25-11-2015-Evuna, Manchester

Having had a bit of a mixed bag in the Ÿ??Tapas WorldŸ? recently, I was more than a little apprehensive when a long lost friend decided that we should spend some time together, and that some of that time should be spent making eyes at each other over a table of Tapas. The thought of making eyes over a table was cool. The thought of Tapas concerned me a little. The last two I have had, have both been spasmodically served. Is it a new trend? Is it the way forward in the Tapas World? Who knows, but it would appear that I was about to find out! Being the agreeable type of Girl that I am, I said Ÿ??yesŸ? to the invite, and decided that I shouldn’t worry too much about what may or may not happen. Well, at least not until it happened, anyway. We agreed to meet in the Village for a drink, from where we took a black cab to the designated eatery, which on this particular night turned out to be Evuna (http://evuna.com) which is located at 277 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4EW. Our cab dropped us off on the nearest street corner, and we strolled off towards the Restaurant in our usual confident manner. It was a Saturday night, and Deansgate was reasonably busy, so it didn’t go unnoticed that the Girl walking towards Evuna dressed in a strapless black bodycon dress, black platform shoes, and nothing much else besides jewellery might not actually have been a Girl. People can be so damn observant sometimes! Anyway, we arrived untouched and unabused, and found Evuna to be busy. In actual fact, I think I can safely use the word Ÿ??fullŸ? without being contradicted. We had to kill a little time at the bar with a drink, until our table became available. It wasn’t a problem Ÿ?? it simply gave everyone more time to look at me, and me more time to look at them. It didn’t seem too long Ÿ?? maybe 15-20 minutes I guess, before we were shown to our table. It was a well-positioned table, pretty much in the thick of things. The waiter that showed us was extremely polite and helpful, and didn’t appear to have any issues with whom or what I was, as neither did any of the other staff or customers. We made ourselves comfortable, ordered a second drink, and perused the menus enthusiastically. As you would expect, it didn’t take long for us to rattle an order together and when our waiter returned we were more than ready for him. We set off with Pan Catalan – tomato bread, to which we added: Garlic Prawns with Chilli, Calamares Ÿ?? Special Squid, Carrilada de Cerdo Ÿ?? Pork, Garlic Mushrooms, Patatas Bravas, and Spanish Style Roasted Vegetables. We both reckoned that there should be enough to keep us occupied, and we weren’t far wrong. The only question remaining was how would it be served? Together? Or separate? Hooray!!! It came together. At last, peace had been restored in the Manchester Tapas World. Once again, it was safe to go out in Manchester and order Tapas. It just proves my earlier point Ÿ?? you shouldn’t worry about what might happen. It doesn’t always actually happen! We sat chatting, eating and drinking, and had a thoroughly good time. Once the table was covered in only empty plates, we ordered a third drink and discussed the ever problematic quandary otherwise known as the great pudding debate. We knew we would be offered dessert, and we knew that having eaten what we had just eaten we shouldn’t have one. We also knew that we were two equally weak specimens when it comes to refusing desserts. Sure enough, just as predicted, it happened. Our cheery waiter cleared our table, and then returned armed with two dessert menus. He didn’t ask, he simply placed them on the table in front of us. We looked at each other, and then looked at the menus sat on the table. We held hands over the table in a show of solidarity, both believing that we could actually see each other through this one. We held hands tighter, and our eyes met, and we gazed lovingly at each other. For a few seconds, this was a very romantic moment. Then my partner released my hands, grabbed one of the menus, and said Ÿ??I’m having one!Ÿ? I was momentarily heartbroken. I had been jilted for the sake of a pudding. A possible lifetime of love had been traded in for a pudding! With tear filled eyes, and a heavy heart, I also reached for a menu, realising that this was a classic Ÿ??if you can’t beat them Ÿ?? join themŸ? moment. I could only watch in silence as I took second place in my friend’s heart to a Cr€—me Catalana. The only small consolation available was to match the move by ordering myself a Pear in Sangria. As I’m sure you are all aware, I like a nice pear! We ate our desserts in relative silence, both knowing deep down that we had done wrong. Both knowing that we had put greed and gluttony before our love for each other. Over the many years we have known each other; we have had many ups and downs in our relationship. We have battled many demons presented to us by the World we live and socialise in, and managed to remain faithful and loyal to each other. It was an extremely sad occasion, but we both knew what we had done. Once our plates were empty, we looked at each other, but somehow it wasn’t the same. Our eyes were glazed over with cream and sticky things. We held hands once again, but even this wasn’t the same. Our hands were hands that had strayed. They were hands that had both held dessert spoons. Would things ever be the same again? It was nearly a relief to find myself wanting the Ladies. I felt the need to leave the table, and at least let the air clear a little. I grabbed my handbag, made my excuses, and wandered off into the toilets. They were fine, clean and tidy, and fitted with all the necessary porcelain. When I say tidy, the only thing out of place was a rather small looking pair of knickers on the cubicle floor. I tried not to let my imagination run too wild with reference as to why they might be there, and left them as they were as I exited the cubicle to wash my hands and apply a bit of slap. I was joined by a very red faced middle aged lady who turned out to be Irish. She was very excitable, and had the appearance of having had a drink or three. She also had the wonderful talent of being able to split single words into two to be able to insert Ÿ??fuckingŸ? in the middle of them. I have worked in the building trade all my life, and have rarely heard language like she was able to produce! It was all in good fun, but boy, was it raw! She was over on a Hen Party, and within no time, we were joined by another three or four of the party. One of the girls emerged from the cubicle I had used, delighted to have found the spare knickers. She immediately asked if they were mine, to which I replied I needed more rather than less knickerage, adding that I was in fact enclosed in two pairs as it was. The sweary lady immediately asked why. I explained in language that was a little coarse, but that I knew she would understand and was thrilled to bits by the fact that she actually hadn’t a clue until I told her. Don’t get me wrong, I realise it was due to her alcohol intake rather than my make-up skills and general appearance as a female, but nevertheless, I was still thrilled. She used the word Ÿ??fuckŸ? along with several variations of it about twenty times. I was really impressed and flattered! I nearly forgot the fact that I had nearly lost the love of my life over a pudding. I eventually managed to wrench myself away from the girls and made my way upstairs to join my friend. We looked at each other and smiled. Things were going to be OK. We have been through far too much to lose each other over a pud. The bill had very nicely been paid whilst I socialised downstairs, but I did ask how much it was so that I could report back to you, so all we had to do now was say goodbye to the Hen Party, and head off down Deansgate to see if we could rebuild our relationship. The atmosphere was fantastic as we left amidst cheers and shouts and Ÿ??fucksŸ? and goodbyes. The Hen Party were great, the other customers were great, the Staff were great, and our night had been great. So the usual three questions as always require answering: Is Evuna TV friendly? Oh yes, it most certainly is. Value for money? As I said I didn’t pay, but I am told including three drinks each it was Ÿ??about ô?80-00 including the tipŸ?. So I reckon that was fine. Go again? Yes please!

13-11-2015-Liverpool – in general

Having enjoyed Birmingham so much recently, I decided to try another weekend away. This time, we picked out Liverpool as a place that needed the attention of a fun loving Transvestite and her trusty friend. I’m not going to bore you any more than I have to by expecting you to read individual blogs on all the places we went, so I’ll just try and mention them all in one blog and give a general idea of the fun we had. I booked a room in The Travelodge on The Strand (the waterfront) and set off with suitcases packed on the Friday afternoon. I picked my friend up in Manchester, then headed of down the M62, and was soon parking on the Liverpool One car park, which was about a five minute walk from the Hotel. We arrived in Liverpool about 1-00pm, so it was too early to check in. This meant we had to leave our cases in the car and shop. What a pain! Lol Within 10 minutes I was walking out of New Look with a new dress. This was a good start to the weekend. We then wandered deeper into the shopping area and dropped ourselves into The Welkin (Wetherspoon’s) for a light lunch. I won’t go into major detail Ÿ?? needless to say it was Wetherspoons food at Wetherspoons prices Ÿ?? perfect for a mid-shopping snack. A bit more shopping, then it was time to go to the Hotel. We checked in without any snags, and I was soon unpacking in my room. Immaculately clean, but extremely short on storage space! One shelf and 5 coat hangers. That was it! Anyway, I managed to get everything somewhere and was soon stripping everything off prior to reapplying and getting ready for out. Less than an hour later, we were heading down in the lift towards the Caf€÷ Bar on the first floor. We entered to a barrage of singing and chanting from a group of about a dozen guys who were already well on the way to having a good time! I quickly realised that this could end up either way, so I plonked my handbag on the bar and left my friend to organise some drinks whilst I strolled across to the group, sat on the arm of one of the chairs and put my arm around the guy who was sitting in it. I asked him why he hadn’t come to my room as he had arranged, and was soon watching him on the receiving end of the banter rather than me! They moved around, made a couple of spaces for us, and we soon had them eating out of the palms of our hands. They were from Glasgow on a Stag do, and by pure chance, I had picked on the Stag when I first joined them. His best man was not at all impressed when he caught us swapping numbers later on!! We sat with them as long as it takes two girls to drink a bottle of wine, joined mid-way by a Hen Party. By the time we left the Hotel to tread the streets of Liverpool, we already had several new Ÿ??friendsŸ?. Next stop was Victoria Street, where we were informed that there was a good Chinese Restaurant. Our information was right Ÿ?? we soon found Mr Ho’s, where we sat and had a meal. We were in no rush, and just sat eating and talking. As I have already said, I am not going into detail Ÿ?? it was Chinese, it was good, I was accepted, and the price was right. Review of Mr Ho’s done! It was quite late when we left, so we decided to go back and have another drink in the Hotel, so that we weren’t too tired for Saturday (it’s an age thing!). As it happens, by the time we got back, most of the Stag party guys, and a good few of the Hen party girls had already returned before us. Maybe it isn’t an age thing after all. We sorted another bottle of wine out, and then it was time to retire. So far so good. Saturday morning saw us up in good time, ready to hit the day. We hadn’t booked breakfast in the Hotel, preferring instead to eat out. It was pouring with rain, but an umbrella sorted that out, and we were soon wandering along the waterfront heading towards Bills Restaurant on the edge of Liverpool One, where we both tucked into a traditional breakfast each. As you could have predicted, most of the Stag lads were already in there, so once again, we soon had a bit of banter flying. The breakfast was great, decent value, and no Transphobia issues. Next stop, Liverpool One, where we partook in yet more shopping. There’s a good variety of shops and boutiques in the centre of Liverpool, and we had no trouble in filling a morning in. My friend wanted to see the Cavern Club, so having stood outside it last time I came to Liverpool, I was able to steer us there without ado. It was open, and we decided it would be rude not to go in for a drink. Ten minutes later we were taking photographs and having drinks in the depths of Liverpool, in the very place that the Beatles found fame. The atmosphere was electric. Even more so, when a lone guy set himself up with a guitar and proceeded to play and sing 2 hours of Beatle songs. I was in my element, and spent the whole two hours dancing, singing, and generally being Paula. Photographs were taken, more drinks were drunk, and more Ÿ??friendsŸ? were made. Four ladies from Newcastle, another four ladies from Scotland, a couple from Liverpool and a girl from China. We staggered back out into the daylight just after 2-00pm, once again tramping the shops, buying a few bits and pieces as we went along. We finally gave in about 4-00pm, and headed back to the Hotel bar for a drink prior to changing and starting all over again. The bar staff in the Hotel were great Ÿ?? really helpful and complimentary. They both made me feel more than welcome. By 7-00pm we were back down in the bar, I was dressed to kill in a skin tight pale yellow bodycon dress with the usual heels, and a small black faux fur shrug. We met a couple of the Ÿ??StagsŸ? who had just returned from a day’s racing at Aintree. I think they had also had a few drinks as well as watching the racing. Not sure, but just got this feeling they may have done. We had a quick bottle of wine, and then headed off in the search of food. We hadn’t bothered with lunch, so we were both ready for solids. We didn’t have a plan Ÿ?? we had already spotted plenty of eateries last night, so decided to see what took our fancy. We passed a couple of places that looked full, and spotted La Vina Ÿ?? a Tapas restaurant that has a branch in Manchester. That looked like a possibility, but as we headed towards it, we noticed it was next door to Shiraz Ÿ?? a Turkish restaurant. Mmmmm, we hadn’t done Turkish for ages, so a quick change of mind found us sitting in Shiraz ordering food. It wasn’t particularly luxurious, but we both had a good meal in busy, pleasant surroundings. Once again, we found Shiraz to be TV friendly, good value, and satisfactory in all departments. Next job was to find a drink. We had been told to go to Matthew Street, so as good girls always do, we decided to do as we were told. We asked for directions, and were soon turning onto the said Street. It was strangely familiar. That was because it is the home to the Cavern Club. It’s a small World! We wandered down the street, getting various offers of free shots as we passed club after club. Soon, we saw the object of our desires Ÿ?? The Grapes. The Grapes is a traditional type pub right in the middle of Matthew Street. It was heaving, and you could feel the reassuring crunch of broken glass under your feet as you pushed your way to the bar. If anywhere was going to be the undoing of Paula Falisa, this could be the place. There was a live band playing, and a distinct buzz of Ÿ??ScouseŸ?. I held my head high, stuck my chest out, and continued my way towards the bar, ignoring the stares, deciding that confidence rather than fear was the emotion to show. I got served eventually, and then started to push my way to a small available space in one of the Ÿ??loungeŸ? areas. In fairness, I didn’t need to push too much. A path quickly formed to allow the tall girl with the long blonde hair through. Men nodded knowingly at me, and girls could be heard saying Ÿ??I’m sure it’s a TrannyŸ?. They were right. It was a Tranny. It was a Tranny, whose dad and grandad were both Scoucers, a Tranny who was proud to be a Tranny, and a Tranny who certainly wasn’t fazed by the position she had found herself in. We found a couple of stools, sat down, and in little or no time got smiled at, spoken to, and propositioned. Normality had returned to The Grapes in less than ten minutes after Paula’s arrival. She was comfortable with Liverpool, and Liverpool was comfortable with her. I don’t actually know what time we left The Grapes, but it was later rather than sooner. We tottered back to the Hotel, and polished another couple of glasses of wine off, once again chatting to some of the Hen party girls. The bar was open to 4-00am. We weren’t out that late, but it was certainly heading towards closing time as we headed back up in the lift to the ninth floor. Sunday morning saw that horrible empty feeling you get as you pack to go home from somewhere you don’t necessarily want to leave. We checked out, and took our cases back to the car, before wandering back into the centre, and back to the Welkin where we tucked into another big breakfast. The only thing to halt our incessant chatting was a two minute silence as a mark of respect for those that gave up so much for us in the War. A silence that was immaculately observed by all and sundry in the place Ÿ?? as it deserved. A final call into a couple of shops then saw us going back to the car, and starting our journey home. We chatted all the way home, but maybe a little less enthusiastically than we had on the way there. We have already decided that we will visit Liverpool again. We didn’t have time to any of the cultural stuff like the Albert Docks and the various museums, so they are for another day. SoŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?í Liverpool Ÿ?? can we sum it up with the three usual questions? I suppose we can to a point, so here goes: Is Liverpool TV friendly? I actually didn’t see another TV all weekend. Not one. However, they were certainly friendly to this one. I didn’t experience a single Transphobic moment, and had a massive amount of fun and banter with lots of people. Value for Money? This one doesn’t apply Ÿ?? apart from saying that we didn’t feel we had got ripped off anywhere. Go again? Already told you that I will be going again. I can’t wait!

13-11-2015-Iberica, Manchester

For some unknown reason, I got it into my head that I wanted to visit the Coronation Street Tour before they dismantle it at the end of the year. It isn’t a programme that I have watched much of, and I certainly haven’t seen it recently, but I guess it is part of everyone’s life at some stage, so the decision was made. We would go and have a look. In fairness, it was very interesting Ÿ?? both on a cultural level, and in my case, on a technical level. It was fascinating to hear about all the little quirky things that go on behind the scenes to keep the British public happy. Due to the fact it is ending soon, it is pretty well booked up, so we ended up going at 12-40pm on a Tuesday afternoon. Not the time or day I would have chosen, but hey! A trip out as Paula is a trip out as Paula, whatever the time or the day! We had a quick drink in a little local coffee shop before the tour, and then thoroughly enjoyed the couple of hours we spent wandering around the Studio and the cobbles of Wetherfield. Managed to get a few pictures (surprise!), including one behind the Bar in the Rovers Return. One lady next to me commented that it was a long hours and short skirts type of job working behind that particular bar, to which I replied Ÿ?? Ÿ??Long hours and short skirts? I can manage both of those admirably darling!Ÿ? She smiled and held my hand for a second. The young man who took us on our tour announced at the end that we had been a smashing group and explained that it was his first day taking tours on his own. Bet he was really pleased when I turned up! First day and he gets a TV!!! In at the deep end never hurt anybody Ÿ?? that’s what I say. Anyway, where is all this heading with reference to food? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s heading to the fact that by the time we had come out of Corrie, been and bought some new Ÿ??hairŸ? at my favourite hair shop, and wandered down Deansgate, it was time for our bellies to rumble. It was mid / late afternoon and neither of us had eaten lunch, so I suggested food. It was one of my better suggestions and my friend needed no persuasion to follow me as I headed into Spinningfields to see what was on offer. We soon came across Iberica Ÿ?? a Spanish Restaurant. Tapas suddenly seemed a good idea for a mid / late afternoon meal, so we toddled in. There was only another half a dozen or so people in, but I suppose it was a funny time of the day. Lunch had well gone, and teatime / evening meals had not yet arrived. We were quickly shown a table, provided with tap water, and left with menus to peruse. We had a natter, and picked a few items, and we were ready and waiting when our waitress returned. We decided to start off with bread and olives, and then ordered Potatoes with spicy brava or alioli sauce, Potatoes, egg & Piquillo peppers, Grilled prawns with mushrooms, Ib€÷rica burger with secreto pork loin & Piparra peppers, Twice cooked lamb, marinated cherry tomatoes & red peppers from El Bierzo, Grilled ib€÷rico pork pluma in moruno marinade & baked aubergine and Spanish rice. It was plenty to keep us occupied, but I have to say interestingly enough, they did the same as the last Tapas place I went to Ÿ?? they served everything in dribs and drabs. I am telling you now Mr Spanish Restaurant owner Ÿ?? it doesn’t work. We want our food all at once! Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t spoil my experience massively; it just isn’t how I want to eat Tapas. Anyway, however it was served, it must have worked because we sent nothing but empty plates and dishes back to the kitchen. We had a diet coke and a Latte as the meal was proceeding, and in order to ensure we had given the Restaurant a proper review, we agreed to at least look at the Dessert menus. Obviously, once we had seen the menus, we were going to order the dessert. It wasn’t if Ÿ?? it was what. We both went for the Caramelised Spanish rice pudding, which was lovely. The service was brisk. Nearly hurried, but I guess that will settle down at busier periods. The food was very tasty and looked the part Ÿ?? as I said earlier, a bit spasmodic with regard to its arrival at the table, but all in all, I couldn’t condemn Iberica for any particular failings. It is new, and it’s in Spinningfields, so it goes without saying that it looks the part. It’s called survival of the fittest. If you don’t look the part, you get trodden on. A bit like the Transvestite world actually! We didn’t make use of the facilities, so I can’t offer any comments on their appearance or functionality, but I would imagine they are OK. We paid our bill, said our goodbyes, and headed back onto Deansgate, back towards the car park and our transport home. I must say with all this building work that is currently being carried out in central Manchester it is a pleasure to tread the pavements of the city. I haven’t had as much rigger booted, high-vis vested attention for ages!! There’s only one thing better than a builder paying you attention Ÿ?? several builders paying you attention! AndŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?í. The three questions: Is Iberica TV friendly? Yes. Called me a lady, and treated me like a lady. Value for money? The food and drink described above was a total of ô?66-46, including a service charge of ô?7-39 (12.5%). I think a 12.5% service charge is more than a little steep, so I suppose in a way I am questioning the value of this particular meal. I would have been happier paying ô?59-07 and being left to tip as I thought necessary. Go again? I would not refuse to go again, but to be honest it was pretty “ordinary”. I actually think unless I happen to be in the area stuck for choice, I probably won’t go back for some time!

17-10-2015-Carluccios Birmingham

During our recent weekend away to Birmingham, my friend and I needed somewhere to eat on the Saturday night. We had spent all day Saturday wandering around the shops, spending money on various items of clothing, with intermittent breaks to enable food and drink to be taken on board at various cafes around the centre. We had also enjoyed watching the many performers dotted around the City as part of the Birmingham Festival Weekend. The weather was perfect, and we were having a great time. During the day, we had made it our business to ask different people for ideas for somewhere to go for drink and food that night. The obvious place not to go, it would appear, was Broad Street. Apparently, this is the Ÿ??nightlifeŸ? street of Birmingham, which was described by one lady as Ÿ??vileŸ?, and by a rather attractive Birmingham Policeman as a Ÿ??zooŸ?. We were told, however, of an area called Brindley Place, which was located just off Broad Street. Seemingly, this was an area of eateries of a reasonable standard. It sounded good to us, and we were more than happy to nominate this area as our chosen venue for the night. We finished our afternoon off sat outside the Shakespeare Bar just off the centre, where we thoroughly enjoyed the attentions of the many drinkers who were enjoying the Birmingham sunshine. We watched a group of animal rights supporters boycotting a fur coat shop, along with the inevitable scuffle with the Police as they made attempts to disperse them. This, added to the fun of watching an old guy who was pushing a lawnmower and swigging cheap cider from a plastic bottle (he explained to us that he was a gardener!!) made for an eventful couple of hours. We slowly drank Lager through straws, watched the World go by, and soaked in the atmosphere. Next, it was back to the Hotel, where we sobered up, showered, and got made up ready for the night out. A short walk ensued, the end of which saw us getting into a cab and asking to be taken to Brindley Place. It seemed to be a long way away, but I don’t actually think it was Ÿ?? it was just a very complicated journey due to one way streets and road works. Anyway, 10 minutes or so saw us being dropped off at Brindley Place. The first Restaurant we tried was booked up, so we wandered along a bit further and found Carluccios (www.carluccios.com) which is located at The Water’s Edge, Brindley Place, Birmingham, West Midlands B1 2HP. It was busy, and we weren’t particularly hopeful, but, we were pleasantly surprised when the young lady we approached assured us that they would Ÿ??squeeze us inŸ?. I’m always happy when a girl can Ÿ??squeeze me in!Ÿ? lol. Tables were shuffled about a bit, and an odd chair or two was moved about, and hey presto, there was somewhere for us to sit and dine. We ordered a couple of wine and sodas to be going on with, and set about choosing some food. We had nibbled various things over the course of the day, but hadn’t really eaten properly since breakfast, so we were both hungryish It didn’t take me long to decide that my starter would be prawns marinara – marinated prawns in a sauce of olive oil, white wine, cherry tomatoes and fennel seeds, served with toasted focaccia bread for dipping, whilst my companion decided to tackle the bruschetta – fresh ripe tomatoes, roasted peppers, basil, and oregano on garlicky chargrilled ciabatta. They didn’t take long to arrive, and took an equally short time to disappear! That was round one very quickly and easily over, with us the obvious winners. Round two was soon to follow. For this particular bout, my friend had decided to don the gloves and go fisticuffs against the lamb rosmarino – tender lamb cutlets in a rosemary breadcrumb crust served with cavolo nero, cherry tomatoes, roasted peppers & olives. It looked, and so I am informed, tasted delicious. I, on the other hand, took on a portion of branzino – pan fried sea bass fillets served with a salad of rocket, tomato salsa and barley. As always, we added a little extra in the form of rosemary and garlic potatoes and warm green beans. Both fights were easily won, with us being the obvious victors. Empty plates all round, and slightly fuller bellies being the official result. As I mentioned previously, we had not eaten a great deal during the day, and we had drunk a few lagers, so our appetites were what could be described as Ÿ??healthyŸ?. This meant that desserts were inevitable. It wasn’t a case of whether, it was a case of which! I studied the dessert menu carefully, and eventually decided that I would go head to head with the panna cotta – delicious vanilla and rum flavoured cream with candied orange, and my sparring partner threw a well-aimed punch at the Meringa con panna al frutto della passione Ÿ?? easy for you to say! – meringue with a passion fruit cream, fresh raspberries and a raspberry coulis. Very nice too!! We didn’t bother with coffee, or indeed with any further drinks. We decided it was time to go and explore a bit more of Birmingham! We did both pay a visit to the loos, and I can report that they were perfectly clean and well presented; they were however up a long staircase in an unheated part of the building. Not an expedition I would like to make many times in an evening! We paid the bill (or should I say my friend did Ÿ?? so I don’t know how much to be honest), enquired as to where we could get a taxi back to Town, and said our goodbyes. Next it was Broad Street. Yes, I know, we were warned against it, but that is where the cabs are! So off we wandered into the night wondering what Broad Street would be like. In fairness, the policeman who had described it as a zoo was unfair. It was worse. It was like the Wild West, There were cars cruising up and down the streets with youths hanging out of all windows shouting various opinions, there was music booming out of every club and pub doorway, there were police vans and ambulances parked along the pavement every few yards Ÿ?? not necessarily attending to anyone Ÿ?? just there ready for when they would have to. It was pandemonium. We pretty quickly decided not to bother with a drink, just to hail a cab. Oh no, it wasn’t that easy! You had to go to a certain area where the taxi marshals were and join a queue where you would wait to be allotted a cab. None of the cabs were allowed to pick up fares off the street. The queue was about 3 mile long, and consisted of approximately 3 million people, all under the age of 25 and all pissed. This was going to be fun, I had already thought myself lucky not to have experienced any hassle, but surely my luck couldn’t hold out amongst this lot? In fairness it did. After about 30 minutes, we finally got a cab, and I can honestly say I didn’t receive one single heckle, jibe, or disrespectful comment. I got looked at a time or two, but nothing obvious was said. Birmingham had remained a perfect host City. Back into the Centre, back into a little bar for a drink, and eventually, back to the Hotel having had as near a perfect day as you can possible have. As they say all’s well that ends well. And boy, did it end well! I can only really answer two of the questions we normally ask so here goes: Is Carluccios Birmingham TV friendly Ÿ?? Yes it is, and it would appear, so is Birmingham full stop. I had a brilliant weekend. Value for money Ÿ?? This is the one I can’t answer, but I don’t think it was particularly expensive Ÿ?? I didn’t hear any winging from my partner, so I guess it must be OK. Go again? Ÿ?? Certainly hope so!

29-09-2015-Browns, Birmingham

One of my female friends and I decided to have a couple of days away from it all, so having deliberated about where to go, we decided Birmingham might be worth a try. There seemed to be plenty of shopping opportunities, and the promise of a bit of night life as well, and it was far enough away to feel that we had gone somewhere without being too far to travel. As usual, I was the typical Girl Guide and did plenty of homework with regard to where the gay area was, so that we would have somewhere to go at night. And, as usual, we did Friday to Sunday without going anywhere near the gay area Ÿ?? we just lived a normal City Centre life without any hassle whatsoever. Having arrived down there mid-afternoon on Friday, we made ourselves comfortable at our Hotel, and then set off to explore the shops. We were right in the centre of town Ÿ?? literally next door to Primark, and less than 50 metres from the Bullring shopping Centre. We had a light afternoon snack at Baguette du Monde in the Bullring, and then following a wander around the local streets, we went back to the Hotel for a couple of drinks in the bar. Next it was back to the room to change, and before long we were glammed up and ready to go out to eat. We had asked a few questions during the afternoon, and our research led us to an area just off the end of the Bullring, down by St. Martins Square, which was home to several eateries. We decided to give Browns a try, and went in to ask for a table. It was fairly full, but they were able to seat us pretty centrally quite near to the kitchen and the bar, so there was plenty to see! It’s a modern building, located at Unit 1, 7 Spiceal Street, St Martins Square, Birmingham, West Midlands, B5 4BH, and the d€÷cor is modern, but interesting. You can have a peek by visiting http://www.browns-restaurants.co.uk/res … birmingham . We were soon offered drinks and provided with menus, and it didn’t take long for us to be sat facing two wine and sodas, whilst we excitedly discussed what we were going to eat. I decided to start things off with Pan seared scallops with Cauliflower pur€÷e, curried cauliflower tempura, sea rosemary, grape & shallot vinaigrette, and my friend chose the Mushrooms with Cep dusted puff pastry, and Madeira cream. They weren’t too long in appearing, and equally quick at disappearing. We soon sent two empty plates scuttling back to the kitchen. My Carer decided that for main course she would try the Duo of lamb – Lamb cutlets and a pulled shoulder of lamb shepherd’s pie topped with minted pea mash, saut€÷ed samphire, and chestnut mushrooms, and I broke from the fish tradition by ordering the slow cooked salted pork belly with Smoked Bramley apple pur€÷e, buttered mash, braised cabbage, apple brandy & Pink Lady jus. We, as always, added a side portion of Buttered baby potatoes with mint and Maldon sea salt, just to make sure we didn’t go hungry. And we didn’t. The food was served fairly promptly by a more than friendly waiter, and our conversation diminished somewhat whilst we tackled the job of clearing the plates. It was a job soon completed, and it wasn’t long before we were back chatting and putting the World to rights again. The Restaurant as I said before was busy, and there were also people sat at the bar, just having a drink. It was a very mixed age group, with three Ÿ??youngstersŸ? sat at a table to our left, and a couple I would say in their seventies to our right. We were somewhere in the middle Ÿ?? both position and age wise! Everyone seemed content with what they were getting at Browns, and no-one at all seemed concerned that there was a Manchester Transvestite amongst their midst. I must admit, it would have put me off my food if I had seen her, but luckily she must have been sat just out of my eye line. As always happens towards the latter end of a visit to a Restaurant, our waiter arrived at our table armed with two dessert menus. We had both commented that we had maybe visited Baguette du Monde for our afternoon snack a little later than we should have, but it was just how circumstances dictated. So the question was, were we too full to eat a dessert? The answer was yes. We were too full to eat a dessertŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?í. each! So we decided to share one. We shared our desires with our waiter, and he trotted off, only to return several minutes later carrying a rather splendid Great British mess – Clotted cream custard, meringue, strawberry compote & scone pieces. And what a mess it was! It sat resplendently in the middle of the table, whilst being attacked from each side by two rather eager dessert spoons. It put up a bloody brave fight, but alas, it stood no chance! We reduced it to an empty dish in absolutely no time. I have to admit, though, by now, we were well and truly stuffed! It was an above average to very good meal Ÿ?? nothing out of this World, but certainly nothing to complain about. The surroundings were pleasant, the Clientele were pleasant, and the Staff were perfect. I didn’t visit the ladies, but my friend informs me that they are more than fit for purpose. As time was going on, we quickly paid our bill, and said our goodbyes. We then set off through the streets of Birmingham, and were soon sat in a local bar called the Shakespeare where we were able to sit and enjoy a couple of drinks surrounded by locals and Rugby supporters. I can’t say my presence went unnoticed, but it went without a hitch. We shared some fantastic banter, and didn’t leave until the final bell had been rung! Then it was a short walk back to the hotel, and the end to another perfect day. I will just take the time to answer the three questions we always ask ourselves: Is Browns TV friendly? It certainly is Ÿ?? as is all of Birmingham. It was Birmingham Festival Weekend and also there was some Rugby Tournament on whilst we were down there, and the whole City was heaving. I got no hassle whatsoever and had a lot of fun everywhere we went. Value for Money? The meal described above along with drinks cost ô?75-00 with a tip, so as far as I’m concerned good value. Would I go again? Yes I would, and I hope that some time I will.

15-09-2015-Portofino, Lytham St Annes

Well, what a turn up for the book! Met a guy, he asked me to go out with him on a date, I agreed (surprise surprise!), and he turned up! This one was different Ÿ?? a Ÿ??more matureŸ? man Ÿ?? maybe not my type on initial looks, but having spoken to him, I discovered he had a personality, at least half a brain, and best of all, a sense of humour. He also obviously had a sense of adventure. He comes from Ÿ??somewhereŸ? near Warrington, but suggested we should spend a pleasant Sunday out in Lytham. I must admit, my suspicions were immediately aroused. Why Lytham? OK, he was married, so maybe it was far enough away from home for him to play away, or was it something more sinister? Did he have a Ÿ??holiday homeŸ? that was conveniently located in the northern seaside town of Lytham? Only time would tell. Anyway, even if he did, it didn’t necessarily mean I would be going on holiday with him did it? After all, I could always say Ÿ??NoŸ?. Probably. It was agreed that we would meet on Lytham Station car park at around 9-30am on Sunday morning. An early start, but as it’s long been said, the early bird catches the worm. I always ask myself which saying applies to the early worm! I guess it just gets caught! This meant an early start for Paula, who by the way, didn’t get to bed until 3-00am from her night out in Manchester. Somebody will be overtired. I had already washed my hair, and chosen a longer than normal dress, along with three different sets of footwear. Some big heels, some flat shoes, and some knee length boots. I would wear the heels, and the rest would be in the car Ÿ??in caseŸ?. Sexy, flattering underwear was chosen and worn, make up was applied, and by 8-45am, Paula was ready to set off to Lytham. It was a lovely sunny morning, and I was feeling better than good! I jumped in the car, punched a few digits into the Sat Nav, and set off feeling a little bit special, a little bit nervous, and more than a little bit tired! The journey was pretty uneventful, and I found myself rolling onto the car park bang on 9-30am. I knew what kind of car he drove Ÿ?? he had rather proudly let it slip during our conversation. I hadn’t yet informed him that I drove a more powerful, newer, convertible version of the same car Ÿ?? just that my car was dark green. Thought I’d let him find out the hard way. He took it on the chin, as a man should! I’d spotted him parked down a side street as I had approached the Station, so it was no surprise to see him roll into the carpark within seconds of me parking up. He was an obvious petrol head, and was more excited with my bloody car than he was with me! It won’t take me long to change that. I have to say though, he was a perfect gentleman, rushing off to the ticket machine where he promptly bought us a ticket each, and insisted that he paid for it. I like this guy already! He then took my hand, and proudly led me off down the street to the centre of Lytham where we sat outside a coffee shop and ordered two coffees. It was a lovely morning, and although I had taken a jacket with me, I was comfortable sitting outside in just my dress, enabling him to decide whether I was actually as attractive as he had first thought. Luckily, I was. We chatted, asking each other lots of questions, and generally sussed each other out a bit. It was a very busy coffee shop, and many people walked past us on their way in. We were also joined outside by several people, none of whom seemed to be troubled by the fact that they had a transgendered person in their midst. This was cool! I was feeling great. As a matter of fact, I was feeling better than great. As the morning progressed, he suggested we went back to the car park, and took one of the cars for a drive down the coast. I wasn’t sure whether this was the time that he introduced me to his holiday home, or whether it was his way of trying to get a ride in my car. I felt the safest way to handle things would be for me to drive, and he seemed to be edging towards this option, so it looked maybe like he just wanted my car. Not me. I therefore, called his bluff and suggested that as he appeared to know the area better than me, we should go in his car. I sensed disappointment, but he’ll get over it. So his car it was, and I very gracefully slid into the passenger seat ensuring that my dress covered everything that it should when sat in a low slung leather sports car seat. It just managed. And he noticed! Off we went, past Fairhaven Lake, along into Blackpool, through Blackpool, and ended up in a place called Rossall, along a narrow coastal road right next to the beach. He swung into a parking space and I was immediately aware that the properties behind were very much chalet / holiday type places. Once again, I started to wonder why we were here, and wondered if I had walked straight into the trap I was certain had been set. I hadn’t. We merely got out of the car, walked down to the beach and sat on a wooden bench watching the fishermen and the waves lap the shore. It was lovely. Almost romantic! We probably sat for about 20 minutes, when my tummy rumbled. This was a good way of hinting that it was lunchtime, and he rose to the bait quicker than the sea fish were doing. With no more ado, I was escorted back to the car, the door was opened for me, and I was allowed to once again gracefully slide across into the seat. This time he got a glimpse, but I wasn’t bothered, I thought it might help make the decision as to what kind of lunch I was worth! Back through Blackpool to Lytham, parked back on the Station car park, and off hand in hand back into Lytham we wandered. He seemed to know where we were heading, and was soon ushering me through the doors of an Italian Restaurant by the name of Portofino. It is situated on Henry Street, Lytham St Annes, FY8 5LE, and can be investigated further by visiting http://www.portofino-zest.com . It is a pleasant, well decorated, airy Restaurant, and there were already 10 other people in besides us. We were shown to a nice central table, and I could tell from the pleasantries and generally happy faces, that the staff had no issues with my presence. Neither it would appear, did the other 10 people. We sat down, ordered a diet coke for me and a bottle of some kind of beer for him, and set about studying the menu. As it was lunchtime, and later rather than sooner, I wasn’t looking for a massive meal. I was hungry, but needed to be disciplined (I mean with regard to food, not with regard to a bullwhip and hand cuffs!). We decided to share a garlic bread and asked if it was possible to have it half cheese and half tomato. It was possible, and it didn’t take long to appear. I decided to follow on with fettuccine al salmon – fresh Scottish salmon, tomatoes, cream, chilli & dill, and smoked salmon roulade. My new found friend treated himself to an Italian roast ham, pineapple, tomato and mozzarella pizza. Both meals were quickly served, and well presented (as far as you can go with pasta and a pizza), and judging by the empty plates that soon appeared, equally as tasty. We passed on the desserts and the coffees, finished our drinks, and then I politely went to powder my nose whilst he handled the paperwork. The ladies toilets were very well presented, clean, and well lit. The mirrors were perfect for a girl that needs them, and everything else was exactly as it should have been. We then said our goodbyes to the Restaurant staff, and made our way back the car park where we sat and chatted briefly, before saying farewell and heading for home. He did wangle his way into my car briefly, but I made sure that he stayed on one side whilst I occupied the other. He had treated me like a total Lady all day, so there was no point in me behaving any differently at this stage of things. I had escaped the possible introduction of a conveniently positioned Ÿ??padŸ?, so I felt that any further advancement in our relationship should be put on hold for another day. That said, I must admit, it had been a fairy-tale date. I realise I haven’t said much about the actual eating side of things, but I think we have already gathered the answers to the following three questions: Is Portofino TV friendly? Yes it is, as is Lytham in general it would appear. Would I go again? Yes I would if I get asked! Value for money? Extremely so! It didn’t cost me a penny! I would say looking at the menu, that there should be no reason for complaint. If there was, I was not within earshot when it occurred. I suppose on this occasion there may be a fourth question: Will I see Jim again? I will if he asks me. And I guess I hope he does.

22-08-2015-La Bandera

My trusty fish eating friend and I decided to sample the culinary delights of Manchester again last Wednesday night, so it was my turn to come up with a suitable venue. I had been assured that the recent lapse into the eating of meat was a definite one-off caused by too much wine and not enough self-control, so I needed to ensure that wherever we went was in a position to cater for both our tastes. Not difficult Ÿ?? we’re easily pleased! I consulted my old friend Google, and was soon in the process of booking a table for two at La Bandera ( http://www.labandera.co.uk ) which is located at 2 Ridgefield, Manchester, M2 6EQ. I have to admit, the address vaguely rang a bell, but as my research told me that this was a relatively new Restaurant, I wasn’t sure. When we arrived, we both remembered having eaten here a few years ago when it was obviously a different name. If I get chance I might trawl through my previous blogs and see if I can remind myself what it was called. My research also told me that it was a top quality restaurant that was frequented my local footballers in both red and blue shirts. Only time would tell if this was correct! Wednesday night soon came around, and after a quick drink and Ÿ??helloŸ? in Concord, we found ourselves stood on Sackville Street waving our arms and anything else that seemed appropriate at a passing cab. In we jumped, and off across town we sped, looking forward to the adventure ahead. We soon arrived at Ridgeway, and it didn’t take long to find La Bandera, or to confirm that we had in fact eaten in this property before. It had changed, however, and was a lot more modernistic and Ÿ??posherŸ? than when we last visited. We were welcomed at the reception desk, and quickly shown to a table. The surroundings are crisp and clean, and the d€÷cor is good. There were quite a few other diners in, and it was obvious that there was a bit of a clique going on. Everyone seemed to know everyone else, and most of the customers seemed familiar to the staff. Apart from us that is. As yet! We made ourselves comfortable, and studied the menus we had been given. The young lady who had shown us to our table took our drinks order, and briefly explained that we could have Tapas, or we could have one of the main courses and use the Tapas section as a starter menu. We decided that we would do Tapas. She did explain that the Tapas would arrive at the table as and when it was prepared, which sounded a bit as if we were going to get it piecemeal. I couldn’t imagine this happening, and decided that she just meant it might take longer to arrive due to it being fresh, Time would tell. We set about sharing the glasses and reading the menu, and had soon managed to cobble together an order of several Tapas dishes. We decided to start with Toasted baguette with fresh tomato and garlic, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and we then followed on with Patatas Bravas – Deep fried potatoes served with alioli and spicy Ÿ??bravaŸ? sauce, Parrillada de Verduras – Grilled seasonal vegetables, Champi€¤ones al ajillo – Saut€÷ed mixed wild mushrooms pan-fried with butter, garlic and parsley, Gambas al ajillo – King prawns in a garlic and parsley sauce, Rabas de Calamar – Deep fried fresh squid in batter, served with alioli, and Alb€ndigas de la Abuela – Traditional Spanish meatballs in a rich vegetable sauce (which were obviously just for me!!) We felt that that little lot should fill a corner! Within a couple of minutes, we had our worst fear confirmed Ÿ?? our waitress delivered a solitary plate of Patatas Bravas. It looked like things were going to be piecemeal Ÿ?? we hadn’t even had the bread yet! I was just about to protest when she returned with some form of chicken dish. Aahh! We had got the wrong order; maybe things were going to be OK after all. She apologised, moved the food along a few tables, and soon returned with the bread. Normal service had been resumed. We tucked into the bread, and before long, she returned, this time with our Patatas Bravas, and one of the other dishes. Just one of them. It would appear that our interpretation of her explanation was in fact correct. Basically, we got the rest of our meal in dribs and drabs as and when it was ready. This meant that you had finished one dish before you got the next, denying you the chance to mix and match on your plate. I have to admit we weren’t impressed by the idea. We would prefer the chance to mix our potatoes with our fish, and our vegetables rather than eat them one at a time in the order the chef decided to prepare them. The food was good, but that’s all it was. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t anything special. We continued to eat as it was served, and it didn’t take long before we had emptied all the dishes, and sent them all back gleaming to the kitchen. Our waitress was very friendly, and when she came to try and tempt us to some desserts, she also took the opportunity to strike up conversation and Ÿ??sussŸ? me out. Once she saw how open I was, she poured out a thousand questions! All inoffensive, but all relevant to a young girl who very clearly didn’t understand how the Transgendered World works. Why would she? Most of us don’t understand how it works! I answered every question honestly as I always do, and she kept apologising and asking more. I told her not to apologise Ÿ?? it was nice to meet someone who wasn’t afraid to broaden her knowledge base in such a straightforward way. I’m not embarrassed to say that I honestly think she enjoyed our chat, and I hope that somewhere in her life she will benefit from it. It also worked two ways Ÿ?? it sort of created a diversion that helped us to avoid the dessert trap. We actually managed not to have one! It was at this time that my fish eating partner decided to nip to the facilities (which I didn’t visit, so can’t really comment on Ÿ?? I don’t want to rely on hearsay). And it was also at this time that the owner / manager made his move. As my friend quite eloquently put it, he moved across to me quicker that a rat up a drain pipe! Very friendly and quite charming he was too! He asked how our meal had been, so I felt it best to be honest and explained that food in dribs and drabs wasn’t our thing. He seemed surprised, and informed me that it was usually very popular and that both Manchester United footballers and Manchester City footballers frequented the venue and loved it to bits. I pointed out that it wasn’t as much a criticism, more of a preference, and I also agreed that what suits some doesn’t always suit others. I also pointed out that football was far too masculine a game for me, and that I wouldn’t recognise a footballer if I saw one! This was my ploy to see if there were any in for me to meet, but as he didn’t rush to point anyone out, I can only guess that he is very discreet, or there weren’t any in. In view of the fact it seemed to be the major point of his marketing strategy, I think it’s safe to say there were none in. Once the Pescatarian returned, he seemed to disappear quickly, leaving an awkward conversation where I got accused of once again flirting with people I shouldn’t. As if I would. He was just keeping me company whilst I was alone. That’s all. Honestly. Our waitress returned with a free liqueur each and of course the bill. We drank the liqueur, paid the bill, said Ÿ??thank youŸ? and Ÿ??good byeŸ?, and walked off into the Manchester night in search of a cab back to the Village. The only bit I have to do now is answer the three questions that summarise the night: Is La Bandera TV friendly? It was before we arrived, and it most certainly is now Ÿ?? at both staff and management levels! I also went pretty unnoticed as far as customers are concerned. Value for money? A difficult one. The bill with a tip was ô?80-00. In view of the fact that we only rated our evening as Ÿ??about averageŸ?, I don’t suppose it was as good a value as we have had elsewhere. Would I go again? I wouldn’t scream Ÿ??kidnapŸ? if someone tried to take me there, but I have a feeling it’s further down the list than most

10-08-2015-Tattu, Manchester

Every so often, you go out for a meal somewhere and it hits the Ÿ??wowŸ? button. Last Saturday night was one of those occasions. It was a last minute decision made between me and my pescatarian friend that we should eat, so to make a change, I handed over the responsibility of the looking and the booking, and eagerly awaited the outcome. I wasn’t disappointed. I wasn’t told where we were eating; only that it was pretty busy, and we weren’t able to get a table until 9-30pm. That wasn’t a problem Ÿ?? we spent the afternoon drinking Prosecco and putting the world to rights, and then early evening, I proceeded to change from my Ÿ??afternoon casual lookŸ? into something a little more appropriate. Actually it was something a little more little! It was purple, or what bit of it there was was purple, it was strapless, it had lots of bling on it, and even if I say so myself, it looked OK! Matching underwear, matching bling, and matching eyeshadow completed the transformation, and after a quick drink with a couple of dejected Tottenham supporters in a local bar, we hijacked a cab and headed into Town. This is the bit where I got to know where we were going. We were going to Tattu, which is located at 3, Hardman Square, Gartside St, Manchester M3 3EB and can be looked at by visiting http://www.tattu.co.uk . It was pretty appropriate actually, because I had spent part of the previous day stretched out on a couch having a little more coloured ink applied to my shoulder in the form of yet another rose. I would prompt you to look at the website, just to see what a spectacular venue it is. I dread to think how much has been spent, but it certainly looks the part. Our cab driver dropped us right at the door, and we were shown inside by the obligatory hunky black doorman. Things were looking good, and that was just the doorman! We introduced ourselves at the reception desk, and were shown through to the ground floor bar area where we were immediately relieved of ô?12-00 for two glasses of Prosecco. Not cheap, but you could tell nothing was going to be here. They wouldn’t let us put the drinks on the food bill, and wanted a credit card for a Ÿ??tabŸ? which was a bit of a nuisance, so we just payed cash and got on with enjoying the night. At first there was standing room only, but we were lucky enough to grab a couple of stools at a centre bar area when a couple made a move, and we were able to sit, chill, chat, and have a good look around. Plenty of people to watch, and an impressive d€÷cor to look at. I was starting to like Tattu. It was reaching out to the little bit of snob that lurks within me (aaaawwww come on girls, there’s a bit in all of us somewhere Ÿ?? even me!). Shortly before 9-30, a young lady approached us, ensured she had got the right couple, and then showed us upstairs to the first floor dining area. She left us to carry our own drinks, which I always find a little discourteous Ÿ?? especially when there is a staircase and a Ÿ??girlŸ? in big heels involved, but it seems more common practice than not nowadays. What is happening to good old fashioned service and manners? Anyway, I managed to make the journey complete with drink and handbag in a dignified, uneventful manner, and was soon sitting at a table for two next to the window, just to the side of the magnificent Ÿ??treeŸ? that is the centre piece of the first floor theme. It certainly is a lovely place to dine. The dining room was full, or certainly pretty much full, but I honestly couldn’t tell you how many people were involved. It isn’t a massive amount Ÿ?? maybe 50, maybe more (maybe less! Lol). I’m just not sure, I was too busy enjoying myself to do a head count. We were offered more drinks, and presented with menus by out hostess Ÿ?? Gerda, who was obviously of foreign extraction. We weren’t sure where from, but she was very polite and friendly, and gave us a perfect level of service throughout the meal. We also shared the services of a more senior girl who visited us from time to time to check we were happy. Again, she was attentive without being intrusive. The menu was impressive Ÿ?? or should I say the choice of food on it was. It was one of those occasions where you are spoilt for choice. Several different items needed sampling, but we had to pin it down to only one! I can see we will have to come here again. Eventually after several minutes of debate, and having passed the Primarni spectacles between ourselves many times, we managed to make decisions. It wasn’t easy, but it had to be done. My non- meat eating friend had eventually decided to go for the hand dived scallops with sweet soya noodle and caviar which was served on a big seashell, and I chose the Chilean sea bass spinach parcels with sweet orange vinegar and candied orange zest. They were gorgeous. Tasty pieces of fish wrapped totally in green spinach leaves with the orange vinegar poured all over them and little pieces of candied orange zest sitting on the top. I got four parcels, and would have eaten forty! They were heavenly. Having purred our way through the starters, we had a short break, before we were then presented with our main course. We used this time well to enthuse over what we had just eaten, take a few piccies, and watch the other diners. It was obvious there were a couple of birthday parties in Ÿ?? the candles and cakes gave it away, and then there was the usual mix of couples, couples of couples, and groups. Nobody including guests and staff seemed to care that Paula was sitting amongst their midst. I felt very comfortable and was treated with the greatest of respect by all concerned. It wasn’t too long before our main courses arrived. These had taken just as much choosing as the starters, and I was looking forward to seeing if they could match the quality. They could, and they did. I sat facing a plate containing saffron miso black cod with razor clams, Chinese sausage, kohlrabi, sea spray and sweet wine jelly. I have never seen a piece of fish like it before. It is difficult to describe how Ÿ??silky smoothŸ? it was. My knife just fell through it, and the taste and flavour was divine. There was a cauliflower puree on the plate which I swear was more realistic than a cauliflower itself. How on earth something so small could taste so cauliflowery I just don’t know. I’m so excited telling you about what I ate, I almost forgot my friend! Obviously, being a Pescatarian, we know it involved fish, but I have some exciting news to reveal shortly. The main course of choice was Lobster and prawn with ginger noodles, yellow bean, stem ginger, spring onion and chilli. Once again it looked (and tasted Ÿ?? I pinched a bit) fantastic. As it was late, and we hadn’t eaten much all day, and we had cleared two bottles of Prosecco plus four further glasses between us, appetites were high. In view of this fact I added a portion of duck egg and sausage fried rice and a portion of steamed mixed vegetables, ginger, and garlic to our order. The rice was lovely and tasty Ÿ?? duck egg is a stronger flavour than hen egg, and also there was the Chinese sausage in it. My enthusiasm leaked across the table and aroused the curiosity of my non- meat eating, only fish eating friend. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I sat and watched a non-meat eating, only fish eating person tucking into half of my duck egg and SAUSAGE fried rice. Not veggie sausage I might add, but proper meat based sausage. It’s amazing what an appetite and a bottle and a half of Prosecco can do to a person’s inner strength. Some definite ammunition for a little blackmail at a later date methinks! The question on Sunday morning went something like Ÿ??Shit, I must have had a few yesterday Ÿ?? did I eat meat last night?Ÿ? to which I answered, Ÿ??Yes on a couple of occasions!Ÿ? I’m sure you can work it out! AnywayŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?í. Back to Tattu. As I am sure you will already have worked out, we quite quickly sent back a full set of empty plates and dishes to the kitchen area of the Restaurant. All that was left to do was make a quick decision on the Dessert situation. It didn’t take a lot of thinking about. There’s no way you should visit an establishment such as this and not go the full hog, so, we went the full hog. We were given the dessert menus, and Gerda took the time to run through each dish with a description of what it was. The fish eater (or ex fish eater hehe), quickly decided that the dessert of the day was the chocolate satay which was a sort of chocolate brownie affair, covered in all sorts of delightful sauces and creams along with snickers flavoured ice cream, whilst I nestled up closely to the queen of fruit with mangosteen, white chocolate and liquorice. There were all sorts of fruits, along with a sort of brandy snap type thingy, and thick liquorice sauce. I can’t describe it adequately other than to say you have to try it! We had partaken in a further drink during our meal, and by the time we had finished all as described above, the clock was now pushing midnight. We sat and chatted for another few minutes, and then sadly, it was time to leave Tattu. I know one thing for sure; we’ll probably go back before too long! I didn’t actually make use of the Powder Room, but I would hazard a guess that they will be fine. I’m annoyed with myself for not checking, but there’s always an excuse to go back again. We paid our bill, said goodbye to everyone, and walked off across Spinningfields to find ourselves a cab for our short journey back into town, both feeling fed, watered, and happy. I will of course exercise due diligence and answer the all-important questions: Is Tattu TV friendly? Too true it is! No problems in that direction at all! Would I go again? Of course I will Ÿ?? I have to check the facilities! Value for Money? The first two glasses of Prosecco were ô?12-00. This prepared me for a big bill, but in fairness, another two glasses and the meal as described above including a 10% discretionary tip was a grand total of ô?110-00. A lot of money in some ways, but as far as I’m concerned, we got value for money. We had a night out, not just a meal, so we were more than happy.

27-06-2015-The Fence Gate Inn, Fence, Nr. Burnley

As Sue and I continue our quest to spend the occasional Friday night exploring the Culinary delights of the surrounding area, the other Friday evening saw us heading over Pendle Hill to the Fence Gate Inn ( www.fencegate.co.uk ) which is located at Wheatley Lane Road, Fence, Burnley, BB12 9EE. The Fence Gate is a long established venue and is well known throughout the area for functions, and Weddings etc, as well as being a popular eating and drinking venue. It is owned by the same guy who owns The Eagle, at Barrow Ÿ?? another of our regular haunts. It has gained a reputation recently for being the Ÿ??place to be seenŸ? on a Friday night, so who better than Paula to put and end to that one! On our arrival, we had to get fairly well to the back of the car park to get a space, and there was a stream of taxis at the front door, both dropping and collecting fares. The signs so far were good. We entered into the Bar area, and announced our arrival to the Lady behind the desk, and agreed with her that we would sample a drink at the Bar before dining. It was very busy indeed. There is the choice of dining pub style in the Bar Lounge, or eating in the Restaurant. This meant that the area around the Bar was quite busy Ÿ?? most of the available seating was being used by diners, resulting in the drinkers squeezing in where they could. I quite often find people to be extremely well mannered when I arrive at a venue Ÿ?? they seem to stand well back and let me through! Amazing, really! Lol. Anyway, it wasn’t many seconds and I was stood right at the bar getting served with our first drinks Ÿ?? two diet cokes. Out of fairness to everyone else, we then moved away from the Bar a little, just to allow others a chance of getting served. It was busy, but well staffed, so everything seemed to be working OK. I can’t say I went unnoticed, but I wasn’t drawing any untoward attention, until…………….! Until a gang of business type chaps all dressed in suits and ties arrived in, on their way home from a day at the races. How did I know that? Easy Ÿ?? half of them told all and sundry where they had been, and the other half had little badges pinned to their lapels that even told us where they had stood! They had all had a drink. Some of them had had more than one drink I suspect. In fact, most of them had had more than one drink, but none of them expected to bump into Paula Falisia. Out of all the predictions they had made that day, not a single one of them had put money on the fact that they would end up stood in The Fence Gate next to me. Some were scared, some were fascinated, and some were down right interested. Unfortunately, the one who was most interested had coincidently had the most to drink. He was also Ÿ??knownŸ? to me in my other life. Whilst, as you are well aware, this doesn’t affect me in the slightest, I didn’t want to freak him out. He looked like he had been through enough that day, and a Waitress arriving to announce that our table was ready, has never been better timed before. Ever! I was relieved, but disappointed at the same time, but as Sue pointed out, we had come to eat, not intimidate poor innocent business men at the end of a boy’s day out. We sat at our table, and set about studying the menus we had been presented with. We also took the chance to order another drink each. The menu is typical of so many places around us and offers a wealth of choices ranging from good old fashioned Ÿ??pub grubŸ? through to something a bit more Ÿ??daring, and Ÿ??posherŸ?. It didn’t take us long to choose and as our waitress returned with the drinks, we were able to place an order for our food. Sue had decided to go with the Soup of the Day, which was French Onion Ÿ?? one of her favourites, and I was drawn towards the Smoked Salmon Ÿ?? double oak smoked, whisky washed smoked salmon with red onion, baby capers, and brown bread. And what a plateful I got! Instead of the usual folded piece of smoked salmon, I got a small dinner plate totally covered with two or three slices. It was more than a snack in itself! I was just halfway through my starter when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I played it cool, not wanting to show any particular emotion by spinning around in some form of panic. It also gave me time to check Sues face out; to see if that gave me any clues to my assailant. I knew the business men were still in the building Ÿ?? I could hear them! The smile on Sues face was enough for me to realise it wasn’t a threat, so I turned around to see her friend Julie. It was Julie’s birthday, so she had been out for dinner with her fellow John, to The Waddington Arms, and had decided to come up and catch a drink with us after our meal. Brilliant! We had a brief chat, and arranged to catch up with them soon. Now, it was time to concentrate on completing our starter course, so that we could be ready for Chef to present us with something further to sample. This was done in no time, and our empty plates were soon cleared away. Main course was soon to arrive. Sue had pondered long and hard over several choices, in the end succumbing to the offer of 35 Day, Dry, Aged, 10oz Char-grilled Sirloin Steak, served with onion rings, confit tomato, garlic portobello mushroom, and hand cut chips. Oh, and lest I forget, a portion of peppercorn sauce. I, however, had taken very little time to decide that I quite fancied Pork Belly with whole grain mustard mash, baked apple topped with a blackpudding fritter, cumin carrots & calvados sauce. We also added a side order of skinny fries and shared each others fries thus giving us a mixture of hand cut, and skinny. As with the starters, the portions were more than adequate. In fact, although we managed to send completely empty crockery back towards the kitchen, we both agreed that desserts were a no-go area. We didn’t even look at the menu! We sat and chatted a while, and then decided that we would go and find Julie and John. On our way through, we stopped at the desk, and paid our bill which was a very pleasant ô?60-00. The Lady behind the desk informed us that there two pianists entertaining in the large room behind the Bar, and asked us if we were going to spend some time having a drink and maybe listening to the music Ÿ?? think that answers the Ÿ??TV friendlyŸ? question? We said we certainly were stopping, and went in search of Jules, who was sitting to the side of the bar, with a couple of seats kept just for us! We were just in time to watch the businessmen leave, which was even more fun than watching them arrive. Some had fared quite well, but others really were worse for wear! They were all being Ÿ??men togetherŸ? helping each other out, each and every one of them believing they were quite sober. It was hilarious! We sat and chatted, and people watched. It was whilst people watching that my eyes kept returning to a couple of girls by the bar, who were obviously having the same problem with me. I don’t think it was that they found me completely irresistible, or indeed, me them. There was just something causing a rumble between us. Eventually I got the chance to go to the bar and test things out. One of the girls looked at me and said Ÿ??Paula?Ÿ? Ÿ??YesŸ? I replied, Ÿ??You live over here and we met on Canal StŸ? I don’t know how, but I had suddenly remembered. We had met about 3 years ago whilst they were on a girl’s night out, and during our conversation it had emerged that they lived sort of near where I lived. It’s a small World. Julie and John decided to leave, but Sue and I stayed a while longer, just enjoying the busy atmosphere, watching and listening to people of all types and ages. The Fence Gate certainly is a busy spot on a Friday night. Eventually, reality kicked in, and Sue and I decided we should head for home and prepare ourselves for the day to follow. We left the Fence Gate around midnight, just as busy as when we found it. All I have to do now is answer the three questions: Is the Fence Gate TV friendly? We’ve answered it establishment wise up above. With regard to the customers, I had no problems and had a laugh with several people. Value for money? I think we’ve answered that one above as well! Go again? Bet we do! PS can’t comment on the facilities, as neither of us used them!

15-06-2015-Sakana, Manchester

As I mentioned to you in a recent blog, the fish eater and I have rekindled the flickering flame of our relationship, and are slowly getting back to treading the boards of Manchester again. Whether it will ever be like Ÿ??the good old daysŸ? or not remains to be seen, but our philosophy at the moment is let’s enjoy what we can, while we can. As you can imagine, besides other things, this has involved the intake of food again. With this in mind, we decided to once again sample some of the culinary delights of Manchester the other weekend, leaving me with the unenviable task of choosing a venue. I used my favourite search engine, and after a lot of research and a couple of emails found a reply in my inbox informing me that a table for two was reserved in our name for 8-30pm the following Saturday evening. This reply came from Sakana, which is located at 23 Peter Street, Manchester M2 5QR (http://www.sakanapan-asian.co.uk ). Things were looking good! Saturday night saw me dressed in a little black strapless number with matching shoes and accessories as usual, and it also saw us both heading in to town looking forward to the evening ahead. We were a little later that sometimes setting off, and so decided to drive straight into town and park rather than hitting The Village for a drink first and then taking a cab. Couldn’t have been simpler. Could it? Well actually, yes. It could have been! I hadn’t taken into account the fact that half the centre of Manchester is closed off due to the ongoing works in connection with the Metro Link. The knock on effect of this was that the half of Manchester that isn’t closed off has had parking restrictions put in place. I must have driven down Peter Street and the surrounding area a hundred times looking for a space! OK, maybe not a hundred, but it was a lot! It was so many times in fact, that by 8-25pm we still hadn’t managed to park. My co-pilot made a quick call to the Restaurant to warn them we would be late, and in a final state of frustration, I headed back out of town to The Village, parked the car, hailed a cab, and paid ô?4-00 to be driven back to where I had just been. Not the best of starts, but I am a lot more tolerant when in the guise of Paula, so I managed to be quite philosophical about it all and certainly didn’t let it spoil the night. My male alter ego would have hit the roof, thrown his dummy out of the pram and probably sulked for the rest of the night. How different we both are! Anyway, as per usual, I have already written 472 words, and so far told you nothing, so I better shape up and tackle the job in hand Ÿ?? which is………………..? Ah, yes, I remember, Sakana. Well, here we are, at least we had finally got there. We apologised, but it wasn’t a problem to them at all. We were shown to the bar where we ordered a glass of prosecco and a diet coke, and we chilled down and managed to survey the surroundings. Very nice, and very busy! People of all ages, sizes, and types in pairs and groups, all about to eat, eating, or talking about what they had just eaten. There are some private dining areas, and a main L shaped dining area, bending off towards the kitchen servery area. We were quickly shown to our table, where our waitress introduced herself as Becki, and we were handed menus. We were also given a quick tutorial on how the menus worked and offered as much advice as we needed to be able to place an order. We perused the menus, trying to work out the different options available, whilst retaining at least some of the advice Becki had so generously offered. It wasn’t that difficult. Being the foodies that we are, it didn’t take us long to master the menus and put together an order that we could discuss further with Becki when she returned. She was very impressed with our attempt, and after a couple of tweaks, we had managed to choose a meal for two! We started off with Sushi Ÿ?? we got a portion of salmon balls (no, I didn’t know that salmon had balls either!), and a portion of soft shelled crab and mango, and then we pick and mixed! They were obviously served up with lots of little dabs of extras and sauces and rice and things Ÿ?? far too much to write about, and I’m sure you’ve got the idea anyhow. I then followed on with Teppanyaki sea bass served with ginger, spring onion and leek, and my companion tackled a portion of Teppanyaki swordfish served with champagne, yuzu, miso, and pomegranate. We also had a side order of stir-fry noodles and a side order of stir-fry greens which we duly shared out between the two of us. This was enough food to cause a silence to fall over our table, but as you can well imagine, not for long. We both had another drink each during the meal, and in little or no time at all, we were proudly sat in front of a table full of empty crockery. The food was hot, tasty, and well presented, and Becki was more than helpful without being over the top. The Restaurant was continuously busy throughout our meal, but the sight of a full blown Transvestite sitting across the table from an equally full blown Pescatarian didn’t appear to be causing any concern to Patrons and Staff alike. After a short pause in proceedings, Becki was back. She was back with the menus, to see if she could tempt us with coffee, or desserts, or indeed anything else that we may decide to partake in. We certainly didn’t fancy coffee, and cocktails were slightly off limits due to me driving later on, so that just left the question of desserts. And what a question that was! Out of politeness more than anything we agreed to at least have a look at the menus, but we both admitted to being pretty full. It did look like tonight could be the night that Paula and friend may win the battle over the desserts. Neither of us was certain we could manage one. We did at one point debate the possibility of a one dessert, two spoon situation. I, however, decided that wasn’t to be. In my mind, you either want the glory of having won the battle outright, or you want the equally glorious outcome of a sticky, calorie ridden dessert each. To be seen sharing one would be very un-cool! We went for the glorious rather than the glory. Two desserts and two spoons was the outcome. I tucked into a brown sugar tart (as only I can), whilst the pesco had a brief but passionate affair with a portion of chocolate crumble. By the end of that bit, we really were both full! Seemingly, Sakana has a bar upstairs for the use of diners, and Becki had no hesitation in inviting us to visit the said bar and partake in a few bevy’s. We declined the invitation, but I think that already answers question number one. I did take the trouble to visit the Ladies and powder my nose (think I had a wee as well Ÿ?? can’t remember!), and I’m pleased to report that all is perfectly in order in the water closet department. So, now all we had to do was pay the bill, and then find a cab to take us back to the car which was another ô?6-00. Having managed to park for free, it then cost ô?10-00 to get from the car to the Restaurant and back! I certainly didn’t win that one! Never mind, as my late Dad kept telling me Ÿ??you can’t take it with youŸ?. Now all I have to do is answer three very simple questions, and then I can finally leave you in peace: Is Sakana TV friendly? See above. No problems at all, and an invite to stay! Value for money? I didn’t pay, but For the sole purpose of compiling this report, I managed to ascertain that the cost of the above was ô?56-00 for food and ô?15-00 for drinks. A total of ô?71-00. I think we could class that as more than acceptable. Would I go again? I’m beginning to wonder how many of these places I will actually manage to revisit as my quest for somewhere new continues. Needless to say, though, if the opportunity arises I certainly won’t hesitate.