the cheese truck
Confession: Over the past few years, I have become a bit of a cheese snob.

Though I try (and fail) my very best to not be a food wanker, something about moving back to the UK after an American teenagehood of cheese – apologies, cheez – crackers, sprays, and slices gave me the green flag to become more particular about the yellow stuff.

Rediscovering Brie alone was a pretty emotional time for me.

Proving I still get jazzed over a good block of dairy, when The Cheese Truck invited me over to Trinity Leeds for a chat and gorge last week, my heart went pitter patter.

I’m a freak, I know; but…GOURMET GRILLED CHEESE, YOU GUYS.

On the arranged evening, myself and a few fellow bloggers sat down with Matthew (half of ‘Team The Cheese Truck’) and loved on cheese – verbally – for a good hour or so between tasters from the truck’s varied ingredient stash.

From the tasters I knew I was in lust with the Ogleshield from Montgomery’s but was blown away when it arrived in a grilled sourdough alongside Keen’s Cheddar and some thinly sliced red onions. Oglesheild is immensely, gloriously stretchy and ‘calms’ the cheddar into a moreish slice of heaven. Veggie food porn, to say the least.

(It is worth nothing that while they are residents of Trinity Kitchen all of their thick-cut sourdough is coming straight from our city’s own Leeds Bread Co-op; a decision to applaud both ethically and tastefully.)

Next up, a grilled cheese filled with chunky chorizo, rocket and ‘Queso Chihuahua’ from Gringa Dairy. As both of the names suggest, this Mexican cheese (made by an Illinois native living in Peckham) is a classically tangy tex mex creation that plays off the chorizo beautifully. It was our table’s favourite.

Unsure of how well the next two sandwich samples would go down, I bit into a blend of Cropwell Bishop Stilton, bacon, and spiced pear chutney with an open mind. Stilton is one of my least favourite cheeses (especially for its overabundant presence in salads), but somehow this savoury pairing just worked. It’s a little naughty. Which makes it very nice.

On the naughty-ometer, the final sandwich probably takes the cake. After combining Capricorn Somerset Goats Cheese with honey and walnuts, The Cheese Truck push the envelope a little bit further and glaze the sourdough in Rosemary butter. I thought it would be sickly. It was just plain SICK. After a year of business, the guys of The Cheese Truck have still been known to eat this baby for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If that’s not endorsement enough, I’m not sure what is.

With just enough room left to sample their dessert, our evening was capped off with a sumptuous plate of dark chocolate and Stilton brownies.

Yes, chocolate and cheese.

Yes, it was (like everything else) awesome.

If you’re not able to get to Leeds before the end of this month’s residency, you can look forward to sampling The Cheese Truck’s goods at Glastonbury and Sonisphere over the summer, as well as a bevy of other locations throughout the year.

Matthew hopes the next stage for The Cheese Truck is an artisan cheese bar a la Mission Cheese. Investors, getcha pesos out.

the cheese truck
the cheese truck
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trinity kitchen may 2014
After last month’s curryfest, I was more than excited to get a few new dudes (and their accompanying food trucks) in at Trinity Kitchen.

I could not be more pleased with the line-up: from left to right, Trinity has set up shop for The Cheese Truck (fully reviewed in the following post), Pemberman’s, Dogtown London, The Marvellous Tea Shed, and Mei Mei.

Though I have heard far too much about Dogtown to head anywhere else for my first dinner (of the month…week, let’s be honest), each trader had an item or two that tempted me to reconsider.

Of course, I couldn’t stray from Dogtown’s so-called ‘pedigree’ hotdogs (they even offer vegan dogs!). It took me a few more minutes to order in comparison the Manfriend as I felt spoilt for choice, but I ended up biting the biggest bullet and ordering the Chilli-Cheese Dog. While Mr. Plain Hotdog poured a good slop of their of home-made chipotle sauce on top of his meat, I watched Dogtown carefully prepare the beef and bone marrow chilli, sour cream, and fresh coriander over my own ‘Dog’.

While mine tasted as good as it looks (aka #FOODPORN), the Manfriend’s tasted infinitely better than its crime-scene appearance. The chipotle sauce seemed slightly smoked, slightly chillied, and ended up being the unassuming power player of Dogtown’s set-up.

Later in the evening some new friends crooned over the Char Siu goodness of Mei Mei’s Jian Bing wraps, but – as you’ll see in my next blog – there was absolutely zero room left for a sneaky taste.

Until next time…

trinity kitchen may 2014
trinity kitchen may 2014
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hello may
May feels kind of like a ‘nothing’ month, doesn’t it? While the UK gears up for festival season, sunshine holidays and weddings galore, May just kind of sits there…looking pretty. With your varied interests in mind, I thought I’d drum up a little list of UK-wide (and slightly special) things to do over the month of May…

1. Eat at City Social
On the 1st, Jason Atherton finally crashed into The City by taking over top of Tower 42 (‘the National Westminster Tower’, to some of us). As well as hosting something of a jazz club on Saturday afternoons, the menu reads better than any Atherton restaurant to date; theCumbrian beef tartare, with sour dough crouton, goat’s curd, truffle dressing, and dried vinegar sounds absolutely unreal.

2. Experience West Side Story in Leeds
The Leeds Grands Theatre is being taken over by the gangs of New York’s Upper West Side from the 20th to 31st of May. While I’m obviously talking about West Side Story, the UK revival of what I only know as a very American musical (based on the Bard’s Romeo and Juliet) is too intriguing to pass up.

3. Rock out with Nine Inch Nails
Following the release of Hesitation Marks, Nine Inch Nails are going to be melting faces at The O2 on May 23rd. Literally recording music longer than I’ve been alive, the band’s 30-million-plus album sales say it all: this concert is going to be larger than life.

4. Visit The House of Peroni
The House of Peroni is back again – this time showcasing four floors, three bars, one temporary restaurant and a laundry list of amazing small workshops in an unassuming Holborn townhouse over the month of May. As well as a mix of street food, music, Peroni (obvs), and more, one of the most sold-out events is a recurring fashion workshop that teaches you to own designer-esque silk scarf. Book in while you can!

5. Do al fresco cinema at Spinningfields
Thursday nights at Manchester’s Spinningfields have gone all Hollywood on us. Each week until August 21st, patrons are welcome to pull up a deckchair (provided) and enjoy a classic cinematic experience on The Lawns. Only costing £3 (and surrounded by plenty of food and drink options), Spinningfields have just become date night perfected.

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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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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