Sunday 29 December 2013

Ginger's Comfort Emporium - Affleck's Palace, Manchester

Ginger's Comfort Emporium - Affleck's Palace, Manchester
We had half an hour to kill. Manchester was heaving with bargain hunters and my patience had run dry at least forty five minutes earlier. We stood at the crossing outside Vinyl Exchange feeling a little left of perplexed, then there it was. Literally, a message from above. As I gazed through the window of Manchester's iconic Affleck's, a bright light shone. It said 'Ginger's' and I was saved! Hallelujah!

My introduction to Ginger's Comfort Emporium was at Bolton Food and Drink Festival in 2012, when we enjoyed rhubarb crumble and salted caramel ice creams. We were converted. Ice cream would never be the same again. I've bumped into 'Ginger' aka Claire Kelsey a few times since our first iced encounter, and never sampled the same recipe twice. She's constantly evolving, but keeps the 'classics' like her famous 'Chorlton Crack' going throughout the year.
Ginger's Comfort Emporium - Affleck's Palace, Manchester
Faded are the memories of long balmy days spent in beer gardens, and Saturday was a cruel reminder that those summer days are a while off just yet. Fear not, for Ginger's has moved indoors, and Claire has puddings in mind.

I've not been in Affleck's since I was around 18 years old - I'm a little older than that now, but let's just say that we'll agree that I've not been for a while. I've nipped in for old time's sake, but never really browsed since I had pink hair and metal in my face.

The new emporium is where I remember a bit of a dingy cafe sitting. Although it retains that infamous Affleck's vibe of vintage shabbiness, the shiny new signs and piles of Claire's own book, 'Melt', make this feel much more like a sophisticated little outfit. She may drive around in a 1977 Ford Transit ice cream truck in the summer, but its paintwork has been lovingly restored and embellished with swirls, twirls and a little glitz too. The devil's in the detail.
Ginger's Comfort Emporium - Affleck's Palace, Manchester
Light sorbets have been replaced by the likes of seasonal plum crumble, marmalade on toast and hazelnut and white truffle ice creams. She's even brewed up an Abstrakt 14 version, which is a nod to her Manchester neighbours, Brewdog.
Ginger's Comfort Emporium - Affleck's Palace, Manchester
Whilst my husband opted for a soul reviving coffee, I had to sample the icy wares of the new indoor parlour. Although there are several specials listed on the colourful blackboard style menu, I had my heart set on plum crumble. Yes, I had a plum crumble milkshake in Manchester, in December. Sue me. Granted, I think Claire's machinery was tested because of the crumble element, but what resulted was a rather fine shake indeed! Sweet and fruity with the occasional straw demolishing oat cluster.

I'm hugely envious of what Claire has achieved; she wanted to make ice cream, so that's what she did - and saw that it was good, very good.

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