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Alexander’s Skipton

It’s been almost a month since Alexander’s Bar and Restaurant opened.  Last week I was invited along for ‘a taste of ‘.  It wasn’t what I expected.

The (impressive) website said ‘European inspired’… and my self-talk went something like “European…Skipton… ok then!”

I LOVE that “Wow” was the first thing we said once through the doors.

I LOVE it when a place does that to you!

The above view is the back of the property (from the road-bridge across the canal), the entrance is round the front directly opposite the castle.

A tiled parlour is a welcoming entrance to this Grade II listed building.  On arrival you’re greeted by a friendly face asking if you’re looking for drinks or have a reservation.   With booths and stools, this is a bar area by night and serves morning coffee and pastries from 8am.  A gelato bar is in the pipeline… (they’re big on gelato here).

Twelve meters of pewter bar runs along the walk-way from front of house to the back, attention to detail is what makes this environment so appealing – (or should I say a-peel-ing as the owners are PEEL Entertainment Group providing entertainment for many cruise ships round the world, hence the amazing screens!

The transition from the Edwardian front, to the modern feel at the back is effortless.  Colonial palm prints and gold pineapples (chosen long before they began trending) take you away some place, as does the food!

We have small plates (think tapas) and it’s seriously good food (halloumi fries?!  Genius!).  The chef wearing a flat cap (they all have flat caps on here!) sits at our table and chats with us.  We talk about the food but also about the challenges faced in opening and staffing a place like this given its location.  He isn’t about ‘the sell’ or trying to impress us and neither is our host, both are genuine, honest and open – I like that.

Outdoors is a ‘not so’ Secret Garden.  I’m a huge fan of al-fresco and this is a quality experience!  Landscaped terrace with patio heaters, huge umbrellas and glass awnings mean our unpredictable British weather isn’t a problem for diners.  The lower level overlooks the canal which is rather lovely and very Yorkshirey.

Whilst sat eating, my friend Sarah and I are talking about the people we’ll bring here and all the occasions this place will suit.  We had a great first experience, and I for one think it’s a beautiful addition to Yorkshire.

You can visit Alexanders website here – (it’s worth it just to see the fancy moving palm leaves part and the day/night pics!)

~O~

 

The Botanist York

If a Sunday well-spent brings a week of content, then The Botanist, York is the perfect setting.  Visitors to York will no doubt know of the iconic Mulberry Hall on Stonegate which closed earlier this year after 60 years of trading. The Botanist now sits on these premises in the beautiful 1943 building on one of the most picturesque cobbled streets in the city.

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Having seen friends’ shenanigans at the Leeds restaurant in my social media feeds, I was excited to be invited to the pre-opening launch of the York venue last week.
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The Botanist vibe is laid-back living.  Expect comfort-food classics accompanied by botanically-infused cocktails and beers whilst listening to live music sets; a country pub in the city if you will.  It’s the kind of place you forget the world outside as the hours while away… it’s ‘a third-place’, kind of place.

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Our food and drinks experience matched the setting.  There are few places we visit about which can be said “I wouldn’t change a thing” but The Botanist was an exception.  The cocktails and wines were amazing, every dish of our three-courses was bang-on (probably not a food writer term); the service, impeccable.  The hanging skewers shown (jerk salmon & lamb) are a Botanist signature dish we’re told, and they were something to brag about.  The prices are reasonable with starters from £4.95 and mains from £9.95.

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We’re already looking forward to returning, no doubt now there’s the Christmas Decorations up… (even more reason to go!)

When the composition of place, product and people is as well-matched as this, the result will always be a little bit special for those party to it.  One can only hope that everyone will have the same experience!

You can visit The Botanist Website here.

Out on a school night!

~O~

Green and Blacks does Yorkshire

Parkin.  Apparently, not so many people outside of Yorkshire know what it is – making it quite a ‘Northern thing’ here in the UK.  Parkin is a gingery, wholemeal oaty cake-like dessert, can be eaten hot or cold, on it’s own or with custard, ice-cream, cream or butter.  Though as a rule I don’t do’ desserts , for me it’s one of the ultimate Autumn comfort foods (I do eat half a bar of 85% chocolate daily though – fact).

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Green and Blacks also have discovered this rather tasty pudding and yesterday were in Harrogate delighting the people of Yorkshire with a special ‘Yorkshire pear and ginger parkin’ recipe as part of their UK taste tour.
Invited along to try it out, I met with Green and Blacks taste specialist (Brandt Maybury) and reigning Yorkshire Pudding Champion (Christopher Blackburn), whose combined expertise has created a chocolate twist on traditional parkin.

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The parkin (adapted from Chris’s mothers recipe) tasted SO GOOD!  The chocolate was a subtle undertone so it really worked and was served with poached pear and caramel sauce.

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Photo courtesy of Edelman

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Sadly the resulting parking won’t be available for general consumption anywhere – (it’s a crime!) however, I am told the recipe will be made available and when  it does I shall post here.

Finally, as we stood and ate I asked the gents FIVE QUICK QUESTIONS:

1.  If they weren’t chef’s they would be:
Chris: ‘I’m not a chef!’ (oh we’re off to a great start #fail). He is a foody, and Yorkshire pud world champion in his spare time though so you can see why I asked!
Brandt: Rockstar.  Writes his own songs and plays the guitar.  (Move over Ed!)
2.  What do they eat for breakfast?
Chris: Sainsburys mini wheats with cranberry.
Brandt: Doesn’t eat till noon (a la 16:8 diet) so breakfast doesn’t really happen.
3.  Meal they most readily default to? 
Chris:  Chilli.  On a weekend sometimes made with slow cooked brisket.
Brandt:  Brandtos chicken! (chicken, garlic, coriander, lime with roast veg and rice – bit like a Nando’s, I’m hungry!).
4.   Most under-used ingredient people should be using more of?
Chris:  Beef dripping.  Drizzled on salad, used to make croutons – so many uses!
Brandt:  Anchovies, cooked they dissolve and don’t taste of fish (I did not know that).  Also star anise – amazing in chilli (Oh and caraway seeds!)
5.  Which chef(s) do they keep an eye on/follow?
Chris:  Tom Kerridge.  Inspiration itself of real, home comfort food and Gordon Ramsey for his passion.
Brandt:  Mikael Jonsson.  Though less well-known, his restaurant Hedone, was awarded a Michelin Star in his first year and is recognised as being the 60th best restaurant in the world.  Jamie Oliver for what he’s done in getting more people cooking in their homes than anyone else.
Almost an hour later I left with quite a few little pearls of wisdom up my sleeve (did you know you can add chocolate to chilli?!) and hopefully, other bypassers were also inspired to try a new trick or two in the kitchen!
In need of more yumminess?  You can visit Green and Blacks website here.
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Keelham Farm Shop ~ The Community Way.

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Last week we visited the newly opened Keelham Farm Shop on the outskirts of Skipton, Yorkshire.  It was a delight!  Post school, I took one tired little lady (not that keen on the idea of going) who, once inside the doors, quickly became an excitable little lady ‘thrilled’ at what she experienced.

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There is simply everything to go at; fresh produce, a bakery, deli counters with fresh meats, pies, curry’s, pulses and seeds, juice bar and a florist that makes up hand-tied bouquets.

Generational family photos on the walls of the original Keelham, (in Thornton, Bradford) are a lovely touch – this is their lifes work and creativity which has resulted in a unique shopping experience.

The novelty of picking out the fruit and veg (and sweets) we wanted (rather than picking up a sealed pack) and weighing them on non-digital scales prompted an unexpected response in my shopping buddy – it was a learning experience and she was fully immersed in it.

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The cafe/restaurant was full but we secured a table and both enjoyed our food and drink.  There is a mezzanine level opening soon which will add even more seating with a great view over the shopping hall.

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Because we all appreciate nice toilets!

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This is not a place we would pass naturally very often, so will we go back?  Some changes to the menu… with less carb-heavy options on there would definitely tempt me back (as Miss P was very happy with the kids menu).  Outside of that, yes – this is a place we will take people to because of its creative simplicity and unique approach.

It’s the kind of place you may want to go on a family day when you want to go somewhere, but don’t want to do a shops/cinema/etc or it’s not nice enough for outdoors.  This place ticks a few boxes in one go and you could spend a couple of hours there if you wanted.

Finally, and I wasn’t fully aware of this till I got home and casually looked at my receipt from the shopping we’d bought…it’s very good value for money!

They have a great website, find out more at Keelham Farm Shop.

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Her face says it all… happy.

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Malton Food Lovers Festival

The Malton Food Lovers Festival is an annual event that takes place in the market town of (you’ve guessed it), Malton, North Yorkshire.  As we were staying close by at the weekend, we thought we’d take a trip to pick up some food for  our barbecue that night.  We had SUCH a good time!

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We arrived early looking for a second breakfast of coffee and pastries, so after tearing ourselves away from many stalls en-route, decided upon this little cart from ‘The Patisserie‘.

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It was great to see so much local produce grown by local people and as most stalls had samples available, you could try before you purchased.

Though there was the option to purchase tickets to watch cooking demonstrations and talks by well-known chefs, with eight in our party, keen to get tasting, we decided against.

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Though I visited Malton frequently as a child, I couldn’t remember anything of the cobbled square the Festival was held in which added to my enjoyment of wandering in-and-out of stalls and shops.

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On the periphery of the square was ‘Interiors  at 9 to 11‘ which had some amazing pieces inside!  Director Sarah couldn’t have been more lovely taking time to explain the transition of the store from ‘Stitches’ (which it used to be), to the place it is today – well worth a visit!

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It also gave me chance to get this slightly more elevated shot of part the festival!

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As it got to lunchtime, the energetic vibe increased thanks to the the LIVE music.  There was a great buzz about the place and as the black clouds refrained from opening, coats came off and more refreshment was sought.

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This was a FANTASTIC morning out, thoroughly enjoyed by all of us that went, so much so we think we’ll make it an annual extended-family trip.  We came away with sausages, cheeses, flavoured popcorn, brownies, fresh fruit and veg… as food-lovers, t’was the perfect event to attend!

Check out the Food Lovers Festival website here whilst I close with something a bit daft as I like to do now and then!

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Fun-loving parentals!

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Why we love toast house

Where the Magic Happens

The very smell of toast says ‘comfort’, ‘home’, ‘more-ish’ so although I don’t even eat bread/ toast (crikey- it’s carbs!) … I do here!

toast house Ilkley is the brainchild of Natasha Byers and Lisa Jenkins.  Opened just 6 months ago it is still a relatively new coffee house on the Ilkley scene but whereas Starbucks’ goal is to be third place (i.e 1.home, 2.work, 3.Starbucks) – this place for me is that… and then some.  Everything you experience from the menu to the neon pink handwritten tags is their idea, it is absolutely 100% their STYLE OF LOVE.  Oh do we LOVE those places!!

toast house is a place you feel.  Everywhere you look there is ingenuity, creativity and quite frankly, fabulous kookiness!  There are photographs of grandparents working in the mills, an old bench for kids to play at, sackcloth-covered old cinema seats… and for the love of all things ‘ahhh’ fairy lights that connect with that inner, year-round Christmas!!

The menu, quite simply is toast + a plethora of toppings, amazing cakes and the best coffee!  You can buy the jam, the bread and (oh we have one) the hand-printed tote bag!  toast house is a place we love because it is clearly two local girls having a blast and inviting the rest of us to join in the ride.  I don’t know about you but I’m on board!

Love to hear what you think about toast house… your kind of place?!

~O~

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