Leeds Indie Food Festival

Leeds Indie Food Festival had been in the planning for 8 months or so, with everything to come to fruition for 18 days of literally what was to become a feast for the senses full stop. With plenty for our eyes and ears to be satisfied through art, photography and film, our noses and mouths overwhelmed by food and drink brought together by six trailblazers of Leeds’ independent food and drink scene. 

Where did I go on my Leeds Indie Food festival journey? 

Well, from not being sure I’d still be in Leeds, with the old house move down south etc, it turned out that I’d be around, but only for snippets and would make do with a few week days scattered here and there and the finale at Leeds Feast, which I was determined not to miss! 

Noonshine was back with a vengeance, this time based at Tall Boys – Grub & Grog Shop, Leeds Bread Co-op, Noisette Bakehouse and North Star Coffee Roasters were all reunited to solve all our breakfast, lunchtime, sweet tooth and caffeine needs!!

A few times I found myself migrating there for breakfast and sweet treats!!! Noisette Bakehouse’s raspberry and pistachio bake with North Star coffee, Leeds Bread Co-op doughnut, Grub and Grog Shops crumpets with local wild flower honey all did the job at one point or another during the festival!

Grub & Grog’s crumpets with wild flower honey and North Star’s locally roasted coffee

Blueberry coconut breakfast scones, Raspberry and pistachio slice and North Star coffee!!

Leeds bread coop doughnut – the perfect snack!
BangWok‘s return to Leeds nicely coincided with the festival, even though I couldn’t make their ‘Boozing and bar snacks’ event, I enjoyed a tasty pad thai lunch, which I reviewed here.

BangWok’s Pad Thai

&Totally Tutti Frutti – The Gallery at Munro House and Food&_ exhibited photography by culinary artists Bompas and Parr from their Tutti Frutti project, partnered with letterpress and artwork of recipes from Food&.

 

The Edible Art Exhibition – the ingenious idea of The Tattooed Bakers, this London based duo Eddie Lebeau and Richard Amon who call themselves ‘cake and food creatives’ aimed to recreate four well known works of art entirely out of cake!!  Each piece was made to the exact dimensions of their originals and displayed in Leeds Gallery at Munro House. As well as their part in the Leeds Indie Food festival the exhibition was celebrating the upcoming British Art Show 8 (BAS8), which is to be held in Leeds in October. I wasn’t quick enough to grab a ticket for the cake cutting and eating event that evening, but did get chance to wander in admiration at how they were!! The event had a great buzz about it and had been anticipated as one of the highlights of the festival, it was a brilliant exhibition and hard to believe that each was made from cake or biscuit, especially Damien Hirst’s sheep which I remember seeing at the Tate years ago; the similarity, accuracy and attention to detail was uncanny!!!

The four bakes were versions of pieces by:

Damien Hirst’s ‘Away The Flock’ originally in British Art Show 4 (1995) – which substituted materials like glass, stainless steel, perplex, formaldehyde and of course lamb, for rainbow vanilla sponge, buttercream, icing and raspberry jelly! 

Tracey Emin’s ‘No Chance’ shown BAS5 (2000) was traditional shortbread and icing rather than its original appliqué blanket!

Grayson Perry’s amusingly named ‘Mr S*** Sex’ from BAS5 (2000) was made with fruitcake, marzipan, rice paper, gold leaf and icing instead of ceramic, printed paper and acrylic paint.

Finally Sarah Lucas’s ‘Nud Cycladic 14′ BAS7 (2010) was a vegan lemon sponge with vegan vanilla buttercream filling, taking the place of some tights, fluff, wire and a breeze block!

Top right – Tracey Emin ‘No Chance’, middle right – Sarah Lucas (Nud Cycladic 14), bottom right – Damien Hirst ‘Away The Flock’ bottom left – Grayson Perry ‘Mr S*** Sex’

By all accounts the event went down a storm, it wasn’t just a feast for the eyes, but also for the stomach too. I also feel it’s brought a side of the art world to people who weren’t that interested before, by bringing intrigue, excitement and making it easy to understand!

Olia Hercules‘s collaboration with Bundobust‘s Marko Husk resulted in the memorable pop-up supper ‘The Wild East‘, reviewed here!

Laynes Espresso: to fill all my coffee needs. 

Bundobust –  the Indian streetfood kings can do no wrong in my eyes and with 25% off for passport holders, it was a WIN WIN situation regardless of what you order because it’s all so good!!

Okra fries, massala dosa and veg rice
The last weekend of the festival was brought to a satisfyingly glorious end with Leeds Feast, held at The Tetley.

Harrogate’s Nordic restaurant Norse, who are based in popular Scandinavian cafe haunt Baltzersens, were cooking up the most sophisticated street food I’ve ever tasted I think. All expertly prepared, cooked and plated up by Murray WIlson, it was definitely a special treat and a food highlight for me; fantastic to have them at the feast! 

Norse’s torched mackerel with cucumber, fennel and horseradish granita

Next up was Yakumama, this twosome have become a bit of a favourite of mine over recent months and I ended up having a hard time settling for one thing – don’t you hate it when it’s too damn difficult to decide?! So, I ended up with an awesome combo of all the things I’ve been accustomed to them – food that’s full of flavour and different textures.

Yakumama’s combo of wild mushroom & Parmesan quinoa croqueta, calamari, lime &honey BBQ chicken wings and mango salad (also chicharrones and avocado chocolate brownie)

By this time, the other half had arrived from Surrey and wanted meat!! So a quick bump into Ben (Dough Boys/Patty Smith’s etc) he pointed us in the direction of Claw Hide, so off we went, these are based in the North East and had brought flat iron steak to the feast. We fancied the ‘surf & turf’ so I could get the prawns whilst he chowed down on the steak, with a nice garlicky herb salad on freshly made wood-fired flatbread it was really good!!! Both the cooked perfectly prawns and steak were succulent and juicy!!!

Claw Hide's surf & turf - flat iron steak w/ prawns, a garlic herb salad and wood-fired flatbread
Claw Hide’s surf & turf – flat iron steak w/ prawns, a garlic herb salad and wood-fired flatbread

Next up a little snack from Bánh mì Booth, the other half fancied some dumpling action, so pork dumplings fitted the bill nicely and tasty they were too. 

Crispy pork dumplings

¡Arepa!¡Arepa!¡Arepa! were back in Leeds with their arepas. The meaty, yet smokey Sobrebarriga arepa was just as tasty as I remembered from Belgrave Feast!!

¡Arepa Arepa Arepa!'s Sobrebarriga arepa
¡Arepa Arepa Arepa!’s Sobrebarriga arepa

Finally on the first day I was intrigued by the ‘chicken roll’ that Rita’s were dishing up, I’d heard lots of great things about their Hackney outfit, and after a quick recommendation from Belgrave Music Hall‘s Ash, we made a bee-line for their van. A couple of minutes later I was handed a brown paper bag, OH. MY. GOD. the most glorious mahoosive chicken burger was hidden inside!!! You know when you have an innate feeling just by looking at something, that it’s going to taste incredible – well this did and then some! It may be THE BEST chicken burger I’ve ever had, the thigh meat was incredibly juicy and the crust, golden and crisp, it was sublime!!! The right amount of accompaniments too, not overdoing it on the Sriracha aioli or the salad.

In fact it was so good, the following day it was first thing I recommended to my friend, he was in love after the first bite, and loved it so much he got a second shortly after!!!! 

Rita’s fried chicken roll and chicarrones

Speaking of Day 2, I had to be a good girl on the Saturday and not eat myself silly as I was heading to The Reliance for a birthday dinner that evening. However, there was still a full day for folk to feast on the best street food around, and not only that, the sun was out and it looked like it would be a fitting finale to the festival.

I’d not had anything from another favourite of mine – Dorshi, as well as their dumplings they’d brought a few new tempters; kimchi udon noodles  – I love kimchi so this sounded fantastic and also a new addition to the dumpling fold, filled with lamb, as always with these two – seasonal to boot!!

The noodles were punchy, fiery but not enough to blow your head off, when paired with the dumplings they married well together, Dorshi are so good with their flavours combinations, their dumplings stand proud individually against other strong flavours. It was great to see them back, even if it was for a fleeting amount time. 

Dorshi’s dumplings with kimchi udon noodles

On what turned out to be a scorcher of a day, we’d really lucked out weather-wise, I didn’t want to imagine if there’d been a down pour?! I needed something to quench my thirst and headed to the beer and cocktail tent, I’m not really a beer drinker and wasn’t really fancying cider either, so went for a summery cocktail instead. They were selling a few different rum based cocktails, including a peach mojito, I went for Rum Punch made with Wray & Nephew rum, it was just what I needed on such a warm day, refreshing with a bit of rum in there to make it interesting!

Rum punch!

Of course, I couldn’t have eaten from all the traders, I would’ve needed another day or so to manage that, but from the number of people through the gates and how packed the place was, it’s wasn’t surprising for traders to sell out!!

These are the other traders who were there: Noisette Bakehouse who sold out like hot cakes, brownies were flying off the shelf and as always Sarah came up trumps with her ingenious bakes, including a few Leeds feast specials!

Noisette Bakehouse!!

Too many fantastic traders to choose from: Manjit’s Kitchen, Dough Boys, Patty Smiths, Fat Annies, Fu-Schnikens, Northern Bloc, Longhorn BBQ, Cafe Moor and The Crabbie Shack, also Laynes Espresso (forgot to take a photo sorry!)

So, even though I only managed a few things out of the 100+ events going on over the 18 days, it was an immensely enjoyable experience and I can’t wait for next year’s event. If this is what Leeds is treated to in its inaugural year, I can only imagine what will be conjured up for 2016!!!!

Get The Glow

Now I’m not the healthiest of people!! I eat A LOT, whether it’s at home or when I’m out, and I don’t always go for a healthier option. Yes, I run a bit, I enjoy it, but if I didn’t do that I wouldn’t do any other exercise, and when I haven’t run for a prolonged length of time the weight comes back on far too easily.

So when I received an invitation by Harvey Nichols to meet nutritional health coach Madeleine Shaw, and try out some dishes from her new book ‘Get the Glow’ I was intrigued. Maybe I could get some inspiration to be a little kinder to my body. That evening myself and a group of local bloggers were given time to informally chat and find out more about her ethos and philosophy behind her food and lifestyle.

Madeleine suffered from IBS at an early age, then an impulsive move to Australia opened her eyes to a new approach to food, she developed a more holistic approach to eating, health and well-being and resulted in her combating those dietary problems. Living in a place where food and a healthy lifestyle are inextricably linked and so integral, she was fortunate to work in a cafe where Madeleine realised she enjoyed cooking tasty food, that was also nutritious and great for the body. 

The recipes in her book are all gluten free, which for me is a brilliant thing because of the other half’s issues with the dreaded gluten, and they use healthier substitutes for sugar like honey or coconut sugar! Don’t be deceived in thinking it’s all devoid of things we love, Madeleine’s doesn’t follow the low-fat mantra, infact she opts for healthy full-fat ingredients as they fill you and provide more nourishment. I love that!! Studying nutrition in Sydney means she knows what’s she’s talking about when it comes to beneficial ingredient choices, something she talks passionately about and uses to the full in the book.

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One other part of her philosophy which I think I should follow a lot more is how diet links to your health and well-being, it’s probably something we all know, but it’s whether we eat things which are good for you and make you feel good in the long term that counts. For example, I know that sometimes I’ll go running early, maybe 6:30/7am now that it’s light, but because of what I’ve been eating my body’s more lethargic than it would be if I’d been more thoughtful over what I was eating, not just eating anything I fancied. Madeleine’s recipes promote more consistent energy levels, nourishment, less fluctuation in mood from having less sugar slumps and cuts out the horrid bloated feeling by waving goodbye to gluten. 

We were treated to a dinner filled with recipes from her new book ‘Get The Glow’, this was the menu:

SALAD

Green Goddess Bowl

Mexican BBQ – grilled corn and quinoa, chilli salsa

PROTEIN

Thai beef salad, salt and pepper cashews

Spicy salmon, cucumber and yoghurt 

DESSERT

Raw chocolate cherry fudge, vanilla and coconut dairy-free ice cream

I found each plate really tasty, there’s a clever use of ingredients keeping them inventive and interesting. A salad can be the most boring thing I think, but both of these were anything but, in particular the Green Goddess bowl packed with nutrient laden spinach, kale and avocado, which seem to make every dish a winner, paired with soft boiled eggs (a personal favourite of mine), finally the mustard vinaigrette bringing it together made it altogether awesome!

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Green Goddess bowl
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Mexican BBQ – grilled corn and quinoa, chilli salsa

Of the two protein dishes, it was hard to pick a favourite here as they were both great in their own right. If I was pushed I would probably say the Thai beef salad, I think it’s the tahini in the mix that just gives it an extra something that I loved!! Once again, a great combination of tastes, textures and good balance between chilli warmth, sweet, salty, nutty, umami-ness from soy (gluten free) and with the beef juicy and pink it was a complete winner. 

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Spicy salmon, cucumber and yoghurt

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Thai beef salad, salt and pepper cashews

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Raw chocolate cherry fudge, vanilla and coconut dairy-free ice cream

The dish that surprised me the most was the dessert!! For me to actually enjoy something where chocolate is the main ingredient is literally unheard of, apart from Noisette Bakehouse’s salt caramel brownie of course, but that’s another story!! It was also a raw dessert, so completely new one on me. The thing I usually struggle with is the richness of chocolate and how it can be too cloying, this was light, still chocolatey being made with raw cacao, combined with ingredients including coconut oil, almond butter and honey, results in such a gooey, unctuous mouthfeel. Every now and again there was a sour pop from cherries and finally the ice-cream was so light with coconut running through it. The whole thing was simply decadent, but you knew it was doing you some good at the same time!!! 

At the end of the evening I purchased my own copy of Get The Glow and am looking forward to trying them out and hopefully feeling the benefits myself!

Madeleine’s dishes are part of Harvey Nichols’ Body Kicks campaign and will run till May 31st in all branches across the UK. 

Harvey Nichols

107 Briggate

Leeds

LS1 6AZ

http://www.harveynichols.com/store/leeds/

BangWok, Leeds

I got to try out BangWok last week, if the name rings a bell it may be because you’ve tried their street food at Trinity Kitchen? However, this time they won’t be leaving after a few weeks, as Dong and his tuk tuk have set up shop in the railway arches on Sovereign Street!! A bit unsure of where that is? Well, it’s in the space where burrito traders El Topo once resided. Still no clue? How about opposite the Hilton Hotel on Neville Street, the one where loads of commuters walk everyday in the city centre. 

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The menu is a short and snappy list of classic, thai street food dishes; salads, noodle and rice dishes, most of which can be left veggie or pimped up with meat, chicken, pork or prawn depending on the core dish. Prices are kept easy on the pocket, with dishes priced between £4.50 and £6.50.  I’m a sucker for a decent pad thai, it’s such an obvious choice for me, I rarely order anything else. Watching Dong speedily cook it within minutes, after a quick sprinkle of chilli flakes and crushed peanuts to taste, I perched on a stool and took my place at the counter. More than enough for a lunch break, it was tasty – hitting all the right notes of salty, sweet and sour, satisfyingly filling and served with a smile!

 

Pad Thai with chicken

I really hope this is a massive success for Dong and the BangWok team!!!

BangWok are open Monday – Friday lunchtimes (12 – 3 pm).

BangWok

Sovereign Street

Leeds  

http://bangwok.com/leeds/

A Canteen, Chelmsford 

A couple of weekends ago my life revolved around the Hackney Half marathon, a couple of friends and I had entered the race and the day before was spent trying our best to prepare, basically eating as many carbs as possible!! All in the hopes of being able to trudge around (in my case) the streets in and around Hackney the best we could. Our plan; to spend Saturday carbing up at their home in Chelmsford, then travel to Hackney early Sunday morning for the race. It’s a good job our friends love eating out as much as I do and had a suggestion up their sleeve, a place called A Canteen. An independent family run business that started off as a cafe and moved into larger premises in February.  On first impressions, this place wasn’t just a canteen, the space also housed a coffee shop/grocery, a bar and homeware/lifestyle shop! All of this under one roof!

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It was soon obvious the place was a popular one, bustling with people, many tables were occupied and staff were bezzing around. Soon informed we could sit at a table, but there’d be a 25 minute wait for food, we took this into consideration, but were happy to wait as reports from their previous base had been good by all accounts. 

Drinks were ordered including a Bloody Mary and a few coffees, all arriving in time for our food order to be taken. The place has a varied lunch day menu, whether it be their all-day breakfast, a selection of sandwiches, wraps, salads, bigger plates such as fish and chips, burgers, also pizzas. 

For most of us carbing up was the priority so we went for sandwiches and baps, also some extras of roasted squash salad, sweet potato wedges and chips. The drinks were going down well, in particular the Bloody Mary which was very good with a good mix of sourness and spice and the coffee. Made using beans from local roasters The Coffee Officina, it was excellent and also a lovely surprise!! I remember first enjoying their coffee at a cupping in Leeds’ own La Bottega Milanese a few months ago, liking it so much I brought a bag home. 

  

The space became very full while we waited, virtually all tables became occupied and our waiting time was longer than expected, more than 35 minutes. When our food was brought across, it would’ve been nice for a ‘I’m sorry for the long wait’ sort of comment but nothing. Oh well. 

Portion sizes were decent, but there was another wait for the other half’s food (which an apology was given for) – some hiccup because the chef hadn’t paid careful enough attention to his order; asking for a lamb burger with gluten free bread, preferring sliced bread to the focaccia it should have been served, as it would’ve been laden with it. Also I found the idea of focaccia being used for a burger an odd choice, I may be wrong, but that’s just my opinion. After all that palaver, the lamb burger ended up being swapped for the Moroccan spiced lamb sandwich instead! When he finally got it, it fell apart as the sliced bread which was soft, a definite plus with gluten free bread broke apart easily when trying to hold/eat it. The lamb itself was well spiced and tasty enough.

Roasted squash, chilli & pomegranate salad
Poached salmon sandwich with lemon mayonnaise and watercress
Moroccan spiced lamb sandwich with chips

Portion wise, I was really happy with mine and there was a similar view across the table. My pork bap came with lots of chips and the bap was filled generously with pulled pork shoulder, stuffing, apple sauce and tomato. On taste, the pork shoulder lacked a little flavour but was moist, it benefitted from the stuffing which did its best to add what was missing. The chips were great, crisp, golden and fluffy on the inside!! After eating it all, I was pretty full and definitely needed a break afterwards. 

Slow roasted shoulder of pork bap with chips

Overall, I really liked the concept and the cool space they’ve created. The food in general was good, tasty and filling, however there were a couple of niggles which need ironing out, possibly a consequence of how busy they are. The speed of service is an obvious area for improvement, with the potential for a large number of covers to be served at any one time, they found it difficult to keep up the pace. Yes, it was Saturday lunchtime and located in a prime spot, so high numbers would be expected, but to wait ages for food without even a hint of an apology was a bit of a shame, as well as the mess up with the order. 

The place has definitely got a lot going for it and tonnes of potential, it’d be good to see how the place improves and develops over the next few months. 

A Canteen 

35 New London Road

Chelmsford

Essex

https://www.facebook.com/acanteen?fref=ts&rf=166700683378343

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