News from Where The Light Gets in ... Some Changes from May

 
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Bookings open for July at midnight tonight and we have left the kitchen for our Spring break - opening again for dinner on Wednesday 15th May.

On our return our tasting menu will allow for a vegetarian option. We have tested a full vegetarian menu for the last two months, and as our team is now bigger and stronger than ever, we feel we can serve an alternative to our vegetable loving friends, on a daily basis.

We still hold to our original sentiments - here at Where The Light Gets In we do not cater for likes or dislikes, you get what you are given - and we are still humbled each day that our guests come with an open mind. We ask that any dietary requirements for your party at given at the booking stage so we can fully immerse ourselves and our guests in the evening’s experience.

A reminder that we are open for Saturday lunch as of 18th May. We will serve a lighter menu to suit a Saturday afternoon, of 8 courses for £65 and an optional wine flight for £40.

We have also learned that our guests do not like to eat late into the night midweek - work beckons and Netflix hums in anticipation of attention. Perhaps we will never have the night time spirit of our European family … and with this in mind we will now offer a lighter menu on Wednesday evenings, mirroring our Saturday lunchtime menu.

To book, please visit our website.

 

 

News From The Kitchen

 
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29/03/19

We're excited to have our friends at @tuttowines host an evening in @the_staff_room , taking you on a journey into indigenous grapes from Italy.

Snacks will be available and records will be spinning... the wine bar will be open from 6.30 till late. Swing by whenever you want. The evening is free to attend, but to give us an idea of numbers, please grab your tickets from here.

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03/04/19

Because our last experimental night was such a success, we're doing it again! 
The chefs will preview some of the dishes they are working on for Spring. The food will be stripped back, we will turn the music up and pour wine freely.

Fewer courses, with less fuss. 
Tickets will be £50 with a wine pairing at £30. 
Dinner will be served between 6 & 8

Book a table here.

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24/04/19
22/05/19


Due to the overwhelming popularity of our first vegetarian evening, we’re hosting another two evenings.
Book a table here.

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FULL FAT x WTLGI's Charity Shop

 
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We are teaming up with fundraising team @fullfatmcr and opening our kitchen up to guests like never before, inviting just 20 people to drink and dine alongside our chefs, who will serve an experimental multi-course dinner.

Taking place on Tuesday April 9, Full Fat x WTLGI is a chance for our chefs to cut loose, utilising techniques and ideas that have not yet made it to the menu, creating dishes from discussions in the kitchen.

Seats will be limited to just 20 in order to allow the chefs to go big on the things they’re passionate about and to take the chance to share their stories with the guests. 
The dinner will be paired with four glasses of natural wine which will riff on the plates served that evening and will also be poured by the chefs.

All proceeds from the evening will be donated to Full Fat’s charities: Keep Our NHS Public - a campaign group working to maintain a publicly funded NHS, and Headway - a charity that supports people affected by brain injury. 
Full Fat was set up in memory of John-Paul Cassidy, a much-loved member of Manchester’s food and drink scene who passed away last year. Now, his friends and family run fundraising events to celebrate the cream of Manchester’s food, drink and creative community on his behalf. 
This one-off fundraising event will have a very limited capacity - seats are up for sale on eBay, where diners can bid on a table from 99p. Listings will go live at 1pm on Friday 15th March!

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Click here to bid on a CYNDI LAUPER, Girls Just Want To Have Fun, Twelve-Inch Single and a table for two

at 18:30 on Tuesday the 9th of April at 18:30

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Click here to bid on a Soccer Game For Two Players and a table for 2 people

at 19:00 on Tuesday the 9th of April 2019

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Click here to bid on a Pottery Girl Sitting With Goose and a table for 2 people

at 18:30 on Tuesday the 9th of April 2019

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Click here to bid on a Champagne Rubber Toy With Squeak and a table for 2 people at 18:30 on Tuesday the 9th of April

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Click here to bid on a Pearl Coloured Elephant Teapot and a table for 2 people at 19:00 on Tuesday 9th of April

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Click here to bid on motivational signs for your home and a table for 2 at 19:00

on Tuesday the 9th of April 2019

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Click here to bid on an Alpine Scene Puzzle and a table of 4 at 19:00 on Tuesday the 9th of April 2019

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Click here to bid on a Ordnance Survey Map of Huddersfield and a table for 4 at 18:30 on Tuesday the 9th of April 2019

 

TRACK X WTLGI

 
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For us, hosting a beer tasting with TRACK was an opportunity to delve into the culture of beer drinking in the north of England. To foster some of the stories linked to ale’s fragrant past.

We started the evening with a plate of poppadum and house chutneys. I grew up on curry and it is still one of my most comforting foods. Every Friday night we went to the local pub with my grandad, auntie and uncle. I drank orange soda and my grandad taught me to play pool. Then we’d pick up an Indian takeaway on the way home.

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The table would be piled with samosa, bhaji, poppadum and pickles, curries of fragrance and heat, salty and sweet and steaming charred naan. These are my first memories of sharing food with loved ones, of staying up late and talking around a table, of the exotic (different tones on the palate compared to my gran’s swede and mash). I’m sure this is where my love of traveling came from and why I ended up in India for so long and this is where I realised that food was important for social unity, sharing and swapping stories.

So we made poppadum, to share, to spark a topic, for fun and, in the spirit of the North, to sink down a crisp lager. Our poppadum are made from Red Duke of York, a heritage variety of potato dating back to 1942, supplied by the Carroll’s at Tiptoe farm. We made chutneys form our preserves including pickled apricot, salted damson and a wonderful sheep’s milk yoghurt made from milk supplied by Alan Jones in North Wales, spiked with woodland wild garlic.

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We rolled our bread in spent beer grains from the beer making process to add further crunch and caramelisation to the crust of our sourdough. Out from the oven they looked ready for battle, armed and textured with a malty shell.

The windows in our dining room look out onto Robinson’s brewery and we share the same red brick heritage. We are, ourselves, situated in an old Victorian Warehouse. We wanted to tap into ale’s part in the industrial revolution, its lubrication. Workers, lined up outside the gates in the smoggy dawn, receiving a pint of nutty brown ale to fill their bellies, swirl their heads and ready them for another day of grind. 

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What better beer to represent this, than Track’s ‘Sonoma’. For me, its the new pride of Manchester, one foot firmly in the real ale camp whilst edging over, with citrus notes, to the growing craft beer scene. It’s a beer for all people at all times. 

So we got our guests out of their chairs and they lined up at the bar. For the first time at WTLGI we served a pie dinner. Liz’s saddle back pigs filled a crisp pastry, all swamped by a split pea wet with mushroom vinegar. And Stefan met them at the other end of the bar with a frothy ‘dimple’ of barrel aged ‘Sonoma’. 


Dinners like this allow us to get closer to the people in our community that we respect. That are plying a skilled craft with honesty and integrity. They allow freedom to us chefs, allowing us to dig into certain themes and whet our creative appetite. We can express ourselves in ways we may not dare on regular nights in the dining room and they hopefully allow our guests to see a different side of WTLGI, to explore and meet new friends and find new flavours and stories that have been resting patiently on their doorstep. 

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The team at Where The Light Gets In visit Ramon Saavedra at the foot hill of the Sierra Nevada

 

The spirit of Ramon Saavedra

The team at Where The Light Gets In visit a vineyard at the foot hill of the Sierra Nevada

In Graena, a small village near Granada, at the foot hills of the Sierra Nevada, Ramon Saavedra makes youthful wines full of vigour and honesty at his small winery Bodegas Cauzon.

This land appears arid, incapable of supporting any life. The rocky outcrops and red soils, cactus and long, flat horizons make you want to throw on a pair of spurs and rough house in the local saloon. The dusty plains of Andalucia were used as the back drop to Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns. 

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But the dry climate supports so much growth. Ramon’s high altitude vines gnarl around training posts surrounded by olive trees, groves of almond and chestnut, fruit bearing cactus, wild thyme, rosemary and eucalyptus. Here at 1200m the peaches and oranges are bursting with sweetness and acidity. The minerals deposited from the Sierra Nevada sparkle in the rust coloured earth and minerals trickle down too from the snowy peaks in crystal clear water which we drink in the circumspect winter sun. It is these minerals that bring fertility. 

This fecund land is actually one of the best places in Europe to grow wine grapes. The dry climate protects the grapes from moisture prohibiting rot, the sandy soil keeps phylloxera at bay. The hot days ripen the berries and give colour and tannin whilst the cool nights slow down the growth and allow acidity to develop. This is a wine makers paradise and Ramon gives his thanks through his work. No fertilisers or chemicals, nothing added to the 8 hectares he farms. In the winery no sulphites or enhancers, nothing added to the wine. He allows only nature to do what it does best and presents as true an expression of his home land as he can.

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He also takes great measures to protect the land around him. When a local land owner tried to pull down the oldest chestnut tree in Andalucia, a tree 600 years old, he created a petition calling for its protection and won. He told us that one year the same tree produced 400 kilos of fruit. There is also a gang of vultures hanging around these areas, from large Rioja wineries, trying to buy up land in a preempt of a crisis for growers in the north due to global warming. They have already managed to buy huge pieces of land which they have levelled flat and filled with pesticide and fungicide, preparing for huge, intensive, mechanically farmed plots. Ramon is gathering support from other local wine makers and fighting with the local councils to try to prevent more of these tragic acts.

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Recently we spent 3 days with Ramon and his partner David on a trip with Fernando Berry from Otros Vinos. Within 2 minutes of pulling into Bodegas Cauzon we were in the cellar with glasses in our hands, a dazzling, peachy white using sauvingon blanc, chardonnay, viognier, macabeo and torrentez.  

Later we helped with lunch, preparing 'manita con gambas’. A dish of pigs trotters and red prawns in a sauce made from dried pimentos, almonds, garlic and fried bread. Ramon hadn’t cooked this for 20 years, since he had been a chef in the Catalan region. We sat under a bright blue sky to eat using crusty bread to mop up the moorish sauce and drinking Ramons Pinot noir. An uncommon grape for this climate which he had turned into a bright, floral rosé.

For three days we ate and drank, making new friends at every table, meeting the people behind some of the wines and ciders we pour every night. 

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At La Huerta, a local restaurant high up on the south face of the Sierra Nevada, Luis created dish after dish of  Catalan inspired veg dishes with most of the produce grown by him and then rest by local farmers. Although he is from Catalonia he has lived in these mountains for 30 years and prides himself on marrying the two cultures together through his food. He started us with a newspaper parcel of oven fired, steaming calcot onions with a dip using the same moorish ingredients as Ramon’s sauce. Around the table farmers opened their wines and ciders, new vintages or limited productions made from small parcels for their ‘own personal use’. Laughing at the volatility of a wine, arguing about the age of another, admiring dryness or colour. 

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Afterwards Luis and I talked about the ease of cooking when produce is pristine, the simple touch one needs to transform a handful of vegetables into a meal and I thought about Ramon and his wines and how he lets the land do all the hard work and intervene only to take the juice from the grape and put it into the bottle, a lightness of hand that is present in every bottle, along with a boldness of spirit that will not let this land down. 

And this is the point, to be able to come here and meet the people behind the grape. To eat and drink and listen and share stories about our crafts, our experiences. Friends are quickly made in these surroundings because we have a direct kinship for a way of life. It is not the fact that they make wine and we buy it but a vigour that we share in our beliefs, a volatility that we share in life, seeking for a connection to nature and simple pleasure in everything we do. 

To travel and meet people of like mind is stronger than any Facebook meme or Instagram post. It gives strength to a community that is not bound by geography or even craft but by direction and projection of spirit. 

 

The Scene Was At Best, Unusual.

 

A few weeks ago on a Saturday night, after a busy service we were sat, as always, at this time of the week, in the staff room, drinking wine, listening to records and winding down after another full paced shift. These times allow us reflection and retribution, a necessary and almost ritualistic shedding of the week gone by.

Near the end of our family dining table was a huge store of apples, stacked high in crates and covered over with dust sheets. The bounty of our last pickings from the farm and no less than 120 kilos in weight.

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I decided to take a quick look and finding that some of them were on the turn I began to grade them into empty crates, the good, the bad, the ugly, etc. The team, one by one followed suit to make the job lighter. By the time we had got to the end of the third crate it had been decided what we must do.

The fruit mill and cider press, lent to us by our mutton farmer was set up in the main kitchen, the music was turned up, Caro, our sommelier, scrupulously selected the right bottles of wine for the job and we set to making cider.

The scene was, at best, unusual. Young ladies gyrated to Italo disco, tossing apples into the fruit mill. The spattering of crushed fruit mingled with the grating of iron teeth under deep disco baselines as bearded men twisted on the press to release a rich golden juice into muslin lined buckets. The fruit mill continued to spatter amidst dancing, drinking and giggling, juice pouring forth in a dionysian frenzy. I was surrounded, in the throws of some kind of Berlin meets west country electro, apple romp. But the work was conscious, methodical and precise even though we were excitable, intently impassioned and... a little pissed.

Within 90 minutes we had pressed around 70 kilos of apples into 40 litres of clear juice ready for a gentle maturation into cider. 30 more minutes and the machines were stripped and cleaned, benches scrubbed, floors mopped, eighties disco baselines still booming. As I looked on at the celebration I wondered if this is what I had really intended to create two years ago when we set up Where the Light Gets In.

Day to day we try to keep things a little more sober but the principle is still there. Everybody grab a reign, the one you feel most comfortable with, and help to steer. We try to encourage an autonomy where each individual is responsible for the whole. Cleaning, laundry and other menial duties are shared out evenly across the board to ensure there is time for creativity and progress.

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In our organisation communication is also integral. We sit down each morning with breakfast as a whole team to share information about improvements needed for the next service, bookings and dietries. A member of the team will introduce a dish, a wine, coffee or special ingredient with stories of the producers; giving voice to everyone and making sure that each aspect of our experience is understood by all. Family meal times and pre service briefings give us more opportunity for constructive communication.

Of course we have leaders within the organisation but we work on an experience system where those with more of it for the task at hand, lead. This means everyone, at some point plays the role of both student and teacher, something that is good for personal and group development.

The top down power struggle of restaurant employment breeds an unhealthy competitive nature in a lonely arena, pitting team mates against each other and businesses against each other. This concentric and vicious circle leads to oppressive attitudes, and incorrect reasoning of the mind. All too often members of our industry feel they need to ’stick it out’ or ‘last two years,’ in order to succeed to the next level.

The bullying, drug abuse and mental exhaustion that plague our industry are all spike like symptoms of this desperate system where we are willing to put too much aside in order to reach the top. This scramble, in most cases turns into a pitiful rattle to just keep above board. The attitude drips down from the organisations to its staff like sewage from a drainpipe.

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Competition is good, its makes us progress. But we as owners have to set the pace, the rules and the prizes. Teams must be able to work together in confidence of their own part played, to push the limits of what the business can achieve. The project must belong to all.

At the recent Food on the Edge symposium I heard Helen Puolakka, of Aster say that a kitchen brigade is not an army, it’s an orchestra. A great sentiment for us all to keep in mind. Obviously Escoffier’s militarised brigade system is the fulcrum of organisation in a modern day kitchen but the army-like attitude can be swapped for one that allows more harmony for everyone to feel their part is integral no matter their experience.

In a horizontal system, space created for the individual allows independent thought, creativity and voice, making the group effort more multi dimensional. Traditional and contemporary, relaxed and disciplined, opulent and austere can all exist, amicably in one experience.

As of recent I have spent a lot of time on our farm with my hands in the soil, this has led me to think of our work system as rhizomic. There exists a loose framework of ethics and creativity in which we all exist symbiotically. Each person brings his or her passion and knowledge into the framework to create a complex system where each element relies on the next. The system is shared as an experience with our guests who, hopefully in turn take on board some of our creative and ethical values and so on.

This system is not without its difficulties. Structure can be hard to maintain without the traditional discipline practices and job titles. Autonomous led group tasks can lead to the task in fact not being carried out but Communication and reliance on everyone’s individual skills allows for a better understanding of structure, why systems are in place and how best to stick to them. And of course the 3am cider making disco parties help.

 

Poultry Farmers of the Peak District National Park

 

"Meringue is on the menu next week… we’re going to need 120 extra eggs”.

We take a trip to visit our regular supplier, Joanne, who is situated on a small hill-farm which predominantly produces beef and lamb, based at the foot of Kinder Scout in the Peak District. Because of the small-scale nature of the producers that we select, regular changes to the menu necessitates a network of local suppliers.  
Joanne provides us with a list of other farmers in the area also producing free-range eggs.

 This takes us to a variety of secluded farms dotted around the Derbyshire landscape, where we meet with several suppliers. One of whom lends us an incubator and half a dozen fertilised eggs...