Category Archives: Food

In Review: The YMCo, Harrogate

ymco harrogate
The Yorkshire Meatball Co. – or, The YMCO – sounded like my worst nightmare until I visited their website.

I urge you to take a look. It deserves an award.

Telling patrons that they’re a “speciality Meatball Bar leading the fight against average, tasteless, meatless meatballs”* pretty much dissolved each and every reservation I had. And thank goodness it did: I wouldn’t call myself a ‘meatball woman’, but I’m more than happy to call myself a YMCo woman.

Kicking things off with a naughty glass of their Yorkshire Iced Tea (hello, gin!), my dining partner and I decided to share their Yorkshire Platter as a compromise for wanting each and every one of their starters. As you can see, we were not left unsatisfied. The long cutting board was furnished with pressed York ham hock terrine, a selection of fresh local cheese, a ‘shot’ of soup (a starter in itself!), a hard boiled hens egg, pickled onions, dressed leaves, flatbread and roasted garlic mayo. With balls to come, it would have been impossible for us to finish…but we tried our very best.

The main portion of their menu focuses on the idea of ‘Balls’ (your choice), ‘Beds’ (veg, mash, greens, et al), and ‘Blankets’ (sauce), all of which my companion couldn’t ignore. He opted for the ‘Hot Balls‘ (hand-rolled meatballs with a hint of chilli pepper), root veg (roasted in olive oil with fresh garlic), a complimentary Yorkshire pudding (you can choose not to have one, though I’m not quite sure why you wouldn’t), and Herby Ketchup (fresh tomato and herbs). You better believe he licked the dishes clean.

I was slightly jealous until my ‘Naked Bals‘ arrived 2.7 seconds later. Their ‘Naked’ concept comes with no blankets or beds; instead, a bed of salad and toppings to compliment your choice of Balls. As I couldn’t ignore the haddock, chorizo and parsley Fish Balls, my ‘meat’ was balanced atop a large pile of watercress, avocado, raspberries and lime. With a Birdie Ball ‘Taster’ (just £2 for a ball on a small, lightly toasted brioche bun!) on the side, I was engulfed in a mushroom pesto blanket delirium.

To date, I have not had a more filling, delicious, and affordable lunch in the North. My only regret is not leaving room for their cheesecake balls.

* It must be mentioned, I believe they’re selling themselves short on the ‘meatless’ – I’ve seen rave reviews for their veggie balls.

ymco harrogate
ymco harrogate
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In Review: Betty’s Afternoon Tea, Harrogate

bettys afternoon tea
Betty’s in Harrogate is somewhat legendary. When I moved up North, everyone who had foodie advice to share would throw Betty’s into the mix; afternoon tea at Betty’s was an inevitability.

Arriving to the Imperial Room in a mini harem of lovely ladies (the only way to ‘do’ afternoon tea), we were immediately taken by the atmosphere. As you sweep past Betty’s omnipresent queues, walk up the stairs and into the reservation-only Imperial Room, you are wrapped up in the seamless warmth of their live piano player’s little ditties.

With high-ceilings, chandeliers, and views of Montpellier Gardens, the ambience is like nowhere else…but you do pay for it. More on that later.

Deciding to kick the afternoon off with a glass of champagne, I took quasi-ladylike sips as we perused the extensive tea menu. As each of us came away away with a different choice – floral, English, fruity, et al – we were surprised to find each new tea as delicious as the last (though, for me, Jasmine Blossom is always victorious).

Moreover, the service was impeccable.

It’s the value of the food itself that I found a small issue with. At £26.95 (or £33.95 with a glass of champagne), Betty’s afternoon tea is an occasion-only treat for most people…and I didn’t love the food. The sandwiches were standard filling sandwiches. The scones were delightfully light, but not fresh or warm. The cakes – my highlight – were fantastic, but six of them were split over two stands which made for unnecessarily awkward ‘splitting’ situations if you wanted to taste them all between two or more.

To put it simply; I’ve had more creative afternoon teas, with more attention to detail, for less. It’s a tourism legacy – one I’m glad I’ve experienced – but I would advise anyone to indulge in some tea and cakes before going down the full afternoon tea route.

bettys afternoon tea
bettys afternoon tea
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In Review: Trinity Kitchen, April 2014

trinity kitchen april 2014
Trinity Leeds’ Trinity Kitchen is, truth be told, one of the first places that made me fall in love with Leeds. It’s about time I gave it some blog love.

Though Trinity Kitchen has some long-term restaurant spaces secured (PizzaLuxe, Pho, other good noms beginning with the letter P, etc), the area I tend to make a beeline for is the open ‘food court’ right at the back – an space filled with a monthly rotation of street food vans.

At the start of April, I headed down to check out the newbies: Rola Wala, Happy Maki, The Cake Doctor, Fresh Rootz, and Bangwok. Spoilt for choice, much?

After spending far too much time staring at Cake Doctor’s 1979 Ford Transit Mark 2 ambulance and circling around Bangwok’s giant woks, oil drums, and Tuk-Tuk, I sent The Manfriend off to Rola Wala while I ordered Happy Maki’s Hoisin Duck futomaki (translation: wrap). Filled with crispy shredded duck, hoisin sauce, spring onion, roasted sesame seeds, avocado, cucumber, and green pepper, this carefully balanced – and ocean conscious – meal is a treat and a half. (You can sub the duck for tofu, but you’d have to be nuts. Instead, add some wasabi and ginger and get your Happy on.)

Having rather ‘meh’ feelings about Indian curries, I didn’t expect to be as eager to taste Rola Wala’s Coriander Chicken Tikka wrap as I was. Simply, the ‘I could marry this’ look on The Manfriend’s face said it all. When offered a bite, I practically cut it out of his hands.

There is something magical going on in Rola Wala’s wraps. As co-founder Adam explained while spreading all of the toppings across the wrap, the chicken (which is halal) is marinated for 48 hours before being nipped and tucked inside their fresh naan. Even the naan was more than a vehicle for the flavour (which was phenomenally, moreishly spicy). In itself, it was rather tasty.

Balancing sips of Happy Maki’s Berry Smoothie (blueberries, blackberries, banana and almond milk) between tongue-zapping bites of the wrap, I was in street food heaven.

I only wished I had enough stomach space to get through one of the super-stacked veggie plates (from Fresh Rootz) that so many fellow Trinity patrons were gushing over around me.

Completely stuffed to the brim and swearing to return to trial the rest of the Kitchen’s April offerings, we stopped by Rola Wala to give our praise…only to be tempted by Adam’s introduction of ‘The Hottest Ice In The World’. In partnership with Indie Ices, Rola Wala have developed a small pot of mango kulfi with added coconut, lime juice and a pinch of Moruga Scorpion Chilli (the Worlds hottest chilli). It was – obviously – divine.

You won’t spend a better £10 (or less!) anywhere in Leeds.

trinity kitchen april 2014
trinity kitchen april 2014
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Recipe: The Calories Don’t Count Healthy Cocoa Cake

healthy cocoa cake
I adore the ‘Mug Cake‘ philosophy because I love cake. Especially when it’s secretly healthy. What fellow mugcake makers and I don’t love? Making full cakes. Without a house full of sweet tooths to clear a cake stand in a day or less, cake-making’s inevitability is the personal consumption of hundreds of calories that I simply don’t need.

The trick? Making a yummy personal-sized cake full of hidden healthies! In my words, ‘The Calories Don’t Count Healthy Cocoa Cake‘.

Ingredients:
1 egg
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 very ripe banana
1 tbsp greek yogurt
1 pinch self-raising flour
1 pinch cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Smoosh the bejeezus out of your banana. Use a blender if you have one to hand, of course – I just prefer to smoosh and whip manually. Transfer into a small microwave-safe dish or mug.

2. Crack an egg into the banana and mix (by fork). Add the rest of your ingredients and mix once more.

3. In regards to the cocoa, I personally like to leave mine until the last ingredient and not mix it very well. This creates little pockets of cocoa in the final cake; ‘healthy chocolate chips’, if you will. Mixing it in well will simply create a more consistent chocolate flavour in the cake.

4. Microwave for one minute.

Enjoy!

healthy cocoa cake
healthy cocoa cake


Review: Almost Famous Burgers, Manchester

almost famous burgers manchester
Sometimes I really hate reviewing food.

Not that I’m ungrateful (far from it!) – I simply have a problem sitting down to start blogging after a tough workout and healthy breakfast, only to develop an insane craving for a dirty-as-they-come burger.

I think my mouth is throbbing. And I’m blaming Almost Famous.

This restaurant is so wrapped up in burger hype that I felt it be sacrilege not to order one…or two…with loads of fries…and crack wings….and cocktails. Ahem.

Though almost all of the burgers on Almost Famous’ menu start with a double cheeseburger base, each and every one is met with a flurry of – slightly insane – toppings. My best friend couldn’t take his eyes off of the River Phoenix; the double topped with bacon, BBQ fried onions, frazzles, baconnaise, chipotle ketchup, BBQ sass, and fresh chilli. With the trifecta of bacon (and bacon-esque) toppings on offer, it sounds much more sickly than it actually is. Somehow, the high-low mix of ‘ingredients’ like fresh chilli and Frazzles worked.

Jumping off the deep end, I went for what I was most intimidated by: the super saucy Baddaboom. While this burger was topped with just one slice of bacon, the other ingredients (chorizo, onions, marinara, famous sauce, frenchs, parmesan, and chilli) maxxed out all available space inside the garlic butter brioche. Beautifully so. The chilli and chorizo added another dimension to what I’m sure is a disgustingly calorific food mountain.

Deciding to share some ‘Winning’ fries (heavily house seasoned skin-on and sweet potato fries) in between bites of their ‘Crack Wings‘, I was in Americana heaven. The wings come in ‘Suicide’ (HOT!), ‘Redneck’ (BBQ) and the soy-based ‘Pho-king amazing’ sauce. I went for the latter, and fell in love with the asian sensation (I’m positive the sauce had some sriracha in it).

The only thing I didn’t enjoy about Almost Famous was ordering at the bar. While I don’t expect much ‘service’ from any restaurant I go to, I have had low-key table service at restaurants/cafes that cost less than half as much. Waiting ten minutes to order food, another few minutes for cocktails to be made, and then having to carry them – and a purse – back to the table? It prevented me from ordering more drinks. It’s a disservice to an otherwise awesome establishment.

Note: Like all good burger joints in this day and age, Almost Famous has a no booking policy that means two hour waits are not uncommon on a Friday or Saturday. If you can’t hack a queue, don’t think you need to write it off. Lunchtimes are still buzzy (but queueless), and a Thursday evening visit will keep you in a happy food coma until the weekend arrives.

almost famous burgers manchester
almost famous burgers manchester
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