Edward Street Bakery – Saltaire’s Tastiest Secret

man standing behind bakery counter

I first heard about a ‘secret’ pop up bakery in Saltaire (West Yorkshire) from my mother-in-law, Marie.  Clearly far more on the ball with the local food scene than us, she instructed us to follow @edwardstbakery on Twitter, keep our eyes peeled, and all would be revealed.

We were rewarded a few weeks later, when tweets emerged promising imminent bread, cake and pizza treats.  Rye, raisin and caraway bread, pumpkin loaves, homemade croissants, pretzels flavoured with fennel, pistachio custard doughnuts – catnip to a conneisseur of carbs like me.

Tray of pretzelsHomemade pretzels dusted with herbs

The Edward Street Bakery is run out of a tiny, stone-flagged front room of one of the many Victorian terraces in the pretty village of Saltaire.  Edward Street is tucked away off the main drag of Victoria Street and the famous Salts Mill.   A no-thoroughfare road that you might scoot past, were it not for the lure of pastry, cakes and yeasted delights.

Exterior of houses on Edward Street, SaltaireSpot the bakery

We didn’t see the bakery until we were in sniffing distance of the baked goods.  An unassuming (though rather lovely shade of blue) door with a glimpse of a sign in the window was the only giveaway.

Exterior of the Edward St Bakery

Window of the Edward Street BakeryAh ha! Found it.

As we entered we were met with racks of fresh bread, huge trays of pizza just out of the oven, oozing custard doughuts and golden, crisp French pasties.  Spoilt for choice, I attempted to buy up most of the shop.

Loaves of bread on metal shelvesI’ll have one of everything please

Laden with goodies, we also succumbed to the freshly brewed coffee (from local roasters Casa Espresso) and left very happy customers. We breakfasted and err… desserted like kings for the next few days and stocked up the freezer with pillow-soft bread baps.

three cakes and cake forksAlmond and coconut Bakewell, millionaire slice with Northern Star porter and peanut butter cornflake tart

Since then we’ve been regular visitors – stalking them on twitter ahead of each Saturday opening, drooling at the menus and keeping track of their link ups with other local suppliers at events like the Lishman’s Butchers’ Barbeque in Ilkley (cakes + expertly barbecued meat = heaven).

On returning I’ve also managed to look past the edible eye candy to admire the simple, low-key decor – the bare brick, open shelves, stainless steel counters and funky neon signs.  These guys have excellent taste in decor as well as baked goods. 

3 loaves of bread on a wooden boardGlorious line up of loaves

Our favourites in their line up so far have been the Grumpy John Ploughman (combining my twin loves of cider and cheese), the sausage, apple and mustard roll, the nostalgic peanut butter cornflake tart, the seasonal pumkin almond and lemon cake, and the delectable hazelnut and caramel doughnut.  The toast from the malted wholemeal batard also goes down a treat with our youngster (8 months), who’s rather worryingly developing a taste for the artisan end of the bread market.  Eeep.

So if you’re in or near Saltaire on a Saturday, have a check if there’s a bakery session on, get yourselves down there, and stock up the bread bin (but leave some for us!).

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M&S Breton Cider: The Sweet Taste Of France

Bottle and glass of marks and spencer Breton cider

Ooh la la!  Everyone likes a bit of French fizz in their life, but this is fizz of the apple variety; a light sparkling Breton cider courtesy of British stalwarts,  Marks and Spencer.

It’s not a typical cider – it clocks in at a mere 2%, so only very lightly fermented giving a sweet, gentle taste with a delicate sparkle.  It has a lovely honey colour and the taste is of a slightly alcoholic fruit juice, so it goes down very easily indeed (but with minimal hangover the next day!).

As an introduction to French cider, there are better examples out there (and it wouldn’t win over any fans in the beardy, scrumpy loving fraternity), but it’s no alchopop either, and sure to please anyone at a gathering that wants to take it easy on the booze.

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M&S Somerset Oak Matured Cider: A Proper English Vintage

Two bottles of marks and spencer cider

M&S know how to make cider look classy don’t they?  I can almost see these bottles being drooled over in one of their adverts (this is not just cider…).  Anyway, I heartily approve of the innards as well as the exterior, as the clever chaps / chapesses at Marks’ have outsourced these own brand ciders to the quality Somerset cider makers Sheppy’s.  Sheppy’s are a real deal cider maker, who have actual orchards, know their stuff and have a presence at many a cider festival.

It’s a medium dry cider, and it strikes a nice balance of a bit of dryness and depth without drying your mouth out.  I hadn’t come across an oak matured cider before (I thought that kind of thing was for wines and whiskies), but it’s not just a gimmick.  There’s an oakiness in the smell and although it’s still full of juicy apple flavour, it gives it an interesting bit of complexity.  Definitely one to savour and not gulp.

As usual with the interesting stuff, it clocks it at the higher end, alcohol wise (7.4%), so I wouldn’t recommend a session on it, but worth seeking out to support a fine British cider maker.

Union Jack bottle tops on cider

p.s. lost my tasting notes for the Dabinett apple cider, so will have to buy that one again at some point to give my verdict…

 

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1, 2, 3….Cheese (club)!!!

Have you ever been involved in a cheese stampede?  It’s a unique but pleasurable experience that came about from our involvement in ‘Club Homage2Fromage‘.

Cheese club is a bit like fight club but with less violence (other than a few stray elbows).  They don’t ban you from speaking about it, but they do have rules.  Actual written rules.

Hello-walls-cheese-club

Homage2Fromage takes its cheese seriously. It isn’t a cheese and wine night, wine has no business jockeying for attention.  It’s all about the cheese, unsullied by alcoholic distractions (other that those you buy yourself).  Just because it’s serious about cheese, doesn’t mean that it’s a humourless event though.  Far from it.  In fact there were a lot of cheese puns going on (more of those later).

So far Liz has been to a Manchester event and I’ve been to events in Leeds and Bradford.  They all work the same way – you pay for a ticket, scoff as much cheese as you like, but you taste the cheeses blind to encourage you to be adventurous.  Afterwards the cheeses are revealed, so you can find out if you’ve been cheating on your trusty Stilton by declaring a Fourme d’Ambert as your favourite (a bit like blind swinging but with less serious moral implications).

Hello-walls-cheese-club

The Homage2Fromage folks know how to cheese complement and condiment.  The cheeses are lovingly arranged on rustic wooden and slate platters with an abundance of grapes, celery, tomatoes, apples crackers, breads and chutneys nestled in and amongst. Appropriate cutting implements for each cheese are provided and they are unwaveringly generous with portions.  You can eat like a cheese overlord for a measly £8-£10.

You get a plate, a stack of bread, and at the call of ‘1,2,3….cheese!’ it’s every man for himself as you rush towards the trestle tables.  Some show polite restraint in only cutting a sliver, most go for a small hunk, and some groups strategise and dissipate around the room to seek out priority cheeses in slabs big enough for 4 or 6 (an effective but less gentlemanly approach). You must queue, and you mustn’t touch the cheese before they call CHEESE – them’s the rules.

Hello-walls-cheese-club

Afterwards the cheeses are unveiled and lovingly described by Nick and Vicki (your hosts).  Occasionally there are cheese themed quizzes involved (not for the naive cheese eater) and at the 3rd birthday event we attended at the Adelphi in Leeds there was even a cheese themed joke contest (my personal favourite: Q. What kind of cheese do you use to disguise a small horse? A. Mascarpone).

Homage2Fromage currently run events in Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester, Harrogate and (most recently) Bradford and Farsley, so check out their website.  They’ve got French events lined up for July, but be quick – they sell out pretty fast (especially in Leeds and Manchester) – you wouldn’t want to miss out on the cheesy action.

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Moss Cider: Pony Up For Manchester’s Finest!

Moss Cider Bottle label

Cider from Manchester you say? Manchester, New Hampshire?  Nope – Manchester as in the other side of the Pennines.

This particular cider came to me courtesy of Liz – the girl’s always good with a gift.  And was sourced in her (adopted) home town.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from a cider made on one of the most notorious estates in Manchester.  Hard apples?   Apples that have taken a bruising?  Apples that haven’t fallen far from the tree? It does have a little chequered flat cap that indicate it’s northern upbringing, but beyond that I think it stands its ground admirably against southern softie ciders.

Top of Moss Cider bottle with herringbone patterned cap

The Moss Cider project takes donated apples and turns them into small batch ciders, and has plans to develop its own orchard in which to nurture home grown fruit.

Thirsty Pony describes itself as ‘tangy’ and it’s not kidding.  It’s definitely on the sour side, and I found this pale, cloudy cider to be too tart for my tastes to drink on it’s own, but when paired with food it really came into its own.  We had it with a steak and blue cheese salad and it worked perfectly to balance out the rich, creamy cheese, almost like a bitter rather than a cider (but not as heavy).

Moss Cider is only currently available in selective stockists around Manchester, but if you see it it’s definitely worth picking up and supporting Dan Hasler and his vision to turn an old Stagecoach bus depot into a thriving cider hub.

 

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The burger mission continues…

Gina-Z-banner

So guess what? I’ve been eating burgers again (the diet starts next week). This time my mission, as promised, took me to Get Baked Presents: The Joint (the new restaurant arm of the Meanwood takeaway Mr Nice Guys I reviewed in my last post). Upon arriving at the unique converted church the restaurant calls home (Woodhouse Lane in the Hyde Park area of Leeds), the huge gothic window illuminated by a Baz Lurhmann-esque neon Get Baked logo (Romeo & Juliet fans will know what I mean – churches, neon lights, symbolism blah blah blah), I knew I’d found the holy grail.

Get Baked Presents: The Joint

Excited at this experimental juxtaposition, the Mr and I ran in with breath that was bated. We were met with a cool, contemporary space complimented by a seriously relaxed vibe. High ceilings, mismatch furniture, a collage explosion of 90s cultural icons on the walls (the Mr particularly loved a Ren and Stimpy print he spotted – I drew the line at getting a replica for our house, man room or no man room) and a Leeds-worthy bar finished with huge chandeliers and a colourful wall of must have spirits, oh and a red telephone box thrown in for good measure, gave the place that on trend eclectic feel. With Nirvana’s MTV unplugged playing on the big screens and RUN-DMC playing on the sound system, it felt nostalgic and almost youth club like; comforting, a place where you could just ‘hang’ (do people still say that?!). The owner’s vivid imagination was evident throughout and this new hotspot was quite clearly a labour of love.

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To Burger, Or Not To Burger – That Is The Question

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My answer? Definitely to burger. Long gone are the days of over-processed chains and late night greasy dives being our only options. The humble burger has undergone somewhat of a revival of late and a retro style icon is reborn. From posh to punk, brioche to bap, we’re spoilt for choice and the making of this go-to fast-food staple has become a bit of an art. I’ve been on a mission in the bright lights of Leeds to witness first-hand this booming burger scene…

 

FIve Guys Burgers

Five Guys: The All American Dream

Let’s start with Five Guys. When I want something quick and easy without compromising on quality, this is my new best friend and lucky for me, it’s conveniently located on my way home from work so to say I have become a regular is an understatement. The self-confessed ‘heaven in a brown paper bag’ is the new kid on the block in Leeds and harks back to the 1950s all-American dream where it all began for the simple hamburger. A basic palette of red and white décor makes the place feel fresh and crisp, much like the ingredients. With only four choices of burger on the menu (each available in two sizes; I opt for the ‘little’ which is plenty big enough) and only a dozen or so classic toppings to choose from, it’s the quality of ingredients and sheer simplicity of these foil-wrapped beauties that’s the winning formula. Served with a mountain of fries, made from the sacks of potatoes on show in the store, and a choice of over one hundred soft drinks (I highly recommend the cherry vanilla Coca Cola – very Sandy in Grease), this American import is a firm-favourite here to stay and certainly gives its famous red and yellow competition a run for its money. So much so, Elvis would have felt right at home here.

 

If you crave a vibrant party atmosphere and a few cocktails with your grub plus bold experimental flavours that pack a punch, Almost Famous is an in-your-face neon explosion with a cool electronic soundtrack to boot. My advice, come hungry. One of the most creative menus in town, each burger has its own aptly named label and comes stacked high, oozing with unctuous toppings and dripping with sauce (learn from my mistake and pick up enough napkins). The Johnny Mac is pure handcrafted heaven with not one, but two juicy burgers smothered in applewood smoked and cheddar cheese, bacon, grilled onions, crunchy cheese tortillas, million island dressing, chipotle ketchup and wait for it…a deep-fried mac and cheese ball on top. This spectacular combination of flavours will have your tongue doing a dance. Oh and don’t under any circumstances forget a side of Bacon Bacon fries; their famous ‘winning’ fries covered in baconnaise and bacon rain. Enough said.

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Aspall’s Tribute To A Cider Maker

Glass of Harry Sparrow cider and bottle

With the recent wintery weather here in Blighty it’s difficult to find the motivation to drag yourself out of a cosy, warm house, but a nice pub is one of the few things that can usually lure me out.  Recently we took a snowy walk up the road to Coopers in Guiseley, north Leeds, where I was rewarded with the prospect of a new Aspall’s variety I hadn’t seen before: Harry Sparrow.

Harry’s not the brother of Johnny Depp’s rambling pirate, this cider is named after the man who was Aspall’s head cider maker for 50 years.  Harry, we’re told, was interested in the French mehods of cider making, so this is fittingly a light (4.6%), clear cider with a subtle carbonation.

It’s described on the bottle as full bodied, but I found it to be a gentle flavour – sweeter than the other Aspall’s varieties.  You get a lovely floral apple-y mouthful,  although it doesn’t have much of an after taste.  It’s easy drinking, bright and lively, but the level of sweetness suggests it’s aimed at the mainstream market than the cider fan, and interestingly the bottle you see above has since been rebranded to a more contemporary look:

Harry Sparrow Cider with New Branding

Aspall’s have a long standing cider heritage, and I would certainly nudge any forest fruit ‘cider’ fans in this direction for an introduction  to something made with real apples and not just chemicals.  It would also make a very pleasant ‘session’ cider, but being a bit of a cider snob, I still prefer their Premier Cru cider.

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Argentinians Do Cider In Style

 

You may have noticed that I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front recently – Liz was nobly holding down the fort while I was gallivanting around South America last month, soaking up as much sunshine as possible before resigning myself to the dark days of winter in this part of the hemisphere.

I spent a good chunk of time in Argentina, which is obviously famous for its red wine and Quilmes beer, but I was pleasently surprised to find a few bars stocking local cider.

One of my favourites was in the San Telmo neighbourhood of Buenos Aires – a historic bar called La Poesia that had been once frequented by the great and the good of Argentinian bohemian and literary society (the tables have little brass plaques noting the famous patrons that wrote there) .  The ‘sidra’ on the menu was about £4 for a bottle, which I thought was fairly reasonable.  It wasn’t until an ice bucket arrived on the table that I realised I’d ordered a full 750ml wine size bottle!  Not only that but the waitress wrapped it in in a cotton napkin and proceded to pour it champagne-style.

It was a sweet, light, easy drinking cider – a little too on the sweet side for my preference, but that was probably for the best as I had to rope my other half (a non-cider drinker)  into helping me tackle it.  Although it wasn’t the best cider I’ve ever had, I was chuffed to see cider getting the star treatment from the Argentinians.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt so glamorous drinking cider – UK bars should take note!

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Dunkerton’s Black Fox Cider: Style and Substance

Bottlf of black fox cider

Black Fox by Dunkertons is one of my all time favourite labels.  And by that I actually mean the label itself: the quality of the cream label, the contrast against the dark bottle, the brand name’s red typeface, the little fox illustration* – catnip for a design loving cider fan (either that or I’ve gone a bit American Psycho).

What’s inside the bottle isn’t to be sniffed at either.  Though you may think from the stylish label and availability at a major supermarket that it could be a ‘dumbed down’ cider brand, it’s really not.  This cider is all about the apples.  It’s bittersweet with a strong and distinct cider apple taste.  It’s not overly acidic and it pours a beautiful amber colour.   It’s a deceptively light cider – you wouldn’t guess it weighs in at 7%, and it strikes the right balance between having enough fizz to be pleasant, but not so much you feel like you’re drinking a can of pop.

It’s organic, so no pesticides were used on the apples before Mr Dunkerton crushed them into oblivion, which is always a good thing. What’s more, it’s fairly accessible – you can pick it up through Ocado or at Waitrose, so if you usually opt for the Magners or Bulmers and want to try something a bit more ambitious, then Black Fox isn’t a bad place to start.  It would be especially nice to have a with something substantial and autumnal like this sausage, pumpkin and sage casserole.

* NB: I’m less convinced about the folk story on the bottle about the black fox that can’t be caught or seen – perhaps they’re suggesting you can only see it once you’ve drunk a few bottles?
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