Friday, 18 May 2018

Getting Chocolatey for the Royal Wedding

Just a quick one from us on the eve of the Royal Wedding, to share these beautiful chocolates that dropped through our letterbox this morning. Inspired by the happy couple themselves, Choctopia's master chocolatier Matt Hancock has created a special selection of hand-crafted chocolates to celebrate the big day.

The blue 'Harry' is a banana and hazelnut caramel flavour, whilst the white chocolate 'Meghan' is flavoured decadently with rosewater and coconut. We tried both this evening and honestly couldn't pick a favourite, they were that good. 

Matt's style is quite unlike anything we've come across before and we're absolutely LOVING the bright colours of his creations - we've even heard that his other treats include chocolate portraits and glow in the dark chocolates - amazing, right? Check him out online.

Which is your favourite flavour combination - The 'Harry' or the 'Meghan'?

If you're still on the lookout for last minute Royal Wedding tea party inspiration, take a look at our last post here.

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Wednesday, 16 May 2018

A Royal Wedding Tea Party At Home



With less than a week to go until the Royal Wedding, it's time to start planning your celebrations - and what's more fitting than a Great British Tea Party?

In case you're stuck for inspiration or are wondering where to begin, we've pulled together our essential Royal Wedding afternoon tea guide, to help you plan a party fit for the Queen.




The Decorations

Celebrations like this are as 'extra' as they come, so get creative and show your colours - crack out the balloons, hang up some bunting and wear your Prince Harry mask with pride.

It's important to remember that you don't need a big budget to make your party special, you can get multipacks of balloons from Card Factory and a rather snazzy Harry and Meghan flag from Amazon for a couple of pounds. However, if you're in the market for something a bit more special, then Bubblegum balloons, have an incredible range of ready to go decorations specially created for the big day. With beautiful tasselled tails, and a suitably apt slogan, their 'Sparkle Like Markle' balloon is an absolute must for any Royal Wedding tea party.



As for crockery and table decorations, there are a couple of options. However, as the Royal wedding is a one-day-only event, we think your best bet would be to look for disposable party-ware that will give your gathering a touch of glitz without a significant investment. There are plenty of affordable pieces at Poundland, in a variety of designs including, Union Jack and gold spot. We opted for both of these to give a kitsch-yet-classy feel.




The Tea

Sometimes a cup of PG Tips is all you need, but if you're after something fancier then there are a few special options that the tea aficionados amongst you will LOVE.

One of our favourites is the limited edition Newby London Royal Wedding Tea Selection, which is currently available at £28 online for 36 individually wrapped pyramids. With flavours ranging from English Breakfast to Earl Grey and Hunan Green Tea, this limited edition commemorative gift set is the perfect way to mark Harry and Meghan's big day.



The Drinks

What's tea without a splash of something else to help wash the cake down? Whether you're popping the corks with a bottle of Bolly, opting for a refreshing lemonade or rustling up a fruit packed cocktail, it's important to have a variety of different drinks options available.

For those of you who aren't feeling the alcohol at 11.30am, we've recently discovered a beautiful wine-substitute called Botonique, which is completely alcohol free and dare we say it, healthy. With low calories and negligable amounts of sugar, it's truly a guilt free drink, and whilst it doesn't exactly taste like wine or prosecco (nor does it claim to), it definitely has a quality which is reminiscient of both, making it a great food acompaniment - check them out on Ocado.




If you're in the market for a tipple, one of our favourites is Britain Cassis Blackcurrent liqueur. We tried this for the first time on Sunday and were impressed - think of a boozy Ribena with a sharp afterkick.

With something like this there are so many options to drink: either straight, over ice, in prosecco or as part of a delicious cocktail - if you're looking for a bit of inspo, have a browse of their Cocktail suggestions on site.



The Food

You all know the score when it comes to food - cake is key - and whether you're baking your own or buying a Mr Kiplings selection, it's important to have enough to go around. If you're feeling particularly ambitious and want to dust off your mixer, take a look at these recipes for a bit of last minute inspo - we've tried the Baking Mad brownie bites before and can vouch for their delectability.

Not all of the treats needs to come in cake form though. Sometimes, the best afternoon teas are the ones that offer a good mix of textures and flavours. We're thinking Jelly and Ice cream, sweets, chocolate, finger sandwiches and crisps (hint: Red, White and Blue Tyrells are currently available in Poundland and we are obsessed!) - literally throw the calorie counter out of the window this weekend!



On the chocolate front, one of our favourites at the moment is from Elizabeth Shaw (you might remember them from our Mother's Day Guide) who have a range of Chocolate crisps that are the perfect end to a meal. We're loving the salted caramel variety at the moment, but they also have a range of other flavours, including: mint and orange, which sound pretty great too.

And finally - because we spotted them in Liberty last week and LOVED the packaging - we have a limited edition butterscotch biscuit set from Milly Green. These are seriously delicious and will make your room smell absolutely dreamy - we may or may not have finished off the entire packet already.



Whetever you're doing on Saturday, we hope you have a great time. If you're celebrating with a tea party, don't forget to share your photos with us on Twitter, we'd love to share the festivities with you!


How will you be celebrating the Royal Wedding this weekend?

Words and Photography: Caroline

* Post contains PR samples
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Monday, 30 April 2018

Afternoon Tea at King Street Townhouse, Manchester



I don't know about you, but this Winter lark has really been killing the mood recently, so whilst the sun is out and Spring has officially begun, it's time to embrace the seasonal afternoon tea in all its forms.

If you know us well (or even just a little) then you'll probably be aware that we LOVE Great John Street Hotel, and whilst we haven't visited in a couple of years, they will always be ranked high on our list of all time favourites.




Part of the Eclectic group, Great John Street Hotel is one of four residences in Greater Manchester, with the brand's most recent opening, The King Street Townhouse, launching in December 2015. Now, it may seem crazy that it's taken us almost two and a half years to make it there for tea, but let me assure you that it was it worth the wait.

The "Traditional" and "Gentleman's" afternoon tea selections are served up daily in the hotel's Tavern, offering a good range of sweet and savoury treats for visitors to enjoy with a glass of bubbly or Jack Daniels (yum!). Menus change regularly, but during our visit last month we were treated to an Easter rendition of their Spring menu, which included: white chocolate mousse, carrot cake slices and miniature chocolate eggs - for up to date menus, see here.




With Great John Street having such a strong reputation when it comes to afternoon tea, I have to admit that I was a little sceptical about King Street Townhouse - could they really live up to my expectations?

Before our visit, I'd heard mixed reviews, with some people praising the tea, whilst others were a little more non-plussed. However, from my experience, I can only give them praise. The menu itself was incredibly well balanced, with a good mix of textures, which included: cake, macarons, scones, mousse and pastry, offering something for everyone. The flavours were similarly impressive, with the Carrot Cake in particular offering a lovely sweet-yet-earthy flavour, which was delicious.



In terms of environment, the Tavern's lounge has many qualities which are comparable to Great John Street, with comfortable arm chairs and homely nicknacks decorating the room, making for a really lovely place to spend an afternoon. However, a main point of differentiation for me, is the lack of natural light, which was a little disappointing - especially with summer approaching.

That said, the hotel's central location is definitely to its advantage, sitting at the heart of Manchester's current Afternoon Tea hotspot, surrounded by other premium neighbours, The Hotel Gotham and Grand Pacific - the ideal excuse to take in two or even THREE teas in a day.

Overall, we were really impressed with the Kingstreet Townhouse and would recommend it to anyone looking to venture out for a spot of cake with the girls (or guys)

For prices and more information:

Have you ever visited the King Street Townhouse? What did you think?

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Sunday, 4 March 2018

Afternoon Tea Mother's Day Gift Guide


In case you hadn’t noticed the influx of pink, florals and gin sets filling up the shelves on the high street, Mother’s Day is just around the corner (11th March, FYI). Nothing says “I love you” quite like tea and cake, so what better way to show the special woman in your life how much you care than with some afternoon tea-inspired goodies? Whether you’re looking for the perfect little something for your coffee queen or a bit of a tea adventure, our Mother’s Day gift guide has got you covered.


1. Clipper Organic Infusions | RRP £2.39 available to buy online here 
Florals, for Spring? Groundbreaking. If you did the flowers thing last year, maybe a floral tea could do just the trick? All made with pure ingredients and a clear conscience, Clipper's range of organic infusions and green teas are your go-to gift. Try Flower Power Infusion made with elderflower, hibiscus & limeflower or the wonderfully named, Calmer Chameleon Fusion with chamomile, honeybush & cinnamon which can be bought separately (20 bags per box) or as part of the Clipper's Tea Organic Infusions Sublime Selection which includes six different flavours presented in a neat gift box. 

2. Cake stand, teapot and teacup & saucer, Matalan | RRP from £4 to £10 available to buy online here 
If you fancy hosting your own Mother’s Day afternoon tea party, Matalan’s range of affordable teacups, teapots, cake stands and much more has everything you need to throw a party even the Hatter himself would be jealous of. Our favourite has to be this adorable gold polka-dot teapot but with pieces in the range starting from as little as £4 there’s something to suit every style and budget.


3. Elizabeth Shaw Luxury Biscuits | RRP £1.79 available to buy online here 
Tea and biscuits anyone? One is always better with the other so if tea is already on the cards why not try a selection of luxury biscuits from British chocolatier, Elizabeth Shaw. Choose from a variety of flavours including Raisin & Hazelnut, Coconut & Hazelnut, Raisin & Cocoa and Mint & Cocoa, topped with smooth milk or rich dark chocolate, available from all major UK supermarkets.


4. 'Queen of Caffeine’ bone china mug, Bespoke Verse | RRP £12 available to buy online here 
Most will tell you being a mother is the best job in the world but it’s also a busy one. So for those who like a good caffeine boost to kickstart the day, sip in style with this sweet bone china mug from Bespoke Verse. The website specialises in a range of poetry-themed gifts and homeware including a rather brilliant “Ode to Poldark” mug which we might have to steal for ourselves (sorry mum!). 


5. Personalised teacup and saucer, Find Me A Gift | RRP £14.99 available to buy online here 
The folks at Find Me A Gift have got Mother’s Day sorted with a dedicated gift section but we’ve done the searching for you (you're welcome) and our favourite has to be this personalised cup and saucer. Make mum the perfect breakfast in bed complete with a brew that comes decorated with your own personal message and mini cupcake print. Plus you can complete the set with a matching teapot. Beats any old card, don’t you think! 


6. Taste Tripper | RRP £19.50 (one person) or £35 (two people) available to buy online here
If you want to try something different, then this little yellow envelope may just have the answer. Taste Tripper takes you on a tour of some of London’s best cafes, bars and boutiques with a range of curated Explorer Packs created by people who just really love food. The Central London Explorer Pack includes four coffees, one tea and three chocolates to collect across Notting Hill, Chelsea, Soho and Covent Garden, plus recipes, fun facts and a map to help you navigate your guided taste tour. Get the two person pack and make a day of it!


What are some of your Mother’s Day afternoon tea-themed gift suggestions? Let us know in the comments and join in the conversation on Twitter and Instagram.

Photography: Caroline
Words: Laura
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Sunday, 25 February 2018

Afternoon Tea at The Vicarage, Holmes Chapel


Back in January we took a trip to Knutsford to sample the afternoon tea menu at The Courthouse pub and hotel, part of the Flat Cap Hotels group. It was the perfect kickstart our 2018 afternoon tea calendar, so last week when we were invited to try its sister venue, The Vicarage in Holmes Chapel, naturally we hopped on another train with high cake-expectations. Here’s what we thought … 


First things first, our only pop culture reference to this small Cheshire village is that it is the home of a certain former One Directioner, Harry Styles, so we may or may not have stopped off at his former place of work for a small slab of rocky road to take home. But famous musicians aside, this is a beautiful area and The Vicarage is in a prime spot, just moments away from the village centre and gazing out into the picturesque winter countryside.


The Vicarage is a 17th Century Grade II listed country pub which has been restored to deliver just the right balance of contemporary and country chic. Afternoon tea is served in the attached conservatory which is oozing in natural light - a food bloggers best friend, we can assure you. Similar to The Courthouse, the style is very relaxed but The Vicarage really embraces its rustic surroundings with wooden furnishings restored with a neutral white colour palette, homely bookshelves and mismatched crockery including a commemorative Royal cup and saucer, which we were huge fans of. 



We were greeted straight away and offered a choice of tea or coffee, of which we choose one of each. Hot beverages arrived at the table promptly but our afternoon tea did take a rather long time to follow. Perhaps this isn’t usually the case and whilst it would have been preferable to have been informed of the wait time beforehand, we were sat comfortably enjoying our surroundings so this wasn’t a massive issue.


When the food did arrive however, it was presented beautifully on a floral three-tier stand, garnished with fresh strawberries. To begin, the savoury selection included egg and mayonnaise and ham finger sandwiches along with two open variations featuring pepperade and salmon bruschetta. To find a good dash of colour amongst a savoury selection is a rare and welcome touch and the flavours were well balanced, particularly the pepperade which we thought was delicious and could have happily eaten an entire plate of each!



Next, the scones were huge, adding to that home-cooked feel where portion sizes are always a little more generous than a traditional tearoom. We were pleasantly surprised to find these were cherry scones, which is one of our all-time favourite flavours and accompanied with jam and clotted cream. Sadly, one of the scones was a little undercooked so we stuck to just the one between us - fortunately there was enough to go around, and it was tasty.


Finally, the patisserie selection was good, even just to look at, with lots of textures and accents going on to keep things interesting, if a little citrus-heavy but that's completely dependent on personal taste. We each had a miniature chocolate orange slice, frangipane and lemon tart. Our favourite was a toss up between the frangipane and the chocolate orange. One, because the first was different and two because, well ... chocolate. You can't really go wrong.



Overall our afternoon tea at The Vicarage was good. Service was great, the environment was beautiful and though there were a couple of things that could be improved upon for next time, this is a really lovely spot for an afternoon in the country side, and at £15pp it is a steal. 

Plus, the restaurant will be serving up a special savoury afternoon tea just in time for Mother’s Day -  March 11th, FYI. We’re big fans of a savoury tea option and would recommend giving it a try if mini pies and toad in the holes are more your thing than delicate finger fare.  

For more information and to book, visit: http://www.thevicaragecheshire.com/ 

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