Monthly Archives: November 2009

Ten Americanos later

My coffee project I’ll round to an even 10, I will still drink coffee both good and bad, and I have learnt how to deal with a substandard cup to make bad battery acid drinkably nicer.

imagesIn at number 10 Starbucks.  The image is bland and pre-soaked in what has become all too popular coffee shop art.  A nippleless mermaid and big goblet mugs does nothing for the palate and neither does the coffee. 

It’s so weak I could afford to have five shots in my Americano, but even then the risk of crema is still zero.  How do all the teenagers afford to buy Strawberry Cream Frappucinos and double choc chip muffins? Get back to MacDonald’s! 

The coffee is not far off dishwater and leaves me feeling jittery,  with no caffeine boost .  The watery Americanos could be associated with the fact that they tried to create a brand name based on a character from Moby Dick, but I think this is a cover up job just listen to it Star Bucks – yeah we know you are raking it in.

I will continue to go here for a desperate remedy of Espresso Frappucino light with 2 extra shots, but I will never venture to the dark side again, unless it’s a freebie from the Guardian on a Friday. 

BEST DRINK FROM HERE: ESPRESSO FRAPPUCINO LIGHT WITH 4 SHOTS

Simon%20Dunn%20Chocolates

imagesIn at number 9 Ferraris coffee.  Simon Dunn chocolatiers, is a world where most things are made out of chocolate.  They have infused Robinson’s Old Tom with their chocolate to create, would you believe, Old Tom Chocolate.  I have previously purchased chocolate lollipops from here saying happy birthday and smiley faces instead of a birthday card, it seems a more logical solution than Hallmark.  They do a whole variety of things from chocolate tool kits costing £2, to a giant chess set that probably would be responsible for obesity if it didn’t check in at £75. 

Their stuff is beautiful, but that’s what they are good at, and my black Americano was not to their usual standards.  There was no crema and the coffee smelt instant and started to get a greasy rim.  The coffee tasted not too dissimilar from work coffee and although the cute little chocolate frog on the side was a quirky little treat, I melted it and got it all over my cheek. 

However, my sister had the hot chocolate and that was pure Willy Wonka magic brought into Wilmslow on a rainy afternoon.

BEST DRINK FROM HERE: REAL HOT CHOCOLATE OR OLD TOM CHOCOLATE

8: my old local coffee shop Funky Monkey.  A bit embarrassing when arranging to meet here with people, but it is a really down to earth localfunkymonkey business that serves all manner of wonderful drinks. 

The smoothies are the sweet bird variety, but they taste really good, and they do full and half-size, which is good, though I never have halves.  They do my favourite drink here which is Americano with soya milk and butterscotch syrup.  It’s sweet, it gives me a boost of caffeine and a shot of sugar and I weirdly love it. 

However, the black coffee isn’t good, it tastes and looks see through,  it’s a good temperature although it maybe a  little too hot.  I must say that this shop is great and anywhere that sells Bunderburg ginger beer at under £1.50 is 10 points with me.

BEST DRINK FROM HERE AMERICANO, MILK HOT AND SYRUP

AYKXEKZCAATWI24CAUXIBYJCA7VWMANCAK5GACOCAQDUCSNCADYD4UNCAXJE9CXCAE7V0WICA90BND3CA7J85T1CAWYKFF7CAASYGV2CAFC1CD9CAJDE06JCAI7MXWRCAK2OYO0CAOX0MB1CAJ1IFQL7: Thyme Out Deli off Burton Road, an excellent place for breakfast before 11 a sausage barm and a latte at £2.95.  The coffee is Segafredo, but the machine is slightly nuts and hisses at you when the staff move away.  The coffee in here is not the best, but you can disguise it by making it milky or better still get one of their amazing smoothies instead.

Thyme out Deli is a wonderful little treat set on the backdrop of Burton Road, it’s friendly and opens early even on a Sunday, when most businesses in West Didsbury haven’t even got their pre-programmed lights to work.  The coffee is passable, but my hopes were high as I had Segafredo for the first time in Paris.  The Meze-Meze there was, to quote an old but true cliché, to die for.  Rich hot chocolate with creamy espresso, I was swinging around La Louvre for hours.

The black coffee in here is passable, but they have so much more on offer, I’d go for more.

BEST DRINK FROM HERE: RASPBERRY BERET SMOOTHIE

6 in the Americano stakes is Common.   Stick to the beer if you can, especially because they have Sierra Nevada porter, Brooklyn brown ale and for the sweeter days Fruli on tap at what’s looking an acceptable price of £3.80 a pint.  AX06JLUCAV7QR8PCA791BM1CAL2FI56CAJ69MZJCAB92SX5CAMZ1A4RCAI8CFP1CAMP3UWSCAQNNCWSCASTS5NWCA9URITMCA3AXJ2HCA9X6572CAGHA6NGCA2JXGZECAC18H10CAHZAIC0CA2XDH8WI really like Common as a bar, but their coffee was really only to facilitate a drive home.  It was fine, surprisingly refreshing and very reasonably priced.  There wasn’t much body, but it did the trick.

Common is one of my favourite bars in the Northern Quarter, it manages to remain unpretentious whilst being extremely stylised.  The deals they do on beer and a chilli for £7 are great especially as the quality is so good.  I will be sticking to this place for beer and not morning coffee.

BEST DRINK FROM HERE: SIERRA NEVADA PORTER

5 is M & S Cafe Revive.   AUA345TCAQGO3XSCA9D0X6RCA5LV4ULCAMVMCL9CA2AHD8DCAQSAFIZCAHUJQ2XCAD3D1N0CA2728LNCACSW1IKCAHCP7Z7CALV2JC0CAHB6JR0CA0GL193CAMCBF3JCA0GP9APCAM0F48MCAA7E2TJThe place is like a glorified cafeteria granted, but they do a reasonable Americano.  It is really too hot to drink though and they had definitely scalded it a bit, which was a real shame as it seemed like it had the potential to be in the top three.  They have pleasing cups and saucers and serve all coffee with an Amoretti biscuit. 

The place is like a safe sex promotion, as screaming spoilt children want mummy’s cake even though they’ve got their own.  Reasonable coffee, bad surrounds and too many things afterwards to spend money on, which is lethal after a caffeine kick.

BEST DRINK FROM HERE: BLACK AMERICANO WITH CARAMEL SYRUP AND TAP WATER AS IT COMES WITH FRESH LEMON AND ICE

4. Costa Coffee.  I always thought that the Americano from here came with plenty of crema when I order my take out cup, but this ARV9XTBCASJQOU5CACFO68HCA0N60A0CAXXGDU4CAUUMFOECAO197ZQCAJATCAZCA4X7YUJCAUL2RBACAD0MXV8CAY9J55CCAU8NDRKCA96ZEUMCAKLW8Y8CAJH0FRPCA6HXYU6CAGS2CB2CAYEQR2Nshowed not to be true.  It was dark, slightly thick, but slightly disappointing.  The taste wasn’t as strong as I would have hoped for and it didn’t look as good as I imagined.

Sitting in the Costa in Bramhall I felt I could have been at any of their coffee shops, as there is no unique feel to the place.  They are always crammed with the same people and the same staff circulation, which makes me feel like there’s some sort of teleportation going on.

BEST DRINK FROM HERE: ESPRESSO FRESCATO WITHOUT THE ESPRESSO BLENDED IN

 3. is Caffe Nero in a small cup for the intensity.  The coffee smelt fantastic and had Rosarch shapes appearing in the surface.  There was a good level of crema but the taste didn’t live up to how good it looked.  The coffee was aesthetically pleasing, but it was a bit on the scalded side and seemed more like a strong Greek coffee than Italian.

The staff in Nero always struggle to speak English, which I suppose should be a good sign, but I was a tad disappointed with the coffee, however it was a far cry from the murky dishwater Starbucks serve.

BEST DRINK FROM HERE: SOYA CAPPUCINO WITH CARAMEL SYRUP – EXPENSIVE THOUGH

2. Silver Apples, mmmn good coffee, good head, good beer to look at, individual mugs, well worth it.  I still haven’t found out what brand they use, but they are friendly and there is a great selection of literature to peruse whilst you sip in the delights of Orchard Street. 

I like this place by night and I like it by day.  They seem to do it all well, the coffee is good and well worth a non alcoholic visit. 

BEST DRINK FROM HERE: PUMPKIN ALE BY BROOKLYN BREWERY

No 1. Folk, aka The Deli on Burton Rd. 

they live up to their review in Manchester Food and Drink as being the best in the coffee states and they really do know what they are doing.  The wait can tend to be on the long side, but it’s worth it.  The Americano is served as one size, no messing about.  It’s thick crema lingers to the side of the cup so you can scrape your teaspoon at the froth.  It tastes as it smells and is pretty much perfect on every level.   

I started coming to the deli many moon’s ago with Phil, so I have him to thank for my introduction.  It gets my number one vote

BEST DRINK FROM HERE: AMERICANO

p.s. do not be put off by the buisnesses of West Didsbury saying all manner of bad things about each other, they are not neighbourhood friendly.


Grizzly Bear at Manchester Cathedral

93485735670236Disclaimer: If you are suffering from Swine Flu, this is all a figment of imagination none of the following existed.

Checking out the reviews on Drowned in sound this morning made me gulp, Great band – Shit venue, Shit band – Great venue                      Were we at the same gig?

We had the cathedral on a dark rainy night, with St Vincent to start and Grizzly Bear for mains, it was one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to.

2St Vincent, aka Annie Erin Clark, is the same age as myself and she’s opened some amazing tours from The National, Andrew Bird, Death Cab for Cutie, to Grizzly Bear’s recent adventure.

When I first heard St Vincent, I was convinced that their songs were covers as the music instantly got me as what I already knew. Her voice is stunning and she did a lovely job of opening last night without the rest of her band.  Her and Daniel Rossen, (who I thought was Edward Droste’s brother, why did no one correct me?) made a cute onstage couple for the last few songs.

In short she’s as cute as a button, as talented as a whole band and her music is a beautiful mix of sounds that remind me of Dirty Projectors and a better version of Regina Spectra.

grizzly-bear_1515567cNow for the Grizzly’s

 The stage adorned with tealight bulbs lit up for these loveable chaps, Ok so we have Daniel Rossen vocals guitar and keyboard, Edward Droste same, Chris (Blondie) Taylor bass, backing vocals, whistler  and producer and Christopher Bear backing vocals and drums.

Veckatimest A place out of time, like the people in the songs.  With their music and their performances it is such a journey, you go through. The sombre reflections and then the high notes that make you start to shake, it makes you feel the reality of what it is to be human and explore this wide range of talent along with feeling and a beautiful stylised look and sound, simply because it is such a real stage presence.

Seeing them at the Cathedral was beautiful and so close, although there were a lot of people there, at least a lot of people got to eexperience something very special.

In short they are one of my favourite bands that take me somewhere I am willing to go.


MLF: Evolving Words and six by six book launch

Two blogged in one, as I cannot remember that much.images

graphicEvolving Words was worth the trip just for the venue.  The performance took place in Manchester museum’s Animal Life gallery, so above our heads was the giant whale skeleton.

The young performers intertwined Darwin with growing up and cultural identity, I quite enjoyed the merging of Darwin with individuality, but I couldn’t help but edging towards my critical side.

To me it was an enjoyable school play, the group young identity who are in residence at the contact theatre certainly had the guts to perform so all credit to them.

graphicI loved the six by six awards, it was a lovely way for me to round off the festival attending on my own with a glass of free wine and a record bag, seated in the Lord mayor’s Parlour.

It was a fitting tribute to the great project that MMU Cheshire’s Creative writing graduates, and Stockport College’s illustration undergraduates had collaborated on together.  The short story anthology gave me a severe hankering to be back at Salford studying Creative Writing .

The book launch was of a really high standard and gave the students the credit their work deserved. images


MLF: Face to Face with Jimmy McGovern

graphicThis was an event.  An audience with Jimmy McGovern, staged at the Cornerhouse cinema.  McGovern spoke openly about his script writing career and I found out a lot about what works for him as a writer.

Before this event I had forgotten McGovern was responsible for shows such as Cracker and Brookside, I knew only of The Streets, which I have never watched.

He spoke about how undervalued script writers of TV dramas tend to be, and I admit I am first to say I don’t watch telly because of all the crap that’s out there. 

Though it’s easy to sneer TV scripts as being trite and uninspiring, McGovern reminded us all what a hard job it is to write, and in his own case, write well.

imagesHe is such a likeable chap, who has an incredibly responsive way of dealing with the world.  He’s worked hard to get where he has and doesn’t fail to recognise this.  McGovern doesn’t shy away from saying things that some would rather he didn’t, and talks openly about the TV drama he made of the Hillsborough disaster, and how much censorship came into play.

True to his spirit he seems to balance all aspects of himself remarkably, he was intelligent, witty, extremely perceptive and clued up on all aspects of the industry, he spoke honest and openly about his failures and showed us how he felt at the time, nothing screamed falseness about this man.


Hitting the void

Each time I sit to write, I hit a point of distraction, I have taken to checking my emails every couple of seconds, tipping things out of baskets to sort them and then putting them back in and drinking copious amounts of orangina.

Today my mission is, better to do than never to finish, blogging about the Manchester Literature festival.  Nearly all the events I attended were completely free and inspiration laden, so  . . .


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