Let it be said that we do not encourage premature Christmas celebrations. It comes around once a year and that’s part of what makes it special, but it won’t remain so if we’re immersed in 4 months of over-eager advertisement. Having said that, we’ve entered the beast that is October: in the cold and dark times ahead, a well-stocked pantry can be a source of much comfort (not to mention emergency Christmas gifts).
Which is why this week’s local’s guide to Harrogate is dedicated to independent producers and retailers of Yorkshire produce. Last week covered your stay-at-home drinks needs, and there’s ample opportunity in the range of food, coffee and pints. Here’s what you need to know to get some of the best Yorkshire produce on your own dinner table.
Halfway down Commercial Street next to our good friends Bean & Bud, you’ll find Addyman’s Butchers. If you’re looking for quality and authenticity, this is the place to be. Having been butchering and selling Yorkshire produce for nearly 40 years, it’s safe to say Keith Addyman knows how to treat a piece of meat.
Coming from a family of farmers and butchers, Keith and his wife Sue run a business focused on quality and integrity. Keith shakes his head at the supermarkets and their industrial ways, stating that a butcher’s best work is done on a smaller scale with careful consideration. After sampling one of his wife’s pies, we’re not going to argue.
The supply of whole carcasses comes from a range of farms, including Keith’s own family farm. Keith will only take entire carcasses, before butchering them the old-fashioned way. The results are healthy cuts of meat, appetising enough in the window display to give us a craving for steak tartare (or binge-watching Hannibal).
Besides a range of meats, Addyman’s also supplies local eggs – however the key is in the pies. From a family recipe old enough to give Baltzersen’s own centurial recipe book a run for its money, these hand-made beef and pork pies snag customers more efficiently than any discount. “The best meat pies in Harrogate, even Yorkshire,” claims one customer sharing a chat – we’re offered a sample, and upon trying it, see little reason to quarrel. However the recipe remains a family secret – safely stored in Keith’s memory bank, away from prying, envious eyes.
With a wide range of suppliers, Sue tells us they’re happy to take orders and requests. Established as they are after decades of solid business, Addyman’s have a stream of recurring customers. Sue observers the generations coming and going, each one creating a new base of customers with the same curiosity for local quality as the previous generation, and she welcomes all faces, old and new.
Keith is the last butcher in his line at present, but with grandchildren on the way, who knows – maybe someone will be carrying on that torch. We can only hope; whether you’re planning a Christmas feast of epic proportion, or simply fancy one of the best meat pies in Yorkshire for lunch, Addyman is your man – and for that we’re very grateful.
Across the street from Addyman’s is The Cheeseboard, although directions are hardly necessary – just follow your nose.
We mean that in the best possible way. A lingering scent outside the door becomes an enveloping olfactory fog upon stepping in, as your eyes start wandering around the tiny shop, every available space displaying the source of the smell – cheese anyone?
This cheese shop has been in the care of a few different hands since it opened in 1988. Gemma Hayes is the fourth proprietor, and seems to be doing a mighty fine job of carrying on the legacy. Built on a solid reputation for quality, Gemma explains that the principles of The Cheeseboard remain the same: provide a quality product with an old-fashioned, personable service.
Sporting a selection of over 200 individual cheeses, Gemma explains that they use a wholesaler as is business courtesy, but specialise in local Yorkshire dairy produce. However the rows of cheese are inhabited by guests from all corners of the world, including a Norwegian brown cheese number. How nice to see a familiar face in such a place.
The Cheeseboard is an established source of Yorkshire produce as well as foreign delights, and is known as such to the regulars, of which there are plenty. However the eclectic selection, along with its reputation attracts its share of tourists as well – the range as well as the local quality is too big of a temptation to miss out on.
Besides the range of cheese, The Cheeseboard also carry an assortment of chutneys, of which almost all are from local productions. Aside from that winning team, Gemma also mentions her wedding cheese cakes, pointing to a collection of photos.
Do not misunderstand: that’s cheese cake; not cheesecake. This quite ingenious service is perfect for large meals at wedding festivities. Cheese wheels are chosen and balanced, much like a wedding cake, then decorated for added celebratory effect. This cheerful option is a popular one; they’ve produced around 400 cheese cakes so far.
Whether you’re looking for an exquisite import, a local paradigm or just some particularly good cheddar, The Cheeseboard will provide the best there is to offer, as well as friendly service with a smile.
A pleasant stroll up Cold Bath Road will put you in front of Leng’s Grocers, where it’s been for over 90 years. There’s very little need for window displays, as the produce is all the advertisement they need.
Leng’s Grocers have been providing locally sourced farmer’s produce since 1923 – beyond merely a grocer, this establishment is part of a community. The shop has been through many hands over the years; Rob is the current proprietor, having bought the business about 18 months ago. He appears to have it well under control, and then some.
As we browse a selection of UK-sourced lettuce, Rob explains that he runs the business on the established principles: keep as much produce as possible local, develop relations and strive for the best quality products the local market has to offer. It does Leng’s well – one Knaresborough farm has supplied them through generations; having helped his father with the deliveries back in the day, farmer Bob still makes deliveries to this grocer, at the age of 80 no less.
Besides keeping a constant supply of fresh local produce, Rob is also always on the lookout for new product. He introduced local farm meat to the shop; lamb, chicken, venison, sausages and bacon have now become a popular fixture of the shop.
The quality of the produce comes from the fact that people are passionate about it. Rob tells us how dealing with local and independent suppliers creates a dialogue for the benefit of supplier, grocer and customer alike. Suppliers are excited about their deliveries, every cut of meat, asking for feedback, and often have a story to tell as well. Like the turkey farmer who, after discovering the quality of eggs from herb fed chickens, tried the diet on his turkeys to see how it affected the meat. The result is the success known as Herb Fed Poultry – who knows how many thousand herb fed turkeys they’ll be shipping out this Christmas, Rob remarks with a smile. Herb Fed Poultry is of course available at Leng’s.
Speaking of which, Leng’s like to keep things seasonal, as is the nature of their business. Following as many festivities as possible, the current priority is Halloween: soon enough, as the pumpkins get bought, kids will bring photos of their jack-o-lanterns back to the shop for the annual competition. There’s a strong sense of community around the establishment; this is as much social as it is commercial, practically a village in its own right.
Besides the regulars, Leng’s attracts a fair share of curious parties with their quality selection, not to mention some of the more specific offers on display. One particular hit is the local extra virgin cold pressed oak smoked rapeseed oil, from Wharfe Valley farms. This oil is also used in a range of mayonnaises and salad dressings, available in the shop.
Leng’s have every reason to be proud of a successful business, but it’s really the people that make it special. It’s important to have a dialogue with customers and suppliers alike, Rob explains. That’s what makes for a good reputation, a sense of trust and community. Leng’s is as much a shop as it is a facilitator of good intentions and efforts to encourage local commerce and relations, as well as tying a community together through that most important thing: food, and everything that’s shared with it.