Guest Post: Kosmonaut Launches new Spring 2014 Drinks List

Booking to go to a gig I knew, the second I put my card details in, something exciting would come up and I’d miss out. Guess what? It happened! So gutted but Charlie took the helm and toddled off to Kosmonaut to try their new spring drinks menu for me. Over to you Charlie…

It’s a rare thing for Keeley to hand over wine tasting duties, especially when there is fizz involved, but last week, a prior engagement meant she had to do just that, and hand over the drinking duties.

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Kosmonaut, City Life best bar 2013 (and long time favourite of mine) was launching its new spring drinks menu – some brand new wines and a new cocktail list.

You can imagine my sigh of resignation as I agreed to assist.

Kosmonaut has long offered great cocktails and wines at reasonable prices and it still plans to. It’s their thinking behind the new wines on offer – great wines that are accessible to everyone and without the beefy mark ups of some higher end venues. It’s an ethos that both Keeley and I are very much in favour of (and our purses are too).

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I knew things were going to be fun when we were greeted with a Paloma – grapefruit and tequila mix happily in a glass and it’s spritzed with salt infused whisky to give the smokiness a kick. Perfect preparation for our palettes.

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From the wine list, we started with a delightful Gusbourne Estate Vintage Sparkling. Admittedly, everyone must know I’m not the world’s biggest fizz fan, but this is delightfully light, with lots of crisp apple flavours.

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Second on our list of six was the Belanotte Pinot Grigio Romato – this is so beyond any commercial Pinot Grigio. Some of the similarly priced wines I’ve tasted are astringent and unpleasant. Biodynamic, organic, this was full of wild strawberry flavours, with a light nuttiness.

The third, and my favourite white of the evening was the Ca Lojera Lugana. This Italian beauty is an absolute stunner, in fact my notes just state, in capitals ‘HEAVEN’. I think that says it all.

The single rose of the evening was Rose d’Une Nuit, another biodynamic wine, this is unlike a lot of roses I’ve sampled – in a very good way. Steeped in its skins for a brief period, the process gives it some light gentle tannins, that work beautifully, adding depth, but without overpowering.

Two wines left to sample, and yes, you’ve guessed it, we were in red territory. The Ottavio Rube Dolcetto is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but it was a winner with me. Soft floral notes play with a smoky quality from a light oaking that meant I was immediately thinking of a thick steak, a charcoal grill and a glass or two of this alongside it.

Our final red was a Framingham Pinot Noir – fruity, herbal, and light, this too is a stunner. If you’re not a fan of heavy reds, this would be ideal and I’m going to insist Keeley samples this herself next time we visit.

With a brief break for food – thank goodness as I was beginning to feel distinctly wobbly – Tom Higham introduced us to the new cocktails to be gracing the menu. To say I was excited was an understatement.

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First up, a personal favourite, a Clover Club. Gin base (in this case the lovely Death’s Door gin), vermouth, lemon and raspberry.  Balanced, fruity and soft, this is a dream.

Secondly, Crying at the Piscotheque, a twist on a Pisco sour, with apricot and marmalade. Sour creamy citrus, I was beginning to think that Tom had been thinking of my palate when he created these. Especially when the next one arrived – Dale Cooper. Cognac, Chartreuse Jaune and New Orleans bitters. A ‘bigger’ drink than the previous two, this Old Fashioned style cocktail seemed to divide the guests. Some found it a little too heavy, but as someone who prefers that style, I was enamoured.

Finally, the Yokohama flip – Japanese whisky, Rhubarbe IPA, Umeshu (plum infused sake), nutmeg and salt. Reverting to the creamy style cocktails, this was an unusual one. It reminded me very much of a grown up milkshake, especially with the nutmeg on top.

With fantastic wines, and some equally gorgeous cocktails, Kosmonaut have given the menu a little facelift. Like the most careful of surgeons, they’ve only improved on the bone structure and kept the character that I love.

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Now, Keeley love, about that red wine….

Guess it is about time I bit the bullet and started ordering some lighter reds…

*This was a press event and Charlie wasn’t asked to pay for any of her drinks. This review is honest and unbiased.

Marry My Blog Tag

One of my favourite episodes of Sex and the City is where Carrie tells a friend she is marrying herself. I regularly have the conversation with my friends that I would love a wedding. Shopping for the perfect dress, the perfect shoes, the perfect cake and the perfect honeymoon. Problem is I am single and the thought of spending the rest of my life with someone right now is a pretty scary one. During the long train ride to London last weekend I got chatting to Charlie about it and she suggested I marry my blog as a joke and this idea was born. Let’s face it, your blog won’t answer back, argue or (most of the time) be awkward. And I get to plan my perfect wedding without it actually happening.

The rings

Ok so normally the guy would pick the ring but, even if I got married for real, I think I would like to help pick the ring I’ll be wearing for the rest of my life. The first place I visited on my first trip to New York was Tiffany’s. The pretty duck egg coloured boxes with white ribbon suck me in completely and the jewellery is just exquisite.

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This platinum band with a 1 carat princess cut diamond is so pretty and the wedding band of smaller diamonds compliments it perfectly for just the right amount of sparkle.

The dress

A wedding gown I truly loved was Coleen Rooney’s by Marchesa. The plain and simple bodice with the full ‘fan like’ skirt was perfect for her shape. I love the 3/4 tea dress styles as well because, with my obsession with shoes, they are perfect for showing off the bridal shoes. Anyone who has met me will know I am a fan of this style of dress. The fitted bodice and flared skirt suits me body shape perfectly even though I hate my legs!

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I love the stripe effect on this dress and think it makes it that little bit more unique. I think I’d want it strapless though.

The shoes

More important than the dress for me is the shoes. I love shoes so much I can’t tell you. The shoe choice for my wedding would be really easy…

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Carrie Bradshaw wore these Manolo Blahnik shoes when she marries Big in Sex and the City at City Hall. They are just perfect and means there’s no need for a ‘something blue’ because these are it!

The cake

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Being a food lover my cake would be very simple and I would focus on taste rather than decoration. Multiple layers of different flavours is definitely the way I would go with lemon curd and carrot cake being must-haves! I do love this one from Slattery’s though, it’s simple yet stylish.

The flowers

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I love peonies and I would want a really simple colour scheme for my wedding so this bouquet would be perfect. I’d probably have the ribbon wrapped around the stem in lemon though and a big bow.

The honeymoon

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For my honeymoon I would want total relaxation. To be able to lie on the prettiest beach with a book during the day and eat fabulously fresh and local food during the night. The Sharaton Maldives Full Moon Resort and Spa looks divine and I could be pampered at the same time. It looks idyllic with crystal clear water and the whitest sandy beaches.

I tag:

Sally from http://www.sweetiesal.com
Rachel from http://www.beautyqueenuk.co.uk
Chrissie from http://www.manchesterflickchick.wordpress.co.uk
Charl from http://www.gingergirlsays.com
Sara from http://www.pretty-in-pink-blog.com

Feel free to take part even if you aren’t tagged and please leave your links in a comment below so I can read them!

Review: Pizza and Wine, Heaton Mersey – Stockport

When it comes to food I have to confess that the passion of the owner of an establishment is a big plus for me. This passion was evident at the wine tasting I went to with Guy from Pizza and Wine a few weeks ago and I thoroughly enjoyed chatting to the ex-wine merchant on the night about his passion for the best quality ingredients possible. Following the wine tasting event, and knowing my love for pizza, he invited Charlie and I to his shop to try some of his wares.

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You would be forgiven for not knowing Pizza and Wine is in Heaton Mersey. Located on Didsbury Road it is a small shop front wedged in between a bookmakers and a local pub. Once you know it is there though, you won’t forget it. Guy and his business partner Henric are keen that you don’t just buy pizza and wine, you experience it. Their ingredients are all fresh and sourced from their country of origin. The Parma ham? From the Parma region. The chorizo? From Spain. The Roquefort and Reblochon cheese? You guessed it, from France. Nothing is bought in pre-sliced. There is no freezer on site whatsoever with the dough and tomato sauce also made on site.

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Service is with a smile and friendly conversation from French born Guy who believes ‘quality should not be exclusive’. Every day before he opens the shop he cooks a basic pizza to make sure the oven is at the right temperature.

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The first pizza of the day was spot on. The base thin and crispy with a rich sauce and a basic mozzarella topping. I say basic. Like all the other ingredients this is the freshest possible sourced from Campana. It was delicious.

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The next pizza we tried is a recipe designed by Guy’s business partner Henric. The tomato base is dotted with goats cheese then a sprinkle of mozzarella before being baked for 2 and a half minutes precisely. After cooking parma ham is ripped up and placed along each slice. The goats cheese gave the creamy mozzarella an extra saltiness whilst the parma ham had been gently heated through from the cooked gooey cheese underneath without going dry and crispy like it would had it been put on the pizza before being cooked. This is an absolute winner for me, I loved it.

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To end our tour of the menu we were treated to a white pizza. The tomato was replaced with crème fraiche, the mozzarella scattered on and then thick slices of salmon draped across each slice. I wasn’t sure how it would work but the creaminess of the crème fraiche cut through the fattiness of the salmon nicely.

The prices are reasonable with the basic margarita priced at £8, the parma ham and goats cheese £10 and the salmon the most expensive at £11.50. All cheaper than Domino’s, better quality and Pizza and Wine also deliver to the neighbouring villages and towns including Didsbury.

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The chilli and garlic oil is also infused on site and gives your pizza that extra kick if you want it.

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Guy has remained true to his previous profession and imports his wine direct from the vineyards in France. He knows exactly where every one of the varieties is from and has visited most of the vineyards with good friends at the majority too! His prices are extraordinary with the beautiful Chateau Haut Pougnan pictured above retailing here for just £8.99. If you can find a bottle of wine of this quality at this price anywhere else I will buy your next pizza, from Pizza and Wine of course.

Huge thank you to Guy and Henric for inviting us to try his pizzas. The are, without a doubt, the best I have tried in the Greater Manchester area. It is well worth the trip and with the East Didsbury tram stop being just 15 minutes walk away, what are you waiting for?

We weren’t asked to pay for our pizzas or wine samples at Pizza and Wine. This review is honest and unbiased.

Cocktails in the City is BACK for 2014!

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There is one event I have been eagerly awaiting the return of in Manchester. You may remember my absolute delight at being asked to judge last year’s Cocktails in the City event (if not you can read about it HERE) and what a night it was. My dreadfully difficult task was to wander around each of the amazing bars showcasing their cocktails, try them all and pick a few winners. Lucky for me I had Dave (aka The Drinks Enthusiast) at my side to help the selection process and stop me getting too giddy and finishing every cocktail. It was an amazing night of superb drinks, wonderful hospitality and wicked banter.

Well Manchester, you are in luck, it is BACK!

Celebrating Manchester’s vibrant cocktail scene, Cocktails in the City the UK’s largest ever cocktail master class returns to the grandiose surroundings of the Great Hall, Manchester Town Hall on 8th May 2014, with tickets priced an amazing £10 for 1 cocktail, cocktail book and entry. With Manchester’s greatest cocktails being served and a dedicated North West following eager to see what this years event entails. Cocktails in the City Manchester is the only place where cocktail lovers and Manchesters finest bars will gather together, for an evening dedicated to the art of cocktail making.

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This year there will be a pamper area provided by Harvey Nichols for any emergency beauty fixes you need as well as the chance to enter a prize draw to win a Cocktails in the City Vesper Moped! Feel free to put my name multiple times on your entry…

Food will be provided by Almost Famous with a number of DJs blasting out the tunes to keep you entertained. As usual there will be demonstrations with the following planned:

 19:00 – 9:30: ‘Making cocktails at home’ – How to make amazing cocktails from  common ingredients at home. 

20:00 – 20:30: Sours, Punches and Flips – Get to grips with three distinctive styles of cocktails and get creative with them.

21:00 – 21:30: A very Britsh affair – A selection of very British cocktails using  some of Britain’s best boutique spirits.

I’ll be donning my judging cap once more to help pick the winners of the prestigious awards including best bar, best cocktail and best personality. Last year saw Proof, Whim Wham Café and Escapades collecting gongs. The cocktail scene in Manchester has boomed over the last 12 months and with Manchester House and Elixir attending the event this year, there will be some tough competition between old and new faces. Who will win? Watch this space to see who can sweep to victory this year and I’ll see you there yes?

Tickets available HERE

Spirit of Hale Tasting With the Drinks Enthusiast at Hale Grill

Most drink related events in the North West tend to take place in Manchester City Centre. This is great for me as I live there so can just wander out but I know friends who live in the suburbs really struggle to get to some of them. Quick to recognise this was The Drinks Enthusiast who joined forces with Hale Grill for a spirit tasting with a difference.

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We started with a chat about what spirits we liked and disliked. Lucky for me I had tried all the spirits Dave brought to the tasting but it was lovely to listen to others in the group who had never been to an event like this.

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Dave started with Grey Goose vodka and the fascinating story of Sidney Frank. Frank was responsible for the promotion and development of Jagermeister in the States which, was huge, and decided he wanted to hit the market currently enjoying Absolut vodka. He was originally beaten by Belvedere being recognised as a premium brand. Not deterred he upped his game and decided to search for a brand in France rather than the more traditional vodka producing countries of Russia and Poland. He found an excellent base in winter wheat which gives the vodka a smooth and light taste ideal for sipping. The product has ‘slow legs’ in the glass showing no sugar has been added. On the nose are notes of butter and almond with this buttery taste coming through on the palate. It is sweet and smooth; so unlike any other vodka I have tried.

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Up next was a personal favourite of mine, Portobello Road gin. Now I like gin, this isn’t a secret. But then it comes to a sipping gin I prefer something smooth and slightly sweet with no spikiness. That is exactly what you get from Portobello Road which was brought to us by Jake Burger, Gerard Feltham and Paul Andrew Lane. Juniper is quite heavy on the nose as is lemon anise and liquorice. The liquorice is prominent on the palate too which is likely to be thanks to the cassia bark, coriander and nutmeg used in the distilling process.

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A whiskey followed with Monkey Shoulder. I’m not a fan, the flavours just don’t work for me but if you are thinking of trying whiskey for the first time, this is definitely one to start with. It is a blend of whiskeys from Speyside and other none whiskey drinkers in the room described it as incredibly drinkable. Dave had a few converts on the night!

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Last but most definitely not least was Old J spiced rum. Formulated by Tom Hurst in 2009 who tried 60 varieties to find the perfect blend, this rum is delicious. Butterscotch and slight honey aromas on the nose yet toffee, vanilla and lime are prevalent on the palate with a gentle spice kick.

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Hale Grill has launched their new summer cocktail and invited us to try one of two cocktails featured. I chose the honeyed rum daiquiri which blends honey, lime and Old J spiced rum. A classic this is slightly sweet with the lovely toffee flavours coming through from the rum. I also got to try the apple, mint and raspberry cosmopolitan as other guests ordered this on the evening. Stoli raspberry, Cointreau, mint and apple juice gives a fresh twist to the classic cosmopolitan whilst the mint provides a lovely freshness.

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A thoroughly enjoyable evening and a feast for the senses, it was really interesting to hear what beginners thought of the spirits neat. All are readily available at your favourite bar in the City but this just goes to show that you don’t need to venture too far to get your fix.

Restaurant Review: Avalanche, Manchester

One of the wonderful things about Manchester is that there are so many bars and restaurants to try. There are new and exciting places popping up weekly in totally different areas of the city giving us a really vibrant mix. So vibrant it is hard to keep up at times. On a recent visit to Liquorice I noticed Avalanche on the corner off Pall Mall on Booth Street. I then noticed some pretty photographs being put on Twitter of their food so added it to the list of places I needed to visit. As I am sure you can imagine this list is incredibly long!

Lucky for me I had a spare Saturday before a gig at the Phones 4 You Arena so booked in to see if the photographs reflected the food in terms of taste as well as appearance. Despite arriving on time and the restaurant being relatively empty, we were told our table was being sorted so would we grab a drink at the bar first. This wasn’t a problem as we had allocated plenty of time for the food before we had to be over at the Arena. The wine menu is competitively priced for the King Street area so we chose a bottle of the Frascati which was so good, we ordered another bottle.

We were soon showed to our table which was in the window. Perfect for nosey little me to watch the world go by! The specials had been written on a chalkboard within the restaurant but were quite unclear as to what they were. I had my eye on the ‘pollo basilica’ recognising the Italian word for chicken but had no idea what this dish would entail. Unfortunately there wasn’t anyone to ask either as we waited a good 20 minutes to place our order. We had to grab a server to ask if we could place our order in the end for fear that we would miss the show. Turns out the specials had been printed on a separate menu with descriptions of what they were; we just hadn’t been given this.

Once the food had been ordered things moved much more quickly and our starters arrived in no time.

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I ordered the trio of bruschetta which arrived on a wooden serving board. The olive tapenade topped with mozzarella was my favourite of the three which is surprising considering my dislike of olives in general. The glug of olive oil really helped the tapenade along but I would have preferred the bread to be more toasted. The oil left it a little soggy considering it had only really been warmed through. The smoked salmon was clearly good quality on a bed of soft cheese and the marinated tomatoes had a lovely sweetness that showed to me that they were really fresh. One thing I would say about this dish is that it is extortionately priced for what it is. £7.45 for a starter of bruschetta that was ok seems really steep when a similar dish at Rosso, a much more established restaurant in a more prominent location, costs just £4.95.

My date’s starter was similar story. He ordered the meatballs which were juicy with a lovely rich tomato sauce. The sauce was so good he commented that more bread would have been welcomed to mop it up properly. This dish was also pricey at £7.95 although tasty enough to justify it. I’m also sure, had my date asked that more bread would not have been a problem.

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Our plates were cleared quickly and our mains followed. I chose the chicken special which consisted of chicken stuffed with ricotta cheese covered in a cream sauce on a bed of mashed potato. The chicken was cooked perfectly; just cooked so still lovely and juicy in the centre. The ricotta was a lovely touch but I did feel the addition of mash and a cream sauce was a bit too much. I think this dish would have worked with a tomato sauce to compliment the cheese so much better.

My date had requested the veal cutlet served with a wine sauce. It was only halfway through his meal he questioned the dish that had been brought to him. It appears the kitchen had gotten the dish mixed up with the escalope which is served with a caper, garlic and olive sauce. By this time it was too late to question it but the veal had been cooked exactly as requested and the sauce worked well with the meat, the saltiness complimenting the game flavours of the veal.

We were far too full for dessert so didn’t indulge. By the time we left Avalanche it was full of customers enjoying their food with lots of pizzas coming out of the kitchen. The service was incredibly slow at the beginning of our meal but certainly picked up with the help of a more experienced member of staff. I would say the gentleman who served us for the rest of the evening was the owner but I don’t want to presume because I didn’t ask if this was the case. Either way he was incredibly pleasant and even walked us to the door having a chat.

Whilst the food was enjoyable I don’t think I will be rushing back. Considering I have yet to visit the big players in Italian food in Manchester, namely San Carlo and Don Giovanni, I’d like to see how they measure up against this stiff competition.

This meal was paid for.

 

East Z East Cooking Competition With The Chance To Win A Meal For Two And Your Recipe Featured On The Menu

When I first started trying to lose weight I had to give up Indian food. I have to tell you this was really tough but the amount of ghee used meant that I just couldn’t justify the calories. I managed to make my favourite jalfrezi and masala dishes ‘light’ by making the curries at home. I’d make boiled rather than pilau rice and replaced ghee with low fat cooking spray. Another god send was that I could pad out the dishes with lots of vegetables and use low fat yoghurt to add the creaminess without the extra calories. I found that getting the right balance of spices, I didn’t need the extra fat for my curries to taste good.

Do you like to play with Asian spices and make your own curries at home? Do you like to get your family round for a slap up Indian banquet cooked from scratch? Well you have the chance to take that one step further and have your recipe featured on the menu at East Z East as well as a meal for 2!

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All you need to do is submit either a starter, main or dessert using THIS link. You can submit a family recipe, a tweak on an original recipe or something totally unique to yourself.

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The closing date for entries is the 18th April and the winner will be chosen by the Owner of East Z East. What are you waiting for?

*All images taken from the East Z East website.

New Moon Pub Company Bring Beef and Pudding to Manchester

The New Moon Pub Company have been on my radar for some time. A group of ‘gastro pubs’ in Cheshire owned by David Mooney and Paul Newman, I’ve been desperate to visit for some time but their location has meant I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. That is where Beef and Pudding comes in and the buzz around Manchester for this new restaurant is like nothing I have witnessed since starting this blog.

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Beef and Pudding is located on Booth Street just off Fountain Street with unmissable red neon signage. I’m told this is an impressive renovation from the pub that was previously housed here with a lovely bar area separated from the restaurant. Never ones to like to miss out Charlie and I popped along during their soft launch to see if they could live up to the hype.

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The first area to impress was the cocktail menu. It is quirky, different and a great mix of fizz, sweet and savoury to suit most palates. I went for the beef and pu off the fizz menu. The house champagne Taittinger (and one of my personal favourites) is joined by locally grown beetroot syrup to give a slightly earthy edge to your regular glass of fizz. And it is a lovely colour obviously! My date went for the mojito diablo following a recommendation from David Mooney himself and it didn’t disappoint. Fresh limes topped with chilli, mint and sugar is muddled before topping with copious amounts of Patron tequila, crème de cassis and a splash of soda. This certainly packed a punch and is not for the faint hearted, the heat of the chilli pairing really well with the spicy flavours of the tequila.

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The olives are beautifully presented in a tall can with olive topped cocktail sticks that were quickly turned into hair accessories.  The cheese topped garlic bread beats any other I have had so far in the city with a smokey flavour cheese on top of sweet brioche. Just beautiful.

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For starters we decided to try a few of the plank sharers with Charlie and Mr GFB going for the coastal and my date and I opting for the Manc plank. Head chef Nic had recommended the tripe dish to us before Beef and Pudding opened so we ordered some of that too. It would be rude not to.

The coastal features the most beautiful potted shrimp cake with the saltiness to leave you begging for more. The ‘gunpowder’ smoked salmon was also fabulous with a melting texture that a vodka spiked rub works with so well. The Dublin bay prawns were so juicy and just cooked giving them the perfect texture and fresh flavour. A mini beer battered fish with mushy peas finished it off and just left us wanting more. If I hadn’t already ordered my main course I would have been ordered the regular size of this.

The Manc plank is a thing of beauty and something that will have me coming back here time and time again. Now I don’t ‘do’ pate. I’m just not a fan of the gamey, rich flavours and would never order it in a restaurant. I was dubious of this duck variety and I should have been… because I am now a convert. This pate is made using Gressingham duck, my favourite Hunters gin and macerated apricots, the latter flavours giving this a fruity yet spicy punch to take the edge of the game flavours just enough for me to become obsessed. Charlie had to wrestle the pot off me to get a look in. I was gutted that she loved it too. Cheshire cheese bon bons are similar to the goats cheese ones I tried at Rosylee but with a more salty and citrus taste thanks to the gorgeous change of cheese. Pig and Co sausages (who won the sausage test at Manchester Food and Drink Festival I judged last year) are also welcomed with a beautiful chutney as well as a mini cottage pie and buttered black peas. Delicious and all pretty filling to say the least.

The recommended tripe I was worried about. It’s offal and I don’t like offal. Many people have tried to change my mind in the past six months and haven’t succeeded. But Nic? Yep she did it. Soft tripe is given a crispy coating and served on top of a wedge of crumbly Lancashire cheese with spicy pickled onions. The flavours work so well together that the creamy flavours of the tripe are complimented in a way I never thought possible.

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Onto mains and my date had long before made his mind up that he was going for the pudding. One of us had to after all, it is the namesake of the restaurant. I thought I’d go slightly lighter after such a heavy start to the evening with the pork belly and chorizo pappardelle.

The pudding is immense. A huge and towering suet pudding filled with softly melting beef and venison chunks, slight heat from a horseradish paste, rich gravy and more of those lovely black peas we had enjoyed on our starter plank. This dish was an instant hit with the whole table and most of Manchester, it would appear, With Paul having to rush out on the opening night to find more suet following a sellout!

The pappardelle was served all dente with just a brushing of sauce and beautifully soft pork belly. The manchego (my favourite cheese ever) gave the saltiness the sherry needed to finish off the dish but unfortunately the chorizo had been missed. This was a soft launch and the whole point is to test the kitchen and wait staff before opening for real, I wasn’t at all bothered. I’ll have this dish again because the chorizo would finish it off perfectly.

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How we managed dessert is beyond me. We also opted for a pudding plank as many others have by the looks of other blogs I have read so far this weekend. Well the menu looked fabulous and this is a great way to try more than one! The hit for me was the Eccles cake topped with Lancashire cheese. My mum always used to eat her Eccles cakes with cheese and I always thought it odd. I had to ring her and apologise because the sweet currants against the sharp cheese is a perfect match. The ‘most chocolate’ tart was also a hit with me. Rich and sweet chocolate in a perfectly crispy pastry case topped with peanut brittle, it has me written all over it right? I wasn’t a huge fan of the banoffee cheesecake as  I wanted more banana flavour but I know Charlie absolutely loved it. See how this wonderful dessert satisfies the whole table?

Suitably stuffed we went on our merry way… and then remembered that we had a business meeting the following day. Guess where we ended up…I have no photos. It was a business meeting after all, but the Beefham tower was declared ‘the shit’ (from a Stoke male this means pretty damn good) and another member of the party said the pudding was the best he had ever tasted. And this guy has lived all over the world.

Something I did photograph was my cocktails. Well I am a cocktail bar reviewer, I was just doing my job. I went back to my childhood with a naughty twist on the drumstick and umbongo.

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Both served with sweets that bring out the flavours of the drinks so well they are fairly sweet but taste just like their namesakes. Drumstick mixes Absolut vanilla, blackberry and strawberry liquor that, when drank with the lolly, brings out the flavours of the vodka really well. The umbongo is simply Absolut mango, grapefruit and pineapple. Simple yet genius.

I think it is safe to say we have converted some of the business clientele of Manchester to the ways of Beef and Pudding and you know what? I’m glad… now when can I go back.

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I was invited to this event as a guest of the restaurant. The second visit was discounted to 50% but all drinks were paid for in full. This is an honest review of my experience.

 

Zizzi Opens in Manchester Piccadilly

It won’t come as a surprise to many of you that I have a bit of an obsession with planning food. If I plan a holiday or weekend away I’ll spend ages researching the local restaurants and where looks like an interesting place to eat. There are times though when I have had this option taken out of my hands and one of those times was a hen do in Barcelona. I got particularly excited about trying all the different types of tapas on Las Ramblas to find that I had to dine in Pizza Hut and McDonalds as the girls I was with liked normality. Some people are scared of the unknown and that is where some of our more common chains come in. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ‘anti chains’ and if that is where my friends want to dine then I certainly won’t turn down the chance to spend time with them because I don’t want to eat at their choice of venue. One of those venues for me has always been Zizzi. I do like Italian food so this is always a good start and whilst I have never had a meal here that blows me away, I think it is a good choice to please most people in a group.

Zizzi already have a restaurant in Spinningfields but have just opened a restaurant on Piccadilly Gardens next to the new Nandos, Morrisons Local and Premier Inn. As if the new hotel isn’t a good pull for visitors already this is also the prime location for people walking to and from the train station as well as people waiting for their buses.

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I was invited to the launch party where we were greeted with Prosecco and Aperol spritz. I’m not a huge fan of Aperol in general but others in the group loved these and were more than happy to help dispose of them.

Zizzi 2

With this being a launch party we had a reduced VIP menu but the food we ate is available on the normal menu.

Zizzi 3

We shared a platter to start with and the star for me was the garlic bread with caramelised onions. The base wasn’t too thick nor too thin with just enough garlic smeared on top and a lovely sweetness from the onions. I tried my best to snaffle more pieces of this than my friends. The meats were ok as were the olives. Fairly generic and nothing to blow you away. The calamari was cooked well with no toughness and just enough batter for a crisp outside without any greasiness.

Zizzi 4

I went for the lasagne for my main course. It is my ultimate comfort food and I am yet to find one anywhere near as good as my old local Italian Benvenuti in Hazel Grove. This was, unfortunately, not going to steal the coveted ‘best lasagne’ crown. The topping was more like a crumbled breadcrumb than a cheesy crust which, I prefer. The breadcrumb idea I am fine with but this one wasn’t baked long enough for the bread to crisp up enough. The rest of the dish was nice though, the pasta still al dente with a rich tomato sauce with just enough cheese to compliment it. Not perfect but not bad either.

Zizzi 5

My date chose the pollo al prosciutto; chicken wrapped in prosciutto with a white wine sauce served with new potatoes and green beans. He liked it so much that I didn’t get a look in! The chicken was still juicy but the ham could be a little crisper for my liking. The potatoes were seasoned well and the sauce lovely and rich.

Zizzi 6

For dessert we were treated to a trio of tiramisu, chocolate tartufo and a lemon meringue sundae. The tiramisu was the perfect consistency for me. Still creamy with well moistened sponge that wasn’t too stiff. The tartufo, delightfully rich and chocolatey, was my favourite with the lemon meringue sundae being too much for my palate. The sharp lemon flavours drowned out the flavour of the meringue which had no crunch left. I appreciate this was a launch party so this may be different if made fresh to order.

Overall a fun time was had by all and this is a great addition to the Piccadilly Gardens family. I’d happily dine here with friends who want ‘familiarity’ as would I pop in here whilst waiting for my train.

I was invited to this event as a guest of the restaurant. This is an honest review of my experience.

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