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    Events, News

    The Gin Festival is back

    gin festival

    Gin lovers unite – the Birmingham Gin Festival is returning to The Bond for five sessions over the August Bank Holiday weekend!

    The UK’s largest gin festival will bring over 100 different gins to Brum along with live entertainment, talks from gin industry experts, food and a room full of other gin fans.  On arrival you’ll get given a Gin Festival glass (yours to take home after) and a brochure with info on the gins, the companies that make them and the suggested garnish.  To get to the good stuff you’ll need to purchase drinks tokens for £5 per drink (which also includes Fever Tree tonic and a fresh garnish).

    The only question now is how many sessions do can we go to in one weekend…

    5 sessions will run:
    Friday 28th August Evening Session: 6.30pm – 11pm
    Saturday 29th August Afternoon Session: 12.30pm – 5pm
    Saturday 29th August Evening Session: 6.30pm – 11pm
    Sunday 30th August Afternoon Session: 12.30pm – 5pm
    Sunday 30th August Evening Session: 6.30pm – 11pm

    Tickets are £7 plus booking fee and are available from:

    Events, News, Pop Ups and Streetfood

    Holi Rave & Indian Feast-ival

    holiraveChucking colourful powder at each other in order to celebrate Holi, the festival of colour, sounds like a pretty fun way to celebrate a Saturday anyway, but team it up with a pun-tastic Indian Feast-ival and it just gets even better.

    Amusement 13 (on Kent St – near the Nightingale) is playing host to Holi Rave & Indian Feast-ival this Saturday – 21 March 2015.  Celebrating the ancient Hindu religious festival of colour, the Birmingham Holi is being organised by Shaanti and will feature live music from bhangra and electronic artists, the usual colour powder celebrations, henna tattoos and Indian God/Goddess face painting – you can totally be a god/goddess for the day!  And the bit I’m most excited about; food from Indian street food vendors from around the Midlands and local restaurants.

    Holi Rave is teaming up with Taste & Liquor to bring you the Indian Street Food Feast-ival.  Confirmed vendors so far are Mahirs ExperienceVichag FoodsField-Elicious  and local legends Wrapchic.  For those looking for a drink, there will also be Taste & Liquor’s first pop-up cocktail bar (they’ll later be a permanent fixture inside Amusement 13, tailoring their menus to compliment the venue’s events).

    Manga Singh managing director of Taste & Liquor and founder of Indian Street Food Feast-ival says; “Shaanti is always exciting, because they offer a very tasteful selection of events. For us it’s an honour to launch with their second festival Holi Rave –they’re unique and you know they’re going to put on an incredible event. Combining their love for music with our love for food gives the public a great way to try lots of different world flavours and sounds without having to leave Birmingham.

    “Indian Street Food Feast-IVAL also provides an opportunity for start-ups and small businesses to get out there and give it a go – without any overheads, it’s important to support local chefs and produce – it’s an idea setting to engage with new customers face to face and introducing new and exciting dishes from Bombay to Calcutta, from Lahore to Birmingham.”

    Get your tickets for the Holi Rave via the website or Ticketmaster.

    Disclosure: This was posted because it sounds interesting and unusual and you can totally pretend to be a goddess all day and get yourself covered in pretty colours all whilst eating yummy food. Why wouldn’t I want to help share that news?! Also the photo belongs to Holi Rave which I took from their website, with permission.

    Drinks, Events, News, Pub and Drinks News

    Cocktail round up

    cocktail news

    2015 is proving to be a very exciting year for Birmingham’s food and drink scene.  There’s a bunch of news that’s filling my inbox, so I’ve collected it up to share…

    Birmingham Association of Bartenders turns 10
    You might not have heard of the Birmingham Association of Bartenders, but chances are you’ve had a drink made by one of them.  Set up by Julian Rose-Gibbs (of The Botanist) and Carl Hawkins (of KitchInn), they’re a group of bartenders “who give a ****” and have been meeting semi-regularly to improve their knowledge through tastings and talks by brand ambassadors.  The group turned ten years old this month and as drinkers in the city we should raise a toast to those bartenders who’ve turned up to learn more about their craft. Congrats on Raising the Bar since 2005 guys – here’s to another ten!

    Brugal Spiced rum competition
    Congratulations to Jason Ballantyne of The Bureau on Colmore Row for winning first place at a Brugal Spiced rum competition, held at the Vaults earlier in the month.

    From the man who brought us Ribs Nights and UK Burger Battle comes a series of events which promises to bring together some of the world’s finest bartenders, drinks brands and bars.  The first event will take place at Bar Opus, with a limited number of tickets and the first brand to be announced shortly.  Keep an eye out on the Twitter account @CocktailXChange for more details.

    The Drinks Bus
    Whilst they might’ve had their launch night in Leicester, the Drinks Bus is likely to be a regular sight in Brum so feels worth a mention.  Another Ahmed Kage concept (seriously, does he ever stop), it’s a converted 1977 Bristol Bus, available for hire and will no doubt be rolling into the city soon. Check for more details

    Bar Opus introduces cocktail masterclasses
    Bar Opus at One Snow Hill has introduced Saturday afternoon cocktail masterclasses.  For £15 per person, participants will be trained to make two seasonal cocktails by Bar Opus’ expert bartenders and an info sheet with the specs and overview of products to recreate them at home.

    Birmingham Cocktail Weekend
    Info on this one is a little scarce, but what we do know is that it’ll take place between 10 – 12 July 2015.  Venues taking part in the weekend are yet to be announced, but wristbands and guidebooks will be on sale to direct you towards participating bars. To hear more when it’s announced, sign up at

    And not forgetting cocktail consultants Shaker group’s Gas Street Social has opened, and early next month The Botanist finally flings open its doors…

    Events, News

    Birmingham in 100 Meals

    My two favourite things about Birmingham, the people and the food, are being brought together in an exciting project which aims to get us Brummies chatting.

    Birmingham in 100 Meals is a project between Kate Cooper of the New Optimists and Tom French of Community on Board which is aiming to bring together residents of different parts of the city over a nice home-cooked meal. Or in their words; “Well, we think there is an opportunity for people from all across Birmingham to come together and learn more about others that share the same city. In a big place, it’s not always easy to find out about those that live on the ‘other side of town’ or have a different background to our own. What we all have in common, though, is food. And we think having a meal together is a good place to start making new friendships that bring our city – our home – together.”

    It’s basically a chance to have someone pay for your dinner and have a good natter with someone you might not have had the chance to meet before, but someone who shares the same city as you. Which sounds pretty cool to me.

    The Birmingham in 100 Meals team are looking for people to get involved by either hosting a meal, attending one at someone’s home or just shouting about the project. Attendees will be asked to fill in a short questionnaire and the team will put together a map to show how the city has connected. There’s more info about how it’ll work (they’ve been careful to consider safety and travel arrangements) here as well as contact details for Tom if you’re interested in getting involved.

    Birmingham in 100 Meals sounds like a really exciting project and I’ve put my name down, hopefully some others will do too!


    Marmalade officially opens

    Back in January, I found our Bitters n Twisted were to open their seventh Birmingham-based venue.  After releasing artists impressions of how the venue at the Rep Theatre would look, and then teasing us with some delicious looking food photos, I was looking forward to checking out the venue.

    A bit of a departure from the team that brought us The Victoria, Jekyll & Hyde and Bodega, Marmalade Birmingham is a new bistro and bar overlooking Centenary Square, nestled in the Birmingham Rep Theatre.  It brings BnT’s eclectic mix of quirky furnishings with relaxing dining, offering small plates and pre-theatre dishes as well as a delicious cocktail menu we’ve come to know and expect from them.

    Having been quietly open for a week and a half, the official opening saw a marriage of the Rep with some spoken word and Marmalade’s food and drink.  Mini versions of some of the dishes as canapes, including: coffee-infused lamb, prune glaze and sweet potato mash; Rep Eaton Mess; and sesame-coated halloumi, seared honeydew melon and black olive tapenade, was a nice excuse to taste a range of dishes.  I’m not overly keen on sweet potato, but I enjoyed the sweetness of the mash with the coffee-infused lamb and the venue’s take on Eaton Mess was a lovely, classic dessert.  I also sampled a Pomegranate Collins which was nicely balanced and lovely and refreshing.

    Trina Jones, general manager of Birmingham Repertory Theatre, says of Marmalade: “We’re thrilled to welcome Matt and the Bitters ‘n’ Twisted team to The REP. Marmalade is for everyone – it is the sort of bar and bistro you could just as easily use every week for a casual business lunch or pop in of an evening because you happen to be passing. It’s warm, welcoming, affordable and most of all, delicious.”

    I’m looking forward to heading back soon and checking out a full meal!

    Disclosure: I was invited down to the official opening of Marmalade by the Rep theatre.  I wasn’t obliged to write anything about the event, nor take any photos but I just can’t help myself. Sadly, despite the name, there was no official opening by Paddington bear, nor was there any actual marmalade.

    Events, News

    Foodies Festival rolls into Birmingham in May

    Chocolate TheatreMichelin starred chefs, tasting theatres, street food and artisan producers are all set to land in Cannon Hill Park in May for what promises to be a big slice of food heaven.

    The Foodies Festival, which was launched in 2005 in Scotland, is making its way to Birmingham on 15 – 17 May in Cannon Hill Park.  Birmingham chefs, including Glynn Purnell, Matt Cheal of Simpons, and Atkar Islam of Lasan Group will be at the Aga Rangemaster Chefs Theatre to cook up their favourite summer recipes and share top tips.  The Chefs Theatre will also play host to 2014 Masterchef winner Ping Coombes who will be cooking up her signature dishes.  Ping will be joined by MasterChef 2010 winner Dhruv Baker and finalist Jackie Kearney too.

    Local experts will also be on hand to guide visitors through raw food, Japanese soul, oyster shucking and bee keeping.  Vegan blogger Little Miss Meat Free will also be on hand to share her vegan recipes and help inspire visitors interested in animal-free food.

    E-Foodies-080613-0168Brummies can toast to the Foodies Festival’s tenth anniversary (and first in Birmingham) at the New Wine and Champagne Theatre with experts Neil Phillips and Charles Metcalfe, who will be guiding visitors through the best of British.  SommALEier / beer connoisseur Melissa Cole will also be on hand to give a food and beer pairing masterclass too.  There will be pop up bars and a cider farm to quench drinkers’ thirsts further.

    There’ll also be plenty of food on sale, including Japanese, Thai, Brazilian, Argentinean, Indian, Mexican, French and African all available on Street Food Avenue – and seating available in the Feasting Tent.  Those wanting to keep the foodie feast alive after the three day festival will be well catered for by the 200 exhibitors, including Biscuit Butter, Snowdonia Cheese, Tipsy Tarts, Fudge Heaven and Riverford Organics, in the Artisan Producers Market.

    Bakers will also be well served with a Cake and Bake Theatre with top local cake makers and bakeries sharing their tips, as well as masterclasses on 3D cake modelling, chocolate making and sugar-craft.  There will also be a Chocolate, Cake and Bake Village selling a range of baking essentials, including jams and gadgets.

    Young foodies will be catered for with Children’s Cookery Theatre where they can explore their taste buds and learn basic cooking skills.  And daredevils can take part in the chilli eating competition, to try and break the record of 14 different varieties of chillies eaten to win the Chilli Eating Crown.

    Tickets are available for the Foodies Festival in Birmingham from the their website, as one day or three day tickets, with some VIP packages available too.  There’s an early-bird two-for-one offer available, just quote FOODIES241.

    Look out for my competition to win tickets, coming soon!

    Events, News

    Burns Night 2015 in Birmingham-ish

    Any excuse to drink whisky and stay out late on a school night…it must be Burn’s Night!  There are a few celebrations happening in and around Birmingham, so I’ve collected together ones I’ve stumbled across *insert joke about drinking too much whisky here*

    Burns Night Whisky & Poetry at the Library

    Experts from Birmingham Whisky Club will guide you through a tasting of six drams of whisky, poetry will be presented by Birmingham Poet Laureate, Adrian Blackledge, and there will be a dinner of haggis, neeps and tatties (a vegetarian option is available).  More details.

    Burns Night at Moor Hall

    If you’re north of the city and looking to celebrate Burns Night early, then Moor Hall hotel in Sutton Coldfield are doing a four course dinner and entertainment on Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th January.  Dress is lounge suit or kilt (it would be rude not to) and the evenings will include a traditional piper to escort the haggis and dancing to an authentic ceilidh band.  Click here to book via email.

    Burns Night at The Church

    Celebrating Burns Night with a Soul Food Project twist, The Church will be serving three courses with live music, all in their unique style.  Tickets are £15 a head for three courses with sharing plates and are available behind the bar or online from here.

    Burns Night fundraiser for Solihull MS

    Not too much details on this, other than a Facebook page but it’s for a good cause so I thought it was worth including.  The event, which takes place at the Knowle Royal British Legion, will serve up haggis, neaps and tatties as well as entertainment in the form of a piper, mini quiz and games.  More details are available at their Facebook event page.