6 of the best Valentine’s Day treats from Yorkshire
PUBLISHED: 11:19 07 February 2017 | UPDATED: 11:19 07 February 2017
Some sweet inspiration for Valentine’s Day
Usually, the run-up to Valentine’s Day is a fraught time for me, writes Tony Greenway. That’s because my wife is a hard woman to shop for and I always seem to get romantic gifts wrong. Take last year when I bought her some chunky ‘statement’ jewellery. ‘Who do you think I am?’ she shrieked. ‘Mr T?’
I’m not alone in this. All my male friends seem to get their Valentine’s gifts wrong, too (although why they buy romantic presents for my wife is something I still haven’t figured out). I think it’s because men really don’t know what women want.
Last year, my brother – this is honestly true – bought his wife a season ticket for Charlton Athletic. He genuinely thought she would be pleased with it, so was rather taken aback the next morning to find that she had sewn up the leg-holes of his favourite suit.
Anyway, this year I’ve hopefully solved the conundrum by researching some fail-safes: sparkling wine, chocolates and a romantic breakfast, all from Yorkshire.
No, really. What could possibly go wrong?
A Barnsley-based luxury handmade chocolate and celebration cakes business run by Melanie Leonard, which has been in town for 18 years. Her fabulous luxury assorted chocolates include Champagne, Baileys, rum, Cointreau, and many more and, for Valentine’s Day, she also produces a heart-shaped box that’s full of chocolates and made of chocolate. How great is that? ‘I usually put a 250gram bag inside,’ she tells me. It just gets better. It’s available from the beginning of February.
I don’t know about you, but nothing says ‘romance’ on Valentine’s Day morning like a lovely breakfast. The good people at Heck in Bedale make a special heart-shaped, limited edition Valentine’s banger called ‘Peck’ (last year’s packaging featured a lipstick kiss) that’s ‘perfect for a breakfast treat’ and available in various supermarkets.
Leventhorpe is an award-winning vineyard in Leeds (and Yorkshire’s oldest vineyard) that has featured in various TV shows, including Oz Clarke and James May Drink to Britain. How good is the wine it produces? Put it like this, owner George Bowden tells me that bottles were recently requested by the British Embassy in Paris for a high tea to celebrate the finish of the Tour de France while, in April of last year, nine of the Jurats of the Jurade – Premier and Grand Cru winegrowers from Saint-Emilion, Lussac Saint-Emilion and Puissequin Saint-Emilion – visited the vineyard in their medieval robes for a tour, talk and tasting. That doesn’t happen very often. For Valentine’s Day, George produces two types of sparkling wine. ‘I’ve a Blanc de Blancs and a pink called Rose Gold,’ he says. ‘It’s slightly Victorian and blingy at the same time.’ Quality.
Ben Rawson is a pastry chef who has created truffles and petits fours for the likes of the Dorchester, the Savoy and Park Lane Hilton. Three years ago he started his own truffle-making business in Yorkshire using local cream and the finest quality Belgian chocolate. You can make your own selection from Ben’s range: dark original, milk chocolate and roasted almond, amaretti, Yorkshire lemon curd, a white chocolate truffle and a Baileys. ‘It’s like a posh pick and mix,’ he tells me. Ben appears at various markets around the county, including Ilkley, Otley, Wetherby, Baildon and Knaresborough.
It’s not just the exceptional quality of the artisan Belgian chocolate that sets this Wetherby-based shop apart. Its award-winning window displays are beautiful too and, says owner Angela Davidson. ‘A lot of people come just to look at the window. We’ll do a really fancy display for Valentine’s’. And that’s just the outside. Inside, gifts include Valentine’s boxes, caramel-filled hearts and praline hearts, plus Valentine’s novelties such as a Valentine’s bear holding a heart, Valentine’s lollipops and candies. A must visit for the big day.
Planning a romantic evening? Then you’ll be requiring something sparkling (by which I mean wine, not a diamond. This is Yorkshire, remember). The award-winning (and aptly named, for this time of year) Yorkshire Heart Vineyard and Brewery, Nun Monkton near York, produces beautiful sparkling wines (a white and a rose) which, it says, ‘are the only sparkling fully produced from grape to glass in Yorkshire by means of the traditional Champagne method of 2nd fermentation’. Yorkshire Heart takes its wine production seriously but then the results are seriously good.