Issue 140
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Drop everything, your boss is taking the whole team to lunch (tomorrow - put it in their diary). And the occasion? The Colmore Food Festival — the two-day confluence of the area's best restaurants, bars, kitchens and cafes, offering dishes at no more than £4. And to put you in pole position when it comes to picking out the stalls to hit first, we've been haranguing the people in the know. Here are the plates, cups and Kalippos you can't miss.
Purnell's - Pork belly crumble
Created specially for the festival, Glynn and his team are putting on a confit pork belly crumble. Served up with pickled pineapple, and plenty of black pepper, expect some pretty serious queueage unless you treat it as a bit of a brunch dish and get there for the beginning of business, at 11am. A Millionaire's Chocolate Pot is happening for afters, and it's difficult to imagine it will be anything but stranger-huggingly good.
Jekyll & Hyde - Dr Jekyll's Summer Fruit Punch
Coming out but once a year, Brum's original gin parlour is representing in the form of its Summer Fruit Punch. A gin and ginger based concoction, served with a selection of summer fruits, Dr Jekyll is also bringing a Tom Collins, fresh lemonade, or, plump for their Sipsmiths London Dry & tonic (£5) — there's a lot to be said for the simple things on this crazy, mixed-up planet of ours.
Jake's Coffee Box - Picnic box
Giving up his Colmore Row Tardis of a phone booth for two whole days, Jake's got all the answers, with a sweet box, comprising brownies, fresh fruit and clotted cream, as well as a picnic edition. Including a homemade scotch egg and sausage rolls of Shropshire Blue and caramelised onion, plus pork, leek and sage, the meat treats are served on a bed of rocket salad and cherry tomatoes, served with a black pudding crumb. 
Nosh & Quaff - Chicken wings
Who serves the best chicken wings in Brum? It's the big questions that have us debating and working and ignoring our loved ones late into the night. It's also a discussion that always features Nosh & Quaff's smoked butter, free range Cotswold wings, being served with habanero sauce at the festival. The team's hickory smoked slow-cooked double beef ribs with molasses glaze will also be making a return visit. They are welcome.
Bar Opus - Raspberry Kalippo
In anticipation of the bright white light which inevitably accompanies each year of the festival (a serious claim based on past performance), Bar Opus is on ices. The team have got oodles of summer refreshers to choose from, including two takes on some minor brand beginning with a C that really has very little to do with the Opus Kalippo. Full of Chase raspberry liqueur, lemon, apple, raspberry juice and thyme. This ain't one for the kids.
Ashas - Lamb saffron biryani
Cooked with three year matured Basmati rice with flavours of green cardamom, saffron and cloves, Ashas and lamb pretty much go together like rama lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong. And at £4, your biryani is bound to be served in the grand dish pictured (it's not). You can also rely on the guys for samosa chaat (£3). The crispy pastry stuffed with potato, green peas and mixed spices is rightly an Ashas stalwart. A wap bam boom.


What's the best (worst) idea you've ever had when drinking? Carl Lavia aka ‘Sketch’ wasn't even under the influence when he decided to sketch every single city in the UK, with no external funding. And where per chance, if you could pick anywhere to start such a project, would you choose to begin? As you're a goodly step ahead of us on that one it was a love of the city Sketch has been visiting from his London home since his teens that made him think of fair ol' Brum. The unapologetic, evolving mix of old and new being a particular draw for the artist, who has made his way in life without a trip to art school. And if you're clamouring to hear where you can view this behemoth, Sketch needs your help. If you're an art gallery or the holder of an unusually attractive space that is. With eventual proceeds from the sale of the original and prints (available shortly, watch this space) going to charity Love Brum, do the city a solid and offer Sketch somewhere to hang the work why don'cha? 


Nichola Winding Refn – the man behind Drive - is a proper filmmaker. However, as he settles into his role as arty cinema’s provocateur-in-chief, it’s clear he’s less and less interested in repeating the crossover appeal of his Gosling breakthrough – and that’s a good thing. The Neon Demon won’t be for everybody. It’s a surreal satire of the fashion industry, a brutal nightmare of narcissism, and a darkly funny horror with necrophilia thrown in seemingly for a laugh. Refn is no dramatist, but he can photograph a metaphor like nobody’s business – appropriately, this looks and sounds incredible. A collection of moments which add up to their own individual ideas rather than a story, this is memorable, baffling, off-putting and seductive. And someone throws up an eyeball in it.


If you were a musical and you could pick a nickname, "Standing Ovation" is pretty much exactly where you'd want to land. Over thirty years since its West End debut, Blood Brothers is back in Brum — and if you've somehow let the heart shaking tuneage pass you by until now, this is your time. Originally developed as a school play, Willy Russell's tale tells the story of fraternal twins who were separated at birth, with one raised in a wealthy family, and the other in a poor family. The pair's different backgrounds take them to opposite ends of the social sphere, with one becoming a councillor and the other finding his way to prison. Perhaps unsurprisingly, their reunion involves a girl and isn't without incident but we'll leave you to work out the detail. Opens October 10. Book
Venue: Ben Tesh's pop-up at Urban, 30 Church Street, B3 2NP; website
Choice: Horseradish & apple (part of £39.50 tasting menu) Chooser: Ben

"I want to shove my face in this bowl" was where our guest was at on tasting course number eight. Yep, eight plates, bowls and beautiful shell-like receptacles down and we would have wholeheartedly oohed and ahhed our way through at least half of the dishes again. From the emulsion that was made of forest, to the mollusc broth, to the jagged hazel-nutty, toffee and chocolate creation which closed proceedings, there were so many elements of this experience that simply demand attention. By a kitten's whisker, it was the lovage vinegar pickled cucumber with lemon verbena leaves, a horseradish foam mousse and pressed apple granita that got our pick. Apparently dividing diners utterly, the pimped up palate cleanser offered bite and bitterness enveloped in a cool, creamy, calm that would probably also do a brusque trade as a face mask. Accomplished cheffing, with matching wines from Connolly's (for £20), this relaxed pop-up runs Thursday to Saturday evenings. Book
  • Catch 201 performances, at 91 venues, in 10 days. Or, you know, catch some of them. It's the Jazz & Blues Festival, from July 15
  • Get your prom on with The Hill Billy Hop at The Church next Saturday (July 15) at 8pm. It's free but you'll need to pick yourself up a ticket in advance
  • The closest thing you can see to the Beatles are doing their thing at Symphony Hall on December 8. From £35.50, it's one of those book now or forget about it kinda deals
  • Get the skinny on this here city with Real Birmingham's weekly insider walking tours, starting at Vic Square at 10.30am each Saturday. It's free but donations are hugely welcome
  • Catch a showing of The Blues Brothers with intermissional live music at the Mockingbird on July 23. It's £15. More
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"What kind of music do you usually have here?"
"Oh, we got both kinds. We got country *and* western."
- The Blues Brothers
WORDS: Katy Drohan, Andrew Lowry, Tom Cullen
IMAGES: Tom Bird (Purnell's), Lorna Le Bredonchel (Sketch)

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