Tuesday, 3 February 2009

In the Market for a bargain

I LOVE nothing more than a Saturday morning spent at Birmingham food market, browsing the myriad of ingredients.
It's a great place to bag a bargain, especially if you have the capacity to shop in bulk.
For fruit, Iris's stall, in the centre of the outdoor market, is a safe bet and - at the end of trade - she's always prepared to give you a good price for whatever is leftover. I once picked up a brown paper bag full of mixed chillies for just 20p.
Enormous quantities of quality root vegetables are a steal from Carl Speigel's stall.
You may not know him by name, but Carl is one of the market's liveliest characters and his raspy holler can be heard all across the market.
I've suffered a bad back too many times to remember after lumbering myself with more kilos of potatoes and carrots than I can manage.
Heading indoors, there's a great selection of shellfish at Pearce's Shellfish. Apparently Michelin-star chef Glynn Purnell's a fan, and it's also a great place to sample to goods.
Nothing beats being stood shoulder-to-shoulder with pensioners guzzling cockles and couples slurping oysters while dipping your hand into a basket of complimentary bread.
A.J Barlow is good for fish; the skilled staff will always prepare your chosen specimen in a speedy and professional manner.
If it's meat you're after, I recommend heading to one of two A.P Doherty stalls.
The highly-regarded family firm supplies to some of Brum's top restaurants such as Blue Mango, off Broad Street, and Lasan Eatery on Stratford Road. Enough said.
It was over one of Doherty's fine pieces of fillet beef that I got talking to one of wives of the firm's four partners.
She said that despite the long hours, six days a week, her husband's work didn't end when the market shuts.
"Anytime we eat in a restaurant he makes it his business to get to know the owner as they are a possible customer," she explained. An entrepreneurial spirit which should be celebrated - especially in times of economic uncertainty.
If you've yet to try Birmingham Market, it's time to give it a whirl.
But if people are to be truly encouraged to take advantage of the bargains on offer, Birmingham City Council need to address the parking issue.
After all, it's no good saving pounds on your pounds, when you have to cough up £3.50 for an hour's parking.
No wonder people hit the supermarkets...
What do you think? Who is your favourite trader at Birmingham Market? Let me know


Mrs Woffington said...

I have a local fruit and veg market which I use on Saturdays, but the real problem is time. I'd forsake the supermarket tomorrow if I could find markets still operating when I get home from work at 7.30pm, but despite the better quality produce and the cheaper prices, I still have to use Tesco online. Yet I noticed on a weekend trip to London a local street market still open at 7pm!

Emily said...

I completely agree Mrs W. I don't get down to Birmingham Market as often as I'd like. In my ideal world I'd shop at butcher's, baker's and the market, but full-time work and other commitments does not allow it!

James said...

Must be about 12 years since I last went to the Brum market.... guess it's changed. I'll have to get round to it - it all sounds good.

Emily said...

It is good James. Lots of choice and plenty of quality stalls. There's even a stall in the indoor market called Pinoy foods which specialises in Vietnamese, Thai and Korean ingredients! Fabulous if you are looking for something out of the ordinary.
Happy hunting!

Thinspired said...

I have some relatives coming in June to visit and they will spending some time in Birmingham. Do you have any good restaurant recommendations or things to check out?

Emily said...

Yes, of course!! What type of cuisine? These are all in the city centre unless otherwise stated...

Fine Dining: Purnells, Simpsons in Edgbaston or Edmunds.
Thai: Barton Arms in Aston.
French: Chez Jules.
Japanese: Woktastic (healthy)
Modern British/French: Bank
Indian: Lasan in the Jewellery Quarter
Chinese/Pan Asian: Cafe Soya.

All these suggestions have great websites. Any more help needed, just let me know.

Thinspired said...

Thanks for getting back to me! I have no idea what type of cuisine they will want so I'll write all of these down. Thank you!

Emily said...

No problem at all. I can help with any other second city queries you might have too!
Oh, if they fancy Italian, Filini at the Radisson Hotel is just beautiful
Have fun