The evening began with canapés on the terrace. The sun was going down, Geronimo had somehow wrangled getting Matthew Hoggard, MBE awarded Yorkshire cricket player, along and conversation was pleasantly Northern. I complimented one of our hosts on the champagne going round, only to be met sceptically: ‘Lucy, that is cyder’. I was gobsmacked. Not only was Aspall’s Chevallier Cuvee served from a champagne bottle, but its dry, straw notes with flower and apple were similar to a more rounded cava. At 11% packed as hefty a punch. I’d known nothing like it – simply and utterly delicious.
Cider’s not been something I’ve considered much. I pick it up occasionally in the summer to sip cursorily and disregard until the sun’s back out. I’ve certainly never considered it in the same league as wine or even beer, nor as something possessing a myriad of forms. However, this outlook was recently adjusted, and not inconsiderably, at an event hosted by Geronimo Inns. At their Fentiman Arms gastro pub, Oval, they paired 10 courses of food with some extraordinary cyders by Aspall, with the aim of educating attendees about cyder’s true diversity and range.
Leeds seems to be undergoing somewhat of a regeneration at the minute. With the new Trinity Centre and countless new restaurants and bars springing up, Leeds I dare say is becoming exciting again. There’s a new (ish guy) in town. Opened just a few months and sitting in La Senza’s old, high-street spot is Byron. The ever popular London chain has set up shop in Leeds. It’s out with the old nylon panties and in with a spanking new burger joint.
Byron’s menu is simple, a range of nibbles to start and 8 burgers (if you include veggie and chicken). Byron’s focus is on doing a simple thing well. This should be lauded. They say variety is the spice of life - however a line must be drawn. Endless variations on what is essentially brilliant in its simplicity get on my la Senza padded tits. However, Byron do offer a special patty every few months or so to maintain that spice of life. I came down specially to try Byron’s new flavour of the month, ‘The Shady’; their standard 6 oz patty, cooked as you like, accompanied with pickle relish and crispy cheese, American cheese, onion and ketchup.
If, like me, at times the green fields beyond London call to you and a vacation from sweaty Oxford Street beckons, I know just the place. Head north of London; head out along the West Way past Harrow and into the green wilds. Admittedly, ‘wilds’ may be too dramatic a word to describe the polite and rolling hills of rural Buckinghamshire, but do allow me this one small extravagance. In a terribly English village called Great Missenden you’ll find Peterley Manor Farm. The Brill family have farmed this estate for 4 generations, producing fruit, vegetables and Christmas trees. The farm has a farm shop that manages to be both quaint and sizable. Excellent cheese, vegetables, meats and many other delights are sold there – it makes for a merry potter. However, the topic of my post is not this dear shop, its plant nursery, nor even its orderly rows of pick-your-own. For nestled on the farm estate is the real reason I’ll continue spurning the Big Smoke to face these Buckinghamshire wilds.
In a striking converted yurt erected amidst rows of pick-your-own berries and ringed by bales of hay, is the Wild Strawberry Café. This surprising enterprise, quite at odd with its surroundings, is run by eldest Brill daughter, Katy, recently returned to the family fold from a successful career as a private chef for the world’s rich and famous. Having cooked alongside this girl for many years, in my days of teaching cookery classes, I can vouch for both her talent and passion for truly stunning produce.
This year's stars for London are:
Restaurant Gordon Ramsey - Kensington/Chelsea
Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester - Mayfair
Ledbury - Kensington
Marcus - Belgravia
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal -Hyde Park and Knightsbridge
Sketch - Mayfair
Helene Darroze at the Connaught - Mayfair
Le Gavroche - Mayfair
Square - Mayfair
Greenhouse - Mayfair
Hibiscus - Mayfair
(N) = New stars
Pied a Terre - Bloomsbury
Hakkasan Hanway Place - Bloomsbury
Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs - Bloomsbury (N)
Dabbous - Bloomsbury
Club Gascon - City of London
City Social - City of London (N)
HKK - Shoreditch
Clove Club - Shoreditch (N)
Harwood Arms - Fulham
River Cafe - Hammersmith
La Trompette - Chiswick
Hedone - Chiswick
St John - Clerkenwell
Angler - Finsbury
Outlaws at the Capital - Chelsea
Rasoi - Chelsea
Launceston Place - Kensington
Kitchen W8 - Kensington
The Glasshouse - Kew
Story - Bermondsey
Galvin La Chapelle - Spitalfields
Chez Bruce - Wandsworth
Petrus - Belgravia
Ametsa with Arzak Instruction - Belgravia
Amaya - Belgravia
Fera at Claridges - Mayfair (N)
Alyn Williams at The Westbury - Mayfair
Murano - Mayfair
Galvin at Windows - Mayfair
Benares - Mayfair
Tamarind - Mayfair
Kai - Mayfair
Wild Honey - Mayfair
Brasserie Chavot - Mayfair
Gymkhana - Mayfair (N)
Pollen Street Social - Mayfair
Hakkasan Mayfair- Mayfair
Umu - Mayfair
Maze - Mayfair
Locanda Locatelli - Regents Park and Marylebone
Texture - Regents Park and Marylebone
L'Autre Pied - Regents Park and Marylebone
Lima - Regents Park and Marylebone
Trishna- Regents Park and Marylebone
Seven Park Place - Regents Park and Marylebone
Yauatcha - Regents Park and Marylebone
Arbutus - Soho
Social Eating House - Soho
Barrafina - Soho (N)
L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon - Strand and Covent Garden
Quilon - Victoria
Loss of Stars:
Chapter One - Farnborough
Medlar - Chelsea
Tom Aitkens (Closed) - Chelsea
Viajante (Closed) - Bethnal Green
Aspleys (Closed) - Belgravia
Bo London (Closed) - Mayfair
Nobu - Mayfair
Nobu Berkeley - Mayfair
One Leicester Square (Closed) - Soho
Sous vide: the technique and gadget that has come to grace today’s menus and modern kitchens. For those of you unfamiliar with this, sous vide is the process of taking food, sealing it (seasoned or not) in a vacuum pack and poaching it in a water bath until succulent and perfect. Control is the key; it allows the cook minute control over temperature, thus texture and degree of cooking. It’s also bloody practical – you can pop as many vacuum bags in the bath as will fit and it’s almost impossible to overcook them.
But what home cook actually owns one of these? The kit is expensive and relatively cumbersome. The closest we can come to trying sous vide food much of the time is at the tables of fine dining establishments (or in mass catering, actually). However much I’d like this – it’s hardly reality.
It was with anticipation and excitement that I headed down to the MEATLiquor in Leeds, newly opened this month in the Trinity Centre. Having ventured to the London outpost several times, I was thrilled that they had crossed the M25 border and headed up North.
First, let’s talk venue. Expecting to walk into a dark, cavernous-like pit with blood splatters adorning the wall (like their Oxford street outpost) I was surprised to be transported to my school disco days. Glittery tassels adorn the walls and a snazzy DJ booth graces the back – if the Duncan pub and Back to Basics had a lovechild, it would look a little something like this. Co-owner Yianni explained that each restaurant is individual, with its own menu and concept. In his words; the Leeds outpost is based on “a working men’s club on acid.”
This is one of MEATLiquor’s distinguishing features that sets it apart from the other all TOO familiar BBQ/ American diner/ burger joints......blah blah blah. People come here to eat and party. The child seats at the door are surely there for decoration (or to comply with some EU Directive) and little scamps are not permitted past 7pm.
Anyway, enough chirping about the décor; “what to eat?!” I hear you bellow. Well, whilst mulling over the menu, I suggest you get some tobacco onions to sink with a pre-dinner pint. Deliciously thin and crisp, these sweet little wisps of fried vegetable get the taste buds juicy: bar snacks at their best.
Next, the lamb chops. Now, being someone that has had a bad time with lamb (thanks, Mum, for those stringy Sunday roasts), I was dubious to sink my teeth into baa baa stringy boy. However being a Freudian master in repressing bad memories, I figured me and lamb could start over, right?
The plate arrived with 6 spice-coated grilled cutlets and they were magnificent. The lamb was well cooked yet tender, with the right balance of meat to fat and packing a serious slap of spice.
Then, the burger. I sampled two classics from the menu; the cheeseburger (obviously) and the dead hippie; two mustard fried patties, hugged by sauce, lettuce and pickles. Both were an absolute delight, served pink in the middle and providing a satisfying drip when squeezed. To accompany; the deep fried pickles. Even if you’re the kind to discard these pickled vegetables from your big mac, I can assure you – you won’t be disappointed. Perfectly crisp, light batter compliments sweet and sour pickle lurking beneath; possibly one of my favorites from the menu. I washed these boys down with a Donkeypunch cocktail; a refreshing and sharp mix of vodka, absinthe and ginger beer. Lethal in quantities and after three, pretty much like a blow to the back of the head.
If you’re still wondering whether to get your arse off the couch and come down for a trip, then the temptation of a free meal should do it. For its opening weeks, MEATLiquor lets you roll a dice to determine whether or not you need to get your shekels out for your meal. A thoughtful touch that will go down well with us tight fisted Yorkshire folk.
This joint will do well in Leeds. It seems wherever MEATLiquor goes a flutter of excitement and queues inevitably follows. So beat the chumps and give them a call, the number’s below, and the dice are waiting to be rolled............
0113 8346 090
Trinity Centre Bank Street Behind Victoria's Secret | Leeds | LS1 5AT
By Erin Goodall
FoodGoblin Northern Correspondent
FoodGoblin is running its first social media competition, in support of Fresh Food Guru (whom we adore) who are entered in two categories of this year's Women's Fitness Awards: Best Retailer and Food Delivery Service!
This company, based out of Aberdeen, are about all things MEAT - always a winner in my book. Owner, Andrew Gordon, as well as an Aberdeen Butchers, runs a meat delivery service bringing counter quality meat to the doorsteps of lean lovers across the UK. I've tried their stuff and it is wonderful.
Up for grabs for one of FoodGoblin's readers; one of their amazing meat boxes, delivered to your front door anywhere in the UK!
What you have to do?
1. Vote for Fresh Food Guru in the Women's Fitness Awards: Best Retailer and Food Delivery Service categories.
2. Head to Twitter and RT my status!
Competition runs until Midnight Saturday 20th at which point one lucky retweeter will be chosen at random as a winner!
GO GO GO!
September 18th-19th sees one of my annual calendar’s most exciting events hit London– Cocktails in the City. Set in the beautiful Grand Hall, near St Pancras, this 2 day event sees some of London’s most exciting bars come together to showcase the best of the city’s cocktail scene!
Cocktails in the City launched last year and, following a roaring success in London that saw over 850 attendees and 20+ bars, took place in a number of UK cities from Edinburgh to Leeds. Expect pop ups from the most cutting-edge east London speak easies to 5* Mayfair bars, all accompanied by live music (by Horse Meat Disco, no less) and street food. Apparently all guests get a free Harvey Nichols SOS makeover too – I’m not 100% what the SOS part is all about but if the state of my make up after a night on the cocktails is anything to go by, it’ll probably be a most welcome addition to the evening.
I went to its preview recently in the tres cool Hoxton Hotel – a number of the bars participating in the main event had set up shop with mini stalls and guests were invited to pop by each, enjoy a cocktail and chat to proprietors. Everything I tried was spectacular, ranging from a caviar martini by the Ritz to a dry ice Chambord cocktail by Leeds based molecular mixology bar The Alchemist, soon to open here in the capital. If the preview was anything to go by, the main event should be spectacular.
Tickets are £12, including 1 free cocktail. For more information see - http://www.cocktailsinthecity.co.uk/!
See you there!
Thursday 18th- Friday 19th September, 6-11pm
The Grand Hall, Camden Centre, Euston Road, London, WC1H 9JE.
All you lucky LS postcode peeps are in for a treat. The time has come and MEATliquor is arriving in Leeds this September. Following on from their hugely successful sites in London, the boys behind MEATliquor are branching out up North and opening their biggest outpost yet in Leeds Trinity Centre. And the best news is - THERE’S A BOOKING LINE!
Those who have sampled MEATliquour’s deliciously messy meat dishes and innovative cocktails will know that due to its popularity, the only way of getting through the doors is the good ol’ fashion way of waiting in line. A fair system, but in the Baltic temperatures of Yorkshire, not a goer. So for those who like the sound of the best deep fried pickles outside the Deep South, mouthwatering burgers (including the signature Dead Hippie) all washed down with a Meatjito, MEATLiqour’s booking line is now open. Get yersen’ a table ahead of the grand opening which is scheduled for Tuesday September 9th. This, boys and girls, is not one to be missed.
Their tag line is “come hungry leave drunk.” Sounds like a challenge to me. Full review to follow shortly.....watch this space.
For bookings go to http://meatliquor.com/leeds/.
FoodGoblin is taking its appetite to where it's grim. To where winter is coming, to where pies, gravy and coal holds reign and battle lines are drawn over the distinction between a bap, a barm or a cob.
Haven't got it yet? Alright then....FoodGoblin is expanding its culinary horizons to the North of England! With the help of new Northern correspondent, Erin Goodall, FoodGoblin will explore the tastes and treats of Northern England. Leeds, Manchester, York and Harrogate - we're coming for you!
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