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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.

So, I must confess, I was hoping tonight to share a lovely meal N and I had last night at a fab new restaurant in Manchester…however, it appears I have left our camera with all the great images of our meal in our car…which in turn is in the garage having its exhaust fixed.

Fingers-crossed the car will be back tomorrow and along with it the camera. Then I shall share some scrumptious food, including a divine wild mushroom pate and a savoury steamed pudding.

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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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