Monday, 7 December 2015

I Should Cocoa....

I had a trip to York recently with my other half, staying for a couple of nights, with a visit to York Cocoa House very much on the cards.  I have been there once before and never appreciated that the day of our visit coincided with the fourth anniversary of the Cocoa House opening - I could have sworn that our last visit was further back, but obviously not - sure sign that I'm getting old.  Rather like the Chocolate Story, it feels like something York should always have had, given it's chocolate heritage.  The Cocoa House looks old fashioned, which I rather like, has a menu that offers a number of different types of hot chocolate and various edibles.  I went for the medium dark hot chocolate (which came with a salted caramel truffle on the side), and a chocolate and cherry scone for good measure. As it was about eight hours before I ate anything else, chocolate over-load was not really something I was going to feel guilty about, especially as it was all so good. More visits in future I think to work my way through those different varieties of hot chocolate.

The truffle never made it....
The venue for coffee the day before was Lucky Days on Parliament Street - a good sticky orange and chocolate cake was had there. Nice, cheery staff too, and a recipe up on the blackboard in the café for their blueberry and orange scones. This seemed to be a trip where we tried out new places to eat - Strada on Low Petergate and Jinnahs on Micklegate - pretty decent, but I will return to some of the haunts of recent years next time round.
It did make me think though how, when I was a schoolgirl, eating out was not something I was familiar with, and, even visits to York in the late eighties/early nineties proved that the city was not particularly blessed with the number of decent restaurants and cafes it has now. I remember as a schoolgirl paying a visit to a Wimpey Bar (remember them?) to blow my pocket money on an apple pie and, expecting a nice wedge of pastry filled with chunks of apple, I was shocked to get a strange rectangular slab of something masquerading as pastry, filled with molten apple sauce. Don't think I ever went near a Wimpey Bar again!  I also had my worst baked potato experience in York some years later - a greasy object that appeared to have fallen in the fat fryer - to add insult to injury, the cook managed to burn it too!  The café is still there, but, as it has changed hands I wouldn't dream of naming names.  Likewise the restaurant where an incident that involved plates of food being knocked to the floor by an over-zealous front of house manager - the food being quickly scooped up and finding it's way back to our table - has also changed hands in the intervening years (and probably flooring too!). Eating out in my hometown is now infinitely more enjoyable and something I look forward to.

The trip to York wasn't solely food-orientated - there was a visit to some of my family, a jazz gig at the National Centre for Early Music and a trip to the pictures to see Lady in the Van, oh and some Christmas shopping to boot.  I must admit that the only purchase at the Christmas market was three nice Wensleydale cheeses, and a very pleasant mulled wine.

While I enjoyed the trip, I was quite happy to be home again and getting some more baking in - bread this time.

A little oddly shaped, but tasty!
I love making bread, love the smell of it baking, particularly when it has cheese in the mixture like this.  Now some recipes I will follow to the letter, but some times I substitute an ingredient or two or just use the bare bones of a recipe to do something completely different.  The bread was a case in point, from "How to Bake" by Paul Hollywood, the recipe is for a bacon and Cheddar loaf, so I substitute a healthy handful of sun-dried tomatoes for the bacon - not the type in oil, but ones that need to be soaked.  I cover the tomatoes with boiling water and leave for about half and hour, drain, pat dry with kitchen paper and add to the dough along with the cheese. A little bit of heaven!

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