A review of Vineataly, Granary Wharf, and why food on sticks always taste better

I’m not ashamed to say I judge the success of family parties by the quality of buffet on offer. I love a good buffet – it caters to my gluttony and my inability to narrow down on a menu what I want to order. I want everything, of course I do and that’s why I love buffets.

Now, as a buffetlover, there’s only one thing that comes above a buffet and that’s a free buffet. Yes, buffets at family dos are free but realistically you often have to exchange social awkwardness for mini samosas and volovants (I don’t care if they are a bit Seventies they are mini pies of dreams) and while I love a bit of awkward chitchat usually, I don’t want it to stand in the way of me enjoying a bhaji or appreciating a dip selection. Here in England to get your hands on a good buffet you usually have to sign up to attend an event like a wedding or a 50th birthday party, or perhaps gatecrash a funeral, but it’s not like that on the continent. Oh no, in places like Spain and Italy generous bar owners provide buffets to blush over for their customers and now we the little people of Leeds are being treated to this tradition too…

Vineataly at Granary Wharf has long had lots of things that appeal to me – a nice deli counter, a pleasing simple lunch menu, an incredibly convenient location and sparkly lights (which I associate with a pleasant ambience – just read my Little Tokyo post). Now it’s gone one better and started hosting it’s own free buffet (for paying drinking customers of course), which runs from 4.30pm every Friday evening. I was invited along to taste the wares and took my camera and a total lack of shame and piled my plate high.

In Italy they call this kind of bar tapas cichetti and each cicchetto on my plate was washed down lovingly with a mouthful of really nice Italian white wine. The wine was good by the way, I’m not just saying it because Vineataly plied me with tasty tiny sandwiches like these…

Mini sandwiches on sticks from Vineataly

Tiny toasted sandwiches, Vineataly style

Toasted, meat-filled and conveniently mounted on cocktail sticks for easy pickings, you’d be hard pushed to find a better bar snack. I’m a firm believer that anything tastes better on a cocktail stick – just look at the wonder that is cheese and pineapple. This is one of the reasons Barcelona is near the top of my favourite holiday destinations, pinchos pinchos (Spanish tapas on sticks) is the perfect accompaniment to Rioja. Speaking of drinking and eating, if you plan on having a few glasses of vino, you might want to line your stomach with some trusty carbs, like this pasta salad.

Italian pasta salad Vineataly style

Italian pasta salad

I was quite surprised to find these bad boys on the menu, very apt since it’s national sausage week this week. It’s a little known fact I’m from the north, like even more Northern than Leeds and up there children are weaned on sausage rolls. These were better than those the younglings of my homeland are raised on – lovely light flaky pastry with a peppery sausagemeat filling.

Italian sausage rolls with spicy sausage meat

Italian sausage rolls

The final photo below displays my favourite item from the buffet. I must be honest and admit that on first tasting them I knew not what they were apart from ‘crispy, risotto-filled balls with, um, tuna?’ a little research once home revealed the crunchy carby snacks to Arancini di riso – traditional Italian risotto balls that are usually deep fried. I loved them and what wasn’t to love? All of the filling surprise of the volovont enveloped in a carbohydrate sphere. Expect me to attempt my own soon, I’m searching for a good recipe and then it’s all systems Arancini di ri-go.

Italian risotto balls with tuna from VineatalyArancini di riso

It goes without saying I’ll be heading back to Vineataly to hit up this Friday feastival again, though I’ll probably be a little more ladylike in my plate-filling approach in the future to leave plenty of space for wine and risotto balls.

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