More and more people are visiting Manchester these days, and admittedly there are more and more reasons to do so. FutureEverything (festival-formerly-known-as-Futuresonic), Manchester International Festival and Manchester Literature Festival, Queer Up North, you name it. This is not to mention the beloved Manchester United and the growing MediaCityUK in Salford Quays.
To help you glide effortlessly through the gamut of events, Visit Manchester maintains a very useful site that is now accompanied by a blog and a Facebook page. The work of a prodigious Mancunian all-rounder, Martin Bryant, both blog and FB page will keep you well updated about what’s going on in our sunny city that occasionally boasts generous spells of rain.
When you visit Manchester, do pay a visit to Norther Quarter. The video below produced by Martin features Peter O’Grady, one of Manchester’s official tour guides, who in the matter of 5 minutes will tell you a lot of interesting facts about this bohemian and very characteristic part of Manchester. When you are travelling to Manchester, you can also download an audio guide produced by Phil Nash at Walk Talk Tours.
And when you have seen everything Peter and Phil told you about and got sufficiently hungry, go to Sweet Mandarin – the little ‘Chinese dragon’ that has just been named the best Chinese restaurant in the UK by Gordon Ramsay (follow the link to read about the tough battle against Edinburgh-based Chop-Chop). Set away from the maddening hustle and bustle of Chinatown (and Yang Sing restaurant), Sweet Mandarin has long been one of the most innovative eateries in the UK, pioneering the use of Twitter, blog, and Flickr, to draw attention to the place. Family run, the restaurant is the place for regular get-togethers of Mancunian Twitterati and Flickr photographers, and the homebase of a cookery school. In short, if you ever wondered how to cook something with Social Media, Sweet Mandarin can teach you many a lesson.
I’ve eaten at Sweet Mandarin during Futuresonic 2009, it was one of the places that offered discounts to delegates. I had the pleasure of trying their signature Claypot Chicken dish… that was praised by Ramsay and his team. If my memory is correct, the dish is cooked after a family recipe, and it is delicious! (Should I have said “del.icio.us”, to keep up with the SocMed tone?).
Above all, the restaurant staff is really friendly, attentive, and I am personally grateful for some advice they’ve given me. If or when you are visiting Manchester, do visit Sweet Mandarin. And in the meantime, if you are on Twitter, send them your greetings. Congratulations on the deserved win!
(I took the photo during one the Twitterati meet-ups in 2009).