Friday, 21 April 2017

Celebrate St George’s Day with some great British Food

April 23rd is St George’s Day – a day which is quite often overlooked in our own country (which some might see as slightly odd given the emphasis given to supporting things like National Chocolate Week and National Beer Day - although they both sound pretty good to us too!)

The national celebration of the day dates back to 1415, although it was 1222 when the Council of Oxford first declared the date St George’s Day. St George was persecuted, tortured and killed by the Roman empire for his Christian beliefs, and his death was said to have occurred on 23rd April 303AD. Given this happened in Turkey, quite how his bravery led to him being named patron saint of England is a matter of some debate, but we’re not alone. He is also the Patron Saint of lots of other places, including Barcelona in Catalonia, Russia, Bavaria, Portugal, Lithuania and Hungary.

The legend of St George and the dragon dates back to medieval times. The story is that a dragon was awoken from its sleep and to placate him, the people of the local town offered sheep – and when they ran out, they started offering maidens. Lots were drawn to decide who would be sacrificed and the King’s daughter was chosen. But just as she was about to be given to the dragon, St George came along on his white horse and slayed the dragon to save the princess. Brave indeed!

So how should we celebrate St George’s day? Traditionally people wore a red rose in their lapel, flew the flag and sang Jerusalem.

But what better way to celebrate, we say, then tucking into some traditionally English food and drink?

How about starting the day with a great English fry up? Local bacon and sausages, enjoyed with free range eggs from a local farm, and a loaf of freshly baked bread, made for us by the Devento Bakery in Malton….sound good?

That’s bound to fill you up for a while, but maybe by mid-afternoon you’d be ready for a spot of afternoon tea. Come peruse our range of fine teas – English Breakfast or herbal, tea bags or loose leaf – we can cater to every taste for this great British institution! From Taylors of Harrogate to Twinings, at Hunters we know (and love) our cuppas. (Don’t worry – we do also have some excellent coffees if that’s more to your taste.)


Of course, you’ll need a biscuit, cake, or maybe a scone to go with your afternoon tea. For biscuits, our own range, produced near York, take some beating (even if we do say so ourselves). Try Salted Caramel Shortbread, Lemon Cookies, Apple & Cinnamon Oaties or the ever so moreish Rhubarb and Custard Shortbread – how very British! And if you’ve worked up an even bigger appetite, how about one of our famous deep-filled English roast beef and horseradish sandwiches to start you off?

For dinner, why not enjoy a cheeseboard of English cheeses, paired with some Hunters Hot & Spicy Chutney or Carrot Relish on sourdough crispbread or seeded oatcakes? There’s Whitby Cheese Co.’s Whitby Jet with Chilli, Yorkshire Blue from Shepherd’s Purse, charcoal cheese and lots of goodies from the Wensleydale Creamery.

You’ll want something to drink with your cheese of course, and we do an excellent range of English wines, beers and ales. We’d highly recommend Riding the Striding from the Helmsley Brewing Co, or a bottle of Yorkshire’s Sunset from the Ryedale Vineyard. If cider is more your thing, why not try something from Ampleforth Abbey, or for spirits, SLOEmotion’s Sloe Gin is a winner with everyone.

And to finish off, why not enjoy some locally made ice cream from the guys at Brymor? We even have a diabetic range for those who need or want to watch their sugar intake.

However you choose to spend St George’s Day, we hope it’s a good one – and full of only the very best food and drink! 

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Helmsley – the home of great food (and drink!)

We’re very blessed in Helmsley to be surrounded by lots of wonderful independent businesses. When we say the town is made up of one-of-a-kind shops, we really do mean it – it’s a high street unlike any other. Which is a bonus when it comes to finding a new gift idea that hasn’t been done before!
But one thing we love about the town in particular is the abundance of great food and drink businesses. The town is teeming with them! And as you know, we do love our quality food and drink…
We’ve very lucky that only two doors away is the fantastic Crema Coffee Shop. Perfect for when you need a caffeine pick-me-up, their hot chocolates are a welcome indulgence on a chilly day! Rachel, the owner, also does a great line in gluten free cakes (and gluten-filled cakes for that matter), if you’re looking for a sweet treat.
Just slightly down Borogate, there is the marvellous Scott’s Fish and Chips takeaway and restaurant. Yorkshire does the best fish and chips in the world as far as we’re concerned, and when you get the urge for them, nothing else will do! So, we’re very lucky to have such a great fryer just over the road – ideal for picking up an easy tea on the way home!
If pizza or pasta is more your thing and you fancy a spot of Italian, next to Scotts is Gepetto’s. Keeping things fresh and delicious, Gepetto’s is the the place to go for well executed, authentic Italian cuisine – with an occasional twist. Delicious!
Opposite there is the amazing Traditional Sweet Shop. Whether it’s bonbons, sugar mice, lollipops or sherbets, get a quarter of your favourite for while you’re mooching round the town – there’s nothing better!
Porters Coffee Shop, on Bridge Street, is another amazing cafĂ©, run by the wonderful Tony and Monia. We can highly recommend the home-baked scones – and in the summer months Monia makes the most mouth-watering gelato, which is heaven in a heatwave!
The Black Swan Hotel has graced Helmsley’s Market Place for over 500 years, and it’s definitely one of the prettiest hotels around. Enjoy a G&T in their walled garden, or a cocktail in the cosy lounge, before savouring one of their special tasting menus – come with your appetite and prepare to be wowed. Of course all Brits love their tea too – and there’s nowhere better to enjoy Afternoon Tea than at the Black Swan’s own tearooms. Again…you may need to skip breakfast to have room!
The Helmsley Brewing Co. was a welcome addition to the town just a few years ago. Making their own amazing beers (some of which are for sale in our shop), like Striding the Riding and Helmsley Honey, head to the brewery on a Friday night for a pint and a chat with the locals. How many small towns can offer that?
If you’re after some inspiration for dinner, try Marley’s Butchers. They rear and produce 90% of their beef and lamb, and poultry and pork is supplied from local farms. Now we’re entering BBQ season, they’ll be even more on offer to tempt tastebuds!
Over on Castlegate, Auntie Anne’s Bakery is a TV star – the shop was the Yorkshire winner of Britain’s Best Bakery on ITV. As the TV producers found, we can highly recommend the Yorkshire Curd Tarts and Parkin!
If you’re looking for a cake for a special occasion, head to the Walled Garden craft units and talk to Rhian at Celebrate Country Cakes. Her bakes are delicious, and her skills at sugar craft are extraordinary! She created our 25th birthday cake for Hunters – a recreation of the shop made entirely out of cake! We could barely bear to cut into it, it was so stunning (but we did…and it was scrumptious!)

We’ve barely scratched the surface – there’s the Feathers, the Feversham, Helmsley Walled Garden, Helmsley Spice, Thomas the Bakers, Helmsley Wines, The Royal Oak, Ryeburn Ice Cream… and all of these businesses are within a five minute walk of each other! We’re pretty sure with that line up, Helmsley can definitely claim the crown as home of good food!

Best thing since sliced bread – getting serious about sandwiches

Recent research from Heinz [Seriously] Good Mayo revealed that the average Brit will eat a hunger-busting 18,300 sandwiches in their lifetime.

Is that all, we say??

We love a good sarnie. If lunchtime hits, nothing quite beats your favourite filling in between two doorsteps of fresh bread, a soft bun (or bap/barm/cake/roll/cob/stottie depending on where you live!), or a crunchy baguette.

(Although that said, we do love a good sausage roll or pie as well, and they make an excellent lunch…)

We sell at least 50,000 sandwiches every year (that’s enough to loop an Olympic-sized athletics’ track almost 19 times!) so we like to think we have a little insight into the world of sandwiches!

For most of us, the humble sandwich, is still our go-to lunch. It dates back to 1762 when John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, asked the cook to come up with a meal which wouldn’t interfere with his game at the gambling tables.

So we weren’t surprised the Heinz research showed 56 per cent of Brits eat at least one sandwich per day.

We also weren’t surprised that more than one in three have exactly the same filling every day. After all, if you find a combination that tickles your tastebuds, you’re going to want to keep recreating it. What was surprising to us, was what the favourite fillings were!

The poll found a BLT was the nation's top sandwich, with chicken mayo coming in as runner-up. Third in the list was bacon, followed by ham and cheese and then cheese and pickle.

Now, we’ve nothing against a BLT or chicken mayo, or ham or cheese or pickle or any of those combinations. All delicious in their own right WHEN DONE PROPERLY. (that last bit is important – there’s nothing worse than a soggy sandwich, or one that’s too dry, or one where you can barely find the filling.)

But, shock horror, roast beef and horseradish didn’t even make the top 10!! It was number 11, closely followed by chip butties! Now in our shop, roast beef is our number one top seller. So, we’re pretty sure that poll did not include a high percentage of Hunters’ customers!

Of course, our roast beef sandwich is no ordinary roast beef sandwich. We definitely wouldn’t want to be accused of scrimping on the filling, as the photo demonstrates. It’s not unusual for couples to share a Hunters’ sandwich, or for people to wrap up half to take home!

We roast the mouth-watering beef daily on our premises. Nothing beats the smell! Of course, it’s also important the bread is the best – and we use freshly baked white and wholemeal bread buns, which are beautifully soft, made nearby at the Devento Bakery in Malton.

Then whether you like to add salad, horseradish, tomato, butter, mustard – whatever your personal favourite, you can’t go wrong if you have the beef and the bread right.

We can usually make up any sandwich combination you have in mind, but the research did throw in a few unusual combinations that some Brits had named as their personal favourites. Leftover roast dinner we could perhaps understand but marmite and banana, onion rings and ketchup and lasagne – not so much…


Saturday, 1 April 2017

April Fools? Foodie fads we’d rather forget

From deep-fried Mars Bars and bacon ice cream to chocolate flavour crisps and edible insects – there seems to be a never-ending cycle of bizarre-sounding foods that could easily have you thinking it was an April Fools prank.

Something we read about recently which is proving popular on social media is the Espresso Tonic. As the name suggests, this is a shot of espresso mixed with tonic water. We’re not quite sure about mixing these two bitter flavours, but if the idea floats your boat we have the very best of both in store so you can give it a try!

Fermented foods are something which could be seen as a fad – but it’s one we quite like. The sour taste of sauerkraut is one that most people have probably heard of, if not tried, but there’s also Kimchi - a Korean staple made with salted and fermented vegetables, often cabbages, radishes and onions. It’s delicious, and obviously not a fad in Korean cooking – and we suspect it will be around here for quite some time too.

Anyone who has ever seen the image of an Aspic Salad, set in jelly, will know food fads are not a new thing. What once was the height of fashion now just looks a bit…unappetising. A bit more recently, the trend for edible ‘foam’ of all descriptions seems like one which may be looked back on similarly in years to come!

Even more recently, bacon seems to be the flavour du jour. Like most people, here at Hunters we love a good quality bacon sandwich on delicious fresh bread, with just a smidge of your favourite sauce. However, the current trend seems to be to combine bacon with anything sweet - using it on doughnuts, in ice cream, or in biscuits. We’re not quite sure that’s us.

Here at Hunters, we spend a lot of time keeping up to date with current food trends, and trying out new products to introduce to our customers. Only the very best food and drink passes the test. We’re not about fads or fashions, just the very best in terms of quality. Those new trends we think have merit we’re happy to bring on board. Pomegranate molasses or zat"tar were items we noticed were on the rise, and which we think are a great addition to the store, for example. Extra crispy grasshoppers, not so much.


If there’s a trend you’ve spotted or an usual item of food or drink you’d like us to track down, we’d be happy to help – come in and have a chat! 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Hop along to Hunters of Helmsley to pick up egg-sactly what you’re looking for this Easter

As the chocoholics amongst us have no doubt noticed, Easter is on its way and for us foodies the countdown is officially on!

Alongside succulent joints of lamb, freshly baked hot cross buns and fresh fish Fridays, chocolate eggs will of course be on the menu. Eggs and chicks are prevalent during celebrations because they symbolise new life and rebirth, something that we enjoy during spring when animals are born and greenery fills our countryside once more. Within the Christian religion, an egg is also a symbol of the rock used to seal the tomb of Jesus Christ ahead of his resurrection.

Luckily for us, modern Easter eggs aren’t made of rock, or chickens’ eggs for that matter, but of delicious chocolate! The first chocolate eggs appeared in France and Germany during the 19th century, were solid in their form and had a very bitter taste. As culinary developments were made and new techniques invented, the chocolate used became sweeter and the insides were hollowed. Since then the demand for chocolate Easter eggs has sky rocketed with us Brits now buying over 80 million on average every year!

Here at Hunters of Helmsley we love Easter, the long weekend and a chance to celebrate with family and friends. We have a huge selection of eggs and much more just waiting to be popped into your basket this season.

With the average UK child now receiving 8.8 eggs every year, it’s often difficult to find something individual and different. However, we have the solution….look no further than our friends at Ampleforth Plus. Their incredible selection is available in-store now and will leave your little ones in awe. Designs include wacky dinosaurs, classic ducklings and lambs, and a very happy green frog.

As well as local suppliers we also have a huge range of luxury branded eggs. Firm favourites Green and Blacks’ chocolate eggs are all organic and come in a variety of flavours. Lindt and Lindor provide an egg-ceptional amount of both eggs and supporting chocolate gifts. Butlers dark chocolate eggs, wrapped in opulent purple packaging, are the perfect option for someone seeking something not-so-sweet, whilst their bags of mini eggs will come in handy should an impromptu Easter egg hunt take place.

For praline lovers, the Libeert Easter egg’s hollow Belgian chocolate shell comes filled with mini praline eggs. Those seeking an eggs-perience will also love cracking open the real egg shell exterior of a Gut Springenheide egg to reveal its indulgent praline interior.

If you’re looking for smaller gifts or add-ons, why not take a look at our selection of mini eggs and none-chocolate Easter presents. Our cute lamb mugs are perfect for that first cup of tea of the day, whilst our egg cups come complete with little chick’s feet and a very sweet design.


With all of that in mind you would be hopping mad to miss out on the Easter fun we have in-store!

Saturday, 18 March 2017

The cherry on the cake – help us be cream of the crop with the Great British Food Awards

We’re absolutely delighted to have been nominated for the second year in a row as Best Independent Retailer in the North of England in the Great British Food Awards!

We were over the moon to be awarded a highly commended last year, but how amazing would it be if this we got crowned overall winner?!

Well to be in with a chance, we need to ask YOU, our loyal customers and friends to vote for us! To do so, you need to log on to www.greatbritishfoodmagazine.com/awards before 17th July. It should only take two minutes and you can vote in as many or as few categories as you like. As an added bonus, voters will also be put into a prize draw to win one of 36 prizes worth £7,000, including holidays, hampers and kitchenware. So it’s well worth doing!

There are five Northern businesses in the category, and to us it was no surprise that three of us are in North Yorkshire! There’s so many fantastic foodie businesses in the region, we’re extremely lucky to have it all on our doorstep. 

The awards, which are now in their fourth year, celebrate the country's finest home-grown ingredients, as well as those who produce and cook with them, and includes categories covering food writers, TV personalities, cookbooks, restaurants and retailers. Results will be announced in September, and celebrity judges include John Torode, Rachel Allen, Val Warner and Nathan Outlaw.

We love what we do, and good food and drink is our obsession – especially when it’s locally produced. We’re so lucky to be able to combine our professional live with a personal passion. Winning awards is lovely, but we feel like we’ve won the jackpot every day! But we couldn’t do it without you, our loyal customers. So thank you for your support – it means more than you could know!



Saturday, 4 March 2017

Spring into action this season

Lambs are starting to leap through green fields, the days are getting longer and the weather is beginning to warm up. Spring is almost here!

Of course, for us foodies the season also brings with it Easter weekend, a time for feasting with family and friends. As the bank holiday weekend draws closer and balmy evenings spent in the garden become a possibility we’re thinking about all things Spring.

If you’re planning a couple of get-togethers over the long weekend you’re sure to need plenty of beverages ready for thirsty guests. We love a refreshing Masons Gin paired with an icy cold Fever Tree tonic water or how about a delicious Sloe gin from SLOEmotion? The brand’s Yorkshire Fruit Cup No 7 mixed with lemonade tastes of summer days!

Those seeking a perfect bottle of wine will be spoilt for choice. We carry more carefully selected (and personally tested, of course!) Sauvignon Blancs, Merlots, Pinot Grigios, Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs than you could need and are on hand with expert knowledge should you want it. For beer lovers, our selection of 40 locally brewed bottles includes ales, beers, lagers and ciders sure to suit a variety of palettes.

Following a night full of lovely drinks, a big brunch could well be in order. We recommend Ian Taylor’s free-range farm eggs, poached and served with locally reared back bacon and freshly baked bread. All of which are available in store and guaranteed to fuel you ahead of a walk around Helmsley’s beautiful countryside to clear those cobwebs!

A charcuterie board is a guaranteed crowd pleaser that will turn any gathering into a celebration. Enjoy smooth Somerset Brie on top of a Peter’s Yard Crisp Bread, or how about a slice of Port Salut or some Stinking Bishop to really tantalize your taste buds. Add some green olives bathed in garlic oil and herbs or stuffed with pimiento peppers for a taste of the Mediterranean. And finish by bringing some perfectly aged salamis to the table. We have a huge selection in store that can be chosen and sliced to perfection before you bring them home, you can even have a taste to decide which one is your favourite before you buy.

Those looking to feed the masses with a quick but luxurious meal should look no further than our selection of pastas and sauces. We have an extensive range of authentic delicious bronzed and egg  Italian pastas that can be quickly cooked and served, the ideal dish to have squirreled away should unexpected guests come calling. Add some truffle oil or grated truffles to really liven up the dish. Alternatively, a baked camembert can be quickly prepared and enjoyed in a relaxed sharing atmosphere, perfect to enjoy by a roaring fire should the British weather elude us!


Of course, Easter also brings along with it a lot of the nation’s favourite sweet treat, chocolate! Keep your eyes peeled for a full blog on our Easter offerings or head in store to check out our selection of eggs and much, much more.