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Birmingham’s Culinary Renaissance

Philippe Boucheron on Taste Birmingham

Philippe Boucheron on Taste Birmingham

I first came to this fair city some 44 year’s ago, writes wine and food journalist and broadcaster  Philippe Boucheron.  In those far-distant days there was a Chinese restaurant of doubtful pedigree at the top end of Islington Row, the Plough and Harrow in the Hagley Road and the White Horse beside the old New Street station for lunch.  Other than those the Midlands were a culinary dessert beset with under-hung and over-cooked steaks and scampi that was more often than not Monkfish: oh, and that awful Black Forest Gateau that had never been anywhere near Bavaria!

Those were the pre-Balti days, when the Italian restaurants beside the old Hippodrome had still yet to appear.

Today Birmingham can hold its head up high with a clutch of local chefs like Steve Love, Glynn Purnell, Luke Tipping of Simpsons and Andy Waters of Edmunds.  All but Steve Love were nurtured by Andreas Antona, the master mind behind Simpsons and the leading light of the second city’s undoubted culinary renaissance.

A gentle mid morning wander with my associate James Day of Eat the Midlands, and Gourmet Life Dining Club, around the tented city set up in Cannon Hill Park to house the Taste of Birmingham culinary extravaganza showed just how exiting Birmingham tastes today.  A delicate Shetland salmon with Juniper from Simpsons, a crisp yet succulent belly of pork from the Hyatt, a champagne jelly with local strawberries that actually tasted of champagne from the City Café.  Everywhere I went I enjoyed the pleasure of real, honest, creative cooking – invariably using Midland grown fresh produce.

What makes it all the more exciting is that so many of the region’s top restaurants are now welcoming GourmetLife members with a combination of attractive discounts or outstanding added-value offers and considered gourmet events, that help make dining out an affordable pleasure, even in these difficult times.

More on Taste Birmingham with phtos and reviews HERE

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