Monday, 21 November 2016

Hispi, Didsbury.

The question most people ask me when shooting in restaurants is, 'don't you get hungry photographing all this food all the time?' The answer is an emphatic no. I am usually obsessively concentrating on getting the best shots, looking for the best light. It's my job. Whereas eating (and drinking) is one of life's great pleasures. It's only at the end of a shoot might I feel hungry but often I don't have time then. I have to go and download and process the photos which will then take days. There are some places that I've shot at but not actually eaten at yet. Hispi was one of these but like Sticky Walnut and Burnt Truffle I knew I'd love the food. Nobody else is doing it quite like them, certainly in Manchester. They manage to maintain the fine balance between what people want to eat (and will order) and introducing less obvious ingredients (perhaps attracting the food obsessives like me), like calf's brain's risotto and whole quail. Who else puts that on outside of Michelin star restaurants and manages to sell it to (traditionally conservative) Manchester folk? It's quite hard to make food so simple yet so good. I can't think of anyone else doing this here in this city where inspiration or originality can get lost with all the bland chains.
Anyway I'll shut up now and let the photos do the talking. I was pleased with this set as I like the mix of the standard food pics and the more off the cuff shots at the pass.
So I went back to eat as a punter. To begin, the bread and famous paté which I would describe as bloody lovely (although I'm no expert).
Celeriac & truffle risotto, calf's brain. I'm having this one again when I return. Even if you're squeamish about it, give it a go, I'd guarantee you'll like it, it's absolutely lovely.
Braised feather-blade, sprouting broccoli, mushroom purée, truffle and parmesan chips. Very much a signature style, I would always order this over a steak.
Other lovely stuff I've not eaten yet like the whole quail and the bass and duck I think...

Some of the staff, Richard the head chef and manager Gareth.
I'm going back next week week and taking my Mum & Dad and I'll have to go back with Mrs Bacon....

My interview with Gary Usher here.
My post on Burnt Truffle here.
More photos
My lunch, two courses, a glass of red and a mains cost £27.50.
To commission me in 2017 email

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Nacho & Friends Part 3 - Compartir.

The original idea behind Nacho & Friends was that we would ask chefs that we had met on our travels across Spain to cook for us here in Manchester. Although I had not actually yet eaten at Disfrutar in Barcelona or Compartir in Cadaqués I knew I would love their food. It was possible we had actually met Eduard Xatruch, Oriol Castro & Mateu Casañas before when dining at El Bulli in the Summer of 2004. They were the three head chefs there until it closed in 2011. I reminded Oriol and Mateu of some of the dishes from that year when photographing them both last night which of course they remembered. (Eduard was away travelling). One memorable dish we called "cheesy snow", a carton of cold white fluffy ice with the most intense cheese flavour, which was mind blowing. It certainly had that 'magic' which we'd never experienced before then.
As with the previous two events, it would be difficult to imagine any other time when Manchester has ever seen finer food. These three chefs continue to work at the highest possible level, now carving their own style with Compartir, a focus on sharing and the newer Disfrutar which is on another more experimental avant-garde level. It really was a dream come true to welcome welcome them to our city. Again, they would share an exclusive menu with executive head chef of Ibérica, Nacho Manzano.
At one point there was a quiet buzz amongst the staff as apparently Manchester City Manager Pep Guardiola had turned up, clearly a man of impeccable taste.
It was way too dark to photograph food properly so I mainly photographed the kitchen in quiet action. The 8 course tasting menu was as follows...
Beetroot and fruit salad with ajo blanco sorbet. (From Compartir).
Natural Clams. Cold water, parsley juice, seaweed emulsion. (From Casa Marcial, Nacho Manzano).
Ibérico Red Tuna. (From Compartir).

Tongue with lentils, mole sauce caramel coated onion, pickle jel & marshland herbs. (From Casa Marcial, Nacho Manzano).
Crispy egg yolk with mushrooms jelly. (From Disfrutar, Barcelona). Hard to choose a favourite of the night but this dish is what it's all about for me.
Sardine with monkfish liver & salt marsh herbs. (From Casa Marcial, Nacho Manzano).
Our Cheesecake with raspberry sorbet. (From Compartir).
And finally Celery Panna Cotta with fennel slush, apple soup & seaweed. (From Casa Marcial, Nacho Manzano).
The third Nacho & Friends was another absolutely superb night of food and service which illustrates perfectly the heights Manchester needs to reach if any of its restaurants want to obtain that elusive Michelin star.

Look out for more events next year, we have even more unbelievable guests lined up.
An interview with Mateu Casanas