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York: A Guided Gourmet Food Trail

York: A Guided Gourmet Food Trail

Carol Wilson: Gin cured salmon, Puckett’s pickled cucumber and toasted Haxby sourdough. Carol takes a gourmet tour of York.

Food experts, Sue and Aidan Nelson run the tours for small groups and it’s a wonderful opportunity to discover artisan food producers not normally open to the public and to take part on hands on sessions.
 
The tour kicks off  at Puckett’s Pickles where owner Sarah Puckett, gave us a taste
York: A Guided Gourmet Food Trail
of her award winning flavoursome pickles and chutneys – all handmade in her kitchen, to old family recipes. It goes without saying that homemade preserves have a much better flavour than commercially made products. Sarah uses only the freshest ingredients for her products, such as Puckalilli, Spiced Tomato Chutney and Oriental Carrots.  She makes 200 jars each week and supplies local farm shops and restaurants. We each made our own jar of pickles to take home, choosing our own combination of herbs and spices.
 
Then it was off to Phil and Tina Clayton's Haxby Bakehouse, where Phil explained why he uses traditional slow fermentation methods with no additives or preservatives for his outstanding award winning bread.  We sampled his sourdough loaf and it was surprisingly light, not as heavy and dense as some sourdoughs can be. Phil explained that the slow fermentation made it easier to digest.  He’s an enthusiastic supporter of the Real Bread Campaign and makes over 1,000 loaves each week. We all chose something for lunch from the great choice of savouries and cakes in the shop. Phil’s latest creation is a banana and salted caramel bun, in the style of a Chelsea Bun.
 
Next on the itinerary was a visit to Guppy’s Chocolates, in keeping with York’s cherished chocolate-making heritage.  After sampling Peter Guppy’s delicious chocolates, truffles and chocolate bars, we had a go at making our own chocolate bars – not as easy as you might think! Peter buys in top quality chocolate for his creations and also buys cocoa beans from Africa, which he roasts and grinds with cocoa butter and sugar to make his own unique chocolate.  The flavour nuances of fine chocolate depend on the quality and origin of the cocoa beans used to make it. The technical expertise, creative expression and skill of the chocolate maker in balancing flavours are also essential to transform cocoa beans and cocoa butter into a memorable and unique taste experience.
 
Our last visit was to the York Coffee Emporium, where Philippa Beardmore showed us coffee beans from all over the world (they buy 25-30 different types of beans) and explained the roasting process and the different blends.  Roasting the beans is an art, which requires great skill to achieve the correct flavour.  We sampled different types of freshly brewed coffee from their state-of-the-art espresso machines upstairs in the tasting room.
 
According to legend, coffee was discovered by a 9th century Ethiopian shepherd, when he noticed that his goats became lively after eating particular berries.  He tried a few and it wasn’t long before everyone in Ethiopia was chewing the berries. But it was to be another 400 years before someone thought of roasting the beans inside the berries to make a delicious hot drink.  It ‘s a matter or personal taste which type of coffee you prefer - but as a general rule light roasts are great for breakfast drinking, medium throughout the day and dark for after dinner espresso.
 
Then it was back to The Star Inn the City, where chef Andrew Pern and his team have created a menu, featuring the produce seen on the trail and other great Yorkshire food.  It’s a fantastic showcase for Yorkshire's abundant larder. The starter of gin cured salmon, oak roast and smoked salmon with Puckett’s pickled cucumber and toasted Haxby sourdough was followed by a main course of   confit duck leg & Yorkshire ham knuckle cottage pie, Wensleydale mash, ‘puckalilli; and carrots then came a strawberry sorbet to cleanse our palates, before a sumptuous dessert of rich espresso and chocolate mousse topped with a light creamy mousse dusted with cocoa and crushed roasted coffee beans served in a cappuccino cup. Guppy’s chocolates, served with coffee ended our meal.
 
It was a fabulous day with amazing food. It was wonderful to meet the people behind the products and their enthusiasm and passion for their products was evident.
 
Sue and Aidan also create bespoke trails tailored to suit particular interests -for instance inventing your own ice cream flavours, making cheese, sausages or even your own salami - just tell them what you’re looking for and they’ll develop the perfect culinary trail for you.
 
Trails usually run on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of every month. Other dates are available by arrangement. This trail is priced at £140 and includes meals and refreshments.
 
Carol Wilson was a guest of VisitYork and stayed at Marmaduke’s Town House Hotel.  
Or call: 01904 448439

 
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27 October 2015
By: Carol Wilson
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