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It is always an exciting high point of the year when judging for the Yorkshire Life Food & Drink Awards comes around again. It means we can catch up with our illustrious team of judges, not only to hear all their news but to discover who they feel are the most interesting potential movers and shakers on the Yorkshire hospitality scene. Our judges’ meetings are held at the celebrated Rudding Park in Harrogate where, over fine food suppers, we have thrashed out just who will make it onto this years’ shortlist.
This year has been especially interesting, as there have been many nominations from readers and our judges have been crisscrossing the county eating, drinking and staying their way through some really excellent places.
We are thrilled with our shortlist which represents some interesting new finds, along with some more established food businesses, and we can’t wait to announce the winners at our fabulous awards lunch on Monday, September 22nd at Rudding Park, Harrogate and we’d love you to join us if you can.
Ltd Bradford. Marketing director Kevin Butterworth, said: ‘We are really looking forward to being part of the awards this year because Yorkshire Life has championed food and drink in the county for so long.’
It’s so important to keep romance in your life, especially when you’re married, writes Tony Greenway. That’s what my wife and I believe, anyway; so every week we take the time to go to a little restaurant we like, to make the most of the candlelight, romantic music and smoochy atmosphere. I go Wednesdays, she goes Fridays. Ha ha! Only joking, of course. (And please don’t tell her I said that).
But we do enjoy a cocktail whenever we get the chance, because... well... it’s always five o’clock somewhere. Plus there’s something quite decadent about them, and something quite powerful too, like the one I tried to make at Christmas. Notice I say ‘tried.’ It’s more difficult than it looks and was so blisteringly lethal and eye-wateringly strong that I couldn’t drink it, so I added a little bit of vinegar and we used it to clean the sink and worktops instead. You should have seen the shine on the taps.
My advice: go with people who know what they’re doing and can really shake a mean drink. Also, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s best to order a cocktail with some fizz and passion, that’s been lovingly made by the experts in a high-end, glamorous setting. Go down market and the names of the cocktails can be a bit off putting and not very romantic. You know the ones I mean. They usually involve walls or beaches.
So if you want to get all flirty over a glass or two of something long and alcoholic (hold the fruit), here are my glamorous cocktail spot recommendations...
The Queen o’t’owd Thatch, South Milford
The wonderfully named The Queen o’t’owd Thatch is, essentially, a pub but, of course, not just any old pub. The excellent menus are creative and big on local produce and the team behind the scenes strongly believes in making sure you get the right drink with your food. They’re serious about this as their awesome selection of pre-dinner, mid-dinner, post-dinner and non-alcoholic cocktails proves.
I have known the Queen o’ t’ owd Thatch in South Milford for more years than I am willing to mention. My enduring memory of the Thack (as it is known locally) is my late friend and his pals meeting there every Monday evening for a pint and a natter. The food was never amazing, the beer acceptable, but the pub was at the centre of village life and gossip which seemed to matter more.
Jumping forward a couple of decades and very little of the above is now true. The modern incarnation is – at first glance – a spruced up affair with a city-centre attitude and an identity crisis – is this a restaurant or is it a pub? It is trying to be both with food from one side and the boozer on the other.
At the bar there’s a couple of local and a guest ale on tap, supported by a lager, cider and Guinness. Alongside is a range of bottled beers, a good wine list and, surprisingly, a cocktail list. The food menu is carefully thought through and offers time tested, classic pub fare ticking all the right boxes of sustainability, provenance and seasonality. Refreshingly the menu offers a
drink pairing for each dish ranging from a craft ale, unique cocktail, wine, even a cup of tea with the fish and chips.
Now the food is good and the beer excellent. I miss my old friends propping up the bar, and I wonder what they would have made of the new Thack? I think they would have liked it.