Black Sheep Brewery – Masham

Brewery tour in North Yorkshire

The Black Sheep Brewery in Masham is well worth a visit for several reasons, not least to enjoy the landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales and its quaint villages (decorated with the remains of Tour de France bunting, bicycles and all sorts of paraphernalia on our visit today).

There’s a Visitor Centre with a ‘baa..r and bistro‘ serving fresh fayre sourced from local produce (from light bites to main courses) and several Black Sheep beers on tap (and bottled too).

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Baa..r + Bistro at the Visitor Centre

But the highlight has to be the brewery tour (£6.95 for adults, £5.95 for senior citizens) which lasts about 75 minutes.

The tour starts with a seated talk about the Theakston family’s long brewing history (in parts complex, but our guide made it thoroughly entertaining) interspersed with video footage and samples of barley and hops to smell and taste, before the ‘shepherded’ part of the tour begins in the boiler room.

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Mash tun + boiler room

Apparently, this boiler room gets so hot and steamy that it’s unbearable to be in for more than a few minutes in the heat of summer. Perhaps thankfully, a new boiler was being delivered today so although we didn’t see all the equipment in full working order, that mightn’t have been such a bad thing.

What happens in this room?
~ crushed malt from the grist hopper gets mashed with hot water into the mash tun
~ starch from the malt is converted to sugars (wort)
~ the wort is drawn off into the copper where hops are added
~ when full, the copper is brought to the boil then boiled for exactly an hour
~ the brew gets dropped into the hop back where the hops settle at the bottom so that the brew can be pumped across to the fermentation room

Fermentation room:
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Yeast residue that gets transported to the East Midlands + used in Marmite

Then it’s on to the packing and distribution area…

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Preparing for disribution

…before learning a bit more about each particular beer.

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Variety of Black Sheep beers, as well as kegs and casks

And the only way to finish is to taste-test your new knowledge!

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Beer tasting l-r, front to back – Riggwelter, Golden Sheep, Black Sheep ale + Velo drafts (Imperial Russian Stout + All Creatures bottled)

I was particularly taken with Velo, a special, seasonal pale ale with subtle hints of orange and coriander, created for the Tour de France 2014 in North Yorkshire – perfectly hoppy and very easy drinking, and the Imperial Russian Stout – strong, dark and velvety.

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Imperial Russian stout

The verdict: A great day out if you’re in the area. Or well worth arranging a trip if you’re not.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Brewery, bar
~ Address: The Black Sheep Brewery, Wellgarth, Masham, North Yorkshire, HG4 4EN
~ Website: Black Sheep Brewery website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Black Sheep Brewery
~ facebook page: Black Sheep Brewery on fb
~ Location: Black Sheep Brewery map

Harrogate Borough dining:
~ Storm at The Dower House – Knaresborough
~ Sukhothai – Harrogate, top Thai in Yorkshire

Black Sheep Brewery on Urbanspoon

Amorino Gelato Italiano

After a meal at Bistro1 in Soho we stumbled across Amorino, an ice cream parlour serving authentic Italian gelato on Old Compton Street.

Italian ice cream – amareno cherry (bottom left) + pistachio (diagonally above)

It’s £3.50 for a small cone (or cup) and you can choose up to four flavours from a handsome range of over 24 ice creams and sorbets.

Each scoop of hand made organic ice cream (free from artificial colours and flavours) is carefully squidged in to a petal shape, to form a rose.

Crafting an ice cream rose

I chose amarena cherry, pistachio, Madagascar vanilla and yoghurt (all divine!).


Small cone outside in: yoghurt, amarena cherry, Madagascar vanilla, pistachio

Our decision to skip dessert in the restaurant where we’d eaten dinner proved to be a good one.

Amorino on Old Compton Street

The verdict: Oh so good. More please!

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: ice cream, gelato
~ Address: 41 Old Compton Street, Soho, London
~ Postcode: W1D 6HF
~ Nearest station: Leicester Square
~ Website + menus: Amorino website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Amorino
~ facebook page: Amorino Soho on fb
~ Location: Amorino Soho map

Soho dining:
~ Andrew Edmunds
~ Bistro1 – Mediterranean/Turkish food on Frith Street
~ Cây Tre – Vietnamese restaurant on Dean Street
~ Shoryu Ramen – Japanese noodles
~ Silk at the Old Courthouse
~ Wagamama Soho

Amorino on Urbanspoon



Lardbutty homemade – Nan Khatai almond biscuits

These crumbly, melt in your mouth almond biscuits originate from Pakistan

The girl I sit next to at work brought some of these biscuits back from a trip to Lahore recently. They were gorgeous. And she’s not going back any time soon. So I just had to make some…

Download Nan Khatai recipe here

Nan Khatai almond biscuits in 3 steps Nan khatai in 3 steps – 1. Put ingredients in food processor, 2. Mix til doughy, 3. roll into balls + bake

~ 12 tablespoons plain flour
~ 4 tablespoons semolina flour
~ 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
~ 7 tablespoons ground almonds (5 for the main mix, 2 for garnish)
~ 140g (10 tablespoons or 5oz) butter
~ 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
~ flaked almonds for garnish (optional)
~ 1 egg, beaten (half for egg wash, half can be added to the biscuit mix, optional)
~ Optional: pistachios, ground cardamom seeds

METHODHeat oven to 190°C
1. Put the two types of flour, sugar, butter, vanilla essence and five tablespoons of ground almonds into a food processor and gently blend until a soft dough ball forms (nb. you can add half of the beaten egg to the mix if desired to help it bind)
2. Roll into small balls with your hands and press down as you lay the balls out on a pre-heated baking tray
3. Garnish with flaked almonds and sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of ground almonds over the top before brushing with beaten egg to glaze
4. Put in pre-heated oven at 190°C for 15-20 minutes

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Nan Khatai fresh from the oven

Download Nan Khatai recipe here


LardButty homemade:
~ Boterkoek and fruit buckle recipes
~ Cheesey jalapeno melts
~ Onion bhajis recipe
~ Peanut butter + honey bars recipe
~ Scones recipe
~ Squid curry recipe
~ Tod mun pla (Thai fishcakes) recipe
~ Turkish delight cheesecake recipe

Brasserie Blanc – Covent Garden

I don’t feel lazy letting the pictures do the talking on this one…

The story starts with an appetite, in good company, on a hot and stuffy Saturday evening in the middle of Summer.

Aperitifs in the bar – refreshing cold prosecco

Once our table’s ready, we’re shown out to the roof terrace and into the warm evening air.

Roof terrace dining – by the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden piazza

We order from the a la carte Summer Menu. Our group’s hors d’oeuvres include:

Deep fried goat’s cheese starter – with tomato chutney, frisee + bean salad @ £7.80

Cucumber gaspacho soup – with lemon crème fraîche, cucumber + dill @ £5.90

Pork rillettes starter – with cornichons + sourdough @ £7.50

Plats cuisines follow

Seabream – a special dish of the day in a very lemony butter sauce (gorgeous!)

Roast Atlantic salt cod fillet – salt cod brandade with red pepper + tomato sauce @ £17.40

Spicy squid, chorizo + espelette pepper cassoulet – with new potatoes + saffron @ £15.60

Viognier – dry, aromatic white wine (classic characteristics of the Viognier grape are peaches, dried apricots + floral aromas)

Some of us share desserts:

Selection of seasonal artisan cheeses @ £9.10

Crepes Suzette alight – for two @ £14.00

Crepes Suzette halved + plated – with orange + cointreau sauce + vanilla ice-cream

The verdict: Splendid. My camera never lies.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: French, International
~ Address: 35 Clare Market, Covent Garden, London
~ Postcode: WC2E 8RF
~ Nearest station: Covent Garden, Charing Cross
~ Website + menus: Brasserie Blanc Cov Gdn website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Brasserie Blanc food
~ Location: Brasserie Blanc Cov Gdn map

More nearby dining:
~ Bangalore Express
~ Canteen
~ Maxwells
~ Zen China

Brasserie Blanc on Urbanspoon

La Pizzeria Italiana – Catford

Star pizza, star restaurant

There’s no nice way of putting this: La Pizzeria Italiana looks rough from outside. And that’s because it’s at the base of Eros House, a drab concrete tower in Catford.

But stick with me here, it’ll be worth your while…

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Eros House – RIBA’s London architecture medal, 1962

This grade II listed building was awarded a ‘London architecture medal’ by RIBA in 1962, and given a ‘civic trust award’ in 1964 (an acknowledgement of the new, brutalist, concrete-slab architecture of the time?). The concrete is textured to look like wood and – being almost as iconic as the Catford Cat – you might even grow to love it in time.

All I’m saying is don’t let first appearances fool you.

Come this way – just grin and bear it a moment more…

The approach to La Pizzeria Italiana may not be appealing. But peer in through the doorway and it’s a different matter: it’s a small restaurant (about 50 covers) with frescoes of an Italian landscape and Venetian waterways. A mobile of teacups and white feather boas hangs centre-stage from a fabric ceiling; all really inviting and just that little bit different.

Tea cups, feather boas, soft lighting + Italian hospitality

Warmly acknowledged the moment we stepped inside, our waitress was really hospitable and helpful. The patron (from Bologna) came over several times to make sure we were comfortable, and to let us know we could go ‘off menu’ (“Don’t be shy!” were his exact words) – all dishes are freshly cooked to order and can easily be adapted to individual preference.

Admiring the sea view, Venetian waterways, inside La Pizzeria Italiana

It was a hot evening at the end of the working week and some cold bubbles were in order. A bottle of prosecco arrived, served in a solid rubber bag filled with iced water – a practical alternative to a space-consuming wine bucket.

Despite being hidden from the street, this intimate restaurant was busy, doing a good turnover of tables. And it attracted all types of clientele: we noted a group of senior citizens, a young couple, a party of three lads (in their twenties), a couple of families with very young children, and a couple of middle aged couples (we were one of them and in case you’re wondering, anyone over 35 qualifies as middle aged).

If their target market is anyone who enjoys fine quality pizza and food in a comfortable, relaxed environment then they look to be on target. That market is diverse, and all looked to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. You’d be hard pressed not to feel comfortable here.

Clockwise: Hand grenade style Prosecco bottle, Insalata Tricolore, Caprina pizza, antipasto

La Pizzeria Italiana was first recommended to me in August 2013 by CaT here on LardButty, and I’m seriously gutted that it took me nearly a year to visit. Still, I’ve been twice in my first week so I think that says something (aside from I’m greedy).

We are committed to working our way through the menu, and have found that the pizzas are outstanding (*proper* Italian, thin crust pizzas) and everything’s freshly prepared. Given the excellent food quality, it’s also reasonably priced.

So far, LardButty can recommend:

~ Insalata Tricolore – tomatoes, mozzarella, basil + avocado starter salad @ £5.50
~ Antipasto Miso All’ Italiana – Italian cured meats + roast vegetables @ £7.50
~ Caprina pizza – Mozzarella, goats cheese, olives, red onions, basil + fresh chopped tomatoes @ £9.50 with extra mushrooms @ £1.00
~ Lasagna Al Forno – fresh pasta layers, Bolognese, Béchamel and parmesan @ £8.95

~ Tomatoey meatballs – starter @ £4.95
~ Parmagiana – baked aubergine starter @ £4.95

Meatball starter @ £4.95

Parmagiana – baked aubergine starter @ £4.95

~ Quattro Stagioni – four seasons pizza with Mozzarella, tomato, ham, pepperoni, mushrooms + spinach @ £9.00

Four seasons pizza @ £9.00

~ and last but by no means least: the star special pizza @ £11.50

Star pizza – choose 5 ingredients/toppings for each ‘corner’

This star shaped pizza had real novelty value, while also bearing a different tasty treat in every corner. My five toppings were anchovy, mushroom, chilli, dolcelatte, and olives, with loads of fresh salad.

The verdict: Don’t rush me, I haven’t worked my way through *all* the menu yet (It’s amazing. Is La Pizzeria Italiana still one of Catford’s best kept secrets? shhhhhh….)

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
~ Type: Italian
~ Address: 3 Eros House, Brownhill Road, Catford
~ Postcode: SE6 2EF
~ Tel: 020 8461 4606
~ Nearest station: Catford Bridge, Catford, Ladywell
~ Website + menus: La Pizzeria Italiana website
~ Photos on flickr: images of La Pizzeria Italiana food
~ facebook page: La Pizzeria Italiana on fb
~ Location: La Pizzeria Italiana map

More Catford dining:
~ Catford Chippy
~ FS2 – Turkish deliveries
~ Mekan – Mediterranean cuisine
~ Pide – Turkish pizza
~ Sapporo Ichiban
~ Turkish Kitchen


La Pizzeria Italiana on Urbanspoon

Baltic – Polish restaurant Blackfriars Road

When Silvena Rowe first started appearing on Saturday Kitchen a few years ago, I couldn’t help but wonder who this wacky Bulgarian woman was and admire her ballsy ways – she’s one of few people who can put James Martin off his self-assured stride. At the time she was executive chef of Baltic and that’s what first drew me to this restaurant.

Fast forward several years to July 2014 and I eventually made it here to spend the evening dining with a friend, even though Ms. Rowe is long gone (her career having gone from strength to strength).

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Minimalist interior at Baltic

Situated in a former 18th century brick house on Blackfriars Road (originally Great Surrey Street 1768 – 1829) replete with high ceilings, exposed beams and a great sense of space, Baltic’s interior is minimalist to the extent of being somewhat characterless.

Visiting on a Thursday evening, several post-work groups were in, and I can imagine it being a good place for parties – especially trying out the vodka list.

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Red snapper in walnut and pomegranate ‘satsivi’ sauce + fennel salad

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Herring salad starter

For starters I had red snapper @ £7.50 – generous chunks of meaty fish that were overly dry but the walnut and pomegranate ‘satsivi’ sauce (spicy but not hot) more than compensated for that, served with a cleansing fennel and lemon salad. H had marinated herring salad with potato, peas and sour cream @ £7.00.

When reading the menu, I’d homed straight in on sea bream for main course. But at the point of ordering I instead asked the waitress what she would eat off this menu.

She recommended seared calves liver (not really my thing) and rabbit in cider @ £16.50. So I decided at the last minute to be adventurous and switched to rabbit, typical Polish cuisine. And was so glad I did.

Served with ‘nalesniki’ noodles, bacon, peas and carrots it was quite an odd sounding dish to read. But the tender, white meat – similar to chicken – served in a gorgeous cider gravy with mixed vegetables and noodles was most enjoyable to eat.

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Leg of rabbit – cooked in cider with bacon, peas, carrots + noodles

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Seared marinated salmon

H had seared marinated salmon with sweet pickled beetroot and pomegranate salad @ £16.50 (a la carte menu price).

Not that we were still hungry after two courses and two bottles of Chilean Sauvignon dry white wine @ £22.00 a bottle but we squeezed in dessert (we were dining leisurely). H had pulkownik homemade strawberry sorbet with a shot of frozen vodka @ £7.00.

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Pulkownik – sorbet + vodka

I had Hungarian chocolate torta with vanilla ice cream @ £6.00 – an unexpectedly large slice of chocolate cake which – fortunately – was a bit dry (ie. it wasn’t too rich and sickly too eat this great quantity!) and partnered perfectly with the very vanilla ice cream (not sure if it was homemade but it certainly didn’t taste mass produced?).

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Hungarian chocolate torta + vanilla ice cream

A 50% discount off the a la carte menu (with a Gourmet Society card) made this an excellent value meal. And so we indulged in a digestif – I had a Glenmorangie single malt whisky @ £6.50, and H had a tokaji aszu Hungarian dessert wine @ £7.90.

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Bill for two £105.70 includes 12.5% service charge + Gourmet Society discount

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Polish, Eastern European, vodka bar
~ Address: 74 Blackfriars Rd, London
~ Postcode: SE1 8AH
~ Tel: 020 7928 1111
~ Nearest station: Southwark
~ Website + menus: Baltic website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Baltic food
~ facebook page: Baltic on fb
~ Location: Baltic restaurant map

More SE1 dining:
~ Canteen – proper British grub
~ Zen China – great riverside views

Baltic on Urbanspoon



Boqueria Battersea

A new branch of Boqueria opened recently on Queenstown Road in a prime spot near Battersea Park. It’s as much a deli, serving lunchtime treats to local workers, as a more formal tapas restaurant.

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Boqueria Battersea – new branch on Queenstown Road with roadside seating

On completing our D.I.Y. shopping chores (yawn) the other Saturday morning in a hired zip car, we spontaneously decided to delay doing said D.I.Y., in favour of trying a take-away tapas lunch from Boqueria Market.

A scorching hot day, this new branch was busy, with all five (circa) of the outdoor tables occupied. Now this branch is beautifully done out but those outdoor tables are still on traffic-heavy Queenstown Road and Battersea Park Road…

Indoors, some customers were sitting in the deli area on high stools having a leisurely lunch and cocktails, and a few were dining in the restaurant at the back. All looked to be relaxed and enjoying themselves.

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Deli counter – salads, snacks, tuna empanadillas, variety of cakes

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Simple rustic-feel restaurant area – small restaurant at the back

The deli counter displayed a tempting selection of salads and cakes, not to mention tuna empanadillas (tomato and tuna pie) @ £3.50 a slice so – along with all the tapas options too – there’s plenty of choice.

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Whole jambon

For the two of us to share I ordered:
~ Bread @ £1.60 + marinated olives @ £2.00
~ Patatas bravas – lightly spicy crispy potatoes @ £4.20
~ Chorizo in cider @ £4.90
~ Pork + beef meatballs in tomato sauce @ £6.00
~ Spanish tortilla @ £4.90

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Tapas take-away lunch

Our total lunch for two came to £23.90 – very reasonable for freshly prepared, good quality, and thoroughly enjoyable food. Certainly as good as Brixton Boqueria.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Spanish, tapas
~ Address: 278 Queenstown Road, Battersea, London
~ Postcode: SW8 4LT
~ Tel: 020 7498 8427
~ Nearest station: Battersea Park
~ Website + menus: Boqueria market website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Boqueria food
~ Location: Boqueria Battersea map

More Battersea dining:
~ Dalila – top Lebanese restaurant
~ Nancy Lam’s Enak Enak – *best* restaurant on Lavender Hill (Indonesian / SE Asian fusion)
~ Santa Maria del Sur

Boqueria Market on Urbanspoon



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