Birmingham’s funked up food scene is getting a new market dedicated to street food, craft beer, music and art.
(Question: when will someone have the vision to set up a really good restaurant in the district? It’s not so long ago that taxi drivers blanched at the idea of heading here after dark. All that has changed. Digbeth is home to some amazing buildings and canal locations that for now are untainted by the beige revolution that has taken over chunks of the urban core. Footfall is an issue but out-of-the-way locations doesn’t stop customers seeking out interesting places in other European cities. It will happen.)
More than 50 traders have already signed up for the market. Expect buffalo burgers in brioche buns – served from an Airstream caravan, of course – homemade elk pies, Irish stout brownies, meatballs and a converted Morris Minor doubling as a coffee shop.
There will be a large outdoor canopy covering the street food market area and the beer and cocktail bars. Seating will be available indoors and outdoors with live demonstrations from traders. There will also be a food producers market and an arts market.
The Spring Market is the latest example of Birmingham’s new wave food scene, exemplified by successful regular events such as the Digbeth Dining Club (@DigbethDiner – winner of Best Street Food Event at the 2013 British Street Food Awards – just a year after opening) and Brum Yum Yum (@brumyumyum), which has brought street food, tarpaulin and large queues to Kings Heath.
To these burgeoning movements you can add any number of home kitchen and backyard cooks who are helping to champion food styles cherry-picked from around the world. Take Rib Nights (@RibNights), which hosts sell-out barbecue cook-offs at The Church (@churchJQ) pub in the Jewelley Quarter.
Diners enjoy a blind tasting of ribs with fries and slaw before voting slips are distributed. Some people are sober enough to fill them in. You don’t need a pen to put an X in the box – a sauce-stained fingerprint will do.
The new Digbeth market is the idea of the three “young” Brummies behind the Bournville Waffle Company (@wafflespeak), a popular fixture at food events where it rains a lot. (In fact, wafflemeisters Jennifer Deeley, Paul Desmond and David Robinson, who set up their nomadic business in January 2013, have a combined age of 92, which is older than me.)
When they aren’t earning a crust in their full-time jobs, Jennifer, Paul and David knock out waffles with homemade sauces (chocolate, honeycomb, lemon curd, fudge and meringue) to festival-goers and munchers at markets.
The trio believe Birmingham’s hipster food producers, van chefs, artists and DJs – and the people who enjoy their skills – have a great deal in common, not least flair, mad flights of the imagination and an ingrained sense of fun.
Jennifer said: “We have been lucky enough to travel all over the country with the Bournville Waffle Company and we’ve sampled some incredible food, met some inspiring traders and heard some great music.
“We came up with the idea for the Spring Market because we wanted to bring the best of them back home so Birmingham for everyone to enjoy.
“We have signed up some of the most exciting and exotic traders from across the country and we are hoping to attract thousands of visitors from across the city.”
Plans for summer, autumn and winter markets are said to be well advanced.
The Bournville Waffle Company was inspired by the friends’ memories of the sweet snacks they ate on childhood holidays in France. Since forming the company, they have toured the country in a converted 1970s Mustang caravan called Sally. Bespoke waffle toppings include rocky road, lemon meringue and banoffee pie.
At the Spring Market, coffees from small batch roasters and loose leaf teas will be served by vintage-loving barista Katt, of King’s Jive, who works her magic from the back of a 1964 Morris Traveller called Betty.
Both Betty and Katt (@KingsJive) are coming all the way from Watford, so show them some love.
Becky’s Bhajis will be making the trip up from Worcester with a food trailer stocked with spicy goodies.
Other Birmingham producers include pastry chef Rosie Ginday, aka Miss Macaroon (@iammissmacaroon), who mixes social enterprise with sugar, egg whites and flavoured butter creams.
Bring on the tonka bean and lemon verbena macs.
Stuff you might find useful:
- Twitter: @seasonalmarkets
- Facebook: birminghamspringmarket
- The Bond is less than 10 minutes’ walk from New Street and Moor Street stations – and less than a mile from the main shopping district.
- The inaugural Spring Market will be held on Saturday April 12, from 12pm to 6pm, at the Bond (www.thebondco.net)