This post originally appeared on The Culture Vulture blog.
There’s nowhere quite like Yorkshire. A far cry from the ‘desolate north’ that certain folk may deem anywhere north of London to be, Yorkshire invokes a fierce passion and pride from natives and nomads alike, and rightly so. But I’m not here to get into that debate. I don’t need to convince you about how great Yorkshire is – you know all of this. The virtues of Leeds are extolled regularly on this here blog, as are the delights to be found within neighbouring West Yorkshire cities such as Bradford and Wakefield. North Yorkshire is regularly praised for its wild, untamed beauty, and South Yorkshire’s cultural merits, especially Sheffield’s, are also highly acclaimed. We can definitely all agree on one thing – we love Yorkshire.
What I am here to tell you about is my love of an often forgotten corner of our beloved county – East Yorkshire. It rarely gets a mention at all outside of its proverbial walls, and if it does, it’s not usually positive. Dubious accolades such as ‘Britain’s worst city to live’ have been bestowed on its capital, Hull, in past years, blighting the region with an unfavourable reputation that’s not easily shifted. But a wholly unfair reputation this is indeed, which could put you at risk of missing out on what East Yorkshire has to offer. And you definitely don’t want to do that.
My love affair with East Yorkshire began five and a half years ago, when I first met my OH’s parents. He grew up on a farm in Everthorpe, a tiny village burrowed at the foot of the Yorkshire Wolds, just 20 minutes away from ‘that Hull’. Any aspersions cast by the ‘doom of Hull’ folklore were banished immediately on that first visit. This part of East Yorkshire is, quite simply, mesmerising. The quintessence of rural English grandeur, a patchwork of working fields cover the land, daubed in vibrant shades of yellow, green and white depending on the time of year. Dainty villages hidden by a dense canopy of voluptuous trees punctuate the countryside, home to beautiful cottages, ponds brimming with life and ivy-swathed old English pubs. The low-lying land of the wolds creates the allusion of a sky so vast and expansive that you feel like you can see to the edge of the earth. A rural wonderland just 45 minutes from Leeds, East Yorkshire radiates a magical, rejuvenative essence that leaves me feeling utterly refreshed after every visit.
Over the last five and a half years I’ve enjoyed a happy relationship with East Yorkshire, which, like every good relationship, has led me to surprising discoveries that have made me fall deeper and deeper in love. Its elegant, sweeping beauty may have drawn me in, but its status as a cornucopia of damn good food has meant our relationship has really stood the test of time. Yes, it may be a little known fact outside of the region, but East Yorkshire nails it when it comes to its foodie offerings. I experienced my first ever Michelin star meal in East Yorkshire at South Dalton’s The Pipe and Glass Inn, which remains one of the most fantastic food experiences I have ever had. Fish and chips at The Triton Inn in Brantingham are a magnificent work of art, second only to the delights purveyed by the delectable Fish&. The best cheesecake I have ever tasted? That accolade goes to The Gallery in South Cave for their DREAMY blueberry cheesecake. I could go on…
East Yorkshire’s foodie status may be little-known outside of the region, but it’s an understandable development given the vast quantities of farms and food producers that paint the land. It’s a status that needs championing, and there’s one East Yorkshire Estate on a mission to do just that. Drewton’s.
A one-stop food emporium in South Cave, just five minutes away from the tiny village of Everthorpe, it’s home to a farm shop, café, tearoom, delicatessen, butcher, cellar, luxuries store and a private dining restaurant. Intrigued? You should be. Housed in two converted traditional farm buildings, Drewton’s is set against a beguiling backdrop of 1200 acres of arable land that overlooks the surrounding countryside. Once inside, its gourmet credentials are an arresting sight, with baskets, bookcases, shelves and counters heaving with lust-inducing produce. Cheese, meats, wines, beers, biscuits, oils, vegetables, pies… Drewton’s is a Utopian sight for food-obsessed folk like me.
Farm shops are fashionable right now, and there’s no denying that Drewton’s is a slick, grand operation. But where many farm shops lead with extortionate pricing and pretension, Drewton’s remains grounded in providing a quality service that celebrates the wealth of local produce found within a relatively short distance from the estate. The shop is curated like an epicurean gallery of local products, whilst its website proudly announces partnerships with 190 local producers and suppliers, demonstrating an admirable commitment to supporting the local farming community of East Yorkshire and beyond.
I’ve visited Drewton’s several times since it opened in 2010, always leaving laden with exciting goodies, but last weekend was my first visit to its café, Kitchen. Cushioned in between the farm shop and a private dining room, the aromas of both the kitchen and the shop meet head-on, saturating the café with seductive scents that arouse severe tummy rumblings. As you’d expect, the menu reads like a map of the region, with dishes pre-fixed by their local origins. Chicken from Driffield, North Newbald eggs, Elvington Bacon – Kitchen at Drewton’s plays a perfect homage to its surroundings, giving punters the chance to experience the real tastes of East Yorkshire, as well as the rest of rural Yorkshire.
Although the menu spanned a vast 10 pages, I’d done my homework and had eyes for only one dish – Drewton’s Rarebit. I LOVE rarebit. The ultimate tribute to cheese, when it’s done well it’s a creamy, tangy celebration that’s simultaneously comforting and luxurious. And Drewton’s did it very well indeed.
The combined might of Lincolnshire Poacher and Barbers Vintage Cheddar collided with a local beer from Wolds Way and Drewton’s own English mustard, producing a rarebit that ticked all of the necessary boxes. Creamy, decadent magic, the cheese sauce was smothered on a crisp slice of ciabatta and accompanied by a sweet and spicy tomato chutney, again produced by Drewton’s.
Feeling greedy, I ordered a portion of home-made chunky chips to accompany my rarebit. Chips may be an old fail-safe, but I always think you get the true measure of a place by the quality of its chips. These chips were winners. Uniformly-cut chunky oblongs, they had a crispy, well-seasoned skin that encased a creamy, fluffy filling. One bowl was not enough.
The collaborative spirit of Leeds is one of its most documented and endearing qualities, so it’s brilliant to see this sort of spirit echoed in East Yorkshire. Since opening in 2010, Drewton’s has notched up numerous regional and national awards, and it’s so easy to see why. Small farmers and producers deserve a proud promoter like Drewton’s, and with a widely expanding offer that includes supper clubs and fine dining that makes even more use of fine, local produce, Drewton’s is worth the visit to East Yorkshire alone.
I’ll be back in East Yorkshire this weekend and I cannot wait. Just 40 minutes by train or 45 minutes in the car, don’t believe the stereotypes and discover this beautiful, delicious land as soon as you can. You won’t regret it.