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Today when Mr Rigg and I went to do some food shopping in Chorlton we discovered that the Manchester Markets were set up outside the library.  Of course, I couldn’t resist a quick snoop.

There were a couple of meat companies, a greengrocer, a sweetie stall, a bakery, and a number of cake stalls.  I bought a lovely moist piece of gingerbread from one stall (I think they were called Peach Pie…) and then my eyes fell upon a stall with large glass jars filled with multi-coloured macaroons.

Now I’ve seen the trend for these pretty sweets all over the internet – they seem especially popular in the US at the moment – dainty coloured macaroons sandwiched together with a thin layer of something scrummy in the middle.

The girl selling macaroons today is currently making them from home and has called her little business The English Rose Bakery – which I think is a lovely name.  Having never tasted these kinds of macaroons, I decided today would be my first taste.

I came away with a little tissue paper bundle of macaroons in chocolate, raspberry and salted caramel flavours.  We have devoured the chocolate and raspberry ones, with the salted caramel one left for later.  An after dinner sweet morsel – what a treat!

The two we’ve tried so far were delicious – the chocolate macaroon with a thin layer of chocolatey filling, and the raspberry one I think was spread with raspberry jam. 

If you live in Manchester and fancy a sweet treat for a party, as a gift, for your wedding, or just to indulge yourself, visit their website: www.englishrosebakery.co.uk


Above image: The English Rose Bakery 

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The past two weeks I feel have hardly seen me eat a homecooked meal.  I have eaten all kinds of food all over the country – some good, some bad, some better than others – but what I can say is that I am ready to eat platefuls of my own, homecooked food.

Here’s my two weeks in food.

1. Bradford ~ unexciting council catered sandwiches but delicious, spicy, vegetable samosas.

2. North Yorkshire ~ sandwiches under cling film, pretty tasty chunky cut ham sandwiches, good looking fruit scones but needed a minute in the microwave to soften.

3. London ~ more platters of sandwiches, this time M&S and fridge-cold, very nice goat’s cheese and sweet pickled carrot on grain bread shame about the cold.

4. Lancaster ~ disappointing pub meal in hotel, lots of local produce but cooked terribly, worst ‘crab’ cakes ever eaten – thick, grey stodge – yuk!  Nice chocolate ice cream to save the day.

5. Kirkby Lonsdale ~ country pub lunch, good tasting ploughman’s with mustard yellow piccalilli, thick roast ham, and a Scotch Egg – dry bread but a won over by a chocolate milkshake.

6. Manchester ~ Polish lunch at training, a truly delicious beef and potato stew!

7. Chorlton ~ work Christmas party at Ostara, divine winter solstice vegetable and spice soup (a secret recipe!), scrummy cider pot roast ham with all the Christmas trimmings, but a sadly disappointing chocolate yule log. More on Ostara here

8. Manchester ~ another wonderful Polish lunch, cheese filled pierogi’s topped with caramelised onions, and sausage and cabbage stew – am on the hunt for this Polish takeaway for more more more!

My conclusion – a dismal meal can always be saved by excellent chocolate ice cream.

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Next week in Manchester is the annual Food & Drink Festival.  All week long there will be different foodie offers at various eating establishments around the city, and a number of ‘fringe’ festivals in suburbs of the city. 

My regular grocery shopping district is Chorlton, a part of Greater Manchester that is stuffed full of wonderful places to buy, eat and enjoy excellent food and drink.  Recently we heard about a newish restaurant called Ostara, a ‘modern British restaurant’ that claims to serve food made from the ‘finest organic and locally sourced ingredients available.’

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N and I decided it sounded well worth sampling to see if the food was as good as it promised.  Situated on a busy street in Chorlton, Ostara greets you with a warm but stylish interior of mossy green walls, sleek but functional wooden furniture, framed botanical prints, and vintage bottles filled with seasonal flowers and foliage.

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We ordered Fentiman’s Old Fashioned Lemonade while we looked through their weekday set menu.  At 2 courses for £11 and an option for 3 courses at a price I can’t remember, it seems very good value for money if they provided the quality ingredients they advertised.

The menu was full of options that I would have happily chosen.  In the end we opted for starters of a goats cheese and onion tartlet and a wild mushroom pate with carrot chutney, and for mains N chose bangers and mash and I decided to try the savoury steamed pudding with leek, spinach and Red Leicester cheese.  I have searched online for their menu so that I could give you the full description of these dishes, but to no avail.

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N’s goats cheese and onion tartlet was deliciously creamy and very cheesy.  It came with corn salad (or mache to some people) and something that tasted like an unusual pesto – if only I had written down the description from the menu.

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When my pate arrived I was delighted.  I was expecting a smooth pate, but it was in fact a very coarse pate made from wild mushrooms, many of which were distinguishable.  In a small dish I had what was described as carrot chutney, which was in fact marinated grated carrot with what I think were coriander seeds spotted through it – it was delicate, and fragrant and spicy and went wonderfully with the pate and toast.

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I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from my savoury steamed pudding, and when it arrived to first look at it was slightly odd.  A large dome of soft beige pastry.  However, once I dug my knife into it, out of it oozed this buttercup yellow sauce dotted with tiny chunks of vegetables.  It was as delicious as everything else we had eaten so far, although I did struggle towards the end with some of the pastry. 

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N’s ‘bangers and mash’ were in fact two fat sausages (I believe from out door reared piggies) and a colcannon mash which was laced with slithers of savoy cabbage.  The fat sausages were perfectly browned, and meaty but not overpowering (like some we ate in Italy, which were a little too meaty for our tastes). 

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Both our dishes were accompanied by the same vegetables, which we found refreshing compared to restaurants that serve different vegetables with each dish.  These were cooked exactly to our taste, tiny carrots soft and giving but still with bite in the centre, vibrant green sprouting broccoli that hadn’t been cooked to a mush, and finally some green beans, still crunchy in the middle.

What a treat!  Ostara serves up delicious, British-inspired, seasonal food that leaves you feeling like you’ve just eaten a wonderfully prepared homecooked meal.  If you’re in Manchester – don’t forget to stop here for a bite to eat.

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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All pictures are my own unless stated. I would kindly ask that you don't use them elsewhere unless you ask permission first. Many thanks x

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