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I’m currently sitting in the stylish Manchester Malmaison Hotel (“the Mal”) trying to stay away from the madness around the streets of Manchester today thanks to the UEFA cup final. I have never seen so many blue shirts and every voice I hear is Scottish (Rangers have made it to the final apparently).

It has been a very interesting visit to Manchester and I remembered to bring along my camera this time, so here are a few photos to add to the descriptions.

Lunch was in Grado, an elegant, modern take on Spanish tapas very near the centre of Manchester. This was a chance to catch up with colleagues more than a visit, but we did have a chance to try the Jamon Iberico, freshly sliced, and some very nice clams.

After lunch we walked around town, avoiding the growing throngs of blue-shirted football fans that were already filling all the central pubs and even the central square, and this was the day before the game!

The Northern Quarter is both the name of the ‘cool’ area for bars in Manchester, and the name of the place I popped into. It has a nice “gastro” feeling to it, comfortable and minimalist, with very friendly staff. In fact we only had a chance for a quick business “hello” so I managed to go back later and have a proper drink which was nice.

Then, after a quick medical detour for an annoying eye problem, it was off to Kro2 – a Danish bar concept apparently for a dinner matching wines from Dinastia Vivanco and Criadores de Rioja to their food. It was rather loud, running tastings in a bar is always hard, so instead of the usual present/taste format we just poured the wines and talked a little about them as we circulated. It makes it more informal and fun, and hopefully we get to answer more questions that way.

As well as meeting a great bunch of Kro customers, another wine blogger, Alastair Bathgate from Confessions of a Wino joined us, so I look forward to his thoughts. He and I went back to the Northern Quarter to talk about wine, blogging and life, … more on that soon, possibly elsewhere.

Now, have to run to catch the train back home!