Monday, May 26, 2008

The Hunter's Inn/The Dyneley Arms, Otley, Near Leeds

Life has a funny way of turning full circle at times.
The Hunter’s Inn, in Otley, near Leeds, was the scene of, or rather the cause of, my first real hangover. A real, adult, honest to god, head-throbbing, stomach churning, muscle-tremoring hangover. We were only young, and maybe that made The Hunter’s scarier than it actually was – although in those days it was clearly a Biker’s hangout; the pool table and jukebox were the most important things there - not the bar. Lord, not the bar. If I remember correctly, Newcastle Brown was the tipple of the evening that will forever be scorched into my mind. And forever scorched onto my friend's mum's lawn the next morning.

We drive past it often, and I had recently noticed subtle changes– a Theakston’s sign was up, and a notice telling me that up to 9 rotating cask ales were on offer. It ticked away in my mind, and last month, on the way back from The Leyburn Festival of Food and Drink, we dropped in - quite unsure of what to expect.
I don’t know the two landladies, but they have done a great job. Firstly, the place is way more welcoming, and there are no bikes in the doorway (sorry, bikers – no offence) - but the ales spoke volumes. My heart sank when I saw Rooster’s Yankee available – not only would I have to try it (being one of my all-time faves), but if it was in bad nick then it was game over. I’m outta there.
I lifted the glass to my lips and drank – perfect. A great pint. The bar stocked - to name a few - beers from Kelham Island (more on them later), Roosters, Old Bear, Goose Eye, Marston Moor, Barnsley and Sharp’s...a better choice than you would expect, to say the least. The fire was roaring, people were smiling and laughing – hey, we were in a good pub. Not a bar. A pub.
I’ve not written a pub review in a while, simply because I had nothing to say on the matter. The Hunter’s has improved so much, it’s a little beacon of hope for a time when the pub trade seems to be in a bad way. Put it on your beer map – it’s a worthy destination. There’s also an excellent farm shop next door if you need something for tea on your back home.

Another Otley pub from my youth, The Dyneley Arms, has been reincarnated as a Sam Smith's pub. We dropped in, lured by the prospect of a pint of Smith’s Wheat Beer (which I believe to be greatly underappreciated) and found a much changed pub to the Dyneley of the past. The place is immaculate; and luckily the beer is too. Well kept, honest beer, in a cavernous , suitably rustic setting. My only reservation was a silly one – it all seemed a little too new. I’m used to enjoying my pints of Sovereign Bitter in slightly rougher surroundings. Oh well - I’ll get used to it. Drop by, see what you think.
· But aren’t the beer mats the greatest you have ever seen? You really don’t get them like that anymore. Well done, Sam Smith’s design guy (or Girl).

The Hunter’s Inn - Harrogate Road, Pool in Wharfedale, Otley, West Yorkshire, LS21 2PS, Tel: 01132 841090

The Dyneley Arms - Otley Road, Otley, LS21 1ET Tel: 0113 2842887

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Pork Pinwheels with Skylark Pale Ale

A few weeks back, I received a nice surprise in the post; A couple of bottles of home-brewed beer from John of John's Random Ramblings. To be honest, I didn't know what to expect; but to say I was amazed was to say the least. One of the beers, Skylark Pale Ale, was an absolute revelation - I set about creating a little snack to go along with this fantastic pint.

My Grandfather was a butcher, and I spent many early years in a little smock and apron making these things in the back of the shop. They would sell well in the barbecue season, and were one of the few concessions to modernity that my (very traditional) grandad would make for his customers. I've done my best to replicate it.

Pork Pinwheels (makes two foot-long rolls, enough for about 4 people)
You will need:
1 & 1/2 lbs of Minced Pork
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
4 Spring Onions, chopped
1 Chilli, deseeded and chopped.
Flaky pastry, about 300g worth
Eggwash or clarified butter, to glaze
Seasoning: a little salt, white pepper, fresh thyme and parsley

1. Mix the chopped/diced veg with the pork in a large mixing bowl.
2. Roll out your pastry, and lay flat on a floured surface. With your hands, spread the mixture across the pastry, leaving a gap of about half an inch at the edges.
3. Very carefully, roll the pastry up like a swiss roll (a meat swiss roll!) tightly. Too loose and it will not hold together. You'll have a big pinwheel log at this stage.
4. Repeat with s much pastry and meat as you have - I reckon at least two logs.
5. Place in the fridge to firm up and chill for at least an hour.
6. When ready to cook, simply eggwash the top (or butter, I guess) and with a very very sharp knife (Not a serrated one), slice into portions and arrange on a baking tray. The knife must be sharp and you must use a smooth action - if you've made sushi, you know what I mean.
7. When on the tray, you can apply a little eggwash to the undersides, and bake in a preheated oven at 180c for about 30 minutes, or until golden.
There you go. Tasty, savoury bites that are surprisingly filling. Ideal for making for large groups as you can make the things the night before and then simply cook on the day. They also freeze excellently, providing you are using fresh pastry and meat.

The savoury, peppery pork paired really well with the Skylark Pale Ale; the Skylark was full of floral, honey aromas but tasted less so; to taste, a malty bite came through at the end. If this is the standard of beer being made in homebrew setups in Darlington then I, for one, am gladdened.

Obviously I am aware of the fact this pairing isn't possible for everyone. For a beer that I thought was surprisingly close in taste, I can recommend St Peter's Best Bitter for the malt profile, or Durham's Rolling Hitch - for the more floral, hoppier aspect of the Skylark.
Cheers, John!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The May Midweek Mild

...See what I did there?

Seeing as though CAMRA have deemed May the month of Mild, here's what I can recommend if you feel like sampling the wonders of that dying breed, Mild.
Personally, I've been drinking a lot of Leed's Midnight Bell. Not only is it a gorgeous pint full of dark fruit and roasted malt goodness but it's the best beer Leeds produce - in my humble opinion. Leeds are becoming more popular across the region and if you see Midnight Bell up for grabs, nab yourself a pint.
Another old standby is Timothy Taylor's Golden Best. Landlord gets the most press these days but Golden Best is a wonder - light and incredibly moreish. I waxed lyrical about TT's Dark Mild here. Again, keep an eye out, but head toward Keighley and you'll soon see all those Smith's pub signs transform into the familiar gold and green of Timothy Taylor.
I've chosen beers that should be relatively available (In Yorkshire, at least) - but take the plunge in May. Support your brewers.

Have a mild.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Midweek: Schneider-Brooklyner Hopfenweisse

First bands, now brewers - I'm talking Supergroups.
When I first heard that Brooklyn and Schneider were brewing together and sharing each other's hops, my interest was naturally piqued - as a lover of both brewhouses. Surely this would make the brewing equivalent of Hendrix jamming with Led Zeppelin, Or Jeff Buckley duetting with Janis Joplin? (What can i say, I'm a child of Grunge...)
Maybe. I had to drink this beer; this month I managed to get my mitts on a couple of bottles (Thanks, Zak!)
Essentially, Schneider and Brooklyn have created a new beer style; and to be honest, it's a good, solid beer. The use of Halletauer hops give it a sharp edge, and a somewhat astringent aroma. However, upon tasting you see where the joins are - on one hand you get a citric, tropical burst with much less Banana and Cloves than you'd expect from a weizen - but then those hops come through and give you a high, high bitterness. It drinks really well, smooth and long - but toward the end of the glass it does become a bit of a struggle to drink - possibly simply due to its up-front flavours. This is no shrinking violet of a beer - 8.2abv with attitude to match.

Seek it out, even just to try it - it certainly is worth that. Supergroups - always interesting, but never as good as the original bands. If I can get my hands on the Brooklyn - Schneider version, I will let you know...

Friday, May 02, 2008

Braised Red Cabbage with Sausages and Bacon

I'm always on the lookout for hearty alternatives to a Sunday roast, even at this time of the year. This makes a great bank holiday meal; a slow, lazy meal packed with flavour.

Braised Red Cabbage with Sausages & Bacon with St Peter's Organic Ale. (Feeds two very well!)

You will need:
1 Medium Head of Red Cabbage, chopped
8 Pork Sausages
4 Rashers of Smoked Streaky Bacon, chopped
A knob of Unsalted Butter
2 tsp Caster Sugar
White Pepper
A little Salt
1/2pt of Chicken Stock

1. Pre-heat your oven to 160c.
2. In a large casserole that can take direct heat, melt the butter. Add the cabbage and coat in the fats and butter. Dust with the sugar, white pepper (A couple of pinches) and a little salt. Add the Bacon. Stir well, cover with stock, and bring to the boil.
3. Transfer the Casserole dish into the oven and braise for at least two hours. It's ready when the stock (or most of it) is absorbed.
4. Cook your sausages as normal, and serve on top of the cabbage.

That's it. A slow-cooked gem that tastes great. As usual, I can only advise you to buy the best-quality sausages you can get - there's no excuse for poor meat and the simple flavours of this dish rely on the quality of the ingredients. You can use whatever flavour sausages you like; by all means, experiment. And it's very cool to see your bacon turn purple!

If you don't have a casserole dish that you can use direct heat on, then do step one in a pan, and transfer to an oven-proof dish once ready to go in the oven.

For Beer, I chose a beer that for me, is fast becoming a modern classic: St Peter's Organic Ale (4.5abv). This forward-thinking brewery produce some great beers, but this is my favourite and perfect to compliment the deeply savoury tastes of the sausage and cabbage - medium bodied, low carbonation and a really malty, biscuity taste. Perfect.