I Love Brum – Victoria Square Fine Food Market, and a slow cooked Moroccan Lamb Stew

So, it’s been about three months since I last did one of these. Still loving Birmingham, just haven’t had a hook I know enough about to write about it. It occurred to me yesterday, that despite shopping here every Wednesday, I haven’t mentioned the city centre food market that comes very close to my workplace every second Wednesday.

Anyway, I have a few stands I really like, and a couple of them were there yesterday, and a few I’ve yet to enjoy, in spite of my intentions. If you’re ever in town, it’s here on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of every month, and you can pick up a great lunch and a coffee for less than a fiver. The somewhat limited council website is here, if you need to find it.

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First up, All Terrain Caffeine is essentially a 4×4 vehicle, serving really good coffee. I had a nice chat with the chap who runs it, and he is passionate about sourcing good coffee, and the blend he uses, a mix of Brazilian and Vietnamese coffee is a pleasantly smooth cup of coffee, with a lovely bitter kick at the end.

There is talk of a ‘third wave’ of coffee shops, with the first wave being your bog standard, polystyrene cup affairs that you will remember fondly if you’re of an age similar to mine, the second wave being your Starbucks, Costa, Nero etc which actually have the decency to serve coffee, and this wave being coffee sellers who know the provenance of their beans, and source coffee they’re passionate about, care about the brewing methodology, and are dedicated to getting the best possible cup o’ Joe in your hands at the end. I can happily say ATC falls firmly in this last camp. This you ever need a coffee stand to meet you in the wilderness, you can book them, or find their whereabouts here!

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Before I wax lyrical about any of the others, I can happily add you can get great West Indian food, ostrich burgers, Mexican, and all sorts of other things here. They had live food demonstrations during the day (they were demonstrating how to store cooked mushrooms without them turning to slimy mush while I was there- useful to some, I just eat the things!), and some local music acts playing too.

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The other stand, which I come back to each time I’m here, is Woodhouse Farm, a Leicestershire farm, that deals mainly in pork, but does very nice and very reasonably priced meat of most kinds. Their black pudding is a thing of beauty, and on Wednesday I picked up a tasty leg of lamb- more on which follows this bit!

They also serve up a bit of classic English cuisine, which I have cooked and mentioned before, the faggot. It’s a meatball made of pork shoulder, sweetbreads and spices, and is my strongest argument against the rest of Europe’s belief that English food is rubbish. If you can obtain these, even the frozen supermarket variety (charmingly names ‘Mr Brains’) I strongly recommend them, with peas and mash.

They also give you a more than generous filling in their pulled pork rolls, and while I’ve been paid nothing to blog about this, food this tasty almost counts as a bribe in itself!

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You can order online from them, if central Birmingham is a bit of a trek, from their website, here.

Anyways- if you’re down this way, it’s well worth a visit, and I’ll be back there in a fortnight to further expand my waistline!

I mentioned above that I’d say what I did with my leg of lamb, and here is a ridiculously easy slow cooker recipe.

Slow Cooker Moroccan Lamb Stew

I’d call it a tagine, but then you’d think you might need a tagine, which is a stupid purchase, as you’ll only ever use the thing twice a year. Apologies if you do own one. I’m sure you enjoy using it… twice a year.

Anyway, this takes 10 minutes prep the night before, or in the morning, and maybe another 10 in the evening. Really simple, and this is a real 20 minutes, not a Jamie Oliver 20 minutes…

Ingredients

  • 500g lamb leg (bone in)
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 400g tin tomatoes
  • 200ml lamb stock
  • cumin
  • coriander
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3-4 cardamom pods
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In the evening

  • 150g Cous Cous
  • A handful of dates, finely chopped
  • Another 200ml lamb stock

Method

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Put all the sweet potato, spices, stock and tomatoes in the slow cooker. Give it a good stir. Quickly seal the lamb in a hot pan with a little oil, and add to the slow cooker. Put the lid on, stick it on low, and go to work.

Here is a poem, by Philip Larkin, on the subject of work (warning- contains some strong language)

Morning, noon & bloody night,
Seven sodding days a week,
I slave at filthy WORK, that might
Be done by any book-drunk freak.
This goes on until I kick the bucket.
FUCK IT FUCK IT FUCK IT FUCK IT

Good, isn’t it!

Anyway, get home from work, turn the slow cooker off, and remove the lamb with a couple of forks. Pull the tender meat apart, removing the fat and the bone, and return the lamb to the pot, putting the lid back on to keep the heat in.

In a bowl, add your cous cous, and pour over the remaining hot stock. Cover for 3 minutes or so, then stir in the diced dates, fluffing the cous cous as you go.

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Serve and eat.

 

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