Issue 111
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It's the first issue of December, which in magazine parlance can mean only one thing. But rather than simply add to the stack of impersonal, chain-ladened gift guides filling up your recycling, each member of our editorial team is using the knowledge they've gained over the last twelve months to select the big ticket item and the stocking filler that they're hoping the white-bearded one will bring. Pinch their ideas, why don'tcha?
(Tom Cullen, Editor)
"What I demand in my stocking is a satsuma but, being as there's no such thing as a Birmingham satsuma, I'd also like a Birmingham Lager. Which definitely is a thing. Look, here's a picture as proof. There'll be available at Stirchley Wines from next week and are the creation of the Indian Brewery Co. We've suggested they use the slogan: 'Don't just live in Birmingham, drink it!' We've not heard back."
(Tom Cullen, Editor)
"Because a Morgan Aero 8 won't necessarily fit under my tree, I'm going for Morgan Men's Fragrance, which is the product of a collaboration with Brum-based Gruhme. A lot like Gruhme's original fragrance but with a concentration which is 4% higher, expect a thwack of scent and good longevity. Available through Malvern-based Morgan's interweb, it'll set you back £54.90."
(Katy Drohan, Deputy Editor)
"If you've been to our office you'll already know that when it comes to coffee our offering is woefully deficient. So this year, I'm going big on those curious beans of joy. BIG big. All the way to Panama in fact, where the Kotowa Estate has produced a Geishal variety of the day-defining stuff which is full bodied, with a peachy finish. Secure one of 200 limited run bags (for £12) from roastery vikings, Quarter Horse."
(Katy Drohan, Deputy Editor)
"Ostensibly a fridge magnet game for aspiring grown-ups, People's light box comes with 69 letters and symbols, as well as six blank tiles, so you can change your clever quips as often as you craft them. Part of a carefully curated selection of happy, it'll set you back £32. And while you can get it online, I'm recommending the bricks and mortar option, not only for the prevalence of cake at People."
(Laura Smith, Writer)
"Since Honest Skincare in Kings Heath opened I've fallen in love with all of their products, so you could buy me anything and I'd be happy. I'm particularly partial on their £20 handmade Ancient Neroli candle with notes of orange blossom and clary sage. And though it may not technically fit in my stocking, Honest also do gift boxes, so it can live happily under the tree next to your cat."
(Laura Smith, Writer)
"Red Wing boots were certainly made for walking - and generally traversing the badlands of Brum. Fashioned since 1905 and famous for their superior Traction Tred sole, I'd be very happy to find a pair under my Norway Spruce, particularly in russet. At £230, they're a serious undertaking but also the sort of boots you are confidently able to behest, such is their life span. From Liquor Store, for men and women."


New Street Signal Box once housed technology that was as revolutionary as the building itself. A testament to its resilience, after 50 years the boxy structure still controls what we can only assume is the busiest rail interchange this side of the Death Star. Gaining Grade II listed status in 1995, the illustration is the newest addition to design house - Dorothy's - Lost Destination prints and as a wise I Chooser, you can get it as well as three other Brum prints minus the postage and packaging. A series of throw backs to the iconic travel posters of the early 20th Century, pick from 60x80 designs (at £35 a pop here) of the Central Library, Spaghetti Junction and Rotunda. Enter BRUMMIE in the promo code box at the end of checkout to receive free standard shipping until midnight on Wednesday. Or don't, but then you'll have to pay for it, which would be £5 worth of full-on madness.
Venue: The Stable, 115 John Bright Street, B1 1BE; website 
Choice: The Perry Barr Baa (£11.50) Chooser: Co-founder, Andy

Where are your top five pizzerias in Brum? The fact that we can't answer that question - and we're not exactly ones for keeping schtum - makes us really rather cheery that a dedicated pizza place has opened up moments from New Street. Plump for the co-founder's pick. Borne out of the time Andy spent in Oz, get an Aussie roast on stone-baked sourdough. Marinated lamb, mint, goats’ curd and thyme roasted sweet potato, the anything but parochial Perry Baar Baa sums up The Stable concept - less than usual toppings, executed laudably, with an eye to the local in spite of the outfit's rapid expansion. Talking toppings, the curd is the creation of Broomhall Farm, Worcester and the Adlington smoked ham - which you'll find on the only Hawaiian we've ever enjoyed - comes care of Pheasant Oak Farm of Coventry. Masterfully lit and the right amount buzzy, herein lies a super spot for pretending to be a member of the cast of a slightly hipster version of Friends. Menu. 


There aren't many things for which we'd throw in this job. But when we heard that 53 bottles of wine, hand-picked by Birmingham's answer to Bordeaux (Chris Connolly) were up for grabs, we did consider other employment until the fruition of this particular competition. But enough of such silliness - if you're somehow yet to make it to Connolly's shiny, refurbed Livery Street HQ, there's ludicrous amounts of beer, enough gin to to fill 12,796 bath tubs, and even more of that fermented grape juice people seem to hold so dear. Which also means there's even more wine for Chris to pick from when it comes to prize-giving. To be in with a shot at securing a bottle of wine a week for a year, plus a bottle arriving before Christmas, enter our competition.


OK, OK, it came out last week, but Bridge of Spies was hoovering up all the attention and this corker slipped under our net. Cate Blanchett all but clears space in her downstairs loo for her third Oscar here as the eponymous Carol, an Eisenhower-era housewife undergoing a divorce and embarking on a tentative romance with Rooney Mara – who’s also terrific. Things get complicated as Carol’s husband uses her relationship with a woman as an argument against her receiving custody of her children. It’s not exactly news that the Fifties wasn’t the most open of decades, but the strength here is the extraordinary acting: Blanchett and Mara pack more into stolen looks than some actors into whole careers, and deliver performances for the ages. Trailer and times
  • We've been to Bills' Bristol outpost. From Monday, save yourself the 90-mile drive and head to the Bullring edition, which will be an all day affair with space for nearly sixty outdoors. Menu
  • mac birmingham is hosting four christmas craft markets over the next two weekends. Here is precisely who you can expect at each
  • As a life rule we like to find ourselves wherever Low' N 'Slow's pig's cheek tacos are going to be. This Saturday, find them at the Winter Market from 12pm. There'll also be a cocktail caravan
  • You can see this tomorrow at BOXXED from 6.30pm. We're agog
  • FESTIVAL_ALT is from 12pm on December 5 at The Square. At a cost of nothing, make a lantern, block print or bang a drum. More
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"A lovely thing about Christmas is that it's compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together."
- Garrison Keillor
WORDS: Katy Drohan, Laura SmithTom Cullen
I CHOOSE Birmingham, Unit 317, Zellig, Gibb Street, Birmingham, B9 4AA

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