So with the Bank Holiday weekend now truly behind us and my birthday weekend done and dusted for this year (well… not quite 😉 I am throwing a Birthday Afternoon Tea this weekend #excitement!) I finally have a chance to reflect upon all the shenanigans that took place.
The day shot off to a prompt start at midnight with the most honourable of all gestures – Josh cooked me dinner! In 6 years this was the first meal he has ever cooked me, apart from the infamous cheese-on-toast he ‘cooked’ me when I was first invited to his house. I have to say though, he exceeded himself! He replicated the famous London Duck and Waffle. For those who haven’t been 1) you HAVE to go now! 2) the speciality is a succulent duck leg placed on a waffle, topped with a fried duck egg and drizzled with maple syrup – don’t knock it till you try it! However, I think he was most excited to use his new waffle maker, which meant that we also had waffles for breakfast – oh what a shame! For those who want to try the recipe, it really is worth using vanilla sugar – it makes all the difference! After all the waffle munching it was time to start the partaaayyy!
The best thing about birthdays is that it gives the family an excuse to come together, which happens very rarely, twice a year to be precise – Christmas and Easter. This is one of the biggest culture differences I learnt whilst I was on my Year Abroad in Argentina. Sunday there still remains to be very much the family day and reunions for a asado (BBQ) are a weekly done thing. England is sadly losing the grand old tradition of weekly Sunday roasts and dinnertime conversations are being increasingly replaced by lap-tray dinner dates with Ant and Dec. Birthdays then for us mean that we pull out all the stops and my Dad spends all day by the BBQ cooking enough meat to feed an army! Lamb, chicken, basturma (παστουρμάς – a Greek sausage) and my Mum takes care of the salads, pastas and cooks kritharaki, a tomato-based orzo dish. I normally spend the day playing musical chairs hopping from one place to another making sure I try to talk with everyone. This year, the honorary guest of the day was in the blast-from-the-past form of my old childminder Jane who started to look after me from when I was just one day old! My Mum obviously thought that was enough mother and daughter bonding time 😉 My friend Lavinia also came and spent the weekend which was looooovely. We very rarely get quality time to catch up so it was just perfect to sit, chat and giggle over tea and cake – she was also roped into helping out with all the boring tasks like chopping cucumbers, what a saint! My adopted grandad Rodger from Lymington also stayed for the weekend, who is just the cutest, I am actually going to visit him next week for some New Forest Cream Tea nattering! Other memorable moments from the day include my little cousin Anthea introducing the oh-so-awkward singing of ‘Happy Birthday’ with an incredible rap that she invented beginning with the words ‘Natalie, Natalie, you charge like a battery!’ perfectly encapsulating my here-there-and-everywhere state of being and mind! Tiff, Josh’s sister, won the prize for the most creative and priceless present, a handmade white chocolate milk bottle full of Smarties, I am still not sure how she actually made it, she is a genius! However, despite the seemingly perfect weekend, the only thing that could have topped it off would have been to have had Paz, Luján and Martín there, my Argentine family! 🙁 I am absolutely bursting to see them again, counting down the days!
However, I was able to drown my sorrows in more fun times as Josh and I spent the Bank Holiday Monday in style by taking a trip to Fortnum and Mason for Afternoon Tea – as if I hadn’t been spoilt enough! It was absolutely divine. The finger sandwiches consisted of the classics: cucumber, ham and mustard, salmon and cream cheese, egg cress and coronation chicken. The scones were cooked to perfection and came out warm accompanied by a pot of lemon curd and strawberry jam alongside the crucial clotted cream. The little pastries also looked to die for but I unfortunately didn’t have any room to squeeze another morsel in to try them. The best thing about Afternoon Tea at Fortnum and Mason is that they also serve you a big slab of cake from their cake cart and I devoured every single crumb of that beforehand! The tea was not a disappointment and as well as trying the Fortnum and Mason classic Royal Blend, I sampled the Manuka Tea, which was de-li-scious, so light and refreshing, and the Strawberry Black Tea, which was scrum-my, again so refreshing and a black tea that you must try without milk! Putting black tea and without milk together is a concept that I just can’t quite compute. Black tea is normally too bitter to have without milk and it broke my heart to see people in Argentina drinking it not only without milk but also with sugar – the sin of all sins! However, this lightly infused fruity strawberry black tea is a must try without any accompaniments. Other fruity options included apple, peach and lemon.
I will be writing a full review of the Fortnum and Mason Afternoon Tea shortly so watch out for that!
In the meantime, have a beau-tea-ful day all!
‘Stop the waffling and start the waffle making!’ Recipe
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp vanilla sugar (I used maple sugar)
a pinch of salt
2 eggs (yolks and whites separate)
85 ml vegetable oil
225 ml milk
- Sieve flour into a bowl, add baking powder, sugar and salt and mix well.
- Add whisked yolks, oil and milk. Combine until smooth using a mixer or a whisker.
- Beat the egg whites and delicately combine with the batter.
- Preheat a waffle maker and cook each waffle for 3-4 minutes until golden brown.
- Serve waffles with the topping of your choice! Suggestions are Nutella with banana or maple syrup. Alternatively for a mega brunch top with bacon, a fried egg and drizzle with maple syrup.