September, September, September. Month of meat, month of gin, month of birthday treats, and month of buying a house (eek!). If I thought August was busy, September took it to the next level.
So, the highlights.
It started with the first in the Seven Deadly Sins series of events organised by fellow blogger Brumderland. GREED: Pure Ginious felt like a tailor-made treat for a gin-lover like me. I joined a gang of lovely Birmingham bloggers in the Victorian gin parlour at the Jekyll and Hyde for a gin masterclass where we learned all about one of my favourite tipples, drank a fair bit of it, and also tasted some of their great food.
The gin-loving continued a few weeks later when I attended a Langley’s No.8 masterclass at the Hyatt Regency on Broad Street. Another little masterclass, this time by Jonathan Zammit-Tabona, global ambassador for the locally-distilled gin, who taught us all about the drink itself as well as the history of Langley’s. We learned how to make the perfect G&T, as well as supping on Langley’s latest creation, the G&B signature serve.
September was also the month of the final weekend trips of the summer. There was a quick break up to Teversal in Nottinghamshire for some camping and walking with our pals and then there was a few days in Cornwall to celebrate my birthday early. We went back to Padstow, one of our favourite haunts, and Mr M treated me to a fabulous lunch at Restaurant Nathan Outlaw in Port Isaac. What a meal!
Since my birthdays notoriously last for at least 10 days, I managed to string mine out to the following weekend where we made it to Meatopia, a festival of meat, music, and general fun at London’s Tobacco Dock. This was another memorable day of food and friends, and is even subject of a little video I made to showcase a little interview I did with the almighty DJ BBQ. So if you haven’t watched it yet, you really really should.
As well as the usual food-filled fun, I’ve found myself looking a bit more at blogging in general recently. The ‘Blogger Blackmail’ row hit the headlines (well, in the blogging community anyway), and was the subject of my first guest blog for the UK Blog Awards. And the issue resurfaced at an evening I went to with food writer Jay Rayner, which sparked plenty of debate about food reviews, freebies and all sorts.
If you follow me on social media, you’ll have seen that the last weekend of September marked my first blogging conference. I went to one day of Food Blogger Connect at Chiswick House in London where I spent the day learning from the pros, meeting lovely people, and eating some rather nice street food.
To be honest, I’m still digesting everything I learned on that ram-packed day, from a terrifying but awesome writing workshop, to a Pinterest seminar that finally started to help me understand how it works. Then there was the lively ethics debate, followed by hearing how some people make their livings out of their blogs. And finally, a head-messing but enlightening workshop all about my nemesis, Google Analytics.
The next day I ‘decompressed’ with a bit more food, taking a walk around the Rugby Food and Drink Festival. I’m so chuffed my home town has got such a great event, which was bigger and better than last year’s and seems to be growing in popularity. Not only were there some great local street food guys there, but plenty of producers, and a great demo stage.
We missed the demo from David Ferguson at Ferguson’s, which I’ve not only reviewed here before, but must congratulate on scoring a well-deserved mention in the Michelin guide. We did, however, catch the one by Maria from La Margherita, a local Mediterranean restaurant which we went to on my birthday (yes, I know, another birthday treat – expect a blog very soon!)
Even with all this, I didn’t quite make it to everything I wanted to, including all the food stuff on offer at Grand Central at the new New Street station. That’ll have to be one for October, along with Mr M’s birthday, and all this…
Tomorrow I’m heading down to Edible Eastside, in Digbeth, for Digbeth First Friday. Part of the Kitchen School, this derelict canalside space has been transformed into a pop-up park where they grow food and hold various events. At tomorrow’s event they’re offering drinks and garden-inspired snacks to anyone who makes a pledge towards their crowd funding campaign, HOME GROWN COOKS, to raise money to build a cookery school and dining room in a former canalkeepers house next to the garden.
After that, Mr M and I are off to try out new restaurant ‘Meating’ in the Arcadian Centre in Birmingham. These guys specialise in rare breed meat, cooked over coal – right up our street. On Sunday, we’re off to our first ‘Rib Nights’. This event is run by the great Ahmed Kage, founder of the burger battle events – you’ll remember we went to Burgergeddon and loved it.
Rib Nights runs along a similar theme – everyone tries ribs from two different teams then votes for the best. We’re going to Cafe Opus at Ikon in Birmingham for the battle of Andy Annat of BBQ Crackerjack and Smoke & Spice BBQ. Excited much?
The event’s sold out, but I think there are still some tickets to Rib Nights’ birthday event in November, which you can find here. There’s also a return of UK Burger Battle on 25 October with ‘Battle of the Bacon Cheeseburger’, where The Beefy Boys from Hereford will take on What’s Your Beef from Manchester. Tickets are here. Both are the final events for Birmingham – so if you haven’t been, you might wanna try.
October also brings the follow-up to GREED: Pure Ginious. This time its WRATH: Feel The Heat, at Bodega on Bennetts Hill in Birmingham. This one’s all about Tequila, so in a similar format to the previous event we’ll try some of Bodega’s speciality dishes and then spend the evening learning all about Tequila. Mwahahahahah.
On the meaty theme, Meatcure is opening its third branch in the Midlands in Leamington Spa this month, following the success of the first two in Market Harborough and Leicester. Inspired by New York burger joints, Meatcure brings gourmet burgers and craft beers in what is described as “exciting yet rustic restaurants”. I’ll let you know how it goes.
In between that, I have no doubt there will be loads more. I’ve got plenty of other outings planned so keep an eye out on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and – of course – here, to see what I get up to.
And here’s a closing picture to make you smile – I stalked DJ BBQ yet again while we were at Meatopia, and not only got a selfie, but made a VIDEO. Watch it now, it’s here.