Do you expect fish in your fish pie?

If you’re looking at the economy products at your local supermarket as a way of cutting food bills, this report in today’s Sunday Times might change your mind.
The report finds sausages with just 6 per cent pork and fish pie with just 9 per cent fish.
Typically the rest of the products are packed out with “water, animal fat and sugar”.
As Tim Lang, professor of food policy at City University, is quoted as saying: “It’s about consumer expectations. You would expect a fisherman’s pie, for example, to be mostly fish. If it contains mostly potato with 9% fish then it should be called potato pie with a bit of fish.”
Shocking findings which will leave cost cutters with that sinking health feeling – yet again.

Restaurant at 54 @ Glossop

It’s been some months since I mentioned this place opening up in Glossop .As is usual in these things, I’ve left it a while before doing a review, time for everything to settle down and become established, but I will confess to visiting several times in the interim.
And its easy to explain why – the food here is good.
This weekend’s drop in treat of a perfectly executed Barnsley chop exemplifies what I’m talking about.
There’s nothing fancy about it, just well cooked meat, the sort of chips you want to eat every last one and a buttery mushroom. There’s no silly garnish, no “jus” or “drizzle” – it’s just straightforward food cooked with attention to detail.
And it’s good value. The meal above was £6.95 and could easily grace a city centre gastro pub menu for double that price.
The restaurant is the latest enterprise from the people who used to run the Bull’s Head at Tintwistle – including the same chef – and it’s quickly built up a loyal clientele (a devotion supported by the enthusiastic comments my last posting on the place received).
The service is charming, friendly and attentive without being pushy and there’s a good selection of wines on offer, including by the glass.
So far so glowing then but, and there is a but, the venue is a little out of place.
It’s a High Street shop setting with an awkward space, both upstairs and down, with nothing of architectural note more than the wonder of those textured wall/ceiling coverings that were all the rage when…well, when people used to say “all the rage”!
The owners have made the best of it by keeping the decor clean and bight but still it’s the sort of food and welcome which would better suit roaring fires, country walks and frothy pints.
Not that I’d want them to move too far away though – Glossop might not be blessed with fine dining establishments but, thankfully, Restaurant at 54 raises the game.

40% off wine voucher clearing Thresher shelves

Popping to my local off licence to buy some wine for tonight’s dinner I found the shelves being stripped bare and queues forming towards the door.
Yes, there’s an offer going on.
With the online voucher you can print off here, pre-Christmas shoppers can get 40% off wine and Champagne until Dec 2.
But, judging by my experience today, you’ll have to be quick to find anything left to buy. (Shame my printer’s on the blink too!).

Food and farming awards: Success for Bury and Unicorn

Two Greater Manchester foodie institutions have been acknowledged in the national BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Awards this year.
Those leaders in organic produce, Chorlton’s Unicorn Grocery were named joint winners in the Best Local Food Retailer while the world famous Bury Food Market got yet another gong.
The high profile ceremony held in Birmingham this week also saw the campaigning chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall baned BBC Food Personality of the Year. He sounded pleased with the accolade saying: “I’m really thrilled and genuinely excited to receive this award…. especially as I was nominated by BBC radio listeners, that’s what makes something like this extra special. It’s been a very exciting and an intense year – so this award is genuinely coveted and I’m chuffed to bits.”
Among those presenting awards were Jamie Oliver, Jimmy Doherty, Angela Hartnett, Gregg Wallace, Alex James and Ainsley Harriott.
The full list of winners can be found here and a programme dediacted to the event will be broadcast on Sunday.

Region’s top foodies up for recognition

The BBC’s food and farming awards return to our airwaves at the end of this week.

Radio 4’s annual awards ceremony
has become a firm favourite in the foodie year for me and it’s great to see three Greater Manchester companies in the running.
They are;
* British Elmwood Chicken, Co-operative Food, Manchester which is up for best retail initiative for its scheme to improve welfare for chickens
* Chorlton’s Unicorn Grocery which could be named best local food retailer.
* Bury Market which is in the running for the country’s best food market.
The winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony, held at the NEC Birmingham tomorrow night when the BBC food personality of the year will also be revealed.
Follow the event with BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme online or on Sunday 12:30-13:00.
I’ll also update the blog with more on how our local competitors fare but for now – good luck all!

Welcome return of the Secret Lunch

It’s good to see fellow Manchester foodie blogger Secret Lunch back in business – and hungry for more.
So where’s he been hiding? A recent post explains: ” It’s been over a year though I’ve not been missing out on lunches, dinners or otherwise in the meantime… Just missing out on passing them around the gentle readers of this blog.
“A few recent encounters with fellow mancloggers though has given me the strength to pick up the ailing laptop and hit the keys. It’s all about transparency, let’s just damn well get it out there. Thanks folks.”
And so he has with the first stop being the mighty meaty restaurant Pra Brazil in the Northern Quarter which I’ve not yet got round to sampling myself despite having several recommendations (all admittedly from rather carnivorous men!)
So what’s the Secret Lunch verdict?
It seems he suffered some meat defeat but is willing to give it another go: “The fatal mistake to make is to think it’s like a Chinese buffet and load up your plate with heaps of stuff from the central counter. There are lovely stews there (melty oxtail mmmm) but by filling yourself too quickly there is the danger that you’ll miss out on the main event. It’s a drink and graze kind of place, not a big fat heap of food on your plate and stuff it all in job.”
Read the full review here.

@ City Cafe

Doing some posh nosh here by trying out the fish and chips at the City Café, part of the City Inn’s smart hotel at Piccadilly.
Being rather more swanky than your average fish and chippery, this was a sit down and savour experience with a matching price tag.
The restaurant has a subdues and classy feel although I had to agree to disagree on the appreciation of the décor with Himself approving of what I thought was too much of a sea of beige with huge curtains dividing the space.
Fish: Well as you can see – it wasn’t huge! But it was good. Well textured, white and flakey is had steamed inside its batter jacket in the way that the best fish and chips does.
Batter: Another success – light with a real crunch. The coating had flavour too and gave the fish an extra boost.
Peas: None but instead some tartare sauce that was pretty bland and would have befitted from some greater caper goodness.
Chips: Hrrmph! What is all that about? You need to concentrate on every one – there only being six to enjoy. OK it’s a place with high-end dining aspiration but there seems little point in having chips – unless you actually have chips. Disappointing both in quantity and crispness.
Price: Expensive at £10.95 a head.
Verdict: Walk on by.

City Café is at Piccadilly Place, just a stone’s throw from the station. Tel: +44 (0)161 242 1000