Cornucopia Underground photoblog @ Corn Exchange, Leeds

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Last Saturday Leeds’ Corn Exchange was the venue for a celebration of the local areas finest food and drink – Cornucopia Underground, organised by Leeds Food & Drink Association. Showing off their skills with their wares were a number of stalls, including George and Joseph, The Harrogate Preserves Company, The Marvellous Tea Room and Sweet Sensations showing off their baking prowess. Sela Bar were in attendance with their tasty pizzas and Market Delivered were also there promoting their home delivery service with a nifty spinning wheel, a bit of fun like being a contestant on the Wheel of Fortune! The Corn Exchange was used to good effect with its hidden alcoves being the stage for different ticketed events.

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Here’s a selection of photos from some of the independents at the event:

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Sweet Sensations
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Market Delivered
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George & Joseph
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Harrogate Preserves
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The Marvellous Tea Room

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Jim and Dan from The Grub & Grog Shop had their make-shift monastery with Northern Monk Brew Company’s ale’s on tap and delicious smells emanating from pans and hot plates. They were showcasing ‘a taste of things to come’ when they start working with Northern Monk Brew Company at the old flax mill in Holbeck, the lads will be serving their food from The Refectory. I was happy to try any of them, as they all sounded great, so closed my eyes and picked at random the Lamb Bacon, it didn’t disappoint. I’m not the greatest lover of lamb normally, but if lamb tasted like this I’d eat it more often….meaty and salty from the curing process, accompanied by soft barley and roasted carrots; it was delicious! I’m anticipating great things at their new venture in Holbeck.

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The Grub & Grog Shop’s Lamb Bacon!

I’d pre-booked a ticket for Spoons and Booze, an event devised by Dough Bistro’s Luke Downing. Here we were served a tasting menu where each mouthful was made using Yorkshire ingredients and paired with a complementary drink.

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Dough Bistro's Spoons & Booze
Dough Bistro’s Spoons & Booze

Our veritable mini feast included Whitby scallop, Swillington Farm chicken, Grassington ham, Leventhorpe wine, beef from Barnsley and Fountain’s Gold cheese. I can only speak for myself, but I loved the event! Being up so close watching Luke do his stuff, listen to him speak passionately about his food. Out of all the things we ate, my favourites were the Swillington chicken nugget with mushroom mousse and Grassington ham crisp, the black pudding bon bon with rhubarb brown sauce and smoked oyster foam and finally the lavender & lemon posset with ginger cake. 

We need more of these types of events, where local independents can show off. I’m hoping to see a lot more of this type of event in the future!

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Lunch Date @ The Reliance, Leeds

I love to eat, and I love going to places which are consistently good, as why would I bother to spend time writing about it. But going part-time has got its obvious pros and cons – working two days a week has afforded me time to do lots more fun stuff, have leisurely lunches and catch up with friends, but nowadays I have to be more thoughtful of where to go on a budget, I don’t want to eat somewhere that serves sub-standard food with poor service. Who does eh?!

Last week I had a lovely catch-up with a girl friend (another part-time teacher) and her gorgeous little girl. We could’ve easily headed into Horsforth where she lives, but she had a hankering for town. With this in mind, I thought where can I go that I know I’ll always get a good tasty feed, feel at home and get my money’s worth, as much as I’d like to splurge I can’t afford to do that as much now.

My suggestion of The Reliance was welcomed, we’d not been for ages and have had memorable feeds here in the past. This city centre eatery has been a haunt of ours for years, one of our first visits was for my best mates birthday some 12/13 years ago. Since then, it’s been the scene of many girly get-togethers, reunions and leaving dinners. 

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For somewhere that’s probably classed as a pub, they serve relaxed informal dishes with a bit of refinement. The lunch menu has much to offer at reasonable prices, and a plus point is seeing their homemade charcuterie, as well a selection of specials to choose from too. 

A couple of glasses of wine ordered, both doing the job nicely and after finally ordering…we were too busy nattering, sorry, it was time to sit back and relax.

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Our choices from a menu which is reasonably priced – for my friend the beef and pork meatballs sandwich (tying with the aubergine parmigiana as my second choice), and the beer battered whitebait off the specials board for myself. Both of us were too tempted by the twice cooked chips so added these on for good measure.

The Reliance is a great all-rounder I think, it’s has a lovely relaxed ambience, high ceilings and the massive curved windows lends itself well to allowing light to flood into the space. Even though I’d chosen the table in the corner by the window road noise wasn’t particularly evident, may’ve been that we were too busy chatting to notice!! Regardless, it’s a very easy place to feel at ease.

My whitebait were fried till golden and covered in a light, crisp batter. Portion-wise they hadn’t scrimped and I quite happily worked my way through the whole lot. Twice cooked chips were crisp and with the mayo on the side made for a tasty lunch all in all.

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My friends meatball sandwich proved to be a hit with both mother and daughter!! I was a tad jealous I must say, I’ll keep it in mind for next time.

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So if you fancy a lunch in town, it doesn’t matter that it’s on the other side of the city centre, it’s the quality and value for money that counts, rather than the matter of a few minutes of extra walking.

Lunch for two, with two glasses of wine and a coffee came to £30 including tip. The food on its own would have cost just £17.90 for two.

Food: well balanced lunch menu, decent prices. Well cooked and very tasty.

Service: can’t be faulted here, as friendly and relaxed as ever.

Atmosphere: it was a quiet week day lunch so diners were spread out in different rooms.

The Reliance
76-78 North St
Leeds
LS2 7PN
0113 295 6060 

The Reliance on Urbanspoon

Heritage Open Days 2014

Have you heard of Heritage Open Days? I hadn’t until last year, wanting to find out, a little research told me it was four days of cultural events held in September. Many historic buildings and monuments around the UK, many which are normally closed, would open their doors to the public. Heritage Open Days have actually been going since 1994, to my surprise and occur throughout Europe, all with the aim to make the public more aware of their cultural heritage.

From a list as long as your arm, a few really caught my eye; Temple Works, Hyde Park Picture House and Kirkgate Market.  Unfortunately school kept me from touring the market, but I managed to reserve spots on the other two.

My first tour was to visit Temple Works – a Grade I listed building with a remarkable history, driving passed on a number of occasions I’d seen this unusual facade, but I’d no clue what the building was. Found on Marshall Street in Holbeck, about five minutes walk from the Cross Keys pub. Built as a flax mill by the industrialist John Marshall, a man well known for his exploits with mill buildings (he also built the neighbouring building Marshall Mills).

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This mill was unlike others, because on first glance it has an unusual exterior, which looks completely out of place compared to its surroundings. Its facade was designed by John Bonomi and resembles an Egyptian building.

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Another unusual facet to the mill – it’s just one floor, other mills had multiple floors, this would helpfully reduce the chance of deaths in event of a fire. But it was the design of the Main Space which was flawed from its inception, and the consequences of this were eventually too much for the integrity of the building. 

The Main Space; once the world’s largest single room was to have skylights right across the masonry ceiling providing natural light. The roof was even covered in grass to keep the flax mill humid, stop the environment becoming too dry and reduce the risk of fires. There’s even the strange, but true story of sheep on the roof to maintain the length of the grass!! How did they get onto the roof? Via a sheep lift…how else?!

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For the last few years the building has been managed by Temple Works Leeds, the building’s been used faithfully and has developed a culture of ‘living heritage’, where the space is used by a diverse range of creative minds; artists, actors, photographers, musicians, film production teams and much more! It’s become a very popular place for filming horror and sci-fi, not surprising as it has a weathered and worn, semi-derelict appearance.

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The structure of the Main Space was dependent on the dynamics between the roof and pillars which helped hold it up. Unfortunately, it was too great and its integrity couldn’t be maintained, even after tensioning rods were added. 

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To get the building structurally sound again will take a lot of planning and funding, their aim is to raise enough money in order to do this. I’ll look forward to seeing that happen in the future.

The second visit was at one of my favourite places in Leeds, I’m a massive cinema goer and have grown up loving films and the history of them. So being a bit of a film geek, I jumped at the chance to get on the list for the tour around Hyde Park Picture House.  

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I’m sure Leeds folk don’t need any introduction, but for those who don’t know this gem the Hyde Park Picture House was first opened in 1914, with self-titled name ‘the cosiest cinema in Leeds’, a title they still try to hold up to even now. It’s been a city landmark ever since, and even though I live nowhere near the Hyde Park area, I still come to watch films here. It’s a pretty special place! Apart from being able to wander the theatre freely and admire its beauty, one of the joys of the visit was having a sneaky peek in the projection room and get close up to their 35mm projectors. Only three exist in Leeds now, two here and one in the Cottage Road Cinema. Of course, they’ve had to keep up with the times and go digital too, but it’s still the old school stuff that does it for me. Ever since watching the classic Cinema Paradiso I’ve always been intrigued about what goes on in that room. The projectionist, who also works at Bradford’s National Media Museum had been in the job for the past fifty years, definitely a job for life!

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I really enjoyed listening to people who know these institutions inside and out. It’s a great way of getting to know more about the cultural heritage of your local area, it was so well worth doing! The added bonus is that all the tours are completely FREE!

http://www.heritageopendays.org.uk
http://www.templeworksleeds.com
http://www.hydeparkpicturehouse.co.uk
http://www.nationalmediamuseum.org.uk

Edd Kimber @ Le Creuset, Leeds

One of the best things to have happened shopping-wise in Leeds city centre this year, for me, has been the opening of the Le Creuset shop in the Victoria Quarter, especially after my favourite kitchenware retailer Peter Maturi closed down earlier this year. I’ve been a huge fan of the Le Creuset brand for years, and a frequent home user, having been given a set a cast iron cookware for Christmas years ago.  

A couple of months ago I’d seen that Edd Kimber, winner of the Great British Bake Off (2010) was doing a baking demonstration at the store, and you could enter a competition to bake with him. I’ve never won anything so I entered for a laugh, then found out I’d been picked!

The aim of the demo was to show off the brand at what it does best; the pieces are workhorses, they are versatile, hard-wearing, and they last. Being so darn pretty helps too, and even though they do cost a few hard-earned pennies, you really get what you pay for! I wouldn’t do without my set and am always wanting to add to the collection.

Being the last person to help Edd, I was lucky enough to help with a couple of the dishes at the demo. Edd was full of helpful tips, the odd anecdote from GBBO, he was absolutely lovely and delightful. Being a local lad it certainly helped and it didn’t feel like a ‘celebrity’ was with us in the slightest. Watching him make Blood Mary muffins and a Caramelised orange upside down cake, which were both scrumptious, especially the cake. All this whilst having a bit of fun and banter with his assistant and local audience.

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My part in the demo came later that afternoon, helping with his take on a Spanish tortilla, with chorizo and pepper, also a berry clafoutis. I’d made tortilla before, but never a clafoutis, it was so easy to make, and even better was incredibly delicious!!

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While this was going on a bread was being made with cranberries, Cornish sea salt and rosemary, the proofing and baking all done in the same cast iron pan, it worked so well showing it off to a tee! I managed to get a slice before I had to leave, it was delicately aromatic with the rosemary and topped with butter you couldn’t go wrong!

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I had a lot of fun that afternoon, whether it was watching, taking part, chatting about food, in particular with fellow bloggers Danielle Stott and Kay Brown who I bumped into at the event. I left with a few recipes to have a go at home, and also got my eye on a few pieces to add to my home collection. I’ll need to save up the pennies, but it’ll be worth it!

Thanks to Danielle Stott for taking some photos for me during the demo!

Edd Kimber‘s new book Patisserie Made Simple: From Macaron to Millefeuille and More is released 16th October.
Le Creuset 
36 Queen Victoria Street
Victoria Quarter
Leeds
LS1 6BE

Stuzzi Residency @ Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen

The month of August had seen a bit of a break at the Belgrave in terms of major food goings-on, without Street Feast and Laynes brunch as Beacons Festival took the deserved attention of the parties involved. Well this evening was the start of the food event to put that right with Stuzzi’s Kitchen Takeover!

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Who are Stuzzi? – a team of four named Harvey, Tom, Jimbob and James. If you’ve been to Salvo’s Salumeria you may have seen some of these guys before as this is where Tom, Jimbob and Harvey learned their trade, developing this passion for Italian food. 

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What’s the concept? – small plates of goodness based on Italian classics, produced using the best sustainable, seasonal ingredients from Italy treated simply.  

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Menu –  The guys at Stuzzi had been tempting people for the last couple of months with photos of their delights on social media, so when they published their menu, I literally thought I’d died and gone to heaven! Arancini balls….filled with ragu! Fritto Misto – you know how much I love deep fried stuff! Meatballs – which carnivore doesn’t love a good meatball, I make a killer meatball dish at home, but this was special! It went on….

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The Stuzzichini Misto sharing box (£15) was ALWAYS going to be the way to go for my friend Alice and I, and after just a few minutes our food was brought over in a box, all laid out just wanting to be devoured! As usual after a barrage of photos, I have to apologise to Alice as I always go overboard, we dove in.

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I thought we should go for the seafood dishes first as I didn’t want to give any residual heat the chance to toughen up our food. A quick squeeze of Amalfi lemon over the Fritto Misto and we were off!! We started off onto a winner – prawns were juicy, the squid was perfectly cooked, and needed only the slightest amount of pressure before it gave way in the mouth, lightly crisp on its exterior. Whitebait were gone in a few seconds and capers scattered generously gave a decent whack of additional seasoning where needed. Aioli goes perfectly with the dish and was decent, smooth and had lots of flavour. My only slight gripe was the fried courgettes were a little soft, just because they were underneath. Probably not the easiest to eat, but I suppose that what hands are there for.

Fritto Misto
Fritto Misto

Next up was the Seppia Nero,  even though we didn’t eat this straight away the cuttlefish remained tender and hadn’t become chewy. Quite a rich dish, it was great for sharing and we loved the bread it came with!

Seppia Misto
Seppia Misto

Pasta was our third course – Orecchiete with N’Duja to be exact, the al dente pasta was covered with a well flavoured tomato sauce, sweetness came from red onion and there a warming heat from the N’Duja, which as expected melted into the tomato sauce. It certainly gave my cheeks a bit of a glow.

Orecchiette con N'Duja
Orecchiette con N’Duja

Meatballs followed – now these were a little different than the norm, as these gems were made with beef and Mortadella in a rich tomato sauce, once again a gentle heat accompanied them. More than adequate in terms of size, it was great to see that they were moist throughout, whilst still being packed with meat and flavour!

Manzo E Mortadella Polpette
Manzo E Mortadella Polpette

Oh no, this was our last course….but we ended on a good one! The Arancini, these bad boys are made with saffron risotto filled with a meat ragu. Not only do I love risotto, I love ragu and they are covered breadcrumbs and fried….come on!!!! These were absolutely delicious and during the first bite I was already being a little embarrassing and saying how good they were. The risotto was unctuous and paired brilliantly with the ragu, both had their parts to play and didn’t overshadow the other. I was gutted I had to share and could easily have popped a few more in my mouth before going home.

Arancini
Arancini

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We also got chance to have a little bit of snackage (don’t think it’s a real word, but who cares), on their puffed pig skin. Crackling to me is one of the best things ever and this was crisp, salty and yummy!

Puffed pig skin
Puffed pig skin

We didn’t order the Zeppole, but I tried a little taster and it was light and moreish, an Italian deep fried doughnut covered in cinnamon sugar. 

Zeppole
Zeppole

I thought it was great, the team are obviously very passionate about their food and know what they are doing!! Also at £15 – great value too! 

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Stuzzi are opening a permanent base in Harrogate soon and I can’t wait to go and get the full experience!!

Stuzzi residency is on till Friday, then if you haven’t gorged yourself on every bit you can get your mouth around, I’m sure that won’t be the case, they’ll be spoiling us Leeds folk at Belgrave’s Street Feast too. 

http://www.belgravemusichall.com
1A Cross Belgrave St
Leeds
West Yorkshire
LS2 8JP
0113 234 6160
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stuzzi/356068864465742?ref=ts&fref=ts
http://www.salumeria-stuzzi.com/home.html