You won’t be sorry

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If the words ‘afternoon tea’ conjure up soggy white bread egg or cucumber sandwiches and cup cakes (which we used to call fairy cakes) with lurid icing, sprinkles and silver balls that chip your teeth, then think again. To be honest this is more or less what I thought I’d be in for. So we went for our afternoon tea yesterday with little idea of what to expect. Luckily, though, we had the sense to forego lunch beforehand.

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The gallery signage. I can never make up my mind whether successful or not.

For us, afternoon tea has rarely figured in days out but, having been given a present of a voucher for this in the cafe of the Gallery of Modern Art Two in Edinburgh (run by Heritage Portfolio), we set out to enjoy our cucumber and sprinkles. Surprise number one was when we discovered we could have a large cup of coffee instead of our choice of a selection of teas. From there on our preconceptions rapidly disappeared

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Our coffee with a sugar cube to sweeten us.

The surroundings too were interesting to take in as we settled ourselves then munched our way through the offerings placed before us. The atmosphere is slightly Victorian tearoom ­– well, it is a sandstone Victorian building in a Baroque style, built originally as an orphanage. Attracting our attention was a frieze of photographic prints from the gallery collection – the Paolozzi family, Eduardo being a highly regarded sculptor and artist; one or two with Picasso; a gathering of Surrealist painters; and a number with Gabrielle Keillor and Roland Penrose. The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art owns a world-class collection of surrealist art, its collection of rare illustrated books, catalogues, and other ephemera by surrealist artists being one of the best in the world as the gallery acquired part of the Roland Penrose Collection and Archive, and a significant bequest by Gabrielle Keiller.

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The soup was unexpected but welcome, given we hadn’t had lunch.

Hot on the appearance of our coffee came a slate platter with cups filled with the soup of the day (watercress and courgette ­– delicious), dainty cheese scones with chilli jam and goats cheese, and three different types of brown bread sandwiches – salmon and lemon crème fraiche, ham and wholegrain mustard, and brie with peperonata and spinach.  All delighted our tastebuds with their variety of flavours. This was no traditional afternoon tea, but a refreshingly modern take on the old favourite. Everything was made freshly for us – the description being ‘scratch kitchen’ (the reason afternoon tea has to be booked beforehand) with everything cooked, baked or assembled made from scratch. Fresh and seasonal produce are used where possible.

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An irresistible selection of sandwiches and cheese scones with chilli jam and goats cheese. Yum!

The slate platter cleared, a cake stand made an appearance with an array of goodies that had me wondering how we were expected to munch our way through the contents of its three tiers. A tour around came up with mini fruit scones with cream and berry jam, cherry bakewell, caramel shortbread, apple and berry crumble, lemon posset, and orange macaroon . My waistband was under strain at the glorious sight of it all.

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Now, where to start?

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Fruit scones. Who can resist them!

The scones seemed a good place to start. No butter but berry jam (strong flavour of cherry with a delightful hint of tartness) and thick cream. That went down well.

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That went down well!

The cherry bakwell was what took my eye next – adored the cherry and almond flavour, followed by the orange macaroon, then the apple and berry crumble.

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Can’t remember when I last ate so much fancy stuff, but hey, it’s a special treat! Though many of the people sipping coffee are regulars who pop in for a coffee or special tea and their favourite cake when nearby.

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This was like a meringue but with a slight orange chewiness.

The caramel shortbread I left on the cake stand, looking decidedly lonely by this time, as I tucked into the lemon posset and finished off with the slight tartness of the physalis whose skirt of leaves looked rather artistic against the remains of berry jam on my plate.

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Have we really eaten all that!

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Lemon posset – ooh, it was so good!

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Greedy? Me? Nah! Just appreciative of good food.

Feeling well satisfied by now, and in my mind thanking daughter for an afternoon with a difference, and such a lovely afternoon tea ­– a memorable pre-Easter treat.

So if you intend to be in or around Edinburgh and fancy giving yourself a wee treat, or can persuade a daughter, son or husband to treat you (or give you a café gift voucher), then head for the Gallery of Modern Art Two, sit back and be tempted. You won’t be sorry.

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Don’t be so sure about that.

Have a great Easter, folks, whatever you decide to do.

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About jingsandthings

I am me. What do I like? Colour Shapes Textures Paintings, photographs, sculptures, woven tapestries, wonderful materials. The love of materials probably comes from my father who was a textile buyer, and I grew up hearing the names of mills and manufacturers which sounded magical and enticing. Glass in all its soft and vibrant colours and flowing shapes, even sixties glass which makes its own proud statement. A book I can immerse myself in. Meals with family or friends with lots of chat and laughter (and probably a bottle or two of wine). The occasional trip abroad to experience the sights, sounds, food, conversation, quality of light and warmth of other countries. To revel in differences and be amazed by similarities. I like to create and to experience, to try and to achieve. And then there are words – read, heard, written at my keyboard, or scrawled on sticky notes, or along the edges of dog-eared supermarket receipts excavated from the unexplored nooks of my handbag. What do I dislike? Cold Snow Bad design Fast food Condescension
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5 Responses to You won’t be sorry

  1. You are only the second person I know who calls cup cakes fairy cakes. Maybe 3 once I start 🙂
    I’m having tea as I read this.

    • I suppose traditionally fairy cakes had the top sliced off and cut in half. Cream is spread on the cut surface and the two halves of the top slice stuck into it like wings. Hence the name fairy cakes. But it came to represent any small cakes however decorated. Cup cakes is a modern name, presumably imported from over there in America

      Hope you’re enjoying some with your tea.

  2. walter- says:

    This post is a perfect description. It obviously was an “afternoon tea” accompanied by exquisite sweets and other better things yet. Congratulations for the photos.
    I hope you Happy Easter has passed.
    Greeting

    • It was more than just afternoon tea, Walter, and I was pleased we hadn’t eaten any lunch beforehand. I couldn’t believe we cleared the plates. It was a present from our daughter and made a lovely treat.

      Easter was quiet as it was wet and windy — what usually happens when Easter falls at the end of March. Hope yours was enjoyable.

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