Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Cake Break: Bean & Cole, Chester


When you've found somewhere that does that perfect latte and brownie combo, it can be very easy to get stuck in a routine of going to the same coffee spot week in, week out. Whilst we're all for cake-loyalty, that regularity can often mean you miss out on what that new coffee shop in town, the one you swear you've been meaning to try, has to offer. We found a perfect example this weekend when we popped into Bean & Cole, a new coffee house on Frodsham Street in Chester.

There is a lot to love about this place; cool stripped brick walls, colourful hippie-style seat cushions, selection of independent magazines, puppy-friendly atmosphere, but the stand-out feature of Bean & Cole has to be the coffee itself. We went for a latte and cappuccino, complete with smooth coffee art and colour block cups and saucers - perfect.

Of course, all good coffee deserves good cake, and Bean & Cole offers a range of pastries, tray bakes and generous slices to accompany its menu. We opted for a coffee cake and have to say, it was one of the best we've ever had. So good, we felt incredibly guilty leaving any trace on the plate but this time the chunky portions (which by no means should be changed based on this critique!) managed to defeat us - we will back.

Special mention must also go to the lovely team at Bean & Cole who were super friendly and made us so at home, we didn't want to leave.

The coffee scene in Chester is certainly growing and that makes us very happy. If you're heading to the city any time soon, why not skip your usual high street haunts and grab your coffee break here? We promise you won't be disappointed.

Laura
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Monday, 27 August 2018

5 things we're looking forward to on this year's Great British Bake Off



In case you were feeling a little glum from the sugar comedown after Afternoon Tea Week, the Great British Bake Off has returned just in time to fill the cake void in our lives. Here are five things we're looking forward to this series.

1) Having an excuse to talk about cake again
For the estimated three people in the UK who didn't get sucked into watching Love Island this year, the last few months have been a bit of a struggle, avoiding conversations and feeling like a bit of a social outcast whilst everyone else at the office sipped on personalised Love Island branded water bottles. With GBBO back on our TV screens, it's back to cakes, bakes and all the drama that goes with it. Finally!

2) Noel's fabulous shirts
Now, Mary Berry may have turned herself into an unexpected style icon during her reign (did anyone manage to get one of those Marks and Spencer bomber jackets?) but last year we found ourselves looking forward to seeing Noel's choice of quirky shirt each week just as much as the star bakes. Ice cream prints, giant tomatoes, polka dot smiley faces - we'll be scouring Asos for copies in no time. 

3) Going back to basics
Like any great afternoon tea, we love a good showstopper bake as much as an offer of bottomless prosecco, but sometimes it's the classics that steal the show. We're happy to hear some of this year's challenges have gone "back to basics" in a bid to encourage wannabe cake-goddesses like ourselves to get baking. No need to worry about any more 'Italian Week' fails this year then?

4) Vegan Week
According to a recent survey there are around 3.5 million people in the UK choosing to enjoy a plant-based diet so it seems only fitting that this series should include a week dedicated to vegan recipes. With more and more menus offering great vegan options these days, there's no reason to think that no meat, eggs or dairy means you have to sacrifice on taste. We're excited to see what the team have come up with!

5) The end of innuendo?
Okay so not so much as "looking forward to" the end of soggy bottoms but rather, intrigued as to how we might cope without them if the rumours are true. Noel and Sandi have said innuendo isn't really their thing and Paul has commented that it's "not the be all and end all of the show" (erm, we respectfully disagree). However, Prue has weighed in to say that though the jokes may not be planned, we'll definitely get some. As Noel stated last year; "If there's an opportunity for exposed bottoms we should embrace it". Rightly so.

The Great British Bake Off returns to Channel 4 on 28th August.


Image: Mark Bourdillon / Love Productions/Channel 4

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Sunday, 19 August 2018

Afternoon Tea at Richmond Tea Rooms, Manchester


With a super busy week planned for the both of us, Afternoon Tea Week celebrations were very nearly non-existent for us at Afternoon Tea Club (must block out the entire week for cake next year) but luckily, Richmond Tea Rooms in Manchester were there to save the day with a post-work, early evening afternoon tea that's as sweet as its surroundings.


We've been to this Alice-themed wonderland a few times before for cake and coffee but we were yet to try its full Queen's Tea offering, so a sitting at 6pm (and 25% off) felt like the perfect excuse to tick it off our list.

If you're a fan of all things Mad Hatter, Richmond Tea Rooms is a must-visit, decked out in plush Queen of Hearts red, mismatched teapots and 'eat me, drink me' references, it's perfect for escaping reality for an hour or two. 


There are five tea options to choose from ranging from The Alice Tea (cream tea) to The Richmond Tea (complete with champagne). We went for The Queen's Tea which comes served on a classic three tier stand accompanied by colourful pots of refillable tea (breakfast tea and Afternoon Darjeeling - perfect). 

To start, the savoury selection featured a range of fingers sandwiches including chicken mayo, cucumber and cream cheese, ham and tomato and egg mayo, plus a slice of tomato and onion bruschetta. A well-balanced selection and we loved that the sandwiches alternated between pairings of white and brown bread - a cute nod to the topsy turvy affair you might expect to find at the Hatter's tea party.


Next up were the sugar dusted fruit scones, and probably our favourite part for several reasons. One, they were huge. Two, the offer of more jam and cream earned instant points (more places should do this, there is nothing worse than fighting over the last drop of strawberry preserve). And three, they were  just delicious! 

Finally, the sweet selection was just as impressive offering an idyllic blend of cute cakes, fruity flavours and subtle gestures to the tea room's home of Manchester. On offer was a strawberry cupcake, chocolate delice layer cake, Manchester tart, and passion fruit trifle. We loved every bit of it, even if we did struggle to finish the lot. The passion fruit trifle was an absolute winner.


Overall, this is a great afternoon tea and worth a visit for the surroundings alone. At £18.95 per person for The Queen's Tea it's good value and there's even a gluten free option too. If you're looking for a true escape, and great tea and cake to go with it, this is the place to find it.

For more information and to book visit: https://www.richmondtearooms.com/
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Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Top Tips for Afternoon Tea Week


Heading out for tea and cake this Afternoon Tea Week (13-19th August)? Let us be your guides. Whether you're off somewhere special or looking to kick back with a cake break, here are our top tips for enjoying a great afternoon tea ...

1) Be adventurous
Now, the amount of times we've used the words 'breakfast tea' on this blog may make this first tip seem a little hypocritical but hear us out! If you're not a regular tea-goer, use this as your opportunity to try something new. You might discover you're a fan of fruit teas or perhaps a smoky ceylon blend will ignite your senses with its smoky tones. It's Afternoon Tea Week and there are plenty of places bringing out the big guns with special limited edition menus, so make the most of it.

2) Do try the alternatives
French fries might not sound like they belong on an afternoon tea stand but with a world of fabulous alternative afternoon tea menus on offer, you'll have forgotten those treasured scones were meant to be there in the first place. Keep your eye out for themed teas too like the quirky Punk Afternoon Tea at The Baltic Social or do away with dainty finger sandwiches and try The Milestone Hotel's Gentleman's Afternoon Tea complete with mini whiskey selection.

3) But also, don't knock the classics
Victoria sponge, carrot cake, battenburg; they're classics for a reason and sometimes, if done right, a good collection of old favourites will do just the trick. There are a whole range of traditional afternoon tea menus out there at landmark venues such as Fortnum and Mason and The Ritz but there are also plenty of favourites to be found elsewhere around the UK for less than £20 at places like The Chancery in Liverpool and The Courthouse in Knutsford.

4) Dress to impress?
Afternoon tea may not be the formal affair it once was (though it can be a good excuse to dress up if you feel like it) but it's worth checking if the venue has any sort of dress code beforehand. If the Cat Cafe is on your list (which it should be) think casual and comfort, but if you're heading somewhere a little more fancy like The Grosvenor in Chester, maybe give the trainers a miss. But above all else, be comfortable!

5) Too busy for tea?
Afternoon Tea Week comes but once a year and if you've got a busy week ahead, fitting in a couple of hours in the middle of the day for cucumber sandwiches and fruit scones, may seem like a write-off. We feel your pain. However, fear not, if you still want to join in the fun, there are an increasing number of places around the UK serving "Evening Tea" as an alternative. It's got all the goods of afternoon tea but means you can get your cake fix after a busy day at work and throw in a cocktail or two for good measure. Try The Midland in Manchester for classic afternoon tea fare with a pairing of gin and tonic.

Bonus Tip - Double afternoon tea sounds like a good idea - it's not
Living up North with increasingly busy lives, our afternoon tea trips to London have become more of a treat than a monthly tradition. So, on occasion, when we have boarded a train to the capital for the day, we have optimistically opted to make the most of our time by booking two lots of tea. On paper, this sounds like the best day ever. In reality, the cake becomes a struggle. Learn from our mistakes, don't do it.

What are some of your top tips? Let us know in the comments!
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Monday, 13 August 2018

Happy Afternoon Tea Week!

West Ivy, Bury

For our fellow afternoon tea lovers out there, Christmas has come early in the form of Afternoon Tea Week, giving you the best excuse ever to indulge in tea and cake (come on, like we ever needed the excuse).

Taking place on 13-19th August, there are plenty of great new menus and venues to try and all this week we will be bringing you plenty of inspiration to get you in the mood to celebrate. Plus we've got lots of new reviews from our recent travels up on the blog so go check them out too.

Follow us over on Twitter and Instagram for all of the latest, then go grab your friends, choose your tea, and have a fab Afternoon Tea Week.

Love Laura & Caroline x 

P.s. Let us know how you're celebrating in the comments!
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