1, 2, 3….Cheese (club)!!!

Have you ever been involved in a cheese stampede?  It’s a unique but pleasurable experience that came about from our involvement in ‘Club Homage2Fromage‘.

Cheese club is a bit like fight club but with less violence (other than a few stray elbows).  They don’t ban you from speaking about it, but they do have rules.  Actual written rules.

Hello-walls-cheese-club

Homage2Fromage takes its cheese seriously. It isn’t a cheese and wine night, wine has no business jockeying for attention.  It’s all about the cheese, unsullied by alcoholic distractions (other that those you buy yourself).  Just because it’s serious about cheese, doesn’t mean that it’s a humourless event though.  Far from it.  In fact there were a lot of cheese puns going on (more of those later).

So far Liz has been to a Manchester event and I’ve been to events in Leeds and Bradford.  They all work the same way – you pay for a ticket, scoff as much cheese as you like, but you taste the cheeses blind to encourage you to be adventurous.  Afterwards the cheeses are revealed, so you can find out if you’ve been cheating on your trusty Stilton by declaring a Fourme d’Ambert as your favourite (a bit like blind swinging but with less serious moral implications).

Hello-walls-cheese-club

The Homage2Fromage folks know how to cheese complement and condiment.  The cheeses are lovingly arranged on rustic wooden and slate platters with an abundance of grapes, celery, tomatoes, apples crackers, breads and chutneys nestled in and amongst. Appropriate cutting implements for each cheese are provided and they are unwaveringly generous with portions.  You can eat like a cheese overlord for a measly £8-£10.

You get a plate, a stack of bread, and at the call of ‘1,2,3….cheese!’ it’s every man for himself as you rush towards the trestle tables.  Some show polite restraint in only cutting a sliver, most go for a small hunk, and some groups strategise and dissipate around the room to seek out priority cheeses in slabs big enough for 4 or 6 (an effective but less gentlemanly approach). You must queue, and you mustn’t touch the cheese before they call CHEESE – them’s the rules.

Hello-walls-cheese-club

Afterwards the cheeses are unveiled and lovingly described by Nick and Vicki (your hosts).  Occasionally there are cheese themed quizzes involved (not for the naive cheese eater) and at the 3rd birthday event we attended at the Adelphi in Leeds there was even a cheese themed joke contest (my personal favourite: Q. What kind of cheese do you use to disguise a small horse? A. Mascarpone).

Homage2Fromage currently run events in Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester, Harrogate and (most recently) Bradford and Farsley, so check out their website.  They’ve got French events lined up for July, but be quick – they sell out pretty fast (especially in Leeds and Manchester) – you wouldn’t want to miss out on the cheesy action.

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My New Front Door: The Sun is Shining in Manchester!

Liz's new front door

At the time of writing this post our front door has been living with us for less than a week and I feel like a new Mother. I’m currently sat on the steps as I type, and every so often I keep glancing beyond the laptop to have a look at the beautiful new addition to our home. I mean look at my face – could I be any happier?

The yellow may be considered a brave choice but coupled with a classic door, it’s a simple but tasteful way of bringing a Victorian Terrace bang up to date. A contemporary twist on a Victorian original. Think Charles Dickens styled by Anna Piagi…

 

Lizs-door-before-and-after

Light now pours through the etched panes, brightening up our narrow hallway. The door is yellow on the inside too. Think of it as a feature wall – not as a necessity that needs to be hidden.

The door itself was lovingly crafted by Chris Waldron from The Grand Victorian Door Company. He’s a real nice guy and has this front door lark down to a fine artform. He even put up with my pernickety Graphic Designer requests when it came to selecting a typeface for the fanlight.

As for door furniture, I delight in telling people that we opted for a doctors knocker and a mushroom knob (*snicker*). I guess the colour is loud enough, so we wanted to keep the accessories as simple. Who knew that brass and yellow could be such good friends?

Liz-door-detail

 

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Moss Cider: Pony Up For Manchester’s Finest!

Moss Cider Bottle label

Cider from Manchester you say? Manchester, New Hampshire?  Nope – Manchester as in the other side of the Pennines.

This particular cider came to me courtesy of Liz – the girl’s always good with a gift.  And was sourced in her (adopted) home town.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from a cider made on one of the most notorious estates in Manchester.  Hard apples?   Apples that have taken a bruising?  Apples that haven’t fallen far from the tree? It does have a little chequered flat cap that indicate it’s northern upbringing, but beyond that I think it stands its ground admirably against southern softie ciders.

Top of Moss Cider bottle with herringbone patterned cap

The Moss Cider project takes donated apples and turns them into small batch ciders, and has plans to develop its own orchard in which to nurture home grown fruit.

Thirsty Pony describes itself as ‘tangy’ and it’s not kidding.  It’s definitely on the sour side, and I found this pale, cloudy cider to be too tart for my tastes to drink on it’s own, but when paired with food it really came into its own.  We had it with a steak and blue cheese salad and it worked perfectly to balance out the rich, creamy cheese, almost like a bitter rather than a cider (but not as heavy).

Moss Cider is only currently available in selective stockists around Manchester, but if you see it it’s definitely worth picking up and supporting Dan Hasler and his vision to turn an old Stagecoach bus depot into a thriving cider hub.

 

Posted In: Cider House Rules
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Fig and Sparrow: I Challenge You to Resist

Retail-crushes-fig-and-sparrow

I have a problem with the Fig and Sparrow. I  simply can’t stop spending money there. I’m made to pass it everyday on my way into the office, so it would be rude not to pop in to see what new stock they’ve got in. Based on Oldham Street in Manchester it’s fifty percent lifestyle shop and fifty percent café-bar. So even when i’ve innocently nipped in for a quick coffee and a slice of their pecan pie there always something on the shelf that catches my eye. Just like the sweets at the checkout point in supermarkets, it’s almost like they’ve thought about it…

I need to be more grateful though, this shop is my go-to for panic present buys. They’ve also introduced me to some great homeware stores like nkuku and local designers/illustrators such as  Nicola Rowlands and Emma Lonsdale. They don’t have an online shop but if you’re in the area I’d recommend you pay a visit, and I challenge you to come out empty handed. Past purchases for me include this  dog walking cushion  and my charming chai tea set (which i’ve previously raved about).

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Etsy Picks: Cream of Manchester

ETSY-picks-cream-of-manchester

Click here to view the best of the rest, all Manchester sellers, all on Etsy…

Posted In: Etsy Picks, Lifestyle
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The Laundrette: Cocktails and Carbs

Laundrette Chorlton Exterior

Beech Road in Chorlton, Manchester is renowned for it’s parade of independent bars, restaurants, deli’s and boutique shops – it’s a mecca for young professionals. The Laundrette bar and eaterie, opened in Summer 2013, is a relatively new addition to the street but its welcoming atmosphere and promise of ‘cocktails and carbs’  have made it an instant hit.

The name ‘Laundrette’ pays homage to the buildings previous occupation (known then as ‘Soap Opera’. Genius). I do miss the old place, possibly because I’ve had to find a new spot to wash my sheets but mainly because I loved the smell of freshly tumbled laundry when walking past. The new occupants soon won me over though, and they’ve continued the Laundrette theme throughout – with starters referred to as ‘Prewash’, sides as ‘Extra Spin’ and all the pricing in halves and quarters (reminiscent of the old token system. Pretty confusing after a few of their cocktails though).

They’ve done a good job on the interior too. Exposed brick walls, reclaimed wood, bare lamp pendants and steel shelving at the bar give the place an industrial twist. And as I’m only 5.2″ the ‘spin to adjust the height’ stools that they have dotted around are a particular highlight. Practical and beautiful – you can find similar from Cox&Cox.

Laundrette Chorlton interior

Laundrette Chorlton interior2

In true Chorlton style produce is sourced locally. The menu is simple, with a focus on pizzas – i’ve sampled a few now and have never been disappointed. There is one reason I keep returning though and that is their rum passion cocktail. Funnily enough precisely what’s involved escapes me, but the ingredient that makes it so memorable is the fresh chilli.  It’s the steepest drink on the menu (£8.50) but worth every penny.

Rum passion

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Salt Bar: Scandinavia comes to Macclesfield

SCANDI BAR-01

Salt Bar is a Scandinavian restaurant in the old Market town of Macclesfield. It was recently featured on a BBC2 Documentry, ‘Restaurant Man’, which followed owner Debbie Quinn’s  journey as she set up the bar in 2013. Debbie’s love for Scandinavia inspired the whole affair and as I have a similar affinity with these Northern European countries I just had to pay a visit.

The menu is small but surprisingly varied, yes there are meatballs – served four different ways (and boy they looked good) but there is plenty more to choose from. I opted for the Carraway fläskfile med Plommon (Caraway Pork Fillet with roasted plums, served with potato terrine) and my partner Paul chose the Tilliliha (Traditional Finnish Beef and Dill Stew, pickled vegetables, and mash). We polished them off with a bottle of Åbro a  malty beer with a refreshing citrus aftertaste,  brewed in the Småland region of Sweden.

SCANDI BAR-02

The decor continues the Scandi theme, simple stripped timber tables and chairs, industrial steel lighting and pale blue wooden panelling –  reminiscent of the coastal cabins that scatter Stokholm’s famous archipelagos. A mismatched mirrored wall and token jumper wearing elk add character and warmth to the otherwise super modern interior.

SCANDI BAR-03

Thankfully the prices are where the Scandinavian theme stops, for two courses and a  beer the bill came in under £45.

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