Does anyone else have kitchen cupboards that are too high for them to see into or too deep for them to reach? Surely, it is not just me. Even when I’m precariously tip-toeing on a chair, I struggle to see what’s made its way to the back of that top shelf… and as I discovered recently, there is a lot back there. I am completely to blame; I am a compulsive hoarder of pantry staples and I have the joy of acquiring a fascinating range of foodstuffs through this blog. The adventurous cook in me gets a jolt of excitement every time I pull something new and obscure out of a goody bag but then the practical cook in me stores that for another day as I get on with cooking something else… and so my shelves become a jumbled mess and a certain someone continuously teases me about how we could open our own corner store.
I’d like to tell you that I have turned over a new leaf but the truth is, my pantry will always be full and full of random things. What has forced my hand now is our big move, and so the great clear out has begun. In amongst the jumble, I came across an unopened packet of desiccated coconut; I have no idea why I bought it but after being inspired by a snap on Instagram stories, I decided I would make a cake. If you’ve been following a certain someone cooks, you would have noticed that he has taken up the position as our resident baker… so as my baking skills are a bit rusty, I wanted something nice and easy and this coconut and lime loaf cake fit the bill completely. It also conjured up all sorts of tropical vibes which I thought was exactly what we needed to inject some sunshine into the current cold winter days!
London’s afternoon tea trade never ceases to amaze me with its reinvention and gimmicks, but recently I was reminded of the joy that a classic, properly put together afternoon tea can bring. Not a speck of novelty in sight, no quirky crockery, our afternoon tea at Flemings Mayfair Hotel with its menu crafted by Shaun Rankin of Ormer Mayfair was all about the fundamentals; fresh sandwiches, light scones, delicious cakes, and well-brewed tea. Pinkies out, ladies and gents, it was time to play make-believe and whisk ourselves back to those bygone eras where teas were always a commonplace and classy affair.
The decor of the Drawing Room in Flemings Mayfair is one worthy of a wide-eyed gaze, and I’m not even ashamed to admit that I may have let out a teeny tiny little gasp we as we stepped in. The walls of the Indian-inspired tea room are beautifully hand painted with scenes from ‘early India’ which contrasted nicely with striking teal seats which just envelope you as you sink into them. We settled snugly into our corner table, one of the best in the house in my opinion, with a glass of champagne and the extensive tea menu.
One of the most iconic experiences you can enjoy in Penang is to have afternoon tea at the Eastern & Oriental Hotel, one of the city’s grandest properties. But afternoon tea seems so very un-Malaysian and so very, very British? Let’s chalk its introduction to Malaysia down to colonialism, which dare I say, is another very British activity from years passed. I won’t get into the pros and cons of that so let’s just all play nice and agree on the merits of tea and cake, with a couple of sandwiches and scones in between. Any afternoon spent enjoying those things in beautiful surroundings is an afternoon well spent in my view.
The Eastern & Oriental Hotel has a rich history dating back to 1884 when it was first established as The Eastern. A year later, due to increasing demand and popularity, The Oriental was opened on the neighbouring site, and combined, they became the largest hotel in Penang. Unsurprisingly, there have been highs and lows throughout the years but now, the hotel has been completely restored to its former glory and a spot of afternoon tea in the elegant dining room of 1885 is a must for anyone visiting Penang.
My sister recently told me about this banana diet which is making the #fitspo folk go, well, bananas. My first reaction was to laugh; who can seriously eat bananas all day, everyday? Who wants to?! But then I remembered that not everyone shares my opinion, people actually like those pungent, squishy things. They are everywhere: lollies, ice cream, milkshakes, smoothies, milk, fritters, and of course cake.
Banana cake just doesn’t tickle my fancy, obviously if it was a choice between that or carrot cake, it’s the lesser of the two evils but it will never be my preferred option. On the contrary, a certain someone is rather fond of banana cake so feeling generous one afternoon I decided to make him one. Kind of. I mean there are a lot of bananas in it but it also calls for pineapple, a fruit I do adore, and the cake is technically called a Hummingbird Cake…
Do you remember my tale of afternoon tea woe? The story of a girl who used to raise many a teacup, pinky lifted and had enjoyed more cakes than she should care to admit? I told you how it had been a while between scones and how I wished that would change…
Well it seems someone was listening, my very own (The May)fairy godmother you might call her, though she’s much younger and funnier than Cinderella’s, was going to make my wish come true as she kindly invited me to join her for afternoon tea. Then in the coming weeks I started to wonder if perhaps she was actually a genie as my wish was granted twice more and so begins my new tale of three teas, all in one week!
So I move to the home of the afternoon tea, the birthplace of the tradition, and until this point, I’ve only enjoyed one during my time in England. Yeah, I’m shocked too. Especially considering London offers everything from the traditional at the likes of Claridge’s to the more creative at The Berkeley. I went through a period where I seemed to be having afternoon teas all the time- I’ve sipped teas and nibbled at Hippopotamus and Martha’s Pantry in Wellington and even had an extravagant experience at the Burj al Arab’s Skyview Bar in Dubai but lately? I’ve barely lifted my pinky.
Inspired by the Mad Hatter’s firm belief that it’s always time for tea, I decided it was high time for another round of tea and cakes. Feeling like a restless Alice on the riverbank that day, I thought a gloomy Sunday afternoon needed a bit of excitement and decided to take her lead down the rabbit hole and discover what edible delights were in store for us at Conrad London St James’ Alice in Wonderland Afternoon Tea.
Sausage rolls are like the Alison Holst or Mary Berry of the edible world. Loved by all ages and welcomed with open arms at any occasion, they rebel against food trends and have stood the test of time. I don’t think there has ever been a time I didn’t love a bit of sausage roll- they were always one of my favourites at birthday parties when I was a kid, and now I still make a beeline for them at the office morning tea.
A couple of months ago, on a rather uneventful afternoon I suddenly had a craving for a sausage roll. It had been a while since we were last acquainted (are they not standard fare at the English office morning tea?) and I just wanted to sink my teeth into some porky pastry comfort. I decided to make my own because, how hard can it be? As it turns out, not very, so I thought I would give the old girl a bit of a makeover and voila, how good does she look now?