Afternoon Tea – The Windsor Arms

My mom is one of my favourite people of all time. She is the most inspiring woman I know. She is smart, charming, witty, beautiful and just completely amazing. She is my real life Meryl Streep.

10332_674748901846_121506112_40082178_2410099_nMom & Girls OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANot only do I gush about her, I eat with her. This year to celebrate her birthday and Mother’s Day, we went for afternoon tea at The Windsor Arms. The Windsor Arms is everything you want a hotel to be. It is sleek, polished and has a very posh London hotel atmosphere about it.

This posh atmosphere continues into the tea room. The table settings are white linens and all the china is matching. There is a hat stand with a variety of hats with ridiculous plumage fit for a royal wedding. There was a group of girlfriends in floral dresses and fascinator enjoying afternoon tea. It was all very dainty and proper.

The tea rooms are seated according to your reservation time and seatings are fully booked. I understand  the need to make money and run a successful business but it takes away from the ambiance when you are too closely seated to the next table and the low hum of other patrons turns into a loud drone.

We shared a pot of the Private Windsor Arms blend. This tea was a blend of Ceylon, Nilgiris and Assam teas. It was delicious. Our tower of deliciousness was presented to us and stacked in the traditional manner from the bottom up: scones, sandwiches and desserts.

IMG_0607The Goat cheese and caramelized shallot tart.

I promise you, this tart did not look so sad and lonely in person. The tart was served first as it was warm. It was delicate, soft and sweet. I wish it had been slightly bigger or maybe served as two. On it’s own, it was the perfect warm, little bite of rich, cheesy goodness.

IMG_0608Fresh scones with preserves and Devonshire cream.

The scone serving was very generous. We given two each and they were huge. They were impossible to grab using the tongs and this resulted in me dropping one of my scones. It was my classiest use of the “5 Second Rule” to date. There was two different flavours of scones: raisin and orange currant. These scones were firm on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. They were only made more perfect smothered with Devonshire cream and various jams. I could eat scones all day.

The fresh sandwiches consisted of: 1. Smoked Salmon and Wasabi Sour Cream with Salmon Caviar 2. Cucumber with Sundried Tomato Paste and Dill Cream Cheese and 3. Grilled Chicken, Granny Smith Apples Citrus Mayonnaise, Greek Yogurt and Chives.

The sandwiches were tiny. The bread had been flatten out and rolled into pinwheels rather than being served as quarters or miniature sandwiches. Due to the form the sandwiches take, the sandwiches are not packed with filling. The flavours were not bold and intense. The flavour that stood out the most was the salmon. It was smooth, creamy and salty. The cucumer was delicate and light, tasting faintly of a fresh garden. The chicken sandwich was filled with chicken but the other flavours did not stand out.

And last but not least, the dessert level.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset The Petits Fours: Chocolate Mousse Truffle, a Coconut Marshmallow, a Mango and Passionfruit cake and a Lemon Custard Tart topped with Raspberries.

Please explain to me why for two people we are given four different desserts? And desserts that cannot easily be shared? This was my major complaint with the tea service. The final touch of the tea service is dessert and to be underwhelmed is disappointing.

That being said, we shared our desserts and by the end were full. My favourite was the lemon tart. Lemon and raspberry is my favourite combination of flavours in desserts. The zesty, tartness of the lemon combined with the subtle tart but still sweet flavour of the raspberry is pure perfection. This tart had a crumbly shell filled with velvety smooth lemon filling and topped with three, perfectly formed raspberries. Yums. The low point: the coconut marshmallow. It was underwhelming. Marshmallows should be in hot chocolate, not on a dessert tower at afternoon tea.

Overall the tea experience was lovely but the company was even better. This was the perfect afternoon to celebrate the awesomeness that is my Mom. I love you, Mom!

Happy munching!

Cream Cheese Swirl Pumpkin Bars

Another way to use pumpkin – make cream cheese swirl pumpkin bars!

Photo Credit: Kitchen Meets Girls

But don’t actually because I didn’t love these. They were extremely moist, like when you spill milk on your dessert plate. There was too much pumpkin in these bars. The cream cheese swirls added to the extreme moisture of the bars and made it that you had to put the bars in the fridge. I don’t like putting desserts in the fridge – it makes me forget about them and they inevitably end up with a “fridge” taste to them.

There was a nice blend of spices that made you feel warm and cosy, a little bite of fall. These spices highlighted the fruity, harvest taste of the pumpkin. Because of the sweetness from the pumpkin I don’t think the chocolate chips were necessary to make these bars complete. There is already a heavy, sweetness from the pumpkin; the chocolate puts that sweetness over the top.

Recipe is below the cut. Happy munching!

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La Carnita – Brunch

Last Sunday was Cinco de Mayo. Now I’ll be honest, I don’t really know anything about Cinco de Mayo besides that it is Mexican and is an excuse for me to eat Mexican food. I used this excuse as a reason to go to my favourite Mexican restaurant in the city, La Carnita, and enjoy brunch with GC.

Brunch at La Carnita is a recent addition to their line up and is something worth checking out. For anyone who has tried to go for dinner and waited hours and hours for delicious tacos, go for brunch. There is no waiting, no crowds but still great Mexican food. We went shortly after the restaurant opened around 11 AM and we were seated quickly. The whole meal, from sitting down to paying, was between 30-60 minutes. That’s my idea of a power brunch. I assume this is a craze that will catch on so go now – but more accurately, this Sunday! But seriously, brunch date this weekend?

We started off with cocktails – GC ordered the Pina Colada that was on special that day, made with tropical fruits of pineapple, mango, and banana with caramel and rum and I ordered the Southside, St. Ambroise Apricot with fresh squeezed orange juice. This is one of the best cocktails I have ever had. I am very much into the “beer cocktail” as an alternative to the traditional cocktail, an idea inspired almost a year ago by Cynthia. This is a cocktail you should definitely all try at the next brunch you host. It is as simple as it seems: half St. Ambroise Apricot and half orange juice in a pint glass. Mix and enjoy.

dsc0433Crispy Chicken Torta – Guacamole, cream, habanero honey glaze and salsa fresca. All images stolen from It Looks Could Fill.

GC ordered the Crispy Chicken Torta. The chicken was crispy and incredibly moist, with a slight hint of sweetness from the honey glaze. The guacamole added a creaminess that offset the kick of heat that accompanied every bite. The sandwich is not as small as it looks but you may need a little something more than this to feel full. A delicious way to start off your morning.

dsc0412Potato & Yucca Homies (Hash) – Beef cheek, green onions, salsa fresca, pickled jalapenos, oaxaca cheese with a fried egg.

This is one of the most unique things I have ever eaten. It had a little bit of everything you could possibly want at breakfast: potatoes, meat, veggies, egg and a little bit of heat. The beef cheek was incredibly tender and moist, it just continued to fall apart when you tried to scoop it with your fork. The potatoes were crispy and served as a sturdy base for this mountain of food. The various vegetables added a nice crunch and freshness to the dish.  And of course, that necessary Mexican heat from the jalapenos that topped this dish.

The presentation was simple but comforting. For some reason, anything served in a bowl is more comforting to me. I imagine curling up under a quilt, hugging the bowl while I eat the deliciousness it contains on a cold and stormy day. This is my Mexican comfort food.

We finished off our brunch by sharing a cinnamon roll that was rather lack luster. It didn’t taste as if it was made fresh that morning and was not served warmed. The cajeta sauce wasn’t able to save it for me. Skip the cinnamon roll and order a breakfast taco or churros instead.

This was a great way to start our Cinco de Mayo and a great way to start our last day of the weekend. You should try it too! Happy munching!

Gastropost – Food on a Stick

Here is my first world problem of the day: they didn’t include my “food on a stick” in this week’s edition of Gastropost! It is understandable, and quite alright because there were a lot of other great submissions and they included my face as other Gastroposters who completed the mission but were not featured. You can find my post on the Gastropost website here or down below.

That inevitable moment when the marshmallow you have been carefully toasting for 15 minutes bursts into flames. My favourite food on a stick is roasted (or slightly charred) marshmallows.

This week’s mission is basil vs mint and since I live with an Italian I think it’s clear which one I am going to be featuring…

Happy munching!