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Pizza for Days: All You Can Eat Pizza at Rub Smokehouse

This week has been one of unending rain courtsey of the British summer and pathetic-ness on my behalf because a cold smacked me round the head on Monday and showed no sign of lifting. But there was a bright spot admist the torrential downpour – along with Bite Your Brum, Caramel Latte Kiss and Miss Pond, on Wednesday I headed to Rub Smokehouse on Broad Street for All You Can Eat Pizza.

I was picturing an old school Pizza Hut style buffet where you go and help yourself, but that’s mostly because that’s what I long for every time I go get pizza. At the Rub Smokehouse event, by booking in advance for £12.95 per person, you could have as many slices of pizza as you wanted in an hour and a half. Served one slice at a time, the record eaten is 20 slices. Beat it and you could win £100 in vouchers for Rub Smokehouse.

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The Mad Korean in all its glory

I’m sure you’re sad to hear I didn’t set the record, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t eat a lot of pizza. The Nacho Cheese Monster was my favourite. With salsa, mozzarella, smoked applewood cheddar, sour cream, fresh cheese, crushed cheese nachos and cheese sauce, it was weirdly delicious, despite of or possibly because of the sheeer amount of cheese and cheese related products on it. The Mad Korean was definitely a closer runner up though. Decked out with pulled BBQ pork, spring onions, sesame seeds, kimchi, chilli, mozzarella and prawn cracker dust, it tasted more like a traditional pizza than the Nacho Cheese Monster. Not sure I could have eaten more than two slices thought – some combination of the ingredients meant two was definitely enough.

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Idaho State Fair looking great

The Idaho State Fair tasted exactly like a hot dog, which was confusing for my tastebuds, but not really surprising when you consider the toppings were frankfurter, dill pickles, french mustard and keetchup base and buffalo sauce popcorn. Yes, it had popcorn on it too. Was really reminiscent of eating something from every food van at the fun fair, but I’m not sure the popcorn added anything.

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Katsu Curry on pizza. What will they think of next?

Katsu Chick Flick was my least favourite, though by the time it came to me, I was probably suffering from a case of over pizza-ing. With Japanese curry sauce, mini chicken nuggets, pickled ginger mozzarella and crushed spicy rice crackers, I felt like the curry sauce was over powering and too much for a pizza. I love katsu curry, but I don’t think it needs the addition of pizza dough.

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Delicious, delicious cheetos

However, Mac n Cheetos was an unexpected win. Combining mac n cheese on a pizza with cheetos and mozzarella sounded like it wass going to be awful, but turned out to be surprisingly good. I really enjoyed the addition of Cheetos to pizza, and strrongly recommend you try adding wotsits to your margherita.

Despite walking down Broad Street on my way home, I’d never noticed Rub Smokehouse before but now I know it’s there I’m anxious to go back. The portion sizes are huge, the staff were all super lovely and the interior design is very Americana. It’s definitely one for when you’re in need of something  unhealthy – they serve their ice cream in a sink guys, there’s so much of it – but we all need delicious, ridiculous food combinations sometimes. And also they have yorkshire pudding burritos. Roll on Sunday Lunch.

I was a guest at Rub Smokehouse, eating all the pizza I could manage in exchange for a blog post (which you’ve just read). My opinions are entirely my own, and honest as always. 

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Pieminister Gets My Vote

I’d heard about Pieminister. My friends had sung its praises, my girlfriend has often sighed at pie we’ve bought, saying it’s just not Pieminister, and then we also own their cookbook ‘A Pie for All Seasons’, from which delicious pies have been made. But I’d never actually been to a Pieminister.

Hipster looking shop with views of the Town Hall

This all changed today, when Beth took me out to celebrate my new job. (I work in tech now guys – any women or LGBTQ+ people in tech advice, hit me up.) And so, with a Pieminister recently opened in Brum, we went. And man, it was not oversold. At all.

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View of the Town Hall was A++

With all kinds of pie, from beef to chicken to vegetarian and even gluten free, you’re not short of options. Unless you’re vegan. With only one main option that isn’t even a pie, it might not be everything you want from a pie joint if you’re vegan. All names are puns and everything sounds delicious – which is my kind of restaurant. And all pies come with gravy. Our waitress was very clear on that, which I fully appreciate.

When you’ve picked your pie, then you can pick your meal type. Classic, Mothership, Feast or Stick ‘Em Up – all of which come with varying amounts of sides or sticks (kebabs skewers with either pigs in blankets, onion rings or halloumi).

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Gotta love a flat lay esque photo

I went for the Free Ranger (chicken, ham, leek and thyme), with mash, garden peas with chilli and a stick of pigs in blankets. Beth had the Chicken of Aragon, with mash, minted mushy peas and a stick of pigs in bankets.

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Food for the eyes as well as the stomach

It was gorgeous. Not only was the presentation lovely, but it tasted delicious. The pie was everything pie should be. If I had to describe the epitome of a pie, it would be the pie I had at Pieminister. Both kinds of pea were great, and the pigs in blankets were exactly right.

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I was trying to be arty with gravy

All of the staff were super lovely, and the service was good. Oh, and on Sundays, cocktails are two for one. I thoroughly enjoyed Pieminister, totally see what all the hype was about. I’ll be going back as soon as I can. Next time you’re dreaming of pie, this is the place to go.

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Visiting Emerald Island

It is now tradition that, when Caro Emerald comes on tour to the UK, me and my Dad go to see her. Because she’s fantastic and electro swing is clearly where our musical tastes intersect.

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Concert photos blurry as ever. Caro Emerald fabulous as ever.

Irjit Dekel, a singer from Tel Aviv, kicked off the night with some great singing and an accordionist. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an accordionist on a stage, especially not one playing pop so that was pretty cool.

But everyone was there for Caro Emerald, and seats quickly filled up when the main act started. The title of the tour (and her new EP) is Emerald Island, the idea being that it transports you to a far away place, where the days are long, the clubs are hot and everything is fabulous. And after that concert, I’d like to book my next holiday to there, please.

Inspired by the genre Exotica, where jazz musicians evoked a peusdo-experience of the South Pacific islands in their music, Emerald Island (the tour and new music) made me think of bright colours, cocktails and a 50s american depiction of tropical paradise. Last tour was heavy on the elctro side which I loved. This time, the arrangments of familiar songs in an Exotica style was really enjoyable, but I missed how electro it was last time. At least, I did until she showcased 4 new songs, and while my heart will always belong to the electro heavy versions of her songs, my head has definitely been turned by her new style.

The Emerald Island tour is ongoing. She’s in Birmingham again tonight, and there’s tickets left – see here for full tour dates and tickets. Caro always brings the party, and is my favourite artist to go see live. The entire band always looks like they’re having a great time, the atmosphere is always great and I defy you not to dance.

Caro’s latest single is my current favourite song

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Springing Forward

It’s finally Spring! The sun is still in the sky when I leave work, the daffodils I planted have flowered and there’s a promise in the air that warmth is right around the corner.

So I thought I’d share 3 good things Spring has brought so far apart from increased vitamin D and the ability to be in the garden past 4.30pm.

1) Doing Things

I don’t know about you but Spring makes me want to do stuff. Winter makes me want to stay in under a blanket with a hot drink, but Spring is for being outside and seeing friends and generally Doing Things.

Most notably yesterday I went to Jump In in Walsall, which is a huge trampoline park, with mates I hadn’t seen in ages. It was great fun though I am now hobbling round due to my lack of fitness and inability to jump successfully from one trampoline to another.

2) Gardening

There’s some major gardening going on at my house. We’ve been digging up the lawn to redesign the front garden. There’ll be a fuller post about it when it’s all done.

Beth valiantly digging up the grass

There’s lots of seedlings near various windows and my hands are soil lined most weekends.

Fun fact: gardening is hard work and probably shouldn’t be attempted after trampolining.

3) Healthy Eating

Winter is for hot stodge. Spring welcomes in a variety of deliciousness that extends past pies, curries and stews.

That’s 7 types of veg right there

Green is an important colour

All the veg and all the deliciousness you could want when it starts getting warmer and fresher and lovelier.

All in all, Spring is shaping up to be a great time of year. I’m looking forward to new adventures, new food and a great looking garden. What are you looking forward to this Spring?

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All About That Dance Life

I think that any long time reader will be aware that I’m quite into dancing. Whether it’s in the kitchen, at a festival or in classes, I am all over that. Dance is fun, there’s no set rules and you can do it alone or with your besties or with a whole load of strangers enjoying the same music.

So this year, when I decided that I needed a weekly fix of dancing, imagine my delight when I discovered DanceXchange. Based in Birmingham (at the Hippodrome, no less), DanceXchange are a charity dedicated to promoting and creating great dance. Which manifests in several ways including professional performances, the International Dance Festival Birmingham, and, most relevant to me right now, dance classes.

From Flamenco to Ballet to Urban Fusion, DanceXchange offer a wide, wide variety of classes for all abilites. They even have a professional class, so dance professionals can expand their knowledge base. And it’s so cool! Open to everyone, most of them are after 6 so that you can go after work and not only are the classes not especially expensive, but you can get a discount if you pay in advance for a string of classes.

I was meant to go to Street Dance, and I tried really hard, but just got there too late. It’s a popular class, and so they were all booked up when I turned up. So, determined to do some kind of dance, I asked if there were other classes starting at the same time. Reader, there were. Lo and behold, Swing Dance beginners was about to start and would I be interested in joining that class?

Yes, yes I would. I love swing dance and am pretty evangelical about how great it is. So yes,   I was gonna go learn how to lead in a beginners class. And it was so good. Big class, lovely instructor and fantastic people in the class with me.

Thanks to DanceXchange, I can indulge my passion for dance easily and cheaply, and I am so excited to actually be able to keep up my swing ability. if you’re in the Brum area and looking for a new hobby, why not check out their classes? Bet you find something you like.

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Good Food, Good Day

Last Sunday I was at the Good Food Show in Birmingham with Beth (you remember Beth) and Caramel Latte Kiss (who is a real life friend as well as an excellent blogger).

All my fav cooks

The plan was to try all the free samples and perhaps spend a little too much money. I can confirm, Mission Completed.

I might have bought several meters of liquorice

The Good Food Show was huge and the variety of stuff there was ridiculous. We started in the alcohol section before working our way round everyone, including every cheese counter, liquorice stall and purveyor of tea.

Tiny glasses to make you feel like a giant

Obviously, it’s the Good Food show, so you expect everything to be good. So have a list of the really good stuff.

1. Clonakilty Black Pudding

They had the best sausages. End of. We tried them at the start of the day and ended up making a beeline for them again later so we could take some home with us.

Fun facts: I made the best ever Toad in the Hole with them.

2. Bloomon

Okay, not technically food. They’re a flower delivery service whose arrangements use seasonal flowers. Their instagram is full of gorgeous photos of what exactly they do and they gave me an iris after I’d been chatting to them. They were the loveliest.

Small Beth with a big Iris

3. Holly’s Lollies

Alcoholic sweets are always a good idea. Holly’s lollies were so good that we spent a lot of time hovering trying to figure out the best combination of boozy flavours.

4. The Mill House Roast Company 

The best turkey roll I have ever had. No exaggeration, I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. 

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Buckt Box -Adventure in the Post

While I’ve been AWOI (Absent without Internet) I’ve not just been reading and cross stitching and generally becoming a well finished Georgian Lady, I’ve been using huge amounts of 3G to keep up to date with Facebook, Twitter and the internet in general.

During my online travels, I came across Buckt, a hopefully soon to be available subscription box. Now, I love a bit of surprise post, and a subscription box promising new and exciting experiences sounds right up my alley. Especially as it would mean having loads of adventures to tell you lovely people about.

Intrigued, I got in touch with Daniel (Founder and Director of Buckt Box) to see what Buckt box is all about. He was lovely enough to answer all my questions, and what follows are my questions and his answers (slightly edited due to length – I did ask an awful lot of questions).

What is Buckt?

Buckt is a subscription box and digital community inspired by the idea of a bucket list. Each month our awesome subscribers get 8-10 activities delivered to their door: surprise tickets to top attractions and venues, discounts on higher end bucket list activities, exclusive invitations from our partners and money-can’t-buy bucket list challenges.

Our launch is in January, so it’s all systems go, which means it’s kind of crazy, but also so so exciting.

What inspired the idea of Buckt Box?

So, about a year ago, I came out of a long-term relationship. The reality of the situation had hit me and – honestly – I was pretty down in the dumps. As you can imagine, it was a pretty rubbish time. I can’t remember why but one day I woke up and decided to write a bucket list: things I wanted to achieve by the end of 2016; everything I wanted to do but hadn’t had the chance.

Honestly, it was pretty therapeutic. It made me forget about the situation I was in, think ahead and gave me something to look forward to. A few weeks later I was thinking about an idea I had whilst at university about a ticket subscription box and then it clicked… What about a bucket list subscription box?

A bucket list is a really cool concept. It means so many different things to different people – making people happy in so many different ways. Buckt will mean something different to every person that subscribes to it in the same way that a bucket list means something different to every person that has one. That’s why I truly believe Buckt will be something special.

What’s top on your own bucket list? Why?

As mentioned earlier, I actually wrote a bucket list of things that I wanted to complete by the end of 2016. It isn’t necessarily those HUGE things that people associate with a bucket list, but was just a list of activities I’d always wanted to do but never got around to doing. For example, I’ve done a bungee jump, meditated, rode a horse, gone to yoga, adopted a tiger with WWF, performed in a public space and loads more because of it.

I really want to do a sky dive, and plan to do one next year to raise money for charity. Hopefully I’ll be able to tie it to Buckt in some way…

Are you basing it nationally or do you have international ambitions?

Initially we are launching in the West Midlands region (because the West Mids, in particular Birmingham, is the best place in the UK. Okay, as a Brummie, I’m slightly biased). We aim to move into London by August 2016, and then into East Midlands and the North of England in Jan 2017.

My dream is to take this international. It’s a model that can work in most places, with the US in particular already accustomed to the idea of subscription boxes. I’d be happy with anywhere nice and warm to be honest!

What do you think should be on everyone’s bucket list?

Ohhh it’s a tricky one. One thing I would say is don’t just think big. What are those small things that you may overlook, but actually you’ll remember forever?

It’s also not just about paid activities. Maybe you’ve never watched all the Lord of the Rings films back-to-back but really want to. Or you’ve never watched the sunrise with the person you love. Maybe it’s a challenge. I’ve got completing a long-distance run on mine (at the time of writing the list, it sounded like a good idea…). You could include learning a new skill or a langue. Or maybe it’s about trying something new, for example meditating, or going fishing (which are in mine).

Of course, there are the big things. I did a bungee jump and loved it. I’m glad I didn’t wimp out! I would totally recommend doing that.

What makes Buckt different from other subscription boxes?

What we are doing is truly unique. Buckt isn’t about sending random items that eventually end up on eBay, but actually giving subscribers fun, happiness, excitement; something to look forward to each weekend.

Can you could describe Buckt box in a sentence? How about 3 words?

Buckt is escape from life’s routine, inspiration for the adventurers and will bring fun and joy to all that subscribe.

3 words? Go live life.

Currently Buckt box is looking for support on Crowdfunder to help with the launch. There’s loads more info about Buckt on there, and of course, a list of rewards for donors.

To me, Buckt sounds like a great idea. Going out, doing things, exploring the cities that you live in are all things that I love (especially when there’s a discount…). And Buckt has so many bases covered from tickets for attractions, to invites for art festivals, to challenging you to take a step outside your comfort zone.

And as a Birmingham based gal, I do love the idea of something beginning in the Midlands. But I suppose, like Daniel, I might be a touch biased.

As with so many of my over enthusiastic posts, this post was written because I genuinely think Buckt sounds like a great idea. No money or products were sent to me in the making of this post.