Equipped with my collection of retro royal china it was the prefect chance to pop up for an afternoon tea party to celebrate Harry and Meghan's wedding. We catered for 25 people in the grounds of a beautiful garden in Suffolk. Why not book an afternoon tea?
I love my motor racing weekends making tea for the HRDC drivers and crew. I have never seen so many cakes consumed in a day, but it doesn't seem to slow the drivers down!
What's this all about then? I took 8 friends to the new Northgate in Bury for dinner on Sunday night. We started the evening with excellent cocktails in the bar. The bar staff were great, friendly and charming. Then it all went a bit downhill. My starter was good, main course satisfactory and dessert awful. The dessert wine didn't arrive until after the pudding and the coffee and tea order was eventually taken just before midnight. As for the faff to make the tea. Do I need to be told to warm the cup, wait for it to brew ( timer supplied for the countdown) in order to get two mouthfuls of English Breakfast brew? The most spectacular thing of the night was the bill.
- Line caught mackerel, beetroot, apple and parsnip (9/10)
- Sidecar of the Orient (10/10)
- Loin of venison, shank, sauerkraut and kale (6/10)
- Roasted pistachio sponge, salted chocolate, burnt apricot (1/10 for the apricot)
- Tea at midnight! Losing the will so ask for the bill.
The London Tea Exchange is just a wet tea bags throw away from Liverpool Street if you are in London for the day or need an excuse to go there. Close to Spitalfields Market entrance where you could spend the whole day just wandering around, we were attracted by the tea samples being offered on the street to entice us into this beautiful shop. Faysal Ahmed described his tea tasting workshops and we bought some China White Monkey and a Hibiscus tea for later. In some parts of the world they do use specially trained monkeys to pick the tea but I think ours was picked by a human.
If you are a lucky farmer, someone brings you this in the back of the car every day at tea time, until harvest is finished.
There is floor to ceiling tea here at T2; different varieties and combinations including White, Black, Oolong, Tissanes, Floral and more. Tea paraphernalia like those specialist tea strainers and infusers that you can't find anywhere else that are essential for herb leaf tea, and lots of tea making for tasting - which when I got there was the perfect late morning pick-me-up (I tried French Earl Grey and Irish Breakfast). There is a Tea Society, a High Tea Society and a Secret Tea Society and a weird teapot that pours it out of the bottom...and they're from Australia, and have just arrived in the UK.
Goodbye cupcakes, biscuits are back. The cupcake is on the decline and we think the next baking trend will be biscuits, not cookies, but good old butter based, crisp biscuits. Bring on the bourbons!
Icecream is also on the up and together with the biscuit we guess the ice-cream sandwich could be the new dessert craze.
Tea will be trending, not just the current resurgence of the vintage cuppa but in cocktails and as iced teas. Think rooibos, jasmine, hibiscus and green tea in your cocktails. This is our Fresh Red with Mint. Rooibis espresso, apple juice, mint and squeeze of lemon.
Vermouth has been neglected despite being an essential component of the current trend of cocktail making. It is a great aperitif in its own right and you will see the real vermouth action in Spain where it is poured straight from the barrel to the glass. Look out for this Italian vermouth bianco made by chemist Mauro Vergano. It is made from a base of Cortese and Moscato grapes, steeped in citrus and herbs. Subtle aromas of orange blossom over a base of herbs. Delicious! Justin and Jurga Sharpe have it on the menu at Pea Porridge restaurant in Bury St Edmundsl
If 2013 was the year of Quinoa then 2014 will be the year of Buckwheat. Usually referred to as a cereal grain, buckwheat is a superfood and actually a type of fruit. A relative of the rhubarb plant, buckwheat has a mild nutty flavour and a slightly softer texture than other grains. Well known uses for buckwheat are the flour (great for pancakes), soba noodles and kasha. Kasha are the whole buckwheat kernel; you can find them roasted or unroasted at most health food stores. The buckwheat plant's flowers are also used to make a dark, rich honey. Originally from China, the main producer today is Japan, where people eat soba noodles on New Year's Eve as a symbol of longevity. Buckwheat is high in magnesium, good for healthy muscles. One cup of soba noodles has about half the calories of a cup of regular pasta. Buckwheat also contains the antioxidant rutin, known to help lower cholesterol and strengthen small blood vessels. Buckwheat is also a gluten-free food, which makes it a perfect substitute for those who have trouble digesting wheat. The fascination with Asian food will also continue into 2014 with rice playing a big part in the return of the carbs.
Will goat be the new kid in town? We think so. With the increase in goat dairy produce it only makes sense to eat the goat meat itself. A staple in the Caribbean with curried goat being a Suffolkfoodie favourite, we always have some goat meat in the deep freeze. Kid goat is actually very versatile and has a great subtle flavour. Slow roast shoulder or leg grilled over a charcoal fire served Greek style with lemon and herbs, yum
Home brewing could prove to be popular next year How about a Great British Brew Off? Not beer or wine, but VINEGAR. Yes, you heard it. Vinegar is easy to make and we will be starting a brew soon here at Suffolkfoodie HQ. Many years ago a friend with a wine shop kept a barrel for the bottle ends and left overs and brewed wonderful vinegar. We fancy this hand thrown vinaigrier. Drinking vinegars, or shrubs as they were known in the 17th Century are becoming trendy and light vinegar chasers ( yuk?) and savoury cocktails are going to trend soon. Chicken Tikka Martini anyone?
Clucking good chicken restaurants have been appearing throughout 2013 and they will continue to develop out of London. Chicken is still an economical meat and we have also been predicting eggs as a trend for the past year. Scotch eggs are back on the bars in many guises. How about devilled and curried eggs next? New cuts of meat will appear. In 2013 we saw a move towards the American cuts such as the flat iron steak (shoulder blade, known as Butler's Steak in good old Blighty.) Expect the Pork Porterhouse and Ribeye Chops. Out with the lamb shank and in with the lamb short ribs and lamb brisket. Pictured is The Tramshed chicken.
Finally, the last prediction is Wine Bars... Wine bars that really know about the wine and are happy to share their knowledge. Wine bars that are cosy and unpretenious and don't make you feel that you need to swirl, sniff and spit to enjoy a good glass of wine. Our favourite in London is Sager and Wilde. Looking for one in East Anglia please?
Started in Italy after the war when there wasn't much money about - yes, its an old idea - promoted in seventeen countries in the world and recently hi-jacked by Starbucks, here's how it is intended to work.
Choose a nice local independent cafe that has a discreet 'suspended coffee' sign in the window to buy your lunch, buy yourself a sandwich and a coffee. At the same time, pay for an extra coffee, asking for it to be suspended.
Johny Cakes - a man who has lost his job (it happened) is facing being homeless (not quite) and is looking for work, will see the sign that the cafe has out the front, saying they are taking part in suspended coffee, and asks if there are any suspended coffees available. Within five minutes he has a warm drink in his hands, thanks to the anonymous act of kindness of yourself and the cafe. Some places have extended it to food - I would like liver and bacon with mashed potatoes and runner beans please.