Sunday, September 02, 2007

Afternoon Tea

Had the pleasure of a real old fashioned 'afternoon tea' last weekend, courtesy of some friends who live in an old farmhouse. The home baking was fabulous - scones, several sorts of cake, buns, home made jam, clotted cream, millions of mouthwatering calories heaped on one long damask tablecloth! (and a perfect use for these tablecloths, I might add.) Among the offerings, all served with pots of good leaf tea, was a chocolate cake so rich and dark and dense and gooey that somebody aptly described it as a nuclear reactor among chocolate cakes. Not that anybody could manage more than a thin slice. This lead to speculation about a possible 'chocolate cake' diet - one slice of said cake for breakfast, with a couple of indigestion tablets for good measure, and you wouldn't want to eat anything else at all for the rest of the day. Worth it though. Definitely worth it.
The other revelation was to do with the classic British 'cream tea' which is normally a combination of home made scones, good jam and clotted cream. There are regional arguments as to which goes on first, cream or jam, but it does rather depend upon the consistency of the cream, which can vary from very thick and buttery, to slightly softer, depending upon where y0u acquire it. Either way, it's a delicious dish, but another one that does rather take the edge off any desire to eat for many hours afterwards. As well as the traditional scones, however, our friends also served small, fluffy, white rolls (freshly home baked, naturally, with just that faint tang of yeast that seems to be disappointingly absent from bought bread). A 'cream tea' on a bread roll instead ofa scone is a revelation. Light as a feather, not remotely sweet and sickly. It should have a name all its own but I can't think of one at the moment.
Afternoon tea seems to be making a bit of a comeback here in the UK: a very civilized meal although , unlike our more robust Victorian and Edwardian forebears, most of us can't really manage to eat dinner or indeed anything else, for the rest of the day!