Birmingham is a city that has its own personality. It does its own thing, doesn’t conform to what other people expect it to be, and likes to stand on its own two feet.
In the food scene, it’s no different, and as people have begun to fly the flag for Birmingham’s independent restaurants, bars and producers, last week saw the region’s first Independent Food Fair take place in association with my friends over at Dine Birmingham.
Millennium Point was full of bakers, deli owners, restaurateurs, street food vendors, mixologists and brewers, all independent, all hugely passionate about their products, and all eager to engage with the people of their city.
I had a VIP card so had the opportunity to try up to 16 different samples and enjoy complimentary drinks in the Hotel La Tour pop up champagne bar, so I headed there first to meet up with fellow bloggers Nick from Grapevine Birmingham and Alev from Bella & Robot and plan my route.
The champagne bar was upstairs so had great views of the event below. Natalie & Adam from Hotel La Tour were wonderful hosts as always, and a chilled glass of champagne was the perfect start to the day.
We started as we meant to go on and made our way to the drinks section first, sampling Indian wines from Soul Tree, Langleys Gin distilled in Birmingham and a selection of Purity ales. I’m a big fan of Purity and it was great to meet some of the gents behind the brand. Their knowledge of their product is really quite inspirational, and as a beer lover I found it fascinating to find out how they achieve the different flavours through the way they make their beers.
After working our way around all the drinks, it was off outside for some street food. With offerings from Poland, South East Asia, the Mediterranean and France, we couldn’t decide between them so had a bit of them all.
The queues were long, which is testament to the quality of the food, but it was a shame that after waiting so long, some of the samples were so small you couldn’t really get a feel for the flavours. My favourite sample was the kielbasa from Barek Oscarek the Polish street food stall. The sausage was meaty, with a smoky and spicy flavour that I really liked. Their pierogi looked fantastic too, so I’ll definitely be on the look out for these guys in the future.
The other stall I really enjoyed was All Greek Deli. Their feta cheese was delicious, the olive oil was so flavoursome in comparison to the ones you buy in supermarkets, and their Greek yoghurt with fig compote looked divine. I only wish I could have also tried some of the Paella from Don Diego, but unfortunately it was all sold out by the time I made my way around to them.
All in all, this event was a brilliant way to introduce people to all of the amazing produce coming out of Birmingham at the moment. I take my hat off to Ahmed from Dine Birmingham who organised it. A pioneering move which I hope will inspire more people to embrace local food. I hope to see it back next year even bigger and better, and I’ll definitely be seeking out some of these producers on my travels!