Afternoon tea Sunday 18 May 2014

A bevy of lovely ladies graced the Chez Shamwari table today for a private booking. To match the occasion, today’s menu presented a host of different flavours, colours, textures and even cuisines.

Starting with the sandwiches:

For the brie & grape sandwich filling, I chose the brie with care to ensure as full a flavour as possible as I often find some too bland. My preference would have been Brie de Meaux, what I would call the ‘king’ of brie, but this can be difficult to source if it’s not Christmas time when it’s more widely available in general supermarkets. Unfortunately I didn’t have the time to go to a specialist cheese shop where I am sure I would have found it.  Instead I settled for a mini tasting session in my local supermarket and was able to make a more informed choice. I happily made my purchase much to the relief of the obliging assistant.

Chilli & lime seasoned the light mayonnaise for the crab & rocket sandwiches. Chicken liver paté took the final place for the sandwich choices. Sweet pickled gherkins added crunch and complementary flavour to the paté.

The two savoury choices: olive, onion & herb muffins and muhammara presented in homemade spelt pastry cases. The muhammara originates from Syria but features in other Middle Eastern countries. The spelt pastry cases were light and crispy and perfect in ensuring that the muhammara got centre stage with its punchy flavour.

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For pudding, there really was pudding on the menu; sticky toffee pudding! I had given much thought to how this might work in terms of the presentation: how to present it warm, with some of my homemade vanilla ice cream, in a portion size fit for afternoon tea, without it oozing out all over the place. After a few dress rehearsals, I worked out a formula and hey presto, go the thumbs up from my guests.

Macarons are the ultimate challenge to anyone but a delight with their crunchy shells and soft, marshmallow like centres.  There were two choices:  lemon & pistachio.  The lemon macarons were filled with lemon curd; the pistachio macarons with a pistachio crème patisserie (set with a little gelatin) and finally decorated with dark chocolate.

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The main cake was my ultimate carrot cake decorated with cream cheese frosting and spun sugar.

And finally, buttermilk scones with homemade apricot jam and clotted cream.

When all was said and done, the bevy were bid a sad farewell and sent on their way with doggy bags were filled …

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Sandwiches

Brie & grape

Crab, rocket, chilli & lime

Chicken liver paté & sweet pickles

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Savouries

Muhammara bites

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Olive, onion & herb muffins

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Cakes & scones

Sticky toffee pud

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Macarons – lemon, pistachio

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Carrot cake

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Buttermilk scones with jam & clotted cream

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Tea & coffee

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