Issue 454
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Like the Avengers assembling but with more seasoning and less citywide destruction, Colmore Food Festival rolls into town July 21 and 22, bringing with it the pick of the area's top food and drinks. So if you're in a Zen Metro kinda place but fancy a side of Hookways, or maybe you just like the sound of a Purnell's dish for £6, then your attendance is very much requested. The venues representing were invited to offer serious value for money, and boy have they delivered.

It all takes place on Cathedral Square for the first time (that's Pigeon Park to you and I) moving from its previous home on Victoria Square. Kick off is 11am for an 8pm finish, and it's free entry.
Cohrrrr would you look at that! Chefs from across the Colmore Business District will be bursting out of their kitchens to showcase their skills on the green, and the line-up looks lush.

Steak connoisseurs Gaucho are offering steak and frites for (get this) £4 or big ol' gambas (pictured), while brunch gods Wayland's Yard are bringing their fried chicken crumpet (above, £6): crispy cornflake fried chick, bacon, egg dipped crumpet, chilli jam, coffee maple and chilli 'erbs. Jamaya will have everything jerk sewn up (and if that sun's out that's pretty much compulsory) while Purnell's are putting out a £6 barbecued pork collar with cabbage slaw and honey mustard. A fiver will bag you a Hookways smoky beef brisket kebab slider while Zen Metro are slingin' spicy wok chicken or beef red curry.

Elsewhere Orelle will be dropping down from their 24th floor bird's nest with barbecue salmon (£5) while the surprise hit of the day could well be All Bar One's crab tacos (top right): That's claw meat with avocado, picked watermelon and micro herbs topped with aioli. New kids on the block and veg specialists, Bundobust, will also be dishing up their excellent Bundo Chaat too, among others.  
Bringing the beers and the booch are Purecraft Bar & Kitchen who'll have their Session IPA, their Helles and the absolutely remarkable low alcohol pale ale, Point Five which is, you guessed it, just 0.5% on the booze-o-meter but lacking nothing on wallop. Definitely give their kombucha and whirl too.

Everything from Loki Wines will be a fiver including some cracking English sparkling and a sun-trap rosé: Aumerade Styles Provence.

The Alchemist are on cocktails with the statement piece 'Foam Alone' just £5 (pictured) while Primitivo's Pomelo grapefruit gin with Fever Tree also promises to introduce sunshine to flavour. Hotel Du Vin will have glasses of Champagne for £5 if you want to know where you'll be finding me all day, daaahling, while The Florence is on apples with the ultra crisp Inch's cider.   
Coffee crews from Urban and Java will, of course, have you covered for 'Joe' but they'll also be bringing their desserty A-game. Urban's vegan cinnamon rolls are a standout (£2.70), as are their brownies while Java are on traybake duty and Dalgonas — the hazelnut and caramel version of which is pictured.

Miss Macaroon will be providing a serious pop of colour with their £1.25 macarons plus some other gluten-free pud options while Purnell's are bringing the mint choc chip ice cream. Save room, is all I'm saying.      
This is but a small taster of the entire Colmore Food Festival and more details can be found here.


Stacey Barnfield, the man behind Draw My City and the illustrated shop fronts in Grand Central, has released three new prints of Birmingham buildings as paperback covers. The trio of artworks feature Rotunda, Alpha Tower (below) and the lost Central Library, as mid-century paperbacks with their architects emblazoned as would-be authors.

Sold as a pack of three in 30 x 40cms or 40 x 50cms or sold as A5 greetings cards they are designed and printed in Birmingham. A £3 donation to Digbeth-based homeless drop-in centre SIFA Fireside is made with every purchase (£1 for the greetings cards pack). Shop


In what is turning out to be a big Saturday for Brum the annual Jewellery Quarter Festival returns July 22 with a day of live music, crafts and street food with market stalls, arts and heritage tours, special events and plenty more. Returning from 10am to 8pm, the festival features events by over 60 local businesses plus 40 market stalls in two belting locations.

Organised by the Jewellery Quarter Business Improvement District (JQBID), the shindig is now back for its seventh instalment with the Golden Square Handcrafted market kicking things off. Visitors will be able to browse a selection of local handmade goods and foods from indy brands and meet the artisan makers and creators behind them, including the likes of Canoodle, Selly Punjabis, Birmingham Stationery Co. and The Brownie & Bake Company.

Alongside that, JQ Festival 2023 has a load of interactive events throughout the day and evening, including a selection of free guided and self-guided tours covering a range of heritage sites and museums, everything from Wildlife Walks with Birmingham Museums Trust to unique Catacomb tours. For those looking to try their hand at something new, visitors can make the most of the hands-on workshops, including chocolate making sessions, sensory dining experiences and even a prosecco and shopping pop-up stall.

What’s more, JQ Festival’s live music stage on the picturesque St Paul’s Square (above) is returning for the third time with bands curated by The Jam House. The show will be taking place throughout the afternoon into the early evening and the party is set to continue into the night at venues surrounding the Square. More


It probably makes sense that given it marks the one year anniversary of the Commonwealth Games, Birmingham Festival 23 isn't only about toe-tapping and sun-soaking. We're going to be doing a fair bit of exercise too.
Almost every day of the ten day bonanza will include a scheduled Power Hour (or Power Quarter of an Hour, for some of us) dedicated to getting Brummies moving and, at times, a-grooving.

Centenary Square is set to be packed at 6pm on Saturday, July 29, in the build up to Apache Indian and it's fitting that the precursor to the man who invented bhangra raggamuffin is an en masse dance session of Ultimate Bhangra.

On Sunday (July 30 at 4pm) dance gets serious when Dance Battle rolls into town while one can only imagine the sheer size of the line dancing sesh at 6pm Monday (July 31). Worth getting Norris McWhirter on the phone*! (*Having done a quick Google, that might be tricky)

SoFunk Dance Fitness is a dance fitness session of choreographed routines set to uplifting soul, funk and disco music, guaranteed to make Tuesday feel less Tuesday-ey (6pm) while All About The Fight, at the same time on Wednesday, is billed as an empowering and innovative project embracing the culture and spirit of boxing, grime music and dance. I for one will look absolutely ridiculous for that 60 minutes, then.

Fresh from rocking it at Moseley Community Festival, Drum & Bounce will be bringing their drum and bass-powered fitness class on August 3 while BBC Asian Network will present an hour of cultural dance workouts and pure positivity on August 4.

All this builds up to August 5 and the final Power Hour set (although the festival runs for a further day) and 60 mins of Boxout (pictured). Prepare to sweat in this fiery dance-party by Boxout DJs and dancers fresh from their regular night in Digbeth, where community-spirit and good vibes rule.  


There's no two ways about it, the rains came this weekend and Mostly Jazz Festival took a couple of cruel hits. But that the revellers returned, post-soaking, with an even bigger sense of spirit and camaraderie said everything that needed to be said about how beloved the festival is to the city.

Lightning, as they say, doesn't strike twice, and although meteorologically unsound to make any guarantees, you'd hope Jazz took the hit this year so sister festival, Moseley Folk, can pass off unperturbed by precipitation.

Cider-powered singalongs are predicted when Irish legends, The Saw Doctors, headline the Saturday while Squeeze, Blindboy, The Proclaimers and Angeline Morrison are among many, for the September 1 to 3 weekender, tickets for the Saturday of which are down to the last 100. We’ve also heard rumours that they’ll be bringing the woods area back for Folk, so we’re expecting even more acts to be added as we get closer to the event.

Last call, please. Last call... Book
Venue: Then High Field, 22 Highfield Rd, Edgbaston, B15 3DP; website 
Choice: Garlic and paprika king prawns (£10.50) Chooser: FoH team

If there's a more summery restaurant in Birmingham than The High Field then I've not been. At the first sign of The Giver Of All Life I make a beeline for their beer garden, but the interior is also filled with natural light and a clattery buzz of noise and life. It's just one of those places that wears the sunshine well, like Tom Selleck, and demands attention, like his moustache.

I love it. More so now that the starter menu has a king prawns number that rocketed into my Birmingham Small Plates Top Ten™. Five sweet, juicy shrimp arrive heads tails and all, just as they should, sunbathing lazily on toasted sourdough and dotted with plump Isle of Wight cherry toms. They're lotioned up with an elixir of chilli, garlic and paprika butter, the sourdough you're supplied with (that's by-now spongy with pure flavour) nowhere near enough for the puddles of rich and fishy sauce — order more because that bread will come in handy later.

The hand-picked Devonshire crab is almost as good. The sweet crustacean has made it's way up from the very southwest of the country while its cured salmon plate-mate has travelled down from Dunkeld, both ingredients sparking and fresh, the zing multiplied by apple and cucumber. It'll lift you out of your seat, it's so light. 

If it's still on the menu, though my fear is it may have been a spring addition only, then the lamb cannon on pea puree is a bit of a masterclass in cookery. Bought from local fresh meat specialists, Aubrey Allen, and Cornish in origin too, the lamb comes perfectly pink and soft enough to have you involuntarily put your cutlery down and drop your shoulders in total comfort. It's been cooked fat side down in a pan to gently to render the flavour and add a crispy char, then rested before being served in a light, gravy-like jus. Get that left over bread in there and order rosé with this, I beg you. The Domaine Pey Blanc, Aix-en-Provence France, was recommended — cool and elegant, it was perfect with every dish, in fact.

The specials board is always worth a mooch. The chipotle-glazed pork tomahawk, smoked ham hock mac ‘n’ cheese and an apple slaw was a showstopper in appearance, the tastes marrying outstandingly. With pork there's a hair's breadth in cooking time between juicy and slightly over — for me chef strayed just north of perfect, but no matter when the flavour is this on point. On pud the lemon mascarpone cheesecake with raspberries and white chocolate, I'm told, is the pick of the bunch, but dessert would have been in danger of damaging a delicious meal, so heartily had we ate.

Their Banana Colada is debatably the champion of the cocktails menu. It's their twist on the Piña Colada using Discarded Banana Rum, so it wins points on sustainability as well as on summeriness. You can book an outside terrace table in the shade while the tables in direct sunlight are for walk-ins only.

Side note: Saturday August 12 (2pm to 10pm) is Cubanfields at The High Field. Every year they throw a pub party and this year they're bringing Latin America to Edgbaston. Expect barbecue cooked tacos, Cuban sandwiches, dang quesadillas, live music, lots of tastings from some of their favourite suppliers, plus mojitos, Cuba Libres and daiquiris. It's £15 per person which includes your first drink.
Wontom's Wontons is now popping up every Tuesday at Stirchley's Stir Stores doing bits (and dumplings). You do need to book. More

Speaking of pop-ups, No 21 Frederick Street is hosting The Mutton Man tomorrow (July 14) and the Le Petit Bois' Seafood Shack every Sunday in August

To celebrate the launch of Sandbox VR's new Bullring & Grand Central venue, they're offering all I Choose Birmingham readers 50% off! To claim all you have to do is book online and use the code ICHOOSEB at the checkout. The 50% off deal expires August 7, 2023, at 11.59pm. The offer is not valid in conjunction with any other offer. The offer applies to your gaming only. The offer is only valid for online bookings at Sandbox VR Birmingham. Details 

Birmingham Museums Trust’s annual celebration of South Asian Heritage runs from July 18 to August 17. Info 

There's still good availability towards the end of the run for The Lion King which is now playing at the Hippodrome until Sept 16. 
WORDS: Tom Cullen

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“The greatness of a culture can be found in its festivals.”

Siddharth Katragadda

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