Feast of the M60 asks if you can have an all-Yorkshire picnic
With relatives on both sides of the Pennines, I could claim dual nationality status if in the unlikely event that Yorkshire secedes from Westminster rule. Thanks to the lockdown and yours truly not having left Greater Manchester since then, a strange thought occurred to me: “Could you have an all-Yorkshire picnic?”
An all Yorkshire picnic? In what way, might you ask? The most obvious answer lies in the picnic items: Stainless Steel cutlery from Sheffield; Pork Pies from Huddersfield; fizzy drinks from Honley. Even a picnic basket from a Yorkshire department store.
The easiest way to get around this is by going to Morrisons or Asda and… Hey Hillards! Picnic basket/case closed.
To misquote Chris Tarrant, “We don’t want to tell you that.” We would like to give you other options as well as Bradford’s most iconic supermarket chain. Plus you could get some of Yorkshire’s finest products from there, as well as countless other supermarket chains.
You could add to the all-Yorkshire picnic by travelling into the UK’s largest county. Should you do so, please consider (at this moment in time) applying social distancing measures. Possibly with one person in your household of (for example) four people sat at each corner of the picnic blanket. Better still, wait till the lockdown is over completely or have your ‘picnic’ indoors.
Right, let’s plan ahead, sit back, relax and think of Hebden Bridge.
With any self-respecting sandwich, the kind of bread can make or break a sandwich. If you are looking for something to go with Yorkshire Ham, you cannot go far wrong with Jackson’s bread, lovingly baked in Driffield. Their D shaped bloomers (in white, seeded and brown forms) sets it apart from the usual supermarket fare.
If your taste in bread products is less discerning, you could always go for Morrisons’ own brand loaf. This is fine for crisp butties – especially Bradford’s very own Seabrook crisps.
Should cooked meats appear on your shopping list, consider a good local butcher instead of lame superstore offerings. One example is Dave Jones Quality Butchers on 4 St. Peter’s Parade, Earlsheaton, Dewsbury. They are very active on social media websites and have gone the extra mile in helping people that have fallen on hard times. That alone makes them worthy of your custom.
Any lover of British cheeses would know that Yorkshire’s cheese is Wensleydale. It goes well on toast, brown bread and cream crackers. The Yorkshire Dales Cheese Company has a plethora of cheeses including Wensleydale, Harrogate Blue, Cheddar and Ribblesdale. Shepherds Purse’s website is another good source.
Yorkshire is a happy hunting ground for the pork pie and there is no shortage of fantastic pork pies from Stockton-on-Tees to Greenfield. Our favourites are the offerings by AJ Pies and Pastries Limited. In other words, Jones Pies. Whether you choose the smaller pies or their ginormous plate pies, there are no lumps nor gristle: just the leanest pork on this side of the cosmos.
If you are not keen on pork pies, Jones Pies also do chunky chicken and chunky steak pies. Also noted for its pork pies is Wilsons of Crossgates. Since pies were introduced to the butcher’s shop in Crossgates, the business never looked back, opening more branches in Armley, Morley and Pontefract. Those three shops sell hot pies as well as pork pies. If you wish to have a socially distant wedding or a birthday celebration inside your support bubble, they do special pork pies. Before you ask, they are tiered like a wedding cake!
For good to honest crisps, any of Seabrook’s range is a no brainer. They are easily available from most supermarkets in the North of England. If you have set your sights higher, any of Yorkshire Crisps‘ selection is worth a try. Flavours include Oyster, Chilli and Lemon; also Worcester Sauce and Black Pepper. Their unflavoured crisps are labelled as ‘Nowt On’. Proper stuff.
For a picnic, you might prefer to (flour permitting) bake your own cakes. If you are pressed for time or lack the self raising flour, give a family owned bakery a try. Botham’s of Whitby has been going since 1865, survived two World Wars, a depression, and the de-staffing of its town’s railway station. To help them get through what could be a pandemic-related depression, give their selection of cakes a whirl. You can order by post or collect your items at their shops in Whitby and Pickering.
Costello’s Bakery of Malton too offers a mouthwatering variety of small cakes. Variety boxes are available with 16 different cakes in a pizza-style box. Gluten free options are also available.
If you wish to cut down on waste, take a flask with you and a set of reusable beakers. The most obvious thing to have is any of the Bettys and Taylors caffeinated beverage brands. Yorkshire Tea, whether in original or Yorkshire Tea Gold form is an absolute must for any kitchen or workplace. So much so that yours truly would happily take a box with him on an overseas trip.
If you ever get the chance to go to Bettys Tea Rooms in Harrogate, come away with a box of Bettys Tea Room Blend tea bags. The price is posh as hell, but we love them. If coffee is more your scene, you can now get coffee bags – giving you the full family of Taylor’s of Harrogate ground coffees in a more portable form.
Bettys and Taylors aren’t the only source of tea blenders in Yorkshire; Botham’s of Whitby do their own special blend.
Who needs Coca Cola or Pepsi when God’s Own County offers a few more viable alternatives? The preeminent peddler of carbonated drinks in Yorkshire was Ben Shaws, once noted for its Rinse and Return bottles. Today they are based in Derbyshire and have become a national brand. Whatever you make of their recent developments, their Dandelion and Burdock is a must for any picnic. Alongside their Bitter Shandy and Cream Soda.
Strictly speaking, we prefer tea. Or water as far as cold drinks are concerned. Beer’s not bad either, though we could leave that for a separate blog post.
Though we cannot guarantee that your picnic blanket would be made in a Yorkshire woollen mill, the least we could do is suggest a few retailers from the county.
As well as Morrisons, another good source is any of Boyes‘ department stores. Though their website only has a small selection of products, they recommend popping in to one of their stores.
Another true Yorkshire institution is Harveys of Halifax. It is an, alas, dying breed of family-owned department stores situated on Commercial Street. Of late, they have opened a second store – inside the recently revamped Piece Hall. If style and traditional customer service is your scene, Harveys fits the bill.
Any more suggestions?
If you have any more ideas for a full-on Yorkshire picnic, feel free to comment. Whatever you do on your picnic, don’t forget to clean up after yourself, respect social distancing laws and wear a face covering when you go to the shops.
If you live in West Yorkshire (except within Leeds City Council and Wakefield MBC boundaries), you cannot bring a friend or invite a family member from another house with you. This is due to latest changes made to the lockdown. These rules also apply to anyone from Greater Manchester and parts of East Lancashire (within Burnley, Pendle, Rossendale, and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council boundaries).
Most importantly, Happy Yorkshire Day – and a happy Eid Ad-Adha to you all.
S.V., 01 August 2020.