Thursday, 10 December 2009


Seasons Greetings, dear readers! As you've no doubt guessed that the feastive season is upon us once again- as if the drunken idiots wearing Santa hats and the anxious ridden faces of shoppers carrying Primark bags didn't alert you (tho the shoppers could be anytime of the year). As ever, the catering industry has moved into cheap but overpriced turkey meals for even drunker office workers mode and we at 'Aroundtheworldin80dinners' Global headquarters, Beijing (Manchester Branch) almost give up on finding a meal without a festive flavour. One such recent exception was a visit to the highly recommended Ning, in the Northern Quarter.

Ning serves great Malaysian and Thai food such as this tasty Mensummun curry, cooled only by a few ice cold Singha beers.

I went with the Chinese Film Forum, UK (Felicia, Ying, Xiaochen and me) and invited guests ( Shivani, Lucia, Dong and Steve) to celebrate our first Christmas as a group- watch out for forthcoming events!! It was a great evening and thanks to Felicia for organising it. It also marked the first of what I hope to be many CFFUK celebrations (hey, it worked for French Connection) and the first of many festive parties to follow...Merry Christmas to one and all.

Sunday, 15 November 2009


It's been a busy month for us at 'Aroundtheworldin80dinners' Global Headquarters, Beijing (Manchester Branch). We offer a Gold Standard Cultural Ambassador Service to other institutions. As part of the 'Visible Secrets:Hong Kong Women Filmmakers Festival'at the Cornerhouse, I was engaged to provide both my culinary and filmic knowledge to the visiting dignitaries. This meant many galas and premieres as well as the many celebratory dinners that attend such functions. Although, I suspect my actual duties didn't go beyond that of court jester.

One magnificent function was held at 'Zouk', a relatively new Asian restaurant and grill, serving tasty treats such as the succulent Tandoori chops

Jessey and Teresa

The occasion was to honour our esteemed guests from Hong Kong, Ivy Ho, Teresa Kwong and Jessey Shan. Both Ivy and Jessey gave us the pleasure of hosting the western premieres of their new films, "Claustrophobia"(Ivy Ho,2009) and "Lovers on the Road" (Jessey Tsang Tsiu Shan,2009) and both were excellent. Teresa showcased the marvelous 'Hong Kong Short Film Festival' that she runs and which I hope to attend one day.
The festival is now over and our guests have returned home, hopefully with many good memories and many new friendships. To them I say 'Ng Gui', you were 'Jan!!'.I ,too, returned home to find a strange fire breathing dragon in my kitchen- then I remembered, it was a cooker.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Eat Goody

Dear readers, as you will no doubt gather if you venture out to Oxford road, that the academic year has started. The congestion has only been added to by those pesky Tories, who have been heard loudly complaining about the lack of decent restaurants in our great, non-tory city. Not followers of 'Aroundtheworldin80dinners' then. They scurry back to whatever God forsaken holes they crawled out of today, hopefully never to darken our doorsteps again.
I have to say that around the University, they are nearly right. There is little in the way of good eats ('haochi' as they say in China). So I was happily surprised when I happened upon 'Eat Goody' on my very doorstep. Not a cannibalistic tribute to the late, sainted Jade, but a Korean fusion cafe. Though given the peccadilloes of Kim Il Jung, I'm always a little nervous when I see the words 'Korean' and 'fusion' in the same sentence.

As it turned out 'Eat Goody' is an excellent eatery, serving Korean goodies not normally found in Manchester. Such as the tasty chicken chili stew you see above, also beef bulgugi, bibimbaps, dupbaps and kimchi juns to a discerning University clientele seeking sanctuary from the usual pizza and kebab joints the infest the area.

I went with my colleague and 'hanyu laoshi', Qi (Chinese teacher), who appeared to enjoy her chicken ramen with gusto. We both agreed it was indeed 'haochi, hen haochi!'.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Azad Manzil

Despite a strict code of conduct here at 'ATWIED' Global Headquarters, Beijing, our worldwide network of highly paid operatives (application form on request) are only human and as such, have been known to commit the odd sin. Unlike our overpaid, underworked and corrupt MPs, 'ATWIED' agents have their expences examined to the point of torture but ,as mentioned in the last post, we are guilty of minor sins like omission and now another, the sin of return! While some of our more religious readers might be choking on their communion wine, we are aware that 'return' isn't even an eleventh comandment. However, during a minute audit and review of policies and procedures after customer complaints about 'ATWIED's failure to deliver a reliable and regular service, we found that this systemic failure was down to one factor. Put simply, our operatives (you know who you are- Robert Hamilton) have been returning, time and time again, to restaurants already crossed off our global list of eateries.To managment's horror, it was even found that they returned to restaurants not on the list or to countries already 'red-dotted'. Such as Manzil's of Chorlton. During an interrogation (tough enough to make the CIA blush) our Manchester agent confessed to going back to Manzil's having discovered their Wednesday night 'Bangladeshi Tapas' menu (6-9pm). After several hours under the spotlight, he broke down in pain and tears admitting the the short tapas menu of reasonably priced Chicken Desi or Bangdladesi Fish Aloo too good to resist.

We at 'ATWIED' Global Headquarters, Beijing, shall endeavour to ensure that this disreputable practice ceases to continue, despite the excellence of the food and staff of unscrupulous restaurants like Manzil. It will be added to our list of proscribed establishments such as Red Chilli, Tai Wu, Al Jazera, Turkish Deilght, Samsi, Aladdin, Great Kathmandu.....

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Yadgar Cafe

Of the seven deadly sins, the sin of omission is not there. I mention this as I was planting my red dot on Syria to mark my 50th meal (see previous post) there was no such dot on Pakistan. Given the ubuquity of the food from the sub-continent in Manchester, such an omission is a sin indeed. To make up for this grievous oversight, we at 'Aroundtheworldin80dinners Global Enterprises (Beijing) PLC' will bring you 2 reports from Pakistan with no expence spared. The first is from the Yadgar Cafe, a rememant from the ragtrade in the increasingly trendy Northern Quarter. I have been going to the Yadgar for more years than I care to remember for the authentic taste of Asia, as the Curry mile catered for Anglo-Indian (usually drunk) palates.

I always have the Aloo Gobi, as genuine a dish you'll find this side of Lahore and a firm favourite with us at 'ATWIED'(Beijing) PLC. My next visit is to an upmarket joint in the 'Mile' that too claims Pakistani authenticity. To be continued.....

50th Meal Celebration Commemorative Edition

Welcome, valued readers, to the '50th Meal Celebration Commemorative Edition'. It's been two years since the founding of 'Aroundtheworldin80dinners Global Enterprises (Beijing) PLC' and we have reached a milestone, our fiftieth meal. To mark such a momentous occasion, I took the entire staff to 'Moonlight' in Rusholme for a celebratory ice cream. Mmmmm!

While not as romantic as Lindy's on Route 66, we had a wonderful time and look forward to continuing our exploration of the culinary landscape of Manchester and beyond until we reach the magic '80'. We also continue to lose pounds (£) and gain a few (lbs).

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Around the World in 50 dinners


Once again, good readers, I must thank you for your patience as I have finally reached 50 restaurants. We at 'Aroundtheworldin80dinners' Global Headquarters (Beijing) realise that after getting half way last year, it has taken the best part of a year to crawl through the next 10. All will be explained in the forthcoming '50th Meal Celebration Edition' (signed limited edition available). To mark this momentous occasion I invited 'The Blonde' to celebrate at Alladin in Withington.

Alladin is a hidden gem of a Sryian eatery, serving exquisite Middle-Eastern food to Manchester's great and good for many years (Dev from Corrie was there!). We ate Kibbeh, fathoosh, tabbouleh and fayatar wth a fruity BYO white and a sweet Turkish coffee with a heavy hint of cardamon. A feast worthy of the occasion.

'The Blonde' is a relative newcomer to our great city and the newist member of 'Aroundtheworldin80dinners Exclusive Dining Club, (invitation only). She is fantastic company and the perfect companion on such a special event. 'Dev from Corrie' signed a menu, which is now availble as a limited edition '50th Meal Celebration' porcelain plate (price on request).

Wednesday, 15 July 2009


On my way to the cinema to see 'Blood, the Last Vampire', which according to the Guardian was 'Japanese school girls with swords fight vampires', the hunger struck. I stopped at a newish Greek Cypriot stall at the Arndale Food hall called 'Zorba's'. Now I'm old enough to remember the film with Anthony Quinn and Alan Bates, and that famous dance on the beach.

While lazily grazing on kefthes and rice (and wondering if there was a Turkish Cypriot restaurant- answers on a postcard), I realised this was a rare thing for a film historian and food lover, a film\food franchise. The only others I could think of were 'Tampopo' and a small take-away in north Manchester, 'The Omar Shariff'. I began to think of possible others-'Good bye Mister Chips', a health-conscience chippie or 'Hamberger Hill', a war themed fast food place with staff dressed as Rambo or, my personal favourite, '101 Dalmations', a Korean bosinting (dog stew) chain.

Someone said that life was all disappointment then you die-well there was only one school girl with a sword and Zorba was from Crete.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Restaurante O'Refugio, nr Lisbon

I took a short break from all the end-of-term madness at MMU to go to June and Rowena's joint birthday party in Valado da Santa Quiteria, a small village about an hour from Lisbon. It was a great party with all the trimmings- and it went on for two days, at least that's what I remember! Outside of that though, two culinary highlights stand out.

Firstly, a fabulous lunch at the Restaurante O'Refugio as a thank you to Maria. I stayed on Maria's farm with the goats, rabbits and chickens-I ain't afraid of no goats. The lunch was long and leisurely washed down with a rustic White and a few glasses of Port, the kind of delight that only the Europeans know how to indulge.

The second was an afternoon spent helping Maria make 'pasteis de Bacalhau', croquettes of salt cod, potatoes, egg and parsley and as fine a thing ever to come out of a frying pan as I've ever tasted. It was an experience I will never forget, I had found an Iberian Ambridge and my very own Clarrie.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Bem Brazil

Continuing the South American theme, Aureja and I went to 'Bem Brazil' (as in 'esta bem'-'its OK') on a rare sunny afternoon in early June. As you can see it's been some time lingering in my mind as the last few weeks have been taken up with grading papers and exams (over a million words!). All of which leaves me with a kind of word phobia that I'm only now getting over ,for example, I can read a newspaper without the overwhelming desire to mark it. So, my patient readers, you can see the prospect of putting pen to paper has been a daunting one. Thankfully this does not extend to reading menus.

'Bem Brazil' is a 'rodizio' restaurant. This means it serves a never-ending succession of succulent grilled meats to which one can add greens, salads, potatoes and rice (it caters for the rare Brazilian vegetarian as well) It was delicious as it was exotic.

It proved to be a warm and tasteful afternoon in the company of the sultry Aureja, and I hope there are a few more before she inevitabley sails away on a summer breeze.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

The Gaucho Grill

I have been saving the Argentinian 'Gaucho' for a special occasion for quite some time, almost since 'Aroundtheworldin80dinners' began. Well just such an occasion arose last week, it was Maxine's birthday. I have sometimes talked of my old pal Serendipity before and once again she paid me an unexpected visit a few weeks ago. At an opening of a photography show, I spotted Maxine, who I had seen at many of these do's before but had never had to courage to say 'hi'. Serendipity waved her magic wand of fate and before you could say 'Chablis', we were chatting away over a few glasses of chilled white wine. Of all the openings in all the world...

I invited Maxine to spend a small part of her celebrations with me over a splendid steak lunch at this well appointed South American eatery. We ate heartly and after several glasses of good wine, well and truely tangoed!

I sincerely hope Maxine had as good an evening as I did and never has Serendipity been so kind....I am reminded of the immortal words of Claude Rains "This could be the start of a beautiful friendship".

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Little Samsi

Dear readers, it has come to my attention that things at 'Aroundtheworldin80dinners' Global Headquarters, Beijing have been a little slow of late (thank you, Jenny and Paul) Due to the infringement of other commitments (ie my real job) and the global economic downturn (ie my real job- unlike MPs, I can't claim it on expenses). Despite a heavy round of redundancies in Beijing, we at 'Aroundtheworldin80dinners' Inc. are fully committed to the glorious quest of our great leader and world culinary domination. To this end, I took my good friends, Aureja and Maria, aka the Cornerhouse gals, to the Little Samsi in Withington.

The Little Samsi is one of the only purveyers of Japans' most popular dish, namely, 'kare' or as we know it in the West, curry. It was brought to the land of the Rising Sun by British sailors from India in the 19th century. It tastes much like curry powders of old and my chicken and veg kare was nolstalgic and comforting.

We enjoyed a fine afternoon's lunching and if I bend the rules a little (like MPs, I made them up), a deserved red dot on the map. As the summer approaches, I do hope that we at 'Aroundtheworldin80dinners' Inc. will endeavour to be more speedy in our delivery of complete customer satisfaction.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Blog of the Week

After an X Factor style comptition frenzy, 'Aroundtheworldin80dinners' won the coveted 'Manchester Evening News/The Mancunian Way' Blog of the Week (22nd April-29th April). I want to thank all my staff at 'Aroundtheworldin80dinners' Inc, Global Headquarters, Beijing, for all their hard work in making this possible and I hope this is the first of many 'BLOSCARS' to come.

After a gala dinner at the Baths Chippie in Chorlton, the party carried on long into the night. Readers can catch up with further reports at

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

The Midland Hotel, Morecombe

It was the weekend after Easter when I took myself off to Morecombe and the lovingly restored Midland Hotel. God knows, Easter is not my favourite holiday as it always seems like 4 sundays in a row and I tend to spend it marking. So I too was in need of some loving restoration. The hotel is magnificent as it shines like a jewel in the rather shabby crown of the Morecombe seafront. I arranged lunch with Iwona, an old and dear friend from nearby Lancaster.

Lunch was a long affair over the glorious view of Morecombe Bay. I surfed and turfed on Red Snapper and Oxtail on a bed of mustard mash while my companion went for the Rajish curry.

I don't get to see Iwona often so it was good to catch up. The solid foundation of our friendship remains intact but it is always enjoyable to restore it to its former glory over a good lunch and fine company. On our way to walk off our indulgenes on the banks of Silverdale, we passed through Carnforth. It reminded that Iwona is my 'Ceila Johnson' and that our encounters are all too brief.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Friday, 27 February 2009


It was a rather drab Thursday, toward the end of a rather drab week. As usual I took myself off to see my therapist, which is always uplifting and I feel unburdened of those dark thoughts provoked by these uncertain times. In a happier mood, I went off the the excellent Surrealism show at the Whitworth. Ofcourse, Freudian theory is the life blood of that movement and the gallery is full of uncanny moments and uneasy images. I imagined taking my favourite Surrealist, Rene Magritte to lunch at South Indian eatery, the Punjab, just down the road.

We lunched on Keema dosas and Cobra beer. He told me of the heady days spent making the latent manifest and how much they all hated Dali. They felt the Spaniard was as relevent to the movement as a fish and resent his place in Art History as every school kid's wet dream of a surrealist. That reminded Rene of his fav joke-'How many surrealists does it take to change a light bulb? Fish!'. The food was as excellent as the imagined company, but don't tell my therapist.

Rene had the apple for dessert.

Friday, 6 February 2009

(almost) Instant Karma

Jati, RIP,

Reincarnation, Little Fusion.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

The Year of the Ox

To all our valued readers may we at 'Aroundtheworldin80dinners' Global Headquarters, Beijing, wish you a very Happy Chinese New Year and may the Year of the Ox bring you good luck and good fortune.


The Great Kathmandu

Is it just me or has there always been a schism between Chorlton and Didsbury? I ask only because on a recent outing to the Great Kathmandu in Didsbury I invited Vivienne to lunch as she so kindly offered to show me how to navigate my way from Chorlton to Didsbury by public transportation. A nightmare that would try the patience of Hilary and Tensing.

Which laboured pun allows me to neatly segway to the wonderful Nepalese food served up by the Great Kathmandu. We had Dal Tarka, Aloo Bringal and a fantastic Keema Karahi that was just the right side of moist, aided and abetted by 2 large bottles of Kathmandu beer.

Vivienne and I talked of our disparate histories and how we came to be in Manchester, and how it has made us welcome. And I thought of a small band of Gurkas, refugees and chefs with talent who took that treacherous trek from Nepal to Didsbury and that glutch of excellent restaurants that I have never seen anywhere else. My own hazardous trip by the 47 was but a speck of punyness in comparison