Posts tagged ‘chocolate’

April 8, 2013

Seed and Bean Chocolate from Millies, Leeds.

Easter has come and gone for another year and with it, an enormous quantity of chocolate has been consumed by my kids. I fight a losing battle when it comes to chocolate, particularly with my daughter. Even if I’ve bought it specifically for myself, she usually ends up eating most of it! I think I’m too much of a pushover. However, this Easter, I planned to secret some away for myself. Grown up chocolate from Seed and Bean – just for me. Or so I thought …

Seed and Bean are chocolatiers with a difference, as they are one of the very few ethical chocolate producers in Britain. It’s organic, fairly traded and sustainably produced. Excellent stuff. Award winning too – they’re rated as 100% ethical by the Ethical Company Organisation.  But to be honest, although that is a wonderful result, it doesn’t help if the chocolate itself isn’t great. Their five Great Taste Awards suggest that it is actually really good.  Which is why I was excited to be given the chance, thanks to the brilliant Millies in Leeds to try some of their wide range of chocolate for myself.

After some deliberation, I chose Creamy White Chocolate with Lemon and Poppy Seeds, Rich Milk Chocolate with Sicilian Hazelnut and Almond and Extra Dark Chocolate (72% cocoa) with Pumpkin Seeds and Hemp Oil. If I’m honest, I was choosing rather more grown up flavours especially to make sure they’d be less attractive to my Dairy Milk loving daughter!  Other flavours include lavender, espresso, cardamon, and chilli and lime, alongside the more usual white, milk and dark, so it would make a good gift choice for a serious food lover too.

Beautiful chocolate. Image courtesy of Seed and Bean and Millies.

Beautiful chocolate. Image courtesy of Seed and Bean and Millies.

And, let me say, the taste does not disappoint either. First to be eaten was the White Chocolate with Lemon and Poppy Seeds. I sometimes find white chocolate too sickly-sweet, but the lemon oil helps to somehow cut through that sweetness and the little savoury crunch of poppy seeds continues that. This one was my favourite of the three that I tried. The fabulous Jo Murricane made white chocolate mousse with this chocolate, which sounds amazing. Might have to give it a go myself!

Then, the Rich Milk Chocolate with Sicilian Hazelnut and Almond. I didn’t actually open this one myself. It was opened for me. The conversation went something like this:

“I’ve had some of your chocolate”

“Well, that’s ok – what did you think of it?”

‘Erm … It’s really good. I might have actually eaten quite a lot of it …”

“It’s nearly all gone! I’ve only been out of the room for five minutes!”

“Well, like I said,  It’s really nice.”

After which I made damn sure that I got to try some for myself, before it all vanished. And, he wasn’t wrong. It is really good. Smooth, rich and creamy, with a lovely light taste of the nuts it contains. Very moreish too. Obviously. So, my cunning plan foiled, it appears it’s not just my children who eat all my chocolate. I could sulk, but I suppose that it’s a good way of demonstrating how great tasting it is – so good it gets stolen from me by my loved ones!

The final chocolate of the three I tried was the 72% dark chocolate with Pumpkin Seeds and Hemp Oil. This is definitely a grown up chocolate, to be eaten slowly, a square at a time. Definitely not a chocolate to be wolfed down in one go (which is a good job, otherwise I’d never get any!) it has an unusual, somewhat savoury flavour, but I liked it. I also think it’d be an interesting chocolate to cook with.

Having tried these three very different flavours of chocolate, I’ll definitely go back to Millies for more, assuming that I find a decent enough hiding place to keep it …

March 23, 2012

Dumouchel: A French Bakery in Leeds

I love Paris and I love French bakeries. On our regular pilgrimage to Paris, I spend an extraordinary amount of time thinking about food. One of the absolute pleasures to be had in the city is to buy yourself a basic picnic; bread from the baker, cheese from a fromagerie, tomatoes from one of the many street markets, and then spend some leisurely time in a park, watching the city go by as you munch your way through it all.

Luckily for me, I don’t have to go all the way to France to enjoy the pleasure that is great French bread, because I live near Dumouchel. Based in Garforth, east Leeds, Dumouchel supply some of the independent cafes and lunch places that are dotted around the city so you may have eaten their lovely bread without even realising it. I’m lucky enough to visit quite regularly. When my brother and sister in law moved house, I bought her a platter of tiny, perfect patisserie for their house warming party. At a birthday gathering this year we had a Dumouchel chocolate torte. Impossibly shiny and perfect on top, decorated with chocolate curls, it was a deliciously grown up alternative to a cake. I’m planning to ask for a citrus one for my own birthday (a note to my lovely husband!)

On my last visit, I couldn’t resist treating myself to a handful of macaron, in rose, violet and lavender. A delicate, sophisticated series of flavours, I loved them all. I was also given a free baguette by the lovely people in the shop, which we all shared. It was the perfect French baguette and evoked lots of lovely memories of wandering around my favourite city. Thankfully, I can return to Dumouchel rather more easily than Paris, so I’ll be going again very soon…

February 3, 2012

Little Luxuries.

I’m saving up for holidays, paying off debts and trying to keep myself cheerful just by thinking of the sunshine and beaches to come. These long grey January days, with no sunshine in sight, can leave me pretty gloomy. I’ve been trying to come up with ways to cheer myself up, without spending a lot of money. All too often it feels as though you have to spend money to indulge yourself, but really time and effort are more important.

Some of my favourite little luxuries:

  • A walk in the woods, especially now the snowdrops are in bloom. Even when it’s cold, they lift the spirits.
  • A crisp new edition of a favourite magazine.
  • Spending some time on the sofa with a newly chosen novel from my local library.
  • A small posy of flowers. I’ve tidied up my bedside cabinet and bought a small bunch of pink tulips. Just looking at them every morning cheers me up.
  • A few, good quality chocolates – these ones are chocolate BAFTAs! I went into Hotel Chocolat for my usual treat of Florentines and got distracted by these. At the moment, I cannot bear to eat them. That feeling won’t last…
  • A bubble bath without interruptions. A bit of peace is a huge luxury when you have small children.
  • A proper face to face chat with a friend. Preferably with the addition of cake or wine.
  • Making time to watch good quality television programmes. My current favourites: Borgen, Stella and New Girl.
  • Giving myself a manicure or pedicure with a bright, cheerful polish.
  • A home spa using all the little samples I’ve been collecting – I’ll have even more of these now I’ve signed up to Glossy Box and I will enjoy taking time to use and review everything they send me.

What are your little luxuries? I’d love to compile a list of things to choose from when I’m feeling gloomy and in need of cheering up without spending a fortune…