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

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Time for Tea...Cafe Fig at Packhouse

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends.....it's been a really quiet month for our little blog and so we decided it was about time that we indulged in a spot of tea and cakes!

We decided to keep it local and try an afternoon tea closer to home this time, and so Becca and I visited Cafe Fig at the Packhouse in Farnham Surrey. The Packhouse is a 400 year old building, situated just outside Farnham and filled to the rafters with all kinds of items both old and new for the home and garden. CafĂ© Fig offers shoppers and visitors alike home cooked food in a relaxed and informal atmosphere.

We weren't expecting anything fancy from this afternoon tea, but having tried some other items from the menu we were looking forward to a good quality homemade afternoon tea....

Afternoon Tea - Cafe Fig, Packhouse

As imagined we were served a rather rustic looking afternoon tea, but we were impressed by the friendly service and the ability to choose our sandwich fillings. 

The china is all plain white and there is no choice of tea, but none of this mattered as the whole experience was rather lovely and the food all fresh and tasty.

Afternoon Tea - Cafe Fig at Packhouse

We decided we wanted to be surprised by the sandwich filling and let the cafe pick our fillings for us. We were asked whether we wanted brown and white bread, again we let the cafe pick for us.....

Afternoon tea sandwiches - Cafe Fig at Packhouse

Admittedly the sandwiches didn't look pretty and they did have crusts.....but they were finger sandwiches and the bread was fresh and the fillings plentiful. We were given brie and cranberry sauce and tuna mayonnaise, both of which were very nice. We were impressed by the amount of brie in the sandwiches.

Next came the scones and cakes on the top tier of the cake stand....

Sweet treats at Cafe fig at Packhouse

Again everything had a very rustic look, but the portion sizes were huge and everything looked appealing. We had one scone each - one plain and one fruit...but we didn't need more than one each as they were so big.....

Scone time at Cafe Fig at the Packhouse

The scones were served warm with clotted cream and jam. 

My fruit scone was full of fruit and was light and fluffy - very enjoyable! We topped our clotted cream with blackcurrant jam which made a nice change to the usual strawberry and raspberry jams.

We were also given two varieties of cake each....

Cakes on offer at Cafe Fig at the Packhouse

Our cake selection included a lemon drizzle cake (my favourite!) and a carrot cake - both of which were delicious. The flavours were good and texture great.

This afternoon tea cost just £16.95 for two people and included all the food mentioned above, plus a pot of tea. This was excellent value for money as the quality of the food was excellent and the service was friendly and welcoming. We were not offered any extra food, but we didn't need anything else and left feeling full as the portion sizes were excellent.

If you happen to be in the Farnham area and fancy a relaxed  afternoon tea this would be a good option. Afternoon tea is served daily, but if you are visiting on a weekend I would recommend booking as they get very busy in the cafe. Pop by the Packhouse website for more information.

Thank you for popping by today,

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Meet the Chef.....Ben Purton

Hello there,

Welcome back to another "meet the chef" blog post from Tea With Me and Friends, this time we are asking Executive Chef from the Lancaster London hotel Ben Purton our afternoon tea questions.

Executive Chef Ben Purton
You'll remember that Lorna and I enjoyed the afternoon tea created by Ben and his team just after Christmas and Lorna was rather impressed with his scones! So we decided we needed to find out more about the creative process behind this scrummy afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea at the Lancaster London

Chef Ben has worked at the Lancaster London since August 2014, and prior to this he was executive chef at The Royal Horseguards. So, let's find out if he is cream or jam first kinda guy.....

Q How long does it usually take you to create new afternoon teas?
It really depends - sometimes you can think of new ones all the time and others take longer to develop. We plan to have 4 changes per year and then a few themed ones thrown in too.

Q. Where does your inspiration for new teas come from? 
Everywhere and anywhere! It’s great seeing what other people are doing as you end up taking bits from all of them - sometimes you see things and think oh I have to do that. I love being creative and challenging the team - the bigger the challenge the better.

Q. So, what is your favourite part of your latest afternoon tea?
I love it all because it's a back to basics afternoon tea so we do the right things right etc but I have to say the flavoured savoury tarts and the raspberry and white chocolate lollipops are some of the best yet!!

Q. Do you enjoy a spot of afternoon tea yourself and have you tried tea anywhere else? 
I love it !! What's not to like, it's such a nice way to spend an afternoon - no rush, no hassle just tea, scones and maybe just a bit of bubbles. I love the Lancaster London afternoon tea (and who wouldn't) but I must confess that The Langham, The Goring and Browns do it very well too

Q. What is your favourite filling in an afternoon tea sandwich? 
Again I like them all but there is something to be said for a classic cucumber sandwich done right! Soft bread with salted butter layered with peeled sliced and seasoned soft flesh of cucumber - yum - most people don't like them because they don't do them right - we can all make smoked salmon and roast beef taste nice but there is an art to that one that I love.

Q. The all important question - do you put cream or jam on your scone first?
Oh come on - that's fighting talk and there is not an answer that will please everyone but as you asked ..... I'm a cream spooned on first making a perfect area for the jam to sit type of guy (I apologise in advance) When we pre split for passing at events etc we then top the scones with freeze dried strawberries too – lovely!

Q. If you could invite any guest to enjoy afternoon tea with you, who would it be and why? Wow - what a question! Too many to choose just one, but Bon Jovi is someone I'd love to spend an afternoon getting to know - I've always loved his music and passion for his trade and his songs are soundtracks to my youth and I'm sure he's a champagne, cucumber sandwich and cream first kind of guy too !!

It's good to know that Chef Ben prefers cream dolloped on his scones first and its brilliant to hear from someone so passionate about afternoon tea! I have to agree with him that the raspberry and white chocolate lollipops are really quite amazing!

Raspberry and white chocolate lollipops
at Lancaster London
I'd like to send a huge thank you to Chef Ben for his entertaining answers to our nosey afternoon tea questions! If you'd like to know more about the afternoon tea created by Chef Ben and his team pop by the Lancaster London website.

Thank you for popping by today,

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Time for some of our favourite scones

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends.

Today we would like to share with you some of our favourite scones we have enjoyed since we started our afternoon tea adventures. To us a scone should be light and fluffy, but have a lovely crunchy exterior and should most definitely be served warm. And if they say they are fruit scones.....then they should contain more than one raisin!! Finally they should be eaten with clotted cream and a preserve or curd...we're not fussy about which as you'll see from our choices below.

Lorna's favourite scone was one she has enjoyed fairly recently when we visited the Lancaster London hotel....the scones were traditional and perfectly sized, they were light and fluffy in the middle with a wonderful crust and went particularly well with their house-made marmalade and clotted cream...

Lorna enjoying a scone at the Lancaster London
A better look at those scrummy scones

While I rather enjoyed the less traditional scones that Pastry Chef Ji Sun Shin has on offer at the Ampersand Hotel which contain white chocolate....

White chocolate scones at Ampersand Hotel
White chocolate is my least favourite type of chocolate, however it adds a creamy dimension to these light scones and goes really well with the strawberry preserve on offer.

The Rosewood Hotel served up some rather scrummy warm scones....

Warm, light and fluffy scones at the Rosewood
We enjoyed these cute little scones with zingy lemon curd.

We also had a citrus experience at The Athenaeum hotel when we took Kirsty there for her Birthday, as they served both fruit scones and orange flavoured scones....

Orange scones at The Athenaeum hotel
Finally do you remember those amazing mini scones served at the Chocolate Teapot in Esher....

Sadly the Chocolate Teapot has now closed, but I am so pleased I had the opportunity to enjoy these little mouthfuls!

So, where have you enjoyed your favourite scone and what makes the perfect scone for you.....get in touch and let us know!

Thanks for popping by today,

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year!

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me ands Friends - we hope your year has started well!

We decided to start 2015 with a look back over the wonderful year that was 2014. It was a special year which saw us become finalists in the UK Blog Awards 2014 and celebrate our first Birthday with a Giveaway, we have been overwhelmed with the support of all our readers. We spent a tea-riffic Saturday at an afternoon tea masterclass with Dominic Teague, the talented chef behind the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Inspired afternoon tea at One Aldwych. We also met Pastry Chef Ji Sun Shin - the creative force behind the amazing afternoon teas on offer at the Ampersand Hotel.

Then there were the afternoon teas themselves.....it's very hard to pick a favourite, so here is a selection of the teas we have enjoyed.....

There was the Cuban-inspired afternoon tea at St Martin's Lane which we enjoyed in January...

Afternoon tea at St Martins Lane

We enjoyed afternoon tea at the Rosewood Hotel in February, where they egg mayonnaise was piped into the sandwiches and a Valentine's afternoon tea at Royal Horseguards Hotel which included corset cookies and edible lipsticks!

Afternoon tea sandwiches at the Rosewood Hotel

A saucy valentines afternoon tea at Royal Horseguards Hotel

In March we played with dinosaurs and edible planets at the science themed afternoon tea at The Ampersand hotel.....

Science themed afternoon tea at Ampersand Hotel
In April we paid The Dorchester a visit to try their rather elegant afternoon tea and we walked the red carpet at the UK Blog Awards 2014 (we even found cake!)....

Elegant afternoon tea sandwiches at The Dorchester

Tea With Me and Friends at the UK Blog Awards 2014

We tried an edible garden afternoon tea at the Intercontinental Westminster in May and learnt a lot more about tea at the Mandarin Oriental Tea Master afternoon tea in June...

Edible Garden afternoon tea at Intercontinental Westminster

A selection of teas at the Mandarin Oriental

The sun shone for us in July when we visited Chewton Glen in Hampshire and in August we visited the Isle of Wight for a spot of afternoon tea at Chessell Pottery Barns.....

Afternoon tea at Chewton Glen

Sweet treats at Chessell Pottery Barns

We visited the zoo in September for afternoon tea at the Marwell Hotel and got our bunny ears out in October for afternoon tea at the Playboy Club in London....

Afternoon tea at Marwell Hotel

Bunny ear cupcakes at the Playboy Club

We enjoyed individual tea stands in the New Forest at the Limewood Hotel in November and finished the year at the Lancaster London Hotel in December.....

Afternoon tea at Limewood Hotel

Lorna picking her favourite sweet treat at the Lancaster London

And these are just some of the wonderful afternoon teas we have enjoyed! 

We were also joined by some lovely guest bloggers who shared their afternoon tea adventures with us, including Sarika who has shared her international afternoon teas and Nicci who visited The Bentley in London. We like to thank everyone who has contributed to our blog this year, from the guest bloggers who have written articles to the hotels who have shared their afternoon tea creations with us and the pastry chefs who have answered our nosey afternoon tea interview questions! 

We would also like to thank everyone who visits our blog, leaves comments for us on our Facebook page or follows us on Twitter - we love hearing from all of you and hope that you will continue this journey with us in 2015.

Tea with Me and Friends

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna