The Good Food Guide in Yorkshire

GFG coverThe Good Food Guide’s out today, now under the auspices of Waitrose, so you should be able to pick up a copy in your local store.

Yorkshire restaurants as ever gets a good show with more than 65 entries and top marks going to the Yorke Arms at Ramsgill, the Box Tree at Ilkley and Van Zeller’s in Harrogate with an impressive 6/10. The Burlington at Devonshire Arms comes in a touch lower at 5/10 presumably because new chef Adam Smith is still finding his feet.

Other 5’s include the Fox and Hounds at Goldsborough, the Star Inn at Harome, Samuel’s at Swinton Park, Vennell’s in Masham, the Pipe & Glass at South Dalton, and Le Langhe and Melton’s both in York.

Congratulations to all the new entries: The Buck Inn at Maunby, the Broadfield Ale House in Sheffield, the Grapes at Slingsby, the Park at Sutton on Forest where Adam Jackson popped up after serving time at the Black Swan at Oldstead and York’s big new opening, the Star Inn the City. Special congratulations to the Spiced Pear at Holmfirth where Tim Bilton and his team also picked up the Readers’ Restaurant of the Year award for the north east.

If you think these scores sound on the low side, think again. Only three restaurants in this year’s guide scored a perfect 10/10 L’Enclume, The Fat Duck and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. Four restaurants score 9/10  and a handful 8/10 and 7/10.

A score of 6/10 according to the Guide means: ‘exemplary cooking skills, innovative ideas, impeccable ingredients and an element of excitement’.

While 5/10 means: ‘exact cooking techniques and a degree of ambition; showing balance and depth of flavour in dishes’.

So if you agree or disagree with these entries and their scores, have found somewhere good or better, let them know. The GFG hold great store by readers’ responses. To do so, log on to, and tell them what you think. But make sure you tell us first.

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 five 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

42      The Black Swan at Oldstead


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.



Blackcurrant, Pistachio and Verbena Tartlets

We are at the end of the blackcurrant season but if you can lay your hands on some (you could use frozen), you might try combining them with the fragrant, citrus flavour of lemon verbena. If blackcurrants are finished, you could use blackberries or blueberries.

Lemon verbena is a beautiful herb which grows well in the UK. It thrives so long as it is protected it from any hard winter frosts. I use the small, vivid green sword shaped leaves for three things: I grind them with granulated sugar to make a bright green sherbet which I sprinkle on summer fruit; I douse it in boiling water to make a refreshing tisane and, like my friends in Australia I dry the leaves and place in a bowl to keep the air in the house smelling clean and fresh. If you can’t get hold of lemon verbena, you could use mint.

Makes 10 tartlets

Balckcurrant & lemon verbena tarts-1-7

For the sweet pastry:


165g plain flour

50g icing sugar

1/2 tsp grated lemon zest

pinch of salt

90g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1 small egg yolk

1 – 3 tbsp cold water

Mascarpone cream


100g mascarpone cheese

100g crème fraîche

½ tsp vanilla essence

zest from half a lemon

10 – 20g icing sugar



100g blackcurrants – fresh or frozen

50g raspberries

3 tbsp apricot jam

small bunch of lemon verbena leaves (or mint)

2 tbsp granulated sugar

1 tbsp toasted pistachio nuts, chopped finely

a few elderfowers to decorate but lavender would be lovely too


Place the flour, icing sugar, lemon zest, salt and butter in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the ingredients until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and water and process until the mixture starts to come together (about 20 seconds).  Empty the contents of the food processor bowl onto a cold surface and bring the pastry together with your hands, kneading it gently to form a ball. Cover in Clingfilm and allow to rest in the fridge for half an hour.

To make the tartlet cases

Preheat the oven to 150C/Gas mark 2.

Tartlet-casesRoll the pastry as thin as you dare – 3 or 4mm is perfect. Cut circles of pastry with a pastry cutter. Place each circle of pastry in a buttered tartlet tins approximately 6 cm in diameter and 3 – 4 cm deep and line with a circle of silicone paper (muffin cases work well here) and fill with baking beans. Allow the tarts to rest in the fridge for a further ten minutes, if you have time. Remove from the fridge and bake the tarts for about 25 minutes or until they begin to brown slightly. Remove from the oven and cool.

For the mascarpone cream

Place the mascarpone cheese, crème fraîche, lemon zest, sugar and vanilla essence in a bowl and loosen with a whisk and then beat, as you would double cream, until it thickens.

For the blackcurrant filling

pastry-cutterPlace the blackcurrants and raspberries in a small saucepan with a couple of teaspoons of water and a tiny sprinkle of sugar. Heat the blackcurrants and raspberries  gently until they just begin to soften.

Place the apricot jam and two teaspoons of water in a small bowl and heat in a microwave for 10 seconds to liquefy. Grind the lemon verbena leaves with the granulated sugar and allow to dry for a few minutes in the warm air of the kitchen.

 To assemble the tarts

Three quarter fill each cooked and cooled tartlet with mascarpone cream. Top with the cooked blackcurrants and raspberries and brush with a little apricot jam glaze. Sprinkle with a little lemon verbena sugar. I tried to create a halo around the edge of the tartlet but I was not quite skilled enough to pull that off. Scatter with a few toasted pistachio nuts and some edible flowers, such as violas, marigold (petals) or nasturtiums.


If you have any tartlets left over you can freeze to use later. They will last for a couple of months in the freezer or a week in an air tight container.




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

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