Area Guide September 2014 - Food & Drink Special

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Editors: David O’Coy & Kerry Thomas | @davefused | @kerryfused Writers: Lyle Bignon, Choncey Boddington, Ross Timms Blogger Contributions: Rickie Josen- birminghamfavourites. Laura Creaven - Joe, Cover Image: Cocktails at Bitters ‘n’ Twisted, photo by Jack Spicer Adams

ADVERTISING The Culture Guide is monthly/bi-monthly and Adverts cost just £220 for a page. To book call 0121 442 6663 today for early bird offers or email kerry@ Full rates can be found at

AREA Culture Guide tel: 0121 442 6663 @areaguide / @fusedmagazine This guide is produced by Fused Media DISCLAIMER Reproduction of all editorial/images in any form is strictly prohibited without prior permission. We cannot be held responsible for breach of copyright arising from any material supplied. While we aim to make sure all listings are correct we can not be held responsible for any incorrect entries. Readers should check venues before arrival. Views expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily the publishers. This is a Fused Publication © Fused 2014 © Area Culture Guide 2014. 03


Welcome to Birmingham Independent Food Fair Birmingham and the surrounding counties are full of local independent producers and artisans producing great quality food and drink. It’s fantastic that you’ve come to experience this. The city has four Michelin-starred restaurants (one of whose chefs is opening the fair) and a tremendous range of great bars, coffee shops and eateries. I’ve got to know this over the years through exploring and writing about the city’s food and drink scene for the Dine Birmingham food guide. Birmingham Independent Food Fair is a chance to showcase the city to food-lovers like yourself. You will realise from today that the variety of food and drink here is remarkable - from Purity’s English craft beer, to Polish cuisine, from Don Diego’s authentic Spanish tapas to Malaysian street food. When you’re not busy tasting and trying different things, a variety of activities and demos throughout the day will keep you entertained.

Ahmed Ahmed Editor, Dine Birmingham

There’s also a bar serving Langley’s, a premium gin distilled in Birmingham, and Soul Tree Wine, brought to us all the way from India’s Nashik Valley. Look out for delicious juice blends and specially sourced coffee as well. There’s something here for every taste and palate. Thanks again for joining us and happy sampling! For tickets to Birmingham Independent Food Fair, visit



FOOD FAIR DIREctORY ALL GREEk DELICATESSEN Authentic Greek deli foods THE AuTHENTIC TApAS GROup Authentic Spanish deli and cuisine authentictapasgroup.


FOODCyCLE BIRMINGHAM Charity providing a weekly community meal every Sunday, using good food that would otherwise have been thrown away, to help feed vulnerable people

BAkE Handmade cakes, quiches and other baked goods

HENLEy CHOCOLATES Handmade atisan chocolates

CENTENARy LOuNGE Coffee and cake shop

IANA’S DELIGHTS Filo spirals and savoury muffins

CHERRy BLOSSOM BAkEHOuSE Bakery and confectioner

kNEALS CHOCOLATES Handmade artisan chocolates

DINE BIRMINGHAM Guide to restaurants, bars and coffee shops in Birmingham and the West Midlands. 06

LE TRuC Quirky French-inspired restaurant NCASS Trade association

providing caterers with information, guidance on regulations, and health and safety training pEEL & STONE Wood fired oven and sourghdough bakery pIp’S HOT SAuCE A range of spicy chilli sauces RESTAuRANT VMF Fine dining restaurant, housed at Aston Villa Football Club SLICE OF HEAVEN Gluten-free bakery SpRINGFIELD kITCHEN Natural chutneys and preserves springfieldkitchen.


BAR THAI EDGE Thai restaurant THE ORIENTAL Pan-Asian cuisine ranging from China to Japan, Malaysia and Thailand THE uRBAN ROAST COFFEE COMpANy Suppliers of roasted coffees VOTE HERE Customer feedback and survey technology yELp Community-led social network

BODEGA Latin American street food and cocktails bodegabirmingham. ByWINE Wine school and tasting events company

SOuL TREE WINE New wines from India’s Nasik Valley THE BIRMINGHAM WHISky CLuB Whisky tasting membership and events company

CONNOLLy’S Fine wine and spirit merchants ISLAND BAR Tropical cocktail bar THE JEkyLL & HyDE Victorian-themed pub and gin parlour LANGLEy’S GIN Premium gin distilled in Birmingham puRITy BREWING COMpANy Craft brewery



pARK BARE BONES pIzzA Wood-fired pizzas BAREk OSCAREk Polish stews, pancakes, burgers, desserts and more HIBISCuS GROVE FOOD CO. South East Asian home cooking hibiscusgrovefoodco. kESH’S COFFEE Cup Mobile coffee & cake LIL’S pARLOuR Vintage street food desserts SquISITO Italian artisan deli and street food


REStAuRANt DON DIEGO BAR DE TApAS Authentic Spanish restaurant and tapas bar dondiegobirmingham. FIRSt FlOOR SIx EIGHT kAFE Independent coffee shop

cOuRtYARD EpI RESTAuRANT British fine dining restaurant

VIp gAllERY AALTO RESTAuRANT Fine dining restaurant aalto-restaurant HOTEL LA TOuR Luxury independent hotel


ACTIVITIES & DEMOS at the independent food fair

As well as tasting and sampling throughout the day, look out for these special activities and demonstrations taking place at different times as part of Birmingham Independent Food Fair.

Cocktails at Bitters ‘n’ Twisted, photo by Jack Spicer Adams 010


Local Legend: Cocktail mixology demonstration (pictured) Carl Hawkins, Birmingham mixologist Langley’s Gin Bar (in the ground-floor atrium) 12:00pm, 2:00pm, 3:00pm, 5:00pm Sausage Linking: How to make sausages University College Birmingham (UCB) Atrium (ground-floor) 10:00am, 2:30pm Sugar sculpture: Elegant creations from spun sugar University College Birmingham (UCB) Atrium (ground-floor) 11:00am, 3:30pm How to Fillet a Fish: Nathan Eade, head chef at Epi Restaurant Courtyard (car park entrance) 12:00pm, 4:00pm Street Food: The Road to Success - An introduction to running a street food business with Bob Fox NCASS (Nationwide Caterers Association) The Woodman Pub (Smoke Room) 3:00pm *Limited capacity Flambé: One of cooking’s most fiery and dramatic displays University College Birmingham Atrium (ground-floor) 12:00pm, 5:00pm



meet the sponsors The inagural Birmingham Independent Food Fair is being well-supported with a host of fine sponsors who are getting involved to help make the first event a success. Over the next six pages we meet the brands... Purity Brewing Company Brewed at an eco-friendly brewery in nearby rural Warwickshire, Purity’s award winning beers Pure Gold, Pure UBU and Mad Goose are stocked in pubs, bars and shops throughout Birmingham and the rest of the U.K. Purity have also recently extended their range with the launch of much heralded new products Longhorn IPA and Lawless Lager. Purity Brewing Company have long put beer and food matching at the heart of their business working closely with the likes of Michelin starred chef Andreas Antona of Simpsons to develop interesting and relevant beer and food matching. Their move to sponsor Birmingham Independent Food Fair reflects the company’s continued interest in gastronomy.



LANGLEy’S GIN Langley’s No. 8 Gin is produced at Langley’s Distillery near Birmingham, which has been owned by the Palmer family since 1920. To make Langley’s No. 8 they use “Connie”, an English-produced small copper pot still made in 1960 by John Dore & Co (the oldest pot still producers in the world). This enables consistent, small batch distillation for optimum quality. The gin is made with 100% English Grain Spirit and delivers a smooth, rounded finish. A secret blend of 8 botanicals - herbal ingredients that flavour the spirit - are harvested and added to create a smooth, rounded finish. Langley’s No.8 has been ‘painstakingly developed to deliver the perfect G&T’ and delivers equally well with all tonic waters. It also goes well in a martini. You can find Langley’s Gin in a variety of Birmingham venues, including The Victoria, The Jekyll & Hyde and Purnell’s Bistro.

THE AuTHENTIC TApAS GROup The flagship restaurant, Don Diego Bar de Tapas, is located in Sutton Coldfield, and specialises in genuine tapas dishes, served in an authentic surrounding reminiscent of a Spanish restaurant with its decorative tiles and terracotta walls. The business is indepently-owned and run by husband and wife team Alfonso and Emma Yufera-Ruiz. Alfonso hails from Gran Canaria, and they both undertook culinary training at University College Birmingham. Many ingredients used at the restaurant are painstakingly sourced from Spain. One example is the Iberian pork used in their chorizo and other cured meats. These come from a small herd of organicallyreared pigs, fed on acorns to give their meat a rich, nutty flavour. The drinks menu similarly boasts native specialities like sherries from the south of Spain, hazelnut liqueur, and that quintessential refreshment in the heat of summer, sangria. 015


CLARITy Clarity Comms is a PR and social media agency established in April 2013, by Lucy Kemp and Jason Navon. Their clients include premium bottled ale Hobgoblin, Birminghambased start-up Droplet and Indian wedding planner and restaurant, Itihaas. The agency was recently nominated for a trio of industry awards. At the upcoming CIPR Midlands PRide Awards, they are in the running for: Outstanding Small Consultancy, Best Social Media Campaign and Best Low Budget Campaign.

VOTEHERE VoteHere is an online business focussed on digitising and improving customer feedback through realtime actionable data. They have a range of clients and particular expertise working with restaurants, bars and at events. You can customise your profile and create fun image- and video-based polls and surveys that can be shared across your different social media profiles, embedded on your website or even printed on your products.

THE GASTRO CARD The Gastro Card team are passionate about food and dining out. This membership discount card allows the diner to save money when eating out which in turn helps restaurants to prosper. Becoming a Gastro Card member only costs ÂŁ30 per year and as Gastro Card Partner Restaurants make exclusive offers to our members, you are likely to cover this initial cost at your first visit to a Gastro Card Partner Restaurant. Each restaurant has its own unique offer to our members, ranging from a free bottle of wine to 25% off your bill. Bon Appetit! 016


FOODCyCLE BIRMINGHAM birmingham FoodCycle Birmingham provide a weekly community meal every Sunday afternoon at All Saints Church in Small Heath. They volunteer their time to create delicious three-course meals from food that would otherwise have been wasted, to help vulnerable people and bring our community together. They’re always looking for helping hands to come along, and everyone is welcome to get stuck in, no matter what your ability in the kitchen! They’re also on the lookout for new Hub Leaders to join the FoodCycle Birmingham team, helping to not only run our weekly cooking sessions but also taking the lead in managing all aspects of our FoodCycle Hub, from co-ordinating other volunteers, managing relationships with food donors, and community fundraising, to community engagement, marketing, PR and social media.

MILLENNIuM pOINT Millennium Point is a venue with ‘wow factor’. Millennium Point is ideally placed at the centre of Eastside, just a stone’s throw from the city’s major transport networks and bustling commercial districts. It is already home to two of the City’s most unique visitor attractions, the Thinktank science museum and The Giant Screen cinema and now also benefits from the City’s first central park – Eastside City Park – at its south entrance on Curzon Street. Millennium Point also houses faculties of Birmingham City University and the fashion and design studios of Birmingham Metropolitan College. The thriving student community of the future sits within the very heart of Millennium Point, which reflects its ambitious plans for the future. Millennium Point is a venue to showcase, celebrate and inform. 019


AALTO RESTAuRANT AT HOTEL LA TOuR Hotel La Tour is an independentlyowned luxury 4-star hotel, located in the city centre near Millennium Point. Popular with business people and visitors to the city alike, the hotel prides itself on its hospitality and fine dining credentials. Aalto, housed within the hotel, is a brasserie-style restaurant serving classic British dishes with a modern twist. The regularly changing menu incorporates locally-sourced, seasonal produce. A Chef’s Table dining experience is available for food lovers who want to witness at first-hand the excitement and workings of the kitchen, as well as enjoying an expert insight into the ingredients and wine choices.

TuRNERS RESTuRANT Chef Patron Richard Turner, whose attention to detail and passions for the seasons, alongside respecting and retaining the natural flavours of the finest ingredients, has ensured that his eponymous restaurant ‘Turners’ on Harborne High Street, has retained its Michelin Star since 2009. Turners Restaurant style is attentive, friendly, and welcoming to seasoned food-o-philes, and newcomers alike, and Chef Richards’ food is described as ‘Modern British with French influences’. From his incredible value Tuesday night ‘Taste of Turners’ introduction to his renowned tasting menu for just £35 (for up to 5 tasting dishes), as well as great value Friday and Saturday lunches, through to the full 10 dish Turners Tasting menu experience - there’s a unique gastronomic journey for your senses to experience.



Yelp Birmingham Yelp is a social network that allows users to review local businesses and build a community with other like-minded local people. For businesses, Yelp is a great way to communicate with customers - they can set up a free account, post photos and even message users. In Birmingham, Yelp is led by community manager Vicky Osgood, a proud Brummie who regularly organises events at local venues including Woktastic, Urban Coffee and The Electric Cinema. Globally, Yelp has had over 130 million unique visitors this year alone, demonstrating the popularity and importance of online reviews written by local people who want to share their experiences with others.




WITH BIRMINGHAM FAVOuRITES It is the most important meal of the day so you have to get yourself kick-started with a good one. Birmingham Favourites act as our tasters and guide to the best places to fill up on bacon, eggs and so much more.


uRBAN COFFEE CO (Jq) “Eggcellent Offers, Terrible Puns.” One of the forerunners to bring brunch to the city centre, Urban Coffee Co is the home of the Benedicts; Royale (salmon), Florentine (spinach), Funghi (mushrooms & caramelised walnuts) or plain, all on a toasted English muffin with hollandaise sauce. Browse through the newspapers or a plethora of local magazines while you sip your brew of choice with a view of the shiny wedding cake like formation of the Library of Birmingham – although you’ll soon be looking out to the new Golden Square coming later in the year. Your breakfast will be cooked for you in the kitchen which also produces the Urban Brekkie (eggs, bacon, cherry tomatoes, croissant croutons) and the Eggs Diablo with sautéed chorizo, chilli and apple salsa and red chilli jam. Plus there are pastries and Danish that you can help yourself to from the counter. Take: The significant other for some weekend time-out Look out for: Eggs Diablo Location: The Big Peg, Warstone Lane, JQ, B18 6NF Days and times: Served 8-3pm Mon-Fri. 9-3pm Saturday and 10-3pm Sunday. Typical cost: £7.50 for Eggs Funghi. Coffee from around £2.30. Sun-Thur offer: any 2 classic brunches & 2 large hot drinks for £16.95.

Peel & Stone Strictly speaking it’s brunch as Peel & Stone don’t open up till 11.30. This is the newest café that the Quarter’s residents are tweetsalivating over. Bought to you by the Soul Food Project, this little bakery outlet has two communal tables so get there early, grab any seat you can and be ready for a mouthwatering start to your Saturday. The menu varies each time but whatever you choose wash it down with a hot brew bought over by Faculty Coffee. Oh, and do check as they may not serve brunch every Saturday but you will still come away with some freshly baked goodies which is more than consolation. Take: Your out-of-town mates Look out for: White chocolate doughnuts (to take away after breakfast) Location: Arch 33, Water Street B3 1HL (It’s hidden but it is there) Days and times: Recommend you check social media but generally: Saturdays till around 2. Bakery open Tuesday to Friday 11.306pm. Saturday 10-4. Typical cost: around £7-8 for breakfast with lashings of refill coffee

Words: Rickie J,

Cherry Reds A Kings Heath staple before it finally arrived in the city centre, Cherry Reds wants to be your ‘home from home for breakfast, lunch, beers, dinner, cocktails and partying’ and they’ll serve you cocktails at 10am. The Hearty English is complete with black pudding and cherry tomatoes. What delights us is their ‘diddy’ breakfast which we can actually finish; sausage, bacon, egg beans & toast for £4. There’s vegan and vegetarian versions too as well as breakfast sandwiches. Alternatives are pancakes, porridge, fruit and toast – including topping choices of Nutella and peanut butter which is strangely lacking in so many of our city’s cafes. Take: Anyone you’re meeting from the train; Cherry Reds is right around the corner from New St. Look out for: The old parlor decor Location: 88-90 John Bright Street, B1 IBN Days and times: Breakfast served all day: Mon-Thur 7.30-10pm. Saturday 10am-10pm. Sunday 10am-10pm. Typical cost: £6 for the Hearty Breakfast and your morning milky coffee starts at £2.20. Cocktails extra.

Brewsmiths For an honest to goodness breakfast, Brewsmiths is the place to go. Regulars (the JQ Royalty) know what the 1B is (sausage pattie, bacon, poached egg, toast with jam/marmalade & filter coffee or breakfast tea) or indeed the 2B (a bigger version including baked beans). Where they really excel is the good old 3B (bacon buttie) or 4B which includes tea/coffee. Plus there are pancakes, smoothies, porridge, the breakfast ciabatta or just toast with various toppings. However, what puts Brewsmiths first on the list is their already legendary bottomless coffee (ÂŁ3) and teas. Take: Your family Look out for: Local Lashford & Son seasoned sausage pattie Location: 214 Livery Street, B3 1EU (a couple of doors from the JQ Snow Hill exit) Days and times: Mon-Fri 7.30-3. Saturday 9.30-2.30. Typical cost: ÂŁ5 for breakfast with tea/coffee


Cutsie Yummies For Brummies You can buy a muffin at any old coffee shop nowadays, and you can even buy a birthday cake from the corner shop for the same price as a coffee, but where are all the special treats? Those delicious, carefully hand-crafted and beautifully decorated delicacies which you only see tempting you from behind Victorian shop glass windows in London or Paris? Aren’t you bored with the standard blueberry muffins, the chilling-in-thefridge carrot cake slices, oversized bourbons and dry Bakewells? Well our foodie chums, here is a list of Birmingham’s hidden-treasure-treats, which are perfect if your palate craves the sweet sensations of something new, or if you’re looking for a special sweet for your beloved sweetheart! We learnt a very special lesson when we were younger thanks to the film of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Candy Man Can. If like us you pressed your nose in envy to your static television as a child whilst Charlie’s classmates danced around the most magical looking candy shop, then a trip Mr Simm’s Olde Sweet Shoppe (Great Western Arcade) will make your childhood dreams come true. It’s the most charming sweet and chocolate shop filled with a fantastic range of truffles, bubble-gum, chocolates, and all your old favourite sweets – who else remembers the big candy Dummies? Although Yipsy Macarons ( are based online, if you pop to an Urban Coffee Company (either in the Jewellery Quarter or on Church Street) you can buy these colourful, French delicacies and taste the silky flavours of chocolate praline, cookies and cream, banoffee, mango, lime and pistachio. YUM! 028

Caffe Chino (The Arcadian) is possibly the sweetest place you can visit – literally. The Arcadian isn’t a a common daytime visit for most of us; we tend to late-night dine and dance there, but a lunch time trip over to this side of town is worth it for this darling Cafe. Caffe Chino is like a sweet bun filled with cream and jam; it’s simply oozing with cuteness and sugary indulgences. From frothy milkshakes and bubble tea to strawberry and chocolate mouse cakes, and marshmallow kitten cakes. And whilst you’re down that end, why not pop into the Day In Supermarket in Chinatown and have a peep at their sweets and desserts aisle – you won’t find doughnut balls, green tea, peanut or lychee cakes like those in your local corner shop. Now we do love our curries here in Brum, and let’s face it we have the best in the country, but have you delved your palate into many Indian sweets whilst living here? Since 1960 Birmingham has had it’s own wonderful Mitai confectioners: Mukhtar’s (Golden Hillock Road, Small Heath). This underrated gem of a store creates the most beautiful Indian sweets and savouries; from mango, strawberry, and banana and vanilla barfis, sweet rice and mini rusgullas, to chocolate ladoos and chum chums. Take a trip to Small Health and your tummy will thank you later. We’re so used to picking up the odd shop bought brownie sitting beside the till as we queue for our shopping, or chomping on a high-street granola bar that we forget what gems our city’s multiculturalism brings. So why not brave the world outside the Bullring and venture into the world of independent shops – freedom will never have tasted sweeter! CB 029

Not a Normal Nightcap

Five places to go after work for a drink that aren’t pubs You know how it is, you’ve had a hard day at work and want to unwind with a drink, but the idea of sitting in a pub all Billy No Mates just doesn’t appeal. Thankfully the days of everything but the local tavern shutting up shop at 5pm are long over. But if you don’t want to end up in an identikit coffee shop, here are five places to go for a more interesting drink. The Library Cafe | @LibraryofBham Let’s be honest, whilst the drinks selection isn’t the most inspiring, it’s more the location that makes this worth going to. Sit in the ground-floor cafe and people watch, or grab a takeout (and a hipflask) and head to the secret garden on floor seven. Open: Mon-Fri 8am-7pm, Sat 9am-5pm and Sun 11am-4pm. Cherry Reds | @ilovecherryreds Cherry Reds on John Bright St (or their Kings Heath location) has a lovely homely and unpretentious atmosphere. Plus being a cafe-bar it has the best of both worlds; a great ale selection and a small but decent offering of spirits, plus hot drinks and a range of cakes - often vegan and gluten-free. Open: Mon-Thur 7.30am-Midnight, Fri 7.30am1am, Sat 10am-1am and Sun 10am-Midnight. Yorks | @YorksBakeryCafe If it were possible to have a crush on a coffee shop, Yorks would be it. With a fantastic selection of teas (including several black and green varieties),


jam jar salads and lunchtime sandwiches wrapped up in a bow, Yorks also has plenty of seating, powerpoints to plug in your laptop and a variety of engaging evening events, including jass nights and fantastic spoken word. Oh yes, and craft beer. Open: Mon 7.30am-9pm, Tue-Fri 7.30am-7pm, Sat 8.30am-7pm and Sun 9.30am-7pm Caffé Chino | @CaffeeChinoBham Think kitsch café meets Chinese bakery, Caffé Chino is part of the Wing Wah Group, who also own mega-buffet Ming Moon. As well as the traditional café fare of hot drinks on sale they also offer bubble teas, a range of fruit buns and the best value macarons in the city. Plus they also sell some fantastic looking bespoke cakes, made to order. Open: Seven days a week until 9pm. Island Bar | @IslandBar This last one might be cheating a little, given that it’s a cocktail bar, but earlier in the week island has a different vibe. Relaxed and chilled, they offer table service during happy hour, and have a big screen set up with a sofa and retro games consoles. Plus they make some delicious non-alcoholic cocktails too - if it’s not too busy their off-menu creations are fantastic. Mon-Wed 5pm-midnight, Thur-Sat 5pm-2am and Sun 8pm-2am. Words by: Laura Creaven

Afternoon High-Tea Afternoon tea is a special extra meal of the day; taken in that slot after lunch but before dinner it arrives as a pick-a-mix of treats rather than one plateful of the same thing. Take delight in the notion that you can eat every little portion infront of you as it is delectably served small-scale. Birmingham Favourites takes us on a tour of the best places to get this special mealtime treat.


Hotel La Tour (pictured) The stylish hotel brings us afternoon tea with a twist: Served while you’re seated on deep sofas or high backed ‘Alice in Wonderland’ chairs, Tea at HLT is on the ‘must do’ list of many a local. It’s the place that’s recommended to anyone who wants to impress visitors into the city. Your tea comes in floor standing three tier trays; dainty sandwiches, followed by scones and then the cakes HLT are famous for. The menu varies seasonally so you can go back more than once a year to enjoy anything from trifles and Welsh Rarebit to their take on Jaffa cakes and walnut whips. Take: Your visiting best friend Look out for: The inside out sandwiches Location: Albert Street, Birmingham B5 5JE Days and times: 2-5pm daily Cost: £19.95; £29.45 with a glass of champagne.


Hyatt Regency Talking of bygone eras, there is only one place to go for silver service afternoon tea. From the outside, the city’s most established 4 star hotel looks very modern, although now over 20 years old. As soon as you are helped through the entrance by the doorman, you enter old school charm. Staff pull out the chair for you to take a seat in the light and airy Aria restaurant while the piano tinkles in the background. Once they have taken your order, they come back to gently place a linen napkin on your lap. The two bite crust-free sandwiches are what you’d expect, the mini scones perfect for dainty fingers and the cubed brownies exactly what you need when dining with chatty guests. As long as you are served bottomless tea or coffee this place is perfection. Take: Your nearest and dearest to celebrate an occasion Look out for: The Patissier selection and the setting; it’s pure old school charm Location: 2 Bridge Street, Birmingham B1 2JZ Days and times: 12-5pm daily (12.30-5 Sunday) Cost: £19 per person; £28 for Champagne Afternoon Tea, £30 for the Rose Champagne Afternoon Tea.

Boston Tea Party Bang up-to-date but it still feels like it’s a forgotten time as BTP bring their west country charm – and clotted cream to Birmingham. Order at the till and bag yourself a diner style comfy booth to enjoy tea or coffee while you wait for your meal to be prepared. Finger sandwiches include smoke salmon or cucumber and cheese and arrive on traditional tiered serving dishes along with cakes, and of course, scones with Cornish clotted cream. This tea is for the everyday occasion, and rather than white linen napkins and silver service, there is homemade charm and the knowledge that all the ingredients are sourced from the west country. Now, does the cream go on first or jam? Are you going for the Devon tradition or Cornwall? Take: All your mates Look out for: Actual Cornish Clotted Cream Location: 190 Corporation St, Birmingham, B4 6QD Days and times: Open Mon-Sat 7am-7pm, Sun 9-6pm. Cost: £9.50 per person (min 2 people); £4.50 per person (minimum 2) Cake Plate; £4.50 per person Cream Tea.

Hotel Du Vin Taking tea in Hotel Du Vin almost feels like going back to the prohibition era. You are seated low on the sofas that could be in the drawing room at an Aunt’s who inherited old money. As the large napkins are unfolded and placed on your lap, the courteous staff start laying out the food on a low table in front of you. This is a classic case of eyes bigger than your belly as you want to devour every beautiful creation placed from the sandwich classics to the soft scones and the bite size cakes. The staff will bring more food, coffee or tea as you require. Of course you won’t need any more food as the spread that starts to unfold infront of you is vast. Take: Your parents or anyone that wants to join the Tea Set Look out for: Canapé sized cakes that you’ll need to take a break for Location: Church Street, Birmingham, B3 2NR Days and times: 2-5pm daily. Cost: £14.50; £21.50 with Fizz, £20.50 for Cocktail Afternoon Tea, £19.50 for “G & Tea”. Or £7.50 for Cream Tea. Words: Rickie J, 035

Coffee hangouts For the majority of us coffee has established itself as a huge part of our lives in one way or another. Whether it’s merely a tool to get you up in the morning and give you the strength to tackle the day, or a pleasurable pastime and one of your greatest passions, the humble cup of coffee has transformed from a simple drink into a work of art – celebrated in all its glory and all its forms in every city across the world. Yet, with the same high street coffee chains sprouting up all over England, it is increasingly difficult to find a decent cup of the good stuff. So, with coffee on the mind we asked our friends at Independent Birmingham (the discount card that that saves you money whilst you support local, independent businesses) to compile a guide of their favourite hangouts for the coffee fanatic, with extra treats thrown in. 036

Saint Kitchen - St Paul’s Square | @SaintKitchen A stylish coffee shop-come-deli dedicated to serving up some of the best coffee in the business within its stunning Georgian home of St Paul’s Square. Alongside delicious coffee Saint Kitchen also offers its customers an eclectic array of breakfast and lunchtime snacks; perfect for slaking that insatiable hunger. Java Lounge - Moseley | @JavaLoungUK This friendly, laid back coffee shop specialises in serving up some of the most obscure (and tasty) single origin filter coffees from around the world helping to expand its customers’ horizons, one cup of coffee at a time. The Old Crown Coffee Club - Digbeth | @OldCrownBham Located within Birmingham’s oldest pub, The Old Crown, the Coffee Club is a wonderfully chic hidden gem dedicated to providing Birmingham’s creative sector (it is over the road from the Custard Factory) with some of the best tasting coffee in the business, as well as an incredibly delicious array of breakfast delights to accompany it. 037

Six Eight Kafé - City Centre | @SixEightKafe Six Eight Kafé is a super friendly, community orientated space serving up some of the best coffee in Birmingham - it was voted one of the Top 50 Coffee Shops in the UK afterall. Whether you’re craving a flat white, or you’re more of a latte kind of person, you’ll certainly be hard pressed to find a more delicious cup of coffee in the whole of Birmingham. It is also a great Yorks Bakery Café - City place for meet-ups and creative Centre (pictured) | events. @YorksBakeryCafe A contemporary Brooklyn-inspired café dedicated to serving up some of the most memorable breakfasts in Birmingham alongside a fine array of beautiful coffees and teas to go with it. From bagels to bacon butties, eggs benedict to shakshuka, the menu draws in droves of hungry breakfast fanatics on a daily basis. Cafephilia - Moseley @CafephiliaB13 This stylish independent coffee shop is dedicated to supplying a core following of loyal Moseleyite customers and intrigued newcomers alike with all their breakfast and light lunch needs – a great place to hang out and soak up the vibrant coffee shop atmosphere in the city’s finest bo-ho suburb.


Urban Coffee Company | @UrbanCoffeeCo With three emporiums across Birmingham (Harborne, Colmore, Jewellery Quarter) and their very own espresso blend, Urban Coffee Company is living proof that the wellestablished franchises can be successfully fought. Offering customers delicious coffee, a tasty array of cakes and pastries and somewhere peaceful to catch up with old friends, Urban Coffee Company is definitely one for all coffee fanatics to watch in the future. Maison Mayci - Moseley & Kings Heath | @MaisonMayci The beautiful chic French cafÊs are dedicated to bringing a taste of the Continental lifestyle to the heart of Birmingham, offering hungry customers a delicious choice of authentic French patisserie, rustic breads, pastries and coffees. Faculty Coffee | @FacultyCoffee Faculty Coffee is a minimal, stylish coffee house dedicated to offering weary shoppers the perfect cure for their tired feet – a delicious cup of coffee and a tasty piece of cake to go with it. Having recently opened, this coffee shop is going from strength-to-strength and is definitely one for all true coffee aficionados to visit. Drink coffee, support local and believe in Birmingham. Words: Joe, 039


Experimental food


If your idea of an adventurous dining experience is choosing the extra hot piri piri sauce during your monthly excursion to Nando’s then you need to get out and push the foodie boundaries a little bit more. Happy to help you do this is Companis, the provocative company consisting of two very experimental women: Kaye Winwood and Siân Tonkin, who aim to bring people together through food and art events. They take the act of eating, turn it on its head, pour it down your throat then make you laugh - a lot! Companis began out of friendship, a love of eating and a love of art that inspires laughter and a shared ribald sense of humour. “We enjoy pushing diners to their limits and beyond in a humorous way. We find that food is an excellent conduit for social interaction and for playing with people. Companis looks to create events inspired by art and alter the mores surrounding food to create a unique shared and memorable experience.” Recent projects have included A Scintillating Synaesthetic Supper, as part of Flatpack 2014 in which Companis examined the sound and taste of colour (white, yellow, red, blue and black) via the use of overhead projectors and a tasting menu. The piece was inspired by structuralist film and allowed diners to see the marks they were making as they ate during which they were assaulted by a soundscape of colour. In November 2013 as part of the new Library of Birmingham’s opening season, Companis presented Down the Rabbit Hole. Diners were invited to dive into the world of books in an elaborate 5 course sensory mobile meal. Inspired by the otherworldliness of public buildings after-hours, Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, diners took a meandering journey 041 through the senses.

Using the architecture of the new Library of Birmingham, Companis asked that the diners trust them implicitly, and place their senses and themselves at their mercy. On arrival in the foyer, guests were offered ‘Drink Me’ concoctions of absinthe, gin and violet: a trippy start to their journey, with an equally trippy soundtrack which continued throughout the evening. They were then joined by the White Rabbit, who accompanied them throughout the adventure. Diners were taken up to the Royal Shakespeare Memorial Room where diners popped open gold tins of food, eaten with vintage cutlery. Rather than simply tinned food, the food was of course expertly made by their chefs Blanch & Shock, who had made a porridge of rabbit (poor bunny!) and fermented carrots. 042

Guests were then taken on a riotous journey down into the depths of the library, including ingesting helium filled balloons and singing Run Rabbit Run, striking comical and challenging poses on the library travelator while consuming Earl Grey infused gin cocktails and having soup siphoned into their mouth as they dismounted and gyoza popped into their mouths on the way back up the travelator. Dinner encompassed a Pink Flamingoes inspired supper and dessert was a communal, sculptural House of Cards, consumed en masse, the audience replete with ponchos, toffee hammers and limoncello slammers. The diners left with a tiny gift of an Eat Me cake as a memento mori of the evening.

Companis also presented Rude Food Fiesta! It’s a bit of a mouthful! in September 2013, at Edible Eastside in Digbeth. Punters entered the site through a fleshy mouth, went on a gastronomically inspired journey and left by climbing out through an anus. The festival parodied all that was ubiquitous about the usual food festivals and offered an alternative to this in the form of rude food specially commissioned from HoneyCat Cookies, The Conjurer’s Kitchen and Bearwood Pantry, as well as specially commissioned rude music from Moselele, a rude pasta making class from Margot Clunge of Kindle Theatre (now Kiln), a comical pole dance from artist Kate Spence and eating competitions that included relay races involving hot sauce. Companis also brewed its own ales called, fittingly, Golden Shower and Velvet Rope, which were very popular, with the help of Fownes’ Brewery and Greg Cox. Now that is certainly a set of dining experiences you never dreamed of. Make sure you look out for the duo’s unique events at 043


Richard McComb shares his recipe for success with Area Guide From Chinatown to Chelmsley Wood, Brindleyplace to the Balti Triangle, Birmingham’s cup literally runneth over with choices of places to eat; there can be fewer places in the UK better to develop food writing ambitions and taste buds. Over the past decade, the city’s status as a UK centre of gastronomical glory has been well and truly established. It’s well-known by now that Birmingham has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city outside London - which says as much about the appetite to invest here as it does the tastes of residents and visitors. Campaigns to recognise Birmingham as the birthplace of the Balti, an influx of street food retailers, pop-up dining experiences, farmers markets and independent eateries have lifted Brum way above the prix fixe standards of Liverpool, Manchester, Brighton or beyond. We live in an era where sharing opinions via a myriad of social channels is second nature to many, and where thousands upon thousands of readers across the world are just a Twitter follow away. Don’t we all Instagram our meals and cocktails anyway?


Making a living out of food criticism, however, is an entirely different matter. Know your kobe from your kallaloo or your amaretti from your amusebouche? Understand the etiquette behind one of the world’s (theoretically) tastiest jobs? Know where to start?


“Restaurant reviewing, done properly, is an expensive proposition. I believe ‘review’ meals should be paid for” warns Richard McComb, a freelance journalist specialising in food writing and restaurant reviewing. “I have a simple rule: anything on the review section of my blog has been paid out of my own pocket. Reviewers who work for national newspapers and magazines are reimbursed for the cost of their meals and expenses. For now, I fund reviewing out of my own earnings.” That’s the first myth of free food for words dispelled. Richard goes on to make an obvious but hugely significant point. “You need to love good food and hate bad food – and be prepared to be unpopular. You also need to be able to write. You might have the most finely attuned palate in the world but if you can’t write, no one is going to want to read what you say.”


Richard is clear that judicious use of the internet is crucial. “People want instant reaction and updates – as well as pictures – so it’s a no-brainer to use Twitter and Instagram. If you are serious though, learn to write properly, and that includes using proper grammar and spell-checking your copy.”

There’s a growing US movement to leave your mobile with restaurant staff on entry, or leave it in a bowl with your fellow diners’ phones. To Richard, there’s a balance between immersing yourself in the dining experience and taking notes. “I don’t tend to get too bogged down in note-taking during a meal, as I want to replicate the experience of a “normal” dinner. Phones, however, can be useful for jotting down quick notes – everyone texts, so your cover is unlikely to be blown.” So your phone is discreetly to one side. You’ve ordered. You’ve looked at what the next table is eating. What next? “It’s all about what is on the plate. I don’t care which interior designers the restaurant has used. I want to know where the kitchen sources its produce, not its tableware. I want to know the chef can cook. Everything else, including silly iPad menus, is window-dressing.” We know as any customer that there is a fine line between make or break for a good dining experience. “Service is the killer. Nothing can rescue an appalling meal but great service can redeem a mediocre food experience. Similarly, poor service can take the edge off brilliant cooking. Any aspiring waiter/waitress should watch Fred Sirieix, general manager at Galvin at Windows in Mayfair, in action. Frontof-house staff have the toughest job in hospitality because they are in the firing line.”

Remember that the next time you’re asked ‘Is everything okay with your meal?’. Most of us will have had a questionable dining experience in our lives, perhaps a result of a moody maitre d’, meals cooked by the overworked chef surviving on two hours sleep or an E. coli Sunday special from the local pub. How does Richard handle such situations? “I’ve had several terrible experiences in Birmingham over the years. I’ve been verbally threatened and threatened with litigation. Frankly, it’s water off a duck’s back. I used to be a crime reporter so stroppy chefs don’t cause me sleepless nights.” “I’ve also had some wonderful dining experiences in Birmingham, from the city’s Michelin-star kitchens to street-style curries. I recently ate at Topokki, in Chinatown/Southside, and loved the great value Korean food. Ditto, the thalis at Raja Monkey (pictured) in Hall Green. For fish and chips, I’ll head to Chamberlains. For steaks, I’d head to Opus, Anderson’s and Fiesta del Asado. Indian: Lasan, Ashas, Itihaas, Rajdoot. The big three, for me, remain the big three: Simpsons, Purnell’s and Turner’s. The latter is the least well-known but chef patron Richard Turner rarely puts a culinary foot wrong.” Richard has a job which – time and budgets permitting – allows reporting on international food destinations, but there are strict parameters in place and ethics are important. His final words are tough but fair. “Don’t play at being a restaurant reviewer by begging for free meals and booze in return for facile write ups,” he stresses. “The only people you are helping are mediocre kitchens. Be bold, be honest, and tell it like it is. You may not get rich, but you won’t go wrong. You could also invite me out for dinner.” | Words: Lyle Bignon




THE BEST REGIONAL BREWERIES Okay, we know you all love your beer, but how many of your favourite tipples are being brewed just a few paces from your front door? Here’s just a few of the Midlands craft breweries that are keeping our thirst quenched. 048


FREEDOM BREWERy | @ FreedomBrewery Let’s just ignore the fact that Freedom Brewery were founded in London, because since moving to their new Abbots Bromley premises in Staffordshire back in 2004, the specialist craft lager microbrewery has taken the Midlands by storm. During the past six years production capacity has increased by 300% and the range of beers, have won more than 25 awards. With five different types of lager featured in their core range, Freedom are helping to revitalise a style that can often be overlooked within the craft beer community. What to start with? The Freedom Four, a helles pale lager, is a fruity, extra-hoppy take on the classic German style and would cut through that greasy fish, chips and curry sauce on Saturday night better than that can of Rubicon you were eyeing up in Frydays. Where to drink it? With all of the Freedom creations being oh-so tolerable to even the most stubborn of drinkers, their beers have slowly made an impact on the Birmingham market and you’ll frequently find it across the whole of the second city with several taps on offer at French diner Le Truc in Southside. Even the Slug and Lettuce at Brindley Place sells their Pioneer now, so get to it. 049


TWO TOWERS BREWERy | @TwoTowersAle It would be strange to discuss Birmingham breweries without mentioning Two Towers. The Jewellery Quarter based outfit has really come to the forefront of the city’s real ale scene in the past year, and having expanded into next door’s premises, owner Mark Arnott-Job is making sure their range of ales (10 and growing) are getting around the city. These guys are Birmingham throughand-through. Not only are the Two Towers tours listed up there on Trip Advisor’s top things to do in the city, but last year they even brewed a pale ale in collaboration with the Electric Cinema, so even when watching the Coen Brothers do their thing you can’t escape drinking one of their scrumptious creations. And of course, like all good breweries, witty names for their beers are rife at Two Towers - Jewellery Porter anyone? What to start with? Their Complete Muppetry is a sure-fire starting point. Buy yourself a polypin from the brewery and you’ll find your mates want to stop by your house a lot more than they used to. Where to drink it? Their ales pop up every now and again on rotation in many a Birmingham boozer. The Jekyll and Hyde regularly have their ales on rotation and their bottles can be found in the well stocked Cotteridge Wines and Stirchley Wines. Hotel la Tour have also started selling their bottles so if you’re ever in the mood to drink great beer on a Friday night while someone plays a baby grand piano, you know where to go. 050

Purity Brewing Company | @Purityale Pure Bar and Kitchen (pictured) may have skyrocketed Purity Brewing to the forefront of craft beer notoriety in Birmingham recently, but their creations were winning awards aplenty even before they opened up their doors on Waterloo Street earlier this year. Continually expanding the range since their inception in 2005 (they’ve just released Lawless Lager, in an attempt to wean wary punters away from mass-produced swill) Warwickshire-based Purity are now one of the best and brightest craft breweries, not just in the Midlands but throughout the whole of the UK. With the hoppy Saddle Black and Longhorn IPA emerging as delicious editions to the core range of UBU, Pure Gold and Mad Goose, which you’ve probably already seen gracing the face of pump clips everywhere, Purity are well and truly cementing themselves as the big daddies of the Birmingham beer scene right now. What to start with? Their UBU is a fantastic example of an amber ale, a dark (compared to their others) and deliciously malty beer perfect to serve alongside sticky bbq pork ribs or a Sunday roast. Where to drink it? You’re guaranteed to spot the Purity delivery van stopping off at most decent establishments, with a lot of pubs selling their core range on cask and the Longhorn on keg. To experience their full range, and a whole host of other UK and international craft beers, head to Pure Bar and Kitchen and treat yourself to the crispiest pork scratchings in Birmingham while you’re there.


Silhill Brewery | @silhillbrewery The fledgling Solihull brewery may only be four years old, but they’ve already made waves on the Midlands’ real ale circuit, establishing themselves as a selfconfessed ‘boutique brewery’, boasting some modern, interesting beers and going lengths to bridge the gap between a lot of the keg beer styles that have engulfed the craft beer world. Not only are they routinely churning out excellent golden ales and darker alternatives, Silhill are brewing their take on the beers we have come to know so well, creating super-hopped IPAs and American pale’s – always with a Midlands twang. What to start with? The Blonde Star is their triple hopped juggernaut of an ale, perfect for a summers evening barbeque when you might need reminding of just how well suited a cheeseburger and a hoppy beer really are. Where to drink it? The Silhill range are regularly on rotation in the Old Joint Stock just off Colmore Row. While you’re there it would be just plain rude not to indulge in one of their skyscraper pies. 052

Titanic Brewery | @Titanic_Brewers Producing more than two million pints of their beer each year, Titanic are one of the more established breweries in the Midlands, and have a line up of ales that all other breweries would struggle to replicate. From their brewing base in Stoke-on-Trent, their liquid creations not only feature on the bar of their many pubs across Staffordshire and throughout the region. While the Titanic stout is served extensively in Birmingham, their bottles of Iceberg and White Star are available in most supermarkets, so there’s no excuse.

Green Duck Beer Co | @greeduckbrew From their Stourbridge brewery, Green Duck have been concocting a plethora of real ales for the past two years and are wasting no time in quacking the beer market in the Midlands (sorry). For more duck related puns see their whimsical pump clips often spotted across the Midlands, or better yet visit their new brewery bar where they serve their ale straight from the source. Other notable breweries include: Enville Brewery Try: Enville Ginger Where: The Cat, Enville Kinver Brewery | @ KinverBrewery Try: Kinver Edge Where: The Cross, Kinver Craddocks Brewery Try: Saxon Gold Where: The Duke William, Stourbridge Words: Ross Timms 053

SEptember events Laughing Cows 10 September, 8pm Kitchen Garden Cafe £9 (£7 Conc.) The sell-out comedy night with a fabulous all-female line-up includes award-winning Australian comic Celia Pacquola and Viv Gee.

Lee Bul 10 September - 9 Nov Ikon Gallery The first UK exhibition for this celebrated Korean artist is a judicious survey of work, ranging from early drawings and models to new large scale sculptural pieces, as thought provoking as they are visually spectacular. Untitled (“reflective highway”) 2010. Mixed media. Private collection, Switzerland. Courtesy Studio Lee Bul, Seoul and Ikon.


Susan Philipsz - Broken Ensemble: War Damaged Musical Instruments (brass section) 20 September – 6 Dec Public Preview: 19 September, 6–8pm Eastside Projects New installation by the 2010 Turner Prize winner. The Berlin based artist creates an acoustic environment related to the particularities of Eastside Projects’ 1918 industrial building, testing the sounds of brass musical instruments damaged in World War I. Rafal Zar - Old Hill Uprising 20 September – 6 Dec Public Preview: 19 September, 6–8pm Eastside Projects An exhibition of extraordinary new paintings by Sandwell

based Polish artist Rafal Zar, awarded the 2014 ESP Members Show. Zar’s paintings depict dehumanised symbols of a melancholic, nostalgic, sentimental darkness captured in a cartoon like reality just this side of an unrelenting emptiness. VOICES SEASON Throughout Autumn The Library of Birmingham libraryofbirmingham. com As the Library of Birmingham celebrates its first year anniversary this September it brings together its most thought-provoking and inspiring programme of events yet. Voices Season reveals the intriguing stories behind how people of all walks of life learn to find their voice and express themselves to the world. Check the website for listings of events throughout Autumn.

october events

Birmingham Literature Festival 2014 2 - 11 October 2014 Library of Birmingham The Birmingham Literature Festival is back with a ten day take-over of the fabulous Library of Birmingham. Launching on National Poetry Day (2 October) poet and novelist Jackie Kay will kick off the festival in style. This year’s stellar line-up includes Meera Syal, Owen Jones, Sathnam Sanghera, Jackie Kay, Roger McGough, Stephen Knight, Janet Suzman, Sophie Hannah and many more. The festival also promises a Shakespeare flash-mob, ghost stories after dark and an evening re-telling the tales of Chaucer. 056

Fierce Festival 2014 2 – 12 October Various Locations Fierce Festival returns with a programme of live art, performance and projects across Birmingham that will include the works of local, national and international artists to challenge expectations and presumptions. Croatian artist Dina Rončević leads Car Deconstructions at Eastside Projects in Digbeth, in which seven local girls aged 10-12 will learn basic car mechanics. In Eat the Street, a group of local 12-year-olds will become restaurant critics, inviting you to dine with them whilst they offer up brutally honest opinions on food & service.

Longbridge Light Festival 24-25 October longbridgelightfestival. Witness a spectacular transformation of Longbridge town centre and surrounding locations as artists from across the UK and abroad light up Longbridge with artworks to intrigue and excite. C e l e b r a t i n g Longbridge’s rich history as well as its exciting future they’ll be interactive light and artwork installations, a lantern parade with a twist using futuristic technology, an illuminous bike route, Sci-Fi fancy dress, family friendly workshops and more. West Midlands Open 25 October - 15 Feb Gas Hall, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery birminghammuseums. Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is hosting this year’s West Midlands Open

exhibition. The biennial public art exhibition sees both professional and amateur artists from all disciplines applying to have their work shown.

In all 81 works have been chosen for display, selected by an expert judging panel, including Turner Prize-nominated artist Roger Hiorns, Exhibitions and Artists’ Projects Curator Zoe Lippett from the New Art Gallery Walsall, and Birmingham-based artist Barbara Walker. They include painting, sculpture, film, drawing and printmaking. Many works selected for the show will be available for visitors to purchase.

SHAPPI KHORSANDI: BECAUSE I’M SHAPPI... 26 October Glee Club Reflecting on the good things, Shappi celebrates her haphazard, zigzag road towards her dreams. She introduces us to friends, family and total strangers who have helped her on her personal Yellow Brick Road. Feisty, flirty and effortlessly funny she handles every subject with a razor sharp wit, softened only by her deliciously dizzy delivery and endless charm. HALLOWEEN SILENT MOVIE SPECIAL – THE CAT AND THE CANARY 31 October, 7.30pm Town Hall Birmingham £15.00 This 1927 American silent black comedy gets a screening alongside live organ accompaniment from Nigel Ogden for the Town Hall’s spooky but fun annual Halloween offering.

An Evening With Noel Fielding Wolverhampton Civic Hall 31 October Fielding’s kitsch and warped take on comedy has seen him perform in venues all over the world, win numerous awards and appear on TV shows but it is surely his weird, wonderful and wacky world of The Mighty Boosh and Luxury Comedy that showcase his full crazy talent. So thank goodness that he’ll be supported with the loose stylings of Mike Fielding (Naboo/ Smooth) and the physical lunacy of Tom Meeton (The Mighty Boosh/ Oram & Meeton) to make sure a touch of the magic is brought to the live stage. 057

november events

Eye Candy Festival 13-15 November Venues throughout Southside and Boxxed, Floodgate St, Digbeth Back for a third year Eye Candy lightens and brightens the streets of Southside with a programme of events including live art, installation, workshops, new commissions and more. The programme will be available online soon but expect to see beautiful artworks in unusual places from renowned illustrators and photographers that span the globe. 058

About Town 13 – 16 November, 4pm - 10pm daily Multiple venues around Hurst Street, Southside, Birmingham Free birminghamhippodrome. com/AboutTown About Town is an exhibition of international video art in Birmingham’s Southside district that will showcase a wide variety of free night-screenings by artists from the UK and abroad, in unusual urban spaces. New commissions inspired by their location, alongside pieces from Ikon’s recent programme, will explore everyday city life and reflect on how we shape and are shaped by our surroundings. About Town audiences will intersperse their artistic experiences with short walks through streets brimming with local interest.

The Specials 20 November Wolverhampton Civic Hall Coventry legends THE SPECIALS 2014 tour sees them celebrate five years since they first reformed. Since getting back together in 2009, the band have travelled all over the world and played to hundreds of thousands of people, uniting old fans and new at their incredible live gigs. FOOD MARKET 30 November, 10.30am mac, Canon Hill Park Indulge your culinary desires as mac birmingham continues to celebrate the art of food with a monthly food market, featuring a host of local artisan producers covering coffee to chocolate and cheese to chutneys. Also 28 Sep, 26 Oct, 21 Dec


48 hours in iceland I’ve just eaten a smoked lamb and bean sandwich oozing with mayo when our driver takes our ‘Super Truck’ off-road and down a vertical hill to “show us what the vehicle can do.” The stomach flips as the truck tips forward and rumbles down. We can no longer see the scenery outside the window as the mist has set in. This is like no July I’ve ever known. Welcome to Iceland. For such a small place Iceland certainly holds its own. This Island country (it is the size of England), with its tiny population (just 320,000 inhabitants), brought the aviation world to an abrupt halt four years ago when the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted spewing ash throughout the atmosphere; but I think we can forgive them now after all they are showing the rest of the globe how to be fully sustainable; as the forerunner in the world of Green Energy. Plus the country came first in the Global Peace Index as the most peaceful place to live in the world.


We’ve got just 48 hours to see the sites of Iceland and our jam-packed first day Golden Circle Tour certainly sets the scene of what is on offer in this most diverse of landscapes. We’re passing through rocky, and what looks like uninhabitable terrain. The hundreds of Icelandic pure breed horses have long disappeared as have the grassy fields that feed them. This has been replaced with ice patches, compacted snow and a driving rain. It looks impassable; but it’s not an issue for our driver and his jeep. We’re headed to the Langjökull glacier (the second largest ice cap in Iceland at 953 km2) and our mode of transport for the next 45 minutes will be switched to a snowmobile. We’re given snow suits and protective boots, gloves, snoods and a helmet. The weather had felt relatively mild over breakfast but it has taken a turn: It’s pretty cold out there. Our towering Mountaineer host Anders gives us quick instructions on how to use our new mode of transport. It’s really simple. We ride two to a vehicle and off we go in a convoy traversing lumpy snow, bumpy ice and melting slush. It all results in an exhilarating, if not biting cold and utterly soaking ride. With a pair of boots full of water and a wet bum we’re back in our jeep to visit the stunning Golden waterfall, Gullfoss. We’re given the opportunity to warm up in the restaurant there with some traditional lamb and vegetable soup – just the thing to heat up the inner core. 061

A few kilometers away and we arrive at the geothermal area around the hot spring geysirs. These sulphur smelling pockets of boiling water send steam into the air. Only one of them is active and we gather around to wait for it to blow. We don’t have to wait long as it treats us with a fine display and, rather unfortunately, a warm shower. We’re already wet but now we’re soaked – somehow it no longer seems to matter. For our second day we get to take a quick walk around the capital, Reykjavik. Our hotel is on the main shopping street, Laugavegur and is as close to the action as we can get. Surrounded by Independent design shops, fashion stores, bars and restaurants there’s plenty to spend your money on. A short walk takes you to the stunning Lutheran church of Hallgrimskirkja (pictured opposite). Within the centre of Reykjavik it stands out as one of its tallest buildings. Inside the church the design is perfectly functional and minimal and the 75m bell tower is certainly worth the visit for the views across the city. Luckily there’s a lift to get you up there. Apparently almost every tourist to Iceland visits the famous Blue Lagoon. Situated on a lava field it’s on the way to/from the airport and acts as an ideal stop-off before boarding your flight – which is also our intention. We get there the same time as a coach arrives which results in slightly fraught and manic scenes in the luggage drop off area (there’s a space for visitors to leave their suitcases). Once we’ve done


that it is on to the reception to pick up towels, robes and locker keys. Inside the changing rooms it’s as busy; not quite the relaxing start of a spa experience I’d envisaged. The rain is blustering down so a few brisk steps are called for to get in to the water. Once in the lagoon the rewards are plentiful. While it’s busy there is more than enough space to move around this hot power plant overflow of strange blue mineral water. Weaving our way through the other tourists (some with iPads in their hands!) we get to the bar in the centre for a luxury glass of wine. There are buckets of cleansing mud to slather around your body and you can also buy a ‘Volcano Scrub’ and cover your face with its natural minerals. Every now and again we’re blasted with rain but the water is so warming it doesn’t really matter what is coming down from the skies. Where to stay The brand new Alda Hotel is in the centre of Reykjavik and close to bars and shops. Its subtle and stylish design comes fully fitted with chic Scandi-style furnishings, locally-produced products and friendly staff. Where to eat Harpa: If you fancy a concert while you are in the city you can checked out the stunning architecture and

schedule at Harpa. Acting as a concert hall, Opera House and arts space it also has a beautiful restaurant, Kolabrautin, with views of the harbour and delicious food offerings. The Blue Lagoon LAVA Restaurant: After a soak and a swim around the lagoon you can check out the restaurant with its rock face walls and views of the steamy water. Where to drink Kex Hostel has an unassuming and almost missable facade but inside is a warm, comfy fashionista hangout where you can grab a cocktail, local beer and a steak. For DJ’s and live bands head to Kaffibarinn. Blur’s Damon Alban is rumoured to own (or at least to have a stake) the bar which is full of Reykjavik hipsters, naturally. Other info Our Golden Circle Super Jeep Tour & Snowmobiling was with the Mountaineers of Iceland. Dress for all weather occasions – temperatures in the Summer don’t reach too high so warm and waterproof clothing and footwear is a must. Flight Info Flybe flights to Reykjavik Keflavik from Birmingham International will operate their winter schedule from 28th October. One way fares including taxes and charges from £49.99. KO




We have teamed up with Bestival to offer 2 x pairs of adult weekend camping tickets to their Desert Island Disco on the Isle of Wight this September.


With a mighty ten fields of wonderment filled with amazing music, insane sideshows & magical happenings, Bestival 2014, taking place at Robin Hill Country Park from Thursday 4th – Sunday 7th September, is jam-packed with party flavours and escapist action.

This year’s gargantuan line-up features headline sets from OutKast, Foals, Chic feat Nile Rodgers and Beck, plus live sets from Busta Rhymes, Disclosure, Paloma Faith, Basement Jaxx, La Roux, Major Lazer, London Grammar, Sam Smith and Candi Staton among many others. There will also be DJ sets from Sven Vath, Annie Mac, Chase & Status, a Ram Records takeover, Skream, Derrick Carter, Eats Everything, Green Velvet, Boyz Noise, Jaguar Skills, James Blake’s 1-800 Dinosaur and lots more. And the Bestival Big Top (hosted by BBC Radio 6 Music) will see the cream of their presenter team introducing the likes of Chvrches, Bonobo, SBTRKT, Temples, dan le sac vs Scroobius Pip, Peter Hook & The Light and more. The music line-up might be massive, but anybody who’s been to Bestival knows it’s not all about the music, there are incredible mustsee attractions like The Port, the Wishing Tree, The Grand Palace of Entertainment, Come Dancing, Reggae Roots, Club Dada, The Ambient Forest, Caravanserai and the legendary Bollywood Cocktail Bar, offering out-of-this-world entertainment, all topped off with a truly mesmerising Fireworks Finale. For more information and to book weekend tickets go to www.bestival. net or call 0844 888 4410, but hurry as Bestival is now very close to selling out yet again this year. HOW TO ENTER: All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning a pair of Bestival 2014 adult weekend camping tickets is tell us: What is the surname of the lady OutKast apologised to? Send your answer along with your name, address, telephone number and date-of-birth to Deadline for entry is: 30/08/14 at noon. Winners will be notified via email only. Terms & Conditions Entrants MUST provide both their own name & the name of their +1 guest, plus their email address & tel no (NB no entries can be accepted without this info). No physical tickets will be posted out – Bestival operate a guest list entry system for prizewinners & all winners will be given instructions on how to claim their prizes once selected. Winners must provide their own transport, camping equipment & expenses. Prizes are strictly non-transferable (guest list will be in the names provided on entry forms) & cannot be resold.


Venue Directory ART VENUES A3 Project Space

THE HERBERT Jordan Well, Coventry, CV1 5QP 024 7683 2386


Oozells Square, B1 2HS 0121 248 0708 | @ikongallery

BIRMINGHAM HIPPODROME Hurst Street 0844 338 5000 birminghamhippodrome. com

Unit A3 2 Bowyer Street, Digbeth, B10 0SA | @A3projectSpace Ikon Gallery Barber Institute Univeristy of Birmingham Edgbaston, B15 2TS 0121 414 7333 Bilston Craft Gallery

Mt Pleasant, Bilston, WV14 7LU wolverhamptonart. BM&G Chamberlain Square, B3 3DH | @BM_AG CUSTARD FACTORY Gibb Street, B9 4AA EASTSIDE PROJECTS 86 Heath Mill Lane, B9 4AR, 0121 771 1778 | @eprjcts Grand Union Fazeley Street Birmingham B5 5RS | @grandunionltd


The Lighthouse The Chubb Building Fryer Street, Wolverhampton WV1 1HT 01902 716 055 MAC Cannon Hill Park

AE HARRIS 110 Northwood Street Birmingham, B3 1SZ

BIRMINGHAM REPERTORY THEATRE Broad St, Birmingham, B1 2EP 0121 236 4455

VIVID PROJECTS Minerva Works, 16 Fazeley St, B5 5RT

RSC Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Waterside, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6BB

WARWICK ARTS CENTRE University of Warwick Gibbet Hill Road, Coventry CV4 7AL 024 7652 4524


Wolverhampton Art Gallery Lichfield St, WV1 1DU 01902 552055