Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Spoon’

Today is the second of Annie’s Virtual Vegan Potlucks, in which a whole host of vegan and vegan-friendly bloggers unite in a big festival of meat- and dairy-free noshing around the globe.

Participants chose a category from a list of menu items (breads, mains, desserts, beverages, etc.), decided on what they wanted to bring to the virtual table, and were then placed in a list organised by Annie (for the full list of participants, please see here).

Each blogger taking part will post their own contribution today, adding a link to the blog before and after them on Annie’s list, creating a chain of vegan blogs that you can, if you wish, work your way through in a massive banquet of vegan delights.

Last time we did this, I opted for the beverages category so that I could write about tea. This time I’ve opted for the beverages category so that I can write about tea.

If you happen to live in the northern hemisphere you will perhaps have noticed a chilly change in the weather of late. In light of this, I’ve chosen to bring a lovely warming chai to the potluck (equally tasty south of the equator, I’m quite sure):

20 years ago I popped off to live and work in Pakistan, thinking I might stay there for about 3 months. Unwilling to leave a country that dished up such excellent tea, I gave up on coming home so soon and stayed on for another year to get in a decent amount of tea drinking.

During my time there I drank a lot of chai. It was consistently hot, spicy, usually sweet, and virtually always delicious.

I can only recall one less than satisfactory chai experience. I was visiting someone, I forget now who or where it was (there was a lot of visiting and tea taking going on), and was given a welcoming cup of sweet chai to sup on. My host, as he was pouring out the chai, unwittingly dropped some of his cigarette ash into the cup. Out of politeness, I consumed both the tea and the ash.

Speaking as one who has tried it both ways, I would strongly recommend drinking chai without the addition of cigarette ash.

I have often tried to recreate at home the taste of the lovely ashless Pakistani chai that I drank so much of back then, but I’ve never succeeded in getting it to taste as good.

Clipper’s chai isn’t quite like the stuff I remember from those days but it is a very quick and easy way to get that spicy, warming, delicious tea taste, and the combination of spices Clipper have come up with is far better than any concoction I’ve managed to mix up for myself. One of the slightly unusual ingredients in the tea is lemon peel, which I think is what sets it apart from other chai teas I’ve tried. The lemon is not overpowering but it adds a little citrusy zing to the spiciness, which I think works very well.

In order to bring joy to your life once you have a packet of this stuff, you’ll need some boiling water, and possibly some sort of milk and sweetener, if you like it that way (although it’s also jolly nice black, in my opinion).

It is highly acceptable served straight into a mug, or from a teapot with pretty china and a few chums to share the pleasure with.

At first glance (or indeed, after a prolonged stare), turning up to the potluck bearing nothing but a box of teabags might seem like a bit of a cop-out. I can’t deny that, I admit that it shows a distinct lack of culinary effort on my part, but on the up side if I’m let loose near a kettle I can promise you a perfectly brewed pot of tea.

As any regular tea drinker will know, there are a few key elements to making a nice cup of tea, and chief amongst these (at least for black tea) is boiling water .

I’m sorry to report that occasionally in a tearoom I have been brought a pot of hot water with a cup and teabag on the side. This has been both painful and distressing, very much like standing on an upturned plug or stubbing a toe.

In a tearoom, even if the water is boiling when it goes into the pot, it certainly won’t be boiling by the time it reaches the customer. Sitting alone in the pot, its bubbly loveliness is wasted on the inside of the pot instead of usefully infusing the tea.

Pouring hot – but not boiling – water onto a teabag is the sort of experience one should restrict to those occasions when one is marooned at the top of Mount Everest.

Following their successful ascent of Mount Everst in 1953, Tensing Norgay and Edmund Hillary take tea out of tin mugs (I bet it tasted pretty good, too).

Up at 29,000 feet, due to a decrease in pressure that results in the water boiling at a lower temperature, a warm slooshy tea-like concotion is the best the weary climber can hope for. (I have this on good authority, although I can’t claim to have tested it out for myself; it’s regrettable, but being in possession of this information has put me right off climbing Everest). Down nearer sea level there are no such excuses for shoddy tea preparation.

Here are my top tips for making a lovely pot of Clipper chai:

1. Get some Clipper chai tea, a teapot and however many teacups you require.

2. Put plenty of freshly drawn cold water into a kettle and put it on to boil.

3. Just before the water boils, pour a decent splash of nearly boiling water into the teapot to warm it.

4. Slosh the water around the teapot while the kettle comes to the boil, and then discard the teapot water and bung in as many teabags as you think you’ll need (one per person, is my advice).

5. When the kettle boils, immediately pour the water into the warmed teapot onto the teabags and give the whole lot a stir with a spoon (and perhaps a squidge of the bags, if you feel like it).

6. Pop a teacosy onto the teapot (such as this delightful creation by veteran teacosy maker, Laine Williams:

7. Wait patiently for around 3 minutes and then pour the tea into cups (personally, I wouldn’t warm the cups because my feeling is that the tea has already done all its infusing, and now I just want it to be cool enough to drink as soon as possible).

If you want to add milk, you might like to glug a slosh of soy or alternative milk (I have tried it with oat milk, which was quite nice, but I wonder if almond might be preferable) into the cup prior to adding the tea. Alternatively, you may prefer to add the milk afterwards, but in any case I don’t think you need to worry about the china breaking with the hot tea (which is, apparently, one of the reasons for adding the milk first) since the tea will have cooled down a little since you added the water to the pot. If you’re nervous about adding too much milk, I would advise adding it after you’ve poured the tea, and just a little at a time so that you can taste it and find the quantity you prefer.

Sweetener is another matter of personal taste. The chai I had in Pakistan was generally very sweet, and I enjoyed it greatly at the time, but when I make Clipper chai I don’t add any sweetener because I’ve developed a taste for it ‘plain’, so to speak.

If you fancy trying this tea but can’t find Clipper chai at an outlet near you, it is available online from a number of websites, including the Clipper site, here.

Bottoms up!

image courtesy of thethreetomatoes.com

To visit the blog on the list before mine, Don’t Switch Off The Light, please click on the image below:

To visit the blog after mine, Veganosaurus (which, as it happens, contains a chai recipe), please click on this image:

Read Full Post »

A few weeks ago, it might even be a couple of months ago now, I noticed Cadbury’s Creme Eggs making their annual reappearance on supermarket shelves. As with displaying Christmas cards in September, they like to warm us up for Easter well in advance.

Such aggressive marketing can of course sicken us of the event long before it’s actually upon us, but in this instance, if you’re a fan of the Creme Egg, it lengthens the munching season which, to my mind, is no bad thing.

Here is one of the eggs of which I speak, lying down:  And sitting up (I had to apply a blob of adhesive on its bottom for this shot, just as you would with a newborn baby, as it utterly refused to remain upright unaided): The Creme Egg is one of these clever confections, like the Tunnock’s teacake (featured elsewhere on this blog, click the name to see), that manages to wrap itself up in nothing more than a sheet of tin foil and some clever folds: Taken cumulatively over the years, I must have dedicated many hours to the consumption of Creme Eggs, but have yet to divest one of its foil without tearing the little jacket. However, if done carefully enough you can see that the jacket is simply a rectangle of prettily coloured foil: Despite being heavily barcoded, the Creme Egg must cause considerable annoyance to checkout assistants. I have often witnessed them trying and failing to scan Creme Eggs (I’ve even tried to do it myself at a self-service checkout and failed dismally), because of the way the foil is folded round the egg.

However you take the wrapper off, this is what greets you inside (apologies for the poor focus) –  a beautiful chocolate egg shape with varying sizes of egg-shaped rings and a star in the middle on each side: What comes next is probably very much a matter of personal taste. I have tried various ways of breaking into a Creme Egg, but my favourite way is to bite into the top first, using a similar line of attack to that used on boiled eggs (except then I use a spoon, since I’m not yet a complete degenerate). I have, in fact, tried to open one by putting it in an egg cup and cracking it open with an egg spoon, but it wasn’t terribly successful and I remember the egg spoon getting very sticky with the fondant. As my father says, fingers were made before forks (and, by extension, teeth before spoons): Inside is a luscious, sticky, gooey fondant. Depending on how the egg has been stored, the texture of the fondant can sometimes be thicker and harder than it ought to be, but at its best it flows in a silky gloopy manner and glistens at you from inside its chocolate shell:  Nowadays, I like to lick and slurp the fondant out but I remember in my youth I used to enjoy scooping it out with a teaspoon: When the little orange yokey bit is revealed it’s a joy to behold: Another thing I remember from my youth is that I used to enjoy a Creme Egg with a cup of tea (and still do), but rather than just dunk the egg in the tea or swish tea and egg around in my mouth together as I would do now, back then I used to use the scooping spoon to transfer some of my tea to the inside of the egg. I did it on this occasion, just for old time’s sake, but since it would distress my mother to see it and quite possibly lead to her disowning me, I’m not going to include the photo I took (it isn’t very nice, I must admit).

Around the egg, the thickness of the chocolate does vary a bit. For the most part it’s fairly uniform but towards one end – and with some eggs this is at the bottom and others at the top – there’s a a thicker, chunkier bit of chocolate. In the case of this egg it was at the bottom: I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever eaten more than one Creme Egg in a sitting. I have a very vague recollection of having done so once and having been left feeling so sick that I’ve never repeated the process, so – for me at least – more than one Creme Egg at a time would be too much. They’re so sweet, so sticky, so filling and so satisfying in themselves, that the shape and size Cadbury have made them is just right, in my opinion.

I generally buy my Creme Eggs singly, but now and then I splash out and buy a box of 6. I think it’s very fitting that Cadbury have jumped on the egg-packaging bandwagon by supplying them in half-dozen packs:

Read Full Post »

After our delicious salads at the wonderful Fife cafe that featured as last week’s Tearoom of the Week, my delectable assistant and I took afternoon refreshments in another Fife eatery.

It was a very cold, overcast day but before going into tearoom number 2 we took a health-giving walk up a small road that took us past some buildings featuring lovely crow-stepped gabling:

The crow-stepped gable is a very useful form of architecture for people who need to climb up onto a roof, giving secure stone steps up from standard ladder height to the top of a building.

If you fancy climbing up a few crow-stepped gables, but find you’re a bit nervous about the height and steepness, you’d be well advised to pop across the border into England for a bit of practise first. Apparently roofs like these tend to be steeper in Scotland, so that snow can slide off more easily.

Although the idea of stepping up them does entice me (and has done, ever since I first saw Mary Poppins climb up a crow-stepped gable made of smoke in the Disney movie) my fear of heights prevents me from actually trying it out. I prefer to enjoy them safely from ground level.

The tearoom we proposed to take afternoon snacks in is next-door to a shop full of wooden items shipped in from Asia, and fancying a little look around the goods on display, we popped in.

There were a lot of elephants. Here are some carved into a table-top:


There were two almost life size elephants in one part of the shop. I thought it might be nice to buy one, put it into a trailer attached to the back of my car and tour around the country with it.

These ones were sitting at the door ready to welcome people into the shop. Those two small things at the front on either side of the little elephant are, believe it or not, carvings of elephant rumps, for sale at £1 a go. I did consider buying one, I must admit.

Before leaving, my delightful assistant purchased a very well-priced magazine rack made from teak:

Only a few steps from the shop full of wooden elephants was the tearoom we were headed for. The building is a wooden structure that doesn’t give anything away from the outside.

The sun had come out a bit, which was very nice, but it was still too cold to sit out on the balcony (and a bit noisy, due to the proximity of the road):

The first time I visited this place, I had no idea from the outside how nice it was going to be inside:

And I certainly wasn’t expecting such impressive facilities:

Most of the tables in this tearoom have marble tops, and there are fresh flowers in vases. When I ordered a slice of cake, a very nice fork was brought with the napkin:

There was a tempting selection of cakes and biscuits on display. I opted for the chocolate cake while my assistant asked for a slice of coffee walnut cake. We both had decaf coffees, mine a latte and hers an Americano:

My chocolate cake was attractively decorated with milk and white chocolate shavings, and nicely finished on the edge:

My assistant’s coffee cake was beautiful, and reminded me of a lump of rock with sparkly bits in it (alas, despite doing a year of geology at university I cannot for the life of me think which rock it reminded me of). The top was decorated with chopped up walnuts and glittery edible gold flakes:

As with my slice, attention had been paid to the edge:

My latte, as seen in a previous picture, was served in a tall glass. My assistant’s Americano, on the other hand, came in a stylish cup and saucer with a spoon to match the fancy fork:

Since there’s a bit of an elephant theme to this post, I’m going to sneak in one more. I bought this one for a friend a few years ago, and he’s been named George. He’s quite big and is meant as a doorstop (although I believe my friend keeps him on the bed). He’s filled with sand and his outer material is silk.

He really is a most charming and delightful little fellow.

Read Full Post »

Following on from my previous post of today (Tea, books and chocolate cake), the second wonderful tearoom yesterday led to me imbibing a most excellent, intensely chocolatey little cup of enhantment. Like a good girl though, I had my savouries first.

They had two tasty soups on offer. I went for carrot and coriander with scrumptious crunchy homemade oatcakes, while my lovely assistant opted for tomato and red pepper with crusty seeded brown bread, both served with little butter triangles:

The bowls were quite large and we both felt very full after our soup, but since we also fancied a hot drink once we’d made a bit of room, we stayed there for some time in the pleasant surroundings digesting our soup and relaxing.

I’m surprised to find that I haven’t actually mentioned this tearoom before, but as I now have the opportunity to welcome you to it and show off some of its treasures, here are a few of the delights you’ll find in this lovely place.

The first thing to mention is that it’s attached to a chocolatier, gift shop and small chocolate museum. In addition to various gifty things, the shop sells an extremely tempting array of chocolate-based treats and if, like me, you enjoy gawping at sweet wonders, the chocolate display counter is a most appealing place to drool:

The small chocolate museum, which lies between the shop and the tearoom, contains information about cocoa, and the history and methods of making it into chocolate. It also features this superb chocolate creation which is, as far as I recall, well over a foot tall:

The tearoom is a beautiful place, nicely lit, with a lovely ambience and lots of things to look at, both on the walls and hanging from the ceiling:

Every table has a unique set of quirky salt and pepper cellars. My particular favourites are the pigs:

Once the soup had settled and we’d enjoyed the condiment sets and various other amusements round about, it was time to take on a hot beverage. My beautiful assistant went for a pot of Fairtrade tea, while I ordered the drink I had been thinking about ever since entering the tearoom: the speciality ‘thick hot chocolate’. As the menu excitedly describes it: “Potent espresso sized shot of chocolate truffle ganache melted down! No additives or thickeners!”

The little shiny bubbles on top made me happy:

I had a glass of cold water to refresh myself with between gloopy sips of thick chocolate, and every single mouthful was a taste sensation:

The cup was very small, but any bigger would have been too much because it was incredibly rich:

It slid in a glistening stream off the spoon:

I got as much out of the cup as I could, but sadly I couldn’t lick all the way to the bottom:

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,741 other followers

%d bloggers like this: