Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Independent Birmingham Festival 2017 Aston Hall

Independent Birmingham Festival Aston Hall
 What a blessing the Independent Birmingham Festival was on a rare sunny Sunday in September. We were so excited to go that we were amongst the first people there when the entrances opened at noon. This coming together of Birmingham's best independents is thrilling as you find so many new places to try and they quickly become your new favourite places to go, eat and drink.
We headed straight for the halloumi fries and they were a big hit. I'd recommend sharing a plate as they are very filling and you need to leave room for other goodies. Lovely texture.
The Indian Brewery Company were soon very busy for both their craft beers and tasty street food.
Indian Brewery Company
The sun was shining on Faculty Coffee and Sixteen Bakery. I love their coffee and cakes in the Piccadilly Arcade.
Faculty Coffee
 I could not resist the vegan snickers brownie and the raspberry and white chocolate blondie. Both amazing.
Sixteen Bakery 
 Next we headed to Buddha Belly and their exceptional curries and stir fries created by Sai Deethwa of Masterchef fame. I had the Thai chicken curry and it was one of the dishes of the day, everyone loved it.
Buddha Belly
 I think I'll try the marinated crispy chicken next, it looks lush.
 Bar Opus blew us away with their cocktails. I had the whisky smash and it puts you in the mood for some serious drinking. The whisky does not dominate the flavours with lemon juice, mint and angostura bitters combining beautifully.
Bar Opus
Clink Beer had quite a display going on. The craft beer wizards have a new bar opening in Harborne on Saturday 30th September called the Paper Duck
 The art of drinking.
Clink Beer
 An incredible range of flavours on offer including chocolate, passion fruit, grapefruit and guava.
 Wonderful Lebanese flavours were dished up the Middle Feast in their kebabs and mezze. Next time I catch them I'm going to try the triple mixed kebab with Lebanese chicken, harissa glazed lamb and halloumi.
The Middle Feast
 Independent Birmingham founder Joe Schuppler has a crazy obsession with G&T slushies created by 40 St Paul's in the Jewellery Quarter. I too now have a crazy obsession with these slushies! You must check out 40 St Pauls as they have over 120 gins to choose from and a flavour chart you can use to find your perfect drink.
 It was time a well-earned break to give the stomach a chance to make space for the next round of feasting.
Independent Birmingham Festival Aston Hall
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Cocktail legend Rob Wood was delivering incredible drinks made from ingredients that we normally throw away such as apple cores and mint stalks. 
Rob Wood Smultronstalle
 I chatted to Rob about his forthcoming collaboration with meet maestro Andy's Low 'N' Slow. It will be unmissable and for one night only.
 Mint stalk mojito was one of the drinks of the day.
Mint Stalk Mojito Smultronstalle
 2nd Brew Pina Colada was super tasty and peppy.
Pina Colada Smultronstalle

The Two Cats team were happy to unveil their next project Salt & Earth which will popping up on selected evenings at the new Kanteen cafe in the Custard Factory. Looks a fab place. Seabass ceviche with sweet potato, corn, lime, red onion and chilli sounds gorgeous

Salt & Earth
 You can't beat a classic such as The Bureau's smoked pork hot dog and toppings such as beef chilli, applewood smoked cheese and habas fritas. Hot diggety dog!
It's my favourite restaurant El Borracho de Oro wowing everyone with pork, paprika and garlic burgers, juicy stews and delicious churros.
El Borracho De Oro
 They have just launched their Autumn menu. What would you try first?
El Boracho De Oro Instagram
 They also do fun nights such as learning to paint which looks a lot of fun judging by these wannabe Picassos.
El Boracho De Oro Instagram
It has been quite the year for the multi-award winning team at Loki and they go from strength to strength with plans just announced to open a third store in Edgbaston in October.
Loki Wine
Quality selection as always.
 I regret not having a fragola bellini. I'm a fool!

 Just one of the cool pooches supporting Brum's independents. Hope he got to try the amazing food.
 The Bournville Waffle Company surprised me! I'm not a big waffle fan normally. My family normally buys those awful soft ones from the supermarket which are so meh. 
Bournville Waffle Company
 These babies are as far from meh as you can get. The waffle has a nice crisp texture which is yum with the cream, strawberries and chocolate sauce.
Bournville Waffle Company
 Or how about some honeycomb, vanilla cheesecake and caramel sauce. Omdddddddddsssss.
Bournville Waffle Company
 You got to be tempted by at least 3 of these.
We next headed inside to the craft market upstairs and the Chocolate Quarter's goodies had brought all the boys and the girls in from the yard.
Chocolate Quarter
 See this sushi candy hiding at the back of the display. You must be able to sniff these things out if you want to considered a true gourmand.
Chocolate Quarter
 Mississippi for me please.
Chocolate Quarter
 JamVsCustard you rock man! Look how plump these doughnuts look. I had the raspberry pavlova and it was 10 out of 10 greatness.
Jam Vs Custard
 Sweet satisfaction.
Jam Vs Custard
 A blurry photo forgive me but you need to know that there are jaffa cake doughnuts around that you need to hunt down ASAP.
The fudge store went all out to impress with an incredible range of flavours.

 These doughnuts have been officiallly 'pimped'.
 I'm very proud of my free festival tote bag :) 

Finally
Cheers Joe and everyone involved in the festival. A fantastic day and one to remember with a beaming smile when you replay all the highlights.

You can sign up to Independent Birmingham card here and enjoy discounts all year round at these fantastic places.

Words and photos by Paul Clarke Twitter @lovenarzipan
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Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Birmingham Food Highlights

The Meat Shack
The Meat Shack Birmingham
If you like the finer things in life then you need to head over to the Meat Shack on Thorp Street close to the Birmingham Hippodrome. Gorgeous burgers such as Buffalo Blue, Hell Shack and Dutch Piggy will rock your world. All containing a '5oz  hefty hunk of well-aged grass-fed beef''.
Garnish with blue cheese, Dutch cheese, American cheese, green chilli relish, candy bacon crumb, hot sauce, buffalo sauce, chipayo and streaky bacon and you take burgers to another level.
These little beauties below are Frickles, deep-fried cider-battered pickles with blue cheese dressing and they are amazing!
The Shack is full of great artwork and a kwl place to hang out and grab a drink.

The Indian Streatery
Indian Streatery, Birmingham.
This family run restaurant is the new kid on the block or Bennett's Hill to be precise. Pop in for a grab and go lunch from 11:30 to 2:30 or go proper restaurant stylee from 5pm.
Credit: Indian Streatery
The Pani Puri spice bombs on the right caught me out a bit as I put too much spiced water in the puri and even my big mouth struggled with the spice explosion.
The highlight was the amazing butter chicken made with a lot of talent by head chef aka Mum in the kitchen. So creamy and tender it oozes flavour. Its only rival on the menu is the Methi chicken which I cannot wait to try.

The Canal House
The Canal House, Birmingham
It was a pleasure to pop into the Canal House a week before it's official launch. It's a beautifully designed restaurant in a perfect setting. A place to relax and slow down a little for a bite to eat before changing to party mood and working your way through the exotic cocktail menu.
If SIA was here she would swing from these quirky chandeliers. The mini office is above the entrance.
Take your drink outside and enjoy the large terrace by the Gas Street Basin.
I need a bit of spice in my food so I really enjoyed the jerk salmon kebab.
Quality chicken burger with avocado was tasty.
The cookie dough was fantastic. Warm flavoursome sponge with a rich sweetness. 
Afogato is my dessert of choice lately. Don't be a slob and pour all the espresso and amaretto in at once, add to taste instead dear boy.
Love the private dining room.


 Boston Tea Party Edgbaston
Boston Tea Party Cafe, Edgbaston, Birmingham
The newly opened Boston Tea Party in Edgbaston has pretty rooms such as the Orangery and Pineapple themed areas to choose from.
The former bank is now full of comfy seating, colourful details and those amazing cakes and milkshakes.
I liked the Orangery most. it's perfect for meet-ups or catching up on your laptop to do list.
Head here to beat the big queues at the Harborne branch.

Java Lounge
Finally, Starbucks do not make the best Frappucinos, Java Lounge does! The iced mango blend is also a pick-me-up from heaven.

Words and photos by Paul Clarke
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