Tag Archives: chilli

The Rolling Gecko

17 Apr
Barbarella - The mobile home of the Hungry Gecko

Barbarella - The mobile home of the Hungry Gecko

Last month I wrote a little (but long) post on the Hungry Gecko and the excellent supper club. But now the Hungry Gecko is on the road. The whole operation is being run out of  ‘Barbarella’, the metal behemoth food truck which is the new home of Hungry Gecko.

So upon hearing that some of the best asian food in Manchester was out and about, I took myself out on to the mean streets of Ramsbottom during the Chocolate Festival as I knew this was where they would be. For anyone who doesn’t know what I mean by ‘they’, I’m talking about the Chilli and Sesame Cashew Nut Brittle bags. As I may have mentioned in my supper club post, I honestly love these. The sweet caramel is almost butter like thanks to the sesame but also the caramel being made beautifully thin and consistent. The chilli makes it tingle and excites the sugar flavour giving it a helping hand but it also leaves you standing there going ‘Haoaoaoa’ for about thrity second from the great afterburn when you hit a rich chilli vein.

A bag of the good stuff

The real dishes should not be overlooked. The Murtabak which is a crispy Malaysian pancake which tasted exceptional. This may have been partly because I ordered the last one and the bloke behind me sighed in disappointment, but even without the added schadenfreude, I think this is still a great snack. Light and crisp pancake, the tofu and potato giving a filling stisfaction that you want from a snack food. The flavour then jumps to another level with the hot chilli sambal,  a chilli based sauce which was thick but gave a clean heat. When you mixed in some srping onion greens with this, you have a spciy tang that starts to creep up you nose in that ‘just the right side of stinging’ sort of way that spice gives you. I went through this so fast that it lasted about one minute, and that was me taking my time so I could get the full flavour.

Murtabak - crispy Malaysian pancake (and look, there's my hand as well)

Need a dal dish that won’t give up on you, then try the yellow butter dal and aubergine masala. The dark brown bread sticking out of the corner in the picture is a cauliflour stuffed flatbread. The dal was creamy and actually put me in mind of a mildy spiced baby food. That sounds like a wierd description but it had a smooth consistency that belied a complexity of flavour underneath. It avoided the pitfall of lumpy textured dal, so I was sold. The masala provides the top notes to this dish with a mildly sweet flavour and the aubergine acting as the meaty substance. The flatbread was a bit of a bonus for this dish adding slightly salty, chewy base as well as a makeshift mop to go after any stragling dal or masala in the corners of the tub.

 

Yellow Butter Dal and Aubergine Masala... and my hand again

I have no concept of whether these were healthy dishes but they were really moreish and will beat a slice of pizza and a bag of chips at any festival. Hungry Gecko is now serving asian food the way it was meant to be served; fresh, hot, in a tub and ready to eat on the street. Check out the Hungry Gecko site to find out where they’re rolling to next.

 

The menu - I had this one, and this one and this one


Manchester Food and Drink – Round up

24 Oct


The Manchester Food and Drink Festival has been and gone for another year. For those of you who made the most of it, visited events, ate a lot drank even more and hopefully learned something, this post is a warm reminder of a well spent week and a half. For those that didn’t get the chance or just didn’t have the time to get out and taste it, take heed, as this is a quick round up of some of the restaurants and general purveyors of good grub you need to be keeping your eyes peeled for. Here is my quick round up of some of the best food at the festival hub

Round 1

The Festival hub at Albert Square was filled with food stall and caravans as you may have noticed, a lot of them changed during the week. This was all part of the plan as the food stalls were planned in two ‘stages’. The highlights of Round 1 include:

Almost Famous – From the guys at Home Sweet Home comes Almost Famous. First up for two reasons; 1. They were the first stall I went to and 2. Their chilli dog was so good it’s still making my mouth water right now. Thick, rich chilli (US style not UK style), a splash of good mustard, a well toasted bun and a good quality juicy hot dog combined to bring me back here a second time. As a side note, the burgers were excellent quality and easily on par with the dog, but I couldn’t bring myself to attempt their Double Double burger. Mega.

Chilli Dog of Delight

Slow/Fast– Masterchef finalist Tom Whittaker was on fantastic form throughout the festival, and being directly next door to Almost Famous meant it was a short trip to more amazing food. The Black pudding and fennel sausage roll was deliciously salty, surrounded by light crispy pastry. Being asked whether I wanted gravy on it was just the icing on the cake (and also the gravy on the sausage roll).

Pork, Black pudding and fennel Sausage roll

Home Sweet Home– For the sweet toothed segment of the evening, we went across to Home Sweet Home, while I loved the look of the place and had a chat with the guys serving, my friend was less than impressed with them. Not because of the food, but because when I said I’d agreed to come over to ‘hold his hand’, he may have possibly said that my he only looked about seven years old… and I may have gone along with this statement for comic effect. Anyway, putting that aside, the chocolate brownie was dense, moist and the right sugar to chocolate ratiomade it tasty but not sickly.

The scene of the crime for shockingly good brownies

Memsahib Eastern Eatery– Towards the end of our evening, after several ales had gone down nicely me and my friends were sat our under the big gazebo as the rain lashed down watching it all go off at the silent desk, naturally I wanted a Lamb Karahi with a freshly made naan bread. Oh look, Memsahib Eastern Eatery are serving them! Fancy that. The Karahi ticked all the right boxes with a thick sauce, well spiced with a dry heat to it that is not that commonly found in take away curries and the fresh hot naan soaked up the sauce perfectly I didn’t even have to lick the bottom of the box.

Tikka and Karahi, together in harmony

So that was round 1, but what about the next wave of gastro-street food. Ding Ding,

Round 2

Mauritian Street Food – I know so little about Mauritius that I had to look it up on a map before writing this article. It’s east of Madagascar by the way. There is however one thing I know about Mauritius; if there street food is this good, I’d happily go tomorrow. The two snacks on offer were a Du Pan Frier which was a fried chickpea roti (I think, I didn’t write it down at the time) served with spicy sauce and chopped chillies and a cocktail umbrella to top it off. As the spicy sauce also seemed to be tomato based it added a fresh taste to the fried snack which meant there was no risk of this being too greasy or crisp. The Chaud Roti was a tasty wrap with a butter bean and spicy sauce. Both were delicious and both would warrant a trip. The Mauritian Street Food ‘van’ tours the country so if you want to see where they are next, check out their website at www.mauritianstreetfood.co.uk

Southern 11 – Since going to their street food stall, I have also eaten at their restaurant and the quality of their street food made the transfer pretty well from the restaurant. The choice was good between the brisket, pulled pork and burger. We went for the brisket. Having been lucky enough to have eaten in one of the best BBQ shacks in Texas, I’m a hard man to impress when it comes to smoked brisket. This one was not world class, only being smoked for 4 hours but it was a well-cooked piece of meat., Having tried their menu in full, there are plenty of great options, with the pulled pork being some of the best I’ve ever tasted.

Manchester Egg– Every great city needs its signature dishes. To quote comedian Stewart Lee, not every town needs a cake named after it, but I would argue that having an egg named after it should be a bloody necessity. Manchester egg takes a normal pickled egg and coats it in black pudding and sausage with breadcrumbs. What a flavour sensation. The salt and vinegary taste of the pickled egg alone made my taste buds sing, though possibly also my arteries harden a little. Add in a little chutney and you’re onto the perfect bar snack. Trying to take one of these in hand, the crumbliness of the coating meant I was taking massive bites, to stop bits of it falling away. You almost couldn’t imagine a snack like this coming from anywhere else other than Manchester.

The Great Manchester Egg

Woodburns Espresso Pizza Bar – Towards the end of another Saturday evening at the festival hub, we wanted one last tasty treat to keep us going for the tram ride home, queue Woodburns. Operating out of a classic Citroën van serving espresso and Italian style pizzas as first seen in London espresso bars in the 1950’s. The pizza was made in front of you and offered up with a selection of toppings. The wood burning cookers give the thin base that great crisp flavour. This was all we needed to end the day and the festival right. Fresh ham and mushroom pizza, the buzz of the festival and fading light left us leaving the hub with plenty to talk about and burn off on the walk back.Wood fired pizza