Friday 14 December 2012

Christmas markets on the Green

Inevitably when you start a food blog, everybody has an opinion, chipping in bits of advice on what you should be doing. "You should really slag somewhere off, everything you've reviewed so far, you've said is really great!" my mate was telling me last night in the Beech.
 Well, yes, I like to find good places to eat and drink and write about them. I want to be positive about places, for me there's so much unconstructed negativity on the internet, I prefer to be enthusiastic.
When you go out regularly though, it's impossible to avoid disappointments and places you just haven't enjoyed.
We recently went to Italia a new restaurant in town. After pouring over various blogs all praising it to high heaven, I was looking forward to this one. The starters came. They were ok but very very small, as it was only brushchetta why not give me a second piece? I hate tight portions in middle range restaurants. Then the mains came. The Parparadelle ragu di cinghiale was inedible - it was incredibly vinegary so it was sent back (and I very rarely leave food!) the mushroom ravioli was gritty and not very tasty, I want mushroom ravioli to be creamy and rich and sumptuous with some truffle oil drizzled on. This was none of these things. The Gnocchi coda di bue brasata was a good dish. The dessert of Chocolate cake was dry. In the end disappointment.
The worst meal in recent years though was at Bistro 1847, and I just won't go into that one. Just let it be said that me and Mrs Bacon will never forgive them for serving us such a dire Sunday dinner.
The snowman remains smiling despite the fact that he will melt!
Neither am I a fan of The Horse & Jockey on Chorlton Green. The food has constantly disappointed over several meals, the beer is unreliable in range as well as taste (often way too bitter for my palette)  and I hate the piped music and the large TV. When sat anywhere near the screen your eyes can't help but look at it. We were in there on our own one time and asked the manager if he wouldn't mind turning it off. He was reluctant, saying "it's a feature" He was clearly very proud of his TV. For me TV's  have no place in good pubs, only a little one in a corner at a push.
Having said that, and rather predictably, I have to praise what the Horse & Jockey have done for Chorlton Green. The events that they have organised have hugely improved the area for the better. Having regular farmers markets on the green was a wonderful idea, and I think have inspired other places like The Beech to do vintage clothes stalls every Saturday.
So I wandered down there last night to take a look at The Christmas Markets on the Green. I wasn't going to buy anything. As I walked down I passed both the Rotary Club dressed as Santas playing Christmas brass band music and a group of school children singing Christmas carols, all we need now is snow and we have the full Christmas picture. It was certainly cold enough.
Pizza base and sauce
I was offered a slice of pizza by an amiable chap at Dough it Yourself.
Now I've heard of this concept, as they supply Epicerie Ludo. I was initially sceptical. If I was staying in and being lazy, I can't be bothered to part make it. I'll just buy one, Pizza Express or Waitrose's own are passable. 
Bianca sauce.

Then I tasted his pizza. It was good. No it was great! The base was absolutely superb, thin light and super crispy as all civilised people agree pizza should be. It was like a proper Neapolitan pizza. I waited around for the next one to come out of his little oven, chatting.
 This one was his bianca sauce; extra virgin olive oil, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper. If anything, it was better. I had to buy that one. You get two bases and a sauce for a fiver. You provide your own cheese. (I'd be happy to pay a bit more if he provided the half cheddar grated and half mozzarella.)  Enthusing to Mrs Bacon about these pizzas, I wanted her to taste both sauces for herself. So I had to pop back and get the romano topping, (crush tomatoes, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper.)
Romano sauce

Pizza is simple food, so it's incredible that so many places get it wrong, the base is often too thick and  doughy. But done well, it's fantastic. These pizzas remind you what good pizza should be, and obey that great rule in life, 'keep it simple stupid'.
When food is this good, it's impossible not to be very happy and positive about it, despite my best intentions.

Dough It Yourself 

is stocked in Epicerie Ludo on Beech road Chorlton


  1. If you want good, authentic Italian pizza, if you're ever in Hebden Bridge, I recommend Marco's (it's just where the car park is where they hold the market, ask anyone who is local where it is, and I'm sure they could direct you to it)

    It's bloody LOVELY there. Authentic Italian pizza, by an Authentic Italian

  2. Thanks for your tip Kris, I will try Marco's out as we go up that way quite often.