WE’VE MOVED

Hey folks.

 

I should have put something up here ages ago but we have moved.

 

You can now find all the latest posts at www.thehungrymanc.co.uk

 

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you can make it over to our new place.

 

 


Kaleido Manchester

When we think of the combination of football and food I would imagine that the majority of us would conjure images of pies.

But stop right there……… this is definitely not another pie post.

Kaleido is perched atop the newly relocated National Football Museum on the 5th floor of the Urbis Building, with the attached cocktail bar nestling above on the 6th.

Kaleido has by no means generated the kind of fervent anticipation of other recent openings but the team of Executive Chef Paul Riley, General Manager Franco Caroleo and figurehead Frank Bordoni are keen to match the ambition of the museum beneath them.

So we thought we’d have a look.  We being The Hungry Mrs and me plus Mr B and his better half.

After being greeted on the ground floor and escorted via the lift to the 5th my initial thoughts were that the place looked good – a little bit 1980s – but good. All white leather and a feature wall reminiscent of one of those toys we all had as a kid………. you know that you looked into and twisted and…………. oh.  Decoration aside the name is a nod to the kaleidoscope of people who play, support or are involved in football.

I have to be honest and admit that at this point I was a little pessimistic. I am so much more at home in homely feeling restaurants so I began to feel that this may have been a case of style over substance or “all fur coat………” to pick  a more colourful expression.

However after a warm, if slightly nervous welcome from our waitress we got down to the business of deciding what to eat.  The first thing to grab our collective attention were the prices.  For a city centre restaurant sitting in a landmark building they seemed all too reasonable, again, creeping doubts.

I opted for the jellied ham hock terrine with (deconstructed)  piccalilli and sourdough while The Mrs went for the oak smoked salmon with gribiche and crispy capers. Both were beautifully presented and whilst I didn’t try the salmon, the terrine was delicious, the piccalilli lovely and tangy.

Mains were Hereford oxtail and kidney pudding with feather blade, cabbage and carrot puree for me and spring chicken with ravioli, truffle vinaigrette, baby leeks and smoked bacon for my better half.  Again there were no complaints about how well our eyes were being fed.  The pudding and it’s contents were delicious and moist, the small amount of kidney (a good thing in my opinion) just adding that lovely depth of flavour.  The feather blade fell apart, however was a little dry but when combined with the pudding gravy this was easily forgotten.  I didn’t sample the chicken but The Mrs commented that she’d have liked a stronger taste to the vinaigrette as the chicken, whilst wonderfully cooked came off a little bland.

Then came the desserts, caramel apple tart with tonka bean ice cream and a cheese board, both to share.

Gorgeous caramelized appley bits with a cool, smooth ice cream that had a hint of vanilla but also the faintest element of spice, perhaps cinnamon?  With regard to cheese, I’ll confess to being a bit of a luddite (more to come soon on this) but all were very tasty and set off beautifully by the quince jelly.

After dinner we also checked out the 6th floor bar, just, you know, because why not?  The Key West Cooler was a treat after a lovely meal.

So what of the overall impression of Kaleido? While there may not be the sea change that you may get in the images in that ubiquitous kids toy when it comes to the dishes on the menu, it is apparent that there is a dedication to create an experience.  Where, as each course is served, there are “Ooohs” and “Aaahs” from the assembled, reminiscent of a great fireworks display.  I think it is fair to say that this is no damp squib.  Vibrant but cool and with some fantastic views across our city this place is sure to go off like a rocket.

Football and food just got interesting.

THM


SoLIta

According to our hosts for the evening “Solita” in Italian means “The only thing” and in Spanish “The lonely lady”.

For the last few weeks the Manchester food Twitterati has been twitching with the name of SoLIta.  Pictures of drool enducing dishes have appeared, disappeared, changed and reappeared.  The grapevine hissed with whispers “When does it open?” “How’d they do that?” Deep fried what now?”. It murmured with rumours “Manchesters first Inka” “There’ll be bacon jam” “Italy meets America meets Manchester”

Well thanks to Dom Sotgiu, the force behind this new venture inviting a few of us down for a sneaky preview, some of these quetions can start to be answered.

In a humble building in one of the oldest residential streets in Manchester is where you will find this place.  Just south (So) of what used to be well known as Little (L) Italy (Ita).

But judging books by covers is as we know, foolhardy at best.  While the groundfloor dining room and kitchen are in keeping with the scale of the exterior of the building the two upper floors house private dining areas for larger groups and the large, soundproofed basement bar expands the capacity even further.  This final aspect being a great addition for those who just perhaps fancy a superb cocktail.

So tour complete it was time to get stuck into that menu (link at bottom of page).  Pictures being worth a thousand words and all that I shall let them do the talking for a minute while I drool. Again.

So after wiping my chin I’ll continue.  The food all tasted amazing.  Personally I would prefer a rougher texture to the Chuck Steak Burger but I’m odd when it comes to textures, taste-wise though it was awesome, the inclusion of bone marrow just adding a lovely sweetness to hit against the smokey Inka cooked meat.

Ah, the Inka grill.  In case you haven’t heard of them, it is essentially an enclosed indoor barbecue, this one burning coconut husks to reach temperatures of around 500C

And?

Well, it gives up a fantastic smokey quality to anything it even looks at.  Add to this the fact that it allows for brilliantly pink in the middle steaks with a charred outer (see hanger steak) and yours truly is seriously wondering how essential the washing machine actually is.

Oh and yes.  Currently this is the only Inka grill in the city.

Now unfortunately I had to leave early so I did not get a chance to sample the much discussed deep fried coke or the similarly treated mac ‘n’ cheese.  This however is not a major problem, serving only to provide an excuse for a revisit – as if I needed one.

So while SoLIta may be the only thing in the city serving up Inka cooked food I somehow doubt that they will remain the lonely lady for very long.  I predict a whole host of new friends very soon

Cheers

THM

SoLIta
Turner Street
Manchester
01618395600

Menu


Sweet Mandarin Sauces

Anyone who lives in Manchester (and others further afield) and likes Chinese food will, I’m sure, have heard of Sweet Mandarin.  The current Northern Quarter restaurant run by twin sisters Lisa & Helen Tse, established about 8 years ago but built on the strength of 3 generations of female Chinese restaurateurs.

Preparing to cook along

Since firmly estblishing themselves on the Manchester food map, Sweet Mandarin have gone on to be voted “Best Local Chinese Restaurant” as part of Gordon Ramsays “F-Word”  programme, there has been the writing of an historical account of their beginnings, the creation of a cooking school and essentially the building of a brand.

It is with the further expansion of this brand that they recently hosted a series of cooking demos and yours truly was lucky enough to be invited along.  As it turned out the other lucky so-and-sos listed to attend had been caught out by the Manchester summer and were not able to make it, so what followed was a fantastic couple of hours in the company of the twins as we talked about their new venture and some of the recipes and dishes which incorporate these new sauces.

Now, I say new sauces…….

These 3 sauces, all as much at home for dipping as they are for cooking with, are simply adaptations of years old recipes handed down through generations.  They have also always been available in the restaurant and, as with many such ventures, the decision to produce them for sale was as a result of customer pressure:

“A customer from Ireland turned up with three bottles, one for each of the sauces, so he could take them home and his friends could try them.  The next time he went home he brought in fifteen bottles to be filled”

 

So what are the sauces?

 

Making Spring Rolls

Currently there are 3.  A Sweet & Sour that has a delicious citrus punch to it which makes it much less sweet and cloying than others I have tried.  A Sweet Chill that while similar to others had a zing that not all do. And finally a Barbecue that in my opinion was the stand out choice.  So different to a “western style” barbecue sauce that can sometimes contain a spicyness and artificial sweetness that mask the flavour of whatever they are being served with.  Instead when used cold as a dipping sauce or drizzled over a portion of San Choy Bau there was the merest hint of sweetness that only complemented the rest of the dish.  However when the sauce was used to marinade some chicken, the sweetness got kicked up a notch which only further enhanced the natural flavours of the chicken, the added bonus being that everything became deliciously sticky.  Given that I was in polite company I used a knife and fork, however if the twins had not been there, then sticky fingers would have been the order of the day!!!

Clearly I had decided on my favourite, however there were still two others to be cooked with…..

I am honest enough to admit that I don’t do a great deal of Chinese cooking at home, I think it goes back to scare stories of the sauces being laden with Monosodium Glutamate and a lack of knowledge of the ingredients.  However with all 3 sauces able to boast of being MSG and gluten free I don’t think it will be long before I break out the wok and give some of these recipes a try.

So a big thank you to Lisa and Helen and while the sauce bottling may feel like a “cottage industry” supplying chinese supermarkets and your own website at the moment, I am positive that very soon we’ll be seeing them everywhere.

Best of luck

THM


New Friends and Old

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song as much as hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world” J.R.R. Tolkein

What a lovely weekend.  Aided by the fact that I had Friday off so it was longer than normal but largely due to all the lovely people who me and @TheHungryMrs bumped into on our travels – most of them food related, which was, as always, a bit of a bonus.

Foodies Festival – Tatton Park
The weather was appalling on Friday but with the day booked off work and tickets bought in advance we were not to be deterred.  Turning up at Tatton it was a little annoying to be charged extra to park but I suspect this was more the Park coining in rather than anything else but added to that was the fact that the over eager money collectors stopped everyone just inside the gate causing a queue out on to the road – perhaps collecting the parking charge at the car park well inside the gates might lead to less congestion? 

Anyhow – since the weather was not going to put us off we were definitely not going to be stopped by this.

Now in all honesty we didn’t try a huge amount of food on offer – largely because there weren’t really samples to be had (in our experience).  That isn’t to say that all we were looking for were freebies, more that I’d have preferred to have been able to sample little bits of what was there instead of having to take full portions.  So instead we took in a couple of Masterclasses.  One from Laurence Tottingham of Aumbry and then a Bordeaux Wine session from Charles Metcalfe

Mackerel from Laurence Tottingham

Having eaten at Aumbry recently I was chuffed to hear from Laurence.  His obvious love of what he does came across superbly and the dish of smoked mackerel fillet with poached rhubarb, rye toast and mustard cream was a picture in itself.  “It’s as easy as that” he declared after creating the plate, and, while not easy I’m sure it is now less daunting to perhaps try something similar at home.

Knowledge from Charles

As for Charles and his wine, again the knowledge on show was very impressive and while not all the wines were to my liking (there was a red loaded with tannins and a very sweet white) the overall presentation was great

A food stall we did stop at was Churros Susannas.  I was heading for pancakes (I always struggle to resist) when I saw the stall.  I’m honest enough to say that I’d never tried these bread based, doughnutty offerings and when someone asks “May I take your Churros virginity?” even in a Brummie accent, I thought it’d be rude to say no.  Sprinkled in sugar and dipped in chocolate they were a lovely little afternoon treat. And a darn site easier to accommodate whilst battling with an umbrella.


Saturday – Heatons &
Huntleys
Peering around the curtain we were greeted with a bright light in the sky.  Rumoured to have buggered off for the year, the sun had decided to grace us with its presence.  So off we went for our first trip to Heaton Moor Market.  A much more intimate affair than Tatton – and for me, all the better for it.  Everyone seemed to know each other and were making recommendations for other stall holders and as a result within an hour we were laden with a selection of goodies from old favourites Levanter Fine Foods, an untried chutney from FatJax, bread and delicious scotch eggs from The Handmade Feast plus cakes and puddings from Pixie Bakery and Glamourpuds respectively. My no carb weekdays quickly disappearing into the mists of ancient history.

Then Northwards, to Huntleys Foods to gather ingredients for Sunday dinner and also to meet Jane at Barrica Wines.  Well even though I’m not the biggest tennis fan in the world if certain players exploits sent Jane temporarily insane enough to sell a gorgeous prosecco for just £7 a bottle I wasn’t about to miss out.  She also made a great recommendation for the wine for Sunday. Cheers Jane.

Long slow mutton
Sunday was a comparatively lazy day.  A quick dash to Booths to pick up a late night Saturday recommended Womersley Blackcurrant & Rosemary vinegar.  Then back to prepare a shoulder of mutton from Cockerham Salt Marsh Lamb  to eat that evening.  If you want to know more, see here.

So all in all a fantastic weekend chatting to people who know and love their produce and their craft. Topped off by trying a meat I’ve not had before.  However, having bought a piece of meat which was clearly too big for the two of us (ooops, silly me) I am already looking forward to a mutton curry.

Thanks to you all and please keep it up

THM


 


Hollands Pies

A good few weeks ago I received an e-mail out of the blue from the marketing people at Hollands Pies asking if I would like to try some of their goods.

Now, at first I was sceptical.  This was the first time that yours truly had been asked to sample a product and immediately I wondered what the catch was. Cynicism abounded.  However, after consulting the Twitterati, it became apparent that the e-mail was doing the rounds so I gladly accepted their offer.

Having grown up in Manchester, lived all my life in the Northwest and not being averse to a chippy tea I was reasonably familiar with their wares.  Add to this that occasional working in Accrington meant that I have driven past their factory on a number of occasions means that the brand was already somewhat ingrained.

In all honesty then I began to wonder what they were up to.  Why should Hollands send out lots of free samples to people who, in all likelihood, would be familiar with their products?  Was there something groundbreaking going on that they had slipped under the radar?  And with equal honesty I’m no more sure now that I know the answer.

Anyway – I digress.  Weeks later I had neither heard anything nor taken delivery of any pies so I presumed that my original cynicism had been well founded and that there were to be none.  Out of the blue again – an e-mail “Your pies will be delivered tomorrow afternoon”.  Excellent.

Part of the reason for the delay in writing this post (sorry Hollands) is that the blog was beginning to look a bit pie-centric, as if it was all I ate.  Perhaps the reason for the offer in the first place!!  However, even I wasn’t about to sit down and try to consume the 7 different varieties in one sitting.  As I recall, the following day would have been a Friday.  Chippy day at work. Perfect. In to the office I went with my little bag of pies and announced that lunch was “On me”, well on Holands but you know what I mean.

So armed with chips from the chippy we got started on what, I’m sure thousands of others were or might be doing later that same day.  And while there were nods of satisfaction and hints of appreciation I guess that’s kind of the point.  Hollands have been making pies for over 160 years.  They are clearly doing something right. And while the pies were certainly tasty (the peppered steak being my favourite) and filling I’m not sure I would buy them from the supermarket. From the chippy yes.  But when it comes to cooking at home I prefer to do so from scratch – that’s just me.

I really did appreciate the chance to sample the pies from Hollands, however, given some comments on other blogs perhaps they should introduce their goods to our brothers and sisters down south……..

I’ll pie off now

THM

Varieties in the bag: Peppered Steak, Cheese & Onion, Sausage Roll, Meat, Meat & Potato, Steak & Kidney Pudding and Chicken & Mushroom


Brighton

Ordinarily, and as you may be aware, I start my posts with a quote.  Whether it be historical or more contemporary I can generally find one that sums up the topic really quite well.  However it would appear that not a lot has been said about Brighton.  At least, not a lot that I would be happy to post.  So with no rudder to guide me off I go…..

Fishcakes at Giggling Squid

I’d never been to Brighton before so when The Hungry Chum informed me that we had to visit for work reasons I jumped at the chance.  But (and yes this was among my first thoughts) where should we eat?  Thankfully Twitter came to the rescue, as it often does, and a little note to @BreakfastBySea a couple of days before I visited sorted it all out.  Thank you again for the list.

Mussels at Giggling Squid

The first port of call (hello sailor) was The Giggling Squid, which had been described as a Sussex chain.  Now, I have nothing against restaurant chains at all but the word does conjure up a certain impression.  Not a negative one, more like – you know what you’re going to get.  However we were firstly pleasantly surprised to learn that it was Thai food and secondly that it didn’t really fit the impression that we’d both formed.  A quirky, old building with small rooms over three floors with the unmistakeable wafts of lemongrass, ginger, and chilli that accompany Thai food. THC tucked into a starter of Thai steamed mussels followed by honey roast duck with rice.  I opted for the fishcakes, followed by lamb shank massaman curry.  The food was delicious. The lamb fell off the bone, the sauce was just spicy enough but did not distract from the masses of flavour underneath.  Choice one on the list had been a sucess.

Breakfast at Recipease

Next, and not actually on the list of recommendations, we stumbled upon Jamie Oliver’s new venture – Recipease – while looking for somewhere to have breakfast. A sort of casual diner, come cook school, come shop to sell his wares.  I resisted the temptation to go for the full English, instead deciding on the creamy mushrooms on toast with tomatoes whilst THC went for smoked salmon, tortilla and a poached egg.  The food was prepared right in front of us in the island kitchen area.  Once again we were not let down.  Certainly the prettiest breakfast I’ve had in a while, filling and tasty to boot!!

Crispy Pork with Orange & Endive Salad

Back to the list.  Next stop was The Coal Shed to try their 2 course lunch menu (£12). Lovely little modern restaurant tucked away on Boyce’s Street, handily just by a cracking little pub, The Fiddler’s Elbow. A little predictably for me I overlooked the fantastic sounding fish dishes and opted for the crispy pork with orange and endive salad, to be followed by the minute steak with dripping cooked chips and bitter leaves.  THC went for the same. We had been joined by a couple of other colleagues who both opted for the celeriac and truffle oil soup. For me this was the knockout of the trip.  The saltiness of the pork, the sweetness of the orange and the bitterness of the endive all combined to make an absolutely cracking starter, followed up by lovely rare minute steak and chips like my mum used to make.  Our companions both commented on how nice the soup was and if they hadn’t had to rush off would have loved to have stayed to sample more. 

Main course at The Coal Shed

Lincoln Platter

And then to the final eatery.  Relaxing in The Cricketers after the final day of work we decided that on this night we would keep it simple and since they had made contact via Twitter we decided to head to Coast to Coast  at The Marina.  If you’ve ever been to the States this place will feel very familiar, big booths, efficient service and some good old favourites on the menu.  We opted for a Lincoln platter which was a combo of some of those favourites. Onion rings, two different varieties of chicken wings, loaded potato skins, garlic bread, some nachos, chicken tenders – you know the score.  We were nicely surprised by the eye-watering level of spice of some of the wings and the loaded potato skins were better than most.  Was it fine dining? – no.  Was it trying to be? – no.  Was it something nice and simple to finish the trip off? Absolutely. So Brighton, you have fed us well.  You know – we didn’t even have time to sample some of the top looking food that we saw getting dished out in the pubs.  It looks like there is only one thing for it – a return trip.

 As for the lack of quotes about Brighton – may be, just maybe, they are trying to keep this food loveliness all to themselves.

 Be back soon

 THM


Ribble Valley Inns

“He goes not out of his way that goes to a good inn”  Old Proverb

And these are right up there. Four refurbished Inns spanning the Ribble Valley, from Skipton in the East to Kirkby Lonsdale in the West. They are:

They are all character filled pubs owned and run by the Northcote Group, co-founded by Michelin Star Chef Nigel Haworth and leading wine expert Craig Bancroft.

I first discovered the Ribble Valley Inns after a pal of mine drove me up to The Three Fishes.  After meandering through the wonderful Lancashire countryside we turned up in Mitton.  A tiny little village but with two pubs and a large hotel, clearly somewhat of a draw. We had just missed the lunch service and so tucked in to the afternoon bites menu. After a portion of Morecambe Bay Shrimp with Blade Mace butter and toast and a selection of Three Lancashire Cheeses with bread and Fireside Chutney, we were convinced that we’d be back for a rather more substantial sample.  After leaving the Three Fishes we drove through the country roads to take a look at the next site for a Ribble Valley Inn – that of the Clog & Billycock. Not much to see at the time surrounded by scaffolding, but clearly another fine old pub to be given a new lease of life.

In the meantime, after a camping trip in the lakes and deciding that we should return to civilisation as quickly as possible, I persuaded a group of friends to stop off at Kirkby Lonsdale and visit The Highwayman. As with The Three Fishes we found a beautifully refurbished old inn that incorporated all the elements of the traditional with the best of the contemporary.  Although it is now sometime ago I can remember having the Rabbit Risotto and thoroughly enjoying it.

Next was a return to The Three Fishes with The Hungry Mrs. Now I should say that on this particular visit we had been out the evening before and may or may not have consumed a substantial amount of alcohol.  This being the case we both opted for the kind of food that sorts this kind of terrible affliction right out.  Burgers.  Or as the menu at the time said “Chargrilled Minced Rump” although I believe this has now changed to include the word burger – perhaps as a result of watching two poor hungover wretches desperately searching for salvation!!

The burger itself was delicious, served medium rare with proper dripping-cooked chips (not fries), a pickled cucumber and mustard mayo. Needless to say it fixed us right up.

Pork at The Clog & Billycock

And so on to the next…..

We recently had the pleasure of being invited out for dinner on a Friday evening.  And beggar me if the destination wasn’t The Clog & Billycock.  A starter of a Game Terrine followed by a pork dish (the description of which escapes me, but I did take a picture…) which was delicious with creamy mash and lovely salty gravy.  Now I happen to like salty food but I did wonder if the pork dish might not have been too salty for some. For dessert, well if you’ve read previous posts you’ll know my appetite for pancakes, so I decided to stick with these.  Sugar and Lemon – keep it simple.

A great spread – The Bull at Broughton

Finally I managed to take the trip over to the  furthest of the collection.  Just on the outskirts of Skipton sits The Bull at Broughton.  As I expected an old-fashioned pub from the outside with lots of lovely oak as you step through the door. The Hungry Mrs, TKA and I were all very warmly greeted and shown to our table.  In fact I’d have to say that the staff here at The Bull were probably the friendliest and most welcoming of the four.  Now this being the first time that TKA had accompanied us it was great to see that the littluns are both welcomed and looked after just as well as the adults.  He opted for the burger and chips and was not let down – I think I would’ve liked to have seen some peas or beans on the plate but what he had he ate up.  Us bigguns opted for a Cheese & Onion Pie for The Mrs, the Slow Cooked Dry Aged Cap of Angus Beef for yours truly and some Cauliflower Cheese and Onion Rings to share.  Once again the food was all delicious, the beef was slightly more cooked than I would have ideally liked but the sauce and accompanying tomatoes were fantastic.

So that is the set done.  My overall impression is s really good one.  A couple of tiny gripes about the cooking but all in all I have been very impressed.  Now some will say that this is all just “pub grub” “nothing special” but for me that is the point.  These Inns are all very friendly places where the food consists of traditional meals that you might expect to see on a pub menu anywhere but with great contemporary touches. Much like the buildings themselves. And as more and more pubs close it is fantastic to see proper old-fashioned examples re-invented and kept alive.

The final couple of things to say about these Inns is firstly and as I have mentioned, you might expect to see the items on the menu anywhere – and this is true in general terms – but the food served here is local, seasonal and some of the best produced in the Northwest and this for me makes it a winner.  And secondly, these are pubs, that serve proper food. In my opinion, not restaurants that happen to be in an old pub building. I would be happy sitting in any of the four with a decent pint without feeling  that I am obliged to eat. Although I wouldn’t need much convincing!!

“Champion”

THM


And the winner is……

A great big congratulations to @Renaissance_4W – a copy of Jamie’s Great Britain is yours.

And a big thanks to anyone who visited or commented

Now back to wrting about food.  Next post coming soon – RVI………….


500 Not Out

Right, so in no way did I imagine that I would reach 500 followers on Twitter.  I know that this is not a huge number but by means of saying thank you to the various people who have followed, supported, made me laugh and given me advice in starting the blog I have one brand new copy of Jamie’s Great Britain for one lucky follower.

WIN WIN WIN

This is a completely random draw.  However there is one thing you need to do.

Simply choose any post or recipe that you like on this blog, leave a comment and make sure you include your Twitter moniker.

And do this before midnight on Sunday 3rd June 2012. The draw is only open to twitter followers of @thehungrymanc

If you’re local I’ll drop it somewhere for you.  If not I’ll pop it in the post.

Thanks again and good luck.

THM