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.

www.highfarndale.co.uk

… 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

W: www.ibericarestaurants.com/restaurants/iberica-leeds/

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

 

Riverford Day

I’ve had a soft spot for Riverford Organics ever since they sent me one of their recipe boxes to try. I was a bit reluctant at first – who needs all those plastic pots and ingredients weighed out, but I was impressed. The dishes were delicious and very generous and they recycle all the packaging. When I sent a recipe box to my niece soon after she’d had a baby and was struggling in those first few days, she rated it the ‘best gift ever’.

Last week I was invited to a Vegetable Masterclass and lunch for Riverford customers near the Home Farm at Newby Wiske, where much of the veg is grown. Charming Ben prepared a vegetable and chick pea curry, showed us a good use for kohlrabi (roast it and serve with a spiced carrot and cannellini dip) and my favourite, a rice salad using ‘cured’ spring greens. Amazing what massaging thinly sliced cabbage with lime and salt does for cabbage.

I like their ethics too and I signed up for a veg. box delivery as soon as I got home. No need to commit forever; Riverford allow you to order their veg as and when you need it.

Riverford Organics

 

Kitchen Social

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 

 

Star Inn the Harbour

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.

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