Friday, 25 July 2008

The Modern at Urbis

All you sophisticates out there will know that the Modern was reviewed in last Sundays' Observer by that giant of restaurant reviewers, Jay Rayner, who voted it a resounding success. In no way wishing to follow in that great man's wake, I had arranged to lunch there with two of my favourite sophisticated women, Hilary and Sharon (aka the Cheeky Girls), before Jay's piece appeared. While the food at the Modern is predominately British and does not merit a red dot on my 'aroundtheworldin80dinners' map, it is worthy of a mention and praise. I ate, quite possibly, one of the best plates of fish, chips and mushy peas I have had the pleasure to taste.

Ably assisted by the lovely Lizzie, we ate and drank our way through the afternoon in fine style. This was complemented by the wonderous view of Manchester's skyline afforded by the well appointed and positioned Modern.

In short, it was an afternoon to remember. However, after three bottles of rose at the 'Hanging Ditch' wine merchants, the rest of the day proved to be a bit fuzzy.

Sunday, 13 July 2008


I know, from the sublime to the ridiculous, but it still counts-Ikea is Swedish and thus, merits a red spot on the 'aroundtheworldin80dinners' map. Aware of the impending end of the Ikea summer sale, Jenny, Lucia and I took ourselves off to Aston-under-Lyne for late night knick-knack shopping and some tea. We made a hearty selection of salads, potatoes and of course, meatballs which proved to be surprisingly cheap, cheerful and tasty.

While I finished mine, Jenny and Lucia amused themselves with an ingenious game of 'cats cradle' using Swedish liquorice laces.

Given that the centres of our towns and cities on any Friday night are a sea of binge drinking, vomit and death by kniving, Ikea provided a safe haven where we could shop till we drop and sterotype other shoppers without fear (note:avoid the kitchen dept while sterotyping in case of culture-putdown rage in the vicinity of readily available knives). Tummies full and with bags of sale priced goodies, we went home singing Ikea-themed show tunes-'She'll be coming on a meatball when she comes', 'I could have shopped all night' and who could forget, 'I just met a shop called Ikea'.

Friday, 11 July 2008


Under a canopy of scaffolding lies a Korean gem, Koreana. I remember it being above the Siam Orchid on Portland Sreet some 15 years ago, but I'm also informed that has always been on King Street West. A mystery indeed.I mention this as my memory might not be as it was, but I lunched with an old friend, Lisa, who added the extra piquancy of a friendship renewed to a fine meal.

Along with tasty starters and soups, we had Chicken Gang Jung and a Dolsot Bibim Bab, a glorious pot of prawns, vegetables, egg and rice with chilli sauce to taste. Jasmine tea and Bek Se Ju, a rice wine flavoured with ginger and gingseng helped it all go down.

When I got home, a rare North Korean cookbook in my possession reminded me that "you will fully feel the nostalgia whenever you enjoy the Korean dishes not only on the festive days but usually with your friends".


Immigration would seem to be the staple diet of certain tabloid newspapers,keeping the great swathe of barely educated middle England fuelled with their daily bile. I loved to poke a stick at their prejudice by telling them that their beloved fish and chips was historically a mixture of Jewish and French cooking brought on the tide of 19th century immigration. And you will have noticed that this very blog is built on the continuing flood of welcome immigrants, the latest hailing from Ethiopia.
Pal Lucia and I had a pre-movie lunch at Habesha, an Ethiopian eatery on Sackville Street. We had Chicken Firfir, a lamb dish called Derek Tibs (which I half expected to say 'they call me Mr Tibs') on a bed of spongy Injera bread and, in another moment of nationalistic irony, washed down with an Ethopian beer called 'St George'.

Fully fed, we strolled down to the Cornerhouse to digest 'The Vistor', a sensitive and thoughtful essay on Immigration and post-9/11 America. I know that food is only part of a culture but bring me your poor huddled masses as they can only add to the wealth of nations.