Issue 317
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As one of the most multicultural cities in the country, it's hardly breaking news that Brum's very good at international bites. But you don't have to go out to taste the herbs and the spices and the flavour profiles of the world — from Chinese to Caribbean, go global with a cookery class led by a chef who grew up with the dishes they're teaching you to make. Dumplings, thaali and tempura will be the happy result.
Indonesian: Sumedang to Northfield
Learn to cook dishes from Bali, Java and Sumatra with My Exotic Kitchen, which puts on an exclusively Indonesian class each Wednesday at 6pm. You'll make three dishes including a super zingy Balinese coconut and steamed veg creation, plus a fragrant Sumatran chicken banana leaf curry. Learn about balancing spices throughout the experience, which finishes with a feasting. Book (£55)
Japanese: Hyogo to Harborne
Under the Kinome Japonica title, chef Sachiko Saeki teaches around the Midlands and South West. Findable at Harborne Food School for her Brum dates, choose from courses where you'll learn to cook katsu curry (yes), soba noodles and tempura (very yes) or ramen and gyoza (jackpot). Sachiko's got the official title of Tofu Master, so probably also try her class dedicated to the stuff. Book (from £75)
Indian: Kerala to Stirchley
Monthly, Haseen from Pop up Dosa teaches an evening sesh in thaali — sweet, bitter, sour, salty dishes of veggie vigour — at Loaf's cookery school. The concept is dietary req friendly, cheap and straightforward to recreate, and much of the prep can be done in advance. Yet, the combo of daal, sambar, stir fry and pickles is also hugely impressive to those not in the know. Pretty sure somebody just said dinner party. Book (£70)
Italian: Bologna to Five Ways
Learn to make pasta from the place that does it best in Brum. Laghi's masterclasses (they also deal in pizza teaching) are elusive little creatures that always sell out, but are hugely worth pursuing, which you can do by stalking Laghi's here and on your social media of choice. It's £25 to create those discs of joy and £35 to make like Luca's Nonna, literally, Luca Laghi and his Mum make the pasta.
British: Harborne to Digbeth
If Britain has a cuisine, it's pub grub. And there is no dish more important than the great Sunday roast when it comes to that category. Learn the butchery behind the plate with Roger Brown Butchers, who will talk you through making the most of a chicken, before a full demo on creating the different joints and cuts of beef. On April 19 only, at Kitchen Food School, it's steak and malbec for lunch. Hurrah. Book (£100)
Caribbean: Carriacou to Witton
Nab your spot early for the Tan Rosie full-day Caribbean Masterclass — a greatest hits sort of a line-up with ackee and saltfish, fried plantain and jerk chicken on the agenda. Learn from mother-daughter Grenadians, Monica and Lee, who have been cookery schooling since 2010 with books, products and merch to prove it. There are also half-day courses, like their veggie, vegan and baking three-hour sessions. Book (full day, £150)
Chinese: Shandong to Harborne
Learn to dumpling, with Xiulu Lei, founder of Lei’s Home Kitchen, a Stourbridge-based Chinese supper club. Sometimes referred to as potstickers, the half-moon-shaped, stuffed parcels of perfection are an essential part of public holidays in China. And soon to be an essential part of your repertoire after Lei's April 27 step-by-step sesh. You'll also make those oh so critical dipping sauces. Book (£75)


Hand firmly up, we hadn't heard of Naum Gabo either. But it turns out the Russian sculptor is the biggest of deals in the twentieth-century arty world, and where he went, avant-garde creating followed. And in 1939, he went to St Ives, escaping Nazi-occupied Europe. While fellow artists reported that he seemed to do little more than eat yoghurt and go for long walks, the forward-thinker was creating at night. Gabo made Linear Construction in Space No.1 out of perspex and nylon strings — seriously hard to get items during the war and the modernist of materials to be using in this period. The acquisition by the Barber Institute is the basis for the gallery's new opening, Cornwall as Crucible, which records the beautiful, abstract, artistic creations of the mid-20th century. Until May 17, it's free to attend. Visit on March 1 and there'll also be cream tea canapes. Jam first of course.


We were sorely upset with Charlie Chaplin when we read that the King of Comedy doesn't once mention Stan Laurel in his entire autobiography despite Stan talking about Charlie throughout his life. What the blithering hell are you on about, ICB? Surely you mean Laurel and Hardy not Laurel and Charlie. Nope! Back in 1910 the unknown Chaplin and Stan set sail for NYC as part of Fred Karno's famous music hall troupe. On the way, they shared a cabin and spent two years together touring The States, with Stan working as Charlie's understudy. Weird, but true, and now the premise for The Strange Tale Of Charlie Chaplin And Stan Laurel. Playing fast and loose with the facts — because nobody really knows — reviews have this pinned as a chortley, moving homage to two men who changed the world of LOL-edy forever. At The Rep Feb 25 to 29, tickets are from £15.


The Academy, whosoever they may actually be, are not in the habit of getting everything right. But when it comes to Joker they rather more than panel pinned it, selecting Joaquin Phoenix (as Arthur Fleck) for Best Actor and awarding composer Hildur Guðnadóttir the best original score gong. Critical to Fleck's story is the looming, unsettling, raw soundscape that is interspersed with some absolute bangers (from Sinatra to the Bee Gees), and you can hear the lot live, care of a full-on orchestra, while you watch the film projected onto a huge ultra-HD screen. At Symphony Hall on May 15, evocative string-led melodies guaranteed. And if you're looking for more of an established cult classic, Blade Runner's in town on March 26, when Vangelis' synthesiser-led score will be performed for the first time in-sync with the 1982 movie. Or how about a date with Sir Elty? Your third chance to do a film live in concert at Symphony Hall comes from Rocketman, doing its sonorous thing on June 5. Tickets start from £30.50 rising to £69 for a top spot.
Venue: The Barnt Green Inn, 22 Kendal End Road, B45 8PZ; website
Choice: Duck liver parfait (£6.50) Chooser: Waiter

If you're looking for a country pub reachable by rail, few are more Thomas-friendly than the Barnt Green Inn, a seven-minute stroll from the village's station. But is it any good? After an eye-bath inducing refurb, the restaurant, bar and pub (there are distinct feeling areas) looks super-swish and is certainly aiming at the top of the market it used to attract, with a new menu and even bigger emphasis on food than it previously had. There are velvet and satin furnishings. A dark, classy, evening palette. Oysters and octopus are even on the mahousive carte. There's also still Doombar on draft, a trio of roasts (£17.95) you can chomp through on Sundays and anything-goes sort of dress code (we wore wellies... long story). And this mish-mash seems to be working, with the village spot catering more than 300 covers the day before we visited. This tale of two restaurants was hugely evident from our meal: a right nice presented parfait (£6.50) and scallops (£11.95) kicked off proceedings — the duck liver mousse coming with well-spiced fruit chutney and daintily splayed gherkin. The roast and rotisserie chicken mains were good not great, quantity winning out over quality here. The wheels came off with dessert and the grandly titled Ambassador's Melting Chocolate Bomb (£8.95) that neither melted nor tasted particularly chocolatey. Back in the plus column, the service was excellent throughout — assured, knowledgeable and the right amount friendly — the best we've had in 2020. And whether stopping off for a pint mid-walk or celebrating a big birthday with all the extras, everyone in the Barnt Green Inn seemed happy, which, two days after reopening, is impressive.
The city centre chip shop we all need is popping up at Pint Shop from 12pm, March 12 to 14. Book your table.
See films for £3 this Sunday at Cineworld's Resorts World spot. Avengers: End Game, The Lion King, Joker and Spider-Man: Far From Home are all on the agenda but tickets are rather close to selling out. Full line-up
Get even greener with Clean Kilo's DIY beeswax wrap workshops. At various times on March 3 in their original Digbeth digs. Take that cling film.
In the worst kept secret of all time ever, Morridge Café will open in the Great Western Arcade later this year.
Save the date: Birmingham Restaurant Festival is a fortnight of special set menus and events happening August 24 to September 6 across the city.

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain."

Roy Batty, Blade Runner (1982)

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WORDS: Katy Drohan, Tom Cullen
PICTURES: Kinome Japonica — Pak-Keung Wan
Barber: The Work of Naum Gabo © Nina & Graham Williams

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