Sunday, 5 June 2011

Secret Vintage Afternoon Tea Party

Supper Clubs, old hat in London, new to Cheshire, is the name given to underground restaurants hosted by food lovers in their homes. I’d always fancied going to one, so when I found that there were two in Manchester, I immediately signed up, pleased I’d found some close by.  And yesterday, I was thrilled with the text message of the secret location - just how a supper club should be.

But If I thought I was pleased then, you should see me now having just arrived home from my first supper club experience, The Secret Vintage Tea Party, beaming like the cat that got the cream. And I did get the cream, lots of it, clotted, in a gorgeous bowl and spread on scones. 

Beautiful table setting
As I pulled up at the home of Gwyneth Brock of Vintage Afternoon Teas in South Manchester, I had butterflies in my stomach, not sure what to expect. I met my gorgeous friend Kate outside and knocked on the door as we stood in the drizzle South Manchster is famous for. But we were greeted by a burst of sunshine as Gwyneth threw the door open and welcomed us into her home, beaming from ear to ear, resplendent in a flowery dress and Cath Kidston \pron. After being greeted like old friends we were introduced to the two other Supper Clubbers already in the dining toom as Gwyneth pressed a glass of ice-cold home made lemonade into our hands. We made polite chit chat as we surveyed the scene in front of us inside Gwyneth's 400 year old farmhouse, a table set with the most beautiful vintage crockery I’ve ever seen - mis-matched linen, tea cups, saucers, plates, napkins, jugs, sugar bowls… I was in vintage heaven. I’m not into stealing but if I could get my hands on some of this I’d have managed to make peace with myself. 


Just one of the many
vintage teapots

Kate and I hung our noses over the menu and place settings, tummies grumbling and mouths watering. The dining room soon filled up and the tea party began as we took our seats. Gwyneth introduced herself, told us it was her first supper club (you’d never have guessed – Gwyneth was the perfect, unflappable hostess) and welcomed us to her lovely home before bringing vintage tiers of delicate sandwiches, plates of tartlets and pots of tea in stunning vintage teapots. We all waited for someone else to start, politeness of the English stopping us from diving in as we wanted to, but once we started, we couldn’t stop. Kate and I sipped our tea chatted to other guests as made our way through the never ending pile of sandwiches – no one was going hungry here! 

Vintage cup and saucer
The bread, so soft and sandwiches freshly made, so fresh in fact that Gwyneth let us into a secret – only half an hour before she was still in her jammies making sandwiches! You’d never have guessed; the atmosphere was friendly, light and very, very relaxing. What better way to spend a Sunday Afternoon? The sandwiches were delicious – smoked salmon and cream cheese, Cheshire ham and mustard, Lancashire cheese and onion marmaldade, and free range egg and watercress – fabulous, classic and local.

As the sandwich plates were taken away, we waited with breath that was baited for what we were really there for.

The Cakes. 

Raspberry and White Chocolate Macaroons,
Scones, Guinness Tea Cake

And we weren’t disappointed, as I knew we wouldn’t be. All the guests were seated around a large farmhouse table and I was opposite a devout fan of Gwyneths Afternoon Tea business, who had my mouth watering with talk of macaroons, brownie and sponge cakes (oh my). As they arrived the room silenced as we watched cake stand after cake stand make its way into the dining room, the table groaning with the delights. No fear of politeness this time as we pounced upon the cakes like people who’d never seen the bubblegum pink of a raspberry and white chocolate macaroon before, never tasted the delights of a rum and mint brownie before, never gotten covered in clotted cream as they ate their scone before. 

Rum and Mint Brownies, Lemon Victoria Sandwich

And we hadn’t. Not in this way, with lust and greed over taking the desire to merely satiate hunger, with lust and greed quickly giving way to the desire to gorge on these beautiful home baked delights. And then there was the Guinness Tea Cake smothered with butter, a not-too-sweet exception to the sugar laden cakes surrounding it.

Have you ever seen a more
amazing sugar bowl?

Last but not least, taking pride of place in the centre of the table… a Victoria Sponge cake, fit to burst with lemon curd and fresh cream. And the cake wasn’t the only one fit to burst. I just couldn’t manage another bite and I could have cried with disappointment.

As the chatter died down and we all made promises to see Gwyneth in July for her next party, the magic words were spoken ‘Would anyone like to take some cakes home?’. Immediately, the room was alive with chatter again as we made our requests. Brownie and a macaroon for hubby, and thanks to Gwyneths hospitality, kindness and generosity, a piece of lemon Victoria Sandwich cake for me. Tears no longer necessary. 

Lemon Victoria Sandwich

Thank You Gwyneth, for a wonderful afternoon in your lovely home.

You can find out more about Vintage Afternoon Tea's here and more supper club dates here.  This supper club had a suggested donation of £12.  A bargain in my book.  I gave what it was worth - more!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you had a blast! Looking forward to booking in a place for myself :)

    Monica x