There are few things that a cup of tea can’t solve. A problem shared is a problem halved, but only when you’ve also consumed several pots of tea along the way. A good gossip, a catch up and lots of cake never goes a miss either when therr is a pot of tea on the go, and that is exactly how I spent my Saturday afternoon last weekend.
Afternoon was traditionally enjoyed at about 4pm. It came about in the mid 19th century when the 7th Duchess of Bedford decided she required a light snack to stave of the hunger, or as she declared it, the ‘sinking feeling’ she had late afternoon. Originally taking her afternoon tea of finger sandwiches, cakes and a pot of tea in her private quarters, Anna decided this was a rather marvellous way to spend an hour or so during the afternoon, and invited friends to join her. They would traditionally go for a walk in the fields afterwards, and after not too long the fashion of afternoon tea caught on.
I must be honest and say we did more sipping and eating than walking, but it was fabulous none the less.
It had been years since I had been at Gleneagles Hotel, and following the buzz around the Ryder Cup and the reputation they have for afternoon I was excited to find out what was in store.
Afternoon tea is served is in the bar, which on arrival at 4.30pm on a Saturday, was absolutely buzzing. We were seating by the window looking out into the front lawn. Cakes and I arrived first. We did a good spot of people watching as we waited for the other five ladies to arrive. The room was full of groups like ourselves, hotel guests and golfers just in from a round.
Now on to the main event. What a show! Between 7 of us we were each served a pot of tea (I was on thr earl grey) and we shared a stand between two. One of our group is expecting her second bambino, and the staff were very attentive and ensured the chef was informed of what she could and could not eat – she ended up with a delightful cake stand all to herself!
As well as looking gorgeous, the treats on each tier were amazing. In the middle we enjoyed a variety of sandwiches including chicken with a banana chutney (strangely this really worked!), hebridean crab, and of course the classic salmon, cucumber and watercress. Each sandwich was light and delicately sliced with just enough filling.
It was the top tier that has ensured I will be returning to Gleneagles; a whole tier of savoury pastries! I’m the type of person of loves when GBBO focus on savoury bakes. It’s all the indulgence of a cake, but you can eat them whenever because they are savoury! Consensus around our table was the cheese swirl really stole the limelight. We also enjoyed little mini quiche tarts and rare roast beef puff with pesto that just melted in the mouth.
I should mention that on the special 7th stand there was also a round of freshly baked scones with raspberry jam and deliciously indulgent clotted cream.
After several breaks, more chatting and sipping, we moved onto the cakes in the bottom tier. Gleneagles served a selection of cakes that I am sure the Duchess of Bedford would be proud of. French fancies, warm sultana treacle cake, strawberry tarts, a chocolate and what I think was salted caramel ganache …
Needless to say we were there until well after dark, and the staff were happy to refill out teas and let us soak up the ambience for as long as we liked. A truly awesome way to spend an afternoon, and hands down one of the best afternoon teas I have experienced.