Sunday, 25 September 2011

The Fourteas Tearoom, Stratford Upon Avon

A trip to Stratford Upon Avon and the Fourteas Tearoom.

Earlier this week my sister and I had a few days at Stratford-upon-Avon. Now normally when I visit somewhere I like to do lots of research, planning each day.  You know the type of thing, what to see, what to do, where to eat.  Well this time we had some ideas like the sightseeing bus tour, Shakespeare Museum (obviously) and weather dependant National Trust Hidcote Gardens.  

We did indeed manage to do all these things and thoroughly enjoyed them, but sometimes its the unplanned that can be the most enjoyable.

The Fourteas Tea Room
After finishing the bus tour we were walking to the museum with an eye out for some where to stop for a cuppa and a snack.   On the corner of a street we spotted a Costa Coffee, great I thought just what I need, then my sister spotted a sign a few doors down the side street.  Its name called to us...The Fourteas.



Peering through the window it was a tea lovers dream, as its name cleverly suggests its a 1940's style tea room.  The staff were dressed in wonderful period costume, there was Union Jack bunting, a wonderful antique dresser displaying delicious looking cakes.


Time to browse the menu, which very cleverly resembled a ration book but without the rations to choose from, just lots of lovely food and drinks. There was a good selection of tea blends to choose from but we both fancied The Fourteas Blend 
"This is our own specially blended handpicked loose leaf tea to compliment all of our delicious homemade cakes. We have combined a fruity single estate Ceylon and a luxurious malty Keemun resulting in a coppery full bodied cup bursting with freshness and flavour. Can to be taken with or without milk. Suggested Brewing time 3 - 5mins"


There were lots of delicious looking cakes and scones Carrot cake, chocolate cake, mini battenburg and cup cakes all displayed on beautiful cake stands.  But back to the menu, for a snack I had a hot buttered teacake and my sister the homemade mushroom soup.
Our tea arrived along with the required special egg timer, so that you can brew your tea to achieve its optimum flavour, how perfect is that!  The cups and saucers were a real blast from the past for me, utility style green cups and saucers just like I remember from the Methodist Church where I went to Sunday School.

Of course we could not leave without being tempted by a cake, I decided on a Chocolate Cup Cake and my sister a slice of Carrot Cake.  
I love doilies!
I did look over in envy when the lady at the table next to me ordered a cheese scone, and the waitress apologised as there would be a few minutes wait until they were out of the oven.  Oh my I do love warm cheese scones with lashings of melted butter.


Even the toilets continued the 1940's theme with copies of papers on the wall showing headlines from the time. I did worry for a moment that they may have taken the theme to the extreme and the toilet roll replaced with tracing paper, now that would of been bad!  


This lovely tea shop was the highlight of our visit to Stratford-upon-Avon, you see you just never know what delights await you around a corner.






Saturday, 17 September 2011

Shopping List

In November some friends and I are off to the Cake International Show at the NEC Birmingham, this will be only the second time I've been to the show.  We have also managed to get tickets for the Cake Pops and Piped Buttercream demonstration.

Not knowing what to expect last year I was unprepared for the large number of stalls with such a huge variety of goodies for sale.  This year I am going prepared I have a list, which I am sure will grow over the next month or so. 


Shopping List
  • Lollipop sticks
  • Chocolate candy melts chocolate, pink and peanut butter flavours
  • Shoe and button moulds
  • Cake boards
  • No.10 plain nylon piping tube
  • Texture sheets
  • Parchment triangles

Now is there anything I have missed off the list, mmm? note to self, must not buy paper cases I already have far too many!

Without a doubt I am sure I will deviate from the list.


Inspiration from a display at last years show
Graduation cakes for my cousin Verity, got the cake cases from last years show


I will of course report back in November following what I hope to be a successful shopping trip.



Wednesday, 14 September 2011

The Gallery - A Happy Memory




This is my first contribution to The Gallery who's theme this week is A Happy Memory.  Its difficult to find one photo that captures this theme, the photo I've selected also makes me think of other tea and cake moments over the years!


Afternoon Tea is an opportunity for time out from all the distractions of life, to sit down and enjoy a lovely cup of tea with a cake to two.  This usually involves the females of the family my mum, my sisters, aunties, niece and cousin whether it be a few of us or all of us.


This obviously gives me the opportunity to do some baking and to use some of my many cakes stands and antique cups and saucers I've collected.  Both my sisters and I all love baking, I have been informed only this weekend that my sister has plans to make chocolate eclairs at our next relaxing afternoon tea time.

Tea and Cake - A Happy Memory

Monday, 12 September 2011

Its All About the Flowers

Last year I bought a Raspberry Salvia from The Shrewsbury Flower Show, with wonderful bright pink flowers.  I like to think I get my monies worth from any plants I buy, so for the last few years I've been collecting seeds and taking cuttings.  Last year I took a single cutting from the Raspberry Salvia.


With the extreme winter we had I lost the original Salvia in the garden and come spring I was only left with a barely surviving twig in the greenhouse.  But survive it did and the one thing I learnt from last winter is to take as many cuttings  as you can, so this year I took five more cuttings from the surviving plant.
As you can see the cuttings have established well and I now have five very healthy Salvia plants, which will stay in the greenhouse over winter, just in case!
Hopefully next year there will be a border with lots of lovely pink flowers just like the one plant in the border now.
Salvia the twig that survived!


Another new plant that luckily survived last winter, is the Knautia Macedonica commonly known as Knautia and pronounced 'naughtier'. Also the Pulsatilla commonly known as the Pasque Flower.  For both of these plants I have collected and successfully grown the seed.  Although the Pulsatilla were a little tricky and required patience, they took 3-4 weeks and only three seeds germinated. The seeds are quite unusual looking they resemble little feathers, when you collect them you have to catch them quick from the flower head before the wind takes them.

Knautia seedlings
Pulsatilla seedlings
Below you can see the original plants in situ in the garden, really pleased with the success of the Knautia sowings should have plenty to plant out next year.

Knautia Macedonica
Pulsatilla

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Cakes, Tarts and Biscuits

You will have to excuse me but this is a rather indulgent post, and really should contain a warning for it is not calorie free!  At the weekend I had a number of friends and family around for a Cards and Cakes Party.  The cards element relates to Phoenix Greetings Cards fabulous quality cards and wonderful designs and the cakes is a combination of lots of lovely cakes, tarts and biscuits.  So after a busy day of baking here's what my guests were treated to.

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Raspberry Shortbread (Raspberries from the garden)



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Chocolate Ganache Fairy Cakes




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Tea Loaf



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Sultana Biscuits


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Strawberry Jam Tarts (Strawberries from garden)

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Mince Pies

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Apple and Cinnamon Fairy Cakes


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Chocolate Button Fairy Cakes

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Thanks have to go to my sister for baking the tea loaf and mince pies.