So after our great blow-the–cobwebs-away bracing beachy march this weekend, we worked up quite an appetite and finally got around to trying one of Chorlton’s newer additions – Chorlton Green Brasserie. Located at the end of the foody haven that is Beech Road, just opposite favourite Parlour (see post on their award-winning Sunday lunch here) we had high expectations. Luckily we were not disappointed!
The little bistro is done out in a fab mis-matched shabby chic style. It has not been open all that long and I think with maybe just one or two extra additions to make it a little cosier, it will look really great. I was pleased to see that the menu was nice and succinct with just a few dishes to choose from in each section plus a couple of interesting sounding options chalked up on the board. In my opinion it’s much better to do a few dishes really well than produce a menu that is several pages long which takes ages to read! But I’m probably biased given how indecisive I’m known to be!! I also liked that the wines were divided into the sections of Good, Great and Brilliant – a nice touch I thought.
With impressive speed (at least for me!) we picked out our starters – blue cheese and beetroot tartlet for me, poached duck egg with bacon bits on a mustardy potato cake topped with hollandaise for the mister. These were both absolutely delicious. Egg and bacon are of course a classic combo and the little twist on this worked really well. The texture was lifted by some lovely crunchy kale.
Just look at that perfect ooze!
My blue cheese and beetroot tartlet was equally scrummy, the flavours were really tasty and the pastry nice and crisp. I only realised after hoovering the little beauty up that it hadn’t come with the ‘Manchester salad’ described on the menu – I was only disappointed as I was intrigued to know what such a salad was!
Onto the mains and Rob chose off the special menu – slow cooked shin of beef with mushrooms in a port reduction with horseradish mash, while I went for the fish pie – made with fresh cuts from local fishmonger Out of the Blue. The beef was fantastic, the port reduction was so tasty and, added bonus, I got to eat all unexpected mushrooms (as he cried out ‘mould’ and ‘fungus’. Weirdo. What sort of person doesn’t like mushrooms?! Sigh, the things I have to put up with…. 😉 )
Not quite sure what happened to this photo, it’s rather ghoulish! And I didn’t have the chance to take another as it was swiftly demolished with a fork with the horseradish mash plopped on top…! (although only once the ‘mould’ was scooped off of course!)
My fish pie arrived topped with creamy mash and a giant scallop!
While the flavour was good and there was nothing really wrong with this dish, I have to say it was the one disappointment of the meal. I think for fish pie to be really stand out it has to be truly and absolutely spot on and I think that perhaps I have been spoiled by the bloody brilliant fish pie at Bistro West as well as my other favourite fish pie at a beach-side pub in Elie, Scotland! The odds were probably rather stacked against this poor fella from the start…
By this time we were pretty stuffed, but not to be deterred from our duty of testing out this new restaurant, we gallantly soldiered on and agreed to share a desert – and of course it had to be the Death by Chocolate Pot, especially when I read that this was served with the intriguing sounding beetroot shortbreads!
Now there have been many Death by Chocolate deserts over the years, but this is one that really is worth dying for! (Well, almost!) It was absolutely sinful, filthy, luscious. Very likely the best chocolate desert I have ever eaten! Yuuuum!
Desert was accompanied by espresso, look at this adorable cup!
All in all, I think the Brasserie is a welcome addition to Beech Road, plugging the gap for a slightly more upmarket ‘restauranty’ eatery on the road. With a just a few tweaks I think it could go from being Great to Brilliant (as per its wine menu!)
I woke early this morning (a fairly rare occurrence for me on a Saturday!) and was suddenly overcome with an urge to get out of the city. I promptly woke the other half (he wasn’t best pleased at first…) and suggested we ditch our previous plans for the day and head out of Manchester for some proper fresh air, peace and quiet and a chance to have a proper stretch of our legs! We packed a quick picnic and set off for Formby, on the Merseyside coast, around an hour or so away.
I don’t know what it was that grabbed me this morning, but have a feeling that it may have had something to do with the fact that it was the first weekend that I can remember where it’s been dry, had a small hint of blue sky, and has not been absolutely freezing!! I don’t want to lull either myself or any of you readers into a false sense of security, but for the first time it feels like the end of winter is almost in sight…
The grey clouds rolled in fairly quickly, but luckily for us it stayed dry! We had some fun attempting to run up big sand dunes (made me think of the ‘travelator’ at the end of Gladiators! Anyone else know what I’m on about!?) and running down the other side squealing with arms wheeling in the air in that pure childhood delight of not being in any way in control and not quite knowing whether or not you were going to stay on your feet. (I only landed on my bum once, but fairly spectacularly!). It made me think, how often as grown ups do we ever really let ourselves lose control, even just for a minute? Hardly ever for most people, I bet. I think it is good for the soul to do so now and then!
We then had a good long march up the beach for a few miles and back, breathing in that lovely salty fresh sea air. There is something about being at the seaside that I just love. It’s so invigorating but also I think grounding. I like to see the sea, to contemplate our smallness in comparison to everything else ‘out there’. I like to see and contemplate the boundaries of this little island we call home. I can’t imagine living in a land locked country. I used to live a 10 minute walk from the beach when I lived in Aberdeen while at university. I loved being able to go for a walk or run along the beach whenever I felt the need. To be able to just go and stand and look at the sea. I could see the sea and a lighthouse from my bedroom window if I craned my neck to the right angle. It gave me a lot of comfort at night to see the beam from that lighthoue flashing out, a reminder that there is other stuff out there beyond what is currently pre-occupying us in our day to day lives. I wish we lived closer to the sea now.
Soon it was time to perch a-top a sand dune with a lovely view of the sea and offshore wind farm, and enjoy a cup of tea from my new Orla Kiely flask (I am so in love with it!) and a toasted bagel with smoked salmon, cream cheese and a little squeeze of lemon juice, yum! A perfect weekend lunch if you ask me 🙂
So this weekend was Chinese new year, and we are now into the year of the snake! The snake is apparently known for its charm, wisdom, beauty and intelligence but also its pride and anger. So I’m not entirely sure what that means the year ahead will entail… What I do know is that it was a great excuse to try out out some new Chinese inspired cooking!
I decided to make the most of a rare quiet weekend and go for a slow-cooking option. I asked the butcher for some great slow-cooking beef (apparently shin, chuck or blade are best) and got to work!
To make the beef this is what I used (loosely based on a recipe in Olive Food Magazine)
(serves two, generously!)
- Around 500g braising beef, cut into large-ish chunks
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced
- A chunk of ginger, grated
- 1 red and 1 green chilli
- A decent handful of spring onions
- 1 star anise
- 2 tsp Chinese five spice
- 2 tbsps muscovado sugar
- 4 tbsps mirin
- 2 tbsps dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 200 ml water
I literally just chucked everything into the pot (it smelt delicious already!) and whacked in the oven at 150C for two and a half hours.
After the two and a half hours was up, I scooped out the (meltingly tender) beef and thickened up the sauce on top of the hob. It looked so sticky and tasty and smelt so amazing it was difficult not to just dig in there with a spoon straight away! (Ok, so I did, chef’s perks and the importance of tasting! 😉 )
Having watched the lovely Ching He Huang on Saturday Kitchen that morning, I had the idea to tart up my rice a bit instead of just serving plain boiled white rice. I cooked the rice as usual, left it to cool a little, then in a hot wok added some more mirin, toasted sesame oil and dark soy (a good few slugs of each) as well as a touch more ginger, garlic and chilli. Once this was nice and hot, I tossed in the rice and stirred it around for a few minutes.
I had pak choi and red pepper to serve with this. I sliced the red pepper into nice thin strips then again in a very hot wok tossed in some more mirin, toasted sesame oil, dark soy, chilli, ginger and garlic plus a little water then quickly stir fried the pepper and pak choi.
Serve (preferably with a good glass of red!) and enjooooy!
(please ignore those two rogue bits of rice, which are driving me mad! Argh! Wipe the plate!!)
All in all, this was, by far, one of the tastiest things I have ever made. The beef was literally melt-in-the-mouth perfect, tossing the rice in the wok with those additional flavours really made an enormous difference, and the overall flavour of the sauce was just heavenly. Yuuummm!
This is another great mid-week meal; quick to make when you get in from a day that’s made you want to tear your hair out (hopefully just your own, but maybe other people’s too if it’s been really trying 😉 ), bursting full of flavour, and, relatively, healthy. It’s also a good last-minute meal for the rare occasions when I haven’t planned out every instance of eating a week ahead, as I tend to have most of these ingredients in the house anyway! For all that it’s a really simple meal, I’ve had a lot of recipe requests from friends that I’ve fed this to!
This is based on a recipe from BBC Good Food which I’ve tweaked a little.
For two people you will need;
- Slug of olive oil
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1 white onion
- 1 red onion
- 2 fat garlic gloves
- Plenty of fresh coriander
- 1/2 tsp muscovado sugar
- 1 sachet of fajita seasoning
- 1/2 tsp chipotle paste
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- toasted pitta breads to serve
Funnily enough, the original recipe didn’t call for a sachet of fajita seasoning, but one time I made this with just a tiny scraping of chipotle paste left in my jar and found that supplementing with an old packet of fajita seasoning I found lolling around the back of my cupboard worked quite well!!
Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the chopped white onion and crushed garlic. Once these have have begun to cook, add the sugar, chipotle paste and fajita spices and fry for another few minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes then after a few minutes the whole chicken breasts. Turn the heat down to a simmer, shove a lid on the pan and pour a glass of wine in order to forget the stresses of the day… After 20 minutes, remove the chicken from the pan, shred it, and return to the pan. Cut the red onion into fine rings and scatter on top of the sauce for the last few minutes of cooking, to soften. Serve with a liberal sprinkling of roughly chopped fresh coriander and a toasted pitta bread.
Enjoy! Hope you are all having good weeks 🙂