Sunday, August 12, 2007

Closures, Closures, Closures....

I noticed a worrying trend in our cities’ food news the last couple of weeks – despite it being a very ‘Leeds is now’ time for the city, two long-standing establishments have had to close this month.
Firstly, a simple change of location cost Beano Wholefoods dearly. Beano had been around for nearly 30 years – which makes it all the more shocking when you consider the power the whole ‘Organic’ ethos has these days. However, Beano did not fit in the council’s plans for the fast-developing Briggate and moved it down the road. And that’s it – a move of only 300 yards results in such a drop in trade that Beano simply no longer exists. As you would imagine, a void is now present for those wanting vegan or more ehtically-produced foodstuffs. it would seem people are happy to buy 'Fairtrade' - as long as they can get it from a supermarket.

Also, Dino’s – the Italian under the Railway Station on Bishopsgate, have thrown in the towel after another long 15 years in the Leeds food scene. The manager is blaming the explosion in restaurants in Leeds in the last few years as being so detrimental to the trade that he can no longer go on. Telling ,perhaps, but one has to wonder what other long-standing restaurants in the area such as Bibi’s, Da Marios and Salvo’s are doing in order to survive. I’m of the belief that Leeds is big enough for all these places, but the closure of Beano’s is a real shame.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Leeds Food & Drink Festival 2007 - Preview

After a lost weekend in Dublin courtesy of a Stag I know, I return to Leeds to find the Food & Drink Festival preparations in full swing. Again, it starts on a weekday but I’m sure during it’s five day run there will be at least once chance to take a mosey on down. So what’s going on?

A quick flick through the brochure gives me an idea of some highlights. The always affable and almost-so-Yorkshire-you-can-taste-it pairing of Brian Turner and James Martin will have a large crowd, not least among the mothers of Leeds. For those with Gallic leanings, Raymond Blanc will be appearing on the 10th, ahead of the opening of much anticipated ‘Brassiere Blanc’ in Leeds later this year. No doubt that one will have food writers up and down Yorkshire in a cold sweat for at least, ooh - the opening weekend.

Apart from the celebs – who really need no introduction – personally I’ll be looking forward to demonstrations from two establishments close to my heart; Thomas Danby College, one of the unsung heroes of Leeds of providing training and vocations for chefs, bakers and butchers-to-be are putting in a couple of appearances. Thomas Danby work hard; very hard. Go see them. Also, a paella cook-off (gotta love a cook-off!) courtesy of La Tasca sounds good, as does the tapas and wine tasting event held by Sandinista – another bona fide ‘The Good Stuff’ hero when it comes to smart, affordable tapas with no pretension. Shepherd’s Purse Cheeses are also helping out the ubiquitous Olive Tree demo so make sure to pick up some of their wares.

Finally, some excellent ideas – Kirkgate Market will be offering various food tastings throughout Saturday, and a string of restaurants in Headingley will be offering ‘Menus for £10’ – great idea, especially when you consider Headingley is home to the peerless Salvos and Brett’s fish and chips – amongst others.
So that’s my rundown of the highlights – there’s more to the Leeds Food Festival than Harvey Nichols, you know. Shame there’s nothing highlighting the excellent pubs Leeds has to offer – an ale trail, perhaps next year? One can hope, eh?

The Leeds Festival of Food & Drink,
8-12 August,
Briggate and surrounding environs, Leeds.