Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Fat Rascals and Hog roast in York

I spent a lovely weekend in the beautiful English city of York, wandering through its well preserved medieval streets, stumbling upon the tiniest street with the city's longest name: Whip-ma-whop-ma-gate; visiting the Stonegate Teddy bear shop which sells all kinds of teddies, including the highly exclusive limited edition gem studded Steiff bear that cost up to £28,000. What!!! A five-figured teddy??? Well you can also opt for a non-limited edition Steiff bear that will set you back by a mere £100. 

Needless to say, I just ogled at them in disbelief.
From Saxon times, meaning "neither one thing nor the other".  Such a mouthful. 

Every type of bears, from Paddingtons to Poohs to satisfy your Teddy fetishes

I chanced upon an old school candy shop and was immediately drawn to a tray of delectably beautiful golden home made peanut brittle. 

Golden nuggets of crunchy caramel-ly peanut brittles

When in Stonegate, it is a must to visit Little Bettys. Walk in through the front door of this quaint little cafe and you will be greeted by the delicious aroma of freshly baked scones, cakes, and cookies that are displayed on antique dressers and cabinets. Up the winding stairs, the cozy cafe has an actual working  fireplace. Imagine sipping hot tea while enjoying buttery warm scones with clotted cream and homemade preserves next to a roaring fire on a blistering cold winters day. 


There are currently six Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms, which are family owned traditional English tea rooms that was founded by a Swiss confectioner, Frederick Belmont in 1919. The nearby St Helen's Square Bettys Cafe has a much more refined and elegant interior as it was inspired by the magnificent RMS Queen Mary cruise liner that so enthralled Frederick Belmont when he went on its maiden voyage. 

Cute, old fashioned display windows 

Lovely packaged teas and cakes that will make great edible gifts. Photo courtesy of Bettys

Sultana scones and Fat Rascals!

After much deliberation, I settled on a beady-eyed ( or Cherry-eyed?) 'Fat Rascal' to go. The name and distinctive appearance of the 'Fat Rascal' is a registered trademark of Bettys. It is actually a Yorkshire tea biscuit, or round tea-cake with a rich brown crust made of juicy plump currants and candied peel. As I ambled along the cobbled streets, happily savoring the warm fruitiness of my rascal,the glutton in me couldn't help but wish that there was a pat of lovely salted butter to slather on each bite to add to its richness.

I next visited York's famous and iconic structure, the monumental York Minster. An entry ticket allows multiple entries on the same day, giving you access to the treasury, crypt and undercroft for a glimpse of York's Roman and Viking past.The York Minster is both a Minster and a Cathedral; a Minster is an Anglo-Saxon name for a place for missionary learning whereas a Cathedral is a later conquesting Norman term to signify the seat of a Bishop. 

I huffed and puffed my way up 275 steps and 230 feet (definitely burned off a significant portion of my Fat Rascal calories!) of the Central Tower to enjoy a lovely panoramic view of York's picturesque city centre.

York Minster- The largest Gothic cathedral north of the Alps
View from the top of the central tower- Medieval pinnacles atop the Minster

Many of the stained glass windows, especially the Great East Window are under massive conservation and restoration efforts. You can book a space via the York Minster box office to see the glass conservators at work on a Bedern Glaziers Studio Tour, which I did and thoroughly enjoyed. 

Trust the nerd in me to try and make any trip just a tad more educational. Huzzah!

Working on an ancient jigsaw. Photo courtesy of York Minster

Check out the difference between an unrestored window (left) and a a much clearer and vibrant window that have been painstakingly reworked by the conservators (right). In ancient times, when the glass fragments shattered, lead was used to join the broken fragments together which led to heavily webbed windows with marred images dangerously buckling under the weight of too much lead. The conservators painstakingly cleaned every dismantled piece, being careful to not strip the original paint, and then made use of modern resources (i.e. thin copper/epoxy/silicon) to patch smaller fragments together so that less lead joints were required for the entire stained window.

The beautiful Chapter House in York Minster

I later allowed my nose and growling tummy to guide me in search of a bite to eat. The tantalising smell of spit roast pork was the definite path to follow. The York Hogroast is cheap, fast and delicious! I ordered a sandwich filled with leg of pork, apple stuffing and extra crackling. Yes, you read that right, Extra Crackling! The tender and juicy roast pork was hand sliced in front of me, added to that a dollop of sweet tangy applesauce, and the 'cherry' on top, salty and crunchy crackling all stuffed into a soft bun. So simple and absolutely brilliant! You can savour all that deliciousness for less than 4 quid. 

Dang! Should have tried the roast potatoes in dripping too.

Crunching through the crackling. Porky goodness in a bun.

My next stop was La Cremeria, which is a small cafe recommended by a friend for their yummy home made ice cream. This busy little cafe is a stones throw away from the York Minster, making it a popular pit stop for a spot of tea or hot chocolate with marshmallows. Mmmmm..... While perusing the ice cream display, the proprieter kindly offered me a taster of some of their more unique flavours such as Blueberry and liquorice as well as peanut butter and toffee with maple syrup and bacon crunch (Tres American?). They were nice but I finally decided on a vanilla cone. 

Don't you dare roll your eyes. The misconception of vanilla=boring is a grave injustice. People who say that clearly haven't tasted good vanilla ice cream. Luscious vanilla ice cream is like a blank canvas to dress up in an infinite amount of varieties. 

That being said, the overall taste of La Cremeria's ice cream was good. The texture was smooth but a bit on the airy side. I usually prefer thick and creamy versions. Then again, homemade ice cream after a warm crackly hogroast bap? I am a happy camper.

Queuing to get into the tiny cafe

Not gelato but it still made my day!

Dear readers, do you enjoy having ice cream on a chilly day as well? Fancy flavours aside (i.e. Ben and Jerry-esque Vermonster,Phish food etc), what is your go to classic ice cream flavour? Chocolate? Strawberry? Or are you a vanilla person like me? 

Little Bettys Cafe
46 Stonegate
Telephone: +44 (0)1904 622865

Bettys Cafe

6-8 St. Helen's Square
Telephone:+44 (0)1904 659142

York hogroast II    

La Cremeria

20 High Petergate, 
North Yorkshire YO1 7EH

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