Cantonese Cookery Classes

Yang Sing make it dim sum simple

 

Being taught how to cook amazing Cantonese dishes from a master is a rare thing indeed. But deep in the kitchens of Yang Sing on Princess Street in Manchester’s China Town you can find Harry Yeung, sharing his culinary skills.

We were invited down to check out the classes – and who better to ask than health and nutrition expert Sara Perry who actually lived in China for a number of years. She’s someone who knows her noodles!

 

Over to you Sara ……

Sara Perry

 

Having lived and worked in China for a fair few years I consider myself a bit of a Sinophile, so jumped at the chance to try out the Chinese cookery course at Yang Sing.

Along with my fellow apprentice Cantonese chefs (there were eight of us on the course in total) we were greeted enthusiastically by Bonnie Yeung (the owner’s daughter) and presented with our very own Yang Sing apron.

 

After a brief inquiry as to whether any of us were squeamish or vegetarian, we made our way up to the 2nd floor with Bonnie explaining some of the history and provenance of the restaurant to us.

 

Cantonese duck

 

And then the fun began. We were led into a huge kitchen with one very smiley chef working away in the corner. We were right in the heart of the Cantonese Duck preparation area and we were going to have a go.

 

 

Chinese crispy duck

 

Whilst the chef showed us how to season the duck and prepare it for the pre-roasting drying process, Bonnie explained the importance of using a variety of flavours and different cooking styles to create the Ying and Yang vital to good Cantonese cuisine.

We prepared our ducks with relish though some were a little retistent when it came to arranging the head and neck to make the duck ‘look good’ on it’s hanging hook.

 

Dim sum station

 

Our next stop was back in the basement kitchen at the dim sum station.  This as Bonnie explained is the heart of the operation and we were honoured to be being taught by one of the best in the business, restaurant owner and Bonnie’s dad, Harry Yeung.

 

Making Dim Sum at Yang Sing.

Harry started by showing us how to make the ‘pastry’ circles needed to create the famous Har Gow dumplings and boy did he make it look easy. My attempt at replicating it was feeble although others in the group had a pretty good bash at it.

I came into my own when it came to putting the actual dumplings together though. I created a unique style of pleating that even Harry had to concede was “not bad” (I took that as high praise from the master).

Next on the menu were spring rolls – the trick is a double layer of pastry to stop the filling leaking and also make that über crispy crunch that makes them so yummy. Most of us found these pretty easy and before long we had a cracking production line going.

 

Cooking Dim Sum.

We also had a go at making a yummy beef dumpling seasoned with coriander and citrus zest before turning our hand to another Cantonese staple Siu Mai.

All the while we were creating our masterpieces Bonnie was explaining to us how to tell quality dim sum from the second rate, possibly mass produced stuff and also giving us ideas for creative fillings we could use at home and sharing with us where to get the ingredients from (thankfully the pastry for all except the Har gow is pre prepared and can be bought from the supermarket.)

 

Wok cooking

 

After a quick snack break where we got to eat our handmade spring rolls we headed off to the opposite side of the kitchen and the pièce de résistance – the wok cooking area.

Now, I’ve seen Chinese chefs throwing around food over a huge flame before but these wok stations were something else. The woks were huge and the flames were literally furnace like with the noise making it tough to hear at times.

We were shown how to make two dishes, one with beef and one with rice before being paired up to make one of the dishes ourselves.

I chose to take a supervisory role in my partnership and looked on as my partner in crime was patiently shown what to add and when, how to toss the food and then encouraged to create a huge wok of flame much to the amusement of the other chefs at the wok stations.

Everyone agreed that this was a pretty amazing experience – we were in a working restaurant kitchen, with real chefs making genuine Cantonese cuisine.

 

Kitchens at Yang Sing

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Now eat!

 

The final part of the course involved taking a seat in the restaurant and being served the food we’d so lovingly prepared (the duck was a case of ‘here’s one they prepared earlier’ as it’s a 24 hour process to get that gorgeous shine on the meat that we all know).

And you know what, the food wasn’t bad.  It didn’t look exactly like the ones the chef prepared but it tasted great and pretty soon all the plates were empty.

I loved this experience. It was so much more than a cookery course, it was a true immersion into Cantonese cuisine and culture and I was just sorry it had to end.

 

 

Five stars from me!

 

Sara x

 

Photographs: McAvoy Photography (images embedded in the text), Sara Perry (images in slide show).

Disclosure

 

Yang Sing

 

Address: 34 Princess Street, Manchester, M1 4JY

Tel: 0161 236 2200     Fax: 0161 236 5934

Email: marketing@yang-sing.com

Website: yang-sing.com

Facebook: facebook.com/Yang-Sing

Twitter: @yangsingmcr

 

 

Other articles about Yang Sing:

New children’s menu at Yang Sing reviewed

Yang Sing cookery classes

My China Town

Yang Sing – Finding fresh ingredients

The Dragon Boat Race

 

 

 

 

 

Manchester – off the beaten track

Looking for our city’s hidden gems

 

We all know that Manchester is one of the most interesting cities to visit or live in the UK.

But like anywhere, walking down the main streets doesn’t always lead you to the ‘real’ heart and soul of our city. Here we’re exploring some hidden secrets and favourites that you may or may not know about. You are unlikely to find this list on the tourist map or mainstream travel guide.

 

Fabulous Manchester

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Watch a gig at the Führer Bunker

 

Just a hop across The Irwell into Salford to find this hippest venue and home of in-demand record label SWAYS. The Führer Bunker hosts shows in a very industrial location!

Why not take the ferry – it leaves Manchester for Salford twice daily. Make sure that you  plan well in advance for all bunker shows.

Bands play inside a cage, and the venue is small – all of which make you feel as if you’re at the very epicentre of Manchester / Salford cool. NHS specs and ironic facial hair (for the boys) are optional but advised.

 

Manchester taken from across the ship canal

 

 

Boys, shop at Oi Polloi

 

A staple for Manchester’s trend setters, this menswear store opened over ten years ago and continues to shape the way the city’s hippest blokes dress. Designers include APC, Lyle & Scott, Nudie Jeans and Fjallraven.

Oi Polloi, Thomas Street, Northern Quarter.

 

Girls, shop at Retro Rehab

 

For those wishing to confuse passers-by by looking like you’re from a different era, Manchester has a number of vintage clothes shops. These include mecca Afflecks Palace, but we particularly love Retro Rehab –  used by those that are in the know, with a wide range of interesting stock. Expect vintage and customised dresses, tops, jumpsuits, handbags, scarves, jewellery and shoes.

Retro Rehab, Oldham Street, Northern Quarter.

 

Vintage Clothes Shop

 

Planet hunting at the Godlee Observatory

 

This is where the cataclysmic events and dramas of the universe are observed. The naked eyes of visitors get some help from old-fashioned telescopes, and a timber dome that is still operated by ropes and wheels.

Amazingly, this little gem has been in operation since 1902. Modern technological changes haven’t marred its old-world magic. A part of The University of Manchester, few visitors to the city would have heard about the Godlee Observatory, so keep this little nugget of nostalgia to yourself.

 

Enjoy a play at The Three Minute Theatre

 

Hidden away on the ground floor of Afflecks Palace is The 3MT – a boutique 70 seater theatre which champions new talent. Visit this intimate little venue for cosy evening amongst friends.

The Three Minute Theatre, Afflecks Arcade, Oldham Street.

 

Check out some art at The International 3

 

This off-the-beaten-track, not-for-profit gallery offers year-round exhibitions from emerging and established artists, as well as independent curators. Although the city boasts a number of more well-known galleries, The International 3 is where you’re likely to find new up-and-coming artists set to become the next big thing.

The International 3, Fairfield St (opposite Piccadilly Station).

 

Explore the ‘burbs

 

Luther King House

 

We all know that there are plenty of places to explore other than the city centre.

There are hidden gems to be found the length and breadth of Manchester. Take Fallowfield, for example, popular with students and full of bars.

 

But have you heard of Luther King House? If you’re looking to stay in this quiet area outside of the city, Luther King House is a great option. At this bed and breakfast in Manchester, conference facilities and a number of special offers are available.

 

If you’ve got a hidden gem to share, please leave a comment below.

 

Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)

 

Photographs: flickr.com/ilovememphis, flickr.com/marchiectid, pinterest.com

<<please note the above is not a photo of Retro Rehab>>

Disclosure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Children’s Menu at Yang Sing

Introduce your little ones to a taste of Chinatown

 

Learning about Chinese New Year has become an annual feature in many a school curriculum. So when Yang Sing announced that they were about to launch their new children’s menu – and invited us in to road test it, regular guest blogger Eve was up for the challenge.

Eager to introduce her fussy eaters to a different style of cuisine, Seth (6) and Louisa (4) were a tough audience to crack*. However a glimpse of the menu beforehand, some hands on dim sum action, chop stick drum sticks and delicious noodles saw Eve giving the new children’s menu at Yang Sing the thumbs up!

*The kids are a bit younger in the photo below.

 

Over to you Eve ……

Eve and her two children

 

My children are fussy eaters. It is the biggest test of parenting skills.

I have allowed food to be a battle sometimes and it is something I am trying to rectify.

Seth, my eldest is just about turning a corner and is becoming inquisitive about food. Just as he is about the world around him, he has realised that trying new food is fun. It is just wonderful for me to watch him keen to try new foods.

I am wondering if this will rub off on his little sister.

I am not holding out much hope. She is a fierce little girl and knows her own mind. Nothing much can change it. She doesn’t do bribes. She is not into material things. If she is not going to do something, then she is absolutely not going to do it. Getting her to try Chinese was going to be a challenge!

 

We’ve never been to a Chinese restaurant before

 

Taking all of this into account, going to a Chinese restaurant is not something we have ever done. We go out to eat a lot and the children love it, so we were really excited to be given the chance to go and try out the new children’s menu at Yang Sing (£6.50 per child).

 

Yang Sing Children's Menu

Dim Sum
Make your own spring rolls
Complete dim sum making set with miniature chopsticks
Your spring roll set comes with pastry and filling
Simply fill and fold your spring rolls, then hand them back to us

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Select a little main for
your little person
Stir fried chicken with beansprouts,
sliced onions and soft noodles
(vegetarian alternative available)
or
The classic chicken fried rice
(vegetarian alternative available)
or
Honey roasted char sui pork with
steamed jasmine rice & sweet soy

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Dessert
Free ice cream with all children’s meals
Choose from: vanilla, strawberry and chocolate

 

The menu comes with instructions for how to fold a spring roll!

 

 

A trip to Chinatown

 

Seth has learnt about Chinese New Year for three years running and it is one of his favourite topics, so taking him to ‘Chinese’ as he calls Chinatown was a new adventure for him. Louisa doesn’t look so keen does she!

 

Kids in front of Yang Sing

 

We arrived and the children loved the chopsticks. So much so, they were using them as drumsticks on their plates…thankfully there was no-one else near us.

The menus look really fun and the guys made a bee-line for them as they usually do when we eat out. Louisa being the colouring in connoisseur that she is, and keen to throughly road test her Chinatown experience, asked for crayons to colour and draw. I think kids expect them these days when they see a paper menu so we fed back that a stack of colouring in implements would be a good investment when they launch the new kids menu.

 

Make your own dim sum

 

The make your own dim sum for the children came really quickly.

Always a bonus with hungry children mithering you when their food is coming. Louisa was a bit concerned when she saw the ingredients, but Seth was interested in it and had a go at rolling his spring roll.

The waiter showed us how to do it and was so helpful.

I was useless at them, there is definitely a knack to it. Again Louisa was reluctant to get involved, but Seth took to it like a (crispy) duck to water.

They were taken back to the kitchen and arrived back with us in super-quick time. Again, a bonus. They were absolutely delicious and I was blown away when Seth ate and loved them. He would never have tried them at home.

 

Children's Menu Yang Sing

 

Try your hand at chopsticks

 

Next up was the noodles. Seth really wanted to know how to use his chopsticks and the waiting staff were so lovely showing him and us how to use them.

Seth was definitely better than us. He woofed down his noodles using his chopsticks, again this was a sight to behold for us.

They were absolutely gorgeous and the portion sizes were not too overwhelming, just right for little people.

 

Ice Cream

 

The kids loved the ice-cream. Make sure you tell the staff your chosen flavour. We had vanilla which Seth said was delicious.

 

All in all, I was really impressed with the service and the menu and wouldn’t hesitate in recommending it to other families. Seth loved it, Louisa was more cautious, but all in all a thumbs up. My advice is to show your children the menu beforehand and be prepared to encourage them to try something a bit different.

 

Eve, Seth and Louisa x

 

Photographs: Eve Bell

Disclosure

 

Articles by Eve:

Nappy Natters

Potty training tips

Saving us from boring baby stuff

It’s Real Nappy Week 2013

Making jewellery with children

Baba+Boo’s gorgeous new Woodland Collection

The things they don’t tell you at ante natal class

Why I’m not doing Halloween

Teach me how to shop again!

It’s Real Nappy Week 2012

 

 

 

 

Review – Teacup Kitchen

Taking afternoon tea to another level in the Northern Quarter

 

“If you are cold, tea will warm you;

If you are too heated, it will cool you;

If you are depressed, it will cheer you;

If you are excited, it will calm you”

                                                                William Gladstone

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We’d heard great things about the afternoon tea at Teacup Kitchen in the Northern Quarter, so asked our regular foodie reviewer Elaine, and photographer Jenny to check it out for us.

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Over to you Elaine ……

Elaine

 

It would seem there is never a bad time for tea, or a reason not to make time for tea.

As I write this at noon on a weekday afternoon a quick look at the UK Tea Guild website shows an estimated 84,997,936 cups of tea have already been consumed in the UK today.

I am responsible for just three of those.

 

In my opinion the only way you can improve on a cup of your favourite brew is with the addition of a cake or two.

Afternoon tea has seen something of a revolution in Manchester in recent years; no longer is it just the preserve of the high end hotel tea room or something to be saved for special occasions.

If like me though you still want some of the ceremony but without the stuffiness then I think we have found just the place for you…..

 

Afternoon tea at Teacup

 

Teacup Kitchen is tucked away on Thomas Street in Manchester’s Northern quarter. I have visited on a few occasions in the past – they do a mean fish finger wrap! I particularly like that they only take bookings for eight or more which means you really can feel free to just turn up.

 

Teacup Northern Quarter

 

All the cakes you can spy on the counter as you walk in are made in their own Teacup Kitchen and delivered every morning. You will always find their well known and well loved specialities waiting for you – the Rainbow Cake and the Flourless Chocolate Cake are not to be missed. Two girls travelling around the UK from Japan recently visited and ordered the rainbow cake, they told staff they had read about it online and made a point of adding it to their ‘to do list’.

Since expanding the bakery operation off site they also take external orders and have become very popular for wedding cakes.

 

Victoria Sandwich

 

This was the first time I had been for a full afternoon tea, but I will definitely be going back. I loved the cute individual stand it arrives on – no need to argue over who had a scone already or count how many sandwiches you’ve all had.

I also like that you don’t just get sandwiches as the savoury offering.

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So what makes up a Teacup Afternoon Tea?

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Egg mayonnaise and cheese & pickle finger sandwiches

 

The egg mayonnaise was far from bland – it was really herby, and the cheese & pickle had a caramelised onion style pickle which was sweet as well as having that lovely vinegar like tang. The bread was soft and they were obviously freshly cut – no one wants a curly corner do they!

 

Sandwiches

 

 

Savoury bites

 

My favourite items were the mini beef pie, which had crisp pastry with a well seasoned filling that reminded me of the potted beef my mum used to put on sandwiches when I was younger (yummy). There was a salmon slice a little like a wellington which had a subtle clean flavour and moist fish. And finally a mini quiche with fluffy egg and cheese filling.

I like that these form part of the ‘standard’ afternoon tea as so many other places would only have them as an upgrade selection.

 

Afternoon tea, Teacup NQ

 

Quiche at Teacup NQ

 

Cakes

 

On to the next tiers – squishy and rich chocolate brownies, mini Battenburg wrapped in wafer thin marzipan, vanilla fudge that melted in the mouth, a zingy lemon tart with fresh berries and a heart shaped scone filled with just the right amount of strawberry jam and clotted cream.

All were indulgent and constituted just the right amount of naughtiness for an afternoon.

 

Afternoon tea at Teacup NQ

 

Battenburg at Teacup NQ

 

Teas

 

You can choose any tea from the extensive list to accompany your afternoon tea. There are ‘traditional’ teas like Assam and Earl Grey, fruit teas, green teas, floral teas and even a separate Tea Explorers List if you are feeling adventurous.

I had the Jasmine Pearls Green Tea served in a mini glass tea pot with an insulated tea glass to drink from.

 

Afternoon tea at Teacup NQ

 

The staff in Teacup know their tea and it arrives with its own egg timer. They instruct you which colour sand to watch depending on your choice of tea and how to strain it into your second pot to prevent it over-brewing, ensuring you taste your tea at its best.

 

 

 

Teacup Kitchen vouchers

 

If you still haven’t planned what to do for Mothers day or you and your friends are looking to treat yourselves Teacup’s afternoon tea is £16.00 per person or £40.00 for two including ‘bubbles’.

There are also gift vouchers available to slip in to Mum’s card this weekend.

 

 

 

Teacup Kitchen, 55 Thomas Street, Manchester, M4 1NA

Website: teacupandcakes.com

Tel: 0161 832 3233

Email: eat@teacupandcakes.com

Facebook: facebook.com/TeacupOnThomasStreet

Twitter: @teacupandcakes

 

 

Elaine x

 

Photographs: Jenny McAvoy

 

Other restaurant & café reviews:

Ginger’s Comfort Emporium – Afflecks Palace

Artisan – Spinningfields

Caffine & Co – Longford Park Chorlton

Manchester Food & Drink Festival preview

Room Restaurant – City Centre

Didsbury Lounge – Didsbury

Salvis – Exchange Square, Manchester City Centre

The Parlour – Beech Road, Chorlton

Linen – Manchester 235

The Angel – Northern Quarter

Stock Restaurant – Manchester City Centre

The Oxnoble – Potato Wharf

Etrop Grange – Manchester Airport

Thomas Restaurant – Northern Quarter

Saffran – Trafford Centre

The Blue Pig – Northern Quarter

Yang Sing – China Town

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sustainable Eating in Chinatown

Heads, shoulders, knees and toes…. on a plate

 

Austerity cooking is back in vogue – livers and cheeks and tongue. In addition to being newly trendy, this kind of cooking which uses the whole animal is also most sustainable.

We asked Bonnie Yeung at Yang Sing to elucidate this new trend which the Chinese community have been practicing for years.

 

Over to you Bonnie ……

Bonnie Yeung

 

People are really embracing food in a way they haven’t in decades, this is a trend that’s enabled by technology and social media.

Food to most consumers is as much about enjoyment, passion, and love – as it is about nourishment.

We’ve become a nation of eaters.

We’re eaters but not necessarily cooks.

 

Many are reliant on manufacturers and retailers to the work for them. Instead of cooking, what some seem to prefer is composing, taking semi-prepared components and combining them.

We’re lazy cooks essentially.

 

Same dish – different restaurant

 

For those who are in the food and drink industry, it isn’t such a bad thing. Frankly, it’s been great for Manchester eateries; the domestic kitchen torpor has created a thriving dining out scene, helped pull Manchester out of recession and made the city more exciting.

So why do I still sometimes find that I’m eating the same dish at different restaurants?

I believe many people, and indeed some chefs, rely on far less variety throughout the year and reproduce the same bland formulas that seem to sell, leading to an unsustainable level of consumption; dependence on imports and a lack of understanding of how to cook ingredients that might help reduce the impact on the environment.

 

What happens to the bits that are not prime cuts?

 

Eat these too and we would save money, help the environment and slaughter fewer animals.

The moral imperative: if you eat meat, then the idea of eating intestine, tongue or feet shouldn’t distress you any more than tucking into a chop or a steak – it’s all flesh and blood.

Shelves of disembodied, boneless, velvety chicken breast, and lean steaks stacked high in supermarkets create a weird visceral disconnect. Where’s the rest of the animal, and why aren’t we eating it? Killing an animal, sacrificing one life to sustain another is not to be taken lightly; we don’t need to do it to survive – so if we make light of our livestock – we devalue their worth and the sanctity of life in general.

The creative imperative: I find the prime cuts tend towards the same texture, consistency and taste, with only small differentials in flavour – more ‘lamby’ or more ‘beefy’.

 

Tripe

 

If we’re truly fans of variety then we must turn to all the more interesting cuts; the creamy liver, the velveteen underbelly, the smooth, melting flesh of the feet or knuckles, combined with the fibrous crunch of tendon – these better by far the monotonous masticating of mince, steak or breast.

 

Chinatown – independent, varied and interesting

 

One of the few areas in the city where one can find massive meat diversity is Chinatown. The eateries in Chinatown truly are independent, varied and interesting – if a little more challenging or inaccessible. The menus aren’t always in English – so find a Chinese friend (I’ll be your friend if you’re paying for dinner!).

 

knuckles Chinese style

 

There is a tiny grocers’, run by an elderly couple known only to me as Uncle’ and ‘Aunty. They can be found behind a screen at mealtimes, perched on makeshift furniture cooking up a riot in their rice steamer and kettle, using produce straight from the shop.

It is sights like these that beatify Chinatown; there is nowhere in Manchester today, that one can share something so personal, intimate and evocative. So Uncle and Aunty are not au fait with technology – they’re not on Twitter or Facebook – it probably means they’re missing out on some customers, and they’re not raking in millions. They probably find it difficult to communicate the origins, artistry and creativity that are behind many ingredients and dishes in Chinatown – within a mere 135 characters.

 

Textures, layers, stories and discoveries

 

It is indeed difficult to convey the cultural delight of slow, convivial, ‘pick for hours’ dining style that is common amongst the Chinese. The textures; layers, stories and discoveries of Chinatown foods – the majority of people miss out on.

 

Intestines Chinese style

 

Chinatown is aged, interesting and complex – it’s not new and shiny, not a hipster haven. It’s nostalgic, personal and familial. It’s a neighbourhood to an older population that don’t tweet; have time like old man river; that have always eaten things other people have not, and have menus like War and Peace.

For decades, the more interesting ingredients that have been shunned – have been popular and commonplace at Chinese dining tables. The glories and subtleties of steamed chickens feet, pork knuckles, fish heads and braised pigs blood were previously unknown. What Chinatown offers is a more sustainable example of eating. So look East for more exciting mouth feels and ways of using up all the parts of an animal.

 

Gastronomic experiences to be uncovered

 

I want prosperity for my community but sometimes secretly I’m thankful that in a world of social media, technology and information – there are still places and gastronomic experiences to be uncovered; places where appreciative foodies can eat quality food without having to battle with the droves of glitterati for a table in the evenings.

However, in the age of foodie fashion, there are growing voices of dissent that demand accessibility from Chinatown, insisting on being handed everything on a plate – access to feet, knuckles and heads too.

 

Feet cooked Chinese Style

 

The fist of modernisation is beating at the gates of Chinatown. But let’s try to stop a while… take a seat, enjoy a cup of steaming tea, ponder the subtleties of life and food, and suck on a duck tongue or two.

 

Bonnie x

Yang Sing

Address: 34 Princess Street, Manchester, M1 4JY

Tel: 0161 236 2200     Fax: 0161 236 5934

Email: marketing@yang-sing.com

Website: yang-sing.com

Facebook: facebook.com/Yang-Sing

Twitter: @yangsingmcr

 

Photographs: Yang Sing (tripe, knuckles, intestines and feet)

This is an edit of an article published in Now Then issue 8

Disclosure

 

Other articles by Bonnie

Yang Sing cookery classes

My China Town

Yang Sing – Finding fresh ingredients

The Dragon Boat Race

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

Head to Neighbourhood in Spinningfields and fall down the rabbit hole

 

We all know Neighbourhood in Spinningfields as a Manhattan style cocktail bar and for it’s posh nosh! However, these canny folk have spotted a gap in the market – namely that there are very few child focused offerings in that part of the city centre.

So when an invitation arrived to their inaugural Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, I enlisted my top reviewer, two year old Martha and her mum Claire to thoroughly road test it!

 

Mad Hatters Tea Party

 

Now Martha, like many two year olds is pretty hard to impress! However:

 

Martha loved / Mummy loved

 

Martha loved getting prettied up in her party dress, new silver sequined party shoes and Mini Mouse hair clips and bobble. This is definitely a place for party frocks and best bib and tucker.

I have to say that Claire and I also loved the opportunity to swank it up a bit. The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party is without doubt an occasion. Especially as grown-ups can supplement it with a glass of fizz or a cocktail.

 

Dressing up at the Mad Hatters Tea Party

 

Croquet

 

Martha loved the play corner, with it’s trunk of dressing up clothes and masks and Alice in Wonderland style croquet.

Claire loved the fact that there was a separate space for the children to play with each other. It was perfect for when sitting still got a bit much for a very sociable toddler.

Martha loved her little plate of sandwiches which she had all to herself, her special bottle of ‘Drink Me’ potion, the jelly beans and playing card chocolates.

Claire and I loved our afternoon tea which came on a lovely vintage style cake stand – along with a nice cup of tea (Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea Party Menu).

 

Alice in Wonderland Drink Me potion

 

Afternoon tea

 

Martha loved the fact that there were so many interesting things to look at, that she could sit up at the table with us like a big girl (though high chairs are available if you need them) and that the staff were so kind and friendly to her.

Claire and I loved the attention to detail. From the giant floating playing cards suspended from the ceiling, to the checkerboard table cloths, brightly coloured flowers in transparent teapots on the table, gorgeous china and napkins held fast by tiny ornamental toadstools. We really appreciated the effort they’d taken to turn the space into something rather special.

 

Mad Hatter's Tea Party Neighbourhood Spinningfields

 

But we all agreed that we loved Neighbourhood’s Mad Hatter’s Tea Party because it worked on both a grown up and child level with something for everyone.

 

Mother and son

 

Oh yes …… and did I mention that Aljaž Skorjanec (Abbey Clancy’s professional partner on Strictly Come Dancing 2013) just happened to pop in! Now that’s what I call a  whole different kind of eye candy!

.

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Mad Hatter’s Tea Parties are available at Neighbourhood 2.30pm till 5pm Monday to Friday.

For more information and to book visit neighbourhoodrestaurant.co.uk

 

Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)

 

Photographs: Neighbourhood

 

Other related articles:

Cocktails at Neighbourhood – Spinningfields

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manchester Tourist

Be a tourist in your own city!

 

It’s so easy not to notice what’s around you and to take what’s on your doorstep for granted. But pick up some of Manchester’s iconic buildings and put the Town Hall, Central Library, The Palace Hotel or Manchester Central into another city abroad, and we’d all be snapping away and raving about how wonderful it was.

 

Manchester Town Hall

 

My point is, that because we’re not on holiday we just forget to look around us.

Having spoken to lots of visitors to our city, the general conscensus seems to be that Manchester is “much better than we expected!” It makes me wonder just what they were expecting – but it’s nice for people to be pleasantly surprised!

Did you know that Manchester has it’s very own sightseeing bus tour with live tour guide commentary? Click here to read all about it.

 

Manchester Tour Bus

 

Over an 18 mile circuit it covers these famous Manchester and Salford landmarks:

  • Manchester Town Hall
  • Manchester United FC
  • Salford Quays
  • Imperial War Museum
  • First Passenger Railway Station
  • Trafford Park
  • John Rylands Library
  • Manchester City FC
  • Lowry Arts Centre

 

It’s a brilliant way to get around if you’ve only got limited time in our city – but it got me thinking about what I’d put on my own itinerary of favourite Manchester spots. Our secret Manchester that the tourists (in between Old Trafford and Primark) don’t usually get to see.

 

Manchester sign post

 

Favourite parts of Manchester

 

We ran a competition to find out which were your favourite parts of Manchester, to see if we could unearth some hidden gems! Here are some your top spots:

 

“Shambles Square love the look of the old and new combined so closely.”

“China Town – such a vibrant atmosphere.”

“Castlefield – outside Dukes 92 by the water on a sunny afternoon.”

“The Northern Quarter – full of street art, retro shops, funky cafés and cool bars.”

“The Gay Village and Canal Street.”

“Afternoon tea at The Raddison Edwardian.”

“Manchester Cathedral.”

“Manchester Art Gallery,  Manchester Museum and The Whitworth Art Gallery – we’re spoiled for choice.”

“Love the old Printworks building and all the restaurants and cinema.”

“Heaton Park especially to visit the alpacas.”

“The Deaf Institute – it’s a great place for a bite to eat and a drink before watching a gig!”

“The Hidden Gem Church (St Marys) dating back to 1794 – a true gem hidden away on Mulberry Street.”

“The Museum of Science and Industry – it’s the very heart of Manchester.”

“Victoria Baths on Hathersage Road.”

“The Curry Mile in Rusholme during Diwali is amazing.”

“Manchester’s underground tunnel network – it’s super spooky”

“The site of the Old Hacienda – for old times sake!”

 

I’d add the outdoor cinema in Spinningfields, Ginger’s Ice Cream Parlour in Afflecks Palace, The Royal Exchange, St Peter’s Church in Ancoats and the new big wheel in Piccadilly Gardens.

 

Be a tourist in your own city

 

It’s really good fun to be a tourist in your own city. Pretend you’re on holiday and head out with a camera to capture everything that catches your eye – from the grand to the smallest detail.

Even better, turn it into a minibreak! There are lots of Manchester Hotels – take advantage of their last minute deals, book a baby sitter (worst case scenario you won’t have far to get back in an emergency), throw in dinner and a show and save yourself a late night cab fare.

 

 

Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)

 

Photographs: Alison Staples

Disclosure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cantonese lessons for kids

Canto Tots rhyme and story time

 

Yang Sing, right in the heart of Manchester’s China Town is once again expanding its services to the public.

We sent Victoria to speak to Bonnie Yeung – the next generation of this family owned institution and driving force behind the resurgence of the Yang Sing brand.

 

Over to you Victoria ……

Victoria

 

The oriental restaurant has now added language lessons to its long list of unique features which also include cookery classes, ping pong nights and visits from a Cantonese Santa Claus over the Christmas month.

Bonnie Yeung, Yang Sing’s Marketing Director said: “I was born here but predominantly growing up my parents were Chinese speaking at home.

 

“So when I first started school at 3 or 4 I was struggling to speak with other kids as a child.

“And then obviously as I got older I found that I was struggling to speak as fluently with my Chinese friends or when we went to visit family in China, as I had previously done.”

 

 

Canto tots logo

 

Canto Tots – first Saturday of every month

 

The idea of Canto (Cantonese) Tots is to get young children together on the first Saturday of every month for an enjoyable one hour session consisting of engaging songs, rhymes and activities to help them pick up the basics of the language.

Bonnie said: “We have had other children who are not Chinese speaking at all because it’s quite a basic class – 123s and ABCs as it were, and we’ve had grandparents come along and Skype because they’ve got grandchildren who are living in China with their children and are growing up there so they are skyping live with the kids who are in China.”

The real aim of the class is to set the foundations early on, as Bonnie explains that leaving it until later in life can be very difficult as you need to learn a whole new set of mouth shapes.

Yang Sing particularly wants to help children under the age of four who have not yet started school – but all children, and in fact, adults too, are welcome. The youngest attendee so far has been just six months old!

 

 

Canto Tots

 

 

Mando Tots – second Saturday of every month

 

Yang Sing has also added another class – Mando Tots for children interested in learning Mandarin. Classes will take place every second Saturday of the month.

Bonnie said: “Being a restaurant is not just about serving food on a plate, it’s about interacting. We are a family business, so it isn’t just making sure the profit margins are good, it’s about engaging and building relationships.”

The classes are just £4.00 per child, and £3.00 for every subsequent child in a family. Children under six months and adults can attend for free. Yang Sing also offers perks for those attending the classes which include discounted parking and 20% off dim sum in the restaurant.

 

And there’s more!

 

We can look forward to much more in the New Year from one of our favourite restaurants – potential adult language classes, more cookery demonstrations and the launch of their Chinese tea house!

 

Yang Sing, 34 Princess Street, Manchester, M1 4JY

Website: yang-sing.com/

Email: info@yang-sing.com

Phone: 0161 236 2200

Facebook: facebook.com/YangSing

Twitter: @yangsingmcr

 

 

Victoria x

 

Photographs: Yang Sing

This blog is produced in collaboration with our friends at Yang Sing. We occasionally publish blogs funded by commercial partners.

 

Other articles by Victoria:

Manchester Town Hall Clock Tower Tour

The Great Big Christmas Card

Christmas Nail Art Tutorials

Children’s Christmas Fancy Dress Outfits

National Days December

National Days November

National Days October

National Days September

Places to see Santa in Manchester

Mumpreneur of the Year

Vintage Manchester Awards Best of 2013

A-Z of Vogue’s Fashions Night Out

Top 10 places to go and see animals

Top 10 family adventure days out

Top 10 picnic spots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Victoria x

Review- Proper Tea

A new tea experience comes to Manchester Cathedral 

 

Proper Tea launched this week at Manchester Cathedral’s visitor Centre. Set up by Yvette Fielding and local business man, Gary McClarnan, Proper Tea brings a real tea experience to the city centre. Read all about how the TV personality got into tea and what we thought of our first ‘proper’ cup of tea.

 

Over to you Victoria ……                  

Victoria

 

We were lucky enough to be invited to a preview afternoon of tea and cake tasting with Yvette Fielding at her new business venture based opposite Manchester’s newly refurbished Cathedral.

Proper Tea was created by TV personality, Yvette Fielding and her friend, Manchester business man Gary McClarnan, who already has a number of successful businesses including Teacup and Bonbon Chocolate boutique in the Northern Quarter.

 

Yvette’s probably best known for her work on Blue Peter as the show’s youngest presenter, and more recently, supernatural show Most Haunted.

 

Yvette and Gary McClarnan

 

Proper Tea in Manchester is just the beginning of the business as the brand is expected to launch nationally in 2014 under the parent organisation of The Proper Tea Company.

Stockport-born Yvette has returned to Manchester for her first retail venture after falling in love with the art of tea making and her quest to find the ultimate tea-drinking experience.

As a tea novice (somebody who usually drinks nothing but sugary builders tea with lashings of milk), I can confirm that her mission is proving to be successful, because after just two hours of 1-2-1 expert-teas we gained a whole new view of loose-leaf tea and learned gallons! We can personally recommend the peppermint and vanilla cacao teas which were tailored to our own preferences.

 

What we thought we knew – but didn’t really know about tea!

 

We had no idea there was such a difference in the variety of leaves and flavours, and quite simply the sheer amount of teas out there. We were spoilt for choice when we were presented with a menu containing nigh on 30 different teas!

 

tea edited

 

And we certainly didn’t know that each type of tea needs a different amount of time to brew (hence the digital timer which arrives at the same time as your tea)!

 

But why tea Yvette?

 

Talking about how she got into the tea industry, Yvette said: “It’s just always been a dream of mine, from that little girl growing up pretending with the tea cups and saucers and then just going round tea rooms around the country.

“In America I was trying to find the equivalent and it was really hard. I found one place in L.A and the queues were going down the street.”

 

Meet a Tea Sommelier!

 

Kalpa Gosrani, the shop’s Tea sommelier had some really interesting stories to tell about her tea adventures across China and Taiwan, while she expertly picked teas tailored to our individual tastes and served them, each with an explanation – the process it had been through and how that impacts the flavours within.

 

Proper Tea teapots

 

Kalpa explained how, just like with cooking and creating cocktails – tea making is also an art form which grows with practice and different cultural experiences.

 

 

Tea theatre

 

Kalpa also wowed us with a pot of performing flower tea which was a floral flavoured tea served in a clear glass tea pot containing a unopened flower of hand sewn green and white tea leaves. As the tea brewed, the flower blossomed – proving that there’s a real theatre to making tea.

 

Proper Tea performing flower

 

What makes the Proper Tea room unique is the whole experience. You’ll go home with a completely new view of tea and never look at a tea bag in the same way again – even if you are a standard English Breakfast tea drinker.

You can still have your favourite ‘normal’ tea, but it will be made of loose-tea leaves and served in the most professional but modest way in a friendly environment.

Kalpa added: “If you want it to be part of your daily routine, you want it to be accessible – you don’t want it to be up there on a pedestal.”

 

 

An environment to percolate!

 

Stepping through the door and walking across the black and white checked floor with its wrap around windows was almost like stepping into the clear tea pot itself, which sat on the table before us. At Proper Tea you are encased in a protective airy tea bubble, where you can shut off the outside world, while still enjoying the exquisite view of the Cathedral backdrop.

 

Proper Tea at Manchester Cathedral

 

In addition to selling tea, Proper Tea also has a comprehensive food menu serving home baked cakes and scones, soups, stews, pies, salads and sandwiches.

Yvette intends to maintain a hands-on role in her new business, in between juggling her other commitments which include managing her own record label and more filming.

Fans of Most Haunted can expect to see the programme return to their screens very soon where guests will include the England Rugby team and Bullet For My Valentine.

Yvette said: “I love history and being in this building is amazing.”

 

Proper Tea Manchester Cathedral

 

With Yvette Fielding at Proper Tea

 

 

 

We thoroughly loved it and without doubt will be back very soon!

 

Proper Tea, 10 Cateaton Street, Manchester

Phone: 0161 832 3220

Twitter: @propertearooms

Facebook: facebook.com/ProperTeaatManchesterCathedral

You can read the Proper Tea Full Tea Menu here.

 

Victoria x

 

Photographs: Proper Tea, Alison Staples

 

 

Other restaurant & café reviews:

Ginger’s Comfort Emporium – Afflecks Palace

The Angel’s winter menu – Northern Quarter

Artisan – Spinningfields

Caffine & Co – Longford Park Chorlton

Manchester Food & Drink Festival preview

Room Restaurant – City Centre

Didsbury Lounge – Didsbury

Salvis – Exchange Square, Manchester City Centre

The Parlour – Beech Road, Chorlton

Linen – Manchester 235

The Angel – Northern Quarter

Stock Restaurant – Manchester City Centre

The Oxnoble – Potato Wharf

Etrop Grange – Manchester Airport

Thomas Restaurant – Northern Quarter

Saffran – Trafford Centre

The Blue Pig – Northern Quarter

Yang Sing – China Town

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review – Ginger’s at Afflecks

Review of Ginger’s Comfort Emporium’s latest ice-cream venture

 

Surely it’s the best email to receive – “Can you go over to Afflecks Palace in the Northern Quarter and review a new ice-cream café”. Strangely both reviewer Elaine and photographer Jenny were free that day!

 

Ginger's Comfort Emporium

 

Many of us will be familiar with Ginger’s little pink ice-cream van and their infamous Chorlton Crack (award winning salted caramel and peanut butter ice-cream), but did you know that they’ve found a more permanent home?

 

Over to you Elaine ……

Elaine

 

Last week I went out and had a sandwich for lunch, an ice cream sandwich to be exact and if you’re tempted I have just the place for you…

Gingers Comfort Emporium have found a permanent home inside Afflecks Palace!

Originally planning a winter pop up they have jumped at the chance to take over the recently vacated café on the first floor.

 

It has had quite a transformation from the pink colour scheme they inherited and now boasts high backed red sofas and their name in lights above the custom made wooden bar.

 

Ginger's Comfort Emporium at Afflecks

 

We were met by award winning owner Claire (Gingers boasts the British Street Food Award for best dessert for 2011,2012 and 2013) who looked after us for our visit.

She told us how they now have had to master not only milkshakes but the barista coffee machine too for their new menu.

 

Ginger's Comfort Emporium at Afflecks

 

Never fear though, if you have ever visited the little pink van at events around the city the familiar flavours are all here, but the café allows a bit of expansion. You can now try Coke Floats, Brioche Sandwiches, French Toast, Affogato’s and on the day we went along apple crumble could be seen (and smelled) in the little oven on the counter.

 

Ice cream milk shake

 

To begin Claire made us a Margarita Shake, using their Tequila & Cointreau ice cream. The milkshake is then topped with lime granita and chocolate dipped cherries. The alcohol flavour is subtle but you can tell it is there, and even though I am not a tequila fan I really enjoyed it.

The granita is lovely and sharp and kind of makes this a grown up shake.

 

Ice cream milk shake

 

Next was the sandwich, a warm toasted brioche roll with an ice cream flavour of your choice inside.

As we were having trouble deciding Claire kindly did two flavours for us, so we had the famous Chorlton Crack (Salted caramel and peanut butter) and in the other half we went for the unusual sounding Orange & Liquorice.

 

Ice cream brioche

 

If you’ve never had the Chorlton Crack before it is a must try, especially if you’re a peanut butter fan. The salted caramel and peanut butter make this incredibly moreish almost savoury tasting combination with the same thick ‘roof of your mouth sticking’ texture of peanut butter.

We also loved the Orange & Liquorice deciding it was like posh marmalade or an orange version of the chocolate lime sweets from when we were little.

They are both sweet and indulgent and Jen proclaimed the ice cream sandwich a taste sensation and decided she was stopping at the supermarket on the way home to buy brioche and make them for tea!

 

Ginger's Comfort Emporium Menu

 

Ginger's Comfort Emporium Menu

 

 

We both left happily after purchasing some take home tubs (all the flavours are available and pots range from £6.50 – £8.00). I took some Toast and Marmalade to share at work and it went down a storm, it had crunchy bits of brown toast and sweet and zesty orange marmalade, I think the pot lasted about 20 minutes .

 

 

Buy the book!

 

The cook book is also available in the café and on line – it’s been on my wish list since the summer when I first visited the van and I think I will have to drop a few more hints in the run up to Christmas.

 

Ginger's Comfort Emporium

 

If like us you too “scream for ice cream” then you know where to go for something a little out of the ordinary, you won’t be disappointed.

 

Ginger's Comfort Emporium

 

Ginger’s Comfort Emporium, First Floor, Afflecks Palace, 52 Church St, Manchester M4 1PW

Website: gingerscomfortemporium.com

Tel: 07980 628 868

Email: hello@gingerscomfortemporium.com

Facebook: facebook.com/GingersComfortEmporium

Twitter: @GingersComfort

 

 

Elaine x

 

Photographs: Jenny McAvoy, Ginger’s Comfort Emporium

 

Other restaurant & café reviews:

Artisan – Spinningfields

Caffine & Co – Longford Park Chorlton

Manchester Food & Drink Festival preview

Room Restaurant – City Centre

Didsbury Lounge – Didsbury

Salvis – Exchange Square, Manchester City Centre

The Parlour – Beech Road, Chorlton

Linen – Manchester 235

The Angel – Northern Quarter

Stock Restaurant – Manchester City Centre

The Oxnoble – Potato Wharf

Etrop Grange – Manchester Airport

Thomas Restaurant – Northern Quarter

Saffran – Trafford Centre

The Blue Pig – Northern Quarter

Yang Sing – China Town

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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