Lunch at Bodega, Birmingham

It’s been quite a while since I visited Bodega, but I am always hearing positive things about the restaurant, so a friend and I decided to visit for lunch last week.

Situated on Bennets Hill in Birmingham, Bodega is a contemporary cantina specialising in authentic, fresh and homemade South American food. As a member of the Bitters ‘n’ Twisted family of bars, they also offer a wide range of fabulous cocktails, so we felt that it was only right that we should try some of them!

I like the atmosphere in the restaurant – bright, simple and colourful with friendly staff and South American music in the background, with a wide and varied menu that caters for all dietary requirements.

My friend and I decided to share a small plate of nachos to start, with all the typical vegetarian toppings – salsa, cheese, sour cream, guacamole etc. We have chosen this many times in our previous experiences at numerous restaurants and pubs, and when it arrived we were grateful that we only ordered the small portion as it was more than enough for two! Every component was delicious and we commented that it was the nicest plate of nachos we’d ever had. Continue reading

More Cocktails, a Pirate and He-Man

I had my final full week off of the summer, and I absolutely made sure that I didn’t waste any of it!

I met up with some of my girly teacher friends. We used to work together at the same school and over the years we’ve all moved onwards and upwards with our lives, but have still managed to keep in touch. We decided to meet for a burger and cocktail, and even though I was feeling a bit rough I knew that I’d have a brilliant time. It’s nice to sit around a table with them and catch up with what they’ve been up to – one is starting a new job, one lives and works in Spain so had come back to the UK for a visit, another has just bought a house and moved in with her partner, one is pregnant with her second child, one has spent the summer doing really awesome travel stuff and I have got engaged – so we had a LOT to talk about. They’re just nice people to be around – there’s no mean girl issues or competition – we just sit, laugh, drink and talk, and because there are so many of us there are never any awkward silences.

Continue reading

If We Were Having Coffee #17

coffee and coversationIf we were having coffee, I would tell you that it is an absolutely glorious day here. The sun is shining, there isn’t a cloud in the sky and it’s beautifully hot – the start of what is predicted to be another heatwave. Good. I love the sun – we seem to spend months on end in the cold, rain and dark in the UK, so any change in the weather is always welcome (although I know that after a few days there will be a number of miserable people who have had enough – us Brits always like to complain about something!). I’ve taken the opportunity to appreciate it already this morning by going for a walk, the cats are indulging in a lazy snooze in the sun and The Bloke has taken himself off to one of the main parks in the city with his camera to go and bother some squirrels. I have given him the nickname of ‘Walker the Squirrel Stalker’ – he has some amazing pictures of them… in their hundreds…

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’ve had a fabulous week – one that I can look back on with a genuine smile. Continue reading

Cocktails at The Colmore Club!

Cocktails at the Colmore club

I received an invitation last week via The Stilettos Network, asking if I would like to attend a cocktail-making masterclass at the exclusive Colmore Club in Birmingham.

Ooh, yes please!

The venue, which opened in September 2015, is situated in the business district of the city and is owned by Dave Roberts and Jonathan Wilcox. With a beautifully designed social room, board room, quiet study room, kitchen and bar, it offers the opportunity for social gatherings, business meetings, workshops and events for it’s £500-a-year members. I’ve been lucky enough to visit the club before, and it’s absolutely stunning, with the atmosphere, the welcome and the service being exceptional.

The bar is stocked with an impressive collection of spirits, and for those with particularly expensive tastes, a £24,000 bottle of Krug champagne. After previously sampling several of their beautiful cocktails I was particularly keen to try out others that were on offer. Continue reading

A Fabulous Week!

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It’s always difficult when the urge to write is present, but there doesn’t seem like there is the time to do so. I’ve composed a million blog posts in my head over the last few weeks, and yet haven’t been able to get round to completing and publishing them.

It was back to work last week, after an incredible week off. To be honest, my initial plans were to adopt my inner broccoli and veg out, but it ended up being filled with friends, food, films and plenty of cocktails. I’ve caught up with friends I haven’t spoken to in months, and one that I haven’t seen in years. It’s been busy, but it’s been fun. I know, it’s a tough life, but someone has to do it.

I received a text from one of my oldest friends, asking to meet for lunch. I haven’t seen her in a while – her job means that she works six days a week – so it was a nice surprise. She’s been in a relationship with her bloke almost as long as I have been with mine, and it has been a bit of a running joke between us that neither of us are ever going to get proposed to – both our fellas are quite laid back. However, within about five minutes of meeting her, she showed me a beautiful shiny engagement ring on her left hand… Continue reading

Cocktails with Shaun the Barman

imageThose of you who regularly follow the blog will know that I’m partial to a cocktail or two, particularly when they are made extremely well.

Shaun is a mixologist who works at the Harvey Nichols Restaurant and Bar in The Mailbox, Birmingham. I’ve known him for a number of years and I’ve watched as his career has developed, learning his craft at a Michelin starred restaurant before joining Harvey Nichols. In January, he helped me surprise The Bloke with a belated New Year meal there (which was delicious), and I got the chance to try his cocktail making skills first hand. They were beautiful, but I was disappointed that I didn’t get the chance to catch up with him as he was working, and it was extremely busy.

On Wednesday I had a day off, so I decided to pay him another visit when I was in the city and try more of his repertoire.

I know, it’s a tough life. Continue reading

An Evening at Bohemian, Moseley

Bohemian Moseley

Those of you who follow the blog regularly will know that I like visiting new places, particularly if there are food and cocktails involved, so I was delighted when I was invited to the launch of the newly refurbished Bohemian Cocktail Bar + Kitchen in Moseley, during which I would be testing their new cocktail and food menu (I know, it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!).

I’d never been to Bohemian before, although I’ve heard many good things about it from friends, so I had no idea what to expect. However, the minute I walked in I received a warm welcome from the staff, and it was clear from the beautiful decor and atmosphere (combined with an awesome reggae playlist in the background) that it was going to be a good night! Continue reading

Afternoon Tea For Mother’s Day

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Sandwiches, cakes, scones and sorbets…

It was Mother’s Day here in the UK yesterday, and my sisters and I decided to do something a little different this year. My youngest sister booked us a table at 47 King Street West, an upmarket French and British restaurant in Manchester, for a champagne afternoon tea.

The British are renowned for being tea drinkers, but in my little family there are 50% of us that don’t like it, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. A number of my friends have indulged in similar experiences at various expensive London hotels, but despite my curiosity it had always been something a little out of my price range.

We were greeted by the manager upon arrival, our coats were taken and hung up and we were shown to our table. Even though it was busy, it didn’t feel cramped or overcrowded, and the noise level was reasonably quiet for a busy restaurant. I hadn’t really eaten breakfast, and didn’t think that the food would be enough to satisfy my hunger, but I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived. We were presented with a selection of beautiful sandwiches (salmon, tuna, egg, and hummus and olive) scones, cakes and sorbets, and we took great delight in sharing everything around. The atmosphere was calm and relaxed, the staff were superb and, despite not being a champagne drinker, I discovered that it was delicious. I also decided to treat myself to my two favourite cocktails: a Mojito, followed by a Amaretto Sours. They were strong, and I found that after the second one I was feeling a little bit squiffy, to the point where my mother noticed.

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Blurry, just like my eyes after those cocktails!

It was a wonderful afternoon. After years of being estranged from each other in various different ways and resolving our issues towards the end of last year, this was the first Mother’s Day in that we all spent together and genuinely enjoyed each others company. We talked, we laughed, we ate lots of beautiful food and had a really good time. I left afterwards to catch a train home, and my sisters took my mother shopping for a present.

It is certainly something that I would consider doing again, although perhaps I’d go a little easier on the cocktails next time… Or then again, who could resist this:

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A yummy Mojito

 

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I Could Murder a Cocktail Right About Now…

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I’ve been in work today, on a day which would usually be my day off, and I really want a drink. I don’t want to get ‘off my face crawl on the floor covered in my own vomit’ drunk, just what my mother refers to as ‘merry.’

I’m not a big drinker. I used to be – in my late teens and early twenties I used to push myself to the very limits in alcohol consumption, simply because I could. However, I’m what can generally be termed as a ‘lightweight’ – one snifter of it is enough to send me silly and start telling poor unsuspecting revellers how much I like their shirt – so my version of an alcohol limit is most likely to be a lot lower than that of others. Despite this, it still didn’t stop me from giving it my all. I started as a classic binge drinker – I wouldn’t have anything for several weeks and then I would consume several weeks worth in a single night. When I moved to university and away from home and any element of parental control I started to go out almost every night. I got into a routine – I would get up, go to my lectures, spend the evening working in the local pub and then would go out drinking until 3.00am. I’d get up the next day and repeat the cycle, sometimes for up to five days in a row.

Looking back, I don’t know how I, or my body coped with such a routine. These days, a lengthy night out for me ends at 1.00am and is inevitably followed by the world’s biggest hangover. My once tiny items of clothing, selected specifically for the purpose of posturing around a nightclub have been replaced with classier, more sensible ensembles, and my six inch heels have shrunk by six inches. Gone are the days where I would spend hours attempting to ignore the excruciating agony that my poor feet were in, or braving minus temperatures without a coat in an effort to show off my new dress. It’s now extremely rare that I go to a nightclub – I prefer to spend my time in quieter bars, where a can sit down, hear what my friends are actually saying and enjoy the music at a level that doesn’t make my eardrums bleed.

Sometimes, I feel old.

I haven’t been able to drink for the last couple of months because of my hospitalisation a few months ago, and I haven’t missed it, but tonight I have a real urge for a cocktail – a Raspberry Mojito or an Amaretto Sours would certainly hit the spot!

What about you? Do you get the urge for something stronger than a glass of wine?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

Old Friends, Cocktails, Dancing and Sore Feet

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It’s the weekend – I’m happy!

One of my (many) faults is that I am useless at keeping in regular contact with people. I always have good intentions, but life gets in the way.

Luckily, I am blessed with very understanding and patient friends. 

From the age of 16-18 I completed my A Levels at a Sixth Form College that was miles away from where I lived, which required me to get four buses a day. My music class was full of talented young people and we bonded instantly. We performed in concerts, went out together in a large group, went on holiday together, stayed at each others houses and got to know each others families.

After our qualification had finished we all went our separate ways to various parts of the country, but managed to remain in contact. I was there when LR met the man that she would eventually marry, I attended their hen parties and weddings, some of them visited me in Birmingham (one of those visits was to surprise me on my 30th birthday) and I’ve travelled up to Leeds on a few occasions with them.

However, over the last few years I have been rubbish – they have consistently invited me out several times a year and I have always had to cancel at the last minute. So, when I received a message just before New Year, I was determined to go. I thought that fate was conspiring against me with the rather intense inspection I had at work, but by Saturday morning I had pulled myself together and was on an early train ‘oop North’ with my overnight bag and a feeling of excitement about the night ahead. I was staying at my Mum’s so it was a good opportunity to see her too…

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Bolton Bus Station: It’s what horror movies are made of…

As I still haven’t learned to drive, despite being 32 years old, I had arranged with one of the girls that she would pick me up at the bus station near to where we attended college, which meant that I had to undertake the same bus route that I did every day as a teenager. Standing in Bolton Bus Station by myself for the first time in 14 years was a strange experience – it’s a terrifying place and despite the total familiarity I had I couldn’t help feel a sense of utter paranoia that a mad axe murderer was going to jump out at me.

Luckily, I arrived in record time as the driver went so fast he clearly had dreams of becoming a racing car driver, I met my friend without any issues and very soon I was sitting around a table in a beautiful restaurant (which also had a dance floor – I was delighted) with a group of very glamorous, beautiful women who immediately made me realise that I was hugely underdressed. (I can never seem to get it right).

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My friend AH getting into the spirit of things…

It was a fabulous night and exactly what I needed after a very stressful week. We ate, talked, reminisced, danced and shared cocktails. I laughed so much that my face and stomach muscles hurt. I was 18 years old again – despite the fact that most of them are now engaged, married and parents to young children I found myself on the dance floor with the same people that I knew all those years ago. We were the last to leave and I arrived back at my mum’s house at about 2.30am, which I haven’t done in a long time.

I’m feeling a little delicate today, my feet are extremely sore, (despite the fact that I wore flat shoes) and I’m on a train back down to Birmingham where I plan to spend the rest of the day attempting to recover…

Hope that you’ve had a good weekend!

Don’t forget to check out the winners of my Week 2 New Year competition – their buttons are on the sidebar of the blog – this is your last chance before they change!!

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @Suzie81