Two interesting ‘new’ shops for foodies in Leeds, one selling Romanian food and ingredients, the other ‘hot’ chilli products.

Kaiser, Toba, Bors, Buillon and 'real' cornmeal (malai) from the Romanian shop in Leeds Kirkgate market

Kaiser, Toba, Bors, Buillon and ‘real’ cornmeal (malai) from the Romanian shop in Leeds Kirkgate market

In my post of 5 November I mentioned the difficulty of getting cornmeal as good as that I was used to in Romania and that I would visit a ‘newly opened’ Romanian shop in Leeds Kirkgate market to see if some could be brought from my wife’s grandmother’s village. It turned out that the shop stocked some rustic cornmeal (malai) and this is much better than those which I’ve been able to get so far. It’s not quite as good as grandma’s but I think it’s a matter of texture as it seems to have a bit less bran (tarate).

Wheat bran is the basis of bors (odd that a Romanian product doesn’t use the correct Romanian character on the label – see picture; the final ‘s’ should have a cedilla to give it the ‘sh’ sound. I don’t have it on my computer. However, ‘sh’ or no it’s great to have real bors as it gives a much better taste to the sour soup made throughout Moldova, also known as bors (borsh), than the dry packeted stuff produced under the Maggi (Nestle Slovakia) and Delik’at (Unilever Romania) labels. By the way, Romanian bors does not necessarily have beetroot; two of my favourite versions are potato bors (vegetarian) and bors made with chicken wings.

Apart from the malai and bors, I bought some bouillon (tomato paste) with the renowned Romanian brand ‘Olympia’. I know tomato paste (puree) is widely available here in UK but if you have tasted Romanian tomatoes you will know why I bought bouillon.

Borsec mineral water

My other two purchases (pictured at the top) were a chunk of one of my favourite cuts of cured pork, known as kaiser, and another of my favourites – toba – which translates as brawn, but it’s a lovely chunky brawn.

A bottle of Borsec mineral waterI didn’t buy this time something else which I was delighted to see stocked – Borsec mineral water, in my opinion the world’s best-tasting mineral water. Living in Yorkshire I generally drink tap water, having left it to stand to get rid of the chlorine introduced by Yorkshire water and trying to ignore being poisoned with fluoride. But I’ll buy some Borsec in the future for the taste. Borsec, a small spa town 900m up in the Romanian mountains, has many springs of carbonated water. Some of the other products on display are shown in the slide show below the picture in the shop below.

The Leeds shop is run by Marinela, who hails from the Romanian capital Bucuresti (Bucharest), and was opened three months ago (I happened to find it on the day it opened). It’s in what is currently the ‘butchers’ row’ in Kirkgate market but will move to another part when some renovation of the market starts in February next year.

In her shop, owner Marinela Stoian, 3 years in the UK but 25 years in commerce in Romania, with a chunk of 'gusa' (I think this is the outside of the throat of a pig)

Shop owner Marinela Stoian, 3 years in the UK but 25 years in commerce in Romania, with a chunk of ‘gusa‘ (I think this is the outside of the throat of a pig)

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There are, of course many more Romanian cured meat products in the shop, some smoked – ribs (costita), ciolan (leg) and a range of salamis including the exceptionally good, very dry, Sibiu salami – as well as things like pickled white cabbage (vasa murata), used to make sarmali (stuffed cabbage leaves), and tripe to make another of my favourite soups – ciorba de burta.

Another hot shop in Leeds – with a free chilli ‘hit’

Picture of chilliesFrank Jay, founder of the Chilli Shop in Brighton, has moved north to Yorkshire (sensible guy) and opened a chilli shop in the Merrion Centre in Leeds (a few minutes walk from Kirkgate market). I’m not myself a great fan of very spicey-hot food but this place is a Mecca for anyone who is (and there are armies of vindaloo eaters in this curry county).

Jack is a friendly guy and knows his chillies (and probably his onions too). The shop is unique with 50 free tasters from 1/10 ‘hotness’ to 75/10 and Jack will explain to visitors the meaning of this index, from 0/10 of the bell pepper to the hottest chillies like the Ghost and the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion. Then there’s standard grade police pepper spray … He’ll arrange chilli eating contests at events and parties too (frank@chilli-shop.co.uk).

The shop is stocked with a host of chilli-laced products including chocolate, toffee, sauces, snacks, cheeses, jams, etc, some familiar (like Tabasco), some a revelation, and some chilli-based gifts.

A hot chilli (locally grown and something like a Jalapeno to my inexpert taste) is usually munched with the Romanian bors mentioned above; my wife likes it but it’s not for me.

Yesterday was a damp, misty, chilly day so very suitable to serve our dinner guests a classic boeuf Bourguignon (or, if you prefer, boeuf a la Bourguignonne); very filling so a simple, light starter (more below) and a small but rich classic desert – mousseline au chocolat – with a little side of fresh fruit to offset the richness.

Romanian wines, red and whiteMuch as I like French wine, it was a good opportunity to drink a couple of excellent Romanian wines which have been in the rack for a while, a red called ’3 Hectare’ (three hectares) from the Murfatlar wine region, between the Danube and the Black Sea in south east Romania and made from the ancient Romanian grape variety Feteasca Neagra, and a sweet white called Grasa de Cotnar, from north east Romania, with the dessert. This latter is a wine favoured by French visitors as an affordable alternative to Château d’Yquem. With the starter I chose a refreshing dry Riesling from Germany.

This is the first ‘haute cuisine’ I’ve attempted in quite a while, for reasons I touched on in the previous post (and I forgot to take photos for this post so have cobbled some together from left-overs and pix taken by my wife at the occasion).

‘Crayfish’ and asparagus mousse verrine

Starter151114Catching up on the blog-related emails I came across a post from blogger ‘a French girl cuisine‘ which seemed to fit the bill for something not too demanding after slaving over the beef. She gives it as a Crayfish & Asparagus Mousse Verrine but I haven’t seen any crayfish since I used to catch them in the nearby River Wharfe when a child so I used King Prawns. I won’t give the recipe here (I’ll just say that it takes more time to wash the liquidiser than to make the recipe!) but follow the link to a French girl cuisine .

Mastering the art of French cooking

The two other recipes come from a book which I’ve said before on this blog is one of my few favourites and that from which I learned to cook classic French: Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It wouldn’t go down well with the judges of Master Chef who favour meagre sculptures on  a plate, nor the so-called ‘healthy eating’ brigade, but it covers the sort of food I became used to when I had a business client in Normandy (and the sort of quantities served there then, reminiscent of my Yorkshire grandmother’s table).

Boeuf Bourguignon on the plate with parslied potatoes and peasBoeuf Bourguignon is a labour of love if made in the classic way but not costly other than the necessary bottle of good red wine. It can use a relatively cheap cut of beef; I used skirt. Topside or silverside would be a bit more costly alternatives, or rump if you want to push the boat out, but I really don’t think it’s worth it. Some people marinade the beef before cooking but it isn’t necessary – make the basis a couple of days in advance and let the cooked beef marinade in the gorgeous wine sauce which results from the first stage.

The recipe – for six

A brief summary of the recipe should be sufficient here. Cut 3lb (1.25kg) of lean beef in two inch (5cm) cubes. Cut a 6oz (140g) chunk of streaky bacon in 1/4in (0.5cm) thick lardons and saute to brown slightly in a heavy casserole which will just take the beef. Blanch the bacon rind. Put the bacon aside, raise the heat to almost ‘smoking’ and saute the carefully dried beef cubes a few at a time until brown all over; add the bacon and a carrot and an onion, sliced and browned together.

Toss the beef with 1tsp (5ml) of salt and 1/4 tsp (1 ml) pepper. Sprinkle on 1oz (25g) of flour and toss again. Put in the oven at 450degF (230degC)  for 4 minutes, toss again and put back in the oven for another 4 minutes. Now the meat is covered with a thin brown crust. Remove the dish and lower the oven temperature to 325degF (160degC). Add a bottle of good red wine, enough beef stock to just cover the meat, 1 tblsp (15ml) of tomato puree, two mashed large cloves of garlic, 1/2 tsp (2.5ml) of thyme, a crumbled bay leaf and the bacon rind. Cover the casserole and seal the lid with foil. Put in the oven and regulate the heat so the liquid simmers very slowly. Cook until the beef is pierced very easily with a fork (3 to 4 hours). Cool and put in the fridge until required (at least a day before, preferably more).

On the day of serving, saute about 20 small onions in 1 tblsp (15ml) of oil and 3/4oz (18g) of butter, gently rolling about until browned (about 10 minutes). Braise, covered, in 1/4 pint (150 ml) of good brown stock with a medium herb bouquet (4 sprigs parsley, 1/2 bay leaf, 1/4 tsp thyme) until tender but holding their shape (about 45 minutes). Remove the herb bouquet and put the onions aside till needed (this can be done well in advance).

Saute 1/2lb (225g) of button mushrooms in 1.1/2 tsp (7.5ml) oil and 1oz (25g) of butter until lightly browned (about 4 or 5 minutes). I don’t need to tell the cooks here that the fat should be hot or the mushrooms will just boil in their own juice rather than saute; it is hot enough when the butter foam just begins to subside. Put aside till needed. Again, this can be done well in advance.

When ready to serve the dish, bring the beef up to almost boiling and pour the sauce through a sieve into a pan. Skim fat off the sauce. If the sauce is thick enough to lightly cover the back of a spoon it’s OK; if not reduce to this point; if too thick add a little stock. Taste and season to taste. Try not to consume all the sauce.

Heat the onions and mushrooms and distribute them over the meat and vegetables back in the casserole. Pour over the sauce. Again this can be done in advance.

Just before your guests arrive, cover the casserole and bring up to a simmer and leave for a couple of minutes and, voila, one of the best creations of French cuisine.

Serve with small boiled potatoes, tossed in butter and chopped parsley, and buttered peas.

Mousseline au chocolat

There are of course many recipes for chocolate mousse and the one I usually make for ‘every day’ eating is very simple, from one of those little books with names like ‘Yorkshire teatime recipes’ and widely available in tourist destinations in the UK for £1.50. In this it’s called Yorkshire Chocolate Pudding!

mousseline au chocolat with an apple and orangeLast night I settled on the one the authors of Mastering the Art of French Cooking say is the best, and I’d go along with them. As it’s very rich I served it in a little pot with a rosette of cream on top and raspberries, slices of Cox’s apple and bits of fresh orange, all marinated for a couple of hours in spiced rum with a little sugar at the side. This adds a bit of colour to the dish too.

For four people (following a substantial main course) you need three large eggs (use 4 eggs for six with other ingredients in proportion), 3 oz (100g) of sugar (I use unrefined ‘golden’), 4 oz (100g) of dark chocolate (I use 70%), 2 fl oz (60ml) of orange liqueur, 3 oz softened unsalted butter, a tablespoon of strong black coffee and an extra 3 tsp of sugar.

Beat the sugar with the egg yolks until it is pale and forms a slowly dissolving ribbon. Then beat it over hot water, not quite simmering, until thicker like a mayonnaise (about 4 minutes, just too hot to keep your finger in). Then beat for another 4 minutes over cold water. Beat in the orange liqueur. Meanwhile melt the chocolate, with the coffee, over hot water (not touching). Beat the softened butter into the melted chocolate a little at a time. Beat the melted chocolate and butter mixture into the egg yolks. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks are formed. Sprinkle on 3 tsp (7.5ml) of sugar. Beat until firm peaks are formed. Stir a quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture until well distributed, then carefully fold in the rest of the egg whites. Drop into little serving pots and pop in the fridge for at least a couple of hours. That’s it. Decorate if you wish. You can serve with a creme anglais or lightly sweetened whipped cream, but I think it’s enough without and prefer to accompany with a little marinated fresh fruit.





The only French product on the after sweet cheese plate was a Brie. Stilton from Colston Bassett and a Yorkshire traditional Wensleydale from Hawes reminded us of where we were.

The morning after

We forwent our usual traditional English for Sunday breakfast. Two lightly poached eggs with buttered toast and Yorkshire tea was perfect

100th post

Fittingly I think, my previous ‘resurrection’ post was grumpytyke’s 100th.





Grumpytyke is back, I hope fairly frequently, after a long absence, and I’m trying to decide whether to resume with the wide ranging subjects which I wrote about before – Romania, VW campers, classic minis, haiku, Yorkshire and food and cooking, and a few more as the mood takes me – or to limit myself to one or two themes. That might be difficult for me.

I just ploughed through emails going back to February this year – helluvalot of spam – and was glad to see a lot of ‘old friends’ still posting, though some seem to have disappeared in recent months. Apart from one short post in February ‘explaining’ my absence I haven’t really posted or looked at emails for about a year.


Much of my absence has been due to a major health problem. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, had my first ever stays in hospital and spent a while with tubes and bags limiting my movement. Hopefully it’s under control for the moment. I might have something to say about the wonderful overworked nursing staff in the NHS, but the often abysmal administration, management and systems, in a future post. (more…)


It’s a long time since I wrote something on this blog, one reason being that the blog/site I created and maintain for the village in which I live has taken up much of my spare time. However, I have often written on this blog of my admiration of Romania and Romanians so thought I would re-blog the latest post on my village website here as Farage’s comments about Romanians just lost him a vote, albeit an ‘anti-Cameron’ rather than pro-UKIP vote, in the European elections. Grumpytyke

Originally posted on Menston Village Wharfedale:

In the week of the local and European elections, our columnist ‘grumpytyke’ faces a dilemma:

“In my opinion Menston has an excellent local MP in Philip Davies, the current Wharfedale Ward Councillor Dale Smith seems to have worked for the people of Menston, and the candidate Gerry Barker says he will do so if elected. So what is the over-riding reason that I cannot vote for the last named this week and the first named next year?

“It’s very simple: a vote for them is effectively a vote for David Cameron and ‘Concrete’ Boles. These two (ironically assisted by Labour Councillors in Bradford), despite their protestations to the contrary, are clearly intent on destroying for ever – for short-term gain – much of not only what makes the Yorkshire Dales loved by all of us who are fortunate enough to live here but many areas of beauty elsewhere in this green and pleasant…

View original 821 more words

Green satiated

Winter songsters’ sanguine store

Shiver prophesy

Rowan tree in berry

I haven’t been motivated to try a haiku for some time. As often happens, a ‘like’ – on my previous post – took me to a new world. Not geographically – Marsden village is bounded by scenery as beautiful as anywhere in Yorkshire though not as well known as the dales in which I live, so I have visited and walked there often. David Coldwell’s ‘like’ took me to The Cotton Grass Appreciation Society. And motivation.

It’s a while since I managed to write a post here, and even longer (about a month) since I was able to pay close attention to the many excellent blogs I follow. The same has been true of my other (photo) blog, grumpytykepix. It’s been due to a combination of diversions:

  • getting a new website/blog ‘live’ for my employer;
  • getting embroiled in a campaign fighting inappropriate development in the village in which I live, which has revealed at best incompetence in the local (Bradford) council, at worst possible corruption – all this as part of authoring a WordPress blog for my village;
  • being commissioned to author a column in a local weekly newspaper covering forthcoming events in my village and a nearby small town, Otley (yesterday was the fifth appearance);
  • being diverted by a wonderful 88 year old lady who telephoned me to ask whether her family history might be interesting for an article in the paper (it’s fascinating!).

Fewston (Washburn Valley, Yorkshire) Marriages

I’m not ready yet to reveal the identity of my octogenarian or say much about her but so far the story has taken me to a local museum, a local cemetery and consumed hours of searching archives, such as the one pictured, on internet. As a result I’ve managed to identify some of her ancestors back to 1829, which has been a delight to her. But I still have many leads to follow up.

She is concerned that her memory is failing and as she is ‘last of the line’ the family history will die with her unless it is set down. Being last of the line and living alone she is also rather lonely, so an excuse to visit her once a week with the latest ‘tidbit’ is just what was needed, not to mention the glass (or more) of ‘Croft’s Original’ she insists on plying me with; fortunately she lives only a few minutes walk from me, so no driving.

Eventually her story will certainly make a post, or more, on this blog; a page, or more, on the village blog; possibly a feature in a local paper or magazine; and even maybe a book which I’ll gladly ‘ghost’ for her.

Gambling is taking over late night TV and the high street here in the UK. The amount of money being ploughed into the betting shops and TV advertising indicates very clearly that more and more money is being taken from the punters, and of course a large number of them tend be people who are not well off and even in financial difficulties.

What’s more disgusting is that the UK’s National Lottery has jumped on the band wagon, doubling the ticket price and hanging out more and bigger prizes to entice the suckers. I have had a line on the National Lottery on each of the two gambles a week for several years now. The odds are greatly against winning much of course, but at £1 a time it seemed worth a go. Now it’s been put up to £2; I’ve reduced my submission to once a week. Addiction to gambling is something I’ve never been able to understand, but if anyone had an experience likely to get them hooked it was me. It’s a good story so I thought I’d set it down.

A champagne moment

Ayala (left) winning the Grand National on 31 March 1963

Gambler’s dream? No, it happened

Ayala Champagne; an advertisement from when it was a small, independent house

Ayala Champagne past advertising

In March 1963 I had just begun to work, in a lowly position, as a journalist. Money was extremely tight but there was a very beautiful young lady who had agreed to go out for dinner with me. We went to a central London restaurant – somewhere near Leicester Square. I can’t remember what we ate, but I shall never forget what we drank: Ayala champagne.

In those days Ayala was a small, independent champagne house growing its own grapes on 40 hectares near the towns of Aÿ and Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. Although not considered one of the greatest houses, it had a reputation for a particularly dry champagne (‘goüt anglais’), my taste, and had been favoured by Kings Edward VII and George VI. In 2005 the ‘chateau’ was bought by the Bollinger champagne house, without the vinyards, and is now made from grapes acquired through the massive grape purchasing power of Bollinger. According to Tim Hall in his blog Scalawine, to which I am grateful for the historical information, it is a “Champagne Phoenix indeed” and his tasting notes for the bruts assure me that I’ll like it a lot if I take a bottle now (maybe for Christmas – maybe I’ll win the Lottery :-) !).

What has all this got to do with gambling?

Having taken the young lady home, and subsequently arrived home myself, I woke the next morning, 31 March, to find I had just one £5 note (no credit cards then) to last until the end of April (having gone on the spree with my March salary).

Now, horse racing has never interested me, but the name ‘Ayala‘ jumped off the newspaper page on the day of the Grand National. I read that this horse was an outsider, with odds of 66:1. I also read that it was owned (or rather part-owned) by the celebrity hairdresser of the time (the first real ‘celebrity hairdresser’ who subsequently trained Vidal Sassoon), Teasy-Weasy, real name Peter Carlo Bessone Raymond.

I went into a betting shop for the first time in my life. I put my £5 note on the counter and, no messing, “Put it all on Ayala to win”, I said.

Ayala powered through in the last few moments to just be first to the winning post (left horse in the picture above) and I collected £330 – that’s about £5,500 in today’s money by the most conservative estimate.

But it didn’t change my view of gambling; I’ve never been in a betting shop since and, apart from my minimal weekly Lottery flutter, have never gambled in any other way since either.

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