Gastropod Gathering

York_Food_Festival-snailSome diary dates for Yorkshire Food Festivals.

18-21 April    York Chocolate Festival

Everything chocolate takes place in York over Easter: a chocolate market in Parliament Street, demonstrations and activities in the Guildhall and St Sampson’s Square.  Melton’s Too are running a three course chocolate menu accompanied by chocolate wine and chocolate stout and York Cocoa House will be holding a Make-Your-Own-Easter-Egg event.

3-5 May    Dales Festival of Food and Drink

Leyburn hosts with a 80 produce stalls, demonstrations by local chefs, Farming for Food events and a hands-on bread-making workshop for children.

24/25 May   Malton Food Lovers Festival

While York relies on home grown talent (see below) Malton gets a bit star struck. Jean-Christophe Novelli is the big name at this year’s Food Lovers Festival. He will be joined by the BBC’s  Incredible Spice Men, and Channel 4’s Michael Chiappa, two series new to me. For me, the best thing about Malton’s festival is its produce market: jolly striped market stalls packed with Yorkshire produce and a real sense of good cheer.

 20-29 June    York Spring Food Festival

In the run up to the Grand Depart, York are putting on a summer festival (as well as their usual September event). No guesses on the theme but Diane Hammill of Wild Harvest will be Gathering Gastropods, a snail hunt in the parks and gardens round the city. Bring them back and, if you’ve still got the appetite, chef will cook them up, with garlic butter no doubt

As well as French themed markets in Parliament Street and St. Sampson’s Square, there will be a bouillabaisse masterclass by chefs from the Cleveland Tontine, cookery demos from the lovely French bistro on Walmgate, Cochon Aveugle and the secrets of macaroon making with Florian Poirot (can he really be called that?) a York based Frenchman who has just launched his own company, FP Macaroons.

Festival regulars include Karen Hardwick and Festival Director, Michael Hjort hosting a food and wine matching event, Andrew Pern from the Star Inn the City and chef Stephanie Moon, foraging and cooking the way of Le Tour.  No need to get thirsty either, there will be a very French Champagne tent and a very Yorkshire real ale bar.





Another Farewell

maturi-peterWe were saddened to learn of the closure of Peter Maturi the independent cookshop and Leeds institution that traded on Vicar Lane and began as a family business back in 1899, when Peter M trundled a barrow round the city streets.  More recently they opened shops in Harrogate and Manchester all of them a treasure trove for chefs and amateurs alike. The staff were always well informed about everything from the best knives to buy to the simplest bottle opener. Victorinox knives, cakes tins, frying pan and much more kitchen gear I use every day came from Maturi’s. They claim ‘the pressures of internet shopping and business rates and rents’ meant the business had become ‘unsustainable’. Another independent shop bites the dust aka the Trinity effect?

If you have memories of Maturi’s leave us a comment below.


Our New Contributor

RansleyJoan(1)We are thrilled to add a new member to our team at Squidbeak. Joan Ransley is a friend of ours, but more than that, she is a nutritionist, a cook and a talented photographer and she has agreed join Squidbeak to run our recipe pages.

Originally from Wallingford in Oxfordshire Joan has lived for many years in Ilkley. She is a nutritionist by training with a BSc in Food and Nutrition from Surrey University and an MMedSc and PhD from Sheffield and Leeds, so she knows a great deal about what we eat and what we should be eating.

Don’t think for a moment that makes her preachy nor her recipes dull and worthy, Joan really enjoys food and it shows in everything she cooks.  In recent years she has established herself as a very accomplished food photographer (she’s just been shortlisted in the Pink Lady Food Photography Awards) and when you see her photographs on our pages we think you will agree.

All this would be enough for most of us, but not Joan. She knits, sews, has created a beautiful, edible potager in the front garden of her Ilkley home and more recently has taught herself ipad art producing delightful illustrations for some of her work. Oh yes, and she’s visiting lecturer in human nutrition at Leeds University.

You can follow Joan on her own website and click on our recipe pages for her very easy and delicious Timothy Taylor Landlord Cake



Calling Yorkshire Foodies?

The Young British Foodies have been in touch, asking us to spread the word in the north about the 2014 YBF awards. What are they, I hear you ask?

The YBF awards were launched three years ago by food writer Chloe Scott-Moncrieff, Amy  Thorne of TastePR and baker and founder of Lily Vanilli, Lily Jones.


Last year’s winners of YBF food writing award with judge Yotam Ottolenghi

The idea was to search for and celebrate the best food and drink producers in the UK, or as they put it, ‘the nation’s best and brightest butchers, bakers and cocktail makers, as well as food writers and entrepreneurs… whether they’re rustling up coffee from a cart, curing meat or putting vegetables centre stage, the Young British Foodies are defining a new culture of food and drink in Britain.’

Despite the name, you don’t have to be young in years, you can, they say, be 19 or 90, just young as in not established.

There are nine categories covering alcohol, street food, experiential, baking, meat, chefs, food writing and coffee (plus an honorary award).  The judges are an impressive, high powered bunch and include the cutting edge chef Nuno Mendes, judging chefs, the cool Aussi barista Tim Williams and Marco Arrigo, of Illy coffee judging coffee,  Lily Vanilli will be looking for the best baking with fellow judge Daniel Stevens from River Cottage. Marina O’Loughlin, restaurant critic for the Guardian, heads the food writing judges with fellow judges Fay Maschler, Yotam Ottolenghi and Tracey McLeod. You see, top quality stuff.

They are looking for more entries from Yorkshire and the north and we can think of some fabulous chefs, baristas, butchers that really should have a go.  So stop what you’re doing right now and write down 500 words about why you love food and drink, your experience and history. You can enter online here When you’re done you can keep up to date by following them on Twitter @TheYBFs. That’s all. Easy.


New Beer with a Spring in its Step

Brewer-Andrew-LemanA lot of bandwagons are being built in time for the Grand Depart, but Timothy Taylor’s may have gone a step too far with their new ‘hoppy’ beer. Le Champion they tell us,  is a blonde beer brewed specially for the occasion with Alsace Strisselplat hops and continental malts. Then to give it “a smooth body and a delicate hop fragrance”  they’ve added frogs legs! “We wanted to produce a French style beer that people would remember so we added frogs legs to the brew to give it extra hoppiness”, says head brewer Peter Eells.

Managing Director Charles Dent added: “Many of our pubs will be on the tour’s route, indeed it starts from outside the Town Hall Tavern in Leeds. This is our first Blonde Beer in continental style and we expect it to go perfectly in English pubs entertaining French visitors – try it with Toad in the Hole!”

Le Champion will be on the bar at many pubs throughout the county from the middle of May.

Timothy Taylor Landlord Cake

TT Landord Cake  702This recipe comes from our new contributor, Joan Ransley. It’s dead easy and uses Timothy Taylor’s Landlord for a lovely moist cake singing with spices.

Makes 24 pieces


75g raisins

75g sultanas

75g currants

75g dates, chopped

25g candied peel, chopped

175g dark muscovado sugar

25g tbsp black treacle

juice and zest from one medium orange

225g unsalted butter

200ml Timothy Taylor Landlord pale ale

3 free-range eggs, lightly beaten

250g self raising flour

½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp mixed spice

½ tsp each cardamom, fennel and coriander seeds, ground

50g whole blanched split almonds to decorate

2 tbsp warm sieved apricot jam to glaze the top of the cake


Grease a 20cm square cake tin and line with baking parchment

Place the raisins, sultanas, currants, chopped dates, candied peel, muscovado sugar, treacle, orange zest and juice, butter and pale ale into a saucepan and stir over a low heat until the butter has melted. Simmer for five minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool. Leave for at least two hours or preferably overnight.

Preheat oven to 150°C/Gas mark 2.

Stir the lightly beaten eggs into the fruit and beer mixture and gradually fold in the flour, baking powder and spices. Mix well. Spoon the cake mixture into the cake tin and place lines of almonds along the top of the cake. Bake the cake for 1½ hours or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. If the top browns too quickly, cover with a sheet of foil or brown paper. Cool the cake in the tin and brush with warm, sieved apricot jam to make the top of the cake glisten.


Happy Birthday Oak Tree

We’ve long been supporters of Provenance Inns, the collection of Yorkshire pubs created in 2012 by Michael Ibbotson and Chris Blundell in lovely villages in North Yorks. Ibbotson had the Durham Ox at Crayke before joining with Blundell to open the Carpenters Arms at Felixkirk and the Oak Tree at Helperby. SAMSUNG CSCSince then there’s been no stopping them. They bought up the struggling Punch Bowl at Marton cum Grafton, the Crown and Cushion at Welburn and are soon to open the West Park Hotel in Harrogate and later this week, the much anticipated opening of the Black Bull at Moulton.

Their success is based on taking tired old, unloved boozers and making them into pleasant country inns: lovely décor, fires in the grate, tubs of fresh flowers and a menu that’s sensibly priced with gutsy dishes of food we like to eat, so Squidbeak is delighted to send birthday wishes to the Oak Tree who are celebrating their third birthday this weekend with music, lucky dip meal vouchers and a slice of birthday cake prepared by new head chef Robert Corless. Be there.

Oak Tree Inn, Raskelf Road, Helperby, North Yorkshire YO61 2PH

Tel 01429 789189

Who is The Man Behind the Curtain?


Michael O’Hare, the chef with the tattoos and wild blonde hair, who took York by storm serving potatoes in ash, carrots in plant pots and mint juleps in old tin cans found he was out of a job when the owners (not O’Hare, he was just the chef) of the Blind Swine,  faced with a hefty rent rise, closed in January, leaving the heavy metal chef high and dry.

Well, now we can announce his new, go-it-alone venture.  He’s taking Flannels, the delightfully spare and elegant room, above the natty clothes shop in Leeds’ Vicar Lane. It won’t be called Blind Swine either, but … The Man Behind the Curtain. Trust O’H to come up with an esoteric name with seven syllables, which he explained to Daniel Eggleston from York’s One & Other magazine, is a quote from the Wizard of Oz  ‘Pay no heed to the man behind the curtain’ and is a dig at the cult of the celebrity chef. ‘The Man Behind the Curtain sounds like the most pretentious name in the world, but it’s actually the opposite. Who is the man behind the curtain? Is it me the chef? I work within a team, it’s my team that execute the food/the service.’

And the food? ‘I’m getting tired of eating leaves and green oil off earthenware plates,’ O’H told Squidbeak. ‘I’m dropping all Nordic influences completely and pushing forward to something original. I think it’s about time somebody did something new and exciting.’

The MBC plans to open on 9th May with choices at lunchtime and midweek and a multi-course tasting menu served Wednesday to Saturday evening. We can’t wait, though we fear the location has become a bit of a Bermuda Triangle for restaurateurs.  The original Flannels, Anthony Flinn and Leeds City College have all come and gone but we have faith, and the room never fails to impress, high up in the rafters, cool, calm, white and light with views over the city.

O’Hare is taken with it, too. ‘It’s a place with a sense of occasion,’ he says. So much so he’s establishing a dress code. ‘As in no trainers or tee shirts and men to wear a jacket to dinner. I’d like to bring back some old fashioned values’. Blimey, this from the man who on race days in York banned suits and prom dresses from his establishment and scrawled across the window: ‘County Stand race tags do not add inches to your dick, nor do they guarantee entry into this establishment.’ It’s a bit rich, but you know what he means, so when you book a table at The Man Behind the Curtain, take your cue from the chef himself whom I bumped into at an awards ceremony recently flamboyantly sporting a tailcoat and a silver topped cane.




Food News Round Up

I’ve been away for a glorious three weeks in Sri Lanka and cheekily squeezed in a couple of reports into Squidbeak, just in case you happen to be passing that way. Mandy tells me she’s been on the road doing proper paid work… I believe her. So here’s a round up of what’s been going on while the two of us have been elsewhere:


Filmore KioskFilmore & Union who have an ever-expanding chain of restaurants in York, Wetherby and Harrogate are now in Leeds, in the Victoria Quarter and Harrogate Parade in Moortown. If you haven’t been do try them. We love their way with veg., their vibrant salads, low sugar brownies … oh everything really. They also have a kiosk on York station so forget boring sandwiches and treat yourself to something healthy and delicious for the train at F & U. No surprise that they picked up the York Press ‘Best Retailer’ award at the end of last year; congratulations from us.


Talbot BedroomThe Talbot, Malton: At the start of the year David Macdonald joined the Talbot as their new general manager. He’s come from Malmaison, he’d been with them for 12 years, latterly as manager of Hotel du Vin in York.


Arc Inspiration, Leeds: Strange appointment this one. Anthony Flinn, chef of the much lamented Anthony’s in Leeds which closed suddenly last year, has been commissioned by the Arc chain of restaurants to devise what they call a ‘super food menu’.

Arc restaurantIt’s supposed to be a ‘healthy options’ menu that uses ingredients from 50 so-called ‘superfoods’: quinoa, bulgar wheat, broccoli, kale, pak choi, seaweed and so on, to which customers add their choice of meat or fish and hey presto you have a healthy meal.

‘We don’t do bird-seed,’ trills the press release, ‘we do satisfying, energising dishes that work for all’. Well, thank you, but I think we all know what a well-balanced plate of food looks like by now and if you’re a steak and chips with béarnaise sauce and onion rings man, no amount of superfoods and healthy options are going to persuade you to plump for quinoa.

But, enough ranting, the dishes sound good. How could they not be with Flinn behind them: poached chicken with quinoa, beetroot, roasted butternut squash, spinach, celery, parsley, pumpkin seeds and a garlic oil dressing; sirloin steak with a salad of bulgur wheat, artichokes, toasted walnuts, apple and red chard, finished with walnut oil. Then I looked at the publicity photo which was far more steak than veg so with no explanation sent it to our nutritionist friend Joan Ransley who (without a full nutrional analysis) reckoned there was too much meat and not enough veg for a balanced meal. With less meat and more veg it could be my kind of food but spare us all the healthy options guff please.


Carlton School of FoodCooks, The Carlton School of Food: Cooks is a new cookery school to due to open on May lst at Carlton Towers, the grade 1 listed pile near Selby. How marvellous, I have a picture of eager students presenting tasty morsels to Lord and Lady Fitzalan Howard. Pure Downton. Of course it won’t be like that at all. Or will it? The day starts with coffee in the Housekeeper’s Sitting Room, I like that, and then it’s a hands-on under the tutelage of one of our favourite chefs Richard Walton Allen. W-A did a brilliant job at Harvey Nicks in Leeds and went on to not-for-profit Create, that sadly closed last year. Other tutors include our food-writer colleague Elaine Lemm and the Bake Off finalist, Brendan Lynch. Prices are £70 for a half day, £170 for a full day including lunch. We wish them luck, though we do worry: there are a lot of cookery schools out there.


Quayside02Best Chippie: The National Fish and Chip Awards organized by ‘Seafish,’ the industry body for the seafood industry, gave top prize of UK Fish and Chip Takeaway of the Year to the Quayside in Whitby.  ‘Simply surreal,’ said Stuart Fusco, director and head chef of Quayside, which is going some, but well done to the Fusco family who have been frying fish in Whitby for five decades in a business that was started by Grandma Violet. As well as best chippie, they also picked up the prize for business innovation and last year a Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) award for  serving sustainable sourced fish. Quayside is on Pier Rd. Whitby, a few doors along from the famous Magpie.


Cook It 2014Cook It: Do you know any talented young cooks? The Guild of Food Writers is running its annual competition for young people. There are two age categories 10-13 years and 14-16 years (as at 31 August 2014). To take part, entrants must create a  celebratory two course menu (main course and dessert) to impress friends and family.

The six shortlisted finalists will be invited to the Electrolux Training Academy in London on 17 June to prepare their meal in front of the judges. First prize in each category is a four night family break at Tredinney Farm in Cornwall.


Brighton BelleBlack Bull at Moulton opening: We’ve never had so much interest in a restaurant opening as we have had over the Black Bull at Moulton. Lots of people remember it from the old days when there was a fabulous display of seafood in the bar and the dining room was a restored Brighton Belle railway carriage. The carriage has gone and the place has  been given a mighty refurb by the Provenance Inns group, and they’ve announced the opening on 24th March under general manager Ian Pilcher and head chef Luke Taylor whose previous experience was with Shire Hotels and Thwaites Inns of Character. If it’s anything like the other inns in the group it should be reliably good. We’ll report back.

Winter Barbie

CrackerjackbbqHave you discovered Andy Annat yet and his Crackerjack BBQ events?  Apparently he’s the  barbecue king having won various championships, designed fire pits for Heston, run celeb. events, done telly, hauled his gear up to Balmoral for the Queen’s 80th and even lit his fires on the frozen Lake Peipus in Estonia.

Happily for us he’s a Yorkshire lad from Knaresborough and therefore on our doorstep and it was at Blind Jacks the real ale pub in Knaresborough’s Market Square where we linked up with him for a barbecue in the middle of February. Yes I know, we’d no idea how that was going to work either, but it did, and brilliantly, so here’s the drill.

Find out about upcoming events from his Facebook page and buy a ticket in advance from (£20) and turn up. On a particularly frosty night we found a huge white pantechnicon parked outside Blind Jacks serving as Annat’s mobile kitchen. Alongside, a huge black monster of a barbecue was gently smoking our pulled pork.

With drinks in and a table bagged inside, Pennie, (Andy’s partner) delivered boards ( veggies look away) of slow cooked hickory smoked pig, pigs ear crackling and coleslaw – deliciously sticky, tender pulled pork that fell apart in meaty shreds. We drank and ate and the courses kept on coming: Mutton Dressed as Lamb, was slow cooked shoulder with lots of rosemary. Tongue in Cheek turned out to be a little pie of slow roast ox cheek  topped with a tongue fritter and finished with a beef glaze. Tongue fritters? My grandma used to boil tongues and I can’t rid myself of the sight of the great slick of pink muscle curled inside the pan. The fritter though, was as good as it gets. The Full Ten Inches – you guessed it was a hot dog, this one tasty with chorizo. And when we thought we couldn’t manage another thing, along came an oozing salted caramel brownie with cream baked by Andy’s friend and cake baker, Rebecca. Of course we ate it, need you ask?

If it’s more protein than you’ve had in a month, Andy Annat, a smiley, cheerful bloke who looks as if he loves his job, makes it a very jolly, convivial meat-fest and what better way to  showcase your barbecue and to fill a pub on a frosty Monday night?

You can book Andy for a private party or try him out at one of these events. He’s running them at Blind Jacks in Knaresborough, the Malt Shovel at Brearton and on 14th March at the Royal Oak at Staveley.





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