Blue Sky Baker

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 beforeblue sky baker. 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.

A Pair of Dirty Pigs

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.



Herbs Unlimited

To Herbs Unlimited at Sandhutton this week for their open day at the 90 acre herb farm created and run by the lovely Alison Dodds. After touring ‘the hill’ where the outdoor perennial herbs are grown: chives, sage, mint and the like, we visited the polytunnels where more tender plants are cultivated including Alison’s ‘speciality herbs’: lemon verbena, bronze fennel, orange thyme, sweet cicely, garlic chives, blackcurrent sage, hyssop, oxalis leaf, the list goes on.

Rosemary mounds

Rosemary mounds

We nibbled on some amazing leaves and flowers before sampling them in a succession of canapés created by chef Stephanie Moon: broad been and summer savory hummus; mackerel with dittander cream and borage flowers; tomato terrine with lovage pesto; nasturtium sea trout cakes, strawberry, cinnamon basil jelly with cornflowers and lots more finishing with a lovely lemon verbena tisane. A real treat. Thanks Steph, Alison and their teams

Herbs Unlimited mostly supply wholesalers and restaurants, but you can sometimes find Yorkshire grown herbs and salad leaves in speciality shops around the county.

Herbs Unlimited. Sandhutton, Thirsk YO7 4RW T 01845 587694

Stephanie Moon with her 'green eggs and ham'

Stephanie Moon with her ‘green eggs and ham’

Nasturtium seed fish cakes with bean flowers

Nasturtium seed fish cakes with bean flowers

Strawberry cinnamon basil jelly with cornflowers

Strawberry cinnamon basil jelly with cornflowers

Thyme Field

Thyme Field






























Mixed Grain Summer Salad with Grilled Vegetables

I had some mixed grains left over (barley, black rice and red quinoa) and so I put them together into a salad with baby courgettes from the garden, tomatoes, peppers, mange tout… everything seasonal The fresh pesto really makes it. M & S sell a fresh pesto which is quite nice but not as good as freshly made. I hope you like it…

Take a handful of pearl barley rinsed in cold water and pop it in a pot and cover it with water. Place a lid on the pot to shorten the cooking time. Lower the heat to a simmer and wait for 20 minutes until the beads of barley are soft but not chewy to bite.

Take a handful of black rice and do as above. Black rice should be cooked in a separate pan as it colours the water and everything it comes in contact with. Finally, place four tablespoons of quinoa in a pan of water, as above, but limit the cooking time to 12 minutes once the water has come to the boil. Little white tails emerge from the seed coat as quinoa seeds cook and indicated when it’s ready to eat. It should be a little bit crunchy!

Mixed grain salad_lgeTo complete your salad, mix together a selection of roast vegetables – slow roast tomatoes work really well; put a chopped yellow courgette in the oven too. Then flame roast peppers and steam some purple mange tout if you can get hold of them – luckily I’ve got some in the garden at the moment! Finally assemble the whole lot – mix the grains together with a tiny drizzle of oil,lemon juice and salt. Add the cooled roast veg and dot the whole lot with pesto – make yourself, or cheat and buy some from M&S!

Find more of my recipes go to






Iberica comes to Leeds

Iberica bar

As Squidbeak’s sometime associate who writes about wine, it’s sometimes tricky to recommend places with an exceptional wine list where you can go enjoy the vino without having a full meal.

Lucky then to be invited to the soft opening of Iberica in Leeds, the latest outpost of a group which has a small number of places in London, and one in Manchester.

Dedicatedly Spanish in food, wine and décor, you can have the full Monty, tapas or just a glass with some bespoke ham or cheese. The sherry list (yes, I’m a sherry aficionado) runs to 12 different choices and is far from your warm cream sherry at Christmas as it’s possible to get. Oak aged fino, nicely chilled with some green olives? Yes, please. Similarly, the list also features a range of Cava and cider from Asturias. And for the non-Spanish minded, a range of cocktails.

But it’s the wine list where the glories lie. Grouped according to wine style with good tasting notes, the range strides across Spain from £5 a glass to Pingus, from Ribeiro del Duero, at £166 a glass.

We asked for our bottle of red from Mencia (fruity and light) to be chilled, to go with the glorious tapas they were bringing out, and not an eyebrow was raised.

Jill and Mandy will be reporting on the food when it’s fully open. But it matched the wine perfectly.

Iberica, Hepper House, 17a East Parade, Leeds, LS1 2BH

North York Moors and Dales

Here is another short film produced for the North York Moors National Park showing some of the beautiful hills and dales that make up the National Park. It’s stunning walking country with a network of footpaths and ancient trods that take walkers through the charmingly named Great Fryup Dale, Rosedale and Farndale. In spring, Farndale bursts into bloom with a display of wild daffodils and then there is the wonderful North York Moors steam railway that runs through the heart of it all. If this doesn’t persuade you to visit Yorkshire, nothing will.



Pink Lady Food Photography

From time to time our chum Joan Ransley contributes to Squidbeak with a delicious recipe accompanied by one of her fabulous photos; she’s largely self-taught so is obviously brimming over with natural talent. It’s not just us that thinks so; she’s won several awards for her food photography including 3rd prize in this years Pink Lady competition. I’ve never asked her how it had all come about – so I did! This is what she said.

‘As a food writer I often found myself short of photographs of food for the
features I was working on. Filing photographs with my recipes and food stories made my work more saleable. So I bought a DSLR camera, read the instruction book, went on photography course and within six months I was beginning to take really good photographs. In 2013 the Gallery on the Green in Settle (housed in an old red telephone box) asked me to mount an exhibition of Yorkshire food using the images I had taken for my recipe features published in the Yorkshire Post. It was a great success and helped me to believe in my work.

pizza van


The following year I sent my first entries into the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year never thinking for a moment I would make it to the finals. My image ‘Let’s Scarper’ showing a gaggle of geese running into the woods and was awarded a third place. In 2015 I made it to the finals again with ‘Bonfire apples’ which was awarded a 2nd place and this year ‘Late night Artisan Pizza van’ picked up a 3rd prize. Having success in the competition has been a great boost to my work’. We’re very proud of Joan and we love her work – take a look, you will too.

International Wine Challenge

Earlier this month the Yorkshire Post’s wine writer Christine Austin invited readers to compete for a place as her apprentice at the prestigious International Wine Challenge.  We were delighted when Squidbeak’s wine writer Helen Scott, won the place. Now read on…


Christine Austin and Helen Scott


OK, so I think I know a bit about wine. In the past, I’ve got to the final of a couple of wine tasting competitions.

I’m also a wine nerd, and read wine columns and websites, including Christine Austin’s weekly page in the Yorkshire Post. Every year Christine, who is a panel chair for the world’s biggest wine competition, the International Wine Challenge, offers the chance to become her apprentice for a day. Could I dare to put my skills to the test in front of the wine professionals?

Reader, I won, and with thumping heart joined Christine to taste – and judge – over 90 wines. No sipping, just smelling and spitting and applying a range of marks to each wine. You then reveal your marks to the panel chair, taking it in turns to go first. Thankfully, Christine is not Sir Alan, taking apart his apprentices. Her skills and knowledge are impressive, and she’s firm. If there’s any doubt about a wine going through to the next stage, it’s tasted again. My marks held up, and I don’t think I was wildly out on any wine, but boy, did it show me how much more there is to learn.

An afternoon alongside Oz Clarke, one of the competition’s co-chairs (senior judges), confirmed this. Tannin in the wrong part of the mouth – a clumsy wine. Bubbles (in a still wine) at the side of the glass shows there’s still some yeast activity, not always a good thing. And so on.

What did we taste? Champagne, made with pinot noir grapes (yes please) and my personal nemesis was probably a flight of South American reds from Brazil and Mexico. Via Ozzie chardonnays, riojas and lesser known Italian whites. But all blind. The wines we put through will all be tasted again in the second round.

The winners, announced next month, will be entitled to have that little medal sticker on the bottle which persuades us to buy them. A lot at stake. And for me, as I now want to see if I can join the judging panels in my own right next year. Just go to pass a few wine exams first.


New to our Top Ten

Last year we nominated Paul Jackson’s Dexter beef tartare as our dish of the year. This week we went back just to make sure and can confirm it’s as good as ever, and just one of four superb dishes in their four course tasting menu which projects the Hare at Scawton straight into our Squidbeak Top Ten.


Beef Tartare at the Hare Inn at Scawton

Regular readers will know that our name Squidbeak came about through graffiti seen in a swanky restaurant describing a pretentious meal: ‘Squidbeak of a bum arse on a bed of bum gravy’. It sums up our aversion to overpriced, gussied-up food. So lengthy tasting menus, miniature portions and dots, dashes and smears on the plate are not our style. That doesn’t mean we don’t recognise creative cooking and clever flavour combinations as well as a dash of showmanship all of which Paul Jackson is bringing to the Hare.

It was a brave decision for a remote country pub to dump the a la carte for three, no-choice tasting menus (£30, £45 and £60, a full vegetarian and pescatarian menu and a great value £15 wine flight) but Liz and Paul Jackson have stuck to their vision and we think they’ve nailed it.


Top Chef Pops Up

Chris Hill, who runs Latitude, one of Yorkshire’s best independent wine merchants, knows more than a thing or two about matching food and wine.

To put it to the test, he persuaded chef Richard Walton Allen, ex Harvey Nick’s in Leeds, to return to the stoves. Chris challenged Richard to create a menu round six wine choices.


Latitude Tasting Room at Duke Studios

And so, the Latitude Tasting Room was born. It popped up for the first time at Duke Studios in Leeds showing wines from New Zealand, Spain, Italy and France – with Richard on top form running the gamut of lovely Yorkshire produce. No sipping and spitting here, just great food, interesting vino and a lot of fun

Swaledale blue cheese with beetroot, fennel and truffled honey was kissed by a complex Tuscan Vermentino from Antoni Camillo. Chorizo, razor clams, bitter leaves and blood orange more than stood up to a rich new wave Rioja from Beronia, showing spice and red fruit.

Pièce de résistance was seven hour cooked beef cheek and tail with shallots and parsnip puree, so soft and unctuous you could have eaten it with a spoon, matched with a Boutinot Côtes-du-Rhone Villages from the village of Cairanne, called Le Côte Sauvage. As Chris put it, some weird alchemy occurs when this wild wine is paired with slow cooked meat. Yep, we loved it.

The next Latitude Tasting Room will be at the Leeds Indie Food Festival in May. Can’t wait.

And the wines:

Latitude wines


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