Now, obviously I like to hope each finely-crafted, perfectly-honed blog post that I send out into the world is unique - an impeccable nugget of insightful, individualised, pithy comment. And yet, I cannot help noticing a certain "sameness" creeping into some of my posts - take the monthly Mark Addy Gourmet Evening post, for example, which pretty much reads each time "turned up, ate range of top offal dishes cooked by genial hairy bloke, went home".
And up to a point, this month's Gourmet Evening did indeed look the same: last Wednesday of the month, lots of hungry-faced diners, six lovely courses of local, seasonal goodness for £30...I could almost feel my fingers beginning to type "turned up, ate range of top offal dishes cooked by genial hairy bloke, went home", possibly with the witty addition of "trousers too tight" tagged on the end.
Then, however, Robert Owen Brown (rather selfishly, I thought) went off script. First of all, he has had his flaming locks sheared away, meaning that tirelessly brave bloggers who are already overworked must think of ANOTHER adjective with which to describe him - hirsute will no longer do. So, ROB will henceforth appear in these pages as "sleek" unless, of course, he grows his hair again and can go back to being hirsute. Honestly, I'll run out of words at this rate.
Secondly, one of the very greatest pleasures of the Gourmet Evening is taking a photo of the menu, posting it on Twitter and Facebook while Mr Liz is in the loo (he frowns on my social network dependence) and then awaiting the cries of disgust from less intrepid friends who are appalled to think of a happy band of diners elsewhere in Manchester chowing down on squirrel, pig's head, tripe and other assorted delicacies. This month's menu - disappointingly - was met with complete approval, attracting such comments as "sounds good - no odd animal bits on it which is nice"; I mean, honestly, where's the fun in this?
Anyway, this is the classy menu that I devoured in my normal, ladylike fashion:
- Game Broth Shooter. Obviously, it's game season, hence a hot little shot glass of clear, peppery broth that tasted - in a good way - just like the proper stock my dad used to make every year to restore us after our Christmas gluttony.
- Line Caught Sea Bass Fillet with Menai Mussels. A delicate sliver of fish with properly-crisped skin (The Mark Addy is the ONLY place where the fish skin is worth eating), swimming languidly in a sea (well, more like a puddle, but that ruins the metaphor a little) of tasty broth while its three small, sweet mussel friends tried to escape my gently smiling jaws. Delicious, although I didn't quite finish the broth due to the arrival of a distractingly charming landlord during this course.
- Saddle of Hare with Quinn's Quince. Oh my - who knew hare tasted so good? Or more to the point, that they were so SMALL? This course was perfection in all but size - two tiny glistening slivers of rare meat that managed to be both tender and satisyingly chewy at the same time, but which were sadly gone in a trice. I fear I may have to take to the fields myself, and fell a hare or two just so I don't have to share it with thirty other people who also - selfishly - seem to like it. Please note it was quite dark in The Mark Addy on Wednesday, and I almost set light to my hair trying to manipulate the candle to take this photo *is brave, and intrepid, and hoping for some kind of journalistic prize*
- Pheasant Breast with Chestnuts. These are two ingredients you really can't go wrong with, unless you are trying to write a blog about them and can't see past phrases containing references to plump young birds / nice firm breasts / tasty chewy nuts. This is what happens when you're forced to think of new adjectives to describe the chef - you're tired before you even get to the food.
- Vanilla and Saffron Poached Pear William. It's no good: I'm now in full-on Barbara Windsor mode, and very much enjoyed this lovely juicy pear. You will also see from the increasingly moody photography that it is VERY dark in the restaurant by now.
- Leagrams Ramshackle Sheep's Curd. A change from the normal cheese and crackers, and a good one - the crackers are really just a waste of calories and stomach space when there's cheese to be eaten, and this tangy curd slipped down a treat: even Mr Liz, who normally views anything other than Cheddar with much suspicion, enjoyed this *curses*
Of course, all I can think is that with so much class, dignity and restraint on show in this month's menu, we're just bound to get pig's head stuffed with brawn, tripe and testicles next time...
- The Mark Addy is on Stanley Street in Salford, tel. 0161 832 4080.