Macaron A Sweet Indulgence

David Broadbent Photography, macaron,

Becks Gough is a perfectionist – in all things. This bright eyed and enthusiastic Cinderford young woman is not the type to give up easily. And when, by chance, during a weekend in Paris she happened on the eye catching shop front of Ladurée on 75 Avenue de Champs Elysées she had – found her thing as they say – Macaron making. The window display of this famous patisserie and tea room, which has a history that began in 1862, definitely has the WOW factor and Becks and her friend bought some to try and also to take home to her mum. Macarons are delicate things but with lots of soft packaging and careful handling Becks got the colourful pastries home to Cinderford after a 15 hour return coach trip. Both Becks and her mum, Chloe, were impressed!

As so often happens, a life time’s work can begin with the belief “I can do that”. That was two years ago and in between time Becks has had several successes but many, many more failures whilst trying to perfect her own macaron method.

What could possibly go wrong? How long have you got? A slightly different mix and – fail; folded too much – fail; not folded enough – fail; try a different oven on exactly the same settings – fail! Becks’ list goes on. She purchased the Ladurée book and took control of the process and slowly but surely she got there. Soon friends were asking for some and then friends of friends and so it continues.

Why macarons? Was our obvious question – “Both mum and dad are professional chefs with a services background and I wanted to do something different” just to find MY thing.

David Broadbent Photography
A Sweet Indulgence

So, how do yours compare to the best? Rather coyly and for some unknown reason a hint of embarrassment Becks says “Better”. A few days later a very colourful rainbow of macarons appeared to sample and photograph. Pushed to deadlines and up against competing demands we didn’t think that we could do the tasting justice. So, we took them, all of them, to a very fine country house in Lincolnshire which had been hired in its entirety for a, appropriately, a Royal Navy wedding!

So in the resplendent Edwardian halls and sitting rooms the night before the wedding over drinks and bonhomie we tried out Becks’ creations on the assembled close family and friends. The colours when you open a box of Sweet Indulgence macarons are what immediately grab your attention. Let the tasting begin….

The verdict was in from a very tough crowd. Wonderful and numerous other superlatives in the stampede to try all the flavours – lemon cream, strawberry and cream, raspberry and cream, blueberry and cream, Chocolate ganache, orange blossom and salted caramel.

The bride herself loved them, but daren’t try any more than one since her dress was very precisely fitted for the big day following. The bride’s mother loved the orange blossom ones best. The bride’s father loved them all (as did we).  And, Ali, a flight stewardess for an American airline and someone who has visited the Champs Elysées outlet and tasted the original – loved them and pronounced them even better than the Paris version!! There you have it – confirmation that you should try some.

Contact Becks on

Foraging for Fun


Foraging sounds like excellent fun doesn’t it – alone in the countryside finding all your own food for free. What could be better? Having just come back from celebrating mushroom season Italian style for a continuing food documentary photo project we can say – we are fans! But it’s also a bit scary isn’t it. Alone in the woods for a start! What if you get attacked by a boar or an amorous stag like the Daily Mail are always banging on about.

Foraged wild Cep porcini mushrooms
Foraged wild Cep porcini mushrooms

What if I just end up eating overgrown lawn instead of an exotic wild herb? Even worse, what if that supposed French woodland delicacy of a dew-covered mushroom you’ve just picked turns out to be from the genus instantpainfuldeatharia? Just where do beginners to foraging actually start?

Amidst this glorious landscape of ours full of free, nutritious and healthy food as we are, it makes sense to get a little help before you start. Well you are in luck! The Parish Grasslands Project will be running a foraging day entitled a Taste of the Hudnalls. Described as a day of hunting for, and appreciating, the wild food available from the Hudnalls area.

Chanterelle mushrooms
Chanterelle mushrooms

Expert guide, Raoul van den Broucke, will be on hand to lead a small group through the lanes and fields of the Hudnalls on the afternoon of Saturday 29th October picking out tasty treats along the way. Raoul, once dubbed by The Guardian, “the Carluccio of the Wye Valley”, has a long standing expertise in wild food and will be imparting his knowledge to the hardy group during the day. Later the same evening at the St Briavels Assembly Rooms Raoul will be joining the fabulous Yvette Farrell of Harts Barn Cookery School  in a “cook what you brung” style masterclass of using wild food in the kitchen. There is also a competition for the best wild food recipe –don’t miss that! Visit the Grasslands website for details We’ll be there to cover the whole story but don’t let that put you off coming along and do say hello. It’ll be a fabulous day – tell them we sent you…

Raoul is a familiar face at the Tudor Farmhouse Hotel where is has been wild food expert in residence for several years as well as the tutor on Tudor Farmhouse Hotel’s extremely popular residential and group foraging courses. Under the expert tutelage of Raoul, Tudor’s courses having been running for about 5 years now and are always such popular events for the hotel that extra dates have been added for this Autumn and there are some new spring dates for 2017 soon to be announced. With either the day group courses or luxurious  forage, eat and stay packages on offer to choose from, they are not to be missed. See their website for details


Tudor Farmhouse Hotel - you'll love it!
Tudor Farmhouse Hotel – you’ll love it!