High Tea

high tea finish

Heavens!  Two posts in a month ……

I’m shut up in our office, windows firmly closed and shutters pulled,  braving out the 40° plus afternoon temperatures. In fact I’m recovering from a baking and jam making session ( which wasn’t probably such a clever idea) but next Sunday I’m holding my first ever High Tea at Carbonneau. 

There’s something extremely evocative about High Tea and for someone who hasn’t actually even enjoyed one I’ve probably got a bit of a nerve! They’re not terribly common in France, in fact even afternoon tea seems to be something very indulgent as far as most French are concerned. In this country one doesn’t snack so the idea of sitting down to a huge slice of chocolate cake or a plate of scones late afternoon is as  about as foreign as the English having cheese ( with bread) before dessert. I often think I’m paddling up stream with my Glass House venture but thankfully there are enough English, Australians and NZers in the area to keep me busy.

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Back to my forthcoming tea – I didn’t realise there were quite so many versions. A very dear friend asked me ( seriously I think) if it was a Yorkshire High Tea. I have to admit that left me a bit confused – not quite sure how a New Zealander living in France would lean towards a Yorkshire affair. Apparently ( and because I had to admit I had no idea what it was) a Yorkshire high tea is a light but cooked meal served around 6.30pm. I’m afraid she might be disappointed as I’m not planning to cook much that day – hence preparations starting in the searing heat today.

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And then there’s the problem of how to serve it – every Pinterest photo show gorgeous silver tiered cake stands laden with tiny sandwiches, cakes and scones. Margot very helpfully suggested that I hire them for the occasion but yet again, living in an afternoon tea desert, that is going to be a tough call.

Clotted cream is another issue – I have no idea how to translate it into French and doubt that it even exists but I must admit I think I’ve converted a lot of folk to ‘crème fraiche’ – its probably far better for the cholesterol levels 🙂 Plus my scone recipe is Australian ( made with lemonade and cream) so no room for purists here!

Even though we live in a country world famed for its baguettes and loaves of all shapes and sizes, fresh sandwich sliced bread is virtually impossible to find. There is a passable American bread which if its slathered in enough butter, mayonnaise and filling,  softens up quite well – after all beggars can’t be choosers! At least cucumbers abound and French ham is delicious.

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So,  if all goes well we should have a loyal handful of slightly confused people next Sunday eating ‘American bread’ cucumber and club sandwiches, Australian scones with French cream, New Zealand baking, drinking French tea and wine all in 38 degree heat!

I might be a novice in the high tea department but at least I’ve invented a version of my own.

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