As Morrissey woefully sang: ‘Manchester, so much to answer for’
Manchester has a feeling to it: in a particular frame of mind, it could be quite intimidating, but it’s evolved from an area which explores the condition of the working class in England to a cultural and well-meaning city.
From the moment you arrive at Piccadilly, you are greeted by (presumably) the old relics of textile buildings, which now either house Artisan Coffee shops or chic apartments. The Northern Quarter is also home to a wealth of street art which can soothe the initial ruptures you might have about staying in MCN.
We began gagging for a drink at The Font, which from £2 leaves you with enough money left for a bit of dinner. Admittedly, they weren’t the best, but the Camden Beer on Tap is always a safe bet. As we waited for our Airbnb hosts to arrive, it was a good pit stop.
Finally, after unpacking, we venture out to St Ann’s square to try the Street food for Chinese New Year, one of the biggest events in Manchester. It had been our main aim, it’s a long way to come for a Beijing Jianbing, but oh so worth it: a crunchy omelettey textual experience, perhaps a bit more spice would do it justice, but still: the experience was good, we were happy, didn’t need white tablecloths or fine wine, just a half decent Martini.
Mei Mei’s Street Cart, the only place to get Jianbing in the UK.
Speaking of Martinis, we then decided to stick to our reservations, going for a quick few drinks at Liquorice. It was all about being seen, but we’ve made a sacred vow to only ever order Martinis from now on. The amount of sugar and ice in cocktails these days is one of the greatest difficulties in Britain, it’s up there with Austerity.
We stood around, taking it in and speaking about cultural differences, random little topics with perhaps a few language barriers. I seem to be able to pronounce Chinese effectively, the trouble is remembering it after a few. This is why writing exists; to give context to the content, though describing a feeling is not the same as feeling it and experiencing is much the same.
Okay so then on to Asian Fusion eatery Cottonopolis, via a Bowie mural and a few cocktail bars we should have visited instead: great cooking was likely going on, drowned out entirely by a cacophony of terrible music and people who just wanted to be seen there.
Cottonopolis leads you in with Bao and breaks your heart with music.
Never has the mantra that dining is about more than food been clearer. But still, alone it would have been torture, but in this case; we had the power to realise that better thing were to come…Frankly Cottonopolis is a bit shit really.
Anyway, The Fitzgerald looked after us a little better, a few cocktails before becoming jaded and moving onto Gin. Anywhere screening classic movies with a ‘DJ’ is at least somewhat bearable. There was a drunken dancing couple, the usual hipsters and a few ladies nights.
In good stead, we spoke about everything from Chinese Artists, The Prohibition and onto the etiquette of prostitution. All of which needs to be written down in order to be remembered. At 2am, we are out in the breeze.
Via a few mystical fish, we arrive to see the Chinese New Year parade, dodging Mancunians and trams on a regular basis. Chinatown Manchester is an interesting environment, I couldn’t help wish we could have seen it when it wasn’t as busy, but hey ho, you can’t mither. Dragon Dancing and creepy Buddha heads abound.
Next onto the Warriors, firm and almost neon statues which have graced places like Sydney. We were drawn to a pregnant female Terracotta. Beautifully done standing among the same-same, but different warriors.
After which, we still haven’t learnt that most cocktails have been diluted to appeal to those with less adventurous palates. But what a building, Tattu is like an artwork in itself, it’s just a shame the food can sometimes taste of Condoms or something from Iceland. Still…mustn’t mither. MUST NOT MITHER.
Despite this, I’d maybe go out for a cocktail and a bit of beef tartare. Sometimes it’s about hiding your carefully refined taste and learning to just enjoy your moments. As such, it wasn’t a total disaster and a good way to spend New Year.
All in all, Manchester we salute you. You aren’t quite Bristol, but you have some charm… Particularly in the foreign districts.
Now onto Bristol the 25th of February and 4th of March. Thank god there are only 28 days in January.
Hopefully we can discover more Bowie Artworks in Brizzle…