Posts Tagged ‘beer’

A Taste of Manchester

Sunday, July 31st, 2016

I realised I haven’t written about food in so long and you may have all started to worry about my health. FEAR NOT! I am continuing to consume large amounts of delicious food and drink within a slightly smaller budget than previous years.

While France brought me pastries and cheese, England has delivered real ale and is clearly attempting to turn me into red nosed alcoholic. The red nose is a given, but don’t worry Mum, my lightweight alcohol tolerance means I give up and go home hours before the rest of my friends.

The arrival of craft beer makers in Manchester means that most weekends there is either a brew tap or a food festival (with beer) to attend, usually located in a railway arch on the outskirts of the city centre. These have become one of my favourite things to do in Manchester – spending an afternoon with my foodie-friends eating local food, sampling local beer and having a good old time.

Yesterday the weekend’s festival was held in the People’s History Museum. It was all of my favourite things in one place – beer, cheese, friends and interpretation panels! It was held by CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale organisation) and I am now trying even harder to grow a beard so that I can become a member. You don’t technically need a beard to join – it just seems more appropriate.

It is great to be able to try different types, strengths, and flavours of beers to learn what you do and do not like to drink. It reminds me of going to the Salon du Vin in France and being able to sample wine at over 150 wine stalls, only this isn’t quite as free and you don’t have to pretend to understand what the word ‘tannins’ means.

Beer + cheese!

Beer + cheese!

Count Down #29

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

I appear to have forgotten to mention that the most important day of the year is fast approaching. There are only four sleeps until my birthday! WOO! As per usual, my inner child is feeling excited; about as excited as my outer adult was about this free beer at the latest Yelp event.

Photo credit: Lucas Smith and his Yelp camera

Photo credit: Lucas Smith and his Yelp camera

Magical, Mystical, Marvellous Food

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

I have great news, boys and girls. Last week my dedication to writing restaurant and bar reviews on Yelp was rewarded. I, Jessica Davies, have officially become a member of the Yelp Elite Team, making me one of Manchester’s most Important People. Ok, that last bit is an exaggeration but I now have a little “Elite ’14” badge on my Yelp profile and I get to feel special. Coinciding with this promotion in Yelp status, I was lucky enough to be invited to my second Yelp Elite Event. Last month’s japanese saké and food extravaganza continues to sit fondly in my memory, occasionally bringing back taste-bud-memory hits of wasabi and soy, and so I was a wee bit excited when I received my invitation to March’s Magical Mystery Tour. Where we would go and what we would eat was kept a big secret from us all. Nobody knew. Let the tour begin.

Meet at Apotheca at 6.30pm

This was our only clue as to what the night would entail. Apotheca is one of the Northern Quarter’s hip and cool cocktail bars and somewhere I had been wanting to try. I once danced the night away there on a make-shift dance floor that my friend and I created but I had never sampled their cocktails. The Yelp Elite Team had the downstairs bar area to ourselves where we were greeted by our always-cheery host, Jonny, and a mojito. After standing around and meeting and greeting fellow Elite members, we were then treated to a variety of pizzas from Dough, the adjoining pizzeria. I had eaten at Dough once previously and while I enjoyed the slightly adventurous toppings, the bases were a little disappointing. Why can’t anywhere in Manchester make a decent pizza base? Once again I found the toppings delicious (the lamb with spices and sultanas was particularly tasty) but the bases were thin, cracking and far too perfectly shaped. They collapsed in our hands and had soggy bottoms.

While we were eating, we were invited to get behind the bar and have a cocktail making session with the mixologists. We could choose our drink of choice from their great range of drinks and then make them ourselves with the guidance of experts. I chose to make a cocktail called Just Beet It which contained vodka, beetroot juice, balsamic vinegar liqueur and basil. After adding all of the ingredients and giving it a good old shake, I was then allowed to drink my concoction. Amazingly good! I think my inner mixologist is bursting to come out.

Just Beet It

Just Beet It

I had to drink it fairly quickly though as our next destination awaited and it was time to move on.

Venue #2 – Pie & Ale

I had managed to get my friend and office-buddy, Hannah, to be invited to the Elite event so we were both a little concerned when we found ourselves walking back to the office. Pie & Ale is located next door to the office space we rent and we often get to enjoy the enticing smells of baking pies. Thankfully this time we were actually going to get to eat the pies – sixteen of them, to be precise. We were guided upstairs to a lofted seating area where we met the manager of Pie & Ale who explained what our next food and drink experience was going to involve. The chefs had prepared sixteen different pies for us to stick our forks into and sample and we would have three different beers to wash them down with. I tried to sample as many of the pies as I could – rabbit, wild bore, chickpea and, one of the highlights, crocodile. They were all very tasty although I think they could refine their pastry – it is very doughy and a bit excessive. And this is coming from someone who loves pastry and believes more is more.

Crocodile pie

Crocodile pie

The beers we tried were the Golden Arrow, Yippee Pie Ale and the 10 Storey Malt Bomb – basically golden, pale and dark. All very delicious with the dark ale coming out as my favourite. But who doesn’t like liquid caramel?

Our tour didn’t stop here – oh no. Why only go to two venues when you could go to three? Time to move on.

Venue #3 – Bakerie

We didn’t have far to walk to get to our next location. Bakerie is located next door to Pie & Ale and owned by the same company. Despite these connections, Bakerie is a bit more ooh-la-la and focuses on its wine. And cheese. You can imagine the delighted faces of us already happy Yelpers when we discovered we had free access to the “Wine Jukebox” – a glass fronted box containing approximately 12 wine bottles. Inserted into each wine bottle was a plastic tube. Above each bottle was a button. Push the button and wine is sucked up the tube and into your glass, giving you a taster-sized serving to enjoy. Glorious. Paris and all that I learnt about wine flooded back to me as I made a strategic decision about which wines I would try. My choices ended up being two of three most expensive wines in the jukebox – an Argentinian Malbec and the French Bourgogne. They were both amazing and the sort of wine I will drink when I am a world famous author. They were made even better by the cheese platters placed in front of us. Blue, smoked, goat, soft and squeaky (halloumi) – the cheese and wine combo made Jess a very happy girl.

This was the end of our mystery food tour and we all sat around rubbing our bellies, unable to believe just how much we had consumed and how wonderful the experience had been. The Yelp Elite are a great bunch of food-loving people and it was a really fun night out. It is nice to meet people who appreciate good food as much as I do and a huge treat to be able to be invited to such a gluttonous event. Bring on April!

Jolly Good London-Town

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Jolly good. Rightio. That’s rubbish. Woh?!

As you can see, I became fluent in Pom while in London. Considering I spent the first two days apologising in French every time I bumped into someone, I think I have done quite well. I have since returned to Paris and appear to have forgotten how to speak French. Not so good.

Anyway, London was fun although it is one of my least favourite capital cities in the world. I don’t know what it is about London but I always find it confusing, over commercialised and lacking personality. Perhaps it is because I haven’t spent enough time there but usually when I go to a new city there is something about it that really interests and excites me. I don’t get that with London. There is plenty to see and do and I love the ‘free museums’ concept but it feels a little bit stale. I do think it is a beautiful city when the sun shines and the buildings turn a brighter shade of grey and the parks are lovely, but there really is something miserable about London. I honestly felt that Paris looked bright and cheerful in comparison when I returned home, despite the dirt and grime.

A highlight of the trip was our adventures with Tom’s family. We met a few of Tom’s mum’s cousins and were taken on a tour and out for lunch and dinner in the English countryside. Now THAT is something I enjoy. English countryside is beautiful, no matter what the weather, with its rolling hills and green, green grass. It is so fresh and colourful and the little country towns are quaint and adorable. We had good weather for our outing in the country which made things even better, but it was so nice to meet some of Tom’s extended family and to experience a bit of England outside the capital.

England

Green grass, blue skies, white clouds.

We were generously housed by my friends Angela and James who let me sleep on their blow up mattress every time I come to London. They are great hosts and always take me on out-of-the-ordinary nights out – this trip was no exception. On our first night in London, they had organised a dinner at an Austrian restaurant where we ate huge pieces of pork, drank giant steins of beer and Tom and I played the cow bells with the restaurant owner/entertainer who sang Austrian songs throughout the night. It was quite a spectacle. Once again I left thinking, “London has one crazy night life, or maybe it is just Angela and James.”

Austrian bells

Ring a ding ding!

We did manage to visit a few pubs while in England which is something I enjoy. France doesn’t have the same pub culture and seriously lacks good beer and cider. We also gorged on a few decent burgers to fulfil a desire that had been burning since we left Australia and Jus Burgers.

Byron Burger

A Byron Burger

One thing that London has done right is its museum and art gallery culture – I presume it is because everyone needs somewhere to hide while it is raining outside, so they make galleries free to enter. Fantastic. It means you can wander into a museum or gallery and not feel bad about just seeing part of the exhibitions. You can pick the bits that really interest you and then head to the next gallery when you’re done. We managed to visit the British Museum and the British Library and thanks to James’s membership card, we got into the Miro exhibition at the Tate Modern for free. I had been to see a Miro exhibition in Paris a few months ago and saw an extensive range of his sculptures. This time it was mostly his paintings and it was nice to see some more of his work. I really like his style and found it a particularly pleasing display.

So that was London. I have already prattled on about the concert and the mud on my shoes so I won’t go into that again. Tomorrow we catch a plane to New York (it seems the hurricanes have moved on) which I am now very excited about. I’m not so excited about the flight over but I will survive. I will try and write from the Big Apple, even if it is just to say, “IT’S MY BIRTHDAY ON THURSDAY!”

Highlight #2

Monday, June 20th, 2011

I promised three highlights and so far have only delivered one. That’s shocking. Here’s your second:

Germany

Our trip to Germany involved staying at Tom’s Oma’s house in a suburb of Koblenz with his Oma (we didn’t kick her out) and his parents who are currently touring Europe. Koblenz is in a particularly nice location – Nero Claudius Drusus picked a good spot when he established Koblenz as a military base in 8BC (information stolen from Wikipedia.) It sits where the Rhine and Moselle rivers join so it is surrounded by water and green valleys full of castles. Hence my highlight of Germany was our daily drives along the rivers.

We hired a Hyundai I20 and everyday we’d pick a place to go and drive there, spending as much time as possible avoiding the autobahn and driving along the rivers. The views are just spectacular – driving along the curving river edge with green hills on either side, blue skies (generally) and then the odd castle scattered high up on the hills. One of the highlights of this highlight is when we went to a town called Boppard and took a chairlift to the top of one of the hills. The chairlift took 20-odd minutes to reach the top and you had plenty of time to take in the views.

chairlift
Check this out!

The rivers are very well used – the sun was shining so there were people out and about on bikes or walking, hundreds of boats were going up and down the river and every town has cafes and bars open for visitors. Plus there are castles on every side of the river that are open to tourists. Slightly different to the Swan river. One day we sat and had a beer at the top of a castle and watched the sun slowly going down. The castle was built sometime around 1300 and the beer was brewed locally. Now that’s good stuff.

Beer and castle

Ahhh...

Not-So-Little Critters

Monday, September 20th, 2010

I love Little Creatures. The end.

No, not really, but I could leave it at that. Little Creatures in Fremantle is one of those places that you can’t not like. Well, I’m sure someone hates it, but the fact is it is generally noisy and excessively busy, the staff work at a crazy pace and look like they could do with a good shower, and yet it is a great place to sit with a group of friends or family and enjoy good food and beer. I’ve been to Little Creatures on many different occasions and have never come away feeling disappointed. The home-brewed beer is always tasty and the food on offer is simple and not over priced. The brewery building is fantastic – a large open space with heaps of standing areas and tables and chairs to go around, you never feel like you’re crowded. The seating area out the back by the water is a popular spot in summer and everyone wanted a table out there on Sunday afternoon when I went there for lunch. I, on the other hand, was opting for a table in the shade as my lighter-shade-of-pale skin was in a bit of a shock from the sudden arrival of the sun.

My boyfriend and I were in need of thirst-quenching liquids and decided act like the young and groovy people we’re supposed to be and wait in line to get in. This has been a recent phenomenon – the last two times queues have formed as they ‘reach capacity’. The turn over is generally fast enough so you don’t have to wait long. Once we got inside we then had to join another queue to wait for a table. We were inside by this point so waiting a bit longer didn’t seem like such a problem. The staff are very accommodating and were nice enough to give us a new table inside when the first one we were offered was in the direct sun with no possibility of shade until dusk. We shared three dishes – the grilled chorizo, nachos and a spinach, feta, pumpkin and beetroot salad. So good.

Chorizo

That's a spicy sausage!

Nachos

Mmm.. cheesy nachos...

Beetroot salad

I love beetroot.

The chorizo was spicy and moorish, the nachos had a deliciously large serving of guacamole and that salad… well… what can I say? It had SPINACH, PUMPKIN, FETA, WALNUTS aaannnddddd BEETROOT. Add the avocado from the nachos and that’s everything a girl could ever want on one plate. Have I mentioned I’m currently addicted to beetroot? I’ve never cooked with it and am intrigued yet scared.

Anyway, Little Creatures. Fabulous. I’m so glad Perth has at least one place like this and that Melbourne wanted to steal it from us.

Little Creatures Brewery on Urbanspoon