Tuesday 29 January 2013

Barbakan Cheese & Bacon Bread.

My name is Bacon and I'm an addict, a bread addict. Consequently I choose not eat bread in the week, or I become as big as a house. I just cannot be trusted not to scoff it all at once. Same with the booze. So I try and be 'good' for at least four days of the week. When the weekend comes though, it's open season.
It's very hard to resist, when those fiendish bakers at Barbakan have come up with the most addictive bread known to man. It's the crack cocaine of bakery. They've taken 3 of my favourite food stuffs; bacon, cheese & bread and combined them to make The Cheese & Bacon Loaf.
Look at that lovely cheese crust.
We recently ate a similar bread at Northcote Manor (one of my Top 5 Meals of last year, and an excellent bread selection.) The cheese is melted on top of the loaf and makes a lovely thick crust, but this one also has proper bacon bits in it as well for good measure.
I have it with thickly spread butter (heart attack measures,) but a bacon and cheese buttie with bread fried in the bacon fat would be absolutely amazing! To be honest it's never lasted long enough. I challenge any one to eat just the one slice of this gorgeous bread, I just have to go back for one more slice, then another, and before I know it I'm begging for "just one last piece!" I urge you, just say no to this bread, or you'll become a hopeless addict like me.
Barbakan Cheese & Bacon bread: £2.29
Available from the award winning Barbakan deli
67-71 Manchester Rd 
Also available at Etchells (weekends only)
44 Beech Road

Monday 28 January 2013

Gouden Carolus Cuvee Van De Keizer (Red) Beer.

Het Anker are one of my favourite Belgian Brewers, their Christmas beer Gouden Carolus Noël is one of my Desert Island Beers, so I was keen to try this particular version of the Gouden Carolus brand. It was first brewed in 2008 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Cuvée van de Keizer (Blue) a strong dark beer. The bottles look the same apart from one has a blue stripe, the other a red. As with all the Gouden Carolus beers it's 100% natural with no chemicals or preservatives. It only comes in a large corked bottle.

As soon as I opened it, I knew I was going to love it. It's pours a beautiful golden colour with a white head. It's my favourite sort of ale; blonde, strong, spicy, complex, bitter and dry. But each element is balanced perfectly to create a deliciously strong brew. It's the epitome of a Belgian Tripel. Even Mrs Bacon liked it, she thought it tasted of pear drops.
One of the best new tastings I've had for some while, beer does not get much better than this.

Gouden Carolus Cuvee Van De Keizer (Red)
Style: Belgian Strong Ale (similar to a tripel in style.)
ABV: 10%
Score: 9/10
Purchased from Biercell, Altrincham.

Sunday 27 January 2013

Thai Spice, Chorlton

I took my parents to Thai Spice a few years ago. Despite them never having eaten Thai food before, my Dad declared it the best meal he'd ever had!
When we were kids, and were taken for the occasional meal out on holiday in Torquay or Ilfracombe my Dad's mantra to us when choosing was always: "stick to what you know!" So when my sister chose something 'exotic' like Duck a l'orange and consequently didn't like it, the old saying would come up: "I told you, stick to what you know!" My Dad has been eating apple pie as his pudding of choice for about 40 years. They will always try something new though, and it was lovely to see them enjoying their first taste of Thai food.

When I eat Thai or Chinese, my Dad's old mantra comes up in the depths of my brain, and I often end up eating the same dish. At Thai Spice it's the Gaeng Panang. We don't go to Thai Spice regularly, but when we do, I always say, "why don't we come here more often?" It's a nice little place on Beech road, and on Saturday evening when we went, every table was full.

After the bowls of prawn crackers, we settled on the Thai Spice Mixed Starters: Chicken Satay, Spring Rolls, Pork Spare Ribs, Prawns on Toast, and Golden Triangles with a selection of Sauces (£13.95 for two.) Unlike yesterdays debacle at Olive & Thyme (I may get over it some day though I doubt it,) it's pretty good value for sharing. We especially like the spare ribs with their sweet & sticky sauce, and the meat falls off the bone.
Thai Spice Mixed Starters.

After a bit of a wait, our mains finally arrived. As I say, we always have the Gaeng Panang (Thick Red Curry with Coconut Milk, Peppers, Kaffir Lime Leaves and Sweet Basil Leaves; £8.75 for the chicken version.) I wish I'd have noticed that they do it with duck for £9.45, the chicken for me tasted too processed and dry. Same with the prawns, in some Chinese-Thai-Indian restaurants the prawns tend to be over cooked & become rubbery, so we avoid them.
The real draw here though is the sauce. That slight heat and fresh clean taste of the Kaffir leaves and lemon grass with the sumptuous creaminess of the coconut milk is unmistakably Thai. We got ours with Kao Suay: Steamed Thai Fragrant Jasmine Rice (£2.50.)

Gaeng Panang.

One  reason that we don't come here as often is that I get slightly irritated with the high mark up on the Tiger beer. As already discussed in earlier reviews, this is where restaurants really make money. But if you're drinking several beers over a meal like me, costs really do mount up. (It's around about £3 for a small bottle which to be fair is fairly standard in restaurants.) I probably go to average Indian Impress over the road five times for every one trip to Thai Spice. Why? Because it's BYO and so is a whole lot cheaper.
The 3 types of Ice cream looked good, you could see little black specs of vanilla from the inside of the vanilla bean, but it just tasted mainly of cold. I found a Glacé cherry, I've not eaten one of these since the 80's!

Ice cream selection.

Half of the table thought the Banana fritter served with ice cream was the work of the devil, half were looking forward to it all night, (including Mrs. Bacon) it's one of those; you love it or hate it. They loved it.
Banana Fritter. Enough for two to share.

However when it comes to Thai Spice, we all enjoyed our evening there. It is what it is, a cute little local neighbourhood Thai restaurant and none the worse for that.

Price: About £60 for 2, 3 courses & loads of beer which bumps up the cost.
Service: A bit slow but friendly.
Atmosphere: Nice cosy ambience & subdued lighting.
Food: ok.
Star dish: Gaeng Panang

Thai Spice
66a Beech Road
M21 9EG

Thai Spice on Urbanspoon

Saturday 26 January 2013

Turkish Delight, Chorlton

I have an ongoing debate with my mate, fireman Rick. He reckons that the best kebabs in Chorlton are to be had at Turkish Delight, I traditionally favoured Panicos opposite. Mrs Bacon always has the halloumi kebab from there and I like their large donner. (especially after a few beers.)
When the news came out that Turkish Delight had won Best Kebab in the whole of the UK, (out of 17,000 entries) at The British Kebab Awards it seems like he'd won the argument. But he was away skiing in Switzerland, no need to tell him was there? Within the hour I'd got a gloating text! Damn the wonders of communication! So I had to concede defeat and decided to get a take-out for my tea on Friday night. (*Please note southerners it's not dinner or supper - 'tea' is our word and I'm claiming it back!)

The first thing you notice, (as Rick always says) is how sparkling clean everything is. I asked them for an award winning kebab, and they said they all were. So we settled on a Chicken mix: Special chicken, chicken breast and chicken kebab which I had on a nan bread. (£6.20) Plus a Mixed Lamb on a nan: Donner, shish and Kofte.(£6)
Mmm, grilled meats.

I was chatting to them about the awards, they had to go to the Houses of Parliament for the presentation. It was wonderful of course, to get the recognition, but they've been doing pretty much the same thing for 30 years, and their motto on food is to keep it simple, (always a good move) no additives or colourings, just good quality meat which is all Hallal, sourced 30 miles away in Stoke on Trent.
I also had a little tour of their restaurant at the back which looks much smarter than I remember it. They were rightfully proud of their award and had the certificate pride of place in the smart little dining room. (There's also a downstairs room as well.)

The restaurant food looks like it's stepped up a level as well since my last visit. It was always great of course, with simple grilled meat from the front of house, but looking at the photos it seems like they've taken a look at the competition and decided they can do better, with a slight modern twist in presentation. (It's a pity Olive & Thyme didn't take a leaf out of this book, after that days disastrous expensive lunch there.) I think we'll be back to eat in.

We drove home in the snow with our precious warm packages, leaving a big queue behind us.
I can report that both kebabs were fabulous, I love the char-grilled taste of the grilled chicken and the lamb kebab was a big meaty treat. I still like the way Panicos grill their donner meat, but to be honest there's not much between them, they're both really good kebab houses.
It even has some of your 5 a day!

So Chorlton now has the best Sunday Dinner in the UK (Parlour: review coming soon) and now The Best Kebabs in the UK, plus The Beagle was recently in the Top 50 Best Sunday roasts in The Independent.
Yes I think this is going to be a good year for food in Chorlton and Manchester, and I for one say bring it on.

573 Barlow Moor Road 

Manchester M21 8AE

Friday 25 January 2013

Olive & Thyme, Chorlton.

We have quite a few Turkish restaurants in Chorlton. Saray, Nectar Bistro (actually Lebanese but similar food) Turkish Delight and Panicos. The latter (my favoured place for take out kebabs) have opened up a Mediterranean restaurant a few doors down.
They've done a fairly good job of the conversion, I liked the exposed brick work and a log burning stove made the place lovely and warm on my visit on a very cold quiet January lunch time. Mrs Bacon wasn't with me, but I know she'd not have been happy with the chairs and tables too close together. It's one of her pet peeves.
It has an uninspiring pizza/pasta menu, but when I went in for lunch I ordered meze as I figured that would be the best. They recommended a Hot Meze Platter (meat version) for two. Fine, I thought I can take some home for the Mrs. I also ordered a Lavas bread which was good and came with 2 tasty dips.

The starter came, and I was dismayed. For £12.90 I got a medium sized plate which would just about feed one (a greedy one like me anyway.) I would realistically price it at about a fiver. There were two meatballs (nice and home made) 2 samosas (ok) 2 Halloumi in breadcrumbs (ok, tasted a bit processed) and 2 little flat spicy sausages (fine.) Nothing irritates me more than tight portions. Nearly £13 for that, are they having a laugh?
£13 worth? I don't think so.

This is the thing with Turkish food, I really like it's simplicity but it's the easiest food to make and seems over priced whenever I eat it, and I'm afraid this was no different. You'd have thought with so many others in the market place, that they'd want to competitively price their menu.
Worse was yet to come though. As it was lunch time, I ordered a half of Peroni beer, then as I often do, I ordered another half.
The bill came. On the bill was 2 halves of Peroni at £6.80.
I queried it. Surely it was some mistake on the new till.
That would make a whole pint £6.80. "No sir, a pint is £4.40, but a half is £3.40."
"But this makes it the most expensive pint in Chorlton, if not Manchester." I spluttered!
They showed it to me clear as day on the menu.
I know rates are high and restaurants have to recuperate costs. And I know they make money on booze, and I know Peroni is marketed as an expensive luxury beer (for some reason.)
But I'd just spent nearly £7 on a pint of bland cooking lager at lunch time.
Despite it tasting like nothing, it left a bitter taste in the mouth.
I really wanted to like Olive & Thyme, I'm a fan of Panicos but I'm sorry to say that they will have to do a whole lot better than this to make me want to return.
Was this photo trying to tell me something?

Price: £20 for one for lunch. Terrible value. Considering a fine dinner at last nights Gorilla was £30, for 2 with drinks! And that's in the city centre.
Service: Fine.
Atmosphere: Quite a nice conversion, quiet when I went.
Food: Ok, standard Turkish.
Star dish: Lavas bread
3/10 (Would have been higher if not for the 'Peroni' incident.)

Olive & Thyme on Urbanspoon

Gorilla, Manchester.

There are rumours going about that Zecol who own Gorilla and Trof are to open up somewhere in Chorlton. So I thought it was about time I reviewed Gorilla, to see the sort of thing we may get should the rumours prove to be true. We went very early evening when it was still pretty quiet. It's situated in the old Green Room venue under the arches on Whitworth street.

I asked if they were ok with me taking photos for this website. "No problem, as long as you don't slag us off!" They said. I would always try and be constructive in any criticism anyway, but in this case there is literately nothing to criticise, we loved everything about Gorilla. We bagged one of the booths, and had a look at the menus, even though as usual we had already decided days ago. I was looking forward to the Bread & Dripping (£3) I'd enjoyed first at Aumbry and then at The Beagle. I've decided, it's my new favourite starter. So how could it be bettered? By adding a side of Smoked Bratwurst Chippolatas (£3.50) that's how.
Sourdough Bread, Sausages & Dripping.

Samual Adams beer.
The waiter came over, "Sorry we've ran out of dripping." Gutted.  He came back "Chef said he'd make you some especially." Fantastic. Then he returned again, "Sorry we've just sold our last chippolatas, but we'll make you some sausages and cut them up." Again, great service. Both the fellas that served us all night, were excellent, with friendly easy going charm, exactly what you need for somewhere you might call 'causal dining'. The starter was massive, a proper good portion. I must mention the Sourdough Bread (£2.50) There was loads of it (I hate stingy portion sizes) and made by their own baker (off the premises in their other venue The Salutation.)
It was lovely, with a nice crispy crust, perfect for dipping into the golden meaty liquid. I could immediately tell the quality sausages were from Frosts, as I've eaten them before. We asked for a bag for the extra bread to take home, as wasting good food is abhorrent to us (they gave us a nicely branded cardboard box.)
Beef Dripping & Sausages. Starters do not get much better than this.

We had to save ourselves for the burgers. (I'd have loved to have saved the dripping as well, but could just imagine it spilling all over the car and having meaty smells emitting for the next year.) I ordered a pint of Samual Adams to prepare me. I've not been that impressed by this beer in bottles, but on draft it was a perfect accompaniment for the food.
The burgers arrived on a wooden board, with cute little cups of fries, one standard and one we upgraded to 'Deluxe': seasoned with Parmesan & Truffle oil (£3.50)
These 'posh' fries are everywhere now, apparently Jamie's Italian do them (not been, and not likely to, as there have been to many bad reports.) I also recently had them in The Wizard, but they were the smallest portion ever. Here the portion was generous, and they hadn't been too stingy with the parmesan and truffle oil either.
Deluxe' Fries: Seasoned with Parmesan & Truffle oil.

The HERBED LAMB BURGER (Toasted sesame brioche bun, aioli, red onion chutney, & butterhead lettuce - £11.00) Was superb, juicy and 'very lamby' according to Mrs Bacon.  

The BURGER (Toasted sesame brioche bun, pickles, butterhead lettuce, Trof recipe burger sauce, aged cheddar -  £8.50) was equally as good. The Stilton we added as an extra (£1) was well worth it as it adds that tang. The standard fries were perfect, light crispy and loads of little crunchy bits at the bottom.

Come to me, lovely burger.

The only problem was, our planned trip to The Cornerhouse to see Django Unchained would now have to be postponed. We were too full, and couldn't be bothered waiting for another hour and a half. We dithered about getting the New York Style Cheesecake, as everybody knows dessert is a different stomach, but we finally decided on being 'good'.
Gorilla is one of those places where you can linger if you like and have a cocktail or two, or do like we did; go, eat and f*** off home. Which is what we decided to do.
The bill came to £33.70 for 2 which was also good value. I'm sure I paid about £70 odd pound for a meal at Solita in the Northern Quarter? Both get their meat from where else Frosts in Chorlton, as does Almost Famous.
 Gorilla is yet another great place to get a quality burger in Manchester, and they've got the casual dining off to a tee.
 I asked Mrs Bacon for her scores on the doors. "I'm going to have to give it an 8." There was nothing we could think of criticising at all. She thought that it could have been 'a bit warmer'. True, but she is proper nesh, and it was about minus 3 outside.
I asked the waiter if the rumours of a Chorlton opening were true, and he said he didn't think they were, as he hadn't heard it from his boss. But that they were opening another venue in town.
If they did open in Chorlton I think they'd do very well, it's the sort of casual dining that everybody loves, and we currently don't have a quality burger place round our way. So we're hoping….

Price: £33.70  for 2, with 2 drinks. Good value.
Service: Easy going & very friendly.

Atmosphere: Cool & casual. (skinny jeans optional.)
Food: Good quality burgers & more.
Star dish: Herbed Lamb Burger.

(Marked against others of it's kind.)

Gorilla on Urbanspoon

Tuesday 22 January 2013

The Great Stout off: Britain vs Belgium.

I noticed I had a couple of beers left from my Christmas stocks. A bottle of one of my favourite British brewers Redwillow and their Fathomless Oyster Stout and the other a Black Albert Stout by Belgian De Struise Brouwers.
I thought it'd be interesting to compare them:
The first, Fathomless Oyster Stout. I was looking forward to this, but from the moment I opened it and poured it, something was terribly wrong. It was totally flat without any liveliness in it whatsoever. It had zero head, I've never seen this before in a beer, surely it's a faulty batch?* I persevered on, after all this cost me £4.10, since when did take out British beer cost more than a pint in a local? It turns out that Oyster Stout is supposed to have oysters in, I've never drunk one, and luckily this one had no discernible taste of oysters whatsoever, I can't imagine that it would be pleasant anyway. (But I'm prepared to give it a go.)
Surely it shouldn't be this flat? It tasted ok though, thin & jet black, drinkable but not that bitter. In conclusion a bit of a disappointment, I've had much better stouts, and much better beers from this brewery.

Fathomless Oyster Stout
5/10 (possibly a faulty batch* see comments.)
ABV: 5.2%
Bought from Ludo deli.

I should have maybe gone for the Thornbridge Imperial Russian Stout, to compete against the next beer, as Belgium's De Struise Brouwers Black Albert (Batch 0) was literally a different kettle of fish from the off.
It poured a lovely lacy beige head, and the taste was intense, like being punched in the face by a black velvet glove. Bitter dark chocolate, roast coffee and a pleasing lingering dry hoppy taste, this was one of the best stouts I've had in ages, if not ever.
Yet again Belgium beats the UK with ease, (though to be fair the British Redwillow is a standard stout in strength, whereas the Belgian is a super strong Imperial.)

Black Albert
ABV 13%
Bought from Beer Planet on-line, Brussels and posted. Difficult to source in the UK

Originally brewed exclusively for Ebenezer's Pub in Lovell, ME, USA.

The Cost of Food

I think it's because we all have to eat and balance our budgets, that everybody has strong opinions on the emotive subject of food prices. Frosts our local butcher has had their biggest week ever last week, in the wake of the Tesco Horse Meat scandal. Taking out the issue of horses for a moment, what did people think would be in meat so cheap? It's not going to be good what ever animal it is. Many consumers in this country are so used to buying industrialised cheap food, they've lost sight of how much things really cost. It's better to eat meat less often and buy quality or choose cheaper cuts from your local butcher than to buy supermarket industrially processed garbage.
How about restaurant food though? A complaint I see regularly when looking at Tripadvisor reviews is of meals out being too expensive, and especially people going to a pricey 'posh' or Michelin starred restaurant for the first time thinking it was "not worth the money."  The same old clichés are often used like; "if people are daft enough to pay these prices", and the old chestnut, 'the emperors new clothes' etc.  Also people often accuse us so called 'foodies' of being snobs. (A love of food is definitely seen as a middle class thing in Britain as opposed to the Mediterranean countries, France Spain and Italy, where everybody wants to eat well, and loves to discuss it at length.)
They just don't get it. Most of us who really love food, love it at every level from the bottom up. I enjoy an occasional quality donner kebab from Panicos. Guardian food writer Jay Rayner often discusses this; the so called 'guilty pleasure' in sometimes eating trashy food.
At the other end of the scale, a friend of mine got irate with me for suggesting he try a Michelin star meal at L'Enclume just once just to see what it was like. He said it was a "total waste of money spending so much when people are starving." We all hired a cottage in Cartmel, and they came along.
So although he could afford it, he refused to come with the rest of us (and had the meal of our lives.) Him and his wife stayed in with an M&S £10 meal deal.  He just couldn't cope with it costing that much, so wouldn't have enjoyed it. If it's 'right' or 'wrong' to spend so much is a personal judgement of course, it's neither right or wrong. For me, I'd already got over the expense of it, I was concentrating on the sheer selfish pleasure of indulgence. My friend didn't mind we were going there by the way, he just didn't want to himself which is fair enough. Many people have an amount of money in their heads that they want to spend, and anything over that would be a waste, which is good housekeeping I guess, we all have to balance our budgets. Of course, in these austere times, most do not have the luxury of spending so much on food.
Just going to a 'posh' restaurant seems to irritate other people (such as work colleagues.) They seem to think we're doing it 'for effect' or getting 'above our stations' or just being snobby to show off. What people don't understand they often try and knock. Why would anyone pay such large amounts of money just for a meal out?
Dine at anywhere like L'Enlcume, and you can easily see where your money is going. First of all, you're paying for the experience as a whole. The staff and service; there are so many waiters attending to your every need in a Michelin star restaurant, and they should all be paid the going rate, plus all the chefs in the kitchen that are needed to create such a high quality meal.
It's like a footballer, the best in the game get paid more, as it is for chefs. If one of the best chefs in the country Simon Rogan is cooking for me, I'd expect to pay the amount which he is worth which is obviously a lot more than going to my local Nandos.
And of course the exquisite food that's being created costs more in itself. It's like everything in life, most times you pay for what you get. Obviously this is not always the case, many bad reviews are down to the fact that if prices are high, so are expectations.
I'm not rich by any means; my hobby, (more like obsession) is eating as well as I can for the money I have. Finding good value restaurants, and occasional splurges to Michelin starred restaurants when I can afford it. I don't want to spend that much to be honest, but I enjoy quality food that much that I have to swallow the cost (literally) and just enjoy.
I wouldn't dream of buying a personalised number plate for instance, that to me is the ultimate waste of money for something that's pure vanity to show off to strangers you'll never meet. But I wouldn't lecture others that they are daft spending money in that way. It's their money, to spend as they wish. If they get pleasure out of it, who am I to judge?
So why is food so different? Because we all have to eat that's why.
And people have difficulty accepting that a real love of food and eating out well is worth it for us, because of the sheer pleasure it brings us.
And life without pleasure is hardly worth living at all.

Sunday 20 January 2013

Aldi Super Premium Gourmet Wine Range

Benchill, Wythenshawe is one of the biggest council estates in Europe, it's a poor area with a high crime rate. So how did I end up trying to source a bottle of Margaux Grand Cru Classé 2004 from the Aldi in nearby Baguley in Wythenshawe?
Well because it was a massive bargain, that's why. This wine normally retails for £43.82, but Aldi were selling it for half that. But they only have a small stock of bottles that bargain hunters know come out into every store at 9am on a certain date (normally on a Sunday and a Thursday.) But I wasn't too worried, nobody in Wythenshawe would be buying expensive vintage French wine would they?
I casually turned up the following day, cock-sure with my secret knowledge.
 "Some lady came in and bought the lot yesterday morning" They told me.
Of course, since I couldn't get it, now the only thing I wanted in the whole world was that bottle of wine. Then I had a brain wave. I called my mum in Stoke. They were going to do the big shop tomorrow, and there was an Aldi opposite Tesco's. I went over the wine details several times to make sure they'd get the correct one.
She got a bottle, which we called a Christmas present.
Result! A mate of mine went to Wrexham to get his bottle!
I wouldn't normally spend over £20 on wine, let alone £40, I just can't afford it. But I try and buy well for my budget (about £7-£8) and keep an eye on reviews, supermarketwine.com is a great resource, as it collates all the newspapers wine columns for each supermarket.
So what's the Margaux Grand Cru Classé 2004 actually taste like?
Surprisingly smooth actually. But, judging by taste alone, I would never have guessed that this wine normally retails at £43.82. (But like I say, I don't drink wine that's worth £40 a bottle often.)
It has a really pleasant savoury character that would be enhanced by red meat, it's full bodied, but is not too heavy or harsh. It has smooth tannins and is fragrant. It was very easy drinking sitting by the fire watching people on the TV news struggling in the snow. Could there be anything more cosy?

Region:  Margaux, Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux, France
Grapes: Blend; 45% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot
ABV:     13%
Price:     £22.99
Closure:   Cork
Scores on the doors: Good 8/10

Despite us not having any dessert, we decided we were finally going to open the bottle of Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos 2000 which we picked up from the same Aldi for £17.99. Mrs Bacon wisely does not like spending her hard earned money easily, so I was surprised that she bought this wine, without grumbling, but we've got into dessert wines recently, and this was another bargain that we could not pass by. According to the press release this wine "is a 'rare and celebrated Hungarian dessert wine which stunned wine critics when it won a GOLD medal at the 2012 International Wine & Spirit Competition. The usual market price for such a quality product is around £68.75 with some of the high-end retailers including Fortnum and Mason and Selfridges only selling an inferior 5 Puttonyos Tokaji for £23.50 and £34.99 respectively."
Well that certainly convinced us.
After we'd drunk the Margaux though, I was having trouble getting this out of it's little wooden box, it was like a game of jenga or one of those IQ tests. Either way I was failing horribly as I normally do with these things. I was just about to get the hammer to it (my go-to solution) when Mrs Bacon stepped in to open it, pulling the little wooden slot up to release it.
What's the Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos taste like?
The first thing you get is the sweetness. It's so sweet, it's like concentrated tropical juices, ripe buttery apricot, mixed with one thousand 1970's kiddies sweeties pineapple cubes liquidised. We loved it, but it really needed a pudding, and we didn't have one. "What about fruit?"suggested Mrs Bacon? "Fruit shmoot" I said, she's always trying to make me eat more, it's a chore, and this wine deserves better than that.
Luckily, dessert wine keeps for years, so we have this wine to look forward to next time.

Region:  Hungary, Tokaji
Price:  £17.99
Grapes:  Blend; 75% Furmint, 25% Harslevelu
ABV:   11.5%
Closure:  Cork
Scores on the doors: Superb 9/10
See also my review of the Aldi 1973 Vintage Bordeaux Napoleon Brandy, which is still currently available in some stores, these two reviewed above have long gone.

Saturday 19 January 2013

Umezushi, Manchester.

You're unlikely to find Umezushi by accident, situated as it is, in what you'd expect to be a lock up garage under the arches in a back street just off the main road to the MEN arena. Indeed, we hadn't found it by accident. We'd been given the heads up again by Mrs Petticoat, who highly recommended it, so I knew it was going to be special.
Mrs Bacon, Dr Gambas and myself were meeting Ms. Arroz there who was stuck on the train from London which was delayed due to the snow. It was freezing outside, but we were given a warm welcome by both charming waitresses and the affable owner, Terry. It's quite simple inside, and we settled in the table by the radiator to keep warm and watched the sushi being made in the open kitchen.

I was gutted that they'd run out of Estrella Inedit Beer (made with the assistance of the godfather of modern cuisine Ferran Adrià.) As I've not tried it yet, and as it was half price happy hour till 7pm, this beer would have been cheaper than you could buy it at in Waitrose! (Normally on this menu it's £9.50 for a large bottle)
However I was placated with a few bottles of bland but clean & cold Asahi.

Dr Arroz started on a really lovely bottle of Hahn Estates Pinot Noir from California. We waited chatting and drinking......

Maki selection
Maki selection.

Then Ms. Arroz texted that she was delayed again, so we finally started on the taster menu (£38, but the price may vary depending on what's fresh that day.) We were here for the sushi and it did not disappoint. The Maki Selection was superb so fresh, clean and delicate.
The fish was sourced from Chorlton's own Out of the Blue and was the best sushi we'd had in a restaurant since Chisou in London. We were joined by Ms Arroz who despite being on a train for five and a half hours was in great spirits, and she caught up with the food (and wine) in no time.  

The Sashimi was delivered on a bed of cold ice and was of very fine quality, as was the Nigiri. (lemon sole, sea bream, salmon & tuna.)

I wasn't quite as into the Russian Salad and Cod Roe, but The Tempura was excellent, light and crispy.
Russian Salad and Cod Roe.

The Miso soup which came at the end was warm and hearty but a little over salted for me, but then I tend to under-salt food at home.
Miso pretty.

I liked the Pork Cheeks although the sticky and sweet style is always a tad too sweet for me. Mrs Bacon loved them, declaring them juicy, tender and tasty. She was gutted to be handing them over as she was struggling to finish.
Pork Cheeks.

There was loads of food, Dr. Gambas had a huge bowl of seafood soup with udon noodles which she couldn't possibly finish. The dessert was a very nice Pineapple & Pear Tart, I wolfed mine and half of Mrs Bacon's in a blink of an eye.
Pineapple & Pear Tart.

We all had a great time at Umezushi, all the food on the taster menu was good, but the real piece de resistance is the sushi and sashimi. This stuff makes YoSushi look like McDonalds.  
It's only been open since October, and although I'm no expert on Japanese food, this is certainly the best sushi we've had in Manchester. We said our goodbyes to the lovely staff and went out into the freezing cold night air, very pleased with ourselves for finding such a little gem.

Price: From £30 for the taster menu, amazing value for the amount of quality food.
Service: Very friendly.
Atmosphere: Small & simple, every table was taken when we dined there.
Food: Best sushi we've had in Manchester
Star dishes: All the sushi & sashimi.


Unit 4,
Mirabel Street,
Manchester M3 1PJ


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