Tag Archives: manchester

Oxnoble (Castlefield, Manchester)

30 Nov

by Annabelle Williams

(Just to make you aware, this was a free meal offered by the pub. Wanted to let you know that)
Not being particularly well versed on Georgian potatoes, I had assumed the Oxnoble to be named after some kind of valiant bullock. Clearly, this made more sense when it was explained to us that we were sitting in Potato wharf… ‘but of course’.  Inside, the Oxnoble feels like a ‘proper pub’. There’s a log fire, there’s woods beams, there’s tinsel (?) and there’s also a really warm, convivial atmosphere. Generally lovely.
A 'proper pub' - The Oxnoble

A ‘proper pub’ – The Oxnoble

 
Alex, the manager gave us a brief history on ‘Potato wharf’ and the prominence of that particular spud being sold just over the road, back in the day (1804). It was interesting to hear his vision and how he’s keen to remain true to the pubs roots whilst also offering food that’s a little different (I see you, Pan fried wigeon breast). Also important to the pubs ethos is the ability to source local produce, to which the chef has a pretty free rein, I like that kind of freedom, always have. Alex encouraged us to give genuine feedback on our experience of the meal and so we began….
 
Ham Hock Terrine

Ham Hock Terrine

For the starter we began with a Ham Hock Terrine served with curried chutney. This wouldn’t be something I would normally choose, and infact I didn’t, Nina did. I tried it though, rich, curried, cold. I’m sure well cooked, but not my thing.
 
Pan fried wigeon breast

Pan fried wigeon breast (starter – Specials menu)

The Pan fried wigeon was pretty damn lovely, though the fact  I’ve been unable to get the phrase ‘the cat amongst the Wigeons’ into this review in a clever way feels like a failing. I don’t know how many of you have tried Widgeon before but it’s a little duck, a dabbling duck. To be fair, I chose this dish as it seemed an unlikely starter, but also because it was served with black pudding mash, chocolate red cabbage and green beans and it sounded like it had sass. True enough it was a small bundle of full on flavour and nice to try something I’d not encountered before. Success.
 
I’d just like to stop at this point to acknowledge my confusion over the two menu’s which seemed a little disparate in terms of price point and produce. Whilst I like the philosophy that most people could eat here, I’m not sure if one menu is to the others detriment? The two for £10 (which I think is bloody good value) just feels like a completely different offering than say the Braised venison. Not an issue for me enjoying my meal but potentially making it harder to truly promote whilst it’s being all things to all people. Anyway, on to the mains..
 
Braised venison shank

Braised venison shank (main – Specials menu)

Bearing in mind my plus 1 (hey Nina!) is not often a meat eater I was a little taken aback nay, astounded, that she chose this. As it’s brought out of the kitchen this is the type of dish that commands attention, presented as an imposing structure sat on a bed of bubble and squeak.  I don’t want to have to talk about meat falling off the bone and yet here I am…this isn’t a portion for the faint-hearted though, I would suggest you try and finish it only if perhaps you pursued the deer, caught it with your hands, and broke its spirit over a series of days…
Corn fed chicken breast

Corn fed chicken breast (main – specials)

Never one to shy away from too much meat, I went for the chicken. Nicely cooked, but what stood out was the parmesan and sweetcorn souffle..I know, I know but really, it was light and cheesy with a touch of the sweetcorn cutting through. I have to say that the courgette fritters were disappointing. Not might I add, due to how they were cooked but more to do with the accompanying creme fraiche and sweet chill sauce drowning the crunch and becoming a little cloying. 

 

Chocolate and Hazelnut dessert

Chocolate and Hazelnut terrine (dessert – Specials menu)

Nina and I were split on this one however I was pretty excited to have another terrine that wasn’t made of ham, and found the cherry kirsch to be a nice sour counterpart to the richness of the chocolate.

In summary, despite my turmoil over the double menu the Oxnoble is a cracking pub that I would happily eat in again. I like that there’s not a pub like this on every street corner, I like that the chef’s classically trained and I really like that it serves beautifully cooked food without a hint of pretension. I expect that it continues to be popular, because it’s easy to support a pub like this. Although not hidden away, finding such a place in the city centre which doesn’t feel like the space it inhabits can sometimes be pretty damn precious.

TripAdvisor does Manchester

10 Oct

It was our first birthday last week ! So are we doing what we set out to do? The whole reason that I started this blog was to share some of the best food in Manchester, so being one year old, I wanted to see what a phenomenal impact I’d had on the world and the restaurant review landscape of the internet. Surprisingly not that much, but I did find a few interesting things. When looking at the view of food and dining in Manchester, the first place to look is on the review websites.
For visitors who don’t know any better though, you may come across TripAdvisor’s restaurant review. I wanted to show you a few choice examples of where TripAdvisor is suggesting. Bare in mind, the numbers represent how HIGHLY rated these places are. Here goes:

Pacifica Cantonese

#2 of 903 restaurants in Manchester

Photos of Pacifica Cantonese (Manchester), Manchester
This photo of Pacifica Cantonese (Manchester) is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Bizarrely, I’ve had the pleasure of eating here. It’s fairly middle of the road Cantonese food and not a single thing about the menu stood out to me. I can’t for the life of me work out who thought this was a fantastic restaurant. I can’t for the life of me think why this is so highly rated and certainly not anywhere I’ve ever heard anyone talk about. Maybe I missed something while I was there, because judging by the comments, we should all be trying to get a table here.
I felt that my confusion was summed up by John H of Eccles, who gave Pacifica Cantonese a rave review for its excellence with somewhat contradictory  title “Never fails to dis-appoint……….”

Krispy Kreme

#35 of 903 Restaurants in Manchester

Photos of krispy kreme, Manchester
This photo of krispy kreme is courtesy of TripAdvisor

I like Krispy Kreme. It’s a great little treat, especially every now and then after suffering Death by Trafford Centre. Not only do I like the place, but as you can see from the adorable photo that someone put on  TripAdvisor, so do kids. It’s position in this restaurant list however,  I just have to chalk up as an anomaly  Not only is it 35 in a list of 903 restaurant in Manchester, but it is suggesting that Krispy Kreme is more highly considered than the following restaurants:

  • The Grill on the Alley (#41)
  • San Carlo (#49)
  • Yuzu (#54)
  • El Rincon de Rafa (#74)
  • Bakerie (#84 and Winner of Manchester Food and Drink Festival ‘Newcomer of the Year’ award)
  • Sam’s Chop House (#100)
  • Sweet Mandarin (#111)
  • Almost Famous (#147 and Winner of Manchester Food and Drink Festival ‘Food Pioneer’ award)
  • Yang Sing (#196)

You get the point anyway. Now I accept that these are personal opinions and that Krispy Kreme may be frequented by more people therefore receive more reviews, however this is not a good situation. If I’m looking through this list, am I getting an accurate guidance on where to eat? I some what doubt it. There is also the question of what it is doing to the better restaurants in our city. Are they getting any of the recognition that they should be getting through review sites. Well, take a look at the next one and I’ll let you tell me.

Aumbry

#3 of 14 Restaurants in Prestwich

Photos of Aumbry, Prestwich
This photo of Aumbry is courtesy of TripAdvisor

After their recent double success of wining Manchester Food and Drink Festival ‘Restaurant of the Year’ and the National Restaurant Awards listed it as the 57th Best Restaurant in the country, Aumbry seem to be setting the standard for dining in Greater Manchester… well not on Trip Advisor as they still trail behind Rare Grill and Restaurant and The Prachee. See for yourself here. Hopefully this may change soon.

In case you thought that was odd, Urbanspoon currently have Aumbry sharing a level pegging with the surely well-renowned ‘China Xpress’. Not heard of it? Well unless you’ve been getting your Chinese takeaway from Bury, then you probably wouldn’t have.

Joint-57th Best restaurant in the country? I doubt it. – image courtesy of Google Street View

So what does all of this tell us? Well if you’re a hardcore foodie, you probably know better than all of this and we know that one person’s great food is another person’s mediocre. However, there is a point to be made here. The point is that there is a major outlet for tourist information out there, giving a warped perspective of the dining options available in this city.

I have used Trip Advisor in other cities while on holiday to find places to eat when we’ve been stuck for ideas, but after these little revelations I may have to think again before trusting my dinner choices to these sites. I feel motivated to start leaving reviews and feedback, not just dismissing review websites as something to take from but never give back to.

While I’m not trying to start a moral crusade of ‘do-gooders’ leaving their informed opinions about restaurants, I would suggest that people use this as a warning that not all is as it seems when it comes to restaurant review websites.

The Parlour (Chorlton)

19 Jul

There are some strong opinions in Yorkshire about how a Yorkshire pudding should be made. Having said that there are generally strong opinions in Yorkshire on anything you care to ask a Yorkshireman about, but in this case they are justified. The consistency and shape of a Yorkshire pudding should be thick batter and quite flat. This is because it was traditionally served with gravy as a starter. It was designed to be a filling dish to compensate for a lack of meat in your main course.

Heavenly beef, top class roast spuds and that Yorkshire pud

Today however, meat is plentiful and Yorkshire pudding are light and are sometimes made to resemble a mushroom cloud explosion on a South Pacific island. At least that’s the case at the Parlour in Chorlton. Rated for having one of the best Sunday lunches in Britain by the Observer Food Monthly awards, the quality of every ingredient is expertly prepared. The Roast beef, provided by Chorlton’s own W. H. Frost (my favourite butcher) was cooked pink on the outside, browned on the out, but most importantly, the thinly sliced meat was moist and delicate. This was almost to the point at which it didn’t need the gravy, though I was glad it was there. Rich beef flavour and an even consistency coated the whole plate in a delicious, well prepared gravy.

Going back to the Yorkshire pudding though, I’m a purist and while the crisp, mega-pudding is eye-catching and tasty, I want the thick, chewy homemade style ones. So does that mean I didn’t enjoy the meal? Of course it doesn’t, Id be back there in a flash, but this is just proof that even with top quality ingredients and great cooking, you can’t please all of the people, all of the time.

This may sound like a negative end to this review but do believe me when I say, no matter how strong your opinions of Yorkshire pudding configuration, this is a lunch worthy of your Sunday afternoon.

Fire & Salt Cookout (Manchester)

13 Jul

Fine, this is a piece of shameless self promotion. Since the Observer Food Monthly aren’t kicking down my door yet to write any articles about my food, I’ll just have to write it up myself. Now I can’t really be looked to to give an objective view of my own food, which is awesome by the way, so this is mostly going to be photo based. The people were great, the food was delicious and the night was a brilliant experience for me and for the diners. So here’s how it all went.

The menu for the evening went something like this:

Our little menu

After a day and a half of prep, with the house not just the food, we were ready to host a few guests. To start everyone off we put out a taster of our pork infused bourbon. With a twist of orange peel and some maple syrup for sweetness, these were a real hit, even if one person did accidentally swallow the orange peel.

Pork infused bourbon lined up and ready to go

So how did all of this barbecue delight go down? Here are the pictures.

Chow down folks!

Chow down folks!

Good times at the main table

Good times at the main table

Ribhenge

Ribhenge – no-one knows when it was built, but it’s a awe-inspiring structure

Caramel pecan pies

Caramel pecan pies fresh from the oven

Having had some kind tips at the end of the evening and one person ask if we would adopt them, I’d put this down as a meal well done. For a first time out this was a successful venture but like all perfectionists, as soon as we finished I was already planning improvements for our next event. Roll on August and our Southern Summer Cookout…

Thai Spice – Chorlton

7 Jun

Thai Spice – photo courtesy of toms-travel.net

Up front with this post I feel compelled to point out that I  hadn’t eaten much before we went out to dinner so by the time our meals arrived I was starving. Therefore my attention was off for this one and I may be missing some details, but I will try my best.

Different cuisines have differing levels of ‘public consciousness’. By this I mean if you stop the average man or woman on the street and ask you to tell them what they know about a type of food, they will be able to rattle of some standard items. If you were to do this with Thai food, there are a few standards: Phad Thai, Thai Fishcakes, Thai Green Curry. The recurring theme here is the fact that you rarely come across a cuisine which self references in the way that popular Thai dishes do. Despite this, there still isn’t really a great deal of public consciness around Thai food and certainly not of the great quality and variety of flavours it can offer. I have to be honest and say that I got a bit of a reminder of this myself recently at a restaurant called Thai Spice.

Thai Spice is a little restaurant on the end of the uber-trendy Beech Road in Chorlton. Home to some interesting little eateries and cafes, this is one place I’ve never set foot in despite having been intrigued by it. The small space creates a cozy atmosphere and a warm welcome at the door always helps. After being seated, we were straight down to the food and drinks (as I stated earlier, I was quite hungry). Being with friends who were willing to operate a share and share alike policy, we all ordered and shared. I picked out the Phad Prik Khing, which has a Thai Red Curry base.

Years ago I went on a Thai cookery course when I was in Chaing Mai and while I forgot most of it, I do remember the difference between Green curry paste and red curry paste. Its the chillies; Red uses dried red chillies and green uses fresh green chillies. So this dish had some kick to it. The kick was well offset by the sweetness from the sauce.Another little piece of retained knowledge I kept from that cookery course was the use of sugar. Unlike in parts of India where creams are more commonly used to balance the spice in dishes, Thai cooking commonly uses sugar as the key ingredient to do this, with cream added for flavour. The downside of this can be syrupy sweet Thai curries, a trap that was well avoided here, The green beans were fresh and crunchy and while the beef was too thin and flimsy for my liking, this dish was well-balanced and delicious.

Beef Phad Prik Khing – If you considered laughing at this name, you may not be as mature as you think… which is not necessarily a bad thing

Having done a number on my own dish, I prowled the table for my next target. I came upon a a cod dish which I have since been unable to identify on the  menu and would appreciate some assistance in identifying. As a sidenote, one of the reasons that I’m not really cut out for the food reviewing game is that I’m just there for the food. The idea of sitting and taking notes, takes the fun out of the moment. The downside is that I forget some of the details… I may have to start stealing menus.

The unidentified cod dish

Anyway, back to the dish. This seemingly luminous sauce hides some excellently cooked cod fillets. Flaky, beautiful cod and a light batter which has resisted the urge to become floppy and soggy under the pressure of that sauce. The sauce is almost too much for this excellent piece of fish but it stays just on the right side of sweet and spice offering up a sharp tang with the fish. (Descriptions like that are why I really need to start remembering the names of dishes. If I go back now, all I have to work off is this photo.)

Now add into the mix the substance of the meal. Sticky rice is something I usually don’t go for as I have a massive boiled rice addiction (I just bloody love the stuff), but on this occasion someone ordered some for the table, Presented in a small wicker basket and still wrapped in its steam bag, it was a great example of the side dish. Flavoursome, glutenous to the right degree and well bonded enough to required a spoon to scoop up a chewy clump of lightly flavoured rice pillow.

After the polishing off of the mains, the dessert menu came to us. Normally most South-East Asian restaurants don’t have interesting dessert menus, in the same way you wouldn’t really expect to peruse the burger menu at a Belgian patisserie. It’s just not really its key selling point, but today something caught my eye. The Chilli ice-cream had to be tried.

Chilli ice-cream in large amounts – cause and cure of ice-cream headaches all-in-one.

The flavour had to be tried and the result was interesting. The cream tends to hide the spice up front so at first it tastes like a strawberry ice cream. Once it’s passed the back of your mouth, the spice sneaks in and kicks your tonsils on the way down. It’s a pleasant tingle at the end of a cold hit and the ice cream quality itself was of a good standard. My only issue was the size as I was struggling to get anyone to share this thing with me, I once again had to declare defeat to this dessert (as with my last post, this is becoming a bit of a habit of mine).

I’ve never been that favourable to Thai curries in general, either here or in Thailand as the sweet and chilli flavours are a bit hit and miss with me. On this occasion, they hit and I’d certainly give this place another go, just to find out what the hell that cod dish was.

http://www.thai-spice.co.uk/

Thai Spice on Urbanspoon

Almost Famous Burgers (Manchester)

13 Mar

About a week ago, I wrote this on Twitter:

@mangechester: Reading the twitter feed for @AlmostFamousMCR. I’d gladly not blog a word about it to get into one of the launch nights. Sounds epic.

This was in response to their No Bloggers, No Photographs policy. So I’m in a pickle because I’m a blogger but also a man of my word. I’m also a squirrel, but that’s not improtant right now.

I had to make a decision to blog or not to blog… which is when I decided to do both. I promised not to write a word about Almost Famous Burgers, so I haven’t. I have taken all of the menus and leaflets that I was handed at the door and used them to make a short write up. Not a single one of these words is mine. In fact this is written more by the guys at Almost Famous than by me, so thanks guys. Here’s their review… of them… which I made…?

Just click the image below

——–

Why I Fell in Love with Goat’s cheese

20 Feb

My god, I bloody love cheese. For Christmas my lovely girlfriend bought me a box of Pong cheeses. The fact that I’ve eaten a third of a wheel of Stinking Bishop despite the fact that I don’t really like the smell, is firm testament to my unwavering affection for what is essentially gone-off milk.

And it goes with so many things as well. In Hong Kong recently, I had a cuttlefish ball filled with American cheese and by Jove the flavour worked! My favourite cheese based fusion however is the Goat’s cheese salad at Croma. Now before I fall into the cliché of verbally drooling over the object of my affections, I want to set the scene.

Place yourself in a restaurant. It’s warm and the night outside is bitingly cold. The place is busy and the air is filled with conversation and laughter from other tables, but the most prominenty thing in your mind is your hungry. And what a hunger it is. Starving, famished, ravenous. You scan the menu looking for something to fill this hole and it needs to be rich and satisfying. Then as your eyes flit down the page, they fall upon this:

The main event - Goat's cheese salad

Goat’s cheese baked on olive bread, served with mixed salad leaves, olives, roasted pine kernels and sun-blushed tomatoes, with a tomato and balsamic vinaigrette

It’s a genious dish. Creamy and partially crumbly goat’s cheese is excellently set off by the tomato and balsamic vinegarette. For the texture to match that soft cheese the olive bread is lightly toated and the crisp salad keeps it fresh. Its a dish that sticks in your mind not just because it tastes great, but because you don’t expect it to taste as great as it does.

But of course, man cannot live on goat’s cheese salad alone, so while we were here we thought we’d give the drinks menu a go. First upwas the Espresso Martini. Coffee infused martini with a vanilla vodka. In terms of the impact on your faculties, two or three of these may have the same impact as a Vodka Red Bull with its caffine-alcohol mismatched attack on the brain. The taste however is worlds apart and is a much more sophisticated, as you would expect.

Espresso martini for those who need a little caffine in their alcohol

The classic Margherita is well delivered here to. Sweetened lime and tequila with that salt encrusted glass. The only mistake I saw here was serving it in a martini glass.

Croma is a personal favourite of mine for all its menu fare, so I’ve held myself back from going on about everything on the menu. It does what places like Pizza Express fail to do; give that Italian pizzeria experience with great food and a simplified menu. Give it a go, and definately try the goat’s cheese.

Croma Chorlton on Urbanspoon

Chocolate, Banana, Toffee and Lemon

14 Nov

Dictionary.com defines a cupcake as:

  1. A small cake baked in a cup-shaped container and typically iced.
  2. An attractive woman (often as a term of address).

As I would never be so crass as to discuss the second definition, I am of course talking about the first.  Sweet Tooth Cupcakery on Oswald Road in Chorlton. Situated next to some old garages in a building which you could easily pass off as being in need of some good demolition, the interior is what you would expect from the name. Floral patterned, pastle colours and a beautifully quaint wooden pull-draw display case housing the delicate looking cupcakes.

Despite really loving the cupcakes, I’ve found this blog really hard to write. Don’t imagine that this is because I didn’t love the cupcakes, because I really did. Even after a big sunday dinner, I still manged to eat two of them and that cream on top is rich and dense. The truth is I get a little too emotional about desserts. A long love affair with sugar based dishes started with my grandfather making me chocolate Angel Delight and carried on ever since. So now when faced with anything sweet and delicious, I find it hard to put into words how good it is.  So for a change and to get me out of forcing out an unsatsifactory blog, I’m going old school with a ‘Hartbeat’ flavour.

If you can’t see the gallery clips below, they are up on my Facebook page. I would also recommend having the Hartbeat gallery music to acompany this in the back ground, which you can find here. So as the irriplacable Tony Hart used to say ‘Now, it’s time for the gallery’

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Fire, Salt and Grits

31 Oct

Can't even remember what this cocktail was called but look at it. It comes with cheese for God's sake!!

Searing summer heat radiates down as we walk across the bleached white stone-covered car park. The wooden shack we’re heading to is cobbled together from a blend on mesh, stone and timber covered in flaking paint. This fragile-lookingstructure holds something much more wondrous than you would imagine; the finest smoked brisket, sausage and ribs in Texas.

I don’t normally start a review of one restaurant by talking about another; however the taste of good home-style ‘Deep South’ barbeque takes me back to that smoke shed in Texas. Southern 11 fits nicely into Spinningfields by pulling off the slick interior and ambient lighting which almost seems to be a pre-requisite for restaurant ownership in the area, however much like that shack in Texas, the appearance is misleading (I’m not sure if I’ve over-used my trip to Texas enough in this post yet… I went to Texas you know). Inside you’ll find a restaurant that is putting out plates of authentic barbeque food and at very reasonable prices.

A few of the states that make up 'The Southern Eleven'

I took a few friends along with me so that we could eat party style: a few mains and all the sides we could stomach. Fried chicken, smoked beef brisket, pork ribs and pulled pork.  The smoke cooked meat is always tender due to the low heat and long cooking process allowing the meat to retain all its moisture while absorbing the smoky flavour. The pulled pork was a great example of this, being salty, moist and beautifully flavoured by the hickory smoke.  As I said in my previous blog from the Manchester Food and Drink festival, the only slight disappointment (and I do say slight) is the brisket. A slow smoked brisket (8 hours or more) will have what’s called a smoke ring running through the meat demonstrating how much flavour it’s holding. This is where the ribs swing into play to save the day. Tender, meaty and embalmed in a sticky BBQ glaze, they hit you with the sweet bbq sauce before delivering the finishing blow with the great rib flavour.

Ribs and fries served on a slab of wood

All of that’s great but you need a break from all of that meat, so I started to work through the sides. The parmesan truffle fries were just exceptional. Never before have I been so wowed by chips, but a cheesy, intense flavour from a light, crispy chip is too good not to rave about. The barbeque beans were a favourite on the table and avoided the trap of just being beans in a gloopy BBQ sauce. The spices in the sauce cut through the sauce creating a warming sensation inside that is as much emotional as physical. My personal favourite side though had to be the sweet corn pudding. Now this I had never come across. I think Nigella Lawson summed this dish up better than I could as ‘particularly gratifying’. A sweet, sticky side that goes excellently on pulled pork over some jalapeno cornbread.

Ok, you've got yer bbq beans, yer cornbread and yer sweetcorn pudd'n

My main was the Southern Chicken dinner. The name alone sparks the image of a home-cooked fried chicken dinner that the dish itself more than delivers. The chicken is tasty with a beautifully crisp skin that has great flavour. Add to this a slather of sausage gravy and that cripsy skin is excellently complemented. The Pulled pork however is a personal favourite of mine. Slow cooked, traditionally over an open barbeque pit, this pork is so soft it can literally just be pulled from the bone in strips. Great with the sides or just on its own I took more than my fair share from my girlfriend’s plate.

Winner, Winner, Chicken dinner.

What more can I say, the atmosphere was lively, the food was great, the service was friendly if occasionally duplicated with our drinks arriving several times and to cap it all of the cocktail menu was great. I got so many great shots from the meal that I’m putting even more on the facebook page. The best type of cooking is the kind that evokes emotions and pulls you straight back to another time or place. Southern 11 has this quality in spades and I didn’t even make it to the dessert menu. Still, there’s always next time.

Southern 11 on Urbanspoon

Secrets from a Kosher Kitchen

20 Oct

The finisher: Amazing Cheesecake

Disclaimer: This is actually the second draft of this article, because the first one I wrote was part lies and part not very interesting.  The reality of the below is that I enjoyed the idea of this evening more than I actually enjoyed some of the dishes. This revision is at least more honest, if not quite as complentary and hopefully is slightly less of a car crash than the first draft.  It is also hopefully slightly more interesting…

‘Secrets from a Kosher Kitchen’ on Monday 10th October was the Manchester Jewish Museum’s contribution to the Manchester Food and Drink Festival. The event was a way to introduce Jewish tradition and culture as well as the idea of Kosher food and what determines wether a meal is Kosher. For a (lapse) Catholic boy like myself, this sounded like a very different cultural and culinary experience.

Learning with dinner

The main hall where we sat reminded me of being taken to church as a child. The rich smell of the wooden benches and the feel of worn carpet underfoot on an uneven floor made me feel strangely nostalgic in unfamiliar surrounding.

The meal began with an introduction to the two styles of cooking we would be eating. Ashkenazi (Eastern European Jewish) food and Sephardi (Middle Eastern Jewish) food. What I would love to do now is fly into an illustrative description of the cuisine and its cultural significance but there the  sheer volume of information we were presented with on the night (whilst eating) means that I am having trouble putting it into a narative. So instead, I’ll try to put what I can into the descriptions of the food.

Mmmm, Jewish Penicillin

Each course was a small taster to introduce some of the flavours of these two cuisines. The requirements of Kosher law meant that Ashkenazi and Sephardi cuisine developed from the foods which were available which could be prepared to be Kosher in those regions. One thing that was made clear to at the start of the evening was that there/ isn’t really such a thing as a Kosher dish. Its not really about the type of food, more how the food is prepared and the treatment of the food. Therefore, you could make a Kosher dish out of almost any dish. However as we worked through the menu, there were a few dishes which could be called ‘traditionally’ Jewish.

The chopped herring with matzo crackers and chrane mixed the dry crisp crackers with an unusual lightly sweetened fish, a combination I would never have put together. Even that most recognisable of dishes known as Jewish  penicillin: Chicken soup. The great broth with noodles and filling dumplings made me feel like I should have been wrapped in a warm blanket next to a roaring fire.

Tzimmes: Tastes better than it looks

The real surprises of the evening were the dishes I wasn’t expecting. Tzimmes was a revelation to me. A dish of chopped carrots mixed with sugar and dried fruits. The carrots are cut into rounds and are meant to look like coins. This is a common Jewish New Years dish to symbolise prosperity for the new year. I certainly prospered from having tasted these (Sorry, bad joke – and they were a bit too sweet).

The Hameen (Hamine) eggs were another great example. A Saphardi dish in which the eggs are boiled in their shells over night in a meat stew, they take on the flavour and colour of the stew, with some developing a marbled effect.

'Marbled' egg

The baked omelette was a really unusual dish. Served cold, these two omelettes made with spinich and leek were another example of a dish you wouldn’t expect to be sweet but really was. this was particularly true of the leek, which tasted close to caramalised onion was not my favourite dish of the evening, but like most of the dishes on this menu, it was like nothing I had tried before.

Leek or Spinich Baked Omelette? It's a tough choice...

The highlight of the evenings food was the sweet and creamy cheesecake, ahh the cheesecake, if they’d served it in table sized portions i would have belly flopped into it before doing my best Pacman impression.   The cake has no base, is pure cheese-cream and is perfectly sweetened and is available from Kosher Delights on Leicester Rd, Prestwich.

All of the dishes, the descriptions and the people we got to eat with were what made this a great evening. It was a meal that was also an experience, and all good meals should be an experience.

Kosher crackers

Links:

Manchester Jewish Museum website

Manchester Jewish Museum blog