soberandhungry's Blog

we love wine, we love food and we love sharing


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First Mince Pie 2014

Every year our first Mince Pie needs to be amazing. Any Mince Pie after doesn’t matter – but the first one always needs to be epic (this has become a Christmas tradition). We assumed that we would be on to a winner at the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market – but alas, Germans do not seem to go in for fruit-based-sweet-pies. We set off enthusiastically around Leyton, then on to Walthamstow in search of a local cafe/bakery but it was all to no avail. FINALLY, Patisserie Valerie in Covent Garden came up trumps! 

Best Mince Pie 2014

The sweat, thick, crunchy pastry tasted like shortbread biscuits. The mincemeat was really moist and perfectly balance with the fruit and spices. The pie was stuffed to the brim with Christmas. It was all worth the wait – if you find yourself in Covent Garden – get one!


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Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market and Craft Market

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. Dreams of a short break to a large European Christmas market had been flooding my mind, and although it was November, the Christmas spirit had taken over. A passport renewal threatened to scupper my plans but undefeated, I did some research and discovered a little gem – Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market and Craft Market.

With over 180 stalls, it is the UK’s largest outdoor Christmas Market – and a busy one at that! We arrived in Birmingham at mid-day on Sunday and the streets were already bustling with families and large groups enjoying a Stein or two.

Birmingham festival

The German food stalls lining New Street were very busy, with people patiently queuing (a good 20 people back) to get their hands on a 0.5m German Bratwurst (sausage) in a Brötchen (bread roll). It was worth the wait; we chose to share a grilled Bratwurst, which we smothered in ketchup and mustard. Later that evening we enjoyed a Blooming Onion with garlic sauce. If you ever have the chance to try one, we would recommend that you do – it a thing of beauty! The onion is carved, lightly battered and then deep fat fried so that it opens up like a flower for you to pluck tasty onion morsels from. Yum! We also enjoyed some beer and a Brezel, rotisserie ham baguettes, gluhwein, and mulled cider. We proceeded to sing into the evening with two very jolly Germans entertainers in Victoria Square, dressed like Santa (sort of) singing Christmas tunes with some Abba thrown in for good measure.

Dotted around the food stalls were Craft Stalls selling a good range of items such as Christmas decorations, jewelry, clothes, candles, wood carvings, as well as some more obscure items like lego comic book figures and eco-friendly fire places. The stalls in Victoria Square and Chamberlain Square got a bit repetitive, but we found some nice stalls in Centenary Square such as flowerjewellery.com.

In addition to the crafts and German food stalls, there were also stalls selling locally produced food and drink including real ale (Woods Shropshire Beer), delicious cider courtesy of Orchard Pig Cider, fudge, pork scratchings, as well as homemade chutneys and cheeses (of which we bought everything).

I detail some useful info below. The market is definitely worth a visit – you only need to stay for one night as you will run out of things to do / see / eat. People told us that Saturday was full of debauchery. Sunday was full but pleasant.

Where is it?

The market starts at the Bullring shopping center with stalls along New Street leading to Victoria Square (where the main market is) and Chamberlain Square. We nearly missed Centenary Square, which you can access through Paradise Place shopping mall.

 When?

The event is still on – it started on 13 November and ends on 22 December (open 10:00am – 9:00pm)

 Where should you stay?

We stayed at the Staybridge Suites which are in a great central location. The room felt like a little apartment. We would recommend it.

 Toilets?

Toilets are very scarce! We found some portaloos in Centenary Square and everyone was utilsing the facilities at Weatherspoons in Paradise Place.


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Thank you for the Thanksgiving meal

I am very lucky to have wonderful friends, from amazing places across the globe. Last week I was invited to a Thanksgiving meal hosted by Lou and Doug (who are also ardent foodies).  I was treated to a feast. Canapes and  warm cider on arrival … followed by a huge plate of turkey, ham, sweat potato mash, mushroom wellington, bean casserole and mac&cheese… completed with some sweat white wine and a homemade pumpkin pie – phew. Thank you guys – it was amazing! Put me on the invite for next year 😉

ThanksGiving