Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The Afternoon Tea Club Reviews: Neighbourhood Manchester

Neighbourhood prides itself on being a cool, New York style bar and with its dark interior, mirrored tables and mesh panels, you can definitely feel the NYC vibes. Situated in Manchester's swanky Spinningfields complex, the bar is almost hidden away in the Avenue, giving it an exclusive feel and shaped up to be quite the hip venue for Afternoon Tea. 

Neighbourhood Manchester.

The place is already set for tea when you arrive and the entire bar adopts a similar theme with floral pieces mimicking that of the tea set.
It's an impressive look and makes the most of the current trendiness in Afternoon Tea which has resulted in the popular bold cups and saucers we see at our table.

Classic Miniatures.

You can choose to sip your champagne first or begin with tea. Tea or champagne? Champagne or tea? A silly question really and one we promptly answered with the bubbly option.
There is a standard choice of tea however, a simple but classic everyday brew. It would have been good to have a choice here, perhaps a signature tea to match the Mad Hatter theme.

Afternoon Tea. 

The afternoon tea itself looks absolutely lovely. It's got colour, texture and dares to be a little playful, adding jelly drops to the top layer.

The sandwich selection consists of cucumber and chive cream cheese, ham and mustard, egg mayonnaise and ATC favourite, salmon with lemon butter. The choice here was good, with a nice range of fillings but we couldn't help but notice the bread was a little dry.

A spot of tea. 

Things are done a little differently at Neighbourhood, after all this is a Mad Hatter's tea party and the scones are housed in with the rest of the cakes. It's been so long since we've had cherry scones so these were a pleasant surprise, however more particular tea goers might not like that they've been saved the duty of deciding what goes first the jam or the cream, as it's already been done for you. Nevertheless we liked that they were different and can confirm they were delicious.

Sandwich Selection.

The scones were joined by slices of carrot cake, Victoria sponge and chocolate tart. The flavours here were nicely balanced with a little something for every palette, inspired by a very traditional Afternoon Tea menu.

To finish there are green and red jelly bites presented on spoons which are a fun palette cleanser to end the tea. However a dash of flavouring or splash of alcohol might have livened these up a touch - or does that say more about us?

Jelly Wonderland.

The tea was nice and balanced but there wasn't anything particularly Mad about it. Instead, everything on the menu was quite typical. Of course why change an age old, winning formula, but it just felt it needed something to make it stand out before we could truly feel as though we had fallen down the rabbit hole.

Floral Centrepiece. 

For one of Manchester's premium champagne teas at £33 per person we're not too sure if it quite lives up to its price tag. There are others in the city offering much more for much less.

With a venue as attractive at this, and credit must be given for how fabulous this place looks, we reckon if Neighbourhood were to strip the Mad Hatter label or add a few unique touches it might become quite the Afternoon Tea hotspot.

Neighbourhood is located in Spinningfields, Manchester. Champagne Afternoon Tea costs £33pp. For more information please visit their website.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

The Afternoon Tea Club Discovers: Tea Pairings

We just came across this cute little Whittards video that we think you'll love. Focussing on tea pairing, this short clip made us smile and taught us a thing or two about perfect couplings. Enjoy!

Do you pair your tea and cake? What's your favourite blend?

Laura & Caroline

The Cake and Bake Show 2014, Manchester

This weekend was a particularly cake-filled affair, as we shelved our diet plans and headed into Manchester for a weekend of baked indulgence at the Cake and Bake Show 2014.

Armed with my trusty camera and blogging buddies - Sarah, Katie, Anna and Alex - we headed into Manchester Central on Friday to fuel our treat habit with a whole lot of sugared indulgence.

Having attended last year's disappointing Cake International (which, I must add, is in no way connected to the Cake and Bake Show) I entered the show with a little trepidation. However, my fears were soon alleviated, as I realised that this show was going to be anything but disappointing. Complete with its own cake jungle, The Cake and Bake Show is everything that I'd hoped of Cake International and much much more. 

Afternoon Tea Cake - just our thing!

The great thing about this annual show, is the inspiration that it offers aspiring bakers, and from sugar craft stalls to competitive bake-offs, there's something for everyone. One of the most impressive things on display was a giant cake elephant, which a team of bakers worked on throughout the weekend as a centre piece to the exhibition's Cake Jungle. 

Other highlights included the celebrity demonstrations, which took place throughout the weekend, from baking stars such as GBBO winners Frances Quinn and John Whaite, Rosemary Schrager, Simon Rimmer and Mr Cake Boy himself Eric Lanlard.

Afternoon Tea Crush, Eric Lanlard
As you know, Mr. Lanlard is a firm favourite with us ATC ladies, so it was an absolute delight to be able to watch him doing his thing on stage (if only briefly), whilst Frances Quinn was a true pro and a pure treat to watch. 

Unfortunately, we didn't get the opportunity to meet any of our baking heroes this time 'round, but there were plenty of chances throughout the day to nab an autograph and photo, for those willing to queue at the various book signings and classes taking place. 

GBBO Winner Frances Quinn

Showcases aside, there were also lots of opportunities to indulge in cakey treats at the various stalls. On this front I must admit, I went a little bit crazy, sampling anything and everything available. Some of the best things I tried were the Cheshire Cheese Comapany's fine array of fare and the Little Round Cake Company's Black Forest layer cake & Meringues - yummy!

Black Forest
Delicious Meringue

However, all caked out by the samples available, I opted (somewhat unconventionally) to purchase a selection of bread and cheeses. For these I went to the Snowdonia Cheese Company and More Artisan Bakery, and bought an unbelievably delicious cheese & onion focaccia, and Black Bomber and Red Berry Cheese to take home for my tea - no regrets whatsoever!

More Artisan Bakery
All in all, I had an absolutely fantastic weekend at the Cake and Bake show, and will definitely be back again next year!

Martins Bakers

If you missed out this time, fear not, because the Cake and Bake Show 2014 is coming to Earls Court London this Autumn. Check out their site for more information about tickets and dates. This is a definite must for any cake lover!

Did you visit the Cake and Bake Show this year? What did you think?

Friday, 21 March 2014

Taking Tea: Afternoon Tea Tips

When it comes to afternoon tea, we like to think of ourselves as experts - From its invention date (1840 by the way) to the optimum tea-bag brewing time (3 minutes) we have it covered. 

However, that's not to say you can't always learn something new, so when we heard about this lovely infographic from the Landmark Hotel London, we couldn't resist taking a look. 

Detailing everything from afternoon tea etiquette to that age old question of when exactly to add your milk, this handy little guide will get you up to speed in no time.

Have a look and let us know what you think! (To zoom, simply click on the image)

Click to enlarge!

Unsurprisingly, 98% of Brits love a drop of milk in their tea - are you one of them? Or do you prefer your brew au natural?

Let us know in the comments below or at @TeacupReview!

In collaboration with the Landmark Hotel, London

Monday, 17 March 2014

The Afternoon Tea Club Reviews: The Rosewater Bakery

For The Afternoon Tea Club, cakes and tea appearing in our mail is a bit of a regular occurrence  - and makes us incredibly popular amongst friends! However, the novelty has by no means worn off, especially when it’s as beautiful as the packages we received last week from the Rosewater Bakery.

Now, we don’t know about you, but there’s little more exciting than a huge pink box filled with cake - it's just a fact. Wrapped in luxury gold gift paper, the Rosewater Bakery’s delivered Afternoon Tea hamper is a winner from the get go and girly girls will absolutely love the array of rosy accents and ribbons. 
All care has been taken to make sure these hampers arrive in top condition and they are packaged thoroughly in an insulated hamper which keeps every section perfectly fresh.
Time for Tea

The presentation from the Bakery is enough to make these hampers a must try alone. From the Rosewater Bakery seal, to the gold foil lining the box, they haven’t missed a single trick.

Mini Cupcakes

On to the important stuff, the food! Inside is a selection of sandwiches, scones, mini cakes and tea time treats to give you the full experience of Afternoon Tea at home.
Brownies and Fruit Cake

All of our favourite sandwiches were there including; salmon, ham and tomato, beef and horseradish and egg and cress – with plenty to go around too (To quote Laura’s dad during our test: How are you going to review this properly if you don’t share some with your dad? – nice try, nice try.)
There are four scones in each hamper, two sultana and two of the Bakery's signature Rosewater and passionfruit flavour. We always love when bakers have their own unique scone recipes so these were a real treat. Pop these in the oven for 10 mins and you’re ready to go. These are accompanied by portions of tangy blackcurrant jam and clotted cream. Just delicious!

Sandwich Selection
Afternoon Tea Favourites
Next, the mini cakes. There’s a perfect balance of tea time favourites and the Bakery’s own concoctions including peach cupcakes, red velvet, chocolate with mixed berries and cherry bakewell tarts. The peach cupcakes were our faves, an unusual flavour and the buttercream was delicious. But of course you can't beat a good red velvet cake too!
There’s even more cake to follow as the hamper comes with a bag of brownie miniatures and fruit cake. These are great for sharing a little later on when everyone’s had a bit of a cake overload.

If you're searching for a great gift idea that's a little bit quirky or perhaps just fancy Afternoon Tea in your pajamas then a Rosewater Bakery hamper might just be the thing. 

Rosewater Scones

For more information and to order from the Rosewater Bakery you can visit their website here.

DISCLAIMER: As is common in the catering and leisure industry, we were provided with complimentary services for review purposes. However, all views and opinions are our own!