The cold has crept in and is here to stay, it seems. We have your beverage, fashion, sweet-tooth and local produce needs covered, however during these busy times, a hot lunch for the road and a delicacy for the weekend can be the best medicine.
Hence delis. Those fantastic little places subtly occupying street corners with delightful scents of freshly baked and boiled meals, a range of exotic imports awaiting your tasting pleasure. An inconspicuous godsend; often overlooked but always in demand, with endless surprises in store. We had a look around Harrogate for some of the best independent delis, this is what we found:
The name is derived from the famous Rennaisance painter Guiseppe Arcimboldo, renowned for his expressions of the relationships between human and nature, as manifested in his portraits constructed with the shapes of vegetables and other foods. Befitting, as Arcimboldo’s takes great pride in an authentic connection of curiosity between consumer and product.
Arcimboldo’s have served as one of Harrogate’s finest independent delis for over two decades. Upon visiting, we were greeted by Martyn, who’s been running the place for the past two years. The selection may not be as glaring as your supermarket deli, but Martyn takes great care in his choice of product. A wide variety of both English and continental cheeses fill a display; Martyn rattles off descriptions and histories with professional enthusiasm and a personal passion.
Roquefort, Burt’s Blue, Montgomery Cheddar (and of course Jarlsberg), and many more: the selection impresses in both local Yorkshire sources and overseas delicacies. One large wheel stands out in particular; Mont D’or Napiot – a soft, seasonal cheese available from September to January.
The advantage of an independent deli is the expertise and personal passion you get with your purchase, Martyn expains. He has a story tell for every piece of produce, emphasises quality at every turn, and keeps the range conveniently limited to a meticulous selection that won’t fail to disappoint.
“I’m not a salesman,” Martyn explains. The sales come from his search for products that intrigue and excite him – if the product is indeed good, it will sell by way of its own merit. Martyn looks for a commitment to the sense of intrinsic, artisinal and personal value put into a product.
Evidence is all around the shop – a series of specialties, a wide range of charcuterie, not to mention their own label oils and vinegars, as well as cakes. Oh, and don’t forget the greatest convenience of delis: ready meals, made on the day.
Arcimboldo’s have a very loyal customer basis: there’s a group in Harrogate who are looking for a particular kind of produce, Martyn says, and he endeavours to provide. Customers have their regular times, and those who don’t, soon find a routine in both old favourites and the excitment of new, unexplored product. As independent delis go, Arcimboldo’s is an institution that is sure to satisfy with quality, passion and experience.
A stone’s throw beyond Arcimboldo’s on King’s Road lies Le Gourmet. “Sounds French,” echoes proverbially – in a very good way.
Le Gourmet was opened in 1986 by Michel Mingam, a formally trained pastry chef with a passion for French deli cuisine and an ambition to introduce said delicacies to Harrogate. He began by supplying local trade restaurants, hotels and pubs, but eventually the lucrative possibilities of running a drop-in deli were too great to ignore. The development was a huge success, and now the shop accounts for roughly eighty percent of their profits.
The specialty has always been their classic French tarts; a range of traditional recipes are in rotation, as well as other savouries, quiche and of course ready meals, made fresh every day – luxury fish pie (thanks to Ramus) is one of a few of the offers available.
The produce is sourced locally wherever possible, which reflects Michel’s integrity – a classic pastry chef taking pride in his products, making sure that quality remains key. “People want a good, quality product,” Michel’s son Ben remarks; this is provided through expertise, heritage and a friendly, welcoming demeanour.
The specialty qualities that follows a national food identity always attract a curious crowd, and it doesn’t take long for newcomers in the French pastry traditions to find their favourites, and come back for new discoveries.
While some delis remain masters of tbe small, selective scale, others have bigger ambitions. As independent delis go, Weetons Food Hall stands out for its eclectic range of service, going above and beyond the conventional call of deli duty.
First established as a farm shop in 2005, the café service within the deli drove the shop’s popularity exponentially. Recognising opportunity, the café’s space and range of service was eventually expanded as a full restaurant, making a shopping experience at Weetons a unique blend of tasteful experiences, both served and preserved.
Placing in The Times’ top 25 places for brunch as well as The Guardian’s 10 best budget restaurants in Harrogate and other press listings, Weetons have developed a prestigeous yet inviting reputation. A lot of effort is put into developing personal, long-term relationships with local farmers and produce providers, ensuring good relations and reliable trade.
On that note: Weetons will be hosting a small Christmas party on the 27th of November: anyone visiting will have a chance to meet their suppliers and learn about the produce, try their hands at making sausages, get in on Christmas deals and speak to expert chefs – all with a glass of mulled wine. We’ll see you there.
Ever expanding the possiblities of their service, Weetons have an extensive online shopping service where one can browse their eclectic selection from the comfort of one’s own home. Given the size of their range, choices can be hard. Fortunately plenty of hampers, gift baskets and boxes with a variety of themes and contents are available in a wide range of sizes.
Weetons runs a particularly tight ship around Christmas: gift options aplenty fill the store, and a brief look at their Christmas menu is enough to give us ideas. Party platters, starters, turkeys, roasts and everything else you could possibly need for a seasonal feast are available for order.
Whatever your seasonal meal needs may be, you’re likely to find something satisfying at Weetons. This place is a must for your Christmas gift shop, even (especially) when buying gifts for yourself.