When I was young, I had two major concerns about getting older:
I wouldn’t be allowed to wear my hair in a ponytail anymore; and
What would I do about coffee mornings – I hated coffee and indeed tea.
What world I was living in where the latter was a real worry, I don’t know. One of my own making, clearly straight out of a Miss Marple story.
Anyway, it was a concern and whilst I still retch whenever coffee’s near me, two further things have since occurred to me:
You can get your adult badge by drinking herbal tea which is quite nice; and
The coffee morning isn’t a concept that comes up too often. It’s fine.
What is a thing, and a big thing at that, is the increasing popularity of the afternoon tea. A quaint and quintessentially English affair which has taken hold, and is not just reserved for tea shops, The Ritz or, indeed, ladies of retirement age.
The afternoon tea has entered our bars, hotels and restaurants and, when done well, is a beautiful thing (especially when champagne enters the fray.
Celebrating 17 years since I started working, living in and generally loving Manchester, myself and my husband, took ourselves off to Malmaison.
Here in the city before even I arrived (imagine!), Malmaison has held its own amongst new arrivals over the years, including The Lowry, Radisson Edwardian and, more recently, Gotham.
Malmaison always reminded me of two things:
Its past connection to another Mancunian stalwart, Mick Hucknall; and
Yes he of the Shadows and popular rhyming slang, Hank Marvin was once spotted in the lobby there, by a very excited young lady (me). Speaking of which, when I sat down for afternoon tea I was …hungry.
Thankfully Malmaison didn’t disappoint.
It is not for me to use or assume gender stereotypes, but I took a man (it’s ok, we’re married) who, whilst would be perfectly at ease amongst sandwiches with their crusts removed, was reassured by sight of the savoury selection.
The chipotle chicken and avocado wrap and burger sliders brought the millennial touches to the table, with a nod to the traditional with the smoked salmon sandwich.
I know, I used millenial again. It’s what I’m doing now.
Scones are always my favourite part of afternoon tea (champagne aside), and what I put most stock in. They didn’t disappoint…
Technically a Devonian (born but not bred), the scone debate between Devon and Cornwall is obviously an issue close to my heart. So close that I couldn’t remember which county coveted which – jam before cream or cream before jam?
I hedged my bets, and dressed each half a different way…
A quick Google afterwards reminds me (tells me) the Devonians likes to do it cream before jam (left).
Plenty replenished and happy (but far from finished) it was time for tea (the champagne was, of course, long gone).
And here, I am trying and wanting to use both perfect storm and storm in a teacup. But both sound a little negative and it wasn’t. I’ll just go for it and assume the rest of my text assures that there was nothing bad about it
The fruit and traditional teas available proved the perfect storm in a teacup.
Look they were good, is what I’m saying, and beautifully presented.
We were brought a little teapot each which could be refilled as required.
No confusing apparatus that looks like something out of a laboratory (I won’t name names, but there was plenty of time to ponder their tea brewing process in the lift down to reception that afternoon back in 2015), just a selection of teas, a teapot of hot water and really lovely people to refill it for you.
Between us we sampled English breakfast, peppermint and green.
And you can’t have tea without cake and happy to report that each tasted as delicious as they look below…
The strawberry and vanilla mini pavlova caught my attention and it was everything I’d hoped. Trust me, I invest hope in such things. And it’s the little touches such as the little sliced strawberry on top which brings the elegance to proceedings.
Tea for two but with a feast for more, I urge all Mancs – honorary or otherwise, and indeed Manchester guests to book in.
The balance between the classic and modern will suit Millenials, Miss Marples and both male and female diners alike.
Especially if you’re Hank Marvin.