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Christmas Food & Drink in Ryedale
Food & Drink - Enjoy the Best Christmas Dinner Ever!
Why Ryedale? The area is a Natural Supermarket, with its own unique microclimate and fertile soils supporting an extraordinary variety of fruit, cereals and vegetables, whilst also feeding very happy herds. It’s also just miles from the UK’s busiest fishing port and one of the country’s top sources of moorland game – at the cross-roads of a foodie heaven! And Ryedale’s Market Towns are achieving the highest national plaudits – you’ll discover Britain’s Best Market Town (Helmsley), Britain’s Best Small Shop (Hunters), and Yorkshire’s Food Capital (Malton).
Here's our top 10 Christmas list of food and drink
1. Where to find a Show-stopping Christmas Bird: Britain’s most pampered poultry (and the tastiest) in Ryedale’s Market Towns. How about a rare Christmas Cockerel..? Or the Bird chosen by the country’s top chefs? With more traditional butchers than any city, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Ryedale’s market towns. You’ll discover small, independent businesses – many family-run – whose personal touch leads to the very highest quality. They know that the tastiest meat comes from the happiest animals, so they source Christmas turkey, game, chickens – and rare Christmas Cockerel or Rooster – from the best local suppliers.
These birds aren’t just fresh, they’re free-range, stress-free, slow-reared, and have better diets than the fussiest of celebrities. The butchers can give you a personal family history of the people who have produced it – or even a personal history of the animal itself (as they might have hand-reared it themselves!). Local farmers include Soanes, Yorkshire’s premier poultry supplier (with possibly the UK’s tastiest birds?); Loose Birds of Harome (farmer, Dr Paul Talling has even been known to sleep with his birds to keep the foxes away); or Herb Fed Poultry, whose birds are treated to a herb-rich diet – unique in the UK – that creates an extremely delicious flavour.
Where to Buy?: Great starting points in Ryedale’s Market Towns are traditional butchers like Overtons, Foxs or Paul Potts’ Butchery ‘Food to Remember’ in Malton, or Fletchers in nearby Norton; Dunnings of Pickering; Waind & Sons in Kirkbymoorside; or Marleys in neighbouring Helmsley. As you travel the short few miles in between each market town, you’ll also pass ‘drive-through’, award-winning Farm Shops at Castle Howard near Malton and Beadlam Grange near Helmsley, or the Whole Hogg near Malton and Cedar Barn near Pickering – all stocking pampered poultry and the very best of British meat from their surrounding farm estates.
2. Vegetables that are more than a Side-Dish in Yorkshire’s natural supermarket. Ryedale produces an astonishing range of fruit and vegetables, including exotic species. As starting points, try the Organic Farm Shop in Pickering, which has Yorkshire’s largest selection of organic produce; the Goodness Growing Farm Shop near Strensall also specialises in home-grown organic fruit and vegetables (you can order your ‘fresh-picked’ Christmas Dinner bag from July onwards); and the Balloon Tree Farm Shop near Gate Helmsley sells its own range of home-grown fruit and vegetables, alongside a tasty selection of chutneys and pickles handcrafted by local suppliers, like Bracken Hill Preserves. You’ll also find greengrocers in each of Ryedale’s market towns, with the highest standard of local produce (and maybe even home-grown herbs and veggies!) And if you want a spot of delicious handmade butter on those veggies, head for Butterbees in Malton, the UK's first butter parlour.
3. Yorkshire’s Chocolate Box: Ryedale is home to some of the country’s master chocolatiers and leading confectioners, who use local cream to create award-winning chocolates (and also ice-cream). For the very best chocolate boxes, try local favourites Birdgate in Pickering or Mennells of Malton, or look out for works-of-art by master chocolatier, Andrew Thwaite, who handcrafts ‘anything in chocolate’ for charity in his ‘Ampleforth Plus’ range – available at Christmas Food Festivals and Farm Shops. In Helmsley, award-winning chocolates (and ice-cream) are hand-crafted by a Belgian-trained chef at Ryeburns, while nearby Hunters is an emporium of gourmet and regional chocolate. Meanwhile chocolatiers can be seen in action at the Chocolate Factory near Kirkbymoorside, and Beadlam Grange Farm Shop near Helmsley – where you can also find supplies for your own chocolate-making adventure.
4. A Christmas Cake Masterpiece?: for a sensational taste of tradition try Celebrations of Helmsley (they’re also the leading Wedding Cake makers in the area); or if you want something deliciously different, head for Birdgate of Pickering, home to the country’s leading cake-bakers in chocolate for a Christmas masterpiece, or Apple Charlotte in Kirkbymoorside for magnificent cake creations by Charlotte, a master in sugarcraft (who uses her own free-range eggs in the bakery). Many local Delicatessens and Farm Shops also stock dairy-free and gluten-free alternatives.
5. Award-winning Pies for the Archbishop of York: The region has many top-class artisan bakeries and patisseries where you can pick up a freshly home-baked batch of exceptional Christmas pastries (and claim them as your own). For a special treat head for Auntie Annie’s Castlegate Bakery in Helmsley - a traditional Yorkshire bakery using locally sourced ingredients (people travel for miles for the bakery’s award-winning Curd Tarts and Parkin). Bothams in Pickering excels in craft-baking to original Victorian recipes, while Hovingham Bakery and the Leaf & Loaf in Welburn are famous for their home-baked treats. Thomas the Baker in Helmsley has scooped 11 international taste awards for its sweet mince pies (including a Gold at the Great Taste Awards), where the judge described them as ‘virtually faultless’! The bakers have even been asked to send them to the Archbishop of York and the Houses of Parliament…
6. The best Turkey Butty?: you’ll want Yorkshire’s best bread – Bluebird Bakery in Malton. Each Ryedale market town (and also Ryedale villages like Hovingham, Sinnington, Thornton le Dale, and Welburn) has its own artisan bakery, with a delicious range of freshly baked bread – many also serving the local restaurants and tea-rooms. So, don’t limit your taste-buds!
7. Want to escape the kitchen? It’s perhaps no surprise that the region is a magnet for the country’s top chefs, who visit the region’s many Food Festivals and Farmers’ Markets, or settle down in the region’s restaurants, gastropubs, and tea-rooms. In fact, Helmsley has become a regional epicentre of fine dining, including two Michelin-starred gastropubs (the Star at Harome and Black Swan at Oldstead), and three 3AA rosette restaurants at the Black Swan and Feversham Arms in Helmsley, and Hare at nearby Scawton (also Yorkshire’s best restaurant), and also a festive afternoon tea at award-winning tea-rooms at the Black Swan and Mannions. Book early!
8. Want the whole Christmas Hamper?: Try Hunters of Helmsley – winner of Britain’s Best Small Shop, and an Aladdin’s Cave of local gourmet produce. They have special Yorkshire-themed Christmas hampers, new for 2016 with titles like Yorkshire Lad & Lass, or the Cheese Lovers Hamper. The Feast Deli in Pickering and Relish Deli in Malton are also leading emporia of Yorkshire gourmet produce, for that heavenly hamper. To make up your own, Castle Howard’s Farm Shopdoubles in size during Christmas to make room for extra treats, with a special Christmas Gift Market in the stable courtyard. Meanwhile, Malton’s Food Festivals are famous for their excellence, imagination and variety, attracting the country’s top chefs to browse the stalls (and demonstrate ‘how to…’).
9. Stocking up the Drink Cabinet: Ryedale also excels in booze – and not just your average tipples! Whether you’re seeking beer, wine, cider or spirits, you’ll find a huge variety of local choice on the doorstep: independent, handcrafted, distinctive and award-winning:
- Ampleforth Abbey handpicks and hand-presses their own apples, to make award-winning cider brewed from a traditional Benedictine recipe - and also a sinfully delicious Cider Brandy. The area was once known as the ‘Orchard of the North’, and many local villages and garden attractions are now restoring their ancient orchards to produce ciders and juices, inspired by Ampleforth! You can sample them at local farm shops and markets.
- The region has several top breweries: in Malton, the Brass Castle Brewery is CAMRA award-winning and in demand across the UK, while the town’s Bad Seed Brewery is amongst Yorkshire’s best craft breweries, its growing popularity in cities across the UK meaning the brewery’s already had to move premises to keep up with demand. The Great Yorkshire Brewery in Cropton near Pickering has been producing award-winning, hand-crafted real ales for over 25 years and it’s a regional success story with its bottled beers now sold internationally. Helmsley Brewing Company design their range of craft beers using the finest ingredients (including Yorkshire Malts and English hop) and traditional techniques.
- Ryedale Vineyards produce wines that are winning international awards from their Yorkshire grapes, and also fresh fruit, juice and cider from the farm’s orchards. The vineyard is also Britain’s most northerly commercial vineyard.
- SLOEmotion, in Barton le Willows near Malton harvests the hedgerow to produce their multi-award winning fruit liqueurs, such as SLOE Gin, vodka, brandy and whisky. They use traditional techniques with high concentrations of hand-picked wild fruit to create fabulous flavours, and nothing goes to waste, with the spent fruit used to produce chocolate truffles and chutneys.
10. Cookery School: If you’re not sure how to make the most of all of this wonderful produce, get help from the experts – book yourself onto one of the three friendly, specialist day courses at Malton Cookery School: Christmas All Wrapped Up; Everything but the Bird, or Ultimate Christmas. Nothing is forgotten, and these courses have been described by grateful home chefs as ‘Magic’ – you’ll even go home with deliciously prepared food that you can pop into the freezer, ready for the big day!
For more ideas on where to eat and drink this Christmas download Yorkshire Coast & North York Moors Delicious Trail leaflet.