Manchester Food & Drink Festival Finale

Manchester’s Food & Drink Festival came to a festival-like conclusion over the weekend. For once the weather gods smiled down on their chosen people and allowed sunshine to reign over Albert Square, thereby giving visitors a rare opportunity to indulge in some al fresco imbibing.

Stockport’s very own family-brewer Robinsons were in charge of the Pavilion Bar which was used to showcase no less than 12 of their beers. This ranged from the delightful Old Stockport through to the rare-on-handpump Ginger Tom and the sickly Chocolate Tom. I tried the festival special-Manchester Icon-and found it tasted suspiciously like...Robinsons.

There were also a number of Old Tom foodstuffs available for the inquisitive foody. Everything from pies to ice cream, not forgetting Old Tom cheese and Old Tom chutney which mysteriously found their way home with me. Hollands pies were also available for the less discerning, although to be fair, they did receive several positive comments. Were they using ringers?

A walk round the MFDF Fine Foods Village in St Ann’s Square proved very pleasant, if rather costly. Sean Wilson (he of Coronation St fame) was on hand to promote his Saddleworth Cheese Company. This produces some really terrific cheeses, including Muldoons Picnic (a local term given to a room of screaming kids) which is a very tasty crumbly Lancashire.

However, he’s not the only artisan cheese maker in town and I also picked up some delightful Tomato & Basil cheese. Instant pizza as someone commented; it had the appearance of salami and was wonderfully spicy. It made only a brief appearance in the Tyson fridge before being paired off with a cheeky Ciney Blonde.

All that cheese was making me hungry, so a lunch stop was in order. Where else but the MFDF finalist (and eventual winner, congrats) the Marble Arch? And what else but to try but their cheese selection?

You get to choose 4, 9 or 12 cheeses from a list that includes the likes of Stinking Bishop, Cotswold Brie etc. It comes served with plenty of proper bread, butter and cheese biscuits. No extraneous apples, pork pies or side salad here. Accompanied by the delightfully hoppy W90 and the mellow tones of The Boss in the background, it was a top-drawer performance from the MA.

Saturday saw the return of the MFDF wine event, this year labelled the “Big Indie Wine Fest”. Like the whisky festival, it had a new home-the People’s History Museum in Spinningfields. Some debate raged over whether last year’s venue was better but this didn’t stop the usual suspects enjoying themselves. Even Mr Chorlton Chambers made an appearance.

Drinks sampled ranged from the heavy hitting Spanish 14% red Old Vines Garnacha 2009 (caramel and spices) to the light and gooseberry rich NZ Fern Bay Sauvignon Blanc. And several more, naturally, in between. There was also beer available for when you were wined out. Cerveza Quilmes is Argentina’s best selling beer. Blond and thin, it proves they should stick to making wine.

The post festival party was held at the Mark Addy. Yet another MFDF winner: Best Newcomer. The food was good, except for the mushy peas not being mushy, but what’s the deal with the beer? Nice to see real cider on the bar, but we were faced with a choice of four decidedly dull beers. Not even Taylors Landlord which, according to their website, they always have on. Not good enough at £3 a pint.

They did have the shock winner of the MFDF “Best beer brewed in Greater Manchester” award. Boggart (yes, them) Cascade. This was probably the best of the available beers, but is it really the best in Greater Manchester? Answers on a beer mat. The Addy also needs to raise its bottled beer game. Bud and Peroni? At £3.50 a pop? Get it sorted lads.

The post post-festival drinks in Bury are best glossed over. Warm and soapy Bitter & Twisted in Automatic was hardly a portentous beginning and the TCP edged Orchard Pigs cider in the Trackside was enough to put you off the stuff for life. Still there was always Titanic Wreckage to soothe the furrowed brow.


RedNev said…
I could have believed all of this, but you just went that bit too far: sunshine in Manchester?
paul said…
Loved the wine festival. It was heaving on Sat night. Just curious if you tried any of the Cliff Richard range?
Tyson said…
Nev, you've rumbled me.

Paul, I did try his sparkling Rose that was especially produced for his 70th birthday. It was awful.
Penny said…
I have to say that, having tried several of Sir Cliff's offerings, I'm yet to be impressed.
Tony C said…
Haven't been to the Mark Addy since the new management team came in but have heard good things.£3 is probably the going rate for Mncr these days but I wouldn't pay it for Landlord.

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