Monday, 25 August 2014

Charlotte in the City: The Montcalm at The Brewery London City

Sometimes cute cakes and petite pastries just don't quite reach the spot when you're looking for something to really hit the hunger. Hey, we said 'sometimes', okay? Lately, we have succumbed to the call of stodgy pork pies and savoury scones that feature in the increasingly fashionable, Gentleman's Afternoon Tea. Our London lady, Charlotte Vowden, also decided to ditch the daintiness and opted for a Gent's Afternoon Tea at The Montcalm at The Brewery. Here's how she got on ... 

Gents Afternoon Tea

I recently took tea with a handsome gentleman more used to heavy-handed behaviour in the boxing ring than handling finger sandwiches. Although a willing taste tester when I bake something sweet, he doesn’t enjoy being as sugared-up as I, and so I sought out an afternoon tea, man style.

The menu criteria included a healthy load of carbs, plenty of saturated fat and an emphasis on savoury. It was the combination of sandwiches, Welsh Rarebit and buttered toast slathered with Patum Peperium Relish on the Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea menu at The Brewery London City that won me over. 
Expecting chunks of bread bubbling with cheese too hot to eat straight away, I was disappointed to find the Welsh Rarebit thinly-sliced and cautiously topped with cheese rather than the greasy indulgence anticipated. My guest though, is a little more forgiving and deemed it delicious. 
On the same tier of the stand the buttered toast and pot of Patum Peperium Relish sat. This was a first-time taste for me and I applied an over-generous coating. The anchovy paste’s fishy, salty and spicy taste hit me all at once and made my cheeks flush rose red. 

Swapping sweet for savoury.


The sandwiches were a third filling with two thirds bread and included smoked salmon and beef, marvellous. Hidden between the top and bottom tiers were scones. Feather-light, crumbly and dusted with icing sugar, my fellow high tea taker and I concluded them a knockout. 
Our experience took a blow when it came to the service. The parlour was busy, a good sign, as afternoon turned into evening and the staff were friendly, but as the gent put it, things felt a little lacklustre. Our tea pots arrived ten minutes before the edibles and despite proclamations on its website that you could begin with a glass of champagne and extend the proceedings with a tumbler of whiskey, we were offered neither and left parched in search of a pub. 
Afernoon Tea at The Montcalm at The Brewery London City is £25pp. For more information, visit their website themontcalmlondoncity.co.uk
Charlotte Vowden is a travel & lifestyle journalist who is as happy in the mountains as she is sipping champagne and indulging on cake. Writing for The Sunday Times and other national publications keeps her busy but she’s always looking for her next adventure or afternoon tea destination.


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Monday, 18 August 2014

The Breakfast Club - KitchenAid Competition!

How would you like the chance to win a brand new KitchenAid kettle or toaster, courtesy of Housemakers?


I love a good cup of tea, I really do. However, ask any of my friends and most of them will tell you that they've never seen me drink one. At work I'm known as the girl who doesn't have a brew, and on the odd occasion that I've broken with tradition, my lovely friends have marked the moment with the use of our finest office china - it really is that rare!


'But how can you be an afternoon tea blogger and not drink tea?' 

Now, I hate to think that you can have too much of a good thing, but on the off chance that this is true, I like to save my tea as a morning treat, with a slice of toast or Pikelet. Because of this, a kettle is one of my most prized possessions.

True, my current model is in dire need of an upgrade, with a leaking bottom and temperamental switch, but it's served me well and I'll always love it for that (soppy kettle moment over!)

Everso Sophisticated Office Tea

Anyway, how do you like your tea in the morning? 

Here are my top tips, for anyone who's ever wondered exactly how Caroline makes her tea!

1. Fill your kettle 1/3 full and set to boil. Whilst waiting, do a little dance to welcome in the morning.

2. Find the goofiest mug available and carefully drop in a tea bag (white cups for illustration purposes only - actual collection includes, Harry Potter, Hello Kitty and Pepe Le Pew styles) 

3. When the water has boiled, leave to cool for a few seconds, before pouring. IMPORTANT: Use these seconds to check twitter obsessively.

4. Watch the tea diffuse throughout the water for around three minutes, before removing the bag and throwing towards a bin.

5. Add a dash of milk to taste and stir.

6. Enjoy your tea - Simples!

Fancy the chance to brighten your morning routine? Housemakers are running a rather fabulous competition over on Facebook to win a brand new KitchenAid Artisan kettle or toaster. Simply give them a 'like' and vote for your favourite piece HERE, to be in with a chance of winning. Entries open until 31st August. Good Luck!
  
.
In Collaboration with Housemakers
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Saturday, 16 August 2014

ATC on Tour: Tubingen, Germany


It's hard to give up an obsession with tea and cake so even when we're on our travels we can't really resist the call of a cute tea room or coffee shop.

Pink traditional coffee maker.
 
This month, Laura visited Tubingen in Germany which, amongst it's traditional southern architecture and picturesque river, revealed itself to be a hub of mini coffee houses and tea shops. Oh, and a pastry lovers dream! 

Walnut and Mandarin Cake.

A favourite was Cafe L, a coffee shop that had literally opened the week before I arrived so everything was shiny and new. 

The counter was bulging with gorgeous golden pastries and particular mention must go to the yummy croissants and almond cakes - so sweet and the perfect companion to the creamy latte they served. 

It's bold decor was very modern yet in keeping with the area's traditional theme had a fab vintage coffee maker on display in the seating area - and it was pink! 


Cafe L

Another was Marktchenke, a little cafe in the centre of the town with a very studenty feel. With indie music coming through the speakers and a menu that boasted mainly snacks and cakes, it was a great relaxing place for a quick lunch. 


Apricot Filled Pastry.

There were so many great coffee shops around I could have quite easily lived there! Where there's cake and tea, I will always be happy. 

Have you been to any great coffee shops on your travels? Join in the conversation on Twitter this #AfternoonTeaWeek at @TeacupReview 


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Thursday, 14 August 2014

Cake Break: Marmalade, Rhos on Sea

Most people speak of soggy weekends away in the UK with a shudder and a swift ticket booked to sunny Spain. Well unlike the general consensus, I am partial to a cozy afternoon in a caravan on a rainy day in Wales. (Pack of playing cards and TV movies, hello?) 

Pretty pastels.

It was on one of these rainy days when I ventured into the lovely Rhos on Sea for a cup of tea. It’s been some time since I’ve been to the area so I was pleased to see that an abundance of sweet cafes and coffee shops had popped up in my absence. One in particular that caught my eye was Marmalade.

Latte.

This place has got cute shabby chic down to perfection. Pastel colours, restored furniture, mismatched chairs, bunting, graphic text artwork – just everything. There’s a real homely feel too and even a separate area with comfy lounge chairs and coffee table that look like they were pulled straight from a kooky French apartment.

Beautiful decoration.

There’s an impressive selection of cakes on offer too and the best bit is – they’re all less then £1.95 – pretty good when that includes a rather generous slice of chocolate cake topped with Malteasers. The lemon drizzle and chocolate brownies looked delicious too.
The drinks are also reasonably priced, with a range of hot and cold drinks including a choice of teas, that mean a cake and drink combo cost around £4.
I really appreciated the presentation here as our drinks arrived on a little wooden serving tray with a mini biscuit on the side for the latte and even a pretty pink glass for the cold drink – lovely.

Pink glasses!

Yet perhaps the most intriguing thing on the menu was the Welsh Afternoon Tea – pretty much your standard Afternoon Tea with a choice of sandwiches, cake and tea but with oversized scones to rival the beach pebbles that looked absolutely amazing.

Yummy cake.

I could have happily spent all day in here – it was welcoming, pretty, cozy, yummy – all of those lovely things. I may even pop back next weekend. An hour and a half drive for tea and cake? Yeah that’s worth it! - Laura

Home from home.

Marmalade is located on Rhos Road, Rhos on Sea, Colwyn Bay. The Welsh Afternoon Tea is available daily from 2.30pm. Find them on Twitter @MarmaladeRhos

Don't forget, it's #AfternoonTeaWeek this week so be sure to Tweet us your fave tea hotspots! @TeacupReview
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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Afternoon Tea Club visits Bavaria


Last month, Caroline travelled to Austria to eat cake amongst the mountains. Read about her top finds here

Chocolate Cake

Birth place of Mozart and home of the Sound of Music, Salzburg is rich with cultural history. However, did you realise that they also have a pretty good reputation when it comes to cake? For example did you know that the city is home of the famous Sacher Hotel and its eponymous chocolate cake? No me neither. For some reason, I'd always thought that it came from France, which is why I'm sorry to say that I somehow managed to completely miss the hotel until my last night - as you do - so didn't get to sample the Sacher cake in all it's glory.

However, I'm sure that my Austrian chocolate cake pictured above was just as nice!


Strudel

When in Bavaria, it's almost a sin not to try some of the region's famous Apple Strudel. So in the interest of upholding tradition, I couldn't leave without sampling some for myself. Now, in Salzburg, strudel is fairly easy to come across, with every coffee shop having about three varieties in stock. During my visit, I tried out two of these varieties - traditional apple and the slightly more unusual vanilla cheese option. Out of the two, my fave was definitely the apple, although the cheese was delicious, perhaps just a little too rich for my taste.


There was a whole lot of other sweet treats but these were just a couple of my highlights. Where are you heading off to this summer? Let us know in the comments below :)

Don't forget that it's #AfternoonTeaWeek all this week, so why not join in the conversation at @TeacupReview and tweet us your afternoon tea pics. We can't wait to see you over there.

Caroline


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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Afternoon Tea Week: Tea Offers


Still deciding where to go for Afternoon Tea week? Let us help you!

We've noticed quite a few cool offers popping up online, so thought we'd pool together a few of our faves here:

- The Milestone Hotel are offering a free glass of champagne with every booking for #afternoonteaweek. As we said yesterday, we love love love the Milestone, so can definitely recommend this if you're after a little bit of luxury.



Radisson Blu Edwardian, Manchester are offering 25% off all week. We've had the pleasure of visiting here a couple of times and can definitely vouch for their afternoon tea - be sure to book a table in their champagne bar!



- Harvey Nichols, Manchester is offering 25% off all week!


- Chester Grosvenor is offering something a little bit special, for those after an ultimate pamper session - afternoon tea and two spa treatments for £99pp - lush!


These are just a few of our faves. Afternoontea.co.uk have lots and lots of other cool discounts listed on their site, check them out here.

All information sourced from official twitter accounts. For booking and more information, please contact the venues directly.
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Monday, 11 August 2014

Afternoon Tea Week: ATC Top Picks!

What better way to start our week long Afternoon Tea celebration, than with a look at our favourite UK afternoon tea venues. Take a look below for our top afternoon tea week tips.
 
 
1. Grand Pacific, Manchester
 
If you're looking for something a bit different this week, then the Grand Pacific in Manchester, might be just the thing for you. Attached to the prestigious Australasia restaurant, this is definitely a good choice if you're looking for something a little more high brow (yet still reasonably priced) 
 
We visited back in the spring and fell in love with their glamorous surroundings, sushi rolls and chicken salads.
 

2. The Milestone Hotel, London

The Milestone doesn't just shout tradition, it positively screams it. With informal, but elegant surroundings, this is the perfect venue for the authentic afternoon tea experience. With offerings for both ladies and gents, this has something for everyone and is about as good as you can get.

 
3. Annies, Manchester
 
Co-owened by Coronation Street's Jennie McAlpine, Annies Manchester, offers an all 'round home-made experience. With a rustic selection of chunky scones, home made Jams and chutney, this hidden gem, offers great value for money and a whole lot of character.
 
 
4. Fortnum and Mason, London
 
Synonymous with fine tea, the Fortnum's brand has long been a staple British classic. As you would expect, their afternoon tea is exquisite. With tea and cake on tap, what more could you ask?
 
 
5. Great John Street Hotel, Manchester

One of our favourite northern tea venues, Great John Street Hotel has everything - comfortable surroundings, relaxing music and a food selection to die for. A great one for relaxing on a week day!
 
 
6. Crewe Hall, Crewe
 
Another very traditional offering, only this time, in the North. Crewe Hall's picturesque location makes this tea one of the most idyllic of our selection. 

We were taken with it when we visited last year and know that you will be too!
 
Where will you be going for #AfternoonTeaWeek? Let us know in the comments below or on twitter at @TeacupReview
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Sunday, 10 August 2014

National Afternoon Tea Week 2014, 11th - 17th August

 
 
Well, it's that time of year again folks - National Afternoon Tea week - and as usual we're dusting off our teapots and preparing for a week of festivities. 

Starting with a roundup of our top afternoon tea picks on Monday 11th, we're going to be uploading a post every day next week, including a review of Caroline's Bavarian tea shop travels, your top tea room travels and the very best afternoon tea week discounts.

The lovely folk over at afternoontea.co.uk also have lots going on in celebration, so be sure to check them out if you're still on the lookout for afternoon tea inspiration.

In the meantime, let us know your tea plans in the comments below.

See you next week!

Laura & Caroline
 
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Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Cake Break: Tea For Two, Widnes

There are so many great little tea shops popping up all over the place - we've been to our fair share as you can probably tell! What's more is, there's nothing better than when one crops up in your own town and so I was very excited when I spotted this cute little cafe called 
Tea For Two.

Tea For Two

Admittedly, I had noticed this shop before but hadn't yet visited due to force of habit taking me to my local - I know, shameful - bad blogger! However, I am so glad I decided to pop in last weekend as it is a completely different environment to anywhere else in the area. 

There's a retro vibe going on throughout with old posters, mismatched cups and saucers and even a beautiful serving trolley (I would have taken a pic but it was in use at the time and I didn't want to disturb another customer's Afternoon Tea!). Even the music is fitting to a time gone by with 1950's favourites playing throughout. The lovely lady who served us mentioned that some customers say they love visiting because it takes them back to their childhood which was lovely to hear. 

Cappuccino - minus one sip!

As this was just a quick coffee break, we just had drinks on this occasion but even they had little touches to make them a little more special. The cappuccino was generously coated in chocolate sprinkles and as you can see I was so eager to get started I took a sip before taking photos - bad blogger, again! The latte came with a cute heart decoration drawn on the side from chocolate topping too - simple but made for really nice presentation.

Lovely latte.

Overall, it was a lovely little find and a complete escape from the hustle and bustle of the town. There's a lesson to be learned here - always try new things. I may have found my new local.

Laura.

Have you found any hidden tea shop gems? Comment or Tweet us @TeacupReview

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