Squidbeak were invited to Booth’s in Ilkley last week for the launch of their Christmas catalogue. Catalogue is a bit of an understatement as it is in fact a beautifully bound hardback, full of lovely things you can buy for Christmas. And if, like Mandy and I, you don’t have a Booth’s nearby you can order online in the run-up to Christmas.
I have a soft spot for Booths. My mum and dad lived in Clitheroe and we shopped at Booth’s long before it became the supermarket of choice across Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cumbria. It was good then and it’s even better today.
The book itself has a shelf life beyond Christmas with recipes, interviews and profiles of some of their producers: David Hartley of Wensleydale Creamery recalls the tortuous history of Wensleydale cheese. Among Yorkshire producers featured on the shelves, Mitch and Jack Mitchell of Truefoods make proper stocks, soups, gravy, terrines and pastries from their base at Melmerby.
There’s also an interview with the head brewer of Hawkshead Brewery, Matt Clarke and here I declare an interest. The creator of Hawkshead is an old friend Alex Brodie, who for many years was a foreign correspondent with the BBC. Some 20 years ago, when he was weary of war zones, he began looking for a career change and set up a micro-brewery in his home village of Hawkshead in the Lakes. It was a prescient move. Today there are countless micro-breweries but Alex was in at the beginning of the craft-ale revolution and is still producing a range of great ales. If you are near Kendal/Windermere take a detour to the Hawkshead Beer Hall, at Staveley, a bar that is a showcase for their beers and with good food to match.
So try and score yourself one of these lovely books to get you into the Christmas spirit and, remember, you can actually order from it too.