Posted by Michael on April 19th, 2011 — 4:44am
Location: 128a Ponsonby Road, Auckland
Food: Hell Pizza, Burger Fuel, Murder Burger… New Zealand seems really keen on names that are tough and manly. Also, like many New Zealander references, I just don’t get a lot their stuff. Like the cat/kitten logo. Is it ironic? Is it like a devil cat? Is the cat a murderer? Do they use cat meat? Maybe it’s because The Shining just came out last year in New Zealand so demon children and the like are really in vogue. Beyond that I can’t think of any other reasons.
I wonder how English Glen would fare in this country. Or P! for that matter. I mean, at least there’s the internet but other than that it’s like popular culture doesn’t exist. People wear regular clothes, rarely with any references or logos. I don’t know if they go to the movies. TV is very non-descript. Maybe it’s a healthier way to live, leading a life based more on personal experience than superficial impressions from media… Whatever, I think I’d get cabin fever if I was born here.
All the more surprising then that they have so much great food. Or maybe not. Maybe the Kiwis are less amenable to any form of westernised franchisement be it clothing, media or food. Come to think of it, I haven’t even seen a lot of helvetica on the streets… Regardless of why it exists the fact remains that Murder Burger would be an institution in Manchester. There would be a permanent queue outside and it would adopt a reputation like that of The Sphinx in Belfast town. Scousers would begrudgingly come to Lancashire for venison burgers and fish patties. Its quality would be wasted on the miscreants that splurge out of Tiger Tiger every Saturday night onto the wet Manc pavement but still… it would be great nonetheless. It would be epic. Sadly though we are left with pubs, chippies and chain franchises for our burgers.
Question then: Where to go for a great burger in Glasgow or your current home-town?
Price: $13 for a Jalapeno Burger & Fries
4 comments » | Food, Scranalysis, Travel
Posted by Michael on March 14th, 2011 — 4:53pm
Location: 299 Palatine Road, Manchester
Food: So after twenty-three hours of great scran in Glasgow I thought I better talk up the restaurants in Manchester. After all, the Mancs also have some game, the best of which I only discovered recently – Shiraz.
Shiraz is a Persian restaurant in the Northenden area. Like Northenden the exterior aesthetics of Shiraz don’t rouse the best of initial impressions. Inside looks like it is the imagined boudoir of someone from Wythenshawe; someone from Wythenshawe who’s really into Indiana Jones movies…. Sadly, also like inside the head of someone from Wythenshawe, Shiraz is pretty empty. Devoid of activity. I don’t know why. The decor is actually pretty quirky and interesting, the staff really friendly, and the food is legitimately some of the tastiest I have had in Manchester. For starter my special lady had kofteh, I sprung for a warm aubergine dip. These were served with freshly baked flatbreads, wrapped in a tassled and torn tea towel. I’ve had kofteh before. It was dry, unsatisfying and the stew was just like canned tomatoes. The kofteh at Shiraz was rich and thick and moreish; the ball was big and juciy and tender. The aubergine dip was pretty ‘gid’ too.
The mains were similarly stellar. Lamb city. Anything with lamb… Goes down well with lots of mint tea too.
Price: starter + main + mint tea (refills) + baklava around £20
Website: it doesn’t have one… Come on!
Comment » | Food, Scranalysis
Posted by Michael on February 2nd, 2011 — 11:14pm
Location: South Quay, Padstow, Cornwall
Food: Well. Slapped. Fish. I can only assume that is why Stein’s Fish & Chips is one of the best chippies I have ever been too. Disregarding the quaint, bonnie setting, Stein’s is a really nice chip shop. It doesn’t smell at all of grease or sweat; it’s spotless; it’s unpretentious with all the regular condiments you expect and need; you can get a good pot of tea; it offers up a choice beyond scrod or haddock.
The price? Ostensibly expensive but in truth Steiny and Chalky did not let me down. I got two gargantuan fillets of battered plaice perfectly cooked and heaped with a fucking Jesus portion of chips. Bit of bread and butter. Bit of tartare sauce. A wee boite of mushy peas. A pot of tea. Boom. It was all gone. As voracious as Dean Moiarty I devoured it all. I ravished my flat fish like Rick ravishes a mackerel, except without all the kinky slapping.
All this for just over £13. As Burrows would say, ‘Belter.’
Price: Cod £9; plaice & lemon sole up to £11; £3 for a pint of Chalky’s Bark (a surprisingly great pint of lager).
*Competing interests: (1) fish & chips may be the best meal in the world; (2) Anstruther is still better.
7 comments » | Food, Scranalysis
Posted by Michael on January 28th, 2011 — 4:48pm
Location: Trinity Square, Axminster, Devon
Food: I don’t know why the River Cottage Canteen in Axminster is called a ‘canteen’. Maybe because canteen evokes some kind of sentimental feeling in people. Whether genuine or sleight-of-hand it does seem to imply a rustic feel, with real food, and real people, eating together; a bit gritty perhaps; sitting at long tables elbows touching, plates scraping, like Hogwarts or some shit. I think that ‘foodies’ and middle-class people who are interested in food have become really obsessed with this idea of authenticity, whatever that word means. And canteen seems to insinuate something ‘real’, no frills etc. Then again maybe it’s just a name and is as random as calling an abhorrent nightclub in Belfast ‘Milk’.
Whatever depiction was intended with the name, the River Cottage Canteen is a pretty damn good restaurant serving pretty damn good lunchtime scran. Freshly made chorizo sausages and roasted half rabbit on a bed of kale and gooey carrots: LIKE. One of only five choices on the menu; a menu that changes daily depending on what fresh produce is available: LIKE. The Devon ginger beer I ordered: LIKE. The fact that Hugh was actually wandering around in the restaurant, sitting down to have cups of tea and generally shooting the shit: LIKE.
So, if you find yourself down in the southwest of England I definitely recommend popping into the River Cottage for lunch, having some cid’r and maybe grabbing a bit of Yarg from their deli counter.
Price: Starters around £6; Mains around £11; Desserts £6
Comment » | Food, Scranalysis
Posted by Michael on January 23rd, 2011 — 3:20pm
Location: 133 Lisburn Road, Belfast
Food: ‘Long shadows on county cricket grounds, warm beer, invincible green suburbs, dog lovers, and old maids bicycling through the morning mist.’ – John Major’s England.
More like wet pavements, spilt lager, Rusholme ruffians, and leggy tarts stumbling home from Tiger Tiger. That is my England. The reason people still live here? Well, I can only assume it is the same as that sole reason more than a million people still reside in the Birmingham or Wolverhampton areas – the great English curry house.
Whether it is Bangladeshi, Indian or cheeky spicy Nepalese, the English curry house is champion. The musty carpets, the stained, faded curtains, the dicky-bowed waiters, the battered crockery, they’re all part of the charm. So why is it that this doesn’t exist in Northern Ireland? Why do people in Northern Ireland go to Indian ‘restaurants’, not ‘curry houses’? Maybe they don’t exist. I’ll probably never know. But until I do, I’ll keep going back to The Jharna on the Lisburn Road. After all, what honorary Englishman is going to say no to a bit of fizzy lager, tender tandoori and gooey moreish sag aloo all at a decent price and excellent standard? Not to mention the complementary free shot of Sambuka. (And Burr is never going to decline a free Sambuka!)
Price: Starters around £7; Lamb karahi £12 / Jharna mixed tandoori platter £15
2 comments » | Food, Scranalysis