Issue 222
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Wine and weekends have been synonymous with one another since Saturday and Sunday were accidentally invented in a vineyard in the Côtes du Rhone, back in 1778. But now some clever Brummies are galvanising that tie further with the launch of Birmingham Wine Weekend. Here's what to expect...
Your first stop is obligatory — Hotel du Vin's where you swap your ticket for the wristband you're going to need all weekend. And while you're there, probably try the Passori, an international wine of mystery, with no indication as to whether the name is the producer or the wine, and with no grape variety stated. Pretty cool, no? 
Each of the more than 20 venues marked on your map will be offering two different pours throughout the weekend for £4 a glass (125ml). And as you're starting at Hotel du Vin, Opus strikes us as just making good plain sense in terms of next stop. Try their Cretian Vidiano (2016) from Idaia winery, a delicate white with aromatic character. You can talk about its acidity, rich flavour and aftertaste once you've given it a try. Click the map to have a gander at all of the venues.
If you're taking part in an event dedicated to vin, it would seem remiss to exclude an actual real-life wine merchant. Loki and Connollys are both taking part. Ask for the wine that's been named after an extinct mammal at the latter — that's the Ampelomeryx 2014 to you, to me, and the dinos.
Events open only to the keepers of the wristbands are also occurring. The JQ's Whisky Club is educating in the ways of wine-finished whiskies. The one-hour masterclass includes four different whiskies, and is happening twice, at 7pm Friday, and 3pm Saturday.
BMAG's opening up the Round Room once the doors have closed to Jose Publico, and there'll be Piper-Heidsieck flowing in the Edwardian Tearooms for its £4 taster. On Saturday from 5pm til 8pm, there's also music and popcorn and art. Lots of very good, very old art.
And if this is all sounding a bit familiar, but substitute the word 'wine' for 'cocktail', that's because it's from the makers of that right rollicking good time Birmingham Cocktail Weekend (July 13 to 15). For which, early bird wristbands are now on sale for 800 pence.
Tickets for Birmingham Wine Weekend (March 23 to 25) available right here.


Mid-90s TV puppet duo Zig and Zag have been slaughtered and skinned and hooked up to a stereo system in Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. Okay, okay, that's not true but the increasingly off-the-wall and increasingly brilliant New Art West Midlands is back at BMAG for its annual showcase of emerging local genius artists and the above is one of a number of centrepieces. The fur isn't actually furry at all. It's thermoplastic rubber and polyurethane foam, that maddening material you found on furb balls. The eye-irritating carpet of technicoloured nightmare fuel — entitled Flesh Party, by Larissa Shaw — actually sits over the stereo system and shakes at varying degrees of furiosity depending on what, at times unsettling sounds, are coming from within. And, flipping the Vs to the usual "do not touch" art pieces, you're encouraged to get all hands-on with this one. The show runs at BMAG until May 6 and is also showing at AirSpace Gallery in Stoke (until March 31) and The Herbert Gallery in Coventry (until 13 May). Free  


Jennifer Lawrence has been making some interesting decisions as she put the Hunger Games and X-Men in her rear-view mirror. She doesn’t take quite as much punishment here as she did in mother!, but it’s a similarly bold move. This is an engagingly lurid potboiler that feels like a welcome attempt to revive 90s erotic thrillers, full of the kind of graphic violence and sex you don’t really see in Hollywood anymore. The plot is basically a twist delivery system, so let’s just say J-Law plays a former ballerina recruited by Russian intelligence’s seduction section and sent after CIA man Joel Edgerton. The question is, of course, who is the cat and who is the mouse? Its cynicism won’t put a spring in your step, but this is good dirty fun for those who like the edgier side of the street. Times


If you haven't read The Kite Runner, you don't deserve nice things. And as today is World Book Day, the first person to make it to our office can borrow our copy of the best-seller (they can't — and please don't come to our office, it'll get weird). Following two West End runs, the stage adaptation of Khaled Hosseini's sad, hopeful, beautiful novel returns to The Rep. Starting out on a blue-skied afternoon in Kabul with a kite flying tournament, the story follows the very different journeys of Hassan and Amir as Afghanistan falls further into Taliban control. We saw playwright Matthew Spangler's production last time round, and we can basically guarantee both smiles and those glistening globules that fall from one's eyes. Go and see this, from March 13 to 24, tickets (£15).


As anticipated as summer, Bonehead Chicken opens Wednesday. Think an incredibly handsome dive bar and restaurant spread over two floors, with a deliberately small, thought through menu including four variations on wings, like soy honey butter with JD syrup. Lap-fai Lee has consulted on the menu, and Ming from Eat Vietnam will be in the kitchen, so there'll be plenty of specials and south-east Asian pop-ups. No reservations — get acquainted with the eight-tapped bar while you wait.


Gaijin Sushi opens tomorrow at 2pm on Bristol Street, a few doors along from Quarter Horse Coffee. The 10-seater has a particularly extensive list of sashimi, including surf clams, or 'hokkigaisushi', which we definitely haven't done raw before. They're open seven days, and called "gaijin" (meaning "outsider") due to they're Polish chef who you may previously have met at Sushi Passion. Get a 20% discount from opening through to 6pm on Sunday, eat in or take away.
Venue: Hot 7: Sichuan Hot Pot, Unit 2 Southside, Hurst Street, B5 4TD
Choice: Chong Qing Red Oil Pot Platter (£13) Chooser: Lin (Front of House)

Hot 7 is a new restaurant in Chinatown and it has zero online presence. Not even a Tripadvisor. The theme is Sichuan hot pots — giant bubbling, brothy basins bought to your table and hit from below with heat. Order your flavour, then order whatever it is you want to chuck in. We did what we do best and asked the staff to order for us and were overjoyed when they made what were clearly the most Western palette of picks. Lovely Lin ("Is it your first time," she asked with a wonderfully knowing giggle) suggested a half-and-half red oil and bone soup hot pot. We agreed. She then skilfully avoided "Big Blood Cubes," "Aorta,"  and "Fresh Brain"  in favour of "Fat Beef," "King Prawn Mash" and "Chinese Mushroom". What followed was the most fragrant, mind-bending, spice spangled, theatre-filled lunch we can remember. The beef arrives frozen and rolled up. In the bubbling stew it soon crispens and cooks, while the prawns will immediately sink to the bottom of your bubbling cauldron, to be salvaged only by the mini net which is your primary cutlery in this new world of eating. The bone soup (right) was forgettable, but the deep red Chong Qing (left) was a thunderclap to the senses. Honestly? We might never return, but every Brummie who lives by the foodie sword, needs this experience. Hit or miss, you'll come out smiling. 
You're reading the issue so intensely that you already know it's World Book Day, you probably don't know that means you get 40% off The Clever Tykes, a Birmingham-born children's storybook. You know at least one child.
Tokyo in Bloom is a six-course sake tasting menu, paired with sushi and sashimi. On April 12 at Smulltronstalle with Akashi Tai, email to book.
Peel & Stone Harborne's moving into the arts, with a charcoal drawing portrait workshop tomorrow from 2pm. Just bring a black and white piccie of your fave rock star. £20.
The World Indoor Athletics Championship are in town all weekend. You can still get your hands on a few tickets.

"A bottle of good wine, like a good act, shines ever in the retrospect." 

Robert Louis Stevenson

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WORDS: Katy Drohan, Tom CullenAndrew Lowry

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