Manchester’s Hub for Good Northern Grub

I really regretted not attending EAT! Vancouver, the food festival that came to the new Vancouver Convention Center this summer.  I was working all weekend when it came and was just too tired to drag myself there.  So, when Debbie told me she was going to the Manchester Food and Drink Festival today at Albert Square in front of the Manchester Town Hall I said I’d go with her, despite feeling rather under the weather today.  And am I ever glad I went.  It was a lot of fun walking around checking out all the different food vendors and trying to follow particular scents to their sources.

the sign that greeted us when we walked in through the gates

this place smelled amaaazing

so cute!

We decided to do a full walk before deciding what to eat because I at least hate it when I buy something and then turn a corner and find something that looks even better.  We found a tent labeled “Gastrotent” or something like that and decided to go inside.  Who should we see but…

Oh hay Michael Caines, didn't fancy seeing you here!

The tent was being used for cooking demonstrations, and on stage when we got inside was Michael Caines, a double star Michelin chef.  He was on his last dish, this amazing looking duck breast glazed with honey.  I noticed that he seemed to only be using his left hand for everything and wondered if he’d hurt his right; turns out from a quick google search that he lost his arm in a car accident over a decade ago.  Ho-ly, that makes his accomplishments even more impressive!

I now know that should you cook a duck breast, you should allow double the cooking time for the breast to "rest", when it will still be cooking.

The 3 dishes he made in his half hour demonstration. Once one lady sampled it, everyone swarmed on the dishes. The duck and mussels were amazing!

Bucket List

Eat Michelin starred food, check.

After sampling his creations we decided we needed a snack.  I wasn’t even hungry, but the roast pork sandwich with sage stuffing and various sauces was calling my name, so I had to give in.


Rating: 3.5/5 - I was a bit disappointed. The insides of the sandwich was lovely, but the bread was far too thick and made it difficult to taste everything else, and the rocket was rather overpowering.

Hot cider with ginger and cinnamon - perfect for this horrible rainy weather.

We then decided to return to the Gastrotent once the MC of the event announced that another demonstration was about to begin.  This one was quite fun to watch as well, and this time we knew to sit in the front so we could get our hands on the food first!

I've forgotten his name, but he was quite entertaining. Very British witty remarks throughout his demonstration.

He made an amazing turbot fillet with a leek and shallot cream sauce, as well as kale and this delicious root vegetable pave.

He also demonstrated how to open and prepare scallops, using the biggest fresh scallops I’ve ever seen.  He caramelized them in the pan and served them with roasted endives and pureed, dried, and carpaccio beetroots – heaven in my mouth.  Debbie and I were loving all the free samples of amazing food so we stuck around for the last demo of the day.  I’m sooo happy we did!

Vermilion's chef, Chatchai, was the sweetest most genuine person, and delightful to watch and listen as he narrated his actions.

He walked the audience step by step how to create yellow Thai curry with peppers and jackfruit, and showed us how to use a mortar and pestle in the traditional Thai style.  I really enjoyed his demonstration; you could tell how much he loved cooking and his career.  I feel like when a lot of people tell you that they do something from the heart like Chatchai did, they’re usually full of bullocks as the British would say.  But you could tell how genuine he was, and that he truly loves what he does, and is passionate about it. When he was finished, he invited all of us up onto the stage to sample the curry with a big smile. I felt like I was at a family friend’s home (:

Keang Curry Koong Khanoon - Prawn Curry with Jack Fruit

My picture does not do the curry justice.  Over rice (they brought a big rice cooker and plates and cutlery for everyone – so thoughtful) the curry was this gorgeous saffron colour, spicy but hardly noticeable because of the rich coconut milk.  The jack fruit was so yummy, I’ve never had it before but it looked like and tasted a bit like mango but had the texture of lychees.  Apparently you can buy the stuff fresh in Manchester’s Chinatown, which I will definitely try to do.

We left the festival full and content, and with plans to make a trip to Vermilion in the very, very near future.


3 thoughts on “Manchester’s Hub for Good Northern Grub

  1. Oktoberfest = the beer festival in Munich. The Manchester food fest was just trying to bring a little bit of Germany to those of us who arn’t lucky enough to be able to make it out to Munich. They had a pretty extensive selection of German beers on tap.

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