Tag Archives: The Midland Hotel

My Four Favourite Foodie Experiences of 2016

When I look back over 2016 there are very low points and very high points. Inevitably for a greedy person like me, many of my highlights involve exceptionally good plates of food, very good gin and some very special bottles of wine. I’ve picked out four of my favourite foodie experiences of 2016 for no other reason than to remember them makes me smile.

This year I turned 40 and as a very special birthday present my husband booked us into The Midland Hotel in Manchester. He treated me to an exquisite meal at The French. The French is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for a couple of years and our amazing 9 course taster menu did not disappoint.

Foodie Experiences - The French The Midland Hotel Manchester

One of my favourite courses was the “salad” which was a beautiful (in every sense) plate of potato, ramson caper, black garlic & chestnut. The meal, the night, the weekend, it was all perfect. We’re looking forward to winning the lottery and going again some day.

In November a giddy gang of food bloggers descended on River Cottage HQ for a River Cottage style evening of fine dining. It was fresh, seasonal, local, beautifully cooked and expertly presented. River Cottage is by far (by far, even including the other amazing places I’ve dined this year) my favourite place to eat. If you can go, you really should.

Foodie Experiences: Dining at River Cottage HQ

Every plate was a delight, the prettiest was my starter of ravioli with celeriac purée, wild mushrooms and sage. This was a deceptively filling dish, perfectly autumnal and as pretty as a picture.

The next day we couldn’t resist swinging by the River Cottage Canteen in Axminster for a spot of lunch before heading home. We were not disappointed. I ordered a couple of small plates – a casual lunch of soup and a simple but incredibly memorable plate of roast celeriac, cauliflower and pickled ewes cheese with salsa verde.

River Cottage Canteen

Every mouthful was perfectly balanced. I can’t believe I only paid £6 for something which somewhere swisher would charge four times that at least. Amazing food at incredibly accessible prices – a rare thing indeed.

Back home in Manchester, I’ve eaten in a hundred different restaurants. Whenever I’m in town in need of a quick bite I almost always end up in the same place eating the same thing. It’s a favourite haunt of my North West blogger chums, it’s Wagamama.

Wagamama Spinningfields

Every time I visit I order a steaming bowl of yasai itame. It’s a big fragrant bowl of rice noodles in a spicy green coconut and lemongrass soup with tofu and vegetables, stir-fried beansprouts, red and spring onions, bok choi, peppers, mushrooms and chillies, garnished with coriander and lime.

It’s fresh, hearty, delicious and it feels healthy. I usually team it with one of their fresh juices so by the time I leave I’ve had about 800 of my five a day. It’s probably lucky I live a 45 minute bus journey away or I’d turn into a bowl of yasai itame.

I’ve spent a little bit of time scrolling through my Instagram feed and looking at some of the amazing dishes I’ve eaten this year. I’ve eaten in some really wonderful and memorable places, but these are probably four of my favourite plates, all for different reasons. All have stuck with me and have my mouth watering again just thinking about them.

Where I’ll eat and what I’ll eat in 2017 is yet to be seen, but in terms of good food, 2016 will be a hard one to beat. What were your most memorable dishes of 2016?

My Four Favourite Foodie Experiences of 2016

Spa Days: The Spa at The Midland, Manchester

Over the weekend my husband took me to The Midland Hotel in Manchester for a romantic weekend to celebrate my birthday. My gift from him was a night in a suite, a nine course meal in The French and some time in The Spa at The Midland. It was not the worst present I’ve ever been given. The boy did very well.

The Spa at The Midland

I am VERY fond of a spa day. Sometimes I will go to a spa for a treatment or two and then chill out in the thermal rooms, sometimes I will just go for a swim, a sauna and a steam. I find thermal rooms are very good for my back (I have chronic pain), the warmth of a sauna or a steam room really eases my old bones, so a spa day isn’t just a nice treat, it’s like therapy. 

As a guest at The Midland if you just want to use the spa, all you do is phone the Spa Reception and they’ll book you in for a time. This is so the spa doesn’t get too busy and noisy. If you’re not staying in the hotel, then you’ll need to book a spa day, there are a range of options on their website.

The Spa at The Midland has won a whole host of awards including Best City Spa Break Manchester, Best City Spa Day Manchester and Best Hotel Spa Manchester. The Spa at The Midland has also been named as ‘Best City Spa’ in The Candis 2016 Spa Awards. It is very good.

Take the lift to the lower ground floor and open the door to the spa, the smell of soothing essential oils permeates up the corridor to the spa reception. We were greeted by one of the staff, given a fluffy towel, a robe and slippers and directed to the changing rooms.

The Spa at The Midland

The communal changing rooms are a little on the small side, but if they only have small numbers in at a time it shouldn’t be an issue. The changing area has showers as well as an area where you can dry and straighten your hair.

I headed straight for the pool area, taking a shower before diving in. The shower has three different settings, and is a bit of an experience in itself. The cool misty shower is great after the sauna. 

The pool isn’t large, but it’s big enough to do a few gentle laps before sitting in the jacuzzi. The jacuzzi is very warm, it was too warm for my husband, but the bubbles pummelled my back in all the right places so I did spend quite a lot of time in there.

There is a small sauna and a steam room tucked away near the tropical shower area. Both rooms are probably big enough for 4 or 5 people but no more. I really enjoyed both rooms and I would very much like to go back and spend some more time in them. There is something very cleansing about having a sauna and a steam, I’d recommend it, especially if you suffer with aches and pains.

I didn’t venture into the relaxation room, but hubs spent quite a lot of time in there, he made himself a herbal tea, found a restful corner and promptly fell asleep. I do enjoy a relaxation room after I’ve had a treatment, they’re good places to chill out in whilst you come round after a massage or facial. Or if you’re my husband, a great place to have a nap.

The Spa at The Midland

We spent a couple of hours enjoying the pool and thermal suites before heading back to our room to get ready for dinner. We are talking about coming back for an afternoon of post-Christmas relaxation in the New Year. We didn’t have the time to try out any of the treatments on offer at The Spa at The Midland, but that is something we will look at for our next visit.

The Spa at The Midland also has a gym, a number of treatment rooms and a cafe to enjoy when you visit. I’ve been to a lot of spas and this felt very luxurious, it was clean, the lighting was soft and relaxing and the staff were attentive without been obtrusive. I enjoyed my couple of hours in the spa very much and I’m looking forward to our return.

For more information and more detailed photographs (I didn’t take any photos inside the spa for obvious reasons), visit The Spa at The Midland website.