Florian Poirot

The 12 tastes of Christmas you won’t find anywhere else

A chocolate bar that’s a Christmas dinner, beer made from Yorkshire Puddings and melt in your mouth macaroons hand made by Poirot, find food and drink that will put an extra smile on their faces this Christmas in one of the country’s finest food destinations – Ryedale, in North Yorkshire.

Here, in the market towns that make up Yorkshire’s Food Capital and Britain’s Capital of Cake, some of Britain’s best chefs, producers and artisans create distinctively delicious flavours for Christmas that you won’t taste anywhere else, such as:

The Christmas dinner chocolate bar has everything you would expect from a festive feast minus the turkey and sprouts.  Each section of the bar contains a different course: fruit cocktail, Christmas pudding and rum sauce, nut roast with salted caramel sauce and coffee and mints.  It has been created by the masters of chocolate at Birdgate Chocolatiers, in Pickering, who handcraft chocolate creations using local ingredients and secret recipes.  They have two other chocolate bars with festive fillings: Christmas Mulled Wine & Mince Pie Bar (made with Christmas spiced wine ganache, fruit and biscuit pieces) and Christmas Cracker made with popping candy.

Yorkshire Pudding Beer (made with 100% real Yorkshire Puddings) is the latest speciality from new nano-brewery Malton Brewery, the smallest in the UK, where crafting is all about quality not quantity.  From their brewery at Navigation Wharf, in Malton, they brew a maximum of 400 litres of beer per week, so taste is guaranteed.

Florian Poirot, UK Pastry Champion and winner of the Sugar Prize at the World Pastry Cup, is as famous for his mouth-watering macarons, chocolates and desserts, as Agatha Christie’s Poirot is for solving crimes. This master pâtissier, is also an exceptional craftsman of irresistible handmade chocolate bonbons, which you can buy from his patisserie in Talbot Yard, Malton.

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Photo by Jason Ferdinando

Nine more top tastes for Christmas food and drink:

Award-winning mince pies fit for the Archbishop of York: pick up a freshly home-baked batch of exceptional Christmas pastries from one of the region’s many top-class artisan bakeries and patisseries.  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. 

A show-stopping Christmas bird: How about a rare Christmas Cockerel?  Or the bird chosen by the country’s top chefs?  Traditional butchers like Overtons, Derek Fox Butchers or ‘Food to Remember’ in Malton; or Fletchers in nearby Norton; Dunnings of Pickering; Waind & Sons in Kirkbymoorside; or Marleys in neighbouring Helmsley, stock fresh, free-range, slow-reared birds from local farmers including Soanes, Yorkshire’s premier poultry supplier, Loose Birds of Harome and Herb Fed Poultry, whose birds are treated to a herb-rich diet – unique in the UK – that creates an extremely delicious flavour.  Award-winning farm shops at Castle Howard near Malton, Beadlam Grange near Helmsley, the Whole Hogg near Malton and Cedar Barn near Pickering – all stock pampered poultry and the very best of British meat from their surrounding farm estates.

Coffee: Roost Coffee is admired in tea-rooms throughout the region, but it is only roasted in Malton, using eco-friendly techniques and ethical green beans sourced by the husband and wife team.  Their roastery has an onsite café and shop.

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Photo by Jason Ferdinando

Best ice-cream for Christmas: At award-winning Groovy Moo, in Malton, the family hand-make traditional Italian gelato with local Yorkshire cream.  From Christmas Pudding to Gingerbread, there is a huge choice of festive flavours, and in the pudding parlour they serve a sundae with a side-helping of waffles, brownies or pancakes.  At Ryeburn of Helmsley the family hand-make award-winning ice cream (the Toffee & Fudge, and Cookies & Cream have won gold medals in the National Ice Cream Awards), while family friend Andrew Fletcher, a Belgian-trained master chocolatier, creates exquisite hand-made chocolate.

Fresh vegetables and smoked salmon: Taylors of Pickering is a traditional, family-run grocers that has been stocking the highest quality produce for over 50 years – but its secret weapon is its artisan, in-store fish smokery where you can get hot smoked salmon, haddock, cod, mackerel and kippers.

Cheese-lover?  Then don’t miss The Deli of Malton, which specialises in cheeses from local to continental, and everything that goes with them, including fine wine.  Or award-winning Malton Relish delicatessen, proud supporters of local producers, from cheese to charcuterie, beer to honey (and amazing homemade pies, sausage rolls, quiches…)

The best bread for a turkey butty: At the legendary Bluebird Bakery, Al and Nicky Kippax are champions of ‘real bread’, bringing back the lost tradition of hand-shaped, artisan loaves which are both nutritious and delicious.  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. 

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.  The Feast Deli in Pickering and Relish Deli in Malton are also leading emporia of Yorkshire gourmet produce, for a heavenly hamper.  To make up your own, Castle Howard’s Farm Shop doubles in size during Christmas to make room for extra treats, with a special Christmas Gift Market in the stable courtyard. 

Spirit raising tipples: Perhaps it’s in the (spring) water, but in and around Malton an impressive collection of distilleries and breweries have emerged over the past few years, winning huge national acclaim and multiple awards.  Here are five to look out for: the distilleries of Sloemotion, Raisthorpe Manor & Rare Bird (also North Yorkshire’s first-ever gin school); and breweries Bad Seed & Brass Castle. 

Further afield is the Great Yorkshire Brewery, based at The New Inn in Cropton, which has been producing award-winning ales for over 25 years; Helmsley Brewery Co, handcrafting beers inspired by the North York Moors, and even mixing in famous moorland heather honey; or the multi award-winning Wold Top Brewery, which has recently opened a distillery on the family farm, producing Yorkshire’s first-ever whisky.  All of these craft breweries also run behind-the-scenes tours, revealing a few of their brewing secrets (but not all!).

Or stock up your drink cabinet with the help of family-run McMillans of Malton, specialists in craft gin and whisky, with an encyclopaedic knowledge of what is local.

Ryedale even has its own ‘champagne’, one of many internationally award-winning wines produced on the family farm of Ryedale Vineyards, the most northerly commercial vineyard in Britain.  They also have orchards for delicious cider and apple juice.  You can buy at the cellar door (or at local farm shops); or even stay in their Vineyard Farmhouse B&B.

“For centuries, Ryedale’s market towns have been the place for people to gather, rest and stock up – no more so than at Christmas.  At its independent food stores, you’ll find food and drink that’s bursting with fresh local ingredients and made with love by award-winning artisans that will make the experience of eating and drinking this Christmas extra special,” said Phillip Spurr, Programme Director of Place and Resources for Ryedale District Council.

If you’re tempted to book a winter holiday, or take a trip to Ryedale for a magical day-out, visit www.visitryedale.co.uk