2 Jul 2011

Enjoying some local Yorkshire Food at Swillington Organic Farm, Kirkstall Deli Market and Leeds Loves Food

I've enjoyed some great local food events here in Leeds over the past couple of weeks or so.

I visited Swillington Organic Farm as part of an event put on by Harvey Nichols - I got to have a look around the farm before enjoying a meal cooked by Harvey Nics' chefs accompanied by wine from Leventhorpe Vineyard just down the road. Despite the vineyard being as far north as Leeds, I was really impressed by the seyval blanc in particular, a crisp, bone-dry white wine. It might be surprising to hear of a vineyard in Yorkshire, but apparently centuries ago vines were grown at Kirkstall Abbey and even as far north as Hadrian's Wall!

Having a wander around Swillington Farm really brought home how, in cities at least, the people who produce our food and those who buy it have become so distanced, especially with the rise of the supermarkets. We buy stuff without sparing much thought for where it came from. It's a massive change from our grandparents or great-grandparents' generations, who had nowhere near the choice we are lucky enough to have, but at the same time they surely had more of a real connection to where their food came from, especially given more local specialists (butchers, bakers, greengrocers, milkmen etc) existed in those days. 

And then last weekend it was a visit to the magnificent Kirkstall Abbey (pictured above and top - a spectacular 850 years old and one of the best preserved abbeys in the country) for the Kirkstall Deli Market, where there was a good amount of local producers selling their wares - seafood from Whitby, various jams and chutneys and fresh fruit, meat from Swillington Farm, plus the likes of Dough, fish'n'chips with a twist from Fish&, and booze from Latitude. Also pretty sure we spotted Leeds singer Corinne Bailey Rae having a day out there too. A really good event in stunning surroundings - would recommend any locals to visit the next one on 30th July.

Lastly, today was the Leeds Loves Food festival at Millennium Square in the city centre - great weather, absolutely packed, and again the brilliant thing about it was the number of small independent businesses on show. The recent Taste of London event came in for a bit of flak with some saying it was overly corporate, but you couldn't say that about Leeds Loves Food, which seemed to have a really good mix.

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