Let's get the ParTEA started!
What makes a good party? The drinks? the décor? the music? In my opinion, what makes a good party is the food and company. Why food? Firstly it’s free (who doesn’t love free food) and secondly, the nutritious substance lowers the risk of you getting drunk to quickly. “Always eat before you drink” is my motto.
Not all good parties include alcohol. There are several drinks that one can down with or without the company of food, and where you don't have to shout to your friends because the music is too loud. That my friends' is at an Afternoon Tea Party. The copious amounts of tea, coffee, juice and lastly H2O , what's not to love? I mean the beauty of these drinks is that there is no regret, question or banging headache the day after but yet the feeling of comfort and satisfaction. These days that's what I prefer, a comfortable, peaceful social setting and an Afternoon Tea is the perfect excuse.
So during Easter Sunday I took the initiative to host an Afternoon High Tea party. I had not seen some of my close friends in a long time and wanted to catch up, and last but not least I want to eat Scones (which is the usual afternoon tea treat).
Fun fact, the idea for Afternoon Tea came from Anna, the Duchess of Bedford in the year 1840. As she was waiting for her dinner one day she felt a little hungry and asked to have some tea, bread/butter and cake to be brought to her room. Then later down the line she invited friends to share her indulgence. As years went by Afternoon High Tea came to be considered a luxurious affair and, to this day one of the best places (I hear) to fully enjoy a nice Afternoon High Tea is the Ritz. However being that I am not in England and haven't found a place in Kenya, the best alternative for me is to host one in order to eat my scones.
The traditional menu for Afternoon High Tea usually consists of a mix between sweet and savory such as sandwiches, cakes and pastries. For my menu, I followed the usual structure but made it unique in my own way.
My afternoon tea menu consisted of:
Sandwiches (3 versions)
Salmon with Cream cheese/ parsley/ & lemon
Guacamole and tomato
Scones with butter, strawberry jam & cream
Mini Raspberry Clafoutis
Apple Crumble Muffins (last minute change)
Tea/ Coffee & Water/ Orange Juice
Now besides organising the menu for Afternoon Tea, organising the atmosphere is also a very important component for the party!
What makes Afternoon Tea really special is the ambiance. Whether you are going to the Ritz or Sketch ( a restaurant in London which I am dying to go to because I have seen way too many bathroom photos of their pods on social media) the setting creates the mood for the Tea. Luckily living out here in Kenya, I took advantage of having Tea outside on the veranda, the temperature was just right and thought let my garden be the décor for the afternoon, instead of lines of bunting.
There were two main stations at my Afternoon Tea, one where the tea/coffee was set up and two, the main table where all the food and guests were going to sit. Instead of serving each individual guests tea/coffee I thought it would be best for them to serve themselves. When making a cup of tea or coffee for someone it can be a hit or miss, didn’t want that fiasco or embarrassment to tell you the truth. My main job for that table, was to make sure that there was no empty pot of coffee or water. To keep the water and coffee warm I put a candleholders underneath so that I didn’t have to keep going to the kitchen warming the drinks and be away from my guests. Keeping in line with the holiday theme, on the main table, besides the food, I decided to add four decorated easter eggs to serve as replacement for the usual floral centre piece (which I forgot to buy).
During the tea luckily I did have some help throughout the afternoon, which to tell you the truth I needed there is no way a person can prepare for a gathering/party by yourself, unless your freakishly organised (which I am not). There are times I think I am on time but then time just flies by.
In terms of preparing my food, before my guest came I did have a few problems along the way that were easily fixed but at the time were quite stressful. One thing that I do advise is make the pastries/cakes a day before, otherwise you will be stuck in the kitchen all day preparing and you won't be ready for your guests (which was my case). Also don't be adventurous and start making something new ; it could go badly (which again was my case).
Initially I wanted to try and make Apple Roses (apples with puff pastry) as they looked pretty, and wanted to try a new technique. However during the creative process something went wrong with the technique of rolling the apples with the pastry, and long story short it was a disaster.
So out of sheer panic I created Apple crumble muffins. The recipe I used I got from a food search engine called foodgawker. Initially it is a recipe for a cake but by putting the batter in muffin casings it worked just as well. This last minute change was such a huge success that the majority of my friends were asking if they could take them all home.
Even though I had one disaster with new pastry I was making, I was successful in another. This was the first time I made the Mini Clafoutis. It’s a French dessert not necessarily a pastry, however I thought because they were mini it would be a good excuse to serve them for Tea. It’s defined as a tart with sweet batter and fruit. I would consider the texture to be similar to pancake or custard batter.
Samosas are not necessarily an ordinary Afternoon Tea meal. However I served samosas because growing up in Pakistan and visiting family in England it was quite normal to have Samosas at tea time, so this genuinely is just part of my desi side coming out. I didn’t make these from scratch but I purchased the Samosas from Diamond Plaza in Nairobi as their paneer samosas are incredible.
If you’re interested to learn how to make any of the recipes that I mentioned I made for Afternoon Tea, click HERE.
So being that this was a relaxed affair the playlist played at the Tea had to be of a calm nature. This particular playlist wasn't played at the Tea as it was a friend's spotify playlist but this one is similar to the one that was played at the occasion. If you feel like listening to some acoustic, chilled out covers listen HERE.
What I wanted from this Afternoon Tea was a simple social setting with good food to match, as when there is good food everyone will be guaranteed to be in a good mood. Luckily enough, that's what happened in my case and makes me eager to host another Afternoon Tea in future ;)
Do you recommend a recipe which would be great for afternoon tea? What would you serve as your menu? Love to find out, let me know in the comments box below!
Thanks for reading, hope have an appetising week!