If you haven’t yet come across A Pair of Dirty Pigs, then you should take a look at their Instagram site where you will find their independent and well informed reviews of restaurants in Yorkshire and London.
Dirty Pigs, Warren Lumsden & Tom McKenzie
The Dirty Pigs themselves are two young guys from York: Tom McKenzie and Warren Lumsden and last Saturday they hosted their first event: ‘A Taste of France’ a selection of small plates matched with carefully chosen wines and beers at Stanley and Ramona’s, the tiny coffee shop on Bishopthorpe Road in York.
It was all a bit of a crush, especially as Bishopthorpe Road was hit not only by heavy showers but also by a number of inebriated race goers, carrying their heels along Bishy Road, but for those of us who squeezed inside, it was a good natured, convivial event.
Fourme d’Ambert with lavender honey and pine nuts
From a list of nine plates we particularly liked the wild boar paté and Haxby sourdough paired with Christophe Muret Syrah; slices of venison with blackcurrant sage matched with a Potel Aviron Gamay and my favourite a creamy blue cheese – Fourme d’Ambert lavished with lavender honey and pine nuts served with an Edouard Leiber Pinot Gris. We were impressed too, that after their visit to the open day at Herbs Unlimited they made the journey back to Thirsk to source blackcurrant sage, bronze fennel and lemon verbena for their dishes.
Congratulations, Dirty Pigs and watch this space for more of their events, and if we can persuade them to join us, some of their reviews on Squidbeak.
To Herbs Unlimited at Sandhutton this week for their open day at the 90 acre herb farm created and run by the lovely Alison Dodds. After touring ‘the hill’ where the outdoor perennial herbs are grown: chives, sage, mint and the like, we visited the polytunnels where more tender plants are cultivated including Alison’s ‘speciality herbs’: lemon verbena, bronze fennel, orange thyme, sweet cicely, garlic chives, blackcurrent sage, hyssop, oxalis leaf, the list goes on.
We nibbled on some amazing leaves and flowers before sampling them in a succession of canapés created by chef Stephanie Moon: broad been and summer savory hummus; mackerel with dittander cream and borage flowers; tomato terrine with lovage pesto; nasturtium sea trout cakes, strawberry, cinnamon basil jelly with cornflowers and lots more finishing with a lovely lemon verbena tisane. A real treat. Thanks Steph, Alison and their teams
Herbs Unlimited mostly supply wholesalers and restaurants, but you can sometimes find Yorkshire grown herbs and salad leaves in speciality shops around the county.
Herbs Unlimited. Sandhutton, Thirsk YO7 4RW T 01845 587694 www.herbsunlimited.co.uk
Stephanie Moon with her ‘green eggs and ham’
Nasturtium seed fish cakes with bean flowers
Strawberry cinnamon basil jelly with cornflowers
If you’ve never been before, or even if you have, get along to the Malton Food Lover’s Festival tomorrow, it’s the last day of what is arguably the best food festival in Yorkshire and even beyond. The stripey food awnings give it a French country market feel with stalls selling the best of Yorkshire produce.
Sue Nelson interviewing Diana Henry
Get there early, at lunchtime today it was heaving and the Haxby Baker had sold out by 2pm. I filled my basket with a sourdough loaf from the Leeds Bread Co-op, Sand Hutton asparagus and a pack of their strawberries – try these super-sweet boys and you’ll never buy supermarket Elsanta again. I went to a Q & A session with a panel that included Prue Leith, Levi Roots and Stephanie Moon, a honey masterclass from Hattie Ellis and and an interview conducted by Sue Nelson (Yorkshire Food Finder) with food writer Diana Henry and the chance to taste dishes from her new book A Bird in the Hand.
If you want to sample dishes prepared by the best Yorkshire chefs then you need to book a place at the Devonshire Arms (Bolton Abbey) Food and Wine Week which begins on Monday.
Mandy and I were invited last year for a cook-off lunch between the Dev’s chef Adam Smith and the Box Tree’s Lawrence Yates and it was terrific.
Adam Smith, head chef of the Devonshire Arms
This year it kicks off with a dinner cooked by what is arguably Yorkshire’s top five chefs: Adam Smith (Devonshire Arms), Andrew Pern (Star at Harome), James Mackenzie (Pipe & Glass), Tim Bilton (Spiced Pear) and Stephanie Moon (Rudding Park).
On Tuesday it will be a War of the Roses lunch pitching Nigel Haworth from Northcote Manor in Lancashire, (who has his own food festival coming up) against Adam Smith.
If you’ve never been to the famous L’Enclume in Cartmel, Thursday is a chance to sample some of head chef Mark Birchall’s remarkable food.
The food and wine week closes on Sunday 7th December with an evening of wines from Joe Fattorini of Bibendum Wines and a tasting menu prepared by Adam Smith. Prices range from £30 to £95.
For more information go to www.thedevonshirearms.co.uk
To book: email@example.com or T: 01756 718155
They like putting themselves through it at Rudding Park. We’ve just heard that consultant chef Stephanie Moon and sous chef Robert Hutchins are taking part in two of the most high profile competitions in the country.
Hutchins has reached the finals of the Roux Scholarship. The winner who gets a three month stage at a 3-Michelin starred restaurant ‘anywhere in the world’, is invariably launched on a glittering career. Hutchins competed against 18 eager young hopefuls from places like the Ritz and Pont de la Tour and is now down to the last six. The finals take place in April. Congratulations and good luck from Squidbeak..
When Stephanie Moon took part in last year’s Great British Menu on BBC2, she claimed it was the toughest and most stressful thing she had ever done. But like childbirth she must have forgotten the pain and only remembered the joys. She didn’t reach the final, but won through a few rounds and the judges loved her inspired pudding that was a Jackson Pollock affair eaten straight off the table.
For 2012, the producers claim that they’ve brought together ‘the biggest names in the culinary world’ to prepare an Olympic Feast. Steph is back and competing with her in the north east regional round are Colin McGurran of Winteringham Fields and Charlie Larkin of the Marquis restaurant in Kent. Kent? He’s a Yorkshireman whose served time at the Star at Harome and the Feversham Arms.
Stephanie Moon in last year's Great British Menu
Now into its seventh series, Great British Menu is uncannily similar to ITV’s Britain’s Best Dish’ in which our Mandy was an esteemed judge and managed to offend one of the country’s supposed top chefs by suggesting his Squidbeaky pudding – a plate of dinky dibs and dabs needed more focus, a tart maybe. He replied acidly that he hadn’t done that sort of thing since the 1980s. If either gets invited back, we’ll let you know.
Presenter Amanda Lamb and judge Mandy Wragg
I’m used to being behind the camera never in front of it. Agreed to do some judging for a new series called Street Market Chef, then did that thing where as the day approaches, thinking ‘why the hell did I say yes?’ Answer; ego, naturally, plus curiosity. Anyway the Hotbed Productions crew and presenter Amanda Lamb are all very jolly despite the drizzle.
Our chefs are Stephanie Moon, Executive Chef at Rudding Park and Robert Ramsden from specialist food distributor, Delifresh – two of the nicest folk you could imagine, and up for the challenge, which involves making a starter and a main out of local ingredients then standing aside whilst we judge. We being moi, pretty boy-footballer Neil Barrett, star of York City FC (lovely lad but why?) and the gracious, funny, elegant and all round superstar Frances Atkins, Michelin star holder and owner of the Yorke Arms, Ramsgill, who I haven’t met before, and fall at her feet in adoration.
L-R Stephanie Moon, Frances Atkins, Robert Ramsden & Mandy Wragg
The whole thing is huge fun, and they rattle through it like the pros they are. Robert is the victor by a fag paper but apparently it’s not about the winning. Highlights include a man in the crowd shouting ‘I need the toilet!’ at the top of his voice during a take, and the nutter who came and stood behind us judges, clutched his head and saying in a very loud German accent ‘could someone please tell me what’s happening here?’ Fair enough. There you are, minding your own business, and suddenly there’s that glamorous woman from the Scottish Widows ad. in the middle of the market square of a Friday afternoon, standing in a makeshift kitchen in the rain, flanked by a couple of frantic chefs cooking as if their lives depended on it. I thought it was surreal too, and I knew what was going on.