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

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Time for something you usually serve...but don't eat!

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends.

So....what do you usually serve and not eat....a tennis ball of course! However, in this Wimbledon fortnight where we have already seen several scrummy tennis themed afternoon teas we have also discovered these Wimbledon Cake Pops which are served at Foxcroft & Ginger.

Artisan bakers and coffee makers Foxcroft & Ginger are launching these fab tennis ball cake pops for the Wimbledon Semi-Finals and Final! These tasty looking tennis balls have a coconut macaroon outer-shell encasing a delicious honey, lemon, almond, and coconut cake inside, with desiccated coconut decoration to resemble the lines on a tennis ball.

These tennis ball cakepops can be found at the Foxcroft & Ginger cafes in Soho, Whitechapel or Dalston, where they are available to eat in or takeaway for just £2.50 each.

Every ingredient used by Foxcroft & Ginger is freshly made in-house, with original recipes tweaked to perfection.  

For more information visit the Foxcroft & Ginger website...but be warned....there is some seriously scrummy treats featured there!

So, over to you - have you visited one of the Foxcroft & Ginger cafes? What did you enjoy? And we'd love to hear from you if you enjoy one of these edible cake pops!

Thanks for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Time for Tea....Conrad St James

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends. Recently a group of four of us visited Conrad St James (previously the Intercontinental Westminster) to celebrate Alex's Birthday. We have always loved Pastry Chef Zoe's creations and were looking forward to sampling her latest.

This time we enjoyed another of her edible gardens which we first tried in the summer of last year....this time there was no greenhouse to delve into....but instead a stretch of grass and edible soil! This afternoon tea adventure is called the St. James's Glorious Garden....

St James's Glorious Garden afternoon tea
Conrad St James

Tea is still served in Emmeline's Lounge and we were pleased to see we still had musical accompaniment for our afternoon tea adventure...

The harpist was wonderful, playing a selection of traditional and modern music - something for everything.

But back to the more important thing....that wonderful tea...let's begin with the savoury selection....

Afternoon tea salad - Conrad St James

Afternoon tea savouries - Conrad St James

To begin we were served a light and summery salad, full of fresh ingredients. This was served alongside the more traditional finger sandwiches and mini brioche rolls. The fillings included coronation chicken, egg mayonnaise (in the roll), salmon and cucumber. They were all fresh, tasty and there was not a crust in sight. If I am honest I enjoyed the sandwiches more than the salad, but that is just personal preference.

Once we were finished with the savouries the warm scones and mini Chelsea buns were served....

We had one decent sized scone and one mini Chelsea bun eat. They were warm and were served with clotted cream, raspberry preserve and a tangy lemon curd....of course I had to try both....

Scones dressed the "tea with me and friends" way!

The scones were wonderful - perfect in texture and size. I loved the lemon curd too, which went well with the cream. I enjoyed the Chelsea bun, but I thought it might have been a little bit too small as it was a little dry.

After we had finished these the garden itself was served....let's take a closer look at the sweet treats....

Afternoon tea sweets - Conrad St James

The sweets included....
 Raspberry & orange macarons
Honey and earl grey chocolate bee cake pops
Carrot cake with candied carrot plant pot
 Lavender shortbread sandwich
 Mini rhubarb and spelt cake

There wasn't anything that I didn't like here....what a great selection of sweets! I particularly enjoyed the rhubarb cake and also these....

This was the Honey and earl grey chocolate bee cake pops complete with a cute little ladybird! The cakepop was lovely, full of flavour and not at all dry. I saved this to last and wasn't disappointed by my decision!

As it was a Birthday celebration the hotel also gave the Birthday girl a special treat....she was not impressed that I shared her age with the hotel....so I imagine I will not be very popular when she sees I've shared it with everyone else...but I couldn't not show you this....

Afternoon tea - Conrad St James

This treat was smooth, chocolately and sweet - a lovely treat!

We had the unlimited bubbles afternoon tea which meant that as well as unlimited tea we also had our champagne flutes filled for the 90 minutes we were there. Afternoon teas are available at £49 per person with free flowing G.H. Mumm Cordon Rouge Champagne or £35 per person without champagne.

All in all it was lovely afternoon tea adventure and lovely to be back at the Conrad St James. Zoe continues to please and amaze with her sweet creations and this version did not disappoint! This tea is only available until the 12th July however, but fear not there are plenty more creations to try...

Emmeline's Lawn Club
July 11th – July 12th 2015


Summer in the City
July 13th – August 30th 2015

Autumn Bramble Afternoon Tea
August 31st – November 22nd 2015

I'd like to thank the Conrad St James for their hospitality. Please note that although we did receive two complimentary teas on this occasion this has not affected my taste buds and all opinions expressed here are our own.

For more information about the afternoon teas on offer at Conrad St James please visit their website.

If you try any of the other teas during the year we'd love to hear from you...I'm especially keen to hear about the bramble tea!

Thank you for popping by today,

Friday, 3 July 2015

The Friday Review....some tea gadgets!

Hello there,

Welcome back to another Friday Review at Tea With Me and Friends...we have something a little bit different for you this week...instead of tea...we have some gadgets!

We were recently sent a couple of projects from Magisso, a young Finnish design brand who produce simple but smart products. Magisso develops products out of a need....and therefore there is a strong emphasis on usability.

The products I was sent to try were the tea cup and the tea ball....perfect for us tea lovers....

Magisso tea gadgets!

Let's start with the teacup which is a funky green colour (there are other colours available) and made from dishwasher safe, food grade plastic. The idea behind this unusual looking teacup is that you can easily brew a fresh cup of tea with loose leaf tea leaves in a cup with no mess.

Let me explain....

Magisso Teacup

The cup comes complete with a little strainer that sits neatly in the cup. Although it looks flat....this cup is actually sitting on a tilt...which allows you to add freshly brewed water to your leaves in order to brew your tea....

Here you can see the leaves on one side and the water brewing around it. Once you are happy with your cuppa you simply tilt the cup the other way....

The water is no longer touching the leaves and so you cannot over brew your cup. Once you've finished you just remove the strainer. So simple!

My only issue with the cup is that I usually drink from traditional china teacups....which are considerably smaller than this! So it took a bit of getting used to....the shape is also quite different. Saying that it was easy to drink from and probably just a matter of getting used to a different teacup.

Next lets take a closer look at the teaball....

Magisso teaball

Now this is no ordinary teaball....as its magnetic! It also has a sucker! The idea here is that once you've finished brewing your tea in your pot you can easily remove the leaves from the water preventing any over brewing.

The teaball is made from Silicone and stainless steel and comes in black or green. Once you've secured the leaves in the ball you place the sucker inside your teapot lid....

It can then dangle in the water and brew you a lovely cuppa....

I'm now wishing I filmed this for you all! Once the tea is brewed you scoop the ball out with a spoon and it magnetically hangs from the lid of your teapot....

Leaving you with a lovely pot of tea and no over-brewing!

A nice product....especially for the tea lover in your life you has lots of tea gadgets already as its really unique. The magnet works well and my ball didn't fall back into the tea....it also didn't drip everywhere and so limited mess.

I'd like to thank Magisson for sending us these products to try. To find out more about them and the other products on offer take a peek at their website. I know I mentioned at the beginning of the post that Magisso is a Finnish company....but fear not as you can buy their products directly from The Design Museum Shop.

Do you have a favourite tea gadget that you can't live without? We'd love to hear all about it!

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Monday, 29 June 2015

Meet the Pastry Chef....Dale DeSimone

Hello there,

Welcome back to another Meet the Chef blog post from Tea With Me and Friends where we meet the creative talent behind one of the afternoon teas we have recently enjoyed.

This time we asked Dale DeSimone all about his afternoon tea at Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel. Dale has recently been appointed Executive Pastry Chef  and we enjoyed his afternoon tea adventure a couple of weekends ago.

Dale has over twenty years experience in the USA, the UAE and London , but his most recent experience was at Sketch restaurant by Pierre Gagnaire, where he was Head Pastry Chef. Dale has been cooking since he was very young, and has a special interest in chocolate. Dale will lead a team of nine pastry chefs at Grosvenor House.

If you missed our recent blog post about the Grosvenor House afternoon tea, here is a little photo....

Afternoonn tea - Grosvenor House

So...after enjoying this scrummy afternoon tea...we needed to ask Dale our afternoon tea questions....

Q. How long does it usually take you to create new afternoon teas?
I think it is hard to put a time on how long it takes to put together a menu.  The creative side of it is ongoing and never really stops.  Ideas are constantly evolving and changing. Once all the ideas for a specific menu are on paper there will be a series of tests and trials to follow.  The next step is training the kitchen and restaurant teams.  Only after this will our guests get their first taste.  This process could take as little as a week or as long as a month.
Q. Where does your inspiration for new teas come from?
Inspiration for me could come from anywhere – a patisserie, a book/magazine or a restaurant.  Sometimes my ideas come from things that are less traditional and completely unrelated to food – a display in a clothing store window, an art show, a walk through park.  Inspiration can strike at any time, when it does I try to make a note of it and save it for a time when I need it.

Dale DeSimone - Executive Pastry Chef - Grosvenor House

Q. What is your favourite part of your latest afternoon tea?
This is my first tea menu at the Grosvenor House and I am still finding the perfect fit for our Anna’s afternoon tea menu.  It is exciting that we are taking an approach focusing on seasonal British products and traditions.  I think that concentrating more on these products and flavours, and less on the garnish, will really help us to create something special.
Q. Do you enjoy a spot of afternoon tea yourself and have you tried tea anywhere else?
Afraid I am more of a coffee person… Just kidding… but not really…  My version of afternoon tea is to sample the patisseries and bakeries of the area during my time off.  In contrast to the traditional English afternoon tea, you would be more likely to find me at a shop that I have not been to before sampling the cakes and pastries they offer while enjoying a coffee or tea
Q. What is your favourite filling in an afternoon tea sandwich
Egg with horseradish… or maybe pickle and cheddar, that has grown on me since coming to the UK.
Q. The all important question - do you put cream or jam on your scone first?
That is funny…  I am American, scones for us are a breakfast treat and come in a huge variety of flavours.  The traditional English scone with jam and cream, or cream and jam, is nice but would be my second choice.

We'd like to thank Dale for taking the time to answer our questions - its great to hear from the person behind the afternoon tea creations that we enjoy.

If you'd like to know more about Dale's afternoon tea at Grosvenor House pop by their website.

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Time to Announce a Winner!

Hello there,

Welcome back to another post from Tea With Me and Friends....as you know we are now two years old and to celebrate we have been running a blog competition to win a tea adventure at Piacha in London.

Well, the competition closed on Friday....and we are very pleased to announce our lucky winner.....

Tea With Me and Friends Winner!

Congratulations Nicci!

We will be in touch with more information about your fab prize!

We would like to say a huge thank you to Pia from Piacha for providing us with our blog birthday competition prize...if you want to know a bit more about this fab tea bar in London visit their website or take a peek at our recent blog post.

We'd also like to thank everyone who entered and everyone who continues to join us on our afternoon tea adventures!

Tea With Me and Friends

If you want to see more from us don't forget that we have a YouTube channel where we post regular vlogs...from baking scones and cakes to ruling the country....its all covered in our vlog posts!

Thank you for popping by today,

Rachel & Lorna