Tag Archives: MFDF11

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

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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