“There’s no way I’m coming here and not having a Fat Rascal”
With lots of us eyeing up a staycation this summer, it’s a great time to learn more about regional British food. Since as a nation we gleefully tuck into Yorkshire puddings every Sunday, the county is a good place to start. Nadiya Hussain and Fred Sirieix explored its ingredients and dishes in Remarkable Places to Eat on BBC Two. Here we reveal some of what they found, and explore what else the county has to offer.
Afternoon tea Yorkshire-style
“There’s no way I’m coming here and not having a Fat Rascal”, says Nadiya.
The plump and crumbly buns, often spiked with orange and lemon zest, warming spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, and dried or glazed fruits, including raisins, sultanas and glacé cherries, are served with creamy butter. Nadiya and Fred visit Bettys Café Tea Rooms in Harrogate to try them.
Yorkshire brack contains many of the same dried fruits, but is baked as a loaf and often includes Yorkshire tea, bringing a whole new meaning to ‘teacake’!
Yorkshire parkin is the region’s answer to gingerbread. Made with oats and flavoured with treacle, it’s traditionally eaten on Bonfire Night. Other counties have their own take on parkin, including Lancashire parkin, which is made with golden syrup.
Yorkshire has a long history of cheesemaking. Local cheesemakers are bringing back traditional recipes, such as Wensleydale (yes, the one from Wallace and Gromit), Cloverdale and Swaledale. Many are also making their own versions of popular international cheeses, including brie and camembert, from regional cattle.
Nadiya and Fred visit Yorkshire farmer and cheesemaker Andy Swinscoe and his herd of Northern Dairy Shorthorns, the premier cow in the Wenslydale region before Friesians started dominating milk production in the 1970s. His dairy makes a creamy, crumbly Wensleydale, using a hands-on method that’s quite different from mass-produced versions of the cheese. Farmers like Andy are “breathing life into something that didn’t exist 10 years ago”, says Nadiya, as farmhouse cheesemaking had all but disappeared from the area.
“We’ve been having fruit cake with cheese for hundreds of years”, says Nadiya, and it’s perfect for taking on a walk. “I couldn’t think of a more delicious food to feast on while out exploring the Dales’ 2,628 kilometres of public footpaths”, says Fred. Cheese fans might like to time their visit to coincide with the Yorkshire Dales Cheese Festival in September.
A proper sandwich
“Yorkshire has an amazing fishing industry”, says Nadiya. The county is home to many seafood restaurants, and has a huge brown crab and lobster fishery.
Nadiya and Fred enjoy a lunch of crab brioche with crab salad and fries at The Seaview Restaurant in the Victorian seaside town of Saltburn-by-the-Sea, where they meet restaurateur Glen Pearson. While Fred had “never heard of the Yorkshire crab”, the pair are astounded at the quality and price. “We’ve got this abundance” of seafood, says Glen, who is trying to make sure plenty of the produce stays local.
Fish and chips is popular, and if you’re lucky you’ll get a bag of scraps too – bits of batter that have fallen off the fish in the deep-fat fryer, more popular in the north than south of England.
After lunch Nadiya and Fred head to the sea. “When I lived in Yorkshire, we’d always go to Scarborough, Filey or Whitby, but there’s something very unspoiled about this beach”, says Nadiya of Saltburn-by-the-Sea.
Samosas in Yorkshire
Nadiya takes Fred to the area she and her husband first started a family, Harehills in Leeds, to eat “the king of samosas”. After World War Two, thousands of immigrants from South Asia took up jobs in the West Yorkshire textile industry and the food culture reflects the communities that live there.
The pair visit Amand Sweets, which makes around 150,000 samosas a year – enough for everyone in Harehill to have five each! After devouring almost all the potato and pea-filled samosa, Nadiya says to dip the end piece of pastry into masala chai.
The Yorkshire Rhubarb Triangle, a nine-square-mile area between the towns of Wakefield, Morley and Rothwell, is famous for its forced rhubarb. After being grown outside for a couple of years to become hardy, rhubarb is moved to dark, warm sheds, forcing it to grow earlier than it would outdoors. This gives vibrant pink, sweeter rhubarb. The stems are even harvested by candlelight to maintain the tenderness of the shoots. The end of the forced rhubarb season is March, and harvesting can start as early as December.
Yorkshire is also renown for game, and its hunting season typically starts between August and September. Game pie, grouse, guinea fowl, partridge and venison are found throughout the region.