Monday, 12 June 2017

The best job in the world

Last week we spotted an advert for a job which sounded too good to be true.

The Harris Distillery job description read: “Gin-Lover’s Dream Job: The Isle of Harris is Seeking an Ambassador to represent the spirit of a beautiful, remote Outer Hebridean island just voted Happiest Place in the UK. Best new job if you KNOW London and LOVE Gin. Get paid to spend time in bars and restaurants, be a Special Envoy traveling to the Isle of Harris.”

Well as job descriptions go, it’s a pretty good one! It reminded us of those jobs you sometimes see where you can become caretaker of a beautiful, remote tropical island, or to be an official chocolate taster. Jobs that sound too good to be true (and which they certainly don’t encourage you to focus on at school career’s days).

But then it got us thinking about our own jobs here at Hunters of Helmsley.
To be honest, I think we’re very lucky.

Firstly, we work in the beautiful town of Helmsley. It’s picture postcard pretty, with its babbling brook, imposing castle, beautiful architecture and surrounded by the breathtaking countryside of the North York Moors National Park. Every day we thank our lucky stars we’re based here. And not only that, but we get to work in one of the loveliest, Grade 2 listed, historic buildings slap bang in the town centre.

Secondly, we get to work in a business community which is really something very special. We helped instigate the setting up of Helmsley in Business almost five years ago, and now it has 60 members, a great website for the town (www.visithelmsley.co.uk ), and we even won the Best Market Town accolade at the Great British High Street Awards! But more than that, we have a great community, willing to support and look out for each other, working together for the good of the town. Put that together with the many fantastic local residents who support our local businesses, and again you could say we’re fairly lucky!

Thirdly, at Hunters we’re a pretty nice bunch. Even if we do say so ourselves! We have a good giggle at work, and a great team spirit. Who could ask for more than that?

But there is a final point. There’s all of the above – but also, we get to work with the very best food and drink in the region…country…in fact the world in some cases! And that is our true passion. We love bringing new taste sensations to our customers and encouraging them to try something new alongside the old favourites, which they know they’ll find on our shelves. We also get to scour trade shows and markets and keep our ear to the ground to find the newest and most interesting products and developments. Of course, we have to sample everything we sell, to make sure it’s only the very best we’re offering. It’s a hard job but someone’s got to do it!

So, lovely as that job advert sounds, we think we’ll stick where we are.


If you’re looking for a new challenge, have retail experience and you’re passionate about food and drink, we’re always keen to hear from people who might like to become part of our team! Drop us a line at contact@huntersofhelmsley.com


Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Getting the taste for something new

We’re always getting new products in store – it’s one of things we love to do, and it makes shopping much more interesting for our regular customers!

One of the perks of our jobs is visiting trade events, suppliers and producers, and finding out what new trends are coming, what new products are in development and what’s the thing that no one has yet heard of, but everyone will be after in a couple of months’ time.

But we’re not always that good at shouting about what’s new – and so we thought it was time to talk about recent additions to our shelves, fridges and freezers, and giving a heads up on what’s selling like the proverbial hot cakes.

If you’re a carnivore at heart, we get some great pork products from nearby Hovingham, including black pudding, gammon, pork slices, bacon, coppa and bresaola. Another great meat product is our frozen pates from Albion Artisan Foods. Great to keep in the freezer, ready for when guests come round, or you’re after a light and easy supper or lunch. All of them have a little twist - my personal favourite is the Chicken Liver Pate with Coronation Chicken.

With the weather taking a turn for the better recently, there’ll no doubt be more than a few barbies going on. Once you’ve finished the main course, how about treating yourselves to a barbecue marshmallow set from Mellow Mallow, or a Hamlet barbecue fondue, with deliciously indulgent Belgian chocolate? Makes the mouth water just thinking about it! We also do some delicious vegan marshmallows, and a range of dairy free chocolate, so no one needs to miss out.

Another sweet treat is the Choc Affair chocolate bars – with something for every taste. How about Mango White Chocolate or Blackcurrant and Liquorice Milk Chocolate for something different?

The plainest of meals can be zinged up with the right accompaniment. Some of our current favourites are of the pickled variety. Wild at Heart does a great range of Pickled Samphire, Kimchi and Sauerkraut. Healthy and delicious! If you fancy something with a creamy edge, how about Seaweed and Wild Garlic Mayonnaise?

Pelegonia is an award-winning Macedonian food range, and we love it. There’s antipasta such as grilled aubergines and zucchini, and traditional meze including Aivar, Luteniza and Malidzano, which are great on bruschetta.

If you’re in a rush, our range of ready to eat Freekeh and Quinoa make the great basis for an easy dinner. Healthy grains, which taste fantastic and are simple to serve – the perfect combination!

Of course, a great cook needs the very best equipment – and to make sure their food is shown off at its best! The stunning Stuart Clarkson range of oak accessories are flying off our shelves. Including everything from chopping boards and candle holders to coasters, there’s something very elegant and tactile about their simple design made in the very best wood.

If you’re looking for something to wash all that down with, how about SLOEmotion’s new Hedgerow Gin, full of infusions from around the farm. Not only does it taste delicious, but it comes in a very attractive bottle too.

Hopefully that’s given you some food for thought – we’d love to see you soon to show you more!




Friday, 26 May 2017

The Great British Sandwich-Off

Here at Hunters we’re not afraid to ask the big questions. And one which has been on our mind lately is…. can a sandwich predict the outcome of the General Election?

Well we’re about to find out!

With recent polls failing to predict everything from Brexit to the future president of the United States (who would have guessed how that would pan out?), we decided to conduct our own research into the upcoming general election.

So, next time you pop in for a bite to eat for lunch, you’ve got a serious choice ahead of you. We’ve introduced a range of sandwiches, with one representing each of the main political parties:

·        ConservativesThe Blue Bloomer, jam-packed with rare topside of beef, Harrogate Blue Cheese and Sloemotion Blackberry Ketchup
·        Labour The Red Roll -  a tangy mix of Wensleydale with Cranberries, sweet chilli jam and juicy tomatoes.
·        Liberal Democrats The Democratic Doorstop – a mouthwatering mix of pastrami, sauerkraut, mustard and Gruyere
·        Green Party – The Green Gourmet -  a fresh and filling combination of Villa Verde Gouda with Pesto, salad and green olives
·        UKIP – Pain au Purple – deep-filled with Smoked Applewood cheese, roasted ham and sliced pickled beetroot

As with all of our sandwiches, they are freshly made to order in store on a choice of white or wholemeal bread bun – and as always, about as deeply filled as you can get! (Sharing is a common scenario with our sandwiches, so it’s to be hoped your lunch buddy has the same political tastes as you). Prices range from £3.50 to £4.50.

We can easily sell several hundred sandwiches in a week, so it should give us a good idea of the region’s leanings.

Most exit polls seem to have gotten it quite wrong recently, and it’s getting trickier for anyone to predict how voting on any subject will go. So, we hope you’ll join in with our bit of fun to see which political party is leading the hearts, minds (and stomachs) of the public before the big day!


Tuesday, 2 May 2017

A comforting cuppa – the great British institution

Recently you may have noticed it was National Tea Day. We LOVE a good cuppa at Hunters…but then don’t most of us Brits? There’s something so comforting about a well-made cup of tea in a nice mug or china cup or even a takeaway cup or a travel mug. However it comes, it’s a national treasure.

We love it so much over 200 million cups of the stuff are drunk every single day by us as a nation. (although I probably have about five cups a day, so I contribute more than my fair share towards that figure – apparently that puts me in the top 25 per cent of tea drinkers.)

But there’s two things that that help contribute to a cup of tea being a really enjoyable brew, instead of just a mediocre one. First is the tea used. Loose leaf or tea bags, it’s got to be good quality. We love Twinings, Yorkshire Tea and Taylors of Harrogate. (we also have lots of herbal and fruit teas if that’s your preference – Pukka do some fantastic ones to help refresh and energise or relax and unwind.)

The second component of a great cup of tea is that it’s the right strength for you. Last week saw some research from Premier Inn that revealed the perfect strength of tea. You can see here for the colour chart that reveals that perfect shade of brown.

But surely everyone has their own personal favourite shade? And although the colour chart offers six options (from nearly black to bordering on never seen a teabag in its life), the beauty of tea is there’s a million different ways of taking it. And everyone has their own personal favourite in terms of strength, milk, sweetness and a biscuit to dunk (got to be a oatie biscuit in my opinion). There’s no right and wrong, it’s just not your cup of tea. Literally and figuratively speaking.

It’s quite funny that, despite the fact that we’re Brits so we don’t like to complain, we will happily tell someone their tea-making skills are terrible. Making a good cuppa is like a badge of honour – and arguments are taking place in offices and homes across the country right now on whose turn it is to put on the kettle.


It’s yours by the way – mine’s Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Gold with a splash of semi skimmed and no sugar. Thanks!

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…