I had a bit of a business meeting yesterday evening with a fellow Manchester blogger who happens to work for one of the city’s iconic companies. It was to do with www.manchestercurious.com and getting access to the iconic company’s equally iconic HQ building. I’ll leave it at that at the moment until everything is firmed up. But I was happy with the outcome of the meeting.
And meetings, in my world, don’t have to be dull and worthy with bad coffee and stale biscuits, especially on a Friday evening. So we arranged to meet in Lunya, a new Catalonian restaurant that has just opened in beautiful Barton Arcade. It’s one of a slew of restaurants that have opened in the city this Autumn. We really are spoilt for choice with it all. And there are more to come as, as I blog, they are fitting out more across the city. Manchester does enjoy eating out.
I got there first as I’d finished work around lunchtime but my blogging pal had to go to the bitter end at 5pm. So I settled myself down with the menus and soaked up the atmosphere of the restaurant. Lunya is an import from Liverpool where this brand has been successful for a while now. The Manchester restaurant was busy and buzzy and, in spite of it only being a few days old, already seemed settled into its space. It had the feeling of one of those nice restaurants you want to stumble across in Barcelona. It has a bar and deli at ground level and the restaurant is on the next floor. I took a couple of pictures.
My companion arrived. The idea was to have a glass of wine in the bar and talk business. But I’d had time to read the menu and watch plates of tempting tapas pass by me and it had whetted my appetite. We decided to order a platter of Catalonian nibbles and some Patatas Bravas to share and some Rioja to wash it down with. This is what happens in these kinds of bars in Spain so it would have been rude not to do it. It was all delicious and the wine was dark and fruity.
With Christmas hurtling towards us (the Christmas Markets were being put up that afternoon) I’ve been putting some thought into presents. I’ve been trying to track down a particular gin. Gin is big news in the UK at the moment. Gin is the new vodka I read. But it can’t be any old gin. Knocking back some mass produced gin from some multinational company won’t do. If you’re going to drink gin, it has to be an artisanal, local gin and I’d been on the track of a bottle of Thomas Dakin gin, a Manchester gin that has been made in the city since 1761. They make it is very small batches and is quite difficult to come by. It’s flavoured with juniper, orange peel, coriander, angelica, grapefruit and liquorice among other things. Harvey Nichols has run out and it wasn’t sure if any more could be obtained before Christmas. But, as we chatted, my eyes were drawn to a bottle on a high shelf in the Lunya delicatessen. It was the very gin. And here it is. Not cheap but it will be appreciated.
The date on the bottle, 1761, remained me of Hogarth’s print of ‘Gin Lane’ in London which was first produced in 1751. In those days, gin wasn’t held in such high esteem as it is now, as a delicious base for many cocktails. It seems it was the crack cocaine of crystal meth of its day. It was cheap and the poor (and not so poor) of the day used it as an escape from their dreadful lives. It was seen as a great evil that was sapping the strength of the nation. Given the price of a bottle of Thomas Dakin gin it would have been hard for the poor to become addicted to this particular gin. Here’s the print.
A person I follow on TWITTER must have been in Lunya as well. When I got home I discovered he’d tweeted this picture of the bar area. I’m by the window with my companion for the meeting. We’re deep in conversation sorting out important things.