Two Tea Treats

FoodTeaLife’s been a little quiet lately, mostly thanks to a holiday diet and denying myself the pleasures cheese and wine far too much. However, there have been a few indulges to brighten the diet days – you’ve got to have things to look forward to after all.

First up was a fabulous afternoon tea in London at The Berkeley, a real girly treat. Named Prêt-à-Portea, it’s something of an unique twist on the traditional afternoon tea, with all the cakes and treats inspired by designer fashion and the latest trends. It was a colourful affair, reflecting the Spring/Summer 14 season’s designer collections with cakes and biscuits in the shape of shoes and bags and colours straight off the catwalk. It was delicious too, from the delicate sandwiches to the chocolate shoes – I ate a lot of fashion themed treats that afternoon!

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Beautiful fashion inspired treats – thanks to Aminah for the image

The staff at The Berkeley were wonderful too, taking the time to explain the fashion inspiration behind every sweet treat and bringing more of anything you wanted! I haven’t even started on the tea yet (which there was unlimited supply of!). I sipped earl grey and later moved on to a delicate fresh mint tea. My companions however enjoyed a caramel tea and a ginger tea – there were plenty more interesting blends too. Even the coffee was fabulous too.

Cutest cappuccino ever? Thanks again to Aminah for this lovely image

Cutest cappuccino ever? Thanks again to Aminah for this lovely image

I must say a huge thanks to Aminah for organising such a wonderfully decadent girly get-together and for the beautiful photos! It certainly was an occasion to remember.

Treat number two was a little more local, a special pre-birthday indulgence with my mum and sister at The Winchester Hotel and Spa. I was treated to a manicure, something I’ve never actually had before. I was delighted with the results – I’m loving my elegantly coloured nails! Let’s see how long I can keep them chip free for.

We followed our beauty treats with a foodie treat, a cream tea! And what a spectacularly generous cream tea it was, we got far more that simply scones and tea…

Tea at the Winchester Hotel & Spa

My wonderful birthday treat at The Winchester Hotel & Spa

There were rhubarb pastries, strawberries, miniature éclairs and more. It was a real feast and we enjoyed it sipping earl grey outside in the sunshine. Perfect weather and the best company – probably the best Sunday ever I’d say! A massive thank you of epic proportions goes to my sister and mum for this special treat.

Feeling very lucky right now (and full of cake).

xXx

Last weekend’s foodie highlights

Well, the title says it all really…

Last Friday night’s visit to the Chesil Rectory was a lovely last minute treat. The menu was great, just look at these yummy starters…

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Portland Crab, Secrett’s Beetroots, Avocado, Mayonnaise         

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Treacle Cured Salmon, Brixham Scallop, Pickled Ginger

And of course there’s the beautiful Cottonworth rose to enjoy when at the Chesil Rectory. This English sparkling wine is every bit as lovely as something like a Laurent Perrier Rose. It’s local too, if you haven’t tried it already, it’s a must! You can also get it from Wine Utopia in Winchester.

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On Saturday I ate at an old favorite that never disappoints, The Bugle Inn, Twyford. The tasty bacon chop on their menu at the moment is highly recommended! It comes served on a bed of bubble and squeak with a poached egg on top and some gorgeous cauliflower cheese – it was heavenly and certainly very filling! No pictures due to me being a greedy guts and scoffing it all without thinking of my blog!

You wouldn’t think I could eat more food in one weekend…but I did. To celebrate my dad’s Birthday a fabulous family party tea was put on at home. Featuring afternoon tea, triangle sandwiches, my sister’s yummy mocha cupcakes and a scone or two, it was a fine birthday feast! Here’s a snapshot…
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Definitely a few fast days need this week after a full on weekend of food, glorious food!

xXx

Afternoon of Delights at Lainston House

As I hinted in the last FoodTeaLife post my birthday surprise turned out to be afternoon tea at Lainston House Hotel in Sparsholt – a wonderful treat!

I do love a good afternoon tea experience, it’s just so indulgent and befitting of a special occasion – so I’m happy to say that Lainston House did not disappoint on this front! Here are a few snaps from the scrumptious feast…

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The adorable crust-cut-off sandwiches even featured a special miniature brioche roll with an egg mayonnaise filling – delicious! The cakes were delightful too, a good selection including this delicate raspberry macaron…

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The cake stand’s top tier had an extra surprise…toasted tea cakes as well as scones! Scones are of course the traditional end to afternoon tea but the inclusion of tea cakes made for a nice change. I’m not ashamed to say I scoffed it all! It was excellent.

I haven’t even mentioned the tea yet! There was a nice choice of loose leaf blends, I opted for a strong and malty cup of Assam. The staff at Lainston house were very attentive too, making sure to replenish our hot water regularly.

To top it all off it was was a beautiful day to explore the stunning grounds too…

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All in all, a very special birthday! A huge thank you to the best family in the world for such a luxurious treat xXx

Foodie Favourites Right Now

As usual I’ve been busy eating and drinking lots recently, so this week’s post is all about a few of the things loving at the moment…

The Black Rat, Winchester – I love this place and have been lucky enough to go twice recently, including this weekend. What can I say about it other than go experience it! The dishes are are always so interesting and full of fantastic flavours, even when you order something you might not normally go for – it’s always so enjoyable. It’s just great place, small, intimate, cosy and laid back – I just love having it so close by!

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Sticking with restaurants, I’ve got to give a mention to what I feel is one of the best food pubs around, The Bugle, Twyford. Lucky me, I enjoyed a meal here on Saturday and it was excellent as always…it’s just consistently good! I highly recommend the Laverstoke buffalo burger and also a new dish of giant langoustines that’s been recently added to the menu. I’ve never seen or tasted langoustines like this before, they were huge and absolutely delicious with a sweet and meaty flavour. All the dishes on the Bugle’s seasonally changing menu are a delight – it’s well worth visit.

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Moving  away from eating out, I’m loving cooking anything and everything on my George Foreman Grill. I know this isn’t exactly a new bit of kitchen gadgetry but it’s fairly new to me and it’s great! I even cooked goat burgers on it the other day!

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One particular tasty snack I’m enjoying creating on the George Foreman Grill is pitta pizza pockets – pitta breads filled with peppers, mushrooms, mozzarella and mixed herbs, then just toasted…it’s like a healthy take on a calzone! The contents vary according to what’s in the fridge, sometimes I add prawns, sometimes chicken or tuna.

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If you find filling pitta breads a faff (who doesn’t?!) then you’ll love these new sandwich pittas from Warburtons, they are the most user-friendly pittas I’ve ever tried! They break in half so easily and don’t fall to pieces when you try to fill them, the round shape is ideal too.
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Proper Corn salted popcorn is just brilliant, I’m a huge fan! So tasty and less than 100 calories per bag! Great for 5:2 dieters on a fast day.

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Everyone’s been talking about Sipsmith Gin of late and not being much of a gin drinker, I’ve kind of missed out on it all, so I was delighted to discover Summer Cup from Sipsmith. It’s a wonderfully refreshing alternative to a classic Pimms. Slightly more floral tasting than a Pimms No. 1  – it’s perfect with lemonade and summer fruits. Now, if I can only get some of the Sipsmith Damson Vodka to try next!

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Coco Cafe – Coconut Water Cafe Latte…WOW this stuff is awesome and I don’t say that lightly. I could do a full entry on this incredibly delicious drink! We’ve all heard how amazingly hydrating coconut water is (who didn’t go through a phase of drinking it till they got sick of it?!), well this cold drink  is a mix of the famously good-for-you coconut water, a strong espresso shot and reduced fat milk – it really is delicious. It tastes creamy like some luscious full-fat iced coffee but it’s good for you. Best of all, you can caffeinate and hydrate all at the same time! Pure genius.
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Saucer Crackers – well why should crackers just be for Christmas? These pretty little mini crackers sit on your saucer and make a lovely little addition and stylish finishing touch to a fancy afternoon tea. They’re just so cute! Inside each cracker is a suggested topic to stimulate conversation (perfect for tea parties!) as well as a more traditional joke too, what fun!
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Well there you have it, just a few things that are currently floating my foodie boat – hope I’ve inspired you to try a few of my favourites too.

xXx

Afternoon Tea Delights at The Vineyard

It’s well documented that I do like to partake in a spot of afternoon tea and so my mum’s recent birthday provided a great excuse to get the family together for some tea and cake. As a surprise for my mum, my sister and I booked the afternoon tea experience at The Vineyard at Stockcross, which turned out to be just lovely.

The-Vineyard

For those of you who don’t know it the Vineyard at Stockcross is in Berkshire (not Hampshire I know, but worth the drive!), it’s fairly near Newbury and just off the A34 so very easy for Winchester folk to get to. It’s a beautiful, grand looking place, known for its fine dining, so we knew we were in for a treat with their afternoon tea.

We were seated by the fireplace on comfy sofas as it was a special occasion, where we sipped cups of lovely earl grey tea. When the afternoon tea came, it certainly was a feast…

Vineyard Afternoon Tea

Small, perfectly formed sandwiches with crusts cut off to start, followed by hearty fruit scones with cream and jam.

Vineyard Scones

 

Although I don’t have a photo I must say that the choice of homemade jams was lovely…it’s always nice to have an alternative to the traditional strawberry I think.

Last of all, we enjoyed a beautifully presented top tier of delightful little petit four style treats, including macarons and peanut éclairs…

Vineyard Petit Fours

All in all, it was a fabulously indulgent treat and we all left feeling rather full! It was perfect for a birthday celebration though. I’d definitely recommend the Vineyard for its afternoon tea, they do it properly! If you plan to book with them make sure you tell them if it’s a special occasion too. Visit their website for more www.the-vineyard.co.uk.

…Hopefully one day I’ll have had enough afternoon teas to be able to compile an amazing top ten best list…

Ultimate Afternoon Tea at Bettys…

I recently enjoyed a little pre-Christmas girly trip to York with my lovely mother and sister…and when in York there’s a certain tea room that’s a must visit – I’m talking about Bettys of course!

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Okay, so yes this place is a total tourist trap and there’s usually a substantial queue to get in, but if you embrace this and celebrate the fact that this tea room is a world famous attraction, you’ll have a fabulous time.  Essentially it’s like visiting one of London’s hot spots, whatever day or time you choose to go, there will usually always be plenty of others who had the same idea.

Three ladies full of festive cheer were certainly not going to let anything stand in the way of an afternoon tea at Bettys…feast your eyes on this…

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Mmmmm…do you want a closer look at that cake…?

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On to the tea! Being that it was almost Christmas I enjoyed a seasonal special, Bettys Spiced Christmas tea…

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A black tea with light notes of cinnamon, spices and citrus it was lovely both with and without milk.

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After ordering another round of tea and loading up with souvenirs and gifts to take back home we departed feeling full and happy. York’s a wonderful city to explore, especially in winter…cold, crisp air and beautiful buildings full of character and charm. I suppose in many ways it’s very similar to Winchester really, only larger and somehow grander, probably why it appeals to me so much. Here are a few of the trip’s highlight’s aside from the tea and cake fest at Bettys…

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During our trip the streets of York were host to a rather magical ice festival, with quirky works of art carved out of ice dotted around the cobbled streets. These were two of my favourites…

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I must say a huge thank you to my mum for making the trip happen, and to both my mother and sister for a wonderful time full of fun, food and laughter xXx

Celebrations at Soho’s Secret Tea Room

Here at FoodTeaLife I don’t venture outside of Hampshire too often, but when my good friend Ellie invited me to her birthday celebrations at Soho’s Secret Tea Room I thought it might just be worth the train fare. And indeed it was, we enjoyed a fabulous feast of cakes, scones, cucumber sandwiches and course tea.

Afternoon tea delights enjoyed at Soho’s Secret Tea Room

More delightful cakes and scones!

It was an absolutely delightful experience and well worth the trip for non-Londoners. Full of vintage details from the gramophone playing 1940s jazz to the adorable tea cups and cake stands, you feel as though you’ve stepped back into a simpler, happier time. I’d advise donning your best vintage attire for a visit so that you get the full escapist experience.

Soho’s Secret Tea Room is just lovely and full of vintage charm

On to the teas…There was a nice selection of loose leaf teas to choose from but not so many that it was daunting, I quickly picked out a lovely sounding Lapsang blend and enjoyed it very much. It was especially nice to drink from a china cup too (I’m a subscriber to the theory that tea tastes better this way).

Pretty china cups and saucers

Between our party of ten we shared five afternoon tea cake stands of delicious home baked goodies and though we tried our hardest we couldn’t quite finish it all!

Our post tea party table…

Luckily the lovely staff gave us paper take away bags to ensure we could all enjoy our cake later. Aside from the loving the tea, I  also thought the scones were perfectly done and good size (not too large!) too. And though I didn’t try it, the lemon meringue pie received very positive reviews from across the table too. All in all I can only really describe the entire outing as just lovely and pure delight.

So Hampshire folk, next time you pay a visit to the West End be sure step into Soho’s Secret Tea Room for some relaxing refreshment and indulgent 1940s escapism.