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

Classics for British Food Fortnight

It’s British Food Fortnight! So what better time to celebrate some of the food we’re famous for? In this post I’m rounding up my favourite, traditionally British things to eat, along with the details of some great local producers too.

Scones…

Scones are definitely a delicious British classic, whether you enjoy a fruity one with cream and jam or warm cheese scone with butter, they’re a well known accompaniment to our national drink, a nice cup of tea. Scones are good fun to bake but if you don’t fancy re-enacting the Great British Bake Off, then there’s plenty of ready made scones around. Locally, my favourite scones are from The Baker Boys market stall in Winchester. Their hearty scones are a generous size with some lovely varieties including apple & date and blueberry & pear. The Baker Boys are in Winchester High Street in on Saturdays and I believe they also sell their deliciously baked wares in Romsey, Christchurch, Alton and Lymington too.

scones

Cheese…

We have some wonderful cheese in Britain, from Cheddar to Double Gloucester and Red Leicester…I could go on!  And at most farmers markets you’re spoilt for choice with lovely local cheeses. I certainly always come away from Hampshire Farmers Market with armfuls of locally made bread and cheese to scoff! From a cheeky bit of cheese on toast, to a ploughman’s lunch or a full on post dinner cheese course – it’s a fine food for any occasion! One of my local favourites is Lyburn Farm’s Old Winchester Cheese.

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Toasted Tea Cake…

Back to the baked goods now and you can’t beat a toasted tea cake with a mug of tea. A tea cake means different things in different countries but in Britain it is of course a fruity, bread-like bun served toasted with butter and possibly jam too. Really the tea cake is like the less religious cousin of the good old hot cross bun and is perfectly acceptable to consumer all year round. Locally you can get a good toasted tea cake and a nice pot of loose leaf tea in Winchester’s Forte Tea Rooms.

half-toasted-teacake

Roast Dinner..

We definitely know how to do a roast dinner in Britain, whether it’s the traditional joint of beef or a roast pheasant (as was traditional in my household!), this is hearty British comfort food at its best. There are of course many local outlets serving up roast dinner on a Sunday but my two favourites are The Bugle Inn, Twyford and The Old Forge in Otterbourne.

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Cheese Straws…

It must be an after affect of too much Great British Bake Off but I’m back on the British baked goods again! I absolutely adore cheese straws, which I believe were originally a British invention, although they’re apparently quite popular in the US too.  Cheese straws are comforting treat that remind me of childhood and Christmas time all at once. For me, the best ones locally are from Reeve the Baker in Winchester High Street.

cheese straws

The Cooked Breakfast…

We Brits are of course known for enjoying a cooked breakfast once in a while. You certainly can’t beat a good old fry-up when suffering the after affects of too much alcohol the night before! Personally I’m more of a scrambled eggs on toast kind of girl but I can be tempted by a well made fry-up with good quality ingredients. My top local recommendation is Bean Below, the tucked away cafe and restaurant underneath Twyford Stores – they always use plenty of locally sourced ingredients from the free range eggs to the British bacon and sausages.

cooked-breakfast

…So, who’s hungry? I’ll admit it’s not exactly the healthiest list but hey, it’s still the weekend and we’re half way through British Food Fortnight, a time to come together and celebrate all the great food we produce!

You can find out more about British Food Fortnight and how to take part on their website: http://lovebritishfood.co.uk/

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

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