A is for Ancoats; a Manchester A to Z

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{photo from here}

‘A is for Ancoats

A dreary place is Ancoats,
‘Tis full of smoke and fog,
The lassess wear shawls on their heads
Their feet are shod with clogs.
‘Tis really not a pleasant place
Upon a rainy day;
We have to start with Ancoats tho’,
For Ancoats starts with A.’

 A Manchester Alphabet, Roger Oldham

Canal Walk Ancoats{summer in Ancoats}

Last year whilst wandering around Manchester Art gallery, a favourite pass time for lazy Saturday afternoons, I came across a wonderful set of illustrated short poems by Roger Oldham. Written in 1906, A Manchester Alphabet depicts in humorous verse, scenes from daily life in the city.

As I read each passage I reflected on my own memories of the places and things he wrote about. T is for Trams – every time I have to navigate my way across the tram tracks in St Peter’s Square, unsure of exactly which direction I can expect a yellow behemoth to come chugging toward me, it flits into my head that Gaudi met his demise under one such vehicle. C is for Chorlton – home to the best kebab in Manchester, has to be eaten in the car even though last time you promised yourself you wouldn’t do it again because they are drippy little buggers and the juice gets everywhere, making your car pong of onions until the end of time.

I’ve lived in Manchester for six years now and as seems to happen when you settle in a place, I find myself frequenting the same parts of town, the same restaurants, the same bars. I was inspired to make my own Manchester Alphabet and use it as an excuse to explore more of the city I call home.

And then, in typical Jasmin fashion, I did nothing about it for over 12 months.

Hallé St Peter's
{Hallé St Peter’s}

I visited the city a lot in the years before moving here and back then Ancoats was just a place that had some sneaky free parking (no longer, damn you yellow lines), not somewhere I would spend an afternoon hanging out. These days I know it as the place to get the best pizza in town (more on that in a second) but beyond that, the area is still a mystery to me. It seemed fitting that Ancoats should be my first stop in this journey.

In typical Manchester fashion, as Oldham wrote, it was a dreary day. No matter, in lieu of a shawl I had an umbrella and a bobble hat.
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I invited my cousin along for the day. She’s a clever and creative little bean who enjoys making videos so I thought it would be a fun bit of bonding time. I was right, we had the loveliest (and greediest) of days and I’m super proud of the video she created of it.

Some notes on the places we visited

Mustard Tree, here
110 Oldham Rd, Manchester M4 6AG
Opening times: Mon – Sat: 10am – 4pm / Sun: Closed

One of three charity shops for the Manchester based charity. They aim to tackle the causes and consequences of poverty and homelessness by empowering people through education and employment, and providing provisions to those in need. There was a decent selection of cheap but good condition clothing and homeware. I bought the blue jumper in the video (Topman, excellent condition) for a couple of quid and it has been in heavy rotation since.

Ancoats Peeps, here
Ancoats PeepsAncoats PeepsIf you look close enough, you might just find a brass eye piece staring out at you from an unassuming wall. There’s no explanation as to what you’re looking at or map to find any others but if you so manage to spy one, go ahead and peer through. You might see something, or you might see nothing.

Ancoats Coffee Co. here
Royal Mills, Redhill St.
Opening times: Mon – Fri: 8am – 6pm / Sat: 9am – 5pm / Sun: 10am – 5pm

Housed in an old cotton mill by the Rochadale Canal, is The Ancoats Coffee Co.  I confess, I didn’t have any coffee here, but the tea was good. The brownies looked intense but we didn’t get to try one since we were going to eat soon.

Rudy’s Pizza, here
Cotton Street
Opening times: Mon – Fri: 12– 3, 5-10pm / Sat: 12am – 10pm / Sun: 12am – 9pm

Canal Walk Rudy Pizza

Yes, I have been here before, but it’s the best pizza in Manchester so there was no way I wasn’t going to take the opportunity to visit.

Elnecot, here
Blossom Street
Opening times: Mon – Thu 5pm–11.30pm / Fri 12pm–11.30pm / Sat – Sun 11am-11.30pm

Elnecot Sticky Toffee Pudding
Honestly, the thing that drew me here was the gigantic neon ‘toilet’ sign that glares across Cutting Room Square. I went for a pit stop and I stayed for pudding. Perhaps that’s their trick? Lure you in with the promise of facilities and keep you there because you spy six things on the walk down to the loos that other people are eating which you must try for yourself.

Their sticky toffee pudding was one of the best I’ve ever had and I am forever indebted to my pathetic bladder for leading me to such deliciousness. My cousin had the chocolate fondant and it did that amazing oozy thing when you slice through it. Heaven.

Ancoats General Store, here
Great Ancoats Street
Opening times: Mon – Sat 7am–11pm / Sun: 8am–11pm 

Newspapers, apples, water, craft beer, Thursday evening street food events, coffee. All bases covered.

Cha-ology, here
Great Ancoats Street
Opening times: Wed – Sat 2pm–7pm / Sun – Tues: Closed

I was so disappointed to learn they had moved to a reservation only system. It’s on my list to return – if you take a look at their website, you’ll understand why.

 

 

 

An ode to Rabbie Burns at Albatross and Arnold

Burns night supper

{photo from here}

After much procrastination, I finally joined WeBlogNorth just before the new year and I’ve been enjoying finding new blogs to read and Instagram accounts to follow. Through the group, I heard about an opportunity to attend a Burns Night Supper that was being held at a relatively new bar in town, Albatross & Arnold. I ummed and ahhed about whether or not I should put my name forward for a seat because do I count as a blogger yet? Do I need more followers before I do? Does anyone care what think about, well, anything? All questions to which I have no answer, but regardless, my unofficial word for the year is ‘bold’ so I boldly threw my name into the ring. As a result, last Thursday I found myself walking through the Manchester rain to meet six other blogging ladies and eat some good food.

I arrived early, thinking I’d have trouble finding the place – a quick Google search told me it was above The Range, an indoor, virtual golf club in Spinningfields. Although it wasn’t immediately obvious when I got there, if I was going through the correct set of doors, I quickly saw a sign guiding me up the staircase to my destination for the evening.

Whiskey explanation at Albatross and Arnold

{whiskey chat}

I was led to our table and settled down with a drink – any place that gets the distinction between a soda and lime, and a soda and lime cordial, is on to a winner in my book. Nice one, A&A. It wasn’t long before photographer, blogger, all-round-girl-boss Georgie Glass arrived and before I knew it, I was surrounded by a group of wonderful ladies and inspiring, creative chatter.

Now, I have two confessions to make in this post.

Here’s the first.

I’ve never read any of Burn’s poetry. Or at least, I hadn’t until I did some last minute swotting earlier that morning. I knew, vaguely, what Burns night was about and when  it’s celebrated, thanks to its printed presence in all yearly diaries and calendars. Before our meal, we were treated to a reading, complete with Scottish accent and all.

Grilled Scottish Artichoke

{Grilled Scottish artichoke butter emulsion, tomato concassé. Paired with Speyburn 15 year old}

Second confession, and to preface, I normally consider myself a pretty worldly person so this was a blow to the old ego..

It turns out I have absolutely NO CLUE how to eat an artichoke – which is how I found myself, after my first mouthful of food, at my first ever blogger meal, surrounded my people I had only just met, surreptitiously spitting out bits of woody artichoke into my napkin. To my relief, I wasn’t the only one having trouble and when the guy on the table next to ours looked over at us for some guidance on how to eat said vegetable, one of us (I forget who, sorry) had the bright idea to Google how to eat it.

‘Pull a petal from the artichoke.
Place base of petal between teeth
Pull through teeth to remove soft, meaty, pulp
Discard woody remains.’

I’d liken the action as similar to squeezing the last bit of juice out of a Mr Freezy ice lolly.* Once I’d got the hang of it, it was pretty tasty.

Whisky cured Scottish salmon

{Whisky cured Scottish salmon Old Pulteney, pickled cucumber. Paired with Old Pulteney single malt scotch}

Whisky cured Scottish salmon

{salmon, details}

The rest of the meal went off without a hitch and our next course of whiskey cured salmon with pickled cucumber, went down a treat. The cucumber was surprisingly firm and deliciously tart. The salmon, smooth and almost melt in my mouth.

Each whiskey was introduced before it was served and we were encouraged to sniff, swirl and sip in order to enjoy the nuances of the drink. Mmmmmm, peaty.

Whiskey explanation at Albatross and Arnold

{tasting notes, golfball decor}

We were treated to live music as we ate. If all clubhouses were this atmospheric, I would strongly consider taking up golf.

Venison Haunch

{Venison haunch, parsnip purée and freeze dried blackberries. Paired with Ancnoc Peat Head}

Look how perfectly pink that bit of meat is. Sadly, I couldn’t really taste the blackberries thanks to a lingering cold, but the venison was juicy and tender. There was enough of the purée to have some with every bite of meat – a pet peeve of mine is not having enough of your accompaniments to last through the meal.

After a round of haggis canapes, it was onto dessert.

Raspberry and lavender cranachan

{Raspberry and lavender cranachan. Honey, toasted granola. Paired with Balblair 2005 vintage}

Chewy granola, sweet raspberries, boozy cream. I have plans to recreate something similar at home, because I think this would make an awesome brunch item (sans whiskey, ha!)

Raspberry and lavender cranachan

{cranachan}

I had such a lovely time and I’m really excited to explore blogging and the community here in Manchester. I also really enjoyed branching out and trying a new kind of dining experience, thank you to Albatross & Arnold for having me. I see more of your food in my future!

Details

Address: The Range | Leftbank | Spinningfields | Manchester | M3 3AN

Opening times: Mon – Thurs: 11am – 11pm / Fri & Sat: 11am – 12pm / Sun: Closed

Menu, here

 

 

Meal, with compliments. Words and artichoke shame, my own.

*I might have aged myself with that reference

 

Saturday at the footie

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Before this weekend, I had only ever been to one football match – in Antigua, Guatemala. We sat on bleachers with a blazing sun warming our faces, separated from the pitch by a large, barbed wire fence. There were men with guns policing the stadium and food vendors weaving their way through the crowds selling corn and vuvuzelas. A man, dressed as a giant avocado ran up and down the pitch to rally the crowd before the game started.

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{sun and football, not in England}

This Saturday, I went to my second ever football match. There was no blazing sun. No avocado man. Thankfully, no guns. But there were pies, tea and plentiful doggies running around.

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We’re in saving mode at the moment so apart from our January restaurant splurges, we’re looking for cheap and fun things to do. One of husband’s work colleagues mentioned he supports a local football team and recommended we attend one of their matches – the best bit, tickets are only a fiver.

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We cheered on West Didsbury and Chorlton FC as they won their first game of the year. It was so much more exciting than watching football on TV and we will definately be attending another match in the future, although perhaps not until the weather gets better. After the game we made our way over to Beech Road to escape the chill over some drinks. We found a table by a radiator and I warmed up my toes.

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Wood 20.18

My favourite thing about January is the amazing deals restaurants offer in order to entice you and your post-Christmas purse strings out for dinner. For the past few years we’ve indulge in one or two meals, but this year we budgeted a little extra so we could try to eat our way around town. At the last count there are 14 places on our list to try – and that’s after much trimming. I’m not sure I’ve got the stomach stamina for all 14, but I’m certainly going to give it a go.

Wood was high our list after reading some enticing reviews. It’s not the kind of establishment we usually frequent but with their 2 courses and a glass of fizz for £20.18 deal, we were sold.

Wood, Manchester. Smoked trout, keta, ruby grapefruit

{smoked trout, keta, ruby grapefruit}

Poor husband still doesn’t understand why I insist on taking pictures of what we’re eating, but he always lets me get a few shots of his food before tucking in. He was blown away by the flavours in his starter of trout. I had wild mushrooms with mascarpone on a croute which, whilst not very photogenic (or at least not with a camera in my unskilled hands) was absolutely delicious. There were hints of aniseed in there that played amazingly well with the earthy mushroom.

{ox cheek, creamy mash potato, josper roasted carrot} at Wood, Manchester

{ox cheek, creamy mash potato, josper roasted carrot}

Husband, who is not prone to hyperbole, has declared this the best ox cheek he has ever eaten. We rarely end up ordering the same entrée but I’m glad this was one of those few times because it was lovely sharing the experience of a special meal. I would love to know how I can make a carrot that tastes as good as this one did, smoky yet sweet and with the perfect amount of bite, without having to purchase a josper.

Wood, Manchester - chefs at work

{chefs at work}

We’ve already booked a return trip. The couple next to us had the hake and it looked amazing.

When recovering from bronchitis, we sit outside

Panchos Burrito Manchester

We were back at Panchos on Friday evening for Burrito goodness. There was a party going on upstairs which meant seating was limited. There were two random seats left down stairs but there was no table so we would have had to eat off our laps. Instead, since we were all wrapped up in our winter coats and new Christmas woolies, we decided to sit outside and eat dinner in the cool winter air.

We had a few quizzical stares from passers by but it was lovely and made me so excited for more outdoor eating in the spring.

Panchos Burrito Manchester

Gluttony, recently

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It has been a good/bad week for food.

Good because I love to eat, but bad for my wallet and heart health. So much cheese!

Husband and I shared a platter at Nando’s. Medium spice with peri-peri chips, every time.

We had a cheeky Five Guys one evening when we went to the Trafford Centre to pick up some shoes.

Baked Camembert shared with a friend.

Food not pictured – the fish and chips that followed the Camembert. TWO trips to Panchos for burritos – the picante lamb is delicious! An original glazed Krispy Kreme  doughnut which never disappoints but I was sad to see their drink and a doughnut deal only gets you one doughnut now instead of two. And finally, two cupcakes. Although they were for charity so those calories don’t count, right?

 

The best way to spread Christmas cheer

Elf at the Victoria Baths, Manchester - Village Green Events

We loved seeing Back to the Future at the Victoria Baths this summer, so when I saw that the Village Screen were returning with Christmas films this season, I bought tickets as soon as they went on sale. I’ve been looking forward to this night for weeks. Can you believe I’ve never seen Elf before?

Mac Daddies at the Victoria Baths, Manchester - Village Green Events

We didn’t get to indulge in the food offerings last time but I more than made up for it on this trip. I had the most deliciously indulgent mac and cheese from Mac Daddies and a festive doughnut filled with jam and mincemeat.

Elf at the Victoria Baths, Manchester - Village Green Events

I absolutely loved seeing the place decked out with Christmas cheer. It was however, bloody freezing and I’m so glad we brought a blanket to snuggle under – I know they tell you it’s going be cold when you book but jeepers, it was icy.

In fact, it was so cold that by the end of the film it snowed inside!

Elf at the Victoria Baths, Manchester - Village Green EventsElf at the Victoria Baths, Manchester - Village Green Events

It was such a magical evening and I am eagerly awaiting the next time we get to visit.

A story told in security tags

411143BF-4FA8-4B65-A795-8760CF2BD2E9.jpegThe Sainsbury’s local that we frequent has recently gone a little security tag mad. It’s an interesting insight into the local shoplifting population’s preferences – black tea, good chocolate, clean teeth and safe sex.

The four-pack of almond Magnums I bought didn’t have a tag on them. I guess they can’t handle ice cream in the winter like I can. Softies.

Sunday evening treats

On Sunday, husband was in one of those moods where he wanted  to go out for the evening, but he didn’t quite know where. He fancied food of some sort but he vetoed suggestions for pizza or burritos or a curry. None of our usual haunts sounded appealing. We even got google maps up and wandered its virtual streets to see if anything piqued his interest. Yes, he wants to try Hasheba, but not today thanks. Tapas sounds good but not the walk all the way to the Northern Quarter. In the end, we put on our coats to hit the streets for some fresh air and see where our noses took us.

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We headed off in the direction of town and found ourselves walking by Oishi-Q. We have passed this place countless times over the years and whilst it has been on our hit list of places to try, we hadn’t quite made it yet.

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After a quick perusal of the menu, husband declared it a winner and off we went inside.

The food was tasty and steaming hot. We had the ramen and chicken karaage. We talked of visiting Japan one day. Soon, I hope.

We ended the evening with a nightcap at Sandbar before walking home in the winter chill.

In Monton

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This weekend has been the first one we’ve spent at home in  Manchester, just the two of us, in forever. It has been lovely and much needed.

Today we decided to head up the road to Monton. We spent a couple of hours walking the streets, imagining what it would be like to live in one of the fantastic gigantic old houses in Ellesmere Park. I would have one room for shoes and another one for dresses. And a library with floor to ceiling bookshelves.

I spied a couple of Qubek’s pieces just off Monton high street and made husband wait an age whilst I took far too many pictures.

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We ended our afternoon with a cream tea at a tea room – good, strong tea but not so great scones. As a personal preference, I do not think any thing is made better by glacé cherries.

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