One of the most frustrating things about the weather in Manchester is that the few sunny days are never when you want them to be. Almost every day that I had to spend in the library, the weather was gorgeous. But as soon as my dissertation was finished, hello rain. This time, however, I was happily surprised. As I was on the verge of having a panic attack a week before my dissertation was due, I made plans to go to the Altrincham Market House on the following Sunday, to have something to look forward to. To my dismay, the weather, which had been glorious, was supposed to be at its worse. However, to my delight, the weather forecast was wrong, and that Sunday was as sunny as it could possibly be. I grabbed my sunglasses and headed to Altrincham, which is a 30-minute drive away from Manchester (also accessible from Piccadilly Gardens by bus (X41) and tram). Altrincham is a snazzy suburban town in Southwest Manchester, with big, pretty houses, leafy gardens, and nice little shops.
We first had a look at the covered market, which welcomes a wide range of traders every Sunday; you can find artisan bread, vegan cosmetics, handmade cards, and all kinds of gourmet bits and bobs. I could not resist buying a pistachio and chilli dark chocolate bar from Cocoa Nut Grove, and handmade orange and poppy seeds biscuits from Carlos’ Biscuits, all delicious! Upon my recommendation, my friend bought cheese from a cheese maker I recognised from Levenshulme Market, whose name I cannot remember unfortunately. I spotted Madame Françoise’s stall, from whom you can buy French crêpes made on the spot. However they were out of savoury galettes, and by the time I had eaten my lunch I was too full for a sweet one. Next time!
After roaming the covered market for quite a while, we decided to have a look at the food hall, located in a recently revamped market house next to the Sunday market. The result is quite impressive: a dozen of long wooden tables, surrounded by tastefully decorated stalls, from which you can order food and drinks. After having a look around, we settled for a fennel pepperoni pizza from Honest Crust, a Cesar Salad from Little Window and a glass of house white wine. The pizza was heavenly: a very thin crust and deliciously seasoned toppings. The Cesar Salad was made with anchovies, which is not common I believe, but nonetheless delicious, with homemade croutons and lots of Parmesan. All the ingredients were very fresh and wholesome, and the wine was good as well. It all came out pretty cheap, about 25£ altogether.
We had no room for dessert, but I spotted some pretty good-looking cake, and chocolate truffles from Sam Joseph. Every stall was very tempting, each offering something different from traditional English pies to Middle Eastern inspired dishes. The crowd was made out of families, elderly couples as well as groups of friends in their twenties. There is a children area with colourful wooden toys, for those of you who wish to go there for a family day out; it is very child-friendly.
After lunch, as it was still early in the afternoon and the weather was too good to be wasted by spending any time inside, we drove back to Manchester and went to Blackjack Brewery’s monthly brewtap. Blackjack is a local brewery located North of the city centre, somewhere between the Northern Quarter, Ancoats and Victoria station, which throws a three-day party every month from March. We had a little bit of trouble finding it, as it was quite far off, and almost gave up. However, when we finally made it there, we were happy to have persevered.
It was all very simple: a few tables and benches, a couple of deck chairs and a DJ playing good music, all under a railway arch. Although we had got there at the very end of the week end, the atmosphere was still good, everyone was soaking in the last rays of sun and drinking the last pints of beer of the week end. Mac Daddies’ truck was there, providing gourmet mac and cheese, which we did not have the pleasure to try, as we were still full from the pizza we’d had. We had a pint of lager and stayed for quite a while, enjoying every moment of that surprisingly sunny day, ready to face another week at the library.
Altrincham Market: Greenwood Street, Altrincham WA14 1SA
Blacjack Brewery and Brewtap: 36 Gould Street, Green Quarter M4 4RN