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Sunday, 13 November 2011

Didsbury Farm Shop Grand Opening, Dinner at Dimitri's, and a Lovely Big Christmas Pudding

I have written before of the Extraordinarily Good Day, a day which is packed with so many exciting things as to be almost wasteful. This kind of day swaggers about, full of its own importance, occasionally flexing its fingers and saying "oh, sorry - you thought I was finished? Nope - there's something else good in an hour or so - just remember this on Wednesday, when you'll have had three utterly unremarkable days in a row."

Yesterday was one of these Extraordinarily Good Days, and here's what it had to offer amongst its spectacularly showy wares:

1. The Grand Opening of The Didsbury Village Farm Shop. I'm a sucker for anything with the word "Grand" in the title (except possibly a DFS sale), and this was no exception. I have long been a fan of the Artisan Meat Company, and am understandably delighted by their thoughtful decision to open a more convenient shop for me, although I have now had it pointed out to me that Simon Rimmer will NOT, in fact, be there to chat about cheese EVERY shopping day.

There's a good chance, however, that the equally lovely Artisan Chris WILL be on hand though, to talk you through his tomatoes and sell you a sprout tree or two. It's a delight to find someone so visibly proud of the food they are selling, although I have not yet confirmed with any certainty that his first name is indeed "Artisan". No matter, for this shop is packed full of local produce, with 80% of their goodies coming from a 10 mile radius of their Cheshire base and pork, beef & lamb coming from within 3 miles. Owner Mark Faulkner and the team will also be selling hot sandwiches at lunchtime, which is all very nice for those who work in Didsbury, but a bit of a blot on an otherwise Extraordinarily Good Day for those who don't.

2. If you hadn't noticed, Christmas is a-coming, and yesterday marked the very traditional Stir-Up, erm, Saturday, the day when Christmas puddings are made. This also involves the drinking of wine, the eating of all the glace cherries straight out the pot, and the performing of Mariah Carey at a thrillingly loud volume. It also allows one to feel virtuous, domestic and worthy when one is, in fact, not.

3. Dinner at Dimitiri's. Obviously, it's exciting enough that Dimitiri's, that great Deansgate stalwart, has opened an outpost in Didsbury, but there was just that tiny worry that it wouldn't measure up to its colossal older brother. I mean, last time I went to Dimitri's on Deansgate, I wore a fake fur coat, danced wildly on my chair, AND everyone left with pockets full of fish kebabs (don't ask) - how could the new Dimitri's Didsbury possibly compete with that?

Luckily, Dimitri's Didsbury seems to have found its feet remarkably quickly. I'd heard one or two tales of early teething problems with the service, but we had very little complaint with anything, other than the normal problems faced by two girls attempting to share a number of small plates with two boys who have apparently not eaten for three weeks. The menu is the same as the one offered on Deansgate - ie VAST - so we took the easy option and selected from the Mezes section, which offers tapas combinations to share. The Kalamata Plata are available when two or more people order the same, so we went for two meat and two fish options - everything was hoovered up pretty much as soon as it came, but I can report that the ladies enjoyed the mussels and the whitebait best, with the boys preferring the Stifado and chorizo dishes. Everyone, sadly, liked the calamari.

There were a few quibbles; the Greek salad that came with both options was a bit perfunctory, a small dish with lots of lettuce and some sad, dry pieces of Feta cheese, and the Baklava and Kataifi on the "Traditionally Greek" Sweet Platter were also a bit meh - nowhere near in the same league as the exemplary Crema Catalana that we also shared. We also felt that the place has yet to develop a real sense of atmosphere - the plain white walls haven't changed since the restaurant's Fat Loaf days, and there was no music. I'm not saying I want to smash plates and dance to Zorba the Greek, but it could do with feeling just a little bit more, well, Greek.

Still, with the bill for four (including wine) coming in at under a hundred quid, we felt this represented a pretty enjoyable night out, certainly worthy of its place in an Extraordinarily Good Day.

And today? Well today I have marked essays whilst wearing pyjamas, done some washing, and bit of hoovering; later I will probably lose my temper at the XFactor Results Show. Looks like I'll just have to live off thoughts of yesterday a little bit longer...

- Didsbury Farm Shop is at 737 Wilmslow Road, Didsbury
- Dimitri's is at 846 Wilmslow Road, Didsbury; tel. 0161 434 5151
- Christmas puddings are currently steaming in my increasingly fuggy kitchen.

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