There’s an old saying that it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good and there was no better place to ratify that theorem than Harrogate Real Food Market. Covid has caused all kinds of devastation but it also seems to have provided the enterprising folk I met on Sunday with an opportunity, and an incentive, to take advantage of it. I have already written about this market but the stories of the traders were so interesting that I only covered about half of them so I decided to return this month to speak to the rest.

My first chat was with Luca at Gourmet Lasagna Specialists who is originally from Tuscany but came to England in 2012 and started his business about four and a half years ago. He is based in Wetherby and, as well as standing markets and festivals, takes orders for deliveries which he does on Mondays.

His Traditional Meat Lasagna, which he makes himself, follows his grandmother’s secret recipe and, whilst the ingredients are listed, there will obviously be a bit of added magic somewhere along the line to make it extra special. Nonnas are always the best source of recipes.

There is another Italian based lasagna using an Amatriciana recipe, utilising bacon lardons. A vegetarian option caters for the non-meat eaters whilst those who want to combine Italian and Indian can opt for Chicken Curry Lasagna. I suppose that it’s only a matter of time before we have Margherita Tikka Massala at the local take-away!

As well as the individual portions Luca does a version which serves eight people, handy for parties.

For more details please go to https://www.lasagnasontheroad.co.uk/

Next was Laura who trades as Belle Vue Bakery and, judging by the state of the trays, had had a very busy morning. She produces cakes with a twist and are based on products which you would normally buy in other forms. There are ones with Nutella, Oreos and Kinder, etc so bound to please.

Laura started baking cookies in September 2020 and they became so successful that she gave up her full-time job three months ago to concentrate on the business. She trades from home and sells at various markets including the one at Kirkstall Abbey.

She also bakes Celebration Cakes so, should you have a special occasion coming up then check out her Facebook page. The creations look amazing https://www.facebook.com/bellevuebakery

Now here is a story to inspire. Husband and wife team Mailene and Dave, started their business after a trip to Centre Parcs with the kids. There was a place there which sold fudge and the young ‘uns couldn’t get enough so Mailene decided to have a go at making it when they got home. Family and workmates lapped it up – they used their hands actually, but you know what I mean – and in 2015 she left work and took up fudge making full-time.

Dave said that she is the brains behind the operation and he considers himself to be merely the ‘stirrer’. He is being modest here as I have come across him before at a Farmers’ Market and he is also quite the salesman. Perhaps he was just stirring!

As well as standing markets they make wedding favours, which is a lovely way to give your guests a memory of the occasion, especially if the munchies get you in the middle of the night after all the Champagne at the reception.

I asked about the name and was told that the Philippines, from where Mailene hails, is a Spanish speaking country and, as ‘por favor’ means ‘please’ and their aim is to please, it seemed apt. I sampled a small piece, which was delicious and so all I can say is ‘muchas gracias’.

By the way. I didn’t notice the spelling of their name until I accessed the website and saw that there was a ‘u’ in ‘favour’. I checked on the net and it seems to be acceptable either way, I doubt my Spanish master at school would have agreed but you can’t argue with the internet!

Full details can be found at https://www.porfavour.co.uk/ of the fudge that is, not the Spanish semantics.

Next up was Millie’s Treats, another bakery providing everything you could want for an indulgent tea or movie night on the couch. This is a business designed specifically to confuse an elderly gentleman such as myself, it being run by a lady called Sarah. She was made redundant whilst on maternity leave during lockdown in March last year and, as she had to do something to pay the bills, home baking seemed to be the answer. Her creations were a success amongst family and friends and so she took the plunge selling her wares on social media. She now also stands markets, assisted by her mother, Janet. It is obvious from the photograph that they really don’t get on so it must be a nightmare.

The business is based in Baildon and produces the biggest brownies I have seen since I was in the cubs. For full details please go to https://www.instagram.com/milliestreats2021/

My next port of call was St Petersburg, Russia – honest. Bree:øsh was started by Leeza Murina, whose family began the business in the 19th Century, and Steve Jones, who sells from the stall. Now based in Sheffield this is a reboot of the original Scandinavian/Slav version of the pie, but made with – you guessed it – brioche pastry.

The presentation is very distinctive and the award-winning creations are available with several different fillings. Full details, and a history of the organisation can be found at https://breeosh.co.uk/

From Russia via Sheffield we now have from Laos via Halifax. That is the joy of independent artisan food, and when I say joy that is exactly what I mean. The traders all seem to love what they make and sell, few more so than Yoyo and Frazer of Yoyo Sauces.

The pair met when Frazer was travelling in South-east Asia in 2012 and Yoyo joined him in the UK in 2015. After struggling to find work she decided to make the most of lockdown by developing her now famous sauce and selling it, where else, but Todmorden Market. She had tested the market by taking it to barbecues and parties where it went down a treat and the rest of the world seems to be equally as enamoured, as they sell to outlets far and wide, including one customer in California. They have won the 2021 Great Taste Award and 2022 National Chilli Award, so off to a flier.

There is a range of five sauces including the original Laos Sauce. Yoyo has not forgotten her roots and 10p from every bottle goes to support MAG. Laos has the dubious distinction of being the most bombed country in the world, and is still littered with many unexploded landmines and other ordnance. MAG is a charity devoted to clearing said deadly debris.

To find out more about Yoyo’s Sauce go to https://www.yoyolaossauce.co.uk for information about MAG it is https://www.maginternational.org/

Where’s the booze? was the question on my lips so I went to have a chat with Rebecca at Two Lasses Rum. Those of you who are paying attention will notice that there is only one lass here, the reason is that this brand is now doing so well that the other, Lindsey, was at Manchester Food Fair. That meant that I had to settle for a single rather than a double, but hey, its quality not quantity.

Here we have another great story. The venture was started on a beach in Majorca. I am sure many great ideas have been run up the flagpole in that location, but this one was seen through to fruition, rather than disappearing along with the hangover, the day after.

Not wanting to get back into the corporate rat race post lockdown, in July 2021 the duo got some supermarket rum and began to experiment with flavours by adding spices and botanicals. It worked so well that they approached a distilling partner and now produce their range from scratch. There are two 42 proof rums and two 25 proof liqueurs. I tried the spirits and the Yorkshire Spiced Rum was great but I was more surprised by the Chocolate and Orange version which I was assured by Rebecca would appeal to my Scotch drinker’s palate, which it certainly did. The rum is triple distilled and contains Yorkshire Heather Honey.

Stagger to https://twolassesspirits.co.uk/ for more info.

Finally I had a word with the lovely people at Pextenement Cheese Company to find out about their organic cheese range. It turns out that one of the stallholders, with whom I spoke on my last visit, was on holiday and these are one of his suppliers. Once again the mighty metropolis of Todmorden was in evidence as this is where their farm is based.

The farm has been in operation since 1920 but Sandra and Carl only revived the cheesemaking side in 2008. Their East Lee cheese is made using a recipe from the 1920s which was displayed on the stall. I can only assume that the printer cartridge had run dry on the day it was produced as it is in the proper, legible writing of the period. Beautiful.

I tried a blue cheese and a brie and I can give the products no greater praise than to say that I actually put my hand in my (very deep) pocket and bought some of the latter. It was stunning.

For more information on the farm and the cheese please go to http://www.pextenement.co.uk/

Along with the food there are several craft stalls and I plan to return to perhaps have a chat with them sometime. Oh, and there is talk of a bar being open shortly as they now have a licence.

To learn more about Harrogate Real Food Market and to find the other locations they cover, including a new venue at Skipton, see https://www.facebook.com/ilkleyfoodmarket/

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