​Vimto truffles – only in Manchester

A version of this article is also published by the Financial Times. My arrival at Manchester Piccadilly station at 10.30 pm was timely on several counts. Most immediately, it meant that I was soon sitting down to a plate of English cheeses and a glass of Palacios’ Pétalos 2012 Bierzo as the dinner in the recently opened Hawksmoor steak restaurant in aid of Action Against Hunger was coming to an end. This was followed by the announcement that this event, organised by my FT colleague Tim Hayward among others, had…






Obsessing in north Lancs

There was probably not a more cosmopolitan table anywhere. Of the 22 gathered around us there were two sous chefs from the kitchen of Taiwanese chef Lansu Chen from Le Moût restaurant in Taichung. There was Diego Hernāndez, the talented chef from Corazón de Tierra restaurant in the Guadalupe Valley of Ensenada in Baja California, Mexico, plus his two culinary assistants. Opposite us were two Persian sisters (the adjective is theirs) who run LuxePrivé, the upmarket travel agency based, not surprisingly, in London’s Kensington. And at the other end of…






It’s fun up North

This article was also published in the Financial Times.   At the age of 66, and three years into his second career as the chairman of Notes, a company that specialises in coffee, food, wine and the appreciation of classical music and film, Alan Goulden has had to face a new challenge: what to put on his first-ever breakfast menu. This breakfast menu is now on offer at the fourth branch of Notes in the heart of Leeds, Yorkshire, following the success of their three London cafes. And it is meeting…






Cumbrian values at the George and Dragon

This article was also published in the Financial Times. Shortly after I married my Cumbrian wife 30 years ago, I learnt of two particular challenges that continue to face chefs in this particularly verdant county that stretches from the southern Lake District to the Scottish border. The first is that size matters. Cumbrians, I learnt, do not like to see the plate underneath whatever dish they have ordered: the food has to be substantial. And however well they have eaten, there is invariably a hefty appetite for dessert, the part…






The Highwayman, Lancashire

The Highwayman, Lancashire – 2007 The Great British boozer is dead. Long live the Great British pub. This sentiment may initially seem somewhat incongruous but it recognises that the long overdue legislation which came into force in England and Wales on 1 July and banned smoking in public places has hammered the final nail into the coffins of the smoky, invariably neglected, male dominated pubs. These were a gloomy feature of the British landscape, which also invariably boasted one of the most depressing food signs ever: ‘Hot Food Served All…






Lake District

Great fun followed by disappointment in the Lake District – 2007 Good fortune, some very good food and a serious culinary disappointment dominated 24 hours in two picturesque villages on the border of Lancashire and Cumbria last weekend. The good fortune manifested itself most obviously in the bright April sunshine which made the four hour journey from London to junction 34 on the M6 so much more bearable than it can be. The unusually warm spring weather allowed the open countryside on the 15 minute journey from the Lancaster exit…






Eating in North Yorkshire

Eating in North Yorkshire – 2008 Nicholas Lander enjoys North Yorkshire hospitality. The early evening scene I witnessed in the bar of The White Swan Inn in Pickering, north Yorkshire would have warmed the hearts of its owners, Victor and Marion Buchanan, had they not been on holiday in the much warmer climes of Turkey at the time. A young waitress approached the table where a middle-aged couple were sitting to tell them that the dining room had just had a cancellation and that she would, after all, be able…






Sharrow Bay

Sharrow Bay – 2002 Fifteen years have elapsed since I last drove along Ullswater to Sharrow Bay Hotel in the Lake District but little seemed to have changed. More children were rollerblading, more adults windsurfing and farmers had obviously given over more fields to campsites and caravans rather than livestock. But the light on the water was as beguiling as ever, the distant fells equally alluring. Inside the hotel itself nothing seems to have altered at all. The mirrors, pictures and ornaments are as highly polished as ever; the walls…






Lancashire

Lancashire – 2009 Although I chose to leave my home town of Manchester in Lancashire in the north west of England over thirty years ago, I still miss them both. But much to my surprise over the past decade I have come to miss the more varied charms of Lancashire even more than those of the city in which I grew up. This has a lot to do with the fact that I then chose to go into the hospitality business. Most Northerners are hospitable by nature but Lancastrians seem…






English Game

English Game – 2010 There is a palpable sense of excitement about the press releases currently emanating from Britain’s restaurants. It’s almost as though one can hear the chef’s voice clear across the din of the kitchen. The reason for this, and why eating out across the UK is unparalleled over the next few months, is that the game season is in full swing. Currently there could be grouse, pheasant, partridge, venison, wild boar, wild duck, teal and hare on any self-respecting chef’s menu. And 2010 is, according to Ben…