks a new chapter for Noel following his and Liam’s public feud and he hopes will see him continue producing hits like ‘Wonderwall’ and ‘Some Might Say’ that he’s best known for. 


Tickets for Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds go on sale this Friday 28 October at 9am, priced £59.50, £45.00 and £35.00 (plus booking and transaction fees). They are available from The Ticket Factory: www.theticketfactory.com or 0844 338 8000.


To find out more about the show, and for everything else that’s coming up at the NIA, visit www.thenia.co.uk. 

Stirlings Bar and Restaurant - a stones throw from St Pauls Square


Stirlings is theJewellery quarters newest bar, lounge and eatery. Just a stones throw away from St Pauls Square, this beautifully crafted listed building is becoming a popular location to eat drink and socialise with local residents and business executives alike. With the new season comes a new menu showcasing a modern selection of British dishes with a Mediterranean influence. You'll find traditional favourites such as fish and chips, steaks and homemade burgers, alongside pastas, salads and smaller plates, all of which are made fresh from locally sourced ingredients. Whether you’re treating clients to a business lunch, or looking for a romantic evening meal for two, there's something for everyone and for all occasions.

Now open 7 days a week, the team have recently launched their new concept “Board on Sundays”. Customers can enjoy a roast topside joint of beef or whole chicken served with all the trimmings, homemade Yorkshire Puddings and Stirlings’ signature stockpot gravy. Served on a board to share, for only £9.95 per person, you can’t go wrong. This is complimented perfectly by bar’s new selection of wines, spirits and European beers including the likes of Amstel, Peroni, Duvel, Vedett and Liefmans in place of more common brands.

In preparation for the festive season, Stirlings has recently released their Christmas menus and party packages. Offering a bespoke approach to groups of all sizes, the luxurious basement lounge, with its own dance floor and private booths is the ideal setting for a party, corporate function or private hire booking. The mezzanine area overlooking the main bar is the perfect hub for smaller parties, high profile visits and group dining. Entertainment comes in the form of resident DJs and an incredible in-house magician. Further information and menu’s can be found online at www.StirlingsBar.co.uk. Do not hesitate to get in touch for bookings or enquiries.

Stirlings
21 Ludgate Hill
St Pauls Square
Birmingham
B3 1DW

Tel: 0121 236 7562

T.G.I. Friday’s shows that long service pays dividends

In 2008 an electrical fault sparked a fire at one of Birmingham’s most loved restaurants on the Hagley Road; T.G.I. Friday’s. Now, four years later The Birmingham Gazette caught up with manager Steve Ricketts in a refurbished and revitalised Friday’s. And despite the UK’s challenging financial climate, by all accounts business has never been better.

The branch was first to open in the UK in 1986 and the restaurant chain is currently celebrating 25 years in the UK. Back in 1986, Steve spotted an advert in a local paper with the word “Audition” written in bold letters at the top of the page. It was at a time when the American dream was at its height and as there were no American themed restaurants in the city. 

A buzzing congregation of hopefuls turned up to showcase their talent to try out for the new restaurant - but then this is a restaurant, not a talent show I hear you say. Well, sort of. The thing about T.G.I. Friday’s is that it isn’t meant to just be a quiet meal out. It’s an experience and the team members are an enormous part of what makes the restaurant special. Talented people make for great staff that have something to say – everyone is an individual and given their own chance to shine.

As soon as I walk through the door I realise how the restaurant has been through a complete makeover. What used to be a raised bar on a platform at a far end of the restaurant is now an expansive cocktail bar with an abundance of comfy leather sofas, chairs and tables surrounding the space. Friday’s are going for comfort over the classic wooden tables and chairs in this revitalised project, and it’s not hard to see why. The ambience is cool and collected, and from Star Wars to The Who and Jaws, the showbiz memorabilia is part of what makes the restaurant tick; part of its soul. I first visited Friday's for my tenth birthday party, the whole family, including a congregation of people who just wanted to experience the themed restaurant turned out. That would have been 5 or so years into Steve's career with the company. We laugh about this, it’s incredible to believe Steve has worked here the whole time.  

Away from the food, team members are living and breathing their dreams too. Bartenders such as Rob, along with 100 other members of the Friday’s family, got into the Guinness Book of Records in March this year for the ‘Most people simultaneously cocktail flairing’.




At a staff away day one of the regional directors spotted Rob’s energy and contribution to the spirit of Fridays and decided to make a pin badge in Rob’s honour – something all team members where for demonstrate different achievements. Rob regularly wears a top hat, so the badge in his honour was, of course, a top hat.

There is a real family vibe at the store and every year the Cormac Cup charity football tournament takes place to honour a former Fridays family member who passed away, with the proceed going to good causes. The next of these is in 2012. And if that wasn’t enough excitement away from the table, manager Steve recently raised thousands of pounds for charity in a bike ride from London to Paris. Even when you look above the front door you can find a stunning stained glass semi circle….Peacock feathers, so that guests understand the pride the staff have who work for Fridays.


T.G.I. Friday's has a history of innovation, inventing the Long Island Iced Tea, Loaded Potato Skins and the nation's favourite, Jack Daniel's Glaze - a secret recipe that can't be found anywhere else! The bottomless coca cola was another concept which Fridays brought to the UK a quarter of a century ago and still remains a firm favourite in my book. However, if you’re dining later on in the evening or just feeling a little bit extravagant you have to try a Friday’s cocktail. With a breathtaking array of combinations and flavours to choose from, they also house some of the best cocktail waiters this side of Manhattan Island. And don’t worry if you don’t know what you want – just tell a bartender the flavours you like and he will create one, just for you.

Next comes the food and to start I go for the Boneless Wings. A delicious hot sauce works your taste buds to an explosively perfect sizzle before some refreshing celery crunches and cools your tongue to allow the flavours of the chicken to develop. I sit and think about the Friday’s laboratory back in the US, and how many of their recipes have a secret ingredient in them. At least one of the tastes in the chicken is a brand new sensation to my taste buds.

My waiter Neil is extremely knowledgeable and attentive, making sure that if I need any help with the menu any of my questions are answered.

For my main I go for a New York eight-ounce sirloin with a cheesy mash. At first bite crispy skin is a pleasure to taste as the medium rare flesh follows into the palette, simply 5*.  A light and well flavoured peppercorn sauce is the perfect accompaniment.  The cheesy mash has a fluffy and creamy texture that works delightfully with the steak and the sauce combined.
If you’ve still got room for more, there’s a never ending list of puddings to choose from, deserts to share, and those to keep all to yourself from the classic chocolate fudge cake to a traditional ice cream sundae with more scoops than days in the week, the choice is yours.

For more information visit www.tgifridays.co.uk or www.facebook.com/tgifridaysUK

You can also learn more about the distinct, and loveable Friday's philosophy by 
clicking here
 



The Wean Machine brings the fun back into meal times

Some parents prefer to mash up freshly cooked food rather than buy jars or tubes of puréed baby food. But home puréeing can be time-consuming.
Tilly Beazeley, inventor of The Wean Machine was born in the Cotswolds and bought up in a village just outside Bath. Tilly began her work life in Scotland and after the sudden death of her father she headed home.
A total change of course led her to the start-up team of Dyson.  Tilly worked in the customer care and service department, as the direct contact for all enquiries and issues; she worked with James, the engineers and a small team.
Always ambitious and keen to start a long term career and with a desire to learn more about the development of pharmaceutical drugs, which may have prevented her father’s death, Tilly started her career within the healthcare industry.
As part of a Contract Research Organisation, Tilly started at the bottom of the ladder, working hard, listening and learning, she progressively worked through and up the ladder, to finally become Director of International Business Development for Premier Research. In the middle of this aggressive career path Tilly had her son, Ted. When Ted was 16 weeks old, the issue of weaning arose and this is when she came up with the idea of The Wean Machine. 
The Wean Machine makes fresh healthy baby food wherever you are.  Fully self contained, easy to use, simply fill, squeeze and feed.  No need to ever compromise what you feed your baby again. Straight from the table or fruit bowl, making baby food just got  EASIER, HEALTHIER and CHEAPER!
Now you can make fresh healthy baby food in seconds without having to use large noisy liquidisers and blenders or worry about whether there are hidden additives or preservatives.  Simply fill squeeze and feed.  NO FUSS NO MESS NO NOISE! Teaching your baby what they are eating at the point of preparation and encouraging families to eat together.  Fully self contained, it can be used at home or out and about making it ideal for holidays, travel and busy lives.
For more information visit www.theweanmachine.com

Jimmy’s iced coffee helps keep your health in check

Jimmy’s Iced Coffee is made from ethically sourced Honduran coffee, demerara sugar and English, West-country milk.

Drinking milk daily cuts the risk of heart disease by 18%. Drinking 3 glasses of milk per day decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease.  Make one of those three a Jimmy’s Iced Coffee says Jimmy Cregan, mastermind behind the brand.

US researchers examined 21 studies that included data from nearly 350,000 and concluded that dietary intakes of saturated fats are not associated with increases in the risk of either coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease. The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology examined 23,366 Swedish men and revealed that intakes of calcium above the recommended daily levels may reduce the risk of mortality from heart disease and cancer by 25%.

Jimmy’s Iced Coffee is available in Whole Foods Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, a slew of fine food delicatessen and even Waitrose.

All enquiries please email  or visit http://www.jimmysicedcoffee.com/

FINAL SEATS RELEASED FOR ARCTIC MONKEYS AT THE LG ARENA


They’ve been selling like hot cakes and now, the final production seats have been released for the forthcoming Arctic Monkeys show at the LG Arena on 4 November.

The long-awaited show is the band’s first since 2009, when they played at the NIA, Birmingham, just after headlining that year’s Reading and Leeds festivals.

The release of the final production seats comes during the same week that the title track from the band’s fourth studio album ‘Suck It and See’, which went to Number 1 in June, is preparing for release. The track will be released on 31 October, just ahead of the Birmingham tour date, and is expected to continue Arctic Monkeys’ massive chart success. 

Undoubtedly one of the UK’s pioneering indie bands, the Sheffield four-piece are a big success story. Their debut album became the fastest-selling debut album in British music history, surpassing Oasis' Definitely Maybe and remains the fastest-selling debut album for a band in the UK. This new tour will see them undertake ten shows across the UK, with support from The Vaccines and Smith Westerns

To get your hands on these last production seats, which are priced at £29.50, visit The Ticket Factory: www.theticketfactory.com or 0844 338 8000.

For more information about the Arctic Monkeys concert and to find out what’s coming up at the LG Arena, visit www.lgarena.co.uk.  

Gourmet breakfast in a box - delivered to your front door!

Whether you have just woken up and are in need of a delicious breakfast without the hassle of making it yourself, or you're still up from the night before and in need of a little soul food, Urban Breakfast is Birmingham's answer to a high quality breakfast service delivered straight to your front door.

With their simple drop down navigation menu we decided to give Urban Breakfast a try. You can choose from a small to an extra large English with as little or as many extras as you can handle; the list of possibilities is endless.

Ronnie & Becci, the masterminds behind the concept said, "We’ve all been there, lying in bed, barely able to move, nursing a sore head, or fighting over who’s going to get out of bed to make breakfast. Urban Breakfast is a great way to start your weekend. If you live within 2 miles of Birmingham City Centre it really couldn't be easier to order a mouth watering breakfast right to your door, all at an affordable price. You can order and pay online, so you don’t even have to talk to anyone or leave the comfort of your home"

The Birmingham Gazette's verdict:
Freshly baked hand-cut bread – toasted or to toast yourself - a great concept. The box and design....a thrill. Sausages cooked to perfection with crisp outsides and delicious juicy pork in the middle. Three perfect rashers of light and tasty smoked bacon and a well executed poached egg, just the way we like it. Well portioned beans and mushrooms, all washed down with cold fresh apple juice. Our only regret....simple - not trying one of the Urban Breakfast's signature smoothies.

Just visit www.urbanbreakfast.co.uk

Gourmet Breakfast in a box…Genius!

Searching for the best – fragrances for him and her AW11

As AW11 bursts on to the shop floors, and lines the cosmetics shelves with its delights, The Birmingham Gazette has been on a crusade to find the ultimate in his and hers fragrances for this fall.

Donatella Versace caught our imagination dedicating her Pour Homme masterpiece to “to a man with a strong personality who is not afraid to reveal his love of fashion, and who enjoys it as an expression of spontaneity and character”. The new fragrance, created from essential ingredients of Mediterranean origin is a classic yet surprisingly contemporary aroma that overwhelms the senses.

It possesses a vibrant blend of fougère (fern), in which bergamot mingles with geranium to evoke a suggestion of lightness which evolves through notes that achieve a harmony of warmth and strength.

The resulting impression is that Pour Homme successfully combines hot and sensual ingredients. Citrus from Diamante in Calabria, leaves and blossom of the bitter orange tree lit up the fragrance by accents of a Mediterranean nature.  The heart of Versace Pour Homme is defined by its almost tactile mineral-floral aroma of clary sage and blue hyacinth. A deep impression of incisive and seductive notes comes from cedar wood and agar wood. Amber and musk deliver deep and sensual base notes.

At the helm of Lancôme’s latest adventures is Trésor Midnight Rose. This delightful mix of pink pepper, rose absolute, raspberry, cassis bud, jasmine, peony, Virginia cedar, vanilla and musks is not dissimilar to a former Givenchy scent, Hot Couture.

Emma Watson (Hermione Granger in Harry Potter), the new face for the brand fragrance brings an altogether younger crowd to a brand whose initial perfumes were introduced to the marketplace back in 1935. It was in Brussels in which the primary five from the fragrances were launched. Individual fragrances such as Tropiques, Bocages, Kypre, Tendre Nuit and Conquete helped create their reputation for quality. L’Oreal acknowledges that the perfumes were what made Lancome what it truly is today—a renowned brand name not just of perfumes but additionally of skincare and cosmetics items.

While the girls are staying at home watching X Factor this autumn the gents seem to be out learning new skills – learning to climb, taking a class in break-dancingwe've heard some of them are even taking the plunge with a charity sky dive. At the same time their firm favourite Fuel for Life – Denim collection is never too far behind. Fuel For Life DENIM COLLECTION has reinvented the concept of Fuel For Life by giving the scent a wardrobe all of its own. Time for fragrance to get dressed! Fresh and sexy it fits like a perfect pair of jeans. The base notes recall the unique Fuel for Life signature: woody and citrus. An energetic youth potion with the freshness of aromatic citrus, plus a one-two punch of lavender and dry wood for a modern touch.
Diesel has also been busy crafting a brand new fragrance for women – Loverdose.  With its iconic bottle showcasing a pure heart of precious glass with ever-shifting pink-amethyst highlights and an etching of a black dagger piercing through, Loverdose can be stood up in three unique positions.

It allegedly possesses molecules that stimulate the hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for attraction and lust. The very composition is floral–spicy, opening with star anise and mandarin. Sambac jasmine, licorice and gardenia petals form the core of the composition, placed on an oriental base of amber, vanilla and woody notes.

For more info visit www.diesel.com

By far the most exciting announcement this year has been Dior’s exploration into the top of the tree. Christian Dior’s J’adore is by far is AW11s finest accomplishment. The origins of a dress lie in a few lines sketched on a sheet of paper: a draft, or design, the toile that will become couture. The first draft of a perfume is also written, assessed and worked on, revealing its various facets. Step by step, the same procedure is used to compose two worlds with myriad, corresponding pathways. Based on an outline, an Haute Couture dress and its designs are sketched; an Haute Parfumerie scent and its variations are composed.

J’adore is writing a new chapter with its Eau de Toilette, sketching the paradox of lightness combined with a very marked scent. To the splendid richness of the Eau de Parfum bouquet comes the response of the Eau de Toilette, without the slightest apprehension, celebrating the flowers’ petals.

For the J’adore Eau de Toilette, François Demachy, Dior’s Perfumer-Creator, imagined a new delight inspired by memories of Granville (Christian Dior’s family home). By capturing the era of a fragrance in the notes dear to Monsieur Dior, François Demachy has revealed a world of softness and equilibrium wherein flower essences correspond perfectly.

Fresh citrus notes are the most present in the top note, with emphasis on the delicate yellow mandarin (a perfect balance between the young and acidic green and the sweet flavoured, very ripe red mandarins), providing radiance and sparkle. At the heart note, the J’adore signature is recognisable by its bouquet, which rediscovers the perfume’s flowers in a reworking of their petals. Damascus Rose, Ylang-Ylang, Jasmine Sambac and Tunisian Orange Blossom make up this delicate, rather than opulent, bouquet. Woody with a hint of vanilla, the base note allows the Eau de Toilette to maintain its beautiful scent.

The flower is treated in an extraordinarily delicate manner. Precious essences, obtained through a unique distillation process respecting Dior Haute Parfumerie expertise, majestically reveal themselves in a luminous, light and delicate fashion so dear to François Demachy.

A halo of light surrounds this flower, synonymous with tradition and timelessness. The Orange blossom blooms and shines, is radiant and enchanting, never leaving you indifferent.

Favoured by the princess of Nerola who gave her name to the essence of Neroli, the Orange Blossom is a trump card combined with a day-to-day delicacy, freshness and elegance. It slips onto the skin like a pair of kid gloves, symbolising extreme sophistication.

Evocative of a childhood filled with sweetness on the Granville veranda, Orange Blossom is Monsieur Dior’s perfumed Ariadne’s thread; an Eau Fraîche which he wore in the Couture Workshops, personifying the blossoming of a princess, queen or future flower-woman. Each moment of his life was marked by this initiatory fragrance, the freshness of which was filled with happiness and childhood memories.

Hand picked during their brief blossoming (2 to 4 weeks per year), these white flowers symbolising purity and softness are harvested in sunny Cap Bon, Tunisia, where the micro-climate imparts their very unique quality.

For more information visit www.dior.com

Farrow and Ball unveil the Broccato papers, inspired by the Italian Renaissance period

Colour expert Farrow & Ball unveils its latest collection of traditionally made wallpapers, uniquely crafted using Farrow & Ball paint printed onto paper. The Broccato Papers comprises six charming wallpapers inspired by the Italian Renaissance period.

Named after the Italian translation for ‘brocade’, the collection features three exquisite ornamental patterns derived from rich decorative fabrics featured in 14th and 15th century Renaissance paintings housed at The National Gallery, London. From these patterns, Farrow & Ball has also created a further three wallpapers using an element of the original paintings to form a comprehensive collection of harmonious designs.

The Broccato Papers is characterised by ornate floral and fruit motifs, with meticulous symmetrical detailing, distinctive of the Renaissance style and richly embossed Brocade fabrics. Each pattern is available in ten colourways, from soft neutrals and pretty pastels to bolder colours and metallic accents. The collection includes a number of new colours including the soft mauve Brassica and lead-toned grey Plummett.
Crivelli Rose is a classic brocade pattern, featuring extravagant plumes of oak tree and acorn motifs in majestic rosettes linked by intricate wheat-inspired trellising. The corresponding design, Crivelli Trellis is a simple and delicate wheat-detailed trellis.
Brocade is an elegant design with gothic influence and elaborate detailing of ornate floral, thistle and leaf motifs. The corresponding design, Brocade Stripe is a classic stripe featuring a central floral column.

Renaissance is an enchanting pictorial print bursting with sunflowers, birds and fine botanical detailing.
The corresponding design, Renaissance Leaves is a delightful pattern with a frivolous feeling, featuring gently tumbling oak-shaped leaves.
The Broccato Papers has the signature depth of colour and delicacy of appearance of all Farrow & Ball wallpapers, which are made using real Farrow & Ball minimal VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) water based paints.

Customer Enquiries: 01202 876141

www.farrow-ball.com

The National Gallery
The original designs were selected by architect Sydney Vacher from 14th and 15th century Italian Renaissance paintings on display at The National Gallery, London and incorporated into his illustrations for contemporary fabrics and wallpapers in his renowned book ‘Fifteenth Century Italian Ornament: chiefly taken from Brocades and stuffs found in the National Gallery, London’, published in 1886.

The National Gallery houses one of the greatest collections of European painting in the world. Located in London’s historic Trafalgar Square, the permanent collection consists of over 2,300 works from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century. All major traditions of Western European painting are represented, from the painters of late medieval and Renaissance Italy to the French Impressionists, with artists including Titian,
Monet, Velázquez, Rembrandt and Van Gogh.

www.nationalgallery.org.uk