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Twisted Burger Company @ Aire Bar, Leeds

Does Leeds need ANOTHER burger establishment? I’m sure you’ve seen how the burger has been a major growth in Leeds’ food zeitgeist for a while now. There’s a hell of a lot of competition around so a new burger joint has to stand out, with New York Burger Kitchen, It Bar and Patty Smith’s @ The Belgrave amongst others in the city centre alone. After attending their launch a few weeks ago there was definitely enough interest, but whether the burgers would be up to the task was another question.

Originally hailing from Sheffield, Twisted Burger Company have been drafted in by Aire bar on Call Lane. Already with an ardent following since setting up shop at The Harley near Sheffield University, evidence of their heritage was on show with Henderson’s Relish on the table, a nice little touch.

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After having read a number of reviews I was hoping it was going to be good, and took the other half (burger lover) along for the ride. With eight burgers on the main menu and the option to build your own (If It Ain’t Broke) with a number of different toppings and sides  to choose from.

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I’m never particularly adventurous when it comes to burgers, I like them simple and straightforward opting for an If It Ain’t Broke - a double beef patty, Monterey Jack and streaky smoked bacon with Harley House fries. The other half chose the Super Supersize Me with Regular Joe Fries.

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If It AIn’t Broke – double beef patty with Monterey Jack and streaky smoked bacon

The Harley House fries were good – a generous portion of lightly crisp skinny fries with a pleasant Cajun spice. I hate to say it, but these were the best bit of the meal! I was underwhelmed with my burger, I tend to like my patties pink  in the middle but this can be forgiven when cooked through, if the meat is flavourful. The beef  was just adequate and under seasoned. Why have two thin patties (cooked through) when you can have one thicker one (cooked pink)? Obviously it’s just my opinion of course. The streaky bacon wasn’t crisp and had at times VERY big bits of fat, not just the long lines of fat that are accustomed with streaky bacon. Again, this would’ve been forgiven IF it was crispy! It was quite greasy too.

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Harley House Fries

The other half was less than impressed with his, and he hates saying anything bad about a burger! Very greasy, the brioche bun fell apart within two bites and on inspection was saturated with grease, not meat juice. The bacon had the same issues as mine and even though the Techno Burger sauce was good, for a burger of that size there wasn’t enough of it. The Regular Joe fries ended up soaking up a lot of the grease from the burger too. 

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Super Supersize Me

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I was pretty gutted that we hadn’t had the best experience as I know many people have loved them. I hope this was just a blip! The staff were lovely and when we mentioned a couple of our niggles (I wanted to save all of it for the review) they were receptive and took them on board. This is only their 3rd week in residency at Aire Bar so I hope they’ll improve their consistency.

Since writing this post I tried to find out more about the rules on cooking burgers pink etc, and I did find a number of articles that mentioned stopping restaurants serving burgers rare or medium rare due to health and safety reasons. Some also mentioned the importance of the internal temperature of the patty.  OK, so fair enough I can fully understand those reasons, there were unfortunately other negatives though.

DISCLAIMER: I was invited to review Twisted Burger Company in exchange for an honest, unbiased review, therefore my meal was a complimentary one.

Aire Bar
32-34 The Calls
Leeds
LS2 7EW
 

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Perky Peacock, York – The North’s Coffee Community, pt VIII

For my second coffee hit in York I paid a visit to the Perky Peacock, located at Lendal bridge on the River Ouse. York is full of historic buildings, but this place has a historically interesting and quirky spot, hidden in an old toll booth (Postern Tower) overlooking the river. Opened by Nicola Peacock, an award winning barista four and a half years ago. It’s great spot, next to the river where rowers and York river boats frequently pass by, close to the main tourist trap of Medieval York and the train station.

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Originally from Thirsk, Nicola got her Philosophy degree at York University, travelled around the USA and then got bored doing mundane office work. It wasn’t until the age of 21 did Nicola actually have her first taste of coffee, and for a period before Perky Peacock was born ran a mobile coffee shop with an espresso machine in a smart car! One of the unusual things she found was she couldn’t trade within the city walls, so Nicola would park up on the edge of the walls luring in coffee lovers, who quickly became regulars! 

Nicola soon realised how much interest she had in coffee as a product, she loved the customer interaction and producing something great from a humble source is at the heart of what she does.

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During this time she noticed the Postern Tower on her coffee route, it’s part of York’s famous city walls and was originally built as a toll tower to help restrict ships access to the town centre. As she was eager to discover who owned it, she posted letters through the letter box constantly to find out who was in possession of the place. Eventually finding out that York Boat who run the cruises along the river did, it worked out perfectly as Nicola has the space above, while the boating company still has the mooring. 

Once inside the tower it has a quirky, oldie worldy feel and bags of character, I loved the wooden beams, the mix of furniture and decor make it really cosy and homely. With there being just four tables I’d say it’s small, but perfectly formed, making the most of the unusual space well. A great view is to be had if you can nab a table overlooking the river too.

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As you’d expect from a barista who’s competed at the UK Barista Championships the coffee is pretty darn good, their seasonal espresso is from Cornwall based Origin coffee roasters. Only using coffee from roasters which deal in Direct Trade is of major importance to Nicola, it means that the best beans are 100% traceable and sustainable, grown by farmers they have built strong relationships with, ensuring they get a fair price for their crop and that the environment is well maintained. For guest coffees they have James’ Gourmet Coffee, who are based in Ross-on-Wye.

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At the time I visited they were using Hunda Oli, an Ethopian espresso with delicate flavours of peach, apricot, lemon and jasmine. I had this in a lovely flat white made on their San Remo Verona machine, by barista Gabby Collet, who’d recently come 6th in the Latte Art category (the highest placed female) at the UK Barista Championships!

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Gorgeous latte art by Gabby Collet – best female latte artist at UK Barista Championships 2014

All the cakes are baked by Nicola’s mam, who has a tonne of baking experience, having baked for Harvey Nichols in the past. Coming from a farm she understands the importance of local produce, so stays close to home wherever possible, such as using local butchers on the Shambles. 

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Whether you’re a local, a city worker, or doing the touristy thing and walking the city walls, like you do; you’ll probably find yourself at Lendal Bridge where you’ll see a medieval stone tower with a slate roof – why don’t you pop inside, you’ll get treated well with excellent coffee and banter, a spot of food and a great view from a beautiful, historic part of York. 

The Perky Peacock
The Postern Tower
Lendal Bridge
York
YO1 6HU
 01904 613511
http://perkypeacockcoffee.co.uk

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La Casita, Ilkley

When I think of food in Ilkley, images of Lishman’s the butchers and Michelin starred The Box Tree restaurant spring to mind. So last night I ventured out to try recently opened Tapas restaurant La Casita, opened by chef Simon Miller, Oliver Renton and Ben Riley. Their chef Simon Miller has reached the quarter finals of Masterchef the Professionals, and had decent credentials from working at The Box Tree and The Fleece in Otley, amongst others.

The restaurant itself is housed on the upper level of the Victorian Arcade, with an outside dining area and bar the first thing you see on the mezzanine level.

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The main restaurant has two adjoining rooms, and even though wasn’t the biggest of spaces it didn’t feel cramped.

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There was a decent range of wines at fairly reasonable prices on their list, so I chose a New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (£21) which I found crisp, zingy with a decent amount of acidity to cut through any richness in our food.

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The menu is broken down into Aperitivos (£1.80 – £8.50), Vegetariano (£4.20 – £8.50), Carne (£5.50 – £15.50), Pescados (£6 – £8.50) and a Charcuterie platter selection (£11.50).

Before the meal I’d compared the menu to, in my opinion, arguably the best tapas restaurant in Leeds at the moment Ambiente. In terms of price, dishes tend to be pricier at La Casita than Ambiente, and having the opportunity to eat at both I’d be able to compare the food and see if it warranted this. 

The waiter suggested ordering five dishes to share, but we opted for four. I did find the waitress a little pushy when ordering, as she tried to get us to order the John Dory special as well, but we stuck to our guns.

Having travelled through Northern and Southern Spain over the years I think I’ve a good knowledge of tapas, in particular the classics, so I purposefully chose the Tortilla and Albondigas which are good standards that can be compared.

After ordering the food arrived after 30 mins, and even though they arrived together, I personally feel this is TOO long. What do you reckon?

Everything did look great though, the two classic dishes Tortilla and Albondigas, I’d say I liked them but I’ve certainly had much better elsewhere. The Tortilla had ‘OK’ flavour and needed more seasoning, the best ones are just set in the centre with more give, this didn’t hit the mark for me in that respect. The garlic aioli that accompanied it was very good though and brought the dish to life.

Tortilla de Patatas - Spanish tortilla with garlic aioli
Tortilla de Patatas – Spanish tortilla with garlic aioli

The meatballs at £6 a pop, I found were overpriced, so I’d hoped the food itself would meet the demands of its price tag. On flavour the meatballs had a smoky meatiness, but were a little dense and I didn’t get any spice whatsoever in the tomato sauce sadly.

Albondigas el Estilo Español - Meatballs in tomato sauce
Albondigas el Estilo Español – Meatballs in spicy tomato sauce

The Bacalao dish I enjoyed, but if I hadn’t known it was Bacalao I wouldn’t have guessed. The firm texture was apparent, but the saltiness I’d expected wasn’t. I even asked the waiter to check it was and where it was from, it was a little disconcerting he didn’t know himself and kept asking the kitchen! The spiced lentils and tomato gave the dish extra texture and flavour which I liked, but to say the bit I liked most was the accompaniment isn’t the best, is it?

Bacalao Laminado - Flaked cod with spiced lentils
Bacalao Laminado – Flaked cod with spiced lentils

Our last dish of Ox cheeks was definitely the stand out dish of the evening and was dreamy. Completely melt in the mouth and zero effort was needed to eat these bad boys. Cooked in a wonderfully rich and unctuous red wine sauce.

Carrillada en Cocción Lenta - Ox cheeks, slow cooked in red wine
Carrillada en Cocción Lenta – Ox cheeks, slow cooked in red wine

Neither of us felt the need for a fifth dish or even a dessert, I did have a nosey at the menu though. I found it a little odd they only had a selection of parfait. Yes, there may be seven different varieties, but of the same thing. Maybe they should be pushing the boat out a little and have more options to choose from, and I don’t mean more parfait either.  

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I found service a little hit and miss, they were friendly, but at times  slow. With the importance of provenance of ingredients I also felt that staff should know more about the dishes and where the main ingredients come from.

Overall I’m probably being ultra picky with some of my views, but for the price of the dishes I feel I need to be, especially when there are very good alternatives closer to home.

Food: Some dishes had lovely parts to them, but overall needs to be more consistent in flavours and a little overpriced. 

Service: Hit and miss, a little slow at times, staff need more knowledge of the dishes, such as provenance of their ingredients.  Generally friendly and welcoming.

Atmosphere: There was a pleasantly  warm atmosphere, the restaurant is set in a lovely beautiful Victorian arcade.

DISCLAIMER: I had been invited to go to write an honest, unbiased review based on my experience. The meal was 50% complimentary.
La Casita
Victorian Arcade
Ilkley
West Yorkshire
LS29 9DY 
01943 601062
http://www.lacasitailkley.co.uk

La Casita on Urbanspoon

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Upshot Espresso, Sheffield – The North’s Coffee Community, pt VII

My latest review has brought me to Sheffield for the first time on my indie coffee exploration, and I must admit I’m still really enjoying the ride and venturing outside of Leeds! Upshot Espresso came onto my coffee radar during North Star’s Latte Art Throw Down, when one of their baristas competed in the event.

Originally from Doncaster, Upshot Espresso started life when Sam and his Dad opened the place 2 years ago. Found on busy Glossop Road, near the Royal Hallamshire Hospital and Sheffield University, their main custom comes from both of these establishments.

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It’s a light, relaxed space and with an inviting low level counter showing off their prized EK-43 grinder, the creme de la creme of grinders and a yummy selection of baked goods, either produced by an artisan baker in Penistone or by their resident baker Lauren. With a semi-rustic feel from reclaimed wood pine floor boards for counter tops and old army bridge supports for the window table, I chatted to Sam who is the Head Barista/owner of the shop at said window, which for me was the best seat in the house!

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Like some other great coffee establishments a low coffee counter lends itself well to interaction and building relationships with customers. They can show off different brewing methods, such as V60 and Aeropress, and a nice bit of latte art. Yeah, I know that doesn’t mean the coffee’s good, but I personally can’t get enough of it!

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In this case the coffee’s great, they have two different espressos on at a time, and three filters, swearing by artisan roasters like Square Mile and Workshop. They regularly host guest coffees too, just to mix it up a little bit and keep it interesting. Provenance and traceability plays an important part in their choices of roasters and coffee, so using artisan roasters is at the top of Upshot’s priorities. 

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At the time I visited there was Square Mile’s Red Brick Seasonal Espresso with 60% La Serrania from Columbia and 40% Santa Ana from Brazil giving  brownie sweetness, vanilla aromas and dried fruit finish. Also on the books was James Gourmet‘s Sulawesi Tana Toraja AA Espresso with its rich, silky body, hint of asparagus, sweetness, fruit and floral notes.

On filter they had an Ethiopian Doyo from local artisan roasters Foundry and Columbian filters Finca El Agrado and Finca La Esmerelda from Workshop.

They are also the purveyor of fine teas using a nice selection from the Canton Tea Co, and are happy to talk tea as much as they are to talk coffee!

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La Spaziale S9 machine

Sam and barista Fran were both friendly, immediately approachable and informative, without feeling the need to dish out every single bit of information on the coffee. They have a great relationship and rapport with their regular customers, which was seen first hand as they joked about with one of them while I was there.

Collaboration with other good indies in Sheffield is important to them, just last week during UK Coffee Week, Upshot hosted a cupping event where local indie Tamper got stuck in too. Sam has also been a guest barista with the team at Bean & Bud in Harrogate. In the future they’d like to host more cupping events and possibly run evening classes such as latte art. 

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Head Barista/owner Sam

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On the food side, at the moment they have a small menu which they are in the process of expanding in the near future. One of the key things is that everything they do matches the standard of the coffee they serve to customers.

During my afternoon I had a much needed piccolo using Square Mile and  a slice of the Apple Streusel tart which was scrumptious! 

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The only reason I tend to come into Sheffield is to visit my best mate, but at least I know where I can get a great coffee and cake fix, a spot of banter in a relaxed environment from a fantastic independent.

I’m looking forward to see what else Sheffield has to offer in terms of artisan independents now!!

Upshot Espresso
355 Glossop Rd
Sheffield
S10 2HP
0114 278 0333
http://www.upshotespresso.co.uk
@UpshotEspresso

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White Cloth Gallery, Leeds

Even though I eat out a lot and love anything related to good food, I do have many other interests including art, architecture, cinema, theatre and sport. One of my favourite places in Leeds is White Cloth Gallery, just a stones throw away from Leeds City train station on Aire Street.

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Unfortunately, I’ve had little chance to get there recently, but I’ve always been a fan of the place. Whether to watch a great film, put the world to rights with an after work drink, or spend a quick half an hour wandering around one of their exhibitions; my most favourite so far has been their David Bowie retrospective exhibition last year. But with White Cloth good food and drink also comes into the mix, so I say ‘all the better for it’. I normally park nearby when I venture into town, and have walked past countless times eager to have another go at their pizza. My one and only pizza there was at least a year ago if not longer! 

White Cloth has a fair sized menu, considering the actual size of the place and their mini kitchen. I must remember that the venue is a gallery/exhibition space, not really a cafe and certainly not a restaurant, so you wouldn’t expect the menu to be too diverse. This said their menu is split into a range of sandwiches, pizzas, salads and hot stuff, all ranging from £3.95 – £7 respectively .

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White Cloth has some intriguing sounding pizzas on their menu (£7), in particular the Longhorn beef chilli con carne pizza, but I found myself automatically gravitating towards either the meatballs or pulled pork. Oh I love a decent meat ball (if you remember my write up on YMCO!), so being a creature of habit the Spicy Pork Meatball pizza it was, with a lovely glass of their house dry white wine. Yes, I probably should’ve asked what the wine was, but I forgot and basically was in desperate need of some liquid refreshment, after a long day/week at work. Thankfully it was crisp, light and dry, extremely quaffable as it happened too!

My friend and I had sat with a perfect view into their tiny kitchen, and I could see them making the pizza. A fresh pizza base was topped, cooked and placed in front of us within ten minutes. Not bad!! 

Spicy pork sausage meatball, red onion marmalade & rocket oil
Spicy pork sausage meatball, red onion marmalade & rocket oil

The pizza was as good as I remembered, visually it was pretty with the colours of red onion and the rocket oil which brought it to life. The uber thin base was great and was topped generously with tasty spicy pork sausage meatball, red onion marmalade & rocket oil which was a revelation. At first sight I thought at £7, it may be overpriced, but when it arrived it was more than a decent sized pizza for one, in fact I shared a few slices with my friend.

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A pizza and a glass of house dry white wine was £11 in total.  

I definitely RECOMMEND White Cloth Gallery for a pizza and a decent after work drink. What’s even better is that you can get a culture fix and have a gander at one of their fantastic exhibitions.

Food: Pizza was decent, lovely thin base, lovely flavours and heat where there was supposed to be, loved the rocket oil too. Small, concise menu with choices for non-meat eaters.

Service: pleasant staff, quick and efficient. It wasn’t too busy at the time, but I’ve eaten at quieter places with much slower service!

Atmosphere: the place has a good after work buzz.

White Cloth Gallery 
24-26 Aire Street
Leeds
LS1 4HT
0113 2181923
http://www.whiteclothgallery.com/cafe-bar-2/

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Belgrave Street Feast pt IV, Leeds

Last Saturday was the latest Belgrave Street Feast and if it was anything like last month’s, it had promised to be a fantastic family day of feasting on wonderful street food.

My day was a mixture of whistlestop tours – a morning appointment in York, zipping back for Street Feast, then being a dutiful wife taking the other half to a hockey dinner. So when I arrived it was already VERY busy and was obvious too see the word had got out how great the event is.

New street traders this month were Manchester’s Arepa!Arepa! Arepa!, Newcastle’s Tasty Thai Deli and Leeds’ own Street Fodder and Belgrave’s new experiment Taco Wall.

I’d made it my mission to try an Arepa from Manchester’s Arepa!Arepa!Arepa! For those of you, like I was, unfamiliar with an Arepa, they’re traditionally eaten in Columbia and Venezuela and are basically flatbreads made with a maize based flour, (100% gluten flee – BONUS!) Cooked on a hot plate and filled with whatever you fancy.

Arepa and plantain on the hot plate
Arepa and plantain cooking on the hot plate

I always like asking what they’d recommend so when asked the question ‘do you eat meat?’ regular readers probably know the answer was a definite ‘yes’, then they said it was cooked in beer! There it was – a deal had been done and that was it, the Sobrebarriga Arepa was the one for me! With the selection of condiments at my disposal they recommended the Chipotle sauce, so who was I to think any different.

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Sobrebarriga Arepa
SobreBarriga Arepa

It was absolutely DELICIOUS and the best thing I ate all day!! For 4 quid, this so-called ‘beef sandwich’ was something that fitted easily in one hand, but WOW was it filling!!! Slow cooked, tender beef with the flavours of cumin and garlic in the background, the hint of beer was evident too. With the additional Chipotle sauce giving up its rich smokiness in service to the Arepa, what a match made in heaven! The flatbread (which had a delicate flavour of its own, probably from the corn) was a great vehicle to hold it all in. It soaked up all the juices too, so every last bite was full of flavour. 

My verdict – Arepa are extremely YUMMY and one of my FAVOURITES at Street Feast so far! These certainly made a regular beef sandwich pale into insignificance for me! Plans are already afoot for them to make a return to Leeds soon, I cannot wait! 

I couldn’t decide what to have next, having tried all but Tasty Thai Deli and the new Taco Wall before. Belgrave’s new in-house Street Food Lab experiment ‘Taco Wall’ had Fish Tacos (£3.50) on the go. I love battered, deep fried fish and when I saw them being dished up I was immediately sold. 

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Fish Taco
Fish Taco

Served on a little pancake the fish came with a selection of bits and pieces, like pickled cucumber, pepper, pineapple and coriander with a yoghurt sauce. I really liked the additional pieces, but for me the fish whilst well cooked, was a little under seasoned and could’ve done with a pinch of good old salt to bring out more flavour. Considering it was their first time out, fair play to them, with a couple of tweaks I’ll be back for more!

As always Sarah from Noisette Bakehouse had her ‘A game’ on, with a beautiful selection of cakes and sweet treats to woo all customers.

Noisette Bakehouse
Noisette Bakehouse

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Last month I never made it to the roof terrace, so I made the effort this time to see what was going on up there to find Hepworth’s Deli serving a lovely selection of bakes, and also a colourful salad bar too.

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Hepworth's Salad bar
Hepworth’s Salad bar

My time was nearly up and I wanted to be able to walk back to my car with a snack, so after seeing the boys at The Grub & Grog Shop I went for the recommended Veg Sandwich.

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A snip at just £3.50, I walked out VERY happy! Filled with lovely vegetables cooked and treated well, packed with flavours from the sweet parsnip to the pickled veg, such as the carrot, I loved the hint of garlic running through the sandwich and the beautiful salad leaves and pretty edible flowers. Basically street food at its best – portable, tasty, bargainous and made locally!

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The Grub & Grog’s veg sandwich on the move!!

Street Feast will be back next month on the 10th May, I’ll see you there for another day of feasting!!!

Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen
1-1A Cross Belgrave Street
Leeds
LS2 8JP

0113 2346160
http://www.belgravemusichall.com

 

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Spring Espresso, York – The North’s Coffee Community, pt VI

When I first started this series on The North’s Coffee Community I focussed on Leeds and Harrogate, but since speaking to different people involved in coffee it’s got me looking further afield, such as York.

I love York with all its history, iconic architecture and cobbled streets – this is one of the UK’s great cities in my opinion. Having old friends living near the racecourse I’ve visited the place many times over the years. But with my love for coffee developing only recently, I really had no idea of their fantastic independent artisan coffee shops, and I don’t mean Betty’s!

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For my first Coffee Community post in York, I’m starting with Spring Espresso, after a gratefully received recommendation from Ruth at Bean & Bud in Harrogate.

Spring Espresso first opened in Autumn 2011, on Fossgate. The owners, Steve and Tracey previously worked for the Cafe2U franchise, selling coffee around the area from a red van before opening their own place.

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As with many of these coffee community stories, I’ve found that there are people who are seemingly woven into the fabric of these stories. Tracey and Dave Olejnik (Laynes Espresso) have been friends for years, both possessing a love and obsession of coffee in the days before Laynes, when Dave worked at Opposite in Leeds. As Dave opened Laynes in Leeds city centre, Tracey and Steve saw a gap in the market in historic York, where Third Wave coffee hadn’t really found its way into this part of Yorkshire.

With their spot on Fossgate, they’ve built a space with an open feel and calm ambience. This was fully intended with Tracey wanting a relaxing environment where every customer could be seen in one glance. They’ve even implemented the principles of feng shui into the layout of the shop to guide energy flow through the shop!

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One of the first things you can’t help but notice is the stand-out branding on the walls. Steve once served in the Air Force so I assume that’s the link to Spring’s logo, very cool it is too!!

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Another thing I admired was their attention to detail, with customer service being one thing they pride themselves on, greeting customers across a low-level counter means their much-loved Synesso Hydra machine is on show, baristas can’t hide behind brewing apparatus or paraphernalia, and it encourages interaction and builds a dynamic between barista and the customer.

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After recently watching a BBC programme on the coffee scene in the UK, they mentioned a certain coffee chain, which I won’t name who style themselves on the old school traditional Italian coffee shop. I’m SO glad Spring Espresso haven’t gone down that road, and instead have a lovely space with great pieces of furniture made from wood lovingly salvaged from old Yorkshire mills. A prime example is the gorgeous low level circular table at the front of the shop, made from a 17C pulley wheel previously used in a Sheffield mill.

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So what about the coffee, they champion London’s Square Mile Red Brick and often host guest coffees, from artisan roasters like Caravan. Using coffee from Direct Trade is very important to Tracey and Steve, where coffee is bought straight from the growers. Relationships based on respect are built and is mutually beneficial to all parties, where growers are helped to grow the best coffee, often in very difficult environments and circumstances.

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After spending the morning with Tracey and Steve, chatting whilst I drank a fantastic latte made with Square Mile’s Red Brick seasonal espresso, the love and passion they have for what they do, the extensive knowledge and experience they have at their fingertips was highly enviable and infectious!!! I think I was a little in awe when I found out that Steve’s competed in the UK Barista Championships many times, having achieved 3rd place in 2012. So this team REALLY do know their stuff and blew me away with it!

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They know their tea as well, 2013 saw them winning BSA 2013 Accreditation and Best Drink award for Best Tea!!! These guys are certainly not one trick ponies, using 10 speciality teas from the Canton Tea Co.

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Spring Espresso use 10 speciality teas from Canton Tea Co.

I visited on a quiet Sunday morning (9:30am) and when I arrived a lot of their regulars were already in there, a couple of hours later the place was full – I have a feeling this a very common occurrence!!

The baked goods are all made by Tracey’s fair hands and I did spot her version of the Bostock slice. I was so tempted to go home with one, next time I’ll definitely snaffle one up!!

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Tracey and Steve are in the process of opening a second shop in the city centre, with the same great coffee and service, but with extra square footage they’ll be able to serve more of the York masses and tourists from far and wide! You are lucky, lucky people!

York for me isn’t just a city I’ll visit for it’s history and architecture anymore, it’s somewhere I can drink wonderful artisan coffee from some lovely people, who really know what they are doing. Oh yeah, it’s an independent too!!

Spring Espresso
45 Fossgate
York
YO1 9TF
07779 294149
http://www.springespresso.co.uk

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Amazing Graze returns, Left Bank, Leeds

Amazing Graze returned to Left Bank Leeds, for the second year running at the former St Margaret of Antioch Church last weekend. Wanting to bring street culture to the people of Leeds, the duo behind Manjit’s Kitchen – Michael and Manjit had drafted in great traders to feed the masses, and entertained all ages with art stalls, workshops and performances during the day, and for those wanting to stay into the evening the legendary Stir it Up, local musicians and DJs. 

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I was itching to get there Saturday morning, dragging the other half along when we were both ravenous for a spot of lunch! The traders on show were ones they’d met along the way since starting their street food adventure, who also happen to serve great food reflecting cuisines around the world.

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Our lunch started at Fish& with their twist on fish and chips. Being a creature of habit the other half got a Sharing Box with all three fish batters.  A good way to start our Amazing Graze Saturday! 

Sharing box – Fish in traditional batter, chilli & lemon and sea salt & black pepper with chips

That was just for starters! Our next course was a burger, it just had to be really after hearing Original Fry Up Material were back in Leeds. They’d won the hearts of many and then some during their residency at Trinity Kitchen.

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My aim was to try and graze (pardon the pun), to work my way through as many stalls as possible. Yeah, it’s a lot of food but it was worth a try!! I’d been banging on repeatedly how AMAZING OFM‘s burgers were, so I shared a Cheesy burger with the other half. He absolutely LOVES burgers and knows a good one when he tastes one. After being asked what he thought, he quickly admitted they were indeed fantastic and I hadn’t been exaggerating the whole time! For me a great burger needs a soft bun that doesn’t fall apart even at the last bite, a patty made of top quality meat, well seasoned and cooked pink, so it oozes meat juice. Fresh salad, preferably lettuce which is sliced, perfectly melted cheese and just enough sauce to come through, but not detract from other flavours. Well here you have it, have a gander at this!!! 

Cheesy burger - free range beef patty, cheese, lettuce, red, yellow and green sauce in a Brioche bun

It’d obviously made a lasting impression on the other half, as before we left he got his hands on one of their Bacon Chilli Cheese burgers, which he thought this was EVEN better than the Cheesy burger!!! 

Bacon Chilli Cheesy burger - free range beef patty, fresh chilli, bacon, chilli sauce mayo, lettuce in a Brioche bun
Bacon Chilli Cheesy burger – free range beef patty, fresh chilli, bacon, chilli sauce mayo, lettuce in a Brioche bun

Next up was a little something from the organisers of Amazing Graze - Manjit’s Kitchenwho were as usual dishing up their wonderful vegetarian Indian street food.

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Samosa Chaat

Since their first appearance on the Leeds street food scene, they’ve built such a loyal following it’s no surprise to see them holding an event with such wonderful traders! Manjit’s well equipped to hold her own against these guys though and I ordered a Samosa Chaat which I’ve eaten many a time, basically because it never fails!! With its multilayering textures, flavours and the pockets of heat you get from chilli, its great at just £4!!

Later I tried some Bhel Puri and Aubergine fritters which both hit the right spots, in particular the Bhel Puri which was full of fresh flavours and great combinations of textures. 

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Aubergine fritters

Relative newcomers to the street food scene The Grub & Grog Shop were serving up their ‘grub’ with tasty sandwiches, stews and salads, also their own homemade rose lemonade with grapefruit and honey ‘grog’.

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I was lucky enough to baggsy the last Flemish beef stew, sharing it with a friend. A few years ago, my best mate and I explored Ghent for the day where I ate the regional dish Carbonade Flamande, which this is loosely based on. I distinctly remember on that occasion in Ghent I found it incredibly intense and rich, so I must admit I was glad this version was less intense as it was certainly the better for it. There was tender beef in a lovely rich gravy, flavoured with beer, the vegetables were soft but still had a touch of bite left. 

Flemish style beef and beer (from North Bar) with seasonal veg & herbs, served with Leeds Bread Co-op bread
Flemish style beef and beer (from North Bar) with seasonal veg & herbs, served with Leeds Bread Co-op bread

Other Leeds favourites included Madeleine Bakehouse with their beautifully delicious bakes and sweet treats.

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Honey almond cake (GF) with Mascarpone cream, orange flower syrup and cornmeal cacao nib crumb. Lemon sugar Madeleines with blueberry compote, whipped cream and lavender salt crunch

Also newcomer to the street food scene Bánh mì Booth with their Vietnamese Bánh mì sandwich and noodles.

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I recently reviewed them at the Kirkstall Bridge Inn which you can read here, but sampled some dumplings here and thought they were good, they had a crisp wrapper exterior filled with well flavoured pork. Very nice! Some No Name veg fritters I found disappointing, they were lovely and crisp, but for me lacked flavour and were a little bland. I did like the satay sauce that accompanied them though and could even be made more peanutty.

Leeds’ own The Greedy Pig showcased their ‘Nose to Tail’ menu, I was very gutted I didn’t manage to get my hands on any. I heard the dishes were pretty special, in particular the Tongue Tacos!!

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Nose to Tail menu!!

El Kantina served up Mexican delights and Las Paelleras the Spanish Paella and tapas dishes on offer.

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I tried some of Las Paelleras’ Andalucian Shrimp fritters with aioli dipping sauce. They were crisp and golden, the prawns were well cooked and juicy and I did get a hint of spring onion running through them. The aioli sauces were great and went well with the fritters. My only picky criticism is the fritters were a tad greasy. 

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Andalucian Shrimp fritters with aioli

Manchester’s Diamonds Dogs with their humongous hotdogs. I have no chance of managing one of these beasts as they are so generous in size, especially once I’ve already started eating other yummy things. Next time I really need to plan ahead and not eat a thing beforehand!

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Last but by no means least, Ginger’s Comfort Emporium with her ‘ice-cream for grown-ups’.

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I hadn’t realised they were outside until I was leaving so was pretty full by then and had to miss out. On what I’d seen on social media with photos of delectable sweet treats with a difference, I MUST rectify this next time !!

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All in all Amazing Graze was a wonderful event for people wanting a relaxing time, eating your way through a number of different delicious cuisines. It’s another example of fantastic collaboration between independents, roll on this time next year!!! 

Amazing Graze

Left Bank Leeds

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Cielo, Garforth – The North’s Coffee Community pt VI

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Last Saturday I visited a coffee shop that’s on the outskirts of Leeds; one that would probably have never been on my radar until North Star’s Latte Art Throw Down last year. This is Cielo Coffee House in Garforth, found on the edge of Leeds borough. 

Twitter is such a brilliant tool for communicating with people, so after a couple of conversations with Andrew Macbean, their Head barista, I headed over that morning. Having a full-on teaching job that regularly leaks into my free time out of school, I like to make the most of the rest of it and cram in as much as possible. That Saturday comprised of a visit to Cielo, my first Kirkstall Deli Market, a cinema fix and Derren Brown at The Grand Theatre. In my book that’s a  pretty decent Saturday!

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As far as Garforth goes it’s not a place I know that much about, apart from Dumouchel Bakery and the Miller & Carter Steakhouse. So having a decent independent coffee house must bring a tremendous amount to the community.

Cielo was the brainchild of Linda and Nick Castle, the idea of starting a coffee shop resulted from a late night discussion in 2008. When asked the question what they’d like to do if money was no object, they both decided they wanted to do something more worthwhile and fulfilling rather than their day-to-day jobs; something which would allow interaction with their community. Setting up a social enterprise in the heart of the area was the solution, where they would source everywhere as locally and ethically as possible, and also commit to putting all the profits back into the local community. 

This social enterprise has two main aims; to help build better community cohesion and reduce isolation and loneliness. One of the things they’ve integrated into the running of the shop is a volunteering scheme, with people who want to get back into work or NEET’s (Young people who aren’t in Not in Education, Employment or Training) from Garforth Academy. There’s even an 84 year-old gentleman who works at the shop too!

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In terms of the coffee, they serve a House Espresso blend and House Single Origin coffee from roasters Has Bean. They also serve a range of Suki teas for those partial to a beverage of the tea variety.

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Their baked goods come from a range of well-known and trusted local suppliers, such as Garforth’s Dumouchel Bakery, That Old Chestnut, and the brownies are made by Adam, one of their baristas, who originally started as a volunteer. 

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I’d been up since 4:30am, (my usual waking up time) and was in need of a pick-me-up, so an espresso was in order. It hit the spot and combined with a Dumouchel bake, the Almond and Pain aux Chocolat, which was MAHOOSIVE and extremely delicious, I was set up for the rest of the day!

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Dumouchel Almond Pain aux Chocolat

After spending just a couple of hours at Cielo I felt a tangible sense of friendliness and community from the outset. Their loyal following from Garforth locals was obvious to see, as when I arrived a few minutes before opening time, there was already a number of customers waiting to go in!! It seemed like a place for all ages and a family friendly place too.

In the future Cielo are going to start roasting their own beans with their own micro roaster.  It’s a great idea, which means they can directly source from farmers and hopefully not only use the coffee in the shop, but also sell it as well. Nick also aims to expand the enterprise in order to help other communities.

There may never be a reason for you to venture into Garforth, but if you ever do you should definitely pop into Cielo, where the phrase ‘coffee community’ takes on a whole new meaning.

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Cielo Coffee House
41 Main Street
Garforth
Leeds
LS25 1DS
0113 286 3534
http://www.cieloonline.co.uk

DSC_0679

Trinity Kitchen, pt 5 @ Trinity Leeds

The latest street food changeover has happened once again at Trinity Kitchen and with a very sad farewell to last months traders, in particular Dorshi, Trinity welcomes traders both old and new to Leeds.

Lets start my run down with the new traders:

Rola Wala - Founder Mark originally hails from Perth in Australia, but moved to London as a University graduate. A trip to India was the inspiration for the business, wanting to bring the incredible flavours and his twist on authentic dishes he experienced to the streets of the UK.  After meeting Adam they struck up a partnership haven’t looked back since, achieving Young British Foodie Runner Up Best Street Food UK, 2013 and are regulars on London’s street food scene, including Street Feast and Kerb.

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Rola Wala are bringing to Leeds their toasted 10-inch Naan filled with either Beetroot Daal, Coriander Chicken tikka, or for those who can’t decide, (or just greedy) a half and half combo with prices ranging between £6-7. I munched on the Coriander Chicken Tikka Naan - it was DELICIOUS, I think I’ve found a new favourite! It’s not the cheapest street food by any stretch of the imagination, but it does the job in terms of flavours, textures and heat. I also loved its vibrant colours that sang out too!! I didn’t go for the extra kick of spice, it was a wise choice too as mine had plenty of oomph and left me with distinctly rosy cheeks!!

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Coriander Chicken Tikka Naan
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Beetroot Dhal and Coriander Chicken Tikka Combo Naan!!!

I’d been lucky enough to get the heads up on the collaboration with Leeds’ own Mike Tattersall’s Indie Ices. A meeting of minds I was very excited about having championed Mike’s heavenly kulfi on many occasions. For Trinity Kitchen they’ve developed Mike’s Gold Medal winning Mango kulfi with added coconut (topping), lime juice and a pinch of Moruga Scorpion Chilli (the Worlds hottest chilli) to create ‘The hottest ice in the World!’

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Rola Ice with mango kulfi, lime and Moruga Scorpion chilli

I loved it!! It was typically creamy with the primary ingredient mango clearly evident and a lovely texture of coconut running through it. The lime kept it fresh and with a hit of chilli giving it another dimension, it certainly kept me on my toes. Every now and again I’d get a mix of well balanced flavours, textures and heat. Simply inspired!

Happy Maki‘s owner Anna is serving the Leeds masses with Sushi wraps from her Renault Estafette fondly named Gloria. She’s devised a thoughtful, healthy and socially conscious menu, catering for carnivores, vegans and vegetarians alike with her Thai Sweet Potato, Hoisin Duck and Teriyaki Chicken Wraps.

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I didn’t manage to sample any on this occasion, but I have a sneaky suspicion that my love of all things Japanese will make me gravitate towards some Teriyaki chicken!!

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Cake Doctor has been brought to Leeds by owner James, who’s only been in the business six months or so! On his converted 1979 Ford Transit Mk 2 Ambulance he’s baking (on site) a fantastic range of baked goods, such as Whoopee pies, Meringues and Victoria Sponge. With tea from Bluebird Tea Co and coffee from local lads North Star there’s some quality beverages to wash them down with.

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Being inspired by baking with his mother and grandmother, as a child James wants to transport cake lovers to a place where they can reminisce about fond childhood memories.

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Victoria Sponge!!!!
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Meringue kisses

On this occasion, there was a Victoria sponge that caught my eye!!! Readers may know of my love of the classic bake, you may also know that I don’t need asking twice if I want a slice to take home!!! It came with a pretty Meringue Kiss, which was a sweet little touch. I liked the Victoria sponge; the cake itself was a tad dense, but rich and buttery. The cream and fresh strawberries were VERY yummy, as you’d expect. I left the meringue kiss to the end and it was heavenly – light, chewy and sweet. If only I’d known they were that good, I’d have bought a lot more!!!!

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Having read James’ plans for an urban afternoon tea at Cake Doctor, I’ll have to partake in this myself before his residency is up, so I can add this to my Afternoon Tea blog series.

Fresh Rootz are back for a second helping of the Trinity Kitchen experience. This widely travelled band are offering food inspired by their travels around the world. At Trinity they’ll be dishing up their menu using local ingredients containing at least seven fresh vegetables in each main dish!! Healthy or what!

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I went for a portion of pakoras at £6, they were cooked to order and so good because of it – lightly crisp, fluffy in texture and well flavoured. Working well with a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce and the citrus salad which gave a little acidity. It was missing the yoghurt which would have provided a nice cooling effect, but they were still very good!! For £6 it was a generous portion too and something I wasn’t expecting, the glutton that I am wasn’t complaining though!

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Woodland mushroom, spinach and pepper pakora with sweet chilli, served with lightly spiced cous cous and slaw citrus salad

Yeah, I really enjoyed my plate of pakoras, and I’m not their only fan as Fresh Rootz won BBC Good Food Show for Best Midland Street food in 2013!

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Bangwok have returned with their tuk tuk in tow! I really enjoyed their Thai food on their 1st visit and I was expecting more of the same!! At Trinity they’ve set up their ‘raan khao kaeng’ – a rice and curry shop where you can choose from green chicken curry, beef massaman and honey roast pork – or like me have the combo plate of all three with rice.

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The sights and smells coming from their stall drew me in hook, line and sinker and I quickly chose their £7 deal of a bit of everything.

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Beef curry, coconut chicken, zingy salad, honey, garlic, coriander pork with roasted rice and chilli dip

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£7 is a bit more than I’d like to pay, but for the portion size and flavours on show I was pretty pleased. 

I think this months street food ambassadors could be one of their best line-ups so far. So don’t just take my word for it, head down to Trinity Kitchen and see for yourself!

Disclaimer: I was invited by Trinity Kitchen last week to get a taste from the new cohort, but I have been back since of my own accord. 
Trinity Kitchen
Albion Street
Leeds
LS1 5AT
0113 3942415

A Leeds based food blog written by a girl from Wales who enjoys good food and wine.

JACK MONROE

Anti-poverty campaigner for Oxfam and Child POverty Action Group, and supporting the Trussell Trust. Guardian recipe columnist. Mother. Food blogger. Cookbook author. Twitter@ :MsJackMonroe

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