Moments – The North’s Coffee Community, pt VI

Just off Swinegate, opposite Malmaison there’s a very unassuming coffee shop that I have wandered passed countless times without realising. Only when compiling my list for my series on The Coffee Community I came across Moments on the web. 

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Moments is owned by Agne who worked for a coffee shops chain for many years, working her way up though the ranks. About ten years ago when working in Buckinghamshire, she regularly served an elderly couple who gave her the impetus she needed to follow her dream she hadn’t realised was there hidden away. They gave her a £10 pound note as an investment to start it up the business, in monetary terms £10 doesn’t go that far these days, but it was this symbolic gesture that was the catalyst for what was to follow. This now sits proudly in the coffee shop as a reminder as to what started this journey for Agne.

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For Agne its not just about the coffee, a major factor for them is ensuring customers are made to feel welcome and comfortable. After just spending a short amount of time at Moments it was clear to see that people do, and even when I was there customers were praising the service they got very openly.

One of the strings they have to their bow is that virtually all the food on their menu is cooked from fresh ingredients in their kitchen, with Vilius, Agne’s brother a trained chef in charge. They have come up with a food menu that had plenty of choice, ranging from breakfast, omelettes, porridge, crepes, sandwiches and chef’s specials. Also from the support of Laura, Vilius’ girlfriend, who is also a trained barista they form a good team who really want the business to succeed. 

Being an independent business they feel that supporting local businesses like them is important, so all their meat and eggs are sourced directly from local Yorkshire farmers.

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The coffee has been sourced and roasted at Bradford Roasters Limini, where they have produced their own blend.

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Even all the cakes they sell are homemade and produced in the kitchen by Vilius.

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From just a short space of time spent with the team here at Moments I felt very welcome, it’s really obvious  that they care a lot about the service they offer, whether it’s the coffee, the food or their relationship with the customer. 

If you ever walk by Malmaison, take a look across the road you’ll see it, pop in side and give them a chance if you haven’t already.

Moments
8 Swinegate
Leeds
West Yorkshire
LS1 4AG
0113 244 6818
https://www.facebook.com/MomentsCoffeeLtd?fref=ts
https://twitter.com/Moments_Coffee
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Afternoon Tea @ Dulcie Butterfly, Swillington, Leeds

For those of you who are regular readers of the blog, you’d know that I’ve been searching for the best Afternoon Tea in Leeds. So far, there have been highs and lows, mostly highs which is a good thing, but I’m still on the hunt! So after a short hiatus I’m back on the case and continuing my search with a tea room called Dulcie Butterfly.

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During the February half term school holidays, in between marking a boot full of books and catching up with old friends, I visited Dulcie Butterfly, a small tea room in Swillington. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the area, Swillington is a small leafy village on the edge of Leeds. 

With my regular dining partners having other commitments, good old Twitter came to the rescue and found me a partner in crime for the afternoon. This came in the welcome form of Lynn Hill, the lady who set up and runs the renowned Clandestine Cake Club, definitely a person who knows her stuff when it comes to baked goods! After a few correspondences we met at Dulcie Butterfly in a small residential area, not where I expected to find at all. 

From the outside it’s quite deceptive and only gives you a hint of the interior to this tea room. Once inside you are surrounded by lots of ornaments, keepsakes and interior decorations. It’s a complete treasure trove of trinkets, with many of them being purchased on Dulcie’s trips in Europe.

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I immediately found Dulcie very charming and full of life, with the interior maybe being a reflection of her personality. After being seated at our table which had lovely crockery all laid out, Dulcie offered us a pot of tea, what a good start. You can’t have afternoon tea without a good pot of tea, we were pleased to see it was Yorkshire Tea as well!! 

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We quickly settled into our surroundings, with our Yorkshire tea setting us up nicely for the pretty 2 tier cake stand Dulcie brought holding sandwiches, cakes and scones!

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First we tucked into the sandwiches – cheese and onion and ham and cheese, made with very soft bread and were generously filled. The tea was going down well and Dulcie happily gave us a fresh pot of tea when we were running out, a lovely touch.

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Next we worked our way onto the fruit scones which were filled with jam and cream. Crumbly without falling completely to bits in your hand, very delicious and well made. Lastly we had cake to finish off our lovely afternoon, a coffee cake and my absolute favourite; classic Victoria Sponge. Again regular readers may know how fond I am of this cake, so much so it was the top tier on our wedding cake! When done well, there’s much not to beat it and this was done really well. Compliments to the baker, who happens to be a food technology teacher friend from the local school.

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I personally enjoyed our afternoon very much indeed, the place maybe petite, but Dulcie’s personality makes up for this and is infectious, she obviously enjoys what she does and it shows. Each part of our tea was well made and tasted great. With plenty of Yorkshire tea to wash it down with, it’s certainly a lovely way to spend the afternoon with friends!

It may not be in the middle of Leeds, but it’s definitely worth a little jaunt out, I would be more than happy bringing my friends here!

Afternoon tea is £11 – £15 depending on date and time (after 2pm on Saturdays – £15) per person.

Disclaimer: I was invited by Dulcie to review the venue so my afternoon tea was complimentary, this was done of course, in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.

Dulcie Butterfly
16 Woodlands Drive
Swillington
Leeds 
LS26 8DW
07949891551
www.dulciebutterflyuk.com

Dulcie Butterfly on Urbanspoon

Beef & Bourbon @ RARE, Leeds

I love food, obviously, but I have to admit I’m not the best when it comes to sharing, which I know is a little silly as this is one of it’s beauties. So to my delight I heard that RARE were doing something called RARE TASTE WEDNESDAYS, where each week the menu would comprise 4 tasting courses using one animal, accompanied with a flight of cocktails inspired by one spirit. If we were all eating the same thing, no sharing would be required and being the carnivore that I am, it would be hopefully a win win situation, woohoo!! Myself and a friend were treated to the Beef and Bourbon Tasting menu, and as a courtesy I should probably mention that we had been invited by RARE that evening.

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Before the meal I could imagine the first three courses, but a dessert using BEEF as the star ingredient….my mind was struggling to come to terms with what might be put in front of us.

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The first course was brought in a kilner jar, which once opened released a puff of smoke, I liked the smoked oxtail which was as tender as you like, but I didn’t get much of the celeriac. The Cherry Lips drink didn’t last very long at all and was lovely and sweet.  

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The second course was a mixed bag for myself and dining partner, on the positives the beef was incredibly tender and the fennel came through well. On the negatives I found the bourbon hard to detect, and whilst the orange I liked, my friend found it too overpowering. 

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As for the third course, this was the one we both loved, no question! The beef was cooked to perfection and was flavourful, the onion macaroni was a good, unusual accompaniment which I really liked. To go with this we were given the ‘Travelling Bootlegger’ which had was a combination of cherry brandy and bourbon – delicious.

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For our final course I’d wondered how they would incorporate beef into a dessert, I couldn’t really see it myself. What they brought over was a date sponge with toffee sauce and slithers of sweet cured beef. The sponge was lovely, but it took me a while to get my head around eating beef in a dessert, for me it’s texture didn’t quite work and it was all a little too sweet for my taste.

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The last of these RARE TASTE WEDNESDAYS is on Wednesday 25th February, when they will be serving 4 courses with Lamb and Rum. It certainly was an experience I won’t forget, it may not have worked on all levels for me, but it’s great to see a restaurant pushing the boundaries and keeping people’s taste buds on their toes.

Disclaimer: I was invited by RARE that evening so my meal was complimentary, but as usual my views are my own.  

Saying that at £30 per person, it’s pretty good value considering you get a 4 course meal and 4 cocktails to boot!!

RARE
163 Lower Briggate
Leeds
LS1 6LY
http://www.eatdrinkrare.com 

Rare on Urbanspoon

Mrs Atha’s – The North’s Coffee Community, pt IV

The start of my series on The North’s coffee community concentrated on Leeds’ three original independents, now I’d like to focus on more recently established coffee haunts.

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Mrs Atha’s opened in October 2012 by owners Jonathan and Warren. Found around the back of House of Fraser, Mrs Atha’s has quickly become one of the most quirky and interesting independent coffee shops to have opened in recent years. With such established shops almost with landmark status in Leeds coffee, Mrs Atha’s has had to find it own way into the hearts and minds of Leeds folk.

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They’ve completely transformed a space into a beautiful coffee shop, with a boutiquey ambience, reminiscent of a bohemian New York vibe that’s just perfect for relaxing in. The team at Mrs Atha’s want it to be somewhere you can eat, drink, socialise, read, plug in your Macbook and work if necessary. With dimmed lighting and even table lamps, Wifi and plug sockets a plenty it’s tailor made for this. With the combination of great coffee and food in the mix, it’s sounds pretty good – don’t you think?

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The interior is slightly bohemian, with a feel of the industrial about it. One large wall is left with exposed red brick and a statement RSJ beam handsomely frames the displayed art work, whereas the opposite wall counterbalances this with some sort of polished plaster (stucco). Complete with quirky, yet functional furniture, it’s definitely a place to spend a few hours in very relaxed surroundings. They are also blessed to have extra seating downstairs, which also houses their open kitchen.

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OK, so what about the coffee, well this is expertly sourced and selected by the team. With Scott who’s previously worked at La Bottega Milanese, and Matt the two main men when it comes to the coffee they have baristas with a tonne of knowledge, in some cases to the point of obsession with the drink. They use their own blend of coffee from roasters Has-Bean and often host guest coffees.

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The knowledge and attention to detail they have I found incredible. In my limited time learning more about the drink, I’d never met a full-on coffee geek till I met Matt, a self-confessed coffee connoisseur/aficionado. This is where it gets scientific! To get the perfect cup each time they have fine-tuned their coffee depending on the amount of TDS in each shot of coffee, that’s ‘total dissolved solids’ to you and me. Knowing exactly the precise parameters to work with so the % TDS fall within a certain range – resulting in a coffee that has undergone optimum extraction and possesses the perfect balance between bitterness and sweetness etc. I also learned the importance of water temperature and for this they have an Über boiler (LOVE the name). It delivers exact volumes of water at exact temperatures, giving the barista control over different parameters for each individual cup. They also recently bought a serious bit of kit – the EK-43 grinder which has the ability to grind beans into a whole array of finenesses, allowing coffee to have a greater level of clarity and definition. All VERY GEEKY!!

I NEVER had any inclination whatsoever that coffee was so scientific. Being a so-called science teacher in my normal, boring life I found this really interesting and it made me want to find out more, so I even spent time looking it up!!  I don’t think I’ll turn into a coffee geek just yet, but it was a little addictive researching it!

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With Warren’s interest in interiors, it’s no surprise that Mrs Atha’s are a big supporter of local artists and always have work displayed for sale. Some may think the space is a little pretentious, but as an ardent art/museum/exhibition lover I really liked the aesthetic it provides the space with. 

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On the food side they showcase local producers, such as That Old Chestnut with a selection of Vegan cakes and their bread comes from Bondgate Bakery. The have a very supportive network, including family friends who bake much loved cakes for Mrs Atha’s, and they are so good that they have built up of following of visitors who come not necessarily for the type of cake, but because it’s made by this particular person. A great testament to the baker I think!
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A good selection of loose leaf teas are also available, which they are proud to know their exact provenance, drunk from one of their gorgeous vintage tea cups, and a slice of cake…ahhhh lovely!
They have plans to drive Mrs Atha’s forward in the future – last year they had a pop-up restaurant which went down really well. So they’d like to build on this with more of an emphasis on dining, not just cakes and sandwiches which they already do. I hear they already serve cracking breakfasts and lunches, I really need to try out these for myself ASAP!
Other possible plans include holding events/courses to educate about the nuances and technical side to making a great cup. With Scott and Matt’s knowledge and passion I’m sure these courses will be very popular.
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I’ve been a number of times and I must admit the coffee is pretty great. Whatever they do with the whole science/coffee geekery it certainly works! The people at Mrs Atha’s are lovely, friendly and interesting. Always wearing a fab selection of hats and more than willing to educate and inform the customer, which I really like. 

Mrs Atha’s

Central Road
Leeds
LS1 6DE
http://mrsathasleeds.com/
Opening Hours: Monday-Tuesday 9am-6pm, Wednesday 8am-6pm, Thursday-Saturday 9am-10pm, Sunday 10am-5pm.

Wakefield Festival of Food, Drink and Rhubarb 2014

This year’s food festival calendar has started with one of the first being on Leeds’ doorstep Wakefield. After working there for 11 years I’ve never gone before, and knowing that Wakefield’s part of the famous Yorkshire rhubarb triangle, I decided to see what would be on show.

Some of the best regional producers had come to celebrate the tradition of Forced Rhubarb to the full, also being showcased were a number of other well respected producers of meat, cheese, bread, chutney and honey.

The first stall I saw had to be a rhubarb one with E. Oldroyd & Sons Ltd. being one the largest producers of rhubarb, the family has 5 generations of experience in forced rhubarb production.

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On my wander around a plethora of stalls, the place was heaving with locals sampling tasters and many holding bunches of beautifully pink rhubarb.

Here’s a selection of many of the food producers, I’ve tried to include as many as possible, but apologise for any I’ve missed out!

A selection of sweet and savoury pies, including Rhubarb and Raspberry and Pork and Rhubarb from Award winning Farmer Copleys Farm Shop, based at Ravensknowle Farm,  Purston, Pontefract.

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Family run Rose Cottage Pantry, from the East Riding brought along their traditionally made, handcrafted pies and savouries.

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Award winning honey from Stickey’s, the Wakefield based family honey producers.

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Two gentlemen from Albion Artisan Foods, based in Epworth near Doncaster were selling their Great Taste award winning products, amongst them their honey, marmalade and pate.

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A fantastic range of Yorkshire Cyders, including rhubarb, raspberry and blackcurrant from Moorland Farm, based in the East Riding area of East Newbald. 

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Wakefield’s own Bier Huis, the purveyor of specialist real ale and craft beer had a wide range of beverages, many from Yorkshire and of course some of which were rhubarb based!

imageRhubarb Triangle Farm Shop at Green End Farm in Carlton with the selection of jams, Rhubarb shortbread pie and Rhubarb and Custard crumble.

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Wonderful brownies from North Yorkshire artisan bakers Brown & Blond!!

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Leeds’ own Hepworth’s Deli showcasing a selection of yummy delights.

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Good old Rapeseed Oil from Yorkshire Drizzle and Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil was on show.

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Dewsbury based Curry Cuisine were selling their award winning chutneys and sauces.

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The Cherry Tree, a family run business from Dorset had a fantastically colourful display of their chutneys, jams, curds and marmalades.

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A selection of baked goods from Botham’s of Whitby, they’d brought a number of different Brack’s, which to my detriment I hadn’t heard of before.

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Continental Cottage with their a huge array of salami and chorizos,  selling them to the masses by the bag.

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Round Green Farm, the Yorkshire Venison Company from Barnsley were on hand to sell their fantastic selection of Venison products, including Venison liver pate, pies and fresh meats.

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Gourmet sausage rolls from Warwickshire based The Pig in the Middle, such as Pork and English Mustard and Simply Pork, which I bought one of. I think I’m a pretty good judge of a tasty sausage roll having a spent two summers making them on and off at while at university. Golden, crisp, but flaky pastry and the filling well seasoned, and even though it was just pork, it wasn’t too meaty like some I’ve had in the past with high meat contents.

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Yummy baked goods from Ripon’s award winning Sawley Kitchen were on display with their varieties of homemade shortbreads, giant Meringue and biscuits. I bought a pack of Rhubarb and Custard shortbread and they were utterly delicious, lovely and crumbly, not too sweet and I definitely got the rhubarb and custard too. Great with or without a cup of tea!

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The Little Red Berry Co. from Ripon with their delightful sweet blended alcoholic liqueurs, which came in a range of varieties such as Raspberry gin an Rhubarb vodka. Utterly yummy, with a hint of rhubarb in the background. 

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All in all a good afternoon was spent having a nosey at the wonderful produce, meeting some lovely people, having a giggle with Ruby Rhubarb and coming away with a few little gems.

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What a fantastic start to my jaunt around this year’s food festivals, I’m looking forward to the next one already!

Wakefield Food Festival