Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Clocks Go Back, The Beers Come Out...

I feel distinctly different in the last few days. The days are shortening, the heating has been turned on, the kitchen has stopped producing griddled and barbecued things and now hosts pots of bubbling stews and casseroles. I'm drinking more beer.

The Good Stuff has always been beer-heavy, but i'm going to concentrate more on this in the next few months. There's so much good stuff out there, and now is the perfect time to take a trip to your local beer-nerd-stockist (see the next post for a profile of mine).

I recently got my hands on two excellent examples of the evergreen work of Samuel Smiths, a brewery close to my heart, in Tadcaster.

Thier 'Taddy Porter' is a big, big beer. Huge malted flavours, with those tradmark hints of coffee and roasted malts. Make no mistake, you know you've had a glass of Taddy. Unremittingly dry, this is one of my favourite examples of Porter available today (the other being Flag Porter - which i can't seem to find - can anyone help?).

A few nights later, a long, boring day at work was rounded off by a glass of Smith's Winter Welcome Ale. At 6% abv, the ale is no slouch but is remarkably drinkable - malty, as you you would expect, but quite lively also. It's brewed in Yorkshire Squares and you can tell - that trademark taste runs thorough it. Hoppy on the aftertaste, i really enjoyed this and will be having it again.

In Leeds, The Angel, just off Briggate, stocks these and pretty much all of Smith's brews all of the time.Oh, and i know it's nerdy - but when was the last time you say such amazing design on a beer label?

Wanna be on Telly?

Always one to bring attention to worthy causes - Eating Britain has an invite from Thames TV to take part on a new cookery show called 'Cooking the Books'. Good People Eats had also been invited, but won't be taking part - but if this is your cup of tea, or you harbour dreams of becoming a celebrity, drop by and register your interest...

Eating Britain has also higlighted Chicken Out , a campaign fronted by our friendly friend Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. A sad fact of today's eating environment is that upwards of 90% of the chicken we eat today is intensively reared. This is shocking, and although sometimes it's hard to find an alternative, if we can raise awareness of this then maybe we can turn the tide. Drop by the official site and sign your name.

Eating Britain is a great blog, and i urge you all to drop by.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Michael Jackson - more genius...

Beers of The World magazine are carrying a touching tribute to Michael Jackson this month, with loads of great quotes from the man. If you're not familiar with the man or the mag, i suggest you remedy that asap!
...While we are on the glorious subject of beer, time for a rant. After reading this, and doing some research, it occured to me that there are still hardly any books on beer (guides, brewing guides etc) stocked by bookshops - at least in Leeds. The sections on books about Wines are usually massive - even books on whisky get more shelf-space. Surely there is room for more? Amazon stocks at least 1000 books on Beer - why are they so hard to find in shops, then? Has anyone else out there found this frustrating, or do are my expectations too high?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Spotlight on...Raydale Preserves

Raydale Preserves are a company that i always keep an eye out for when visiting Farmer's Markets across Yorkshire. Our love affair with them started simply; one day we were lamenting the lack of blueberry jam in the market place; the next weekend, at a market in Skipton, we found that Raydale had put that right. We bought 2 jars, and declared it the best we had tasted.

Raydale are based in Askrigg, near Leyburn - a hub for home-made produce. Thier preserve list is extensive, and new flavours pop up all the time. Although the art is traditional, the flavours show forward-thinking; my last trio of buys included Plum and Strawberry & Amaretto.

The Kettlewells, who run Raydale, epitomise what i like about Yorkshire food in particular - keeping a tradition alive, and appealing to those long-forgotten tastes.Their tasting room is open pretty much daily but please check the times if you visit because these can be affected by the seasons. You can see how the preserves are made and kick back afterwards and sample some home-made cakes.

Give Raydale a try - you won't be disappointed. They can be found at pretty much every farmer's market across our region.

Raydale Preserves
Schoolhouse Farm, Stalling Busk
Askrigg, Leyburn
North Yorkshire
01969 650233

A BBQ Odyssey - Harrogate to Tennessee

A story in the Yorkshire Evening Post really warmed my heart this week. Andy Annat, a butcher from Harrogate, is flying to the States at the end of the month to take part in the World Barbecue Championships.
BBQ is huge in the states - and is entirely different from the summer-only affairs we have in the UK. Where we will stoke up those coals, throw on some choice burgers, bangers and meat cuts, then proceed to spend a balmy aftenoon stuffing ourselves and downing chilled wine and beers, the Americans elevate it to a way of life. Slow, slow cooking over heat is the order of the day; complex marinades and rubs come into play. Meat is cooked for days in 'pits' - much more than a normal BBQ.
What i love about this is what links it to every business or individual we feature on Good People Eats. Love for food, bordering on obsession - no matter where in the world you are.
Anyway, if you want to know more, check out the story here. For more on home-grown BBq obsession, there have been some great recipes and articles by my Candian buddies An Endless Banquet - see the link.
Good Luck, Andy!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

'Our' Meatballs

Ah, Meatballs...So simple, So delicious. Working full time has really made me appreciate 'making stuff for the freezer' - taking a little time out of your weekend to make something that can freeze well, so you make sure your midweek meals aren't reduced to ready meals or take outs (not that we would!)

One treat that we have been eating a lot of recently is the humble meatball. Every one has thier own recipe - here's ours.

'Our Meatballs' (makes about 25)
1lb of minced Beef
1lb of minced Pork
3 slices of wholemeal bread, blitzed or finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped (as fine as possible)
2 cloves of Garlic
1 chilli pepper (or as many as you like!)
chopped parsley
chopped oregano
black pepper

The recipe is simply this; prepare all your ingredients and mix together with your hands (gotta use your hands!) and then form into balls. I also sometimes use a little olive oil for moisture; but you'll find that the onion creates enough anyway.

The great thing about meatballs is that you can use pretty much anything you want; one person i know adds finely chopped carrot; you could use turkey or chicken for a lighter, more savoury meatball for soups or broths. One fave of mine is to use lamb and mint for a greek-style 'metze' ball. the possibilties are endless - but this is my fave, the old standby. Bake, dump four or so onto a split baguette, top with some (pre-prepared) chunky tomato sauce, add tons of strong cheddar on top and grill until the cheese bubbles for an amazing midweek meal. Messy, though...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

North Bar's Oktoberfest

It's a strange, heady smell that greets my nostrils as i walk into North on this autumnal wednesday. Bratwurst. Yep, thick, sizzling sausages sitting alongside tall glasses of every shade of ale you could imagine. This is North Bar's Oktoberfest.
Trust those forward-thinking chaps at North to bring this great little slice of Bavaria to he heart of Leeds; a positive godsend for those of us who can't afford to go to the real thing. In he name of research, i get stuck in.
Its strange reviewing a bar that i spend so much time in - and i was thinking about not doing it at all. But despite my obvious love for North, the only city bar I consider 'my local', i don't want to ignore the seasonal festivals that they take great effort to put on -and Oktoberfest is a success, purely for that reason. These guys want it to happen; so it does. They do it because they know thier customers want it.
That's enough of the gushing - onto the beers. First up I sample an Oktober brew by one of my favourite brewers, Paulaner. Its long, smooth and unbeleivably refreshing. Pale, but not too sharp. Of all the normal 'Oktoberfest' style brews, this is easily the easiest to drink. A little too easy, actually! Another hit for Paulaner. (Watch out for the Paulaner - heavy beer tent at the German Market around Christmas time!)
Next up, another old fave - Erdinger. Again, tempted by the promise of a seasonal brew from the Munich-based brewery. Again, a gorgeous amber wheat beer, very smooth, but with a much more pronounced kick (5.7) abv. Very drinkable, very good with the aforementioned Bratwurst.

The beer list is extensive - i can't imagine many places serving Hofbrau or Spaten tonight. The staff pour and pour, smile and serve in a true German fashion. The place fills, and the lights fade. Another night begins at North, and the conversation, lilting in and out of the music, is invariably about Beer.

Oktoberfest @ North runs until the 7th October. For further info, see the North link.