Tag Archives: manchester

Artisan Markets, Castlefield

Castlefield market

Castlefield Artisan market

It couldn’t have worked out better. We had nothing planned, and it was a mild November day with searing blue skies and a low afternoon sun.

Scanning through my Twitter feed on Sunday morning, I noticed a tweet about Castlefield Artisan Market, which is on the cobbles under the viaduct near Dukes 92.

With a great mix of food, vintage stalls and craft, this was the best market I’ve been to in a long time. Jazz was blasted out across the cobbles, with a troupe of dancers, doing a ridiculously cool dance routine. The upbeat music gave the event a really lovely atmosphere and gave everyone a smile on their face.

We stocked up on salt marsh lamb from Cockerham in Lancashire, as well as speciality sausages, cakes and delicacies from Taste of Anatolia, among many other delicious items.

This is exactly what Manchester has needed for many years, and I can’t understand why the council hasn’t been able to organise something like this. Although saying that, the best events come from innovative individuals doing something they’re passionate about. And in true Manchester fashion, this isn’t just any old farmers’ market – it’s so much more than that.

Castlefield Artisan Market will take place every first Sunday of the month, from 10am to 4pm. The next event is December 4 and there is a special Christmas market on December 23.

Come along and show your support.

Surburban Series plates by Lisa Mouncey, from Broadstone Mill

Surburban Series plates by Lisa Mouncey, from Broadstone Mill

A trip down under: Australasia, Spinningfields

It was Mr Manchester Is Ace’s birthday, we had a babysitter and it was a Saturday. We wanted to go out, have a few drinks, spend stupid amounts of money on food and forget all about sterilising bottles and changing nappies for a few hours. The world might not have been our oyster but Manchester certainly was.

Seeing as Australasia is the latest must-go restaurant in town we decided to check it out. Situated underneath the new Armani store, just off Deansgate, Australasia occupies what used to be the MEN basement, I believe.

Clearly a lot of attention has been given into making a basement seem, well, un-basement like. White floors, walls and furniture make it seem like you are sitting in a conservatory, with light just bouncing here, there and everywhere.

Our Australian wine waiter instantly impressed us by giving us a iPad to browse through the impressive wine menu. I was happy with a glass of the cheapest fizz (Thomas Mitchell Brut, Semillon, Trebbiano from Australia, £5.50) and across the table a Brazilian Pinot Grigio Riesling (£24.50 a bottle) was a good choice.

Australasia manchester main courses

The menu takes in sushi, small Asian plates, big soups and main meals. However, it didn’t quite seem to gel together as much as it could do, perhaps because the influences are taken from such a huge continent.

For example, we ordered the Pork belly with pineapple curry (£14.50), but there was no rice on the menu. Chips or sweet potato mash were the only carbs on offer, which doesn’t seem very Asian – perhaps this is the Australian part of the cuisine?

However, that was the only slight criticism I can think of and every course had an amazing level of detail and flavour. The pineapple curry was beautifully made, with fruity highlights and small crunchy chunks of pork belly artfully arranged down the side.

My Ocean trout fillet (£18.50) came with a foam (which I scraped off) and was surrounded by a pretty arrangement of pancetta, mushrooms, caramelised onion and Maderian shallots. The rich, deep flavours of the mushroom and onion juices really highlighted the delicate fish beautifully.

Australasia Manchester sushi sashimiWe had started with a fantastically put together sushi and sashimi platter (£19.50). Generous portions of sashimi – including tuna and salmon – was served simply with California rolls and other sushi. There’s something about sashimi which makes you eat it slowly and respectfully, absorbing all the flavours.

Although the first two courses were amazing, it was the creative desserts (all £7) that really stood out. Tiny tasty sensations were plated together to form a sensational experience. Even on a terrible photo taken with my camera phone, how amazing do they look?

My pineapple-themed dessert involved passionfruit marshmallow which was a world away from marshmallow sweets and had the texture of what you think a cloud would feel like. Alongside this were pineapple parcels filled with a tangy sherbety pineapple puree, while a cool fresh pineapple sorbet pulled the trio together.

Australasia Manchester dessertSimilarly amazing was a Chocolate pave, with a tiny but perfectly made blobs of sour cherry thick jelly, Griottine cherries and a very delicate miso ice cream. Both desserts were surprisingly light and crafted so delicately and so impressive looking I kept showing the photos to people.

The attention to detail across the whole restaurant – food, wine, decor, waiting staff – was truly exemplary and Australasia has already made a great impression on Manchester, and this new kid on the block seems to have been welcomed with opened arms.

The bill came to around £90, which actually isn’t that bad when you see how much food we ate and were drinking glasses of wine instead of picking a bottle.

Apologies for the terrible quality of the photos. I hadn’t intended to write about this so had to take them with my mobile phone.


Directions to Australasia






Choice Restaurant in Castlefield

On the balmy summer evening when I posted all these Castlefield photos, we decided to check out Choice Restaurant. I’ve heard it’s supposed to be good, but when you get off the bus at Piccadilly it’s a right hike to get out to Castlefield so had never tried it out.

Anyway, we were there and we were hungry AND they had a two courses for £12.95 offer on. The modern British menu definitely tempted our tastebuds so onwards we went. Showing its raw original brick arches to their full potential, the decor was understated, with a clean finish. So far, so good.

Chicken liver pate Choice

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Open City Photography: a day in the sun

It was a tropically sunny day for Manchester’s Open City photography day today, and the city centre was heaving with red-faced, skimpily-dressed Mancunians enjoying the rays. I was assigned to Andrew Brooks (pictured just below), who creates the most amazing hyper-real photographs using Photoshop.

By taking numerous images of the same scene, including wide lens shots, close ups and different weather conditions, he layers different parts together to create a type of ‘photo painting’. The result is a very deep and detailed image full of atmosphere. Take a look at his photo gallery for all the images, including fantasy images created from Andrew’s imagination using different component photographs.

Open City Photography Day Manchester

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Buy real food at Manchester Farmers’ Market

Manchester farmers market

After a late night with too much wine and then a 6.30am early start to finish off a project, I needed rescuing to make it through the rest of today. A hungover craving for food that involved not cooking or washing up propelled me, via the magic of the 192, down to Manchester’s Farmers’ and Producers’ Market at Piccadilly Gardens.

I’ve not been there for a while, so it was all brand new to me. I started off at the Orchard Pigs stall, who breed lovely happy pigs in Wrexham and then make them into pork pies for us Manchester people to eat. I’ve just nibbled a bit of the pork and cider pie that was recommended to me and it’s pretty good. There was none of that nasty jelly you usually get surrounding a pork pie. I think it cost £2.50.

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Noho: the newest kid on the Northern Quarter block

Noho Manchester Northern Quarter

Manchester’s Northern Quarter welcomes a new bar this year, and there is indeed room for such a newcomer. Noho is situated on Stevenson Square, just opposite Soup Kitchen.

The name is a twist on New York’s Soho district, and the owners are trying to bring a touch of the Big Apple to their little corner of Manchester. The building used to be one of the many large wholesale clothing places that are round here, so is ideal for transforming into a bar.

The huge floor-to-ceiling were all steamed up when I was there on Saturday evening, and from when we arrived it quickly filled up with the usual cool NQ crowd. There was a good atmosphere, no ponciness, no idiots – just loads of people enjoying a drink. We quickly slumped on the big leather Chesterfield to enjoy the grooves.

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Town Cafe in Heaton Moor

Due to my kitchen being redone and the contents of it being scattered across my dining room, I will be eating out a lot this week. A pleasant start to this was dropping into the Town cafe in Heaton Moor. After a flurry of DIY shopping at Dunelm Mill, Argos and B&Q, my friend and I were in dire need of hot beverages which quickly progressed to lunch.

When I lived in the splendour of Heaton Moor, the Town cafe staff had a reputation for being a bit surly, and I’ve walked out of there before through lack of being served. However, I think the Town cafe now has new owners. Today we did have to wait some time before getting our lunch order in, but there was only two waitresses on and they were very lovely, if very busy.

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Mosey on down to MOSI

Musem Science and Industry Manchester

I haven’t been to the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester since I was about 11 and my, has it changed! The big shed full of places and engines is still there, but now there are four buildings in total full to the brim of exhibitions.

Since then it has also undergone some re-branding and transformed into the Museum of Science and Industry – but shortened to MOSI. There was something about the long original version that sounded British, Northern and down to earth. I have to admit that MOSI sounds all American, and well a bit posey (or should that be POSI, haha?). But I am a busy girl, and who has time to say Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester – MOSI will do me fine.

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North Pole Bar before it closes?

North Pole Bar Manchester Urbis

I wanted to get to the North
Pole Bar for ages since it opened, but I just couldn’t make the trek right over
to the other side of town. And then I’ve been wanting to make it the first
proper post on this blog, but then Christmas happened and it was just the done
thing to lie around eating chocolates and drinking Baileys in the afternoon. So
can you see a theme developing?

But the temporary winter
wonderland tent is only open until December 31 and it’s putting on an extravaganza
for New Year’s Eve so I thought there was just time to get a quick review in before then.
Tickets are £2 on the door and there’s 20 DJs, so that’s a bit of a bargain at
10p per DJ!

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