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!

afternoon tea the berkeley

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

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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

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

How many is too many roast potatoes?

Well for a family of four, the answer is this many…

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A huge plate full of my dad's amazing roast potatoes

These are my dad’s famous Christmas Day roast potatoes and fabulous though they were, I think this was the first year we didn’t manage to polish them all off! The remaining roasties didn’t go to waste though, they went very well in sandwiches and with cold meats the next day. I’m also a big fan of using them for a soup, along with the rest of the left overs from the big day and creating a lovely thick ‘roast dinner soup’. I love hearing about what other people do with their Christmas Day left overs – any unusual recipes…do let me know!

The big day itself was a wonderful occasion spent with my family, eating, drinking, gift giving and generally being merry. And aside from some transportation issues with a bit of bird cage/smart car drama, I couldn’t have asked for a better Christmas.

Thank you to my amazing family for a brilliant day, for welcoming my crazy parrot into your home and for all the fabulous gifts I received! A special shout out goes out to my Dad and his sublime Christmas Dinner – excellent as always!

xXx

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The festive spread

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.

Lovely Local Finds…

Winchester and its surrounding villages have some wonderful places to eat. It’s full of interesting, tucked way little places, some are a little harder to find or a little less well known, hidden down side streets, underground or above shops. This week’s entry is dedicated to these places…here are a  few of my favourites…

The Forte Tea Rooms

Known as ‘Winchester’s best kept secret’…this is one of those places that you notice and always mean to pop into, then when finally you do it turns out to be an amazing little discovery (which plenty of people have already discovered). There’s some steep steps to climb to reach this place but it’s well worth the climb! If you’re a tea lover like me you’ll love this place, they have plenty of lovely loose leaf teas to choose from and a great menu of freshly prepared food, tasty soups and sandwiches, hot food, cooked breakfasts and cakes – what more you could want?!

Bean Below & Twyford Stores

This place gets a huge endorsement from me as a regular customer! Twyford stores is an excellent source of amazing local produce, whether it’s Lyburn Cheeses , the Oven Door Bakery, Judes Ice Cream or Hedge End Butchers.  The appropriately named Bean Below cafe is equally is a fantastic with great sandwiches, smoothies, teas (from local tea company Ahmad Tea) and a seasonally changing evening menu for the weekends. If you haven’t t ventured out to Bean Below – give it a try sometime soon!

Ginger Two

Okay, so this place is fairly well known but it is off the main high street and very easy to miss if you don’t know it’s there. It’s a truly fabulous tea-room, cafe and also a sort of homewares boutique. The cakes are absolutely divine and there’s a great selection of hot beverages to choose from (always a win with me!).

Leaf Bean

This cute little cafe in Stockbridge Road used to be my local point of call when I lived in the Fulflood area, it’s a charming cafe that does great food – as well as takeaway hot drinks (very handy in the days when I walked to work!). It’s really family friendly too – for all the yummy mummies out there!

The Bridge Patisserie

This place is right at the bottom of town and always makes me feel like I’ve found a lovely little secret place. Being a patisserie there’s plenty of indulgent sweet treats on offer (including handmade chocolates!), but they’ve also got a nice selection of baguettes and paninis on the savoury side of things, as well as a nice relaxed space to sit down and eat in.

Eighteen71

The cafe in the guildhall can sometimes be easy to miss, but it’s definitely worth a visit. Serving up tasty light bites made from locally sourced ingredients, the bright and spacious layout makes for a laid back atmosphere to sit and enjoy.

These are just a few of my favourites that I highly recommend a visit to. I’m  sure there’s plenty I’ve missed, maybe even some I don’t know about – do let me know your own local recommendations and Hampshire favourites…