- Sticky Pudding in custard: Grouse-Inn, Oldfield, Keighley in Yorkshire, England
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Helen Mirren in The Audience. A new play by Peter Morgan. Directed by Stephen Daldry. http://www.theaudienceplay.com/ World Premiere. London, England. Gielgud Theatre. Previews begin 15 February 2012
© May Georgina DeLory
I’m not sure mankind’s lot has progressed any since living in caves – unless you take into consideration sticky pudding. I’ll get to this underrated dessert a bit later. We have in my opinion progressed far enough to celebrate tea and cakes. Mind you, some offerings are rather over the top in terms of formality and pomp and ceremony, as at The Ritz hotel in London, England http://bit.ly/i5bqZF , while other celebrations are plain and simple with just the basics: a meagre slice of cake here and a second cup of cool tea there, if you’re lucky.
Taking afternoon tea at The Ritz, London in The Palm Court involves table settings with original silverware by Christofle & Cie, marble columns, reflected natural light from a central glazed roof and wrought iron chandeliers in the shape of whimsical birdcages through mirrored panels, and being on display in an immense Louis Seize room bathed in a gold sheen much the same as it was in 1906. Afternoon Tea at The Ritz London is so popular that there are five daily sittings and reservations need to be secured months in advance.
My taste lends itself to a Lewis Carroll-style party, one where The Hatter and March Hare try to put the Dormouse in a teapot. Recently, and for the first time, I was in Yorkshire, England – a windswept storybook landscape, the sort of place where one expects any moment to see Heathcliff and Catherine hand-in-hand coming over the moors. The West Yorkshire moors after all is “Bronte Country”. You’ll find the childhood home of writers Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte now a museum in Haworth, Yorkshire. I enjoyed many a nice cup of English tea; but I was after a different kettle of fish.
I had collected a lot of stuff during my time in Yorkshire. By the time I was ready to fly back to Canada I didn’t have a hair’s width of space to spare in my luggage. I wanted a Christmas pudding to take home and was waiting until just the right moment to get one when I suddenly realised that to do so would be courting danger in terms of my luggage bursting. I’d already lost a handle on one piece of luggage. I was in Scotland and waiting to purchase my train ticket out of Edinburgh to visit a country village when it was my time to move up in line to speak with a ticket teller and wham!… the handle exploded and bits and pieces flew up into the air and rained down on my person. I stepped back out of line to examine the full damage and to pick up the leftovers, a screw here and a piece of plastic there. I could have missed my train save for a very nice man who gave up his first-in-line spot to me. “Go ahead,” he said, with almost a smile. “Thank you,” I said, with a limp nod, struggling with the broken handle that was now a lethal weapon.
So, what to do about pudding. While in the city of York (train gets you here in about two -hours from London) someone told me about Bettys. (Go to their website for a great story on the baker’s beginnings in 1919. http://www.bettys.co.uk/ ) Bettys delivers their cakes, cookies and puddings to the world by post. I thought I’d put the delivery aspect to the test. Sure enough, when I returned home I contacted Bettys by email. I received my boxed Yorkshire Christmas pudding England-to-Canada in six-days. Perfect condition. The pudding is made with free-range eggs, 6% brandy, glace cherries, almonds, cinnamon, cloves, currants, sultanas, mixed spices and Yorkshire ale and some other ingredients. I’ll serve with brandied hard sauce from Crosse & Blackwell I bought in Toronto at Pusateri’s. I’m also going to try spreading a chestnut cream flavoured with vanilla (Peck from Italy) over warmed slices of pudding. For years my family used to receive Christmas cake and pudding and the hard sauce from family prepared from scratch. I’ll post another picture once the pudding is steamed and has the sauce over a slice. Until then, order your own pudding. It’s fun waiting for the package to arrive. I felt like a kid waiting for Santa’s letter from the North Pole. P.S. International delivery orders need to be placed by Monday Nov. 29, 2010. bettys.co.uk
The word “pudding” comes from the French word boudin and originally from the Latin word botellus meaning “small sausage”. There are many listings for pudding, from baked, steamed, to boiled. Pudding recipes are either for a desert that is sweet milk-based and/or egg-based as well as rice and bread pudding or savoury dish such as Yorkshire pudding, black pudding, suet pudding and steak and kidney pudding. The list is actually much longer than I have room to address in this post.
Black pudding is sometimes known as blood pudding and was very popular in Europe and especially England going back hundreds of years; perhaps, even thousands. It is thought that black pudding is one of the few dishes made by the Assyrians which is still made today.
Yorkshire pudding is something far removed from black pudding in its ingredients and was a staple in our house with the Sunday roast beef – a rib roast. My mother used some of the roast’s hot drippings to oil either a 12 cupcake tin or a 2 ½ quart Pyrex® dish before adding the Yorkshire pudding mixture which was a mixture of flour, salt, lightly beaten eggs and milk and had been set in the refrigerator overnight. The result was a big and fluffy custard pudding with a crunchy browned top and much like an elegant soufflé. Peasant cookery several hundred years ago found uses for the hot drippings of fat from cooking meats; but it wasn’t until wheat flour came into being around 1730s for cakes and puddings that cooks in Northern England in elegant homes used flour to sop up the roast drippings in a Yorkshire pudding.
Christmas pudding is traditionally served on Christmas Day, December 25th , at the end of a meal for dessert; its history is steeped in English and Irish cookery. The pudding is a steamed concoction made with dried fruit and nuts and usually made with suet – hard fat that comes from around the loins and kidneys of raw beef or mutton. Suet is also used in the pastry for steak and kidney pie/pudding. The appearance of the pudding is dark due to the sugars and/or black treacle used. Some Christmas puddings add brandy, or dark beers. In the 19th century puddings were boiled in a pudding cloth and hung from a hook for weeks after steaming. The ingredients would form a ball in the base of the cloth. Christmas Puddings still to this day are in the shape of a round. Today, pans are used instead of a cloth – unless you are a traditionalist. A pressure cooker may be used, too. The pudding is steamed a second time prior to serving and dressed with warm brandy which is set alight. Of course you do not have to do the flaming brandy bit if you don’t want to. Many people like to serve the pudding with a hard sauce – a simple mixture of icing sugar, butter and vanilla, spread over the warmed slice of pudding. A brandy butter, lemon cream, custard or Béchamel sauce flavoured with rum or brandy is another idea for a topping.
I’m a sucker for sticky toffee pudding; a British steamed dessert which is a dense and very moist cake made with fine chopped dates or prunes and smothered in a warm toffee sauce. Custard or thick whipped cream or ice cream on the side if you like and I like. The more the merrier. I ate my heart out all across Yorkshire, England with sticky puddings. The one I liked best was served at the Old White Lion Inn, a family-operated, 4-star, 300-year-old coaching inn in the tiny village of Haworth, Yorkshire. The pudding was a dense, luscious and very dark moist cake tasting of cloves, cinnamon, vanilla and who knows what else…very much like a spice cake. The mounds of warm toffee sauce and thick whipped local cream on top left me in heaven. In some places the chef used one spice predominately over another for the sticky pudding…but all the sticky puddings were satisfying, as were the simple pork pies encased in thick pastry I had in the city of York. But enough of all this talk. It’s time to steam the Christmas pudding!
Where to enjoy tea and cakes in the city of London and area. From grand and historic hotels to quaint B&Bs.
www.theritzlondon.com Christmas Eve, Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve/Day “Live at The Ritz” celebrations/dinners with live entertainment supplied by Peter O’Donnell and his band ( Peter is a sweet ringer for Rod Stewart). Banqueting, private dining and Christmas parties in William Kent House, the Grade 11 listed town house adjacent The Ritz hotel. The 18th Century architect William Kent designed the historic mansion in the 1740s. William Kent House was acquired by The Ritz in 2005. Email: email@example.com http://theritzlondon.skchase.com/ Online Gift Shop & Gift Vouchers. www.theritzlondon.com/tea Special Christmas Afternoon Tea (£55. per person with glass of Champagne) Wednesday the 1st of December to Thursday the 30th of December 2010 at 3:30 pm; 5:30 pm & 7:30 pm. Christmas Day Festive Afternoon Tea: Santa has a bag full of gifts for the children beginning with the 1:30 pm sitting. Sittings throughout the year. Reservations: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone + 44 (0) 20 7493 8181 Toll Free from the USA 1-877-748-9536 Dancing in The Ritz Restaurant continues on weekends. Afternoon Tea at The Ritz, London is an annual event; but, do check for exact times and dates when you plan to visit the hotel.
www.yorke-arms.co.uk Michelin-starred dining and rooms. Organic gardens. Frances Atkins, chef.
www.grouse-inn.co.uk Oldfield, Keighley in Yorkshire, England
www.23mayfield.co.uk 4-star gold guest house in Edinburgh, Scotland. Easy to catch the city bus to the castle! About 15 minutes’ travel time. Perfect.
www.oldwhitelionhotel.com Famous ales to be had in Haworth, Yorkshire in Bronte Country.
www.thekingsarmshaworth.com Bronte sisters fame in the village of Haworth, Yorkshire.
http://www.weaversmallhotel.co.uk/ Fine dining in the village of Haworth, Yorkshire.
http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/brimhamrocks/ Weird rock formations.
http://www.bettys.co.uk/ Order Christmas Pudding and other delicous delights for international delivery by post.
www.grangehotel.co.uk City of York, Yorkshire. Hotel built in 1834 as private residence for a York ecclesiastical family. Converted into a AA 4-star hotel in 1990 by Jeremy and Vivien Cassel the hotel’s owners.
www.yorkfoodfestival.com September 16 – 25, 2011 in the city of York, England. Largest annual food/drink festival in the UK. Check for current dates.
www.yorkshirelavender.com 2011 Yorkshire Lavender was awarded ‘Visitor Attraction of the Year (under
50,000 visitors) in the Visit York Tourism Awards.
www.nineteenyork.com Restaurant in the historic/medieval section of the city of York, Yorkshire. Easy walking distance to York Minster Cathedral.
Try these recipes for sticky pudding and cake.
Regan Daley’s cookery book “In the Sweet Kitchen” offers a fabulous recipe for Sticky Spiked Double-Apple Cake with a Brown Sugar-Brandy Sauce.
Ginger and Spice Sticky Pudding from www.homemakers.com
Black pudding served at 23mayfield gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland. Handmade by Charles Macleod. www.23mayfield.co.uk
Travel by air, rail, or bus in the UK
MOVE UP TO FIRST CLASS by RAIL for travel in 2013. Book before August 31, 2012. Complete your booking, please email Info@acprail.com or call 1-866-938-7245 (toll free for Canada and USA). The attractive range of BritRail Pass products – which are not available in the UK - can be purchased from ACP Rail International, BritRail’s exclusive global distributor – www.acprail.com or 1 866 BRITRAIL
www.eastcoast.co.uk London, England to York, Yorkshire is less than two hours by train. Departure every 30 minutes. Also direct rail service from York to many UK main regional centres.
http://www.lothianbuses.com/index.php Edinburgh, Scotland
For information on Art on the Underground see http://art.tfl.gov.uk
If you are visiting London and intend to use the Tube and other forms of public transport, you can buy a Visitor Oyster Card, delivered to you before you travel. Start using it from the moment you land in London, avoiding queues at the airport to buy tickets. The Visitor Oyster Card calculates the cheapest fare for your journey. You can purchase a Visitor Oyster Card before your trip to Britain at the VisitBritain shop. www.visitbritainshop.com
Britain’s biggest celebration of trains and railways takes place this June 2012 in York. Railfest 2012 will bring together more than 30 record-breaking locomotives that have made their mark on rail history for being the fastest, largest, strongest, first, last or oldest. National Rail Museum York, Leeman Road, York YO26 4XJ Tel: +44 8448 153139 Website: nrm.org.uk/railfest2012 Facebook: National Railway Museum Twitter: @railwaymuseum YouTube: National Railway Museum Flickr: National Railway Museum, York
2012 food adventures by steam train. Haworth, Yorkshire (Bronte Country) Fish and Chips train adventure and in the fall the Beer Train. www.kwvr.co.uk You can travel to Yorkshire by high-speed train from London or Edinburgh in just under two-hours. www.nationalrail.co.uk Telephone enquiries: 08457 484950 East Midlands Trains gets you even nearer to Yorkshire’s cities than National. www.eastmidlandstrains.co.uk www.tpexpress.co.uk
Original Ghost Walk of York, England. Tour begins by the river after nightfall. http://www.theoriginalghostwalkofyork.co.uk/
Ghost Hunt in the city of York, England. Tour begins in The Shambles, York, England. The Shambles block of 14th century streets and laneways in York used to be the city of York’s open air slaughterhouse. Butcher’s displayed their fresly slaughtered animals outside their shop. The cobble streets ran with fresh blood and animal innards. The slaughterhouses may be long gone; but, some say spirits remain to this day. When I visited recently, I enjoyed a most delicious pork pie encashed in a delicate pastry shell. No ghosts about…but then night had not fallen over the twisting streets. http://www.ghosthunt.co.uk/
Of course to eat well we must honour those kindly souls who tend the good earth. His Royal Highness Prince Charles The Prince Of Wales offers common sense gardening practises learnt over the course of his lifetime as well as his views on the environment, architecture, education, healthcare, science, business, economics, and the way Nature behaves and the limits of her benevolence throughout time. The Prince of Wales cautions that we should listen carefully to the principles of harmony both in ourselves and in Nature. You may like to read “Harmony: A New way Of Looking At Our World” with Tony Juniper and Ian Skelly. www.harpercollins.com
British Airways UK: Share your hints and tips for a Perfect Day for London 2012 with new iPhone app: http://bit.ly/OQ8l3V
Photos copyright May Georgina DeLory
Photo of Sticky Pudding with lemon custard courtesy of www.VisitEngland.com
Photo of The Palm Court Afternoon Tea at Christmas copyright James Mortimer/ The Ritz London
Copyright © May DeLory. All rights reserved. For use of images or content on this blog please contact May DeLory.