The Swine That Dines – #RootstoShoots

 

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Now I’m no food writer or blogger but it would be remiss of me to not attempt to sum up the astonishing eating experience I had at the Swine That Dines vegetarian evening RootstoShoots.  I’m a meat eater but my partner isn’t, this has actually been very beneficial to me as my diet has improved, is more balanced and fits in much better to the  ethos that it’s better for us and the planet if we all eat a bit less meat.

Whilst there are some notable exceptions in Leeds, generally the level of vegetarian food available on most venues’ menus is sorely lacking in imagination or choice.  The culmination of this is perhaps no better illustrated than when it comes to Christmas menus which seem to default to some form of risotto.  Now who doesn’t like a good risotto but come on people is that the best you can do?  It comes as very much a welcome relief therefore to go somewhere knowing that from a vegetarian perspective you are going to potentially be able to eat everything on the menu.  This is especially true when you consider that The Swine That Dines very much specialises in nose to tail eating, or so I thought.  What I learnt is that they just specialise in very good cooking.

For those who don’t know The Swine That Dines is an offshoot of The Greedy Pig on North Street and opens up on weekend evenings, with the vegetarian menu (#rootstoshoots) being the first weekend of the month.  The setting is a small (about 14 covers) cafe and therefore does not come with the airs and graces of a fancy restaurant, however that is  just fine by me.  You can relax, bring your own wine and enjoy what’s on offer.  It had the feeling of being somewhere that you long to randomly discover while walking around an unknown neighbourhood of some continental city.  A place that you are going to rave about afterwards and long to return to, luckily for me I’ll be able to any time I want.

The evening works like a tasting menu, but you don’t have to order everything, indeed there was a guy in there just having a couple of dishes with a bottle of beer.  Obviously we went for everything on the menu which they explain they bring out two dishes at a time.  Each dish is of a starter size and I love this sort of British tapas approach enabling you to share a couple of plates at a time, relax and wait for the next ones.  I also loved the way the menu was written, just three or four ingredients with no hint really on how they would be prepared or served which for me added to the intrigue.  It was a welcome relief to not see the words foam, air, jus, pan fried (how the hell else do you fry something?) anywhere near the menu.  Our menu was this:

1.

Coco Beans, Goats Curd, Lemon, Rye

2.

Sweet Potato, Burnt Butter, Nori, Yuzu

3.

Carrots, Romesco, Ewes Cheese

4.

Fava, Quails Egg, Dukka, Pomegranate

5.

Buttermilk, Polenta, Wild Garlic, Aiolli

6.

Duck Egg, Smoked Potato, Buckwheat, Sorrel

7.

Oyster Mushrooms, Quinoa, Hazelnut, Porter

8.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Tomato Sambal, Peanut

Now if you are like me and you read that menu you have to be intrigued either thinking ooh what’s that or mmmm how are they going to pull those things together, what will it look like, taste like etc.  Either way you can’t wait for the first couple of plates to arrive.  When they did arrive and you tasted the humble ingredients beautifully presented I was simply mesmerised.  I don’t think I’ve ever tasted food as good or certainly not better.  Each plate was a dazzlingly array of taste and texture, flavours meeting, marrying and exploding in your mouth sending your senses into overload.  I found it quite incredible how someone could take a carrot or a potato, surely the humblest of humble ingredients and make you feel like you were eating the most luxurious food imaginable.

I cannot pick a stand out dish even though we spent a lot of time discussing it, they were all brilliant although there were a couple of stand out elements, the carrot, smoked potato, oyster mushrooms did it for me.  The only ingredient that didn’t appeal to me was the buckwheat, didn’t stop me almost resorting to licking the plate clean mind.

If you’ve seen the film Ratatouille then this for me was that film come to life, an astonishing chef cooking from the heart and creating dishes to die for.

Going out for food this good is for many people a very special occasion type of affair, one that you know is going to seriously cost.  Here though the evening out was such astonishingly good value that it puts the experience within reach of most people I’d suggest.  Each plate was £6 – that’s £48 for all 8 or £24 each !!!!  There cannot be anywhere else where you can get food this good for such good value.  I often eat out thinking blimey this is a lot of money for something I could basically cook myself.  Never has that feeling been further from my mind at The Swine That Dines.

So where are all the foodie, artful, Instagramed pictures of these marvellous plates.  Simple, no picture can possibly do the food justice.  Just go eat there and see for yourself, but leave space for me as I’ll be taking up residence I think.

 

 

Easter Photo Fun – 2016 – Square

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Easterphotofun has been a bit of weird one this year as here in Leeds the majority of schools don’t actually take the holiday around the Easter weekend.  A couple of years ago the decision was made to standardise the holiday to the first two weeks of April.  For photofun this meant that this year over the Easter weekend people were tweeting me asking what we were doing and I had to explain that it wasn’t starting for another week and of course by week two this will have meant that most people who are not in Leeds will have gone back to school.

However the photofun themes have been designed to fit around our holidays in Leeds so although it’s a bit odd for others it’s what works for us.  Of course the result has meant not as many people taking part, either that or people are bored with it ?  However I still enjoyed the interpretations during week one for Square.  We’ve done quite a few shape themes and I always like them, they are so open to interpretation and I find that when you look around the world is very simply made up of shapes so they are everywhere.

As always there were some lovely interpretations and I am always fascinated to get a glimpse of how other people see things.  I particularly liked the photo at the top that used squares to make a circle, I like how it messes with my mind a little bit as it’s the circle that is the first thing I see not the squares.  Nice.  As always thanks to contributing, it’s a real pleasure to have your interpretations drop into the timeline and show them to the kids who set the theme.  It’s a nice social connection.

Click on the gallery below to view the pictures in full size and you can then scroll through them.  Do let me know which ones you liked.

Half Term Photo Fun – Contrast (2)

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One of my daughters has chosen to do Art as one of her GCSE options and is hugely enjoying it.  She has recently been doing work around the theme of contrast so we thought what better than to use that as our Halftermphotofun and see what you came up with.  We’ve done quite a few of these now over the last two years and I must admit I don’t have a list of them but in pulling the photos together for this week I realised that we had done contrast before but hey you can check back to that post and contrast it to this one.

The kids are obviously much older than when we started doing this, teenagers, making their own choices in life and while they are happy to pick themes for us they are less likely to take part which is totally fine.  However it does change the dynamic from when we first started this so I guess I need to think whether I carry on just pulling things together myself, stop, reinvent?  I’ll give it some thought but open to your ideas as well.  I must admit that each time I think to myself maybe it’s a stale thing or that I or you are not interested I’m always fascinated my the interpretations that come in.  I’ve been thinking a bit about culture recently, Leeds is going to bid for city of culture at some point I believe, and conversations are taking place across the ‘cultural sector’ on what should go into the cultural strategy.  I’m not in the sector but am interested in culture – whatever that may be.  I think that culture for me is activity that brings people together, comfortably, even though you may be challenged.  In bringing people together it can help you to make sense or to interpret the world around you.

I think that the photofun things that we do are great at this, I see the world through your eyes for that brief second when you hit the button on your phone / camera and in doing so I realise how privileged a position that is.  So till next time ……. ?

XmasPhotoHunt – Gallery

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There is not much analysis to do on our Xmas Photo Hunt, it was simply a bit a fun.  The kids picked 12 themes for 12 days of Christmas, each theme had a sort of link to Christmas but could be interpreted in any way you want.  Not surprisingly there were a lot of Christmas themed photos but also plenty of different approaches taken as well.  I wasn’t sure with it being a busy family time if people would play along but plenty of people kept me busy with a steady stream of photos coming in.

Initially I was going to try and keep track of how each person was doing in getting all 12 but I soon gave up on that idea and left it up to the sender to work out how they were doing.  A few people definitely got all 12 and it was clear there were a few ‘finishers’ out there but others put in anywhere between 1 and 11.  Either way it was fine with me as it added a bit of fun and social media togetherness across the holidays.

The 12 themes were: Pretty, Sign, Travel, Crack, Together, Enjoy, Relax, Story, Kind, Wrap, Escape, Peace.  Have a look at the gallery and see if you can work out the various interpretations.  I’ve set the gallery to random so each time you have a look the gallery will be a slightly different order enabling you to get a slightly different perspective each time.  As always huge thanks for getting involved and taking part.  I’m not sure when or if the next photo challenge will be – follow me on twitter @ianstreet67 to find out.  Hope everyone has a great 2016.

Banksy paints Steve Jobs

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I’ve always found graffiti fascinating: who paints it, why, what are they trying to express, do I understand it, is there a reason why they have put it where they have, is it any good, is it art, does it say anything? are just a few of the questions that always spring to mind when I see some.  In fact I think I often pay far more attention and think about it more than any piece of art that I see installed in a gallery.

Much of this was brilliantly explained in the BB4 documentary ‘A Brief History of Graffiti’ which I found utterly captivating and informative.  In in Dr Richard Clay goes in search of what it is that has made people scribble and scratch mementoes of our lives for more than 30,000 years. From the prehistoric cave paintings of Burgundy in France, through gladiatorial fan worship in Roman Lyons to the messages left on the walls of Germany’s Reichstag in 1945 by triumphant Soviet troops, time and again people have wanted to leave a permanent record of our existence for our descendants. In doing so Clay lays down the challenge that this is where what today we call art comes from – the humble scratch, graffiti.

During the programme there was one piece that I found really affecting and it was this statement that what Graffiti really is is truth speaking to power.  This idea really struck a nerve when I saw a picture of the latest Banksy that he has put on the walls in the notorious refugee camp in Calais.  In one piece of graffiti Banksy has laid down a challenge that looks to confront the negative attitudes towards the thousands living there and the many thousands of others that are desperately fleeing conflict across the world.

In the picture the late Steve Jobs is depicted on the move, black back across one shoulder, with on of his first Apple computers in the other.  Steve Jobs was the son of Syrian migrant.  Banksy very rarely comments on his work but he has said this about his latest piece:

“We’re often led to believe migration is a drain on the country’s resources but Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian migrant. Apple is the world’s most profitable company, it pays over $7bn (£4.6bn) a year in taxes – and it only exists because they allowed in a young man from Homs.”

Truth Speaking to Power if ever I’ve seen it.

Summer Photo Fun 2015 – Week 7 – Odd

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We finished this year’s summer photo fun with the kids choosing odd as the theme.  This summed up the summer quite nicely for me as for reasons that I’ve never quite got my head round Leeds decided to opt for a 7 week summer holiday this year for schools instead of the normal 6.  Apparently next year it will be 5, no idea why, as I say odd.

When people tweet me their photo interpretations they often put a little explanation in with the tweet, I never use this on the blog posts as I like the photos to tell their own story and when they are all placed together in a gallery you get a better overall effect I think than single photos with an explanation.  Also I like people to look at the photos and either figure out what the taker was thinking or perhaps to see their own interpretation within the image.  This week though with odd I did think about putting up the explanations as there is indeed some odd photos and interpretations, but then I thought naaaaargh just go with it.  So here it is an odd gallery indeed.

Also an apology from me, I struggled a bit to get the blogs up on time this summer, primarily just because I’ve been busy, you know life getting in the way, and this post is a typical example as it’s two and half weeks after the end of the holidays.  Tardy indeed.  It’s also been an interesting summer photo fun as I look back over it with some weeks really capturing the imagination and lots of people taking part while other weeks barely seemed to get off the ground.  I’ve no idea why this was, maybe people are bored with it after a few years of doing it?  I suspect there’s no real rhyme or reason to it which is always part of the fun, you put the idea out there and see what happens.

I’d really like to thank everyone who has joined our good ship photo fun, it was my eldest who came up with the idea a few years ago and while I pull it all together they still come up with all the themes.  I love every photo that comes in as each simple photo and tweet is a connection made across time and space and there is something beautiful about that as far as I’m concerned.  Cheers from me and the kids.

Summer Photo Fun 2015 – Week 6 – Culture

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I’m strangely fascinated by the word culture – what is it, what does it mean, what connotations are there when it’s used so it was a great theme that the kids picked for the penultimate theme of this years summer photo fun.  As always the photos that you contributed to the week I think showed many sides to that word culture which I think goes to show what a confusing word it is.

the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.

the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society.

maintain (tissue cells, bacteria, etc.) in conditions suitable for growth.

A long time ago I went to university, all I actually learnt was one key thing – definitions are vitally important, if you don’t define what you mean by a certain word then confusion, misunderstanding and misinterpretation is the guaranteed result.  Culture is a great example of this covering as it does some stuff floating about in a petri dish or opera (some might argue they are the same thing of course).

So while the gallery does not bring us any examples of the third definition I think we’ve got the first two covered.  I particularly liked ‘Pub Culture’ at the top of the post a photo that is full of possibilities and questions and the more I look at it the more I see and question.  Take a moment and have a good look and think.

As always thanks so much to everyone who contributed, this week made me think a lot.  Do let me know what you thought and also I’d be interested to know what culture means to you.