It’s time for another of our travel guides – this time based in Birmingham! I regularly go out there for fashion shows (or did until the Clothes Show shut its doors), and this year managed to stay on a little longer to visit some attractions around the area. This is by no means a comprehensive rundown of Birmingham’s vegetarian food and I would love to go back to explore some more – if I do, this guide will be updated. For now, let’s take a look at my travels!
The first place I wanted to talk about was the Black Country Living Museum. This is an absolutely fantastic attraction and I can hugely recommend it for anyone who is thinking of visiting the area. It’s all set up to give us an insight into how people of the area lived in the past. There’s a coal mine, rows of shops and houses, pubs, a village hall, docks, and all manner of other buildings. All of them are kitted out with period items, and the guides (largely volunteers, we were told) wear period dress. It’s actually a pretty amazing place to visit, and it has the added appeal of being one of the filming locations for Peaky Blinders, which I love.
The village hall was our venue of choice for some food, and it was a good choice. The soup of the day was a vegetarian option and it was just delicious – perfect for warming you up on a cold December day. It comes with a bit of fresh rustic bread to dip in, making it the perfect combination. It was hearty and filling, and very rich in flavour.
I followed that up with a piece of homemade shortbread, and by god was that another excellent choice. It was just the right texture, crumbly and yet also moist, with that dusting of sugar on top that just gives it that momentary crunch. Perfection.
While we were around, the German Christmas Market also happened to be in full swing. This was a favourite of ours the year before too, so we booked out a whole afternoon to spend there. It’s a little better visited in the daytime because it gets so busy at night, but you will see crowds no matter what time you attend. Now, of course, there were plenty of food options here too. I started off with an amazing pretzel, filled with cranberries and brie.
There’s just something about salty pretzel dough that is so magical. Most of the time, I hate salty food, but pretzels manage to tick all of the boxes. The cheese and cranberries went so well together that I was pretty disappointed when I got to the end of this one. It was served warm, too, which made it all the better.
Now, it wouldn’t be a main course if there wasn’t some dessert to follow it up. Enter the chocolate apple. It’s great because even though it is quite clearly a sugar-filled sweet, you can pretend it’s good for you because, hey, there’s an apple in there. The chocolate used here was just divine (I had the white one). It was a big green apple underneath that was very juicy and fresh, and we could see them dipping the apples right at the stand, so it wasn’t something that had been made in a factory and shipped out to the market. I could quite happily have had a few more of these!
When you visit a German market, it’s kind of obligatory to go for something so stereotypically German that it defies any other definition. Most people will go for the bratwurst, but sadly there were no veggie sausages in sight. Instead, we were forced (forced!) to go for a Berliner. Or two. Or… four.
These doughnuts were so good. SO GOOD, I tell you. The best was the nutella-filled chocolated Berliner. It was so rich I could barely contemplate eating anything else for the next hour without feeling vaguely sick. That’s when you know you’ve had a good Berliner.
Finally, onto the Birmingham NEC, which is where we were all weekend (and where most visitors to the city end up, too). This has a few veggie options available, including a couple of Wetherspoons. A word of warning: one of them shuts far earlier than it claims to on the official website. The other is often very busy, and tends to be understaffed – odd considering where it is. It’s not like the influx of customers should come as a surprise. Finally, the menu is a lot more expensive than it is even in central London – a burger and a drink there will cost you more than it does in the Moon Under Water on Leicester Square. The other options are not much better, however, with most of them adding up to a pretty penny no matter what you eat.
So that’s it for our (mini) Birmingham guide – hopefully with more to come sooner or later!