We told you ages ago about Yorkshire Food Finder; the company run by the irrepressible Sue and Aidan Nelson, who lead trails around Yorkshire sampling the best produce the county has to offer. Well they’ve expanded. Not only are there more trails: York – with a visit to the wonderful Haxby Bakehouse – the Yorkshire Dales, Thixendale for Ryedale Vinyard and to the Holderness coast with fisherman Andrew Sanderson then on to Justin Staal’s smokehouse.
Sue Nelson’s cookery book collection
They’ve now added ‘Kitchen Socials’ to their repertoire and last week Squidbeak were guests to enjoy one at their Wheldrake home. We sat down to five superior courses, cooked by Sue in her fabulously equipped kitchen surrounded by her extraordinary 1,600+ cookery book library.
Every course, from the gin cured salmon Carpaccio, through to Bridlington lobster, chocolate dessert and a very fine cheeseboard (special mention for Botton cheeses), showcased Yorkshire produce. Just this one dinner made use of 27 different Yorkshire sourced ingredients which they reckoned was a record. Proof if it were needed that the county is a source of great food.
Both trails and dinners would make a gift with a difference or for a group of food loving friends. Yorkshire Food Finder
It’s Wednesday lunchtime and chef Andrew Pern is sitting in his whites at a table in his own Star Inn at Harome but there’s no food in sight and the cutlery and napkins have been pushed aside to make way for a large ‘mood board’ of magazine cuttings with ideas for his next big venture.
Rockpool of shellfish with oyster ice cream and seaweed velouté
The Star Inn the Harbour is his latest project. A 160 cover fish restaurant to be housed in the former Tourist Information Centre in the heart of Whitby. The plan is to open in May with a dining area, bar, ice cream parlour and outdoor seating. It’s a plum location in the heart of the town right by the harbour. No wonder the local competition are a little jumpy.
A preliminary menu (which he warns is bound to change) majors on fish and seafood (£5-£15 starters/£15-£22 mains). Naturally they’ll be doing fish and chips: ‘We’d be stupid not to,’ he says, but also Dover sole; monkfish ‘scampi’; halibut and lobster thermidor. On ice: oysters, langoustines, lobster, crevettes then maybe deep fried calamari, fish soup and his fabulous posh prawn cocktail served with a Bloody Mary sorbet.
There will be Rockpool, a Star Inn favourite. He dashes to the kitchen: ‘I’ll get them to make you one’. What comes out is a wooden box filled with pebbles and seaweed: ‘a bit of theatre’ he says and in a hand thrown pot (100 newly commissioned from a local potter) come scallops, prawns, oyster and mussels topped with oyster ice cream and in another pot, a seaweed velouté to pour over.
You will thank me for trying it so that I can confirm it’s absolutely terrific.
It’s also the reason why Pern has a Michelin star and why in January, the Star won Best Gastropub in Britain. Me, I’m counting down to May when the Star rises over the harbour and Andrew Pern, (he was born here) comes home.
Congratulations to Andrew Pern and head chef Steve Smith at the Star at Harome for picking up the award for Best Gastropub in Britain. It’s a great achievement and we’re thrilled for them. Good to see the Pipe and Glass in there at number 9 and an amazing showing for Lancashire with no less than 5 gastropubs in the top 50.
Here’s the list:
1 Star Inn at Harome
2 The Sportsman, Whitstable
3 The Pony & Trap, Bristol
4 Freemasons at Wiswell
5 The Coach, Marlow
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.
Enhanced lighting for Patrick Gwynne’s magnificent Theatre Royal restaurant
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.