Gin and jail

SHE GAVE YOU LIFE,
YOU GIVE HER SANDWICHES

Chances are your birth wasn't an effortless breeze for your dear mum, so not buying her a Mother's Day gift would put your moral compass somewhere in line with Donald Trump's. Here's our last minute gift guide. Pay attention at the back.
NOTEBOOKS FROM SPARROW + WOLF (£10 FOR THREE)
The perfect pairing of pretty and practical, these new pastel and metallic notebooks with geometric chevrons, polka dots and crosses, are the conception of Birmingham designer Cherie Gregory. Her one-woman business, Sparrow + Wolf, combines Cherie’s obsession with bright coloured origami and doodles.
AFTERNOON TEA AT THE EDGBASTON (£25)
For its spring iteration, Brum's best afternoon tea includes blood orange jelly and lemon granita. Alongside Jing tea, pastry chef Olivier Briault is producing a mint chocolate tart, mango and ginger macaroons, violet choux pastry and an exotic fruit chocolate bonbon. You may or may not choose to mention the new cocktail menu. Book.
HOW IT WORKS: THE MUM, AT FOYLES (LADYBIRD, £6.99)
This witty little book of silly is the latest in Ladybird’s self-help series for adults, following The Ladybird Books of: The Mid-Life Crisis, The Hangover and The Hipster. Ladybird artwork alongside the words of bestselling authors Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris will have mothers everywhere thinking they have taught themselves to cope.
IAGO'S BITARISHVILI CHINURI FROM CONNOLLY'S WINE (£17.99)
In case you haven’t heard, orange is the new rosé. Essentially, orange wine is white wine macerated with the grape skins left in, giving it the body of red. It's very much de rigueur. This bottle from Georgia, made in a 300-year-old clay qvevri (we had no idea either), is slightly cloudy with citrus, nuts mid-palate, and a classic tannic finish.
AN EVENING OF BEAUTY AT HARVEY NICHOLS (£10)
We challenge you to find a better value pampering happening than this one, where free treatments include a Natura Bissé facial, Shavata eyebrow shape and Environ skin analysis (worth £45). Other names to look out for include Lancôme, Estee Lauder and Dermatalogica. March 24. Call 0121 616 6021 to book.
THE WORLD TRAVELLER BOX AT THE CHOCOLATE QUARTER (£24)
This JQ-based chocolate shop sources only from British chocolatiers (as well as making their own) and their World Traveller box includes the deliciously different pistachio halwa and the chunky Londoner caramel and stout. While you’re there, try their Aztec hot chocolate made with house dark choccie, molasses and spices.  
THE COMMITMENTS AT THE ACTRESS & BISHOP (£15)
Roddy Doyle’s tale of working class Dubliners who form the world’s most unlikely soul band is chock-full of charm - and - 25 years after the BAFTA-winning film’s release, mac Birmingham is heading to The Actress and Bishop for an anniversary screening including live music and Irish food, in proper pub surrounds. Tickets.
AEROPRESS FROM FACULTY (£24)
Reset your ma's caffeine routine with a quick and compact shiny new AeroPress. Relying on a vacuum to brew ground coffee, it makes a refreshingly smooth cuppa and is significantly easier to clean than that percolator that's been doing the dinner party rounds since you were nine. Don't forget the ground stuff. 
NATIONAL TRUST MEMBERSHIP (£63)
Get out and make some memories with your mum. A year’s membership gives unlimited entry to 500 houses, gardens and houses in gardens, from St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall to Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland. Closer to home there’s Hanbury Hall in Worcestershire and the Back To Backs in Southside.

GIN BATTLE: FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!


Gin and battling are old buddies. British troops fighting the Thirty Years' War were given 'Dutch Courage' during the long campaigns in damp weather through the warming properties of Dutch gin. Hence the name. Fortunately you can leave your musket at home on March 13, when some of the city's finest bartenders will be going head-to-head at Nomad's 'Gin Battle'. Sixty guests are invited to sample six gin and tonics made with whatever incarnation of the spirit the mixologists believe beget the best G&T, when combined with Fever Tree tonic. Bartenders from The Edgbaston, The Church, Purnell's Bistro and 40 St Paul's will be urged to merge their creations with edible garnishes and cordial liqueurs, before guests vote upon the victor. If votes are tied, duelling pistols will, presumably, come out. Tickets cost £25 with Nomad bar snacks - which could include their excellent venison sausage roll with spiced red cabbage ketchup - costing extra. 
Venue: Cedar Lebanese Food, 169 Mary Street, Balsall Heath, B12 9RN  
Choice: Roast chicken, vegetables and tahini (£5) Chooser: Naomi (waitress)

Cedar Lebanese is that rare beast - a fast food takeaway serving healthy fare that's ludicrously affordable. For a fiver they’ll fill your plate (or take-out dish) with a colossal combination of whatever you pick from the daily-changing counter. Throw in an extra stonebaked flatbread or pastry and you’ll easily feed two. There’s no pretension in this pocket-sized cafe, with three little tables huddled around the counter, all warmed by a gargantuan gas-fired stone oven at the back. It’s a haven for vegetarians and vegans, with a focus on fresh, unfussy, home-cooked, soul food (huge chunks of olive oil roasted aubergines, tomatoes stuffed with rice, homemade hummous and salads, including an authentic, parsley-intense tabbouleh). There’s usually a fish dish and chicken roasted on the bone to make it super succulent and doubly delicious, plus the occasional lamb stew or kebab. It’s friendly, family run and the service is every bit as good as the food. Friday is barbecue night. Go.

DO NOT PASS GO,
DO NOT COLLECT £200


Go to jail, at the Library of Birmingham. Observe a replica cell, which - in line with current government regulations - measures 3.75m by 2.5m and houses two adult males, for what can be up to 23 hours a day. Stay on the outside, or dive in and join the former inmates (now performers) in incarceration, to learn of their sentences and how their experiences have affected their lives. You can additionally lodge your views on the sentences that were handed down to the prisoners using a touch-screen console and set what 'privileges' you believe the prisoners should be entitled to in their cells; these could include such ‘comforts’ as a guitar, newspapers, or a television. Until March 12 (Tuesday to Saturday), Go To Jail can also be experienced at Shop Front Theatre, Coventry from April 26 to 30. Entry is free.

MOVIE CHOICE:
HAIL, CEASAR!


The Coen brothers have the kind of track record where they could incinerate many movie lovers’ wardrobes and still get long queues for their next film. This may be more Burn After Reading-tier than No Country For Old Men, but there are still plentiful ideas on display, and they’ve attracted the kind of cast usually only available to skillful blackmailers. Josh Brolin takes the lead as a studio fixer in Fifties Hollywood tasked with finding George Clooney’s kidnapped star. His subsequent encounters with a series of increasingly ludicrous figures can feel a tad episodic, and some do land better than others, but you can’t argue with the invention on display – and the Coens’ affection for a culture that is shockingly close to fading from living memory makes for a good-natured trip to the flicks. Times & trailer
  • The Bond's got Night & Day Markets to keep you in music and street food from 5pm on Saturday. The day time portion of proceedings follows from 12pm on Sunday. Free entry for Mums. Tickets
  • If, like us, you've been wondering how Birmingham Opera Company could possibly follow its 2015 hooligan filled huzzah of a production, this video is heavy on clues
  • Illustrator and animator, Mr Bingo, is a genius. Hear him say things at Glug Birmingham from 6.30pm on Thursday as part of an event showcasing perspectives on the creative industry. Tickets are £10
  • G.J. Wood has published a book of short stories set in Birmingham. Screaming Blue-City Murder is 'dark, disturbing and at times laugh out loud funny'. Download it for £1.99
  • Our Central Library pin badges are going faster than, erm, the Central Library. Bag yours here for £6 
  • This Friday, all the happy people will be at the Hare & Hounds, listening to these guys. From 8.30pm. See you there
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"Our mothers always remain the strangest, craziest people we've ever met." - Marguerite Duras
WORDS: Mary Griffin , Katy DrohanAndrew Lowry, Tom Cullen

I Choose Birmingham, Unit 317, Zellig, Gibb Street, Birmingham, B9 4AA

Copyright © 2016 Birmingham Publishing Group Ltd, All rights reserved.


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