Pirlo’s Afternoon Tea

Pirlo's Afternoon Tea

Pirlo’s Afternoon Tea

One of my sisters turned 40 today and to celebrate we went to an afternoon tea at Pirlo’s Dessert Lounge. I’ve been there before quite a few times and I’ve had the afternoon tea there once and really enjoyed it so thought it would be perfect for my sisters and niece’s first experience to be there and it did not disappoint.

Pirlo’s dessert lounge is situated in Coventry Street, B5 5NY. There is a pay & display car park nearby as well as Moor Street car park.

As this was a special occasion, we booked the Luxury Afternoon Tea. This comprised of a selection of 5 finger sandwiches each, scones with clotted cream and jam, macaroons, mini Victoria sponge, carrot cake, chocolate brownie, Ferrero Rocher and strawberries dipped in chocolate as well as a choice of 2 hot drinks and a bottle of non alcoholic fizz.

Luxury Afternoon Tea

Luxury Afternoon Tea

It all came beautifully presented and everything was delicious. The service was great too.

I booked our afternoon tea online the day before as they needed at least 12 hours notice before booking. The Luxury Afternoon Tea is £32 for two people, and the regular afternoon tea is £24 for two.

All the food served here is halal. I’ve recently found out that they have started serving hot food every day from 6pm-1am. I am yet to try from their hot food menu. The black burger bun looks interesting! If you’ve had the hot food from there, what did you think?

Now help me settle a debate with my sisters and niece – when it comes to scones, what should go on first? Clotted cream or jam? I prefer to put the clotted cream first followed by the jam. Does it make a difference to you which way you put them in? Let me know your thoughts!



Cardamom Loaf

A simple, tasty treat that will go perfectly with a cup of chai. This is a very easy to make bake, my 11 year old daughter made the one pictured!


  • 200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 200 granulated sugar
  • 10 cardamom seeds, peeled and crushed
  • 3 eggs
  • 200g plain flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
Cardamom Loaf

Cardamom Loaf


Pre heat oven to 170C.

Grease and flour a loaf tin and set aside till needed.

Mix the butter, sugar and cardamom well until it is light and creamy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Sift the flour, bicarbonate soda and salt together and add it to the batter carefully and mix until all ingredients are well incorporated.

Lastly add the vanilla extract and mix it in.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake for around 55 minutes or longer if needed.

Afrikana (Birmingham) Review

My Rating: 4.2/5

Family Friendly: Yes (but tight for pushchairs/wheelchairs)

Address: 355 Ladypool Road, Sparkbrook, Birmingham. B12 8LA (Next door to Sweet, opposite Chaiwalla)

Parking: None- limited on street parking. Ladypool road is busy, plan to park and walk.

Payment: Cash and Cards accepted

I went to Afrikana’s opening night having won their Instagram competition to win a complimentary meal for two. I must stress although I didn’t pay for the meal this is an unbiased review and in no way influenced by Afrikana or anyone who works there.

Afrikana is a restaurant offering a Afro-Caribbean cuisine with an emphasis on chicken, peri peri chicken to be exact. Already established franchises can be found in Walsall and Shrewsbury. It’s located on what is now (finally!) the one way section of Ladypool Road, for many of you familiar with the area it’s near Truburger, Toros and Fargos. Head that way, park considerately on a side street and enjoy the stroll to the restaurant.



As we approached on the restaurant we could hear the live band playing outside the restaurant, a nice touch for opening night. We were greeted by a couple of members of staff and we were taken to a table for 2 deep inside the restaurant. Our seating was cramped and for me it was way too close to the couple to my left, my husband’s seat was squashed in as there was someone right behind him. The worst was the table, what is worse in a newly opened restaurant than a wobbly table?

I mentioned this to Muhammad, our waiter who had introduced himself, and he spoke to a manager and we were grateful to be moved straight to a booth. Much more comfortable, much more spacious. Fantastic.

Menus in hand we started to make our choices from the provided selection, settling on the lamb chops and tiger prawns to start with. To me the starter section seemed fairly generic, although they had an Afrikana twist in terms of sauces and flavours, but I was expecting more specific unique starters than those presented. In fact I was surprised not to find Mogo chips on the extras menu, you’ve got multiple types of fries but no Mogo chips! Yikes.


The tiger prawns were served with salad and a mayonnaise based sauce, they were really succulently juicy and smothered in a sauce containing sliced peppers. I was happy the prawns weren’t dried out as they often are, these were fantastic.

Tiger Prawn starter

The lamb chops were great and cooked as medium, a single starter consisted of 4 chops served on a (rather large) bed of salad leaves. Combined with the provided Afrikana sauce this was a good starter.

Lamb Chops starter


There was quite a selection to choose from for mains – from chicken, burgers & wraps, speciality range, sharing meals and even a good variety of vegetarian meals to choose from. We couldn’t decide what to chose and eventually ended choosing what we normally wouldn’t have. Although we loved what we had chosen, I wish I had chosen chicken instead! I could see into the kitchen as all meals were coming out to be served and the chicken platters looked absolutely amazing! I’ll have to visit again soon to try one.

I had the chilli with rice as my main – as you can see in the picture it was served in a rounded pot on a large plate together with some yoghurt and some flat bread. I did ask if you should eat from the pot or empty it out onto your plate and I was told either way is perfectly fine. If you do keep it in the pot it will definitely stay warmer for longer.

I liked the chilli a lot as it’s not something I find on menus very often and it was a joy to eat, the taste was consistent and the spices were balanced very well.


We Goat your back

A deliciously slow cooked, fall off the bone goat curry with Afrikana rice served with a side salad, olives and flat bread. Although it doesn’t seem like a lot of rice and meat is provided it works like a black hole, the deeper you go the more there seems to be. The meat was flavoured with Afrikana sauce and it was in chunky pieces, piping hot below the surface and was easy to bite into without much effort. The rice was again Afrikana style and was quite peppery in taste but went well with the meat.

We goat your back


None on offer. Plenty of dessert options at Sweet next door, you’ve also got Icestone Gelato and Heavenly Desserts literally 1 minute away.


Surprisingly just bottomless soft drinks available, nothing else on offer. This might be because we were there at opening night so the drinks situation may change over time. Tap water served.


There is disabled access from the street but seemingly no separate disabled toilet. It is cramped inside with booths and tables/chairs in close proximity so a wheelchair user may have issues manoeuvring in.

There are a large number of booths which can probably sit a maximum of 5 comfortably and an area towards the back right side with tables and chairs. The chairs are very comfortable, the kind you can sit in for many hours.

There’s a single toilet for males and a single one for females. That’s it. No other facilities.

The venue plays themed music over a sound system and it is quite loud, it was sometimes difficult to heat each other.

My Rating

My 4.2 rating for Afriakana is based mainly on 3 criteria, but I factor in additional observances such as cleanliness, location etc.

Food: 4.3/5

Service: 4.4/5

Atmosphere: 4.0/5


Vegan Cupcakes

Thought I’d share this adapted recipe for vegan cupcakes that will satisfy any sweet cravings for vegans and non vegans alike! If you follow me on Instagram (@Rahema_m) you may have seen in my insta stories that we went a whole day eating just vegan foods yesterday! It was such an eye opener for us. I found it a challenge but it was enjoyable. I don’t think we will be going vegan full time any time soon but we would love to incorporate more vegan days in our diets.


  • 275g self raising flour
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tbsp cocoa powder
  • 200ml Alpro chocolate soya milk
  • 200ml sunflower oil
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g dark chocolate chips (optional)


Vegan Cupcakes Ingredients

Vegan Cupcakes Ingredients


Pre heat the oven to gas mark 5 and line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases.

Mix the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and sugar together.

Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add in the oil, milk and vanilla and whisk until all ingredients are well incorporated.

Spoon each muffin case with the batter 3/4 of the way up and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the cupcakes are well risen and cooked all the way.

Vegan Cupcakes

Vegan Cupcakes

Banana Loaf

This recipe works best when made using really ripe bananas, the browner the better! It tastes delicious straight out of the oven. I didn’t even get a chance to take a better picture once it was cooked! Please note this is not a SW friendly recipe, I like to bake from time to time and will share baking recipes for friends who are not following a diet. Hope you enjoy this recipe, feel free to tag me in your pictures if you make this or any other recipe from my blog.

Banana Loaf

Banana Loaf



  • 140g butter, melted
  • 140g light brown sugar
  • 140g self raising flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 50g chocolate chips (optional)


Pre heat oven to 160C. Grease and dust with flour a loaf tin and keep it aside till needed.

Mix the melted butter with the sugar using an electrical whisk. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Slowly add the flour making sure it is well incorporated with the ginger and cinnamon.

Add the mashed bananas and chocolate chips (if using) and mix well by hand.

Pour batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes or more if needed.

Birmingham Half Marathon

After weeks and weeks of training hard for the Birmingham Half Marathon, the big day finally arrived and it was pouring down with rain! That didn’t stop us runners from going out there though.

The week leading up to the race was terrifying. I kept doubting myself and my capabilities. I was stressing over what I was eating and what I should be eating. The night before I swear i could not feel my legs at all! I kept tossing and turning in bed, praying that I would be able to get enough rest. I was up at the crack of dawn, feeling relieved I could actually feel my legs! I double checked I had everything I needed in my bum bag to carry with me whilst running and packed a rucksack with things I’d need for after the race – dry clothing including a hijab, protein bar and water bottle. In my bum bag I carried dates for fuel whilst running as well as some sweets. I like to keep my hands free when running so don’t carry a water bottle with me. I checked that the race was giving out water bottles at miles 3, 6, 9 & 12 so didn’t need to take my own. I can run 6 miles without any water so could grab some along the way when needed.

Birmingham is my home town so luckily I didn’t need to book any accommodation beforehand, and had my husband come to drop me off at the start of the race. Before leaving home I must have gone to the toilet at least 10 times! The nerves were definitely kicking in. Once we arrived in the city centre, we made our way to the starting point in New Street. The place was busy! The first waves were getting ready to start whilst others were waiting for their waves to start, lots of spectators around waiting to cheer on starters.

We were told before the first wave of people set off that the course had been shortened. A half marathon is a 13.1 mile race but due to health and safety reasons the organisers told us that they had to shorten the distance by 1 mile and we would not be able to run through Canon Hill Park. To be honest I wasn’t too disappointed by this, at the time anyway.

I met a few familiar faces as I was waiting for my pink wave to start but I wasn’t running with them. I got called over by a couple of people from The Big Run Project to join them at the start line. I was hesitant at first as they are more experienced runners and I haven’t even been running for a year yet! But I joined them as we were waiting to get started but as soon as we passed the starting line I had lost them! I didn’t mind as I prefer to run on my own anyway, I’d hate for them to have to slow down their pace for me as I was intending on taking it slow and steady.

The atmosphere was absolutely buzzing! The spectators were lively, the music was loud, there were dhol players, choir singers, steel pan players. I started off at a quicker pace than I had wanted to but once I got pass the starting line I felt to energised and focused so that the pace I was going at didn’t feel fast or uncomfortable. The drizzling rain didn’t bother me either!

I found myself at a steady pace enjoying the crowds and the sights of Birmingham. There was plenty of encouragement from the crowd – lots of claps, hi 5’s, motivational words of encouragement (my favourite one being ‘You run better than the government’, it couldn’t be more accurate at this time!), plenty of sweets, chocolate and even cakes being handed out!

I absolutely loved every single moment. I started to get tired after mile 8 and had to slow down a bit and even walked a little whilst drinking water but I am so proud of myself for not walking as much as I did during training. The hardest stretch was running uphill past New Street station, I had to completely walk that bit! I was saving the little energy I had left for a sprint finish at the end and before I know it I was crossing the finishing line in under 2 hours! I had no idea how I had managed that. I was looking around for my husband and children but they were nowhere to be found. I decided to call my husband as I was collecting my race goodie bag and found out that they had just arrived and were making their way to me. My husband was shocked to find out I had already finished, and so was I! I couldn’t understand how I managed to finish in that time until I looked at my watch and Strava app to find out that the actual race had been 2 miles short instead of 1 mile as we had been told by the organisers. I was at that point absolutely gutted. I thought I had ran 12 miles in under 2 hours but it was actually 11 miles. It would have probably taken me another 20 minutes to run the full distance which in a way is still a great goal. My initial goal was to finish the race in less than 3 hours and my absolute ideal would have been 2:30 and I don’t know for sure if I would have achieved it.

As I made my way towards the event village, I remembered I’d pre-booked a sports massage so made my way to the tent to have that done. My calves were feeling pretty tight and the massage really helped. I was joined by my friend and her son at the end of my massage and soon afterwards I saw my family. It was great to see them all. After spending some time at the event village, we made our way home where the first thing I did as soon as I got through the doors was run a bath and have a nice, long, relaxing soak. I did struggle to go up the stairs and thought I wouldn’t be able to walk for a few days but I surprised myself the next day by joining my friend on a 5k run!

I came away from the race inspired and motivated to enter another one and am looking to enter one soon. I don’t think I am quite ready to run a full marathon yet, but that is something that I would eventually love to do.

By the way, I wasn’t just running for myself. I was also fund raising for the British Lung Foundation (www.blf.org.uk), a fantastic charity helping those with respiratory problems and COPD.  People often forget it’s healthy lungs that let you live, work and play to your maximum!

I want to say a BIG THANK YOU to all those who sponsored me, you can still do so by clicking here


The study and treatment for lung diseases is underfunded and poorly researched, lung problems can affect anyone at any age and that’s why I raise money for the BLF.

Tim Horton’s Lunch Menu

So Tim Horton’s launched a new lunch menu this week and I was invited along to try it, I was not sure after checking the menu but once I confirmed the chicken served at the Birmingham branch is halal I was there like a speeding bullet 😉

It’s in the city centre, a short walk from New Street station/Grand Central on New Street itself – a little further up from the Apple shop.

My complimentary meal

My complimentary meal

My complimentary meal included Tim Horton’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich served with a pot of potato wedges, a dipping sauce and a drink. I also ordered some Chicken Tenders on the side as they sounded delicious, they were good and appreciated by my chicken tender expert, Ammara! That came with a choice of 3 dipping sauces – I had the chipotle, BBQ and ketchup. For the drink I chose a cold brew iced coffee with maple syrup, it was so good I would go back just for this! I’m a normal hot coffee drinker so for me to go iced was unusual but I loved it.

Crispy Chicken Sandwich

Crispy Chicken Sandwich

The food did not disappoint – it all came super fast even though the store was really busy and the queue was snaking out of the main door! The staff were friendly and efficient even with the crowd of customers and the quality of the food was not compromised. Everything was prepared to a consistently good level.

5 Chicken Tenders

5 Chicken Tenders

Potato Wedges

Potato Wedges

Chilli Con Carne

Haven’t shared a Slimming World friendly recipe for a while, so I thought I might as well post this one as I haven’t made this in such a long time and this is not in my recipe list!

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that I have been having some major house building work done since March this year and we have been without a kitchen all this time. Cooking has been extremely difficult! So this is how we have been coping. We have 3 bedrooms and a bathroom on the first floor. We turned the smallest bedroom (hubby’s office) into our kitchen with a table top electric hob, a small fridge (big enough just for the essentials like milk, cheese, butter), a microwave, slow cooker and my trusty Tefal Actifry. My youngest daughter’s bedroom has been turned into our living room. We moved her bed and most of her furniture away so we could put the sofas and TV there. Luckily we had our loft conversion done a couple of years ago so we gained two bedrooms and a bathroom there so all the kids (I have 3 daughters) share that space. Our main bedroom is also hubby’s office for the time being.

I have to admit the work has taken much longer than we anticipated, we did have a few problems along the way which delayed the work but it looks like it will be end of September/ early October before we can start using the downstairs space again and I cannot wait!

I can’t wait to share with you once it is complete, in the meantime, if you are on Instagram please follow me on there for my house renovation updates and other bits and bobs about me on @Rahema_m.

Anyway, back to the recipe! Hope you enjoy this simple chilli recipe. We had it served with boiled rice topped with cheese and jalapenos, but it is lovely on a jacket potato too. As always, if you make this or any other recipes featured on my blog, feel free to tag me in your creations. I love seeing your versions of them x

Serves: 4

Syns: FREE

Time Taken: 60 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Chilli Con Carne

Chilli Con Carne


  • 2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp mixed herbs
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • Tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • Tin red kidney beans
  • Spray oil


Spray a pan with spray oil of your choice and fry the onions until soft with the cumin seeds. Add hot water to the pan if needed to stop the onions from sticking to the pan.

Add the garlic, chilli flakes, paprika, ground cumin and mixed herbs. Stir well and cook for around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the mince and brown it off on a high heat. Crumble the stock cube over it and mix well. Add the tin of chopped tomatoes and tomato puree and cook the mince on a low heat for around 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Drain and rinse the red kidney beans and stir them into the mince and cook for a further 10 minutes. Add some water to the mince if it is too dry and season to taste.

Serve with plain boiled rice.

Jamaya (Solihull) Review

My Rating: 4.6/5

Family Friendly: Yes

Address: 45b Mill Lane Arcade, Touchwood Shopping Centre, Solihull, B91 3QW

Parking: Yes, Touchwood Car Park (parking fee applies)

Payment: Cash and Cards accepted

Jamya interior

Jamya interior

My friend suggested going to this relatively new restaurant the other day and I’m so glad she did. It’s located in Touchwood in Solihull town centre, where they serve authentic Jamaican food and everything is halal. As soon as we walked in the door we were welcomed by Hassan who was a friendly host and reassured me that the food was halal.

Jerk Pit Feast Out

Jerk Pit Feast Out

We decided to choose from the ‘Sharing is Caring’ section of the menu and opted for the Jerk Pit Feast Out, which consists of a whole jerk chicken, festivals, gravy and 2 bottomless soft drinks.

What is a ‘Festival’ – a fried dumpling, despite its slightly sweet taste it is often served as a side dish with jerk chicken and it goes so well. I was apprehensive at first but I loved them! They went so well with the chicken and the gravy.

There are 3 spice levels to choose from – Mild Jerk, BBQ Jerk and Proper Jerk. We opted for the proper jerk hot chicken and it was just right for my friend’s palette who is not used to spicy food. We also ordered a side of cassava chips. The chicken was cooked to perfection and was finger licking good. The best chicken I’ve had in a long time! It was succulent and juicy, and the skin was crispy just like I love. I have to admit this was far superior to Nando’s peri peri chicken.

The ordering system is pretty much like Nando’s, you order at the till with your table number and the waiters bring the food out to you.

My only criticism of the place were the drinks – they were a bit flat but it was quickly rectified once we let the staff know of the problem. The staff ensured we were enjoying the meal.

As well as chicken, you can order buffalo wings as well as fried wings, burgers, wraps, and vegan options. There were limited dessert options and a kids menu. Drinks wise they serve soft drinks, Jamaican juices, frozen cocktails and alcoholic drinks.

Jerk Pit Feast Out

Jerk Pit Feast Out

Cassava Chips

Cassava Chips

My Rating

My 4.5 rating for Jamaya is based mainly on 3 criteria, but I factor in additional observances such as cleanliness, location etc.

Food: 4.8/5

Service: 4.6/5

Atmosphere: 4.0/5



Farro’s (Birmingham) Review

My Rating: 4.5/5

Family Friendly: Yes

Address: 402-406 Stratford Road, Sparkhill, Birmingham. B11 4AD

Parking: Yes – but limited. Easy street parking available nearby; try Beach Rd, Alfred Rd or Fulham Rd for proximity.

Payment: Cash and (thankfully) Cards accepted

Farro’s is new to Birmingham and the 2nd restaurant of its branded Grillhouses, the first being in Nottingham. Opened on the 16th August 2019 it serves a blend of Portuguese and Italian inspired food – and they do burgers and steaks too.

Farro’s is located in an imposing converted pub right at the junction of Warwick Road and Stratford Road in the Sparkhill area of Birmingham. For those of you familiar with Brum you might recall the once mighty ‘The President’ buffet restaurant was on this site for many years before it closed and dereliction followed. I’m glad to say the site has been refurbished and the blight of broken windows and dumped rubbish is gone. The exterior is bright & breezy with a large new courtyard complete with a Birmingham Bull, a kindred spirit to the one outside the Bullring perhaps?

farros board

We parked on a side street as the main car park is relatively small and was already full. As we arrived into the lobby we were swiftly greeted by the front of house manager who took our name and advised us that being a Saturday evening and having requested a table for 5 we’d have to wait up to 30 minutes. Happily the wait was shorter than expected but it did give us time to absorb the atmosphere and observe the hive of activity represented by the waiting staff flitting from kitchen to service to tables and back again.

Once ushered to our table we were provided menus and quickly realised that ordering was exactly Nando’s style. Bottomless drinks as standard with a single refill area.

farros menu



We had the lamb chops which were succulent, perfectly cooked if a little towards the rare side on parts but still downright tasty. Served with a nice mint sauce.

farros lamb chops_

lamb chops

We also punted for the garlic bread with mozzarella, which was generally well received but seemed to lack a bit of garlic for something with garlic in the name!


Avoiding the build your own burger and steak options this time around we opted for the following:

The Sizzler (mixed chicken & beef in small strips), presented on a hot platter and cooked with onions and peppers it was literally sizzling when it arrived on our table and remained piping hot for a good while afterward. I

farros sizzler chicken beef

sizzler – chicken & beef

found the beef to be lovely (although my husband complained he had to work at it) and like the chicken it was flavoured nicely with the juices from the onion and pepper mix.

The Sizzler menu has great flexiblity as there were chicken, beef, lamb & prawn only options with the ability to mix any of them.

The peri peri chicken we had was also piping hot and we had to let it cool a little before tearing into it. We opted for medium spice (I would go up a spice level next time if eating with the family, it simply wasn’t a medium for us) however the flavour from the rub was excellent and gave it the edge over many other peri peri restaurants.

farros peri peri full chicken

peri peri chicken

I would have preferred if the chicken skin was crispier, but that’s my personal preference. It came with a side of chips but we also ordered an extra side of sweet potato fries which were the best ones I’ve had so far. They were perfectly cooked. Delicious.

We also ordered the lasagne which was not as creamy as you normally get in other places which is a good thing, often the béchamel sauce overwhelms everything else layered into a lasagne. The kids found it easier to eat as it wasn’t too heavy.

farros lasagne

The margherita pizza was stone baked and it was enjoyed by all. We didn’t try any toppings on it but the kids rated the pizza as one of the best they’ve had so far, next time we’ll go all out! We always prefer the stone baked pizzas to the usual you get from your local pizza joint, which is one of the reasons we miss La Favorita so much.

farros margherita pizza

The general atmosphere of the restaurant was nice and buzzing, it is quite spacious overall with plenty of seating and good separation between areas. The music was in the background so you could easily hold a conversation without shouting at each other. Male and female toilets are in separate areas but below ground level down a flight of stairs, they were clean and had a dedicated wudu area as well as a separate prayer room for men and women. There is a disabled toilet available on ground level.


Although we didn’t order any desserts this time, the options to chose from were quite limited. The usual waffles, sundaes and old school desserts feature on the menu. It would have been nice to see Portuguese and Italian desserts on the menu such as Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese custard tart) or Tiramisu.


Bottomless drinks to choose from as well as juices and mocktails. Cold water, ice and a mixed option available too. I had the Pina colada which is my favourite mocktail and it did not disappoint.

My Rating

My 4.5 rating for Farro’s is based mainly on 3 criteria, but I factor in additional observances such as cleanliness, location etc.

Food: 4.6/5

Service: 4.0/5

Atmosphere: 4.8/5


farro's steak options

farro’s steaks options

farro's exterior

farro's ordering

farro’s ordering

farro's entrance

farro’s entrance