Saturday 31 July 2010

Food Outing - Pannier Market, Granary Wharf, Leeds

Granary Wharf is a lovely area on the waterfront at the back of Leeds Rail Station. Every last Saturday of the month, it plays host to a pannier market with a variety of traders selling homemade produce both edible and/or decorative.
Me and the Other Half decided to have a wander down to check out what was happening and were pleasantly surprised by the variety of stalls and the quality of products available.
We didn't stay for long but picked up some foodie treats such as fresh olives, cheeses from the Calderdale Cheese Company and a bottle of dairy fresh milk (swiped from the cow that morning according to the friendly seller) which was lovely and creamy. We also sampled some homemade Turkish delight style sweets made with rose water which were lovely. It is perhaps a good thing that we ran out of money and there was no near cashpoint or many more would have been spent. Check out the next one on the 28th August, See you there.

*apologies for lack of market pictures, phone died so I have pinched an image from Google of Granary Wharf.

Thursday 29 July 2010

Head of Steam, Huddersfield

The Head of Steam is part of a small chain of pubs with a couple of locations around the country including Huddersfield, Liverpool and the North East. The Huddersfield Pub is located next to Huddersfield Train Station on St George's Square. If you are approaching the station it is to the left, if you are getting off a train it is along Platform 1 just before Platform 2.
The pub itself is split into four. The backrooms are for dining and the front rooms are mainly for drinking but food can be eaten there. The pubs interior consists of old produce signs and railway memorabilia which adds superbly to the character of the place, in one of the rooms there is also some very comfy leather sofas which are perfect for lounging with a pint whilst waiting for a train.
The pub is a fixture on the Huddersfield ale scene with about 8 rotating beers and a couple of ciders available. The beer prices have gotten expensive recently with some beers nudging £3 a pint which I think is quite expensive for a West Yorkshire pub and considering the other Huddersfield Rail Station pub, The King's Head, possesses an average beer price of about £2.20. Beer prices aside, they are kept in excellent condition and I have yet to have a bad pint in there.
The food available in the Head of Steam is very very good for pub grub, all food is homemade with fresh local ingredients and cooked to order, (if you are waiting for a train, tell them and they will try to speed your order up for you).
On a recent visit, me and friend of mine decided to pop in to get a beer and some food, we each ordered the 'Steam Special Burger' which consisted of a double burger, bacon, cheese, large flat mushroom, onion rings, salad and homemade chunky chips for a grand total of £6.45 each.

As you can see from the picture it was huge. the burger was very juicy and the chips were perfectly cooked, crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. It was very good value for money. The rest of the menu is standard pub fare (I recommend the steak and ale pie as well, delcious)
It is well worth a stop over in Huddersfield or to chill out whilst waiting for a train, or just for a drink or a meal in a very friendly pub.

Tuesday 27 July 2010

Brewery Visit - Jennings Brewery, Cockermouth

Anyone who visits Cumbria, however briefly will have noticed the logo of the Jennings brewery.
Jennings, being the largest brewer in Cumbria practically owns the county. It is tied to 127 pubs county-wide.
Jennings was founded in 1828 by John Jennings in the village of Lorton in 1847 the brewery moved to its present home the Castle hill Brewery in Cockermouth due to the location of a pure water well which the brewery still obtains all its water from to this day.
In 2005 the Brewery was purchased by the Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries, now known as Marstons. this was greatly opposed but as actually been a very good thing with £250.000 investment in the brewery and the brewery still being allowed independence to carry on as normal.
In 2009, the brewery alongside the rest of Cockermouth was ruined or destroyed by the floods when the river broke its banks flooding the town. Our tour guide stated that the water was not only coming through the doors and windows but through the actual walls themselves, the flood line reached about 5 feet inside the brewery. Brewing switched to the Midlands during the recovery but now the brewery is fully refurbished and back in full production.
The tour was a very informative trip showing each part of the brewing process, it lasted a very quick hour and was followed by a tasting session of 3 halves of Jennings beers, *go with a none drinker and you can have their halves as well*. It costs only £6 for the tour and samples and is a very cheap and interesting way to spend a couple of hours. The beers are superb but don't take my word for it as I'm a biased Cumbrian, go try them yourself and check out this historic brewery.

Beers Sampled
Bitter 3.5% - Dark Nutty Bitter - Delicous - My Personal Favourite
Cocker Hoop 4.6% - Very Tasty Golden Beer
Sneck Lifter 5.1% - Dark and Rich, Strongest Jennings Beer
Dark Mild 3.1% - Very rare to find this due to decline in Mild popularity
Honey Bole 4.0% - Stunning honey beer

Friday 23 July 2010

Food Exploit - Flowerpot Bread

Having not made bread for many a year, I thought it was about time I made some. This time I fancied doing something a bit different so I picked up some ceramic flowerpots from town (30p each, bargain)to use instead of a loaf tin.

The recipe:
500g Strong Bread Flour
1 Sachet of Fast Action Dry Yeast
55ml of Olive oil
275ml warm water
15g Sugar
10g Salt
1 Tbsp rosemary (if using fresh then use more)
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
The herb measurements are a guide use as much or as little as you like or use completely different ones.

Mix all the dry ingredients together and make a well in the middle. Pour in the oil and water and bring together with your hands until the bowl is clean and you are left with a ball of dough.
Take the dough out and place on floured surface and knead for 10ish minutes until the dough is smooth and a bit like elastic.
Put it back in the bowl and leave for an hour or so in a warm place with a covering.
once risen, take out and knead again for 5 minutes. leave in the bowl for another half an hour.
Line your pots, make sure they are completely covered or the pot is very greasy or it will stick to the sides and be nearly impossible to remove. Roll the Dough into a ball and place in the pot.
Bake in a preheated oven (220C) for 30- 40 minutes. Remove from the pot and allow to cool.

Serve with Soup, Jam or anything else you fancy.


Tuesday 20 July 2010

Food Exploit - Buttermilk Scones

A good scone is a perfect companion to a cup of tea. It does have to be a freshly baked homemade scone, you can keep your cheap supermarket pale imitations. Having nothing much better to do I decided to make some scones using a recipe borrowed with thanks from the Bakelady, founder of Leeds's only Underground Tea Room of which I will be the happy attendee on the 9th of October.

Check out her lovely blog at: for more information and recipes including the one below.

The recipe is:
225g Self Raising Flour
50g Caster Sugar
50g Butter
1 Tsp Baking Powder
7 Tbsp Buttermilk

The original recipe is for plain scones but I quite like fruit scones so I added 50g of dried mixed fruit but this is optional.

Mix Flour, Baking Powder, Sugar in a bowl and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. (upon reaching breadcrumb stage I added the mixed fruit which I had soaked in warm water for about an hour). Add the Buttermilk and combine the ingredients, the mixture should be a bit sticky. Roll out, cut into shape and place on a greased baking tray, brush with milk and place in a preheated oven (180 C) for 20 Minutes or until golden brown.
Serve with whatever you want: cream, jam etc

The scones were delicious, try them yourself and thanks again to Bakelady for the recipe.

Monday 19 July 2010

La Bottega Milanese, Leeds

Ah coffee, coffee, coffee, what a fine beverage. there is a reason that 7 million ish tons of the stuff is produced annually.
2 years previously to this post I was a simple instant coffee drinker, then I obtained a job at a local catering firm to see me through my final years of university. this gave me constant daily exposure to high quality filter and espresso coffee and I haven't looked back since.
Most people that know me know I love really good coffee and like supporting local businesses, this was reinforced recently by a forced visit (new city, interview in 40 minutes, needed caffeine) to a large chain coffee place whose name i will not dignify by mentioning in this blog (American, green logo, I'll say no more). I received a weak dire expensive latte and a wish that I hadn't bothered.
As a regular visitor to Leeds, a few months ago I discovered a little coffee place on The Calls called La Bottega Milanese which met both these criteria. It is an espresso bar run by a guy called Alex and his very friendly team of baristas, that specialises in decent Italian coffee at excellent prices (£1 for an espresso!!), they also have an happy hour 10 - 11am where coffees are the bargain price of a £1.
The coffee they serve is a beautiful Italian own blend. Each coffee is made carefully and properly and not rushed like in some places. The lattes are perfectly blended and served at drinking temperature and not scorching hot which is how good coffee should be served. The coffee they serve is also available to take home in ground and bean form for the very reasonable price of £3.95. I picked up a bag on my last visit and cannot wait to have my first brew.
They also served a range of freshly made panini's made with proper Italian ingredients and a mouthwatering selection of cake including muffins and cheesecake. I have yet to sample the food delights available so I cannot comment further but I hear good things from those who have.

*Update 3/9/10* i recently took advantage of an offer for a regular coffee and a lasagne for the bargain price of £5, the lasagne was rich, meaty and very morish it was served with a little side salad of salad greens and tomatoes with an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. excellent food at a superb price.

The only downside I can think of for this place is that it is a little bit out of the centre for most people to pick up a coffee but for coffee this good it's more than worth it.
If you are in Leeds, fancy a genuine Italian coffee from people who care what they are serving then head to The Calls and hunt this place out, Go Go Goooooo
The Calls,

La Bottega Milanese on Urbanspoon

Sunday 18 July 2010

The Star Inn Summer Beer Festival, Huddersfield

Another personal favourite pub of mine in Huddersfield is the Star Inn at Folly Hall. The Star is a traditional styled pub, welcoming atmosphere, wooden beams, log fire and an interesting collection of old and new beer posters framed on the walls. The pub usually as about 9 rotating guest ales on at anyone time each in superbly kept condition. The pub is free from the current infestation of good pubs which consist of jukeboxes, game machines and televisions leaving just the noise of fellow drinkers and the occasional barking from Folly the pub dog which adds to the charm of the place.
A friend of mine who accompanied me on a recent visit made an obscure but strangely appropriate comment whilst looking at the ceiling lights that had several blown bulbs, he stated that he liked the fact that they hadn't been replaced because you can tell that the pub concentrates more on its beer than the features and fittings, I kind of agree with him.

4 times a year, the Star hosts its own beer festival. This time around it was it's summer (obviously) beer festival held in its own marquee at the back of the pub.
The festival runs for 5 days (Wed till Sunday) although there usually isn't much left on the Sunday. The festival hosts 46 beers in the marquee and 9 changing beers in the actual pub. Food is available alongside local produce such as cakes, honey, cheese and more beer in bottle form which I unfortunately didn't get to try due to the fact I had spent all my money on beer tokens for the festival.

Beer of festival went to local brewer Mallinsons with Blue Sky Dreaming, 3.7%. I sampled this on Saturday and found it to be a very tasty, easy drinking, hoppy beer. It wasn't however my personal favourite.
My beer of the festival would be a tie between Honey Blonde 4.5% from the Liverpool Organic Brewery, a delicious golden honey beer and Kitty Wilkinson 4.5% again from the Liverpool Organic Brewery, a very rich vanilla and chocolate porter both of these were in my opinion stunning beers.
All in all after several visits I can conclude that Sam and the team at the Star have again provided an excellent festival, roll on autumn for the next one.

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Aromas Huddersfield

Aromas is a little cafe next to the Lawrence Batley Theatre on Queens Street Huddersfield. It serves a selection of coffees and loose leaf teas alongside simple cafe fare such as bagels, freshly made Panini’s and sandwiches and jacket potatoes. The cafe itself is light and airy with a combination of standard wooden tables and chairs alongside very comfy sofas, in the summer the courtyard of the theatre next door is shared with the cafe allowing customers to eat outside or enjoy one of their very nice fresh fruit smoothies.
On my recent visit I visited with a friend of mine for coffee and a light snack, he ordered a Cajun Chicken Panini and I ordered a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel. We ordered coffees alongside. The coffee supplier to Aromas is the local Coopers Coffee, which in my opinion is one of the best around. My large latte was delicious, smooth, at the right temperature and a perfect balance between the strength of the coffee and the amount of milk. My friend decided to sample one of their small individual French press coffees, a java blend from Coopers, which he described as ‘Glorious’. Each coffee came with a little mint which adds a nice touch which you don’t find in chain coffee stores. The service was friendly and fairly speedy, my bagel was filled with plenty of smoked salmon and was nicely toasted. The Panini was also stuffed with plenty of filling and came with a side salad. The bill came to around £10 for the two of us, excellent value and some of the best coffee in Huddersfield.

Tuesday 6 July 2010

The Grove Inn, Huddersfield

During my time living in Huddersfield over the past four years, i have had the pleasure of counting some very fine pubs as my locals.
The Grove Inn appeared towards the end of my first year of ale drinking in Huddersfield. The building itself was originally a pub that was run into the ground by Enterprise inns (not suprisingly) and was
derelict until a local landlord, Ian Hayes, bought the place and turned into the ale oasis it is now. The pub itself is based at the top of the ring road, just a short walk away from the Bus and Train Stations.

The Grove offers a vast selection of 18 hand pulled cask ales on constant rotation, an absence of 2 – 3 days generally ensures a brand new selection on returning. Alongside the great selection of ales there are several hand pulled ciders and perrys, 10 genuine draught world beers and a staggering selection of over 200 British and European Bottled Beers. If that wasn’t enough to tempt you to visiting, the selection of over 50 Single Malt Whisky’s including Scottish, Irish, Japanese Welsh and even the first bottles from England’s newest and only Distillery the St George Distillery(which I had the great pleasure of sampling at a recent tasting night), might just clinch it.

The pub has also just recently won its first award as Huddersfield CAMRA’s Pub of the Season for Spring 2010. So if you have a spare hour or two to pass in Huddersfield you won’t go far wrong with this place.

Welcome to Exploits of a Food Nut

hello there.

Welcome to my food and drink blog. In this blog I plan to ramble on about places I visit to sample their culinary delights, their fine beverages or even both at the same time.

I am a self confessed food nut and enjoy food and everything to do with food also I enjoy fine ales and whisky and will be writing about visits to restaurants and pubs that i think are worth mentioning and visiting(or not as the case maybe). I am a recent Graduate of the University of Huddersfield with a Bachelors degree in Food Science and Nutrition and based in West Yorkshire so most of my post will be around this area.

well thats enough about me, enjoy the blog