Haver – Ancoats General Store Porridge Pop-Up

You know I like my porridge. A warm hug of a bowl to dive deep into first thing on a wintry December morning, it keeps you chugging until lunch and it certainly isn’t a modern day ‘health fad’, high in beta-glucans that benefit your heart health and soluble fibre which gives your gut some love. I have my own way of making the creamy oats, soaked overnight in a plant based milk, some chia or ground linseeds stirred through and topped with nut butter (ALWAYS) and whatever seasonal fruits take my fancy. Perhaps my daily bowl would look way too high maintenance for the average breakfaster, but I can’t do simple. It’s just not in my makeup. I like every mouthful to have different textures, flavours, temperatures, all the elements that make some damn good eating.

Occasionally there are days when I don’t want to make my own porridge and need it fancifying up, even more than I can muster. I have written a review in the past on 26 Grains, a porridge café in Neals Yard in London, so you know how much of a fangirl I am and how long I’ve been waiting for some genius to bring the same experience to us in Manchester. Thankfully Hester Lonergan, the face behind the brand Haver, has heard our cries and comes brimming with gifts.

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Currently popping up in Ancoats General Store on Great Ancoats Street in Manchester on Fridays from 7:30am-11am. All porridges are vegan, the flavours change weekly and in no way is this your mundane banana, cinnamon and peanut butter. Expect toppings galore of granola, compotes, caramels, nut butter, edible flowers and a lot of love.

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On the dreary November morning when I wandered into AGS (Ancoats General Store as it will be known from now on), tummy grumbling, eyes still bleary and legs already tired ahead of a long day of work. Hester was busy hustling in the corner surrounded by plants and with a soundtrack of ABBA quietly jingling in the background, it was enough to bring a smile to my face and crack the morning grogginess. Two choices on offer Pomme Classique and PBCB, the first a almond oats, apple and cinnamon compote, raisin granola, date caramel and walnuts a tough choice against the PCBC, coconut oats, banana chia jam, coconut crumb, maple peanut sauce and cacao nibs. Pomme Classique won the day, because who doesn’t love a good dollop of caramel?

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So I got chatting with Hester after ogling her masterpieces on Instagram for a while. We both share a strong love of the ManiLife Deep Roast Peanut Butter and porridge (DuUUHH), it was great to finally meet her in person rather than virtually whilst she was prepping my porridge. There are too many people I communicate with over Instagram, but have never met them in real life. 2018 goals I think!

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So the porridge came, and my oh my was it delish. One brilliant thing that Hester always asks, is whether you would like the sprinkling of salt on top which she strongly advises. Similar to salted caramel, the combination of fat, salt and sugar get all of our senses tingling, that little bit of salt elevates all the flavours and it’s a little tip I’m going to be adding to my own bowls. Nothing was overly sweet, just perfectly balanced. The oats had the subtleness you want with a almondy note, some sweet jewels when you bite into the raisin granola, the date caramel mixed with the salt brings out a rich almost treacly flavour, the compote was rich in cinnamon and alongside the crunch of the buttery walnuts it left me scraping the bottom of the bowl wondering where it had all gone.

However my tummy was full, I was set for my day and left hoping that the wait until my next bowl wouldn’t be very far away.

 

The last pop-up of the year is this Friday the 15th of December, if you can make it down expect some festive flavours. The most recent have been Terry: an almond oats, chocolate and almond granola, clementine, cacao caramel, almonds and zest, a posh Terrys Chocolate Orange of sorts and Drift: a snowy white spectacle with coconut oats, baked apple, coconut chia, blossom sugar and macadamia. Happily munched with carols gracing your ears, it’s a morning that surely will get you in the festive spirit. Christmas jumpers and antlers are optional. After then, I’m not too sure what’s happening on her agenda. Hopefully many more opportunities are on the horizon for Hester, where she can spread the word of porridge to more people of Manchester. If you’re after a beautiful bowl, the picture for Instagram is optional but recommended, there aren’t many other options in town, and whilst you’re waiting at AGS why not have a wander of the shelves or get yourself a cuppa or a coffee. It’s also one of the very few city centre options for a turmeric, matcha and beetroot latte FYI. It’s a wondrous store and gives rise to many other pop-ups like Haver, it’s the small and independent ventures we need to be celebrating. Much better than your Pret breakfast or lunch I can guarantee.

Get hurtling with those spurtles.

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The Allotment Vegan Restaurant – Review

The most unlikely of places for a vegan restaurant, it’s true. Fine dining vegan even more so! Manchester has the odd few places, V Rev for the times when you are in need of some serious junk food action and The Earth Centre for vegan comfort food like dahls, pies and soups. Then most places have some vegan options on the menu, but they never really stray much further than a bean burger or some fried tofu. Wander slightly further afield to Stockport however, a 20 minute drive, and there you will find what is starting to become a foodie mecca.

Down a steep declining hill from the market, on the corner of Vernon street you will find a bright, minimal but warm restaurant, stocked with hanging plants and succulents and a bustling open kitchen. We visited shortly before 7 on a Thursday night and it was almost full and by the time it hit 8:30 every table had guests, a good sign that they’re doing something right!!

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Starting with some water flavoured with cucumber, mint and orange as we browsed the menu, deciding between the 10 or 7 course taster menu, the a la carte or the early bird. The menu is short and concise, but even so I struggled making a decision on what to eat, everything sounded so tempting. The wine and beer list isn’t extended either, all the more easier to pick and choose, a few award winning wines and craft ales, also a wine pairing menu if you so wish. I would have walked out sloshed if that were the case.

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First out came an amuse bouche, aubergine, beetroot and cucumber, a perfect little tasty concoction whilst sipping on our chardonnay, just a little taster of what was to come. Don’t get me started on the plates, the temptation to lick the plate clean and stuff it into my handbag definitely ran through my mind.

Next along came the starters, one the courgette scallop with sea herb salsa verde. A pan-fried courgette scallop with a samphire salsa verde on a celeriac puree, tapioca pearl, apple and nori. A salty sea freshness and the smoothest celeriac puree that has ever graced my mouth. Alongside the allotments’ signature dish cauliflower hot wings with some roast garlic hummus. Addictive doesn’t even explain it. My mum is not a fan of cauliflower at all. No matter how much I try to disguise the flavours she will always shove it to the side of the plate for me to pick at. These went down pretty well though. How can they not really? They’re deep fried!! 😛

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I opted for the aubergine manchurian for main, an indo-chinese spiced confit aubergine, spring onion rice, chilli popcorn, lemon kale, pickled vegetables and fried enoki. Full of different textures and flavours, some spicy some sharp and the meaty aubergine to mop up all the lovely sauce. For my mum was the sweetcorn and pickled chilli. A fried sweetcorn and jalapeno fritter, lemon thyme and cumin potato puree, tomato marmalade glazed roasted romanesco, white bean, pine nut and avocado. All plants. Yep not a bit of meat, eggs or dairy in sight! And that’s coming from someone who when a dish isn’t feeling quiiiitteeee right, cheese is always the answer.

Another glass of wine down and out came an unexpected (and my favourite bit of the night). A PRE DESSERT. Can this be made obligatory at every restaurant. K thanks. A bottom layer of turmeric custard, topped with a pink fir apple compote and some toasted chopped hazelnuts. We could’ve eaten this by the bucket full. Only to be followed by the dessert, a sweet potato custard tart with meringue shards and lemon sorbet. Nicely spiced, in between an egg(less) custard and a pumpkin pie, a bit of crisp from the meringue, all cut with some zing in the lemon sorbet. We did share the dessert, I’m sure much to the dismay of some of you, but stuffed we were and it topped off a lovely meal.

Sorry that there’s no images of the pre-dessert and dessert, you’ll just have to picture it in your head. We just wanted to tuck straight in for once, it was my birthday, let me off!

I’d like to add that neither me nor my mum are vegan or even vegetarian for that matter. We tend to eat plant based meals the majority of the time, but still do enjoy some fish once or twice a week and the odd roast chicken or steak. That being said, dinner at the allotment was refreshing and inspiring, every plate full of varying textures and using ingredients together that you would not normally dream of. There is indeed a cheese course. Cultured nut cheeses served with seasonal nut cheeses and raw crackers, something that I am yet to try and anticipating it to be sooner rather than later!

Starters cost £6-£7, mains are between £17 and £18 and desserts are £7, it’s fine dining so don’t expect large portions, but that just means you can try more of what they have to offer. If you do visit though, please make sure to order the cauliflower hot wings. Just for me. Even if that’s all you go for, it’ll be completely worth it.

The Allotment Vegan, 6 Vernon St, Stockport, SK1 1TY

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