The Leeds Food & Drink Association‘s Nick Copland and Jo Murricane recently set up a group called the Grubstakers – for food lovers who support the fantastic food and drink Leeds has to offer. I signed up immediately, what a great way of celebrating what’s amazing about food in our area, meet people involved in the industry and independent producers that need championing where possible. It would also give me the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and try different kinds of produce.
Anyone can become a member, it costs £25 for a lifetime membership and the benefits include invitation to special events, chance to test and trail products and menus and lots of other great things.
The generous hosts for the launch of Grubstakers was one of Leeds most loved restaurants Salvo’s.
Twenty of us Grubstakers were welcomed by Nick, who went on to speak very passionately about the Grubstakers vision and aim; to collaborate with great independent food and drink establishments and producers in the Leeds area, ultimately to create a bigger and better experience for all.
For the evening launch the list of local collaborators involved was as long as your arm: Swillington Organic Farm, Lattitude Wines, George & Joseph, Olianas Gusto Italiano, Friends of Ham, The Arch Cafe and Lazy Lounge, all ever much loved establishments in their own right and a wonderful sign of great things in my book.
Chris Hill, the proprietor of Latitude Wines took us on a journey through the menu of savoury delights paired with wines.
Part 1: Mario’s tomato and balsamic bruschetta was well-known to me after feasting on it a couple of weeks ago at Gusto Italiano in the Lazy Lounge. A gorgeous few mouthfuls with the perfect balance of crisp bread, sweetness and sourness from the tomatoes and balsamic. Combined with the Yorkshire Pecorino, also made by Mario’s fair hand was a match made in heaven.
The first of our wines was the Cocci Brut, Piedmont, NV. I love wine, and on most occasions it tends to be my drink of choice, so hearing someone speak with great knowledge about it always fascinates me. Chris said this wine was produced using the Champagne method and undergoes a 2nd fermentation in the bottle. Made from a blend of different Pinots, resulting in a wonderful palate cleanser working especially well with the balsamic vinegar.
Part 2: A Ribblesdale Mature Goats cheese from George & Joseph. For uneducated folk like myself, cheese tasting notes were provided describing it as a hard pressed, naturally rinded goats cheese with an almost Parmesan-like quality, where the taste of goats milk comes through at the finish. Also Crottin De Chavignol, which comes from the Loire and is made from milk of alpine goats, provided by Friends of Ham, paired with a Michel Girard Sancerre, 2012. I’m not a fan of goats cheese normally and tend to let the other half, who loves it have it all to himself. But after this, I could be converted as they were lovely, mild and creamy, not what I expected at all. I always think of smelly melting goats cheese, but this was very much different and I’m glad I tried it.
Part 3: Lardo Di Colonnata from Friends of Ham, I am a huge fan of Lardo and it is always on my meat and cheese board when I partake in a bit of Friends of Ham action. It just has to be done, no question! With Gip Dammone, owner of Salvo’s delicately bringing it around and waxing lyrical about the Lardo, saying that making this is every bit as artisanal as curing the ham on an animal. Most definitely, to get the fat to be so flavourful with herbs and spices producing something creamy and light. Topped on a piece of lovely bread and your good to go!
Paired with the Lardo was 50° Riesling, GH Vonn Mumm, Mosel, 2012, at 50° latitude which is pretty far north in terms of growing good quality grapes, on the nose it was full of floral aromatics, with high acidity to balance out the fat from the Lardo.
Part 4: Serrano Gran Reserva (Friends of Ham) paired with Marques De Vitorria Rioja Reserva, 2001. The ham was hung for 18 months allowing its flavours to develop and mature, culminating in a rich pungency that’s unmistakable! With a well matched Rioja, where the tannins come from the grape skins, once fermented, skins are extracted so the wine’s body develops in the meantime the tannins soften over time and the fruit flavours intensify.
Part 5: Courtesy of Lazy Lounge and Swillington Organic Farm, the latter which is 80% organic had provided their organic beef for the next dish, this was a delicious stew rich in flavour. Meaty, hearty and the gravy was awesome! It didn’t last very long! Paired with a Boutinot Cairanne, Cotes Du Rhone Villages, 2010 which was an extremely smooth but full-flavoured red, a good match for a dish which also packed a punch.
Part 6: Blue Monday, courtesy of George & Joseph paired with Cousino Macul Cabernet Sauvignon Antigus Reserva, 2010. This blue cheese is a creation of Blur’s Alex James and Shepherd’s Purse, and it’s name comes from his favourite New Order song. The thought of a blue cheese would normally have me running for the hills, but as this was my chance to try new things I tried it, then surprised myself by eating the lot. It was really tasty, I can’t believe I am actually saying it, as I have avoided them for years, even decades!
The wine to accompany Blue Monday matched nicely, with high tannin and acidity levels to cut through the creaminess of the cheese.
Part seven: A little dessert taster of Apricot and Rose-Water Baklava (The Arch Cafe), and Richard III Wensleydale (George & Joseph). The baklava was gorgeous, paper thin layers of pastry and lots of pistachio and sweetness from the apricot, with a tiny hint of rosewater it was a delightful little treat to end our experience.
Our final wine, a dessert wine called Domaine de Grangeneuve Monbazillac, 2009 came with a lovely vibrant golden colour and had the aroma which reminded me of honey, it was delicious and really complemented the baklava. Dessert wines are something I tend not to go for, so maybe next time I might!
What an enjoyable evening it was, meeting others with the same love and appreciation of great food and wine from Leeds producers, and also meeting some of the people behind the fantastic produce. On a more personal note, for me to try new things and on occasion surprise myself was unexpected! I’m really looking forward to the next event to learn more.
Are you missing out, fancy joining in the fun, want to learn more? Just sign up and become a Grubstaker like the rest of us!