In my final year (which begins in less than three months, sheer terror) I'll be studying medieval plays, beginning with the York and Wakefield mystery cycles. They depict biblical sequences from the back of wagons, and every four years various drama companies, churches and schools of York take on the task of recreating one of many episodes, from Adam and Eve to the Last Judgement. This year is one of those years, so we thought what better than an extended visit to the city to see my studies in action whilst sampling far too many restaurants along the way?
Once off the train we went straight to Brew and Brownie. We'd pinned this on our 'York' board and read all about the various platters they had on offer. We went with the 'ee bah gum' board (which if you're not from the Lincolnshire/ Yorkshire area, will make 0 sense!) made up of smoked, blue and soft cheeses, a hefty chunk of pork pie, Yorkshire ham, artisan breads and pickles. Very good indeed, especially washed down by their speciality lemonade. The only annoying thing was the lack of air conditioning in summer heat, but you can't win them all. We meant to return to BB for the lovely selection of cakes they had on offer, but the trip being a short one we didn't get a chance!
After having our fill, we set off for the plays. I took hundreds of images but have kept only two for your viewings eyes, partially as I have no idea of the copyright functions and also as I'd hate to bore anyone to tears. The plays were in two parts, 7 in one section, 5 in the other. Each plays is dragged onto the grass by the players themselves, and was a really refreshing staging method. Our favourites were 'The Fall of Man' played by GCSE students. Satan was played by a guy in a suit holding a snake puppet through a tree, giving it a hilarious twist to a potentially pretty sombre topic.
After 5 more plays and a Costa break, in which I overheard an American lady asking if the pictures of Italy on the walls were of York, we went back for the final instalments. I must preferred the first half, as I've always thought the Old Testament stories are a bit more juicy! The best of the second half however was definitely 'The Last Judgement'. It was difficult to completely grasp what was going on, mainly due to the extensive use of screaming to represent tortured souls (a bit much if I'm honest!), but the costume and staging completely made up for that. The style was Victorian Steampunk, and was immaculate. I loved the link of the Victorian themes of degeneration and cruelty with the biblical story. Note the little child in the corner, who held up a sign saying 'hungry and homeless' throughout, to represent the contrast of Victorian high society and poverty.
After our fill of the arts, we naturally needed more food. We had dinner at Cafe No8, a small but lovingly proportioned bistro just left of the Museum Gardens. I started with Pate, served in a plant pot!
Dave had pulled beef terrine with wasabi mayo. He loved it, I wasn't so keen. We weren't entirely sure whether the thyme on top was entirely edible. Ate it anyway, I live to speak the tale. As a wise man from Masterchef once said, there should never be anything on the plate that isn't completely edible. Here here!
Oh my goodness. The main. We both had belly pork, pigs cheek, celeriac and potatoes gratin in an elderflower jus. Words can't describe. Well, they can- juicy pigs cheek, an entirely new one for both of us. What I like to describe as sexed up fancy coleslaw was also a lovely accompaniment to a deep meat dish. The potatoes were also lovely, and not too garlicky.
We both also finished with bannoffee pie. Toasted pecans on top gave it a lovely crunch, the there was plenty of biscuit and caramel. The bananas were dressed in lemon which Dave thought was a bit strong, though I liked the contrast with the intense sweetness everywhere else.
We skipped away from the Cafe onto the hotel. It really was a lovely first day in York- though the second day was very fabulous, especially with our visit to Betty's. Will leave that for another post, so goodbye for now!