Filthy Cow – Manchester

STOP PRESS – this restaurant is now closed

“Danger, there may be images of lightly cooked mince in this review!”

Not sure what else I can add here. It’s another burger joint in Manchester. It’s good though. It’s called Filthy Cow and it’s on Tib Lane in the old Lounge Ten gaff.

Ginger Comfort Vanilla Shake, Jeeps and branding
Ginger Comfort Vanilla Shake, Jeeps and branding

I do recall the last time I was here. An olive skinned lothario crooned sweet nothings down my lug ‘ole whilst trying to woo The Flame over an incredibly expensive medium rare steak. Lounge Ten, ten years ago was the place to be for a while.

It was a bit of a shock when I romped into the old place now though. It’s been stripped of its soft furnishings and transformed into some sort of dungeon. A girder construction hovers down the left whilst a suspended, industrial scale hoover hose joins outside to the backstage griddling deck. Graffiti covers the walls whilst small, screw top stools dot round a collection of dated tables. It’s a transient space this, not designed for comfort. Still it does the job. I suppose that’s the plan, get them in, get them out. It’s not for loitering.

Industrial insides
Industrial insides

It must work though. It took a few visits to actually get served at lunchtime; such was the numbers wanting to try it out. It finally succumbed on a glorious sunny Friday. Even then it filled up quick. It does have an upstairs but it was shut when I went.

I ventured in with work chum Kev. He likes a burger. We sidled up to the bar. A rather pleasant young lady laid down the procedure. We ordered up from the limited card. We avoided the ‘special’ pork and chorizo burger and went for two ‘standard’ Filthy Beasts, a portion of chips, a guava pop! and a Ginger Comforts vanilla milkshake. £24 the lot. Burgers £7.50. We sat down by the window (the only light) and sat patiently with our very own flashing, warning disc.

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Bit of a masterstroke getting local ice heroes Ginger to stump up the ice cream for the shakes. Bit steep at £4.50 but boy it was good. Glorious, creamy filler for the main event. After a few minutes our flashing alert disc sprang into action. The filthy beasts duly arrived. They were sheathed in their own ‘izal’ bog paper wrap, each topped with their own ‘filthy’ badge. Once unravelled we both marvelled at the spectacle. Moist, pink patty, crisp lettuce, crispy bacon and lashings of cheese. No question it was a great burger. I would say as good as I’ve had at other famous establishments in the city. We wolfed the hot salty chips and wiped ourselves down with the branded napkins. We left some twenty minutes later very happy indeed.

The Filthy Cow, Pink
The Filthy Cow, Pink

I’d have to say I was pretty impressed, clearly young Jordan Gallimore, proprietor and inventor of the breed has done the homework. It all works well right down to the clever branding. Even the jeep outside had it. You could argue the offer is a bit limited and that continued success relies on our continued insatiable appetite for the humble gourmet burger. But being honest I don’t see a break in that for some time yet. Roll on.

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Filthy Cow

10 Tib Lane
Manchester
M2 4JB

Call us: 0161 8395498

filthyfood.co.uk

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Rotary Club of Newton-le-Willows Beer Festival April 2015

“Beer, rock music, friendship, community, charity, what’s not to like?”

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Newton-le-Willows Beer Festival has been an annual event in the local calendar for quite a few years now, and yet, despite liking my beer I’ve never really given it a serious thought. A bubble in my mind has likeable, bearded chaps with rucksacks, leaning on a makeshift bar giving marks for ‘hoppage’, aroma and citrus notes while sucking on a half pint glass of mead. The reality was somewhat different. In fairness I dare say there was a few of these hardy coves, but there was probably about another nine hundred souls, young, old and female to make up the rest. It was an uplifting experience to witness my home town community spirit in full, thriving action.

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As you would imagine the beer is the centrepiece of the scheme. Over one hundred examples were on offer, including dark beers, stouts, pale ales, milds and some strong ciders. Sixty odd of them were marshalled on two rows of scaffolding in the huge outdoor marquee. A further forty odd were set up inside the historic sports clubs main function room. Joining the two camps were some steps, some loos and the Red Bank Farm Shop tent selling pulled pork, beef burgers and chips to help soak up the alcohol and stave off the pangs of ‘peckishness’.

Happy staff, the throng, Salander
Happy staff, the throng, Salander

I went with some like minded chums. We met on the local high street mid afternoon to sample a pint from one of the sponsors ‘The Firkin Bar’. We then strolled the final lap to pay our fiver and gain access to the event via a commemorative glass and a handsome volume detailing the brews on offer. We then each swapped a tenner for our beer tokens. A fine currency constructed from discs of yellow and red plastic. Each disc was dutifully exchanged for a half of your chosen brew. If you were fortunate a plucky volunteer would struggle to shut the tap off fully and a further 1/4 pint could dribble into your glass. This never happened to me but I heard rumours of others it happened to!

Locals enjoying a pint
Locals enjoying a pint

As well as the beer, The Rotary Club of Newton-le-Willows organised some live music. Local hot shots Chicken Run had entertained the throng on the Friday night. Being Saturday afternoon we happened upon a cherubic bunch of chaps called Salamander. They had a nifty knack of turning stompy old rock favourites into full blown heavy metal anthems. They went down a storm. I reckon many of the locals also thought there was a storm coming, my ears are still ringing!

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By 8.30 I’d spent my tenner. I’d had some Lonesome pine, a blonde witch, a citra, a campfire, a cheeky pheasant and a few others. Thankfully I missed out on my Wobbly Bob! Despite the maddening crowds in the marquee and the main hall it was brilliantly organised. The merry throng of blue shirted volunteers ensured you didn’t wait long for your next fix.

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The high spirited crowd performed there role with dignified drunkenness. As far as I was aware with no trouble at all. It was a superb event and one I shall be marking down in my calendar. I suggest you mark it in yours. It’s always on the same weekend as The Grand National. When you add in the fact that this is an event for charity it really does make sense. Sponsors and organisers take a bow.

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The Boathouse – Appley Bridge (near Wigan)

“There can’t be a better spot on the canal in Wigan!”

The Flame is oft referred to (by me) as “a lady wot lunches”. She normally troops to some garden centre or other but one day she opined the virtues of The Boathouse at Appley Bridge. She even said “this is one for The Cooktwit”. Bank holiday Monday was, in our parts, a fine, sunny affair. After a tortuous morning re-felting the shed I was gleefully reminded of this canal side haunt. We booked it and went. We set off North to M6 Standish. By then a cool, thick fog had descended, our intended, after dinner sleeveless stroll was dashed.

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Undeterred we settled in. The boathouse seems to have been some sort of hangar. I reckon being next to a canal it once used to house boats (give him a medal, what is he on? – Ed). The room is very high and features some nailed in beams. The decoration is new and is in the standard, new pub style of mixed, feature wall paper, tweeds, prints, mixed colours and block paint. It kind of works. It’s pleasant enough. Outside a huge pergola sits next to the canal. Its sides are filled at present to fend off a westerly wind; no doubt they will be relinquished on a hot sunny day.

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A pint of Prospect Brewery’s Silver Tally was soon in place to allow a perusal of the one sheet menu. It’s a very decent menu. The Flames assertion that The Cooktwit would be impressed was well founded.

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I started off with a breaded pork schnitzel complete with apple and fennel slaw, pancetta crisp and a caper sauce (£5.95). The schnitzel was reassuring hot and moist, the slaw zingy and fresh. I was well pleased. The Flame didn’t have a starter but she was beaming. She knew she’d put me on to a good thing.

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We both had a main course. The flame had the pan fried salmon with green beans, capers, tomatoes, lemon and herb dressing and a hot portion of chips (£12.95).  Everything was piping hot, straight from the kitchen which is on view. The salmon cooked to perfection, chips, light and crisp and a decent salad. No limp lettuce here.

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I reckon I won though. I had a roasted lamb shank, which came with carrot, celery, puy lentils, rosemary jus & braised red cabbage compote (£15.95). Not too sure where the carrot was, but in their place was cabbage and spring greens which were engulfed in a rich lentil laden gravy. The gravy itself then swamped round a suitable mound of hot, buttery mash. It was a delight. The lamb fell away with minimal teasing. I wolfed the lot.

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As you know I always have a sweet and today was no exception. Even the flame had one! A huge dish of apple and rhubarb crumble and custard (£4.95). The crumble still sweet and crunchy despite the overflowing jus. I had a classic lemon tart with honeycomb and raspberry (£4.95). I could have done with some ice cream for added lustre, but it was nice enough.

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I’d have to say looking at the quality of the food coming out; it’s a definite try again. Burgers, fish and chips all looked top notch. The ‘we want plates’ brigade might have a thing to say as there were plenty of boards slates and nets! The Boathouse only opened in 2014 with two executive chefs and a mantra to use local, seasonal produce and champion local ales. It’s a fine offer. Get down early in summer though I reckon this is going to be a popular place. It even has an ice cream parlour outside. What’s not to like?

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And if you have a coffee you get a mini eccles cake…….

The Boathouse
Mill Lane
Appley Bridge
Wigan
WN6 9DA
01257 252456
http://www.appleybridgeboathouse.com

Chester Food and Drink Festival – April 2015 – Chester Racecourse

“It’s a food festival Jim, but bigger than I thought it would be!”

I’ve been to a few of these, but never the Chester one. I managed to twist The Flames arm to troop round a racecourse. I tempted her with coffee, light shopping and a slap up feed. It worked. We ventured to the delightful city of Chester on this delightful sunny day by train. A fine idea.

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On landing we sought our first brew. A fine specimen was imbibed at The Baristas. An independent coffee house set in an ancient rampart. Further down Watergate we bumped into celebrity chef and pub owner Dave Mooney on his way to his Chester haunt Mockingbird taproom. This before he hotfooted across to the racecourse for his 1pm cooking demonstration.

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Having stumped our £8 each to enter we set out on the regimented route around the site. They reckon around 150 exhibitors were on hand. At times it felt a bit like going round a dreaded IKEA store, but with nicer things to look at! Unlike some festivals I’ve been to, you were shackled to a fairly narrow, roped off path. So whilst you avoided trudging through muddy fields (a feature of some I’ve been to) progress at times was determined by others and did on occasions grind to a significant halt, such was the volume of crowd.

Smokies, Cheese and Simon
Smokies, Cheese and Simon

Still undeterred we were rewarded by some fine stalls, selling and (let’s be honest here) free tasting some fine artisan wares. Beer, wine, cheese, hams, chutneys, game, pies, desserts and much more. Highlights including some fine ‘smelly apeth’ cheese by The Saddleworth Cheese Co. If you toiled through the entire route you were rewarded with a seat in the cooking demonstration tent. An optical illusion stage set was hosting a session by Simon Rimmer as we arrived. We watched him finish off a super meringue cake and sign a load of books. We then watched the aforementioned Dave Mooney and sidekick Richard, knock up a gumbo and reveal how to make and cook a proper burger. It was a tough crowd for all I think. Both Simon and David had to work hard by keeping the quips, stories and jokes flowing to keep the far away crowd engaged. They both did manfully though. There sets both heartily received.

Gobby Chef and his burger
Gobby Chef and his burger

We meandered back through the crowds with an impressive haul. The Port of Lancaster Smokehouse, Oliver’s Kitchen, Powell’s pies, Zingh Foods and a few others providing a few bits for tea.

The haul
The haul

We didn’t get too much for tea though as we then tootled up the hill to The Mockingbird Taproom. A couple of pints of Chester Gold ensued, followed by deep fried oysters, a mockingbird burger and a blueberry almond tart.

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Suitably satiated and now some eight hours later, it was a slightly weary twosome who ambled back to the station for the train ride home. All in all a cracking day. These festivals are a foodies heaven and in fairness the Chester one seemed as good as any. The season has started now. I’m sure we’ll get to some more before the summers out.

http://chesterfoodanddrink.co.uk/

Beer Battered Fish with Tartar Sauce

It’s Good Friday, The Flame has left out a pretty decent piece of cod. “It’s fish for tea, we can have it steamed with some roasted veg”. I think not. Within seconds I have decided I’m doing my own chippy tea. A quick check reveals a worthy instruction from Hugh and his mates at River Cottage. It works a treat. Even done in a pan it cooked beautifully. Well worth a go. I knocked up a tartar sauce as well. That was a revelation.

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He asks “What makes a good batter? What creates that crisp, savoury, golden coating that seals in all the moisture of the fish it covers?” The answer he reckons is beer. It not only adds lightness to the mixture but adds a nutty, wheaty edge of flavour to the crunch. Beer isn’t the only important element. A good batter needs to have the right consistency: too thick and floury and you’ll end up with a pancakey, chewy result; too thin and it won’t stick to the fish. He reckons the thickness of emulsion paint is what you are after! This recipe is useful because you can use it when you’re deep frying almost any fish or shellfish.

Ingredients – could halve this for two, I had quite a bit over.

200g plain flour
Groundnut oil, including plenty for deep frying. (I used vegetable oil)
About 250ml good beer –- anything really, including stout, but preferably not cheap lager. I used a nice Staffordshire IPA
Mixed fish of your choice. I had a nice piece of cod.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prep 30 mins
Cook 5 mins
Serves 4

Method

To make the batter, sift the flour into a bowl, or put it in a bowl and whisk it (which is almost as effective a way to aerate the flour and remove lumps). Add 2 tablespoons of groundnut oil, then gradually whisk in the beer, stopping when you have a batter with the consistency of thick emulsion paint. Beat it well to get rid of any lumps, season generously, then leave to rest for 30 minutes or so.

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Heat the oil in a large, deep, heavy-based pan until it reaches 160°C, or until a cube of bread dropped into it turns golden brown in 1-1½ minutes. I used my digital thermometer. It seemed to work a treat.

Dip your chosen piece of fish into the batter so it is thoroughly immersed, then lift it out and hold it over the bowl for a few seconds so any excess batter drops back in. Now lower the battered fish into the hot oil. Do this one piece at a time, if using large portions, or in small batches for smaller pieces, so as not to crowd the pan.

Fry large pieces of fish for 4–5 minutes, and smaller items, such as squid rings, for 2 minutes or so, until golden brown and crisp. Scoop them out with a wire basket, or ‘spider’, and transfer to a warm dish lined with kitchen paper. Keep them warm while you fry the remaining fish, then serve straight away, with your homemade tartare sauce. (See below)

As well as the obvious fillets of white fish, such as plaice, pollack, coley, cod, haddock and whiting, we’ve had great success with beer-battered dogfish goujons, squid rings, even scallops.

Quick tartare sauce (by Jo Pratt)
Ingredients
200ml/7fl oz mayonnaise
3 tbsp capers, drained and chopped
3 tbsp gherkins, drained and chopped
1 small shallot, finely chopped
squeeze of lemon juice
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

The finished result
The finished result

Preparation method
Mix together all of the ingredients in a small bowl and serve straight away or store in the fridge until needed.

https://www.rivercottage.net/recipes/fish-in-beer-batter
http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/quicktartaresauce_67777