I realise I’ve been a bit quiet over the last few days, and online anyway am probably going to be a bit quiet for a while longer. Blog writing has taken second place to Christmas card writing – love getting them, a bit ambivalent about writing them. It shouldn’t but does feel like doing my homework; however they’re almost done now which means I’ve actually achieved something on a day that started out by my being totally incapable of finding my favourite jumper, sticky tape, and credit card bill. Amazing how long it can take to find something to wear, find a way to seal a parcel, and meet one’s financial obligations...
It’s also my birthday on Monday but due to work a fair amount of celebrating is being done tomorrow so I think I’ve got 6.5 waking hours left to get organised to a point where I can let people over the threshold without being judged a domestic disgrace. No pressure there then. Meanwhile the books I want to talk about are piling up and I’m beginning to think some sort of list is in order, the sort of thing that will give an illusion of order until I inevitably lose it.
If there was a list top of it at the moment would be ‘Tea at Fortnum and Mason’. This was an impulse purchase that I pretended would probably be a present but I’m telling you now that this little beauty won’t be leaving my kitchen. Afternoon tea is something I love and something I’d like to indulge in far more often. I had one book dedicated to the art already and very inspiring it is too but ‘Tea at Fortnum and Mason’ is both beautiful to look at and full of good stuff to bake – how could I not find space for it on my shelves?
I was initially attracted by the green and gold cover and then further seduced by the very pretty illustrations (fine china, fine fabrics, and fine looking cakes) I didn’t even pay much attention to the actual content at first but now I have and can report that there is an interesting history of tea drinking, a history of Fortnum and Mason’s (which is one of my favourite shops anywhere – partly for the window displays, mostly because walking through those doors is like walking into a fantasy of English gentility. It’s the Mitford sisters in shop form.) Excellent and useful tea tasting notes (they appeal to the wine geek in me – a good tasting not will always impress!) and of course some very nice recipe’s. I’ve made the marmalade which has been uniformly enjoyed and have earmarked some excellent looking rose biscuits (with almonds and crystallised rose petals), honey and lavender loaf cake (flavoured with tea as well), and a coffee and walnut cake as immanent future projects.
There’s also a suggestion for meringues filled with lemon curd and cream that are a welcome update on a favourite from circa 1990 – Claire MacDonalds lemon curd pavlova. It was a great pudding (as well as very efficient – the egg yolks went into the curd, the whites into the meringue) but currently not very fashionable, little meringues on the other hand are having some sort of moment... Anyway if I was prepared to part with this book (or bought more copies) it would make the perfect stocking filler and anyone else with a passion for afternoon tea really ought to have a look at it (I’m thinking of you Cardigan Girl Verity!)