Friday, November 02, 2007

My first day in Manchester was yummy and interesting.

The train from Macclesfield to Manchester was mega packed: like the GO at 4 30 on a Friday before a long weekend. Packed. 20 minutes dressed up as sardines got us into Piccadilly Station where we made a quick pit stop for a not mega yummy coffee and a view of M.C. Rudolfo (a 10 week old Jack Russell Terrier who was waving at us through his weird mesh carry bag).

We made a quick plan and headed for the Manchester Art Gallery, which houses a descent amount of Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood paintings - including the heavy bodies of Dante's girls. There was a really excellent DYI-flavoured exhibition on the lower floor that shared the history of 'the button'. Personally, that was my favourite.

After a quick realization that my Belgian bank card was not working in the UK, we headed for Chinatown where our only parameters were that the menu had to be in Chinese and there had to be at least a couple of vegan-friendly dishes. We went for The Great Wall restaurant, and were rewarded with a stunning meal that was fit for a Bei Hai Wednesday afternoon. The meal began with the super thin waiter bringing out our steamed veg dumplings, which were stuffed with diced mushrooms, vermicelli and subtle spring onion. Our next course included the following:

1. an amazing Tofu and Black Bean dish
2. a really good and goey aubergine dish, which wasn't quite as hot as I had wished for
3. a disappointing mushroom and veg stirfry that seemed to just sit at the end of the table like the girls who are never picked for dodge ball at recess (me?)
4. a small silver pot of rice

We also indulged in a pot of green tea, which we drank for longer than we wished in our endless wait for the bill - no complaints though, the conversation was great and the people watching was plentiful.

After lunch we went to went to a super exciting warehouse-type building in the Northern Quarter called Afflecks Palace. This made-to-look dilapidated building houses the uber-teen magnet four level shop space where a variety of small business owners sell a cornucopia of style-supplies. The style of courses is not quite the sleek look of the suburbanites sliding from Macc to Manchester to set up in their office towers. Rather, this style fits more with the ripped tights and patent leather of disenfranchised youth. I was busy remembering my youth in Hamilton and Burlington when I found myself a vegan wallet made by Vintage Originals, which has now replaced my tired looking Matt and Nat.

We also had a CD party at Piccadilly Records where we captured the first Sun Kil Moon, an Arts and Crafts remix of the Stars debut C.D., the first National record and a slew of other goodies. Piccadilly Records was chased with a long drink of Earl Grey (with Soy Milk) at ModPopCafe. This scrubby little place hides underneath a retro shop (with the BEST furniture ever) and uses a collection of my grandmother's kitchen tables to populate the serving area. They have a a few vegan options for lunch, but I don't really know if I am still in a place where zitty boys serving my beans on toasts is either a) totally gross or b) an interesting experience.

The best part of the day was when we found the cool craft warehouse where artists and craftey crafters set up shop in an old building and peddle their goods to middle class passerbys. I picked out a whack of stuff that I would actually drive back for. I even managed to catch some inspiration and have some art project thoughts for when I get home.....keeping in mind the new scarf I have been knitting for....7 weeks.

We came home via train and went round to the grocery shop for some ingredients. I had the chance to tackled a big fat curry that even included a pasting down of the essential curry ingredients (how nice is it to be in a full size kitchen again). I (what I mean is we) modified a recipe from Nigel Slater the great British food writer, and I think, besides the atomically-hot vegetables, the dish turned out pretty good. I even made myself a little ramekin full of apple crumble to top the meal off.

Curry Paste
Fresh Ginger (I thumb's lump)
Fresh Cilantro
Chili Peppers
2 sticks of Lemon Grass
4 Garlic Cloves
5 Shallots

chop all of these guys up - but don't stress about their size - they are all going into the processor. giving them a good chop releases the flavours though, so its worth the trouble.

2 zucchinis
1 chunk of tofu - cubed
1 big fat squash (we only used half, while the other became lunch the next day)
1 can of tomatoes
1 can of coconut milk - light
3 limes
2 small eggplants
1 apple

While the paste was being pasted, the veg and fu was roasted in the over at about gas mark 7 for about 35 minutes.

When ready the veg and the fu were slide into a lovely roasting pan atop the stove that was already filled with the tomatoes, the curry paste and the coconut milk. We let the wet ingredients simmer and cook down to something a bit thicker before adding the veg.
The final lot was served with a nice rocket salad and some basmatti rice. Yummy!

Off the Cuff Apple Crumble

What you need:
1 smallish apple
4 table spoons of coconut milk
a bit of cinnamon
5 table spoons of soy milk
1 handful of raisins.

I just threw all of these ingredients into a ramekin baking dish (about 5 inches across) and cooked it for about 20 minutes at gas mark 5. It was super yummy.

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