Ham it up in the north and learn how to make seafood sing in Dorset
The Northern Quarter is one of the most exciting areas in Leeds right now. The Victoria Gate shopping centre, which opened late last year, has given a real boost to the area’s economy, while imaginative redevelopments of historic buildings such as the Merchants House are attracting an affluent, arty crowd who are apprecitive and knowledgeable of good food and drink.
Walk into the newly opened Ham and Friends on a Saturday and you’ll see what we mean. Beautiful people ordering even more attractive brunch dishes, such as octopus Benedict, fill the rustic wooden tables in the Kitchen or sip glasses of Fiano Particella at the Wine Bar.
Located in the atmospheric Grand Arcade, the beautifully restored fine food emporium luxuriates over two floors. It’s easy to spend hours exploring the site, which combines contemporary materials such as glass and exposed steel with historic original architectural features.
As well as the Wine Bar and Kitchen, Ham and Friends is home to a boutique wine shop stocked with more than 200 unusual labels from France, Chile and Spain. A walk-in cheese room (the city’s first) is currently looked after by pre-eminent local cheesemongers George and Joseph and packed full of top cheese with distinctive flavours such as Rollright (centre right) and Old Winchester as well as a delicious truffle-infused Pecorino.
But the real draw is the enormous food hall of ‘amazing produce made by people who really care about what they do,’ according to the team. Provenance and craftsmanship are buzz words here: fruit and vegetables are sourced from West Yorkshire farms, charcuterie is imported from small Spanish producers by Brindisa or British heavyweights Canon and Canon, while artisans such as Pump House Bakery and Northern Bloc ice cream are championed above big brands. A top line-up of food and wine events will guarantee Ham and Friends’ place among Leeds’ culinary elite. We’ll see you there. SD. hamandfriends.com