Saturday, 31 October 2015

11 Top Nightspots in Manchester


I'm an opinionated bastard when it comes to nightlife in my home city. I've made my opinions very clear about the places I don't like and won't go to and I've listed the places I'm planning to go to. So what are the places I recommend the most so far? Where might you see me on a Saturday night? And where might you enjoy if you've like my last few posts? (It's worth pointing out in advance that there are a lot of good looking women in all of these places, that being a factor in them making the cut.)

There's no particular order to this list, and the quality of a venue always has a subjective element. These are the places I've enjoyed, and the places you might see listed on Manchester Social Group in the next few months.


A small, smart venue near Manchester Cathedral. Great back bar. If you like your whiskies, try their Aberlour A'bunadh. You'll spot the odd celeb here and there- it's a choice place for big-name birthday parties.


Great underground bar (as in it's literally underneath Deansgate) next to John Rylands. Good chilled house music being played from the iconic touchscreen glass DJ booth. Look out for High West whiskey behind the bar. Don't turn up in a group of more than 3 men- you won't get in. Friendly clientele.


There are two branches of this cocktail bar in Manchester- one in Spinningfields and one hidden away on New York St behind Piccadilly Gardens. Their unique cocktails- some concocted over a bunsen burner- are to die for and the décor is an unforgettable blend of rustic and chic modern.


An L-shaped bar in the heart of Spinningfields, The Lawn Club first struck me as a country clubhouse with its racket-adorned walls and full-length windows. The wicker seats inside contribute to the summery feel of the bar. Summer is the best season to visit: for a small charge you can rent out a deck chair and sit with your Pimms on the lawn. In winter, the grass space is converted into an ice rink, and the club's menu changes to suitably warm the cockles after a skate. The real log burner has a similarly pleasant effect.


A smart, apartment-like bar in The Avenue. If you can get there early, bag yourself a couch next to the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Spinningfields. Plush and homely (if your home is full of nubile tipsy young women).


Superb Chinese restaurant in Spinningfields. Incredible nautical themed building, including fixtures wrapped in thick rope and huge ship's wheel-style door handle at the entrance. Try to get seated near the huge dried blossom tree for the best experience. For the quality you're getting, the price of food is fair.


I've only experienced the bar area of this pan-Asian restaurant on Peter st. It's quite a small roadside section to the establishment, but it's nicely designed with polite staff and a good drinks range, all to a chilled house soundtrack.


Manchester's premier celebrity haunt, LIV frequently hosts birthday parties for soap stars and pop princesses. You'll spot them by following the sparkler-clad champagne bottles (normally a crateful) as the staff make their way from the bar to the celeb's table. Recent patrons: Dean Gaffney (Robbie in Eastenders), Leigh-Ann Pinnock from pop group Little Mix, Ricky Hatton, Will I Am and, erm, Leigh Darby from Babestation. (Pic.)

A friendly atmos and not as pretentious as you might imagine.


The Twitter feed describes the venue as “a forgotten Wesleyan chapel”, but the building itself is hard to forget- the lower floor of the building played home to nightclub Brannigans until 2011. (This has recently been reopened as Albert's Schloss, and I have yet to check it out.) The club occupies the church, one floor above the street. The set piece of the huge organ, the DJ booth positioned directly in front of it, the lights, the exposed 1910 brickwork and the sheer size of the building make a night in The Albert Hall a unique one. The club's lineup features a mix of rock bands and house music DJs. James Morrison, The Kooks, Danny Tenaglia, Mike Pickering, Belinda Carlisle and Franz Ferdinand are among the names to have graced the stage.


A small and welcoming members bar on Deansgate, professionally ran with exquisite décor and friendly staff. Their monthly Soul Purpose event has seen many big names grace the club, from DJ Dimitri from Paris to Caron Wheeler from SoulIISoul, and at other times celebs like boxing great Chris Eubank and the cast of Real Housewives of Cheshire have dropped in for a drink.


A plush small venue on Longworth St behind Deansgate. Intimate and smart, Suede occupies the unit that once was Ampersand, a private members bar created by Carrol Design, who also brought us the fine interiors of The Milton Club and Panacea. The club still holds up well, and the music at their Saturday Kinky Lips event conjures great memories (if you're old enough) of the nightlife scene in the early 2000s with its old-skool garage and house mixes.

Have you been to any of these? Do you agree / disagree? If you agree on most of these, what might you have included? Which of these is your favourite? Drop me a comment...

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Manchester Hit List


There's a few places in Manchester that I've wanted to check out for some time. A while back I wrote a list of bars, a list of clubs and a list of restaurants that I liked the look of, and I added to these as the weeks went on. Then my phone broke and I lost it all. I've had a go at rewriting from memory. Here's a few names of places that you might see on the Manchester Social Group events feed in the near future, as I'll be organising nights to most of these. Most of these are the smarter-end places, so if that's your thing, keep your eye on the meetup group. I've linked to the venues' Twitter accounts, as these will give a better indication of the kind of night we'll be enjoying. Join up if you want to be part!

Bars


Clubs

Playhouse at Panacea (the club's Friday night party event)

Restaurants

Al Bacio (I've still got a voucher for this after I ditched the girl I was going to take. She typically turned out to be a nutter.)

Comment and tell me which of these you'd want to check out first.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Prospective Mondays


Tomorrow: Singer / songwriter Elvis Costello will be signing copies of his new book Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink. Meet him in WHSmith in Manchester Arndale from 12:30pm.

Manchester Social Group now offers a general monthly meetup so members can meet and get to know each other in the smart but reasonably-priced Slug and Lettuce at Albert Square. It's this Friday.

If you're a fan of James Bay, Years and Years or Wolf Alice, join Party People Manchester for a trip to Victoria Warehouse in Trafford. Tickets for Saturday night are a measly £5.

Saturday is also Halloween, a prime opportunity to dress like a twat / slut / offensive bastard. Which is all great in my book. If you want to do that with others and you're at a loose end, Manchester Socialising is going to Funkedemia, 20s and 30s are going out, and Manchester Social Scene are going to a Halloween Ball Pool Disco at the Museum of Science and Industry. Radical. The latter event is officially full, and the Eventbrite page says they've sold out, but these things sometimes change.

Round off your week with Manchester Social Group and a comedy murder mystery dinner in Salford on Sunday night. 

Your event here? Tweet me!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Skinny Beef Lasagne

Rumack: What was it we had for dinner tonight?
Elaine Dickinson: Well, we had a choice of steak or fish.
Rumack: Yes, yes, I remember, I had lasagna.

-Dr Rumack (Leslie Nielsen) discusses his dietary decisions in Aiplaine! (1980).

This week I cooked Skinny Beef Lasagne, from the Hairy Dieters cookbook, for a bring-and-share in work. The writers cut down the recipe's calorie count by replacing pasta strips with layers of boiled leek. We were to use the inside sections of the leek, and to get at these layers the recipe asks to cut the leek length-ways from the top to the middle and split it open. I may have cut these a bit too far, meaning that the remainder of the leek (used further on in the recipe) wasn't substantial, but it was all fairly straightforward otherwise.

I thought it tasted great, and people in work seemed to like it. Not many people ate it in work though, and unlike the last 2 times I've brought food in I got no marriage proposals. There was a LOT of food on offer though.


 


Why have I not used a book stand when cooking before? It was a great help.






Saturday, 24 October 2015

Reading and Planking: The Long Haul Take 2. Review!


I've just spent a ridiculous three and a half months reading Skagboys, by Irvine Welsh. It was the biggest book in my to-read pile, and so I decided to read it in plank position, holding the body straight whilst resting on toes and forearms.

I mentioned here that I was going to attempt to read it in 2 months. Well, that was a fail. What was not a fail was the attempt to beat my planking record of 4:02.

I started on 27th June, getting 2:05. On 5th October, when I was close to the novel's closing pages, I managed to get it up to 4:40. Not a huge improvement, but an improvement nonetheless. I finished on 13th October. I was mixing in a ton of boxing and gym sessions, so I didn't always have the strength to endure planking afterwards. When planking I found it a little hard to follow the plot, but each individual chapter was fascinating in its own way. Sometimes third person, sometimes first from a selection of the main characters, the narrative weaves seamlessly through Edinburgh's seedy 80's underbelly.

The prequel to Trainspotting, Skagboys follows the lives of Renton, Begbie, Spud and Sick Boy as they slip into petty crime, addiction, poverty, violence and depression. Each character is bold and different enough to show a unique insight into their shared world, letting you (if you've already read Trainspotting) see what molded them into the misfits they are in the original novel.

Welsh marvelously handles the task of bringing intelligent literature to his audience through various narrators, some of whom aren't particularly eloquent. But you never get the feeling Welsh is putting his “writer voice” into his weaker characters- he understands their limitations and presents them accordingly, but draws out your empathy- even, dare I say it, from the psychotic Begbie. You get to see what makes him the tyrant he is (and continues to be through the two sequels).

Sometimes the plot lost me, largely because it's hard to concentrate when you've been in plank for the last few minutes. But it was also because the events are less a plot and more a series of events that lead toward a conclusion- from the group's introduction to heroin, through to the supplier's sacking and subsequent skag-drought, towards the protagonists' increasingly desperate decisions. Once I'd finished the book I checked Wikipedia for the plot synopsis. It was only then I put together the scenes and saw how everything loosely edges towards the final outcomes. It also reminded me of some of the hilarious, awkward and frequently brutal depictions that appear right from the get-go.

Regardless, the narrative is gripping and the language fantastic. Fans of Welsh's work will not be disappointed.

The exercise is still a great way of staying in shape and enjoying good literature. Don't say you don't have time for books!

Friday, 23 October 2015

Meeting Nigella Lawson

Celebrity chef / fine lady Nigella Lawson dropped into Waterstones Deansgate last night to sign copies of her new book, Simply Nigella.


I arrived an hour early and there was already a queue, which became so long that we were required to snake the line along the contours of the bookshelves in order to fit everyone into the store. Due to time restrictions, we could get our photos taken but we couldn't pose for the camera like in most signings.



Busiest in-store signing I've seen in Waterstones. Nigella seemed nice. Just as stunning up close. Not doing too bad for 55.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Sparknotes: 1984


Around the side of Manchester's Arndale Centre, on the edge of the Northrn Quarter, there's a little second-hand bookstore that I have a tendency to drop into once in a while. I've found a few gems in there over the last few months, including a biography of Bram Stoker and a few William Burroughs books. One of the smallest books caught my eye though- Sparknotes' guide to George Orwell's 1984.

I read 1984 maybe a decade ago, and it unnerved me to say the least. I keep this blog largely because I forget everything, so the idea of a future in which written records are banned and government documents are rewritten to suit their needs, well, it's not one I'd want to live in. Whether we do live in a world like that is another issue altogether, and not for this blog post. I could tell, though, that there were subtexts I wasn't grasping properly- parts of it were beyond me.

It's nice, then, that years later I find something that concisely explains what happens in the book, including hidden meanings, and reminds me of its brilliance.

There are a number of publishers creating guide books to novels and plays: Sparknotes, York Notes, Letts Notes and Cliff's Notes. I think Letts is still the best. York and Sparknotes are on par with each other (very helpful), but I found Cliff's dived into the text too soon without enough background info.

Being from a second hand shop, the Sparknotes book was a bargain.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

No More Chocolate... Take 2. Review!

A month ago I wrote that I was making a second attempt to give up chocolate, something I'd cited as ruining my ability to sleep and get definition to my abs. The first time I attempted this I failed, as chocolate was practically forced upon me.

With my birthday out of the way and a diet plan forming, I started cut down until I wasn't buying chocolate any more. Eventually I remembered to write the blog post. A month later, I can say I made it through. Chocolate was an addiction for many years. It started when I went to uni in 2002, and I'd been battling it ever since, and as I'd got older and my metabolism slowed it started to have an affect on my body. It also didn't help my mentality- too much sugar can bring you down.

Now, though, I can say I'm not feeling the cravings. I'm not missing indulging in Tesco's peanut butter chocolate or devouring a 10-pack of Crazy Caramels. Instead, I'm eating healthier (cereal bars are good for snacking on and aren't addictive; fajitas and stir-fry meals are helping me to pump in more veg) and I'm eating more frequently throughout the day.

I'm starting to tone up a little, but I've certainly bulked up. The chest and traps have a lot more definition. No sign of the 6-pack I had in my 20s though. So how did I do at the gym throughout this?

19/9-19/10

Cable crunch with metal handle: 15 more reps

Leg press: 1 notch up. This would have been more had the machine not broken and left unattended to. (Still waiting for this to be sorted.)

I did countless chin-ups in small bursts, but I couldn't get above my record. Is this age? Who knows.

Anyway- I've also done lots of gym classes and boxing. Away from the gym I've stayed active, stayed social and certainly enjoyed myself. As I've mentioned a few times, if you enjoy something that's bad for you, switch it for a few other things that you enjoy that are good for you. That way you don't think about your cravings so much, and you don't focus on one other thing, which would result in swapping one addiction for another. Unless, of course, you're this guy...


As for me, though, it looks as if I'm free from that addiction. Unbelievable. Now to sort out the rest of my life...

Monday, 19 October 2015

Prospective Mondays

A superb week lies ahead. Carpe diem and all that.

Tonight 80s classic Krull is playing as part of Manchester Odeon's Flashback season.


If you fancy watching it with a group, Check out Young Professionals in Manchester

If you're a blogger, set Tuesday night aside. 9pm is #bloghour, an opportunity for bloggers to come together and discuss their techniques and trade ideas. The trending topic is the brainchild of the UK Blog Awards, who oversee the discussion. Each week, they will ask 4 questions relating to the act of blogging, and the Twitterati can throw in their ideas and suggestions accordingly. Discussions, encouragements and networking sometimes follows.

At the end of the hour, they ask participants for new questions. I suggested this:



And so it will be used! Woop woop! Be on Twitter tomorrow night to get involved.

Wednesday is Back to the Future Day. 21st October is the day Marty McFly and Dr. “Doc” Emmett Brown traveled to in Back to the Future: Part II. We might not have the hoverboards, extendable baseball bats or hovering food platters, but we do have an obsession with the 80s, (the decade's music, movies, and the trend of 3D have made questionable comebacks) so the movie at least got that right.

I might come into work wearing two ties to see if anyone gets the reference (they won't, and their perception of me as a weird bastard will be reinforced).


Thursday: celebrity chef / MILF Nigella Lawson drops into Waterstones Deansgate to promote her new book, Simply Nigella.



I booked time off for this. Looking forward to it.

To see your event here, tweet me.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Basement Jaxx and Armand Van Helden in Sankeys Warehouse

2 champions of house music joined forces last night in Manchester's Victoria Warehouse. The building is now host to Sankeys Warehouse, a season of house music events running up to Christmas and New Year. Last night they brought together two of the biggest names in the genre: Armand Van Helden and Basement Jaxx.

On entry everyone who wants to buy a drink is required to buy drink tokens, which come in break-off strips and denominations of £10. This I have a problem with. Some of us are designated drivers. We don't need to spend that much on soft drinks. 


 
The venue is huge, featuring numerous rooms, stages and performances. I managed to catch a small part of Crystal Waters performing Gypsy Woman early on in the night.


Basement Jaxx are comprised of Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe, the latter of which bears a passing similarity to Bill Gates. Here we see them passing over to Armand Van Helden, or Vice Versa.


Basement Jaxx and Armand Van Helden


They played great music, but I got the impresion Buxton and Ratcliffe are producers at heart, rather than DJs who put on a performance on stage. You'd imagine them being more comfortable making music in the privacy of their studio rather than playing it to a huge live audience.

It's still great to see such big names in the flesh.

Here's some guy being turfed out of the venue.


Best moments were not videoed- too busy dancing. In Van Helden's set, his last few songs were his own- I Want Your Soul, Funk Phenomenon, My My My. Brilliant atmosphere. The 45-year-old DJ and producer responsible for this looks much younger than his age. I remember seeing him play in Sankeys in 2004. I don't think I could get close enough to the stage on that night.

I went with Party People Manchester, this being my first Meetup with the group. My first impressions were that they were my kind of people and we had a great night. I'd met at least 3 people previously from other Meetup groups, which shows that the culture of Meetup is working- we're forming social circles and finding the people who share a passion for our music and venues through the different groups. 

The Facebook event for Sankeys Warehouse Opening Party has more info.








Saturday, 17 October 2015

La Notte Mondaine @ Milton Club


Friday: a French and Italian-themed night at The Milton Club. I picked up a mask at reception and entered the world of La Notte Mondaine, which roughly translates as “The Night Society”.
On entry we were greeted by the friendly events manager and stilt walkers.







We were then treated to great house music and canapes provided by 63 Degrees restaurant in the Northern Quarter. The stage shows soon began with impressive fire breathers.

The superb violinist performed a number of familiar songs, including Barber's Adagio for Strings by William Orbit...


... a European classical song I definitely recognise...


...a housed-up version of Vivaldi's Summer from Four Seasons...



and a violin interpretation of Rihanna's Diamonds.

Talent was provided by the La Notte Mondaine Event team (Lloyd, Carole and Federico).

Great upbeat entertainment with some good drinks deals as well.

I went with Manchester Social Group. If you fancy this kind of smart nightlife and want to go out in Manchester, get involved!

Monday, 12 October 2015

Prospective Mondays


Friday: The Milton Club hosts La Notte Mondaine Masquerade Party, a night of French and Italian style, with masked performers, canapes, a complimentary cocktail on arrival and a live violinist. All of this plays out to the backdrop of RnB and Deep House until 4am. Tickets are going fast.

I'll be there with Manchester Social Group. Join us!

Saturday: Kazakh middleweight WBA and IBO champ and absolute powerhouse Gennady Golovkin takes on Canadian David Lemieux. Golovkin's punching power is bound to draw in big viewing figures.


I'll catch up on it later, though: Saturday night is party night. And this week I'm at Sankeys' opening party with Party People – Manchester. Some other friends are also going to be there, and I'm hoping to make a few introductions. Sankeys is one of Manchester's longest-running and most prolific dance clubs, and is known for playing host to some of the biggest names in the field. I saw Armand Van Helden there in 2004. This time he's back, along with Basement Jaxx and Crystal Waters. There are still tickets....

To round off the week, why not a pint in Manchester's newest beer hall, Albert's Schloss? The MEN had a sneak peek earlier this week. The unit on Peter Street might be remembered as Brannigans, or more recently as the second room in Albert Hall's club nights. On Sunday it reopens as Manchester's newest (only?) Bavarian beer house. I'm not a beer drinker myself but the food looks good.

Tweet me to get your event listed for free.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

You should have been at Eivissa on Saturday


Eivissa is a night of dance and house music in a classy, upmarket Oxford Club (Formerly One Central Street), behind the Central Library. The plush venue takes its inspiration from the refined interiors of Oxford University, according to the site

The housey dance music went down a treat and was no shortage of talent on display. The club did seem to quieten off towards the end, with one of the rooms closing.
Pictures from 10th October will be here

I went with Manchester Social Group; the event was also listed on Party People Manchester. The organiser arranged guest list for us all but we were all required to pay £10 in regardless. A question: What's the benefit of guest list if we still have to pay? It doesn't affect dress code: we were all smart enough. It's not about time of arrival: it was filling up as we arrived. Is it just for them to gauge attendance figures before the night?

Anyway- the group was superb; a great bunch of people. Most of them are regular Meetup attendees so I've got to know people over the course of the last few months. Keep your eyes peeled on the group for a masquerade party, a rave, a cinema trip and a monthly group meetup.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Does Radio 1's Tim Westwood have a vaginal fixation?


Last night hip hop DJ and Radio 1 presenter Tim Westwood played in Suede nightclub, Longworth St Manchester.

Some love him, some hate him. Some disregard him as a middle-class white son of a bishop from Norwich, or as some kind of wigga clown. Whatever your opinion, he's been at the forefront of the UK hip hop scene since the 80s. I first stumbled across his rap show in 1996 and was equally perplexed and fascinated. What is that accent? He sounds white. Is he white? How has he got to where he is? Regardless of these questions, the biggest rap stars poured onto his show week in week out. I heard him interview Snoop Dogg back when he was Snoop Doggy Dogg. Wu Tang Clan (including now deceased Ol' Dirty Bastard) took over his Friday night show. Other stars followed as hip hop became more mainstream at the turn of the century. I've been a fan since then, and I've wanted to come to his shows for a while.

Last night, though, his popularity was confirmed: the 58-year-old took to the decks of Suede, which must have reached capacity. Before long, he began discussing the vaginas of the female customers. Well, why not?


It's time to go and give a shout-out to the girls with the tightest pussy,” he claimed. “If your pussy's tight and clean, scream!”

There were a handful of affirmative responses.

Westwood stopped the record. “That white girl didn't scream,” he claimed, pointing to the dancefloor. “That's because she put her drawers on back to front and her pum pum smells of doo doo.”

He then busts out Vybez Kartel's Romping Shop, which- if I'm interpreting correctly- is about a brothel.


This was not a sole occurrence. He discussed such matters a number of times throughout the night, at one point asking us to “point to the person you want to fuck.” I thought I'd been teleported to Magaluf at one point.

I must be getting old- a lot of the music I didn't recognise, and didn't rate compared to 2000-era hip-hop. On a few occasions I seemed to be the only person who didn't know the song at all, let alone blast out the lyrics. I'm not massively bothered by the language, but I can see why it's not everyone's cup of tea.

Pics from the night will be here.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

I Hereby Vow Not to Buy Any More Books

Hi, my name's Matt.”

A unified reply: “Hi Matt.”

I've been a book addict for about 5 years now. It started in 2010 when I went to the Manchester Literature Festival. I started buying books there, and I haven't been able to stop. Sometimes I see an advert for a signing, or I walk past an Oxfam shop, and I can't help but go in. I have to be carfeful when I visit Manchester Arndale: if I pick the wrong exit it'll throw me out at the Northern Quarter end and I'll have to go into the 2nd hand book shop there.

Here's a picture of the books I haven't read yet.”


Audible gasps.

*

I'm kidding. I haven't really been to an addiction therapy support group. Although maybe I should, given that this pile of books is getting larger every few months, no matter how much I read. So here's my vow. I've not bought a book in about a month now. It looks like I've sedated the literary consumerist inside me for the moment. I'm going to keep it that way until all these books are read. I doubt I'll manage it, given my tendency to stray into discount bookstores, and given my obsession with celebrities. Famous types usually bring out a book here and there, and I'll buy a copy mostly to meet the writer. (This has led to a broadening of my literary tastes, as well as a burgeoning celebrity album on Facebook.)

Annoyingly, I've decided this in the run-up to Christmas, just before the Manchester Literature Festival and the time of year when book releases and signings generally occur.
I'll give it my best shot, though, and possibly in another 5 years time I might be on top of it all. THEN I'll check out who's appearing at a Waterstones event.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

X TO THE MOTHERFUCKING Z! Xzibit in Gorilla Manchester

Rap star Xzibit takes the mic and shouts, “There's nobody in this club that can drink more than me.” He points the mic out into the crowd.

The crowd, in unison, gives the rehearsed reply: “FUCK YOU!”

It's a wet Tuesday night in Manchester, and the small hangar-like Gorilla nightclub is packed (mostly with 20-something white guys).

It's taken a while for X to come on stage: we'd been in the club for about an hour and a half before he appears with cohort Bishop Lamont.



I'm drinking a can of Hooch that cost me four fucking pounds, there's no reception and the WiFi password's protected, but none of that matters one iota right now. Everyone's getting in the mood as the hip hop classics are rolled out, and X raps and shakes front row hands that are thrust out to him. The Hooch might only be 4% but the smell of good weed wafting through the club compensates.






It occurs to me that a lot of his music I'm not that familiar with- that his appearances on Dr Dre and Eminem albums makes up my knowledge of his output. It's hard not to get in the mood, though, and it's obvious that Xzibit still absolutely loves performing on stage.

What's a little disappointing is that his set is cut short, and that I'd possibly spent more time waiting for him to come on than I did watching him on stage. Also, it can be hard to see the stage when you're a short-arse like me and the woman in front of you has come inexplicably dressed as a pirate and her hat blocks your view.

Still: Xzibit. What a legend.

 Fore pics: Gorilla's Facebook album

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Chilli Con Carnage

I decided to reopen the cookbook and keep learning last week, so I had a good go at Chilli. A few weeks ago I'd been to visit my sister in London and we'd made chilli for around 50-or-so people, so it had been in my mind to see what the Hairy Dieters Cookbook suggested for this.

On that occasion we'd cooked chilli using peppers, and I'd assumed that was a staple ingredient. The Hairy Dieters recipe doesn't even mention it. So I've got a few peppers left over that need demolishing somehow... this was, however, only the first of the setbacks.

I didn't buy garlic as I knew I already had some. When it came to cooking, I noticed the garlic was so old that the bulb had dried and was almost hollow inside. I also left minced beef off my shopping list for the same reason- then realised my mince had been in the freezer since around last November. I don't own any wine as I don't drink it, and for that reason buying a whole bottle seemed pretty pointless. I did, however, have plenty of vermouth from a previous recipe so I bunged some of that in instead.

With 15 minutes of cooking time left, I also realised I hadn't made the stock yet so I had to put everything on hold in order to make that up.

Added to this, the brown rice wasn't absorbing the water like I expected it to. I'd given it the required time, but it was still wet and hard at the time I'd planned it on being ready. The recipe suggested leaving the meat mixture to simmer for 45 MINUTES AFTER the initial cooking! I really need to read the recipe through before starting, but still.

I invited the parents around for tea. Mum and I agreed that 20 minutes simmering time was more than enough.

My mum reminded me that, in London, we'd only used peppers in the chilli because on the second day down there we merged a vegetarian chilli with a standard one. To memory, it had tasted fine.

But what about mine?

I think the meal would have benefited from fresher mince. It tasted okay, and the cooking of it was a little rushed and clumsy, but it went down well enough. It lasted me a few days as well.


Monday, 5 October 2015

Prospective Mondays

It's a star-studded affair this week. But before I go all glitz-and-glam, lets stay grounded.

If you're free tonight and you're into your literature, try the Town Hall Tavern for the monthly Book Club meeting.

Who remembers Xzibit?!


If anyone fancies seeing hardcore gangsta rapper “X to the Z” this week, he's at Gorilla on Witworth St TOMORROW. I'm there with one mate so far. Tweet me to get involved. Tickets are still available, including a VIP meet-and-greet package, on Facebook.

Radio 1's most ridiculous hip hop DJ Tim Westwood is in the house! Or, more accurately, will be in Suede nightclub this Friday. If the last few Fridays are anything to go by, it'll be the ONLY busy place in the city. So get your tickets quickly. See the Facebook event for this. If you fancy coming with me and perhaps a few others, check out the Meetup group here.

Videogamers: on Saturday/Sunday morning you should tear your ass out of bed early (ish) for Play Expo, a hugely popular gaming exhibition ran by Replay Events. Gaming blogger and podcaster Tomleecee, Founder of prolific gaming blog The Dreamcast Junkyard (and also my mate) will be in town for this. Tickets vary from £16 to £64. They can be bought here.

Saturday night: Eivissa takes place at The Oxford Club, formerly One Central Street. If you fancy an upbeat smart night out, this is for you. Join Manchester Social Group who are venturing in.

Last Saturday The Oxford Club hosted George Lineker's (Gary's son's) birthday party.


A few pics from the club are here. Tempting, no?

If you want your event listing, get in touch.