A virtual tea party

Cup and Saucer Vintage Tearoom

The lovely Su at Zimmerbitch is inviting us to a virtual tea party every month. I make no apologies for taking you back to my favourite Glasgow tearoom, The Cup and Saucer, which featured recently as part of Becky’s January Squares. You might recall that I arrived three hours early to meet my friend Esther, and had to go home and come back again! On that occasion, I was the first person in the tearoom when it opened at 11am, and I restricted myself to a simple black coffee.

However, here’s what Esther and I usually have when we meet – a full blown cream tea. Yum! I’ve even got a selfie in the teapot.

I do usually try to eat more healthily than that, honest. In Su’s post, Care to join me for a cuppa?, she reflected on her eating habits in a way which really resonated with me.

 … my food preferences are really a food philosophy. I want to “do good”; for my physical and mental health, for my bank balance, for small businesses, and for the environment. That means I eat home-grown where I can, buy as much as possible from local, preferably organic growers, avoid foods and manufacturers I believe to be harmful or unethical … and a bunch more considerations I won’t bore you with but which make trips to the supermarket time-consuming, frustrating and really difficult without my strong glasses to read the small print.

Funnily enough, when I met the aforementioned Becky, Queen of the Squares in Glasgow recently, we had a conversation on the very same topic. I’m a vegetarian, there are some countries I just won’t buy from on political grounds, and in the light of climate change I’ve also been trying to restrict the food-miles in my diet, because it seemed that every vegetable I bought was flown in from Spain, or even further afield. My trips to the supermarket can therefore be just as time-consuming as Su’s.

Becky has travelled much further down this road than I have, cooking with only vegetables grown in the UK. She recommended buying one of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s vegetable cook books, which I duly did, and I’m now trying to do the same thing.

How’s it working out? Well, I so miss my Mediterranean diet of peppers, courgettes and aubergines, and I’ve had to rethink my approach to cooking which was previously what I called the bucket method. Fling some combination of the above vegetables into one pot and, depending on what else I added, it could turn into sauce for pasta or couscous, curry, chilli – you get the picture. Seasonal in the UK right now are root vegetables and brassicas and I’m finding that really hard – literally in the case of the root vegetables. I’d never prepared celeriac before, and I can tell you I never will again! However, I now have half a dozen suitable recipes in my repertoire and I shall persevere. It doesn’t do to get lazy in one’s choices, so thank you to Becky and Su for making me think.

Have you been thinking of food recently? (Silly question. If you’re like me you’re always thinking of food.) All contributions to the virtual tea-table welcome!

65 Comments »

  1. I just found your blog and the photo of the cream tea is just too yummy. The idea of afternoon tea appeals to me, but in the midwest US it’s not the done thing. Pity that, but I shall enjoy your virtual one.

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  2. I love that retro-look teapot! I have to say I’ve been doing a bit of the opposite, I’m afraid, and thinking about what European ingredients I’ll have to stock up on in case the shit hits the fan when Brexit goes through. So many of my pantry staples come from there: passata, olive oil, chocolate, pasta, cheese, etc, that I’m panicking slightly at the thought of running out or having to pay significantly more. Guess we might all be stuck eating locally if the alternative disappears!

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  3. Mr ET uses the bucket method too. Whatever’s in the fridge and the pantry goes in, with total disregard to whether it’s all meant to go together. The results are mixed – sometimes very tasty and sometimes not so great. Your cream tea looks fabulous – the scones are huge.

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  4. Hi Anabel, Nice on the selfie in the teapot! The vegetable cookbook you mentioned looks intriguing. We are lucky to live in an area where we have access to locally grown healthy food. We also enjoy fresh seafood. Likely 80/20.

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  5. I recognized that top photo. So inviting! Good for you, Anabel, to change your eating (and buying) habits. Yes! I think about food all the time. And, even though we are on a tight budget, we manage to eat a healthy plant-based diet. Attempting to travel in warmer climates helps to stick to more locally grown food. Our newest goal is to buy more produce at farm stands when we pass them instead of at grocery stores (the easy way out). Here in Florida, at least the prices are more affordable than in New England.

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    • The tea shop is definitely inviting, the owners are lovely (they dress as if it is the 1950s). I’m sure buying locally must be easier in a sunnier climate, but I’m learning to love what we’ve got! I made a big pot of soup with carrot, potato and leek last night – definitely good comfort food for this cold weather.

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  6. We’re so lucky to live here in Perth as we get an array of seasonally grown local fruit and vegetables. We have the same philosophy to only eat, if at all possible, locally grown and sustainable food but it is much easier when you live in a Mediterranean style climate than in a colder climate. I love my rich earthy stews in winter with all the root vegetables but I know there will be an abundance of choice for many other months of the year. I do love cream teas though – I think it’s good to have treats!

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      • Yes it is hard to break habits – we switched to getting quite a lot of produce from a local organic supplier a few years ago and I order their seasonal box most weeks of mixed fruit and veg so I know it is currently is season. Having said that I still go down to the shops and buy some things that are definitely not in season when I feel like them. I’m sure everything in moderation is fine – that’s what I tell myself!

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