Saturday, 11 October 2014

Review of Birmingham Independent Food Fair 2014



 
 
 
As one of the 1500+ that flocked to Birmingham’s Millennium Point on 13 September, I bore witness to the popularity of new event on the block – Birmingham Independent Food Fair.  Opened by Michelin Star Chef Richard Turner (from Turner’s in Harborne),  it was an incarnation of its pilot event last year, #FutureFoodies.  It provided a platform for the city’s independent food businesses to  showcase their wares to existing and also new audiences.

Inside Millennium Point
 
 
This year saw the introduction of ticket purchases with accompanying ‘tastecards’ which, depending on the level of ticket purchased, entitled you to a certain amount taster samples from the 40 traders present.  The inside of Millennium Point saw pop-up restaurants and artisan producers, whilst outside hosted a street food alley ambience with mobile traders selling refreshments ranging from pizzas to Polish cuisine.

Street Food Traders
 
 
As a Birmingham blogger and being acquainted with quite a few traders already, it was nice to catch up with those I knew and also have the chance to meet some new people as well.

The Le Truc Team
 
I love the guys at Le Truc, they are such ambassadors of vegetarian food and are always keen to accommodate us veggies, even, if asked, making things not on the menu, just so the customer is always satisfied.  Offering samples of their signature Goat’s Cheese BonBons for those with tastecards, they were also promoting their Christmas menu which has lots nice choices for veggies – but do remember, they can always do a little something bespoke if required!

All Greek Delicatessen
 

Saying ‘hi’ to the All Greek Delicatessen team, they had a selection of goods which they typically sell at their Stephenson Street shop, which included various cheeses and spreads including a rather divine olive one.


FoodCycle Birmingham
 
I also spent some time talking to Poppy and Claire from FoodCycle Birmingham.  A voluntary organisation that provide a 3 course meal once a week for homeless or vulnerable people in Birmingham.  The meal is vegetarian based and is funded by donations as well as supplies given by Birmingham Food markets.  They are always looking for volunteers on all levels so if it is something you wish to know more about, visit their site for more information.


Henley Chocolates
 
 
Meeting Sally from Henley Chocolates, she told me about her exciting business venture which has recently boomed and working from her premises in Henley In Arden, she is now supplying many outlets in Warwickshire.  Plus, I can vouch her chocolate is amazing!

Pierogi from Barek O Scarek
 
 
A pit-stop for lunch,  honouring my Polish roots, I gravitated towards Barek O Scarek outside who were selling a sample of foods from their Handsworth based restaurant.  Knowing the effort needed to make pierogi (ravioli style stuffed dough parcels), I loved buying them as I don’t always have time to make them at home, so I purchased a portion of their cheese & potato version which were hearty and filling – as they should be.

Soul Tree Wine

 

I acquainted myself with Alok Mather whom I follow on Twitter and who runs Soul Tree Wine.  I was fascinated to hear how the 100% vegetarian wine he sells is made with grapes from vineyards in India, how this helps Indian communities there and how he hopes in time it will become a recognised wine region alongside existing market players of New Zealand, France, Italy and so on.  The climate in India lends itself perfectly for vineyard farming/wine making and Soul Tree are promoting this through their brand.  I sampled an excellent Sauvigon Blanc from the range and bought a bottle for myself to have later on that weekend (it didn’t last long I have to say). 

Bread from Peel & Stone
 
I enjoyed some time for a rest and a glass of Prosecco with some rather moreish macaroons courtesy of Hotel La Tour's Aalto Restaurant who were providing hospitality for the VIP area.  Having a moment to chat with Jane Riley, Hotel La Tour’s General Manager, she told me about an exciting new collaboration where they are working with visionary social enterprise Edible Eastside who provide vegetables from their urban garden growing space in central Birmingham for the hotel and provide seasonal vegetables for their restaurant.  This is a superb venture which not only supports the benefits of seasonal eating but also sustainability of eating local produce and supports a fellow local enterprise.  New menus are out for Christmas with lots for vegetarians but they will always discuss a vegetarian’s requirements beforehand if required to ensure everyone is a happy customer!

Richard Turner, chef patron of the Michelin-starred Turner’s in Harborne, was the fair’s ambassador. He commented:

“The fair really brought Birmingham’s independent food and drink vendors to the fore, and it proved that we are real heavyweights when it comes to top-class ingredients and great artisan produce.”

Organiser Ahmed Ahmed, editor of local food guide Dine Birmingham, added:

“The response to the food fair has been amazing, and so many people have said they didn’t realise Birmingham and the West Midlands had all this to offer. It’s both the quality and the variety of food and drink here that make the city special.”
 
A wonderful event which I hope will become a regular on the food calendar not only for us foodies to look forward to, but as a great stage for traders and a true plaudit for the city of Birmingham itself.

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Disclosure: This post was written following the  kind receipt of a VIP  ticket for Birmingham Independent Food Fair.  This review was conducted honestly without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review.  For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website. 


 

 



 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

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