When Fodder, the Yorkshire Agricultural Society store set up stall in Harrogate, we thought it was the height of speciality food shopping and so it remains in Yorkshire terms, but a recent trip to Milan showed me the Fodder principal on a mega scale. Eataly, in the former Smeraldo theatre, is whopping great department store of good food – and it’s coming to England.




The first Eataly opened in Turin in 2007, the brainchild of Oscar Farinetti, a former electrical retailer and a member of Slow Food. His idea – hardly revolutionary you may think – was to connect people to wholesome, fairly priced, quality food.


Comparing Italian and British food prices was beyond me, but Farinetti claims he keeps prices down by cutting out the middle-man and going direct to producers. Whatever the price, anyone with an interest in food should visit a branch of Eataly. There are 31 stores across Italy, Europe and the USA. Our hosts were tight lipped about when and where the London branch might be, only saying it would open ‘soon’. Not a great PR move for a bunch of travel journalists with pens poised to write about it.


But when it does open in the UK, we are in for a treat if the Milan branch is anything to go by. At the entrance is a bountiful display of fresh fruit and vegetables and shelves of produce from small regional producers: quality mayonnaise, speciality pastas, truffles, anchovies and much more from kitchen gear to cook books. The second floor has the wine shop, butchery department and fish counter. They make their own cheese, ice cream, chocolate and pastries and make and sell 80kg of bread a day.


Demonstration kitchens host cookery courses and you can eat and drink here whether it’s a quick morning espresso, an evening cocktail, a freshly made pizza, a snack lunch or a full blow posh dinner at their Michelin-starred Alice. Or spend all day there and do the lot.


Real_shitAnd Fodder take note, here is the ultimate in clever marketing – Real Shit – tins of organic, chicken manure to spread over your window box vegetables!


Eataly, Piazza XXV Aprile, 10 – 20121 Milano

Fodder, Great Yorkshire Show Ground, Harrogate



Le Squidbeak Tour

Leeds Town Hall

In case you’ve had your head under the duvet, the 20th Tour de France starts off from Leeds Town Hall on the 5th July and after 191km  of pedaling they reach Harrogate (don’t they know it’s only 25km?) .

The next day starts in York where they depart, of all places, from the Designer Outlet and continue for another 190 km to finish in Sheffield, and that’s it. They’re off to Cambridge then London for the UK finish along the Mall.

Forgive us for being a bit jaded. I’m sure we’ll be swept up in it come July, just like the Olympics, but with all the hype, the special reports, the supplements, Squidbeak have to admit they are not yet counting down.

Still there’s no denying it’s a spectacular route, so we have devised our own Tour, a route that roughly follows day one of Le Tour, but is about the best places to see and eat.

So, unless you want to stand roadside watching 198 riders flash past in the blink of an eye, we suggest you consider taking  Le Squidbeak Tour between now and July  at  our more leisurely pace.

Yorkshire Dales

Yorkshire Dales

The showpiece route centres round the Yorkshire Dales National Park where you can walk the hills and valleys, stroll through chocolate box villages, sample the local craft ales, watch Wensleydale cheese in production and feast on Yorkshire game and Swaledale lamb but most of all, drink in the views. They inspired the French to choose Yorkshire and it’s not hard to see why.

Ilkley is the gateway town of the Dales where you can put a picnic together from the famous Betty’s bakery and tearoom. If you’re feeling flush eat a Michelin star meal at either the Box Tree in Ilkley or the Devonshire Arms, in Wharfedale where the 12th century Bolton Abbey, sits splendidly on a bend on the river Wharfe and where the Dales proper begins.

Box Tree Restaurant, Ilkley

The cyclists will head straight for Grassington, but we can detour through a string of pretty villages: Appletreewick has the delightful Craven Arms and Burnsall the Devonshire Fell. At Grassington, the Grassington House Hotel is good for  lunch or an overnight.  Kilnsey has the mighty roadside crag with its 40ft overhang with invariably a rock climber clinging on to its face. There are detours here to Linton and the  Fountaine Inn, Litton for the Queen’s Arms,  Malham for the peregrines and Arncliffe for the delightfully unspoilt Falcon Inn where ale is still poured from a china jug.

The peloton will be enroute to Kettlewell and over the high pass into Wensleydale, passing close to Aysgarth Falls where a sparkling river Ure pours over broad tables of limestone. Unlike them, you can dawdle in Freeholders Wood carpeted with bluebells and wood anemones in spring. Nearby Hawes is home to the Wensleydale Creamery, with its creamery tour and Wensleydale cheese to take home.

Fifty five miles from Leeds and Le Tour will be heading into Swaledale, my favourite Dale through the villages of Muker – with cream teas in the village tearoom – and Gunnerside where in high summer the wildflower meadows, farmed sustainably for generations, bloom with the likes of buttercups, eyebright and melancholy thistle. We like the Punch Bowl at Low Row and the  CB Inn way up in Arkengarthdale.

Blue Lion, East Witton

At Reeth the peloton will head south to Leyburn where you will eat well at the Sandpiper.  For cake, a coffee and a simple bed for the night, you can’t do better than the Dales Bike Centre at Fremington.  Middleham is famous for it’s racehorse stables and Richard III’s ruined castle then on through pretty East Witton. The cyclists might grab a musette  – a bag of food – you and I can stop for a perfect gastropub lunch at the lovely Blue Lion.  From there it’s a leisurely drive south to Ripon to feast at Lockwoods and the must-see World Heritage  Fountains Abbey before a sprint finish into genteel Harrogate, with its elegant shops, sedate Valley Gardens, glorious Turkish Baths and, of course, Fodder, an irresistible emporium of the finest Yorkshire food produce

After a slap up dinner at Van Zeller’s you can congratulate yourself on completing 120 miles and stage one of the Tour de France 2014, wearing not the yellow jersey but a well earned bib gourmand.

To download a map of the route click here


Rosemary Shrager’s Yorkshire Breakfasts

Rosemary Shrager is a force of nature, a gale force. She swept into Fodder last week, to demonstrate some breakfast dishes from her new book ‘Rosemary Shrager’s  Yorkshire Breakfasts’.

And it was a demo like no other: crazy, funny, chaotic. She couldn’t work the induction hob so Fodder’s director, Heather Parry, hovered behind her turning the plates on and off, up and down on demand and sometimes failing altogether. There was only one frying pan when she needed two; potato cakes had been cut into rounds instead of rectangles. Fodder’s head chef put up with relentless scolding mostly for being French, poor lad. Even a chap from the audience, whom she’d met years ago was dragged up to help make the scrambled eggs. His mistake was once beating her at table tennis.

But her ferocious bark is far worse than her bite. She may come over as a posh and bossy lady, but she’s a pussy cat really, utterly charming, entertaining, delightful.

And she seems to genuinely love Yorkshire. She raves about everything: the place, the people, the ingredients, the food. She was thrilled to find Chris Wildman, the Yorkshire Chorizo man, in the audience,  went off at a tangent to praise local ‘Serrano’ ham and loved Fodder’s bacon. She raves about breakfast. too, which of course was the point.

Rosemary Shrager and Heather Parry

She told us why she loved breakfast, gave us tips to make things easier when entertaining. She made kedgereee – her tip: add a spot of curry powder. She made creamy scrambled eggs, poached eggs, quails eggs. She fried up some bacon and made a proper hollandaise sauce. She took questions, signed books, teased the chef some more. I don’t know about her but the rest of us sat down to our meal exhausted and we really did enjoy all the above. Breakfast for supper, you can’t beat it.

Fodder is a charitable food hall and cafe run by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society to provide a market for local farmers and food producers.

Open every day until 5.30pm, 7pm Thursday.

Fodder, Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate HG2 8NZ T: 01423 546111


On and on people bang about Daylesford Organics in Gloucestershire; I called in last summer out of curiosity and found myself stumbling round in a trance, feeling like a farm hand, alienated by the extraordinary prices.

Who shops here? Well, judging by the private plates on the gas-guzzling SUVs in the car park, posh people. And on a midweek morning, they were here in droves. Manicured and Nicole Farhi’d to within an inch of their Stepford lives, wafting round buying the shop up. As Jay Rayner wrote ‘I was standing in Daylesford Orangics, trying to work out whether the kids could go without shoes so I could afford to buy an emergency hunk of Comte cheese ..’ Indeed. Plus candles at 70 quid. And wailing whale music throughout. So: expensive and irritating.

Last week I called in on Fodder by the Yorkshire Showground and guess what? We’ve got our very own version and it’s completely accessible (price-wise) to ornery folk like us, in a stunning building (all glass and wood and lofty ceilings) and the serving people are friendly and warm. (Unlike the southern experience where my chippy northerness was rewarded with cool glances down noses – hence the farm hand vibe. Well, that and the charity shop clobber I was and am always wearing.)

It’s just won a gong from The Observer (best independent local retailer) and rightly so. What a fabulous space, shop and caff. It was a gloomy, chilly February afternoon and my heart lifted as I walked in – you know that warm, welcoming thing you’re lucky if you get and when you do you totally appreciate? Well you get that here. And brilliant local produce – everything – eggs, meat, bread, veg and the cakes. Well, the cakes. You know what we’re like with cakes.

Don’t take our word for it. Have a bit of a Grand Day Out, trazz round Harrogate (morning coffee at Betty’s, obviously) but end up here. In another article on another day, JR said ‘it’s a welcome and thrilling venture’. Amen to that.

Fodder, Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate, HG2 8NZ T: 01423 546111

Ten Minutes to Table

How delicious does this look? It’s from Xanthe Clay’s book  “10 Minutes to Table”.

Ten minutes is going some so if you want to see how it’s done,  book your tickets and watch her in action in a  masterclass to be held on 17th March at 6.30pm at Fodder.

If you haven’t been yet, Fodder is the brilliant food hall (see Mandy’s blog) run by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society and housed in a beautiful purpose built centre at the Great Yorkshire Showground.

Xanthe will be demonstrating fast, easy recipes that make the most of Yorkshire produce. “I’ll be cooking up quick, tasty seasonal and local recipes prepared in a flash.  Real food, real fast, you can have it all.

To book your space at Xanthe’s Master Class at Fodder visit or ring Rosamund on 01423 546 111.
Tickets are £25 and include a two course meal.

For Xanthe’s recipe for Tomato, Soft Cheese and Sesame Tart go to our recipe pages.

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