Monday, 17 December 2007

Sandbar [part 3]

Well, faithful readers, you've probably noticed that Christmas is upon us once again. For your tireless reporter, this means that many of my potential posts have been thwarted by the seemingly ubiquitious 'Christmas Menu' and for the most part, we all know that this is not a good thing. How many times have we paid £20 a head for a limp slice of Bernard Matthews, a few of those weird tasting roasties and a rock hard mince pie? Not this year for I went to the Sandbar Luncheon Club Christmas Luncheon where Wisia treated us to a Polish festive feast. It was fabulous as it included Pierogis and concluded with Piernik, a delicious Polish honey cake.

An added bonus was the return of Alex [see photo top] who looked after our increasingly Rabelaisian rabble with seasonal good cheer.

To all the good people of the Sandbar, I want to say 'thank you' and to all the members of the Sandbar Luncheon Club, past and present, a very Merry Christmas and see you in the new year.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Around the World in 25 dinners

Boteco Brazil

Many years ago in Chorlton there was a Brazilian restaurant called, if memory serves, Latino's. It was a sweet but short lived place where, again if memory serves, I danced badly to Samba until 3 in the morning with Romanna Flores. When it closed so to did Manchester's only South American cafe.
Recent developments have brought us 2 new Brazilian eateries, Pau Brazil on Lever Street and Boteco Brazil in the Arndale food court. I found myself at the latter on Friday, where I was treated to carne moida com batatas,feijao,farofa,more carne and arroz. It was a favela of flavours built on a bed of rice in a bowl
The guys were friendly as I asked the names of the dishes and understanding as I explained the madness of my project.As I have returned to Chorlton after a decade away, perhaps the spirit of Latino's has come back too.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

European Market

Well, with the abject failure of the Home countries to make
Euro' 08, it's nice of Europe to come to us in the guise of the now annual Christmas market. While it is dominated by the Baverian party standards- sausages,beer and mulled wines for the office and shopping hoardes- it does provide your intrepid blogger with an opportunity to sample the fare of countries not normally represented. After some extensive research, I found a hearty broth from Switzerland,
potato pancakes from Luxembourg and Dutch waffles.

Strangely, no sign of the Croatian stall.

Sunday, 11 November 2007


It's Friday night and, in the the company of the ever gregarious Di, we hit a round of Manchester art previews.First off, a show at the Holden gallery with passable art and drinkable wine, and then onto Bankley Studios in Levenshulme for open house and more drinks. Strolling down Stockport road, my old friend, serendipity, pays a visit and the Sultan appeared before us and invites us in. We ordered falafels,tahini,salad,breads and kosharie, a dish of tomatoes,rice and lentils.

Not only was it good, it was Egyptian. Bingo,it was number 21.The staff were great and the atmosphere was friendly.To complete our North African experience, Di and I shared a shisha before going our seperate ways.

As I waited for a taxi, I could have sworn I saw the Pryamid of Stockport.

Mission Statement

Greetings friends. The other morning I was listening to the pointless 'Midweek'. Pointless Libby Purvis was interviewing Tamsin Day-Lewis who has just published another pointless book on eating around the world in the company of her nameless boyfriend [he has a name-I couldn't be bothered to remember it]. It reminded me of another pointless duo and anti-inspiration for my journey, the Hairy Bikers. Whereas Tamsin seemed relentlessly and cloyingly nice, the Geordie pair are amateurish,patronising and as funny as PE teachers on a wet Monday morning.After seeing a rerun over the summer, I decided to eat my way around the world staying in one place, use public transport and get a number 3 at the barbers.
For real inspiration I've just re-read Anthony Bourdain's 'A Cook's Tour'. It is sharp,vibrant,witty,cool and as crisp and tasty as the fries at Les Halles. Another summer inspiration was 'Eating up Italy' by Matthew Fort. A gentle,educated and loving trip through that country's tavernas and trattorias on a Vespa. To the Hairy Bikers-read it,get a hair cut,buy a scooter and go back to teaching Home Economics or face extermination!

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Around the World in 20 dinners


With another lazee sunday afternoonah rolling by and with no mind to worry,Brian and I were in no mind to cook.We also knew that Jazera in Rusholme sold rather fine rotisserie chickens which would definitly hit the spot.Chicken it was,with Kodeba,salad,
nans,mint sauce and glasses of tea.Spots were indeed hit.

A photo of Jerusalem on the wall told us that Jazera is Palenstinian and enabled me to tick number 20 off my list.I'm a quarter of the way through my journey and it has been a wonder.The sight of a man photographing his food has often been met with amusement but always good natured acceptence.So onwards and as my midriff will testify,outwards.

Kro 2

For years I thought serendipity was a fictional kiddies character.I can confirm that she's real as she paid me an unexpected visit on Tuesday evening as I perused the menu at Kro2.As I turned to leave, I bumped into Saltz and Nikki. Saltz is an old friend of mine and Nikki is an old friend of Saltz's.She claimed that they met 16 years ago at the Hacienda.I said that unless they were letting primary school kids in at the time that this was not possible.

With fate bringing us together, we celebrated with plates of Frikedellar [Danish meatballs] all round.It was an enjoyable evening of stories,reminiscinces,friendships renewed and made anew.

Serendipity can be magic.

Sunday, 28 October 2007


I had to face up to it.After a period of denial, I was still in mourning for Mourinho. With a heavy heart, I had to admit that my unrequited affair with the special one was over. To start the healing process, I invited pal Andrea to lunch at newish Portugese eatery, Luso.

With thankfully no discernible interest in football, Andrea is an erudite conversationalist with a European educated palate. We started with Clams Cataplana , Piri Piri chicken livers and academic life, moving on to Lamb Castelo Branco, Piri Piri Chicken, art, film and with no mention of Jose, my admiration of some of Kevin Costners' sports output [Bull Durham and Tin Cup].

It proved to be a restorative encounter and we parted replenished. As for me and Jose, he will always have a place in my heart. But, with the 6-0 gubbing of City, I can finally move on.


Of all the crimes Lebanon has had to suffer, the tackiest has to be the Human Leagues' attempt to explain the complexities of that country to bepimpled new romantics, 'Lebanon'.While no apology could ever make up for this cultural insult,I can only say sorry for this even tackier segway to 'Fatoosh',a Lebanese restauarent on the edge of Rusholme. It offers a selection of mezze from which Brian and I chose fatoosh ,tabbouleh,hommos beruity,naqaneq and fatayer as well as refreshing mint tea.

Mezze were made for sharing [ mentioned obliquely by HL as in "life was cheap on bread and wine,and sharing meant no shame".] It could have only been improved by a glass or two of Cheateau Musar, but B and I shared until we could eat no more
I can also commend the architecture which served to enhance the food. The downside? The Human League are reforming.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Sandbar [part 2]

With Oktoberfest over and German food banished from the menu at the Sandbar, Wisia, the superbly talented Polish chef, returned to her roots.At the behest of your correspondent, Wisia recreated what many consider to be her masterpiece, Golabki.Roughly translated as 'little pigeons', golabki are cabbage parcels stuffed with pork and rice and smothered in a rich tomato gravy. Like the Shredded Wheat advert of old, we managed to convince the ever generous Wisia that 3 golabki was too much for anyone.


I was joined by my friend and colleague ,Di, for this handsome feast. We came, we saw, we conquered and we were filled.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Around the World in 15 dinners


With number 15 coming up, not to mention 14 stone on the scales, the enormity of my task is beginning to weigh heavily on mind and body. So I hope you will forgive me if I cut the odd corner. As in the Sandbar is my favourite lunch-time haunt but usually serves Polish fare [more of this at a later date].To celebrate the arrival of October, they put on a Baverian feast of Bratwurst, warm potato and bacon salad and red cabbage with a free pint of Pavlaner Oktoberfest beer thrown in for good measure.

For those students of modern European history, you have to imagine the Sandbar as the Danzig of Manchester cafe/bars and it was annexed by German food for the day. Jan even dressed the part.

Sunday, 30 September 2007


With the leaves turning and Autumn truly here, I went in search of warmer climes and found it tucked behind MMU-a two mniute walk away from work -'Jati' Malay [and Thai] Cafe. It serves a wide variety of Malaysian and Thai dishes in a warm and homely setting. Tea is the drink of the day and it is sweetly served in dimpled pint mugs. I never drink non-alcoholic drinks after 11 00 when the Sun is well over the yard arm in my book and 'Jati' being 100% halal, I stuck to water [yes I know what fish do in it].

I had a lunch special, Malaysian Chicken Curry with crunchy curried veg and rice. The meat fell from the bone-juicy and tender in the mouth. I was transported from that dark and dull day in a moment.
The staff were as welcoming as a South China Sea breeze and the girls bade me a sunny Malay farewell as I left in search of Mr Peroni.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Lounge Ten

On a wet Wednesday afternoon I went in search of some comforting sustenance French-style to Lounge Ten on Tib Lane. In recent years Manchester has lost some of its finest French restaurants, Le Mont and Brasserie St Pierre to name but two and gained others- mainly chains and in hotels it has to be said. In contrast, Lounge Ten has a decadent air to it.It is dark and adorned with lustful frescoes that gives lunch a pre liason frill.
A 10@10 menu gives you 2 courses for £10 and a choice of 3 starters and mains as well as a short list of desserts.With the mysterious disappearence of half-bottles from the wine lists of Manchester [the true sign of the serious lone luncher], I consoled myself with a glass of decent house red. The food was as succulent and sexy as the setting, especially the pan fried chicken with a rich tomato sauce and cous-cous that came wtih more than a hint of North Africa.

The service was efficient and came with a ready smile [thanks Rachel].If I was in Paris I would have left for an assignation but on a wet Wednesday in Manchester, I went back to work.

Monday, 10 September 2007


The search for exotic experiences continues and with another lazy Sunday afternoon in view, Brian and I set off for pastures new. We found our way to the 'Kurdistan Restaurant' on Grandale Street, Rusholme. We ordered 'Chicken Quzi','Kebab Mahshee' with nan, rice and salad. They came with a hot aubergine stew and a harissa broth to moisten the grilled meats, breads and rice.

It was a feast.Rich ,succulent and filling, we did our best to clear the heaving table but left defeated and happy.

Here's the thing, Kurdistan is not a country.It's a 'traditional ethnographic region' that includes Iran,Iraq,Syria,Turkey,Azerbaijan and Armenia.However, for my purpose it will count as one.And for the Kurds who gave us as such a warm and friendly welcome, it should be. Free Kurdistan!

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Bar Lorenzo

In my youth, my knowledge of food was ,to say the least, limited. My idea of a fine dining experience was a Vesta Paella for two and a bottle of Mateus Rose. Well, I've grown up and moved on - to Bar Lorenzo to be precise.Situated on Beech Road,it is decked out in the colours of Spain and sells Iberian treats from a short tapas menu.
In memory of my lost and misguided youth,I had a small bowl of paella,some whitebait and a glass of dry [Spanish] Rosado.

I bumped into Morgan who helped me finnish the whitebait and celebrate number 11 on my journey.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Around the World in 10 dinners

Al Quds

Rusholme is literally flagposted as "The Curry Mile" . I've not been for years as I prefer the delights of the Northern Quarter Asian restaurants. In the minds of many , Rusholme had become tainted , serving only the dulled taste buds of drunks.When the old 'Shezan' closed that was the end for me.
On a recent visit I found out that it had that it has become a mecca for new Middle-Eastern restaurants and cafes. A godsend for my food quest. On Wednesday, Di , Dan and me ventured out after work to the highly recommended 'Al Quds' kebab house. It is Afghani and sells , as everyone told me, the best kobeda kebabs in town. They weren't wrong!

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Gourmet Burger Kitchen

One of the great frustrations of living in England is the unavailability of something approaching a decent hamburger. God knows I've eaten things that dare to call themselves by that illustrious name . I like burgers and I've travelled some mighty distances to get my hands on one. I've even been to one of the claimants to have given birth to the hamburger, Louis' Lunch Box in New Haven, Connecticut - a fine vertically grilled pattie on toast with just a slice of tomato and onion, ketchup is strictly forbidden.
For all you true burger cultists ,the Gourmet Burger Kitchen has come to town [well,Spinningfields which even Jacques Tati would have rejected as soulless]. While Hardens' overstretched themselves by claiming them to be" the best burgers on the planet", they are pretty damn good. I like the retro ketchup bottles [ which would have Louis turning in his grave]