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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An evening at Salvo’s

This post was originally published on The Culture Vulture blog.

“We’re in it to enjoy ourselves” declares Gip Dammone. To which his brother, John Dammone, immediately adds: “And be proud”. It’s been several days since I met the Dammone brothers at their restaurant, Salvo’s, but their words have lingered. Two simple but poignant declarations, they epitomised the very essence of what makes Leeds’ independent restaurants, like Salvo’s, so utterly fantastic.

Salvo’s is a Leeds legend. A small, family run restaurant in the student hub of Headingley, it’s spoken about throughout Leeds, and beyond, with utmost respect and reverence. We’re in an age where restaurants must fight harder than ever before for our business, where chefs need to inject even more passion and creativity into their dishes, where waiters and waitresses must wait even harder. Reputations can be built and lost by just one customer’s experience. But Salvo’s reputation never falters. After meeting its owners Gip and John, the sons of founder, Salvatore, it’s no surprise. Gip and John’s genuine passion, dedication and commitment to providing the very best experience for their loyal customers was truly inspiring. This doesn’t mean huge price tags or fussy plates reeking of ‘value added pretention’, as Gip ingeniously phrased it. No, it’s much simpler than that. Quality ingredients, a carefully thought-out menu, passion and pride. No more and no less.

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