Street Food

2014 Leeds Food Highlights

Zucco2014

Zucco’s Deep Fried Zucchini At this particular moment I’m very excited. I’m lucky enough to have bagged a space at the bar at Zucco tonight, so Matt and I can ring in 2015 in style. And let me tell you, the anticipation is high. No big deal, but this year the Deep Fried Zucchini single-handedly changed my mind about courgettes. I know, who am I kidding? That’s a big deal. Until this year I thought they were slimy, spongey buggers with no place in my life. However, made by Zucco: dipped in milk, coated in flour, then deep fried and sprinkled with mint, I’m pretty sure I could live on them.

Zucco is my favourite restaurant in Leeds, hands down. Probably in the world, actually. During 2014 Matt and I have become regulars, all too often springing up on a Friday night a little bit drunk, without a reservation and begging for a table. The staff at Zucco are so friendly, so accommodating and always make room for us. They’re very knowledgable about the food they serve and so much of it is steeped in tradition, without being remotely old fashioned. Without doubt every time I go I order the same three dishes, leaving Matt to experiment. That’s the beauty of sharing plates, see. I don’t think he’s rumbled my tactics yet. Zucchini is always top of my list, alongside Arancini and Braised Beef Pappardelle. I could eat and drink at Zucco for the rest of my life and I’m pretty sure I’d never get bored. Throw in an Aperol Spritz to start and a Moscato to finish and I don’t think life could get any better.

Zucco 603 Meanwood Road, Leeds, LS6 4AY | @zuccouk

TheReliance2014

I didn’t have a pic of the beans, sorry. Here are two other delightful dishes from The Reliance

Green Beans with Shallots at The Reliance Oh, I love a side dish. I really do. They’re the glitter top coat of the culinary world. Let me start by saying that over the last year The Reliance has really risen up the ranks for me, I’d say it’s the best cooking in the city: forever reliable and never boring. Whether you drop in for a meatball sandwich at lunchtime or a full three courses plied with wine on an evening – the food, drinks and service are all consistently top notch. Somehow the food manages to be at once comforting and exciting, a place to take both fussy eaters and real food lovers alike. It’ll please your (my) “nothing foreign – well, Italian and French is ok… I suppose” parents as much as it’ll please the part of you that wants something a bit special on a Saturday night. Simplicity done exceptionally well seems hardly praise enough for this place but it’s the closest I can get. Green beans and shallots are just that, served in a cute pie dish in all of their seasonal glory, dripping with butter. Kale in Fig Salt is also a triumph, an extra worth getting excited about – whether you eat it with a humble plate of sausages and mash or a melting featherblade.

The Reliance 76-78 North Street, Leeds LS2 7PN | @The_Reliance

PattySmiths2014

Dirty Burger on the left, Colonel Patty and Session Fries on the right

Patty Smiths’ Dirty Burger It’s no bold claim that 2014 was the year of the burger for Leeds. This year Byron, MEATliquor, Almost Famous and Five Guys opened their doors in our fair city, alongside a new, independent offering from Boss Burgers in Hyde Park. Building on the success of their launch in 2013, Patty Smith’s – a concession at Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen – have been producing consistently brilliant, dirty, oozy burgers all year round. Menu originals the Dirty Burger and the Big Ron remain staples, with The Colonel Patty – a deep fried chicken burger, and Session Fries – fries seasoned with lardons, jalapeños and parmesan, as recent additions well worth trying. My “when in doubt” lunch, the Dirty Burger is just what you want on a hangover or for a cheeky treat. It basically fits any mood. Sticky like that untouchable (dare I say it?) McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger, sweet and salty, it’s cooked pink and the juices run down your chin and you just don’t give a s**t. Nothing beats a good burger, after all. And Patty Smith’s is perfection in a paper wrapper.

Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen 1-1A Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds, LS2 8JP @PattySmithsUK

GrubandGrog2014

Grub and Grog Shop Breakfast at Northern Monk Refectory Silly I know, but I see the Grub and Grog Shop residency at Northern Monk Brewing Co as some sort of urban fairytale. Having consumed their sandwiches, stews and cocktails for over a year, it’s really amazing to see their hard work and talent turn into a sparkly kitchen at the new brewery in Holbeck. At launch night when I set eyes on their menu it was breakfast that really caught my eye, and it’s quickly become one of my favourite places to visit over the past few months. Homemade crumpets made with the yeast from the beer brewed by Northern Monk downstairs, and Breakfast Buns stuffed with celeriac fritters, hash browns, eggs and roast tomato sauce are the stuff dreams are made of. In true G&G style, there are shedloads of veggie and vegan options, along with healthier Breakfast Bowls made up of porridge, granola or Birchir muesli. Prices are really reasonable and the space is beautiful – high ceilings, big windows and perfect sunlight when you roll in at 10am, plus the added bonus of a cloud of hoppy air that envelopes you when you walk through the door. Not to be missed. 

The Grub & Grog Shop Northern Monk Refectory, Marshalls Mill, Holbeck, Leeds LS11 9YJ | @grubandgrogshop

Bundobust Leeds 2014

Bundo Chaat top centre

Bundo Chaat at Bundobust On pretty much every most-loved list of 2014, it’s safe to say that the launch of Bundobust – a collaboration between Bradford’s craft beer pub The Sparrow and Drighlington’s award-winning vegetarian Indian restaurant Prashad – has been the Leeds success story of the year. A bustling bar with canteen style seating, it offers arguably the best beer selection in Leeds and matches them with little pots of Indian street food. Bundo is a great place to start a night out, or refuel as you hop from place to place. The Bundo Chaat is my must order everytime I visit – crunchy, sweet, sour and gently spicy. It’s made up of chickpeas, potato, tamarind chutney and crunchy samosa pastry and it’s like a bloody party in your mouth. The Masala Dosa is also pretty tops. A great place to take visiting friends and a real treat for veggies – a whole restaurant for them – imagine! A real highlight of 2014 for me, and I’ll keep going back.

Bundobust 6 Mill Hill, Leeds LS1 5DQ @bundobust

Take a Breath

CatchUp3

I’m not a very organised blogger. I like to take photos, but it feels like things are rarely complete. I currently have 17 drafts in my posts folder. The pressure, self-inflicted of course, to produce well-rounded posts with a beginning, a middle and an end, has increased tenfold over the past few years and a thousandfold since I started blogging for the first time in 2001. But I’m trying to shake that off. Forget about it. Have fun. This isn’t my job, after all. I’m making like this is the mid-noughties, and for this post I’m taking a breath. This is a round-up of what I’ve been up to, where I’ve been going and what I’ve been eating (naturally).

Up top there is a picture of my tea on Wednesday night. An impromptu dinner at The Reliance, there was rabbit loin, chorizo and peas. I also shared pig cheeks with pomme puree and it was glorious, with the sunshine blazing in through the huge windows. Add Moules Marinere for a main, with a lake of silky, garlicky sauce and chips to dip in and I could’ve been in a cafe with gingham table cloths, on the back of a beach somewhere. True seasonal grub. I left full and dizzy with love for the summer.

CatchUp5

A few weekends ago I got to spend some time at L’Eroica Britannia, in the Peak District. I was there in a Street Food Wife capacity, sampling all the delights and snapping pictures – but, weirdly, it filled me with a huge enthusiasm for bikes. The vintage outfits, buzzing atmosphere and the lady who had come all the way from Canada in a full 80s power suit to take part in the 30km ride on a Pashley, were all extremely lovely and made me feel like I wanted to be part of their vintage cycling club. Instead, I ate my weight in street food and watched everyone else burn calories. It was fun! You can tell we were in Derbyshire, they served their bacon in “cobs”. It’s a breadcake where I come from, love.

(No it’s not, I’m a southerner… please don’t tell anyone).

CatchUp4

The guys over at @BodegaOlives sent me a few boxes to try this week. I’m going to be making Gin Martinis and antipasti platters for the foreseeable future. The Alfonsos are my favourite.

Other action from this week – I’ve been getting to grips with my new camera lens. The change has made me keener to use my DSLR on manual, so I’ve been reading up on aperture, shutter speed and ISO, and looking at some of my favourite blogs for inspiration. Working with a 50mm is different, and it’s hard to be lazy. The whole “zoom with your feet” thing is starting to sink in and I’m looking for opportunities to shoot everywhere I go. The slightly more compact lens also means I’m more inclined to carry my camera in my bag, so hopefully I’ll be taking pictures a lot more regularly. I’m having a lot of fun playing around with the f-stop, which has produced a lot of out of focus, super ugly pictures, but I think I’m learning. The photo below was taken the day I got my lens, sitting outside the Corn Exchange with a tray of ribs from Reds.

CatchUp2

Oh yeah, there was a big cycling race too. The Tour de France came to town, and it was pretty fun. Most of Yorkshire turned out and apparently there were over 200,000 people lining the streets of our fair city. I was lucky enough to watch Le Grand Depart from up high, out of first floor windows at The Light, so I saw the whole thing – giant Fruit Shoot and all. After I saw the start I headed over to Ilkley on the train for the day for more street food and street parties. For about 20 minutes I thought I might invest in a road bike. #cyclefever.

CatchUp1

I also got to treat myself to some excellent cookware this week, thanks to my prize money. I added a 30cm Le Creuset Casserole to my kitchen collection, a set of measuring spoons, a KitchenAid ice cream maker and a waffle iron! So tomorrow I’m treating myself to a rare Sunday off to test a few recipes. Watch this space!

In the meantime, let me know what you’re up to down in the comments section or come and chat to me over on Twitter @WhipUntilFluffy. Remember you can keep up with me over on Facebook, too. See you soon!

Sharing the Love

Sharing the Love March

1. A fry up @the_greedy_pig 2. Lunch at #Noonshine @grubandgrogshop 3. Rousseau <3 4. Twisted fish n chips from @nofishybusiness 5. Bathtime with Grey’s Anatomy & a Dark n Stormy or 2 6. Childlike sleeping quarters during my trip to London 7. Brunch at Whyte & Brown in Kingly Court 8. Cakes lined up at Hummingbird 9. A humble tea at Honest Burgers 10. Justin Timberlake at the O2 – and what? 11. Trying chinese at home – honey sesame chicken 12. Vegetable fritters from @eehbanhmi.

Lately it’s been all go. My husband started a new job, and with that came a bit of a lifestyle change. Gone are the days of the 9-5 (as 9-5 as freelancing can be), I’m trying to line our schedules up. Happily, with a husband now fully embroiled in the street food world, I’ve also been spending a bit more time at food events and, as a result, I’ve been learning a lot more about what mobile Leeds has to offer.

Yesterday I ventured out to @Amazing_Graze. There’s more on that to come later in the week, but it’s safe to say there was a veritable smorgasbord of delights on offer from some of Yorkshire’s best, plus a few Londoners who made the journey up to see us. Last week took me to Kirkstall Deli Market, an event held on the last Saturday of every month in the grounds of Kirkstall Abbey, brimming with local traders including Salts Deli, The Yummy Yank and That Old Chestnut. I filled up on twisted fish and chips from Fish& (who @MattTomorrow is now frying for) and cinnamon madeleines from @MadeleineExp which are my new favourite thing. I took some roasted garlic bread from Leeds Bread Co-op home and made garlic bread from it on instruction from the seller. Garlic bread made from garlic bread?! This is madness. The sweetness of the roasted garlic in the loaf mixed with the fiery, raw garlic in the butter spread on top is a dreamy combo, believe me. Plenty of chopped, fresh parsley in there too.

Next week will take me to my first (I know, I can’t believe it either) Belgrave Street Feast. Ah, life is good. Naturally, all this activity means that work has stalled on the house. We’ve done just what I thought we would, got to that liveable point and abandoned all home improvements and started to enjoy our weekends again. It’s finally comfortable, so the rest can wait, right? WRONG! I need to be more disciplined. There’s still a lot of gloss-work to get done and we need to get all our prints up on the walls instead of in a pile on the table. Work will begin again this month.

On another subject completely, last night I was chatting to @TheStyleTag over a few gins about what we’d like to do before we’re 30. I’m 27 in May, so I’ve got a few more years yet, but it got me thinking about how I’d like to spend that time. While Lauren has set her sights on Australia and New Zealand, plus a bit of dancing on a beach in Thailand, I’ve already done some of that. Naturally, my thoughts turned to food.

I can say with certainty that I’m heading back to Portland, OR within the next year or so. Some of the best food I’ve ever eaten was contained within those six days I spent there last September. I’m eating another sarnie at Lardo and I’m definitely having another Blue Star Donut. Another meal from the American Craft Kitchen Ned Ludd is a must too. Next time I’m definitely venturing further out to more food pods. Potato Champion sounds like my personal Mecca and I can’t believe I didn’t make it last time. As for new experiences, Hamburg, Berlin and Vienna are all up there for me. Obviously, a tasting menu at Noma would be a treat too. In this country, I want to get to Bermonsey to sample some Jose Pizarro tapas ASAP. A weekend at L’Enclume has been a near-constant daydream since I first saw The Trip. Finally, since it’s Marina O’Loughlin review a few weeks back, The Lockhart has been very much on my lust list too. Where is your dream eatery? What about it makes you so lustful?

Since my last Sharing the Love post, this is the stuff I’ve been inspired by:

What have you been loving during March? Please let me know what’s floating your boat down in the comments or over on Twitter @whipuntifluffy. I always love discovering new blogs and unusual recipes to try.

As for what’s next from me, well if you follow me over on Twitter you might know that I’ve sorted my schedule out and I’m now working on a two post a week minimum, hopefully three when I can. Planning ahead has been really useful for me and I’ve jumped into full community manager mode with an extensive content calendar, making my recipe posts easier to put together. So you can hopefully expect a bit more regularity for me over the next few months! If you have any ideas for posts for me to put together, or there’s something in particular you love seeing from me or would like to see more of then please let me know, any feedback is really useful. This week we have a tribute piece to someone I rather adore, plus I’m talking about what to eat in April. See you soon!

 

Where to Eat in Leeds

I eat out a lot. To the point where I’m almost ashamed. The other day I was outed on Instagram, tagged to do the #widn tag with the comment “@whipuntilfluffy who is prob out having an awesome looking lunch again” … What can I say? Guilty.

So with this (excessive, if anything) experience, I thought I’d put together a little guide to eating in this city. Whether it’s a 3 course meal or a quick snack, here are what I consider to be the best bites in town at the moment.

Where to Eat in Leeds: Shears Yard

Shears Yard A firm dinner favourite since its opening in August last year, Shears Yard is my go-to for a special occasion. Brought to us by the team behind the Arts Cafe on Call Lane, Shears Yard serve seasonal, British cuisine with a relaxed and sociable atmosphere. Each plate throbs with tastes and textures, every element seems painstakingly created so that it all sings together on the plate. Not even the bread is boring (whipped truffle butter, anyone?). The dishes are complex, elegant, but they’re not pretentious. You might struggle to choose just one dish, so coordinate with a partner and go halvsies. Visit on a Thursday night, it can get noisy on the weekends. Dishes pictured include Duck liver parfait & homemade duck “ham”, black pudding brioche, white onion chutney & blackberry gel and Local corn fed chicken breast & leg, crab & lobster fritter, sweetcorn & chorizo salsa & lobster mayonnaise. Starters from £4.50, mains from £10.95.

Shears Yard 11-15 Wharf Street, The Calls, Leeds, LS2 7EH | @ShearsYard

Where to Eat in Leeds: Zucco

Zucco This is the neighbourhood restaurant that dreams are made of. Draped in a candlelight blanket, Zucco serves Italian small plates, classic cocktails and really good house wine. It’s dark, atmospheric and there’s a clatter from the open kitchen just loud enough to feel exciting. The menu changes every day depending on the produce available but some favourites are there day in, day out. I’m talking fritto misto, served simply with the lightest, crispest of batters. There’s aubergine parmigiana, deep fried zucchini and mint and, what I believe to be the best plate of pasta this side of Rome, braised beef pappardelle. Zucco has become a regular in my friday night routine, the perfect place to rock up to after a couple of post-work pints, feeling a little tipsy and positively buzzing at the thought of the weekend. Treat yourself to a Negroni (it comes with a stripy paper straw!), order enough food to cover the table top and return the next day to nurse your hangover, sitting at the bar with a pizzette and a carafe of wine, ready to flick through the newspaper. Plates from £2.50 to £8.50. Book early in the week to secure a table on Friday or Saturday nights, but don’t panic if you didn’t plan ahead, time it right and there’ll be room at the bar.

Zucco 603 Meanwood Road, Leeds, LS6 4AY | @zuccouk

Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen

Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen While it may not be the obvious choice for dinner in the city centre, this music venue and bar holds some serious culinary gems. You’d be forgiven for thinking that you might not get past the door without a lumberjack beard and full sleeve of tattoos, but never mind that, just bust on in there and get yourself some pizza. Belgrave currently offers three food options: Dough Boys Pizza, Patty Smiths & Fu Schnickens. Each offering is outstanding in its field, but the Guo Bao by Fu Schnickens are really something to behold. Little steamed buns made on site and filled with pork belly, hoisin, cashew nuts, sesame, palm sugar, pickled carrot & mooli, they originate all the way from Taiwan and I would go so far as to say they are the best single bite available in Leeds right now. The crispy panko chicken version is pretty tasty too. Here’s my advice: arrive at Belgrave, buy a pint of Symonds cider from the bar or a flat white from the Laynes pop-up, get yourself a guo bao, wait a bit (optional), get yourself some pizza, wait a bit (optional), get yourself a Patty Smith’s Dirty Burger, repeat. Grab a half price slice (£1-£1.40) everyday until 7pm, get two Guo Bao for £6.

Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen 1-1A Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds, LS2 8JP | @Belgrave_Leeds @DoughBoysLeeds @PattySmithsUK

Where to Eat in Leeds: The Reliance

The Reliance What I consider to be one of Leeds’ unsung heroes, The Reliance is that perfect, solid option to keep in your back pocket and play as your trump card. Sure, it’s pub grub, but it’s more refined than rustic. The dishes are seasonal, they’re simple but in the most glorious sense of the word. No foam, no espuma, no soil, but flavours that bowl you over. It’s good, honest food and I never leave one morsel on my plate. Not one. Whether you’re soaking up last night’s gin with a fish finger sandwich, or getting rosy cheeked over candlelight and featherblade, The Reliance is that old friend who’s just easy to be around. With good beer and relaxed, friendly service, you’ll leave with a smile on your face. I wish I lived next door. Oh, and they cure their own charcuterie too. Starters from £4.25, mains from £9.95.

The Reliance 76-78 North Street, Leeds LS2 7PN | @The_Reliance

Where to Eat in Leeds: Trinity Kitchen

Trinity Kitchen I thought and rethought Trinity Kitchen’s inclusion in my top five, and while it feels wrong to tarnish the indie attitude of this list so far, it is true that some of the best things I’ve eaten over the past six months have been part of the shopping centre’s street food line-up. Trinity plays an important role in bringing exciting and diverse street food to the people of Leeds, and without the capitalist big-guns I wouldn’t have discovered this month’s favourite, Dorshi, or even (heavens, just imagine!) my beloved OFM. I can’t endorse any of the main-stays in the Trinity Kitchen set up, I’ve tried all of them and been thoroughly unimpressed, but the street food rotation is always interesting and provides somewhere different to go on an otherwise monotonous lunch break. I look forward to seeing what’s new every month and I like that it brings London traders up here to Yorkshire, somewhere they probably didn’t give two hoots about before. Highlights have been the Bacon Blue Burger (@OFMLondon), crispy chicken with fried “rice” (@eatDorshi) and just about everything from Cafe Moor (@CafeMoorLeeds). Street food meals starting from around £4.50.

Trinity Kitchen Top Floor Trinity Leeds Albion Street Leeds LS1 5AT | @TrinityLeeds

Original Fry Up Material: Burger Edition

Original Fry Up Material

Last week, friends, I ate three burgers in six days. Let me tell you about it.

Original Fry Up Material turned up at the December changeover of Trinity Kitchen. They’re currently mid-way through a double stint, which means they’re here until February 23rd. Obviously, their main shtick is breakfast. In their own words “ace all-day and on-the-go breakfasts inspired by our respect for the great British fry up with a little soul and celebration of brunch culture from across the pond” (KERB). I’ll tell you now, I’m yet to taste the AM offerings. But I do have a date lined up next week, so don’t panic. I’ll report back.

Original Fry Up Material

So OFM also serve burgers. There are four on offer. The Cheesy and The Veggie come in at £6. The Sweetsmoke and The Bacon Blue, more specialist if you will, come in a little pricier at £7.50. I’ve had a Sweetsmoke, and the Bacon Blue…twice. I’m a devil for that blue, let me tell ya. Late last year, I touched on my criteria for a winning burger in my review of RARE. Let’s not beat around the bush here. Both the texture and taste of the Bacon Blue were eye-rollingly, heart-singingly perfect. I am genuinely salivating just thinking about it. I don’t take perfection lightly – burgers are some srs bznz, after all, and everyone is different. I have friends, for example, who turn a bit pale at the idea of a burger being pink in the middle. Some folk may look for a bit more structure. Some prefer a crustier bun. You get my point. That’s cool. But for me… man. This is it.

Original Fry Up Material SweetSmoke Burger

Original Fry Up Material Bacon Blue Burger

Everything is buttery soft, with gloriously caramalised edges to add a bit of chew without having to do any real work. The bun is a pillowy brioche with a gleaming, glazed dome that collapses in your hands as you chomp. The meat is packed loosely and it’s juicy. Pink, but not in a scary way. So juicy, in fact, that it’s hard to get through the whole burger without it disintegrating in your hands. On our first visit, my friend ate the second half of hers with a knife and fork. She is quite a classy lady, but still, this was necessity not choice. Juice ran down our chins, melted cheese dripped down our fingers, we all shut up.

I love this burger. So much. I thought it might be a fluke, so I went back. You know, just to test. IT WAS THE SAME, GUYS.

Original Fry Up Material

I think the Bacon Blue is the best burger I have ever eaten. The Sweetsmoke is good, but a little sickly for me. Still 10x better than 90% of the other burgers I’ve eaten, though. The title of my best burger is perhaps contested by a small joint in Seattle called Lil’ Woody’s. Classic burgers, served on their lonesome without meal deals and pointless garnishes, just wrapped in wax coated paper and served in a red plastic basket. One of the best single mouthfuls I ate during our 3 week long gastronomic adventure across the Atlantic last September. OFM’s offering is not dissimilar in attitude. The only side on the menu is chips. As much as I love onion rings, fried pickles and all that jazz (and trust me, I really do) that simple choice signifies that they have their priorities where they should be, with the burgers. I’ve heard complaints that the chips are too salty. For me they’re just fine, delicious in fact, but I’m a chronic over-seasoner. If you’re touchy about your salt, ask them to go easy. It’s also worth noting that the produce used to make everything on OFM’s menu while they’re in Leeds is 100% self-sourced from Yorkshire. There’s also an OFM “FryPA” on offer for all those after a craft beer, made in partnership with The Great Yorkshire Brewery. What more could you ask for? Well… the staff dress like quirky butchers. Just sayin’.

Original Fry Up Material

Original Fry Up Material

Now, coming in at a similar price to local competitors Reds True Barbecue and Nation of Shopkeepers, I do think OFM is a little expensive. £10 for a burger with chips is a restaurant price for a meal in a place which is no doubt cool, but still undeniably a food court. Having said that, I understand that something is only worth what people are willing to pay for it. And I am definitely willing to pay for it. I spent £22.50 on burgers last week alone, which is retrospectively maybe a little bonkers. It does prove though that I think they’re worth the buck. There are ways to cut corners, chips are £2.50 but the portion is huge. My friends and I fell into the trap on our first visit of buying a portion each but you can happily share.

In short, get your wallets out and grab ’em quick. These burgers are only here for another month and if, like me, you plan to get at least five in before they go, you’re going to have to get a move on.

Original Fry Up Material Trinity Kitchen Trinity Leeds Albion Street Leeds LS1 5AT | @OFMLondon