Good Food Guide

9780953798339There’s been a lot of excitement about the Man Behind the Curtain getting a Michelin star and deservedly so. We’ve championed Michael O’Hare since his early days in York. Now everyone wants to go and you won’t get a table on Saturday night until 2016! You can see why it’s so important to chefs.


The Good Food Guide doesn’t attract half so much attention, but for good places to eat, it’s streets ahead. I don’t think I’ve ever bought a Michelin Guide which is made up of signs and symbols, but my collection of the GFG goes back to the 1980s and it’s always a good read: honest, independent, sparky, opinionated.


Last year, Waitrose bought the  GFG from the Consumer Association. but the guide looks much the same and thankfully continues to take no advertising nor paid-for entries.


It’s wide ranging covering local gems like Zucco in Meanwood and top restaurants such as Man Behind the Curtain. We like it too because as well as professional inspectors, it holds a great deal of store by readers’ comments, so if you eat somewhere that deserves comment or criticism it’s important to let them know. They will act upon it.


Yorkshire is well represented with 67 entries. New this year:


Harrogate: Norse, La Feria, and Stuzzi

Helmsley: The Vine House Café

Hull: 1884 Dock Street

Leeds: The Man Behind the Curtain, Zucco,

Lower Dunsforth: The Dunsforth

Middleton Tyas: The Coach House

Sheffield: Lokanta

Todmorden: Blackbird

Wetherby: Mango

Withernwick: the Falcon

York: Cochon Aveugle

You can buy the Guide from bookshops and from Waitrose. But of course you can check ‘em out on Squidbeak, we’ve got most of these covered (and more).


York Food Festival



York Food Festival finishes on Sunday. There’s still time to see some good  cookery dems, check out the market stalls, the street food, music, talks and workshops. If you’ve never been go now, it’s been on for ten  days and it’s the biggest and arguably the best of our regional food festivals. Our pick of the festival:



Friday 25th

Drop in to any of the free demos that run all day every hour from 12 noon. Highlights are Masterchef finalist Sara Danesin Medio and Raffi’s Spicebox


Italian Wine Tasting Evening 7pm Guildhall

Karen Hardwick is  a delightful, informed and unpretentious wine expert. Her evening of Italian wines and shared platters of Italian meats and cheeses be well worth the ticket price. £30


Saturday 26th

Wild Food Foraging Walk 10.30am Under Skeldergate Bridge

Wild Harvest are conducting a walk around York to discover all the edible plants growing in the heart of the city. £9.50


Cocoa House


Chocolate Fair. All Day. Guildhall

The Guildhall is taken over for the whole weekend in a celebration of chocolate led by York Cocoa House. There will be a chocolate café, workshops and at 2pm a ‘banquet of cake’ by the Clandestine Cake Club. Free entry.



Sunday 27th

Cochon Aveugle 1pm Demo Area

Cochon Aveugle in one of York’s best restaurants so this demonstration should be well worth going along to. Fee Entry


Finally I want to catch the Food in Art exhibition outside York Art Gallery that runs all week and sample the new Café No 8 outlet there too.


Michelin Star Struck

Man-Behind-the-CurtainThe Michelin Guide UK 2016 is out, (leaked early I gather,  by an unnamed book shop) and we are delighted to learn that Michael O’Hare of Man Behind the Curtain has won a star after just one year in his idiosyncratic Leeds restaurant.


We like to think we spotted him early when he was putting carrots in plant pots, setting fire to alcohol trails on the pass and serving cocktails with every course at Blind Swine in York. It was new, crazy and bloody amazing. Boar Lane is more sophisticated, grown up and even more amazing.


The champagne must be flowing on Boar Lane. O’Hare has had a stellar week having won the north east strand of Great British Menu and now this. So congratulations to the raven haired chef of the silver boots and silver pinny, we’re thrilled for him and his team.


Other news from Michelin: The Old Vicarage in Sheffield loses its star, Mandy went last year and found a time warp restaurant and some very good food food

The remaining five all, retain their stars, so a lot of relieved sighs at The Box Tree, Ilkley; The Star at Harome;  The Yorke Arms at Ramsgill; The Pipe and Glass, South Dalton; The Black Swan at Oldstead.


Bib Gourmands (Michelin speak for a good quality restaurant at a modest price) are retained by Prashad at Drighlington; Le Langhe, York, Vennell’s at Masham and a new addition: The Dunsforth at Lower Dunsforth.


We’re a bit sceptical about the Guide here at Squid, but we won’t bang on. It means a lot to the chef, brings in new punters and serves as a shorthand for a quality restaurant, so Congratulations all.




My Dining Hell

‘I’d love your job’ It’s the most common come-back when you tell someone  you review restaurants for a living. You won’t believe it, but it’s not all fun. Of course it doesn’t compare to real jobs like digging roads, trawler fishing or coal mining, but honestly you do have some really crap food experiences.

GFW 002

Mandy hogging the camera as usual, leaving Jay Rayner in the shade!

Not as many it seems as Jay Rayner, who has made a one man show – My Dining Hell – out of the bad meals he’s eaten in his 12 year career as a restaurant critic for the Observer. He’s asked us for a shout-out and we’re happy to oblige, it sounds fun and we might pick up a few tips. We’ve been asked to talk to Staithes W. I. next year. Not in the same league, I grant you.

If you fancy listening to some of Rayner’s most waspish reviews and in turn some of the worst reviews he’s received, then book  for his show at The Forum, Northallerton this Saturday, 12 September at 7.30pm £12. Book here


Istanbul Eats

Istanbul EatsPickle juice anyone? Ugur, our guide on a foodie walk round Istanbul, swears by it.

The pink, salty, acid liquid, which has been used to make Turkey’s famous pickled fruit and vegetables is a favourite drink, and is credited with magical, medicinal properties. It proved to be the only nemesis in a day spent tasting everything from sherbets to sheep heart in Istanbul’s lesser known districts.

Istanbul Eats, a food website, is to Istanbul what Squidbeak is to Yorkshire. Set up by two enterprising friends it has its finger on the pulse of everything foodie, and the culinary walks are its latest offering.
We were warned to come hungry as the tour began with breakfast in Beşiktaş, sampling menemen, Turkish style scrambled eggs, and bal kaymak, clotted cream blanketed in honey.

The odyssey continued via an Ottoman era bakery for borek, and onto the ferry across the Bosphorus to the market at Üsküdar, where a more traditional food culture is preserved. We sampled honey from Eastern Turkey, olives which the Turkish only eat for breakfast (who knew?) sweets, cheese, summer halva made from walnuts not sesame, seasonal cherries and sour plums, and bought spices which cost a fraction of the same purchased from the Ottolenghi website.

In all the walk has around 13 stops, with gentle walking and enough time to enjoy the grazing without getting stuffed. Ugur was enthusiastic, knowledgeable and happy to go off piste to pursue particular tastes. He ended our day with a surprise picnic wine tasting on the banks of the Bosphorus, to show off wine made from indigenous grapes.
Highly recommended.

Scallops with lemon, mint & sea spaghetti

Scallops mint lemon sea spaghetti-5

Sea spaghetti has been described as mild crunchy and moreish. The young shoots are very good to eat and taste rather like salty asparagus. It’s one of the latest sea vegetables to appear on supermarket shelves and fishmonger’s counters. You see it coiled, rather beautifully, like long thin shoe laces waiting to be threaded. For those of you who live close to me in Ilkley I bought mine at Ramus Seafood Emporium.

Sea vegetables have become interesting to chefs recently appearing on menus at some of the best restaurants. Samuel and Samantha Clark of Moro, add seaweeds to salads and rice. “We try to be very seasonal, so it’s a great way, in these slightly barren months of winter, to add a little colour and texture,” says Samuel. They recommend crumbling dried, toasted sea spaghetti over paella, and is a fan of fresh or rehydrated sea lettuce in seafood salads: “It gives a lovely sort of iodine-y, sea taste which is really pretty unique.” (Quote from the Guardian)

This long, stringy sea vegetable is also known as thongweed or buttonweed and grows up to three meters. It forms dense mats near the shore. It is found around the British Isles but also the east Atlantic countries from Portugal to Norway.

Nutritionally it is interesting. A rich source of minerals including iodine, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, potassium and phosphorous. It is of course high in sodium too – hence it’s salty taste. It also contains vitamin C, the B group vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, carotenoids and phenolics which all have healthful bioactive roles in the body. So it is a nutrient rich food.

I have used the sea spaghetti with a lovely recipe adapted from Russel Norman’s book ‘Polpo’. If you can get really fresh scallops give it a go either with or without the sea spaghetti.

The combination of mint and lemon is lovely with scallops and very quick to make. If you are not on a beach holiday now it will certainly remind you of one.

Scallops with lemon, mint and sea spaghetti

Just a note – the sea spaghetti can be quite salty so no need to add salt to the scallops. It can be added later if anyone wants it.

Serves 4 for as a starter


  • 4 scallops, cleaned and free from grit and sand
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint leaves, cut into ribbons
  • 25 g (a small handful) sea spaghetti, washed in plenty of cold water to remove some of the saltiness


Trickle the olive oil into a large frying pan and heat gently. Place the garlic in the oil and fry gently until it just begins to brown. Remove the garlic from the pan and discard.

Dribble half of the lemon juice in the pan and add the shreds of mint. Increase the heat under the pan and add the scallops. Cook for 4 – 5 minutes.

While the scallops are cooking, plunge the sea spaghetti in a small pan of boiling water for 2 minutes to heat through.

Place the scallops on a scallop shell if you have one (or a saucer would do), pour over some of the cooking juices and scatter over a few threads of sea spaghetti. Add more lemon juice and a grind of pepper to taste.

Calling Cooking Couples

cookbooks02Release Your Inner Chef!  True North Productions in Leeds are looking for couples who can cook to take part in a TV series, working title Too Many Cooks. You might be catering an intimate dinner party or a birthday gathering in someone’s house – or maybe a small wedding! Oh, and there’s a cash prize, so grab your pinny. If you’re the one planning a party and looking for a caterer, they want to talk to you as well. If you fancy your chances either way, contact Hayley Raper at or 0113 3945489  The filming will take place in Leeds.

Is it Goodbye to Our Favourite Restaurant?

Fox_and_HoundsEvery time I eat at the Fox & Hounds at Goldsborough, I re-remember just how good it is and want to let you know. If you haven’t been, go now before it’s too late, because they are moving. They can’t afford the new rental deal imposed by their landlords the Mulgrave Estate and so they are reluctantly packing up and looking for new premises. You’d think the fabulously wealthy Mulgrave Estate – they own great tracts of this bit of Yorkshire – would bend over backwards to keep such a highly regarded restaurant on their patch but apparently not.

For Mandy and I, this is a bit of a tragedy. The Fox and Hounds is the top rated restaurant along this coast. Mandy first told the nation about it in The Guardian. It has scored in all the national guides and more importantly has been Squidbeak’s number one restaurant ever since we started in 2011 and we’ve never had a duff meal there … ever.

The choice is limited. Just three starters, three mains and three puddings, but that’s not a problem when everything is spot on. Brilliantly so. Last night the broad bean bruschetta doused in garlic and olive oil was utterly wonderful but was trumped by a plate of Scottish, creel-caught langoustines, split and given a dose of oregano, chilli and lemon then lightly grilled. They were just the best, juicy, fat langoustines I’ve ever eaten. At mains there was pollock, fillet steak and sea trout caught just along the coast at Sandsend and to finish: strawberry sorbet, chocolate torte or grilled peaches, with vanilla, amaretto and mascarpone cream. It all looks so simple. And it is beautifully pared back,  blissfully free from drips, drizzles and foams, from slates and boards and baskets. Jason Davies cooks carefully, accurately with the best of ingredients, adds some magic of his own, and that’s it.

Nor is it just about the food. Goldsborough is an idyllic hamlet north of Whitby, south of Runswick Bay. There’s nothing there except fields, farmyards and country lanes bursting with grasses, wild geraniums, honeysuckle and away towards Whitby, a sparkling sea. The sandstone pub itself has just two rooms – about 25 covers – but Sue and Jason have created a cheery, welcoming restaurant from what was a spit and sawdust pub when they arrived 11 years ago. Now, with their two young children they are having to pack up and go not just the restaurant, but their home (they live in a tiny space above the shop).

The Fox & Hounds is a very special place as Squidbeak and anyone who has ever eaten there will know. If and when they open elsewhere we will let you know asap.  In the meantime, go now while you still can.

Friends in Ilkley


Lucky old Ilkley, they’re getting the second branch of Friends of Ham, the charcuterie, cheese and craft beer bar that opened in Leeds’ New Station Street a couple of years ago to great acclaim. They plan to be up and running in early August, setting up in the old Ilkley Gazette offices on Wells Road. If you haven’t yet discovered them, they are Anthony (Kitch) and Claire Kitching and they serve top quality, carefully sourced Iberico hams, Italian salamis, cheese both classic and innovative, good wines, sherries and craft beers. No fuss, no bother, not even any cooking – just prime ingredients. Keep up with Friends of Ham Ilkley at:

Twitter @fohilkley

Recipe in a Box

There are some perks to this job as you might imagine, eating for a living. One of them was the big box of organic ingredients – everything you need to make three meals for two people – that arrived on the doorstep from Riverford Organic Farms. And while it was lovely to be in receipt of such a massive box of stuff, I do admit to be slightly sceptical of recipe kits. I cook a lot, so my fridge and store cupboard always has garlic, soy sauce, paprika etc. and here I was with little plastic sachets of oregano, caraway seeds, tomato puree, even a few teaspoons of brown sugar – a lot of packaging – but I was willing to give it a go.

Riverford_chicken_sorrelFirst up was baked chicken leg with smashed new potato and sorrel sauce. A nicely designed recipe card, with simple, clear instructions and a good photograph. The recipe involved roasting the chicken legs, boiling then roasting the potatoes with rosemary and adding a white wine, cream and sorrel at the end. Sorrel is so hard to get hold of unless you grow it yourself, so it was welcome in the sauce and in all, an excellent dinner.

The second recipe was sausage and macaroni bake. Good quality pork sausages were skinned and cooked with onions, spinach and double cream then added to cooked macaroni and topped with cheese to be finished in the oven. The third dish was a vegetable mix, spiced with caraway and paprika and served with pappardelle topped with sour cream.

Riverford_sausage_macAll the recipes were easy to follow and good to eat, though top heavy on the cream. Portions were generous and at a pinch, could have served four. Though I was initially doubtful I realized when I described them to my student daughter, who leapt at the idea of having a Riverford recipe box delivered to her flat, (from her mum and dad of course) that there was a place for these good quality recipe boxes. Certainly tastier and more nutritious than a takeaway.   I can also see them being a boon on holiday. Have a box delivered to your self-catering holiday home and you are set up for the first few days at least.

There are three types of boxes: original, vegetarian and quick, priced around £40, which works out at about £6.50 per meal, per person.
T: 01803 762059

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