Ramsbottom – Artisan Food Market

Always had a soft spot for Ramsbottom. A pre wedded date with The Flame in this gritty Lancashire village was always high on the cards when The CookTwit needed to play his romantic hand. Oh how we skipped, arm in arm down the Irwell with the promise of a cheesy jacket spud from the ‘spudulike’ outside ‘Rammy’ station. That an A4 Pacific or a double header Deltic was due to power across the high street any minute was but a minor consideration! Ramsbottom twenty years ago was known for its heritage railway, the East Lancashire Railway. Indeed it still is, but in addition Ramsbottom has become a small foodie heartland. Second Sundays in the month signal, to all who listen, the bijou artisan farmers food market of Ramsbottom. It heads up a roundel of smaller markets under the brolly of Bury.

Summerseat, the Irwell, Nuttal Park with Peel Tower
Summerseat, the Irwell, Nuttal Park with Peel Tower

The promise of a bit of sunshine after a desperately windy and wet winter led us once again ‘up ter Thirwell’ and to the promise of some decent grub to cook later for tea. Reliving the past once again we parked up at Summerseat station. We then trooped the two and half miles up the line to Ramsbottom. After a few sharp words from the flame, (having led her through the muddy undergrowth to a bridge less Irwell!) we eventually fell into ‘Rammy’ via the rather wonderful ‘Nuttal Park’. Here children were actually outside playing! swings were swinging and slides were sliding. “Jumpers for goalposts” anyone? If you have any doubts about which direction to take, Peel Tower high on the hill overlooks to keep us all in check.

Ramsbottom and it's market square
Ramsbottom and it’s market square

We headed up Bridge Street from the station to its junction with Bolton Street. The sun was already lighting up the merry throng of under canvas traders, steadying to receive the hard earned reddies of the seasoned food minded punter. A delightful sight. As well as the fresh air brigade there is a small and civilised selection within the civic hall, itself a short skip up the cobbles. I think I should point out that the flame fails to function with the required level of lucidity without first quenching the larynx with a hot restorative. The handily placed ‘Chocolate Cafe’ raced to the rescue with a fine mug of jamaica’s finest. Chaps who are a little out of sorts with their other halves could do worse than loosen the purse strings in this fine emporium. As it’s name suggests chocolate is its game. It can be acquired here in all manner of guises, infused with spice, fruit, herb or nut. And it’s all calorie free!

Chocolate is calorie free
Chocolate is calorie free

It was then on to the main event. My usual ploy is to slink round all the stalls smartish and then work out where best to spend the prescribed quota of hard earned. In all there was about forty stalls between the brave outdoor types and the less hardy in the civic hall. There is the occasional craft type stall indoors, but it’s mainly food. Though I didn’t list them you could get yourself top versions of all types of grub. Artisan bread, pies, cakes, chutneys, jams, sausages, meats, game, dirty veg, fish, cheese and exotic hams all feature. We eventually settled for some fine Manx kippers and potted Morecambe bay shrimps from a proper fish stall. A wonderful walnut bread smothered in seeds and nuts, manchego cheese, Serrano ham, chorizo sausages and Sobrasada (spreadable chorizo!!) from Spanish fine food specialist Levanter. A superb Mediterranean chutney from The Heritage Kitchen and some sensational freshly made crab ravioli from Nonna Teresa. In all we probably spent £30 but it was all great stuff.

Fish, pasta, bread and crafts
Fish, pasta, bread and crafts

As a final treat we settled into arguably the best Sunday roast we’ve had in a long while at the ‘Hearth Of The Ram’. I have wrote about the merits of this fine establishment in a previous piece and our second visit outshone even that. I’m still tasting the tempura monkfish and the Derbyshire beef weeks later! The flames equally splendid rabbit croquette and chicken dinner still feature.

Hearth of the Ram lunch
Hearth of the Ram lunch

As if any emphasis is needed about Ramsbottoms foodie credentials we could have chosen a whole host of other foodie joints. Up the road from ‘The hearth’ is ‘The Eagle and Child’ which has its own prestigious awards for its Sunday lunch. ‘The Shoulder of Mutton’, ‘Ramsons’, ‘Sanminis’ and a few more are all within minutes and would have all delivered. As well as food there’s even a serious real ale trail. Sadly as my usual 50% of the driving deal wasn’t quite in vogue with the flame I had to settle for a single Timothy Taylor’s with my Sunday roast. I reckon a trip on the train is on the cards.

The haul from the market
The haul from the market

As we had ‘foodied’ out through the day we settled for a light ‘sobrasada on toast’ for tea. It rounded off a super day. I urge all to give it a go. I would book your lunch though. I doubt you’ll be able to walk in on a market Sunday.

http://buryartisanmarkets.wordpress.com/ramsbottom/

Market Place & Ramsbottom Civic Hall 2nd Sunday of the month

Dates for 2014 are: 13 April 2014 11 May 2014 8 June 2014 13 July 2014 10 August 2014 14 September 2014 12 October 2014 9 November 2014 14 December 2014 11 January 2015 8 February 2015 8 March 2015

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Mughli – Indian Restaurant Manchester

Not usually a big fan of Indian food. Yes, as a teenage beer engine I crashed into them after the pub for a quick rogan josh with my mates, but for a serious sit down meal Indian has never really been first choice, especially when dining with the flame. However, when faced with sorting a gastronomic excursion for long time drinking, grub loving, MUFC fan and recent sexagenarian a decent Indian was a natural choice.

The mesmerising curry mile
The mesmerising curry mile
As ever, when deciding where to go, twitter came to the rescue. Local food bloggers along with lauded tv chef Nigel Slater, have all posted glowing tributes to the work of Mughli, a restaurant of some thirty one years standing, situated in Manchester’s celebrated curry mile. Our heady gang warmed up with a few scoops in the city before the ten minute taxi trek to Rusholme, home to the source of our tea. For those who don’t know ‘the curry mile’ is a neon infested thoroughfare containing dozens of restaurants, bars and food emporiums, all specialising in various strands of Indian cuisine. When we arrived I was mesmerised, I was left drooling at some of the Indian grocery stores lining the streets! Four types of aubergine, greens I’ve never seen or heard of, and all this before we stumbled on the oasis that is Mughli.
Inside Mughli and it's homemade beer
Inside Mughli and it’s homemade beer
Thankfully I had booked weeks ago using the very efficient online booking system. A texted reminder an hour before asking to confirm or decline seemed to me a great idea. As we entered we stumbled into another world. The place was rammed. The chatter and clatter of a full restaurant operating at full tilt and on the top of its game. It was a most welcome and heartening sight. The room is perfectly lit and appointed with contemporary, retro tables and chairs. Various elements of shrubbery divided the space at regular intervals.
A well trimmed youngster set us to our table guided by a high tech tablet! Within seconds our jolly and knowledgeable waiter Amjad was circling. He quickly pointed out his favourites from the font friendly, black and white menu and tipped us towards a few pints of the local brew. The brew he claimed, is constructed on the floor below by ‘elves’. We took this story as gospel and ordered up pronto.
As expected the starters rocked up first. The celebrant and I selected from the ‘charcoal pit’ section, whilst the third point of the crew opted from the ‘street food’ list. All three starters were a triumph. My fleet of tender, mildly spiced, medium cooked lamb chops had all drooling. The ‘tamarind masala fish’ (chunks of fresh haddock dusted in a spicy batter with lime) was a close second to the star of the starts the King Prawns. The size of a baby’s fist these had been flashed in the pit of charcoal before wafting through a mist of chillied spice. I managed to swap a whole chop for a mere morsel. It was worth it.
Masala fish, lamb chops, biryani, mango kulfi
Masala fish, lamb chops, biryani, mango kulfi
For mains I went for a Mughli speciality ‘Seafood and Fish Dhum Biryani’. This arrived in a good sized dish encased in a thin, battered crust. I broke through to reveal the intoxicating mix of basmati rice, pomegranate seeds and lightly spiced prawns, mussels and fish. It was a little dry at first but the neat little pans of biryani sauce and raita housed on a batten at the side soon sorted that.
The chums picked from the curry section. The choices included ‘arguably Birmingham’s finest export’ the Balti (their words not mine!), however a butter chicken and a fiery ‘chennai’ curry was picked along with rice, roti and a chilli paneer. It was all sublime and heartily confirmed by the slew of empty pots, pans and plates that were left strewn across the table.
All it needed to finish was a slug of traditional ‘ras malai’ and all would be well and the report could be ticked and signed off with a jaunty flourish, but lo, Amjad could not deliver. Despite his many offers of chocolate brownies! the ‘ras malai’ was no where to be seen. We japed for several minutes before the intrepid ‘Bradfordonian’ came up with three lollipops of Mango Kulfi, which to be fair really hit the spot. The Mughli team had pulled it out of the bag right at the death. A fine end to a smashing feed.
Cleared up, Mike & Amjad, the glasses friendly menu
Cleared up, Mike & Amjad, the glasses friendly menu
All I can say is that this has definitely rekindled my desire for Indian food. It was a revelation and met all expectations. For three of us it came to just over £90, for me a bargain. The service, the staff, the food, the beer, the atmosphere was all top notch. Well done Mughli, we’ll be back.
Mughli

30 Wilmslow Road
Rusholme
Manchester, M14 5TQ
telephone 0161 248 0900

http://www.mughli.comopening times
saturday: 3pm – late
monday-friday: 5pm – late

sunday: 1pm – late0161 248 0900

Old Wellington – Manchester

I think it’s fair to say we don’t usually consider the humble, city centre pub as a place to enjoy some fine evening grub. A couple of pints after work, meeting the mates to watch footy yes, but eat? Here in Manchester it’s the restaurants, bistros and trendy bars that seem to get the plaudits for a good feed.

I managed to coax my dad into the city to sample the odd jar of real ale. The aged relative had proved difficult to prise from his Monday nights in the local ‘conny’ club famed for its cheap beer. I, along with my young brethren set about plotting a sensible trek that would ply the major with quality ale rounding off with some decent nosebag. The Rising Sun and Sam’s Chop House set the ball rolling, they very thoughtfully provided the early evening alcoholic restoratives as prescribed. A JW Lees ‘Manchester Pale Ale’ and a Sharps ‘Doombar’ being the choice.
The old man looking slightly bronzed in Sams Chop House
The old man looking slightly bronzed in Sams Chop House
However, ever mindful of getting the old chap back home, tucked in bed without a hitch I reckoned a final throw at ‘The Old Wellington’ on the way to Victoria Rail station would round things off with aplomb. The Old Wellington in Manchester is within a short stroll of Manchester Cathedral and Exchange Square.  It has had an interesting past to say the least. There cant be many hostelrys of 1600 vintage that have been moved 100m from its original site some 400 years later!
From the outside Its has a real ‘olde worldey’ ‘choclate box’ appeal. It wouldn’t look out of place in leafy Kent or Cheshire. Inside the theme continues, wonky beams, wonky floors, ill fitting windows its all here, but given a polished sheen by owners Nicholsons.
A traditional old pub
A traditional old pub
First things first, we were able to supplant the septuagenarian into a comfy chair with a Thwaites ‘Nutty Black’. His first pint of mild of the night. A Thwaites ‘Wainwright’ (one if my favourites) wetted my pipes. The Old Wellington’s dining section is housed on the first and second floor. We nestled into a first floor slot. A short perusal of the traditional pub fayre menu soon had us choosing a hearty pre train gorge.
The menu
The menu
The provider of my very being went straight for the gammon, double egg and chips (£8.50). Basic stuff I admit but it got the thumbs up. Couldn’t fault the quantity or quality. I had the Iberian Black Pig and Apple burger (£10.50). This came on a wooden batten with some skin on chips. It was very good and certainly hit the spot. The young bruv had Venison Sausage and mash for £9.50 which were very tasty though he felt the sausages were a little overcooked. We didn’t have time for sweet but we all came away suggesting we’d come again. You never know we might bring my mum next time!
Gammon, Iberian Black Pig Burger
Gammon, Iberian Black Pig Burger
So spare a thought for the humble pub, they are still here and worth a good seeing to.
Old Wellington
4 Cathedral Gates,
Manchester,
M3 1SW
0161 839 5179

Friday Food Fight – Manchester

I’m an old rocker me, more partial to a Deep Purple gig. Bearing that in mind imagine the terror I felt when entering the darkened arena that had been created to house the hot trending, street food binge #FridayFoodFight. Whilst the food blurb sounded good it was listed alongside rave DJ types like Jonny Dub, Will Tramp!, Krysko and Gold Teeth. I was a bit scared I would have to take my shirt off!

A hip trending #hashtag
A hip trending #hashtag

Note the #hashtag in front of Friday Food fight? that’s the sign that’s been flashing through all the foodies twitter accounts over the last few weeks. It’s been a bit cryptic though, as even on the day it wasn’t clear to me what it was and whether you could rock up or whether you needed a ticket?  As it happens a few pints after work with a few chums morphed into a ‘where should we eat, I’m hungry?’. We meandered over to the Upper Campfield Market housed in the shadow of Beetham Towers and opposite fave ale joint ‘Cask’. The twitter campaign had at least revealed the venue. It’s reckoned 400 punters can fit in this wonderful, old, industrial structure.

The list for the first event
The list for the first event

By this time it was pushing 9pm and we were able to get in free and easily. Once inside the atmosphere was electric. Suitably dark, suitably urban and hip, suitably not too loud with a very suitable line up of street food vendors the juices soon started to flow. The foodies where housed down one side of the hall behind a makeshift bar. Their portion of the bench highlighted with a banner and blackboard menu slung overhead on a cross wire.

The old market lights up. Thanks to someone else for the pic!
The old market lights up. Thanks to someone else for the pic!

The scheme has been hatched by B.Eat Street MCR. They have rounded up food purveyors like Lucha Libre, Solita, Diamond Dogs, Piggie Smalls and Yang Sing to feed punters at the Campfield site for a 12-week celebration of food. The food list for the first event certainly lived up to the billing!   A quick sweep across the boards sent me stage left to Andrew Nutters ‘Nutsfood’. The ‘Great British Fritter’ peaking my curiosity. A good eight inches of bury black pudding and Lancashire cheese encased in batter, served on a wad of £10 notes and some sauce. It was hot, crunchy, tasty and satisfying. As an extra treat fellow foodie, young Jinn, bagged me a quick snatch of black pudding won tons, set in a trendy cone and British flag! It was all great, but I needed more!

Nutters homage to Bury black pudding!
Nutters homage to Bury black pudding!

A further sweep took me to ‘Love From The Streets’. They were doing their ‘street box’ which had two fat pieces of the spiciest jerk chicken I’ve ever had with some ‘bad’ slaw (I think that means good!) and ‘dirty’ bean rice (how hip are you? -Ed).  It was a bit spicy for me, especially with one of the sauces off the bar.

Love From The Streets - hot stuff
Love From The Streets – hot stuff

I was tempted to round off with some sweet, but the need for more beer took over. The Sugar Rush Gals had me severely tempted with their cheese and pineapple deserts.   To be honest I could have run down the line blindfold and had any of the food on offer, Solita’s burger, Honest Crust’s pizza, Diamond Dogs hot dogs, Lucha Libre’s Mexican, Piggy Smalls pork delights, Umuzsushi Japanese, Arepa Arepa Arepa the list goes on, it all looked really good.   And on top of all that there was great beer on and I didn’t have to take my shirt off and get down with the kids!

I got the train back about ten o’ clock so whether the dance music got more serious after I couldn’t say. As I mentioned its on every Friday for the next twelve weeks culminating in May. I’ll definitely be going again. It’s a great move by the organisers and great for Manchester. It reminded me a little bit of Camp and Furnace in Liverpool, so that’s no bad thing. Yang Sing are there this week, the food surprises just keep on coming, get down there and give it a try.

Weekly from Fri 7 Mar,

Upper Campfield Market, 5.30pm-11.30pm, Free entry,

full line ups here: http://www.beatstreetmcr.co.uk

Proper Tea – Manchester Cathedral

A bad dose of planning had the Cook Twit trailing across the grand metropolis of Manchester a little too early for comfort one Saturday morning. Nonetheless he doesn’t shirk, he doesn’t quibble, he trots off back to the Victorian rail terminus for the short trek back home to the sticks. However, a quick check of the trolley bus timings shows that at the current rate of progress he will be lodged on an icy, windswept platform for a heady twenty five minutes. Thoughts quickly turn to a ‘livener’ in the nearest hostelry, but hark, what is this? A quaint, well stocked tea room homes into view. Maybe, just maybe a brew and a ‘snackette’ will stave off the unpleasantness of the pre mentioned stand on the concrete ledge?

The Cathedral through the window
The Cathedral through the window
In what was the work of a moment, the cook twit found himself gazing across the snow dropped lawns to the stately spectacle of the Cathedral of Manchester. A glance downwards found him scanning through a neatly printed menu belonging to ‘Proper Tea’. And a thoroughly decent ‘tearoomy’ menu it is too. A significant lineage of teas ran alongside the traditional fayre of sandwiches, soups and sweet cakes. Afternoon tea is an option at £16 a head, the sandwiches are on polish rye with various cheeses, pickles, hams, chickens and mushrooms. It’s all thoroughly pleasant stuff.
Menu and  room
Menu and room
Sadly, a little known fact to many, is that the cook twit can’t stand tea or indeed the smell of it and so a ‘proper’ coffee was ordered instead. Cathedral blend no less. Having surveyed the substantial stock of sweet ‘cakeage’ on the counter a ‘mini’ flapjack in the shape of a newly born muffin was also acquired. I am pleased to announce that both parts of the £3.70’s worth of subsistence were well on par.
The brew and the little flapjack
The brew and the little flapjack
The room is beautifully appointed, a chequered floor, light wood tables and chairs created a quaint but modern look. Service was maintained by two young blades in vintage pinnies. They were prompt and smiling. There was only a couple of tables left when I swept in. I suspect it gets pretty packed at peak times. I recommend you get in early with a bit of a thirst and a bit of a hunger. The ‘Proper Tea’ rooms will get you back in fettle.
Serious cakeage!
Serious cakeage!
Proper Tea
Manchester Cathedral
Visitors Centre,
10 Cateaton Street
Manchester,
M3 1SQ
Monday to Saturday 10.00 – 18.30
Sundays 10.00 – 17.00
+44(0)161 832 3220
hello@properteadeveloper.com