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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Return to Vietshack.

We returned to our favourite 'cheap eat' in Manchester, the recent award winning Vietshack in the Arndale. The food was as fresh and tasty as ever but I wish we'd have braved the rain and the queue in Albert square to check out a few more different dishes from our previous visit. (Mrs Bacon doesn't like the rain and I hate to queue, I'm too impatient).
For us personally we can stand a bit more heat in the food as well, we seem to be wanting even more spice these days. Still, it was good to get in to town, eat and f*ck off home. Job done, bellies satisfied.
Our feast was as follows; Vietdog (2 - £5).
King Prawn Summer Roll (£2.80).
Bahn-Mi (Chicken, £3).
Viet Wrap (£3).
To see the original full review click here.
* £15 approx for this lot and drinks. Paid in full.
Viet Shack on Urbanspoon

Monday, 29 September 2014

Las Teresas, Seville.

In the mid 90's, following a break up with my then Spanish girlfriend, I decided to travel around Andalucia on my own. In an otherwise miserable and lonely experience, I remember fondly wandering in and out of traditional tapas bars in the Santa Cruz area of Seville at night. Las Teresas was always one of those bars. 
We've been back to Seville several times since and always make a beeline for this place. It's never changed in all that time. The L shaped narrow bar with dusty bottles of rioja, the traditional tiles, the hanging hams, the bullfighting posters, just being there is always a pleasure. It feels 'authentic' rather than a tourist trap.
On this occasion we enjoyed a last drink and some Jamón ibérico and Lomo with local tour guide Shawn Hennessey from azahar-sevilla.com.
Whenever we return to Seville, we'll always make a visit to Las Teresas, it's just something that you have to do. For me it's the archetype traditional Sevillana tapas bar.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

An Evening with the Drunken Butcher.

Supper Clubs have never really appealed to me. I've seen too many episodes of 'Come Dine with me'. Supposing there's someone there that I don't get along with, or vice versa? I know I'm a miserable bastard but eating with strangers, no thanks, not for me. Obviously due to my daft stubbornness, I'm missing out big style.
The Drunken Butcher may be known to many of you as someone who runs one of the best in Manchester. Iain invited us around anyway as more of a dinner party as we'd already bumped into him at the Almost Famous re-opening. 'Dinner Party' sounds so poncey too, I'd prefer 'just going around to a mate's house for tea'.
 We'd had a bit of a stressful day, and to be honest weren't in the best mood for going out at all. As is often the case with these things, it turns out that it was one of the most enjoyable evenings of food and chat with like-minded people we've had in ages.
I'd worked out that by bike it was only 15 minutes down the canal. This was fine in the daylight, less so later on when we cycled home in the dark full to the brim and slightly worse for wear.
But first things first, the wonderful food.
As it wasn't a paid for event so I generally don't 'review' as such, but the high quality of the produce (meat of course, from Taste Tradition) along with the passion and technique Iain has, surpasses most Manchester restaurants and chefs. We also had the best mash we've ever eaten, in my case in huge quantities. You will never leave the Drunken Butcher's house hungry, that's for sure.
To start; Chilli & soy Pigs cheek's, feta & mint watermelon. A wonderful and unusual combination, the rich flavourful pig's cheeks compliment against the clean fresh taste of the watermelon perfectly.
Lamb Rump. Such fantastic quality meat with just the right amount of fat for the full flavour. Plus the biggest portion of mash I've ever seen. I unashamedly went back for thirds.
Vimto Trifle. More of a liquid version of my favourite dessert finished the night off nicely.
If you're someone like me who wouldn't normally 'do' a supper-club, I'd say go for it. You may be surprised that you absolutely love it as we did.

Thedrunkenbutcher.co.uk.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

La Azotea, Seville.

La Azotea was next on our Seville tapas trail. After a siesta at our hotel (the lovely Alminar) in the shadow of the cathedral (and the hourly bells), we strolled just around the corner to the new branch on Mateos Gago as it was most convenient. I love this area of little narrow streets around the main square in Santa Cruz but it seems as ever that most of the bars and restaurants here are tourist traps. La Azotea I think is one of the few exceptions. 
Even though it was still early to eat in Spain (8.30pm) we got the last table outside. We had as follows.
Ajo Blanco. Chilled Almond Soup. We love this soup and first tried it in Malaga some years ago. It's refreshing and creamy, so perfect for a hot summer night.
Mushrooms with grilled squid and baby octopus. A subtle one, the mushrooms and squid were actually surprisingly harmonious together.
Croquetas of the day. I think they were morcilla (black pudding). A little dry but crispy and with a lovely, rich filling.

Carrillada Ibérica. Slow-cooked pig’s cheeks. A textbook example of an absolutely wonderful dish. The pig's cheek becomes soft, gooey and gelatinous after being slow cooked for such a long time and the rich sauce and tender fatty meat is so wonderfully flavoursome.
La Azotea is yet another fine example of the modern style of tapas bar you can find in Seville. The quality of produce combines happily with very decent cooking to maintain such a high standard we found everywhere we ate in the city. I only wish that we could have sampled more but we had more bars to try and more tapas to be eating....

Monday, 22 September 2014

Return to Siam Smiles.

It may be hard to believe but some people don't like food bloggers. I know, who'd have believed such a thing? It's funny though, the longer you do this you more you become less sensitive to the opinions and motivation of others making abrasive comments. Perhaps that sounds arrogant, but when I first started putting my head above the parapet as it were, people venting the occasional nasty comment would upset me. As time goes on though it becomes less so and I find myself becoming slightly more confident in my own opinions and less bothered about the thoughts of people who I don't know. (Although of course, it's always interesting to see if people in general agree with you or not, and not everyone will like what you do). On the whole for me, social media is a good and friendly place, full of like-minded people who share the same love of food and who are normally pretty polite, (manners cost nothing), so the exchange of information and opinions with people I respect is extremely beneficial.
There are times I will admit, where I wonder why I'm doing it. It's such a strange thing to do - restaurant blogging. My main motivation really, if I'm completely honest is pure greed. For the want of going to a good restaurant, for a good feed.

Afterwards it's usually enjoyable to put a post like this together, it's a creative process, taking and manipulating the photos and also trying to put my brain in use to write it all out as best as I can. I'm no writer, few bloggers are, but I've always tried to be as honest and balanced as I can.
Occasionally, you realise a happy after effect can be, that if you have enough people reading your website, you can inspire them to visit somewhere that you've really enjoyed. This has happened with Siam Smiles. As I said in my previous post I was initally inspired in turn to visit after seeing Hungry Hoss and Franco, owner of Solita tweet about it.
I can't claim to have any great knowledge about authentic thai food, but I've been back a few times to Siam Smiles and I've really enjoyed it each time. For me it's like discovering something new as opposed to the thai green and red curries that we're accustomed to. I love the light and fragrant spicy food of course, (especially the noodle dishes), I love the prices but I also like sitting in a thai supermarket as strange as that sounds. It's unique and fun because of that.
This has then helped to 'hype' it up in some way I guess. (This seems to irritate some people too). I would argue that bloggers don't have that much influence in Manchester individually. The national press however do. (As Stosie at the Parkers Arms will tell you after the Jay Rayner review).
It seems Marina o'Loughlin, food writer at The Guardian has recently been to Siam Smiles. I get the impression that she really liked it as I guessed she might. So my advice is go now now, before the review, because it's going to get a lot busier after it.
Our Sunday lunch was as follows.
Khao Moo Krob. Crispy belly pork. (£5.95).
Kuai Tiew Duck Yellow noodle, roast duck with Braise duck soup, garnish, morning glory, bean sprout. (£5.50).
Fish Balls. (£6.95). We weren't so keen on these, they have a strange rubbery texture. An acquired taste I think.
Kuay Tiew Tom Yam. Minced pork, fish ball, fish tofu, rice noodles and beansprout in a hot and sour spicy soup. (£5.50).
My friend's dish. I think it was the Kuay Tiew Yen Ta Fo. Flat noodles, sliced fish tofu and fish ball with Morning glory and coriander. (£5.50).
*See my previous review here
*Paid in full each and every time. 
 *The new menu, click to enlarge.

Siam Smiles Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon