How to make a frog leap?

    The task: Provide entertainment and fun for all while showing what a great city Manchester is!

    Visitor #1 Experienced visitor

    Visitor #2 UK virgin!

    Mission 1: Friday night.

    Upon arrival, straight in the swing of things; i.e. bars around my neighbourhood.

    Weapon of choice?

    • Hula Tikki for its relaxed, themed bar. I like the aquarium and the blowfish lights. Also the flamed cocktails always entertain. Flames!
    • Centro.  It’s achilled out place with some gorgeous lampshades I really want! (Birthday ‘s in a few months guys, you might want to start saving!)
    • Socio Rehab – I just really like the place.  Always something new to try. Not cheap unfortunately but you get what you pay for: Great drinks. Good music. Always good fun.
    • Hunters for a traditional post drinks snack – Kebab of course. Opposite Bluu Bar and Dough, it consistently delivers great food – not just drunk food. The boys felt the sense of belongings and entertainment as drunk punters were flocking in. Although it was still early doors to see the real circus (1am).



    I could not resist this one too. Sorry.

    Mission 2: Saturday

    An all day-er here. Keep focus and keep delivering.

    Weapons of choice:

    • Koffee pot – Amazing Ful English brekkie. Perfect for hungry French boys eager to experience England at its finest.
    • Quick walk through the Printworks to show them the outside/in concept
    • Le clou du spectable; Old Trafford for a Man U – Bolton. Game. Both rugby fans, boy oh boy did they love it? Yep. My bro even bought the jersey top the day after! Bless!
    • Cornerhouse for bit of a coffee/cup cake break. Haven’t been there for a while for drinks and they have great coffees, decent beers and fantastic cupcakes. I didn’t try anything else but all the cakes looked good I have to say. Proud to say I introduced 2 boys to cupcakes.
    • Rusholmes for a shisha
    • Bank for a drink. Ok place. I have been 3 times I think in my 10 years in Manchester. Chainy/puby type but I was really surprised to find a decent pinot noir (which is also available in Lounge 10 but for £13 more! Ouch Lounge 10!)
    • Chinatown’s Red Chilli. Probably one of the best if not the best Chinese in town. Consistently offering great Beijing and Sichuan dishes. Never had a bad meal there. Truly great place and it was my cousin’s first Chinese meal believe it or not! What a start!
    • Corridor to end the night in style! I love Corridor but due to my Northernquarterism (acute laziness to go elsewhere for drinks) I haven’t been for a long while. Since my last visit I spotted so many new cocktails I will have to go back to investigate! We sampled a fair few between the 4 of us and all spot on.

    Mission 3: Sunday

    Same as Saturday. A full day of food and drinks!

    • Katsouris for a fantastic brunch. I really like the place and the food is just fantastic and really decently priced. Good grub. Highly recommend the hot sandwiches (all good) and the amazing mezze platter. All freshly prepared and super tasty!
    • Manchester Art Gallery. My cousin expressed is lack of interest of paintings and I had something up my sleeve! I took them to see Anish Kappor “Flashback” exhibition. Second time for me. I really love the bold colour of the pigments. The shapes. The effects. I simply find it very beautiful.
    • Shopping. We spent the rest of the day shopping in the numerous shops around the city center.
    • Sunday roast. I made my first complete roast. It was nerve wrecking with my crap oven but it came out great! I was really chuffed. Event made a giant cupcake (which I failed at sadly).

    An overview?

    Mission completed and accomplished.

    The boys looked like they had a fantastic time. I know I did!

    V. x


The Villa in Preston reviewed

Last week I was invited for dinner to The Villa in Preston  run by head chef Nigel Smith.

A lovely restaurant in the picture perfect Lancashire village of Wrea Green.

Upon arrival one notices the windmill standing proud nearby. A farmer lives there. Lovely!

The Villa was originally a 19th century gentleman’s residence before being transformed into an elegant and distinguished Country House, a perfect setting for any dining occasions.

After only a few minutes chatting to Nigel, one cannot miss the obvious passion the man has got for food and he doesn’t lack humour either! A character who knows what he wants and delivers.

Started off on some delicious canapes, we are moved by a very professional staff from the informal bar/bistro area to a more formal dinning area, all decorated in true traditional English style. I like that, it is simple elegance.

The food is like the place, simple yet elegant, with ingredients locally sourced and chosen with a great care to reflect seasonal influences.

After a shot of soup to amuse our bouche, starters arrive.

Grilled cod cheeks served on a delicate vegetable broth and soft leeks. Full of flavours yet very delicate. a great starter. Another choice was the salmon terrine, which according to my neighbough had a soft and moist texture, a winner.

We got a little surprise with a mid course. A grilled rainbow trout served with a well-balanced mix of mustard sauce and crunchy greens.

Now the main. I made mine a meaty option. It was pork belly and pork fillet, served with a creamy potato mash and a lovely sauce. I really enjoyed it, washed down with a really fruity pinot noir. My night was made!

My neighbour ordered grilled duck fillet. According to repetitive nods I guessed he was enjoying it. I guessed well.

All courses were brilliantly executed, served by a very well groomed and friendly staff.

Then pudding. Dilemma. I have a terribly sweet tooth and was undecided on dessert. I was offered a solution, a tailor-made solution – a trio of dessert – 3 mini portions of my three picks: mini honey donuts, panna cotta and rhubarb and mousse. Fantastic. I almost wished I ordered the full size but my waist line was glad I didn’t.

A fantastic dinner, served with great wines with great company! I cannot wait for my next visit.


Gastro Club at The French (Midlands Hotel)

My oh my.

I have been following Gastro Club from its creation but have only been able to make it to the last one that took place early November at The French, the gorgeous restaurant located in the Midland Hotel.

The menu was school dinner inspired;

ham and egg

liver and onion

spotted sponge

That’s all we knew about it.

Here is what we got:


Premiere a Manchester

Peeps, be prepared to be taken by a Languedocien storm!

The Languedoc is coming to Manchester very soon with the Domaine Castan‘s delicious wines!

Yes, a selection of wines that breathes authenticity and terroir, hand crafted by Andre Castan in his indie winery in Cazouls-les-Beziers.

A complete range from sharp and aromatic whites to fruity roses and full bodied reds! There will be one for you!

We had a first shot at a tasting in lovely North Tea Power last month! More to come so watch this space!

Here are a few shots!


Korean tastiness anyone?

Named after a volcanic mountain between China and Korea, Baekdu restaurant is a great alternative to the usual suspects of South East Asian food.

Flavoursome and sometime spicy deliciousness. Fresh and tasty is what you can expect from this place.

There’s some lovely photos on this.

So this is a very simple fact, this little place on Shudehill opposite the Crown Plaza is simply lovely.

Good grub, decently priced and served with a smile. Fan!

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Lovely plum wine

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More plum wine

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Mixed dinner with dumplins and 4 different dishes - Yummm

The menu

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All meat for our carnies but there are lovely veggie options


Hungry Mancunian

From gorgeous wine to syphon coffee via live music.

48h in sunny Manchester!

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Beautiful post work drink from Hanging Ditch wine shop

Arndale market is fantastic for food. Enjoyed some delicious traditional food from Braziiiiiil!

Probably buzzing with Samba and fantastic carnival like atmosphere during the world cup! Watch this space! I will!

Try the beautiful Kibe (if I got the spelling right)

A spot of culture at the wonderful Manchester Art Gallery, winner of Tourism Experience of the Year 2010 for Angels of Anarchy: Women Artists and Surrealism at Manchester Tourism Awards!

The current exhibition is off fantastic photographer Dorothy Bohm. A beautiful and accessible collection of 60 years of travel and experiences.

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This way!

After this, a visit to Manchester Hungry Pigeon Festival’s free gig outside Piccadilly Garden.

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From M&S - Perfect festival sweets


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"The City of First" some might say!


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Jesus in the Northern Quarter?

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Coffee from Grindsmith!

A wonderful weekend in Manchester.

Another one should I even add!


Cruising in Manchester

What can one do on a celebration weekend when the weather is not so clement?

I can think of many things to do but what we did I never had thought of it; a cruise on the river Irwell! Yep, you read me right, a cruise in Manchester!

Starting from the really lovely Mark Addy pub we were taken to Salford Quays.

The view from the river offer a fantastic new perspective over Manchester: street art, riverside buildings, Man U news updates and the rest.

The captain was lovely and gave us a full live commentary about the various sites: bridges, buildings, history and little anecdotes of past, current and future Manchester.

The whole experience (organised by Manchester Confidential) lasted around one hour and was a really pleasant and relaxing one.

The pub is a good place for food and drinks on the Salford side of the river opposite the People’s History Museum and is perfect for sunny days as it boasts a really good size terrace.

That day, as well as getting treated to the cruise we were entertained by some funny looking actors in a St George’s day farce. There even was a dragon involved!

Despite the rain and the general greyness, the mood was jolly.

As for cruising in Manchester? I would definitely consider exploring different water ways in the area again.

Ahoyyyyy Matelot!


Chocolate appeal.

I have taken up a little challenge for 2010 – doing more outdoory and sporty stuff and as a way to make it meaningful  I have joined the Shine crowd for a walking marathon in Manchester. Only 3 weeks to go.

You can sponsor me on my fundraising page! I am doing it for Cancer Research UK, a great cause.

Today was spent training – walking half a marathon that took us to Ramsbottom. Yes, 21k from the front door to Ramsbottom town centre. Luckily the sun was out shining!

The idea came about when I heard that Ramsbottom was holding the annual chocolate festival. As a chocolate lover, I ought to go and investigate. Moreover, why not join rambling to treating? 

Rammi

The set up is simple; stalls spread around the lovely centre, each exhibiting their dark and creamy delicacies, music, a few events and a general good mood around. Everybody seems to be getting involved; bars, restaurants, cafes and shops.

We saddly missed the Ferrero Rocher eating competition due a silly mistake of my part forgetting the clock going forward… Ooops.

Luckily we walked fast enough to walk around the stalls and best of all get to have the privilège to be the last ones served for lunch in Ramsons! Gentleman Chris, fantastic reception!

Walking into this lovely, small but perfectly formed restaurant, we had the honour of being treated to the weekly apperitivo: a deliciously flute of bubbly Lambrusco. Fine bubbles tickling our avide palates with a lovely sweet and delicate flavour. Yummy.

We opted for the 3 courses Sunday lunch and my oh my what a treat.

Starting with fantastics amuse-bouche of smoked haddock & salmon roulade with avocado mousseline, lobster and caper & herb cream could not have been more rewarding after our long walk.

Our starters were equally as delicious and flavoursome – Seared shetland scallops with anchovy and chocolate risotto for my hungry partner in food and a beautifully executed fresh Corned veal ravioli with tomato coulis and deep fried sage.

All this washed down with a deliciously, with subtle savoury finish Italian wine – the wine list is made of lips lickingly appealing Italian wines – exclusively. I only wished I could have sampled more.

As mains, we went for meaty and hearty choices although the fish courses seemed just as delicious. 

A melting selection of Cheshire beef steaks served with the best Yorkshire pudding ever tasted and crispy roast potatoes and vegetables. So good I pulled a face of sadness when I ate my last mouthful acording to my food sharing partner who himself had a perfectly cooked roast leg of St Asaph lamb served with potatoe dauphinoise, pumpin puree and redcurrant and mint sauce. Waow!

Those meaty treasures were followed by a pre-dessert. Yes, a mouth watering chocolate tear drop. I.e. a case in the shape of a tear filled with a rich yet airy chocolate mousse. Perfectly presented as the rest of the courses.

Our dessert arrived on beautiful plates – a creamy and rich panna cotta with fragolina grape puree and a steamed jam roly poly with hot and light custard and vanilla ice cream on gibraltar biscuit. All this washed down with a delicate sparkling red desert wine.

I can safely say that this was THE BEST Sunday lunch EVER. 

Anima sana in corpore sano! Food for thoughts.


Comment nourrir et abreuver des Bitterois? Mancunian Food & Drinks

It all started 8 years ago when I moved here and invited my friend to come over. Well he did! It took him 8 years but he did!

So the plan was to give a snap shot of Mancunian fun and a glimpse of the Francunian life here, after 8 years in the city!

How does one achieve it? Easy, Manchester is packed with fun, fun, fun and more fun.

Arrival Piccadilly station – luckily, it’s the newest and the one that says best “Hey you visitor! Welcome to Manchester!”

We headed to my pad and decided to go straight out for some Mancunian ale! 

1/2 Day 1

First obvious stop? The Marble Arch! I just love the feel of this place, the tiles on the walls, the sloping floor towards the bar, the food, the home brewed ales. En bref, I like it there and my French visitors love it too!

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The cheese board! 12 cheeses to choose from mainly French and English! Perfect intro for Frenchies!

The cheese board! 12 cheeses to choose from mainly French and English! Perfect intro for Frenchies!

Where to go after a Manchester Bitter and cheese aperitif?

Direction a meaty place – Grill on the Alley for some steaks. I like the ostrich steak myself (light and healthy option but they only had one for 4 so had to have a steak… hmmmff – 8.30pm on a Wednesday…). 

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I surprised my friend with a birthday steak! He was really surprised as his bday is in July! 

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Birthday steak!

We then headed for some orientation drinks round the Northern Quarter to guide them to some nice little locals round Stevensons Square, Noho

Day 2

Starting the day with a full English breakfast (well lunch as it was past 12) in Koffee Pot off Stevenson Sq they were on their way to last for a while to visit all the wonderful site of Old Trafford  and Salford Quays.

Little cute bean bun

Little cute bean bun

After a full day of visit, time for a hot drink and a snack from Wong Wong Bakery on Princess St and then some vino from Tribeca in the Village! Tribeca is in terms of interior my fave bar in Manchester! I wanna buy it and turn it into a flat! If only I could! 

After a couple of glasses (happy hour vino £6 a bottle!), it was time for some serious exotic food – We decided on Malaysian cuisine and headed to Ning after booking a table (busy busy there, ring to book to avoid disappointment!).

As usual, the food was very good! 

Spicy crispy pancakes!

Spicy crispy Murtabak!

Masak Merah

Masak Merah - very tasty

We also had the Rendang and the Nyonya Lime Curry. All very yummy! 

To quench our first after those tasty dishes, we headed to the Northern for a boogie to John the Jean’s tunes and to the Northern Quarter latest snazy addition Black Dog Ballroom for a last bedtime drink and a game of pool!

Day 3

We start our food and drink adventure in the Yang Sing – Cantonese restaurant for a meal deal at lunch time.

We took the special offer “Beat the credit crunch” 9.95 offer

  • 4 dim sums (all the dinners must have the same 4…)
  • A soup
  • A middle dish. we choose King Prawn with Salted Shrimps, Curry Leaf & Lemon Grass in a Curry Sauce and Salt and Pepper soft shell crab
yang sing dim sum 1

It started off very nicely with some really lovely dim sums...

yang sing soup

Then the sweet corn soup was ok... As good as a Chinese gelatiney sweetcorn soup can get...

…and the middle dish was just a joke. An extra £3 for literally A prawn and a really awful crab dish – no effort in the presentation what-so-ever. The crab was something so bitter and really unpleasant. The soup and the dim sums would have been enough and wouldn’t have left us on a negative note… oh well.

Anyway, we left and walked along the Canal to Castlefield and back up towards Deansgate to get a nice warm coffee from the great view of Cloud 23 of the Bethan Tower! This time, it was a really nice experience because it was round 4pm, nice and quiet and not prime ‘orange bimbo time’ on Saturday evening for an almost catastrophic visit with my dear parents…

I pointed at all the attractions visible from our tower – The Granada studios, Central Library, The Town Hall…  Great little break!

We carried on our visit and ended up at Millenium Square where we settled in The Old Wellington for some pints of ale and G&T! Ah ale is much appreciated by the visitors and G&T by myself! Amen! The Old Wellington, as well as Sinclair’s Oyster Bar are totally unique as they were moved from A to Their current location piece by piece, stone by stone after the IRA bomb in 1996! Fantastic me think! 

Once our aperitive finished, we headed to Mr Thomas Chop House for some fish and chips and classic dish – Corned beef ash (10 days in the making!).  My visitors were very keen on trying the F&C so I picked my brains and all my local friends for good places and the most convenient, nice and typical choice ended us there.

What a fantastic evening! They saved 5 portions of F&C just for us, which they had to collect from Mr Sam’s Chop house as they had run out! Very nice indeed!

thom chop house fish n chip

Fish and Chips!

thom chop house corned beef hash

A delicious, delicious dish

 Perfect end of the day with a great and very friendly service !

Day 4

After a home cooked bfast, direction Urbis for the last ever exhibition… Snif, snif It is a great exhibition revisiting 6years of pop exhibitions there! I didn’t realise how many I actually visited! Gladly so too!

I remembered the one with visit around the Northern Quarter about 6 years ago with Micheal Trainor ‘s fantastics specs, real beginning of my interest for the Northern Quarter!

A complete visit of the city center ended for after a few hours  in the cafe in Affleck Palace! I had indeed to take them to our own alternative Gallery Lafayette for some fun and randomness!  

Quick pit stop for the boys in Bagel Nash for a mid afternoon snack.

For dinner, the Asian pleasures of Rusholmes for a lovely Punjabi Curry House!

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Yummy mushroom dosa

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Mixed grill

 And to finish off, a mini bar crawl around some of Fallowfield fine establishments.

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The Corner for Mini Micron launch

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Some shots at Baa Bar

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A great selection of cocktails at The Gin Club I tried the Gin Club Swizzle!

 

After a brilliant evening, we retraced our step towards Manchester on the Bus 42 out of Fallowfield!

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Crazy toilet paper at The Deaf Institute!

Well, zis iz ze fin of a very very busy few hours in Manchester, eating, drinking (responsibly and in moderation) and enjoying what Manchester has to offer – a FANTASTIC  TIME!

V. x


Once upon a time in the Moors

Location: Derbyshire – Glossop -  Top of the Snake Pass

 Time: 13.35

Beginning of the adventure imminent.

Dropped off at the top of the hill, we then started the descent!

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The path was pleasant, not too difficult yet wet and windy but we were all pretty well prepared – including nice spiced Naval Rum!

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The first sign (no pun intended) of civilisation!

The first sign (no pun intended) of civilisation!

Howard Town Brewery  was a really lovely treat after 2h downhill in the wet and windy Glossopdale Moors! A local micro brewery at the end of our walk . Only small but perfectly balanced!  The owners explained all about brewing but I was miles away and didn’t quiet took as much in a I should have! I can still check the process on the net! Fear not!

There was 4 beers on the taps althought the websites give 5 seemingly different ones (websites last update seems to be 2007).

From memory, there was the light Longendale, the citrussy award winnning Wren’s Nets, the slightly heavier Snake Peak and a dark one I cannot remember the name off.

All highly enjoyable, even for a non beer drinker like me! Indeed, Ale in Peak condition!

 The visit was then followed by a well deserved pub dinner in the lovely Wheatsheaf! Nothing really spectacular about it. Pretty basic place but lovely, genuine and simple food which is what we all needed! Meat from Mettricks – Famous butcher based in Glossop, Pies with beers from the Howard Brewery, … Nice local products! And I love locally sourced products!

The party celebrated and ended going back to Manchester merrily,  celebrating the festive season!!


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