We were saddened to learn of the sudden closure of Le Langhe, probably our favourite restaurant in York. The shutters are up and it appears to be under new ownership. We know nothing more than what we have read on the website, which says little more than thank you and goodnight. Le Langhe was a crazy, idiosyncratic and superb Italian restaurant and consistently one of our top ten restaurants in Yorkshire. The mercurial Otto cooked like a dream, wonderful understated food from his Le Langhe homeland. We loved this place, the silky pasta, the amazing wine collection we could even handle the erratic service in exchange for such fabulous food. The deli was a wonderful resource and the only place to source white truffles. Thank you Otto for many fabulous meals, we will miss you.
If you’ve ever tried to get a table at Michael O’Hare’s Man Behind the Curtain, you will know it’s booked up forever. If you are quick, and prepared to travel out of the county, you might sample his food at a table at the Michelin starred Northcote, near Blackburn.
Obsession began as a week of events to fill the restaurant in the quiet months, now it is what Nigel Haworth calls ‘a monster event’ where 23 world-class chefs cook for a night over 17 nights and each year the line-up gets more amazing.
For Obsession 17 there’s O’Hare, Michael Wignal from Gidleigh Park, James Close and John Williams, recently Michelin-starred at the Raby Hunt and Ritz respectively. There’s a woman’s chef night with Claire Clark, Anna Hansen, Isaac McHale from the Clove Club and Atul Kochhar from Benares.
But that’s not all, like us, you may not know leading chefs from Italy, Japan, Australia, Slovenia and China and the USA, but they are some of the world’s best coming to Blackburn to cook. I know it’s crazy.
It is a stunning line-up and pricey of course: £130 per person for champagne and canapés followed by five courses – add wine on top of that.
Obsession runs for 17 days from 20 January to 5th February. The hotline opens 8am on 1st November 033 999 7762.
Long before nose to tail eating became fashionable, my granddad, a pork butcher in Burnley, proudly boasted he used every part of the pig. You can see this from the home movie he shot in his factory in the 1950s and my grandma making the hand raised pork pies they supplied at Christmas.
Now, you will find excellent pies at Anthony Sterne’s new shop, Appleton’s on Lendal in York. You might remember Anthony as the chap who made I’s Pies. Keen meat shoppers will already know about the branches of Appleton’s in Wetherby and Ripon. Now Anthony is bringing pork pies, pork products and fresh pork to York city centre, something not seen since the lovely Scott of York sadly closed in 2008.
On the opening night where we sampled pies and pints, I talked to farmer David Fieldhouse who until recently was breeding and rearing his rare breed Berkshires and Large Whites at the family farm at Stutton near Tadcaster. Now he has transferred all his pigs to Anthony Sterne’s land near Ripon so that they can be fully outdoor reared.
We liked Appleton’s pies, especially the ones still warm from the oven and as Appleton’s is virtually on our doorstep, we will be back for sausages, dry cured bacon, ham shanks, gammon and pork joints.
Good to see Appleton’s joining Burr and the newly opened Spring Espresso on Lendal, bringing more good food and drink to this corner of York.
We love Andy Swinscoe’s little cheese shop, the Courtyard Dairy in Settle. And, oh boy … what he doesn’t know about cheese isn’t worth knowing, so when he tells you that the Etivaz is in, it’s time to listen.
It might sound like an anagram, but actually Etivaz is an Alpine cheese made on small farms during the summer months between May and October. I bought some last Christmas and can confirm it is superb with a wonderful flavour that suggests something deep and ancient. Andy describes it as a cross between aged Gruyère and Comté, but ‘with an extra depth of flavour from being made over an open fire’. Watch his film of the Swiss couple making their Etivaz in a chalet up a mountain, right out of a scene from Heidi. And when you’ve seen it, go order your cheese!
A rather heart-warming event was held last week at Whitby’s ‘Fisherman’s Wife’ fish and chip restaurant, the one on Khyber pass with the fabulous views over Whitby beach.
The restaurant invited a group of retired fishermen and their wives for a special fish lunch and a chance to share photographs and memories of their days at sea. The guests had between them fishing experience of 500 years. Ronnie Frampton, 83, who fished out of Whitby for over 60 years said: ‘This has been a brilliant day to meet everyone who’s been at sea for a long time. Our fishing days were tough at sea, but it’s in our blood…I’ve had a fantastic time.’
To York Theatre Royal for the launch of their bistro following its £6 million refurbishment. The theatre re-opened in April with a new stage and seating, better access and a new open-plan foyer and glassed in colonnade.
The dining area is little changed. Patrick Gwynne’s listed 1967 ‘mushrooms’ are a rare, early example of poured concrete and remain untouched, but new chairs and tables (with laser etched theatrical quotes) made by resident Snowhome of York designer John Green, give it a fresh look.
The new foyer area though is totally different: bright and modern and a cool place for morning coffee and cake and, if the new manager Matt Beevers has his way, for lunch and dinner too.
Matt comes from York’s Restaurant 19 and before that from the Victoria at Robin Hood’s Bay. He has been charged with improving and expanding the food offer and invited us to consider visiting the theatre bistro not just at performance times but throughout the day and evening .
I can’t yet vouch for the meals proper – they served us some rather nice canapés and drinks – but credit for their commitment to local suppliers: Bluebird Bakery bread, brownies from Blond and Brown, Sykes House Farm butchers, Cross of York for fish, York Coffee Emporium and York Brewery.
After reports of disastrous service soon after the April re-opening we look forward to Act Two at the new improved York Theatre Royal.
It’s the awards time of year, so here’s a quick round up:
The 2017 Waitrose Good Food Guide came out in September with new entries for Ox Club and Tharavadu in Leeds, White Rabbit in Todmorden and the Crathorne Arms south of Middlesbrough. One of our favourites, the Swine that Dines is credited in a list of ‘Best New Openings’ with our congratulations to Ian Myers who is named as ‘a chef to watch’.
Last week the UK Michelin Guide was published with no surprises for Yorkshire, just a sigh of relief I suspect for the six Yorkshire restaurants that retained their stars. They are: the Star at Harome, the Yorke Arms at Ramsgill; the Black Swan at Oldstead; the Box Tree, Ilkley; the Pipe & Glass at South Dalton and the Man Behind the Curtain in Leeds.
Among our near neighbours: Raby Hunt at Darlington has been awarded a second star, a stunning accolade and one of only 20 in the UK. Single stars are retained by House of Tides, Newcastle; Fischer’s of Baslow and Northcote at Langho.
Michelin’s ‘affordable dining’ award, the Bib Gourmand goes to Prashad in Drighlington, Chadwicks of Maltby and Le Langhe in York.
Yorkshire got a look-in at the Great British Pub Awards with
Best Beer Pub: the Sheffield Tap. Best Student Pub: the Doctor’s Orders, Sheffield. Best Cider Pub: Foley’s Tap House, Leeds and across the border Best Food Pub for the Freemason’s at Wiswell near Clitheroe.
Jill and I are often asked what our guilty secrets are, food-wise. Mine’s crisps – I can do a family bag in one sitting. Jill’s is peanut butter. I didn’t think I was partial until these bad boys appeared on the shelf of my new favourite bread shop in Hebden Bridge, Blue Sky Baker.
Stuart & Kathryn Franklin lived in New Zealand for a while and developed a taste for the very different artisan peanut butter they discovered there which wasn’t over processed or too sweet. When they moved back to Yorkshire they realised it was impossible to source anything remotely similar, so started to make their own. It wasn’t long before friends and family were clamoring for it, and it became obvious that they had to up the ante. From the kitchen table they moved to a small factory in Dewsbury, installed a roaster and grinder; they roast their peanuts slowly roasted in small batches, then they’re ground – and nothing artificial is added. ‘Nowt but Nuts’ is 100% peanuts, and ‘Slightly Salted’ has a smidgen of sea salt. And that’s it. I’m a complete convert. NOTHING beats a slather of it on buttery toast with my morning espresso. NOTHING. Jam? Pah. Check out their website for stockists and recipes – today I will mostly be making chocolate and peanut butter brownies.
What do you do after a long day on the building site? Put in a shift in the kitchen at Salvos, of course. At least that’s what Paul Heyhoe did. Just for the love of it he worked for nothing – or at any rate, his supper. Reckons he learned more from John and Gip Dammone about how to put ingredients together to make a great plate of food than he ever could have at school. In his spare time (ha!) he made bread at home and sold it in the Salumeria. Now he’s baking full time in the Beehive Bakery by the canal in Hebden Bridge, and a month or so ago opened his shop on Cheetham Street. It’s a lovely space, light and white and nothing like the bookies it was before. Right now Paul makes and sells bread and a few cakes, in a couple of weeks there’ll be sandwiches on the menu too. His light, crispy pane carasau the size of a tennis racket is the best alternative to crispbread this side of Sardinia. He makes fougasse and foccacia as well as an impressive range of loaves; olive, rye, wholemeal, granary and porter. Cakes include the likes of stout, flapjack, lemon tart and at 3 in the afternoon the brownie has SOLD OUT. No matter. People are already travelling some distance for his doughnuts, which are divine (oo-er matron). It’s just great to see a smart new business opening up in a town that on Boxing Day was 6 feet under water. That’s Blue Sky Thinking, Blue Sky Baker.
If you haven’t yet come across A Pair of Dirty Pigs, then you should take a look at their Instagram site where you will find their independent and well informed reviews of restaurants in Yorkshire and London.
Dirty Pigs, Warren Lumsden & Tom McKenzie
The Dirty Pigs themselves are two young guys from York: Tom McKenzie and Warren Lumsden and last Saturday they hosted their first event: ‘A Taste of France’ a selection of small plates matched with carefully chosen wines and beers at Stanley and Ramona’s, the tiny coffee shop on Bishopthorpe Road in York.
It was all a bit of a crush, especially as Bishopthorpe Road was hit not only by heavy showers but also by a number of inebriated race goers, carrying their heels along Bishy Road, but for those of us who squeezed inside, it was a good natured, convivial event.
Fourme d’Ambert with lavender honey and pine nuts
From a list of nine plates we particularly liked the wild boar paté and Haxby sourdough paired with Christophe Muret Syrah; slices of venison with blackcurrant sage matched with a Potel Aviron Gamay and my favourite a creamy blue cheese – Fourme d’Ambert lavished with lavender honey and pine nuts served with an Edouard Leiber Pinot Gris. We were impressed too, that after their visit to the open day at Herbs Unlimited they made the journey back to Thirsk to source blackcurrant sage, bronze fennel and lemon verbena for their dishes.
Congratulations, Dirty Pigs and watch this space for more of their events, and if we can persuade them to join us, some of their reviews on Squidbeak.