Wednesday, 5 March 2008

A Tale of Tea Sittings

YB and I recently spent a few days in York. It's a lovely place but so very cold in February and we will probably return again but at a warmer time of the year. However the cold did give us the excuse to visit a couple of tea rooms.

Now, Afternoon Tea is an indulgence, no doubt about it, and when one has set one's foot on the road to indulgence, that is exactly what one wants.

The first visit was to the Earl Grey Tearooms set in the picturesque Shambles. You enter through a shop which filled is filled with interesting preserves and teas and are taken into an attractive tearoom with historic beams and a general medieval feel. We ordered the Cream Tea and when it arrived, oh the disappointment!! We were each given 2 large very stodgy scones, a 50g jar of Frank Cooper red jam and a small portion of clotted cream, still in its manufacturer's tub, and also, strangely, some butter. Well, the scones were far too big to be light and soft and to compensate they had far too much raising agent in them which leaves that unpleasant after-taste/feel at the back of the teeth. Due to their large size and the stinginess of the cream and jam, you either could only have one adequately dressed scone or a mere scrape on both. What a waste! A whole shop of delicious jams and then this travesty. A score of 3 out of 10 here.

The following day we headed for the famous Betty's in St Helen's Square. Oh, the anticipation.

Betty's was originally founded in Harrogate in 1919 and the decor is reminiscent of that time and has the feel and grace of an ocean-going liner. We had to queue before we were taken to our seats and we ordered "Betty's Afternoon Tea". We were asked to choose two sandwich fillings from smoked salmon. ham, egg, and roast chicken. We opted for the ham and the smoked salmon. We also chose to Betty's own blend of tea to drink. When our order arrived we were each given a three tier cake stand. On the top were the sandwiches, the second level the scones and on the bottom 3 dainty fancies. The sandwiches were cut into slim fingers are were freshly made and delicious, although the salmon was a little too thick. The scones were as they should be, soft, light and fresh and were accompanied by generous helpings of jam and cream. The 3 fancies were a delightful lemon French Madeleine, a fruit tartlet with 4 different fruits and a small profiterole filled with chocolate. All were lovely except the profiterole which was rather overfilled with a rather heavy butter cream. However this are very minor faults and Betty's deserves a 91/2 out of 10. Well worth the £14.99 per head and we will be going again I am sure. As a souvenir we took home two of the famous Fat Rascals which are similar to a rock cake but much smoother in outline and are absolutely delicious when eaten warm.

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