Tag Archive for: Caroline Martins

While we await the eventual unveiling of a Manchester Town Hall fit for 21st century purpose we can welcome Exhibition bar/food hall, a more modest repurposing of a nearby building on Museum Street that is part of the rich heritage of the city centre. Just look at the glorious Art Nouveau facade of St George’s House, the dragon slayer celebrated by a terracotta version of Donatello’s sculpture. 

Once home to the YMCA, it was previously the site of the Peterloo Massacre and the city’s first Natural History Museum, whose most bizarre incumbent was Hannah Beswick, the ‘Manchester Mummy’, This wealthy 18th century woman with a pathological fear of premature burial asked for her body after death to be embalmed and kept above ground to be periodically checked for signs of life.

The signs of life at Exhibition are far more encouraging with the announcement of a wholly appealing trinity of independent food kitchens across its 6,000sqft space alongside two bars and dedicated exhibition spaces for local artists, all set to open this November. Its creators already run the coffee shop/wine bar Haunt in the building.

With all due respect, the arriving Osma, Caroline Martins and Baratxuri are in a different league. More enticing than the line-up at Society, down the road next to the Bridgewater Hall, or at the newly opened New Century Hall. A beer offering headed up by Manchester Union Lager suggests the 400 capacity venue also has the nearby Albert’s Schloss in its sights.

So what to expect foodwise from Exhibition?

Admission: I’ve never made it to the Scandi-influenced, Michelin Guide rated Osma in Prestwich despite glowing reports all round. Baratxuri, though has been on my regular radar ever since this Basque fire cookery fave sprang from big brother Levanter in Ramsbottom in 2015. It has since pushed its boundaries with city residencies at Escape to Freight Island and more recently at Kampus. The infectious, innovative skills of Brazilian Caroline Martins have been a more recent addition to Manchester’s foodscape. As the Great British Menu chef’s Sao Paulo Project pop-up nears its close at Blossom Street Social, Exhibition looks to offer a further showcase for some of the city’s most exotic ingredients.

OSMA during the day will serve open sandwiches with fillings such as cured Scottish salmon, golden beetroots, spinach and mustard, or rump of beef with onion jam, rocket and parmesan, all alongside fresh salads and hearty soups. In the evening, there will be new small plates such as Avruga caviar pots with toasted brioche, a sashimi plate served with caper and shallot sauce, whole lobster (above) with herb butter or a dish of roasted and pickled beetroots with raspberry and rose.

BARATXURI will offer sharing plates such as Capricho Oro’ Txuleton, a 1kg bone-in rib steak, from the Asado oven alongside fire-roasted short rib with crushed garlic chickpeas and pomegranate molasses salsa plus raciones of boquerones and Jamon Iberico de Bellota and an extensive range of pintxos at lunchtime. 

THE SAO PAULO BISTRO promises a more relaxed spin on her Brazilian-British fusion with local suppliers at the heart of the new menu. Caroline will work closely with Platt Fields Market Garden, Dormouse Chocolates, Northern Cure, The Flat Baker and much more. Menu highlights include hand-dived scallops with creamy cassava sauce, Sao Paulo steak sandwich made with Lancashire ribeye and Garstang blue sauce, and a showstopper chocolate dessert using liquid nitrogen. My tip: don’t miss her Carlingford oyster with passion fruit sorbet.

The drinks offering also looks a winner. General manager Gethin Jones has masterminded spectacular cocktail offerings at the likes of Cottonopolis, Edinburgh Castle and Ducie Street Warehouse, while a a dedicated rotational line for Manchester breweries such as Sureshot, Cloudwater and Pomona sends out all the right signals. Topping that, the main bar will be the first in the city to offer Manchester Union straight from in-venue tanks. There’ll be wine on draught, too, with high quality Verdejo promised and by the bottle and glass an emphasis on low intervention wine.

After dark, Exhibition will transform into a late night bar with DJs, live singers and instrumentalists taking centre stage. Expect an eclectic mix of genres and a roster of local and international DJs, every Wednesday-Sunday. Seven dedicated areas will see a new local artist exhibiting their work every season.

Paul Jackson Pollock, born January 28 1912, Cody, Wyoming, died Springs, New York, August 11 1956; Caroline Gameiro Lopes Martins, born February 26 1986, São Paulo, Brazil, currently running a fine dining pop-up in Ancoats, Manchester, named after her birth city.

Bespattered. It is one of my favourite words. Usually the ensuing messy chaos is accidental but in certain hands maybe it transcends random… Take Abstract Expressionism, that jazzy, canvas-bespattering art movement that caused quite a splash when it sprang up in mid-1940s New York. Its mythic master Jackson Pollock said of it: “I think they should look not for, but look passively…it should be enjoyed just as music is enjoyed”.

A typical Jackson Pollock canvas – inspiration for edible art forms?

Maybe the climactic dessert of Caroline Martins’ new 12 course tasting menu at the Sao Paulo Project is in a minor key alongside Pollock’s provocative Mahleresque symphonies in squirted household paint, but it has the advantage of being hugely tasty, too, thanks in no small part to the flavours of her native Brazil that pervade Caroline’s culinary art. 

That £58 tasting menu. currently available at her residency at Blossom Street Social in Ancoats (opposite Sugo and the Hip Hop Social), showcases exotic ingredients such as cumaru (tonka beans), jilo (slightly bitter tomato-aubergine cross), papaya seeds, artisanal dende (palm) oil, preserved Brazilian green fig, farofa (cassava crumble) and jambu flower alongside some cleverly sourced local ingredients.

Great to see a newcomer in her repertoire, vegetables from Cinderwood Market Garden, served simply with a parmesan sauce, brazil nut hummus and an olive crumble. Quite a contrast to the stalwart rosemary-scented edible beef fat candle, crafted out of beef rump cap dripping, where another herb, lovage, colours the moat of melted fat to dip your Brazilian cheese rolls into.

Lobster tail moqueca, Caroline’s take on a traditional seafood stew, and dry aged rib-eye feel surprisingly straightforward in contrast but the pre-dessert is the harbinger of wackiness ahead. A lime ice lolly, accompanied by a Brazilian honey liqueur is a kind of cool counterpoint to the candle, offering a chance in essence to construct your own Caipirinha.

Then the fireworks begin. Maybe in her fleeting appearance on BBC’s Great British Menu her sheer ambition perhaps undid her in her low-scoring ‘fish course’ but she is undeterred in playfully pushing back the boundaries. Hence what is literally a ‘signature’ dish with the likes of basil custard and coconut yoghurt scrawled across a huge black base. Dotted with  cubes of coconut candy, cassava biscuit, guava candy and banana candy, the centrepiece is a smashed ‘bowl’ of Manchester’s finest artisan chocolate, Dormouse (from specially imported Brazilian beans), containing passion fruit mousse, rose petals, coconut granola, merengue and marshmallow. 

Our seen-it-all chihuahua companion, Captain Smidge had kept his equipoise after a surfeit of flash-freezing liquid nitrogen in the build-up. The completed version did look the kind of spread best suited to his natural tongue action; we spooned it all up determinedly.

Six months on since first tasting it, the Sao Paulo food offering has forged ever stronger bonds between British and Brazilian raw materials. Unique? Possibly. It has certainly earned her a nomination for Chef of the Year in the 2022 Manchester Food and Drink Awards.

Of course, there’s nothing new under the sun. That expansive chocolate pud is descended from the presentational adventures of Grant Achatz. Not to be confused with the unpalatable Grant Schapps, Achatz has now held three Michelin star for 12 years at Alinea in Chicago. And yes his approach has led to some ‘serious analysis’. 

Grant Achatz has perfected a scattergun approach to presentation of his stellar food at Alinea

If you really must, delve into Hungry for Art‘a semiotic reading of food signifying art in the episode Grant Achatz (2016) in the documentary Chef’s Table’. The first chapter focuses on the intertextuality between a dish presented in Netflix’s Chef’s Table and the paintings of Jackson Pollock.

Better use of your time? Check out our own next chapter, Ancoats Expressionism According to Caroline Martins’ Great Brazilian Menu.

Caroline Martins’ Sao Paolo Project is at Blossom Street Social, 51 Blossom Street, Ancoats, Manchester M4 6AJ.