Got something lovely, shiny, gorgeous or sparkly to share? Join the twitter feed @ThingsToDoinMcr, or get in touch at

Friday, 27 November 2009

Has the Great Kathmandu Gone Rubbish?

Very disappointing to read the review of West Didsbury's Great Kathmandu restaurant in tonight's Manchester Evening News; restaurant critic Paul Ogden awarded the food a measly two stars out of five, feeling the quality was very hit and miss.

He does acknowledge that the disappointing meal could be teething problems as a result of the restaurant's recent expansion into what used to be the video shop next door, resulting in much larger premises. Lets hope so; the Kathmandu has always got by solely on the quality of the food they serve, and was never a place you'd visit for the relaxed atmosphere and professional service - my husband once got home to find an errant waiter had spilled oil all down the back of his shirt and had failed to say a word about it in the restaurant.

But the food has always been unspeakably, breathtakingly, delicious. My husband would walk across hot coals for their chicken chilli starter; I sometimes dream about the unctiously good Makhan Chara. In the interests of research, I will bravely visit in the near future so I may lay these disturbing rumours to bed once and for all...

Vegetable Box Wars in Manchester

A couple of years ago, I succumbed. I had a nice house, good job, decent car, and I therefore felt it high time for a box of mud-encrusted organic vegetables to be delivered to my door in a bio-degradable box on a regular basis.

A little shopping around revealed there was only really one contender for my supplier: Abel & Cole, the giant of the vegetable box world, pretty much had the South Manchester market sewn up. And indeed, this relationship has proved both amicable and rewarding, encouraging me to eat more vegetables and to become increasingly creative in the kitchen (you try making a satifying repast out of half a carrot and a kohlrabi.)

But then I was unfaithful. A chance meeting with the Riverford Organic folk at the Nantwich Food Festival has led to a clandestine supply of another, rival box; I blame the copious amount of alcohol samples proferred at this kind of shindig. So now I'm spending a vast sum every month on veg while I try to decide whether to stay with my first love, go with the new, or maintain a tricky relationship with them both.

The balance has started to swing towards Riverford though. Purely based on quality of produce and friendliness of service, you understand; nothing whatsoever to do with the lovely free evening they put on in Cheadle the other night, where much cheese was consumed and many lovely recipes demonstrated....

Sunday, 22 November 2009

New Zizzi Restaurant Opens in Didsbury

The Italian restaurant chain Zizzi is set to open its doors in new premises in Didsbury tomorrow, Monday 23rd November. This will be the third Zizzi in Manchester, following the success of branches in Spinningfields and the Triangle, although the chain might have their work cut out in making a success of this new venture. Didsbury already has two Italian chain restaurants on Wilmslow Road: the fiercely popular Felicini, and the newer Gusto, both of which run constant offers in a bid to keep the custom flowing.

The venue itself may also be a stumbling block. By rights, the distinctive white building that will be Zizzi's new home should be a gold mine, prominently situated on the junction of Wilmslow Road and Barlow Moor Road, and with a generous capacity both upstairs and down. Despite this, recent ventures have struggled to make it work: The Clock Tower failed to compete with other, more welcoming pubs in the area, and the ill-fated Japanese restaurant Fugu was soundly ignored by virtually everyone during its short-lived tenure.

Still, good luck to Zizzi, as the building has sat empty for far too long. A sneak peek at the interior suggests a clear effort to make the restaurant feel different from its other branches - the walls are covered with paintings of birds, apparently to mark the fact that Didsbury saw the founding of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. There will be room for 100 diners inside and a further 60 outside, so hopefully by next summer Zizzi will have established itself as a lively presence in Didsbury Village.

Zizzi will be open from 12pm tomorrow, all being well; I won't be there, as Gusto have lured me to them instead with a free bottle of champagne to celebrate my birthday last week (the competition starts already...)

Further details available by calling 0161 434 5923 or by visiting

Friday, 6 November 2009

November Food Offers in Didsbury and Beyond...

There certainly seems to be an abundance of tempting food offers around at the moment, as pubs and restaurants realise that the lethal combination of a credit crunch and the live stages of X-Factor has conspired to take punters off the streets. For example, the normally packed-to-the-gills Didsbury pub is offering buy one, get one free on all main dishes up to £10 - the offer is available at all Chef and Brewer pubs including the lovely Ashlea in Cheadle.

If you still can't face going out in the cold but the sight of your worthy organic vegetable box is starting to haunt you, then the excellent Gusto is offering a whopping 40% discount on orders for collection on a Monday and Tuesday night. As you get a further 10% discount for ordering online, we snaffled two pizzas and some spicy chicken wings for under a tenner this week (consumed in front of America's Next Top Model - finger on the cultural pulse, etc. etc.) Full details at

Happy Mondays to Play Manchester Versus Cancer Concert

Time to get those maracas out of the cupboard: Bez and his fellow reprobate band-mates have been added to the already impressive line-up for this year's Versus Cancer concert. You never quite know what you're going to get with a Mondays gig, although expect proceedings to be suitably shambolic.

Already on the bill are Manchester favourites James (many a favourite outfit was ruined during my student days, being forced to "Sit Down" on the hideously sticky Academy dancefloor...) and the rather worthy Snow Patrol, who will ever be associated with emotional moments on X-Factor.

Tickets for the concert, which will be at the MEN Arena on December 12th, are still available at £32.50 a go; visit for more details.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Bonfire Night at Platt Fields Park 2009

Get ready to wrap up warm and coo "ooooh! aaaah! wooooooh...." at regular intervals; yes, Bonfire Night is almost with us once again. As ever, the biggest and best local free event will be at Platt Fields Park on the border of Fallowfield and Rusholme, and the event this year will be held actually on November 5th (a Thursday, but never mind - Thursday is the new Friday, after all). Here is a suggested itinerary for the night:

4.30 Leave work early, to prepare for exciting night ahead - purchase of sparklers, application of coat and scarf layers, etc.
5.00 Funfair opens at Platt Fields - buy some candy floss, consume a sausage of dubious provenance, and ride on various death-traps until feeling slightly sick.
6.30 Leave the park, cross the road, and visit Hardys Well for a warming brandy and ginger and a handy toilet trip (a friend of mine was once reduced to weeing behind a tree in the park - don't let this be you).
7.15 Return to park and wave sparklers wildly, in an attempt to write out your name in the air.
7.30 Firework display starts - oooh, aaaah etc.
8.00 Watch the lighting of the bonfire.
8.15 Return to pub, or make short foray into nearby Rusholme for curry.

Didsbury Beer Festival Bigger and Better Than Ever

Ever community spirited, I selflessly attended this year's Didsbury Beer Festival - strictly in the name of research and supporting worthy causes, obviously. The 2009 festival promised to be both bigger and better than last year's inaugural shindig, and certainly didn't disappoint: rather than cram hundreds of thirsty Didsburyites into St Catherine's Social Club like last year, an enormous marquee appeared as if by magic in the school grounds, fully equipped with almost 100 beers and ciders, mostly from local producers. Unfortunately some of the more desirable beverages had run out by the time we visited on Saturday afternoon (Mr Liz saddened, for example, by the lack of the 8.5% Old Tom), but still a fine time was had by all. Last year's festival raised £7500 for local charities; fingers crossed for this one to do even better.