Category Archives: North African

Little Berlin Jaunt

Turn back time to last weekend, along with thousands of others I completed the Berlin Marathon – a goal of mine for the last ten months. 

With a couple of travel guides reused from a previous visit and some research scouring local blogs I’d got together a list of food spots worth trying out. However, with all the best intentions my priority was still the marathon and with time taken to travel and the need to collect my running pack from the event’s expo, it left us with Saturday and possibly Sunday after the race, depending on the condition my body was in to explore and try things out. 

Here are some photos from the weekend, some of the food was a bit hit and miss in terms of quality and at times we experienced complete disasters with service to the point of walking out of one restaurant:

Preflight brunch at Heston Blumenthal’s The Perfectionist’s Cafe in Heathrow Airport – limited on gluten free options for the other half and whilst my eggs and bacon on a muffin had lots of good point to it, such as crisp bacon and great poached egg with a glorious intensely orange yolk, it was all a bit too precise and nice. Cocktails were good though, their Bloody Mary came with its very own tabasco filled pipette so you could alter it to your taste. 

Brunch at The Perfectionist's Cafe, Heathrow Airport
Brunch at The Perfectionist’s Cafe, Heathrow Airport

   

Tired and needing food quickly after hot-footing it to the Berlin Marathon’s running expo to pick up my race pack, instead of finding one of the places on my list, we succumbed to getting food from one of the events traders with typical Berlin fare – Bratwurst, currywurst and fries, it did the job satisfying any hunger pangs.

Berlin Marathon Expo, curry wurst, brat wurst and fries
Berlin Marathon Expo, curry wurst, brat wurst and fries

Saturday morning started off well with brunch at Parker Bowles, in fashionable district Kreuzberg. Open all day, their menus go from breakfast through to dinner, including a range of omelettes which we both went for. Great that they all start off being veggie, but can be pimped up with extra bacon or chorizo if you fancy it, our omelettes with a couple of fresh juices went down a treat!

Saturday brunch at Parker Bowles
Saturday brunch at Parker Bowles
Parker Bowles brunch omelettes
Parker Bowles brunch omelettes

After wandering around the city for a few hours, my legs started getting tired and I didn’t want to ruin myself before the race the following morning. Realising it was also way passed lunchtime, readers my know that lunchtime in our house is 12pm – it was nearly 3pm, we found ourselves at Gendarmenmarkt and stepped into the nearest Italian we could get a table at, everywhere was either predictably heaving or wasn’t really suitable.  Good old marathon special of linguine al bolognese was perfect and a bit of a bargain too!

Marathon pasta - at Amici in Gendermenmart
Carb loading Marathon Special – Linguine al Bolognese!!

One disadvantage of eating lunch late was knowing we’d probably be eating dinner fairly late too, in hindsight we should’ve booked somewhere, but we didn’t and we’ve learned from our mistakes! The first restaurant we tried – Ristorante Malatesta, we’d been given a table about to be cleared in their outside dining area, and were asked to stand and wait for it to be done. Ok, no problem this would’ve been fine, but it took so long we ended up looking like complete lemons stood next to the front door. Eventually it was cleared and we plonked ourselves down with a couple of menus I picked up from the side, we then watched as waiting staff basically whizzed around completely ignoring us, when we did manage to get eye contact they joked if we were ready to pay the bill!!!! We hadn’t even ordered,  let alone eaten anything!!! Not at any one time did a member of staff give us the time of day –  it was truly horrendous!! I know it was very busy, but there’s one thing being busy and making an effort to keep customers happy, it’s completely different when the staff are completely oblivious! We ended up walking out completely frustrated!!

So still on the look out for a feed, we ended up in another Italian a few blocks down the road, its name I’ve forgotten though. We were slightly more lucky this time, this time our order was taken but took an hour to get to us, we even worked our way through a bottle of wine which seemed to trigger some action from staff…I wonder why?! Apologies for the sarcasm, this is completely for want of a better phrase a first world problem and life could be a million times worse, however, it’s not the best when you know you need to eat, get a good nights sleep if possible, get up early to run in a race you worked towards for ten months. At least this place, did try to make amends for their confusion and delays, but I think I was so peeved I couldn’t be bothered with the whole thing – I just wanted to eat and go to bed! Like I said earlier, in hindsight we should’ve booked and have definitely learned the hard way!!

Saturday night - trying my best to carb load for the race!!
The night before the race, trying my best to carb load.

The race itself was amazing and tough in equal measure, the crowds were fantastic and it was wonderful to run with so many thousands of people from first-timers to the world’s elite at the same time; approximately 40,000 had entered the race and 36,000 finished it! Having the chance to see parts of the city I’d never seen before was a treat too and getting a new PB was the icing on the cake!

I distinctly remember nearly two years earlier after running my first marathon, I hardly ate anything, a few crisps was as much as I could handle. This time I was on much better form and actually managed a tasty plate of Augustiner sausages on mash and white cabbage at Augustiner am Gendarmenmarkt. Such a different experience from our attempts at dinner the night before – it was just as busy but service was jovial, friendly and efficient, our server also gave great recommendations in particular the sweet mustard condiment that was offered.

Post race refuel - curry wurst, sausages and mash
Celebratory post race refuel at Augustiner am Gendarmenmarkt – curry wurst, sausages and mash

The next few hours were spent resting up and having my legs rollered to stretch out the muscles – trust me they needed it, followed by dinner at well known North African restaurant Baraka. Reminding me very much of Leeds’ Caravanserai or one of my current local favourites Jeitta in Woking, the lady who served us was friendly and efficient, from a menu that’s not massive by any means there’s still enough choice to suit. I found the food tasty, in particular the tagine with meatballs and cous cous which was delicious. 

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Baraka - hummus with fried lamb, tagging Marrakesh and shish kebab with bulgar wheat and rice
Baraka – hummus with fried lamb, tagging Marrakesh and shish kebab with bulgar wheat and rice

I’m sure I’ll be back in Berlin again as it’s got so much to offer with its cultural heritage and the fantastic food and drink scene, next time I’ll be a spectator if the race is on so I can make the most of it.

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Where To Eat In Leeds!!

I began writing this post in January with the aim of it going on the blog when I was about to head down south, as that’s virtually happened here it is! The other day some friends asked if I’d eaten everywhere in Leeds and of course I haven’t, however I think I’ve tried many of the best and some of the worst in the city and can give some sort of judgement for what it’s worth. In the early days our regular haunts were places like The Reliance, Arts Cafe, Lucky Dragon (sadly no more), Salvos and Viva Cuba and fast forward fourteen years and the landscape has changed so much already, I can imagine on my visits back how it’s going to alter even further!!

With all this choice, choosing where to get a feed can be an arduous task, so to give you a helping hand in the decision making I’ve come up with my list of where to eat in the city. I’ve categorised them as best as I can, I’m sure there’s probably a better way of doing it, but I’ve tried my best.

I see this list as a flexible one, one that’ll change with new additions and possibly deletions if needed. Apologies to any more than worthy establishments left off, this list could go on and on all down to the fact the depth of quality available now is so good, but it has to stop somewhere! 

NB: places with an asterisk * are probably my absolute faves, I’ve included establishments which I’ve heard great things about on my ‘wish list’ and ones I’ve enjoyed that need revisiting.

Coffee / breakfast / brunch

*Laynes Espresso

Go for the best coffee, snappily dressed baristas and gorgeous baked goods from local baking legends Noisette Bakehouse, That Old Chestnut and Dumouchel! Prefer something savoury? The avocado on sourdough is a must even though it looks too beautiful to eat, or maybe one of their tasty sandwiches. Currently with two locations; the original on New Station Street, the second at Belgrave Music Hall, a third is soon to be revealed from a collaboration with Duke Studios resulting in the Sheaf St Cafeteria!

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Mrs Atha’s

Visit for its beautiful space with a bohemian vibe, great locally roasted Maude coffee and pretty vintage cups and spoons not just to gaze at, but also to use. Great for brunch – their pancakes win every time! 

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Opposite

One of Leeds’ coffee indie originals and still up there with the best, its VQ hub is great for a pick me up whilst on the run, if your lucky to be near Chapel Allerton, head to the shop for a sit down, great Square Mile coffee and a slice of a little something from superstar vegan bakers That Old Chestnut.

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La Bottega Milanese

Their coffee’s served with Italian passion and partnered with pastries, antipasti and homemade pasta. With two venues to choose from; one in The Light and a second outpost in the city’s financial district on Bond Court.

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*The Greedy Pig

Visit for food cooked with love, the best full English and veggie breakfast in town at a bargain price too. What the place lacks in square footage it makes up for with great food and service from genuinely lovely people. If you spot their homemade scotch eggs on the counter, make sure you grab one before their all gone!

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*Grub and Grog Shop

Found in the relaxed surroundings of Northern Monk Refectory, their breakfast/brunch menu’s a real treat for anyone! There’s no half measures taken here and you’ll thank yourself for going – think homemade crumpets, breakfast baps, buckwheat blinis, kedgeree…the list goes on. Beverage wise there’s locally roasted North Star for a coffee fix and also Sheffield’s Birdhouse Tea Company for your drinking pleasure. 

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Belgrave Music Hall – Laynes Brunch

Usually held monthly (apart from summer months) Laynes Espresso currently serve Sunday brunch at Belgrave Music Hall and it’s a real Sunday treat. The regularly changing menu always has something a bit special for both lovers of the savoury or the sweet. Previous dishes have included sourdough french toast, sweetcorn fritters, salt beef hash all with extra trimmings! 

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On the wish list – Sociable Folk on Wellington Place and Kapow on The Calls.

Pan-Asian

*My Thai

My current fave amongst an ever-growing number of Thai spots in the city, with top quality food that’s dead cheap! It’s not the biggest spot which adds to the charm of the place, so booking ahead could be the way to go, if you are unlucky takeout is always good option saving you even more of your hard earned cash!

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Thai Aroy Dee

This very popular restaurant finally reopened a few doors from their original site after much anticipation……a few glitches on my first visit back, but I’ve been hearing good things since. Great to see their bargainous lunch offer is still available too – £6.95 for two courses! 

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NOM Deli

Leeds doesn’t have many Vietnamese spots to my knowledge, but this is definitely a handy one to know. Found on Great George Street and run by a lovely couple passionate about the food from their homeland. Their menu maybe short, but everything is made really well, in particular their Banh Mi’s baguettes which are damn good! Opening hours are limited, however they are perfect for lunch and kind to the pocket!! 

*Noodle House

This place may feel like a cafe, but the food it cooks up are restaurant quality! Mostly Chinese with a few Malaysian additions, you’ll see dishes ranging from tasty, filling wonton soup to roasted belly pork and rice, even suckling pig if your organised. Great food, quick friendly service and value for money. 

Bulgogi Grill

The idea of Bulgogi Grill is to cook your own dinner, think marinated meats and seafood, wrapped in lettuce with pickled veg, rice and lettuce! It’s not the cheapest on paper, but diners get lots for their money – you won’t leave hungry! Friendly and attentive without being in your face. On the up side it’s interactive and a bit of fun, on the downside it’s hard not to end up smelling of grilled food! 

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Fuji Hiro

Fuji’s been around for years and is still a popular choice for many, with its no frills canteen style feel and sizeable noodle and rice dishes. My go to dishes are edamame beans, ebi or spicy beef gyoza, then yaki soba or cha han. The two course set meals is the way to go here.  

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Sushi Waka

There aren’t many decent sushi places in the city, but this is one of them. At times the service can be a little sketchy, but they’ve definitely improved since opening. If sushi isn’t your thing, they also have an extensive menu covering all things like noodles, rice and Bento boxes!

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Another notable favourite – BangWok and their glorious pad thai, currently open weekday lunchtimes!!! 

On the wish list – Line Thai Oriental on Great George Street I hear is doing some good things. Also May’s Thai Cafe in Hyde Park – loved her food when she traded at Kirkgate Market, but am yet to visit the cafe. 

Curry

Tharavadu

Tharavadu have won an army of fans and awards aplenty with their warm, friendly staff and stunning Keralan food. Always seems busy, lunch (bargain lunch deal on offer) or dinner.

One to revisit- The Corner Cafe on Burley Road.

Prashad and Bundobust fit into this category as well!!

Vegetarian / vegan

Prashad

Go to Prashad for superb Gujarati cooking where even the most stubborn carnivore has been known not to miss meat! Definitely worth a little trip to Drighlington!

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*Bundobust

This popular bar is just as well loved in its alternative guise as a street food venue, the two go hand in hand with their well crafted drinks menu and equally well thought food offerings. I ALWAYS find it really difficult not ordering a table full of food here, it’s a great spot any time of day, however week day lunch times they currently have a deal on – 2 dishes for £7.

Humpit

Found in the beautiful surroundings of the Corn Exchange, hummus and falafel are their thing and you won’t go wrong with their the falafel pitta or humpit classic! Run by really lovely people, great value for money and filling! Great spot for lunch in town.

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Central & South American

Cielo Blanco

The younger sibling of Neon Cactus found in Trinity. Think sharing boards, tostadas, burritos and enchiladas paired with cleansing juices and great cocktails. 

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Pinche Pinche

This suburban gem has served the folk of Chapel Allerton for years and has done so with tasty Mexican food. Great for catering to groups of varying sizes, their small plates are ideal for sharing, whilst their burritos, enchiladas or sharing platters can satisfy those with bigger appetites and larger groups!

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One to revisit – Neon Cactus, older sister restaurant of Cielo Blanco. For me, it has to be their feast menu (to share obviously) washed down with a caipirinha or two…!!! 

On the wish list – Casa Colombiana in the Grand Arcade. Tried the coffee but not the food, even though they’ve been on the list for a year!!

BBQ and Burgers

*Patty Smith’s

Arguably serve up the best burgers in Leeds, for me it’s a toss up between their ultra messy Dirty Burger (beef) or the spiced up Colonel Patty (chicken), on the fries side the double portion session fries are pretty awesome with smokey mayo and pancetta!! Find them at their home in Belgrave Music Hall or at festivals around the country.

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On my ‘wish list’ – Boss Burgers on Brudenell Grove,  I’ve heard from many as probably being the best takeaway burger joint in Leeds. Another one I’ve failed to visit and I can’t put my finger on why is Meat Liquor!!

Italian

*Zucco

Cracking Italian in suburban Meanwood, serving up plates to die for; including a mouth watering beef pappardelle and those deep fried zucchini which have semi-legendary status around these parts. Dead friendly staff and lip smackingly good cocktails too. 

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Livin’Italy 

This city centre bar/restaurant has a great selection Italian wines, friendly, knowledgeable staff and a small but great selection of Italian classics on the menu. My go to dishes are their humble lasagne and the porchetta accompanied by the odd Aperol Spritz!  

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Spanish

Bilbao Bar

At lunch and dinner they have a great tapas menu, while on Saturday’s their bar is fully laden with Basque-inspired pintxos, reminding me of time spent in San Sebastian. There are some very reasonable menu deals and you’ll be treated to dead friendly service.

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Pintura Basque Kitchen & Bar

Go here for a modern take on Basque cuisine, inspired by the tastes of northern Spain and their downstairs gin bar. Having visited a couple of times I enjoyed the food and liked the gin bar, but thought the service could be improved a lot. One for a treat, as always with tapas it’s easy to order a table full of food and end up with a hefty bill because it’s not the cheapest.   

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One to revisit – El Bareto, not been for years, but I hear it still delivers the goods! 

On the wish list – La Rambla on East Parade.

North African / Mediterranean

Cafe Moor

This fantastic stall at Kirkgate Market is a firm favourite with Leeds folk! It’s hard to hold yourself back and not to be tempted by a plethora of dips and salads whilst your order is prepared. Only open during market hours though and the popular chicken shawarma has been known to sell out way before closing time. A great spot to bag a bargain for lunch or takeaway tea.

 

Caravanserai

Cafe Moor’s second spot, to the side of the Corn Exchange, with seating upstairs and late opening hours, you get more of that authentic North African food and ambience.   

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Ephesus

This Rodley outpost brings the food of Turkey to Leeds with classics like Iskender kebab, kofte and Pide (Turkish version of pizza). Great food – it would be very easy to get full on the mezze options alone. 

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On my wish list – Darvish on Roundhay Road and Safran on Kirkgate.

Pizza

*Ecco Pizzeria

This Headingley spot has a large menu, so I stick to the classics made by their Neapolitan pizza makers Pizzaiolo, using ingredients imported from Italy. Go for the classic Margherita Ecco – you won’t regret it, but if you prefer something more extravagant no doubt you’ll find it here!

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*Dough Boys

A slice of Dough Boys is hard to resist when you step into the Belgrave Music Hall, especially when it’s half price a slice!!! The Sausage Fest and Baa No More are my personal faves, but every now and again one of their themed pizzas catches my eye. 

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Sela Bar

This subterranean bar has served up great pizzas for years, there’s a short menu but everything is quality. Great vibe in there, especially on Wednesday reggae night.

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Posh / special occasion

The Man Behind The Curtain

Food/art, art/food – Michael O’Hare’s pushing the boundaries and doing it in Leeds which can only be an amazing thing. A tasting menu that not only looks stunning but pushes and prods the senses to the max. Perfect for a special occasion. If the multi-course degustation menu is a little out of your price bracket, they also serve a more pocket friendly lunch Friday/Saturdays.

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Kendells Bistro

Award-winning rustic French cooking from a Yorkshireman, has been a popular choice for many years. Booking is normally essential to nab yourself a table here and the food doesn’t disappoint. My only gripe is that even though the staff are really lovely and friendly, service can be slow – possibly a consequence of its popularity.

British

*The Reliance

A long time favourite of mine – The Reliance is friendly, relaxed, understated and serves great food using seasonal ingredients treated simply all day long. With a thoughtful wine list and beers to match, it’s only got better over the years!

*Grub & Grog Shop

Sublime heartwarming food produced from locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, carefully prepared and beautifully cooked is what you’ll get here. Think charring, pickling, braising and a whole other manner of techniques used to create damn tasty plates!

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Supper clubs / pop-ups

The Noise of Strangers

A collaboration between a number of folk from Leeds’ food and drink scene, including chef Joe Hepworth of Hepworths Deli fame. If you’re lucky to get a ticket to one of their events you’ll be treated to an innovative menu served in an unusual dining space.

*The Swine That Dines

The Greedy Pig’s alter ego where thoughtful dishes are produced often using ingredients which are less commonly used. They may be better known for their love of pleasing the carnivores amongst us, however their vegetarian dishes are prepared and cooked with the equal aplomb. Their BYOB menu is perfect for sharing, all plates are £5 each so two/three people could treat themselves to the whole menu!!! 

Dinner at the Manor

Run by two food lovers who base their BYOB supper club events on well known cook books, it all takes place in a secret location which happens to be one of the homes of these two amateur cooks. You’ll be treated to a glorious multi-course experience and the chance to chat to fellow food lovers. Ticket prices can range depending on the event, but it’s always value for money in my opinion!! 

On the wish list – TrestleThe idea – 12 people sat around one table in an unusual location somewhere in Leeds. Gutted to have never made it to one of their events…. one day maybe….!

Afsaneh’s Persian Kitchen Supper Club for a Persian feast and Mario Olianas’s (from Gusto italiano) Cena Sarda Dining Club for suckling pig!!! 

Other

*Friends of Ham

Another award winner, but rightfully so with thoughtfully selected meat, cheese, wine and craft ales and ciders in beautifully designed surroundings……there’s not much else to say really! Lovely, knowledgable staff who guide even the most clueless (meaning me) person in the art of cheese etc!! You’ll find me sat at the Ham Bar probably with a glass of wine and a board of meat!!! 

Ira B’s

Found in the suburbs of Moortown, this Jewish deli/cafe is a very popular spot. Famed for its sandwiches, including their awesome chicken schnitzel with potato latkes and the Grobber, their version of salt beef on rye reminiscent of what you get in NYC’s Katz’s Deli!!

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One to revisit (over and over) – Belgrave Feast – go for brilliant street food from a whole range of different cuisines, all under one roof in the Belgrave Music Hall, oh I mustn’t forget Sarah’s Noisette Bakehouse with her next level baking creations and Layne’s coffee!!!

I’ll be interested to see how new additions turn out over the next year, such as Turtle Bay, Smokehouse (I wasn’t too impressed by their Sheffield restaurant), The Brunswick and WIno Bar and Merchants!!

Any recommendations for the list of where to try on my visits back would be great!!!

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!!!!

Caravanserai, Leeds

You may have read a couple of weeks ago when my lame attempt at trying out Caravanserai was thwarted by Friends of Ham and that tasty Raclette!! Well it was still on my to visit list, so I made it my mission to go, this time with no diversions!!!

As a member of the Grubstakers I was invited to visit Caravanserai one evening and get the whole experience. I’d seen from street level the transformation of the building over the last few months, from its previous guise as Kitschen to its new look as an Ottoman street food venue. Its name inspired by the Caravanserai which would serve passers-by, travellers who were need of food and watering whilst on their travels.

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Now many people know of Cafe Moor in Kirkgate Market and Moorish in Hyde Park, fallen in love with food like their chicken shawarma and falafel, well this is owner Kada’s newest venture. Found just off the main drag, around the side of the Corn Exchange, its hard to imagine being right in the middle of the city centre as it really seemed a world away. The downstairs kitchen can be seen from its street level hatch making it ideal for takeaways, but with the added extra of its upstairs private function room, it’s a great space for meetings. 

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We were treated to lots of refreshing mint tea, then brought a mini feast to work our way through –  their popular sandwiches, made with their delicious Lebanese bread, a falafel option for vegetarians and a delicious marinated lamb for meat lovers. There were dips, tabbouleh salad and that gorgeous Lebanese bread to mop it all up with. If that wasn’t enough a generous platter of chargrilled marinated chicken and other delights also came our way. All was spot on and mouthwateringly good!!

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It’s a great place to relax, to meet friends for business or pleasure and enjoy fantastic food that’s perfect for sharing! With a menu that more than caters for both meat lovers and vegetarians, it has the same charm as Cafe Moor in Kirkgate Market, but with the bonus of its upstairs dining area. It’s definitely well worth a visit to two!!

Caravanserai

1 Crown Street

Leeds

LS2 7DA

0113 234 1999

https://www.facebook.com/CaravanseraiLeeds?fref=ts

Humpit, Leeds

A few months ago I’d read that a new hummus bar aptly named Humpit had opened in the Corn Exchange. With a recommendation from Andrew Critchett of Fish& fame, it would’ve been foolish of me to not want to seek this place out. But the usual stuff like work and life got in the way, a couple of months passed before I visited to find they’d shut up shop because they’d sold out!! Surely a good sign though? I’d also read some glowing reviews singing its praises which added to my need to get a fix of the good stuff as soon as possible!! 

Fast forward to mid-December, Belgrave Music Hall’s Xmas Feast was on and Humpit were on the roster to trade that weekend. But having over-faced myself on food from other vendors, yeah, I know there’s no surprise there, I’d planned to go for lunch the following week instead.

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Humpit is found on the ground floor of the stunning Corn Exchange, as the building is so beautiful I had a customary wander around both levels to take in the general splendour. It’s a must for me whenever I wander in for a nosey. What was fantastic was seeing all the spaces occupied by independent businesses, maybe the first time I can remember this happening in years!!

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Opened for just three months, the place has quickly become a hot spot and has many regulars. Their menu has three core elements – hummus, pita and falafel, a simple concept which they seemed to have got down to a tee! Served in different combinations with different toppings. I went for the Humpit Classic – a bowl of hummus, with whole chickpeas, parsley, olive, paprika and a pita on the side and a glass of freshly made lemonade.

There’s the choice of eating inside or outside the shop, as they have a few outside tables, but I chose to stay in so I could take in the atmosphere of the interior a little more.

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Being 100% vegetarian and vegan, this was another meal where I found myself not missing meat in the slightest!! Also I think for the price it’s a bargain, the portions are generous, extremely satisfying and filling.

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You won’t get one of those solid, dry pita breads you get at the supermarket!! Without the facilities and space to make their own (maybe in the future?!), they took time to find a bakery to make them to their specific requirements resulting in a light and fluffy pita. Served warm it was perfect for carrying the hummus and the additional toppings.

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The Humpit Classic

In my limited experience of hummus eating, I think it’s some of the best hummus I’ve ever eaten, so smooth and creamy. Served warm, with a drizzle of olive oil it was delicious. I opted for a combination of three toppings – falafel, pine nuts and tahina, spicy salsa and finally mushrooms and onions. They all worked so well together! The salsa had a gentle kick, whole chickpeas were warm and comforting, then onions and mushrooms provided a woodiness and sweetness. Hold on, I mustn’t forget the falafel, with it’s golden brown crust, they were fantastic. I’m not normally the biggest falafel fan, probably because I’ve only ever eaten those awful rock hard bullets, usually I find them dry as a bone and fairly tasteless. These were the antithesis to those aforementioned falafel, I could see now that it’s no surprise their falafel in pita is such a popular seller! Made with lots of coriander and parsley, inside the falafel had a lovely greenness to them and great on flavour too.

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The additional coriander and chilli paste gave another facet, livening it up with delicate heat and distinctive flavour. It was so yummy I couldn’t help dipping my fingers back in the bowl to get more after I’d finished my hummus bowl! All of this was washed down with lemonade that had tonnes of freshness and acidity, complementing the hummus by cutting through the richness and acting as a bit of a palate cleanser.

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Being 100% vegetarian and vegan, this was another meal where I didn’t miss meat in the slightest!! Also I think for the price it’s a bargain, the portions are generous, extremely satisfying and filling.

While I was there, a steady stream of customers came and either filled up their tables, going in a similar direction to me with the Humpit classic, or happily ordered take-out with falafel in pita, which at £3.50 sounds like a bargain. 

I’d definitely recommend Humpit, one to try any time, but even more so now that our pockets a little emptier after the festive season!!! 

Food: short, simple menu with three core elements which work sold at very reasonable prices! My lunch was filling and tasty!

Service: lovely, friendly, helpful and informative. Waiting time is a matter of minutes. 

Atmosphere: With a steady stream of customers visiting the place, there’s a good, busy feel to the Humpit. The staff are chatty and really friendly too. As the shop surrounds the main space of the Corn Exchange it benefits from the atmosphere that the rest of the building provides.

Disclaimer: my meal would have cost £7.50, but at the end of my lunch when I tried to pay it was refused and given complimentary, even when I said ‘no’. That being said as always my opinions are 100% honest, and I wouldn’t bother saying I loved it unless I really did!!

Humpit

Corn Exchange

Call Lane

Leeds

LS1 7BR

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Humpit-The-Hummus-Pita-Bar/1539664526254531

Humpit Hummus & Pita Bar on Urbanspoon