I am a freelance writer living in Gloucestershire. I have been writing family style articles in the form of columns for newspapers since 2000 and spent four years presenting an interview chat show on Forest of Dean Radio.
Published November 6th 2012
Tempt your tastebuds with mouthwatering French pastries
Enjoy the delights of a true French patissier in the market town of Ledbury.
I am out with 18 year old daughter, in Ledbury Herefordshire.
Shall we go for a cup of tea somewhere? I say.
Going out for a cup of tea or coffee with my children is a bit of a family tradition. It is something that I used to do with my mother and something that she used to do with her mother. Thankfully all my children love "said tradition" and so I'm never short of "partners in crime" to eat tea and cake.
Now Cafe Sez, in this captivating market town, is slightly unusual in that it is set above a dress shop. I speak to the lady in the dress shop as I go in. I ask her if she frequents the cafe herself. "Yes" she says animatedly. "In fact, if I sit just there to have my lunch" (she points to a chair at the top of the stairs) "I can see customers come in, and then I run down to help them." She continues: "When I first bought the shop eighteen years ago I was going to close the cafe bit, but I didn't, and now eighteen years later it is still here." We go on to discuss the merits of having a cafe upstairs. It clearly brings in customers from the street who might not otherwise venture in, because there is always that slight awkwardness in a little dress shop. Do I go in and risk not being able to afford anything, or do I just drool outside at the lovely things and pass on by? But a cafe upstairs, especially one which sells handmade French pastries, puts an entirely new perspective on the matter...
Pascal Clarenne has owned the cafe for the past five years. He is French born and a patissier by trade and so if you wish to sample the genuine article, this is the place.
My 18 year old and I look at the selection on offer. We choose an almond pastry and a summer berry pastry and as we often do on such occasions, we cut them in half and share. Both are mouthwateringly delicious. We can't quite decide which one is the nicest so we decide that we will definitely go back and try it again soon.
Pascal himself is warm and welcoming. He tells the story of buying the cafe five years ago. As a trained pastry chef he had a desire to run his own establishment and so when Cafe Sez became available he jumped at the idea. There is one other staff member there. It is her first day. She says she is a little nervous but she fits in so well with the ambience of the place that no-one would ever know.
With the French pictures on the wall and the French cafe style bar, if it weren't for the drizzly rain outside and the ever encroaching English winter, we could believe that we are in la belle France itself. And then we remember that no, this is England. In November.
This is certainly a place to go for that little treat however, and of course if your appetite calls for more than a pastry and a cup of tea, then there is a range of delicious freshly cooked French dishes for lunch starting at around £8 a head.
A pot of tea and a pastry is just £4.25 a head and worth every single penny. 18 year old and I will certainly be returning.
A pot of tea and a hand cooked French pastries for one from £4.25.
Lunches from £9.
All freshly cooked by a genuine French chef.
(Dress shop downstairs is also well worth a visit on your way out for the exclusive little line in fashion.)