Angela Cahill busies about in her tiny, immaculate shop looking, it has to be said, rather pleased with herself. Open only a matter of weeks, folk are already beating a path to her door. She’s been selling at Farmer’s Markets for a couple of years with husband Sean, at the same time running a pretty high powered career. Then, like many of us, Angela ‘reached a certain age and I thought let’s have a mid-life crisis!’ so ditched the big job and plans for the shop were born.
Ex-chef Sean has been experimenting in the smoke house (aka garage) and he’s settled on a method that lends a subtle, nutty flavour to the food. I’ve never been a fan of smoked cheese, but Pextenement cheddar has been given the Cahill treatment and it’s a revelation. Meat is locally sourced and fish arrives from Fleetwood. They dry-cure bacon, ham and charcuterie, and make their own sea salt butter. Angela stocks bread from Blue Sky Baker, and from Holmfirth, preserves by an outfit called Peckish who produce really unusual varieties; the blueberry and liquorice jam is fabulous and I can’t wait to try the pea & mint pesto. We arrived home with a fab loaf of bread, a pack of butter and a tub of richly smoky mackerel pate. And I can testify that the beetroot and gin cured salmon is TDF. We love it when a mid-life crisis is put to such good use.
Chapelbank Smokehouse, Crown Building, 99 Halifax Road, Ripponden HX6 4DA
T:01422 820610 and 07849 198036
Open Thursday – Saturday
I bet Gillian Clough didn’t imagine she’d be scooping national prizes for her cheese within a year of start-up; after all she’s got a day job working as a radiographer at Bradford Royal Infirmary.
Together with husband Tim she runs a small holding on the hills above Hebden Bridge where they keep a few rare-breed sheep and eight goats – just for fun, in the beginning. But what started as a hobby became a business when Gillian realised that her beloved Anglo Nubian goats produced incredibly rich milk, perfect for cheese making. She learned the basics at The School of Artisan Food under the tutelage of world-renowned maker Ivan Larcher before embarking on production; she now makes a fresh, creamy cheese unique to the Pennines.
It’s a tricky business – for a start the pasture has to be right, and it took Gillian and Tim a year or so to get the drainage and water supply sorted before the goats could graze on the land. She finally got full approval from Environmental Health in May 2015 and began to make cheese to sell. At the same time she entered her ‘Gat’ (meaning goat in Anglo Saxon) in the British Cheese Awards and won Bronze. In November the same year she won Gold in the Specialists Class at the World Cheese Awards (33 countries represented, 2700 cheeses entered!) It’s an extraordinary achievement, and just goes to show; small can be beautiful AND successful. Oh, and we fell a little bit in love with her sweet, friendly, curious goats (though my jumper now has nibble holes in it ..)
Find Gillian’s cheese at Valley Organics in Hebden Bridge, Czerwick’s Deli in Brighouse and at Andy Swinscoe’s Courtyard Dairy in Settle from March.
Jill and I are often asked what our guilty secrets are, food-wise. Mine’s crisps – I can do a family bag in one sitting. Jill’s is peanut butter. I didn’t think I was partial until these bad boys appeared on the shelf of my new favourite bread shop in Hebden Bridge, Blue Sky Baker.
Stuart & Kathryn Franklin lived in New Zealand for a while and developed a taste for the very different artisan peanut butter they discovered there which wasn’t over processed or too sweet. When they moved back to Yorkshire they realised it was impossible to source anything remotely similar, so started to make their own. It wasn’t long before friends and family were clamoring for it, and it became obvious that they had to up the ante. From the kitchen table they moved to a small factory in Dewsbury, installed a roaster and grinder; they roast their peanuts slowly roasted in small batches, then they’re ground – and nothing artificial is added. ‘Nowt but Nuts’ is 100% peanuts, and ‘Slightly Salted’ has a smidgen of sea salt. And that’s it. I’m a complete convert. NOTHING beats a slather of it on buttery toast with my morning espresso. NOTHING. Jam? Pah. Check out their website for stockists and recipes – today I will mostly be making chocolate and peanut butter brownies.
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 before. 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.
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.
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.
I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get to the Keelham Farm Shop in Skipton. I pass it often enough. Maybe I needed a reason. The other day I had one – my neighbour Mel, just back from Iceland, was raving about Skyr yogurt. My interest was piqued, and it turns out that a rather fetching farmer, Sam Moorhouse makes it at Hesper Farm, just down the road, and he sells it at Keelham. So I called in with a shopping list which featured mostly Blueberry Skyr.
On a grim, drizzly February Friday the (huge) car park was full. Inside was rammed too, including the restaurant and the cafe on the mezzanine level. They’re obviously doing something right. It’s an aircraft hangar of a space and chock-a-block with almost exclusively Yorkshire made/caught/grown products – name it and it’s on a shelf/under a chiller. There’s a butcher, baker and yep, you’re ahead of me. Great goods, nicely laid out – everything you need and a lot of stuff you don’t, but find hard to resist. I scored my Skyr (it’s divine btw) a couple of chunks of brownie, some chia seeds and a bag of porridge oats and somehow didn’t get much change from 20 quid – but a restorative lunch at the White Lion at Cray re-balanced me nicely.
Keelham Farm Shop, 21 Gargrave Road, Skipton BD23 1UD Open 7 days a week 8 til 8 (Sunday 10 – 4) www.keelhamfarmshop.co.uk
So what do you do when the kids have left home and you find yourself with time on your hands? Bridge? Pilates? Knitting? No such gentle pastimes for Elizabeth Snowdon. She arrived home one day and announced she was going to start looking for premises and make a dairy. As you do. ‘My husband wasn’t altogether shocked’ she says ‘I’ve made cheese for family and friends for years, and I’ve always had the thought that one day I’d like to do it properly’. After some hunting she found a small corner at St Hilda’s in Whitby and set to.
She’s working in a space about the size of a bathroom, and the ‘shop’ at the front is even smaller – but as we know, size isn’t everything, and the half dozen cheeses she’s making are fabulous. She’s using milk from a Jersey herd from Sleights; Whitby Jet is a smooth, rich and creamy cheddar whilst Endeavour is sweet and milky, with earthy tones. My favourite though is Sandsend which is suffused with a subtle umami flavour provided by gold Kelp and green Pepper Dulse seaweed. I know! Elizabeth exhibits the zeal of a woman who’s found her stride and will happily give you one tasting after another. If you don’t take a piece of all of them home you’re made of sterner stuff than me.
The shop is open Thursday to Saturday, or head for stockists Bothams on Skinner Street in town. The Whitby Cheese Co. The Dairy, St Hilda’s Centre,Whitby YO22 4ET. 074777 08777
It’s always worth a call into the Bear in Todmorden. I popped in this morning for some fabulous Pextenement cheese, which is made within sight of my ‘office’. (Cheesemaker Carl’s niece Hannah used to deliver on a Saturday morning but she morphed into a teenager and unaccountably found better things to do. Boys, drinking, that sort of thing.) Today in the Bear there was a young woman cooking something by the counter and it looked rather good. Turns out it’s ravioli made by Sally Wellock – yes, of the Wellock family, who have been supplying veg since 1961 to some of the most prestigious restaurants up and down the country,
She went to Italy with her dad, sourcing tomatoes, and stayed with a family who one night served up delicious ravioli, which Sally replicated back home in Nelson. It’s very good indeed; light, full off flavour, immensely satisfying. If you’re going to have what we call a slut’s dinner (ready made meal for one) forget Tesco, this is the one. Good to see the youngsters picking up the baton and running with it. There are three varieties on offer; spicy beetroot, pea & mint and wild mushroom, coming to deli near you soon. www.sallyspasta.uk @sallysPasta
Recently Jill and I compiled a list of the things that annoy us most about eating out, The No Problem Problem. High on my list is food not served on plates, but slates. Leaving aside the aesthetics of it, the scrape of a fork on slate is akin to nails down a blackboard.
On a slate: a deconstructed lemon meringue pie!
It’s clearly an issue that’s hit a nerve; Ross McGinnes from Hebden Bridge launched WeWantPlates which went viral, with the British broadsheets, Good Housekeeping and Huffington Post chipping in. Check it out; there are raspberries on rocks, sausages in pint pots and afternoon teas on step ladders.
One of the chief miscreants was our own Andrew Pern who, in an uncharacteristic failure of taste took to serving bread in a flat cap. Thankfully he’s seen the folly of his ways and it now comes on a log. I know. The image that will stay with me for rather too long though is that of chips arriving in a trainer (in New York). I ask you?
As Jeremy Hardy quipped: what’s added by serving food on a roof tile? About a tenner.
We were sad to say goodbye to Simon Shaw; his Ripponden restaurant, El Gato
Negro had been thrilling us for a decade – it was hard to find more authentic
tapas anywhere in the country (and parts of Spain, as I found out on one
Mallorcan holiday. Long story.)
Great news though is that he’s finally found the
location for the new incarnation, soon to be reborn on King Street in
Manchester’s Spinningfields. I know it’s over there but but it’s got to be worth
running the gauntlet of the border guards for his terrific take on fabada,
croquetas and tortillas. Hasta luego!