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Food and Drink Round-up 02/09/2010

A patriotic appeal, two new restaurants and Andrew Nutter guest reviews

Published on September 3rd 2010.

Food and Drink Round-up 02/09/2010

Fairy cakes: a Confidential patriotic appeal
Confidential is on the march - we need to get the Dreary Mail involved. Let's start a patriotic, nationalistic battle against a bunch of aggressive immigrants. Why are cup cakes reigning everywhere? A Confidential writer remarked recently: “Cup cakes used to be fairy cakes over here didn’t they?” They did indeed. British mothers and grandmothers who’d coped with rationing and war had always produced fairy cakes, which are like cup cakes only more exquisite and fashioned from egg powder, sawdust, icing sugar and British grit. They have a better name too - a romantic name, not a functional one. But we've done it again, let slip a British tradition and allowed fluffy American gush to rule the Trans-Atlantic roost.

So, readers, people of the United Kingdom, let Confidential begin the fight back - let’s take our fairy cakes and storm the portals of power and run amok amongst the houses of influence to bring back, re-affirm and re-establish the power of the proud fairy cake on a our gilded isle. (Queue soundtrack of 'Land of Hope and Glory' and 'There’ll always be an England - and Fairy Cakes').

Impress-ive assault on the Beech
Chorlton is on fire. Foodwise of course. There have been two major openings within the week and within fifty yards of each other. Both are on Beech Road with the first being Impress, a Pakistani restaurant, in the old Methodist Chapel which has stood redundant for a decade at least. It looks good on the outside and plain on the inside. The menu doesn’t exactly stand out for its originality but might be better on tasting. The place is also a bring your own bottle operation - we’ll review within the month.

Parlour gains
The other Beech Road arrival looks much better. This is Parlour which has taken over the old Marmalade site. As the picture shows this was looking lively on a Tuesday night and is proving very popular throughout the week. It’s ticking all the boxes too, with five handpump ales on offer, a real cider and a decent wine list. There’s a very attractive menu including dishes such as faggots with beans, sage mash and onion gravy (£9.50) and smoke haddock rarebit with all the trappings for £5.50. In fact the menu looks a little like a pared down version of the old Ostara menu – now Charango Latin American bar. The place is run by the same team behind the Castle pub on Oldham Street in the city centre. We’ll review Parlour before Impress because after first impressions Parlour impresses us more – so to speak.

Church Inn and vastness
Confidential paid a flying visit to the sturdy Church Inn in Saddleworth on Bank Holiday Monday. After a brisk walk over the charming rock formation of Pots and Pans it was into the boozer for lunch. The Church is a freehouse with its own brewery aptly titled Saddleworth Brewery. Good beers - although the main IPA was chilled so fiercely it tasted more like a soft drink from the fridge. Bit naughty that. The food comes from a pub menu from circa 1977 but provided hearty fare. The scampi, chips, mushy peas and potato salad (yes the latter was an odd addition) was massive – good nosh for the three mile hike back to the cars. The price was from 1977 as well - £6.35.

1977 service issue
The main problem with the Church was the service - we’re talking the pub here not the place of worship next door. We were four families with fourteen people, adults and kids. It was about 2pm and the place was a third full with the restaurant room empty. The three bar staff looked traumatised when we walked in. They were nice girls but there seemed nobody older than these early twenty-year-olds around. There was umming and aahing and lots of “food will be forty minutes at least”. So instead of a big smile, a warm welcome and a desire to make sure the pub took our money it was an awkward occasion. In the end we had the food in twenty minutes so all the nervousness hadn't mattered. Still the whole experience was exasperating and could have been avoided if there had been an older hand present.

Malmaison fly the local flag
The Malmaison Brasserie on Piccadilly, opposite Picc Station, has relaunched its Home, Grown & Local menu. This is bringing local suppliers to customers with a farmers' market, on Friday 3 September from 12-6pm. Here you can sample the new menu and taste and buy fresh produce, including fresh salad and herbs from Chat Moss herbs, award winning lamb and sausages from Udale, smoked meats, fish and cheese from Port of Lancaster Smokehouse, creamy and crumbly regional cheeses from Pendrills (The Cheese Detective) and some of the finest poultry in the north west from Goosnargh. Confidential will be there, it all sounds excellent but we’ve not had a good smoked ham from Lancaster for ages....and folks these are the best in the universe.

Anthony Bourdain and the pig
Here’s a picture of Anthony Bourdain with celebrated cook Fergus Henderson at a lunch in honour of the New York writer/chef ahead of his question and answer session with Gordo in the Lowry Hotel. Here also is a picture of Robert Owen-Brown with a honker in hand at the lunch which was hosted in the Mark Addy. There’s also Confidential writer Ruth Allan about to become the victim of something untoward.

Anthony Bourdain, Gordo and the Lowry
A mini-review by foodie guest reviewer Andrew Nutter of Nutter’s in Norden, Rochdale.

It was a f**k fest in terms of expletives delivered to rival Ramsay’s rants – Anthony B was true to his billing, direct and telling it as it is.

From the tales of scooping out the brains of monkeys to serious shagging and making omelettes (not at the same time I hasten to add) he let the words flow freely. He even included the dreaded durian fruit experience likening it to “sitting on a toilet eating runny custard”.

Gordo, the MC for this Manchester Food and Drink Festival sponsored evening, was on fine form and looking oh-so-dapper in a smart suit, even stretching on this occasion to a matching silk tie and hankie.

Anthony was in the middle of a whirlwind tour of the country which should have left him knackered. Instead he showed no sign of slacking as he ripped into celebrity chefs – in a good way I hasten to add, but woe betide any vegetarians who dare cross him as they’d be chucked out of the room. Fergus Henderson (famed nose to tail exponent) and a pal of Anthony’s joined him on stage to further the entertainment.

The Q&A session at the end gave an insight into the main man, with one question left unanswered from previous Q&A sessions as being the strangest: Missionary or Doggy style. On that final..er.. low note, proceedings closed and it was straight to the bar, or for Anthony straight outside for that obligatory cigarette.

The photos accompanying this piece came from the lunch at the Mark Addy before the event at the Lowry.

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32 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Time to launch the protestSeptember 2nd 2010.

I'll join the cup cake protest movement. Come on you Fairies. Cakes that is

ActionnowSeptember 2nd 2010.

I'll be on this one too.

Me tooSeptember 2nd 2010.

At last the Fairy Cake fight back. Cup cakes are nice to look at then all dry. Fairy cakes should have a light creamy base and then all the hundreds and thousands on top of that.

ChurlSeptember 2nd 2010.

Is that also John Ryan, the BBC Manchester Editor, Neil Sowerby the writer, and Dianne Bourne of the MEN with Ruth Allan? Do I get £5 for identifying them?

NortherngeezerSeptember 2nd 2010.

Wots the movements position on muffins.............as in blueberry & chocolate?.

Jonathan Schofield - editorSeptember 2nd 2010.

There's a debate in the office at present about this Northerngeezer. I'm thinking that at the next full Fairy Cake Committee meeting (or even sub-committee) it should be noted in the minutes that all muffins (of a non-savoury nature) should be excluded from the list of approved subsidiary munchments. It goes without staying that the abomination that is the Chocolate Brownie is automatically excluded from the approved list.

NortherngeezerSeptember 2nd 2010.

They'll be some slinky bar steward with a supply in a draw Ed.

NosportSeptember 2nd 2010.

I agree with the muffins but surely the Brownie should be allowed simply because I like them.

Karen ClefSeptember 2nd 2010.

That's a fine argument Nosport but I'm against Brownies. The breeding of more Batternbergs, Bavarian Slices and Apple Turnovers should commence immediately however.

James KeneallySeptember 2nd 2010.

Who should I contact to join the Fairy Cake Committee?

NortherngeezerSeptember 2nd 2010.

As a founding (and only) member, major domo, and chief eunoch of TECACCAS (The Eccles Cake And Chorley Cake Appreciation Society) i salute you in your quest brothers (oh yeah, and sisters).....LONG LIVE THE REVOLUTION!!!!

Leigh ScottSeptember 2nd 2010.

Today I will mostly be eating......cake

CarlottaSeptember 2nd 2010.

Where are the Fairy Cake panel meetings held?

Mixed MetaphorSeptember 2nd 2010.

Chris Grimes I note is showing his fairy cakes off on this site in health and beauty. I think those should definitely be excluded from the approved list.

Beech BoySeptember 2nd 2010.

Just for good measure, The Beech pub has reopened too.
A proper pub with Theakstons & Tim Taylors on draught.

D KesslerSeptember 2nd 2010.

Hope the Parlour lasts longer than Marmelade and doesn't get raided as much...

IanSeptember 2nd 2010.

I vote that only cakes cooked in cups be allowed to sell under the name 'Cupcakes' as that's the origin of the name.

Trade descriptions and all.

John HarrisSeptember 2nd 2010.

Please please please can you put back the Gaucho meat event a week to the 28th so I can come along?

Go on, pretty please!

SmithfieldSeptember 2nd 2010.

"wow betide". Woe is I for spotting it.

Moustachioed manSeptember 2nd 2010.

I think of this every time I look at a cupcake. They are an impractical foodstuff of the highest order:

Jamie PastillesSeptember 2nd 2010.

Had breakfast at The Parlour, Chorlton last week. The staff were a bit over-run and some things on the menu had run out, but the food was excellent and the service friendly. Great music, too - Pink Floyd at breakfast time?

fairybunSeptember 2nd 2010.

I happily join the up cake protest. Just like when did "holiday" become "vacation" or "annual leave" and when did good old fashioned unpaid "work experience" sex itself up to become an "internship"???

AnonymousSeptember 2nd 2010.

Then of course there is the creeping US intrusion of 'trick or treat' nite :)and Christmas cards all proclaiming 'Hapy Hoidays'. We'll be celebrating 4th of July soon....

isabella16070September 2nd 2010.

*Happy Holidays* even.

AnonymousSeptember 2nd 2010.

Oh, I forgot about something happening in Manchester soon, something called 'freshers' week'. What's that all about then. We live in an American movie

robbieSeptember 3rd 2010.

WTF is an up cake?

NortherngeezerSeptember 3rd 2010.

Wonders why the phrase 'sex it up' got his attention ;-)

ellpollolocoSeptember 3rd 2010.

On the subject of Gaucho John..had a 2.5kg Aregentinian Ribeye delivered from Westingourmet yesterday and tried it last night on the barbie....excellent flavour,
well reccomended.

FoodographicSeptember 4th 2010.

A cupcake is slightly larger than a fairy cake. Cupcakes have excessive piped buttercream on top whereas fairy cakes are traditionally topped with flat, 'runny' icing.
Watch out, because when this 'gratuitous cupcakery' fad ends, we shall soon be over-run by the next trend 'excessive macaronnery'.

NortherngeezerSeptember 4th 2010.

We is becoming too 'americanised' in our terminology.
Theres a prog on the food channel called man v food and the host is forever eating 'franks' with 'slaw' and 'mac' and cheese. No wonder we is overun with cupcakes, muffins, LOL's,ROFL's, and PMSL's, sheeeesh.

Michele HartSeptember 8th 2010.

What's wrong with a good old fashioned fondant fancy I say?! And why were the pink always the best with the lemon ones second and chocolate a poor third? I even have my own special way of eating them which I acquired at my nan's tea table aged 7.

yankiedoodledandySeptember 8th 2010.

In 1832, the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge was fulminating about the 'vile and barbarous' new adjective that had just arrived in London. The word was 'talented'. It sounds innocuous enough to our ears, as do 'reliable', 'influential' and 'lengthy', which all inspired loathing when they first crossed the Atlantic.

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