Monday, 11 October 2010

Better at Bettys?

Chocolate Week

Today I was hoping to be telling you all about the Chocolate Tasting Selection Plate I had at Betty’s in Harrogate yesterday as part of their Chocolate Week celebrations. Unfortunately I got my dates muddles up and I was a day too early!

Chocolate Week does in fact start today and the Chocolate Tasting Plate should be available now until 17th October. Priced at £4.95 it sounds absolutely delicious
Miniature Hot Chocolate: Bettys Chocolate Sauce whisked with hot milk, topped with fresh cream and chocolate flakes.
Cru Sauvage Truffle: Rich dark chocolate made with rare cocoa from the Bolivian Amazon, filled with smooth chocolate ganache.
Miniature Chocolate Brownie: A moist, all butter cake made with finest Swiss chocolate.
Chocolate Macaroon: A crisp, delicate shell filled with rich chocolate ganache.

You can also get you hands on a a limited edition tasting selection of Bettys handmade chocolates put together by Claire Gallagher Bettys Executive Confectioner, which will be available in all Bettys cafes for the duration of Chocolate Week (11-17 October). There are also several meet the chocolatier events at Bettys tea rooms around Yorkshire.

To find more events to celebrate chocolate week in your area check the chocolate event calendar

Back to Bettys, since I’d driven for 45 minutes to get there and paid £4 parking I thought I might as well stay for a cuppa and a cake. A slice of chocolate and raspberry torte was reasonably priced at £3.95 but a pot of Darjeeling tea set me back £3.75 (only 20p cheaper than a glass of wine!). But you are paying for the Bettys experience so I tried to lap it up. Waitresses in full tea shoppe uniforms, cool marble top tables, I loved the tea tray with its silver tea pots, sugar cubes, a large cup that wouldn’t have looked out of place on the set of Friends, but made of china, light and delicate.

The Montpellier bar didn’t have the best view and there was an overpowering smell of vinegar wafting past, not to mention the clink clank of cutlery on crockery from the tea counter. (And a high ratio of couples, so don’t go if you’ve just been dumped!) The afternoon tea room looked like it had a better view out over the park but was busy and loud with the hum of conversations, and drop down a level to another dining room without windows, I don’t think I would’ve been happy to be cooped up down there at those prices, but the toilets were very nice.

Bettys is one of those 'must visit' places, but there are a plethora of other cafes in Harrogate, maybe for all the punters who are put off by the queue to get in, queue to be seated and then the queue to order at the counter! I've been, i've seen and i've eaten, now i can cross it off my list...if i'd put it on the list that is!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

#7 Learn to cook Indian food

10 tips from World Curry Fest

Ok so I didn’t get on the cooking bus classes at the festival but I did pick up quite a few cooking tips from the 3 of 5 cooking demonstrations I managed to see.

1. When cooking a Thai curry boil the coconut milk first before adding the spices or curry paste

2. 2 options for cooking an Indian curry, Chef Oberoi cooked his sauce first then added the meat to cook into the sauce, Chef Moon cooked the meat in the oil and spices then added the remaining sauce ingredients.

3. Hemant Oberoi used corn oil as alternative to ghee, and rapeseed oil was used by Stephanie Moon, I take this to mean use whichever fat you prefer to cook with.

4. Oberoi also cooked in a saucepan, Indians preferring to use the flat bottomed pan or handi dishes, leaving the woks to be used by the Chinese (which is interesting as I always cook in wok)

5. When cooking with yoghurt you can either use it to marinade your meat in before cooking or add it to the pan after you have taken it off the heat – just before serving.

6. Cooking with spinach looks easy - tear up and add to the pan a few minutes before the end and let it reduce down into the curry. I’ve only eaten spinach once before, but the spinach in the pakoras from the food stall and the rhubarb chicken saag Stephanie cooked were both delicious so I am definelty going to give it a try.

7. I was pleased to discover that I add garam masala as an extra ingredient to my dishes just like Grand Master Chef Oberoi does!

8. When buying a whole chicken check if it free range by looking at the legs, caged chickens’ legs have black spots of ammonia from the droppings.

9. Wild wood sorrel has a delicious bramley apple flavour and can be used as a garnish, and its free form the forest! For more tips on foraging check out the wild cooks blog,

10. In Yorkshire we have our very own rhubarb triangle between Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield, and it’s well known for its production of top quality rhubarb! For all the rhubarb fans at curry fest who wanted the date of the 2011 Rhubarb festival, it will be taking place in Wakefield 26-27 February. For more details see the Experience Wakefield website,
There is also a facebook fan page,

Food festival lovers might also be interested in

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Yummy yummy curry,

I got love in my tummy!

The World Curry Festival celebrates 200 years of curry in Britain, marking the 200th anniversary of the first ever Indian restaurant, which opened in London in 1810. The festival was the first of its kind to celebrate all things curry. I went along to the event at Millennium Square in Leeds last weekend because a) I love curry and b) I want to learn how to cook yummy yummy curries myself, because jarred sauces never taste as good as the real thing.

The World Curry Fest promised curries from around the world; Thai curry, Malaysian curry, Caribbean curry, African curry – can you feel your mouth watering? tastebuds tingling? Visitors to the 3 day event like me were expecting the Extremely Good Curry Show - demos by celebrity chefs, curry on the Cooking Bus, a spice souk, and a restaurant offering ‘sumptuous dishes’.
I was really looking forward to a weekend of curry, the website sad it was a ticket only event, so I booked a ticket for myself and a friend online. I was disappointed to find that Friday was a corporate event – I mean Friday night curry, do I need to say more?! And at £6 a ticket and £1.65 to have your ticket e-mailed to you we opted to just go on the Saturday, so my weekend of curry was down to 1 day. But it was still with great anticipation and high expectations that I arrived at the event on Saturday morning…
Only to find that you could in fact buy your ticket on the door, ok so there was a 10 minute queue, but once you got inside the queues were so big that another 10 minutes wouldn’t have made much difference.
Once inside our first port of call was the Cooking Bus to sign up for cooking classes, which unfortunately were fully booked already. (4 classes with 12 places per class and over 4k attendees, the odds were against us.)

With the £6 entry fee I was expecting some hot food samples, and maybe a goody bag of spices and recipes to take home. But the only samples available were tastings of jarred sauces and chutneys on the stalls to encourage you to buy. And the only spices for sale were a prepacked range that are available in supermarkets. I was expecting something along the lines of an Asian supermarket with the exotic ingredients that are difficult to get hold of to make an authentic dish.

There was a massive queue for the bar but the Schmoo stall were very generous with samples of lassi yoghurt smoothies which were delicious ( Apparently they are available in Tesco, so might pick some up depending on the price. Having paid to get in I was reluctant to spend too much in there, but obviously one of the reasons for going was to eat! We queued for 20 mins for a spinach and potato pakora, which whilst delicious and reasonably priced at £1 didn’t really touch the sides.
The sumptuous restaurant was in fact a buffet, £5 for 4 curries seemed like a good deal until we saw the size of the portions, and the size of the queue. So we opted for a bit of Malaysian chicken curry with coconut rice from Jennie Cook’s stall for £3.50, which was a nice coconutty, slightly creamy curry with a mild spice and smooth flavour. But it wasn’t the feast I’d been dreaming about, and the £10.50 I’d spent all together at the event would’ve been better spent on a takeaway from my local Indian.

The Extremely Good Curry Show was also a let down, I’ve never heard of any of the ‘celebrity chefs’. Grand Master Chef Oberoi from the Taj hotel chain was supposed to be showcasing his signature dishes that he is world famous for. Instead he made a recipe with beetroot that he’d never made before. The Thai demonstration was more of a ‘here’s on I made earlier’, with commentary like ‘add the paste – we make our own but you can buy a jar from the supermarket’ and ‘add the meat, we are using lamb that we’ve already braised.’ (What I want to know is how to make my own paste, how to braise the meet, is it braised with any spices?)
The demonstration by Stephanie Moon (the British Culinary Federation’s Chef of the Year) was excellent, it did make me laugh that she was advising us to buy a whole chicken as its cheaper if you make use of the whole chicken than buying pieces, and in the current economic climate every penny counts – this to us mugs that had just paid £6 to get in!

I will be writing a secondary blog post with the tips that I did learn from the deomos to be filed under #7 on my list to learn to cook Indian food.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Once upon a time...

Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale of all.
-Hans Christian Andersen-

One upon a time, in land far far away (well, Yorkshire) lived a girl called Louise. Louise is a normal girl, living in a normal little flat in a normal little town. Without a Prince Charming or knight in shining armour in sight to rescue her from a wicked witch or a fire breathing dragon Louise set about writing herself a magical list to incite excitement into her life. (Because lets face it wouldn’t life be much more exciting if houses were made of gingerbread, the sea was full of mermaids, liars noses grew like Pinnochio’s and we all had a pair of ruby slippers to transport us home!)

Louise sent her list into the realms of cyberspace to be posted to her blog. On its way to Louise’s List encountered a rogue Trojan horse loose in the blogsphere. The friendly looking Trojan was offering tempting but cursed cookies to passers by. Louise’s List succumbed to the allure of the cookie, with one bite and a crash of lightning the evil spell of the Internet Kingdom was cast. To break the spell Louise must complete all 30 tasks on her list before midnight on the day of her 30th year of birth or be turned into a toad!

Louise’s List

1. Hot air ballooning
2. Ride in a helicopter (hopefully over somewhere spectacular)
3. Wine tasting
4. Cocktail making
5. Alexander technique classes
6. Get fit and I mean really fit
7. Learn to cook Indian food
8. Become a brand manager/marketing manager
9. Earn £30k (at least)
10. Watch a TV show being filmed
11. See someone iconic in concert
12. TEFL course
13. Learn to ski/snowboard
14. Add another 2 countries to the visited list
15. Watch a major sporting event
16. Publish a magazine article
17. Learn another language/do something with my French

18. Learn to design a website/use design software
19. Belly dancing or cheerleading class
20. Tea at the Ritz
21. Iceskate on an outdoor rink at Christmas
22. Ride a Lambretta
23. Start a pension
24. Visit UK’s top ten beaches
25. Blackpool Illuminations
26. Last night of the proms (prob proms in the park)

27. Bridal dress shopping (for the laugh)
28. TV/film extra or gameshow contestant
29. Read top 10 classic books
30. Take part in a Guinness Book of Records event

Follow Louise’s journey towards toadsville here at