Tag Archives: Artisan

Levenshulme Market – South Manchester

I’ve started going to these little markets that have been popping up in the North West over the last couple of years. The combination of Artisan producers coupled with the latest hip, street food purveyors, a foodies dream they doth make.

Traders and the welcoming tunnel

Traders and the welcoming tunnel

The Flame on the other hand doesn’t quite share my enthusiasm. Working on a scale of 1 to 10, a market being 1 and Fortnum & Mason being a 10, The Flame rocks in at a strong 8. Probably John Lewis territory! So when I said let’s have a ride out to Levenshulme Market it’s fair to say the scheme I had in mind was well short of The Flames idea of a nice ride out.

Bread and Asian Street Food
Bread and Asian Street Food

Still after an uneventful 45 minute sortie down the M62 we parked up on a fairly uninspiring Levenshulme high street. We did toy with the idea of going by train. The market is held on Levenshulme railway station car park which is a five minute jaunt from Manchester Piccadilly. The sun was shining (which probably helped to the keep spirits up) as we ventured down a narrow alley, the neat, off white, Bedouin tents wafting in the breeze each housing an eager artisan, patiently waiting to offload their wares.

Beetroot burger, bangers, cake
Beetroot burger, bangers, cake

First thing that hits is the smell and sound of a gentle sizzle. The sizzle of heat burnishing the soft flesh of a previously happy beast or just as likely the nutritious seed of a fertile plant. If you’re looking for a plastic hot dog on a claggy roll, a splurge of damp onions and a dash of ketchup, this is not the place for you. Much more likely is the delicately spiced haunch of a tiger prawn or a soaked pulse wrapped in the gossamer of a recently culled vine, or the thickly scythed rasher of marmite cured bacon. This is quality stuff.

Beer, Tea and cake
Beer, Tea and cake

We ventured around the bijou, eclectic combine of salt of the earth Samaritans, each teasing you in with a morsel of the bootie. Our tact was to sweep round taking stock of the offers before settling in a corner of quiet contemplation with a pleasing brew from the ‘The Buttery’. It is there that we decided where the Cooktwit coffers were about to be placed.

Typical advertising. Twitter is used a lot
Typical advertising. Twitter is used a lot

We succumbed to a modest haul in the end but could have easily done more. A rabbit pie, tarte au citron and a scone from the said Buttery started things off. The lemon and scone part of the scheme, superb, the rabbit less so. Not quite matching my pie benchmark set by the ‘Great North Pie Company’. A walnut sourdough, delicately laced with garlic from Trove proved to be a worthy buy, as did the the three seed apricot granola from ‘Morning Glory’, the venison scotch egg from ‘Moocher’, the white chocolate blonde cookie from ‘The Cake Pod’, the Cumberland sausage from ‘Bobbys Bangers’. Particularly impressive was the treacle cured bacon and the marmite cured bacon also from Bobby.

Gin juniper ice cream!
Gin juniper ice cream!

Fine craft ales could have been quaffed but sweetness won the day as I rounded off proceedings with my first ice cream from ‘Ginger Comforts’. A little gin, juniper and cherry number I recall. Very pleasant.

The modest haul
The modest haul

All in all a very pleasant hour was spent. There was maybe fifty stalls selling game, bread, cheese, wine, tea, cakes and plenty more. Street food vendors were on hand if you needed something for lunch to put you on. Even the Flame was impressed. The market is on every Saturday from March to December. It isn’t always food. It alternates between craft and vintage wares. As part of the day out we mooched round Victoria baths after. That’s worth a punt as well.

Top day had, give it a try.

Railway Car park, Levenshulme

http://www.levenhulme market.co.uk

 

Southport Food and Drink Festival 2014

He was feeling rather sorry for himself the Cooktwit this sunny Sunday. He was aimlessly reeling from the news that The Flame had bagged herself a day out with the girls. Despite it being ‘on the calendar for weeks’, there was still obviously far too little time to rustle up a couple of pals for an afternoon sesh. As we all know an off beat pint like that takes months and hundreds of texts to arrange. Despite this set back (and having touched the flame up for £20) The Cooktwit lurched onwards to the 2014 Southport Food and Drink Festival with a spring in his step and a gay song playing in his heart. In short things were on the up.

Setting the scene
Setting the scene

The sun was shining and good food beckoned. Working in Manchester the Cooktwit is used to aiming east from his suburban pile, but Southport is a heady forty five minutes west and the notorious single track highway that snakes into Southport is a known summer hotspot. Cunningly the newly acquired ‘satnav’ lead me through pastures new and avoided the tiresome thoroughfare. I was holed up in the £4 parking lot in no time.
I soon ventured under the ‘free’ entrance banner, yes, free! A welcome surprise. The large open space of Victoria Park had been grafted into a foody heaven by arranging nigh on eighty stalls in a huge square with a couple of sponsors tents in the middle. It made for a spacious and easily navigated experience, something not always possible in town centre food and market events.
As is tradition I do a first ‘mine sweep’ just to see what’s here. There’s nothing worse than blowing the budget early doors and then finding a diamond near the end!

Some of the booty. Beer, Mauritian treats, ham shanks, artisan bread
Some of the booty. Beer, Mauritian treats, ham shanks, artisan bread

The food producers were down one side while the street food vendors and bars were on the others. I swept down the produce and made a few notes. I ended up with a ‘Thai Pie’ which sounded good. I deliberately got a frozen one to cook myself. I’ll let you know how that goes. It should be good for £2.50. I also ended up with some cake, a ‘Mrs Shah’s Curry Mix’, a ‘Romana’ style herb and spice rub by ‘Simply Sprinkles’. Looking forward to trying that, could be good. I didn’t get much else in fairness but could have easily weighed in with cheese, meat, preserves and host of other goodies. One particular regret now is not getting a good stock of ‘Bobbies Bangers’. I’ve heard of these on twitter and their sausages didn’t half look good, especially the jalapeño ones. It’s a good job I have a good stock of my favourite ‘Red Bank Farm’ ones in the freezer.

Some of the street food stars
Some of the street food stars

For the street food the choice was incredible, and the quality looked good too. A couple of known favourites were on, including ‘Pizza Peddlers’ in their blue and cream H van and ‘Mr Meatballs’. I was negotiating a ‘chakalaka’ veggie wrap with ‘Safari’ only to be told they had sold out. They’re usual 5% of sales for veggies having upped to 15% over the weekend and caught them on the hop! In view of this I moved along to ‘The Wrap Shack’, which in fairness was sporting the most inventive stall. As the name suggests it was done up like a shack and as it had a Mexican theme, it piped in its menu with red, yellow and green hues. Striking it looked too. Not wishing to become overawed I opted for a small, smoked Mexican bean wrap for £5.50. It’s a good job I got the small, as I had to munch through a fair bit of beans, salad, jalapeños, olives and cheese just so I could actually start to create the wrap! Once ‘wrapped’ the thing was wolfed in a matter of minutes and the Cooktwit lunch was sorted. Very nice it was too.

The wrap shack, smoked bean wrap. No additives!
The wrap shack, smoked bean wrap. No additives!

A Lancaster blonde ale quenched the thirst and an apple, almond bakewell completed the alfresco feed.
One of the highlights for me at these events is the cooks demonstration tent which tend to feature one of the celeb chefs. Sadly there didn’t seem to much going on today. Reading through the blurb and on twitter it would seem an entertaining sesh had been had on Friday with Andrew Nutter. I would have liked to have seen that.

Simply Sprinkles, Bill and Ben, My haul.
Simply Sprinkles, Bill and Ben, My haul.

Sunday the last of the three day event was bathed almost constantly in warm sunshine. Naturally the crowds swelled to pleasing levels.  Families and couples of all ages were represented. Without counting I would guess we were talking hundreds if not thousands of people. I shudder how dented the figures would have been in England’s rain? But hey that’s looking at the half empty glass. It was a great day and I would definitely recommend it as one for the diary. Roll on the rest of the foody festival season.

The ambiance
The ambiance

The Artisan Market – Knutsford

The Artisan Market – Knutsford 4/8/2013
The summer of 2013 has seen the incarnation of ‘The Artisan Market’. Already a National Award Winning event it takes place most weekends at one of several Cheshire market towns. I along with the wife (the flame) scuffed along to the first Sunday of the month event at Knutsford. It operates on Princess Street from 11am till 4pm. The market features food, drink, art and crafts.

Whilst we have had a scorching summer the forecast suggested we were in for a more normal summer day, sun and showers! We docked in early, elevenish, but already the crowds were in session.
At a rough guess food, my passion, accounted for half the stalls. It proved to be quite possible to kit the pantry out with a whole host of culinary treats. I was able to purloin oils, olives, iberico ham, scotch eggs, chillis, cup cakes, sweet and savoury tarts, legumes, sauces, dips, bread and goosenargh duck. I could have doubled up on cheesecake, pies, a whole host of Asian foods and more. I was like a kid in a sweet shop, in fact yes you could get sweets as well!

The flame really enjoyed herself, she weighed in with a leopard print scarf and Jemima the purple booted duck, such was the variety of booty on offer.

The common thread running through the whole scheme was quality. There was no burnt out Black and Deckers here. Mind you, a fat wallet would be handy, plastic cards struggled to swipe down this thoroughfare of dreams.

After sauntering down the one side of the street the avenue opened up to reveal the bit where you sat and ate. A jaunty, ten piece band kept the throng entertained as they queued at the impressive array of hot street food venders. The flame fancied the peri peri chicken which was searing gently on easily the biggest barbie I’ve ever seen. Coupled with salad, hot rice and chilli sauce it was a mouth watering treat.

A scoot back down the other side of the street brought us gently into the welcoming arms of ‘The Old Session House’. A thirst quenching ‘Sessions’ ale supplied by the Tatton Brewery provided a much needed restorative.

All in all a fantastic few hours. I would heartily recommend The Artisan Market. Look out for it in Wilmslow, Northwich and Nantwich as well as Knutsford.

See www.theartisanmarket.co.uk for more details.