An English Afternoon Tea
I have a writer friend visiting me at the moment (see previous post) and yesterday we drove down the coast to visit another writer friend who has recently moved into a flat near the beach. She instructed us to bring nothing — not even flowers — which is very hard to do. It just feels wrong, doesn’t it, to visit without bringing anything, but she was adamant so we decided to be obedient.
Her flat is lovely and she’s arranged it all beautifully, and though she said she still had heaps of stuff in boxes, there was no visible evidence of it (unlike my place).
She’s English, and she put on an English afternoon tea for us. It was delicious, as you can infer from this photo. The little finger sandwiches were cucumber and smoked salmon, egg and lettuce, and chicken and avocado and they were very very yummy. I almost never buy white bread and I’d forgotten how delicious little sandwiches made with fresh white sliced bread can be.
She’d also made scones and there were two alternatives — the classic delicious Devonshire cream tea (scone + jam + cream) and one I hadn’t heard of, the devil’s cream tea — (cheese scones + chilli jam + philadelpia cream cheese.) Of course I had to have one of each, and while the devil scones were very tasty, Devonshire will remain forever my favorite. As well, there were little tarts, and macarons, but I was so full of finger sandwiches and scones I didn’t have any. The tea, served in elegant tea cups, was smoked Earl Grey, which I hadn’t had before and was lovely. And the Royal Jubilee plates were a gorgeous touch — her sister in England had sent her these.
It was a lovely afternoon, with lots of writer talk and stories and laughter, and a walk along the beach to finish. Strangely when we got home that evening, my visitor friend and I weren’t terribly hungry, so it was just salad for dinner.
What a lovely afternoon to spend! My grandmother used to do afternoon tea every day until my grandfather got too ill and required too much attention. Her sister tried to carry on, but they had little time to relax and enjoy it.
I LOVE those plates!! And I’m with you, Devonshire cream will always be my favorite as well. I think I need to make some scones today… ;)
Thanks, Theo. My parents had afternoon tea every day, but it was never a spread like this, just a cup of tea and a slice of cake. My dad loved fruitcake, and I used to make him one on a regular basis. And whenever I was coming down to visit them — I went weekly — he’d somehow manage to slip into a conversation that the delicious fruitcake I brought last time was all finished. Subtle he was not.
I’m off today to pick up some more writer friends from the airport, or I’d make scones too.
Scones are a bit of a sensitive topic in the South-West! As a Cornish gal, we’re jam first, then cream – Devon does cream first and then jam (the fools!)
So glad you had a wonderful time :)
LOL Isla. I’ve heard of this controversy, but though it’s widely known as a Devonshire cream tea here in Australia, it’s invariably jam first then cream. Possibly it’s because clotted cream isn’t widely used here — we tend to top our scones with whipped cream which isn’t as solid. But whichever way it’s done, it’s delicious.
And if you want real controversy, I’ve been on loops where English and American members argue fiercely about scones and biscuits (the latter being the American item that looks and tastes like a scone.) But hey, let’s not get into that one here. <g>
Anne here, and I’m posting a comment from Martina, because she couldn’t get it to post. Thanks for letting me know, Martina.
“What a lovely afternoon! My sisters and I collect teacups, so when my youngest sister was expecting we had an afternoon tea with presents (we don’t do baby showers). I made the cucumber sandwiches, which was tough because my nephew was eating the cucumbers as fast as I sliced them!”
Martina (from Boston)