Month: January 2015

Burns Night

Burns Night is upon us – the annual celebration of Scotland’s greatest poet, Robert Burns. Every year on his birthday (January 25th) friends and families all over the world (but especially in Scotland) get together to enjoy each other’s company with traditional Scottish food. For over 200 years, this custom has been taking place in homes and halls from the Highlands to the Lowlands and beyond. The tradition is to tuck into Haggis, tatties, neeps (washed down with a wee dram of whiskey of course) to warm up a wet, windy and wild January night. So I thought it would be another good reason to go to my local village pub to enjoy their Burns Supper – The Queen O’ T’ Thatch in South Milford, and did they do a good job? Brilliant Saturday evening, with friendly attention, complete with log fire and top-notch four course Scottish menu. Each dish was paired with its whiskey and tasting notes were provided. Here are my choices from the menu: Teaser – Haggis, neeps and tatties Starter – …

January in the Garden

When I migrated back to North Yorkshire, a garden was on the ‘must have’ list, where I could get back to nature and enjoy being outdoors. But I didn’t want to be tied to home with a grass cutting routine in the summer months, so my new garden had to be low maintenance but full of greenery. So this is how it began a year and a half ago. With a little help from of a local landscape gardener, we came up with a plan….raised patio, and sleeper beds, and a gravel path leading to an imaginary place! This little courtyard garden is evolving, as gardens do, and here it is in January. It looks a bit empty and I sometimes feel the urge to rush to the garden centre and fill it up! But gardens, like life, cannot be full throttle, all bells and whistles all the time otherwise we (and they) would very soon become exhausted husks. So a bit of down time, and no great urgency to get out and garden! But …

The Tea Lounge in Tadcaster

I recently found a hidden gem of a cafe in Tadcaster serving great light meals and appealing cakes. Just the place to catch up with dear friends over a cuppa. The Tea Lounge is situated off the main street in the delightful market town of Tadcaster surrounded by beautiful North Yorkshire countryside. Just the place to stop off should you be driving up the A1 or A64 towards York. The Tea Lounge is quaint and beautifully decorated. The overall charm-factor though is the staff. The lady running front of house was extremely welcoming and chatty. This lunchtime was busy and bustling, full of locals, and we were glad a table for two had been booked. Special of the day was bacon, Brie and cranberry toastie served with a salad garnish. I must add that the cakes looked amazing, home baked from recipes passed down from the owner’s grandmother…I resisted temptation, but thoughts now are of going back for afternoon tea. Look out for the mouse on the floor near the skirting board – don’t worry …

Katy’s White Lavender Cheese For Lunch

The other day I wrote about accepting that January will never be the cheeriest of months. Even though I do miss the sunshine sometimes, the dark months can bring me calmness and peace, especially when I can light up lots of candles and hunker down and write. Maybe the sun today put a smile on my face and a spring in my step, and I decided a healthy salad would be ideal for a working lunch. I also promised a review of Shepherds Purse Katy’s White Lavender cheese. Katy’s White lavender is a lovely fresh white sheep milk cheese that has been rolled in English lavender to mature. The maturation period allows the lavender to infuse through the cheese. The result is a delicate fragrant taste combining with the meadowy sweetness of the ewe’s milk cheese. So I thought, perfect as an addition to a lunch salad. Simply toss grapes onto peppery rocket leaves, crumble over Katy’s White Lavender cheese, top with toasted flaked almonds and a drizzle of honey and mustard dressing. This combination …

January Soother – Ginger, Lemon and Honey

It’s January and if you’re anything like me, you will feel slightly drab. That sluggish feeling that clothes are just slightly too tight, a touch too tired and spring is an awful long way off. Something needs to be done about it, right? A little bit of inner cleansing maybe, nothing drastic, just some small changes. This is not the time for salads, but giving our systems a little bit of a break is a good idea, and staying warm and cosy has to be a priority at this time of the year. So, what could be better than enjoying a nice, hot cuppa? I’m not talking about a cup of builders brew, something a little healthier, and something that will help your system to recover from all those chocolates, biscuits, turkey sandwiches and alcohol. Here are a few herbs and ingredients that will help you on the way, and will hopefully give you some of your pre-Christmas bounce back. Ginger has healing and detoxifying properties which help to cleanse the built up toxins in …

Harrogate Blue Cheese, and Soup

I promised to review the award winning Shepherds Purse cheeses I bought recently, from a Yorkshire dairy of course! They have been sitting in my fridge resisting my temptation to nibble, and what a lovely surprise I had when I opened the truckle of Harrogate Blue – coloured with annatto to give it a bright golden paste! Harrogate Blue is a golden bodied soft blue cheese made with milk from classy Yorkshire cows. It is so soft and creamy, with a mellow blue flavour, and a hint of pepper. Shepherds Purse, a dairy based near Thirsk, launched Harrogate Blue in 2012, and it was so successful, it quickly won the first of many awards. It is matured for a minimum of 10 weeks to give the cheeses the time to develop the depth of flavour and creaminess. Every batch is made by hand on the family farm in North Yorkshire. You can buy this cheese via their website, and in specialist delis as well as being a mainstay on many menus served by top hotels, …

New Year in London

Happy New Year! Grey Goose flew south from North Yorkshire to celebrate the New Year in London. Of course there was tea drinking, some strolling, some sightseeing, staying on a yacht hotel, and contemplating goals for 2015. Sunborn Yacht Hotel at Royal Victoria Dock A new and novel way to stay in the Docklands area, is on this graceful yacht with full propulsion but designed to be permanently moored. The approach to the yacht is rather grand as it sits there overlooking Excel Square, in rather a funky location. The staff were impeccably dressed and welcoming, top-notch accommodation. The venue was spotless and gleaming and perfect for seeing in the New Year. At midnight we were surrounded by fireworks across the river.   http://www.sunbornhotels.com Visit to Tower Bridge on New Year’s Eve Spanning the North and South Towers, the high-level walkways, 42 metres above the Thames are reached by a lift. Note: Long queue! There are spectacular views of the Shard, the Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the City from the West Walkway, …