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

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Time for something cute from Peggy Porschen!

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends!

I've finally made it to the Peggy Porschen Parlour in Belgravia and I wanted to share my experience with you. I've wanted to visit the Parlour for ages, it looks so pretty and the cakes so scrummy, I wanted to see whether it lives up to the hype and Instagram love!

Located on a corner, its pink exterior can be spotted from the end of the road....


I visited when they still had their Winter Parlour decorations up from the festive season, designed to compliment their Cosy Collection sweets and treats.

The interior of this tiny parlour has shelves full of pretty bakes that you can buy to enjoy at home - its really gorgeous!


The Parlour is a small space and because of this they do not take reservations (they also ask that you return tables after an hour), you just have to turn up and keep your fingers crossed! There is seating both inside and outside, but be warned.....it's cosy! If you arrive and there are no tables free and you don't want to wait, you can have any of the cakes available as a take away option.

As well as the standard menu of cupcakes, layer cakes and tray bakes, the Parlour also offers seasonal specials. Among others, the standard flavours include chocolate heaven and salted caramel cupcakes, lemon, raspberry and rose layer cakes and chocolate brownies. The menu is extensive, but all the cakes are on display and the staff are knowledgeable if you need some help picking your treat.

The Cosy Collection, which was available when we visited, included the Cosy Cashmere layer cake - an almond sponge layered with a smooth coconut buttercream. There were also starry snowmen cupcakes, either in a chocolate flavour or gingerbread and lemon flavour and a variety of cute iced biscuits.


We opted to try a slab of chocolate biscuit cake (and slab is the right word....it's a very generous serving!) and a gingerbread and lemon starry snowman cupcake. The chocolate biscuit cake was like a rocky road bake, it was indulgent and scrummy - packed full of pistachios and marshmallow. You could probably share it between two people though as it was very rich.

The cupcake was super cute to look at....just look at that tiny snowman!


The cappuccinos we enjoyed were also rather pretty looking....


But I bet you're wondering what the cupcake tasted like....was it all style and no substance? I'm please to report back that it was absolutely delicious! 

The sponge was moist but light, and full of spicy gingerbread flavour. The topping was a lemon cream cheese frosting, which again was light in texture but well flavoured. Together the flavours blended really well and made for a very enjoyable cupcake. 


Although it looked like a big blob of frosting, the ratio between cake and sponge was just right. Nothing was too sweet and I really enjoyed this cupcake. Plus it was really cute....just look at that tiny snowman....


I really enjoyed my visit to The Parlour, the prices are a little expensive but the quality of the food was great. I would also probably only visit with one other person as there isn't much space (we watched a group of five squeeze around a table the same size that we had for two).

If you'd like to see more about Peggy Porschen's Parlour pop by their website

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Time for....some tea and ice-cream!


Hello there!

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends.....it may be winter time in the UK and a bit chilly (read I've been wearing my big woolly hat!), but that doesn't stop me enjoying the odd ice cream!

Recently we paid a visit to Fortnum and Mason (I love a wander around the tea and china) and was tempted into The Parlour for a cup of tea and an ice cream! Based in the corner of the second floor of Fortnums, the ice cream display is on view to shoppers as they peruse the beautiful teacups on sale. It's a very tempting display!

The Parlour is home to award winning ice-cream creations, Fortnums tea and coffee and both sweet and savoury delights - the perfect place to spend an hour or two!

It's usually really busy, so imagine my delight when I realised we could get a table (probably something to do with the temperature outside!). Once seated we were left with the menu to decide on whether we wanted a piece of cake (perhaps a piece of carrot cake or a pear and orange marmalade tart), something savoury (amongst other items they have a spiced sausage roll and crab and prawn cocktails), one of the pre-designed sundaes (I'll tell you more about those later) or perhaps we wanted to create our own ice cream sundae - picking our favourite flavours and adding toppings such as whipped cream, fresh strawberries or chocolate sauce.

There are plenty of ice cream flavours to pick from, and if you fancy something lighter there are also sorbets as well. From salted caramel to banana split, from rum and raisin to mint chocolate chip - you'll be spoilt for choice! There are also three different vegan ice creams on offer, including a chocolate and cashew blend.


I opted to enjoy a two scoop ice cream with whipped cream, enjoying chocolate and cherrilossus flavours together. The chocolate flavour is smooth and probably one of the best chocolate ice creams I've had the pleasure of enjoying. The cherrilossus had a bitter dark chocolate base and featured cherry compote and nuts - although this was nice, the plain chocolate was better. I can also vouch for the honeycomb flavour which I had a sample of previously. 

The ice cream was served in a fun sundae dish and looked quite wonderful when it was served....it was also rather large.....


Just look at all that cream - they didn't skimp there! 
They also gave me the cutest heart shaped spoon to eat the ice cream with. 

The tea was served in a tea for one pot, with a really pretty bunting pattern. Each pot gave us about 2-3 cups, which was a really good serving.


Now I promised to tell you about the sundaes, although I didn't try one on this occasion I did drool over the descriptions in the menu for quite some time!

You can pick from five different sundaes, or alternatively there are two vegan sundaes on offer. The menu includes the traditional Knickerbocker Glory featuring strawberry and vanilla ice cream, with chunks of pineapple, raspberry coulis, Italian meringue and popping candy - designed to make you smile! The other one that caught my eye was "The Original Dusty Road" which included coffee and chocolate ice cream, butterscotch and chocolate Sauce, Chantilly cream, chocolate flakes and scrummy coffee beans! I think I'll need to revisit and try this one!


I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to The Parlour, the service was quick and friendly and the staff were knowledgeable about the different ice creams. The menu includes a good variety of food and drink....if you don't fancy ice cream there will be something else to enjoy!

To find out more about The Parlour, pop by their website

Whilst we were in Fortnums on this occasion, I also found a rather beautiful tea set that I thought I would share....


The set is by Richard Brendon and was designed especially for Fortnum and Masons. I just love the colours and pretty chevron pattern.

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Time for....something sweet, but disappointing

Hello there!

Happy Saturday! I hope you've had a tea-riffic week!

My week included a rather disappointing sweet treat.....a doughnut that visually was very appealing, but upon taking a bite I discovered that, in my humble opinion, was a real waste of calories!


Told you it was pretty doughnut! 

This, ladies and gentlemen, is a chocolate doughnut purchased from a Sainsburys supermarket. I wouldn't normally buy mass produced cakes like this (yes I'm a cake snob), but there was something very appealing about those stripes and so I decided to take a chance!

The doughnuts come in packs of four from the bakery section.

To make them chocolate doughnuts, the rings have been filled with a chocolate filling....


I love chocolate...as you know I have a real sweet tooth, but I really love chocolate. There is something very comforting and indulgent about good chocolate.

 Unfortunately, this wasn't good chocolate.....nor was it good doughnut 
generally. The actual doughnut had an ok texture, it tasted fresh, but it had no real flavour. If I had tried this as part of a blind taste test I think I would have struggled to tell you it was a chocolate doughnut. The chocolate filling also held no flavour, it just added another texture to the doughnut.


To make sure I wasn't being unfair to the doughnut I also asked Joe to try one. When asked to describe his doughnut experience, Joe said "it was like a very disappointing bagel or piece of bread with some chocolate in it"....clearly I wasn't being unfair to the doughnut! 

I suppose at least Joe could taste the chocolate

All in all not the best doughnut experience and I wish I hadn't been lured in by those mesmerising stripes. But if you want a good prop for Instagram I can confirm that the doughnuts photograph really well!

What's the best doughnut experience you've had? Do you like plain jam filled doughnuts or something more fancy? Drop us a line and let us know!

Thank you for popping by today!

Rachel

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Afternoon Tea Baking - Pret a Portea high fashion bakes

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends.

I hope you're well today. Have you made any baking related New Year's Resolutions this year? Maybe you'd like to try baking the sweet treats that you try at afternoon tea? Already love baking, but want to try something new? I might just have the book for you!

Pret a Portea - High Fashion bakes and biscuits

Before we go any further I want to assure you that this isn't an ad, I'm not being paid or rewarded for this blog post in anyway. I bought the book when I enjoyed afternoon tea at The Berkeley last year and was so impressed with the recipes that I wanted to share it with you.

'Prêt-à-Portea: High-Fashion Bakes and Biscuits' was published to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the iconic fashion inspired afternoon tea served at The Berkeley and includes 20 recipes and baking techniques from the hotel’s Head Pastry Chef Mourad Khiat. 

I'm a home baker, I follow simple recipes and enjoy what I make but I have wanted to stretch myself a little and this book was perfect. The recipes are really easy to follow and the book contains lots of photos of the process as well as the finished items so you can see what you are supposed to be doing. 

Pret a Portea - High Fashion bakes and biscuits

Inside the book you'll find 20 iconic sweet treats that have been served as part of the Pret a Portea afternoon tea experience at some point in the last ten years. You'll also see what fashion item inspired the sweet treat. 

From the Blueberry sponge handbag inspired by Anya Hindmarch to the rainbow meringue summer mousse inspired by Mulberry, or the red sole and sparkle biscuit inspired by Christian Louboutin....you'll find all of these and more in the book!

My baking from Pret a Portea 

One of the items I decided to try was the pearl pump Sachertorte inspired by Nicholas Kirkwood, which featured a Chocolate Miroir finish. Having not attempted Sachertorte previously I was a little apprehensive when I started.

The recipe was broken down into easy to follow sections, making the chocolate sponge and jam filling first, followed by the chocolate Miroir. The recipe also includes styling details to help you finish your bake in the same way as The Berkeley. As you can see from the images I didn't quite follow the styling details, but I was still very impressed with my wonky finished cakes!

They were so shiny that even Niffler was impressed....

A bit wonky, but very shiny! 

This book also contains the best chocolate Brownie recipe I have ever come across. The recipe is very simple, but results in rich and gooey brownies that you will love!

I might have made these once or twice since buying the book....



The book is jam packed with scrummy photos, so even if you don't want to bake the cakes you'll probably spend several blissful hours drooling over the cakes!

As I said, this isn't an ad....but if you are looking for an easy to follow book which will up your baking game then you might enjoy this one!

Do you have a favourite baking book? I'd love to hear all about it - leave me a comment!

Thanks for popping by today,
Rachel

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Time for Tea.....St Martins Lane

Hello there,

Happy New Year!

We hope that you've had a tea-riffic Christmas and wish you a sweet new year full of tea and cake!

Afternoon tea at St Martins Lane, London

At the end of last year Becca, Lorna and I enjoyed a Narnia themed afternoon tea at St Martins Lane in London. You may remember that we've visited St Martin's Lane previously and we're always keen to revisit when they have a new theme.

Although the Narnia themed tea is no longer available, I still wanted to share the photos with you.

Afternoon tea at St Martin's Lane is served in the Den, which is a beautifully snug space....perfect for a winter themed tea. When we visited The Den was dressed with lots of cosy throws and we even had our own pretend wood burner!

Tea at St Martins Lane is served on pretty Ted Baker china.....which I just love.....


as well as the patterns, I love the art deco shapes of the handles. 

The afternoon tea sweets are served on a contemporary stand, with the savoury items presented on a separate plate. There is one item per person....so no need to share or fight over the best looking sweet treats!

Afternoon Tea Stand, St Martins Lane London

This was a serving for three people, the stand does look a bit full!

There were three savoury items on this afternoon tea menu.....however as you can see from the photo below there was not a sandwich (finger or otherwise) in sight:

Ham, mushroom and cheese turnover
Tuna, avocado, tomato and sweetcorn wrap
Spinach and parmesan swirl

Afternoon tea - St Martins Lane, London

I'm going to be honest here....this was not my favourite selection of savoury items.....I'm not really a fan of mushrooms, avocado or spinach....however I ploughed on anyway.

The turnover would have been lovely without the mushrooms, it was hot and the pastry was crisp. Becca, who loves mushrooms, assured me that the mushrooms were good. The wrap was nice (despite the avocado), but I would have preferred a sandwich (call me old fashioned!). The swirl was altogether too spinachy (spell check says that's not a word, but I don't care) for me, but the pastry was lovely. 

Moving onto the scones....there was one each....but they were massive....

Massive scones at St Martins Lane

The flavour of the scones was good, along with the cream and raspberry jam, but the texture was a little claggy for me. I think this was due to the size of them rather than anything else - you really needed a lot of cream on them!

The sweets looked good and included a pretty Aslan head which I couldn't wait to try:
Snowball chestnut, blueberry
Aslan chocolate & caramel bonbon
The wardrobe almond biscuit, pear & pecan cream
The Ice Queen's Crown coffee tart
Turkish Delights
Mini mince pies



There was a good choice of sweet treats, meaning there was something for everyone. However, they didn't all hit the spot.....

I loved the coffee tart (coffee is always a win for me), the Turkish Delights were refreshing to enjoy at the end of the meal and the mini mince pies were packed with flavour (again I love a mince pie). I also enjoyed Aslan's head (sounds a bit weird I know), but it was super sweet and a little too big to enjoy the whole head - I think we probably ate one head between all three of us. 

We couldn't really taste the flavours in the snowballs and the wardrobes were a little bit confusing with the biscuit textures and the pears.

The service as usual was friendly and professional and the waiters all knew the menu well. We could change our tea choice throughout our time in The Den, or decide to enjoy a cup of coffee or hot chocolate instead.

As well as scrummy afternoon teas, St Martin's Lane has a beautiful lobby with lots of photo opportunities.....


All in all we enjoyed our latest visit to St Martins Lane and will no doubt visit again in 2019. To find out more about the latest afternoon tea adventures at St Martins Lane pop by their website

Thank you for popping by today - we look forward to seeing you again soon!

Rachel & Lorna