Bon Appétit

What were you doing when you were 22? Louisa Ellis was beating thousands of applicants to take part in MasterChef: The Professionals, going on to compete against 48 chefs from around the country and eventually reaching the final three. Way to make us feel like underachievers, Louisa.  She is hosting a one-off evening at Harvey Nichols as part of Taste of the Mailbox weekend, happening Aug 3 to 5. Read all about it.

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The P Word

Maybe it was ol' uncle Attenborough and The Beeb, maybe it wasn't, but in 2018, plastic became a dirty word. Rather than banging on about our increasing levels of guilt on the rare occasions we do end up using a 5p bag or disposable cup, let's talk about what our city is doing to help the enviro, and the little changes you can make to get on board.

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Notes On... Dosa at Loaf

There’s a big difference between being a competent cook in your own home and being amongst a group of foodie strangers in Loaf's profesh kitchen. But if the idea is a bit intimidating, the reality is a delight.

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City Guide // Antwerp

Old buildings, ports and markets: so far, so every other European city break you’ve ever been on. But Antwerp is also big on luxey living, high fash and supercool entertainment.

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Notes on... Salcooks

We once went to a wedding where Portuguese egg custard tarts were flown in for midnight munching. At the time it struck us as potentially excessive, but by God we've been on a quest to find those joy-giving little loves,  without the need for a plane, ever since. Last week that quest came to the most glorious of ends. 

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Caulifornia Dreamin'

No, we didn't get round to stocking our fridge this weekend either, despite the extra day. But we've got your back on din-dins tonight. It's super simple to maximise evening sun time, and there's a shopping list and everything.

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The Brunch Bunch

As evidenced by cronuts, Brangelina (RIP) and labradoodles, portmanteaus can result in the creation of truly beautiful things. That delightful moment between breakfast and lunch is probably our favourite of them all. B’ham excels at brunchin, so we did the honourable thing and ate our way round town to bring this compilation of sorts. Bubbles are optional but highly recommended.

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Martinis and More

It’s only fitting that Dirty Martini teamed up with B’ham's own Langley’s gin for a collection of Peaky Blinders-inspired cocktails, designed espesh for their new Bennetts Hill spot. Here are some key ingredients for two of the Old Tom Gin lovelies. Rather than DIYing a drink, they're open from April 21.

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Notes on... Ugly Delicious

Dream dinner party guest, David Chang, travels the world as he visits food hotspots to dissect comfort goodies like fried chicken, tacos and pizza. It might not always be pretty, but blimmin' hell it's tasty. Be warned: never watch this show on an empty stomach.

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Bell & Smokey is a free weekly email covering beauty, brands, travel and trends. Elevate your inbox. Subscribe below.

Notes on... What the health

Honey is not vegan. And for a cow to produce milk, it needs to be lactating (so have recently given birth). When you think about it, these are two pretty obvious facts, but until we watched What the Health — between you and us — they were not facts we'd grasped.

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Notes on... Lewis's

We need some more girls in here / Couple a Chantelles and Chanelles in here / So pass me the bitter let me get heavy on / Buff ting gally rude boy sling it on / There's too many man, too many many man /

Not exactly the most Bell & Smokey of lyrics, but when you're ordering two Menemen for brunch, trust us, it's hard to get the lyrics of Two Many Man by English grime collective, Boy Better Know, out of your head. So hard in fact that we found ourselves rap battling the lyrics with a neighbouring table the moment the waitress was gone.

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Shiny and new: Opening soon

There are so many new openings in B’ham right now that we’re proper struggling to keep up. What a wonderful time to be alive. Here are the absolute most excitingest.

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The Anti-Valentine's Guide

Hey. We’re not completely heartless. We’re not begrudging anyone the chance to celebrate love. But for those of us that are reluctant to pay over the odds for red roses and a set meal at a crazy busy restaurant, we’ve got some alternatives for spending the 14th either with your bestie, your valentine-phobic better half, or your sweet, sweet self.

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First Cocktail Back

In less than 36 hours, it won't be January any more. And whether you've been observing a month of abstinence or not, you've survived. Toast yourself with one of these delectable little numbers. You deserve it.

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