Tuesday, 28 June 2011

birthday tea at October Cafe

A friend spotted a vegan cafe had opened by Old Street, a place packed with cakes, tea and vegan treats all decked out like your Granny's front room. It sounded like a perfect location for a birthday bash and I was delighted when the owner could accomadate my 10 or so guests. We were all set for afternoon tea at the bargain price of £9 for sarnies, scones, jam, cakes and tea.

We promptly arrived on time and the tables were being set up. No bother, most of the gang were usually late anyway. We took our seats and waited, and waited. Even the late friends arrived and we finally took our orders. Now, I will say here that we waited quite a while, but we enjoyed chatting and no one was stressed. We did exchange a few looks to one another when a member of staff walked by with a loaf of ordinary white bread- they must have run out and she ducked to the shop. This was a bit surprising as we'd booked the tables, so the order was definitely not a surprise! Tempers were starting fray as we were rather parched for our tea, and many of us were hungry as we were saving ourselves for the tea.

So, about an hour and a half after we arrived, we were finally presented with some tea. It's just a shame there were no cups. Turns out they were being washed up. But we finally had cups too and were also given some afternoon tea which we scoffed rather fast. I managed to get a few snaps.

vegan afternoon tea
The crockery in October Cafe is super cute, all mismatched and just the I love. I really admire someone setting up a new business, especially a vegan one and I really hope October Cafe succeeds. 

I got some great ideas, like serving jam and cream in tea cups when I make scones.

Scrumptious vegan cream with scones and jam...delicious. Scones were a little flat though (sorry)

The top tier of the cake stand was stacked with specially ordered cakes. I ordered the vegan fruit tart below, but with the long wait, somehow I managed to eat one of the cupcakes. Luckily as it was my birthday all was forgiven.

The Victorian Sponge looked delicious. I'm hoping that there will be some comments in the section about what it tasted like R!

nice plate, let's wait to hear about the cake
another vegan treat

Now, I loved October Cafe and I would go back in a flash. We did have to wait a while but it was worth it. I really admire the owner for setting up a vegan cafe and I really hope it does well.

5 tea cups! I urge everyone to visit. I shall be !

Sunday, 26 June 2011

my birthday cake, 6 weeks late

Six weeks ago (or thereabouts) I celebrated my 35 birthday at October Cafe..more on that later...but here's a quick entry to share the divine red velvet cake made for me by the owner of the cafe. I pre-ordered the cake and we all decided to go to the pub after our afternoon tea, to wash down the cake with something more 'substantial' than tea

red velvet cafe from October Cafe

So, we all strolled to the Pheasant, where one of my chums swiftly ordered me a gin and tonic. Perfect accompaniment to this soft, tasty and delicious cake.

The cake was totally vegan, and according to my friend R the colour usually comes from a type of beetles, getting squished. What I love about red velvet cake is that it is a complete mystery to me. I can't see anything on wikipedia about squished beetles though!

Anyway, I would definitely recommend the made to order cakes at October Cafe by Old Street. It's a cute little vegan business and deserves some support.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

a little of what you fancy

well, what do I fancy....

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

hang on a minute is this a blog about the Sound of Music...? No, it's a about what I fancy and I really fancy ' a Little of What You Fancy' on Kingsland Rd.

Michi took me there for my birthday dinner over a month ago, and I'd love to go back and try their lunch/ brunch, or just a slice of cake. The menu was seasonal, which I'm a big fan of. Only thing is, if you are a vegetarian like me you could only have asparagus starter and an asparagus main. British asparagus is one of my favourite foods (like shnitzel and noodles...- ooops, singing Salzburg Sound of Music tunes again) Anyway, we decided to kick of the meal with caper berries and olives. the olives were large lush and green and I loooove caper berries. Delicious.

Next came the main, a mouthwatering asparagus tart with Jersey royal potatoes. A winning combination.  By the way, I'm still learning to use my new camera so some pictures aren't they great. I hope I get the hang of it soon.

and of course, being my birthday it was all washed down with tasty prosecco. 

So, I give 5 tea cups to a little of what you fancy. Had melt in the mouth ice cream for dessert, but didn't get a snap. So I will leave you with the web link to have a look at, and a shot of our table, which was the perfect location for a romantic birthday dinner.


Tuesday, 14 June 2011

faulkner's kingsland rd

When my friend S decided to move back up north, I knew I had to try and get a dinner date in the diary for some old fashion chips. So we headed to Faulkner's for our second catch up of the year, took our seats and both commented it felt like we were on holidays.

We settled on an order of chip butties, halloumi cheese and beer. Plus some mushy peas on the side for me.

I enjoyed every bite and the service was outstanding. S wanted fish cakes, but not fresh one, the frozen kind and the waiter kindly offered her to try their home made ones for free, which we ordered and S really enjoyed them.  The waiter explained they'd be making fish cakes with the same recipe for 40 years. Washed down with lashings of beer and lots of chatter, we were very happy indeed.

We decided to go order the dessert and settled on sticky toffee pudding. 

The pudding was really tasty, I'd be back in a flash if only S wasn't already up north! Anyone else want to join me?!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

foraging fun with magic elder

This year the elderflowers bloomed early and I never managed to get myself out to forage them until last weekend, when low and behold, they had all but disappeared. Undeterred, I foraged as many as I could with my friend K, we reached as high as we could and picked the remaining flowers. We specially selected the ones that weren't brown, and of course avoid any hint of berries.

So, what to do with such a small number of elders? I could have made a small batch of elderflower cordial but was it worth the sticky mess? I had the citric acid from my foraging buddy J, who had bought be some in Austria. But I had no muslin. And elderflower does make the kitchen VERY sticky...

So, while scanning my favourite blog, Ms Marmite, I noticed she had a recipe for elderflower fritters. I had stumbled across this recipe before and was dying to give it a go. I also had all the ingredients- small miracle given my usual 'inventive' way of cooking....

So here, it is, step by step to making the fritters, which can be sweet or savoury. I opted for sweet...they were really tasty and there is something decadent about eating flowers picked from Haggerston Park.

Step 1: select the best elderflowers in your batch

Step 2: Make batter. Here's Ms Marmite's recipe- and please check out her blog- it's amazing- 


Elderflower fritters
8 -12 Elderflower heads
Oil for deep frying
1 egg, beaten
200g sifted plain flour,
20g corn flour
180ml soda water or sparkling water, chilled
Sea Salt, to taste
  • Mix all the batter ingredients in a bowl, salt to taste. Don't overwhisk the batter as it'll get too tough.
  • Heat the oil in a deep fat fryer to around 190C. Dip the Elderflowers lightly in the batter, then deep fry until lightly golden. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and serve immediately.
  • Option: sweet Elderflower fritters. Replace the salt with sugar and sprinkle with sugar. 

Step 3: Heat oil in pan and dip elderflowers into batter. Fry and flip until golden.

Step 4: Serve. We had ours with vanilla ice- cream and home grown strawberry. 

There was something really special about eating a dessert that had been handpicked in the park, then fried with ingredients in the cupboard and then my own strawberry. Could not stop smiling.

I washed the dessert down with nettle tea foraged by J in Ireland. I really admire her for making this tea- I'm a little scared of the sting!

PS- leftover fritter batter worked really well with bananas the following day. Not such a special feeling as the elderflowers though!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

summer weekday meals

It's been lovely and warm this week and I've been waiting for summer days like this to try out a recipe from Ottelenghi cookbook.

It's a simple salad of watermelon, feta cheese, red onion, basil and pepper. So light and refreshing. I served the salad on one of my favourite items of crockery, a wonderful gift from one of the pumpkins B. It is a family treasure so felt very honoured to be given it.

This salad wouldn't fill you up after a hard's day work, so I roasted mini aubergines, mushroom and served on a bed of spinach, flaxseeds, honegar, avocado and beetroot. A lovely, quick and tasty weekday dinner. Voila!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

hey big spender

So, we were trundling along in Margate, we'd seen the new Turner Gallery, which I really enjoyed. It's a fantastic space and some nice pieced of art. Well worth the visit. But I'm no art critic and this blog is supposed to be about crockery, cakes and caffs...

and just  heading up the sea front to find the infamous Shell Grotto (which is mystifying, magical and wonderful)

I loved the way Margate was all run down and just by the Lido there was a car boot sale.

I splashed out on a teapot and a plate for the grand price of £1.50. I was feeling generous so paid him £2.

The tea pot looked lovely displayed back at the Reading Rooms. I love the owl tea pot..

reading rooms margate

If anyone is looking for a romantic, peaceful and inspiring weekend away, I couldn't suggest anywhere better than the Reading Rooms in Margate. It was heavenly- so relaxing and with amazing attention to detail.

We stayed in Room 3, which has a sea view. One of the pleasures of the Reading Rooms was coming back from long walks to find fresh bakery treats in the room. Perfect with a cup of tea and to ponder life while admiring your surroundings.

afternoon treat
They were from Clifton Bakery- never made it there - but plan to next time I'm in town- it sounded great and these little treats were delightful.

One of best things about the Reading Rooms is the absolute privacy- the only time this is disturbed is when breakfast is brought direct to your room- but it is so lovely to sit in your robe and nibble all the treats....so delicious and lots on offer for vegetarians.

 Freshly squeezed carrot, ginger and orange juice to drink, and the full vegetarian breakfast was roast vine tomatoes, mushrooms, sausage and halloumi cheese. 

The following morning I decided to try cream cheese, honey and cinnamon on toast and what a taste sensation. I have officially found my new favourite breakfast. I dare you to try it.

I didn't take enough interior pictures of the Reading Rooms, but there are plenty on the website


It's a perfect little getaway and very romantic. So romantic that my girl and I decided to take the plunge and have a civil partnership this September...