I have been waiting for the Birmingham Independent Food Fair for a while after the success of #FutureFoodies last year. This second Dine Birmingham event took place last Saturday 13th at the iconic Millenium Point, showcasing around 40 independent local traders, including restaurants, producers, street food stalls and food & drink retailers.
Birmingham proved that has much to offer in the independent food scene, with plenty of local businesses and an important international cuisine that brings all the best from each country. On the other hand, I missed more traditional British food to feature local quality ingredients at its best.
The festival run with an innovative method that provided sample cards for visitors. They entitled to taste 8 samples (double for VIP ticket) at the stalls, getting a box signed off everytime you claimed a sample to taste. The method had its pros and cons, but made the fair unique, providing excitement when choosing wisely where to get your samples. This way, requests to sample food are really genuine, but this limited the chance to discover unexpected finds. Furthermore, most of the stalls run out of samples very quickly and at the end of the afternoon, only drink was left to taste.
There was a main area with a good choice of traders and a number of fantastic street food vendors outside taking advantage of the nice weather. A VIP gallery upstairs, with Hotel La Tour and Aalto restaurant offered lots of canapes and drinks to entertain fellow bloggers, press and Yelp members.
The fair allowed to sample food & drink, buy products or portions to eat in place and activities like cocktail mixology and cooking demonstrations. I could not manage to find room to see “how to fillet a fish” demo, led by Nathan Eade from Epi restaurant in Bromsgrove but it really looked very educational. He also mentioned the use of foraged ingredients in its restaurant, which I find really interesting.
After the demonstration I got to wander and explore what was on offer. Deli & Specialist food traders provided the starters. All Greek Delicatessen sold Mediterranean produce, featuring a nice goat cheese and a marmalade. Iona’s Delight served hand crafted filo pastry and Peel & Stone stunning bread. Unfortunately, I was late to taste the goats cheese & beetroot focaccia, because it was finished very quickly.
Street food vendors offered top quality food. Tasted the Barek Oscarek’s pierogi ruskie, a Squisito barbequed sausage, a Bare Bones wood-fired pizza slice and the utterly delicious pakoras of Hibiscus, a South-Easian cuisine catering service that proved to be a complete success in this fair, along with the pizza guys.
Restaurants served portions of the dishes they cook. Le Truc Cafe offered some samples of their quirky-French inspired restaurant, Centenary Lounge served scrumptious sandwiches and Don Diego offered paella, that surprised myself, as being made by Spanish chefs it included chorizo, that changed completely the taste of a proper traditional paella.
As a dessert you could try sweet treats from Henley Chocolates, VMF Restaurant and Kneals Chocolates to wash it down with premium quality coffee from The Urban Roast Coffee Company.
To end, we had some drinks. You could try Langley’s 8 Gin, BYWine, Soul Tree Wine and Purity beer. Bodega cocktails were really refreshing and nice, with option to choose between mango & tequila and ginger beer, tequila & lime, both of them excellent!
I missed some of the promised stands, like Thai Edge and especially Miss Apple’s sweets, that was a huge success in the last #FutureFoodies. I also missed some cheese to taste.
I really had fun and tasted lots of very nice food and drink. We also met some interesting people as well, like a couple of Yelp guys that deleited us with their knowledge in local restaurants and international food. Hopefully there will be another edition next year so we can keep discovering more independent local food and drink businesses in Birmingham!