Welcome to our blog....here we will share all our afternoon tea adventures with you...the good, the bad and the wonderful!

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Time for.....some afternoon tea chocolates!

Hello there!

Welcome back to Tea With me and Friends - we hope you're well today.

Recently I spotted a box of chocolates in Marks and Spencers that caught my attention.....


Yes, it's a box of chocolates inspired by classic British desserts and afternoon tea! As you can imagine I decided quite quickly that I needed to sample a box.....purely for research purposes!
 
The selection includes eight different chocolates, covering white, milk and dark chocolate. With inspiration for the fillings coming from both traditional puddings such as jam roly poly pudding and banoffee pie, and afternoon tea treats like bakewell tart and strawberries and cream.

Take a look at the menu....


When I first opened the box the smell of chocolate was so strong it made my mouth water - always a good sign! But would it be all style and no substance for these chocolates?

As I have a really sweet tooth and usually like most chocolates I thought I would recruit someone else (with a slightly less sweet tooth) to help give a more balanced view. My partner in crime for this review is my boyfriend Joe - he loves a cup of tea and his favourite cake is plain vanilla.....he puts jam on his scones before cream, but I suppose I'll let that slide for now. 

Joe declared that the chocolates looked posh when he first saw them (he's not usually a fan of fancy chocolates), but when he looked at the menu he seemed a bit more excited. 

He decided to try the banoffee pie chocolate first....


As you can see the chocolate has a thick milk chocolate shell, with a soft caramel and banana filling. Joe enjoyed the chocolate and described it as liquid banoffee pie. Not so good was the sticky toffee pudding, which featured a toffee mousse in a milk chocolate case. Although there was a toffee flavour, it wasn't particularly reminiscent of a real sticky toffee pud which was a bit disappointing. The mousse was also more like a heavy ganache.

However, overall Joe thought that if you like chocolates and you like puddings, you're probably going to like these chocolates!

I was tempted by the strawberries and cream chocolate and the bakewell tart....


I'm not normally a white chocolate fan, but in this chocolate it complemented the strawberry and cream ganache filling. Again, there is a good shell of chocolate encasing the filling. It was quite a rich chocolate....but I could imagine myself enjoying a couple of these with a glass of prosecco!


The bakewell tart chocolate had a weird texture which I couldn't quite put my finger on. However the flavour of almonds and cherries was very delicate and well balanced with the milk chocolate.

Overall this was a good box of chocolates, with a variety of different fillings. They would probably make a nice end to a meal at home with friends if you didn't fancy making pudding.....or you could keep them to yourself and just gobble them down with a cup of tea (I won't tell anyone I promise!).


Have you tried any afternoon tea inspired chocolate that we should try? 
We'd love to hear your recommendations!

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Joe

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Time for.....A Delicious History Tour

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends - we hope you're feeling tea-riffic today.

In this post we wanted to share a slightly different experience with you, as recently Lorna and I enjoyed a "Delicious History" tour around Fortnum and Mason in London. The tour takes you on a journey throughout the 311 year history of the store, including meeting some of the present day store employees and enjoying some delicious samples.

I'm a big fan of the food hall at Fortnums and the general shopping experience (even if a lot of the items are out of my price range) and I also love social history, so I've wanted to do this tour for a while.

 Tours take place about once a month and involve a small group being taken around the store over a period of approximately two hours. The tour is led by Fortnum's in-house historian and archivist, Dr. Andrea Tanner, who is extremely knowledgeable about the store and it's history. 

Fortnum's started as a small grocery shop in St James's Market in 1707 by William Fortnum and Hugh Mason, they built their reputation on supplying quality food, and saw rapid growth throughout the Victorian era. During its history Fortnum's has been an inventor (the Scotch egg), have been a provider to Royalty and soldiers alike, introduced Heinz baked beans to Britain and supported many British producers. Today the store sells products across various departments and prides itself on providing customers with an individual shopping experience.




The tour begins at the top of the building in the Diamond Jubliee Tee Salon and then moves down the store, spending time on each of the floors. Dr Tanner delivers the tour with humour and makes the time fly by as she tells tales from history and introduces the group to current store employees. The group also get to enjoy some delicious food and drink samples during the tour. 



Dr Tanner was happy to answer any questions that we had and we felt like to learnt a lot during the couple of hours we spent on the tour. There was also a special treat at the end of the tour, but I won't ruin the surprise!

We thoroughly enjoyed our experience and would recommend it to anyone interested in the history of this beautiful store. For more information pop by the Fortnum and Mason website.

Have you enjoyed an unusual foodie tour anywhere? We'd love to hear all about it!

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Time for Tea....The Connaught

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends! Today we have a very elegant afternoon tea experience to share with you, as recently Lorna and I enjoyed a wonderful champagne afternoon tea at The Connaught.

Afternoon tea at The Connaught is served in the bright and modern surroundings of Jean-Georges at The Connaught. The day we visited the sun was shining and we were seated in a window seat, with plenty of room for us to spread out and enjoy our afternoon. We began our afternoon tea adventure with a glass of perfectly chilled champagne and an amuse-bouche - these delicious Smoked Tomato Brioche bites, which were served warm and complimented the champagne....


Champagne and amuse-bouche at The Connaught

Afternoon tea is served on elegant white china - no floral chintz here - which suits the surroundings of the modern lounge. The tea menu provides enough choice without being over complicated, allowing both the tea novice and tea connoisseur to pick a tea to enjoy. The menu includes six black teas, three green teas and five herbal blends to pick from. 


Once we'd finished the scrummy smoked tomato brioche bites, the finger sandwiches were served. 

First of all lets appreciate how beautiful the afternoon tea sandwiches look - perfectly cut with no crusts in sight. The sandwiches were everything you'd want them to be - with fresh, soft bread, plenty of fillings and well balanced flavours.

Afternoon tea sandwiches at The Connaught

The flavours offer a combination of traditional English fillings with South East-Asian flavours:

Cucumber & lime, with Greek yogurt and mint 
Truffle egg mayonnaise, with watercress 
Chipotle smoked salmon, with coriander and spring onions 
Miso mustard ham & aged cheese, with mayonnaise, honey and walnuts 
Coriander coronation chicken, with spiced mayonnaise and chopped nuts

Next up were the scones, which were huge....

Afternoon tea scones at The Connaught


The scones were served with homemade strawberry jam, Cornish clotted cream and my favourite lemon curd (I think lemon curd goes so well with clotted cream). The scones had a good flavour and texture, but I could only manage to eat one as they were rather large.

Finally we have the cake stand - the plain stand allows the cakes to really stand out. The pastries looked really exciting, plus we had cute shortbread dogs with a chocolate fondue to enjoy....

Afternoon tea at The Connaught

The sweet treats from Executive Pastry Chef Nicolas Rouzaud include:

Green apple tart, with apple jelly and basil mousse 
Carrot cake, with walnuts, cream cheese and cinnamon 
Rhubarb, with rhubarb compote and fromage blanc 
St HonorĂ©  - a caramel cream roll with vanilla whipped cream 
Rocher - hazelnut praliné and milk chocolate

Each of these pastries is quite exquisite - they look beautiful and have well balanced flavours. The St Honore was so light with the cutest caramel roll on top and I really enjoyed the apple and basil flavours together in the mini tart. But the best piece for me was the carrot cake, which was moist and flavoursome - definitely the best carrot cake I've had the pleasure of enjoying!



As we were celebrating my birthday I was presented with an extra treat....more of that wonderful carrot cake! I love a personalised plate when you are celebrating something, there is something lovely about seeing your name written in chocolate!

Celebration plate at The Connaught

We had a wonderful afternoon at the Connaught, the service was warm and friendly and the food delicious. A great place to celebrate a birthday or another special occasion. To find out more about the afternoon tea at The Connaught please visit their website.

I will leave you with a warning tale today for anyone who enjoys taking photos of their food....be careful not to drop your camera on your food before you enjoy it. 

This is what a very squashed Rocher looks like.....

Whoops!

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel and Lorna

Friday, 13 April 2018

Time for.....a tea recipe with T2

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends!

This week we've been experimenting with our cuppa thanks to a fab tea recipe card that I picked up in a T2 store. T2 like to share tea recipes, combining their teas with different foods and drinks. As well as the fab recipe cards in store, you can also find a whole host of easy to follow recipes on
their website - including tea-infused ice cream floats, earl grey cakes and matcha mayo!

The recipe card I picked up had three different recipes on which used a different T2 teas - Banoffee Pie, Jersey Caramel and NY Salted Caramel....great for someone like me with a sweet tooth! I opted to try the NY Salted Caramel recipe which features T2 New York Breakfast tea (a black tea blended with cinnamon and vanilla), along with salt, honey and milk.


This recipe is really quick to make and creates a really satisfying cuppa! All you need to do is brew the tea for approx. 4 minutes, then add the salt, honey and milk to taste.

I'm not going to lie - its a bit bizarre adding salt to a cup of tea, but you've just got to go with it. The recipe called for a pinch of salt, I probably didn't add quite a pinch - I'd definitely advise adding the salt and honey a little by little, tasting after each addition. I then added a splash of milk, which made the tea quite creamy and made it look almost like a hot chocolate!


I really enjoyed this tea - once I got the balance of salt and honey right it tasted lovely. It's hard to describe, but it almost felt like I was actually drinking/eating pudding - it would be perfect after a meal when I have a craving for something sweet. 

I'll definitely be trying some of the other recipes on the T2 website and keeping my eyes peeled for more recipe cards!

Have you tried any of the T2 recipes? We'd love to hear which is your favourite!

Thanks for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Fes-Tea-Val 2018 - Celebrating National Tea Day!

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends - we hope you're feeling tea-riffic today!

Here in the UK we are getting closer to the biggest par-tea of the year - the UK's only dedicated tea fes-tea-val takes place on the 21st and 22nd April at Chiswick House and Gardens. The fes-tea-val is to celebrate National Tea Day - a movement to get people drinker more tea! We believe there is nothing better than catching up with friends or family over a cuppa and so can't wait for this event dedicated to tea!


The event is divided into dedicated zones with themed activities and delicious food, drink and lifestyle delights in each.......and of course lots of tea samples to find your new favourite tea! The zones include, the Bou-tea-que, Tea ‘n’ Tipple Boulevard, The Tea Bazaars, Tea ‘n’ Treat Village, The Vitali-Tea Garden and the Picnic Park - just take a peek at the map.....


The event is open 10am-5pm on both days, with Tea & Tipple Boulevard open until 9pm so you can par-tea long into the night!

For more information and to buy tickets pop by the National Tea Day website

Thanks for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna