Monday, January 28, 2008

Mr Foley's Cask Ale House, Leeds

I've blogged about this joint before - it used to be called Okells, and before that, Baroque. Last time around, only the sign above the front door seemed to change, with maybe a concession to the casual 'Friday Night' drinker rather than the real ale enthusiast. This time round, however, things are different, as you would have guessed from the new name.

Named after the bloke who first set up shop in the iconic building, Foley's seems to have really embraced local breweries and cask ales this time around, with the chilled beer selection taking a back seat to the taps.

10 taps present a good spread Yorkshire Brewing, with York Brewery being the most heavily represented. No problem; Thier Guzzler and Yorkshire Terrier are favourites of mine, and now i can get them in Leeds, all the better. Also available are offerings from Leeds Brewery; i was most impressed with thier Leeds Best and Midnight Bell - the first a fine session beer in the style of Timothy Taylor's Landlord but with a little more bite, the second a darker bitter with a much, much maltier body, as you would expect from a beer named 'Midnight Bell'. I've been impressed by Leeds Brewery thus far, and you'll hopefully see a fuller profile of thiers coming up on this blog.

Speaking of surprises, the Grolsch Wiezen is nice, too. Sorry, but i have to be honest. I enjoyed it, and have not seen it anywhere else in Leeds.

With Camra meetings taking place here, hopefully Foley's has recieved the endorsement from those who matter and is here to stay. It hope it does, too; I really enjoy its latest incarnation- a large, friendly boozer with staff who know thier stuff. The bar food menu even suggests simple beer pairings, and although not ground - breaking stuff, it's a step in the right direction to the layperson who wants to delve into the world of food and beer. Im not going to get snooty about that; La Gavroche it is not; but La Gavroche I would not want it to be. I'm sure i'll have many a decent pint in here in months to come.

Mr Foley's Cask Ale House
159 The Headrow
0113 2429674.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Tagging; oh, go on then...Marching On Together!

Ok, so at first glance this whole tagging thing seemed like one of those godawful chain emails one recieved promising untold riches should you foreard it to a billion people withinhalf an hour of recieving it, but once I had read AJ's frankly excellent effort and AEB, I figured the least I could do to is participate; a sort of 'Get to know your friendly Blogger' excercise.

Basically, the rules are thus:

1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 random and/or weird things about yourself.
3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

My blog links are not random; that would probably result in a waste of time. I have chosen ones I think you will enjoy if you're here, reading TGS. Anyways, onward and upward:

1. Apart from Food & Beer, Leeds United are a passion of mine. I have a special Leeds United Mug (pictured) that only I can use. No-one else must even look at it. This may sound strange, but I think most males do something like this in thier lifetime. Over the years many of my possessions have been adorned with that badge, and many are treated with grail-like reverence. The same rules also apply to my Sabatier Knives.
2. More obsessive behaviour; If I have a beer at home that i have not had before, the cap is
kept. I have about 70 or so caps. I dont know why I do this, as i dont look at them again; they just lie around in a big tub.
3. I also write fiction in my spare time, and have enjoyed some small-scale publishing success. My favourite writers are Henry Miller, Hunter Thompson, Charles Bukowski, and Cormac McCarthy. At the moment, I am reading 'True Tales of American Life' by Paul Auster.
4. My Foodwriting Hero is Anthony Bourdain.
5. I worked in my Grandfather's Butchers' as a teen, and learned a lot about food, meat and 'locally sourced produce' before that phrase was even coined. I learned one main thing; Family and Friendship should always be based around eating together.
6. I play Bass guitar; I listen mostly to Americana and Alt.Country music, and at the moment I am enjoying Iron & Wine, Mark Kozelek, American Music Club, Lambchop, The National and Richmond Fontaine, to name a few.
7. As a result of my obsession with Beer, my long-suffering partner not only has more beer knowledge than your average twenty-something girl, but knows what to look for, how to buy, and the brewing process. She can name a brewery at 20 paces from a pump-clip. She will make suggestions for my beer-cellar, and I trust her completely to pick up beers for me if am not able to. She can even do a pretty good job of detecting aromas when sniffing beer. In many ways she is the perfect beer-pursuing partner - and the irony is this: she can't stand the stuff. A Kriek, maybe, in the summer, but that's it.

There you go. Not as insightful as AJ's, but now you know a little more.

My "7 Blogs You Should Totally Check Out":

5. Toothpaste for Dinner (not food/beer based but excellent)

- Excellent blogs, every one of them. Enjoy.

News Roundup - Jan '08

Well done to The Junction in Otley for winning CAMRA's 'Pub Of The Season-Winter' -the family owned and run pub now boasts 11 cask ales on at any time, as well as an excellent selection of malt whiskeys. If in Otley, you know where to go.
Also coming up at the end of the month is The Grove Beer Festival, which sees the Leeds stalwart joining forces with The Scarbrough Hotel to bring you a full weekend of up to 80 beers from all over the UK. The Grove will handle beers from A-L, while the Scarbrough will take on L-Z...sure to be good, wholesome fun!
The Grove Inn
Back Row, Holbeck Leeds
0113 2439254

The Scarbrough Hotel
Bishopgate Street, Leeds
0113 243 4590

Sunday, January 06, 2008


I came upon this recipe in Rick Stein's frankly excellent Mediterranean Escapes book and decided to give it a go. I was looking for something a bit lighter for supper this week, and had an excellent beer in mind to accompany. Spanokopita are basically Greek cheese and spinach pastries, and super-tasty ones at that. I've been meaning to make some at home since trying them in thier place of birth, Skopelos, a couple of years ago. I'm an avid carnivore, so something with no meat in it has to be seriously special to get a look in at The Good Stuff Kitchen. The recipe is essentially the same, although I have included a dipping sauce that livens up things a little, and also taken a little inspiration from Elizabeth David's version from her nigh-on essential Book of Mediterranean Cookery.

Spanokopita (makes about 6)

You will need:
Spinach, washed and shredded, a good panful.
A tbspn of Olive Oil
One Small Onion, finely chopped
100g Feta Cheese
50g Gruyere Cheese
10g Parmesan Cheese
1 Egg
Black Pepper & Mint for seasoning
About 2 Sheets of Filo Pastry (I bought the frozen stuff - works perfectly fine)
100g Melted Butter

1. Heat your Oven to about 180c.
2. Wash and slice your Spinach into strips.
3. Gently colour the onion in the olive oil, then add the spinach. Let the Spinach wilt, then take off the heat to cool. You may need to press out any excess water the spinach may produce at this stage.
4. While the veg are cooling, make the filling. Into a large Bowl, crumble the Feta, grate the Gruyere and add the Parmesan, along with the pepper and mint. Add the egg to and stir to bind.
5. Add the Spinach and onion once cooled.
6. Now you can make the parcels however you like; I used the triangle patty method, although the choice is yours. Use melted butter to seal the corners/edges, and make as many as you need. Place on a greased baking tray, and wash the tops of the patties liberally with the melted butter.
7. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes before turning over, butter-washing and then baking the underside. You may need to turn them a few times, washing with butter each time, until they are golden brown.

I think that the ones I had in Skopelos were actually deep fried, so the butter-washing kind of substitutes that. Just make sure they don't burn.

Tomato and Chilli Dipping Sauce

Into a blender place 4 chopped, large tomatoes, 3 gloves of garlic, and one whole chilli pepper (seeded if you like). Blend into a smooth paste. In a pan, heat a good tbspn of Olive Oil, and add the sauce. Stir in a good helping of tomato puree. Stir. Season with black pepper and plenty of Oregano. Simmer for as long as you like; I reduced for about half an hour and the results were great; a thick, fiery sauce that lifts the creamy, salty cheese filling of the Spanokopita.

...And To Drink....?

In Skopelos I washed these down with local white wine, as there wasnt any beer available apart from the usual fizz. But here I wanted something crisp to cut through the intense dipping sauce and creamy cheese, but also provide a complexity of its own. I opted for Weihenstephaner Kristallweissbier; a wiessbier in name but a really light, clear one at that. Chilled down it is really refreshing, but gives you all that good, yeasty taste you would expect from a Weizen without overpowering your snack.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

First Beer of 2008...

...And it's a good one.

At my end of year review I mentioned The Great Divide Brewing Company, a brewer who I only became familiar with late on in 2007, but impressed me greatly. My choice of first beer of 2008 certainly deserved to be thiers.

Titan IPA is my favourite of thier current roster. I don't usually go in for massivley-hopped beers, but this is an exception. Despite the aforementioned huge hop taste, Titan has a great, grapefruity (to me, anyway) tang to it and is soooo refreshing. If you want something different, something with a little more edge, then I would definately go for this. A corker!