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Chef Paul Proffitt at Swinfen Hall, Staffordshire

It is only half an hour’s drive from the bustle of Birmingham, a city that has taken bustle to another level (and that’s putting it politely) since the council started digging up Paradise Circus. Yet strolling around the grounds of Swinfen Hall, an 18th century pile off the A38 in Staffordshire, feels …

Birmingham and the curse of the cold café coffee

It’s the new law of coffee physics and you don’t have to be Stephen Hawking to understand it. The basic principle is simple if not bizarre: the rise in the number of coffee shops is in inverse proportion to the temperate of the hot beverages served in these establishments. In other words, …

Trans-Atlantic Business Class lunch on board US Airways

I settle down for the flight from Manchester to Philadelphia with a singer from Memphis and a glass of sparking Italian wine. I’ve got Al Green on the headphones (the bishop isn’t actually travelling with me) and the Prosecco has just been poured by a welcoming stewardess from US Airways. We are still …

Estonian pastry chef Sandra is a top Birmingham baker

Sometimes you have to take your hat off to a young chef’s drive, talent and creativity… Take a bow Sandra Sentjurin. The Birmingham-based pastry chef runs a burgeoning bakery business in her native Estonia, managing orders for handmade chocolates, cakes and desserts via the internet from her UK home. Sandra balances her business interests with the …

Hip! Hip! Hoorah for The Hippodrome

Dining at the theatre… it’s not the most inspiring prospect. The idea of a pre-show meal sounds like a great idea but then reality, poor produce and slapdash cooking usually intervenes. That special occasion night-out leaves a bad taste in the mouth; the smell of the greasepaint and the roar …

Sweet soul food in Memphis, Tennessee

So Prince William and brother Harry got their first taste of Memphis barbecue at Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous. After landing in the mid-South for a society wedding, the Royal party did what any self-respecting visitor would do – and went in search of a whole hill of smoky ribs. I know the feeling well. …

Birmingham’s best biryani

So he’s gone. Guneet Singh Bindra, the self-effacing chef responsible for turning one of Birmingham’s very average Indian restaurant into one of the best has decamped for a new challenge. Guneet has left Asha’s in Birmingham for Manchester where he will head up the kitchen operation for an ambitious catering company. I am sorry to …

Restaurant reviews and the rise of social media

The vast majority of diners aged under-35 have never read a traditional restaurant review, according to a survey conducted for a Birmingham food festival. Social media and changing consumer habits are sounding the death knell for “old-style” newspaper reviews, it is claimed. Clearly, this is bad news for professional food pundits like Marina …