Tag Archives: Spa Sweethearts

August 2013: Mixology

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Tonight’s session was led by expert mixologists Colin and Eddie from Montey’s Rock Cafe in Harrogate.

Although they started by explaining they didn’t have all their usual equipment for cocktail making with them, they still had a very extensive array of gadgets and gizmos, as well as the more traditional kit you would expect.

Naturally, we all got a delicious welcome drink to start the evening and were able to sample a wide range of cocktails during the sessions. However, this being the WI, we needed to learn about what we were drinking too – and there was plenty of opportunity to do that.

Colin and Eddie are clearly very passionate about what they do and were full of enthusiasm for their jobs. They taught us everything from the history of cocktail-making and the definition of a cocktail to the latest innovations in the craft, including molecular cocktails (described by Colin as “what would happen if Heston Blumenthal made cocktails, which thankfully he doesn’t”).

It was all delivered with a lot of humour and a practical approach, including advice on how we could adapt their recipes for use at home – who knew a rolling pin, a sieve and a teapot could be so versatile? And Lakeland in Harrogate may want to order in some extra whipped cream makers, because we were all very impressed with the way they can be used to finish off a stylish cocktail.

The fun presentation – coupled with some lovely drinks, of course – gave us a memorable August meeting and it’s safe to say we’ll all be calling in to Montey’s to try more of their handywork in the future. Huge thanks to Colin and Eddie for all their hard work.

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April 2013: Bread

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Our speaker for the April meeting was Dave Francis, who taught us some of the basics of making sourdough bread.

It’s always great to have someone who is very passionate about their craft and Dave certainly is. He gave us a real insight into how bread is made, from start to finish, and explained the differences between traditional methods and those used to mass-produce loaves for supermarkets, which was very interesting.

The first half of the evening was mostly taken up with making our own dough. Everyone was given the right ingredients and set to work mixing and kneading. It was a messy process and involved a lot more water than most people were used to, but Dave seemed happy with the results and instructed everyone on what to do with the dough once we got it home.

After we had tidied up and had a quick cup of tea, it was time to hear a bit more about the process of making sourdough, including how the starter (the bit which gets the whole process going when you begin mixing) is made.

Dave had thoughtfully brought in starters at different stages to show us what their appearance, size and – most distinctively – smell should be like. We all got a chance to have a look at what we should be aiming for, and some of the ladies even had a go at grinding the raw ingredients which looked like very hard work!

In true Blue Peter style, Dave produced some sourdough loaves he had baked earlier so we could all try a piece. It was a useful guide for us so that, when we baked our dough at home, we could get an idea of whether it tasted as it should, particularly as sourdough has a very different flavour to ordinary bread.

It was a really interesting evening and even those of us who had baked bread before learned something new. Dave has also allowed us to reproduce his recipe for perfect sourdough, which can be found here: Sourdough.

Happy baking!

March 2013: Beads

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Our March meeting was led by the lovely ladies from Bead, a new shop in Harrogate which has an incredible array of beads (as you would expect!) plus all the bits to turn the beads into some beautiful hand-made jewellery.

The demonstration was easy enough that all of us could follow it, but we could each use the instructions to make our own earrings as simple or as extravagant as we wanted.

Once we had been shown what to do, it was time to give it a go ourselves. There was a bit of a scrum as nearly 60 women all attempted to find matching sets of beads at the same time. With a bit of patience and a lot of searching, everyone found what they needed to make the kind of earrings they liked and returned to their seats.

Then, it was a case of arranging them to make a pretty drop earring and snipping off the wire at the top with the wire cutters provided by Bead, leaving just enough to make a little loop so it could be attached to the earring hook. Thoughtfully, Bead had supplied kits for both pierced and unpierced ears, so everyone could make something which they could use afterwards.

With so many people there, all fiddling with tiny bits of wire, beads and pliers, things could have been slightly chaotic, but the team from Bead was more than capable of making sure everyone knew what they were doing, offering advice and guidance as they went around the room, and keeping a stead supply of beads ready so everyone could find something they liked. By the end of the evening, everyone had at least one pair of ready-to-wear earrings, and quite a few people could be seen modelling their creations before they left for the night.

The raffle proved very popular as well, with a prize of a £10 voucher for Bead, so one lucky person could use it to follow up the inspiration we had been given. There were some other kits on sale, although Bead offers many more in its shop on Bower Road. The team also offers other workshops and no doubt some of the Spa Sweethearts will be looking into these, to create necklaces, bracelets and other jewellery to coordinate with their new earrings.

Thanks very much to the ladies from Bead for a fun evening, and to our hostesses for the night who did a great job of keeping us all topped up with tea, coffee and juice – along with some lovely cakes baked by our members.

At our next meeting, we’ll be learning all about bread, on Thursday, April 11. If you haven’t been before, you’ll be made very welcome – just get in touch to find out more.