It has to be Harrogate - love our indies at Christmas

Caroline Bayliss  with Mike Newby and Hannah Park of Manna Bakery.
Caroline Bayliss with Mike Newby and Hannah Park of Manna Bakery.

Caroline Bayliss, chairman of Visit Harrogate, shines a light on the town's independent shops and cafes.

For the first Christmas in 35 years, I don’t have to do the cooking; this year it is my daughter’s turn.

She lives in London, but she knows that food shopping, like most things, is better done in Harrogate.

So I’m doing the shopping for Christmas; I’m doing it in Harrogate and I’m only going to buy from the independents.

That way I avoid the confusing offers in the supermarkets, support my local community and get the best value for money.

First to the baker to order the Christmas cake, and the Christmas pudding, and to buy some mince pies, and some sour dough bread.

Manna on Cold Bath Road has only been open for 6 months; but they have built up a real following.

They bake everything on the premises and Mike can make virtually anything if you order ahead.

One of my grandchildren is allergic to nearly everything (nuts, eggs and dairy) so cake can be difficult.

No problem for Mike, who recently made him a wonderful Victoria Sponge and some cup cakes.

I’ll buy my fish at the Harrogate institution that is Ramus Seafood, on King’s Road.

As you walk in you’ll be struck by the amazing display of shiny black, pink and white fish; they look as if they have just left the sea.

For Christmas Ramus have a new shellfish platter; not the traditional cold platter, but a hot one, oven ready and teaming with juicy prawns, langoustine, mussels and crabs; and it’s dripping in garlic butter.

Pick up one of their pates while you are at the shop: trout, mackerel, crab or salmon; all made on the premises.

Virtually next door to Ramus’ shop is Regal Fruiters.

It has a stunning selection of fruit and vegetables.

You can fill your basket with all the regulars; and buy wild mushrooms, heritage tomatoes and wonderful Spanish leaf clementine.

Right now is the time to buy their fresh cranberries to get on with the sauce for the turkey.

Where to buy the festive bird? The star of our meal is always the goose- and you can buy magnificent turkeys and geese from the butchery counter in Fodder at the Yorkshire Showground.

All their meat is sourced locally; the geese come from Yorkshire Ducks and Geese at Driffield.

It really gives you confidence to know which local farmer produced which piece of meat.

While you’re there you can pick up a size 3 Voakes pork pie – which will feed all the family on Boxing Day.

And get some prunes to soak in Armagnac as an accompaniment to the goose.

It’s a myth that shopping local is more expensive than the supermarkets. Fodder sell free-range eggs from Ian Taylor at Burton Leonard; the price they charge is far cheaper than you’d pay for equivalent supermarket eggs. So that’s it for this week.

I’m off home to write our Christmas cards. Remember: “It has to be Harrogate.”