RIP Fox & Hounds

We have sadly to report the closure of one of our favourite restaurants, the Fox and Hounds at Goldsborough. Tucked away in a tiny hamlet on a windy clifftop a few miles along the coast from Whitby, it was an impossibly remote location for a brilliant restaurant.

The Fox and Hounds typified everything that Squidbeak tries to celebrate. Jason Davies’ cooking was flawless, with big bold flavours, never over-complicated and with an instinct for ingredients that work together. Sue was the spirited front of house, keeping it all going and supervising an accomplished wine list. We first went there when they were doing Sunday lunch in the sunny garden some ten or twelve years ago. Mandy gave them their first mention in the Sunday Times and we have championed them ever since. We’ve been going regularly and never had a duff meal. We’ll miss them but we know how tough it is running an independent restaurant and we send them every good wish for the future.


Cooks and their Books

I’ve no idea whether Jo and Stu Myers got the jitters when we booked 15 of the country’s top food writer’s into their little café, the Swine that Dines on North Street but if they did, it didn’t show in the fabulous six course tasting menu they produced.

Photo by Angela Clutton

The lunch was the culmination of a morning with the Guild of Food Writer’s, beginning with a visit to Leeds University for a talk by Eileen White, co-curator (with Peter Brears) on Cooks and their Books. Her talk accompanied a display of some of the ancient and valuable cookery books that are part of the outstanding Brotherton Special Collection.


The collection dates from the 15th century to the present day and includes a Roman recipe for flamingo tongues, a first edition of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management and from the 20th century, Robert Carrier’s rather pompous ‘Great Dishes of the World’. There is still time to view the exhibition at the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery at the University of Leeds until 31 January.


The highlights of our small-plates lunch were the feather-light parsnip bhaji on top of crumbled Lancashire cheese and pickled red cabbage; a puree of Jerusalem artichoke matched with a fillet of ling. There was a light smokiness in a plate of shallot, lentils and sourdough croutons and praise for Jo Myers marmalade ice cream (accompanying a whisky tart). Praise indeed when it comes from Robin and Caroline Weir authors of ‘Ice Creams, Sorbets and Gelati: The Definitive Guide’ and Jill Norman, an expert on spices, an author in her own right and notably Elizabeth David’s editor at Penguin. Thank you Swine, we loved it.

Guest Chefs at Star Inn the Harbour

Andrew Pern has announced a programme of guest chef nights at the Star Inn the Harbour, Whitby. The first one in February with James Mackenzie of the Pipe & Glass is already sold out, but you can still book for 15 March when Kenny Atkinson (Great British Menu winner) of Newcastle’s House of Tides will be laying on a Geordie inspire menu, four courses at £45 per person’


On 10 May Galton Blackiston who cooks at his Michelin starred Morston Hall in Norfolk, will be presenting a fish menu based on his new book ‘Hook, Line, Sinker’ recently shortlisted for the Gourmand World Cook Book Awards.


To book email or telephone 01947 821900


High Farndale

There are not many farmers who can name every low flying aircraft going over their land, but Peter Mawson is not your usual farmer having exchanged a career as an air traffic controller in the RAF for an idyllic farm on the North York Moors

Farndale Farm is a hill farm at the end of a lane in High Farndale, the dale where the wild daffodils bloom in spring and where Peter rears his flock of rare breed Whitefaced Woodland sheep and British Saddleback pigs.

These hardy, native sheep are entirely grass fed – hay in winter and fresh grass in summer. The lambs are allowed to grow and mature slowly and are sold as hogget, which means lambs that are between 13 and 24 months old. These older lambs, Peter believes, give the meat a deeper, more mature flavour and we agree; we’ve tried it. High Farndale hogget is available between June and October as full, half or quarter animal, cut into joints ready for the freezer.

The Saddleback pigs are equally hardy and while there are shelters in their field, they live outdoors throughout the year and like the sheep, they are reared less intensively than commercially reared pork. Peter’s pigs are sold in 26kg or 13kg packs equivalent to a half or a quarter pig. He also produces wonderful dry cured bacon and gammon and pork rich sausages.

To buy meat from High Farndale you can visit the farm by appointment or buy online or visit one of the farmers’ markets in Helmsley, Ampleforth, Husthwaite and Kirbymoorside. Or to sample some of Peter’s fabulous bacon and sausage visit the lovely Graze on the Green at Rosedale Abbey. Other outlets can be found on their website.

Betsy & Bo

It was an institution. The Gift Shop in Staithes stocked everything you ever needed: candles, string, sink plungers, hot water bottles, buckets, spades, firelighters, a single screw or 1000 piece jigsaw. If Terry didn’t have it he could get it for you by Friday.

Terry and Ann Lawson ran the Gift shop for 48 years. Electrician, lifeboat man, musician, poet, photographer, philosopher – Terry was a man of many parts. Sadly he died in 2013 after a long illness and Ann sold the business soon after. They are both much missed in the village.

Happily Luke and Sophie bought the shop in 2016 creating a bespoke chocolate shop and general store. Nobody needs chocolate in the way they needed Terry’s light bulbs and 6” nails, but it’s very nice to have and good to see the shop retained as a business.

Luke has known Staithes for many years holidaying at the family house Cowbar View. Now they have moved to Whitby full time with their twin daughters Betsy and Bo after whom the shop is named.

It all looks very different from Terry’s days, the old wooden shelves have been retained, but now they are stocked with old fashioned sweets in glass jars and the counter displays beautifully packaged chocolate from the Mast Brothers, USA and Roccoco. They’ve started making their own handmade truffles too and plan chocolate workshops. Look out too for old favourites such as liquorice, lollies, Edinburgh rock, fudge and lucky bags.

Alongside the shop is the General Store. No it’s not all recherché ingredients – though they do have vacuum packed octopus – there are the basics of washing up liquid, logs, firelighters, rice, lentils, onions and pasta. Just the sort of stuff you need when arriving at your holiday cottage. There are treats too like extra virgin olive oil, soft Italian nougat, jams and clotted cream. You could put together an antipasti board with their Parma ham, chorizo, Italian cheeses, jars of roasted artichokes and aubergine. It’s licensed too with some rather good wines and Mason’s Yorkshire gin.

Betsy & Bo, High Street, Staithes. 01947 840059

… and the Michelin Star Goes To …

Monday saw the launch of the 2018 UK Michelin Guide – streamed live in front of an invited audience. After an interminable build up they finally announced the 16 new stars.

No new stars for Yorkshire, seems their inspectors never get beyond Leicester apart from a star for Moor Hall at Aughton near Ormskirk and Loch Bay on the Isle of Skye. Unusually Michelin announced a third star, (making a total of only five in the UK)  for The Araki, a London sushi restaurant with just nine covers that serves one set menu at £300 per person. Drinks extra!

Happily all the current Yorkshire star holders held on to their badges and remain in the club. Once again congratulations to Skosh and Joro for their Bib Gourmand – recognition by Michelin for a restaurant  (or chef) worth watching.

We wrote way back in 2012 why we believe Michelin to be an outdated and irrelevant award but we understand why it means so much to chefs.  For an interesting article in the London Eater on why Michelin’s matter click here.


Michelin Delivers

Congratulations to Skosh, York and Joro, Sheffield on their Michelin Bib Gourmand announced this morning. So glad we visited and reported some time ago, we’ll never get a table now. Congratulations too to our neighbours the Staith House, North Shields for their Bib Gourmand.

The big one, the Michelin stars, are announced on Monday, 2nd October, live streamed at 11.30am. It’s my guess that York’s Cochon Aveugle will be crossing their fingers. It’s too soon for Horto, though the inspectors appear very keen on the small plates Scandi vibe.

There will be a lot of breath-holding among the current Yorkshire star holders hoping to hold on to their stars, the Star Inn, the Yorke Arms, the Black Swan, the Pipe and Glass, the Man Behind the Curtain and the Box Tree. No pressure guys.


Steenberg Spices

I’ve been cooking from Meera Sodha’s fantastic book Fresh India recently, which calls for all sorts of Indian spices, not always easy to find  in York (try Rafi’s Spice Box in York, Harrogate and Leeds and Makkah International – formerley Feshways – on Hull Road), so I was pleased to be able to root around in the storerooms of Steenberg Spices, a specialist spice importer run by a lovely couple, Axel and Sophie Steenberg based at a business park in Melmerby.


You might have seen Steenberg’s little blue topped jars in Booth’s or in delis here and there, but if you don’t know of them then read on, because Steenberg’s are a fabulous source of ingredients, not just spices.

All their spices are organic, ethically sourced and many are Fairtrade. My visit included not only a tour of the factory but a Pepper Workshop organised by the Guild of Food Writer’s in which Axel took us through their list of 33 different peppers from the gentle Selim pepper from Ghana that strangely had a tang of furniture polish to the spicy Sansho Pepper from Japan with a menthol scent and a weird numbing sensation to the mouth much like Sechuan pepper.

But have a browse through Steenberg’s website for much more. This is the place to buy your harissa, sumac, chermoula, ras al hanout. They also stock hard to find baking ingredients such as buckwheat flour and chestnut flour, organic orange flower water, almond and vanilla extracts, edible rose petals, the list goes on. All available online from:

Steenberg Spices 6 Hallikeld Close, Barker Business Park, Melmerby, Ripon HG4 5GZ

Ibérica’s Authentic Paella

To Ibérica the stunning, former Bonhams/Hepper building on East Parade to learn about paella. We’d been invited by Marcos the CEO of the Ibérica Group who explained how we’d all been having too many touristy paellas and they were here to show us the proper thing.

The secret said Marcos is in the stock. It must be a proper fish or meat stock. The rice absorbs the liquid and provides all the flavour. There should only be a thin layer of rice, cooked over a high flame, preferably wood-fired and never stirred, this would release too much starch and make it sticky. When the rice can absorb no more stock the remaining liquid is allowed to caramelise so that it toasts a little at the bottom of the pan. This, is called the socorrat and considered the best bit of the paella.

To prove it they brought out a fish and a meat paella. It was thinner than I’d expected and not at all creamy like risotto. One was topped with prawns the other chicken (no mixed fish and meat they said) They were right of course the flavour is all in the rice, and with a special scraper, the chef released the wonderful crusty layer. It was indeed very good.

They also brought out anchovies and a selection of charcuterie, a plate of creamy and delicate croquetas, a strawberry and beetroot salad with an ajo blanco dressing, roasted bone marrow and steak tartar topped with fried quail eggs and for dessert, rice pudding with a brûlée top, churros and chocolate and an apple and salted caramel ice cream topped with whipped crema catalana.

What began as a talk about paella, morphed into a full blown lunch washed down with some rather luscious wines. We’re often sniffy about chains (Iberica will hate me for calling them a chain rather than a ‘collection’) but this we are willing to concede is one of the best, not least for its fabulous setting (make sure you use the loos) and of course the authentic paella.

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

T: 0113 403 7007


Holmes Mill

What’s happened to Clitheroe. When I lived there as a teenager there was nothing much to celebrate in the way of food and drink apart from the wonderful Byrnes wine emporium, now it has Holmes Mill and the amazing Bowland Food Hall. The former textile mill on the edge of town is a vast gastrodome with a butchers, a fish counter, a cheese stall with, among others, a dozen different Lancashire’s. I took home a beautiful Tasty Lancashire. Fresh fruit and veg tumble out of one of those old French delivery vans, continental sausage and hams are strung up above a counter stuffed with local pies and pastries. There are countless deli items: pickles, chutneys, jams and jellies. At its heart is a counter from where you can sit with a coffee and cake or as we did, with a sharing board of salami and cheese and a glass of chilled white wine.

Next door is the enormous beer hall that claims the longest bar in Britain with a raft of real ales along with their own Bowland Beer. It’s all been cleverly restored to retain some serious industrial chic: iron pillars, stone flagged floors, exposed brick and beam and the giant rusting Clayton, Goodfellow & Co. horizontal engine that once powered the weaving shed.


Next door is a bakery and an ice cream parlour and coming soon they promise, is a hotel, a pool, gymnasium and spa. It’s a terrific enterprise to rival other such places in Malaga and Lisbon, well done little Clitheroe.

Holmes Mill, The Food Hall, Clitheroe, Lancs. T:01200 407130


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