Didsburydad's Blog

From the not so mean streets of M20, blog about being a dad, Didsbury and dealing with parental confusion

Archive for the tag “Felicini’s”

Didsbury: I Have a Dream

I have a dream. I have many dreams. Beyond a harmonious world and an easy to assemble Kinder Egg Toy, I have dreams.          I remember when all of this was train track. 
I dream of reading a newspaper article (analogue or digital) whose research is not a celebrity twitter feed and in which fact checking does not mean a retweet. 

I dream of the time when the Pearly Princess can put on her own tights. Truly, as a man with the dexterity of the average baby this is a daily bind. Fifteen minutes spent struggling with a wriggly toddler to find they are on back to front and the heel is over one knee is soul destroying in a way that working out next to someone who keeps asking if you’re okay “…as you don’t get many people in your age” can only peck at gently.Burns, La Tasca, Cibo, Solita. Inhabitants and the back four of FC Nido in the 2004 Champions League qualifier. 

I dream of a time when each incarnation of the restaurant known as Y Fabrica (me neither, no idea) join forces. Whether it’s The Mud Crab Cafe, Felicinis or Didsbury Wine Bar, between them there is a decent menu lying in wait. 

I dream of people caring about each other. Of pushy mothers in 4x4s not double parking or taking residents’ spaces when dropping their Freyas and Archies at Primary School. Of the staff at Evans being knighted for services to middle class dinner parties in South Manchester. Of Unicorns singing Stone Roses tunes as you pass the “Welcome to Greater Manchester” sign on the M56 and of a time when my first action of the day is not deciding what to do with a pull-up. The names on the mug are in reverse order.

Alongside every act of lazy and institutionalised xenophobia we have witnessed over the last year I believe there is goodness. There are people who realise the contribution of all people whether British born or not. I thought about this as I sipped the most exquisite Sardinian-made Bloody Mary at Piccolino’s on Saturday. I remember it when it when I bump into people who remember me going for sweets on Lapwing Lane with my own Didsbury grandad. Rare picture of Fog Lane Park’s Pets’ Corner

I dream of a world where Coronation Street does not move so quickly that I miss a month and have no idea who Steve MacDonald has married/impregnated/saved.Kiwi, a rare Didsbury delicacy from when Evans first opened. 

I dream of a world where the city abruptly ends and the country takes over in seconds. Then I remember Stenner Lane, the perfect cut through between almost Gastropub The Didsbury and the haven of Fletcher Moss.

Ten minutes looking at the river and I don’t care who’s blocked my drive, which continent Felicini’s is pretending to be from or which toddler’s knee wakes me with a morning kidney jab. I just tap my heels together 3 times and I’m walking back from Flannagan’s with a smart haircut and a Fosters’ chippie tea in my hand. 

* thanks to @craftwords for keeping me up to date with developments and great one-liners whilst I’ve been too busy navel-gazing to write a regular blog. 

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Home is not just a cinema or the church cafe

. When Felicini’s became the Mudflap cafe I nearly cried. It’s glossy black sign and euphemistic name was a part of my history and stood proudly in the same giggling pointlessness of changing The Cheese Hamlet to Helmet. Now, with the stripped back wood still settling in to Gregg’s and an eviscerated Inman’s being re-imagined as Thai favourite The Chilli Banana I am almost out of my depth.
felicinsmud-crabfutureistic-pic evolution
At least it’s only 8 months until Didsbury Festival returns in its usual format – unchanged since Bonnie Prince Charlie led the procession, which featured the 88th Scouts.
This is Didsbury. A wheel turning and creating new identities – including cash converting, laser surgery, fifteen diet clubs and an ever growing coterie of Pet Grooming services. Only 86% of trading premises in Didsbury serve coffee, 71% cut hair (human or canine). Didsbury Library is a portal to 1973. I go there when I only have tuppence ha’penny and need a cup of tea (coffee not being invented until The Premier League started in 1992).
The other big news is that Didsbury Dad Towers is no longer in Didsbury. We are now a castle, a Didsbury Diaspora outpost.
In a year that has seen us cough up more in Stamp Duty than the national debt we have moved twice. First out of the village to near the river and now, out of town.
We have moved so far away that we are the cultural diversity. It’s a city, it’s semi-rural and it’s not Didsbury.
So I am part-time Didsbury Dad. I am still working in my capacity as Meeja Luvvie doing something non-specific in MediaCity – but only weekdays.
It is strange. All Didsbury Son has known is Didsbury. My life with Didsbury Wife has been played out to the backdrop of Piccolino and Barlowmoor Road. The Mighty Headed Boy and the Pearly Princess are Harriet & Dee. But. We have begun to sever the link for a period of time.
It’s only been a few weeks and it’s still a bit like being on holiday. It does make you realise how easy it can be living somewhere that is the edge of the metropolis, has travel options to envy and it’s all in walking distance.
It’s early days yet. I have had to develop a whole new rhythm to each day. I am a little lost without my morning fix of Pete, Tom and Claire at Fusion Deli after a cheery wave from Darren at Delia’s Florist. There is no Piccolino, Bisous Bisous, St. James & Emmanuel and I don’t know everyone.
This has great advantages. When I get my Fusion fix the coffee tastes great and I have stories to share. I now know just how good New Peking House is and sometimes the anonymity is liberating.
I think I will always be a Didsbury Dad wherever we live. My Gamma Male, liberal approach to life on the Focaccia line is settled. We may be away for a short time or for good, not decided yet. But Didsbury Wife, Son and I are M20 raised and made and know the difference between a good idea and some of the money pit no chances that we’ve seen trying to cash in on the perceived wealth in Didsbury.
The boddlers are still confused. On Saturday, as we perused the rolling hills and unfamiliar accents that surround us, they clamoured for the sweet shop on Dene Road. As we walked through the Metrolinkless roads they wondered where all the Magic Buses were.
Starting from scratch after a life in the subsidised suburban bliss of M20 is exciting. But I think we’ll be coming regularly. It’s not just home, a river runs through it.

Didsbury’s Dining Dozen 

Eating out in M20 has moved on a lot from Burns Restaurant and Silvio’s Cafe. From the artisan crunchiness of Pizza Hut at Parrs Wood, through the stripped back beauty of Urban Grille and its clients who can only park on traffic lights, throughto The Canadian Charcoal Pit – which opened when Didsbury last voted Tory and predates Channel 4 our culinary prestige has grown.
My twitter feed often has people putting out calls for recommendations and my own Didsbury Mum has told me to stop sending strangers round for Chicken Soup. I have never tried The Rose Garden on Burton Road but have heard it reported as the best food in the city. Jem & I is similarly lauded but last time I went it was for a Market Research pastie tasting and I’m one of the few who is not a fan of Albert’s Shed. I want to like it. As The Barleycorn it was the first pub I went into and as a Casino in the early 60s it has a proper history, but it always feels a let down.

So your Christmas 2015, early 2016 top 12.

12. Volta, Burton Road. Nothing specific, not a single dish or a bauble but the whole experience of accessible urban chic and good cooking in an atmosphere that feels big city.

11. The Third Eye,Wilmslow Road. Squeezed in between the beatific Bisou Bisou and the mysterious Conservative Club, this is a Didsbury Legend that evokes strong feelings of loyalty. Making me a Third Eyer rather than a Great Khatmandu fan is a combination of the smiley women who welcome and remember you and the Makhan Fish.

10. The Mud Crab Cafe, Wilmslow Road. I wanted to hate it, replacing the much-loved and euphemism friendly Felicini’s but it is great. A proper diner experience, less showy and deep fried than Solita and they do a mean cocktail.

9. Sangam 2, Wilmslow Road. It shouldn’t thrive, but it does. This 70s Indian Restaurant throwback is perennially popular, reasonable and full. The Fish Tikka is a bit gorgeous, the service is crap and it’s the perfect group outing venue in the village.
8. Fosters, Dene Road. Pablo Zabaleta (hard as nails, Cheshire-based Argentinian footballer) has been quoted as saying he wants to bring Lionel Messi (Deity) to Didsbury for Fish & Chips. They could go to Burton Road, less likely the back room at The School Lane Chippy, but I think he meant Fosters. An American cousin once tried and was beaten by The Whale; I think he’s still there still there. Great combination of chips, chippiness and a little Didsbury.   Messi on the menu

7. Cau, Wilmslow Road. This building has struggled since it stopped being The Old Grey Horse, somewhere in the early 90s. I like Cau. The staff seem to come from the same stage school as Chalk’s skinny-hipped servers but the food is fab and the decor works. With a bit of luck they’ll stay a while.
6. Japan Deli, Wilmslow Road. Technically Withington. Lacks atmosphere, variety and very often clientele. But the sushi is fantastic and the Chilli Squid makes it all worthwhile.
5. Pinchjos, Burton Road. They say you never forget your first kiss, where you were when Princess Diana died and your first Morcilla, mine was at Pinchjos.

4. Healthy Spirit Cafe, Barlowmoor Road. Go in hungry, come out cleansed. Take out the gluten and the dairy, add a little touch of hope. How many places around here offer meditation followed by lunch and aren’t sheltered housing? The only downside is being pram-unfriendly, which may be an upside.
3. No 4., Warburton Street. Nestled far enough behind Urban Grille to be out of its shadow and near enough to The Dog and Partridge should you need to check the football scores. This was my backstreet retreat in pre-Didsbury Dad days when I would read the whole of the Saturday newspaper whilst tucking into the weekend brunch. It still feels like a treat to go in for an occasion.
2. Piccolino, Lapwing Lane. Somewhere between independent and a chain; nestled between Rimmer’s Green’s and the sublime Lime Tree and parked next to the monolith that is The Metropolitan is Piccolino Didsbury. Wilfully expensive, they do things with Scallops, Prawns and Carpaccio that make me happy to forego the children’s college funds. Reasonably priced Chianti and Linguine can transport you to Sardinia, whilst being able to nip into Tesco Express on the way to the Metro home. Go for an intimate lunch.

 My Blue Peter Badge table designs.
1. Peking House, School Lane. Not strictly a restaurant but definitely a tourist attraction with views across the piazza to the Violin shop I’ve never been in. When I first went there School Lane had an art shop and the Metrolink was science fiction. Go for soup and anything with broccoli or cashew nuts. You always get treated like a friend AND prawn crackers.

 The 9th Wonder
There are others that are fighting for a place and this has Ben a bit like choosing a Fantasy League team. The Japanese Restaurant on Burton Road has my admiration for sticking a handwritten piece of A4 on the door during Westfest to announce they were closed for a bit; and the seaweed’s good. Bourbon & Black, want to love it but being the only person in there not on their phone on Tinder or Snapchat was hardwork. Pizza Express is always worth a visit to bump into old friends, happens every time and Saison and Azzure bring Euro chic and Aladdin’s starters make them the most interesting of dilemmas to chose where to go.
So, as we stock up on antacids, prepare to indulge and miscook a Turkey or two – I’ll be realising that if I stick to my budget it’s a Chicken Kebab from Turkish Delight in Chorlton and another six viewings of Cinderella on Amazon Prime.

Didsbury – The Story As it Stands

Say hello, wave goodbye. The
places to stretch your legs, sit back and get stuck in this Autumn in Didsbury are a changing and Halloween is in the air.  The meter is starting to tick down on 2015.

These are mysterious times. Somebody thought opening a Victoria Highfield in Didsbury Village would be a good idea. Geese have been flying backwards across Didsbury Park. In the next block the North Wales cruise specialists Gold Beach Holidays may have lasted less time than it takes to say “All You Can Eat Buffet”, but they didn’t stint on the paintjob when they arrived for their two weeks in Didsbury Village and it still looks as shiny, new and forlorn as when they arrived.
Loft, about as West Didsbury as a hipster without his irony shuts next weekend. For affordable non-chic, the Buy-to-Let chattering classes will now either have to go upmarket across Burton Road to Frog, or follow the 4x4s down the bypass to Stanley Green – where hope goes to die and they built a Costa as a man-crèche. 

 Loft don’t sell spiders for your house. I found a great websit to help you grow your own indoors. 

There are retail vacancies to be filled across M20 and some weighty spaces to fill. We have passed the point where there is now a 1:4 ratio of barista:resident and new hairdressers are banned until at least four shut down. The battle of the purple estate agent supremacists has created a vacuum in the village as roaming Brimelow and Wadden militia re-draw the M20 boundary – Cheadle is getting annexed.
Still no word of a Waitrose, a day spa, another clothes shop or a properly kiddie friendly hangout in this borough of babies but…

Inmans, Caffe Rouge and Sew-In are still empty shells. There is talk of Sew-In becoming Bosu, a Chorltonite healthy deli. News of John Lewis, Waitrose and an Apple outlet store in Didsbury remain fictitious rumours I have started and failed to get viral.
I have my spies and in true Mystic Meg fashion I predict that 

1. In Didsbury Village either an Estate Agent, Charity Shop, Hairdresser, coffee shop or Northern Quarter started restaurant will open up before Christmas.
2. In West Didsbury’s booming heart the next phase is a Middle-Eastern inspired new tapas with its own beer in shoe boxes served by skinny-hipped, tattooed-up fashionistas.
3. Even with the fabulous Boulevard Deli, driving for any reason through Didsbury Point will always make you glad you didn’t buy there.   The view of the recreation square at The Boulevard – residents, often locked in their cells for 23 hours per day.”

I’m off to kick leaves and see if Bisou Bisou has a Reduced counter and as they say in Italy, “Qualunque cosa ti chiamano, sarete sempre Felicinis” a me.*
*Whatever they call you, you will always be Felicinis to me.”

Lest We Forget – Those who came and those who left us in Didsbury 2012

Inevitably, indulgently, insignificantly, in anticipation the end of the year always adds a little maudlin touch to thoughts and you remember those who have departed before the year ends. This has been a big year for Didsbury. The hulk that was Pizza Hut transformed slowly. There were rumours of Waitrose, fears of another coffee chain and a bid for the village’s 500th hairdressers. We got Holland and Barratt.
A sweet shop has opened in Foster’s chippy, Gourmet Burger King proudly welcomed over 50 diners this year and Domino’s showed that to be successful the obvious can sometimes outweigh the clever and the village rolled on, not too posh to pizza.

Remember the Lillies - they cried when Felcini's closed

Remember the Lillies – they cried when Felcini’s closed

The Croatian Deli – green and central has expanded into a quasi resturant with London style and pricing and lovely staff and they stand like an island between the red Costa and the Blue Nero. The Art of Tea offers free wi-fi and the best toast in the village BUT… you can’t get a double buggy in there and I have had to find a new office. Didsbury Son left Didsbury Schooling which lowered my threshold for the baying, 4 x 4, badly parking, agressive and competitive mothers who think that schooling their progeny gives them a free pass in life and finally Didsbury Life gets quicker to read, less relevant and more like an Argos catalogue each month.

Bless The Reporter, The Airy Fairy Cake Company, Dids

More than just a snappy logo, The Didsbury Village Farm Shop knows the value of a good sausage roll

More than just a snappy logo, The Didsbury Village Farm Shop knows the value of a good sausage roll

bury Village Farm Shop and the cornerstones of civilisation – The Cheese Hamlet, Evans and our Co-Op. A Co-Op shadowed by M&S, Tesco and bespoke foodshops but still holding its own with queues reminiscent of a Greggs near an office block. Bless also our great parks, Fletcher Moss, The Didsbury and most of the staff in the Post Office.

2012 has been the year when School Lane has bred hairdressers and barbers. West Didsbury has opened niche and quirky shops and bars with one word titles and uncomfy seating to go with the innovative produce and no-one, not even at home, asked me to turn on the Christmas Lights. It has been a good year. Didsbury Festival, Didsbury Arts Festival and WestFest hit the spot and every shop in Lapwing Lane got chairs to welcome Metrolink commuters.

;

But into every sunshine a little rain may fall. In 2012 we said goodbye to ome much loved Didsbury residents.

1. Linen – farewell to the Pixie like talents that dressed our children with aspiration and gave a credible last minute present not from a Newsagents

2. Rumpus is Dead. Long Live The Giddy Goat. It has been all change on Albert Hill Street but The Giddy Goat has gladdened our hearts and sadly brought Lego Star Wars to the centre of the village. One day it may replace Razma Reads.

3. La Tasca – the Spanish debt crisis reached Didsbury and the home of so many celebrations is now a Marie Celsteesque shell on the edge of the village.

and finally, with apologies to those not mentioned, farewell Felicini’s – much loved, much attended and much missed. If I want muddy crabs and battleship grey I will go to the seaside. I have tried to love the new Felicini’s Australian Inspired, New York Themed Didsbury based fusion but sadly not. Arrivederci old friend.

This used to be Felcini's

This used to be Felcini’s

The Euro Crisis reaches Didsbury

I’ve been working in the Northern Quarter today. It’s been like walking through my past with rose-tinted organic glasses. Manchester’s Northern Quarter is like West Didsbury without a hospital, with more people looking nervously at passing police cars and no cupcakeries

The 142 to and from town is a good indicator of the city’s temperature. At this time of year it is full of braying Home Counties émigrés trying to sound unfeasibly hip, only to give themselves away with comments such as
“New Business School, it’s proper sick (sic)”
Aah the 142, trolling up and down Wilmslow Road and depositing me home to the iPoddingly hopeful embrace of Didsbury Son and the virtually popping with pregnancy Didsbury Wife. Home – to a Didsbury Village wracked with uncertainty, insecurity and change as Euro’s crisis sees us lose Spain and Italy in one week.

La Tasca GONE. La Tasca, as Spanish as a Co-op baguette is French, whose Iberian cuisine is sourced from the olive groves off the M60, gone. La Tasca, home to some memorable celebrations and unfeasibly priced Albondingas. No longer can we marvel at Spanish spoken with flattened Northern vowels pronouncing Rioja with a K. If La Tasca can just shut without warning then what hope the stainless tables and unscraped chairs of Gourmet Burger King; where the staff to diner ratio matches that of the canteen at a High Security prison.

The new menu at La Tasca

Enough? No. Felicini’s is no more. Its having a paint and makeover and a new menu, a new name and a new identity. Just tell us the truth. Felicini’s is an ex Didsbury resident. it didn’t try to expand sideways into Delia’s? It didn’t aim to go upwards to incorporate the only health and beauty salon never to advertise, it is more radical. This morning I wondered if Felicini’s was going to launch a new Italian menu that shuns Pizza, pasta and Parmesan to return coccoon like to The Didsbury Village Wine Bar? I wasn’t too far off. It’s a coffee emporium with baked extras. Lucky, as we are down to our last 10 coffee choices in the village.

Holland and Barratt still hasn’t opened, the proposed hairdresser stil hasn’t snipped, Didsbury Village Farm shop is already having a re-fit and apparently the RSPCA shop doesn’t sell animals.

It is nearly October. The nights are drawing in and if I had any idea who might care… I could swear it was a conspiracy to cut out the middle man and move Didsbury to MediaCityUK.

“Enough, there is no more. ‘Tis not so sweet now as it was before.”

20120927-202715.jpg

Didsbury Wife surveys the venue formerly known as Felicini’s

 

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