Beyond tea and coffee, they have a competitively priced range of fine foods. I was pleased to see that many of them are locally produced, including Pukara Estate Oils (who do an excellent Caramelised Balsamic) and Hand Stirred Foods of Berrima. I left with a loaf of La Tartine Fruit Bread ($6.50) from Somersby on the Central Coast, resplendent with apricots, whole almonds and figs.
The well-stocked shelves of Harrogate Teas, Coffees & Fine Foods are decorated with the owners’ collection of tea caddies from all over the world. While you’re in store, why not ask for a tea tasting (free) or perhaps enjoy pot of tea in their window setting ($3/person). With 50 varieties of tea, there’s sure to be something for everyone. An introductory offer of 50g for $5 (that’s about 25 cups worth) will allow you to sample widely.
What's even better, these products are largely ethical ones too. This new store exclusively stock teas and coffees from Taylors of Harrogate, a fair trade company who have won the ‘Queen’s Award for Enterprise – Sustainable Development 2007’. As well as paying fair prices for tea and coffee, Taylors of Harrogate engage in a Trees for Life replanting project (on a tea that they sell in supermarkets in the UK), encourage staff fundraising for local charities, reinvest 5% of profits back into local and global communities, and where possible they buy locally, supporting sustainable suppliers. You can also safely choose tea bags in this range, as the bags are chemical free and sealed with heat.
There were also more exotic teas. Co-owner Marjorie Stewart tells me that one of their most popular teas is the South African Kwazulu, a single estate tea from Ntingwe Estate.
But with summer rapidly approaching, I was keener for a couple of suggestions for good home-made iced tea. Apparently Exotic Flowers (with lemon, orange and mango oils and marigold blossoms) and Moroccan Mint (a blend of caffeine-free North African Mint and North African Black Tea) are both great choices.
I also got to review these great Kick Ice cocktail premixes, to which you add half a bottle of the correct alcohol (ie Tequila for the Margarita mix, White Rum for the Pina Coladas and Daiquiris) and some warm water. Freeze bag, then enjoy ten single nip quite good frozen cocktails. Our favourite was the Margarita mix, but the Daiquiri was a close second. They're all natural, with no preservatives, artificial colours or flavours too! The only bad bit is having to wait at least six hours (preferably over night) until they're frozen.
We also went to the launch (at the MTV Television Studio) of Sabai Spritzer (pronounced sa-bye). The Thai name means ‘taking it easy’, and that’s also reflected in the reasonably low 5% of alcohol (white wine) per drink. Again we’re talking all-natural flavours – in this case Pomegranate or Hibiscus – no added sugars, and, for the diet conscious, there are only 130 calories in each of the smartly packaged 275ml ready-to-drink bottles. For me, it just made me think outdoor barbecue.
And last, but by no means least, we road tested a Raclette Grill (r.r.p. $179) from Raclette Australia. Think a contemporary fondue set, designed for cook-at-the-table entertaining where your guests do the work.
Let’s face it – entertaining can be hard work, so ideas that impress without making more work for me are always welcome. This is a little piece of Switzerland in your own home. Simply slice up your choice of cheese (I used Raclette, Tilsit and Gruyere from Tasmania’s Heidi Farm) to melt in the eight individual trays, and then add your favourite cheese accompaniments. You’re only limited by your imagination, but they do have a handy book of recipes if you need inspiration.
As you can see, I experimented with mini Wagyu beef cheeseburgers, grilled ham and cheese on toast and cheesy potatoes – all were a success.
The potatoes, which you partially pre-cook in the microwave for speedy grilling, were particularly great drizzled with melted cheese. It was fun, easy to use, not very hard to clean, and if you buy the book, there are seemingly endless combinations you can try (think Mexican as an example, cooking a beef mix on the grill, and the cheese underneath).
Harrogate Teas, Coffees & Fine Foods
3 Union Street, Pyrmont
Ph: (02) 9571 6111
Kick Ice Cocktails
Currently on special for $12.99 (r.r.p. $17.99)
Pyrmont Supa IGA
63 Miller Street, Pyrmont
Ph: (02) 9571 5199