Samuel Johnson, writer, journalist and critic is credited with the quote
“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
I wondered what Dr Johnson, as he was also known would have made of the regeneration and transformation of the great Northern city that is Leeds.
Anecdotaly I’ve heard that discerning global shoppers now shun London and make Leeds their first port of call when visiting the UK. It’s not hard to imagine why. An airport that’s close to the city with ease of transit through it on your return, with terminal departures area to gate in less than 10 minutes!
On every visit there’s something new, this time it’s a John Lewis department store to compliment the plethora of shopping malls. The retail scene catering for all tastes from the budget to high end.
The Victoria Arcade is one of my favourites which could easily rival even the most exclusive Jermyn or Bond Street offerings, with classy jewellers, bespoke shoes and a Vivienne Westwood boutique to name but a few!
Leeds also has a huge amount to offer the discerning foodie. On a previous visit I posted a review of the Crafthouse restaurant which blew me away.
I’ve blogged before about the renaissance of the independent coffee shop in the face of the colonisation of high streets by Costabucks. Leeds is no exception. A little research led me to Laynes Espresso on New Station Street.
With a cool vibe and range of brew methods to show off their range of coffees plus some awesome breakfast offerings (shame I’d already eaten at T5!) this place rocks.
I go for the single origin El Sunzita from El Salvador by Stockholm based Drop Coffee Roasters. Brewed with the Classic V60, a nice touch is the tasting coffee mats which they hand scribe with tasting facts for the single origin that you are drinking! Indeed their insights are spot on with notes of milk chocolate sweetness, apple acidity and nuts!
Leaving the hipsters at Laynes behind I go in search of the new redeveloped south side of Leeds. Inside the Vue cinema complex called The Light I find La Bottega Milanese. An authentic Milanese style espresso bar serving Italian pastries and amazing Piadina (Italian Flatbread) toasted sandwiches. Here they not only sell a range of coffee beans but also the kit to brew it with from the stylish Aeropress to the Classic V60.
Before leaving the city there is just time to take in a quick early dinner at Pintura, an authentic Basque style Pinxto restaurant. The place is fairly quiet as it’s only 5pm so I opt to sit up at the counter and start chatting with Jimmy the chef.
Going with his recommendations I choose three small dishes, his colleague recommends three sherry pairings which set off the three dishes nicely!
A delicious pickle of Octopus, Peppers, Onions with Sherry Vinegar. A real sweet and sour surprise with the octopus al dente.
Served with a bone dry Williams and Humbert Manzanilla with the saltiness that compliments this seafood dish.
Brochette de Queso Y Jamon
Intensely rich and buttery Iberica Ham with a hard tangy Goat’s cheese
Served with a Williams and Humbert Palo Cortado 20 year old. A great fusion of sweet and savoury to compliment the contrasting flavours in the brochette.
Tiny small but spicy chorizo sausages fried on the plancha grill.
Served with a full treacle like and rich Williams and Humbert Pedro Ximenez (PX) 20 year old that total handles the chilli heat and enhances the sweetness of the chistorra.
I just have enough room to squeeze in a…..
Mousse de Chocolate
Divine and sublime Valrhona chocolate in a rich mousse topped with a chocolate crumb
Served with a Williams and Humbert Sweet Old Oloroso, 15 year old semi sweet so as not to cloy with the chocolate and yet enhancing it at the same time.
I’m transported back from San Sebastian to reality as my taxi driver calls to say he is outside! He whisks me back at the airport in time for a quick look around the Duty Free before boarding the flight back to London eagerly anticipating my next visit to Yorkshire!