Tag Archives: La Bottega Milanese

Coffee Cupping @ La Bottega Milanese, Leeds

La Bottega Milanese had their first coffee cupping event a little while ago at their recently opened coffee shop on Bond Court. If you’ve not been to La Bottega’s newest coffee shop, you really must as Alex Galantino has done such a beautiful job on getting the place fitted out, it looks fantastic!

image

image

The original plan was for roastery The Grumpy Mule to showcase their coffee, but sadly they were unable to attend. As always, the show must go on, so fortunately a number of fantastic baristas from well-known coffee shops around Leeds and it’s surrounding areas were on hand to help out with their coffee expertise instead. Another typical example of how Leeds’ coffee community works together so well, with the likes of Adam (Opposite), Matt (Mrs Athas) and Oakley (Crema Espresso) bringing a selection of coffees along for the event.

image

image

There seemed to be a varying amount of cupping experience amongst us, so Alex was more than happy to ease us into the procedure. I really liked this because it showed us that whatever experience and knowledge we had with coffee, it was an event that could cater for everyone, regardless of any limitations we may have.

Alex briefly explained how the aim of a cupping session was to compare and contrast coffees against each other. Six different coffees with slightly different flavour profiles, produced by a range of well-known roasters using beans from a variety of countries would be showcased. He drew our attention to taking tasting notes, possibly drawing out a wheel of flavour to compare each coffee. The most popular coffee would then be used to produce coffee to drink using an  Aeropress.

image

image

Here’s a brief run through of the cupping procedure:

1. Smell the ground coffee – is there are difference between ground and not ground? Some coffees had been processed in different methods, e.g. processed/washed would give differences in how clean their flavours were.

I even surprised myself when I got a noseful of the Hasbean coffee, which had a huge whack of strawberry that instantly filled my nostrils. Earlier that morning I’d had a bowl of strawberries for breakfast and it reminded me of that immediately. 

2. Each coffee was brewed for 4 minutes by added hot water of a specific temperature (not boiling) onto the coffee grounds, allowing an even extraction and the formation of a crust. 

image

3. The surface of the crust was broken by using a spoon to push the grounds down with three swift movements. The aromas released would give an indication of what was to come during tasting.  Quickly the cups had the ground coffee removed before the slurping process could begin.

image

4. People started to work their way through each coffee, slurping away, getting the coffee to coat the tongue to taste, comparing them at different temperatures. 

image

image

image

A quick analysis of opinions was garnered to see what people thought. 

There was a general consensus that the Grumpy Mule tasted the most ‘ordinary’ – with a more bitter taste, it tasted like a more traditional, standard coffee. This was unlike the others as they had been roasted much lighter to develop flavour profiles.

The San Agustin roasted by Square Mile seemed to be a popular choice – an easy drinking coffee and not too bitter. As it started to cool its taste began to resemble tea. The Yirgacheffe, (Square Mile) was found to be very floral, with bergamot notes. We were told that fully washed coffees produce lovely bright fruit flavours. 

The Nicaraguan Hasbean coffee was also a popular choice, it certainly stood out as the flavours produced were very intense with fruit. Matt explained that these beans were massive, due to being grown slowly at high altitude. After undergoing a natural process, rather than being washed like others, fermentation allows levels of texture and flavour to intensify, resulting in really jammy coffee full of strawberry.

During each cupping session there is always so much to take in and learn and I always feel completely out of my depth, but at the same time feel I am very slowly learning more a bit at a time. I would highly recommend going to a cupping event if you’ve not been to one before!!

Their next cupping session is this Sunday, when La Bottega will be hosting The Coffee Officina  roasters from Essex.

Hopefully I’ll see you there!!

La Bottega Milanese
2 Bond Court
Leeds
LS1 2JZ
0113 2454242
http://www.labottegamilanese.co.uk

Advertisements

Future Foodie Delights in Leeds

I love planning ahead, whether it’s places I want to explore, exhibitions I want to see, holiday destinations that need researching and most definitely foodie destinations. Leeds has been on a food and drink roll, but it’s still developing and with the summer months not too far away, there’s still a number of things brewing in the food and drink pipe line.

Trinity Kitchen continues to do it’s thing in terms of serving food to the Leeds masses, with it’s ever changing street food from around the world. There’s the obvious big hitters such as the Belgrave which seems to be the place to go by all accounts at the moment since opening last year, and also Brandon Street Night Market with their monthly street food bonanza. The restaurant scene has also been bolstered by the likes of Shears Yard, Zucco, The Hungry Bear and RARE amongst others over the last year. 

With a number of new openings and events happening in the next few months, what else can we look forward to?

  • Thai Aroy Dee – a massive sigh of relief was had when I read this much loved restaurant was relocating to The Grand Arcade. It would have been an absolute travesty to lose such an amazing restaurant with the Victoria Gate redevelopment! The outpouring of love seen on social media ultimately means that it’s going to great seeing them up and running with not only their regular customers, but hopefully new ones. It’ll also be a fantastic thing for bringing people into The Grand Arcade too! 
  • Bundobust – Soon these guys will be opening on Mill Hill, after being a winner with all and sundry at different establishments and events around Leeds, such as Kirkstall Bridge Inn and at Belgrave. For those of you who haven’t sampled their wares Bundobust is a joint venture between award-winning Prasha(vegetarian restaurant in Drighlington) and Bradford’s The Sparrow. If their food and drinks follows in a similar vein to the efforts at their recent residency at The Belgrave (review here) it’ll be an amazing addition to the Leeds street food scene. One I’m am already relishing the thought of.
  • The Man Behind The Curtain – a new opening by chef Michael O’Hare in Flannels on Vicar lane. I’d been told how good The Blind Swine had been, unfortunately it had shut up shop before I could try it out. This is one I cannot wait to go to, with chef Michael O’Hare already having a reputation in York’s fine dining scene, I won’t be surprised if it’s a sure fire hit.
  • 2 Oxford Place – the first 100% gluten free restaurant certainly around these parts! Are there any elsewhere? With a gluten intolerant husband it will be fantastic if they can pull it off. They are even doing Sunday Roasts – let’s hope for yummy GF Yorkshire Puddings and gravy! Also if they can make decent bread, they could be onto a winner in my eyes.
  • With the prospect of heavyweights Meat Liquor and Byron Hamburgers moving into Leeds, at Trinity and Land’s Lane respectively, they’ll be making their best efforts to fight their way to the hearts of burger lovers. It’s going to be an interesting one, especially with the amount of competition from other establishments already in the city centre. Maybe a Battle of the Burgers is in order, I’ll be happy to adjudicate!! 
  • Bulgogi Grill will be bringing a new and exciting concept to Leeds with Korean BBQ and is part of the redevelopment to the Merrion Centre’s Arena Quarter. I’ve experienced something similar in Japan,  cooking marinated meats and vegetables on mini BBQ’s; an experience which was interactive, fun and memorable. Their opening is expected sometime in August.
  • La Bottega Milanese is in the process of opening another coffee shop in Bond Court, at the back of HSBC where the Pétanque pitch is. I’m eager to see the finished product and I’m sure Alex will be aiming for something that’s aesthetically beautiful, whilst being highly functional, and with the same great coffee and food as La Bottega in The Light. I really hope this will create more of a community environment in this part of town, instead of just being a bit of a walk-through. 
  • Leeds Food and Drink Festival (23rd May – 8th June) is always a major highlight of the food and drink calendar and is a must for any one interested in produce, artisans and food from restaurants and street food vendors in our local area. I was gutted to be away last year, but am definitely looking forward to this years, which promises to be even better than the last. Working in conjunction with Leeds Food & Drink Festival will be The Pink Shed, the pop-up private dining room at Trinity Leeds on 23rd May. With a number of restaurants of Leeds signing up this will be a great experience. Another cracking event as part of the festival will be Le Grand DeParty’ which will celebrate the 2014 Grand Depart with lots of french food and drink.
  • Beacons  festival (7th -10th August) – with a list of food vendors as along as your arm, there’ll be plenty to tackle and get your teeth into over the four day music and arts extravaganza in Skipton. With Ben Davy, the mastermind behind Dough Boys and Patty Smith’s at the helm, festival goers are going to be in for a big belly filling treat! Here’s a taster – the idea of Madeleine Express, Cafe Moor and of course Dough Boys will get your mouth watering. For a more extensive list have a nosey at the website.

There’s certainly a lot to look forward to, I’ll hopefully see you there!

What have I missed out, any other fantastic local food and drinks events coming up I should include in my list?

Post update: oh silly me I forgot to add an event that I’m actually attending, how silly am I?

  • The Noise of Strangers are a Leeds based group hosting their first pop-up in May. I’ve been keeping a close eye on these guys for months, eagerly awaiting news of their first outing. Their philosophy is to use seasonal ingredients and deliver a menu in an unusual setting. It all takes place in asecret location on 21/22 May, where guests, including myself will hopefully be treated to a wonderful five course dinner. I’ve been wracking my brain and looking at their photographic clues to try and work out where it could be, but I’m nowhere near to a solution yet.
  • Cafe Culture – For those of you coffee lovers out there, the Corn Exchange are hosting a Cafe Culture event, I’m gutted I won’t be here for this as this would have been right up my street, unfortunately I’ll be in Edinburgh with the task of running the Edinburgh Half Marathon. On 24th May, the event will try to bring a little taste of Parisienne cafe culture to Leeds, as unbeknownst to me the Corn Exchange has a link to the Halle au Blé (wheat, corn and grain hall) in the French capital. Just one of many fab collaborations of local independent businesses showing all that is good in coffee; such as Laynes Espresso, North Star Micro Roasters, Casa Espresso and Grumpy Mule. There’ll also be lots of family friendly activities and entertainment going on too. 
  • Strano’s, the pop-up brought from Gip and John Dammone and chef Johnny Lyons will be celebrating the anniversary since the the Strano journey started which culminated in their first Strano’s pop-up which I attended last October. They’ll be hosting a celebratory meal with their highlights dishes from the pop-events on 20/21 June at it’s new home of the Enoteca in Salvo’s.
  • The Beasty Boys – a Peruvian inspired Supper Club at the Carnegie Pavilion in Headingley. They are a  Leeds based duo specialising in one of the current food trends of ‘Nose to Tail’ dining. The event is donating 100% profits to raising money for Put Them First, a UK charity which aims to improve the lives of children in Peru. With tickets priced at £25 for 6 courses (16 dishes) per person! It also BYOB so sounds like it could be a bargain!

The North’s Coffee Community, pt I – La Bottega Milanese

Since starting the blog, nearly a year ago one of the things I’ve most enjoyed, apart from the eating and drinking, is meeting some of the people behind these establishments. For those of you who’ve read the blog, you’ll know that one of the most memorable and enjoyable events I’ve attended involved the guys from North Star Micro Roasters. Since writing about their initial launch, I most recently attended their Latte Art Throwdown, where I watched a number of baristas represented at the event, not only from Leeds, but also places further afield. This made me think about the community that they’ve built up. Over the last few years the coffee scene has really become quite special in Leeds, with a few coffee shops really pioneering the art and setting the trend for others to not only follow, but also to help progress in its evolution.

After a little thought, I nervously contacted a number of people in the world of the independent coffee community in Leeds and Harrogate. I just wanted to meet the people behind the counter and find out more about this world, their ethos and passion for their work. So over the next few weeks or months, I’ll be profiling in my own way these coffee havens.

La Bottega Milanese

Alex Galantino, as a young boy from Milan, was brought up in the world of making espresso and being completely absorbed in the life and love of the coffee world. Upon moving to Leeds he opened La Bottega Milanese, after realising this part of the UK was lacking somewhere you could get a decent espresso, yet is common place in Milan. When talking to Alex, you can see the obvious passion that runs through his Milanese blood, he speaks with such love of the drink and the culture which he’s grown up in. Opening first in The Calls in 2009, Alex’s reputation grew, allowing him to open a larger premises in The Light in August 2011. Since then La Bottega, amongst others has been one of the pioneers of great independent coffee shops in Leeds and helped paved the way forward for others!!

image

The first late night Espresso Bar in The North was opened where Alex wanted to push the boundaries not just with great coffee, which of course was paramount, but also the experience.   His background in graphic design is evident in the aesthetics of the shop, which delivers the true espresso bar experience, Milan style.  The place is adaptable regardless of the time of day. From serving an espresso or cappuccino first thing in the morning, you could have a bite for lunch and then there’s always a late night aperitif to while away the hours in the evening.

image

image

Alex prides himself on their unique coffee La Classica, roasted in Yorkshire. The custom blend evolves in flavour depending on the coffees being used and has been the product of a painstakingly long process. This has culminated in coffee which possesses the flavour profile of an espresso, but also has a balance that helps to cut through the milk for other espresso based drinks.

image

Depending on where I park in town, determines where I get my coffee fix. I always enjoy a quick coffee and something yummy too, usually on my way to the cinema or just as I’m walking into town. At La Bottega there’s always a wonderful selection of Italian delicacies and delights to choose from. In particular the patisserie, which I always drool over when I walk to the counter; especially their pasticcini or the cannoli. Of course their hot food is tasty too. My ‘go to’ dishes are the meatballs and pasta or the lasagne. Their sandwiches aren’t boring either. Their fresh foccacia and ciabatta bread make great sandwiches filled with fresh Italian ingredients, such a Scamorza cheese, Mortadella and Spianata sausage, and they also serve hot Piadina –  grilled Italian flat bread, a traditional regional food from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.

image

image

image

image

image

One of the things that La Bottega will be doing more of in 2014 is selling alcohol on the premises, now that they have a licence. So fine wines, Grappa, Amari, the Italian after dinner digestif and craft beers will be on sale too.

This is still one of my ‘go to’ places to get a decent coffee in Leeds, it has the feel of those Italian coffee establishments on the continent, but with a modern urban feel. There’s a good mix of busy people who need something quick and those who can while away a couple of hours, leisurely drinking and snacking on tasty food. Whichever bracket you fit in to, you get great service, great food and of course great coffee at La Bottega, whatever time of the day.

La Bottega Milanese 
Unit A11A The Light
The Headrow
Leeds
LS1 8TL
0113 2454242.
Twitter: @bottegamilanese

North Star Latte Art Throwdown @ North Star Micro Roasters, Leeds

One of my 2013 blog highlights was North Star Micro Roasters Inaugural Cupping Event.  Since their initial launch North Star have gone from strength to strength, building a large following of coffee lovers in Leeds and beyond.

image

Wednesday was the day of their Inaugural Latte Art Throwdown Championships, held at their premises in Meanwood. I’ve been a little obsessed with the whole latte art thing over the last few months after seeing a latte with a Darth Vadar design, to the point where I’ve even been really sad watching YouTube clips and making my husband watch them! 

For people not in the know, Latte art is where coffee is made by pouring steamed milk into a shot of espresso which results in a  pattern on the surface.

headed down after school with my friend Alice to meet some coffee folk, watch in awe and of course take some photos!! We’d wondered which baristas would be competing, with such great places to get coffee in Leeds at the moment we were optimistic, such as Laynes, Opposite, Mrs Athas and La Bottega Milanese to name a well known few. really decent crowd were already there when we arrived at North Star Headquarters, and Krag and Ellis, the boys at the helm of North Star were there hosting.  

When Ellis announced the competitors we weren’t far wrong, representing Leeds were baristas from Froth ‘n’ Fodder, Cielo, La Bottega Milanese, Mrs AthasNotes and also Ellis from North Star. Also vying for the crown were baristas from further afield – Bean and Bud and Baltzersens hailing from HarrogateUpshot Espresso from Sheffield, Grumpy Mule from Meltham and finally Crema Espresso from Bridlington.

image

Independent food produce was also on show during the event with fantastic bread from theLeeds Bread Co-op, paired with yummy chutney fromMade by Jim, unctuous brownies and caramels from Sarah at Noisette Bakehouse, and lastly beautiful meat and cheese platters supplied byBaltzersens.

image image

Ok, so apologies for my trigger happy camera finger, I know it happens a lot, but I managed to take 300+ photos during the evening!!! I’ve tried to be good and have whittled it down to a compilation of photos that hopefully tell the tale of the competition.

The rules for the 1st round were that competitors would battle it out head to head, they could pour any design they wanted into a 6oz cup, using a 12oz jug. Being watched by eagle-eyed judges – Adam from Opposite Cafe, Carl from Layne’s Espresso and Krag from North Star, competitors were judged using the following criteria:

  • balance and symmetry
  • colour definition
  • use of space
  • the overall pour

All of to be done under pressure with a crowd of their peers and latte art admirers!!!Here’s a compilation of the 1st round pours:

image image image image image image image image image image image

In the 2nd round the ten remaining baristas had to pour a rosetta:

image image image image image

Tulips were up next in the semi-finals:

image image image image image

So after three rounds of a closely contested battle, the field of twenty hopefuls was down to the final three: Lenka (Bean and Bud), Matt (Mrs Athas) and Oakley (Crema Espresso).

In the final round they had to use a 12oz jug to make a latte in a 6oz cup but also a piccolo, being as artistic as they dared with the design.

Matt from Mrs Athas
Matt from Mrs Athas
Oakley from Crema Espresso
Oakley from Crema Espresso
Lenka from Bean and Bud
Lenka from Bean and Bud

The judges took a few minutes to deliberate and come to an agreement over their scores, in the meantime the crowd and the competitors waited with baited breath.

image

A few minutes later Ellis announced the winner of this years Inaugural Latte Art Throwdown – Oakley from Crema Espresso!! He was the clear winner, with Lenka from Bean Bud in 2nd and Matt from Mrs Athas in 3rd. All very well deserved!!

image
The winner – Oakley from Crema Espresso!!!

image

So another great event at North Star, an evening full of shaky hands, tense moments, great camaraderie and sportsmanship. It was fantastic to meet some of the North’s independent coffee community and see them come out in force! Here’s to more cupping events and throwdowns in the future!!!

North Star Micro Roasters

Unit 27
Penraevon Industrial Estate
Jackson Road
Meanwood Road
Leeds
LS7 2AP

Life in the Light??

I walked through the Light in Leeds city centre after work and noticed that so many of the shops are closed now, some of them have moved to Trinity Leeds, e.g. Joy and Philip Stoner, others have closed for other reasons, such as the Body Shop. Most of the units on the upper floor are empty which is a real shame, since Trinity opened it has seemed a little less busy. There are still lots of restaurants though like chain restaurants Browns and Zizzi, but also independent La Bottega Milanese. La Bottega Milanese is an Italian espresso bar which also sells Italian patisserie, sandwiches and pastas. I hadn’t been in a while, I may have been a little seduced by the Trinity effect, but I hadn’t forgotten about this little gem.

image

image

I ordered a latte and an aubergine parmigiana to eat in. I couldn’t stop looking at the fantastic cakes and pastries they have on display, promising myself that I would have to have a sweet treat before I left!!image image image

It wasn’t too busy so service was quick and my latte was ready in a couple of minutes. I am not a coffee expert by any means, to be honest I’m more of a tea drinker, but I do like a latte, mine was lovely. The parmigiana which is already made was quickly zapped in a microwave and served with salad. My parmigiana, yes blasted in a microwave but still tasted very good, the salad was fresh and for just £5 isn’t bad, considering it tastes good and you really do not wait very long. For me a good parmigiana should be like comfort food, a bit of stodge with soft, not overly salty aubergines and not oily! It was very moreish with a good layer of cheese on top, a nice saltiness from parmesan! It all went down quickly, I was even a very good girl and ate all my salad too!

Aubergine parmigiana
Aubergine parmigiana
Caffe latte
Caffe latte

I wasn’t going to leave without having a little sweet snack so I ordered what I think is a Sfogliatelle. They are shaped like little shells and have lots of layers. This was filled with a lemon cream and the pastry was lovely and crunchy.

Sfogliatelle - lobster tails filled with a lemon cream.
Sfogliatelle – lobster tails filled with a lemon cream.

In total, my early tea was £8.70.  Pretty decent really! Even though Trinity Leeds has opened with a plethora of eateries and coffee shops, we mustn’t forget there are still lots of other decent places to have a decent drink and a nice spot of food in Leeds.

La Bottega Milanese
The Light
The Headrow
Leeds
LS1 8TL
0113 2454242
http://www.labottegamilanese.co.uk