Thursday 23 October 2008

My new favourite saying..

I snap you like a cheecken!!!

Sunday 19 October 2008

Blogging ennui..

I have not posted for a while for a number of reasons. Work has been unfeasibly busy and I have had a cold, both of which conspire to make me want to do nothing more than sit and surf the net whilst watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force. And before you ask- meatwad.

We have also done more than our usual fair share of eating out due to the impromtu trip to Manchester and the long awaited trip to London. Given the current economic situation in the country it seems somewhat guache to harp on about the meals out that I have had whilst a fair proportion of the country are having to tighten their belts. Having said that, we knew we were going to London eight months ago, and that we would be doing a fair bit of eating out so saved up accordingly, but I still feel guilty. That and the fact we don't have a kitchen at the moment also means that we are eating out more, out of necessity, when not eating microwave soup. As usually happens when you do a thing too much it loses it's appeal and that's how it feels at the moment. I can't summon up the enthusiasm to write up London, which is a shame, but all I can think of is cooking my own meals at home over the next week or two.

What's that I hear oh yes it's the world's smallest Violin..

It is, however, time for me to update my blog roll
Wandering Eater and The girl who ate everything are two New York based food blogs whose owners posses appetites which put me to shame. What I want to know is why they don't weigh as much as a bus. Seriously, these girls can put it away.
From this side of the Atlantic we have Lynne's food blog, Rock Cakes and Gastronomy Domine all of whom are inspiring me with their baking and culinary exploits in the kitchen.

Thursday 16 October 2008

Manchester: The Modern at Urbis

I had high hopes for this place unfortunately I was a bit disappointed.

For 'fine dining' Manchester has few options. It used to have Juniper it's only Michelin starred restaurant but it's chef Paul Kitching has upped sticks to Edinburgh of all places, to give Martin and Tom a run for their money. Watch this space, they apparently have a space in the New Town and aim to open in Spring 2009. With Paul gone, Michael Caines seems to have the city to himself as Abode seems to get consistently good reviews. I am a fan of the Abode in Glasgow though I think it is a tad on the expensive side other than for lunch. We ended up choosing the Modern as it had a very interesting cocktail list and the menu sounded promising. It is locates in the Urbis which is the main exhibition space for Manchester. It is on the top floor and has some pretty spectacular views.

My duck starter was a bit underwhelming.

The smoked duck was tasteless, the potted duck was moist but tasteless too and the tartare tasty but only due to the liberal use of Worchestire sauce used in it's making.

HI's whitebait were rather more successful

served in a natty little cone they went down easily with a lively tartare sauce.

Our friends starters seemed ok but did not elicit any rapturous declarations of love, but then they did have soup and salad. Nothing wrong with soup and salad, and I agree I suppose what I am getting at is that it is a fairly safe menu, which is a little too tame in my opinion for one of Manchester's contenders.

Nick's soup was tasty

Nicky's goats cheese salad was good enough

The mains were equally underwhelming. I love Rabbit and had high hopes for mine but it was full of grisly bits and seemed quite tough.

I ended up leaving most of it, which is a rare occurrence.

Nicky's salmon seems ok,

Nick's steak seemed over cooked, and I don't remember him being asked how he wanted it done and when you compare it to the one I cooked at the weekend..

HI's mutton looked pretty and was full of flavour and probably the best main.

I feel as if I am being harsh so on the plus side the chips were good and I had a particularly good glass of white Torrontes Alamos from Argentina.
We opted not to have any puddings for despite leaving most of my main course myself and the others seems pretty full. All in all we had a very pleasant evening, catching up with some friends we hadn't seen in a long time, in a lovely environment with attentive service but we came away thinking it was expensive for what we got so I don't reckon Michael has anything to worry about.

Tuesday 14 October 2008

Manchester: Krispy Kreme & Yo Sushi

The basement of Selfridges holds many treasures, least of all Krispy Kreme. I am quite partial to the chocolate glazed ring donut. Heaven.

To combat this I then headed to Yo Sushi for some lunch. Unfortunately they didn't have any hamachi so I made do with eel and wasabi roe rolls, salmon rolls, aubergine with harasume dressing and tuna tataki. The aubergine actually didn't have any dressing on it, so the nice man took it off my bill.

Monday 13 October 2008

Manchester: Red Chilli

An impromptu trip to Manchester lead me to realise that Glasgow is not the culinary wasteland I thought it was, not that is, in comparison to Manchester. It baffles me how bleak the food scene here is. As usual I did my pre-trip research. I Googled 'Manchester food blogs' and only one blog came up which was affiliated to a newspaper. I had to resort to Chowhound and egullet both of which yielded nothing, and then onto old newspaper reviews. It seems that Jay Rayner feels similarly.

It's not that Manchester is all bad, the people are friendly enough, although we did witness a girl getting her bag nicked in the train station but hey that happens in Glasgow too, and the shopping is excellent, probably better than Glasgow, and they have preserved some cool buildings and built some modern ones too. So, in a city with an obvious disposable income (before the credit crunch, maybe) do it's citizens really prefer to spend their money on clothes and booze? Or, is it that they are all really good cooks and choose to stay at home.. Who knows.

Anyway, for the first night I thought we would have tapas, hoping to re-create the experience we had in Nottingham at Iberico. Grado, which offers tapas in addition to larger dishes,had disappointing reviews so we chose El rincon de rafa a place popular with the locals. At the last minute I mentioned to HI about a pork belly dish that Mr Rayner had referred to whilst reviewing Grado, a dish not found at Grado but at Red Chilli a Sichuan restaurant.

'Why don't we go there?' said HI. Why not indeed.
I had been reading up about Sichuan food after reading reviews for Bar Shu and Baozi Inn in London and Grand Sichuan International in New York which made my mouth water.

With this in mind off we trotted to find Red Chilli, located on Portland street in a basement. We were seated quickly without a reservation in a restaurant that was almost full on a Wednesday night. Reassuringly 70% of the people eating there were of Chinese/Cantonese origin, that and the dark red and laquered wood interior and intriuging spicy smells made me think we had left Manchester. I felt like I was in the beginning of that Indiana Jones movie which starts in Shanghai and HI thought we were in Hard Boiled. The menu at Red Chilli is large and populated by often quoted unusually named dishes such as 'Husband and wife lungs' and 'Miss spotty bean curd' or something similar.

We started off with two dishes from the cold starter menu.I chose the cucumber with garlic dressing.

This was amazing. Very tasty. I could have eaten another plate of it. HI of course, had to choose something odd, and settled for the pig's head.

Not very nice. Texturally a bit hard with chewy grisly bits in it. Eew.

We soon realised we had ordered way too much. The portions here are huge compared to what you would get in Glasgow and we had enough food for four hungry people. I had ordered the stir-fry chives and bean sprouts, hoping to get a plate of chives resembling those I had bought when making my Vietnamese salad.

We ended up with a huge dish of mostly bean sprouts with chives in that was still quite tasty. The spicy hot poached beef turned out to be a huge bowl of beef lurking in a potent fiery red chili soup.

Tasty and very hot, mouth numbing hot which is what you want from Sichuan food. The pork belly hot pot was altogether more of a delicately flavoured dish. The liquor was beautiful, hints ginger and spice on a porky flavourful broth. You really could eat a bowl of this on a cold winters night and feel better for it. It had fine vermicelli noodles in it and lots of bok-choi to give it a healthy edge.

We ordered Dan-Dan noodles as I had read people rave about the ones you get at GSI. The noodles were ginormous in size and came with shredded pork and chili on top.

The dishes we chose went well together and created a very tasty, fiery meal. I was however aware of the layer of oil covering all of the dishes and felt that this in addition to the huge portions, meant that the meal was probably not going to be one of my healthiest. On the plus side, they say chili helps speed up the metabolism so maybe I won't come off too badly, and I did come away wishing we had something similar in Glasgow.

Saturday 4 October 2008

Bar Gandolfi again!

This place is becoming a bit of a regular fixture. HI and I were in the Merchant City before going to that other favourite of ours, the Italian Caffe and we decided to have some nibbles with our drinks.

The rosemary martini is quite drinkable and snacks help to soak up the booze.

The meatball and tomato skewers remain my favorite, followed closely by the black pudding and sausage rolls. The devils on horseback were a little over done for my liking. As mentioned before the bar and the restaurant are unique looking due to their interiors which feature heavily, the work of woodman Tim Stead. Look at this lovely inset.

Eusebi (garlic) deli II

After a particularly bad morning at work I found myself in the vicinity of Eusebi deli again, and it made it all better. I had a lovely chat with a lady who I think is Giovanna's mum. She heated up a fishcake for me and told me that the West End deli will hopefully be opening in November which will just be in time for my birthday. Hurrah! I was also saved from death by cannoli, by Giovanna. I thought I would buy five of them but she convinced me that would be too much, so I bought three.

I am glad I listened to her, because lovely as they were, five would had been way too much. Where else would a shop owner under sell you? That is what I call caring for your customer. The cannoli were heavenly and not soggy like the other place.

My fishcake was lovely, with big flakes of white fish, and capers making it moist and spicy. Roll on November!

A steak sandwich.

Now this is what I call a sandwich. I modelled it on the one you can get at Firebird at lunch time.

Ciabatta bread, rocket on the bottom, pesto on the top and in between seared steak that has been marinading in garlic and black pepper.

I pan-fried the steak in a very hot griddle pan to get it seared on the outside but medium-rare on the inside. Juicy and tasty.

The money shot.

Thursday 2 October 2008


What an idiot. I killed my mobile and did not back up my numbers. So all of you who know me, and read the blog, could you please text me with your number and the number's of our friends in common please.