Wednesday, 6 December 2017

The gift that keeps on giving…

Ah Christmas – the most magical time of the year!

But also…. a little bit stressful at times, let’s admit it! The entertaining, the endless school events, everyone trying to get their work finished before the big break. And that’s before you’ve got anywhere near the shopping or present buying!

Coming up with new gift ideas for loved ones is never easy. Kids always have lists of things they want, which makes it a lot more straightforward – but when it comes to grown ups, most of us have what we need, or we buy it when we want it! That’s why so many of us fall back on the old favourites. And of course, much as everyone loves a good pair of socks, it’s not the most exciting thing to open on Christmas Day.

But one gift that always hits the spot in our experience is food and drink! Who doesn’t love to get a little treat or two – perhaps something they wouldn’t have every day, or something they’ve never tried before. And unlike some fancy bath salts or a novelty tie, which might not be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s like to get used!

Of course, we would say this, but our hampers do make a fantastic present. We’re always happy to make one up to your own preferred requirements, but we do also have a selection readymade, which can be ordered in the shop, over the phone or online. We can deliver them around the UK – so perfect for that special someone you’re not going to get to see this festive season.

How about A Taste of Yorkshire – great value at just £35. From Taylor's of Harrogate Yorkshire Gold Teabags to Cartwright & Butler Butterscotch Crunch (with a bit of Rhubarb Milk Chocolate and some Yorkshire Heather Honey thrown in) – it’s jam-packed with goodies to give a taste of home to someone who might be missing God’s Own County. It also contains Blackberry and Sloe Gin jam (YUM!), so the jam-packed reference is conveniently true.

We have a Yorkshire Lad and a Yorkshire Lass version – but we’re certainly not saying they can only be enjoyed by someone of a certain gender! We’re pretty sure anyone would devour the contents, which vary from our very own White Chocolate Shards with Strawberry, Sloe Gin and Chilli Jam Cheesey Nibbles to Charlie & Ivy’s Cumin, Chilli & Coriander Bread Dipper, Gourmet Liquorice Bootlaces and Autumn Chutney with Black Sheep Ale.

Cheese lovers will love our Cheese Lovers hamper – a selection of cheeses, combined with some amazing accompaniments. Enjoy some charcoal cheese on a Sourdough Crispbread, or some Yorkshire Wensleydale with Fruit & Nut Torta, alongside some Moscato Grape Nectar.

Is your mouth watering yet?!

We also have some fantastic seasonal hampers, making them the perfect present for Christmas.
Christmas Cheer would make someone’s year. At £130, it’s literally bursting at the seams with some of our favourite goodies. Prosecco, Sauvignon Blanc, Monastier Shiraz – but it’s not all booze! There’s chocolates, tea and coffee, fruit jellies, florentines, crispbread, accompaniments for cheese, savouries, crisps, soup, biscuits, marmalade, tapenade, oil, chutney, Turkish Delight, pate….this list goes on. Enough to see you through January, that’s for sure! And we’re kind of underselling it – to paraphrase someone else this is no ordinary cracker, this is a ‘Toast for cheese with festive spiced fruit and pecans’. And it’s not a bottle of vegetable oil, it’s the rather amazing La Tourangelle Hazelnut Oil. And we love a bit of Branston Pickle, but wait until you try The Fine Cheese Co’s Port, Blood Orange & Pomegranate Jelly for Cheese.

So, if you’re struggling for inspiration this year – you know where to come. Can Santa please take note for my Christmas list too?!

Saturday, 25 November 2017

World Vegan Month: Our vegan (and dairy-free) favourites

Earlier this year we wrote a blog post about the rise in veganism. Although some people still seem to be surprised at how many choose to avoid all animal products in their diet, from meat, fish and eggs, to dairy and honey, it’s a movement which shows no sign of slowing. In fact, the number of vegans has risen over 350% in the last 10 years.

Apparently even Google Trends has seen evidence of a boom – search terms linked to vegan lifestyles in the UK were up 90% last year on the year before, and were significantly higher than those looking for information about the paleo diet, gluten-free or even vegetarianism.

The great thing for Vegans now, as opposed to a decade – or even just a few years ago – is the choice of food available. Gone are the days when you were limited to a boring plain salad or tomato-based pasta. Vegan restaurants and cafes are popping up in towns and cities across the country, which is no surprise given there’s well over half a million British vegans out there looking for somewhere interesting to eat!

Another good thing about vegan products is they’re always suitable for those with a dairy intolerance – making them doubly popular in our experience.

So, this World Vegan Month, we’ve scoured the streets (not literally, we found these products everywhere from a food show to a friend’s kitchen) for what we think are some of the tastiest Vegan (and therefore dairy-free) foods out there.

·        Granny’s Secret Ajvar pepper and tomato spreads - We are a little bit addicted to this in the store – which means we always over-order so the stock doesn’t run out! We’ve noticed that once you try this, you can’t go back, and so the same customers keep returning for more. It comes in classic or spicy varieties and is great as a dip or spread. Has to be tasted to be believed – it will revolutionise your sandwich!
·        Vegan chocolate – Being vegan doesn’t mean you have to give up all chocolate – you might just need to go darker! Yum! Booja Booja luxury chocolate truffles are amazing – from champagne or almond and sea salt to rhubarb and vanilla fool, you’d be a fool not to give them a try. King Monty uses creamy rice milk to create a delicious dairy-free bar and the So Free range uses plant alternatives to create a variety of different flavours, including a milk chocolate – perfect if you’re actually not keen on the more bitter dark choc.
·        Anila’s Indian sauces, pickles and chutneys – For an easy to make dinner idea, that tastes authentic (and much nicer than any takeaway), the Anila’s sauces take some beating. We particularly lovely the flavoursome Spicy Korma (which, as it suggests, is a spicier version of the usual Korma) and the mouth-watering Aubergine Pickle. Perfect with poppadoms!
·        Nut butters – Nut butters are all the rage, and we can see why. They’re so versatile (from spreading it on your morning toast, to adding it to recipes), they’re good for you and deliciously more-ish! We love Natural World’s Pecan and Fig or Hazelnut and Cacao varieties, as well as Meridian’s Almond or Cashew Butter.

So, if you fancy giving them a try, why not pop in? Or if you don’t live locally, we’re happy to arrange to send things out – so give us a call on 01439 771 307.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

We need you!

(It can’t only be us that pictures Lord Kitchener pointing at us every time we hear that?)

We’ve got a little favour to ask our wonderful customers… We’re delighted to have been nominated for the Farm Shop & Deli Awards 2018. But, we need some votes to help us win it! And we’re told it’s quality not quantity that counts… (same could be said for a lot of things in life).

There’s 13 categories, and we’re nominated in the delicatessen one (no surprise there you say!). There’s some tough competition, as you’d expect. God’s Own County isn’t short of some amazing food shops on its own, but Yorkshire is actually in with the wider North East region too, so there’s a whole host of favourites in there. We wouldn’t like to be the judges choosing between the 18… (although OBVIOUSLY if we were the judges we know who would win. Nudge nudge, wink wink).

The awards, which are in their fifth year, aim to draw attention to the many highly driven and passionate local businesses across the country. They focus on independent, specialty retailers who sell regional fresh/farm produce or have a delicatessen counter. They particularly celebrate the highest levels of service, product knowledge, initiative, innovation and community involvement in the sector. Much as we’re actually just very modest Yorkshire-folk and it sits a bit uneasy with us to blow our own trumpet (despite our new trumpet-featuring logo), we’d like to think we’re okay at some of those!

So…members of the public are being asked to vote for their favourite retailers to help them get through to the next stage of the competition. Regional winners will be chosen, who will then progress through to a national competition to have the chance of being crowned ‘Farm Shop & Deli Awards Retailer of the Year’. This will be announced at the Farm Shop & Deli Show, Monday 16th April 2018 at Birmingham’s NEC.

I’m sure it goes without saying that we would love to win one of these awards! As a small business owner you put your heart and soul into it, and we really are passionate about what we do. It’s always a fantastic boost for the whole team to receive a nomination for an award, and we thank everyone of you who votes for us and puts us forward for things. It means more than you can know!

So if you have a spare couple of minutes, and you feel like doing so, you can vote for us at: Choose the North East region or search for us by name. Voting closes on Tuesday 31st October 2017 and one lucky voter will be entered into a draw to win a “foodie hamper” (which sounds quite mysterious – wonder what it includes??)

Thank you all – and let’s keep everything crossed!

Trick or treat – frogs’ legs or sushi?

It’s that time of the year again – the time when kids across the world are sent out to beg for sweets and then come home on a sugar high that will see them through until Santa delivers the selection boxes.

What’s not to love about a bit of trick or treating – and of course parents can maybe get away with ‘sharing’ a few of their offspring’s sweet treats (there’s got to be some perks to spending hours with the face paints creating the world’s cutest werewolf.

And, of course, the shops (ourselves included) are jam-packed full of chocolate and lollipops and jelly sweets in the shape of pumpkins, spiders and bats!

But, according to some research we spotted, maybe we’re underestimating exactly what constitutes a treat for youngsters nowadays...?

Restaurant chain Giraffe undertook some research into children’s eating habits which revealed some surprising results. A third of parents said their children are culinary adventurous and half said ‘they will try most things’. They obviously didn’t question me or my offspring.

As a result, most British kids have tried curry, crayfish and olives by 5; mussels and quinoa by 6; and sushi by 7 – along with tacos, oysters, squid and Japanese katsu - all at a much younger age than their parents would ever have done. I still know plenty of grown-ups who wouldn’t try an oyster!

The survey found that around one in five kids had tried paella and tapas when holidaying in Spain. One in 20 had apparently given frogs’ legs a go. Just over a quarter were competent with chopsticks (something I’m still not consistently able to do!)

How much of this is down to pushy parents is a matter of debate – one in five parents said there was competition with friends over whose kids were most adventurous with food. And, of course, many - 40 per cent - said they loved posting pictures of the exotic food their children had tried on social media. How Instagram-able is a Happy Meal? And it’s fair to say exotic ideas for your child’s lunchbox abound on Pinterest.

So, this Halloween, maybe put away the Haribo and fun size chocolate bars, and start handing out the mini tubs of Hummus, and snack packs of edamame beans or sushi. Sounds like they’d go down a treat!

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Ramen – isn’t he one of the Egyptian Pharoes?

There was a news story came out this week about how many Brits don’t know their ramen from their enchilada, which made us laugh.

We’re not quite sure where these 1,500 people that Deliveroo polled have been, but apparently they think Wonton is Chelsea FC’s new signing, an enchilada is an animal found in South America, and a falafel is part of a jet engine (is anyone else hearing the Friends episode where Rachel empties an entire plane because Phoebe says there is something wrong with the left Phalange?) And, quite frankly, you don’t want to hear what people think ramen is.

We could understand a little more that the Vietnamese noodle soup Pho caused some confusion. One in seven thought it was an exotic type of fish, while one in 10 thought it was the name of a character from Game of Thrones. Well there are some odd names on the show – Hot Pie anyone? And we could kind of see where people were coming from with Frito Misto, the Venetian dish of lightly fried fish, with some declaring it was the Italian for “cold and foggy day.”

But surely everyone’s heard of Falafel? Nope, on top of the one in 33 who thought it was part of a jet engine, one in 25 said it was probably the name of a Russian poet. It’s not even from the right part of the world.

We actually laughed out loud at the fact one in ten people mistook the Thai hot and sour soup Tom Yum Goong for an up and coming snooker star from the Far East. Brilliant.

Despite those mistakes, a pretty high 86 per cent said they had international tastes when it comes to food, with the favourites being Chinese (58 per cent), Italian (56 per cent), Indian (50 per cent), American (35 per cent) and Mexican (34 per cent).

Apparently the average Brit spends £86 a month on take-aways. As much as we love the odd treat from one of the local takeaways, we also love to cook up a storm in the kitchen - as you’d guess really given our line of work! Whether it’s from scratch or from a jar, there’s some great ingredients out there to make a delicious international feast fit for a king (or Ramen, the Egyptian Pharo).

Of course, we’re passionate about great Yorkshire fayre, but we also appreciate the fantastic range of foods available from all over the world. We have a large variety of international foods from across the globe – Italy, India, Thailand, Malaysia, America, France, Spain, China, Africa - come and take a look at our Aladdin’s Cave second floor. You won’t find a genie in a lamp, but you may just find some edible treasures!

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Rice or roast

This next week marks the start of two foodie ‘awareness weeks’ (not that we think either of these things need awareness – they’re pretty well known!)

Launching on 18th September, National Rice Week aims to highlight the nutritional benefits of rice, and ways to cook it. We have to say, rice can be an understated staple – you can get stuck doing the same old boiled rice as an accompaniment to bulk out a meal, rather than enjoying it in its own right. So maybe it’s a good thing to have a week celebrating rice and all the things you can do with it! Hot or cold, sweet or savoury – they’re all good…

How about using it to make some sushi? We have everything you need in store to create your own nigiri or maki rolls. Or why not try some sticky jasmine rice with a fresh thai green curry? Maybe it’s a good incentive to make your own instead of opting for a take away this weekend.

Risotto is always a winner – and we have the easiest, tastiest ready-to-go risottos going! Simply add water to the packs and simmer for 10-15 minutes for a quick, satisfying supper in no time! Choose from Mediterranean  vegetable and mushroom varieties.

As rice week comes to a close, British Roast Dinner Week kicks in on 24th (of course it would have to start on a Sunday!). Who doesn’t love a roast dinner, but it has to be said they’re a lot of hard work. If you’re going to go to all that effort, you want to make sure it’s the best of the best. You can’t have roast beef without horseradish or mustard – we think XXX is perfect for the job. Roast lamb? Got to have some mint sauce. Tracklements do a lovely fresh mint jelly, or Cartwright and Butler do a perfectly balanced traditional mint sauce. Just the thought makes your mouth water! Roast pork – bring on the apple sauce. We love Stokes brand brambly apple. And then we come to chicken or turkey. Of course, cranberry sauce is a well-established favourite, and we do a great variety. But we also do a
delicious, Hunters’ brand peach chutney which tastes amazing with poultry. Maybe not so much with gravy, but perfect for using up those leftovers with some delicious fresh bread and butter or a salad.

If whipping up a roast dinner is going to take more time than you have, why not pop in for one of our famous deep-filled roast beef sandwiches? We perfectly roast the beef on site, so it’s still slightly pink – the smell is enough to get your stomach rumbling! Served with your choice of accompaniments, choosing one of our best-sellers will definitely never leave you feeling hungry. In fact, you wouldn’t be alone if you could only manage half and had to share the rest with a lucky friend (or save it for later if you’re not feeling that generous).

So, whatever this week inspires you to eat, pop in to Hunters and let us help you make an ordinary meal extraordinary!

These are a few of our (least) favourite things…

The world would be a boring place if we all liked the same things…. But, it has to be said, that when it comes to foods, many people seem to dislike the same things!
When we looked at some research done by BBC Good Food, the list of the top 10 most hated foods has several items which won’t be a surprise to anyone – including brussels sprouts, liver, marmite, tripe, celery and mushrooms. (Although, I personally love several of those, and those I don’t, other people in the Hunters team do – so they’re of course, by no means universally loathed!)
But there are some quite surprising entries on to the ‘food hell’ list. We’re looking at you curry, pasta and fish. And we’re not the only ones with eyebrows raised given they all also made it on to the top 10 food heaven list as well! But, of course, that just goes to show – what is one man’s cup of tea is another man’s venti, no foam, mocha, caramel macchiato (so to speak. Unless you love both of those, in which case that analogy doesn’t work very well).
If you look further back in time, other surveys point to the now hugely popular avocado as being high on the dislike list (you’d struggle to find many cafes and restaurants which don’t include it on their menu somewhere nowadays), along with olives and black pudding – all of which are foods of the gods, surely?
Sometimes I wonder if it’s a case of not having tried the food (let’s be honest, it’s easy to see why you might not want to tuck into a snail or a cockle at first glance) – or having bad childhood memories which have put you off for life. Maybe it’s worth a second try? We have some fantastic olives in store which are truly delicious – why not try our green olives stuffed with sun dried tomato, always a favourite on the deli.
It seems odd that pasta and curry would be on the food hell list – after all, there’s so many varieties of each. If you don’t like the spice of a Vindaloo, there’s so many milder versions available. And with curries from India, Malaysia, Thailand, Africa and Indonesia – to name but a few – to choose from, surely one would tickle your taste buds?
And it’s the same with pasta – on its own it can be a bit bland admittedly – although we do stock some wonderfully authentic Italian brands which are great just with a splash of oil and a generous grating of parmesan. But we also have dozens of delicious sauces to choose from – how about rich roast vegetable or red pepper, garlic and green birds eye chilli – a quick, easy and tasty supper. Fantastic flavours and none of the hassle!
So, if you have an item you’ve always just assumed you disliked (I was in my 30s before I could appreciate a good olive – now I can’t get enough of them!), maybe it’s worth another try? Come and have a chat and we’ll find you a version of your nemesis you might just be able to get on with!