The Swine That Dines – #RootstoShoots



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:


Coco Beans, Goats Curd, Lemon, Rye


Sweet Potato, Burnt Butter, Nori, Yuzu


Carrots, Romesco, Ewes Cheese


Fava, Quails Egg, Dukka, Pomegranate


Buttermilk, Polenta, Wild Garlic, Aiolli


Duck Egg, Smoked Potato, Buckwheat, Sorrel


Oyster Mushrooms, Quinoa, Hazelnut, Porter


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


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)


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


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.

Year of the Snail 2015


Solo, with strangers, with friends, on new trails and old routes, from the front door and abroad, to work and back again, on a road bike, mountain bike, Dutch bike, quick spins and epic rides, in sunshine, rain, hail, snow, ice and plenty of mud, these have been my rides this year, which is my third year of Project Snail – trying to have more fun on my bikes and in particular to increase my skill, confidence and fitness through mountain biking.

I’ve definitely ridden a lot this year, regularly commuting and then getting out most weeks on the mountain bike as well.  Our regular weekly evening rides have been a god send, demonstrating how you can fit riding into a busy work/ life balance arrangement and it has kept me riding with people who are much better than me.  Their encouragement has meant that I think I am slowly improving.  It’s really hard to tell as confidence and perceived lack of skill remain rather large issues for me, but judging by how I ride some of the sections locally I definitely think things are on the up.  I must remember that it apparently takes 10,000 hours before you become a master so I’ve got a bit of work to do yet.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed some of my trips to North Wales this year, #MTBMeetUP was a great weekend ,I’ve I returned to ride Llandegla a few times and we’ve had some great weekends crashing in bunkhouses and doing Penmachmo, Marin etc.  Getting round these as well as some of the more challenging local riding has definitely helped and I look forward to more in 2016.  One day I’ll find the flow.

As well as riding it’s been good to take in the Tour of Yorkshire and the Nationals in Lincoln and I launched the Leeds Bicycle Film Club showing monthly bike related films and documentaries that has been good fun and has sold out every event so it would appear that I’m not the only one who likes a beer and a bike related film.  I’ve got a good programme lined up for 2016 so grab yourself a ticket and come along.

For me more than anything though I love the social side of riding and I’ve ridden with some ace people this year, my heartfelt thanks goes out to all of you, look forward to more pedals out across the New Year.  Cheers.

The Sculptor by Scott McCloud


I’ve been fortunate to read some really good books during 2015 and certainly it’s been a good year for the boysbookclub.  Whilst I always focus my reading on whatever the book club selection is that month I do try to squeeze in other books and forms as well.  Graphic novels provide a perfect way to do this as they don’t necessarily take a long time and it’s a format that I’m really growing to appreciate.  Jared and Oliver at OK Comics have been guiding me into a world that I know very little about recommending titles and opening my eyes to the creativity and intelligence of the graphic novel.

The latest book they suggested to me was The Sculptor by Scott McCloud, which is undoubtedly one of the best things I’ve read this year.  It’s a 500 page turner of a graphic novel with real depth and emotion throughout that lived long in my memory and raises many fundamental questions on my (our) approach to life, the lives we lead and what we leave behind.  These hugely powerful themes are intertwined around a powerful love story, a Faustian pact, a portrait of young urban life, an artistic journey, mortality, aspiration, the commercial art world and mental health.

The Sculptor is brilliantly enjoyable as you are reading it but like the very best novels it seeps into the consciousness after you have finished, leaving little hooks in your mind that you find yourself musing and thinking about in moments of quite reflection long after you have turned the final page.


The novel essentially centres on the life of David Smith, a young sculptor who found fame and patronage early in life but is now down on his luck, working in a fast food restaurant, creatively unproductive, frustrated that his life and art appears to be going nowhere.  Whilst drinking in a bar death (in the shape of his deceased uncle) sits with him and offers him a Faustian pact.  He will give David the ability to create and sculpt anything that he can imagine out of his bare hands but if he accepts the deal he will only have 200 days before death will take him.  Death also shows David an image of his life should he not choose to accept it, what he shows is a good life, working in a community college, teaching art, a wife and family, the type of life that most of us either want or settle for.

Here lies one of the first of the underlying themes of the book, almost all of us have dreams and aspirations, to create something, to leave our mark, to be remembered.  For most of us this does not happen and for David he is faced with a choice of essentially a good life or a short life that realises his creative ambitions.  David accepts the deal with Death but it still leaves him struggling with how to unleash his creativity and sculpt something that will realise his ambitions and leave a permanent legacy after he has gone.

What David has not considered is the strange twists that life can deliver and like all of us David never knows when love might strike.  A surreal chance encounter sees David falling madly in love with Meg, a jobbing actor and performance artist.  David is forbidden by death to tell anyone including Meg of the deal that he has made so he divides his time spending as much time as he can with Meg and then during the night working on his art trying harness his power to create his legacy.


Meg and David’s fast developing relationship is beautifully captured and I really felt for the characters and had a powerful pang in my chest knowing what was going to happen to David.  Meg has a spontaneity to her which is instantly likeable compared to David’s intense over-worthiness but each character realises that together they are better people than they are apart.

The days pass and the David’s destiny is approaching, his art is still not the hit he wants and in his interaction with agents, galleries and patrons the book shines a light on the contemporary art world and makes you question who decides what is good art.  In the end David physically sculpts the world around him, eschewing the art world and leaving his work to be discovered in the mornings after night time creative sessions.  In doing so he brings the attention of the law enforcement agencies down on him as they try to uncover who is doing this.  Echoes here of graffiti artists and the question of whether it’s vandalism or art.

As I was reading the book I really wanted to know what was going to happen and was genuinely gripped.  Would David create his legacy, was Death going to insist on the pact, what was going to happen to David and Meg’s relationship, would David tell Meg about the pact.  I’m not going to reveal here what happens but the story is brought to it’s conclusion with a really powerful emotional twist.


As I don’t really know much about the graphic medium I’m not familiar with the names of authors so Scott McCloud doesn’t mean anything to me but apparently he’s a bit of a big deal in the comic world, regarded as one of the smartest minds operating in the field and renowned as a theorist on all things comic.  Perhaps though as McCloud himself hits middle age he has been musing on his own legacy and in doing so it has driven him to create this masterpiece.  Does the protagonist of the novel reflect McCloud’s own artist journey in completing his first large fictional narrative ?

The Sculptor was five years in the making and it’s painstaking thoughtful creation left a profound mark on me.  It is often said that the best art is a mirror to your own life and experience and this brilliant page turner left me lingering on my own life, mortality and life’s purpose.  Powerful stuff, and I’d urge you to read it.






We have been doing our Photofun ideas for a few years now and the idea is simple – my kids set a theme, I publicise through twitter and people tweet their interpretations which I then put together into a blog gallery.  This started during the summer holidays but we have tended to do it whenever their is a holiday period and also across the odd weekend.  It’s proved a really fun thing to do and to have people all over the place, young and old take part.

We’ve not done anything since the summer and a few people have been asking if we are going to do anything for the Christmas holidays.  We’ve had a little chat and come up with something a little different – the 12 days of Christmas photo hunt.

Many people break up for the holidays this weekend so we thought that we’d do a slightly different photo challenge.  This time we are setting you a 12 days of Christmas hunt and you have till 31 December to get all the photos.  You need to find an interpretation for each of the 12 days across the holiday period but you can send them in one at a time or together.  I’ll then piece them all together hopefully.

As always it would be great if you join in, spread the word and get family members and friends young and old to get hunting and snapping.  Send the pics to me on twitter @ianstreet67 and hashtag them #xmasphotohunt

The kids have agreed the following 12 themes:

  • Pretty
  • Sign
  • Travel
  • Crack
  • Together
  • Enjoy
  • Relax
  • Story
  • Kind
  • Wrap
  • Escape
  • Peace

Feel free to interpret any way you want, be creative and have fun. We can’t wait to see what you come up with.






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