‘There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea’ – Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady.
I couldn’t agree more, Henry James was right on the mark here. At mid-afternoon, my workmates and I went out for a special high-tea and we did feel like proper ladies. There we were: taking our high-tea, seated at a table laid with proper white table-cloths, eating delicate finger-food, pouring tea out of pretty floral china teapots, and sipping tea out of fine bone-china tea-cups.
The place we visited to take high-tea is Petit Fours. www.facebook.com/Petitfourspn
As soon as we walked into the small, and very welcoming cafe (smelling of freshly baked food), we saw a glorious display of cupcakes. We could choose one each, as part of the high-tea, but which one to choose?
Here are the choices:
Cupcake flavours from left to right: Salted Caramel, Pina Colada, Strawberry Milkshake, Passionfruit, After Dinner Mint, Banana Split and in the bottom of the cabinet are gluten-free/dairy-free Chocolate Fudge Brownie cupcakes. But, that’s not all, the cupcakes have an added bonus of lovely rich fillings hidden inside.
We were treated to a three-tiered display of sweet and savoury finger-foods:
TIERS OF FOODS:
Bottom layer (savouries)
Triangle-cut sandwiches: cucumber; and cheese and piccalilli,
Cucumber rounds with spiced cream-cheese piped on top with a garnish of pickled beetroot.
Middle layer (sweets)
Lemon macarons with a creamy filling with another surprise filling in the center of lemon curd (these are the best macarons I have ever tasted),
Warm apple upside-down cake,
White chocolate and passionfruit cheesecake (the most divine cheesecake I have ever tasted).
Adorning the top of the three-tiered cakestand was the cupcake we had chosen from the cabinet.
We also had a choice of tea or coffee. I had English Breakfast Tea, served in a pretty bone china teapot. A high tea wouldn’t be complete without the fine china and we had an array of floral fine bone china on the table. Here is the china set I was given featuring bluebells:
The china was distributed completely randomly, and the set in front of me was very fortuitous as I adore bluebells. This was a nice little serendipitous moment.
Whenever I see bluebells I am always reminded of Emily Bronte’s very apt description of them in her poem The Bluebell, written December 18, 1838.
The Bluebell is the sweetest flower
That waves in summer air ;
Its blossoms have the mightiest power
To soothe my spirit’s care.
It is the slight and stately stem,
The blossoms silvery blue,
The buds hid like a sapphire gem,
In shealths of emerald hue.
I wanted to start on the sweets but tradition dictates (and I was brought up by this rule) that we start with the savouries first, and as I was displaying my ‘proper’ table-manners at a high-tea, I chose a vegetable frittata to start with, followed by a cucumber sandwich (all the while itching to get to the next tier up, the macarons, and cakes).
We went from one food tasting to the next, a bite of this and a bite of that, sampling and savouring the tastes of each morsel interspersed with a sip of tea, and the clinking of china. It was all very civilized.
It is very hard to choose a favourite out of the array of foods. As my friend said, everything tasted great. The lemon macarons were a stand out as they melted in the mouth and are the best macarons I have ever tasted. Still, I am (almost) lost for words to describe the white chocolate and passionfruit cheesecake. I would need to employ every superlative under the sun to describe just how divine it was – every mouthful was just heaven. The texture was velvety and the passionfruit flavours were just right, the biscuit base was not packed too tightly, and just crunchy enough, not too sweet, and very moreish and rich with lots of butter. The smooth texture of the velvet cheesecake was contrasted with small, crunchy, solid pieces of broken up white chocolate sprinkled on top. Sensational.
The only downside was that the Pina Colada named cupcake had planted that darned annoying Pina Colada song into my brain. It was swimming around in there like a stuck record all afternoon. I don’t know any of the lyrics except for “if you like pina coladas [and something?, something?], rain”. This was on repeat, going over and over and over. But I could put up with this because I was in a very happy place back at work after a lovely high-tea and bopping along to “pina coladas blah blah blah rain”. (When I got home I had to google the lyrics to get the annoying song out of my head, but it just made it worse as I now knew more lyrics to put to the tune! It’s an interesting premise to the song too, a little story in verse with an eventual happy ending.)
Our high-tea experience was all thanks to a big-hearted work-mate (DL) who very kindly bought us all vouchers for the high-tea (did I mention that she is my favourite work-mate). Going out for high-tea gave us all a well-needed boost at the end of a (difficult) working week, and it was nice to see everyone so excited again. Even the anticipation leading to the high-tea was part of the fun – as the day, then the hour for the high-tea approached our level of excitement gained momentum. I thoroughly enjoyed everything about the high-tea experience – the food, the atmosphere, the conversation, and the company of my good friends. Everything was fabulously splendid. More tea anyone?
On the left is the Pina Colada Cupcake (“if you like Pina Coladas….something something rain”, and repeat, repeat, repeat), and on the right is the Strawberry Milkshake Cupcake.
Every week, Petit Fours features a ‘showstopper cake’. When we left from our high-tea, we learnt that the upcoming cake of the week was to be a Chocolate, Whiskey, and Blackberry Cake. Yum!