11 July 2016

The Urban Chocolatier, Bradford

This weekend was Bradford Festival, always a wonderful time to visit the city and see what weird and wonderful things are going on. And since I was in the area, it seemed only polite that I should drop into our newest Dessert eatery to load up on sugar.

It seems like ages ago now that I first spotted the signs for the upcoming opening of The Urban Chocolatier, and I've been looking forward to it since! The sweet-filled place is easy to find just inside the entrance of the new Broadway Shopping Centre (which is actually not all that new now I guess, but I will continue to describe it as so for at least the next seven years).

A quick perusal of the menu and a peek in the display cabinets confirmed what I had hoped - this place is set to be heaven for anyone possessing a sweet tooth! The cake slices available are huge, and are joined on the menu by an impressive array of waffles, crepes and cookie-dough desserts. Milkshakes, smoothies and freak shakes also appear alongside teas, coffees and hot chocolates.

But I'd gone in with ice cream in mind, and I wasn't disappointed with the options available!

Traditional flavours like strawberry and chocolate are of course of offer, and can be found alongside less common gelato flavours like Ferrero Rocher and Bounty.

These are all available individually, with a great array of various toppings. My less sweet-loving other half opted for a simple scoop of the honeycomb gelato, which was apparently delicious.

I figured that, my first time here, I should order one of the massive sundaes. If something worth doing, and all that. There were a few I was tempted by, but settled on the Salted Peanutella - a mountain of chocolate, caramel and peanut gelato, topped with cream, smothered in Nutella and finished with a salted caramel truffle.

The chocolate truffle was AMAZING, but to be fair the whole thing was pretty brilliant. I finished every scrap, despite its epic size - and I don't regret a thing.

On the downside though, my sundae was a fairly whopping £9.95, so it's not an experience I'm likely to repeat too often - definitely more of a once-in-a-while treat. (Most of the sundaes were prices at £7.95, I just wasn't paying enough attention to the menu - too distracted by thoughts of sweet things!) This could have definitely been shared by two people though, making the price and the amount of food more palatable! A lot of the other desserts seemed to come in a bit cheaper too (around £6 seems to be the price for most of the waffles/crepes, for example), so I obviously just went a little overboard with my order!

I'll be back again before too long - I need to try one of those immense milkshakes next!

8 July 2016

Degustabox June 2016 - BBQ Box

Summer is here, the sun is out (sometimes!) - it's definitely barbecue season!

Thankfully, the heroes at Degustabox have crammed this months box filled with top items for summer entertaining - including the perfect drinks and accompaniments for those food-filled sunny afternoons!

Haywards Silverskin Onions (RRP £1.89) - My dad is a huge fan of all things pickled, and meals at his are always served alongside a range of jars. This lil jar of pickled onions was my gift to him, on the understanding that he has to cook for me soon.

Branston Spicy Tomato Relish (RRP £1.65) - Obviously this was included because it's SO good on barbecued burgers, but to be fair it's really good on a whole bunch of other stuff too - my sauce of the summer!

Amoy Coconut Milk (RRP £1.99) - I've not used the coconut milk as yet as including this in a meal will take a degree of cooking concentration that I just don't have after work in the evening! The weekend is just around the corner though!

Schwartz Homemade Burger Mix (RRP £1.49) - This is a packet of stuff to make your home made burgers even tastier. I haven't made home made burgers in years (lazy!) but this gives me the perfect excuse to give them another go!

Zeo Cloudy Lemonade (RRP £2.75) - Cloudy lemonade is THE BEST THING on really hot days, and as the Zeo one as all natural ingredients and is low in sugar, I don't have to feel too bad about letting the kids have some too!

Sacla Pesto Pots (RRP £2.79) - I love Pesto. Love it. But sadly, not everyone in the house shares my adoration so I often find that a full jar won't all get used in an appropriate time frame. These little pots are perfect as there'll be less waste!

Butterkist Yogurt Coated Popcorn (RRP £1.49) - Many happy childhood memories include the amazing Butterkist toffee popcorn, which is still one of my favourite treats. The new Yogurt coated version is not as good as the tooth-rotting toffee variety, but is still grand and certainly feels a lot healthier!

Bakedin Mug Brownie Mix (RRP £1.50) - It may surprise no one that this was my favourite product in the box this time round. The mug brownie took less than two minutes to make and created no washing up other than the one mug. The packet suggests a scoop of ice-cream for extra awesomeness but I didn't have any handy so had it on it's on, and it was still pretty darn awesome!

Wychwood King Star lager (RRP £1.70) - I do like lager, and think it's a great barbecue beverage, but I wasn't blown away by this one unfortunately. I'd drink it again, but wouldn't go out of my way to do so.

Miracle Noodles (RRP £2.49) - These are WEIRD! Like, I'm sure the actual product (a totally healthy noodle alternative) isn't actually that weird, but the packet sure feels it. Its full of water, which makes it feel like one of those weird kids squidgy toys you get in museum gift shops, and the noodles look a *bit* like they might attack you in your sleep..... but I'm sure they're grand once cooked!

Smooze Fruit Ice (RRP £2.50) - This is a freeze-at-home juice / ice lolly thingie that my little ones just adore - the mango and coconut flavour is exotically refreshing, and it's all natural ingredients too!
Perfect for a post-barbecue dessert that's not too heavy!

Destrooper-Olvier Waffle Crisps (RRP £1.10) - I love these Belgian butter biscuits! They're crisp and light and ever so tasty - a great accompaniment to tea, coffee, or ice cream (but brilliant just on their own too!)

A Degustabox subscription means a box like this one full of tasty treats will find its way to your door once a month. At £12.99 including delivery I think they're great value, as the RRP of the products inside always adds up to way more than the subscription costs, but for an extra good deal you can save a huge £7 off your first box if you enter the code BLDEG15 when purchasing!

3 July 2016

Eastern Afternoon Tea at Creams, Leeds

As much as I love Afternoon Tea (and I really really do!), there's one often-included element that I could usually do without - those bloody salmon sandwiches!

I understand that a lot of people like smoked salmon, that it's an integral part of the indulgent treat that is Afternoon Tea. But it's just not very nice.

So it's a real joy to come across an afternoon tea with alternative savory offerings - where I don't have to awkwardly ask to keep that slimy nonsense off my plate, or to cover the offending article with my napkin so as to disguise the fact that I'm a complete food philistine.

This was the joy I felt when I discovered Creams in Leeds, and their three different Afternoon Tea menus - two of which have not the slightest mention of smoked salmon anywhere!

They do of course offer a  'British Afternoon Tea', which comes with the obligatory salmon alongside other traditional sandwich fillings, fruit scone and selection of cakes. This option was the one favoured by my dining companion (the delightful Jess of Jessica In Your Ear, seriously this girl is one of the very best!)  who doesn't share my aversion for fishy things.

I on the other hand was torn between a couple of more exotic options. I was very much interested in the Arabian Afternoon Tea - lemon pepper chicken salad or falafel and halloumi salad taking the place of the expected sandwiches; hummus, olives and pita bread where you'd usually find scone, but still with the usual patisserie selection.

It was the Eastern Afternoon Tea I finally settled on though. I liked the sound of the chicken tandoori naanwich much more that horrible salmon! The naanwich - which is also available with a kebab or falafel and halloumi filling - was a grand toastie-type thing. Not your typical classy afternoon fare, but pretty darn tasty!

Next up was the served-hot vegetable samosa. Crispy on the outside, just the right level of spice, and served with a lovely chilli sauce - a great savoury addition!

I did think I'd miss having a jam-and-cream topped scone wth my Afternoon Tea, but by the time I'd worked through the provided cakes I think I was all done for sweet things! Alongside my bite-size profiterole and delicate macaron was a whopping slice of red velvet cake. I swapped half my cake for half a slice of Jessica's very chocolatey slice. Variety is the spice of life and all that, plus a full slice of the chocolatey one could very well kill a man.

All in all, it's a bit of an odd place. The beautifully sophisticated interior seems at odds with the plastic menus and the option to order chips with your afternoon tea (which I absolutely did, by the way). Essentially though, they brought me a three-tiered stand of food that I really enjoyed eating, and a massive pot of tea, so I'm a very happy customer!

Creams can be found at The Core Shopping Centre in Leeds, where each of the Afternoon Tea menus can be found for £14.95 for one, and are available alongside a wide selection of other tasty treats!

16 June 2016

Ingleborough Nature Trail and Cave

It's definitely not that I'm running out of ideas for new places to go with the young 'uns - but it is sometimes nice to revisit old favourites, and it was to that end that we took a long-overdue trip to Ingleborough Cave.

To get to the cave we parked up at the at main car park in Clapham and pottered through the pretty village to the start of the nature trail.

There is a small charge to access the cave via the nature trail, something like 60p per person, so it might be worth remembering to take some change with you!

The way to the Ingleborough Cave is a pleasant 2km saunter through some very pretty woodland, and alongside Clapham Beck. The path is easy to follow for even those with very little legs, and it's been known t take us anywhere between 20 minutes and three hours to make the full distance.

Three hours for 2km? Yup. It's nice when the kids are distracted by something other than the tv, so when they seem to be having great fun playing with sticks I'm more than happy to let them do so for as long as possible (weather dependent, of course!)

One of the favourite 'distraction spots' on the nature trail is the money tree...

You'll have seen something similar elsewhere I'm sure - an old tree with hundreds of coins battered into it. My kids are weirdly obsessed with this tree.... I'm not sure if its because they think they'll be able to get any of the money off it, or just because its easy to climb, but this is a highlight of the walk for both of them.

I think you can usually pick up a leaflet at the start of the trail that refers to a few other points of interest along the way too.

Before too long, we found ourselves at the cave entrance. Entrance is on guided tours only, and these leave every hour. Tickets can be bought at the little shop just by the entrance, which also sells snacks and drinks - this is also where you pick up your hard hats, safety first!

Our family ticket came in at £25. I will say that the value you get from the ticket entirely depends on the tour. On our most recent visit we were part of a big group, making it a little harder to hear all the information given - previously we were the only ones on our tour, meaning it was a lot more personal and informative.

Still, despite the large group the tour guide did an admirable job of pointing out all the best formations, explaining the history of the cave and answering any questions anyone had.

Though obviously the cave is a natural formation, the pathways are flat and wide enabling wheelchair and pushchair access . . . there are some low ceilings though!

The tours last a little short of an hour, and after we emerged back into the world it was time to totter on back the way we came (stopping for another clamber on the money tree, of course!)

Unfortunately, due to an incident with a clumsy child and a muddy field, we weren't all clean enough to head into the café next to the car park for treats to sustain us on the drive home, but thankfully they had outdoor benches which I didn't feel quite so bad at using (despite it not really being warm enough for sitting outdoors by this point!). This Yorkshire afternoon tea platter (complete with Wensleydale on the fruitcake!) was just the thing after a days adventuring!

Despite my insistence that I'm not running out of days out ideas, I'm always happy to discover more so would love your suggestions on places to explore!

13 June 2016

Afternoon Tea at the Radisson Blu, Leeds

It has, admittedly, been a little while since my afternoon tea at the Firelake Restaurant in the Radisson Blu hotel, Leeds. But fear not, it's rare I forget any detail about cake!

We had no trouble booking for a Saturday afternoon with relative short notice despite using a Groupon voucher like the cheapskate I am, and had our pick of tables in the quiet but cosy restaurant.

Our deal came with a pot of tea and a glass of Prosecco, and we decided to start with the tea ('twas cold out, brrr!) and save the prosecco as a post-cake treat!)

The food was brought over on this handsome bookshelf-type cake stand, with separate compartments for all the different items - with the jam and cream for the scones carefully balanced on top!

Somewhat unusually, in my experience at least, this afternoon tea did not contain equal items for each participant, but thankfully we didn't fall out too seriously over who was going to have what! Though, a lot of this might be to do with the fact my long-suffering-but-eager-to-please other half doesn't actually like afternoon tea so was generally happy to let me have my pick!

I said it's rare I forget any detail about cake, and that's true, but it doesn't always extend to sandwiches I'm afraid, so all I can tell you reall is that one was mainly cheesy, one was mainly beefy and one was mainly hammy (plus I think there was egg mayonnaise, which we both completely ignored!) I really like the variety of breads and sandwich-styles, makes this savoury bit all that much more interesting!

Thankfully one thing that came with enough for everyone was the fat juicy scones, mmm! I think these things are the reason the Mr will still come with me for afternoon tea despite his lack of affection for cake that isn't fruit cake and sandwiches that aren't cheese sandwiches, he does love a good scone (even though he eats them wrong, with the tiniest smear of cream which he puts of first. tut tut.)

There was a slice each of the fruit cake to enjoy, and we shared the decadently rich chocolate mousse and the light and zesty lemon one. I got to eat all the cheesecake to myself though, woo! The cheesecake was probably my favourite too, creamy and delicious!

Then the whole thing was finished off nicely with a strawberry-garnished glass of prosecco. I rarely upgrade to prosecco with my afternoon tea and I really should do so more often - a great way to make an indulgent treat even more indulgent!

With the voucher, it was £21.95 for the two of us - a great price for everything we got, especially in such a nice setting. The service was really friendly too, and the city centre location makes it very convenient. As long as the shared cakes don't both you this is a good 'un!