Colmore Food Festival: 27 venues, two days, one square

Glynn-Purnell-and-Richard-McComb-at-the-Colmore-Business-District-food-festivalIt’s the Second City, the food capital of the UK (™ BBC Olive magazine), it’s got more Michelin-starred restaurants, and canals, than Dudley…

And yet, sometimes, you can’t help thinking: really?

Because Birmingham, my adopted home city, has a funny way of showing its love for its food culture.

Take festivals. Everyone loves a food festival, even if they don’t like some of the precious “foodies” who treat these events like religious conversions.

Why do people like food festivals? Easy. There tends to be alcohol and generally very nice people and great wafts of aroma from grilling, frying and spicing. There’s lots of food to eat.

But Birmingham doesn’t really do food festivals, not like overseas cities of the same size do, and not like UK cities of much smaller size (i.e Hereford, which is always rammed) do.

Colmore-Business-District-food-festivalSo chefs’ hats off to the Colmore Business District (BID), which launches its annual two-day festival on Friday, July 12.

The Colmore BID doesn’t get any public money for the event. Instead the staging costs are financed entirely from within the businesses that operate in the area. They contribute an annual levy and reap the rewards through everything from environmental improvements to the area through to exhibitions, arts and charity activities and the deep-cleaning of streets to remove chewing gum. And festivals.

Members of the Colmore BID see the value of using food, life’s great communal pursuit, as a way of marketing their quarter, which just happens to be one of Brum’s most architecturally attractive and friendliest areas. They also understand that food – and a few beers – is an outstandingly good way of making friends and influencing people.

Which is why I will be popping along to the food festival on Friday or Saturday. Because it’s a feelgood thing, innit?

This is the festival’s third year. According to the press release, they shifted 15,000 plates of food last year, which sounds like a tasting menu to me but I am assured it represents a lot of grub.

Glynn-Purnell-and-David-Colcombe-and-Richard-McComb-at-the-Colmore-Business-District-food-festivalObviously, the highlight of 2013 was the cooking demo I led with two young chefs called David Colcombe and Glynn Purnell, who work at Opus and Purnell’s. David and Glynn showed great promise but in all honesty the culinary showcase would have fallen apart without my intervention.

Some generous rocket-fuelling from Jekyll & Hyde, the nearby Steelhouse Lane gin palace, also helped.

For some odd reason, I have not been called back for a repeat performance this year.

Colmore-Business-District-food-festivalThis time round there will be 27 venues, including restaurants, cafes and bars, setting out their stalls in Victoria Square. Plates will be priced from £1.50 to £5.

Drinks will include real ales, cocktails, Champagnes, fine wines and free water from the Floozie in the Jazzuci. There is no entrance fee.

The festival will once again take place with the Birmingham International Jazz & Blues Festival, which will see live music performances hosted by the BID for the fifth consecutive year. There will also be outdoor theatre and performances from the BID choir, Colmore Chorus.

David Colcombe said: “Within Birmingham’s square mile, Colmore Business District, there is a fantastic selection of eateries. From independent cafes and coffee shops serving artisan sandwiches and ethically sourced coffee through to Michelin recommended restaurants, there’s something to suit every taste and budget.”

See you there. But probably not on stage.

This year’s line up:

All Bar One

Anderson & Hill

Asha’s

Chi Bar & Grill

Colmore Bar & Grill

Costa Coffee

Edmund’s Lounge, Bar & Eatery

Ginger’s Bar

Hindleys Bakery

Home Deli

Hotel du Vin & Bistro

Jojolapa

Metro Bar & Grill

Opus Restaurant

Purnell’s

Purnell’s Bistro

Saffron

Six Eight Kafe

The Chameleon

The Jekyll & Hyde

The Old Contemptibles

The Old Joint Stock Pub & Theatre

The Square Peg

The Wellington

Thistle Birmingham

Urban Coffee Company

Yorks Bakery Café

For further information, visit www.colmorebusinessdistrict.com

Participants:

All Bar One

Anderson & Hill

Asha’s Contemporary Bar & Restaurant

Chi Bar & Grill

Colmore Bar & Grill

Costa Coffee

Edmund’s Lounge, Bar & Eatery

Ginger’s Bar

Hindleys Bakery

Home Deli

Hotel du Vin & Bistro

Jojolapa

Metro Bar & Grill

Opus Restaurant

Purnell’s

Purnell’s Bistro

Saffron

Six Eight Kafe

The Chameleon

The Jekyll & Hyde

The Old Contemptibles

The Old Joint Stock Pub & Theatre

The Square Peg

The Wellington

Thistle Birmingham

Urban Coffee Company

Yorks Bakery Cafe

For further information, visit www.colmorebusinessdistrict.com

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