Tuesday 1 May 2012

A special austeri-tea....

On Sunday I hosted a small celebration tea for 2 close girlfriends....
We had originally been going to a local country house hotel...but they called me during the week to say that they had accidentally overbooked. I thought about it, and decided that at such short notice the best thing would be to serve it here at home...much better value & it meant we could take as long as we wanted too without being chivvied out to make way for the next sitting!
The keyword was miniature. I  started the day before with these tiny, sparkly vanilla meringues...
and then on Sunday morning I baked a batch of little Buttermilk Scones...
which I warmed up before we ate them with creme fraiche and a choice of...
lemon curd, raspberry jam or fresh blueberry compote (or all three!)
I made heart-shaped sandwiches...smoked salmon pate, cream cheese & cucumber....
and baked some crisp strawberry tarts, filled with vanilla pastry cream
I did succumb and bought these beautiful burnished gold, bronze & silver macarons from Marks & Spencer to go with the fingers of brownie & caramel shortbread on the pressed glass cakestand...
So pretty! I tied the cutlery with grosgrain ribbon & used my spring flower napkins from Emma Bridgewater
The prosecco was chilling in the fridge & it was time to put the kettle on! The girls arrived at 3...and we started with a glass of sparkly bubbles before being sensible & moving on to Lapsang Souchong or English Breakfast tea!
Outside the rain & wind battered against the windows...but inside, we were warm and cosy...Alice lay under the table as we talked & laughed & ate for a glorious few hours. Friends are the best, aren't they?
A perfect way to spend the last Sunday afternoon in April. And today, suddenly it's May! Where is the year going?
I hope you have a fabulous week...make sure you indulge yourself in some small way...it doesn't have to be too extravagant but it makes all the difference!


  1. MUCH better than anywhere you could have gone! Those strawberries are too pretty to eat! And the silverware, and the table setting...your gift is in alllll the perfect details! You are such an inspiration, Rachel. Lucky girlfriends.

  2. What a fantastic party! Heart shaped sandwiches and a million teensy desserts. It all looked just beautiful. Of course Alice was under the table--how else could she sneak her share of the treats. I'd be there myself if I could!

  3. All this looks so delicious! This is one way to look at the word "austere".

  4. Oh, how pretty everything looks! I agree with Nancy, and wish I were there too! Indeed, girlfriends are the best! I'm sure your girlfriends felt spoiled and glad that the country house hotel overbooked. Lovely to think of you all cozy indoors, enjoying the homemade yummies you made and sharing time together. Have a wonderful week, sweet friend! xoxo

  5. Rachel your Tea looks absolutely divine! I can't imagine having a better or more lovely time at the hotel. Your goodies make my mouth water! Have a wonderful week!
    Martha Ellen

  6. couldnt have been more perfect with the rain too! lucky girls xxxxx

  7. Hi Rachel, I'm Diane, a follower of Susan Branch's and live in Pennsylvania. I'm a professional market researcher but love all things beautiful. Are you familiar with Pinterest? I pinned a couple of your blog photos onto my boards http://pinterest.com/dianemharris/.
    If you look in my "recipes to try" board, you'll see them there. They do attribute your blog and already it's gotten a repin! It is a great way to leverage the power of the web. Do you have a Pinterest account? I think all artists (food artists included) should. Happy to chat offline via e-mail if you need coaching. dmharris@zoominternet.net

    Love your Alice; we have an Alice cat! And 3 dogs, one a soft coated wheaten terrier.

    Nice to meet you!


  8. Just popped in and was transported to your tea, dear Rachel!! What a treat for your girlfriends, who must have been on Cloud 9 after being so beautifully feted!! (I had a lovely lunch with 2 close friends today and what a treasure to have the enduring friendships we do!) Everything is perfect and what a gift of time and talent you gave your friends!! With love...Sherry xoxo (you look so darling in SB's video!!)

  9. How lucky your girlfriends were to be attended to so lavishly by you. Yummy and a delightful table. Looking forward to reading more on your two blogs:) Will you be meeting us with Susan again before they leave??? Sure hope so. Lovely country you have and am sure it is ablaze with the Queen's celebration.

  10. An absolutely wonderful party, Rachel!

  11. Hi, Rachel!

    I popped on over to your blog from Susan Branch's blog. I visited and signed up to receive by email both of your blogs. My sister lives in England. She is in Surrey. I have not been there to visit in too many years. As Susan was touring the country she wrote posts about many places my sister has spoken of.

    Good luck with your cook book!


    P.S. I have been a huge Susan Branch fan for over 20 years!

  12. Hi! Just came over from Susan's tour of your home, loved the wallpaper. Are those brownies pictured here the same that were in the refrigerator photo? Susan said she ate them all. Love your puppy, too, she is adorable. Looking forward to visiting here again.

  13. Rachel, love seeing your photos. Was especially impressed with the Marks and Spencer macarons! reason - we just discovered them several weeks ago and wondered how to make them. We went for Tea at a local tearoom and they had macarons! what a treat. so then how to make? I have never seen them for sale and you say that Marks and Spencer sells them! well, since I live in the U.S. that won't work, but thinking I will try to find a recipe for them. - Barbara

  14. What a fab idea. You thought of everything and done to such perfection. I like the idea of lemon curd as a third choice in jams with scones. That's given me inspiration. Lovely post and blog.


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