How times change (and not that plus ça change casuistry). The Bordeaux of my distant memory was a grey city, on the muddy Garonne, hoarding its vinous treasures with a kind of miserly hauteur. Its 18th century architectural glories were as grime-ridden as the ancient bottles slumbering in its fusty trade cellars. 

Returning is quite a culture shock. After three decades of enlightened civic planning the centre has been transformed. Dazzling sun helps highlight its limestone treasures and riverside gardens. Bordeaux is baking. Tomorrow we’ll fly home before the temperature soars beyond 40 degrees. The steaming temptation is to dip one’s toes in the quayside Miroir d’eau in front of the Place de la Bourse. At 3,450 square metres the world’s largest reflecting pool.

Instead we head for shelter… and, naturally, wine. Inside L’Intendant the air conditioning is a comfort. Its true purpose? To protect 15,000 bottles of the fine wines associated with the city. They are spectacularly displayed around the walls of a 12 metre high, spiralling stairway. All for sale – this is a shop.

Half way up I get into conversation with a German connoisseur. “From Manchester, you say – ah, Hawksmoor, the great claret blunder, the world still talks about it.” He’s referring, of course, to that fateful day in May 2019 when diners at the Deansgate steakhouse were mistakenly served a £4,500 bottle of Chateau Le Pin Pomerol 2001 instead of the £260 Chateau Pichon-Lalande 2001 they had ordered. 

The incident went viral, provoking mutterings of “how can any wine be worth that much?”. Market forces, supply and demand. Minuscule Le Pin produces just 200 cases a year and is a trophy red. There are a few of those dotted around L’Intendant, where vintages date back to 1945 (a legendary year), alongside relatively affordable wines.

From the vantage point of an English wine lover, with all the world to choose from, the old mystique of Bordeaux has worn off somewhat. Partly due to its reds in particular becoming a global commodity. The word claret is as démodé as cordon bleu cuisine.


Which brings us to La Cité du Vin, the focus of our return to a reinvigorated, scrubbed up city. The swift flowing, tidal Garonne river may be as muddy as back then, but the esplanade along its banks has been transformed and, 2km north reached by the sleekest of tram services, the old docks now play home to the the €81 million ‘Guggenheim of Wine”.

That label’s too glib, but it has stuck. Comparisons with Frank Gehry’s game-changing museum on the banks of the Nervión river in Bilbao are inevitable. But La Cité, just three years old, feels more a valuable addition than a turning point for a city’s touristic appeal.

Devoted to educating the public in the glories of wine and viticulture, it certainly catches the eye on the outside – an asymmetrical swish of gold and aluminium, topped by a leaning tower. Inside, it casts aside the old museum certainties of curated objects in favour of an immersive, interactive experience, involving all the senses. So expect to do a lot of sniffing out of little funnels to unleash various aromas. What am I getting here? Gooseberry, honey, farmyard? Book a tasting workshop to get the whole synaesthetic connection.

We chose to ramble around and felt slightly adrift against filmic backdrops. Of course, there’s a slight theme park appeal; that’s part of its populist, demystifying mission. A chance to be unafraid of terroir and minerality. All those daunting buzz words.

There’s also a lot of attention paid to the rest of the globe. This is breaking the mould in a France that for too long dismissed wines that weren’t French; indeed in Bordeaux Burgundy wouldn’t get much of a shout. 

Further evidence of this sea change was to be found in the Cité’s top floor Belvedere tasting room – attractive for its 360 degree panorama and also for the complimentary glass of wine for each ticket holder. The array of bottles on the counter covered the globe. We sipped an Australian Shiraz as we gazed back through the heat haze to the city proper far beyond the futuristic Chaban-Delmas Bridge. Below us the Bassins à Flot – derelict tidal basins” – are undergoing gentrification. 

The advance guard has been the resurgent Les Halles de Bacalan market across the road from the Cité’. It’s a smart food hall, hosting 24 traders. Fronting it is a separate brasserie. La Familia, named after a treasured 1920s neighbourhood cinema and celebrating the food and drink of South West France. The regional platters were the mot impressive food offering.

From here the promenade back to the city centre is via the Quai des Chartrons, whose warehouses were central to the wine and slave trade which created the city’s wealth. Evidence of which is more than 5,000 restored houses from the 18th century and 350 listed historic monuments. Such glories make it a delight to wander around the UNESCO World Heritage Status Chartrons district and the charming Jardin Public. 

Most folk amble along the Rue de Notre Dame in search of antiques; we perversely discovered Rn7 Caviste at No.102, devoted exclusively to the wines of the Northern Rhone, where brave incomer Frederic Bennetot introduced us to the most impressive wines we tasted on our city break. Crozes Hermitage, St Joseph Cornas, Côte-Rôtie –  a treasure trove homage to the Syrah grape in premises that proclaim their former incarnation as an upholsterer’s.

The city, as you’d expect, boasts some terrific wine bars. Close to L’Intendant is Le Bar a Vin, a Bordeaux institution in lofty ornate premises. Government-subsidised, it offers bargain, by the glass offers of some seriously good wines. Around the Place St Pierre is a fertile area for an evening’s carousing. Check out near neighbours on the Rue des Bahutiers, Italian-owned The Wine Bar with more than 300 wines from around the world and excellent snacks to accompany them, and the hipper Vins Urbains. By the glass is expensive, so definitely go for a bottle to share (400 to choose from) and don’t miss the delights of their with even more bottles and a white truffle croque monsieur.

Some palate-cleansing hoppiness? Venture further down winding Bahutiers to its junction with with the Rue Alsace at Lorraine and you’ll encounter the Bordeaux branch of the French craft beer chain, Les BerThoM. It has a fine Belgian selection, but do try the fine local Merignac beer.

At the other end of the food and drink scale Bordeaux has it share of Michelin restaurants, non more high profile the Gordon Ramsay’s two-starred Le Pressoir d’Argent inside the InterContinental Bordeaux – Le Grand Hotel. Its name comes from the dining room’s centrepiece, a solid silver lobster press, on of only five in the world. Splash out well over €100 and they’ll serve you a native lobster fresh from the press, steamed with lemon leaf, corn, girolles, courgettes, coral and lemongrass bisque. Maybe the shadow of Brexit is straitening you purse strings? Stick to the €185 Origins Menu, featuring old Bordeaux’s signature fish dish, freshwater lamprey in a red wine sauce. We thought better of it.

Of course, you can dine superbly in small bistros, if you pick well, and then, it being France, make a beeline for a market. Les Halles de Capucins in the homely St Michael’s quarter, south of St Pierre, was in second gear the Tuesday we visited but could still maintain luxuriant fresh herb stall, the like of which I’ve never seen before (actually I recognised it from one of those Rick Stein’s Long Weekends programmes). 

Mid-morning was a perfect time to indulge in a half dozen Arcachon oysters and a tumbler of Entre deux Mers white at Chez Jean-Mi, bistrot a huitres. A piece of old Bordeaux. Vive les traditions Bordelaises.

It’s not all about wine – Three must-visits in Bordeaux

The Cathedrale Saint-André 

There’s nothing like a church tower panorama to help you get a feel for a city. We tried two. The gargoyle-thronged Gothic belfry, the Tour Pey Berland, was built in the 15th century alongside the Cathedral (a spire came later). 231 steps will take you to the viewpoint; be prepared to queue, visitor numbers are restricted. 

St Michel’s bell tower

Its contemporary rival, the 114 metre high bell tower of the Basilica of Saint-Michel is also freestanding and spired. Known as La Fleche (‘the arrow), it’s quite a climb but you are rewarded with a view down onto a vibrant local street market. The tower’s crypt used to house a collection of mummies unearthed from a local burial ground in the 18th century. Our macabre  expectations were dashed – they were reburied 40 years ago.

Get a masterpiece fix at the Musée des Beaux-Arts

One of France’s finest art galleries, built in 1881, has reopened after several years of renovation and offers an eye-opening primer in European fine art. The collection is housed in two glorious, separate wings – the south devoted to art from the 16th to the 18th century, and the north the 19th and 20th centuries. Artists who feature include Brueghel, Corot, Delacroix, Van Dyck, Kokoschka, Matisse, Picasso, Renoir, Rubens, Véronèse and Bordeaux’s own Odilon Redon.

For a full rundown on the city’s attractions visit Bordeaux Tourism.

Of late I’ve been spending more time than usual inside Manchester railway arches. The usual hop-driven hideaways once promoted as The Piccadilly Beer Mile? Indeed, yes, but checking out a new wave of craft breweries with their roots in the first wave.

In what was the original Track premises on Sheffield Street I got previews of crowd-pleasing IPAs from Sureshot, new venture from James Campbell, a key figure in the rise of both Marble an Cloudwater.

That brewery is now safely launched and causing quite a stir. Next in the pipeline is a very different operation, Balance Brewing & Blending – an ambitious, barrel-fermenting labour of love from two brewers, whose day jobs are at Squawk and Track respectively. James Horrocks and Will Harris both share a common thread in their CVs that is a pointer to their leftfield brewing direction. Both worked for a certain Mike Marcus, regarded as the Che Guevara of the sour beer revolution. When Donald Trump was elected President maverick Mike cut all American hops out of his brewing process. Come Covid he mothballed his Chorlton Brewing Company and decamped to the Continent. Whispers have it Belgium or Estonia may be its next home. 

It was never in Chorlton, but at  69 North Western Street, three arches down from Manchester Brewing Company, where James and Will rent brewing kit and store the key to their operation, 30 neutral barrels, where the wood won’t overwhelm their blends’ fruit. It has been a patient past 12 months or more waiting for the contents to mature to attain the right balance. For the duo, committed to barrel fermented, mixed culture beers, BALANCE is more than just a slogan. 

Funky doesn’t have to mean over the top and their commitment to British ingredients is not  a radical political stance. Their use of malt from Fawcetts in Yorkshire, hops from Brookhouse in Herefordshire and British grown fruit makes a sustainable statement about terroir. Early days yet, but tasting their first release, from bottle, it all made immediate sense. 

Will Harris and James Horrocks have invested in quality barrels to pursue their brewing dream

The quietly glorious Saison de Maison will be launched at Cafe Beermoth in Manchester city centre from 6pm on Thursday, May 19. This is what Horrocks and Harris say about it: “It’s is a 6 per cent bretted saison, blended from beer fermented and conditioned in ex-red wine barrels before being dry-hopped with fresh UK Goldings. It is the first iteration of our house saison, which will be a regular release. The base beers were brewed using low colour Maris Otter and torrefied wheat to put a British spin on a classic Lambic-inspired base. The beer was hopped in the kettle with aged British Goldings and fresh Bramling Cross before being transferred to barrel to undergo fermentation with a carefully selected blend of Saccharomyces, Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus which we propagated in-house. 

“After the fermentation and conditioning phase we selected barrels which offered the particular funky saison characteristics we desired and developed a final blend. This blend was transferred onto fresh Goldings and stayed on the hops for a week before being bottled with nothing but priming sugar added. The bottle conditioning phase allowed all of the flavours to marry and develop until we were happy that the beer was well balanced and ready to release. 

“The end result is a beer with bright carbonation and pleasing acidity leading into a layered, fruit forward brett and hop character. We get funky pineapple up front with hoppy notes of gingerbread, ripe peach and subtle Perry pear. Gentle bitterness and herbal, woodruff notes meander into the long, clean yet complex finish. This is the first beer we envisaged as we dreamed of brewing our own beer and we are so pleased with how it has come out.”

So what tipped the balance to get the right blend for this project?

James Horrocks and Will Harris laid the foundation in 2021, working evenings and weekends to get Balance off the ground. It helped that their niche ‘side project’ was not in competition with the core range of their employers, Squawk and Track. The pair were buoyed by their shared enthusiasm for sour, wild and funky beer nurtured at Chorlton. It also helps to heve some serious brewing chops. Will has a first degree in biochemistry and an MSc in Brewing and Distilling from Herriot Watt University. So what can we expect from the 750ml sharing bottles they will be releasing, roughly a beer a month over the next year? 

Over to James: “Our aim is to produce nuanced sour and funky beers in a range of styles, from bretted saisons to Lambic-inspired creations, utilising both wild captured and lab propagated yeasts and bacteria. After fermenting in barrels for anywhere from four months to several years, we carefully select blends and move them onto hops, fruit or straight into bottle. The outcome is tart, complex, funky, fruity and ultimately an expression of our passion for these styles of beer and for the complexity that can be achieved through simple ingredients. Our next release is already in bottle too: Jam, a blend of saisons fermented in barrel then aged on damsons for four months.”

Some cookbooks have a longer shelf life than others. Well-thumbed, splattered indelibly with ingredient stains, they’ve stayed the course. Many courses, if you forgive the culinary jeu de mot. One such tome is The Carved Angel Cookbook by Joyce Molyneux, a bastion of my recipe collection since it was published in 1990. It sold 50,000 copies despite the chef’s lack of TV exposure or reluctance to self-publicise. Unlike a certain Mr Floyd, who ran a gastropub upriver from Joyce’s Dartmouth, Devon base. Until bankruptcy.

Her  book celebrates the very special restaurant on the riverfront, where she made her name. I mention it now because this groundbreaking female chef turns 90 this month after being retired for well over two decades. 

Happy Birthday, Joyce (and fellow legend Shaun Hill, 75 this week and still at the stove in his Michelin-starred Walnut Tree, near Abergavenny). 

An appropriate dish to cook in Joyce’s honour might well be the famous Salmon in Puff Pastry with Stem Ginger and Currants, invented by her mentor George Perry-Smith when she worked for him at The Hole in The Wall, Bath in the Sixties. It accompanied her to Dartmouth when in the early Seventies he set up her and his stepson, Tom Jaine, to run the Carved Angel.

One hitch, though. It’s not in the The Carved Angel Cookbook. I’d got it in my head that  it was. An easy enough mistake to make. You’ll certainly find it in two Jane Grigson books, her Fish Book (1993) and The Observer Guide to British Food (1984),where this great food scholar/cook writes: “I’d gathered that the source of the idea was a medieval recipe, but then I found something almost identical in the Cook and Confectioner’s Dictionary by John Nott (1726, reprinted in 1980). In that more fanciful time, the pastry was scored to look like a fish; inside were mace, butter and ginger in slices, along with the salmon.”

For the salmon Perry-Smith insisted on best Wye, then Tamar when he moved his own restaurant to Cornwall; for Joyce definitely Dart?

There was an obvious affinity between Joyce and Jane (who died of cancer in 1990). Tom recalled Jane and her irascible poet/critic husband Geoffrey coming for dinner to the Angel once. Joyce was apprehensive because at least one recipe had come straight from one of Jane’s books. Fortunately all went swimmingly.

Years later, Joyce would hang a grand Jane Bown portrait of Jane at the threshold of her kitchen and, one further link, Jane’s daughter Sophie was co-author of The Carved Angel Cookbook.

All of which I find fascinating but it still leaves me adrift of a birthday dish. Easy really. Let’s keep the puff pastry. Joyce provides a recipe: you could buy it in but insist on butter. It provides the light casing for a very springlike dish – A Pastry of Quail’s Eggs and Asparagus with a Herb and Cream Sauce. Wild cepes would be a luxury addition but are not essential. Check out the recipe at the end of this article. As for that definitive salmon and ginger en croute dish Google and ye will find. Versions are all over the Public Domain.

So what makes Joyce Molyneux and the Carved Angel so special 30 years on?

I happened to be in Bath this year for International Women/s Day. By odd coincidence that city has been Jan’s home since she retired in 1999, having taken ownership of the Angel years before. I called her groundbreaking before. That she certainly was, as was evident during the infrequent dinners we booked there. Joyce was always there in the properly open kitchen – an innovation in those times – with a larger quotient of female sous chefs than you’d normally encounter. And a sense of calm.

It’s seen as cool these days for kitchen staff, not just servers, to bring out  plate to table. That was the norm there. Local sourcing? Farm to fork? In the book there’s a shot of the chef patron harvesting from her own lofty allotment above the winding River Dart. She made exemplary use of the seafood on her doorstep and first introduced me to samphire plucked from the foreshore.

The menu, invariably just a few dishes, no plate overcrowded, avoided the Froglification of ‘fine dining’ at that time. Still I couldn’t resist substituting feuilleté for puff. The true French influences are obvious, yet they are filtered through the acutely Gallic sensibilities of Perry-Smith, Grigson and, inevitably, Elizabeth David. I can’t recall how many covers there were. Not many. Everyone appeared to be enjoying themselves. We certainly did.

The story of how Joyce achieved such eminence, even for a while keeping a Michelin star,  is striking. Read Rachel Cooke’s tribute as The Observer Food Monthly gave her a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017.

It traces her journey from domestic science classes designed to equip a gal for marriage (Joyce never wed) via a revelation what gastronomy could be during an eight stint in a Stratford restaurant to the Hole in The Wall epiphany.

How The Carved Angel soared and then, post Joyce, began its descent

When the Good Food Guide named The Carved Angel the Best Real Food Restaurant of 1984 it was a remarkable reward for Joyce Molyneux’s persistence in following her culinary vision. She took over completely when Tom left the following year. In his memoir of that time he quotes a poem about the Carved Angel written by adopted Devonian and regular customer Poet Laureate Ted Hughes: 

‘The Angel carved in wood

Resisted all temptation.

She fasted and withstood

Libidinous immolation

And anointings of breasts

Of birds and thighs of beasts.

She did not bat an eye

When those two loose-mouthed harlots

Claret and Burgundy

Turned glass and drinker scarlet.

She barely coloured – say

Chassagne Montrachet.

She only cracked when Tom

Plucked Sally from the shrine as

A cork out of the Dom.

This bomb among the diners

Shattered the Angel – left

Her not so carved as cleft.’

Joyce continued to run The Carved Angel until 1999. Since her retirement it’s had highs and lows under several ownerships. As The New Angel under turbulent celebrity chef John Burton Race it briefly regained its Michelin star. Nowadays, rebranded The Angel, the kitchen is in the hands of 2018 Masterchef: The Professionals finalist Elly Wentworth. Along the quay the big chef name in town now is Mitch Tonks at The Seahorse. His culinary hero? Joyce Molyneux.

A Feuilleté of Quail’s Eggs and Asparagus with a Herb and Cream Sauce (serves 4)


100g puff pastry; 8 quail’s eggs; 225g green asparagus tips; 1 egg, beaten; sesame or poppy seeds; Messine herb sauce; chervil or watercress, to garnish.


Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to form a 20cm square, 4mm thick. Trim edges and divide into four 10cm squares. Place on a baking sheet; rest in fridge for at last 30 minutes. Boil  pan of water. Add egg for one and half minutes drain, rinse with cold water and place in a bowl of cold water to rest. Tie the asparagus in a bundle, cook in boiling, salted water until tender (5 mins). Drain and keep warm.

Brush pastry with beaten egg and sprinkle with seeds. Bake in a pre-heated oven, gas mark 9 for 5-7 minutes until golden brown and risen. Out of he oven cut each so there’s a lid. Store the lids in a warm place for use later.

Re-heat the eggs in hot water for a minute and heat the sauce thoroughly. Drain eggs and place two in each pastry case with asparagus and coat with sauce. Cover with pastry lids and garnish.

Saturday, October 5, 2019 was a blast. As we staggered out into a blurry Hathersage Road, clutching our souvenir glasses, to let the evening session brigade into Victoria Baths it was ‘see you again next year’ time all round. Little did we know then that the next Indy Man Beer Con would not be for another three years. The scheduled 2020 event never happened as the pandemic put up the shutters on boozy socialising (unless you were in Downing Street).

Now it’s back, the indoor Glastonbury of craft beer on our Manchester doorstep. The dates were announced in March (September 29-October 2) and this week on Thursday, April 14 the tickets go on sale, priced between £14.50 and £19, via this link. I recommend you don’t hang around. There’ll be a huge thirst for this four day event.

Victoria Baths has proved the perfect venue for arguably Britain’s finest beer festival

Early Bird tickets will be available, with both Port Street Beer House in the Northern Quarter, and The Beagle in Chorlton running pre-sale events on Wednesday April, 15 between 6pm and 9pm. To celebrate, the two venues will each be giving free treats out to those in attendance: Port Street will have slices of Nell’s NYC 22” pizza, while The Beagle will be cracking open mystery sharing bottles from past IMBC’s for some free tasters. 

Since its inception in 2012 Independent Manchester Beer Convention (Indy Man Beer Con/IMBC) has proved a world class showcase for the most forward thinking breweries from the UK and beyond. Everything about it (apart from the amount consumed) is different from the traditional beer festival. Not least the venue – the Grade II listed, architectural gem Victoria Baths.

Inclusivity and diversity are part of its appeal. And great street food. This year’s focus on sustainability and environmental awareness of the impact of the brewing industry sees special, cross-Atlantic collaborative brewing and innovative approaches to recycling spent products.

It’s a big step up from that first pioneering IMBC, created by Jonny Heyes, founder of Common & Co (Common, The Beagle, Nell’s Pizza, Summer Beer Thing). Just two rooms were used, hosting only 20 breweries. Nowadays more than 60 breweries will occupy every nook and cranny . From the main ‘stages’ in the old swimming pools to tasting areas and snug bars in the Turkish Baths, the breweries will pour a selection of their beers to thousands of beer lovers and converts alike.

Tickets are available for the following sessions: evenings 17:30-22:30, Thursday/Friday/Saturday; daytimes 11:00-16:00, Friday/ Saturday; and on Sunday 13.00-18.00.

Thanks to Jody Hartley for two of the images.

For those of you who pigeonhole Jack Monroe as just a consumer Joan of Arc, championing society’s downtrodden and deprived I have two words: magnolia petals.

This week she Tweeted about ‘A Few of my Favourite Things’ and nature’s free bounty featured. Of course, it did.

She wrote: “Did you know that magnolia petals are edible? They’re like chicory; a crunchy and pleasantly bitter morsel with a peppery aftertaste similar to rocket/arugula. Beautiful and delicious in salads, or as a snack with a sliver of apple or pear and soft blue or other strong cheese.”

Immediately came my Damascene ‘you wait ages for a bus to come along… and then’ moment. Lunching at Another Hand up on Deansgate Mews, Manchester – there on the counter of the open kitchen sat a large tray of freshly foraged stuff including magnolia flowers.

There was also wild garlic, three cornered leek (milder, sweet, more onion flavoured) and sweetly scented black currant blossom. Chef/co-owner Julian Pizer had sourced them all around his home patch of Birchwood, Warrington.

So how does it work in the kitchen for much-travelled Kiwi chef Julian? “The magnolia has been pickled down, infused into syrups and dried to use in several applications through the summer like our magnolia set cream dessert with rhubarb and bbq grapes.”

Julian and his team collected 4kg of magnolia and are going back for a second forage. Foraging suggests wild but magnolia is mostly domesticated in the UK. You’ll find it in private gardens, parks and semi-wild. Its global history is mind-blowing, though. The Magnoliaceae family is recorded to be at least 20 million years old with plants in the same family being up to 95 million years old.

Here’s a pickled magnolia petals recipe (it’s not Julian’s) which, alas, turns the pickles brown, losing the vivid pink colour, but creates a flavour similar to pickled ginger, so it’s a  fine sushi accompaniment. It comes rom the website Eatweeds.


75 g magnolia petals; 100g rice vinegar, 35 g granulated sugar, pinch of salt.


Pick petals that are ready to drop from the tree. Pack into a jar. In a small saucepan, heat the vinegar, sugar and salt. Stir to help the sugar dissolve and heat till steaming and the first tiny bubbles appear. Pour over the petals and let it cool before covering. Leave to steep for a week before using.

Add on a great soundtrack while you’re pickling: Jason Molina’s Hold On, Magnolia.

For our lunch (available until 3pm) at Another Hand we shared smoked fish, rosti with creme fraiche and a soft egg, plus avocado and tomato on rye and a generous grilled sandwich of smoked beef, fennel, celeriac and kraut. Much of th daytime menu centres around the outstanding naturally leavened organic bread from Holy Grain two doors away. Baker Danny Foggo teamed up with Julian and fellow chef Max Yorke (the duo worked at Cottonopolis and Edinburgh Castle) to host Three Hands deli on the bakery site as the precursor to their more ambitious joint project, Another Hand.

That daytime brunchy offering is very deli-led, but Julian’s food ratchets up to a different level with his evening small plates menu. Check out my upcoming Manchester Confidential review. Whether magnolia petals will feature let’s wait and see.

Another Hand, Unit F 253 Deansgate, Mews Level, Manchester, M3 4EN.