Our weekly round up of stories you might have missed from around town
CELEBRATIONS are going off all over the place – Halloween, Day Of The Dead, Alston’s birthday, plentiful food and drink awards, the launch of the Greggs Festive Bake… We’ve got a wholesome 10 ‘extra’ food and drink stories for you in this week’s bulletin. Here’s what we’re hocus-focusing on…
Just the tonic
Right, let’s be-gin this weekend properly – with two-for-one on G&Ts. Speakeasy-style Alston Bar & Beef is celebrating two years in the Corn Exchange and they’re inviting us to celebrate with them. Head there on Saturday and Sunday and get two Hayman’s Gin & Double Dutch Tonics for the price of one. That’s a BOGGOF deal – buy one gin get one free. Alston Bar & Beef specialises in succulent steaks (the beef bit) and they know their speciality gins (the bar bit) with a rather impressive selection of 60 different juniper-based bevvies, including their own cold compound gin infusions made on site. Read about how they pick their wild botanicals.
Ice cream, I scream…
It’s Spooktacular Saturday at Afflecks tomorrow, when traders at the (already pretty scary) alternative shopping arcade are dusting off their Halloween get-ups and touting tricks or treats. Firmly in the latter category is Ginger’s Comfort Emporium on the first floor, where they’re promising pumpkin special ice cream to help you get into the spirit of things. Bob next door for a new ghoulish look at Ruby Sohos Make-up Studio spooktacular make-up, then go and give our Jonathan Schofield a fright – he’s running Ghosts Of Afflecks & The Northern Quarter tours at 2.30pm and 3.45pm (book here).
Dead dead good
Down at award-winning Peter Street Kitchen, it’s all about the Día de Muertos, or Day Of The Dead, with drinks, dishes and dancing to mark the iconic Mexican festival on Saturday 2nd November. Think calaveras (sugar skulls), ofrendas (altars to the dead) and Aztec marigolds, plus 'traditional' Tequila offerings (and cocktails) from Patron, including a tequila twist on an Espresso Martini on arrival. Feasting begins at 7.30pm, with various small plates and main dishes serving up unique and contemporary flavours of modern Mexican cooking; from the likes of sea bass ceviche with avocado, white corn and red onion to Robata Mezcal-glazed paprika ribs. After dessert, it’s over to the DJs until 1am. Tickets for the dinner & after-party are £55 per person here.
Very vegan Christmas
Sort all your meat-free festive needs under one roof at the Manchester Vegan WinterFest, returning to Sachas (where else?) from 10.30am to 4.30pm on Saturday 2nd November. Over 80 stalls will be flogging a plethora of plant-based goodies, from Christmas cakes and mince pies to fake cheese and vegan sweets. There will be hot food to eat there and then from the likes of Got No Beef Burger Bar, Greek Vegan Deli, Herbivorous, Home Kitchen and VDogs, plus inspirational talks and cookery demos. And in line with the spirit of Christmas, the festival donates any surplus at the end of the festival to local homelessness charities to distribute. Tickets from £3 here.
Ace of bakes
It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for – the announcement that the Greggs’ savoury Christmas menu is on its way. Launching on 7th November nationwide and – ker-ching! – from 4pm on 3rd November at our own City Tower branch (start forming an orderly queue), the Greggs Festive Bake in particular, we’re told, is ‘the ultimate symbol that Christmas has started’. Apparently, Christmas is coming early to Manchester after just under 10,000 people nationwide voted to back their city, and we can see why. Those succulent pieces of chicken breast, sage and onion stuffing and sweetcure bacon in a creamy sage and cranberry sauce wrapped in golden puff pastry with a crunchy crumb topping aren’t going to eat themselves.
In the dark about good wine?
Lidl’s Master of Wine is headed for Barton Arcade to teach us a thing or two about plonk. The supermarket’s research reckons that nearly half (48%) of people in the Manchester area say they don’t know what makes a wine ‘good quality’, with a third of Brits admitting to buying a bottle based on its design. Richard Bampfield – the master in question – will be leading festive blind wine-tastings on 16th and 17th November, helping you to identify decent booze even in the dark. Sounds like a normal Friday night out to us. Chateaux Noir will lead you through three rooms: the Discombobulation Chamber designed to throw off your senses before you enter the Cellar Noir, where your tastebuds are tested with eight glasses served by waiters wearing night vision goggles. Finally, the Salle de Noel is a winter wonderland with cheesy snacks. Tickets must be booked in advance and are £4.90, with proceeds going to the NSPCC.
Multi-award-winning cheese maker Martin Gott, creator of the Lake District’s iconic St James Cheese, has landed in Altrincham's New Market Square with an artisan cheesemongers. New Market Dairy is already serving up handmade cheeses, carefully chosen from his personal favourites, but to introduce himself, Martin is set to host the first of many regular Friday cheese-based evenings, at Alty Market on 25th October at 6.30pm.
These informal gatherings are designed to take cheese-loving visitors on a delicious journey of discovery to delve a little deeper into dairy delights. Guests will taste different profiles of cheese from the really young and fresh to some more mature cheeses; touching on the different styles, milks and techniques involved in making them.
Proceedings will begin with a glass of fizz and a selection of Sicilian-inspired nibbles created by New Market Dairy’s neighbours Little Orange Co. Breads and crackers will be supplied by Lovingly Artisan Bakery - all expertly paired with organic and bio-dynamic wines chosen by Nic Rezzouk from Reserve Wines.
To finish, guests will be treated to a delicious sweet confection lovingly created by the Little Orange Co. Tickets are £30 per person and must be booked in advance here.
Cool Coffee Kiosk in the Arndale
Remember the short-lived Prosecco bar on the ground floor of the Arndale's Halle Place? Well it's now been taken over by a much more sensible concept. Mital Morar, the man behind Ancoats General Store and Stretford Food Hall, has just launched a new coffee stand called Kiosk which will serve coffee from local roasters Ancoats Coffee Co. as well as freshly baked cakes and pastries. Passers by can take out or make a pit stop as there is room for around a dozen customers to sit down as well as space at the counter. For those that really do miss the Prosecco bar, Kiosk also has a license and will offer a selection of beers from Manchester Union Lager as well as soft drinks.
…some good news! The Northern Quarter’s Wolf At The Door (the restaurant formerly known as Wilderness NQ) this week picked up Avant Garde Drinks List of the Year at Imbibe’s Drinks List of the Year Awards 2019, which showcases the UK’s most exciting bars, while The Liars Group won Group Drinks List of the Year. Lyndon Higginson, the founder and director of WATD and the Liars Group - whose other venues include Crazy Pedro’s, The Liars Club, Science + Industry, Cane & Grain and The Bay Horse Tavern - said "recognition like this is hugely rewarding and a sign that we’re doing the right thing.”
Meanwhile, Salvi’s Cucina has been awarded the prestigious Marchio Ospitalita Italiana Award for excellence and authenticity in Italian food, following Salvi’s Mozzarella Bar and Deli’s win a couple of years ago. Salvi’s is the only restaurant in Manchester to have received the accolade and one of only two restaurants outside London. Maurizio Cecco (main image), owner of Naples and Campania inspired Salvi’s, said: “It’s an honour to receive the award and testament to the high quality, genuine Italian food that we serve every day here at Salvi’s.” Watch this space for the opening date of Salvi’s NQ, their fifth site…