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

Friday, 18 July 2014

Time for Tea....Boyds London

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends, this week I was very lucky to be invited to the afternoon tea launch at Boyds Brasserie in London. I was a guest of both Boyds and Square Meals, along with a group of lovely food bloggers.

I had seen a photo of the new afternoon tea which launched on the 7th July and was keen to try it out for myself.....

Afternoon tea - Boyds London
Photo from website

Not your usual afternoon tea venue, Boyds is a restaurant located a very short stroll from Trafalgar Square on Northumberland Avenue. Boyds is very proud of it's British menu, sourcing everything from within Great Britain. It's interior is rather glamorous, but also relaxed - a nice environment to enjoy a spot of tea in!

Your afternoon tea at Boyds is served on plain white china and glass serving plates - which gives the tea a modern feel. The menu however, is quite traditional with a slight quirky start and finish!

Afternoon Tea China & Menu

The afternoon tea feast at Boyds begins with traditional sandwiches...but also a serving of potted shrimp. I have never seen this on an afternoon tea menu before, but I am pleased to report that it made a lovely addition.....

Afternoon Tea - Potted Shrimps - Boyds

The potted shrimp was light and flavoured well and the crisp bread made a perfect accompaniment. It was a rather fresh and scrummy way to start the meal. The potted shrimp was served alongside a traditional sandwich platter....

Afternoon Tea Sandwiches - Boyds

As you'll notice there wasn't a controversial hint of crust in sight....I can also confirm that the bread was soft and fresh. The fillings included a lovely egg mayonnaise and watercress served on white bread, smoked salmon with cream cheese and dill served on brown and salted beef with pickled cucumber and Dijon also on brown bread.

I really enjoyed the egg sandwich and also the salmon, unfortunately the salted beef wasn't for me - I am not a huge fan of pickled things or Dijon...but my fellow diners all seemed to enjoy it.

Once we had enjoyed the savoury elements, we were served the sweets on a two tier cake stand....

The Sweets at Boyds!

The scones are served with clotted cream and strawberry preserve, these are followed by a lovely selection of perfectly sized cakes and pastries.

Scones ...dressed the Tea With Me and Friends way!

Although the scones weren't served warm, they were a good size and perfectly fluffy in the middle. Not claggy in texture at all. I enjoyed both the cream and dollop of jam and am pleased to report that there was plenty of both on offer! As you can imagine....bringing a group of food bloggers together brought about debate regarding the "correct" way to dress your scones. Regular readers will know which way I fought!

Perfectly Sized Afternoon Tea Sweets - Boyds

The sweet selection included a wonderful piece of fruit cake, which was full of flavour but not at all heavy. There was also a bite sized eclair, which was so light, a fresh strawberry tart and a piece of lemon drizzle cake. My favourite items were the eclair and the fruit cake - which surprised me! I made the mistake of leaving my piece of lemon drizzle to last, unfortunately this meant the air had got to the cake a little by the time I ate it and it was a little dry. The flavour however was wonderful. 

All of the items were a good size and easy to eat. I enjoyed all the flavours - all in all it was a very nice sweet plate!

Finally, there is one last item to finish the afternoon tea experience.....

Mini ice creams - Boyds

Yes, they are cute little ice cream cones! 
I really enjoyed the chocolate wafer combined with the vanilla ice cream....and the use of "hundreds and thousands" adds a fun element. They were really scrummy and a lovely end to the afternoon tea.

This afternoon tea costs £19.90 per person with tea, if you want a treat you can include a glass of champagne for £29.90 per person. I think this is a good value afternoon tea, full of scrummy items. For more information please visit the Boyds website.

A group of food bloggers....identifiable by the
amount of cameras/mobiles on the table!

I'd like to thank Boyds and Square Meal for their hospitality - we were all well looked after, and it was brilliant to talk to some other food bloggers. Although I was a guest at this event, this has not clouded my judgement and all opinions expressed in this article are my own.

Thank you for popping by today,
Square Meal

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Meet the Pastry Chef....Zoe Wager

Hello there,

Welcome back to another blog post where we meet one of the amazing pastry chefs who create the scrummy afternoon teas that we enjoy! This time we meet Zoe Wager who is the Executive Pastry Chef at the Intercontinental Westminster in London.

Zoe was behind the recent Intercontinental Westminster hit, The Edible Garden, and we recently shared with you a sneak peek of the wonderful new seaside inspired afternoon tea created by Zoe. Here Zoe tells us a little more about the tea....

Our new afternoon tea is titled 'British Summer Holiday'.  It aims to take our guests through a typical day on holiday, starting with a picnic of prawn cocktail and pork pie with piccalilli, even on its own gingham rug!  There are also some delicious classic finger sandwiches such as egg and cress and coronation chicken.  We have used summer as inspiration for our scone flavours and have marmalade and strawberry & yogurt, served with our signature lemon curd, and, of course, clotted cream and strawberry jam.  The finale is a fantastic beach scene , complete with chocolate beach huts, sandcastles, bucket and spades and little windmill toffee chocolate tarts.  You can even eat the sand!

British Summer Holiday Afternoon Tea
Intercontinental Westminster

So what does it take to come up with these amazing afternoon teas......

Q How long does it usually take you to create new afternoon teas?
I’ve always got ideas in my mind and I‘m always making notes or taking photos of interesting things I see which inspire me - these could be food or non-food related.  Once I decide on the theme I would like to do for the next tea it's a few weeks of deciding flavours and developing recipes, as well as looking at presentation ideas before I am happy.  I also have to consider what is practical for my team to reproduce in its hundreds as there's no point doing something beautiful if it cannot be replicated exactly and consistently for each one of our guests.  It's really important to me that the flavours reflect the theme and vice versa. All the little details really count when it comes to afternoon tea.  

Q. Where does your inspiration for new teas come from?
Anywhere and everywhere!  I consider the time of year and any calendar influences - for example, next year I am really looking forward to developing something fun with the General Election in mind.  With so many great afternoon teas in London it is difficult to do something to stand out from the crowd, so I try to do something people would not expect.  I also consider our typical clientele and whether they would respond well to the ideas.  I scour the internet for photos rather than concepts or recipes as afternoon tea is very visual and I want to be able to recreate an experience through my teas.  I think the British Summer Holiday tea that we are doing right now really captures the essence of our childhood and gives people a sense of nostalgia, whilst also showcasing the best of British Summer (with or without the weather!)  

Q. What is your favourite part of your latest afternoon tea?
I think the sandcastles are so cute.  We spray them with chocolate and the texture is so realistic.  Once they have the little chocolate flags they really look the part. I think people on first sight people expect them to be quite dense, so the light peach mousse is refreshing.   

Those super cute sandcastles and buckets!

Q. Do you enjoy a spot of afternoon tea yourself and have you tried tea anywhere else?
I don't often get the chance to go out and try afternoon tea anywhere else, so it is a very special treat.  It always feels strange to be a chef outside the kitchen and I am particularly nosey so always want a little peak inside the kitchen and see what other chefs are up to!  Recently I was lucky enough to visit The Langham. The afternoon tea there is amazing and the pastry chef there, Cherish, is a master of her craft.  

Q. What is your favourite filling in an afternoon tea sandwich?
I love coronation chicken.  I know it's a bit old fashioned but that's the point these flavours which have stood the test of time - it's because they can't be beaten! A nice simple twist on classic cucumber is mint, which I also enjoy

Executive Pastry Chef Zoe Wager
Intercontinental Westminster

Q. The all important question - do you put cream or jam on your scone first?
I always used to put jam on first. Then, recently, I was talking to a friend who said the cream should be considered to be like butter, and therefore it should be spread first.  That made so much sense! I don't know why I never thought of it that way, so now I lashings of cream on first!

Q. If you could invite any guest to enjoy afternoon tea with you, who would it be and why?
Definitely my mum.  She died when I was much younger and never even knew I became a chef.  I would love to have the chance to take her out and spoil her. She would love the afternoon tea experience.  I don't think she ever did it.  

What do you know....Zoe is a "cream first" convert! I'd like to thank Zoe for taking the time to meet us when we last visited the Intercontinental Westminster, we loved seeing the new afternoon tea, and I'd also like to thank Zoe for answering our questions.

This seaside inspired afternoon tea can be enjoyed throughout July and August and is £37.50 per person. If you'd like to find out more about the British Summer Holiday afternoon tea, visit the Intercontinental Westminster website. 

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Time for Tea....Mrs Smith's Tea Room

Hello there,

Welcome to another guest post from Tea With Me and Friends - this time we are keeping it in the family as our cousin Neil and his wife Jenny share their recent visit to Mrs Smith's Tea Room in Banstead with us. Neil is very lucky - he won this afternoon tea in a recent competition run by the tea room.

Mrs Smith's Tea Room opened in 2010 and offers a whole range of foods, including Homemade cakes, Freshly Made Sandwiches, Homemade Soup and Baked Potatoes. Also opening soon is a tapas bar. I know Neil likes a spot of afternoon tea though and was keen to find out what he thought of his latest tea adventure....

The tearoom itself offers guests seating both inside and outside....

Mrs Smith's Tea Room - Banstead

The afternoon tea at Mrs Smith's consists of  a pot of tea, a selection of finger sandwiches, scones served with cream and jam and a cake selection. The portions are generous in size and according to Neil very tasty too.....

Mrs Smith's Tea Room - Afternoon Tea

In fact the portions were so generous (did you see the size of those scones??) that Neil needed a doggy bag to take some of his tea home with him! Neil commented that the tearoom offers guests a pleasant environment to enjoy their tea in, and the staff were all very friendly.

Let's take a closer look at those rather scrummy scones....I am pleased to note that there appears to be a nice amount of fruit in there.....

Afternoon Tea Scones on offer at
 Mrs Smith's Tea Room
Afternoon tea needs to be pre-booked at this particular tea room, and costs £14.95 per person. Also on offer is a cream tea which includes a pot of tea and either plain or fruit scones at £4.95 per person. There is also various cakes on offer, including gluten free varieties.

Neil and Jenny enjoying a spot of afternoon tea
at Mrs Smith's Tea Room

All in all Neil thoroughly enjoyed his afternoon tea experience at Mrs Smith's and would recommend it for anyone looking for a local tea experience. The tea room is open five days a week, for more information visit their Facebook page.

Thank you to Neil and Jenny for sharing their afternoon tea adventure with us, it's brilliant to hear about local tea rooms. If you have visited somewhere for a spot of tea recently and would like to share your tea adventure with us please get in touch!

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna