For any avid followers of thegooddr blog – it has now moved and been re-invented as OkayAlison. Please follow this link to keep reading! Thanks!
For any avid followers of thegooddr blog – it has now moved and been re-invented as OkayAlison. Please follow this link to keep reading! Thanks!
I was lucky enough to come across a beautiful upcycled cake stand at the ’1000 volts of vintage’ fair this weekend in Manchester. It’s once a month in the basement of the Bay Horse pub in the Northern Quarter, where you can browse the array of vintage finds whilst listening to soul & chill out music from the DJ. I was keen to use my new cake stand today when a friend came over for a cup of tea, and needed some homemade dainty treats to offer. I wanted to make fondant fancies, but didn’t have a lot of time to spare, so decided on a tried & tested biscuit recipe.
It’s Nigella’s butter biscuit recipe that you can find in her Domestic Goddess book. The recipe is online courtesy of the Food Network – although it is half the quantities that are in the book, it will still make about 20 biscuits. The dough is quite soft and gooey, so you need to allow time to refridgerate it before rolling it out. For a touch of vintage I used some cool butterfly cutters like these from DotComGiftshop, and pleasingly the biscuits held their shape whilst baking. With inexpensive ingredients and minimal effort I had some tasty treats fitting to serve on my lovely cakestand.
We were in Manchester this weekend and whilst having a stroll around the Northern Quarter, came across this fabulous vintage tea room called Sugar Junction. I have been feeling quite uninspired recently by what there is on offer in Leeds to fit into this market, but this place is a proper gem. I wonder if they would consider opening something similar here?
You could almost be forgiven for walking straight past the cool green exterior of this place, except for noticing the handful of tea cups suspended from the ceiling glinting in the window. When you walk in the door, you are not overfaced by this being a vintage tea room either (which my husband was very happy about). It’s a subtle melange of 1960s sitting room and modern warehouse conversion. It manages to be cosy but airy, balancing exposed bricks with wallpaper and standard lamps, and softening high ceilings with chandelliers. There is an impressive array of cake on display, and staff look comfy in their own vintage style.
Importantly I need to mention that there are 20 types of tea available here – some I hadn’t ever seen on a menu before, like ‘Wendy’ and ‘Dancing Lover’s Bloom’. Most were leaf teas, served in vintage tea pots with strainers, which somehow makes it about the ‘ceremony’ of drinking tea, and feels quite decadent. I had a lovely China Congou peach tea, which was light and refreshing.
Their lunch menu is short and sweet, mostly sandwiches, pate and soup. Tom enjoyed the tequilla and cranberry pate, and I had a fabulous honey roast ham sandwich. Both were very generous portions, and in fact we spotted people sharing a sandwich in order to still have room for cake! We’ll remember that for next time. It was all home made and beautifully presented on vintage mismatched crockery.
Moving on to the cake – yes they had beautiful looking loaf cakes and the like, but really it was all about the scones. They were fruity and light and came with a silver and glass stand containing the clotted cream and strawberry jam which had dainty teaspoons suspended from the handle… (see photo to see what I mean.) This touch of presentation was very pleasing and really made it a talking point.
The atmosphere was pretty relaxed, and we commented on it feeling like a proper ‘Sunday’ thing to do as we whiled away a good hour there. It was comfy, there was a bookshelf of books you could borrow to read and it didn’t break the bank at about £8 a head for lunch, tea and cake. Excellent.
We are always on the look out for somewhere good for a Saturday morning breakfast in Leeds. I heard about the Greedy Pig from reading the Leedsgrub review of lunch there. It sounded good, and when I saw on their website that they do breakfast, we thought we had to give it a try.
It’s a little way out of the city centre, up near Reliance on North Street. From the outside you could expect it to be a bit of a greasy spoon – but it certainly isn’t. It’s clean and fresh inside with a modest number of tables from where you can both keep a nosy eye on the kitchen and if you are like my daughter, count the buses going past through the window!
The focus of the breakfast menu is the ‘Greedy Pig Breakfast’ which comprises sausage, bacon, egg, tomato, mushrooms, hash brown, beans and toast. There are also various butties and you can order the breakfast items individually for mere pennies which is useful if you have a toddler who is a fan of sausages and toast. I can’t emphasize enough the quality of this breakfast – the local meat, the sauteed field mushrooms – tasty and not at all greasy.
The service is friendly, there are papers to read and the total cost for 2 breakfasts, 2 fairtrade coffees and toast and sausage for Millie was under £8. Bargain. It does lack things such as toilets and high chairs, but it’s not that sort of place and as long as you know that you won’t be disappointed. Overall, it is a good spot for a good quality family friendly breakfast in Leeds, and somewhere we’ll certainly be going back to.
On a rare child free day off I decided to pay a visit to Anthony’s Patisserie in the Victoria Quarter. It is the sort of place that I hold in reserve for special treats when ogling the cake cabinet is at least half the fun, and can only be done without a restless toddler in tow. I still haven’t made up my mind about Anthony’s – having had both amazing and disappointing cake from them in the past. But it always looks inviting and having always gone to the one in the Corn Exchange, I thought I would try the VQ version.
First of all, you cannot deny that the location is impressive. The dappled light coming through the beautiful stained glass ceiling and the sound of the fountain in the arcade is conducive to a relaxing time. I really enjoyed spending time reading my book sitting at my marble table on my luxurious leather chair with half an eye on the people milling about in the arcade.
Of course I eyed up the cakes before sitting down and had decided which cupcake I liked the look of – caramel. It was slightly amusing that the waitress didn’t mention it in her list of flavours reeled off from her note pad – but I did not give up on it so easily. The cake in question had a beautiful golden buttercream topping adorned with pieces of a sort of cross between chocolate covered honeycomb and cinder toffee. The cake underneath was light and moist and was just about measure for its volume of sweet topping. (My previous criticisms have been the cake being too dry or the topping overly sweet..)
I washed it down with a cappuccino, which was very decent and very large and so allowed me to sit for as long as I did without feeling pressured to vacate my table. The total cost was under £5 and I was happy with that. It did strike me that I was one of only about 4 customers there, and while I got good service I don’t know what it would be like when it was busy. So overall, it’s a nice spot for grown up coffee & cake in the city centre, but not close to rivaling Sunshine Bakery for my favourite cake in Leeds.
Watch out Chapel Allerton ‘cos there’s a new bird in town – The Hummingbird Kitchen opened its doors last week in the former Angel’s Share premises. The concept is a classy restaurant and bar with a strong focus on ‘best of British’ food with a wealth of local Yorkshire suppliers including Swillington Farm and the Ginger Pig. The chef was formerly of Room in Leeds, and so I was excited to see whether there would be some inspiration taken from the Room concept of a modern twist on staple dishes.
When we arrived I was pleased to see that the decor is a bit more upmarket than the old Angel’s Share. You can’t fail to notice the fantastic covered outdoor area with bright coloured booths and cushioned benches. Inside there’s a bright and airy bar on the ground floor, with two floors of restaurant above. It’s decked out in bold printed wallpaper, funky lampshades, modern art and a striking turquoise tiled bar not to mention good quality table settings (the steak knifes were particularly hefty, in a good way!)
We were greeted and shown to a table on the 1st floor next to the bar, with a view of the kitchen and over the bar below – perfect people watching territory. Our host spent some time explaining the concept and the menu to us, which was fantastic service and called the barman over to recommend some cocktails to us. I had a beautiful rhubarb daiquiri and Tom had an ‘Englishman in New York’ which was actually quite a girly drink with rose petals in it! I was really impressed with the cocktail menu as it wasn’t the usual suspects, plus the presentation and taste was excellent. The wine list was full of the sort of wine we like, we chose a New Zealand Pinot Noir, and the bar was well stocked with quality – but incidentally not pricey spirits (About £3 for a top shelf Ardbeg Whisky after dinner).
Anyway, on to the food! The starter was a difficult decision… I went for the East Coast Squid, which was lemon & chili breadcrumbed and served with a gorgeous sorrel mayonnaise. It was so light and moreish, and I love that it came served in a miniature metal basket. Tom had duck and goose liver parfait, which was rich and smooth and elevated from the standard by the divine prune & armagnac jelly it came with.
The main course for me was not up for discussion as I’d seen on their website that there was a sharing size sirloin steak on the bone. I love this concept as it feels quite decadent and fun on a date to do something you wouldn’t do at home. The steak was cooked perfectly to medium as requested, and was full of flavour whilst having the buttery texture of a well aged steak. It came served with beef dripping chips, mushroom and tomato, and a luxurious bernaise sauce. The only criticism was that the chef had sliced it into an uneven number of pieces, which is testing to any relationship!!
Believe it or not, we still had room for dessert. I think this is a testament to the quality of the cooking and presentation, and that nothing felt over-facing. I had the exceptionally summery lavender panna cotta, with blackberry jelly and elderflower ice cream – the combination of which was a proper taste sensation. I’m a big fan of lavender in cooking, and this didn’t disappoint. Tom went for the cheese option, where you can have 3 or 5 British cheeses. Each had been paired with a suitable accompaniment, such as homemade biscuits, chutneys and ale honey – and this made it an outstanding choice.
I have to say that throughout, the staff seemed to strike the balance of friendly, knowledgable and relaxed, which was impressive for only their 3rd night of opening! Plus the bill was very reasonable for what we had – £100 for 3 courses each, wine, cocktails and after dinner drinks. It’s now firmly on my hit list of places to go back to soon – lets hope it’s onwards and upwards from here.
During the little heat wave we had last week we decided we needed some ice cream to cool us down so we headed off in search of a Yorkshire ice cream parlour I had heard about through Delicious Yorkshire. Charlotte’s Real Jersey Ice Cream Parlour is near Huddersfield on the hills overlooking the beautiful Denbydale – consequently the views from the parlour and its grounds are fantastic. They serve up a mind boggling 30 flavours of ice cream made from the milk of their herd of Jersey cows that graze on the hills. Obviously there are various different types of cone and toppings available, not to mention sundaes, ice cream cakes and more ordinary cafe food too. I decided to try the fudge ice cream and Millie had strawberry in a teddy bear cone – both were really tasty and creamy and the teddy cone was a novelty. These were around £1.60 each, which i didn’t think was bad value.
We decided to sit outside as the weather was so lovely and there’s an assortment of picnic tables to choose from amidst the other attractions that the parlour has to offer. I have to say, it is a bit of an ecclectic mix, but it seemed to work. Firstly there’s an outdoor play area complete with wooden tractors and animals to climb on and some slides. Surrounding this there’s also an array of animal enclosure’s to see incuding goats, sheep, donkeys, hens, peacocks, ducks and of course the cows. This is all free, and Millie managed to while away a lot of time playing and chatting to the animals, which was fab and relaxing for me!
Here comes the slightly odd bit – there is also a miniature train for children to ride (£2) and a pitch & put course (£3) which must have the best views of any pitch & put course I’ve ever seen! Millie had a go on the train, which went around it’s track and through it’s tunnel 5 times for the money and had lots of things to look at along the way. Families with older kids were having a great time on the pitch & put too, so we’ll have to venture back for that when Millie is a bit older.
I was quite impressed with coming across this place, and we’ll definitely be back. It was about a 25 minute drive from Leeds and was a cheap and enjoyable way to pass a couple of hours – especially if you are a fan of ice cream!
It’s time for the annual Wetwang Scarecrow Festival! This year is the 9th one, with funds raised going to support community events and general upkeep of the village hall.
Many of the village’s residents and businesses enter scarecrows in the competition which are displayed dotted around the village streets, on rooftops and in people’s gardens. This creates a walking ‘scarecrow trail’ that you can follow – maps available from the village hall for 50p to make sure you don’t miss any!
The categories this year are ‘novelty’, ‘traditional’ and ‘royal occasions’ with all sorts, from royal wedding guests to postman pat, nursery rhymes and pop stars. We particularly liked the Gruffalo entry and Crow-ella Dee-vil complete with scarecrow dalmation pup! It was clear that a lot of work had gone into all the entries and it was lovely to see lots of families enjoying the sights.
A panel of judges votes on the winners for various categories but anyone who visits can also cast their vote in the ‘public vote’ which gets announced at the end of the week.
In the hall there is also the ‘scarecrow cafe’, various craft stalls, and a tombola. I can recommend the sandwiches and cakes, (homemade by volunteers) which were delicious and cheap – less than £5 for sandwich, salad & crisps, cake, drink and a scarecrow biscuit for the little miss
The festival is on until June 5th, with the hall and scarecrow cafe open 10-4 daily. Although it’s around 50 miles from Leeds, it was well worth the day trip to see something a bit different.
Over the bank holiday weekend it was the annual Saltaire Arts Trail. We could only make it along for the Monday, and despite the rain we were determined to see what was going on. There’s basically two main aspects of the weekend – the ‘arts trail’ and the ‘maker’s market’.
The former involves lots of open houses in the streets around Salts Mill where local artists and photographers have set up mini exhibitions for you to browse and purchase items you like. It’s brilliant being able to firstly see inside these iconic and historic mill worker’s terraces, and secondly seeing how artists display their work in such intimate settings and being able to chat to them about it. The open houses are marked out by festoons of red bunting outside, and we chose to take pot luck with the houses we visited instead of following the guidebook, which was really fun. For a list of some of the artists see here.
The latter is a large craft fair held in the village hall featuring local designers & crafters. This is really my cup of tea, being able to find unique handmade items to brighten up your home or to give as gifts. There were the usual suspects of cards, jewellery, cushions and bags but some more unusual pottery and leather items and handmade toys. I was really impressed by the variety and quality and we came away with a lovely haul of goodies including a fantastic giraffe cushion, a butterfly decoration (from Daisy Florence Design), a brooch and some cards. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to make it to the Swirlyarts stall (one of my favourite Folksy sellers) due to toddler tantrums, but you can’t win them all!
There were also some outdoor crafts to join in for the kids including painting, making dream catchers and helping to make some giant tipis out of fabric scraps which were really popular. The only grumble from the day was the lack of places to eat and drink. It was busy, but not as busy as I have seen Saltaire for previous festivals and the cafes were absolutely struggling to keep up with business today. It was very odd, but there were people queuing outside everywhere and staff telling you it was an hour wait to get a sandwich…. this didn’t seem to get any better even by 4pm when we were leaving. Disappointing as we didn’t even manage to get in anywhere for some tea and cake. Luckily some of the stalls were giving away free cupcakes!
Anyway, if this sounds like it’s up your street, make sure you put the date in your diary for next May. In the meantime there’s also the Saltaire Festival in September which is similar to look forward to.
Attention all fans of independent food retailers in Leeds – just a quick post about the new & fabulous Pickles & Potter Deli which opened last week. It’s on East parade in the city centre and is a spacious deli only – ie. no seating. When I went in it was a busy lunchtime but the staff were really friendly and seemed to be coping very well with the rush despite it being the first week!
On the menu there’s their usual great choice of made to order sandwiches and salads but there’s now hot sandwiches on offer too – it was sticky soy ham the day I was there, which looked very tempting. I decided to have one of my favourites – piri piri chicken on focaccia bread, which is spicy and sweet and the bread is always so fresh and light. There is also a cabinet full of ready made up sandwiches, salad boxes, drinks and cake which is great for if you’re in a rush.
I also had a piece of carrot cake, which was delicious but sadly didn’t survive the journey home terribly well – the frosting totally squished into the paper bag…. Not sure what could be done about that except perhaps trying different packaging like cellophane bags or plastic boxes? Or maybe the answer is to just munch it straight away!
Anyway, it’s a fantastic addition to the city centre! For anyone who works in Leeds, hope you can check it out.