Afternoon Tea Delight – Guest Blog from London

 

London, England

Okay, so you’ve spent the day sight-seeing or shopping and are looking for somewhere to refresh yourself with a cooling drink and something light and delectible to eat. Or maybe it’s neither of the two, you’re simply looking for somewhere to meet up with friends and don’t fancy the pub or a restaurant. There’s no better answer than the great British tradition of taking Afternoon Tea.

Afternoon Tea can be as simple or as adventurous as you’d like and most places offer the option of adding a glass of bubbly, thus meeting everyone’s requirements. Traditional Afternoon Tea is comprised of savoury sandwiches, scones, strawberry jam and clotted cream and finally a cake or choice of cakes (depending on the where you take tea) and tea of course along with champagne if you choose. To add a final twist to Afternoon Tea is the fact that there are generally three different types – Traditional Afternoon Tea, Champagne Tea and High Tea.

Here, in no particular order, are five of my favourite places for taking Afternoon Tea in London.

Just St James – Located just off of Piccadilly, Just St James’s is housed in an Edwardian banking hall and the first impression upon entering through the glass doors is one of space, space and more space. The setting is modern and the service is superb, not to mention the absolutely fragrant cakes and delicate sandwiches. Prices start at £23 / person.

Richoux, Piccadilly– No there isn’t a trend here about Piccadilly! Richoux is akin to an oasis in the heart of the thoroughfare that is Piccadilly and so easy to overlook as you meander along. This Piccadilly location is a cafe / restaurant where one can rest one’s weary feet and hopefully be seated in one of the enclaves off of the main dining area. The decor is dark and old fashioned which creates an ambiance that makes you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. The scones, cakes and sandwiches are mouth watering and for those who may not be interested in afternoon tea, their desserts are equally fabulous. There are four other locations in London. Prices start at around £17 / person.

Claridge’s – Heading across to Mayfair, one must consider taking afternoon tea at Claridge’s if only as a special treat. Afterall, they do win awards for their afternoon tea. Is it really necessary to explain what it’s like to have afternoon tea at this wonderful British institution whose name immediately conjures up elegance and luxury? Jeans and a T shirt will not cut it here… Prices start at £35 / person.

The Portrait Restaurant at the National Portrait Gallery – It’s possible that one of the only reasons you might consider taking afternoon tea here is because you’ve been to the National Portrait Gallery or are in the general Trafalgar Square / Leicester Square area. However, once you’ve visited it’s possible that you may consider making a return trip. Not only is their afternoon tea delightful, their view is amazing. Located on the top floor of the Gallery the restaurant offers views across Trafalgar Square to the Houses of Parliament and Westminster, including Big Ben. Prices start at £17 / person.

The Dorchester Hotel – Located in Mayfair on Park Lane, The Dorchester is another award winning location. Hat’s off to The Dorchester for being very welcoming to families. Suffice to say that the delicacies are mouthwatering, sumptuous and “to die for.” Ensure that you are very hungry before considering going here for tea since if memory serves your plates can be replenished, therefore there’s no need to hurry. Don’t forget the dress code. This is The Dorchester and in addition to the food it’s also about the experience. Prices start at £37 / person.

If you’re thinking that Afternoon Tea is too much of a girl-thing, think again! It is an activity that both sexes can engage in and enjoy to the fullest. However, if you think that the boy may prefer something a little more substantial, I have it on good recommendation (not having been there myself) that the Mandeville Hotel, London offers a Men’s Tea. This offering includes steak sandwiches, potted shrimp and brownies. An upgrade from regular tea can be made to the ‘whiskey afternoon tea’. Prices start from £24 / person.

With The Savoy having been reopened it’s next on my agenda as is Pret-A-Porter at the Berkeley for its fashion forward Afternoon Tea where the delicacies are inspired by a catwalk design. Long may this tradition continue.

 

Enjoy – TG from London!

 

The Best Corn Dip – Movie Night or Super Bowl Sunday

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Recipe for Movie Night

I would like to share a recipe for the best corn dip I have ever had in my life. It is from one my dear friends Betsy and this dip is a full meal.  She is a fantastic cook. It is scrumptious!

Betsy’s Corn Dip

4 cans of Shoe Peg corn(drained)

1-2 cans of chopped green chilies( drained)

3/4 stick of butter

1 package cream cheese.

Put all in a crock pot and let it cook for 3 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally, Fix it and Forget it and or can be microwave, but I say Crock pot is the way to do. 

Serve with “scoopable” tortilla chips. 

Watch your family go crazy!  Thank you Betsy for sharing this great recipe with us!

 

 

Puerto Rico

 

 

Puerto Rico is one of my favorite places to visit for work or play. They boast  some of the best beaches and food in the Caribbean.  I have visited the island four times and I have had some time to gather favorites.  I know you will have your favorites, these are my picks.

Restaurants 

 

Hotels 

La Concha Resort, San Juan  – Best hotel for family with four pools and endless beaches.

El Convento, Old San Juan – Old World charm ( former convent). Private and exclusive.

Sheraton – Old San Juan

Beaches outside of San Juan – Luquillo Beach, Cerro Gordo and Ponce

Must See for Kids  – El Yunque Rainforest

Shopping

Novus Shoes – Novus Shoes – Some of most stunning summer sandals anywhere in the world.

Plaza las Americas – The Largest mall on the island with 300 plus stores and restaurants.

La Favorita shoes – Plaza Las Americas

Chiquitin shoes for kids Chiquitin

Passion for cakes Passion Cakes- Since 2000- Try the Red Velvet and all the chocolates….

CH by Carolina Herrera – First time on the island.

Best Place for Running- Candado Strip – up to 10 miles along the famous strip.

 

Beautiful People – Lobby of the La Concha Resort, Candado PR  http://www.laconcharesort.com/

Salsa – Candela,  Old San Juan and El San Juan Resort and Casino http://www.elsanjuanresort.com/ unforgetable experience.

Luxury – Gucci, Ferragamo, Vuitton – Candado, PR

 

Wish List  – Visit Vieques

Fashion Takeaway – Local fashionistas set off fashion sparks with their stunning daytime combinations of the LD and the JS,  jeweled sandals and dress combinations. The sandals must have jeweled accents and dresses are knee length or above, both solids and prints. Regardless of cut, flared, a line, fitted, or high waisted these women always looked tres chic.

 

Puerto Rico, what a jewel!

 

 

Trifles from Donna Hay

 

Trifle

 

 

 

“Fast, Fresh Simple” is her motto and that is something  women strive for every day.

Donna Hay is an Australian food editor, stylist and best selling cookbook author. I like Nigella Lawson’s recipes and Donna Hay reminds me of Nigella.  Her recipes are simple, fresh and utterly delicious.  I became a fan after reading the holiday edition of her magazine,  and there was a section dedicated to Trifles. Anyone who devotes a section to Trifles, one of my favorite desserts,  is a best friend in my head, for life. Her recipes are global and  I love her mix of ingredients from all over the world with a dash of her Australian culture thrown in for good measure.

Strawberry and Vanilla Macaroon Trifle. 

300  store bought vanilla macarons

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups cream , whipped

250 g strawberries, halved

strawberry jelly

21/2 teaspoons gelatine powder

3 cups cranberry juice

1/2 caster ( superfine ) sugar

500 g of strawberries, halved.

To make the strawberry jelly place the gelatine and and 1/2 cup cranberry juice in a bowl and stir to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes or until the gelatine is absorbed. Place the remaining cranberry juice and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, add the gelatine and stir to combine. Set aside to cool for 20 minutes. Arrange the strawberries in the base of a 4 litre capacity bowl and put over the jelly mixture. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours until set.

To assenblem arrange the macarons on the jelly. Fold the vanilla extract through the cream and layer over the macarons.

Top with strawberries to serve. Serves 6-8.

Carmelised Peaches and cream trifle.

1 cup(250 ml) single (pouring) cream.

1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind.

1 tablespoon icing(confectioner’s sugar)

20 g butter

4 peaches halved

1 tablespoon caster( superfine ) sugar.

4 slices panettone( supermarkets and fine stores World Market etc)

1/4 cup ( 60 ml) orange flavored liqueur

orange syrup recipe

1/4 cup (60 ml) orange juice

1/4 cup 9 60 ml) water

1/4 cup ( 55g) caster sutperfine sugar, extra

2 tablespoons orange flavored liqueur

To make the orange syrup, place the orange juice, water, sugar and liqeur in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until thickened. Set aside to cool completely.

Place the cream, rind and icing sugar in a bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Melt the butter in a large non stick frying pan over medium heat. Press the peach halves into the caster sugar and cook, sugar side down, for 2 -3 minutes or until carmelised. Cut the panettone slices to fit in the base of the 4 glasses. Pour over the orange liqueur and top with the cream mixture and peach halves. Drizzle with the orange syrup to serve. Serves 4.

Raspberry and Mascarpone Trifle

1 cup ( 250ml) each lemon flavored liqueur and water.

2 tablespoons caster ( superfine ) sugar

250 g mascarpone

600 g sour cream

1/2 cup ( 80g) icing (confectioner’s sugar), sifted, plus extra for dusting

2 tablespoons finely grated lemon rind

34 sponge finger biscuits

500 g raspberries.

Place the liqueur, water and caster sugar in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool. Place the mascarpone in a bowl and stir until smooth. Add the sour cream, icing sugar and lemon rind and whisk until smooth. Dip the spong fingers into the liqueur mixture and use to line the sides and base of a 3 litre capacity glas bowl. Top the spong fingers with half the raspberries and spoon over the mascarpone mixture. Top with remaining raspberries and dust with the extra icing sugar to serve. Serves 12.

Tiramisu Trifle

450 g store bought sponge, halved lengthways

11/2 cups (376 ml) espresso coffee

11/2 cups( 375 ml) singel ( pouring) cream, whipped coffee panna cotta

1 tablespoon gelatine powder

1/2 cup ( 125 ml) coffee flavored liqueur

2 cups ( 500 ml) each single ( pouring) cream and milk

2/3 cup ( 110 g) icing ( confectioner’s) sugar, sifted

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

chocolate ganache recipe

250 g chocolate( dark, chopped)

3/4 cup ( 180 ml) single pouring cream

To make the coffee panna cotta, place the gelatine and liqueur in a bowl and stir to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes or until the gelatine is absorbed. Place the cream, milk, icing sugar and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add the gelatine mixture and stir until dissolved. Divide half the panna cotta between 4×4 cup capacity ( 1 ltire glasses) and refrigerate for 1 hour or until set. To make the chocolate ganache, place the chocolate and cream in a saucepan over low heat. Stir until melted and smooth. Set aside and allow to cool. Cut the sponge to fit the glasses and place on top of the panna cotta. Spoon the cofee over the sponges and spoon over the ganache. Refrigerate until set.

Top ganache with the remaining panna cotta mixtures and refrigerate for a  further 1 hour or until set. Top with the whittped cream to serve.

Serves 4.

Enjoy!

 

 

Vetiver by Guerlain

 Vetiver by Guerlain

 

Everyone makes a version of Vetiver but no one makes it like Guerlain.

Jo Malone made the second best version spelled Vetyver but I just discovered that it is no longer produced!  I walked into the doctor’s office last week and I was told that my signature scent was nice and fresh.If you like Vetiver this is the one to get. It is clean, grassy with citrus scent combination.It is made for men but has been worn by women for generations. It is not overpowering, do not fear, you will not smell like a gentleman. Women usually buy it for their men, and would start wearing it too.

It is wonderful,fresh and breezy,  get the one made by GUERLAIN.

The Cuba Libre

 

The Cuba Libre

The Cuba Libre

 

The Cuba Libre  was one of my favorite cocktails when I was in my twenties and it still is today.   It was easy to make and it always seemed to be the right match for any occasion. Even now, if I am out of ideas I always turn to a Cuba Libre.  For some reason when sitting on a deck, patio or anywhere outdoors the sight of a Cuba Libre with the lemon wedge somehow seems… sophisticated…grown up. So for those of you coming of age for the 40th time …….here is a wonderful version of a favorite drink.

2 ounces Amber or White Rum ( Eldorado 10 year old Rum from Guyana, Appleton Estate Rum from Jamaica, Cockspur or Mount Gay Rum from Barbados,  10 Cane from Trinidad, Ron Brugal from Dominican Republic )

2 ounces of Coca-Cola chilled

4 Lime wedges

In a highball glass filled with ice, pour the rum and cola. Squeeze and drop in the lime wedges and using a bar spoon stir to mix well. Garnish with more wedges. Savor!!

The Cuba Libre most likely comes from Ex Cuban patriots of the Spanish American War hailing their native country following the war ( 1898). Cola was invented around 1900.

The Rum Collins

 

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2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons rum
3-4 ice cubes
soda water
2 slices lime
1 maraschino cherry

Mix the Lime juice with the sugar until dissolved. Add the rum,pour on the ice cubes in the frosted glass. Top with soda water and decorate with cherry and lime slices.