Guide to explore the region’s foodie hotspots

foodlovers.jpgA new guide which celebrates the speciality foods that set our region apart is being published next month.
The 260-page NW Food Lover’s Guide’, is being released, appropriately enough, on Valentine’s Day, and promises to be a tour of the region’s finest suppliers and producers.
Pat Foreman, chief executive of the publishers Food Northwest, said the region was home to some of the country’s most famous foods from cheeses, cakes and chutneys to real ales, sausages and ice creams.
He said: “The demand for quality regional and speciality local food is growing rapidly, fuelled by the passion of farmers, food producers and local chefs in the region.
“Greater Manchester is a great place to seek out local and regional foods. Whether in the food halls and restaurants in Manchester city centre or the delis, markets, traditional butchers and pubs in the surrounding areas, there are many surprises to be found. The region is home to some of the country’s most exciting and innovative products and most dedicated producers, and this book provides an easy-to-use guide, for residents and visitors alike.”
Looking through the list of Greater Manchester outlets and producers, I’ve already spied plenty of the usual suspects and favoured haunts such as my favourite lunchtime stop Shlurp, Harvey Nichols and Barbakan.
But there’s also some less well-known names on the list such as the just 12 months old Adesso Marinades from Gorton which I’m told was borne out of a shared love of all things Italian by co-founders Rizwan Rashid and Brian Goodhand.
Copies of the guide, which gives full contact and availability details, a selection of recipes and information for those visiting the region which includes sample itineraries will be available from the Food Northwest website priced £4.99 from February 14th.

NW Food lover’s guide: Outlets and producers

The following is the list of outlets and producers in Greater Manchester which the NW Food Lover’s Guide has pinpointed as being particularly noteworthy.

Find out more about the guide here
A.S. Greek Olives, Salford.
Adesso Marinades, Gorton.
Andrews Continental Delicacies, Salford.
Marble Beers Ltd, Chorlton
Molly’s Angel. Old Trafford.
Original Lancashire Foot Company, Bamford, Rochdale.
Choice Bar and Restaurant, Castlefield.
Barbakan Delicatessen Ltd, Chorlton.
Brasserie Blanc, Manchester.
Chapman Holmes Catering & Event Management Ltd, Manchester.
Harvey Nichols, Manchester.
Isinglass Dining Rooms, Urmston.
Manchester Markets, Openshaw.
North Star Delicatessen, Chorlton.
Selfridges, Manchester.
Shlurp! Manchester
The River Bar and Restaurant , Manchester.
Tom’s Chop House, Manchester.
Sam’s Chop House, Manchester
Wild at Heart, Chorlton.

Peveril ‘sold’? Now you see it, now you don’t!

Some comings and goings afoot with the sale of two of the city centre’s pubs – including the iconic landmark that is Peveril of the Peak.
This picture showing the Great Bridgewater Street pub displaying a “sold” sign surfaced on the social network Facebook last week.
However, I have been assured by both the current landlords and the estate agent that it has not been sold – but it is on the market.
A spokeswoman at Knightsbridge in Bolton, which is handling the sale, said a sale had fallen through and the much-awarded pub is still for sale as a going concern together with four-bedroom living accommodation for £212,500.
Let’s hope someone who wants to make a go of this piece of history and tradition can be found to keep it as the charming “real pub” for generations to come.
If you’re not familiar with its charms, take a look at the slideshow below from Flickr photographers who’ve captured it over the years (together with a few other Peverils in the Peak district!)
No such confusion just a short distance away with Negresco on Deansgate.
What was previously the dreary Pig and Porcupine got a major facelift last spring and starting serving Italian food in what has been widely described as ‘terrifying’ interior – only to be shut and boarded up in June.
A spokeswomen for Punch Taverns, which is handling the sale, said the reason for the closure could not be revealed as it was “a confidential issue between punch and our former licensee”.
“Our priority is to re-open Negresco as soon as possible.
“This is a great business opportunity and we continue to actively recruit a new licensee who can work in partnership with Punch and build a successful, sustainable business.”

Lunch break: Bread and Butter

Bread and Butter is one of those places that lets you know you’re in Manchester. On the one hand it’s just a café – it sells sandwiches, cups of tea and homemade cakes but on the other it’s the epitome of the Northern Quarter vibe with its kitsch pink interior, vintage china tea cups and bakes with a twist.
Resisting the urge to buy a mammoth slice of the chocolate and Guinness cake (that’s the dark one you can see in the far side of the picture with the white topping) I sampled one of the savory dishes for a lunch-time snack.
A flatbread filled with oozing brie and cranberry sauce (£3.50) made an interesting hot change from the all too often a limp packet sandwich and the accompanying side salad and coleslaw was fresh and tasty.
The dainty cup of Earl Grey tea and, oh go on then, just a taste of that amazingly light cake was enough to put one in mind of croquet on the lawn and cucumber slices or some such thing!
The cakes are made on the premises – you’ll probably be witness to some muffin tray filling, beating or whisking while you’re enjoying one of those made earlier and leads to the whole experience being rather like visiting the front room of a dotty domestic goddess.
My Verdict: Bread and Butter is a feel good venue with straightforward good food and enough imagination to have that little extra.
Plus: Relaxed, unfussy but fun atmosphere and décor.
Minus: They only take cash. Be warned.
Value: Fair price for decent portions of freshly prepared (not of the cellophane-wrapped-chiller-cabinet variety) food. What more do you want from a café?

Bread and Butter is at Tib Street in the Northern Quarter – you will know it for its pinkness.

Need a boot to kick-start that New Year resolve?

Regular readers of this blog will know that I usually pay short shrift to diets and dedicate this area of the blog to poke a little gentle fun at the silliest of excesses in that respect. But maybe my recent co-blogger jonthebeef’s example is rubbing off on me.
He’s been dieting for what seems like an eternity after his mum referred to him as “chunky”. No assurances that she possibly meant “hunky” would quiet his resolve.
I, on the other hand, have already pretty much failed on the booze and chocolate ban but I have kept to my resolution to excercise more.
And it’s the fitness bug that led me to meet Stuart Ness – he’s got some advice if your New Year’s resolution has likewise faded into the distance, the sofa is looming large and you’re thinking that perhaps something a bit more extreme then the shock of your gym bill to boot you into action.
Bring on Stuart – he’ll get you Squaddie Fit! Just listen to him in action on a cold, dark night – so dark you can’t even see him (maybe he’s wearing cam cream or whatever these soldier types do).

Yes, Stuart is a fitness trainer with a difference and he reckons his military inspired fitness regime can get that flab moving.
The 27-year-old has been doing this for the past seven years after leaving an army career.
I caught up with him first at his gym in Eccles’ Liverpool Road and then on a night time assignation to Cadishead Park where he was putting some of his “recruits” through their paces.
But, as you can see in this short interview, I get the feeling that his bark is perhaps a bit worse than his bite.

So they love being cold, wet and yelled at do they Stuart?
Well it seems they do – here’s two of them talking through the gloom of the park.

Contact Stuart via the Squaddie Fit website or on his mobile 07807 039 860 if you want the boot.

Another food blogger eats this city

It seems that new-on-the-scene foodie blogger Carolyn Hughes is a girl after my own heart!
The journo, blogger and PR person recently started up a food-biased blog which is setting out to prove that Manchester is Ace.
She says: “You won’t hear the dreaded phrase credit crunch (apart from just then!). Life goes on – we still want to go out, have fun, drink and eat – so let’s do it!”
The blog has been running for a couple of months and already contains a smorgasbord of good advice. To give you a flavour, one of her recent reviews has been the kebab shop Persian Tasty Grill in Levenshulme which she names as the best in all of Manchester after some extensive research via her partner.
She says: “I was introduced to these delights by my husband who has managed to convince me of their nutritional value, healing properties and all round goodness. He has been sampling the delights of kebabs all over South Manchester for around six years now.”
Never having partaken of the doner myself (yes I know it’s weird, but I just think they look like amputated limbs) I couldn’t possibly comment on the accuracy of this accolade.
However – you can, if you wish, help yourself via the comments below.
Good luck to you Carolyn, there’s too few of us foodie bloggers delving into the city’s delights, I hope your blog brings you as much reward as those kebabs.

Big chefs, Little chefs? Heston shows the problem is us!

Recipe for TV success
• Two strong personalities with polarized viewpoints.
• A sprinkling of make-believe premise.
• Some fixed-in-their-ways (better if institutionalised) supporting cast.
• A subject on which everyone has a view e.g. marriage, food, sport, pets.
Yes, with Big Chef takes on Little Chef, the commissioning editors have had their clipboards out and ticked all the boxes.
The renowned culinary nutty professor and genius Heston Blumenthal takes on the challenge of turning round the road stop everyone loves to hate – Little Chef. With a boss who seems only interested in the bottom line – eggs (as sure as microwaved eggs) are sure to be broken.
Now regular readers of this blog will know that Little Chef has been a much-visited theme over the years and I’m not a fan.
I’ve never understood just why they are so poor but actually last night’s programme did at least reveal that – because the customers have made it so.
While the bean-counting boss’ view that he has “11M happy customers” is laughable, (you may well have put 11m people through your tills but I can assure you that at least this one didn’t leave ‘happy’) the low take-up of Heston’s alternative menu shows just how unadventurous and dull the travelling public really is.
Customer after customer turned their nose up at the lapsang souchong smoked salmon with scrambled eggs (that hadn’t been destroyed in a microwave) and a meat and oyster hotpot in an individual serving.
But then Heston did also show himself to be out of touch with the demands of fast service society – I mean no-one is suddenly going to feel the need to pull up for lamb’s tongues even if it is topped with spud.
I’m looking forward to seeing how it all ends up with tonight’s concluding programme (Channel 4, 9pm).
If it’s true to form the gap between the two protagonists will widen for dramatic effect but sadly, the necessary culture shift that will see diners demanding food which isn’t produced to standards of the lowest common denominator for reasons of cost-effectiveness, will not be sweeping the nation anytime soon.

New bar NOHO to open Wednesday

I hear the Northern Quarter is about to be home to a new bar called NOHO which takes some of its inspiration from New York. Blogger Phil Healey has got himself a sneak preview and posted pictures which show the former clothing warehouse in Stephenson Square looking very suave indeed. See his pictures here.
Phil posts: “Its owners Simon Chang & Rebecca Race, explained that -despite speculation- the bar is a play on the name of the Soho area of New York but with a ‘Northern Quarter’ twist. Rebecca’s, explained that the name just seemed to fit with the area, since NQ is Manchester’s equivalent as a centre of arts & fashion. ”
If the images tempt you then you’ll be able to try out the bar from Wednesday onwards – do let us know what you think.

Hopes for Earth cafe done differently

Could there really be a glimmer of hope that Earth won’t close after all?
The MEN is today reporting that bosses of the Northern Quarter café are looking at all options.
Since I revealed last week that the vegan and vegetarian café situated in the basement of the Buddhist Centre is due to shut at the end of February, I’ve spoken to many disappointed diners.
Today’s news report offers some other options to keep the venture going and that can only be welcomed.
I certainly hope they are fully explored and that the centre can be kept open in readiness of less cash-strapped times. In the meantime, please feel free to add your support via the comments below.

Ales ahoy as festival sets sail for city

Pirates swashbuckling their stuff? Ales maturing on board a fishing boat in the north sea? Just why has land-locked Manchester come over all sea-faring for the sake of a drink? Because next week the city will be host to the National Winter Ales Festival that’s why.
Yes, the annual festival of all things beery gets underway next week and, as well as the hundreds of beers to taste, expect some piracy of the high seas variety and more.
I spoke to three people getting ready for the big date in the beer calender – organiser Graham Donning, the man who helps pick all the beers Kim Calloway and brewer Martin Dickie from Brewdog who explained why some of his beer is currently all at sea.
You can listen to the interviews with this short podcast.

Intro music clip is used under Creative Commons from atoa