Yumchaa

This week, I had the pleasure of being introduced to a gorgeous little tea room in central London called Yumchaa.  Hidden just around the corner from Goodge Street station, it specialises in loose tea leaves and has a counter decorated with all sorts of wonderful foods, from paninis and scones to cakes and brownies.  And the best thing about this beautiful café is that they are so adventurous with their flavours!  Their teas range from Jasmine and Enchanted Forest (a vibrant blend of blueberry, rhubarb, raspberry and blackberry), to Chilli Chilli Bang Bang and Lemon Sherbet.  I sampled a pot of Caramel Sweetheart and a deep romance was formed with just the first sip!

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As a lover of all things edible, however, it was the food that really stole my heart.  I fell head over heels for their warm feta and olive scone, which was so moist and perfectly baked that it simply crumbled straight into my mouth.  It was a great warm and filling meditteranean-inspired treat that was the perfect accompaniment to the light, smooth caramel tones of my choice of tea.  However, one can never have too much sweetness in their life and I could not resist trying a slice of one of their fabulous looking cakes!

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I went for a generous slice of their banana and nutella cake.  I can think of nothing better than a combination of bananas and nutella in a cake and I was not disappointed by my choice!  The banana cake was deliciously thick and tasty, whilst the swirls of nutella added a soft, smooth, chocolatey moistness to the whole cake.

I honestly cannot wait for my next tea date with friends to try some of their Christmas offerings, such as their Red Christmas tea with its chocolate and gingerbread flavours!  I’m sure there will be lots of festive food available as well!  With its comfy sofas and ample wooden table and chair seating, this place is the perfect spot to meet with friends or chill with a cup of hard-earned tea after some hardcore London christmas shopping.  You will not regret a visit to this fabulous London tea room, where tea is at the heart of everything they do.

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Bake-a-Boo

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 21st birthday party of one of my best friends, Emma, at Bake-a-Boo in West Hampstead.  I was really excited about visiting this small ‘bake shop, tea room & party parlour’, as it comes highly recommended in a lot of reviews, but somehow it had managed to escape my cupcake radar!

From the second we stepped through the door, it was obvious why Bake-a-Boo has received constant praise from everyone who has set foot in this beautiful, homely tea room.  They truly go above and beyond with their afternoon tea bookings.  Not only did they dedicate the whole back room to this wonderful celebration so that it was like our own private tea party, they truly went to such an amazing effort to make it the cutest and most beautiful surprise a girl could wish for; Emma was absolutely delighted when she saw her beautifully decorated birthday room.  There was multi-coloured bunting, happy birthday banners, and party hats galore.  And don’t even get me started on the dressing up box and all its glamorous feather bowers that were waiting to be draped round our necks!

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The cuteness didn’t just end there.  Every aspect of the afternoon tea was dedicated to personal touches.  There was a little box for all the guests to place birthday wishes in, party bags full of sweets with little ‘E’ for Emma stickers holding them together, and the most adorable pink vanilla cupcakes with personalised ’21’ and ‘Emma’ flags poking out of the top!

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There was an absolute abundance of food too!  There were loads of little finger sandwiches packed with lots of different fillings, beautiful warm scones with mounds of jam and clotted cream served in heart shape dishes, thick slices of home made shortbread that were covered in icing sugar, indulgent mini brownie squares, sweet strawberries dipped in chocolate, multi coloured flying saucers, and, of course, cakes with candles for the birthday girl to blow out!

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I definitely filled up on all the goodies!  The scones were absolutely beautiful and could simply be pulled apart to be piled high with jam and clotted cream; the shortbread was sweet and crumbly; the dark chocolate brownies were heavenly indulgent; and the strawberries were wonderfully fresh and juicy, with a thick coating of chocolate that left us all picking at them even when we were full!

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I also adored the vintage mismatched crockery, and their tea selection was commendable.  I went for a fruity strawberry and kiwi tea to match the hot summer weather!  It was absolutely delightful and I’m pretty sure I drank nearly a whole teapot’s worth to myself!

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Overall, this was a fabulous tea party, which was thoroughly thought out and is completely worth the trip out of central London to West Hampstead!  Not a single complaint can be made about this afternoon tea, as it was carried out to absolute perfection.  We had a wonderful time and I would not hesitate to recommend this place to anyone who was looking for something special for an upcoming celebration.

Happy Birthday Emma!  I hope you had a lovely day!

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Some Egg-stra Special Easter Treats

Easter in the capital is a pretty wonderful place.  Everywhere you go there are egg-stravangant Easter eggs and Easter-themed treats in abundance!  Some of my favourite window shopping spots have been the golden chocolate rabbits in Paul.A.Young, as well as Fortnum & Mason’s beautiful bunny biscuits (I am addicted to bunny-themed anything so it’s hardly surprising that these treats in particular have caught my eye)!

However, my favourite local bakery in London is Primrose Bakery in Covent Garden, and having seen their special selection of Easter cupcakes advertised on Twitter whilst I was back at home visiting the family, I couldn’t resist taking the slightly longer route to the library on my first day back in the capital to pick up some of these egg-stra special treats to help me power through the essay writing that day!

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My favourite by far was the Hot Cross Bun Cupcake, simply because the warmth of the cinnamon, which was enhanced by the sweetness of the raisins, positively oozed with Easter vibes.  It literally tasted just like a hot cross bun, nostalgically returning me to those childhood days of eating warm, toasted hot cross buns, loaded with butter, in the garden with my mum.  Even as a massive fan of Primrose Bakery, I just wasn’t expecting such perfection!  And the smooth, creamy, all-spice cream cheese frosting, topped with crunchy hot cross bun croutons, really was the icing on the cake.  These cupcakes were an absolute dream, and quite frankly I’m a little bit disappointed that it isn’t Easter all year round now!

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Next up was the Creme Egg Cupcake.  I do find it hard to say no to a good chocolate cupcake, and this was certainly no egg-ception!  With its rich and indulgent dark chocolate brownie sponge, which contained an egg-cellent surprise of a mini creme egg in the centre, this cupcake was an absolute treat.  It was made even better with its sweet, fluffy yellow and white marshmallow icing, which always adds a beautiful thick and gooey texture to the whole experience.  And for the half a creme egg on top, no one can ever have too many creme eggs at Easter!

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And last but not least was the beautifully decorated Vanilla Cupcake.  With its soft sponge and flavouring, it makes for a delicate and delightful Easter treat, especially with its lovely, thick vanilla frosting.  I absolutely love the bright colours on the decorative eggs, which added a lovely crunch in comparison to the delicacy of the rest of the cake.

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I also discovered some beautiful bird truffles in Godiva’s Covent Garden shop, which I took home to make a lovely little Easter nest for the boyfriend.

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This was created very simply using a chocolate meringue from Carluccios, chocolate whipped cream, Mikado sticks for the nest, Marks & Spencer mini eggs, and the beautiful Godiva bird truffles.  Each one was satisfying with a beautiful and interesting filling.  The white chocolate bird was filled with a thick and nutty milk chocolate delight, the dark chocolate bird was filled with a runny banana-flavoured syrup, and the milk chocolate bird was a caramel-themed treat.

I am a massive fan of themed treats and all of the bakeries and the shops in London really showed off their talents this Easter with an array of delicious tasting and looking treats for us all to choose from!  I cannot wait for the next big event to come along in the capital because, let’s face it, it manages to create something special every time!

American Style Afternoon Tea at BRGR.CO

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Walking past BRGR.CO on Wardour Street in Soho, there is no mistaking that this place will serve a really good, juicy, posh burger.  With its uncomplicated black and white facade, it is evident that simplicity and quality are key features of this restaurant.  Being major fans of Gourmet Burger Kitchen, my boyfriend and I put it on our list of ‘must-try’ burger bars, but when I found out that it did an American themed burger-style afternoon tea, and at only £17 including two drinks, BRGR.CO jumped straight to the top of the list!

I have to say that this is one of the most satisfying afternoon teas on the savoury front.  Burgers are always a winner in my eyes, and these burgers were particularly good!  The buns were fresh and sturdy, holding in and soaking up those beautiful juices that oozed out of the burgers with every bite.  And they were not skimpy on any of the fillings!  From left to right, the first burger is a mini version of the Butcher’s Cut with cheddar cheese.  It was tender, tasty, and tantalising, and my first mouthful convinced me that this was somewhere I would definitely like to return!  Surprisingly, the Chicken Ceasar burger was my favourite.  The chicken was so succulent with a beautiful BBQ grilled flavour to it.  It literally melted in your mouth and unfortunately was gone in seconds!  The third burger was also very special and something that I would not expect from a classic burger joint.  The Lobster Blat Slider was absolutely wonderful: full of flavour, soft, creamy, and adding a completely new and different flavour dimension to the whole meal.  It made it feel rather special!  And having a mini portion of chips was definitely a major benefit for my boyfriend, as he didn’t risk losing half of his portion to me!

Inevitably, the burger half of the afternoon tea was going to be better than the sweets, given the name and specialities of the restaurant.  However, it was only the doughnut that was slightly disappointing.  Unfortunately, the doughnut was so chewy that it pretty much gave me jaw ache by the time I had chewed through its thick, doughy centre; it was a far cry from the soft, fluffy, but slightly stodgy doughnuts that I am used to from the farmer’s market and I was disappointed that I didn’t taste the salted caramel that the menu had promised.  However, the other three desserts were complete winners!  The vanilla milkshake was hands down the best milkshake I have ever had.  I am SO excited about returning, simply for the milkshake (and I don’t even like milk)!  The mini chocolate brownie was also beautifully rich and chocolatey.  I fell in love.  It was perfect!  The mini white chocolate and strawberry cheesecake was also perfectly delectable, with its smooth strawberry topping, light creamy filling, and crumbly biscuit base.

All in all, it was an extremely satisfying and filling meal that I would happily order again and again, especially for the price and the quality of the burgers, milkshake and brownie.  It also comes with two drinks: one is a beautiful homemade pomegranate and mint infused ice tea; the other was a glass of San Marco Prosecco (a raspberry and cranberry concoction).  Again, this made the meal feel a little bit more special than your average meal at a good burger restaurant, and for the same sort of price you would normally pay for a two-course meal and a couple of drinks.  I’m super greedy and can’t say no to something I normally love, so I also ordered a homemade lemonade, which was sweet and tangy at the same time and completely and utterly delicious.

The quality of the burgers, chips, drinks, and the brownie thoroughly impressed me at this small independent burger bar and I genuinely cannot wait for my next hangover, where I will enjoy tucking into a large succulent burger, a bag of chips (full-sized portions of chips come in a cute little brown paper bag!), a large vanilla milkshake, and a large slice of chocolate heaven in the shape of a brownie!  This is an excellent restaurant, whether you want something a bit more special, or a general catch-up over a burger with friends.  I can assure you that vowels are the ONLY thing that BRGR.CO is lacking when it comes to good food, good service and honest burgers!

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