YorkMix – Pie Week celebrations

York’s best pies – a slice of perfection in a pastry case

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To celebrate Great British Pie Week we sent food writer Claire Davies to track down perfection under pastry. This is her report

Golden goodness… a Mr And Mrs Fisher pie. Photograph: Richard McDougall

In the year 43AD the Romans begin their conquest of the British Isles.

They bring with them many new foodstuffs that will become ingrained in the English food culture, introduce modern farming practices and demonstrate a number of revolutionary cooking techniques.

One of these methods – the baking of meat and gravy in a pastry casing – is embraced by the natives.

Jump forward to the 15th century and the inedible pastry ‘coffin’ evolves into a more delectable mixture of fat, flour and water. This makes way for a variety of recipes from classic apple to the ubiquitous pork pie.

So the British love affair with the pie begins. Last week was Great British Pie Week, and I used it to track down the finest in the city. Here is my favourite selection of pies to be found across York.

Best pie to eat out


Me and Mrs Fisher’s Friday Pie Day

This welcoming craft café on Lord Mayors Walk celebrates the start of the weekend by offering diners the chance to order their cheese, leek and potato pie.

Served with salad, coleslaw and chutney this delicious pie is a tasty choice for both meat eaters and vegetarians alike. It’s also great value at £6.95.

Best pie to take home


The York Pie Company Steak Pie

This locally made pie from The York Pie Company has a generous filling of British beef and is the recipient of more than one Gold Award.

Perfect to take home for tea and available from Swain Family butchers in York market for just £1.65. You can also find The York Pie Company through theirFacebook page.

Best pie made to order


Alice’s Apron Caterers

The round up wouldn’t be complete without a sweet fruit pie. This one comes from Alice’s Apron in Easingwold, set up by Natasha Howard in 2013.

She provides a variety of baked goods for special occasions and her crumble topped apple pies are delicious. Details of how to order these classic pies can befound on Facebook.

YorkMix – Lunch Review

Restaurant review: Happy Valley, Goodramgate, York

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Small gem… Happy Valley on Goodramgate

To celebrate the Chinese New Year on Thursday (February 19), Claire Davies visited an unsung restaurant in the heart of town

In my role as food writer with YorkMix I aim to share a number of smaller local gems that can be easily missed in our busy schedules. In my eyes, The Happy Valley Chinese fits this description perfectly.

As an office worker based in the city centre my husband visits once a week, and it was he who recommended the lunch time special, comprising of two courses for £7.25.

Residing in Our Lady’s Row, Goodramgate, The Happy Valley does not immediately strike you as a Chinese restaurant.

Were it not for the menu boards propped outside, the whitewash walls and open wood beams would trick any visitor in to believing that it was a quant, English tearoom which stood before them. This impression continues as you head inside.

Smacked in the chops

The Happy Valley, inside and out. Click to see a bigger image

The décor is simple and clean. I was seated quickly and provided with both the standard and the appropriate set menu options.

After a brief perusal I ordered the hot and sour soup to start, followed by king prawn satay with fried rice. A glass of tap water and a pot of loose leaf Jasmine tea (£1.80) provided the liquid refreshment.

My first course arrived promptly and steaming hot. The smell alone enough to get the taste buds smarting, the first spoonful hit me square in the chops with all the zest and spicy heat I would expect from a hot and sour soup.

It was delicious and over all too soon. It filled the purpose of a first course perfectly and left me wanting more.

The friendly, efficient staff cleared the way for the second course as I sipped on my Jasmine tea – the floral, gentle flavour an excellent foil to the heat of the previous dish.

Padded beams

Happy Valley food and drink… Click to see a bigger image

Pretty soon my king prawn satay was laid out, accompanied by a small dish of fried rice. This was a light, nutty sauce packed with crunchy stir fried peppers and a generous portion of superbly cooked prawns.

The portions were ideal for a daytime meal, leaving me full but not overwhelmed.

In summary, The Happy Valley Chinese is an excellent value restaurant offering honest, freshly cooked food.

The staff are helpful and want customers to have a positive experience. This is evidenced by the nice touch of padding some of the lower overhanging beams so that people like me don’t hurt themselves when not paying attention on the way out.

YorkMix verdict

Value for money

Total bill – lunch for one: £9.05

Where and when

Happy Valley
70 Goodramgate
01904 654745

Sun–Thurs Noon-10pm
Fri & Sat Noon-10.30pm
Closed Tuesdays


There are days when I love being part of the food scene in York. Last was definitely one of them as I was lucky enough to be invited to be a judge at The International Chocolate Awards during their stay in York.

20150420_105748In a session of approximately two hours we were asked to judge around fourteen samples of dark chocolate. Some were single origin, others moulded and filled with flavoured caramels and a couple of beautiful ganache chocolates made it onto my platter too.

Whilst this was great fun for my taste buds there is a serious side to the International Chocolate Awards. Active since 2012 – it is the only independent international competition and aims to promote small companies, chocolatiers and artisans working with the finest in craft chocolate. 2015 notes their first visit to York and is part of the movement to make York a shining light on the European chocolate scene. Other stages are to be held in  Italy, USA, Germany, Scandinavia, Belgium.

Judges are made up of individuals from across the food sector. I found myself seated next to master chef and chocolatier David Greenwood-Haigh from Coeur De Xocolat and the team from Malton Cookery school. David regularly delivers workshops on the correct technique for tasting chocolate so was on hand to guide those of with less experience.

Following  a short exercise to calibrate our taste buds the serious tasting begins. Each sample is accompanied with a number and short description of what the producers aim to achieve with their product. Every one is placed gently on the tongue and allowed to melt whilst we consider factors such as depth and balance of flavour, texture and appearance.

This is to be done without consultation with your neighbouring judges so that marks awarded are your own –  not influenced by the opinions of others. All products are submitted anonymously and I shall be keeping a keen eye on the results to see if some of my favourites gain the awards they deserve.