Was passing through Moseley this morning when we noticed the Farmers Market in full swing. The weather was good for a change and there were plenty of people about. The area by the bus stop, opposite the Barclays bank had all the food stalls and the Alcester Road side, opposite HSBC had the arts and crafts stalls. We bought some organic apples grown in … Argentina … hmm!
Despite the official Tagore anniversary celebrations which began in Santiniketan, it’s a shame that #tagore150 never became a trending topic on twitter (he’s got “Bustin Jieber” to compete with after all) but surely it’s a measure of the enduring love for the man shared by Bengali’s the world over that even on the newest mode of expressions Tagore fans try to share their love for him and his works.
But in one of those curious coincidences it appears that today is also the 150 year anniversary of the birth of J.M. Barrie — the creater of Peter Pan. I wonder if the two men ever met? Tagore was a famous traveller and meeter (sic) of people so it’s not beyond the realms of imagination, particularly two such vivid ones.
“The most useless are those who never change through the years.” –J.M. Barrie
“Not hammer strokes, but dance of the water, sings the pebbles into perfection.” –Rabindranath Tagore
Christmas, New Years and a Birthday came and went and much food was consumed by all. Two of those occasions occurred at two of Brindleyplace’s, indeed Birmingham’s, finer eateries — Bank and Edmunds. Sitting in opposite corners of Brunswick Square the two establishments seem to be eyeing each other like a couple of gastronomic champs, ready to rumble.
Actually there was a rumble but mostly in my belly when I went to the first of these restaurants, Bank. From the moment we walked into the modern, elegant and spacious surroundings the service was impeccable. The staff were attentive, friendly and most importantly relaxed. We got there a bit early and sat in the bar area for a while and weren’t rushed to our table at the time it had been booked for, although it should be added that it was early and the place wasn’t too crowded.
I had a starter of mussels and although it was described as a small portion I got a fair few which was a good thing as they were delicious. I honestly haven’t tasted mussels that good since having some on a trip to Brussels many years ago. Other’s at the table had Thai Fish Cakes and the Chili Squid and these were equally impressive. For the main I went for the catch of the day – which was a Lemon Sole, cooked with capers and butter. Absolute genius food! Others in the Party had Malayan Chicken – delicious!, Confit of Duck – delicious! and the Fish and Chips – delicious!. The food was presented beautifully. I finished off the meal with a selection of excellent cheeses.
A couple of weeks after that thoroughly delicious trip to Bank I was lucky enough to be treated to a meal at Edmunds by Mrs Bongo Vongo. It’s a much smaller place and in keeping with it’s description of itself as a place for fine dining the setting is more formal than Bank with full silver service. The tables glisten with cutlery of many descriptions accompanied by a host of sparkling glasses. The plates, tables and artwork on the walls are coordinated in colour and pattern and all very tastefully put together. All this ever so slightfully intimidating taste is mitigated by friendly front of house staff who, as in any place with genuine class, put you at ease with their polite and attentive service.
It was one of those really cold days earlier this month and I saw and went for a warming Risotto of wild mushrooms with truffle oil & parmesan starter. Before that got to us though there was served some complimentary freshly made light crispy cheesy twists with guacamole — yum! My risotto didn’t waste any time getting to me and it was just right, al dente and delicious. After this there was another surprise complimentary morsel, a small pumkin soup with crunchy toasted sunflower seeds. For my main I had Halibut with mussels, winter vegetables & a tarragon shallot butter. All perfectly cooked but the tarrogon shallot butter was the genious touch. The missus had the Buttered puff pastry,with breast of cornfed chicken, confit of chicken leg, braised celery & chicken jus which in keeping with the culinary trend of the moment featured chicken cooked in three ways. As at Bank, I finished things off with Chef’s selection of English cheeses with wafer biscuits and a fine selection it was too.
It was a good fight — a thrilla near the villa (yeah I know it’s nowhere near the Villa ground but hey) — and I think we’re really lucky in Brum to have a number of great places to eat all around Brindleyplace. In the final count though, owing to a combination of thrilling food and excellent service, in a closely fought culinary contest I have to give the decision to Bank.
The Frankfurt Christmas Market enlivens the heart of Birmingham yet again this year and whoever it was who first thought of inviting these guys over should be very pleased with themselves. For yet again it’s a hit with brummies, West Midlanders and possibly other Midlanders everywhere (I was in deepest Hagley last night and even the locals there were raving about it).
This year it’s bigger than ever stretching from Centenary Square through Victoria Square and down New St almost as far as Stephenson St. The city fathers have dusted off last year’s attractive Christmas lights and adorned the lamposts and spaces in between them to form a dazzling canopy of electric blue. A perfect accompaniment to the kitschy colours of the German Market.
A few days ago, while enjoying a wander through the Market one of the people I was with wondered why we don’t have evening markets during other times of the year. I know we have farmers markets there quite regularly but these don’t extend to the evenings. I think a French Spring Market or a Spanish Summer Market would be a further great addition to the Brum calendar.
I dreamt I was trapped on a spaceship with a serial killer last night. Could have something to do with having watched Starwars and Halloween yesterday.
Starwars + Halloween = Solaris ?