Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!!

Tasty treats from Betty's Tea Rooms in Harrogate and York!!

Drakes Fish & Chips - York

York is a picturesque town surrounded by Roman walls. The city center is pedestrianized and loaded with wonderful shops and cafes. The city also boasts Northern Europe's largest church, York Minster. Dan and I took the 45 minute train ride from Leeds a few Saturdays ago and we loved it. There you can see the beautiful ruins of St. Mary's Abbey that was founded in 1055 and then destroyed in 1539 by orders of Henry VIII. York Minster sits atop Roman foundations that were built in AD 71. Lots of history here.

This is also where we experienced our first British fish and chips. As we walked the lovely little streets, we realized we were very hungry and all the restaurants were very busy. We noticed people walking around eating out of green boxes and came upon Drakes. There was a line out the door for take away and the upstairs dining room was full. We stood in line at the take away counter and were pleased with the results. The staff was friendly and quick and we had our food in no time. Large pieces of crispy fried haddock sat atop fresh cut chips. We took our boxes over to the Minster and sat down on benches to eat. Of course I had a few bones in my last bites. Any one who knows me , know that I have an aversion to fish because of my fear of bones. And it seems that every time I order fish I get the bones. Oh well, the fish was good anyway, I just remember to chew slowly.
97 Low Petergate York Y017

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Hot Potato - Leeds

The Hot Potato is not really a food truck, it's a food trailer. Inside is a large cast iron oven loaded with foil wrapped potatoes just waiting to be topped with all sorts of food. It's situated along one of the pedestrian walkways in Leeds city center shopping area. Every time I walk by, there are usually long lines, especially at lunch time. I finally decided to stop by the other day and see what all the fuss was about. There were people sitting on benches close by eating what I could only imagine were the potatoes. They were buried under so much food that it was hard to tell.

I stood in line and watched and listened as people ordered. The guy right in front of me ordered a jacket with butter, beans and cheese. Beans!!! The British love their baked beans. The lady in the truck ladled this huge spoonful (at least a cup) of beans onto the buttered potato then dumped at least a cup of cheddar on that. The lid was closed and handed to the customer. My turn... Here were some of the choices; butter, beans, cheese, tuna, chili, coleslaw plus others. And you could order more than one topping. I ordered a jacket with butter and cheese for 3 pounds. She topped my potato with at least a cup and a half of some really awesome British white cheddar. I handed her my money and headed home to devour my meal. I could eat only half, so the rest  would be eaten the next day. That was a very cheap and yummy meal!

Don't Tell Titus...Bar & Restaurant - Saltaire

Saltaire is a village along the River Aire. It was founded by Titus Salt as a planned community built around his mill. He wanted a community for his employees that was unpolluted and less crowded than larger mill towns. He built the workers homes, shops, and church and each home had water, gas lighting, outdoor space and several rooms. Because of his town planning, surely a model for the rest of the world, and the fact that Saltaire is one of the best preserved nineteenth century model villages, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. The village was started in 1851 and building continued until 1853.

Titus did not allow drinking establishments in Saltaire, hence the name of the restaurant Don't Tell Titus... We took the 10 minute train ride from Leeds to Saltaire on our first Sunday here and had brunch. It's a nice large pub and pretty indicative of what you would think an English pub would look like. They were fairly busy, but we were able to snag a table by the window facing the bar.

I could not decide what to order and finally settled on the Titus Club (6pounds25p). I also ordered chips (3pounds 25p) and when the waitress brought my meal, it had a side of Doritos. I was very sad until another waitress showed up with a proper bowl of crispy, creamy potato wedges with a wonderful garlic mayo on the side. Thank goodness for the chips because the sandwich was not great. The description called for chicken breast, bacon, mixed leaves, guacamole and mayo on toasted bread. Their idea of bacon here, I realized, is not the same as home. Here it's more of an uncured ham that has a kind of funky flavor. Once I removed it the sandwich was okay. Dan ordered better. He got the eggs Benedict (4pounds 95p)with ham. It was a large portion and very good. He also ordered a side of hash browns and was not charged for those. He drank water and I had a half pint of Thatchers cider (1pound 60p).
 I would definitely come back here. There were many other thing on the menu that I wanted to try and it is only a train ride away.

6 Victoria Road Saltaire BD18 3LA 01274-595633

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Leed's Briggate Food Trucks

Briggate is a pedestrianized shopping street in the middle of the town center of Leeds. From here there are many arcades and other pedestrian only streets that seem to go on forever. Briggate is home to stores like Marks & Spencer, Harvey Nichols, House of Fraser and H & M. There are restaurants and coffee shops mixed in as well as street vendors. On the fourth Sunday of each month there are food trucks.
Unfortunately for Dan and me, we had been to another part of town for the day and missed out on the festivities. We now know were to be on the fourth Sunday. Notice the American flags on the school bus, they were serving American BBQ, the "it" food at the moment in Leeds.
Baked goods, Latin food, BBQ, seafood, sausages and crepes were just some of the foods for sale. They must have been doing well, a lot of the items were sold out when we arrived. I don't know if these food trucks operate on a daily basis in other parts of town, but it's nice to see them getting this kind of attention. During the week, the shopping district is pretty busy, but the weekends are crazy around here, so they got a lot of exposure.

Nando's Chicken Restaurant - Leeds

Nando's is somewhat of a fast food hybrid. We walked by this place numerous time during our first few days here and they always seemed busy. We stopped in on our first Saturday and put our name on the list. We had to wait about 15 minutes for our table. The guy who sat us and gave us our menus asked if it was our first time in. When we said yes, he explained the menu and told us we just go up to the window to order and they bring the food when it is ready. The chicken is marinated in a peri-peri sauce and then it's flame grilled. You choose the heat of the sauce that you want. He then brought us 3 wings with the medium sauce, on the house, to give us a reference point as to how hot we would like it.
I ordered the chicken breast pitta with one side (spicy rice)7pounds30p and Dan ordered the skin on boneless breast with chips and a salad, 10 pounds 25p. We loved it! The food was fresh, the service was great and the chicken was perfectly cooked. We enjoyed it so much that we went back the following night and had dinner.
This time around we ordered a full platter for two people. You choose 4 sides, we went with rice, salad, coleslaw and peas. The meal is 19 pounds 85p. We enjoyed it all, especially the peas with mint! They serve soft drinks, beer and wine. Dan and I each ordered beers, me a Sagres and Dan a Brahma.
This location is on Briggate, they have another one just up the street in Trinity Leeds. We will be back again and again...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Cosmopolitan Restaurant & Bar Leeds

Yesterday morning, Dan and I decided to head over to the Cosmopolitan Restaurant to have breakfast. We had not yet tried eating breakfast out since we arrived here and thought we would give this place a chance. Bad choice!! They serve a traditional English breakfast in the form of a buffet. The food was okay, but there was never any there. Scrambled eggs, beans, fried bread, tomatoes, mushrooms, sausages, bacon, pastries, hash browns, juice and toast. For the price of 10 pounds .95 it is all you can eat. The problem was, there was never any food and there were only 4 or 5 tables being served. The space is really nice, but the staff seemed like they had just walked in off of the street and were really of no help. We won't be going back, which is too bad , because they are located just across the bridge from our apartment. I never really appreciated IHOP until now. Maybe we should open up a traditional American breakfast place!
2 Lower Briggate Leeds

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Roasted Rosemary Baby New Potatoes

This is another side that I prepared to go with my pork chops. It's a rendition of the ones I make at home, only I used duck fat as opposed to olive oil in the recipe. I had mentioned seeing goose fat at the market to Lee and Laura and they informed me that the fat makes the best roasted potatoes. They were very good, crispy and creamy.

 Roasted Rosemary Baby New Potatoes

250 grams baby new potatoes
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 Tbsp. dry rosemary
1 Tbsp. duck fat
salt and pepper

Toss all of the ingredients on a small roasting pan and place in a 400 degree oven. Bake for 40 minutes.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Sweet Chili Glazed Carrots

We don't go out to dinner every night in Leeds, nor do I rely on prepackaged meals every time I'm in the kitchen. Sometimes I just cook what comes into my head, like these carrots. I was serving pork chops and needed a side and had bought some sweet chili sauce for another recipe. So this is how I came about this recipe. It's good and it's quick.

Sweet Chili Glazed Carrots

Clean 4 carrots and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Add to 1 1/2 pints of boiling water, cook 5 to 8 minutes, drain. Add 1 Tbsp. butter and 1 Tbsp. sweet chili sauce, salt and pepper. Heat through.

I like my carrots with a little bite. If you prefer them softer cook longer.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Kirkgate Market Leeds

Leeds' Kirkgate Market, is a beautiful, sprawling building that is one of the largest indoor markets in Europe. It was built in 1857 and is a sight to see. The building has had some additions throughout the years and is extended even more by an outdoor bazaar. When you first walk in your nose is assaulted with a myriad of aromas that range from fresh fish to coffee. Within seconds you forget the smell and just take in all of the sights.
You can buy just about anything here: fish, sausage, meats, vegetables, coffee, furniture, clothes, prepared meals, baked goods, pizza, rugs, phones, ice cream, cards, spices, hair extensions, dairy, eggs, cosmetics, wine, beer, liquor, flowers, pet supplies, yarn, fabric, toys, candy, and mattresses. You can also shop in a Chinese Super Market, get waxed, have a fish pedicure or get your haircut. I actually got my hair cut there yesterday and they did a great job, for less than 5 pounds! As you can see it's a one stop shop.
The market is only a 5 minute walk from our apartment, so I end there quite often. I haven't bought fish or meat yet, but I will. So far I've just bought flowers, veggies and gotten my hair cut, Jamie Oliver has a cooking school on the premises, so I might have to take a couple of classes.
You can find more info at

Friday, October 18, 2013

Jamie's Italian - Leeds

This past Monday, on one of my exploring Leeds expeditions, I looked across the street and saw a sign that read Jamie's Italian. Of course I ran across the street to see if it was actually what I thought it was and to my surprise it was. A Jamie Oliver restaurant!! Jamie Oliver has been one of my favorite chefs for years, from the early Naked Chef series to his wonderful Jamie at Home. When I met Dan at the train station that night I promptly walked him up the street to see the place. We would eat there the following evening.
When you first walk in, there is a little shop with some of Jamie's items on sale. You walk up a short flight of steps to the get your table. We were seated immediately and the place was pretty busy. The interior is a blend of modern and rustic with a small bar and a large kitchen open to the dining room. We had a very good waitress named Nejra, who had a great personality. The food came out slowly , but it was all worth it. We started with a special appetizer (4 pounds .50), a 3 cheese fried gnocchi with an arrabbiatta dipping sauce that was served on a plank. Great presentation for a great starter! The gnocchi were crispy on the outside and pillowy on the inside. We followed that up with the simple green salad (3 pounds .25) that came with a nice yogurt dressing on the side that was really good topped off with a squeeze of fresh lemon.

For dinner I had the pumpkin tortellini (10 pounds .25), which had to be one of the best meals I have ever eaten! The flavors of this dish worked so well together, fried sage leaves, pumpkin, red chilies, amaretto cookie crumbles and butter! Dan had the equally amazing lasagna ( 10 pounds .75), which featured an amazing Bolognese sauce and pumpkin. We ordered lemon meringue pie for dessert ( 4 pounds .95). It was served with a pistachio brittle and candied grapefruit peel. The pie was perfect, a great way to end the meal.
We both started our meals with beer, Dan opted for the Liberta, which is Jamie's brew and it was good. I ordered the Messina, an Italian beer that I had never heard of and I liked it as well. We both ordered the house wine with our meals, Dan the red, me the white. They were both good as well. We will be back, often.
They are located at 35 Park Row LS1 5JL 0113-3225-400 . Also check out Jamie's nice website .

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sainsbury's Local

From what I have seen so far, there appear to be 3 grocery chains in Leeds, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Morrison's. All three of these have a regular grocery store footprint and then smaller ones that are called locals. There is a Sainsbury's Local just around the corner from our apartment, so of course that is my store of choice. I also shop at Marks and Spencer for a bigger grocery experience, but it can be overwhelming.
All of these stores have pre-made meals, sides and desserts and so far the couple we have tried have been very good. You just take them out of the box, pierce the film and place them in the oven. Within minutes you have a high quality dish that is made with ease and no stress. They don't appear to have preservatives and the expire by dates are marked clearly on the package. The only down side to these stress free kitchen helpers, is the fact that they take up a lot of shelf space, leaving home made options harder to prepare. Pus, it's hard to make up your mind with all of the options available. So far,  the Sainsbury's Italian Mac and Cheese and their Bramley Apple Crumbles have been excellent choices.  Such a hard life!!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Beef, Barley and Vegetable Soup

From our balcony, we can see a shopping center that has a TK Maxx, yes TK here not TJ. Anyway , I needed a large saucepan/stockpot because the apartment did not have one, so I decided to walk on over there to find one. The walk turned out to be a bit longer than I thought and later I realized there was a TK Maxx a little closer and easier to get to, but I'm still learning. I did find my saucepan, plus a bunch of off price shops, so well worth the trek.
After dropping off my purchase, I walked up to Marks & Spencer, an English department store, to do a little grocery shopping. The grocery store located on their bottom floor is much larger than the local grocer and a little overwhelming. They had so many precooked meals, pre-chopped veg and packaged veg mixes that you could pretty much come up with any recipe. I decided to go with a beef and veggie soup. After spending about 15 minutes trying to choose vegetables, I came upon a package with carrots, an onion a leek and something I was unfamiliar with. I asked a couple of ladies if they knew what it was, they knew the flavor, but not the name. I bought it and thought it was worth a try. It ended up being a rutabaga and you prepare it pretty much like a potato. The flavor was like a sweet, mild radish, potato mash up. We both liked it! I also found this cute little Scottish Sweetheart cabbage that had a wonderful mild cabbage flavor. Here's the recipe I prepared. It's mostly in grams and such, because that how the food is packaged.

Beef, Barley and Vegetable Soup

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
450 grams beef casserole steak (stew meat)
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp Italian Seasonings
Salt & Pepper
1 onion, diced
1 leek, white and light green parts only, sliced
1/2 cup red wine
4 carrots, sliced into 1 inch pieces
1/2 rutabaga, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 1/2 cups chopped cabbage
140 grams baby new potatoes
1 cup barley
500 grams beef stock
1 (400 gram) can of chopped Italian tomatoes and juice
1/4 cup water

Heat oil in stock pot or large sauce pan. Sprinkle meat with flour and seasonings and mix. Add to pan, in batches, brown and remove. Add onion and leek and sauté 5 minutes. Add wine to deglaze pot. Add the veggies, stock, canned tomatoes, barley and water, bring to boil cook 15 minutes. Reduce, cover and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt, pepper and about 1/2 teaspoon more of Italian seasonings. Serve.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Ciao Bella - Leeds

Even in a new city, with lots of new choices, the age old question "what do you want for dinner?" is followed up by "I don't know, what do you want?".  After looking on the Internet and checking reviews against the distance to walk, we decided on Ciao Bella, an Italian place a short walking distance from our apartment. Not a bad choice! We arrived at 7:15 and we're surprised to find out that we were still in time for the early bird special, which ends at 7:30! Awesome! It seems to be the norm in the local Italian restaurants. So, for 11 pounds 95, you get a large choice from a three course menu ,or you can choose 1 or 2 items for less. We went for the 3 course and they were full courses, no skimping here.

The owner came to the table to take orders, it seems that he did this for everyone. When I asked what the soup special was, he had to repeat himself twice and we neither one ever understood what he said. Needless to say, I did not order the soup. Dan ordered the Caprese salad, that had lots of fresh mozzarella and tomatoes in a basil dressing. The tomatoes weren't the best ,since they are out of season, but still good. I had the bruschetta, one was a tomato topping the other roasted peppers and both were very good. We both ordered pizzas, Dan mushroom and ham, me salami. Both were good, thin and crispy covered in a light sauce and cheese topping.

Both of us had pint glasses of Peroni, which were served in pint sized Peroni glasses and ice cold! Needless to say, the walk home was a little unstable. When Dan asked the owner what the dessert special was he answered "foodge cake". Again he said this twice, Dan ordered it anyway and was pleasantly surprised by the wonderful fudge cake that came to the table. I ordered the Italian ice creams, which consisted of a scoop of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry covered in a strawberry sauce. Overall it was a good experience. The waitresses that actually serviced the tables were a little nonexistent and had to be called over for everything. We will go back though. They are located at 20 Dock Street Leeds LS10 1JF 0113-246-9444

Friday, October 11, 2013

Red's True Barbeque-Leeds

Red's True Barbeque is about as close to American BBQ as you can get. From the smell of wood fire to the décor, this place seems like it would fit in most cities in America. Of course, it's not as good as KC BBQ, but I'm glad that it's within walking distance of our apartment. They even feature a Kansas City BBQ sauce on the tables along with about 5 other sauces.
The menu is quite extensive, so we'll go back to try other items. They even offer up a KC Strip. Their sides include large onion rings, fries, slaw, fired corn on the cob, baked beans and more. Lots of American craft beers are also featured on the menu.

I ordered the brisket sandwich with gravy which was 6 pounds 25 and Dan had a chicken sandwich topped with slaw for 6 pounds 95. Both sandwiches were good and filling, in fact we both ended up leaving the bread. We both got fries and a side, me an awesome slaw and Dan baked beans for an extra 6 pounds total. The service was very good and the waiter loved the fact that we were Americans. They don't see too many of us over here!
They are located on Call Lane 0113-8345834

The Alchemist - Leeds

That, my friends, is Big Al's Porn Star. It's a drink from The Alchemist, a bar/restaurant where Lee and Laura took us after Dinner Wednesday night. It's located at the Trinity Leeds Shopping center on the 1st level. The center is a large, open air/roofed mall in the shopping district of Leeds. The bartenders at this place were pretty amazing and the bar menu is something to see. The bar itself is a large and  copper covered as you can see in the picture. The place was crowded and noisy on this late Wednesday night.
The drink is  made up of pineapple foam, Grey Goose vodka, Passoa, fresh Passion Fruit,  popping candy (like pop rocks, that continue to pop throughout the entire drink) and a beaker of Prosecco that you add to the mix. Awesome drink and I'm sure dangerous, because it did not taste alcoholic at all. Lee and Laura both drank Dry Iced Teas. A drink containing Green Mark Russian Vodka, Bacardi, Beefeater Gin and Cointreau mixed with lemon juice, sugar and soda water that served in a teapot with dry ice. You then pour that mixture over iced Coca Cola foam! It looked good. We will definitely return.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Restaurant Bar & Grill - Leeds

Last night for dinner, Dan's manager Lee and the HR rep Laura,  met us at the apartment and we walked up to The Restaurant Bar & Grill. It's a beautiful large space located in an old post office. There is a large glass wine case at the entrance  that is pretty spectacular. The menu is largely  made up of steaks that are prepared in a large wood fired clay oven that is open to the restaurant. And contrary to what we have heard, the food was wonderful!
I ordered the sirloin which came with fries and a side of greens. The steak was very good, the fries were crispy with creamy centers and the greens were a nice mix of kale, broccoli and savoy cabbage. Dan had a really tasty flattened chicken breast, with a crispy skin that was cooked with lemon, rosemary and capers. We all indulged in dessert! Dan and I shared a miniature apple pie that was served atop a warm custard sauce with extra on the side.
The prices were pretty comparable to home and the service was just okay. I would definitely return to this place. I did take a picture, but must have deleted from my phone. The address is The Old Post Office 3 City Square Leeds.

Costa Coffee

We arrived in Leeds England yesterday for our 3 month stint. The flights were all good, although we barely slept. There's definitely a chill in the air, but you hardly notice that as you walk through the streets and enjoy the sights. There are beautiful old buildings with new glass structures mixed in in. Old cobblestone streets and pedestrian shopping areas that have everything from The Gap to Marks & Spencer.

We came across a busy coffee shop and decided to stop in for some needed caffeine and a little heat. The shop is set up similar to the Starbucks model. I ordered a medium Mocha Latte and Dan had a Latte. We split this wonderful sticky toffee pudding muffin and though it was not a proper English meal it was delicious. The center had this nice gooey center and the muffin itself was moist and flavorful. We'll be back to try the other baked goodies that were highlighted in the cases.

They use coffee beans that are sustainably grown and sourced through Rainforest Alliance Certified Farms. 99% of their milk comes from their own cows raised on British farms. This place will be our new go-to coffee shop in Leeds.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Surviving On An English Diet

My partner Dan and I are moving to Leeds England for 3 months and all we have heard is how horrible the food is. Seriously, not one person has said anything good about it. Well, they do say the Indian food is good, but I've never eaten Indian food and don't know if I'm up to it. We'll have an apartment with a fully stocked kitchen , so at least I'll be able to prepare most of our meals. As long as it's not haggis, blood sausage, fish pie, river eel or any of those funky things, I think we will survive.
We have heard that the beef is gross and the spices that we are used to are non-existent. No word on the chicken or the pork, but I kind of think that the pork will be okay. Wasn't Babe British? I know that the farmer was or at least he is in real life. I never saw the movie , but people loved it, so the pork should be fine. My sister said that the lamb was excellent, but Dan is not a big fan. We may end up vegetarians or become more acquainted with fish.
Whatever happens, we will make the best of it. We are fortunate to be living within walking distance of a large indoor market called Kirkgate Market ( Hopefully we will also shed some unwanted pounds and live a healthier lifestyle. We plan on travelling to some European cities that we have not experienced and I plan to highlight them all.
Join us on this adventure, it should prove to be exciting, fun, challenging and educational.