Monthly Archives: July 2012

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