RIP pulled pork...

WELCOME TO THE
DEEP SOUTH(SIDE) 

It may border on the unconventional, but this year we're asking soul food newbies, Big Papa's Beautiful South to be our Valentine - and it's not just because none of you lot will have us. From the Brookyln-esque auspices of their new digs at the Sunflower Lounge, fall in love with brisket all over again while we worry about our inability to interact with actual people.
In the endless years of pulled pork, two street food heroes were thinking: then what? Introducing the cola brisket (above). Lashings of beef, slow-cooked in the sweet, sticky stuff are piled into a light, charred bun and the results are flavour-filled and unspeakably tender - literally - there was an awkward three minutes which featured nothing but enthusiastic nodding. And like the seven-day a week residency which Big Papa’s Beautiful South has landed after just four months on Brum’s street food scene, the satiating and comforting quality of the food has precisely nothing to do with lady luck and everything to do with two hard-working individuals.  
Conceived by Anthony Duffy (chef) and Craig Essex (“everything else”) Big Papa’s has arrived on Birmingham's Southside at the newly refurbished Sunflower Lounge - a welcoming, music-filled enclave on the Smallbrook Queensway. The move toward creating his own food rather than working for other people hit Duffy at the Leamington Food Festival and he’s been bubbling, tasting and refining big flavoured, soul-filled dishes since. Add in Craig’s need for a wingman on a night out (when a friendship was cemented), a shared passion for sustainable locally-sourced fare, and ambition by the shovelful, and Big Papa’s was born.  
Oh, and if you’re wondering what Craig’s “everything else" might practically mean, Big Papa’s sources all of its ingredients from the Bull Ring market. Indeed, Craig’s first job each day is to head over to bag the very best in local produce, 75 metres from his place of business. And rather than wasting even a scrap, he hotfoots it back across the road, whenever demand starts to exceed supply. Craig even offers an on foot delivery service for nearby businesses placing lunch orders. But don't tell him we told you that - you might be picking up on our observation that he's already a pretty busy guy.   
And the key to Big Papa's instant success? Apart from working seven days a week, for months on end and foregoing a social life entirely. It seems to us that the answer is a predictable combination of great, honest food at decent prices in a relaxed venue which is just the right amount hipster. And a generous dollop of sheer bloody mindedness from Duffy and Craig. It took eleven distinct attempts for Big Papa’s to land on the precise batter recipe which makes up the guys’ early bestseller, the buttermilk fried chicken (above). And you wouldn’t doubt it from the light, fluffy fillets of joy. Get down to the Sunflower Lounge, between 12pm and 9pm. And keep an eye on Big Papa’s Facebook page for news of forthcoming street food events. Full menu here.

UBER ARRIVES IN BIRMINGHAM


Taxi ordering just got ludicrously simple. Uber has today announced it has launched in Brum, its fourth English city. The company has already proved farcically popular in London, Manchester and Leeds. It's an app that connects passengers with taxi drivers in real time, offering simple (and arguably safer) travel at the touch of a button. Price-wise they reckon a journey from New Street Station to Selly Oak will cost between £5 and £7. We’ve used it in London and it does seem pricier than telephone booking, but it might be worth it for ease. Uber is cashless, enabling users to book and pay for taxis directly through the free app. Just download it and drivers can locate you using GPS. Once you've requested a cab, you see the driver’s photo, name and registration and can even watch them arrive in real-time.

CABARET GOES LEGIT
(SORT OF)


Brum’s underground burlesque and cabaret scene is coming to the Colmore Business District's Old Joint Stock and we've become a tad excitable about it. Expect comedic, circus-style mash-ups with titivating bustiers, a whole heap of corsets and a smattering of something altogether more risqué. Birmingham's first official festival dedicated entirely to the gritty, joyful art of cabaret promises to be a glittering intro for newbies, with plenty of variety for those more familiar with the scene. And with face-licking (be wary if you're sat in the front row), saw-playing, Aussie duo EastEnd Cabaret headlining, we suggest you secure your seats at the intimate show, above the OJS's Grade II listed bar, sooner rather than later. It runs from May 14 to 30 and tickets start from £10 and soar to £12. Book here.
ART NOVEAU: MIDLANDS TAKEOVER

Orange. It’s a colour that splits opinion as much as the frequency of the Frankfurt Market. The protagonist in Chrysophobia #1 (pictured) is not overly keen. In fact, fine art and fashion photographer, Alexandra Darby has produced a whole series of images exploring the encroachment of orange-coloured objects on the sedate and certain cobalt blue world of her subject. Darby’s works appear at the Barber Institute from tomorrow (February 13) until May 17 as part of the third generation of New Art West Midlands. The initiative sees four galleries showcasing the paintings, sculptures, photographs and installations of thirty bright young things who have graduated fine art degree courses at universities across the Midlands in the past three years. The Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery has dedicated a major space to the project and found room in some unexpected places. We’re particularly keen to locate Vicky Roden’s six foot poppet simian sock monkey. We suggest you check the Round Room. Full listings: here.
Venue: Marmalade, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Centenary Square,
B1 2EP; marmaladebirmingham.co.uk 
Choice
Carpaccio of venison, parsnip and walnut salad, Bloody Mary dressing (£6.95) Chooser: Matt, Waiter

When we first heard that Bitters 'n' Twisted's seventh Brum opening was to be a bar and bistro at the Rep, it was a happy day. When we secured a spot at the soft opening earlier this week, our feelings may even have bordered on smug. And as unfair as it was for us to attend Marmalade in its infant days for the purpose of a review, we're toothy-grin pleased to report that the early signs are very good. Texture is king for this week’s top pick. Silky slithers of venison are made honest by nutty, crunchy walnuts and vigorously fresh rocket, set off by a light but punchy Bloody Mary dressing of just the right tomato to tabasco proportions. A taste-bud triumph and a beautiful plate of food. Marmalade is not all the way there yet - and how could it be? There were no parsnips in the parsnip and walnut salad, nor walnuts in the spinach, date and walnut salad but with a little refinement of the menu
Marmalade will quickly move from "good" to a “go to” spot. And we can’t wait. Full a la carte menu, here.
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"Orange is the happiest colour." – Frank Sinatra
IMAGES: Tom Cullen (Big Papa's), Ayesha Hussain (EastEnd Cabaret) Jack Spicer Adams (Marmalade)
WORDS: Katy Drohan, Kitty Sadler
ADDRESS: I CHOOSE Birmingham, Office 211, 43 Temple Row, Birmingham, B2 5LS

Copyright © 2015 Birmingham Publishing Group Ltd, All rights reserved.


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