NORTHERN SPIRIT

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A Taste of the North – Further Reading/Eating, Thanks and Goodbye

September 21, 2012 in A WONDROUS SPACE, MANCHESTER, Wondrous Cities

Food Zines Resize

It is here that I am going to try and answer the question that last week’s guest curator Amy Roberts posed me:

‘As an absolute book and zine nerd, I was wondering if you had any cool recommendations of zine / book stores in Manchester, and also which local zines I should be keeping my eyes peeled for?’

I am broadening the remit to include any self-published material, as two of the best independent publications I have come across recently have been food and recipe-based, if not strictly zines.

If reading about food has made you hungry, or made you rare to get outside and pick your own, I recommend getting hold of Your City is a Public Orchard, a beautifully illustrated foraging guide and recipe book hand-made by Textbook Studio earlier this year (Textbook are currently working on a second run; email hello@textbookstudio.co.uk to find out how to get a copy).

Textbook Studio are based in Hotspur House, an amazing, warren-like former printing premises in central Manchester. Hotspur is a hotbed of creative activity: is also home to ethical design practice Ultimate Holding Company, Manchester Municipal Design Corporation (designers of the modernist magazine and publishers of their own excellent culture zine, Things Happen), Manchester’s essential alternative newspaper Mule, and several artists’ studios.

Members of Manchester Municipal Design Corporation, who make the zine Things Happen, as well as members of Textbook Studio.

At last year’s Manchester Artists’ Book Fair, held in the Holden Gallery at the nearby Manchester School of Art, I picked up a letterpress pamphlet called Random Recipes, published by Oldham’s Incline Press. It contains recipes, including instructions for making seasonal favourites sloe gin and damson jam, warmly introduced with regional anecdotes. This year’s Manchester Artists’ Book Fair will be held on Friday 12 and Saturday 13 October. Manchester Print Fair, meanwhile, takes place on Saturday 27 October at 2022 in the city’s Northern Quarter. For all your other zine and self-publishing needs, be sure to check out the Good Grief! online shop, and visit Salford Zine Library, which recently acquired a cosy new home at Nexus Art Cafe in Manchester city centre.

I have been inspired to write about food by the books of DJ and writer Stuart Maconie, whose affectionate odes to British culture can’t help but make you want to get out exploring this country and its varied food traditions.

For more traditional northern food, including recipes for parched peas, flapjacks, Lancashire hotpot and much more, order your free recipe leaflet A Taste of Modern History online.

Finally, I can’t write about food without mentioning my favourite ever pub, the Globe in Glossop, a country town on the edge of the Greater Manchester region in the attractively-named Dark Peak. Although it doesn’t make a song and dance about it, the Globe is a vegan establishment, and its astonishingly good value meals include a warming Lancashire ‘Not Pot’. Wash it down with an impressive selection of ciders and perry, or mulled wine in the winter.

Thanks to Chris Meads for talking me into taking part in this project when I thought I had already exhausted the blogging format and had nothing new to write about Manchester.

Thanks to Daniel Fogarty for the loan of his camera and company on the Worsley-Eccles walk (and indulging my long-held ambition of visiting Barton swing bridge!), Nija Dalal for her photos of blackberry buns at the Shrieking Violet birthday party and Alice Kelly for the Wurlitzer photos, taken during our trip the museum.

Up next is Dan Feeney from Sheffield, who I know from Manchester’s indie discos and alternative gigs; for several years, Dan was a key player on the Manchester indie scene, co-publishing the zine Pull Yourself Together with Hannah Bayfield and putting on some of the city’s best gigs and indie nights under the same name.

My question for Dan is:

Sheffield is celebrated for its close proximity to the countryside, sitting on the edge of the Peak District. Where do you go when you want to escape the city?’

 

Avatar of Natalie Bradbury

Natalie Bradbury

I am a Manchester-based journalist and writer. I edit the Shrieking Violet blog and fanzine, a free print and online art and culture magazine. I enjoy collaborating with artists, designers, writers and organisations to produce one-off publications and organise events, from film screenings to the Victoria Baths Fanzine Convention.www.theshriekingviolets.blogspot.co.ukCreative Tourist Top 25 Arts & Culture Blog Winner; Best Arts and Culture Blog at the 2011 Manchester Blog Awardswww.issuu.com/natalieroseviolet

A Taste of The North – Blackberry Buns

September 20, 2012 in A WONDROUS SPACE, MANCHESTER, Wondrous Cities

Blackberry Bush Resize

You rumbled me. There is nothing particularly northern about buns (or, indeed, blackberries). But I am of firm belief that both bun-making and blackberry-picking should play a key part in any British child’s formative years, whether they are growing up in the countryside or in the city, and that this enjoyment should continue well into adulthood. Contrary to what you might think, inner-city Manchester during the late-summer months is as good a place as anywhere to find blackberries, as the bramble bush will grow wherever the wind and birds spread its seeds: next to train tracks and at tram stops; at the edge of building sites or empty plots of land; around the sides of parks; along canal towpaths and riverbanks; and at the bottom of your garden if you are lucky enough to have one.

Note: the term ‘bun’ has gone out of fashion quicker than you can say ‘monstrously oversized muffin’ or ‘overpriced artisan cupcake’, but I am sticking to ‘bun’ as it is how I have always known small cakes (I find the expression ‘fairy cake’ just about acceptable, if a little twee; it brings to mind those fussy little cakes that bear ‘wings’ embedded in butter cream).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made these blackberry buns for the Shrieking Violet fanzine‘s third birthday party at the start of August, which took place at Atelier[zero], a pop-up alternative Olympic Village at Piccadilly Basin in Manchester city centre featuring, appropriately for a birthday party, a ball pool and rowing boats. A friend of mine commented that the cakes were far lighter than the vegan cake she is used to; I attribute this to chilling the mixture in the fridge, which made it really light and airy.

I picked the blackberries one lunch hour from some bramble bushes at the edge of Angel Meadow, one of the few parks in Manchester city centre, conveniently using my empty lunchbox to store them. Once the site of a plague-pit surrounded by the Manchester slums denounced by Engels in his classic industrial age critique Condition of the Working Class, Angel Meadow is now a gently undulating urban oasis in the shadow of the Co-operative Group’s brand new headquarters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shrieking Violet Birthday Buns

Ingredients:

110g flour

110g butter or vegan margarine

65g sugar

2 tsp baking powder

No Egg equivalent to 2 eggs

125g blackberries, washed

Bun cases

 

Method:

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter together with the sugar.

In a smaller bowl, mix the No Egg with water according to the instructions, then stir into the butter and sugar mixture and ensure it’s well mixed in. Stir in the baking powder then sieve in the flour and stir.

Get your willpower ready and place the mixture in the fridge for an hour.

Place bun cases in a bun tin or two (this will help them hold their shape whilst cooking) and put a spoonful of the mixture into each bun case, topping up if there is any left over. Distribute the blackberries evenly between each case.

Bake for 20 minutes at 200 degrees celsius.

If desired, decorate with edible glitter or any other toppings of your choosing. The cookware stall on the Arndale Market in Manchester sells a huge range of coloured, shiny and novelty-patterned bun and muffin cases, plus edible glitter and sugar cake toppings in every shape you can imagine. If skull and cross bones cake cases are your thing, try Oklahoma cafe and gift shop in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

Eat warm or cold.

 

Avatar of Natalie Bradbury

Natalie Bradbury

I am a Manchester-based journalist and writer. I edit the Shrieking Violet blog and fanzine, a free print and online art and culture magazine. I enjoy collaborating with artists, designers, writers and organisations to produce one-off publications and organise events, from film screenings to the Victoria Baths Fanzine Convention.www.theshriekingviolets.blogspot.co.ukCreative Tourist Top 25 Arts & Culture Blog Winner; Best Arts and Culture Blog at the 2011 Manchester Blog Awardswww.issuu.com/natalieroseviolet

A Taste of The North – Eccles Cakes

September 18, 2012 in A WONDROUS SPACE, MANCHESTER, Wondrous Cities

ECCLES CAKES COOKING RESIZE

The first time I visited Eccles, I asked an acquaintance of mine who lives in the town what he recommended I do whilst I was there. “Get the bus straight back to Manchester,” was his reply.

Okay, I’m not going to lie to you. Once part of Lancashire, now subsumed into the urban sprawl of Greater Manchester and technically classed as part of Salford, Eccles is not the most glamorous location in the area. But, like most places, Eccles has things to recommend it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First off, how many suburbs have their own organ museum – and a Wurlitzer one at that? In 2002, the Lancastrian Theatre Organ Trust, which rescues Wurlitzers from cinemas and theatres that have closed down and are at risk of demolition, bought a former Sunday school in the Peel Green area of Eccles. Today, it is open as a museum on Fridays (and the first Saturday of each month) and holds weekly Wednesday afternoon organ concerts in its 80-seat auditorium, which recreates the velveteen décor and genteel atmosphere of a 1930s cinema. Ask the organist nicely and they might even let you have a go…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, the thing for which Eccles is best-known is its Eccles cakes, a heady mix of dried fruit and spices, encased in flaky, crunchy, sugared pastry. I had my first taste of Eccles cake at a cafe on the main shopping street; make sure you don’t visit Eccles without tasting one!

A suggestion for working up an appetite for your Eccles cake: from Manchester city centre, get the bus to picturesque Worsley village and make your way to the Bridgewater Canal, opened by the Duke of the Bridgewater in 1761 to carry coal. The canal is a sight in itself, tinted a distinctive orange colour by iron in the local rock. Follow the towpath until you get to Eccles, keeping an eye out for geese, brightly painted barges and some local landmarks such as Monton lighthouse, a canal-side folly built a few years ago by a local man. Whilst you are in the area, you really should visit the Barton Swing Aqueduct at nearby Barton-upon-Irwell, a breathtaking feat of Victorian engineering, where the Bridgewater Canal crosses the wide Manchester Ship Canal in parallel with a wide swing bridge for cars (look out for the location in Tony Richardson’s 1961 film adaption of A Taste of Honey, filmed in the days when big ships still sailed down the Ship Canal).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alternatively, for Eccles cakes without the adventure, you can make your own at home. I was inspired by Robert Owen Brown, chef at the celebrated Mark Addy gastropub on the banks of the River Irwell in Salford, which serves traditional northern grub with a twist. Owen Brown demonstrated his Eccles cakes recipe in the unlikely setting of the town hall at this year’s Manchester Histories Festival (he also showed how to prepare a pig’s head; thankfully I missed that part!).

 

The Shrieking Violet Eccles Cakes Recipe:

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 block puff pastry, defrosted (as Robert Owen Brown said, who’s got time to make puff pastry from scratch? Ready-made is fine.)

1 pack currants

1 orange

50g butter or vegan margarine

150g sugar

A pinch of nutmeg, grated

1 teaspoon cinnamon

 

Method:

Melt the butter in a pan. Mix in the sugar and currants and grate in the rind of the orange (taking care not to grate your fingers!). Stir in the nutmeg and cinnamon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On a floured surface, roll out the pastry. Cut out into circles or divide up using a method of your choice (I cut mine in four, opting for larger, non-circular Eccles cakes).

Place the filling in the middle of each section of pastry, making sure it is divided up equally. Wet the edges of the pastry and fold over to enclose the mixture (I folded mine into triangles). Press the edges down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transfer the cakes to a baking tray and press down lightly on the surface. Make a cross in the top with a sharp knife.

Coat with a little milk and sprinkle a little extra sugar on top.

Cook at 180 degrees celsius for 15 minutes or so.

Serve warm. Owen Brown serves his with Lancashire cheese; I recommend a good dollop of custard. Leftovers keep for a few days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avatar of Natalie Bradbury

Natalie Bradbury

I am a Manchester-based journalist and writer. I edit the Shrieking Violet blog and fanzine, a free print and online art and culture magazine. I enjoy collaborating with artists, designers, writers and organisations to produce one-off publications and organise events, from film screenings to the Victoria Baths Fanzine Convention.www.theshriekingviolets.blogspot.co.ukCreative Tourist Top 25 Arts & Culture Blog Winner; Best Arts and Culture Blog at the 2011 Manchester Blog Awardswww.issuu.com/natalieroseviolet

A Taste of The North – Introduction

September 17, 2012 in A WONDROUS SPACE, MANCHESTER, Wondrous Cities

Smaller Hollands Pies

I’m not a native of the north. In fact, I have only lived in Manchester for seven years. But I am in thrall to the towns and cities of the north; their grand buildings, their culture and traditions, their landscape (moors and mountains are so much more dramatic than the landscape of the south!) and, increasingly, their food. Food is very important to me – I make sure to include a recipe in each issue of my fanzine, the Shrieking Violet – and I am a passionate advocate of the benefits of cooking your own meals (it should be both healthier and cheaper to do so). I rarely get the chance to write about food, however, so I will be using this blog as a chance to share some of my favourite northern food experiences.

Since I have lived in Manchester, I have been playing in Manchester School of Samba, which went through a phase of being invited to the Reebok Stadium to entertain the Bolton Wanderers fans before the game and at half-time. For some of the other drummers, the perks of the gig were free football tickets. Mine was as many free Hollands Pies (from nearby Accrington in Lancashire) as you could eat. Cheese and onion, if you’re asking.

Unfortunately, as a vegetarian I am going to have to gloss over Bury’s famous black pudding, hearty staple Lancashire hot pot and the novel, but entirely-appropriate, ‘Manchester egg’, a recent invention which wraps pickled egg in black pudding before adding the standard sausage meat and breadcrumbs. However, in Preston, I have been able to enjoy local delicacy butter pie (as the name suggests, it largely comprises pastry, crumbled potato and lashings of butter), a foodstuff so deliciously simple it makes you wonder why it is not as popular elsewhere, and parched peas, the ideal street food for anyone who prefers their snacks stewed, salty and vinegary and eaten with a small spoon.

Similar to parched peas, steaming black peas are one of the best ways of warming up on bonfire night, especially when they’re served in a cup from a stall that’s slowly sinking into the quagmire that is Manchester’s Heaton Park on 5 November. Sticking with peas (yes, peas have truly become one of the loves of my life since I have lived up north), I have had the best chips and mushy peas of my life in late-night Sheffield.

Visiting a superb stall on Macclesfield market in Cheshire on a snowy day earlier this year, I was delighted to find a Bakewell tart that was more like a spongy, lightly almond-flavoured closed crust pie than the usual white-iced, cherry-topped supermarket version, to which it bears little resemblance. It was at Macclesfield market also that I encountered Derbyshire oatcakes (a marginally fatter version of the better-known Staffordshire oatcakes) and pikelets (a slightly sweeter take on the oatcake) for the first time. For anyone who has grown up with crumpets and pancakes, they combine the best features of both; light, flat, airy and spongy, and edible in combination with almost anything, savoury or sweet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Greater Manchester region (and sticking with the pastry theme!), our best-known dessert is the Eccles cake. I have been attempting to recreate some of my favourite northern foods at home, giving butter pie, parched peas and mushy peas a go so far. In my next post, I will share my recent experiences of making Eccles cakes.

 

Avatar of Natalie Bradbury

Natalie Bradbury

I am a Manchester-based journalist and writer. I edit the Shrieking Violet blog and fanzine, a free print and online art and culture magazine. I enjoy collaborating with artists, designers, writers and organisations to produce one-off publications and organise events, from film screenings to the Victoria Baths Fanzine Convention.www.theshriekingviolets.blogspot.co.ukCreative Tourist Top 25 Arts & Culture Blog Winner; Best Arts and Culture Blog at the 2011 Manchester Blog Awardswww.issuu.com/natalieroseviolet