Top 5 places for sweet treats

Everybody loved our top 5 hot chocolates post, so we decided to carry on the tradition and give you our lowdown on the top 5 places in Boro for sweet treats (in no particular order!). It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it…

1. Esquires Coffee

Sweet treats: Esquires Coffee

Cake! Rainbow sprinkles! Pink! – just three of my favourite things, and coincidentally, this cake includes them all, which makes it a winner in my book! Plus, Esquires have just been refurbished and it looks super cool and modern – very Bedford Street-esque!

2. Dressers Tea Room

Sweet treats: Dressers Tea Room

Having worked at the beautiful Dorman Museum, I can safely say I spent a loooooot of time in Dressers and tried pretty much all of their cakes! I can’t pick a favourite, but this Irish cream one was pretty darn special.

3. Off the Ground (supplied by Songbird Bakery)

Sweet treats: Off the Ground

I think this cookie actually changed my life a little bit, it was that magical! It was like a cross between a cookie and a cake, and I never wanted it to end. It’s totally okay to eat Christmas-themed food all year round, right? Please, I want more…

4. Bedford Street Coffee

Sweet treats: Bedford Street Coffee

If it was possible for me to survive on Bedford Street Coffee’s salted caramel brownie alone, I absolutely 100% would. It’s a thing of beauty. And when it comes served with fruit, you can almost pretend it’s healthy!

5.  The Southfield

Sweet treats: The Southfield

Yes, really. You can get a slab of cake the size of your face for £2.45, and if that (as a cake lover) doesn’t make you happy, nothing will. It’s less than a bus fare into town! Sign. Me. Up.!

Claire

It’s been a tough job, taking part in this research, but we (wo)manned up valiantly to the cause! Anything for cake…and my absolute favourite sweet treat will always be cake. And the only cake for me is from The Olde Young Tea House (how many times can I mention cake in one paragraph?!) Light, fluffy, ALWAYS delicious, brilliant flavour combinations and the perfect proportion of icing to cake: P E R F E C T I O N ! Every time. In fact, can I have some now please? Cake run, anyone…

Emma

How does one choose the best place for a sweet treat – it really depends on if you want cake, doughnuts, cookies, ice cream. Either way, I have to put Espresso 10 outside the Hillstreet Centre at top for me. I mean mini doughnuts and chocolate sauce is always a winner!

Rachel

My honourable mention goes to Patisserie Valerie, because I’m slightly obsessed with their chocolate gateau slice and I’d eat them every day if I could!

Boro Books 4: The Little Church by the Sea by Liz Taylorson

Happy new year, blog readers! And what better way to start out a new year than with a brand new Boro Book! You know how much we love our local authors so we were proper chuffed when we were introduced to Liz Taylorson’s debut novel, The Little Church by the Sea. 

little church by the sea by liz taylorson

Isolated and unwelcome in the picturesque seaside village of Rawscar, Reverend Cass Fordyce has lost her faith and her home. Christmas is coming, and she isn’t looking forward to it. Then she meets attractive local man Hal – twice divorced and with a reputation as a ladies’ man he’s everything that a celibate vicar like Cass should avoid… especially as Hal is hiding secrets of his own, including his past with the mysterious Anna. Can Cass ever find her way in Rawscar? What secret does Hal have to hide? And is there ever such a thing as a truly fresh start?

Love Middlesbrough Lass Emma is your reviewer today, so over to you Emma…

I was sceptical at best for this book given that it is set at Christmas and we all know Christmas media is mainly cheesy romance that just gets boring after so long. I was still willing to try it out – even more so when I heard it was about a female vicar… this was new. I also found the amount of foul language in this book – used the same way I would – quite hilarious; I think anyone would if it came from a vicar!

My favourite part of the book is the main character. Cass – the female vicar for a small fishing village turned holiday retreat – is possibly one of the most well written female characters placed in regular modern day life. She is sarcastic, caring and most importantly, human. She isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination and the only time she is referred to from an aesthetic viewpoint is in reference to her dog collar or lack of it. I like the lack of physical description, it leaves more to my imagination. She is also a bit of an outcast from this town – being an incomer to the town rather than a local.

Locals to Middlesbrough and surrounding areas may see some parallels between the small, fictional town of Rawscar and our local area. There’s even a reference to our favourite Captain Cook!

I have to say, there are some major plot twists in this book that just keep you hooked – I’m not saying any more though; you’re just going to have to find out yourself. By the third chapter I was kinda hooked, and I spent almost every bus journey reading this. I really recommend this book for those looking for an alternative winter read – even though it’s labelled as a Christmas book it could totally be read any time of the year.

liz taylorson

Liz Taylorson is an amazing author who has painted a realistic view of life and women rather than things being perfect and women always looking amazing. This book is super realistic and explores real problems in real people’s lives – such as unlikely friends, losing faith and hating your small hometown. The book explores so much that it’s impossible to write in one blog post – so just go read it!

Buy the book on Amazon

Roundup of the year!

2017 – what a beaut! What a year! Want to see a round-up of all the fab stuff we did? Of course you do!

Top 5 blog posts

  1. You’re not alone in loving all things Orange Pip Market. We sent Love Middlesbrough Lass Emma along to try it out for the first time during English Tourism Week and you loved her review as much as she loved eating ALL OF THE FOOD. The observant among you will soon see that this becomes a common theme…
  2. Emma pops up once again and this time she’s at the theatre! A Note to Myself rolls in at number two…
  3. A late entry to this list is our fabulous top 5 hot chocolates post – maybe we’ll do a top 5 milkshakes or sundaes post next year, since you obviously loved it as much as we did!
  4. Mela 2017! That glorious Saturday and Sunday in July when Centre Square was filled with food, entertainment, decorations, fantastic performances and oh, did we mention food?
  5. It fills our hearts with joy that you love the Dorman Museum as much as we do. We could hardly contain our excitement for the Tokyo to the Tees exhibition and it did not disappoint at all…

Love Middlesbrough InstaMeet

We were so excited to plan our very first InstaMeet! All the photos – our favourite! We had grand plans that did end up being slightly smaller than we had hoped, but we were delighted that people came to join us – good things definitely come in small packages. It was lovely meeting people face to face and the photos that came out of the day were brilliant! We’d love to do it again so shout out in the comments if you would be up for joining us…

#BoroReads

We were massively excited to be asked to work with Middlesbrough Libraries and their summer #BoroReads project. Books! Libraries! Young bloggers! Love Middlesbrough Lass Claire was basically in her happiest of happy places. As if that wasn’t brilliant enough, we also started making connections with local authors and started our Boro Books series too. We’re definitely hoping for more of this in 2018!

Favourite photo

Snow in Centre Square

It won’t come as too much of a surprise that we love our Instagram – if you’re not already following, get on it! Turns out you guys also love the S N O W as our most loved photo was this glorious snowy scene, captured by our honorary Love Middlesbrough Lass, Matt.

Food

All the food, all the days! Would it really be a Love Middlesbrough blog if it didn’t include some reference to food?! From ice-creams in Stewart Park to fancy French-English food at Bistrot Pierre, we tried out as many places as we could. We’re still waaaaaaay behind with all the fantastic new places that have opened in town and we’ll be doing our very best to make up for that in 2018. It truly is a tough job…

Magical Middlesbrough Christmas

Fireworks at Christmas

We know it was magical because over 60,000 of you came out to join us at the Christmas Lights Switch On and the Magical Middlesbrough Parade! On a side note we’d like to say thanks to you all for your feedback about the Christmas Markets and the Fairground. We’ve taken it all on board and passed it along to the events peeps and we’ll just have to see what happens next year!

Highlights from the Lasses

Claire I got to do so many brilliant things, it’s hard to call it. But if you’re making me choose it’s equal running between all the hard hat tours I got to go on (hard hats are so cool! ) and going to my very first classical music concert – still gives me goosebumps!

Emma  I have to say, this year was one thing after another. So much has happened – including becoming a Love Middlesbrough Lass whoop! – can my highlight be all the food :’D? That’s valid right? If it isn’t then the summer special of Orange Pip Market on Centre Square has to be my highlight. The food and the atmosphere was so amazing, it truly felt like summer – and it was warmer than it is now, brr!

Rachel Like Claire, I’m having trouble choosing just one highlight. I think it would be a tie between our visit to Creams and the Magical Middlesbrough Christmas Lights Switch On, when the Lasses were all out in force, having a great time watching a fire show, and dancing to some fab music! My trusty little phone took some amazing firework photos too…

  

We wish you a merry Middlesbrough Christmas!

Tis the season! The time for eating, drinking, being merry, flapping round the shops trying to buy that last minute Secret Santa present, and taking part in all the traditions! Even if your tradition is to completely avoid the whole Christmas thing and hide in your bed under a cosy blanket until it’s all over, that counts as a tradition in my eyes. 

We decided that we couldn’t let the season pass without asking some people to let us in on their festive traditions. We tried our best to keep the traditions Middlesbrough-focused, but go gently on us if they stretch just sliiiiiightly out of the reach of everyone’s favourite town! 

First up, we chatted to Amy Lord, local blogger and now author! We introduced you to Amy recently as she told us all about her new book, The Disappeared. Let’s talk traditions!

Mostly the holidays are a great time to hibernate and spend time with family. But one thing we do try and do every year is get out into the countryside around Middlesbrough for a walk. It makes me feel a lot less guilty about all the Christmas food! [haha, yep we totally get that! Also can we just say, gorgeous photo!]

Christmas traditions with Amy Lord

Next up we have another local author – we’re all about the books this year! Here’s Roxie Cooper, author of The Law of Attraction and currently editing her second book (we can’t wait!) 

I’m a proper Boro lass and lived here until I was 18 before going to university in Newcastle. After living all over the place for another 17 years, I finally moved back to the north-east – this time, settling in Yarm. It’s a gorgeous little town at the best of times, centered around a beautiful high street which boasts cute coffee shops (where I write my novels!), chic designer boutiques and yummy restaurants. But it turns into a twinkly wonderland at Christmas (especially when it snows). Since moving here years ago, I bring my kids down when it gets dark to see the tree lights being switched on and we keep warm with hot chocolates. It has a really lovely Christmas vibe about the place in December and it’s such a friendly community. It wouldn’t be Christmas without spending a night on the cobbles and I’ll make sure that never changes! 

Christmas traditions with Roxie Cooper

You want to hear some of our traditions as well? Oh go on then! 

Claire
There’s three things I do every year, without fail, and I absolutely love them all! 

1. One of my friends lives in New York City (I know, right?!) and she comes home for Christmas times with her family, and every year we arrange our annual Christmas catch up. Always in Middlesbrough, always a coffee shop and we basically don’t stop talking from the first bone crushing, helloooo hug until we all have to call it a day and head home! This year I’m going to introduce her to Off the Ground and I can’t wait! 

2. On Christmas Eve, we get fizz, we get the Christmas cake and anyone who wants to join in comes round and we all get very, very messy icing it and adding all sorts of bonkers decorations! When this tradition started it was all about making the cake look as nice as possible, but with each year it’s more about what barmy thing can we add this time. Christmas shark anyone…?!

christmas traditions claire

3. Picture the scene: Christmas Day, totally stuffed from all the food and it’s dark outside. While everyone else stays in and falls into a heap on the sofa, we get wrapped up warm and we take the Love Middlesbrough dog Bob, out for an evening stroll past all the pretty liiiiiiights in everyone’s houses. Even if it’s cold or wet, it’s just so cosy walking round when everyone else is tucked up inside. And there can never be enough twinkly lights in my life. Ever. 

Emma
So, my family isn’t exactly traditional and I’m the youngest (18 now!) so the whole running downstairs for presents thing no longer happens. Christmas always starts on Christmas Eve though, my sister once suggested that we do Christmas Eve pyjamas, so now we do – or in my case lounge wear because who wears pyjamas??? My sister still joins us on Christmas Eve, even though she has her own house, so we end up just lazing about together until it’s too late to stay awake and then we disappear to bed.

One of my favourite things about Christmas is the food. It’s tradition to have lunch with my parents – my mum works her butt off creating the perfect lunch – and then to get slightly tipsy and remain that way all day. We’re not alcoholics, it’s just me… I like vodka lemonade. We then lay on the couch in what is known as ‘too. much. food. pain’ for an unreasonable amount of time before going to my Gran’s for more food. She’ll put a buffet out because – unlike my brother who attends about 5 different houses and 3 different meals – we can’t eat two lots of Christmas dinner. It’s actually quite nice and old fashioned at my Gran’s. The Queen’s speech no longer goes on though which is a bit of a relief.

Christmas traditions Emma

I have a personal Christmas tradition of disappearing upstairs to watch Doctor Who.  My family don’t have any set in stone traditions, we just kinda have the same routine of eat too much, go home, sleep, don’t move for the entirety of Boxing Day – I guess that’s a tradition…?

Rachel

We know I love a good list, so here’s my Christmas traditions list:

  • Everyone has to put a handful of fruit into the Christmas cake mix and make a wish… The only problem is that because I have a whole year for the wish to come true, I never remember what it was or whether it did in the end!
  • My brother and I have a tradition of always watching a scary film and eating popcorn on Christmas Eve – I can’t remember how this tradition started (though it was definitely in the days of Blockbuster), but it’s about as un-Christmas-like as you can get!
  • We have a little ceramic nativity scene, which is probably as old as me, which goes underneath the Christmas tree, and it’s always my job to set it up. It’s totally adorable, and even if it is looking a bit worn around the edges and some of the animals are missing an ear or a foot, it’s still my fave Christmas decoration ❤️

Top 5 hot chocolates!

Anyone who spends any time looking at our Instagram will know that we love hot chocolate. I mean, you can’t fail to be happy when you have a (good) hot chocolate in your hand! In fact, you could almost say I’m a hot chocolate connoisseur.

I’m also someone who likes lists a lot, so what better way to present my favourite hot chocolates than in a list (with photos of course, because I can never resist taking a blogger-ish photo of my food or drink).

So here I present to you, my top 5 hot chocolates:

1. Off the Ground (white chocolate)

My overall winner is Off the Ground, with their amazing white hot chocolate! It’s so good I can’t even deal with it; I would literally drink it every day if I could. It tastes like actual white chocolate, not just some chocolate-flavoured powder, but it’s not too sweet either.

Plus, Off the Ground is a social enterprise working to end homelessness in Middlesbrough, so you can feel like you’re doing good while you’re having your delicious hot chocolate too. More of this in 2018 please!

2. Baker Street Kitchen (BSK hot chocolate)

Hot chocolate! Marshmallows! Cream! And a Flake! Be still my beating heart!

As if the hot chocolate couldn’t possibly get any better, you also get a Flake or some other kind of super-melty chocolate bar to go with it, which you can put into your hot chocolate to make it even richer, or just eat it (guilty).

3. Mannequin Cafe

Mannequin Cafe is a two minute hop, skip and jump away from Love Middlesbrough HQ, so we’re forever in there for hot chocolate. Good day? Hot chocolate. Bad day? Hot chocolate. Cold day? Hot chocolate. Etc., etc.

It’s so cheap even for a large one (which obvs I get), and it’s made with milk, none of this boiling water nonsense! Proper job!

4. Brewhouse (white chocolate)

I’m reliably informed that the proper Teesside way to say this coffee shop’s name is ‘Brew’ouse’, so here’s a white chocolate hot chocolate from Brew’ouse.

There’s not a lot to say really, other than why wouldn’t you want a hot chocolate that’s made with white chocolate? It literally tastes like drinking a Milkybar! Oh, and it comes with a Flake too; you can’t get much better than that!

5. Olde Young Tea House

You can’t write about hot drinks in Middlesbrough and not write about the Olde Young Tea House.

Everything there is served with a side order of adorbs (by that I obviously mean adorableness, not some weird new food called adorbs), which makes it wonderful in my book. Their hot chocolate comes with all the usual trimmings and my only complaint is that the mug could be bigger, but then I always want more hot chocolate!

And there you have it, my top 5 hot chocolates in Boro (and not a chain coffee shop in sight)! So now you’ve got my recommendations, get out there and try them out for yourself this festive season! ☕️❤️☕️