Malton Food Festival

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We spent a very enjoyable day at The Malton Food and Drink Festival last weekend. Opting to start the day in style, we had breakfast at Leeds Bar and Grill (superb, by the way) and then hopped on the train to Malton. Rather than drive we fancied letting the train take the strain. In the end we had to stand all the way to York due to a short train and racegoers. This did not dampen our spirits in any way and we hopped off the train in Malton on a bright and breezy day.

The Festival itself was very well put together with plenty of local producer stalls all set in the picturesque town centre. There were a couple of large demo tents and an excellent beer festival in the local concert hall. Sensibly, near the beer was the hog roast and artisan sausage butty stands to soak up the local ale so we were set for a great afternoon.

One of our favourite producers were there – Sand Hutton Asparagus – and there were a couple of tempting Pimms and Pie stalls that caught my eye and wallet. all in all we felt it was a great event, basking in good weather and very well attended.

Oh, and there was a tank. Well not quite a tank but a reconnaissance vehicle. Still it looked cool and trundled noisily back to base at the end of the day.

The Beulah

Our local pub, The Beulah, has been closed for many, many months. I suspect it became a casualty of people staying at home to drink, the trend for people not wanting to drive too far and increased competition across the food and drink sector. In truth, the previous owners juts didn’t get it right – the food was so-so and even the beer and wine wasn’t even worth writing home (or even a blog) about. In this day and age if you don’t get the basics right, it’s game over.

So we were pleased to see it had re-opened, under brave new management, a few weeks ago. I say brave because I believe the hospitality trade is one of the hardest industries to make a living in these days. It’s always been tough and it’s even tougher these days. We’d heard good reports from other members of the Troffers (‘keeping it simple’ ‘generous portions’ etc) so we thought we’d have a wander on and were very pleasantly surprised.

Little cash had been spent on the fabric of the pub, although it was tidy and presentable. We know from Kendells that you don’t need to pour cash into the building initially, just get the food, drink and service right. First up was a very well kept pint of Landlord and those of you who are beer drinkers will know that’s no mean feat in itself. Secondly we ordered a couple of simple midweek dinners: I had a ribeye steak and J had a burger. Both arrived reasonably promptly on plates bursting with food – big salads and twice fried chips (oh yes) completed the picture. I have to say it was very agreeable and great value. The menu is entrepreneurially priced with 2 for £10 Sunday lunch deals and a free bottle of wine with 2 steak meals.

A second pint of Landlord had me thinking we should do this every week and no doubt by the third I’d have been coming every other night. I think it’s well worth all West leeds dwellers supporting this pub with excellent prices and good, solid pub grub on offer. I look forward to many repeat visits.

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St John

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The first post for quite some time on Troffers – apologies for being so tardy, we’re trying to work out what the best thing for this blog is.

We’d like it to be about the great food experiences we all have and it’s not like we’re not having these, we just need to find our blog Mojo I think.

I well and truly found it last week.

On a business trip to London, I’d finished my meetings and was waiting to meet an old mate in Smithfield. Over a glass of wine I was hungry but we’d not decided what or where to eat. In fact, i wasn’t even sure if he was showing up, but that’s another story. Wandering towards the tube station I happened upon St John Restaurant. I’d alaways wanted to eat here – the legendary chef Fergus Henderson championed ‘nose to tail’ eating and has influenced a generation of chefs. It is a restaurant with a serious reputation, so I gave it a try.

I love off the cuff. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but sometimes it just so works it’s frightening. Tonight was one of those evenings.

The maitre d offered me a table for two and I settled in to a buzzing, relaxed, white dining room. waiting for my dining partner I perused the menu over a glass of the very quaffable house Languedoc red (great value BTW, not over priced). I didn’t wait for my partner – he was late and I just couldn’t wait to get stuck in to the amazingly simple menu. I opted for food I’d never eaten before in my life – starter was Beef bone marrow with parsley salad and main was lamb tongues with white beans.

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This is kerpow food – big, bold flavours almost daring you to eat it. Wow.

The bone marrow was the poshest, most sophisticated beef dripping on toast and the lamb tongue was the lambiest thing I’ve ever eaten. The tongue was velvety and intense, meltingly soft and the beef was unctious and tactile, the wet salt adding substantially to the pleasure.

The service was sublime, attentive and invisible, relaxed but fastidious. And the price? Well, put it this way, I’ve had highly ordinary meals at Leeds restaurants that don’t even come close to the quality of this experience. The night I was there, a Monday night, was packed with ordinary folks and international tourists – testament to the amazing food and quality of service. Pitch perfect.