Tag Archives: Food

A café for chocolate lovers

The Chocolate RoomsThe Chocolate Rooms in Tarleton, Lancashire, otherwise known as Wonka Towers, are the nerve centre of Choc Amor, Lancashire chocolatiers of artisan Belgian chocolate.

It is here that a mouth-watering range of award-winning chocolate is handmade, served and sold.

I’d been hearing so much about this chocolate café that I made a special visit in order to see (read taste) for myself.

There’s a delicious lunch menu offering sandwiches, salads, flatbreads and platters (and my salmon, beetroot and feta salad was fresh, crisp and flavourful) but let’s be honest, it’s the sweet stuff that you go here for!

Freshly made cakes tempt you from the counter and a variety of brownies, scones and ice cream will leave you spoilt for choice. If you’re willing to share, everyone in your party should order something different so you can try more than one option.

Pecan PieI can tell you that the pecan pie was to die for – a gooey, nutty slice of deliciousness – and the chocolate cake was rich, creamy and melt in the mouth.

There’s a great range of hot drinks to choose from, including four different versions of hot chocolate made using Belgian chocolate, plus milkshakes and soft drinks. I opted for chocolate tea, which was lovely and felt indulgent (it’s caffeine free too).

Ingredients are sourced in Lancashire where possible and at under £30 for quality, homemade food for two (drinks, lunch and cake), the café is very good value for money.

But the experience doesn’t have to stop once you’ve finished eating; you can buy from the Choc Amor range too. The flavours of chocolate on offer are positively exotic – Chilli and Lime, Orange Jalfrezi, Raspberry and Balsamic Vinegar and Tonka Bean, Smoked Sea Salt and Cocoa Nib to name just a few.

The company’s founder, Paul Williams aka Chef de Wonka, is the creative chocolatier behind these flavours which have resulted in a number of Great Taste Awards since he started out in 2012, and this year saw him competing in the World Finals of the International Chocolate Awards.

You can also buy at Choc Amor’s Little Chocolate Shop at Botany Bay, at a number of farmer’s markets and food festivals and online at chocamor.co.uk

Choc Amor is clearly a labour of love and deserving of support from Lancashire chocolate lovers.

Follow Paul on Twitter for insights into the world of chocolate making at Wonka Towers!

Blackberry picking in the late summer sun

When summer is drawing to an end and you can feel the first hints of autumn in the air, blackberry picking is the perfect way to enjoy the last warm days of the year.

From the end of August and through September, blackberries can be found growing in hedgerows up and down the country. My favourite spot is along the old railway line from Knott End to Preesall, which used to serve the Pilling Pig locomotive transporting passengers from Knott End to Pilling and onwards to Garstang in the early 1900s.

The old railway line

The Knott End to Pilling stretch of the line closed in 1950 and a section from Hackensall Woods in Knott End to Park Lane in Preesall is now a footpath. It’s about a mile long and you’ll experience both the shelter of woodland and the full force of the elements as you cross wide open countryside.

The old railway line from PreesallFrom the top of the steps at the Preesall end (which is well hidden at the roadside), you can see much of the footpath laid out before you (pictured). There are a number of points to veer off the line and change course, including a six mile route that picks up the Wyre Way.

Blackberries line much of the footpath and I have wonderful memories of picking them with my grandparents as a child. I still follow my grandad’s advice: select berries at the same height as you (higher are for birds, lower may have been watered by dogs), wear something long sleeved and leave some for everybody else!

Taking advantage of nature’s offering and the chance to eat ripe, seasonal fruit for free is a must! The dog comes too, meaning we both get our daily quota of exercise and fresh air (and she’s partial to a blackberry or two).

Blackberry and Apple CrumbeSo what to do with your haul? My nana made big pans of blackberry jam but for me, nothing signals autumn like crumble. My favourite recipe is Deliciously Ella’s Apple and Blackberry Crumble (pictured), which uses only a handful of ingredients to make a wholesome and nutritious version.

The smell as it bakes and the delicious mouthfuls that follow are the fruits of your labours to be enjoyed. And with this virtuous recipe, you can enjoy cold crumble for breakfast the next morning!

From hedgerow to bowl in hours – soul food indeed.