Good Food Guide’s Top Pubs

Pipe and GlassOnly one Yorkshire restaurant has made into the ‘Top 50′, in the new 2015 Waitrose Good Food Guide out on Monday and that’s the Yorke Arms at Ramsgill. Our congratulations to Frances Atkins.

Today, the guide listed for the first time their ‘Top 50′ pubs. Number one is not in Yorkshire, but the Freemason’s Arms is not far away,  just over the border in Wiswell, Lancashire. Second is the Hand and Flowers in Bucks and third is the Red Lion at East Chisenbury, Wiltshire. Yorkshire did OK though with four pubs on the list. Yorkshire and nearby counties are rated as follows:


6          The Pipe and Glass at South Dalton [picture]


14       The Star Inn at Harome


20       The Broad Chare, Newcastle


31       The White Hart, Lydgate, Oldham


32       The General Tarleton, Knaresborough


36       The Bay Horse, Hurworth on Tees


41       The Star at Sancton


Edible Couture

TWe thought you’d like to see this amazing edible sculpture made especially for this year’s Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor race meeting in York.

Ebor Meeting vege lady and jockey for Jennifer Middleton. pic aug 20 2014Royal Opera House set designer Caitlin Jones, fashion graduate Charlotte Miles, milliner Hannah Wyatt and Jennifer Middleton from LemonZest PR have created the figures made entirely out of fruit, veg, with herbs and flowers supplied by Alison Dodds from the wonderful Herbs Unlimited near Thirsk.


We love the savoy and red cabbage skirt, the radish necklace and  Yorkshire pudding hat and handbag, which were baked by the team at York Racecourse Hospitality to showcase Yorkshire produce. Clever lot.


York Food Festival



Ticket’s are now on sale for Yorkshire’s biggest food festival.

The York Food Festival runs from 19 September for ten days. This year’s theme is ‘good food in diverse locations’, these include dinner in the Treasurers House, a St Emillion lunch in the Mansion House, a wine tasting with the Three Wine Men – Olly Smith, Oz Clarke, and Tim Atkins -  in the grounds of York Minster.  Sister Agatha and Sister Ann will cook at the Bar Convent and you can learn about harvesting and preserving on a tour of Middlethorpe Hall’s garden.

There’s loads of stuff to see and do and eat. If you haven’t explored York’s glorious historic pubs, then you need to join the Festival ale trail. The Taste Trail is a way of sampling the food of local suppliers.  Dine at my Table takes you into the homes of talented cooks like Becky Spink former head chef at Ottolenghi or Les Bons Vivants the French inspired supper club.

There are cookery sessions, at the York Cooking Rooms, the Mansion House, the Castle Museum and the Guildhall, or you can sit back and let the chefs do the work at demos. throughout the Festival. Our plan is to pick out the best street food at the enormous Festival market in Parliament Street, hunt down the Champagne tent and settle in for an indulgent lunch. Study the website and book your tickets now.



Fruit Syrups

I have just been out running and noticed all the elderberries are now ripe and the apples are beginning to fall to the ground so here are recipes for two lovely seasonal syrups and ideas on how you might use them.

Elderberry syrup

Elderberry syrup

This syrup is the colour of deep red venous blood. A dribble of this viscous syrup looks regal and elevates a plain meringue or cake based pudding into an eye catching creations. It is cooks best friend in the dark winter months when raspberries and strawberries are too expensive and out of season to use to make coulis or sauces.

Makes about 750ml (3 small bottles)


1 plastic carrier bag of elderberries

550g granulated sugar


Rinse elderberries in cold water and remove from their stalks. Place the elderberries in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Simmer for 10 minutes and mash with a flat headed potato masher. Strain the cooked elderberries through muslin or straining bag and make sure to extract every last drop of juice. Add 500g of granulated sugar to each 500ml of juice and bring to the boil and then lower the heat to a simmer for 10 minutes. Allow the elderberry liquor to cool, and bottle in sterilised glass bottles.

Apple syrup

This recipe is a brilliant use of windfalls that might otherwise be discarded. The syrup can be used in apple sauces to team up with pork, diluted with carbonated mineral water and made into a spritzer or added to puddings and winter fruit salads. This is a lovely semi sweet syrup with bags of flavour. You will need a juicer or and apple press to extract the juice form the apples.

Makes about 250ml (1 small bottle)


1kg eating apples


Juice the apples. Place the juice in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer the juice for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally and removing any scum that forms. Reduce the liquid to about a third of its original volume. Leave to cool slightly before storing in a bottle or airtight container in the fridge.



Art Gallery Dining

The scaffolding and shrouds covering York Art Gallery are hiding an £8 million redevelopment which will see a new improved gallery opening in 2015. In the meantime they are calling for tenders for the Gallery Café that looks out onto Exhibition Square and for a new café/restaurant in Museum Gardens which currently has 1.7m visitors a year.

Yorks museum

Yorkshire Museum, Museum Gardens, York

It sounds to us like a great opportunity for Yorkshire restaurateurs to get in there and bring something new and innovative to museum/gallery dining along  the lines of the National Portrait Gallery restaurant, Sotheby’s Cafe and the Ashmolean Dining Room in Oxford.


They are seeking tenders too for the Castle Museum Café and the Hospitium, a beautiful half timbered building in Museum Gardens used for weddings and corporate event. So if you or anyone you know might be interested, they should submit their expression of interest by 8th August. or contact

Summer News

Cabra Verde

We were sorry to learn that Cabra Verde in York, the little tapas bar in Peter Lane had closed, but happy to hear they have amalgamated everything into their deli on Lendal. Now with more tables and evening opening you can enjoy a meat or cheese plate, good bread, wines, sherries and delicious cakes. Open Tue-Sat daytime and from 5pm til late.


Steam Trains and Fish & Chips

Quayside02The North York Moors Railway have teamed up with the Quayside chippie in Whitby – winners of the best UK fish and chip shop – to offer fish and chips every Friday on the last train home. Order online, then pick up your fish chips and mushy peas (£6.80) at Whitby station and enjoy them on the steam train to Pickering. Book here.




Filmore & Union

Filmore KioskWe can hardly keep up with the expansion of Filmore & Union, York, Harrogate, Wetherby, Leeds Moortown and Leeds Victoria Quarter, then there’s Platform 8 on York Station and Roko Gymn, now that’s an idea. The last gym I joined they were selling chocolate and fizzy drinks. Now the weather is picking up, F & U have launched picnic hampers in all their branches.  £12.95 per person for wraps, salads, sandwiches and cake.


York Food Festival

York_Food_Festival-snailThe summer festival starts 20 June with demos, markets and events running into the evening. Don’t dash home from work, make your way to Parliament Street for live music, hot food and drinks from the Champagne Warehouse, the Yorkshire Real Ale Bar, Orchards of Husthwaite Cider Bar, Cocktails from Sloe Motion. From 5pm until 9pm. For more information visit


Salvo’s Salumeria

There’s no stopping Gip and John Dammome who after umpteen years at Salvo’s still have the verve and energy to offer something new. Strano is their ‘occasional supperclub and speakeasy’. It’s moved around a bit since they started, but now they’ve settled on the private dining room above Salvo’s for a multi course surprise dinner 20 June, £37.50 To book: stranoleedsgreatesthits

Don’t forget their Sicilian themed dinners every Saturday from 21 June £33.50 and Weds to Friday Cenare Con Amici dinners – dinner with friends. £22.95


Star Inn @ Harome

Star InnA Spanish wine and food matching dinner is being held at the Star on 25 June £55 per head with four wines from producer Tomas Cusine.

2 July  is an opportunity to sample the Star’s new menu. Choose from five starters, mains and puddings and get a 10% discount for being a guinea pig (dress rehearsal they prefer to call it).



Chef02We’ve been told about a new film you might like. It’s called Chef starring Jon Favreau, Scarlett Johansson, Bobby Cannavale, Dustin Hoffman and Robert Downey Jr. We haven’t seen it either, but it has a starry cast and is about a chef who quits his job at a prominent L.A. restaurant after refusing to compromise his creative integrity. In Miami he teams up with his ex-wife and his son to launch a food truck. Taking to the road, Carl goes back to his roots to ‘reignite his passion for the kitchen — and zest for life and love’. Sounds like a film for all you chefs! Here’s a clip. On general release from 25 June



Staithes GalleryEvery few months chef Lisa Chapman puts on seasonal dinners in a lovely room above the Staithes Gallery. It’s always a jolly, communal, convivial evening that starts with a glass of fizz and a browse around the gallery and then a move upstairs for a beautiful seasonal dinner that this month features among other choices,  Staithes caught lobster salad, Sandsend wild sea trout, guinea fowl, gooseberry and elderflower fool. It’s terrific value at £35 a head, with wine on sale at the gallery. Runs for two nights  4/5 July To book ring Al on: 01947 841840 or 07972 012464.


Rosemary Shrager Cooks

ShragerThe ebullient Rosemary Shrager ran the cookery school at Swinton Park for ten years before moving on to TV and some time in the jungle. If you were wondering where she’s gone then listen to this: She’s cooking at Chateau Lou Casteou on the Cote D’Azur, the  glamorous chateau used as the ‘judges house’ on X Factor a couple of years ago. You can enjoy a bit of the glamour and  join Rosemary for 6 nights in luxury accommodation, daily cookery classes, butchery and barbecue masterclasses, dinner every evening, market and olive oil visits, lunch at a Michelin starred restaurants and after all that eating, fitness sessions and a heated infinity pool. You knew this would not be cheap didn’t you? £5,650 per couple or £3,250 for singles. If you’ve got lucky on the scratch cards it runs from 11-17 October www.loucasteou. Have a look!



BritanniaLast year I had fun on P & O’s cruise ship Azura where Indian chef Atul Kochhar was running cookery classes and guided food visits ashore. They are going much further with their new ship Britannia  – Britain’s biggest cruise ship which launches in March 2015. They’ve signed up a heap of celebs: James Martin, Eric Lanlard, Marco Pierre White, Olly Smith and Atul Kochhar to run their Cookery Club.  The first gourmet food cruise with patissier Eric Lanlard runs from 23 May 2015 from Southampton to Guernsey, Spain and France, from £729 per person for a 7 night cruise.





Yorkshire Crab & Lobster

The fishing boat, All My Sons in Staithes harbour

The rocky shoreline form Staithes to Spurn Point provides some of the best Yorkshire lobster and brown crab in the world.

In 2007 the lobster fishery along this length of coast, failed a sustainability assessment  by the Marine Stewardship Council because stocks were not strong enough to sustain. However new information has led to a re-assessment and the MSC though we still haven’t heard the results of that new survey. If it is judged sustainable the crab and lobsters caught here will be given an eco label certifying they are from a sustainable fishery.

This will be good news for the fleet of self-employed fishermen who are out every day throughout the spring and summer in small boats checking their pots identified by coloured flags bobbing in the water that reach down to depths of up to 190 feet.

It’s hard graft winching them all up – some fishermen own hundreds – checking them for size and throwing back any that are too small. They put elastic bands round the vicious claws, re-bait the pots and drop them back again for another day.

Fisherman Sean Baxter checking his pots from the shore

For the fishermen, crab and lobster are a valuable crop though they get nothing like the amount charged by restaurants in Europe where Yorkshire shellfish often ends up.

Yorkshire east coast crab, lobster and langoustines are still so highly regarded that Spanish vivier trucks transport them live across the continent as prizes for the markets and restaurants of Madrid.

Given that the Yorkshire coast is so rich in seafood, fresh local lobster is surprisingly tricky to find on a menu. ‘Too expensive’ say the chefs, who can’t risk being left with any uneaten lobsters if there are no takers.

Whitby’s famous Magpie Cafe

You can find lobster thermidor at the Magpie Cafe in Whitby. Woodlands at Sandsend sometimes serve it as part of a posh fish stew.  But is there anything sweeter than the prime brown crab or North Sea lobster that you’ve cooked yourself? You can buy both, cooked or live from Whitby Seafish in Staithes. Best between April and December

Twelve minutes in a pan of sea water or well-salted tap water and served with mayonnaise, home made if possible, but Hellmanns will do, and some crusty bread – heaven at a fraction of the restaurant price.

Cooks at Carlton Towers

CarltonTea‘Not a Cookery School’, Development Director Elaine Lemm, corrects me: ‘It’s a School of Food’ – the difference being that the courses at Carlton Towers offer far more than cookery lessons. The website explains: ‘Grow, cook, photograph or write about food. Come to bake, butcher, forage, preserve, get back to basics, hone your skills.’

Carlton Towers, if you don’t know it, is the ancestral pile of the Duke of Norfolk. It’s in Carlton, a village between Selby and Goole, and the Gothic palace and its turrets, gargoyles, battlements and clock tower, half English boarding school, half grand country house, is the place the Duke’s brother Lord Gerald Fitzalan Howard and his wife Emma, call home.

Inside it’s just as imposing with yards of ecclesiastical paneling and stained glass, gilded walls and chandeliers. The upstairs is largely given over to weddings, shooting parties and corporate events but you can stay in one of the 16 bedrooms, beautifully designed and furnished by Lady Gerald herself.

Twelve months or so ago Lord and Lady G decided to take downstairs in hand and turned the old kitchen, scullery, dairy and butler’s pantry into a cookery school, sorry School of Food, and they’ve done a cracking job.

Elaine Lemm, Development Director plans the courses, Richard Walton Allen, ex head chef at Harvey Nichols in Leeds, is course tutor. Together they have put together a series of one day courses: Fiona Sciolti is guest chocolate tutor, Josh Sutton the self-styled Guyrope Gourmet is offering campfire cooking, there’s upmarket barbecuing with Andy Annat and bacon and sausage making with David Lishman of Lishman’s of Ilkley.

My day at Cooks was an afternoon tea master class with Adam Smith, the head chef of the Burlington restaurant at Devonshire Arms, Bolton Abbey and before that at the Ritz in Piccadilly, where afternoon tea is an institution.

We baked scones, cakes and macaroons and took our breaks in the housekeeper’s sitting room – very English country house with sofas and side tables and a well stocked drinks cupboard. You could easily be tempted to kick off your shoes and settle in with coffee, cake and Mrs Beeton.

But manager Nicola Shann shoos us back to the kitchen and at the end of the day we get to scoff all we have cooked in the genteel surroundings of the ‘Duchesses dining room’, a formal dining room where once upon a time the young Lord Gerald remembers sitting down to tea with his grandparents, the Duke and Duchess.

This of course is the USP of Yorkshire’s newest cookery school. An upstairs/downstairs experience.  Compared to all the curlicues upstairs,  downstairs is boarding school spare. Wide doorways, stone flagged corridors, the cool dairy and the spacious kitchen where they have cleverly (and expensively) combined old and new. State of the art equipment sits alongside mighty cast iron ranges, old shelves house copper pans and antique jelly moulds. Teaching takes place around a huge central island complete with a ‘listed’ pillar through the centre.

Yorkshire has any number of cookery schools, Bettys, Malton, the York Cookery School, the Cooking School at Dean Clough, Swinton Park, Yorkshire Wolds and more. Cooks is a first-rate addition to that list and promises to offer something more. The current list of courses goes up to September so the ‘more than cookery lessons’ is still in development, but watch this space.  Until then, it’s a fine place to work and learn with exemplary objectives; after all, where else can you cook like the servants and dine like a duchess.

Cooks at Carlton Towers, Carlton, Yorkshire DN14 9LZ
T: 01405 861662 W:
Price: Full day tuition with lunch £170. Single or double room with breakfast £95/£125

Aubergine, quinoa, feta and fresh herbs

Aubergine, quinoa, feta and fresh herbs-1-2Serves 4

2 aubergines
cooking salt
olive oil
200g quinoa
2 tbsp pine nuts
100g cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp chopped chives
1 tbsp chopped parsley
150g feta cheese
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to garnish


Preheat oven to 200°C/Gas mark 6.

Cut the aubergines lengthways into 1.5cm thick strips and lay on a baking tray. Sprinkle with salt and leave for 15 minutes. This softens the flesh of the aubergine.

Rinse the aubergine slices well under cold water and pat dry.

Lightly oil a couple of large baking trays and lay the aubergine slices in rows. Dribble with a little olive oil and place in the oven to cook until tender for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile place the quinoa in a pan with twice the volume of water and bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer the quinoa until just tender. This usually
takes between 8 and 10 minutes.

Drain the quinoa and place in a bowl with the remaining ingredients.

Taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning. If you like, add a few more herbs and feta cheese.

When the aubergine slices are tender and beginning to turn golden brown remove from the oven and spread a tablespoon of quinoa mixture on the top of each aubergine slice.

Return the aubergine slices to the oven and cook for a further 10 minutes.


The Little Book of Pies

If you’ve read any of our restaurant reviews or our blog, you’ll know how much we love a good pie. Who doesn’t? So we were delighted to receive a copy of The Little Book of Pies by Marika Gauci (Pub: Square Peg £10).

Marika is an Anglo-Greek, former singer songwriter who chucked in the music industry to train as a cook and worked for a time at the Real Greek in Hoxton. Now she runs a cookery school from her home in Green Lanes, N15 called Marika’s Kitchen, which is big on pie-making classes.

If you are reading this outside London, Yorkshire for instance, we reckon only a pie geek would travel 200 miles for a 4-hour pie class, so this is why you need the Little Book of Pies. It won’t give you the benefit of first hand instruction, but it’s pretty good on technique and unusual fillings.

Marika’s Greek background is apparent in the recipes: lamb, lemon and oregano; Greek fried pies; Mediterranean tartlets and Greek baklava but there are as many British pies too: little porky pies, cheese and onion pasties and steak and Guinness pie.

For me, though, it’s less the filling than the pastry that is my nemesis and her instructions for shortcrust included some good tips: ‘If you need a little more moisture, dip your fingertips in cold water and tap them on to the pastry; this should be enough to bring the dough together.’ And her golden rule about the filling: ‘Cool your pie filling right down.’ Hot filling, she says, makes for soggy pastry.

Porky Pies c Sarah Cuttle

Porky Pies © Sarah Cuttle

And there you have it, the secret to successful pie making, all here for a tenner.
I have a couple of small quibbles. I would have liked a chart telling me how much pastry is needed for different tin sizes and the Chicken Bacon and Leek pie included 40g of Parmesan cheese in the pastry recipe but the method told me to make the shortcrust as per page 17-19, where I couldn’t find any mention of Parmesan, which meant I forgot to add it but, hey, I made a successful chicken pie with a crisp bottom and that’s a first.

If you want to be inspired here’s a clip of Marika making a delicious looking cherry pie:


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