Seaside Deli Annie Stirk takes a look at food stalls along the Yorkshire coast

Eating food in the open air can be a delicious experience as our food and drink consultant Annie Stirk finds out at the Yorkshire Coast

Further along there’s a kiosk run by Mick & Rosslyn Grimes. Rosslyn has been working here for 27 years and first began visiting the kiosk when she was just six years old. Walk past and you are greeted with a gentle invitation: ‘All fresh now, treat yourself.’ 

Nothing is more of a treat for many than fish and chips which are served from a food stall in a cone or on a polystyrene tray with a wooden fork rather than wrapped in newspaper, but delicious eaten strolling by the sea or sitting on a bench.

Apart from the unmistakeable smell of fresh fish, there is a sweetness hanging in the air which is probably from the candy floss that is almost everywhere. Candy floss or cotton candy was invented in 1897 by William Morrison and John C Wharton, candy makers from Nashville, Tennessee.  They came up with a device that heated sugar in a spinning bowl that had tiny holes in it.  As the bowl spun round the caramelised sugar was forced through tiny holes making feathery candy that melts in the mouth.

At Scarborough’s Cone Corner, brother and sister, Jo and David Greaves are in their fifth season working in their kiosk spinning candy floss. As children they both worked on the beach and in ice-cream shops but now own a business producing candy floss on a stick, something no one else in Scarborough does now.

‘It’s all about nostalgia,’ adds Jo. ‘It tends to be older couples who buy candy floss on a stick and there is a definite art to eating it. Children are used to buying and eating candy floss in bags – they are not bothered about eating it on a stick which I think is a shame.’

Sticks of seaside rock are a real Scarborough staple. The very funky One Stop Rock Shop is run by Kevin Fishburn who used to be a fisherman, but when his father, who originally owned the stall, retired he took it over.  ‘Anything is easier than fishing,’ he laughs.  ‘It is a comfy job and you meet plenty of interesting people, lots of them from Leeds and Bradford.

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‘It is a tradition to take home a stick of rock. Customers phone home asking what Auntie Margaret likes, what should we bring her.’

There is only one rock factory left now on the Yorkshire Coast, The John Bull factory in Bridlington. Rock is a mix of water, sugar, glucose syrup, flavouring and colouring which is pulled during the cooling process into increasingly long strands. 

Ice cream is a must-eat-treat at the seaside. An ice cream stall called June’s must be one of the smallest on the block. It sits at the foot of the Central Tramway and is owned by the company.  June Temple rents the space. ‘You would never believe the kiosk was originally a broom cupboard,’ says June. ‘But we stripped it out, cleaned and tiled it and now we sell Angelito’s ice cream to folks rushing to catch the tram.

‘It is very much a family affair,’ adds June.  ‘My father-in-law is the secretary of the tram business and my husband is the electrician on the tram. They get to eat plenty of ice cream.’

Over the road, young surfer Oliver Hillier owns The Tea Kiosk, originally called Tony’s Tea House and now doing a brisk trade in snacks and drinks, including waffles piled high with cream.  ‘As a young Scarborough lad I was always down on the sea front. I went to York University and when I finished I looked for a business and this is just perfect.  I reckon I have the best view in Scarborough. I just love the view and the beach.’

Scarborough – that big, bright and breezy Grand Dame on the Yorkshire Coast has just about everything we know and love about the seaside.   It’s a noisy and nostalgic hit of neon-lit amusement arcades, hungry seagulls, fish and chips, florescent coloured rock and candy floss, seafood stalls, daft dogs and donkeys on the beach. 

Sitting inside a seaside cafe watching the world go by is one thing but braving the fickle Yorkshire Coast weather when you are feeling peckish, is another. But it’s worth it just to experience Scarborough’s eclectic collection of harbour-side food stalls. Most of these food stalls are handed down through families and are run by third or fourth generations. They sell distinctly seaside fare from candy floss to welks.

Take a stroll down to the lifeboat station and you will find some of the oldest stalls and kiosks in Scarborough. Originally there were 12 fish stalls, with a number of them doing a brisk trade in fresh oysters. Many of them are long gone but they remain an important part of Scarborough’s history. 

A fish stall now run by Curly and Sheila Fletcher has been selling a mix of seafood for 100 years. Cockles, whelks, winkles, shrimps, crabs and lobsters are landed fresh daily from the town’s trawler fleet.