Colmore Food Festival 2017

It seems to be coming around quicker every year.

The Colmore Food Festival is one of the highlights of Wifey and I’s year. Bringing the cream of the Colmore BID‘s bars, restaurants and cafes in a showcase over a Friday and Saturday.

You can read previous years’ posts herehere and here.

My photography skills seem to have forgotten about anything but food and drink this year but it was a similar set up to last year, with the stage next to the Town Hall and a central seating area with the stalls looping around it.

Wifey and I went both days (of course!) and we tried a fairly decent selection, photos below:

Day 1

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My first dish of the day (prior to Wifey’s arrival) was the Slow Cooked Ox Cheeks from Purnell’s Restaurant accompanied with watercress puree, pickled shallots and wasabi crumble.

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Chicken Katsu Curry, breaded chicken, mild katsu curry sauce and sticky rice from the lovely chaps at Chung Ying Central.

We tried both dishes from Nosh & Quaff , usually found on their starters list, The Rib Tips (a very popular dish for the festival), deep fried lumps of pork belly tossed in their house BBQ sauce, and their Buffalo Wings, Free-Range Cotswold Chicken Wings with a smoked butter and Habanero sauce.

After that much food, it was time for a beverage so we popped over to the cocktail maestro from Purnell’s Bistro, Gary Anderson (on what we learnt was our last time getting a cocktail from him, prior to his move to The Meat Shack as their new GM). We had a Strawberry Feels, Bombay Sapphire Gin, Elderflower, Lemon, Apple & Mint, and Pineapple & Sage Daiquiri, Bacardi Rum, Lime, Pineapple, Sage & Pink Peppercorn.

And that was the end of Day 1

Day 2

After a fun day in the radio studio (for Geeky Brummie, it’s worth a listen, I promise!), it was time for more food and booze!

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First stop of the day was Opus  / Bar Opus Wifey had the Pork Belly with spiced cherries and I had a Parma Violet with gin, creme de violette, lemonade and parma crystals.

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Next it was time for our now traditional Colmore Food Festival must-have from Jojolapa, the Momo’s (chicken dumplings).

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My next stop was Gaucho and their Beef Empanada and (not pictured) Vacio (bavette) steak which came accompanied with Humita Saltena (creamed sweetcorn).

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Then it was a return to Purnell’s Bistro, and another Strawberry Feels, Bombay Sapphire Gin, Elderflower, Lemon, Apple & Mint, the third variety of cocktail we had was their Summer Lovin with Grey Goose Vodka Peach, cranberry, Orange and Lime.

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Wifey also popped to Purnell’s Restaurant, with the Ox Cheek swapped out for Beef Blade accompanied by watercress puree, pickled shallots and wasabi crumble.

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There was also time for a bit of Dim Sum, from Chung Ying Central.

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The final dish of the day was Black Forest Cake from The Bureau, and some Tom Collins from The Jekyll & Hyde (not pictured) we were pretty much done for the year. and with that, it’s on until waiting for 2018’s Food Festival!

When: 30/06/2017 – 01/07/2017

Where: Victoria Square, Birmingham City Centre

Who: Colmore Business DistrictPurnell’s Bistro / Ginger’s BarChung Ying CentralNosh & Quaff, OpusBar OpusJojolapaGauchoThe Bureau and The Jekyll & Hyde

 

#GBTour – Chase Distillery at The High Field

I like gin and I’m very glad it’s currently having a revival. It’s a curious spirit, being made from another (vodka, if you didn’t know) and steeped with a variety of botanicals.

So you can imagine how happy I was when this appeared through the post from the people at Chase Distillery.  There was also an invite to sample their wares at their #GBTour, part of the 10th anniversary of Chase Distillery, which highlights the crisp and dry Williams GB Gin. The Birmingham stop involved a supper at The High Field, an offer I couldn’t refuse!

Arriving at The High Field in glorious sunshine, I saw their transportation for the evening (a lovely Land Rover Defender 90, if I’m correct; why did they ever stop making them?). After a few snaps, it was inside to have a quick globe of G&T on The High Field’s terrace, before settling upstairs (happily seated next to the estimable Paul Fulford).

The evening promised to be a celebration of gin with a ‘Ginfused’ three course meal tied with three cocktails, each a different take on how to use gin.

Our first course was Gin Cured Salmon with Cucumber Salad and Lime Mayonnaise accompanied by a Gin Twist (GB Gin, Cucumber, Lime, Elderflower Liqueur, Tonic), served chilled than the traditional hot cocktail.

The salmon was light with juniper notes, and the zesty lime mayo perked up the dish remarkably. The Gin Twist reminded me of cucumber water cut with lime cordial. It was very refreshing and took the edge off the heat.

Our second course was Braised Lamb Shank, Rosemary Gnocchi, Broad beans, Peas and Juniper Jus, accompanied by a GB Fruit Twist (GB Gin, Red Vermouth, Chase Blackcurrant Liqueur).

The lamb, braised for 24 hours, was tender as you’d expect and fell off the bone. The greens delicious, with a crisp al dente bite. The rosemary gnocchi was a tad disappointing.  I know they can come baked, boiled or fried (fried in this case), but as flavoursome as they were, I found them a tad cloying to the roof of my mouth. I hankered for a roast potato or two, especially to go with the wonderful lamb and tart juniper jus.

The GB Fruit Twist was a nice cooler with the vermouth giving a red wine vibrancy, undercut with fruits, and a dry finish coming from the gin.

Our final course was a Gin & Raspberry Summer Pudding with Clotted Cream, accompanied by Rasberrilicious GB (GB Gin, Lemon Juice, Raspberry Juice).

The summer pudding really cheered me up, as Bill Bryson says

“It’s a funny thing about English diners, They’ll let you dazzle them with piddly duxelles of this and fancy little noisettes of that but don’t f#ck with their puddings, which is my thinking exactly.”

Mine too Bill, mine too! This was a lively example of a proper British dessert, thick carb-olicious bread, stuffed with fruit (and a not inconsiderate amount of gin) and unctuous, glossy, rich clotted cream, evoking memories of happy Sunday lunches at my Nan’s.  The plate was polished back to the ceramic!

The cocktail, on the other hand, was a touch too tart for my tastes with lemon and raspberry juices giving an acidic edge.  As an dessert, this could have done with a touch of sweetness

And the evening came to a close, all gin heavy but hangover free the next day (wonderful!). Goody bag in hand with a miniature G&T to make at home and a summer pudding recipe (inserted below), I stepped out into a sweet summer twilight as my carriage in the form of my long suffering Wifey awaited.

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When: 14/06/2017

Where: The High Field, 22 Highfield Road, Edgbaston, B15 3DP

Who: Williams Gin, Chase Distillery, The High Field

Disclaimer: For this visit, I was a guest of the wonderful team at The High Field & Chase Distillery (who also sent me a natty bottle and book), this provides no bias to the post. This blog is my own personal opinion and strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.

 

 

 

Belinda Carlisle meets The High Field for a Charity Dinner

I’m no stranger to The High Field, so on hearing they’re having a very spacial musical guest next month, I thought I’d let you know, especially as there’s only 250 tickets so likely to sell out soon!

 

On Saturday 15th July 2017, The High Field will be hosting a very special evening in aid of charity when Belinda Carlisle, one of the biggest selling female global artists of all time, makes a one-off appearance at the Edgbaston venue.

 

This exclusive event, which is limited to just 250 guests, will feature a short acoustic set of songs from Belinda as well as drinks and dinner in a glorious garden setting. It will raise money for Belinda’s own co-founded charity ’Animal People Alliance‘ and the UK Charity Branch of ’Her Future‘.

Tickets for this special event are now on sale and include fizz and canapés on arrival, followed by a three course vegetarian or vegan dinner with a menu created for the night by The High Field’s head chef Ian Meek.

After enjoying good food and drink in the stylish surroundings of The High Field, which was named the Best Gastro Pub in Birmingham at the inaugural Birmingham Food Drink & Hospitality Awards, guests will enjoy a short acoustic performance of Belinda’s songs. There will also be a silent auction with some brilliant prizes to be won, special guests and even the opportunity to win breakfast with Belinda herself at a secret location the next morning.

All the proceeds from ticket sales will be given to the two charities close to Belinda’s heart to support the vital work they undertake. Animal People Alliance’s mission is to offer high quality care to street animals in need, alongside robust employment opportunities to survivors of human rights abuses and other vulnerable populations in South Asia.  Her Future UK provides shelter, education and high-wage employment to survivors of human trafficking and extreme abuse so that they may remain forever free; since 2005, the charity has helped thousands of women and children to build a bright and independent future.

 

Launching the evening, Sarah Robinson, General Manager of The High Field, says, “This is a fantastic opportunity to support these two amazing charities whilst enjoying good food and drink in a unique venue.  “We are thrilled to be joined by Belinda Carlisle and to have this unmissable opportunity to listen to her music in such an intimate setting,” says Sarah.  “As lead singer of the Go-Go’s, the most successful female band of all time, and one of the world’s biggest selling female artists, she is a true pop icon, and we are honoured that she will be performing here in support of these two great charities.

“It’s going to be a wonderful evening full of excitement and surprises, and we hope that as many existing and new guests will join us to help raise as much money as possible for charity,” she says.

Belinda Carlisle, says, “Animal People Alliance is a charity, based in Kolkata India, I co-founded with Paul Suit in 2014. Whilst still in the early days, we are starting to have a real impact, with our mission to provide quality care for India’s street animals, employment for survivors of human rights abuses and other vulnerable populations. We want to change the future generation’s consciousness towards animals, and raise awareness of the need to treat animals humanely.

“I’ve always dreamed of having an animal sanctuary and I have such a love of India. I had an idea on how great it would be to combine both with the invaluable help of Her Future, of which I’ve seen first-hand the work they do, and I’m humbled even to be in the same room as Sarah Symons (the co-founder of Her Future Coalition and inspiration of Her Future UK), as she does the work of angels.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of the charity evening at The High Field, and grateful to all the generous people and businesses who are making this event happen. I will be performing a short acoustic set of my hits as music is still a big part of my life, as is Animal People Alliance,” she says.

There are just 100 tickets for this special evening costing £150 each, to include fizz and canapés followed by a three-course vegetarian or vegan meal, and a further 150 tickets at £75 each for those not wishing to dine, with a silent auction and some amazing raffle prices from sponsors.  To book, please email event@animalpeoplealliance.co.uk to request tickets.  Full payment will be required by 11th June 2017. For updates on Animal People Alliance follow us on Facebook @animalpeoplealliance

The charity evening at The High Field with Belinda Carlisle takes place on Saturday 15th July 2017 from 5pm until midnight.

The High Field is at 22 Highfield Road, Edgbaston, B15 3DP.  Tel: 0121 227 7068.

www.highfieldedgbaston.co.uk/

Highfield@peachpubs.com

@TheHighField

www.facebook.com/TheHighFieldEdgbaston

Summer Sizzlers at thestudio Birmingham

A few Fridays ago, enjoying a rare day out of the office, after popping down to Birmingham Social Media Cafe, I made my way over to thestudio Birmingham on the promise from East Village PR of a bit of BBQ food a G&T and the hope of sunshine.

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The front door of thestudio is a bit unassuming, taking over a double shopfront, it doesn’t look that big from the front, however it takes up the majority of the building with 22 rooms over three floors, including an atrium and patio, where I planned on chilling for the next few hours…

And the sunshine was on point, it was a glorious afternoon and the hubbub was already starting.

The reason for my attendance was the launch of their new Summer BBQ packages, with BBQ maestro Richard Holden showing off his flare over the charcoal and a few beverages of the alcoholic kind to soak up the sun, in the company of the award winning Mr David Massey, aka #BrumHour.

First stop, as usual, I was inexctriacably  born closer to something shiny, in the form of Copper Head Gin bottle, from Belgium and paired with East Imperial Burma Tonic, from New Zealand. Both brands were new to me and it was truly an intercontinental cocktail!

A G&T always reminds me of a nice sunny day so this was perfect.

Next up, was one of my favourite brewers in the Midlands, Purity Brewing Company, they had their full range on display with their new lower 3.5% abv Pale Ale Bunny Hop.

None of that for me though, Longhorn IPA is an opportunity I’ll never miss and one of my favourite all time IPAs, it’s quite citrusy, but always refreshing.

Our final stop on the way round was to Richard Holden’s BBQ tent, which we quickly invaded as the sun was getting too much for us!

Richard was cooking some tasters of his BBQ Masterclass menu, including Salmon with Pesto, Beer Can Chicken, Wings and Flat-breads with Humus, all smelling equally delicious. It was also great to have a quick chat with thestudios Commercial Director Julian, who was helping out with service.

The heat was starting to get to me however, so BrumHour and I nipped inside to enjoy the atrium (and their free WiFi!) whilst having a refreshing beer to cool off.

It was nice to see a different side to thestudio as I had previously attended for ICE (International Comics Expo) Birmingham which just shows the varied clientele they do have!

When: 26/05/2017

Where: thestudio7 Cannon St, Birmingham, B2 5EP

Who: thestudioRichard Holden’s BBQCopper Head, East Imperial Burma TonicPurity Brewing Company

 

The BBQ Masterclass can be booked through thestudio by calling 0800 028 6694 which displays a range of BBQ and kitchen skills from £50 per head for 3 hours through to £70 per head for a 6 hour course, with food included, for groups between 10 – 20 in size.

Disclaimer: For this visit, I was a guest of thestudio and East village PR (who also sent me a natty apron), this provides no bias to the post. This blog is my own personal opinion and strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.

 

 

Is it Gr8? – Otto Pizza

Next door to Eight Foot Grocer, founded by Chris James, there’s been a bit of activity. First, Chris diversified into The Pop Up Taco Shop (whilst waiting for planning permission). Now Otto Pizza has arrived to take its place.

Sourcing a carefully selected list of suppliers for their ingredients, they keep a short but varied menu in chilled surroundings.

They also have a regularly rotating specials board for pizza, wine and beer. For drinks selections, I chose off the specials board with a Call of Korriban Black IPA from Twisted Barrel Brewery whilst Wifey went for Masons Gin with a Double Dutch Tonic.

My beer was lovely and Wifey (always a fan of G&T) loved the Masons Gin, though Langleys will always be her fave!

For food we had a Tomato and Pesto Flatbread; for mains I chose

Nduja, Mushroom, Marscapone, Mozzarella and Tomato

whilst Wifey picked Mushroom, Marscapone and Truffle Oil.

The flatbread came pre-sliced in a basket.  It wasn’t very strong on the tomato and a little heavy on the pesto, but Wifey is a huge pesto fan which meant it was perfect for her tastes.

My pizza had plenty of spice and oil from the nduja sausage, which was mellowed by the creamy marscapone, the mushroom added texture on a both crispy and doughy base. All in all ruddy lovely, though the oil and spice from the sausage may put a few off.

Wifey’s Pizza came with chunky mushroom, smooth blobs of marscapone and wasn’t too heavy on the truffle oil.  She enjoyed the earthiness of the mushroom combined with the rich creaminess of the marscapone.  The base was midway between ‘deep pan’ and thin and crispy, giving it enough integrity without being too heavy.

For dessert, Wifey went for Daniele’s grandmother’s homemade tiramisu whilst I chose some pistachio ice cream.

Wifey’s Tiramisu was a more than generous portion and in her words was “indulgent, rich, delicious”!  She struggled to finish it but valiantly battled through, it would have been rude not to!

My ice cream verged on the savoury side with the nuttiness of the pistachio shining through. Most people are used to the luminous green pistachio ice cream which I find verges on the too sweet side, whereas this acted as a nice palate cleanser.

Though we were sad to see The Pop Up Taco Shop disappear (which we enjoyed a few times), this is a more than worthy replacement and provides a much authentic experience than the regular chains.

When: 02/03/2017

Where: Otto Pizza, 14 Caroline Street, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, B3 1TR

Who: Otto PizzaEight Foot Grocer

New Menu at El Borracho de Oro

I was invited by Emma Yufera-Ruiz of El Borracho de Oro to go an sample some of her amazing Tapas as part of their menu relaunch, unfortunately I couldn’t make it so instead George Elsmere (Caramel Latte Kiss) bravely stepped into the breach for me…

Tapas is one of my favourite styles of food, so imagine my delight when Ryan asked me to play roving reporter and pay a visit to El Borracho de Oro.

Tucked away in Edgbaston, the restaurant is independently owned with a focus on authentic Spanish cuisine. We were welcomed with an enormous Sangria (just the way I like it) and settled at a table near the kitchen. The main restaurant is cosy without being kitschy, and I always enjoy being able to see the chef working from the kitchen pass.

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We started with a selection of dishes from the tapas menu. Vieria con Morcilla (Grilled Scallops, Black Pudding, Piquillo Sauce) was the real stand-out. The black pudding was packed with flavour without being overly rich, as I often find with the British version. The scallop was plump and tender, perfectly cooked. They could have just kept bringing this dish all night and I think our table would have been happy!

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The Patatas Bravas were crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle. The addition of Aioli alongside the classic Bravas dressing lifted the dish with a little freshness. We also tried Calandracas (Ham, cheese and chorizo parcels cooked in beer batter), Costillas de Cerdo (Slow roasted Pork ribs, sweet potato puree) and Guisantes Salteados con Huevo Cocido (salted garden peas with onion and garlic topped with a boiled egg). Everything we ate was beautifully unfussy with good ingredients allowed to speak for themselves. Deep fried cheese is always a winner with me, and the ribs were so well cooked they were almost hard to serve as the meat simply dropped off the bone.

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This was the point we found our eyes were bigger than our bellies. We’d previously decided that we’d like try two kinds of paella at our table of four, but all the tapas dishes were so generous in portion, we were already feeling pretty full. The Chicken and Chorizo Paella was full of huge pieces of chorizo (so often skimped on), and was a rather huge portion. Designed to share between two, this would be plenty for a dinner out if you’re in need of a treat on a budget, priced at £15. The Seafood Fideuà was equally generous, chock full of prawns and mussels. We were less convinced by ‘fideos’, which is a type of toasted pasta. It was a bit Spaghetti like, and our table were in agreement that we would have preferred paella rice. The flavours were delicious though, and we made a good dent in the huge dish.

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Almost full to bursting, we found a corner for tasters of Brownie, Tarta de Santiago (almond cake) and of course, Churros y Chocolate. I love Churros, and these are excellent. Light and crisp with a good helping of liquid chocolate for dunking.

El Borracho are producing truly excellent, authentic food, and the experience is heightened by their truly outstanding staff. Every single person we spoke to was incredibly friendly, passionate about the food and ready with recommendations. Owner Emma is exactly the same, and it’s clear her staff are carefully selected for their customer service skills.

In short, go. Let your waiter suggest some food, and roll home, full and happy.

Disclaimer: For this visit, George was a guest of El Borracho de Oro, this provides no bias to the post. This blog is my own personal opinion and strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.

When: 07/02/2017

Where: El Borracho de Oro,  Harborne Court, Harborne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 3BU

Who: El Borracho de Oro

Wanna Get Flexible? – #Envy at Marmalade

It’s now round six of the seven sins (+ 1) with Bitters ‘n’ Twisted, and hosted by the wonderful Vicky Osgood of Brumderland. Previous events can be read about here:

   Greed  Wrath  Inferno  Lust  Gluttony

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Marmalade is located just under The Rep on Broad Street and is wonderfully eclectic in its decor with quotes from well known plays on the wall.

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In keeping with the other Bitters’n’Twisted venues, Marmalade has chosen a flagship spirit, this one being Vermouth. Vermouth is a fortified wine spirit used in a surprising amount of cocktails including the Negroni, pictured above, named ‘Better the Devil You Know’. With Vermouth, Spritzer and Blueberry Syrup, it’s on the B’n’T cocktail trail where you can experience something different at each of their venues. The cocktail menu is quite comprehensive covering twists on modern classic, all with literary twists on the names…

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To pair with these cocktails, Marmalade are now offering what they’d like to call a Flexitarian menu, catering for carnivores, omnivores, pescatarians, lacto-ovo vegetarian, vegetarians and vegans. So a pretty comprehensive choice then! It’s served small and main plate style to encourage social dining. There will be themed drinks to match shows on at The Rep, so keep an eye out to see what comes up.

To help you choose your dish and cocktail combo, the staff will assist to pair your choices to suit all tastes.

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Our first pairing was the La Vie en Rose cocktail (Beefeater gin, Creme de Cassis, Picpoul Dry White Wine, Peach Bitters, served with an edible flower) accompanied by fried, sesame coated Halloumi in a bed of crispy rocket. It was very delicious and disappeared quickly, the crispy crunchy coating went well with the meaty cheese. The cocktail was a bit sweet for my palate but balanced well with the salty cheese.

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The second pairing was tequila marinated salmon with wasabi dressing with an, as yet unnamed, tequila cocktail! The salmon was delicious with the wasabi dressing and a kick of heat. The tequila cocktail was heavy on the grapefruit to give it the tequila a citrusy kick, and partnered well with the heat of the wasabi. Maybe instead of the too easy ‘Tequila Mockingbird’ they could call it ‘A-Citrus Pinch’.

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Next was marinated Beef Skewers paired with Captain Ahab’s Grog. Captain Ahab’s Grog is a heady combination of Ginger Preserve, Brugal Dry Spiced Rum, Apricot Liqueur, Lime, Plum Bitters and Pomegranate Juice, this toed for my favourite cocktail of the night with a delicious spicy kick from the ginger and Brugal. The steak was deliciously chewy and partnered with mediterranean vegetables, a great dish to get you into a summery mood.

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The final dish was a vegan option and (surprisingly for me) my favourite dish of the evening. It was a delicious chestnut mushroom and hazelnut pate on toast with red onion jam. It was quite close in texture to your usual liver pate and enhanced by the  sweet onion jam. The paired cocktail was a ‘Midsummer Day Dream’ with Aperol, Limoncello, Fresh Lemon, Raspberry, Homemade Rose & Orange Bitters, topped with soda and served with orange. This was my other tie cocktail, it’s very floral but worked perfectly with the earthiness of the pate.

The new menu, which features all of the dishes above, has already launched. So if you fancy a visit to a place where they can cater for all dietary types or if you’re seeing a play and want to grab a quick bite (and a cocktail) beforehand, I’d recommend it.

Disclaimer: For this event, I was a guest of Brumderland and Marmalade who provided all food and drinks; this provides no bias to the post This blog is my own personal opinion and strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.

When: 03/05/2016

Where:  Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Centenary Square, Broad Street, Birmingham

Who: BrumderlandBitters & TwistedMarmalade