Tag Archives: Friends of Ham

Friends of Ham, Leeds

Ah, I love Friends of Ham and I know I’m one of MANY! A lot’s been said about the place since opening in a once less favourable part of town. But with FoH and the irrepressible Laynes Espresso, it’s taken time, but this end of the city centre has become an area where independents want to set up shop, just look at Bundobust and Tharavadu around the corner! The place was always too popular for its square footage, so I whooped with joy (along with many others I suspect) when they knocked down the wall to next doors Cash Store and opened a few weeks later, looking absolutely stunning!

I’m ashamed to say my last visit was almost six months ago though, August if memory serves me right, a few months before the renovations. A mate and I popped in for lunch, got greedy, ordered three dishes – one of their sharing boards, bruschetta and a salad. A couple of hours later of grazing on wonderful produce and equally good beverages we left completely spent! But since admiring them from street level on a regular basis, usually when dropping into Laynes, I’d hadn’t managed to pop in.

For a catch up with a friend last Wednesday, I suggested starting off in FoH, then I wanted to try out Cafe Moors new takeaway Caravanserai. You know what they say about all the best laid plans….we soon became seduced by our surroundings – all that meat and cheese, oh my! By 7pm it’d become pretty full, as I can imagine it does most evenings it’s that popular, so we took up a couple of free seats at the Ham Bar. It was such a good move!!

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It’s well known that FoH’s drinks list holds it own against their carefully sourced food menu, so I mustn’t forget to mention their wine. I’m no wine connoisseur, but our Pinot Noir definitely helped reaffirm my new found love of the grape variety, after having some duds in the past, not from FoH I may add though (£19)!

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As I mentioned earlier, the plan was to have a drink, possibly a snack, then move on for a feed. But their menu is so enticing, it’s too tempting to have a nosey and before you know it you set your sights on something; in my case the Nduja which I adore, and my friend the bruschetta. 

It’s pretty difficult to talk about food sometimes, because when an experience is so good I just want to eat it all over again rather than write about it! Being a visual person, photos always make me reminisce, bringing back those same feelings and sensations. Quick to give my friend a heads up of the portion sizes, especially after I’d overfaced myself in the past, it was her turn to see what I meant when our order was brought over. The bruschetta (£7) was huge with bread generously draped in glorious Jabugo Iberico ham, thinly sliced and topped with olive tapenade and cherry tomatoes.

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If that wasn’t good enough, then next up was the Nduja (£6.50). I’m a massive fan of this spicy Calabrian sausage,  served on warm lightly toasted bread, it was a real shame to share it, because secretly I wanted it all for myself!! Without a doubt it won a new admirer in my friend; there was first lust after telling her it was a spreadable sausage, which almost immediately turned into love after the first bite. 

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Apart from the food and drink (which is a given), one of the things I really love about FoH has to be the staff. They’re obviously busy doing their job, but also more than happy to chat about their work and the produce whilst we sat there. It made us both a little, no I tell a lie, very jealous, to the point where we half joked about jacking in teaching to work behind the counter, but I suppose for now living vicariously through them would have to suffice. Another plus point of our advantageous position being sat at the bar – every now and again we were given the odd little taster – firstly spicy chorizo, then a Lancashire and finally a Comte cheese, simply the best seat in the house!!

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In the background wafts of smells from melting cheese came over us and I looked across to see Raclette being prepared…..ok, thoughts of going to Caravanserai were now put on the back burner, as we both knew we had to stay for Raclette!! I was transfixed watching LOTS of melted Ogleshield being scraped off onto potatoes and topped with cornichons, the added extra of meat was also too much to bare and slices of Serrano ham was the result (£10, £6.50 without meat).

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A few people had ordered it before us, but the wait was completely and utterly worth it!!! Such a WINNER of a dish, definitely a comfort food dish which for me is best when shared. Washed down with a sneaky carafe of the same Pinot Noir we’d been enjoying all evening.

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So there you have it – I ADORE Friends of Ham, it ticks all the boxes for me. I really need to get my act together and not leave my next visit so long, hopefully I’ll see you in there? I’ll be sat at the Ham bar. 

Friends of Ham

4 New Station St
Leeds
West Yorkshire
LS1 5DL
0113 242 0275

Friends of Ham on Urbanspoon

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Leeds lunch spots?

Being on summer holidays I’ve enjoyed catching up with mates and going on lunch dates, who wouldn’t eh? Us Leeds folk are pretty spoilt for choice when it comes to great lunch options, but the last few weeks I’ve been to a few spots both new and not so new. Here’s a round-up:

1. Veeno, new to Leeds, this Italian cafe bar opened a few weeks ago. Originally from Manchester, they’ve opened on Duncan Street and could easily be missed, we nearly walked straight passed ourselves, but were lured closer when a tray of tasters caught my eye!

They have a cheeky lunch offering of a piadine or panini with a soft drink or glass of house wine, for just £4.90. Being in a wine bar, it would’ve been rude not to have a glass of wine with our food, choosing their house red. Served at room temperature it was full of fruit, whilst also being very quaffable. 

From the menu I picked the Rimini piadine, whilst my partner in crime chose the Milano panini, being a big bresaola fan. They took a little while to arrive to our table, but were served piping hot. My piadine made with a good Italian flat bread was filled with a salty Parma ham and Primosale cheese, an Italian sheep milk cheese which melted well. It was enjoyable, but did get very intense with the salty ham. Comments from the opposite side of the table were favourable – decent foccacia bread, a generous amount of well flavoured beef and a good slice of Parmigiano providing the seasoning.

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2. Rolands on Call Lane. This bar opened a few months ago and recently introduced the Pizza Fritta to Leeds, something I’d seen in a Jamie Oliver cookbook, but not sold in Leeds I reckon. Have you seen or tried one before? Their Pizza Fritta are advertised as ‘fresh dough bases, lightly fried, topped with an original recipe tomato sauce, smoked scamorza cheese and fresh herbs’. Sounded great to me and with added pancetta, even better! Cooked to order, the base was crisp, not greasy as might be anticipated considering it is fried. The topping is kept uncomplicated, but has plenty of flavour and isn’t scrimped on. Aimed as a decent snack rather than a sizeable lunch, we really enjoyed it. Very tasty and moreish, I could’ve eaten another quite easily! A lunchtime snack and a leisurely drink (selected drinks) for £5, great on the pocket too!

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3. Friends of Ham, anyone who’s anyone has heard of and loved this place, even non-meat eaters love it too. Don’t believe me? Have a read of Lisa Farrell’s review on her wonderful blog Where’s Lisa to find out for yourself. 

These guys brought out a lunch menu a few months ago, but this was my first chance to try it out. As well as their usual menu which has all their regular delights of  meat, cheese and snacks, the lunch menu has a selection of dishes priced at £4.50 – £7, (bread – £1.50, side salad £2.50). I’d gone with a mate who’d happily admit he loves food and I think we got a bit giddy and overordered. Choosing a Best of British Meat Plate (£13), Jabugo bruschetta (£7) and Beetroot, goats cheese and watercress salad (£5.50), what do you reckon?!

Both lunch menu dishes were delicious and had great quality produce on show. A crumbly, subtle cheese and earthy beetroot on one side then rich Jabugo Iberian ham on the other. The meat platter was generous in size, especially in combination with the other dishes. With three types of meat we had plenty to go at – smoked mutton, chilli & black pepper salami and Bath chaps. Flavour wise all were pretty tasty, but I preferred the chilli & black pepper salami out of the three, just because I like the spice and heat. All washed down with a couple of ciders, we were well and truly stuffed to the bursting! On this occasion we spent more than we should have, basically down to greediness, but isn’t hindsight such a wonderful thing?!

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Have you got any good recommendations for a decent lunch, Leeds city centre or the suburbs? I’d love to know your thoughts.

Grubstakers Launch @ Salvo’s

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

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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.

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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. 

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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. 

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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!

http://foodanddrinkleeds.co.uk/grubstakers/

A Carnivore’s delight @ Friends of Ham!!

Been looking forward to a friday night catch up with the best mate…Karaoke and yummy food is always a good mix!!! Friends of Ham was on the agenda and can be found on Station Road, near another Leeds favourite Layne’s Espresso. I love the signage that hangs outside and it speaks for itself I think.

Cool signage!!!
Cool signage!!!

This place has become deservedly very popular with city workers, dwellers and foodies, I was hoping it wasn’t too busy when we arrived. Their philosophy is to serve great craft beers and wines with top quality charcuterie, the great thing about the people here is everything on their menu has been selected on purpose because of the quality and flavour of the produce. What’s also really good is they regularly change the products on offer and are also on the look out for trying new things.

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Their menu is broken down into charcuterie, which include the fabulous Iberica Bellota, considered the finest of Iberico hams, Tuscan salamis and Salchichón De Vic, salami-style pork sausage from Catalunya. Cheeses to suit non-vegetarians and vegetarians alike with delights such as Yellison Goat’s cheese from Skipton, N Yorks and a Cornish Yarg, Wild Garlic Leaf or Nettles, a moist cheese from the Duchy of Cornwall’s estate. For snacks they offer olives, pickled chills and snacking salami to name just a few. They also have specials, e.g. the Spanish board and sherry flights too for those who fancy a little tipple to go with their Iberico ham.

We managed to sit downstairs which is a quirky mix of comfy sofas, long wooden chunky tables, stools, benches and farmhouse-style dining chairs. I didn’t want us to lose our seats so I used their free Wifi to peruse their menu online.

Downstairs with the shuffle board game for entertainment
Downstairs with the shuffle board game for entertainment

We eyed up the Leeds Charcuterie board, with extra Jabugo Ibérico (Spanish pata negra) and their wine special Borsao Rosado, a fruity rose from Campo de Borja in Spain. Not normally a rose drinker but I thought with the hams ranging from mild to more robust in flavour this would do nicely.

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Borsao Rosado with fab wine cooler

It didn’t take long for the platters of meat to arrive, oh my to a carnivore they looked beautiful!!! Love it when the ham is sliced thinly and layed out so it can be admired in all of its glory, waiting to be devoured!! Our man explained the order of the hams on the boards and we got started!

Leeds charcuterie board - Coppa, Fennel Salami, Chilli and Black Pepper Salami with bread and cornichons
Leeds charcuterie board – Coppa, Fennel Salami, Chilli and Black Pepper Salami with bread and cornichons
Jabugo Ibérico - Spanish Pata Negra ham
Jabugo Ibérico
– Spanish Pata Negra ham

The Chilli and Black Pepper salami was first, it tasted fab and I loved the peppery heat! Next was a very delicate Fennel Salami with a nice hint of fennel, and finally the Coppa had a lovely mild meaty flavour. Nothing against these 3 yummy delights but our last treat was our favourite, the Jabugo Ibérico, I had to order this extra to the charcuterie board after falling in love with it on a recent visit to Portugal. It comes from Black Iberian pigs where they roam outside, eating acorns. The flavour was amazing, bursting with its natural oils and melt in the mouth layers of fat. We both were trying not to eat really quickly and look like we were scavengers it was so tasty!! Perfectly sliced too which is an absolute must!! The accompaniment of bread and cornichons were good, in particular the cornichons were lovely, slightly crunchy and with just the right acidity.

In matters other than the food there’s always a great atmosphere here. Even on a Friday evening it’s not too loud, so you can put the world to rights if you choose too. The total bill was £33 for 2 people! A great price for high quality produce in a little gem of a place. If you haven’t been yet you’re really missing out!!

I’d give it a 9/10 on all fronts.

4 New Station Street
Leeds
LS1 5DL
0113 242 0275
www.friendsofham.com