★NBC (UK) WORK

Kalimocho ran for three years as part of the iVillage group at NBC Universal. Jane was the ‘Girl About Town’ reviewer for Manchester. It ran on the website “http://www.kalimocho.co.uk” as a magazine.

“KALIMOCHO IS ONE OF LONDON’S MOST POPULAR MAGAZINES aimed at the 18-30 female audience and thanks to her no-holds-barred bartab (kinda) and a very patient editor called Peggy, Jane is quickly becoming one of Manchester’s most seasoned reviewers in the city…”

(c) NBC Universal


Here’s the pick of the (very large) crop…

FINAL COUNTDOWN

14th July

It’s finals time for Jane so what better time to indulge in a revision-dodging cocktail in the Northern Quarter?

By Jane McConnell

Finals. It was exam season and you might think that that’s hardly the time to go out for cocktails…especially when all your mates flood their Twitter pages with how much they wish they were outside and not in the library, revising and getting lost in Facebook.

But in my book, Facebook does not beat face to face with a cheeky drink before heading back to revise. It takes up just as much time and it’s better to be a cool cat than to work into a total frenzy.

So, I met Katie in Walrus one evening. Not that I relate Katie to walruses in any way.  She’s in fact a little genius and puts my degree efforts to shame: she ventured to Stratford-Upon-Avon to embark on her huge Shakespeare dissertation. And she writes poetry too. Anyway, cocktails = well deserved.

Walrus, a name as quirky as the establishment, is a beautiful bar and restaurant located in Northern Quarter, and it’s very outlandish, they’ll play The Courteeners…followed by Bo Diddley. See, cool. It’s yellow, lilac, green and err, goldfish-friendly. You’ll see what I mean when you walk in and them swimming around the entrance!

The house specials are innovative although a tip is go for the fruity cocktails as you get more drink for your money.

And seeing as we forgot to order food amidst the chatter, I’ve got a greedy reason to go back again myself…

Walrus, Northern Quarter, 78-88 High Street. 3,2,1 Boom! Cocktail, £6.50

30th March

It’s been Talent Week in Exchange Court in the Arndale centre, where prospective youngsters looking for inspiration have been treated to free hairdos courtesy of Manchester College (cue the sulking blonde girl who had never known what backcombing meant until the moment she volunteered herself, bless the little drama queen), freestylin’ football skills and a ‘wall’ where the kids can ‘upload’ a little post it of their talents and dreams.

And easter brought with it a flurry of mothers and daughters flocking to the city to shop – that sacred tradition where mum and daughter are like two best mates hunting for a bargain. Me and my mum never really did that very well, but it’s nice to see the ones that do.

I toddled off to Oxford Road to Mariott’s Pantry, (maybe for the last time – as a third year student, it’s into the city itself with brute force!) for a cuppa a nice read of the Manchester Evening News. In all honesty I don’t mind paying for it during the week, having been brought up on a couple of local papers.

So, there I am, paper on the table, fork at the ready: there is something strangely satisfying and spiritual about sitting in a little eatery with no-one but moi for company.

Mariott’s Pantry is a beautiful little cafe which is genuinely loved for the quality of the food and how relatively underrated it is. Of course, there is the self conscious coolness that it inherent in establishments like Trof (don’t get me wrong, I adore Trof and nothing in this town really beats their veggie brekkie) and then there is this place, tucked away behind a phonebox and the Manchester music shop of legend, Johnny Roadhouse.

A Falafel wrap with a huge side salad (you can have all the olives in the world if you so crave) only sets you back £3.45.  So I went ahead and indeed, had almost half a plateful of olives. Indulgence? No mate, common sense. The rest was pasta and tabbouleh. They also do brilliant greasy-spoon fry ups in the morning, which is popular with commuters and builders who stop on the way into town.

It’s an airy, fresh place where canvases dot the walls and gig posters are pasted in between – and it’s the only place in Manchester where students, builders and accountants eat together at lunch!

Marriott Pantry, 127 Oxford Road. Sausage, bacon and egg bap: £2.50

10th August

Grinch is hardly a glamorous-sounding spot for stonebaked Italian pizza, is it? Obviously it conjures images of a Christmas-wrecking green monster voiced by the delectable Jim Carrey.

Well, if you’re in Manchester, Grinch means pizza.

It also means a very busy restaurant where the existence of a Happy Hour means the chefs work twice as hard to bake loads of amazingly crisp, filling and huge cheesy wheels. But luckily people know this and aren’t too annoyed when they have to wait over half an hour sometimes for their order.

I’ve recently moved out of my lovely city-centre flat to live with seven girls in a South Manchester suburb (I thought this was a wise plan to help me concentrate on my third-year of university more – peer pressure and being so far away from town means I can’t possibly afford to go out so much and I’ll concentrate on my work more…right?).

So Andy, Reece and myself recently celebrated one of our last dinners together at Grinch for a five-pound pizza. Now then, guys and their big stomachs and faster metabolisms can handle a bowl of nachos, garlic bread, deep fried potato skins as well as a 12” pizza – each. On the other hand, I cannot even get through two thirds of the pizza without cowardly giving up, which is pretty bad when you’re in the Grinch. One is expected to have the appetite of a monster there, you see.

Ah well, the boys understood, and proceeded to have hot chocolates just to outline the fact that men will always win eating competitions.

Grinch Restaurant and Bar, 5-7 Chapel Walks, Fiorentina (spinach, egg, olives, mozzarella and tomato pizza) £7.50 or £5 during Happy Hour, 12-7pm every day.

17th July

I turned twenty last Friday and lo and behold, a very tiny line appeared on my forehead. My flatmates insisted I was seeing things and that it wasn’t necessary to get up at the crack of dawn on my 20th year and buy anti-wrinkle cream, but I insisted and slathered my face on it. Hey, if it was a good enough regime start for Scarlett Johansson, it’s certainly brilliant for me.

Anyway. In the first year of the none-teen, a sophisticated dinner was served to me at the award winning EastZEast Riverside restaurant in Deansgate. The prices are ridiculously competitive with those in Rusholme – but the quality is about a million times better than the average Mancunian curry.

Well if they call themselves the home of Punjabi cooking then it’s a relief when you find they more than live up to their word. Oh, and the restaurant has won an impressive cabinet of awards from the Metro and Manchester Evening News.

I like a traditional veggie curry where they don’t skimp on the chilli or the sauce, but there are also healthy options for the more discerning diner. Just make sure you ask for the High Tea menu, which includes mocktails and atkins-friendly dishes (if you’re still following that diet…)

The first new film watched as a twenty year old woman this week was Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince. Now then I haven’t actually read the books – such a heathen, I know, but I intend on catching up whilst on holiday – but have seen all the films and love what I’ve seen. Epic, majestic moving and as innocently funny as ever, however it seems a little bit too presumptuous of your back-knowledge if you’re new to Harry Potter. Yet I suppose nobody has an excuse apart from being a heathen and/or living in a cave.

EastZEast, Blackfriars Street;Kahari Chana £6.95. Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince, AMC Great Northern 16, Deansgate; £6.35 from 6pm/£5.25 before

10th April

Cornerhouse is technically not one but two grey buildings which face each other across a road junction. The gallery is the large one, where exhibitions change frequently to satisfy the appetite for art in this city.

The first two floors are walled by windows where pedestrians can have a peep at the creative types drinking coffee whilst discussing Chinese political art. (Though what I think they’re really discussing is how amazing the handmade blueberry cheescake muffins are – sweetened only by the fruit, with a texture that is so fluffy and perfect with cappuccino.)

The smaller building across the junction is the arthouse cinema, where you can catch the best in independent releases alongside more intelligent Hollywood offerings and currently, the after-climax of Viva festival (the annual Spanish and Latin American film festival) means that everyone’s talking about new Spanish film Tony Manero.

It is a dark drama, where a man called Raul is so driven to become TV’s dancing hero like his idol, Manero, he deviates and becomes a killer in the process. And when I went to see it I was very excited to discover that my ticket came with some delicious pizza and wine all for £12.

Back at the gallery is State Legacy, showcasing the work of contemporary Chinese artists mapping the country’s rapid economic development. Here, the photographs by Zeng Li contain harsh black and grey lines which highlight the coldness of the steelworks. This is in contrast to Sui Jianguo’s video piece on the top floor, where the spectator is centred in the middle of the room as an industrial train speeds across the gallery walls.

Cornerhouse is sharing the display with Manchester Metropolitan University’s Holden Gallery, where the installation of Wang Guangyi’s aged car is disturbingly covered in rust, with one barely able to see the Chinese dragon crowning the bonnet.

2nd April

I STILL need to buy a “I Heart MCR” t-shirt. I know it’s a bit crass but it is so very cool and slightly less sexist than that classic tourist item you find in Afflecks on Church Street: “And On The Seventh Day God Created MANchester.” S/he would have created Manchester on the first day, anyway.

If there were ever any god-like figures to grace city (apart from when Matthew Horne and James Corden have a few bevvies in Big Hands) then Leonardo Da Vinci is probably the closest we’ve got. Alright, his work at least – which is currently being exhibited at the Manchester Art Gallery for free.

Seeing tourists and couples dote on five-hundred-year-old sketches is glorious in itself. It didn’t matter that I walked into cold burst of Mancunian rain afterwards.

Inspired, I spent my Tuesday night at the legendary Night & Day café to go and dance with real French-Mancunian people (they exist!) at S’il Vous Plait, a free club night with a few quiet drinks… I say quiet drinks, oh s’il vous plait. I really mean listening to ridiculously cool French electro whilst drinking lots of voddy! And attempting to attract a sexy Frenchman.

It may have been the voddy, it may have been my better-than-your-Dad dancing but eitherway, I did not pull a Frenchman. This could have contributed to the slight hangover which needed to alleviated by a fried veggie brekkie with the flatmates.

Ten Drawings by Leonardo Da Vinci form the Royal Collection, Manchester Art Gallery; Free. S’il Vous Plait, Night & Day, 26 Oldham Street, Tuesdays 10:30pm onwards; Free. Fried Veggie Brekkie, The Deaf Institute, 135 Grosvenor Street; £4.95

By “Girl About Town”, Jane McConnell

(c) Kalimocho: iVillage, all rights reserved.

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