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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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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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

Gina-Z-banner

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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Strano: Madcap Italian Pop Up In North Leeds

‘Strano’ is the Italian word for ‘strange’, and this pop up restaurant has certainly earned its moniker. Having now attended three different Strano events, I can attest that they’ve been increasingly weird (and wonderful) visual and culinary experiences.

For our first foray into Strano we came a bit late to the party, booking in for its second incarnation which was held above the ’Jam’ hair studio in Headingley, Leeds. The vestiges of a former bike shop and vintage brick-a-brac store had been transformed into a funky little vintage styled bar with leather armchairs and a suitcase full of vinyl records to take for a spin. Upstairs in the eaves of the building the space had been kitted out with a full kitchen (installed only the day before) and a simple and cosy restuarant area for the lucky 50 or so patrons with mismatched vintage chairs, exposed brick and some carefully positioned copper studio style lighting.  Our hosts were Italian by heritage but Yorkshire in accent and they were enthusiastic champions for unique and high quality food and drink with a flair for the theatrical.

When the first course came out on a giant ceramic hand, featuring salad in a shot glass and crostini with chicken skin as a base instead of bread (amongst other delicious bites), we knew we were in for a wild ride. The exquisite cooking didn’t let up over all seven courses. We had black pizza, crab spaghetti served with a teapot of broth and a tiramisu inspired desert which you compiled yourself.

STRANO-visit1

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The Laundrette: Cocktails and Carbs

Laundrette Chorlton Exterior

Beech Road in Chorlton, Manchester is renowned for it’s parade of independent bars, restaurants, deli’s and boutique shops – it’s a mecca for young professionals. The Laundrette bar and eaterie, opened in Summer 2013, is a relatively new addition to the street but its welcoming atmosphere and promise of ‘cocktails and carbs’  have made it an instant hit.

The name ‘Laundrette’ pays homage to the buildings previous occupation (known then as ‘Soap Opera’. Genius). I do miss the old place, possibly because I’ve had to find a new spot to wash my sheets but mainly because I loved the smell of freshly tumbled laundry when walking past. The new occupants soon won me over though, and they’ve continued the Laundrette theme throughout – with starters referred to as ‘Prewash’, sides as ‘Extra Spin’ and all the pricing in halves and quarters (reminiscent of the old token system. Pretty confusing after a few of their cocktails though).

They’ve done a good job on the interior too. Exposed brick walls, reclaimed wood, bare lamp pendants and steel shelving at the bar give the place an industrial twist. And as I’m only 5.2″ the ‘spin to adjust the height’ stools that they have dotted around are a particular highlight. Practical and beautiful – you can find similar from Cox&Cox.

Laundrette Chorlton interior

Laundrette Chorlton interior2

In true Chorlton style produce is sourced locally. The menu is simple, with a focus on pizzas – i’ve sampled a few now and have never been disappointed. There is one reason I keep returning though and that is their rum passion cocktail. Funnily enough precisely what’s involved escapes me, but the ingredient that makes it so memorable is the fresh chilli.  It’s the steepest drink on the menu (£8.50) but worth every penny.

Rum passion

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Salt Bar: Scandinavia comes to Macclesfield

SCANDI BAR-01

Salt Bar is a Scandinavian restaurant in the old Market town of Macclesfield. It was recently featured on a BBC2 Documentry, ‘Restaurant Man’, which followed owner Debbie Quinn’s  journey as she set up the bar in 2013. Debbie’s love for Scandinavia inspired the whole affair and as I have a similar affinity with these Northern European countries I just had to pay a visit.

The menu is small but surprisingly varied, yes there are meatballs – served four different ways (and boy they looked good) but there is plenty more to choose from. I opted for the Carraway fläskfile med Plommon (Caraway Pork Fillet with roasted plums, served with potato terrine) and my partner Paul chose the Tilliliha (Traditional Finnish Beef and Dill Stew, pickled vegetables, and mash). We polished them off with a bottle of Åbro a  malty beer with a refreshing citrus aftertaste,  brewed in the Småland region of Sweden.

SCANDI BAR-02

The decor continues the Scandi theme, simple stripped timber tables and chairs, industrial steel lighting and pale blue wooden panelling –  reminiscent of the coastal cabins that scatter Stokholm’s famous archipelagos. A mismatched mirrored wall and token jumper wearing elk add character and warmth to the otherwise super modern interior.

SCANDI BAR-03

Thankfully the prices are where the Scandinavian theme stops, for two courses and a  beer the bill came in under £45.

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Zucco: Impeccable Italian Taste in North Leeds

Zucco in Meanwood (North Leeds) specialises in small Italian sharing plates – a kind of Italian version of tapas.  It wasn’t the food that lured me there though – I was first drawn in by the decor.  Driving past, on the way to nearby Waitrose, I’d enviously eyed the gleaming tiled walls and moulded wooden ceiling.  I reasoned that a restaurant with such a keen eye for style  couldn’t have too poor a taste in food, so I opted to eat there without any preliminary research (a very rare occurrence) and wasn’t disappointed.

The menu varies seasonally and features an interesting, but not overwhelming, selection of small dishes.  The food is fresh and local, and focuses on simple, authentic Italian cookery.  My highlights were the meltingly tender braised beef pappardelle, the salt cod ravioli and the addictive poached pear in chocolate.  They also have a solid selection of wines and I always love a restaurant that gives you the option of wine by the carafe (better value than 2 glasses but less headache-inducing than a bottle).

And for a lover of design there was much to draw inspiration from.  The on-trend white subway tiles contrast against the dark wooden ceiling and I particularly loved the bare flex and filament lighting that ran up the centre of the room (you can find similar at Cox & Cox).  I’m also ashamed to say that I even took pictures of the bathroom decor for future reference – if we ever re-do our bathroom I would definitely try to track down similar Victorian style fittings

I realised after leaving that I should have also taken some pictures of the food, but be reassured that was equally as alluring as the decor (though I’m less likely to attempt to recreate it!)

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