Manchester is no stranger to pop-up kitchens, and now Manchester Union Brewery are joining the game.
The brewery, producing exclusively lagers, partnered up with Caroline Martins in their first pop-up kitchen event and have done a great job of following the adage of “get it right the first time”.
Manchester Union have created can upon can of crowd favourites, including their signature lager. And with five new lagers on the way, what better way to mark the occasion than with a three-course menu tailored to pair with one of each lager?
We were treated to an evening of delights from Caroline, a Brazilian Masterchef winner that has worked in not one, not two, but four Michelin starred restaurants. Armed only with a sous-vide machine and a single induction hob, she created a visual and sensory experience you would expect only from a professional kitchen fit for a movie screen.
We started out with a pint of the Manchester Union Lager to warm up our tastebuds before the starters arrived.
The starters in question were also paired with some Manchester Union concoctions. A slight deviation from the traditional wine pairings we’ve come to expect from most multiple course menus, they were nonetheless fitting.
For the first starter of carlingford oysters with passion fruit-infused tapioca pearls and Norfolk Lovage oil we were brought the Manchester Union Bock. Bocks being dark beers full of malt sweetness with a hint of bitterness, this was a perfect marriage of saltiness and bittersweetness. The light sweetness of passion fruit tapioca, a favourite for many a bubble tea fan, brought out the freshness of the oysters as well as the liquorice notes of the Bock.
A potentially controversial suggestion would be to swap out your champagne for a pint of Guinness the next time you get oysters.
Along with the oysters came a skewered medley of vegetables and cheese drizzled in olive oil, salt and lime. Here, Caroline showed her Brazilian background using grilled chunks of Brazilian Coalho cheese along with heart-of-palm, a relatively unheard of ingredient in the UK. The alternation of firm cheese, crunchy leaves and sweet heart-of-palm made for a great opener.
Before the main course came, Caroline unveiled her take on a bread and butter sharer.
Typically we have come to see plenty of sourdoughs and rich butters take this spot. Instead, we got a brioche made with calabresa inside and a candle made of beef-drippings and rosemary. Served with the Manchester Union Pale Ale, this was a dish you would expect from a creative restaurant aiming for a Michelin star.
The calabresa, a Brazilian smoked sausage similar to chorizo, is typically eaten with beer already. Incorporating it into a brioche and dipping it in slowly melting beef drippings made for a unique experience that you would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.
Continuing on from the candle came the moqueca. Again, a traditional Brazilian dish, this seafood stew featured a sous-vide lobster tail on an assortment of vegetables and prawns. The rich shellfish and coconut milk sauce was cut through by the pale ale, while maintaining the rich “homely” feel you would want from a stew.
To round off the experience, we were given the luxury of having one of Caroline’s own creations; her take on Romeu e Julieta.
Literally translating to “Romeo and Juliet”, this is a Brazilian favourite combining cheese and guava paste, usually in the form of a skewer. The name comes from being a perfect match, but Sao Paulo took it a step further. Instead of a simple skewer, what appeared to be a mushroom from Alice in Wonderland was brought to us.
In actual fact, the head was a guava jelly and parfait, the stalk a minas cheese mousse in a white chocolate shell, and the earth being a chocolate crumble. A perfect match indeed.
For such a dense dessert, it was only fitting that it was served with the Manchester Union Altbier. In the same vein that you would have a bold dessert wine with the final note of a meal, the Altbier is a rich lager with a note of butterscotch in it.
All in all, an ideal way to complete the first pop-up kitchen here.
Manchester Union Brewery has come a long way since their inception years ago. The decision to host chefs in their own location off the beaten track in Ardwick is a welcome one, and this was the first of many to come.
Keep your eyes peeled for their next event so you can be sure to indulge in their next guest’s creations.