Ham it up in the north and learn how to make seafood sing in Dorset

Food and Travel (UK) - - Contents -

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

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