MFDF: The Big Indie Wine and Cheese Fest / The Liquorists #mEAT

1 Oct

The Big Indie Wine and Cheese Fest

A mainstay of Manchester Food and Drink Festival (MFDF), The Big Indie Wine and Cheese Fest is the one event I attend religiously. Much like speed dating, it’s the perfect way to try out potential new keepers, and at just £11 entry for an afternoon or evening of grape-based fun, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t also a cheap way to get merry. Characterised by empty wine glasses being held forth, the gorgeous and infinitely more knowledgeable Helen and I worked the stands, pushing ourselves to try new grapes, regions and styles of wine in the name of educating our palates and prepping ourselves for the mother of all late-afternoon naps.

The Big Indie Wine and Cheese Fest. Freemason’s Hall, Manchester

With wine producers and merchants alike lining up to tout their wares, we tried an intriguing 100% Sauvignon from Château Haut-Terrier, fragrant with apricot and melon notes and lightly green in hue, and a sweet white from Domain du Noble, golden delicious with honey and apple flavours, offered up by two lovely gentlemen from the Commanderie de Bordeaux. From France to New Zealand, we moved on to the red, with Helen sampling a notable Mount Hector Pinot Gris with an unusual but not unpleasant earthy, smoky base, courtesy of T. Wright Fine Wines of Horwich.

Next stop Spain, with a heavy Cal Pla 2006 Crianza, that would take an age to drink in its entirety, such was the lesser distilled and heavily sedimented red so tannic it rendered a snarl. Noticing our distaste, Spirited Wines followed up with a rich, fruity Cins de Montsant 2010, the kind of red you could party on all evening without needing a nap. My favourite sip was a McManis Viognier from California however, surprising due to my usual disdain for American grapes, and thankfully forced by Helen, to reveal a tropical, citrus burst that I could have happily drank all day.

Spirited Wines, Cins de Montsant 2010

The new addition of inviting forth delis and cheese producers is an inspired one, allowing for the building of cheese boards to carry around whilst canvassing for a new tipple. Chorlton favourites Hickson and Blacks were in attendance, offering up some of the more interesting cheeses from the North West and beyond, including the ever delightful Mrs Kirkham’s Tasty Lancashire and the necessary Blacksticks Blue, plus a semi-soft Ardrahan Farmhouse Cheese from Cork, pungent and intense on the nose, with a deep buttery flavour that was a real revelation. Delicious.

The only sadness was the loss of the classes featured in prior years, proffering useful snippets of information on grape varietals and the like, all desperately needed to help me feel one step closer to being the oenophile I’ll never be. Held at the Freemason’s Hall down on Bridge Street, the new venue lacks the character and warmth of The Pump House out the back of The People’s History Museum, despite being infinitely more grand, but given the generous measures and educated patter of the wine merchants and producers, these two minor snags won’t keep me away.

The Liquorists #mEAT

As menu propositions go, one titled #mEAT is a pretty intriguing and lusty prospect, and out of the many specialist events put on over the course of MFDF, this was the one I was raring to attend. Ran out of The Liquorists HQ down at 22 Redbank, directors Tom and Jody teamed up with Iain Devine (aka @drunkenbutcher) to plate up an evening of inspired offal and meaty treats, accompanied by carefully selected cocktails (and a wine) to match.

Alive and kicking, the night started off with prawn cracker styled crackling, heavily seasoned with salt and Sichuan pepper – lip-smackingly good shit which gave way to a thirst that was skillfully quenched with a refreshing lemon sherbert and blood orange infused gin number. Porkfiteroles (yes you read right) followed. Choux pastry chock full with pulled pork and drizzled with intense meaty gravy. I won’t elaborate. Just let your mind run away with you.

Sea Salt Crackling

Chilli and Soy Pig Cheek

The star of the canapé show however, was a tender pigs cheek chunk marinated in soy and chilli. Bold umami flavours and moreish in the extreme, it beats the crap out of pineapple and cheese on a stick for getting a party started. As you can imagine, expectations were high. We moved from the bar to our table, comprising a table of food bloggers and enthusiasts, including social butterfly Charlie of Gin Fuelled Blue Stocking fame and Mal, the Mangechester meat man and southern barbecue guru.

Caipirinha Style: Aguardiente Apasionado, Cazadores Tequila, Passionfruit Jam, Jura Whiskey Rinse (Accompanying the #mEAT Platter)

A meat platter comprising a bacon-wrapped country terrine, a bourbon and marmalade glazed ham and the most tender, pretty pink pastrami was shared nicely against our better nature, with big hunks of homemade sourdough and wheat bread to host, plus a heavenly whiskey-based bacon confiture that I would have happily spooned right into my mouth.

#mEAT Platter

Herb and Lamb Fricassee with Deep Fried Sweet Breads

Plates cleaned, the starters arrived. Herb and lamb fricassee boasting deep meaty flavours, swimming with sweet red peppers and topped by golden, melt in the mouth sweetbreads. Swimming in juices, the plate had to be cleaned. Now, the first rule of being a fattie is never fill up on bread. NEVER. What did I do? I mopped up that juice with a hunk of olive bread, though behaved slightly better than my friend Helen, who got right down and literally licked her plate clean. Good girl.

The Draque: Thyme, Mint Infused Bacardi Superior Rum, Lemon Thyme Sugar, Lime Juice, Sparkling Water (Accompanying the Lamb Fricassee)

You need to be seriously earnest about your meat to make your way through a menu of this beef, and as a table we did ourselves proud. We attacked the main of hangar and rib-eye steak, cheek ravioli, braised shin hash and deep fried bone marrow with gusto, though there was plenty of groaning and sadly too few clean plates at the end of the dish. We consoled ourselves with the earthy South African Pinotage that was paired.

Steak, Cheek Ravioli, Shin Hash and Bone Marrow

Jam Suet Pudding and Custard

A jam suet pudding with custard (continuing the piggy theme) finished us off, though some of our party opted out at this stage to enjoy the spicy, sherry topped Old Fashioned made with a raisin infused Woodford Whiskey and a dash of absinthe, for our sins. With passion on show from Ian’s painstakingly planned and prepared dishes and serious skill from The Liqourists, now top contenders for the best cocktails in town, we finished our night with a few more Caipirinha-style cocktails comprising tequila, whiskey and aguardiente, keeping us partying long after the food coma should have suffered us to.

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3 Responses to “MFDF: The Big Indie Wine and Cheese Fest / The Liquorists #mEAT”

  1. clairelwebster October 2, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

    Read this just before dinner…..makes tonight’s offering seem deeply uninspiring and makes me want to move back up north!

  2. stevet abner October 1, 2012 at 10:41 pm #

    Absolutely astounding evening – sheer decadence – from the ‘fancy crackling’ to the suet pud. This is where food and sex become synonymous (especially as it was a celebration of MEAT!!). Welcome to the food brothel…

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Drunken Butcher Sous Vide Supper Club | Lickerish Split - January 19, 2014

    […] consultant’s proclivity to create beautifully paired cocktails, I quickly fell in love with his porkfiteroles (cough) and found myself determined to taste more. Over a year later, after many informal soirees […]

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