I’ve been away for a glorious three weeks in Sri Lanka and cheekily squeezed in a couple of reports into Squidbeak, just in case you happen to be passing that way. Mandy tells me she’s been on the road doing proper paid work… I believe her. So here’s a round up of what’s been going on while the two of us have been elsewhere:
Filmore & Union who have an ever-expanding chain of restaurants in York, Wetherby and Harrogate are now in Leeds, in the Victoria Quarter and Harrogate Parade in Moortown. If you haven’t been do try them. We love their way with veg., their vibrant salads, low sugar brownies … oh everything really. They also have a kiosk on York station so forget boring sandwiches and treat yourself to something healthy and delicious for the train at F & U. No surprise that they picked up the York Press ‘Best Retailer’ award at the end of last year; congratulations from us.
The Talbot, Malton: At the start of the year David Macdonald joined the Talbot as their new general manager. He’s come from Malmaison, he’d been with them for 12 years, latterly as manager of Hotel du Vin in York.
Arc Inspiration, Leeds: Strange appointment this one. Anthony Flinn, chef of the much lamented Anthony’s in Leeds which closed suddenly last year, has been commissioned by the Arc chain of restaurants to devise what they call a ‘super food menu’.
It’s supposed to be a ‘healthy options’ menu that uses ingredients from 50 so-called ‘superfoods’: quinoa, bulgar wheat, broccoli, kale, pak choi, seaweed and so on, to which customers add their choice of meat or fish and hey presto you have a healthy meal.
‘We don’t do bird-seed,’ trills the press release, ‘we do satisfying, energising dishes that work for all’. Well, thank you, but I think we all know what a well-balanced plate of food looks like by now and if you’re a steak and chips with béarnaise sauce and onion rings man, no amount of superfoods and healthy options are going to persuade you to plump for quinoa.
But, enough ranting, the dishes sound good. How could they not be with Flinn behind them: poached chicken with quinoa, beetroot, roasted butternut squash, spinach, celery, parsley, pumpkin seeds and a garlic oil dressing; sirloin steak with a salad of bulgur wheat, artichokes, toasted walnuts, apple and red chard, finished with walnut oil. Then I looked at the publicity photo which was far more steak than veg so with no explanation sent it to our nutritionist friend Joan Ransley who (without a full nutrional analysis) reckoned there was too much meat and not enough veg for a balanced meal. With less meat and more veg it could be my kind of food but spare us all the healthy options guff please.
Cooks, The Carlton School of Food: Cooks is a new cookery school to due to open on May lst at Carlton Towers, the grade 1 listed pile near Selby. How marvellous, I have a picture of eager students presenting tasty morsels to Lord and Lady Fitzalan Howard. Pure Downton. Of course it won’t be like that at all. Or will it? The day starts with coffee in the Housekeeper’s Sitting Room, I like that, and then it’s a hands-on under the tutelage of one of our favourite chefs Richard Walton Allen. W-A did a brilliant job at Harvey Nicks in Leeds and went on to not-for-profit Create, that sadly closed last year. Other tutors include our food-writer colleague Elaine Lemm and the Bake Off finalist, Brendan Lynch. Prices are £70 for a half day, £170 for a full day including lunch. We wish them luck, though we do worry: there are a lot of cookery schools out there.
Best Chippie: The National Fish and Chip Awards organized by ‘Seafish,’ the industry body for the seafood industry, gave top prize of UK Fish and Chip Takeaway of the Year to the Quayside in Whitby. ‘Simply surreal,’ said Stuart Fusco, director and head chef of Quayside, which is going some, but well done to the Fusco family who have been frying fish in Whitby for five decades in a business that was started by Grandma Violet. As well as best chippie, they also picked up the prize for business innovation and last year a Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) award for serving sustainable sourced fish. Quayside is on Pier Rd. Whitby, a few doors along from the famous Magpie.
Cook It: Do you know any talented young cooks? The Guild of Food Writers is running its annual competition for young people. There are two age categories 10-13 years and 14-16 years (as at 31 August 2014). To take part, entrants must create a celebratory two course menu (main course and dessert) to impress friends and family.
The six shortlisted finalists will be invited to the Electrolux Training Academy in London on 17 June to prepare their meal in front of the judges. First prize in each category is a four night family break at Tredinney Farm in Cornwall.
Black Bull at Moulton opening: We’ve never had so much interest in a restaurant opening as we have had over the Black Bull at Moulton. Lots of people remember it from the old days when there was a fabulous display of seafood in the bar and the dining room was a restored Brighton Belle railway carriage. The carriage has gone and the place has been given a mighty refurb by the Provenance Inns group, and they’ve announced the opening on 24th March under general manager Ian Pilcher and head chef Luke Taylor whose previous experience was with Shire Hotels and Thwaites Inns of Character. If it’s anything like the other inns in the group it should be reliably good. We’ll report back.