My sassenach sun shines in Glasgow

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

My own sun in Glasgow - just as well - it's minus 4!

I wonder what went through Claudio’s mind when I asked how warm the wine was.  I reached out my hand to touch the bottle.  Claudio winced.  Another stupid and ignorant Englishman?  Even worse than an ignorant Scotsman.  I grinned.  The bottle was cool.  Claudio nodded approvingly.  He had served the Primitivo Da Castello di Puglia at the recommended 16-18 degrees.  Probably even cooler actually, which suited the wine rather well.  Sweet flavours of cherries, cherry lips and bubble gum collided with the not unexpected tannic youth of the Italian stallion.


Mia Millennium mild malaise, mostly muddled moveables

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

I really wanted to like Casa Mia Millennium.  My recent experience at Casa Mia Grande in Chapel Allerton was unparalleled.  Also, Marco, ex Flying Pizza and Marco’s is running front of house, so I had high hopes of the Leeds city centre branch of this popular family run restaurant cluster.

Unfortunately, it is almost, but not quite there.  For a start there is too much furniture in the awkward shaped rooms.  Getting to the bar is a mountaineering challenge if there are more than 3 people in a room that should have capacity for 25.

Millennium madness?

Upstairs the main dining room’s tables sit uncomfortably together like patients at a busy clap clinic.  It was almost impossible not to participate in the birthday celebration next door.  By contrast, the service is a bit uncoordinated and, although there appeared to be sufficient staff, we did feel a little neglected.


Caffé Torino, Stresa

Friday, November 28th, 2008

I’ve been pretty unkind to Stresa.  It is a fabulous location for a quiet holiday and I spent just a few Autumn days there.  Plenty of boating, walking, cycling, even snow skiing a brisk 4 hour walk uphill away.  But I ate out at a few places in the town and mostly found it poor reward for my day’s exercise.

One notable exception was Caffé Torino where a superb meal for two with a bottle of wine cost only £1,340,056, or €54.30 at today’s exchange rate.  The antipasto (below) at €8 is one of the best value plates I have ever seen.

The Italian menu said Tagliere di Salumei di Mottarone which I translated as Viande Sechée or Succulent wind dried mountain pork and cheese from a nearby ski resort.  However the local linguist settled for the dreadfully American Cold cuts which turns this simply beautiful display into a CSI murder victim found in the cellar of a lonely spinster.


Edith’s toilet – oh deer!

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

I am in Switzerland for a couple of days mountain air which coincides with the deer shooting season, so Edith tells me, anyway.  Edith is the patron of Chez Edith, a charming chalet style restaurant in Nendaz.


Morgan M mission much more than a mere mouthful

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Multi-talented Morgan Meunier arrived at our table after the meal, presumably looking for a round of applause for his culinary artistry.  “Was everything OK?” he wondered.  Super.  “Was there anything specific we particularly liked?”.  The seabass with crayfish and tarragon ravioli and lobster velouté was my favourite, but why were all his dishes so bloody complicated?


A Maze in steaks

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

In sleepy Grosvenor Square, just a Molotov cocktail throw from the American embassy, is yet another Gordon Ramsay place.  It’s getting difficult to walk down a London street without seeing his name over some restaurant or other.

I was advised that Molotov was not on the aperitif list, but £12 for a tiny glass of Ayala champagne, even if poured at the table, set me off in an explosive mood.  I think the sommelier noticed my look of disappointment, nay disdain, as he left me with barely enough liquid to create a damp patch if I spilled it on my trousers (I didn’t).  I wanted to dislike this place – I don’t like being ripped off.

Dangerously close to US embassy but nice view all the same


The one Stock bucking the market trend

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

Whilst bears everywhere are majestically prowling and growling to everybody that they told them so, stocks around the world continue their downward spiral.  This does not affect Manchester as much as it used to, as the Stock Exchange here is now an Italian restaurant.

Stock market? cube? pot? ing leg?


Le Café Anglais, London

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

Armstrong and Miller in Gay Threesome Shocker” read the headline, admittedly only in my head, as the comedy pair walked past us with an unknown accomplice, perhaps a BBC commissioning editor?

“I didn’t know they were gay” Fred said.  “They aren’t” I replied, “so far as I know anyway”, although judging by their choice of fruity shirts one cannot be 100% certain.

Eat here twice nightly?

We had a decent table near the magnificent bay window atop the ageing Whiteley’s Shopping Centre.  The stars were enveloped by the bay.  The atmosphere is light and airy and the service prompt, efficient, courteous and professional.  Our mop-topped waiter looked like an early 60’s Beatle, so I assumed he was French (as a nation they do like old music – I mean, walk around any public space in France and Phil Collins persists like a 1980’s itch that is weeping puss).  When he described the cheese I realised his French accent was completely fake “erm….. I is Polish” he admitted.  Nonetheless, serve he did, and he was knowledgeable about wine as well as food.


The Modern, Manchester

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Is it possible to feel remote in a city centre?  I think it is.  I am not talking about loneliness, or feeling culturally distant from people stood next to you.  I am talking about sitting in silence whilst the world goes on several floors below.  This is what the atmosphere is like at The Modern in Manchester.

Can you spot the Modern?  I can…for some reason


Cocotoo, Sistine Chapel of Manchester

Friday, March 14th, 2008

Have you ever slept under the railway arches?  It’s not typically a pleasant place.  Certainly not a place you would choose to sleep.  But if it’s raining and you have no fixed abode, well, everything is relative.

I nodded off under the arches near Oxford Road station on Whitworth Street in Manchester.  Thankfully, someone had been thoughtful enough to build an Italian restaurant around me that was warm and welcoming (not that I would have noticed given the amount of alcohol canoeing through my veins).

Manchester by night - Cocotoo