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]

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Belgian Belly

Another day and another country.And still in the parish of Chorlton. 'Belgian Belly' is an oasis of lowland culture serving sandwiches, great chocolates and a raft of choice Belgian beers as well as coffee and waffles .
With not a moule or frite in sight, it's a good and homely place to play '10 Famous Belgians'. I had a rib-warming cup of rich hot chocolate and contemplated the Guardian Quickie- just what is 'descriptive of a church window'[7,5]'


Thursday, 16 August 2007

Canada Grill

Is there an authentic Canadian cuisine? According to the menu at the Canada Grill, it consists of burgers, fried chicken and pizza. In what the Quebecois would call "un grand scandal de Bleu Pierre" , my friend Paul pointed out that I had not actually ventured into 'Canada Grill' and therefore, was a cheat. Quite right. In order to rectify this indiscretion I went in the other day and had a burger and fries , which they wrapped quaintly in a paper bag for the short journey home.

I have to report that , unlike Miss Lawson, the burger was flat , rubbery and tasteless. I am writing a strongly worded letter to the Canadian Ambassador.

Thai Spice

There is a certain Thai flavour to Manchester at the moment. I read that Thaksin Shinawatra is a wanted man and it is unsafe for him to return to Thailand. Should he feel home sick and in the need of some home cooking he need go no further than 'Thai Spice' on Beech Road. Purely by coincidence and on the evening of Citys' first home win under Sven, Sophia and I visited 'Thai Spice'. And very tasty it was too.

We had Yum Neua [beef salad] and Gaeng Penang [red chicken curry] as well as Thai spring rolls and prawn crackers. A lively and spicy addition to culinary Chorlton.

Around the World in 5 dinners

Monday, 13 August 2007


Sunday lunch and off to Palmiro's,a rightly famous Italian eatery of the parish, with Steve and Ashley of Sandbar fame [more of their Polish menu later] As you can see ,on a sunny Sunday ,you will often find a lamb being roasted for the great lunch that the restaurent puts on every sabbath.
The menu offers you a classic 4 course structure. 1 Antipasto 2 Primo piatto 3 Secondo piatto 4 Dolce.As Italy is the home of the Slow food movement, it was fitting that after sitting down to lunch at 1ish ,we arose ,full and happy, sometime near 5.


Sunday, 12 August 2007

Red Chilli

Ni hao. To complete my visit to the Far East I stopped into Red Chilli on Friday with my guru of all things Chinese , Sophia. Red Chilli is a purveyor of Szechuan and Beijing cooking and represents mainland China . As the name suggests , it is hot and firey and a thousand miles away from the blandness of most Cantonese food.
We had Spiced Braised Beef , which is a house speciality, an incandescent Tofu and Minced beef, and Beijing Aubergine for sweetness and balance. Sophia says the the food is even better than the restaurants she visited on a recent trip to Beijing and Red Chilli was voted the 4th best Chinese in Britain by the Observer Food magazine. I also get to practice my nascent Mandarin on a bewilered staff. Zaijian. For Alison-it's on Portland Street.

Friday, 10 August 2007

Out of the Blue

'Out of the Blue' is a fishmonger in Chorlton and might seem an odd choice for me to tick Japan off my list ,at least as far as sushi is concerned. However, OTB employ their own sushi chef on sight to ensure that it is as fresh as possible.
Will ,the Sushi Chef

You can also watch Will create his little masterpieces.The sushi, sashimi and nigiri are lovingly presented in take-away boxes and are utterly delicious.Each box comes with soy sauce,wasabi and pickled ginger to add to the flavour. Wash it down with the miso soup.Go along and watch an artist at work.Out of the Blue also doubles as a great fishmonger

Pi [2]

Thursday, 9 August 2007


Pi is a new addition to Chorlton's growing cafe culture and occupies the spot where Idaho used to be.It's across Manchester Road from that unique purveyor of vegan piety, Unicorn. Pi does what it says on the tin and sells pies-as well as mash,peas and gravy.
I would call Pi solid English fare but some of the pies do have European flavour [see the Matador] as do the wide range of beers.As far as I know it's the only place that sells 'Menabrea' a great Italian beer. I went on Tuesday with Gary and Mick.Coming from Wigan,Mick is born to judge pies. Gary, while not a native pie-eater,is a cultured foodie and all-round good egg.

We tried a selection of Pi's pies ;beef,lamb and veggie with all the trimmings. The only testimony they need is Mick's plate as I know of no higher praise.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Tai Wu

The Tai Wu on Oxford Street is one of my favourite places for lunch.It is particularly good for Dim Sum especially between 12 and 4 when they are half-price.It's not the oldest [it's curiously underneath a modern carpark] , it's not the most famous [that honour goes to the Yang Sing] and it's not the prettiest [did I tell you it's underneath a carpark-a multi-storey carpark].But, in terms of taste and value, it is great.
I was first taken there by Sophia Hao,an emerging and talented artist,writer and curator, who introduced me to the delights of "Whelks in Yellow Bean Sauce" as well as "Chickens Feet" and "Cheung Fun". I try to go every week if not more.When I decided to start this blog I knew the Tai Wu would be my first post.
30/7/07-Scallop Cheung Fun,Vegetable Spring Rolls,Steamed Beef Dumplings,Prawn Wontons and Custard Buns all washed down with Green Tea!

Stick to the ground floor and the Dim Sum-it sounds, feels and looks as I imagine Hong Kong to be.


The Idea-"Around the World in 80 Dinners [while staying in the same place] is a journal and food diary for reluctant tourists and lazy foodies like me.The idea developed out of a chance remark I made to a friend last year.Friend"where did you go on your holidays?" Me "lunch".So, the concept is that I eat in as many restaurants and cafes from different countries while staying more or less in the same city. Which is Manchester. I say more or less in the same place as even a quick glance at 'City Life Food and Drink,Greater Manchester,2007 revised and updated' will tell you that there are no where near 80 countries represented culinary-wise. I am allowed to stray beyond the city limits in search of exotic experiences.For example,there is a Chilean restaurant in Liverpool which is on my list [and a Brazilian] whereas Manchester can only boast of an Argentinian. Regional differences also count as in Cantonese and Sichuan.
This is also a journey in a metaphoric sense so my final destination is not important.80 is a fairly random number in that it only tips a nod to Jules Verne [how did he choose 80 days?] so I intend to enjoy the trip as I will no doubt die of an obesity related heart disease or explode like the man at the end of that Python movie before I get close to 80 dinners.
I do not intend for this to be a guide or a review of the restaurants as I am neither a tour guide or a food critic. Rather ,it will be a record [with photos] of what I and my friends eat ,the places we go and the experiences we have. All of which I hope will be of some interest.......

Tuesday, 7 August 2007