Grubstaker Launch – An evening of food and wine pairing

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Food collaboration is a wonderful thing. Think goats’ cheese and honey. Garlic and mushrooms. Tomato and basil. Simple ingredients that work perfectly well as individual elements, when they come together they seem to undergo an alchemic process that produces flavours akin to food magic. How else could you describe that sensation of a sharp, tangy cheese cutting through a golden, saccharine honey; that heavenly combination of earthy mushrooms and pungent garlic; that sweet tomato acidity matched with a burst of aromatic peppery basil? And best of all, you don’t have to be the world’s greatest cook to achieve this alchemy. You don’t even need to know why. The ingredients do the work for you. See? Magic.

But while pairing certain flavours together is second nature to many of us, the thought of applying these principles to food and wine pairing is, well, not. Because wine is scary. Lovely, but scary. There are just too many variables to consider. Which grape varietal should you choose? How does that grape varietal vary from country to country? And what about specific regions? Vintages? Reserves? Oaked or unoaked? Should you let the wine breathe, first? (And what does that even mean?!) How do you know if it’s corked? Is cork better than screwtop? And that’s all before you’ve even begun to contemplate what bloody food you’re going to pair it with. Gahhhh.

So is it worth the hassle?

Yes. I quickly arrived at this conclusion last week at a special wine and food matching event to celebrate the launch of Leeds Food and Drink Association’s (LFDA) Grubstakers. In case you’ve not heard about it, Grubstakers are a pretty special bunch. An LFDA initiative aimed at Leeds’ food and drink lovers, a one-off £25 subscription gets you a lifetime of food and drink benefits. Yes, a lifetime. We’re talking special events, exclusive insider info, opportunities to test products and menus, and all sorts of amazing ‘money can’t buy’ foodie opportunities from the glorious Leeds indies that belong to the LFDA.

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A Veggie at Friends of Ham

This post was originally published on the very ace Culture Vulture blog.

As a vegetarian, you know that certain eating establishments just aren’t for you. You’re unlikely to find solace in a Brazilian steakhouse, a barbecue grill probably won’t do it for you, and if meat or beast is the prominent component of a bar’s name, you can make a safe assumption that it’s not going to be veggie friendly.

I used to feel this way about Friends of Ham. Close to celebrating its first birthday, Friends of Ham has earned itself a stellar reputation in Leeds. Favourable reviews and social buzz a-plenty, it’s clearly doing something right, but you wouldn’t necessarily think that ‘something’ appealed to vegetarians. After all, vegetarians are NOT friends of ham. Friends of pigs maybe, but certainly not friends of the meaty product of their demise. And when a bar so brazenly flaunts its love of meat, you’d be forgiven for assuming that veggies wouldn’t get much of a look in.

But maybe you’d be wrong…

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