Options for fine dining in Midlands this Christmas are endless. But what about regional foodie treats for underneath the Christmas tree? Here are some alternative edible gift ideas with a distinctively Birmingham and Black Country twist. There’s not a tired old jar of chutney or jumbo tin of Quality Street in sight…
Cadbury’s Selection Box: Not exactly groundbreaking, but Cadbury’s is Birmingham’s biggest and proudest food manufacturer. Putting grumblings about Kraft to one side – ‘tis Christmas after all – who doesn’t feel a swell of nostalgia and joy upon sight of a finger of Fudge or a Wildlife Bar? With nearly 200 years of chocolatey heritage, each selection pack is a scrumptious Brummie time capsule. You can even build your own customized selection box online. www.cadburygiftdirect.co.uk
Balti Kit: The Balti is arguably Birmingham’s greatest contribution to UK culinary culture. Whilst taking your mates for a curry would be a generous gesture, why not give them the gift of curry throughout the year? Head down the Soho Road or to your local Asian supermarket and stock up on bags of East End Spices. These local spice legends have been adding colour and flavour to Birmingham tables for 35 years. Scribble down some favourite curry recipes and parcel it all up in an authentic balti pan. www.curry-lover.co.uk
The Black Country Hamper: Ideal for Tiptonians in London exile, this little box of treats is the true taste of the Black Country. Pork Scratchings from Midland Snacks, Herbal Tablets from Teddy Grays, a slab of Bread Pudding from the Pork Joint in Cradley Heath and a hunk of finest Black Pudding, all washed down with a bottle of Bathams Bitter (pictured). The more adventurous can also add some of Trailhead’s spicy beef jerky, a trendy newcomer but Black Country through and through! www.teddygrays.co.uk | www.trailheadfinefoods.co.uk
Brew a Beer in Day: Sadlers Ales offer this unique real ale experience at their CAMRA award winning tap house, The Windsor Castle in Lye. The beer packed day includes breakfast, lunch and, err, lots of beer. Guests get to mash, boil and pitch their own signature brew with help on hand from Sadler’s expert brewers before indulging in a beer sampling session. If the £99 price tag is a bit too steep, check out the more affordable Brewery Tour that comes in at just £15 and includes a beer infused Ploughmans. www.sadlersales.co.uk
Regional Cheese Selection: Nothing says: “I love you” quite like the gift of stinky cheese. Pop into Anderson and Hill in the Great Western Arcade to stock up on fine local cheeses. Fair enough, there aren’t cows grazing on Pigeon Park, but this excellent gourmet delicatessen prides itself of stocking the best cheese from neighboring counties (the ones with more grass). The staff know their stuff and will happily help you to build a dream cheeseboard for that someone special… www.andersonandhill.co.uk
Cocktail Masterclass: Buy a man a martini and he’ll feel like Bond for an evening, teach him how to make a martini and he’ll feel like a very drunk Bond all year round. The Jekyll and Hyde’s exclusive and intimate Gin Parlour makes an excellent destination for a two-hour masterclass (£25 per person) with the bar’s expert bartenders. They talk guest through the history of cocktail culture before teaching them how to make classic cocktails that they can recreate at home. 2013 looks set to be a good year for house parties!
Words: Jenny Evans