Sunday, 30 August 2009

a rather splendid afternoon tea with Bella and Crumb

So-called 'underground'/'pop-up' restaurants are taking over London at the moment, but during the summer there's been a small and welcome twist on the theme - afternoon tea. To my knowledge (please correct me if I'm wrong, someone), the first was the Hidden Tea Room, but a more recent addition to the scene popped up for the first time in August - provided by the wonderfully-named Bella and Crumb.

Since the pair responsible for this latest foodie venture have more than a passing connection with Rococo chocolates, it was perhaps no surprise that the chosen venue was the gorgeous 'Marococo' garden at the Motcomb Street branch.

And since the menu was as tempting as it was long, it perhaps comes as no less surprise that I had to get myself along there. Oh, and also because it was for a good cause. All money raised goes to the BeatBullying charity. An admirable scheme. And so, with three other friends, I booked in to the first available date, on 13 August.

And at 2.30 on the dot, there we were. In the glorious garden. Which itself was the most amazing suntrap on what was already proving to be a rather lovely summer's day.

Marococo garden, Bella and Crumb

a north African oasis in the middle of London

A truly splendid setting. Made immediately all the more splendid by the addition of some rather good Prosecco.

prosecco, Bella and Crumb

if I said I only had one glass, would you believe me? No, I thought not.

Oh, and tea. Not just yer standard pot to be getting on with, but a list of 5 loose leaf teas and endless tea bags (particularly if you like fruit and herb teas) from which to choose. After some serious debate, we opted for Fortnum & Mason's Royal Blend and Darjeeling Broken Orange Pekoe, and very fine they were, too.

And then - to business. First up, leek and gruyere tart, finger sandwiches, cheesy feet biscuits with throat-tickling spiced tomato jam.


cheesy feet etc, at Bella and Crumb

hot damn hot jam. And cheesy feet. Not traditional, but we don't care

Sticklers for tradition might well take umbrage at the cheesy feet and spiced tomato jam - hardly your standard afternoon tea fare. But to get uppity about such things and refuse to partake would be to miss a trick. Let me tell you - they were VERY good, especially that jam, which had several tea-goers begging Bella and Crumb for the recipe. So - ner to all the nay-sayers, and good on Bella and Crumb for going a bit left field. 'Twas a bold move which more than paid off.

But really, when you have an afternoon tea, it's all about the scones, isn't it? So, as tasty as our little amuse-foots were, we were eager for our next 'course' listed on the menu - 'fresh scones with clotted cream and raspberry jam'. Clotted cream. Be still, oh my beating heart.

Or rather - bring it on...

Loading up... (cream on jam? or jam on cream? we spent quite a while discussing the issue. Inbetween mouthfuls of the stuff, naturally.)

scones, Bella and Crumb

cream on jam, or jam on cream? You decide. Amazing how heated the arguments became. Or would have, had we really been that bothered. Which we weren't because we were all too busy scarfing the lot.

scones 2, Bella and Crumb

Whatever the technically or historically correct cream/jam order, let it be said that the scones, cream and jam were superb. Fresh from the oven, the scones were light, tasty, and wholly moreish. The clotted cream was all that. And there was plentiful, quality jam.

Of course we had seconds. It would have been tremendously rude not to.

By now, it should be said, we were approaching satiation levels. And our arteries were no doubt approaching saturation levels.

But Bella and Crumb hadn't finished with us yet. Oh, no. If you're going to do tea here, you're here to do it hardcore.

And so you have to have cakes next. Cakes, and brownies, and biscuits, and sweets, and chocolates, no less.

cakes, Bella and Crumb

Crikey me, as Sarah Beeny would say. Crikey me, indeed.

We gave it our best shot. We demolished the cupcakes (lemon with raspberries; vanilla), attacked the brownies, wolfed the chocolates (Rococo's own rose, lychee, and raspberry ganache), and... then somewhat gave up. As lovely as the personalised biscuits looked, and as comically redolent of sweet-stuffing childhood days as the lovehearts were, we really just could not cope with any more.

All that was left was to quench our sugar-induced thirsts with more tea and zingy homemade lemonade...

traditional lemonade, Bella and Crumb

... and to sit and wait a while until we felt like we could actually move again. Which probably took another hour.

And the cost of all this - this sun-filled, food-stuffed, vintage-crockery adorned, tea-fuelled afternoon of gastronomic jollity? A mere £15.00 a head. And all for charity, remember.

In short - it's for a great cause, is in a beautiful location, provides all the food and drink you'll ever manage for a tea time, and is all laid on by two very generous hostesses who do a very good job of spotting empty Prosecco glasses at twenty paces. And there are more dates coming up soon: check here for details.

Go, or miss a real treat and a rather fun afternoon out.

21 comments:

Claire said...

This looks lovely. What a perfect way to spend an afternoon.

Kavey said...

Sounds sooo lovely.

Signe said...

What a find! Will have to check them out, the food sounds deelicious :) and a glass of prosecco will no doubt taste just as good as autumn rolls in...

Bellini Valli said...

Sounds like a perfect way to spend and afternoon and even better that the money is for a good cause.

penny aka jeroxie said...

everything is so pretty & sweet. and for a good cause.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Claire - hallo! Good to see you here. Yes, it was absolutely lovely.

Kavey - it was! you would have loved it.

Signe - do go along if you can. Prosecco's good anytime, isn't it?

Val - quite.

Penny - the vintage crockery helped add to the effect. A real blast from granny's past.

Lizzie said...

It looks lovely, what a great setting.

The cream / jam debate depends on where you come from... Devonians cream then jam, Cornish do jam then cream.

Pia K said...

oh it looks amazing and i'm just greeeeen with envy!! what a wonderful oasis and the treats... oh my.

no fan of the clotted cream bit, but with whipped cream, cream tea is one of my favourite things to indulge in. (jam first, cream on top me thinks. because you most always have to put a bit more of the latter on the scone...).

and what a bargain price for all this loveliness!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

It looks like a perfect afternoon. I especially like the Eat Me and Drink Me labels.

mathildescuisine said...

Eating for the good: What a lovely idea and way to enjoy afternoon tea. And everything looks delicious

hautenthekitchen said...

Great Post. I love clotted cream, jam & scones. You made me hungry! I will check it out on my next visit...

Elizabeth said...

I am so hungry right now. What a great way to spend a lovely afternoon, too.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Lizzie - oh, is THAT how it works? Righto. Thanks for that. I've learnt something new...

Pia - no clotted cream? *gasp*

Lynn - I'm with you re the labels. I thought they were a great touch.

Mathilde - it was, it was!

hautenthekitchen - do...

Elizabeth - yes, perhaps I should have posted a warning. 'Don't read if feeling a bit peckish'!

Indigo said...

Ohhhh. Why does your blog always make me so jealous? From the name (too cute) to the crockery (I like crockery more than a young girl should...) it looks perfect.

I don't suppose you did get the recipe for that spiced tomato jam?

Oh, and incidentally - cream on jam.

Cakelaw said...

How gorgeous!! Love the setting and the tabelware, not to mention the food and drink (and the sun you are enjoying over there at present).

The Curious Cat said...

Sounds fantastic - I love the whole underground restaurant scene! I follow a blog by a Ms Marmite Lover - http://marmitelover.blogspot.com/ do you know it? I'm hoping to go to her restaurant in December with a friend. This afternoon tea looks so pretty though - so may need to investigate as it is very reasonably priced too! And as for the jam/cream debate - I do one one way round and one the other - to be fair to both camps -isn't that stupid?! I really can't tell the difference - it is always enjoyable ...though the cream works a bit like butter so you'd think the logical choice would be cream then jam but I'm sure many will disagree -a side to every story... xxx

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Indigo - I did. It's from (and on) the saladclub's blog

Cakelaw - it was all very lovely. The sun has long since disappeared from these shores, sadly...

Curious Cat - I know of MsMarmiteLover and her resto. Haven't been. If you like high tea, I would certainly recommend you try to get along to one of Bella and Crumb's dates.

Helen said...

ooh I'm going to the hidden tea room soon but this looks great! Loving the garden. The scone thing is regional so if you are from Devon it's cream then jam - Cornish jam then cream. I am half Cornish so you know what I do :) Otherwise the jam slides off the top!

Margaret said...

I'm definitely going to check this one out for my next trip to London!
I couldn't think of a better way to spend a sunny afternoon.

Helen @ World Foodie Guide said...

What a glorious setting for an afternoon tea event! I always do cream on jam...

Morta Di Fame said...

I love London and now I love this blog! Gorgeous photos!