Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The Manchester Weekender

alchemist, Michelle Louise Love

One of my best friends lives in Manchester, which is too far away for my liking but this sort of annoying stuff happens!

She invited my boyfriend and I to stay with her for the weekend, and so the little road trip began! True to form I left packing right to the last minute Friday night, and we kept getting distracted and sitting down to talk instead of getting things ready for our early start! After wasting hours doing god knows what, I finally went to bed around twenty past midnight! That really hurt when my alarm went off at 5am the next morning!

After stuffing what felt like a shopping cart of sweets into the car, along with all our stuff we headed off at about 6am. Early morning weekend roads are the best kind aren't they? It was really clear and quiet and you feel like you're the only people in the world, cruising along the motorways with a mouthful of travel sweets!
I know I may seem very strange but I really do love pulling into a service station, there is such a thrill in a little road trip. The anticipation of the unknown when you reach your destination, being able to turn your favourite music up as loud as you like and sing at the top of your lungs, stopping now and then to get supplies like coffee and snacks.

After nearly four hours in the car, we arrived in Manchester and were greeted with sausage butties and fresh coffee and a much needed catch up.

We then headed off to explore the delights of The Alchemist bar to learn how to make some cocktails. The decor when you enter the bar is welcoming with a dash of glamour. There is lots of dark wood softened with cream seating and lots of dim yellow lights that give it a warm feel.
We were seated up at the bar where our barman for the afternoon was making us Kir Royals with an Alchemist twist. They add a little science twist to most of their cocktails to make them extra special, think Heston Blumenthal of the cocktail world.

Alchemist Manchester

We were then shown how to make a French Martini Alchesmist style and a classic French Martini to compare it to. Alchesmist add a little cranberry juice and a gorgeous pineapple foam on top which make it sweeter than its traditional counterpart. I could have quite easily sat there with a spoon and a glass full of the fruity foam and been more than happy!

Mojito, alchemist, cocktail making, Michelle Louise Love

Next we tried our hand at a passion fruit mojito, all taking our turn at going behind the bar and mixing it ourself. Learning how to pour a shot by counting it out. As you can imagine some of our cocktails turned out a little...... generous! Completely by accident of course.

smokey old fashioned, cocktail, Michelle Louise Love

Last but not least was the smokey old fashioned, this cocktail taught me not to judge a book by its cover. I would never have chosen this off of a menu, but it was beautiful. A heady mixture if bourbon, maple syrup, jerry thomas bitters and oak smoke. We got to add the smoke ourself which was good fun. We popped the oak chips in the smoker, lit it and released the deep fragrant smoke into the mixing jar along with the maple, bourbon mixture. Then pour slowly over a huge round ball of ice, drink and savour. It's deep, sweet and incredibly warming, I'm so glad I got to try something new!

I would recommend doing a cocktail making class, it's really good fun, you get to learn how to make a few tasty drinks all whilst getting a teeny bit squiffy. Alright who am I kidding, VERY squiffy!

Michelle Louise Love

We were so ready for some food after all that alcohol, along with a comfy chair I couldn't fall off of! We chose a venue we didn't have to walk far to, Southern 11. Apparently known for its pulled pork so how could I choose anything else? I indulged in their tender pulled pork with coleslaw chili cornbread and some truffle fries on the side.
The pulled pork was so amazingly tasty, utter melt in your mouth goodness that was like a little slice of heaven when teamed with the cool creamy coleslaw. It was just what I needed to soak up an afternoons worth of alcohol. 

A few chilled out drinks were needed to top off our evening and my friend really wanted to take us up to Cloud 23, the bar on the 23rd floor in the Hilton hotel that has amazing views across the city. After stepping out of the lift I was almost knocked off my feet by the view, the floor to ceiling windows give you a panoramic view of Manchester. I love being up high so for me this was so amazing, and the decor was classy and decadent. A combination of cream and champagne gold upholstery, complimented by table service so no need to stand and wait to be served at the bar. It's perfect for making you feel special, and needless to say the drinks all look stunning adorned with fruit or chocolates sitting on top of the glass. It was here that I can honestly say I had the best cocktail I have ever had, a mix of my favourite flavours of almond and cherry teamed with a dash of cream.

Cloud 23 Manchester

The next morning when we all finally hauled ourself out of bed and got ready we mooched down to New York Street to visit The Grill for Sunday lunch. The decor was really nice, so you guessed before you even took a look at the menu that the food was going to be awesome, and it certainly was!

The Grill on New York Street

After a lot of deliberation I made my choice of seafood mornay to start, followed by pork belly and scallops on a bed of cauliflower puree. The seafood mornay was so delicious I could have licked the bowl clean, and I certainly gave it a good go by scooping up as much of the sauce using a mussel shell.

seafood mornay, Michelle Louise Love

The pork belly main was also stunning, the meat was lovely and tender and full of flavour, and the scallops were sweet, juicy and perfectly cooked all complimented by the subtle flavour of the smooth creamy cauliflower puree.

pork belly
pork belly

The waiters were all immaculately dressed and really polite and helpful, I think it makes all the difference if the service is really good, it's the cherry on the cake and makes your meal even more enjoyable.

steak, chips, cocktail

I topped my meal off with afogato. Ice cream, espresso and amaretto need I say more! Pure bliss in a little cup!

Before we knew it the weekend had slipped away before our eyes in a blur of cocktails and laughter and it was sadly time to head home.

Until next time Manchester, farewell!


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