Tag Archives: Harrogate WI

August 2015: Pasta party

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Food-related meetings always get a good response from the Sweethearts, and this month’s meeting was no exception.

Stefano from Harrogate’s Cafe Rosso shared his love of food with us, telling us about his upbringing and enlightening us on the Italian way of eating.

He took us on a journey from his childhood in northern Italy to opening a restaurant in his adopted home town of Harrogate. As a child, he was involved in preparing meals at an early age, and remembers every meal being an opportunity to spend time together with the family.

He has carried that philosophy throughout his life, always seeking to make his cafe a welcoming and comfortable place for his customers. He treats them as family and does all he can to ensure they have an enjoyable meal.

Stefano had some fantastic anecdotes from his experience working in restaurants and cooking for his family. In a tale that many of us could probably relate to, he said his mother still insists on sending him ‘proper’ coffee – despite the fact he runs a successful cafe which sells very high quality coffee to happy customers every day.

As well as his usual menu during the day, Stefano now offers special events on occasional evenings, including buffet suppers and tasting nights. They are proving popular with customers and several members of Spa Sweethearts were keen to sign up for the next event (details are posted on the Cafe Rosso Facebook page).

Of course, no food-related meeting would be complete without some actual food. Stefano had very kindly brought along a selection from his menu, and it didn’t take us long to work our way through profiteroles, biscotti and probably the best tiramisu that has ever been created. Seriously.

If you’re ever looking for authentic, delicious Italian food created as though it were a home-cooked meal for friends, we would all thoroughly recommend Cafe Rosso – especially if you get to hear any of Stefano’s stories while you’re there.

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March 2015: Take tea with Taylors of Harrogate

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For our third meeting of the year, we were very pleased to welcome Tom from Taylors of Harrogate to talk all things tea.

Taylors – along with its sister company, Bettys of Harrogate – is one of our town’s best-known exports. It has become an internationally famous brand, not least through its Yorkshire Tea, which has become a favourite with a surprising number and range of celebrities.

However, there is much more to Taylors than ordinary tea. Tom talked us through the history of tea drinking, from its accidental discovery to the modern day range available from Taylors. He also passed around a number of tins of tea leaves to allow us to see – and smell – the differences between the varieties. (Hint: do not take a deep inhalation of Imperial Gunpowder Leaf Tea. It smells on fire.)

Tom also challenged us to work out how several different items were connected with Taylors and tea, including a silk handkerchief (another accidental discovery – a sort of early version of a tea bag). He then invited questions from the audience, which were many and varied, covering everything from the tea-blending process (the details are hard to remember, but needless to say it is absolutely meticulous) to the importance of celebrity fans (did you know Yorkshire Tea is the official tea choice of One Direction? This may or may not be true, but with Zayn Malik and Louis Tomlinson both coming from God’s Own County, a link-up was fairly inevitable. Louis has tweeted about his love of Yorkshire Tea in the past, which has no doubt led to a rise in sales to teenage girls…)

Of course, we couldn’t talk about tea without having a bit of it, so our lovely hostesses obliged – and you can’t have tea without cake, can you? Our members had done us proud again and the selection of cakes and biscuits was delicious.

We must say a huge thank-you to Tom for his talk. Being relatively new to the team and inexperienced compared to some of the other Taylors speakers, he was slightly nervous. Standing up in front of one of our busiest meetings ever – a whopping 80 ladies in the room – probably didn’t help! However, he made the evening very good fun for all of us and had a fantastic sense of humour. We would certainly recommend him to anyone who wants to learn the fine art of tea-making.

NEXT MONTH: Present wrapping. Do you struggle to wrap awkward gifts? Does anything non-rectangular give you nightmares? Find out how to wrap like a pro with Spa Sweethearts WI! Join us on Thursday 9th April, 7.30pm, St George’s Social Club, St George’s Road, Harrogate. Guests £5; members free.

November 2014: Willow weaving

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There are some topics which the Spa Sweethearts take to like ducks to water. For many people, willow weaving was one of them – and the guidance of tutor Leilah Vyner from Dragon Willow helped make it a real success.

Leilah began by telling us about her background and showing us slides of some of her fantastic creations and those made by some of her students. We were all particularly impressed by the willow reindeer she brought along, but quite rightly Leilah had decided we should start with something a little more manageable. Heart-shaped wreaths were the order of the day.

After being shown the simple method, we were all given the two pieces of willow which would make the basis of our hearts and began gently bending them into shape. A few people opted instead for a traditional round wreath shape. A handful of us (myself included) had issues with snaps and kinks in our willow, but Leilah was more than happy to supply a replacement piece and help us get started again.

Once the basic shape was in place, we helped ourselves to the range of decorations Leilah had brought along, including everything from natural greenery to festive, glittery decorations. Within just one session, many of our members and guests had created impressive wreaths which wouldn’t have looked out of place in an upmarket home decor shop, with a hefty price tag attached. Perhaps this is a potential new line for Spa Sweethearts enterprises?!

Some of the beautiful willow creations made by the Spa Sweethearts.

Some of the beautiful willow creations made by the Spa Sweethearts.

As ever, some of our members had baked some delicious goodies for us all to enjoy. One unknown lady had made some fantastic mince pies – I had my first of the season. Followed by my second. Yum.

Particular thanks must go to those ladies who arrived early to help, and who stayed behind at the end to clear up. Any meetings involving greenery tend to be extremely messy and this was no exception. On top of that, we had all our 2015 membership payments to sort out, as well as Christmas party money and the small charge for materials on the night. It could have been chaotic, but thanks to the hard work of the committee and supporters it all ran fairly smoothly on the night.

Next month’s meeting will be our Christmas party night, with games, a bring-and-share supper and more. Details to follow soon!