I found this chocolate at the Co-op. I know its not supposed to be cool to shop at the Co-op but actually if you are a fan of fairtrade and also of local foods they are actually very committed to both these things. Much more so that pretty much any other supermarket.
This chocolate is dark, has a nice smooth texture. The orange spicing is mild and subtle and balances well with the chocolate. Naturally I like it best with a cup of coffee.
Best of all its sensibly priced at just over a ??1 a bar. You can’t say fairer than that.
This week I’ve been trying out a new office. I really like it. Its central. Its good for meetings. Its got nice Scandinavian decor with clean lines. There’s a great catering facility and wifi. I love the quirky cups. The coffee is from Monmouth Street Coffee.
What more can a girl ask for?
Want a Scandi style office facility of your own? Then you need:
61 Great Titchfield Street
Oh and buy enough coffees and you get a hug from the staff (only if you want own of course) – sweet
Yesterday on Twitter I was talking coffee with various people. I quite often talk coffee as it’s an important part of my day. I don’t drink gallons of the stuff but I do like to have one or two really great cups a day.
We were talking coffee machines and several people were surprised that I didn’t have a fancy machine like you see in a cafe. Well, thats mostly because I don’t have enough work surface for all the gadgets I’d like, so a coffee machine has never made the cut so far. Instead I use a cafetiere or this little beauty, a Bialetti Moka Espress, it’s such an iconic design and it makes great strong coffee. I think I’d quite like a variety of sizes…
For the record I take my coffee black, strong and unsweetened.
Want one? Get them here: http://www.johnlewis.com/230134058/Product.aspx
Or admire all the possibilities here: http://www.bialetti.it/uk/catalogue/scheda.asp?id_cat=24
Last week I spotted that some random semi academic bloke claimed that there was such a date as Blue Monday, the day of the year when we all apparently feel at out most glum. He has a formula to calculate the date (which always seems to be in January). His formula must be flawed because Wikipedia are claiming its today (25 January) but the Daily Telegraph said it was last Monday (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/wellbeing/6995281/How-to-beat-Blue-Monday.h….
Regardless of when it is some days feel a shade more blue than others. So to chase away any Monday blues I’ll be drinking coffee from one of my favourite mugs.
Because life’s simple pleasures are worth celebrating.
If you want a mug like this then here’s where you need to be: http://www.emmabridgewater.co.uk/Black-Toast/Black-Toast-Happiness-12-Pint-Mu…
Pssst there’s a version for tea drinkers to :))
For those of you who haven’t guessed yet I’m a big fan of both coffee and chocolate and one of the highlights of each day is sitting down mid morning for a little bit of both. I like to try different pairings to see what works and what doesn’t. Mostly I like my coffee and chocolate pretty strong and intensely flavoured so some of my favourites won’t be for the faint hearted. I usually have my coffee made in a cafetiere and drink it black no sugar, occasionally I go for the extra hit of an espresso made in a lovely little Bialetti Moka Express stove top pot – wonderful but watch for the hit.
Today’s pairing was:
Coffee: “Paddy and Scott’s” All Day Coffee sourced from the North West Andes and roasted here in the UK by Paddy and Scott themselves.
Chocolate: The Wicked Fruit Co, Wicked Lavender chocolates (a Great Taste 2007 gold winner).
So how was it for me?
Well the coffee is a good easy drinking one, a little tangy and slightly smokey. It’s a strength 3 and for me it’s a little on the weak side for mid morning but for those who’d rather not blow their head off with caffeine at 11am then it’s a great choice. Basically I’m a one coffee a day girl as a rule so I’d rather have something startling (in all respects) than drink several cups of a milder blend. I’ve also had Paddy and Scott’s After Dinner Blend before (though rarely actually after dinner!) and that’s more up my street – intense, spicy yet still smooth.
And the chocolate? Well this was the first time I’d tried anything from Wicked Fruit Co and when I saw they did lavender ones I knew I had to give then a go. I just love lavender in cooking, check out my Lavender Biscuits post, and I’m also a fan of lavender jelly with roast lamb (The Bay Tree Food Company is my current choice). The chocolate lived up to expectations (which were very high I must say). The chocolate itself was smooth with the lavender adding a rich yet delicate note. It’s quite an acquired taste in many ways, very unusual. Of course I just had to have a second sample to check my thoughts and again the chocolate delivered with the lavender seeming more intense – at this point I thought it best to stop before I hit overload (plus, like many a good thing in life, its quite pricey so you have to ration yourself or go for bankrupt). Definitely worth the price though as a treat for someone who likes the unusual.
The pairing of the coffee and the chocolate was okay but not outstanding, the chocolate was too unusual for the coffee but each on their own were very good.
Reading several other blogs recently (particularly ‘Domestic Goddess in Training’ talking about Bara Brith) made me think it was about time I did a little bit of baking. And visitors scheduled for later this week clinched the deal. What better to offer with tea or coffee than homemade biscuits or perhaps a fruitcake?
First up the biscuits – I fancied cooking something that would have a hint of summer to come and so I hit on one of my favourite tried and tested recipes (and, I know, well liked by these particular guests). The recipe is from Sybil Kapoor’s Simply British – a lovely book of unusual recipes using classic British ingredients.
You will need:
4oz/115g softened butter (I prefer to use unsalted though it doesn’t specify that in the recipe)
2oz/55g caster sugar
zest 1 unwaxed lemon
3 teaspoons of lavender flowers stripped off the stem (hopefully ones from your own lavender bushes that you have dried and saved or I’ve found them online at Phytobotanica)
6oz/170g plain flour
caster sugar for dusting
Heat the oven to Gas 2/150C/300F and have 2 greased baking sheets ready – you’ll get about 16 biscuits.
Cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest until it’s pale and light in texture. Then mix in the lavender flowers followed by the flour – use your hands as this will keep the butter warm and help incorporate the flour. You are aiming for a stiff but not too crumbly ball of dough – it will take a while to get to this stage (5 minutes or more).
Then roll out the dough between two sheets of baking paper until it’s only a few millimetres thick. Cut out the biscuits in whatever shape pleases you (yesterday I had to use an unturned wine glass because I couldn’t find the cookie cutters – it still worked). Place the biscuits on the trays using a palette knife – they are quite fragile so take care. Obviously use up all the scraps of dough, which will mean a few odd shapes for the cook to try later. Bake in the centre of the oven for 25-30 minutes until lightly brown – I usually start checking after 20 minutes to see how things are going. Transfer to a cooling rack immediately and dust with caster sugar.
They are wonderfully crumbly, melting in the mouth, the lavender flavour is quite rich and the lemon zest helps balance this nicely. Eat with abandon – though I defy you to manage more than 3 in a sitting.
Now lets just hope I haven’t eaten them all before my guests arrive……..
Recently I’ve been trying out a different coffee blend – and some different chocolate. My current coffee selection is Percol Guatemala (fairtrade and organic). Its very different from the Union Hand-Roasted I was drinking (see my earlier post) and at first I wasn’t so keen. It seems to be a weaker brew even though they are both graded as 3 so I’ve been having to use a bit more of the grounds in each pot. Its quite smokey in flavour and when I paired it with Green & Blacks Cherry chocolate it just didn’t quite work. Now I’ve switched chocolate (well actually I’ve eaten all the Cherry bar) to Green & Blacks Dark 85%. This chocolate is smooth and intense and balances the smokiness of the coffee well. It’s a really nice chocolate bar at a not too mad price for this level of flavour.
Coffee wise, for my money the Union Hand-Roasted has the edge in the taste stakes, its just that bit more interesting.