Dining without a plus one this evening, I was seated at a table with only the parents and partner of Noisette Bakery’s founder, Sarah Lemanski! As well as being excellent company, they also gave me some of the lowdown on how Sarah founded the business after pursuing her lifelong baking passion.
Our ‘world map’ placemats showed the four countries sourced for the ingredients for each of our evening’s four courses: Burundi, Spain, California and Uganda. Also on the map was a brief description of the dishes’ key ingredients.
Each course, matched with a drink pairing, was accompanied with a menu card detailing the inspiration behind each dish on one side, and on the other side, a ‘Hero’ ingredient with details on the supplier. Guests had a choice of an alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink pairing. Of course, I went for the boozy option.
Course one: Raspberry semifreddo with brûléed pink grapefruit, pink grapefruit curd, brown sugar angel cake and poppyseed crisp
The first course was served with the most unique drink I’ve ever tasted. It was a cold brew using coffee from the East African country of Burundi, Harewood Gin, Square Root tonic and pink grapefruit. It was mostly sour to taste but with sweet under notes, and matched the sweet and sourness of the dessert perfectly. The brew had an aftertaste that was almost liquorice-like. The first course was purposefully created to ‘mirror the first meal of the day, breakfast. Think toasted poppyseed pumpernickel with raspberry jam, grilled grapefruit, brown sugar and that first coffee of the day.’ Clever.
Course two: Brown butter baked pain perdu with apple butter, celery salt ice cream, toasted walnut crumb, bruyere honey syrup and bee pollen
The sweetness of Walnuts, honey and apple were the strong flavours for this course. The plate was inspired by honey from the Aragon region of Spain, the beautifully baked pain perdu (French toast), absorbing all the flavours presented. The honey used in this dish was sourced from local suppliers Stickeys. The main focus for the suppliers is the health and well-being of their bees, which unsurprisingly results in delicious honey.http://www.stickeys.co.uk/shop/
This course was matched with a Vodka Appletini with apple juice, elderflower and lime juice. Served in a martini glass with a slice of apple, the drink again complimented the flavours on the plates.
Course three: Miso caramel brownie, chocolate cremeux, passion fruit jam, caramelised white chocolate and miso rice crumb
Local Brewery Northern Monk made it onto the next course with their Passionfruit & Mango IPA. The IPA was so good an extra can was shared on our table!
The brownie made this course richer than the previous two. Four different chocolate products from Californian supplier Guittard featured on this plate. Established in 1868, the company ‘pays the utmost attention to careful and ethical sourcing whilst crafting the best chocolate they possibly can, working closely with environmentally responsible producers to create a quality driven supply chain.’ https://www.guittard.com
The Brownie was deliciously indulgent with a more-ish layer of salty-sweet miso caramel. The passionfruit jam brought a refreshingly lighter fruity flavour to the plate.
Course four: Cacao non and vanilla labneh with cocoa cracker, smoked vanilla shortbread and salted honeycomb.
There were two separate elements to the final course of the evening: a twist on the classic cheese and biscuits, and a bedtime favourite milk and cookies. The course was paired with a glass of Adega D Palmela Moscatel De Setubal, a sweet Portuguese aperitif. The ‘Hero’ ingredient this time was vanilla.
The cheese and biscuit element had sweet, smokey and sour flavours going on, with the sourness from the Labneh, smokiness from the smoked vanilla shortbread biscuit, and the fruity bittersweet cacao nibs.
The vanilla used in this course hailed from the fairtrade Ndali Estate in Uganda. ‘The pods grown on the estate are shade grown, making them some of the highest quality in the world.’ Over 600 smallholder farmers are now in operation on the estate http://ndali.net There are a lot of great initiatives that estate owner Lu is involved with, about ensuring long-term sustainability, improving local agricultural policies, and supporting local schools.
Finally, to finish the course off, what is there not to love with a glass of cold, nutty, vanilla milk and a hot gooey chocolate chip cookie.
I managed a quick chat with Sarah at the end of the evening, who told me how much fun they had developing the menu. By using their experienced palates and knowledge, the flavour combinations were instinctive and natural to them.
The menu was inventive, exciting, balanced and intriguing, utilising high quality and ethically sourced ingredients from both around the world and close to home. Our taste buds danced in a sensory overload.
I wait in anticipation to see what else will be happening at North Star and Noisette Bakery in the near future. A Coffee Academy is in operation from the premises, where you can obtain various qualifications in coffee brewing. There’s also a potential work trip to Uganda on the horizon.
I most certainly will be back at North Star; in fact, I’m planning on heading down there this weekend for a lazy bank holiday brunch.
Cath is a contributor for Leeds Living covering events all across the City, on topics such as eat/drink, retail therapy, music/dance and culture.