The first time my wife returned from a visit to Northallerton she waxed more than lyrical about ‘Bettys Tea Rooms’ and brought back some of their superb biscuits which did not last more than twenty four hours in our house.
One of my duties when I was in Northallerton was to go to ‘Bettys’ and buy some luxury biscuits to bring home for our riding instructor and the family looking after our cats while we were away.
‘Bettys’ was established in 1919 by Frederick Belmont who was Swiss born, trained in baking and confectionery and came to England. He arrived with the ambition of improving his skills and was able to start his first business in Harrogate. Since that start nearly 100 years ago the business has grown to have branches in Harlow, Carr, Ilkley, Northallerton and York as well as the original branch in Harrogate. The business is still owned by the family of Frederick Belmont.
I asked why as the business was so successful that it had not expanded beyond the confines of North Yorkshire. The answer was that all of the branches were no more than two hours delivery time by road from the main bakery in Harrogate where all of the ‘Bettys’ range of products are madeYork using locally sourced raw materials as much as possible. The company ethos is ‘We aim to keep Bettys’ small in order to look out for every detail and maintain the best possible quality and consistency’. Where raw materials are sourced from overseas the business is proactive in ensuring that its suppliers are treated fairly to ensure continuity and quality.
Despite staying small in North Yorkshire the business has an international reach with a mail order business sending products around the world to private customers. The branches are also a magnet for visitors from overseas attracted to the English tea experience, quality and elegance.
I didn’t stay for tea in Harrogate. Instead I fulfilled my duties and bought some of the ginger and lavender biscuits. The ginger biscuits are seriously addictive with a warming glow of ginger that has been sugared just enough to remove its natural dryness. The biscuit base is crunchy which snaps apart easily releasing the textures and flavours that you want to repeat again and again. The lavender shortbreads are crisp and delicately flavoured. I have to admit that they are good but given the choice it will always be the ginger experience for me.