Tag Archives: bakery

A Canteen, Chelmsford 

A couple of weekends ago my life revolved around the Hackney Half marathon, a couple of friends and I had entered the race and the day before was spent trying our best to prepare, basically eating as many carbs as possible!! All in the hopes of being able to trudge around (in my case) the streets in and around Hackney the best we could. Our plan; to spend Saturday carbing up at their home in Chelmsford, then travel to Hackney early Sunday morning for the race. It’s a good job our friends love eating out as much as I do and had a suggestion up their sleeve, a place called A Canteen. An independent family run business that started off as a cafe and moved into larger premises in February.  On first impressions, this place wasn’t just a canteen, the space also housed a coffee shop/grocery, a bar and homeware/lifestyle shop! All of this under one roof!

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It was soon obvious the place was a popular one, bustling with people, many tables were occupied and staff were bezzing around. Soon informed we could sit at a table, but there’d be a 25 minute wait for food, we took this into consideration, but were happy to wait as reports from their previous base had been good by all accounts. 

Drinks were ordered including a Bloody Mary and a few coffees, all arriving in time for our food order to be taken. The place has a varied lunch day menu, whether it be their all-day breakfast, a selection of sandwiches, wraps, salads, bigger plates such as fish and chips, burgers, also pizzas. 

For most of us carbing up was the priority so we went for sandwiches and baps, also some extras of roasted squash salad, sweet potato wedges and chips. The drinks were going down well, in particular the Bloody Mary which was very good with a good mix of sourness and spice and the coffee. Made using beans from local roasters The Coffee Officina, it was excellent and also a lovely surprise!! I remember first enjoying their coffee at a cupping in Leeds’ own La Bottega Milanese a few months ago, liking it so much I brought a bag home. 

  

The space became very full while we waited, virtually all tables became occupied and our waiting time was longer than expected, more than 35 minutes. When our food was brought across, it would’ve been nice for a ‘I’m sorry for the long wait’ sort of comment but nothing. Oh well. 

Portion sizes were decent, but there was another wait for the other half’s food (which an apology was given for) – some hiccup because the chef hadn’t paid careful enough attention to his order; asking for a lamb burger with gluten free bread, preferring sliced bread to the focaccia it should have been served, as it would’ve been laden with it. Also I found the idea of focaccia being used for a burger an odd choice, I may be wrong, but that’s just my opinion. After all that palaver, the lamb burger ended up being swapped for the Moroccan spiced lamb sandwich instead! When he finally got it, it fell apart as the sliced bread which was soft, a definite plus with gluten free bread broke apart easily when trying to hold/eat it. The lamb itself was well spiced and tasty enough.

Roasted squash, chilli & pomegranate salad
Poached salmon sandwich with lemon mayonnaise and watercress
Moroccan spiced lamb sandwich with chips

Portion wise, I was really happy with mine and there was a similar view across the table. My pork bap came with lots of chips and the bap was filled generously with pulled pork shoulder, stuffing, apple sauce and tomato. On taste, the pork shoulder lacked a little flavour but was moist, it benefitted from the stuffing which did its best to add what was missing. The chips were great, crisp, golden and fluffy on the inside!! After eating it all, I was pretty full and definitely needed a break afterwards. 

Slow roasted shoulder of pork bap with chips

Overall, I really liked the concept and the cool space they’ve created. The food in general was good, tasty and filling, however there were a couple of niggles which need ironing out, possibly a consequence of how busy they are. The speed of service is an obvious area for improvement, with the potential for a large number of covers to be served at any one time, they found it difficult to keep up the pace. Yes, it was Saturday lunchtime and located in a prime spot, so high numbers would be expected, but to wait ages for food without even a hint of an apology was a bit of a shame, as well as the mess up with the order. 

The place has definitely got a lot going for it and tonnes of potential, it’d be good to see how the place improves and develops over the next few months. 

A Canteen 

35 New London Road

Chelmsford

Essex

https://www.facebook.com/acanteen?fref=ts&rf=166700683378343

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Baker’s delight, San Francisco

As part of my trip around San Francisco, one thing that cropped up whilst doing the research was the quality of the bakeries the city has. With only a short amount of time we had to be selective and stick to a couple, ones that were in areas covered on our itinerary. One of these I’d highlighted was much lauded Tartine Bakery, but Sarah from Noisette Bakehouse also mentioned Craftsman and Wolves too. 

We first visited Tartine Bakery on the first full day of our stay, heading to the Mission district we’d already stuffed our faces with a delicious empanada and a mahoosive burrito, so when we finally got there we weren’t hungry, can you believe it!!! Just having a couple of cold drinks to quench our thirst, envious of the food everyone else was eating. A sweet treat lovers paradise, the place has a busy atmosphere with the bakery adjoined, you can see them at work from the street and inside the cafe. A landmark bakery that’s hugely popular, possesses no need for signage and regularly has a long queue wrapped around the building, something akin to what’s seen outside Bettys  Cafe Tea Rooms in Harrogate. 

On display were some beautiful cakes and tarts, such as the lemon meringue (lemon-moistened genoise layered with caramel and lemon cream, all topped with meringue peaks), passion fruit lime bavarian (lime-moistened genoise with passion fruit Bavarian, topped with sweetened cream and coconut) and chocolate hazelnut tarts, then there were the croissants…ahhh the list goes on and on…!!

Firstly apologies for the quality of the photos, many were taken in a very busy queue and most of the items were behind glass!

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We couldn’t leave San Francisco without trying again, as it worked out we’d planned to visit the Castro district on our last half day, with the Mission district being next door it worked out perfectly! But, as expected, there was a queue (shown in the photo) so we walked down the street to the other bakery on our hit list – Craftsman and Wolves.

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Craftsman and Wolves is known for being a contemporary patisserie, also found in the Mission district. I soon realised why my friend Sarah had pointed me in its direction, as it’s just full of so many inventive delights such as Yellow corn, stone fruit and basil scone or their Strawberry, banana and cornflake muffin! Their Cube Cakes were beautifully delicate and very hard to resist. Wanting to have a little something I decided on a Morning bun, whilst my friend had heard The Rebel Within was a bit special so went for that. 

The Rebel Within is a stroke a genius! I suppose we’d compare it to a scotch egg,  it was like a breakfast muffin, consisting of Asiago and Parmesan cheese, Easton’s breakfast sausage, scallion (spring onion), soft cooked Tomatero farm egg. Cooked to perfection, it was perfectly moist, the egg was runny in the middle and the white was just cooked, brilliant!

My Morning bun wasn’t as rock ‘n’ roll, but still extremely tasty made with créme fraîche, grains of paradise, muscovado morning bun. I had no idea what grains of paradise were, but a quick nosey on the web said it was a spice with a peppery and citrusy flavour. Also possessing properties which help with digestion.

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OK, so back to Tartine bakery, we joined the queue and had our fingers crossed there’d be a couple of free seats, so we could eat and devour some more sweet treats. Luckily, I managed to literally nab two as a couple were leaving, meaning my friend had to call out to me the choices. Now I’m not really a fan of nuts, too much chocolate and banana, but I love sharp fruit so she selected a tart topped with raspberries. Sounded like a winner!

The photos don’t do them justice as they both looked so lovely and delicate. The sweet pastry cases were mega thin and utterly perfect. Mine had a delicate cream topped with fresh raspberries and blackberries and was stunning. Whilst Lucy’s went for a Lemon Cream Tart, with a sweet pastry case filled with lemon cream and topped with unsweetened cream. Heavenly!

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Those San Franciscans are very lucky people having these bakeries!! For those of you who’d like to find the best sweet treats in Leeds and the West Yorkshire area, you’d be very hard pushed to find better than at Sarah Mather’s Madeleine Express, her bakes have had people, including me on the verge of a head-spin for a while, they are so good!! She’s currently trading at Trinity Kitchen, Leeds till the end of August!

Tartine Bakery & Cafe – 600 Guerrero Street, San Francisco, CA 94110 
Craftsman and Wolves – 746 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110 

Afternoon Tea @ Le Chalet, Leeds – guest post by Lucy Reynolds

After a long, hard day of educating today’s youth (le sigh!), what’s better than going into the big smoke and cramming your face full of cream cakes? The answer: nothing, that’s what! So with impending indulgence in mind and a hungry Miss Taleoftwosittings, we toddled along to Le Chalet, a new French themed tearoom on Park Row in Leeds.  From the classy and modern interior, to the friendly warm welcome we received when we walked in, things just kept getting better and better.

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Apart from cream-themed gluttony, we were there for a real purpose: our search for Leeds best afternoon tea. Just from a quick glance at a few older posts on this blog you will see that we have had our fair share of disappointing afternoon teas. Le Chalet seemed to be a shimmering oasis in a desert of dry and flaky scones – but did it live up to expectations? We ordered two classic afternoon teas and whilst my friend asked for an English breakfast tea, I decided to opt for the exotic sounding Butterfly Dance (blooming) tea. Upon being presented with two attractive glass teapots, I was able to see why my tea earns its name. A large ball of green tea lay at the bottom of my pot, but slowly unfurled to reveal beautiful Jasmine, Lily and Marigold flowers. It had a delicate but floral taste and was extremely refreshing, especially after a long day of cheap coffee scraped from the bottom of the staff room coffee jar.

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After a short time, our afternoon tea stand arrived, and we were not disappointed.

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On the three tiered, contemporary slate stand we had our chosen sandwiches, smoked salmon with dill and lemon and cured ham and mustard on the bottom layer. There were more sandwiches on offer, but being given the choice of exactly what you’d like is a rare but pleasing idea. Too often with afternoon teas you end up with a few sandwiches that no one wants (in my experience it’s the mayonnaise smeared ones: the work of the Devil). Being able to design your own afternoon tea is a great idea and one that will hopefully be very popular. Our sandwiches were delicious – the bread was soft and freshly baked and the filling was generous and obviously top quality ingredients.

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After that sumptuously savoury starter, our eyes moved up to the next layer, which held yet more bite-sized delights in the form of salmon mousse canapés, small chocolate cream éclairs, walnut chocolate brownies, vanilla cream slices and dreamy little creamy choux balls that, I was reliably informed, are called chouquettes. Ooh la la! Each treat was delightful in its own way. Every bite-sized morsel stood up on its own in terms of taste and quality and the variety of textures, like the crisp mille-feuille top of the cream slices and the rich, fudgy brownie, made it a real sensual overload. And we’d not even ventured on to the top layer. Oh Oui!

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The top layer held delicate pink macarons, a miniature almond tart, tiny strawberry tarts and two scones, warm and freshly baked. Not yet full to the brim with cake-shaped joy, we marvelled at the generous jam tray that accompanied the cakes; they had the classic strawberry jam and honey alongside the interesting and toothsome combinations of rose and raspberry, ginger and rhubarb and gooseberry and elderflower.  All were equally delectable and really brought the tea to a wonderful end. 

In the search for a brilliant and affordable afternoon tea, as well as friendly, warm service, you need look no further: Le Chalet is waiting for you. Vive la France!

Le Chalet
31-32 Park Row
Leeds
LS1 5JD
0113 243 0576
http://le-chalet.co.uk

 

Dumouchel Bakery, Garforth, Leeds

A few weeks ago I wrote a piece on Hoxton North Espresso and Brew Bar in Harrogate and raved on about the stunning brioche slice with raspberry and almond called Bostock, made by Dumouchel bakery. Well I was soon contacted by them about visiting, to meet the team behind this heavenly delight, and as I couldn’t let this opportunity slip I arranged a look around the earliest opportunity I could.

After a little bit of research I found out that Dumouchel opened in 1998 in the Garforth area of Leeds, and now produces artisan breads, cakes and pastries for weddings, coffee shops and also cater for events. Thierry Dumouchel their master baker has a wealth of experience, having trained at the renowned food college in Rouen, France, and worked all around the world, e.g. in Paris, London, Sydney and Tokyo before opening the patisserie. 

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When I arrived at the bakery shop the very first thing that happened, once I opened the door, was my jaw dropping and it felt like I was in bakery heaven! A number of my senses were completely heightened, the smell was something else, and I couldn’t get over it for a couple of minutes! If I could bottle it I would!! In front of me was a multitude of breads and patisserie galore for customers to buy, drool over, or both!! It really was a feast for the eyes.

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I was greeted by Rebecca who runs the Bakery with husband Thierry Dumouchel. I like to think I’m pretty good at reading people and you could tell this was a couple completely immersed in producing the highest quality products! Rebecca spoke very passionately about what they do and talked me through the process of their bread making. That they use a 15 year old natural rye mother dough starter which had an incredibly intense smell; this is used with some dough from the previous batch of bread in every new batch. Using chemicals of any sort is definitely not an option when it comes to making their bread, and they rely only on using the basic ingredients of flour (French and English), yeast and salt. They allow the dough to ferment for HOURS, depending on the type of bread it can range between 12-18 hours, even up to 36 hours. Such as the Pain-tradition bread which uses the Camp Remy wheat and a fermentation process of 36 hours, allowing the wheat to gradually break down and the richness in flavour and texture to develop.

15 year old mother starter sourdough
15 year old mother starter dough

This is results in the production in some fabulous breads:

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Rebecca showed me a selection of the sweet treats they are making, including some of the seasonal delights which they were starting to sell in the shop.

Mince pies
Mince pies
Chocolate baubles
Chocolate baubles

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I was introduced to a selection of their gorgeous bakes and pastries which were on sale in the shop and I just wanted to wolf them down, Left to my own devices I would have!!!

Petits fours frais (little canapés cakes)
Petits fours frais (little canapés cakes)
Selection of beautiful patisserie
Selection of beautiful patisserie
Millefeuille - vanilla and almond
Millefeuille – vanilla and almond
Choux Chantilly
Choux Chantilly
Vanilla Meringue pot
Vanilla Meringue pot

I sampled a slice of their Millefeuille at the bakery and it was gorgeous. The word Millefeuille means ‘thousand leaves’, and traditionally a mille-feuille consists of three layers of puff pastry, and two layers of crème pâtissière. With powdered sugar sprinkled over the top layer. The one at Dumouchel is Vanilla and Almond, it was heavenly. The pastry was perfect with all the layers clearly on show, the crème pâtissière filling was silky smooth and with the perfect balance with vanilla. It was a complete winner. I later demolished the rest at home with a cup of tea.

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They make wonderful chocolates too including the Median, a white chocolate square with candied orange, French pistachio and almond. I’m not normally a chocolate lover, and it can take me literally minutes to eat the smallest piece of chocolate because I find it too rich and sickly. This on the other hand was a million miles away from that, it was lovely. Creamy white chocolate, the candied orange gave a sweet/sourness, delicate almond and the lovely pistachio from Normandy.

Median - white chocolate with almond, pistachio and candied orange
Median – white chocolate with almond, pistachio and candied orange

Rebecca very kindly gave me a loaf of their Pain-tradition for my gluten intolerant other half to try, I can thankfully report that the other half didn’t have an adverse reaction to it and enjoyed the bread very much. It may be one we have to eat more often!!

Pain-tradition
Pain-tradition

I’m a bit jealous of the people who live in Garforth because they have this luxury on their doorstep!! All those amazing breads, cakes and pastries. They are very lucky people! Even though the bakery itself is in Garforth, you can eat the lovely breads and cakes in and around Leeds. They supply well known coffee shop Laynes Espresso in the City Centre, and Haley and Clifford Delicatessen in Roundhay with some of their yummy wares. They also have an online shop where bread can be purchased and delivered to your home, the breads are lightly baked so they can either be eaten immediately, frozen or finished in a hot oven. They even give the full baking instructions.

It was fantastic to meet the team at Dumouchel, and not just Rebecca and Thierry, they have a real sense of teamwork and family here. They all share the aim of making something wonderful and it really shows in the quality of their produce. 

Dumouchel

1 Ninelands Lane
Garforth
Leeds
LS25 1NX
0113 287 0055
http://www.dumouchel.co.uk