To celebrate National Afternoon Tea Week (12th – 18th August 2019), Chris Murgatroyd, Head Chef at De Vere Horwood Estate – a charming mansion house hotel in Milton Keynes – has shared his top tips on how to enjoy the traditional British pastime at home.
The perfect blend
Without doubt the most important element of an afternoon tea is the tea itself. A traditional English Breakfast blend is a firm favourite with guests at De Vere Horwood Estate however, you could tempt your guests with something a little more usual such as a power green tea, for the ultimate teatox, filled with antioxidants and nutrients. Or for the more daring, try a chilli chai tea for that fiery kick. On warmer days, try brewing an iced tea using your favourite tea and add slices of citrus fruits for a refreshing twist.
Sandwiches and scones are the staple of a classic afternoon tea however, you may choose to serve something a little different to cater to everyone’s taste and dietary requirements.
Try experimenting with the fillings in your sandwiches and the flavours of your cakes, for example, you could serve Earl Grey-infused tea cakes, sweet scones with lemon curd, savoury scones with cheddar cheese and chorizo or basil macarons.
Food for thought
Although you may be excited to serve your latest flavoursome concoction, make sure that you keep some of those classic ‘crowd pleasers’ on the menu, namely; egg mayonnaise sandwiches; cucumber with cream cheese and smoked salmon sandwiches; macarons; Battenberg; and éclairs.
Make sure everyone in the group is catered for, and provide more savoury foods such as scotch eggs, quiche and sausage rolls, accompanied with drinks for the non-tea drinkers such as a superfood smoothie for the ultimate health kick.
Dietary requirements now play a huge part of people’s lives with nearly ¼ of the UK now eating a plant-based diet. Include items on your cake stand such as vegan macarons or cakes/ brownies that have been made with avocado as the substitute.
It is hard work being the host and the chef, especially if help is limited, so keep things simple to ensure a stress-free day by preparing as much as you can before your guests arrive.
It’s true that nothing beats a warm scone with lashings of fresh strawberry jam and clotted cream, but you can bake them in advance and then warm them in the oven before serving.
Provide a grown-up treat
Our Champagne Afternoon Tea package is extremely popular with guests being served a glass of Lanson Champagne alongside their tea. Or English sparkling wine provides the perfect alternative to complement to your afternoon tea.
Treat your guests to a glass of CHAFOR Vintage Cuvée, an English sparkling wine from the nearby CHAFOR wine estate. With hints of peach and undertones of baked apple and honeyed fig, it’s perfect paired with afternoon tea.
For an added twist, why not serve your favourite tipple with a splash of elderflower or raspberry liqueur.
Everyone loves a scone and a finger sandwich but if you want to stand out from the crowd, you need to get creative. How about adding a theme? Or even an American twist on a traditional British afternoon tea can be fun and something different. Ditch the macarons and enjoy mini doughnuts.
Set the scene
Afternoon tea isn’t just about delicious sandwiches and cakes, it’s about the whole dining experience from décor to vintage crockery. Rummage in the back of your cupboards and dust off your best cake stands, finest china tea set and polish your silver teapot.
Why not also head to the garden and pick some fresh flowers for a centrepiece, place tea cosies on the table, hang bunting around the room and perhaps create your own personalised menus to wow your guests?
Location, location, location
Why not make the most of the British summertime and take your tea outside. For the perfect opportunity to relax and unwind, explore the great outdoors and bring your afternoon tea with you on a picnic. Or dine al fresco with an afternoon tea set up in your garden so you’re never too far away from your next fresh pot of tea.
Or just relax and let the experts do the work
If this all sounds wonderful but too much of a headache, why not put your feet up and leave it to the experts? Whether you’re with friends or taking a moment for yourself, De Vere Horwood Estate serves traditional afternoon tea in the stylish setting with freshly baked scones with jam and clotted cream as well as finger sandwiches and plenty of sweet treats.
Afternoon Tea is served daily, from 12pm until 4pm and is priced from £19.95 per person.
A brand new Bingo Brunch experience is coming to Watford’s Barrio
On 5th November, the newly opened Barrio venue will launch its bingo brunch concept, La Isla Bonita 80s Brunch, in Watford. Translating to ‘The beautiful island’, La Isla Bonita Brunch aims to recreate that perfect tropical holiday feeling, with food and cocktails galore, bingo mayhem and 80s music all afternoon-long.
Already a popular party experience at Barrio Shoreditch, the 80s themed musical brunch is scheduled to run every Saturday from 12pm, and will include a two-course brunch, welcome cocktail and a variety of bottomless drinks (prosecco, spiced rum sangria and Sol beer).
Once guests have finished tucking into a menu of delicious burgers, including Queso Libre as a vegetarian option and Saint and Sinner as the vegan burger plus Barrio Churros, the musical bingo commences, brought to life by a captivating host and nostalgic 80s tunes by Barrio’s best DJs. Brunch goers can expect witty bingo calls, group singalongs and impromptu tableside performances. Prizes for winning the brunch also include a very tasty £100 bar tab.
For £35 per person, over-21s can enjoy 90 minutes of bottomless drinks and then eat, bingo and party until 5pm.
Those interested can book the first La Isla Bonita 80s Brunch at Barrio Watford for a special launch price of £25 (valid for 5th and 12th Nov brunch dates).
More about Barrio Watford
On 20th October 2022, Barrio Familia opened its first out-of-London venue in Watford, bringing Latin-inspired cocktails, authentic Mexican eats, a killer happy hour offering, live entertainment and DJs, plus an immersive 80s Bingo Bottomless Brunch.
Following the announcement of the group’s flagship site, and world’s largest tequila bar, in Covent Garden which is set to launch in early November, Barrio Familia has opened Watford’s first Tequila bar this month.
Bringing the spirit of the Latin Quarter into Watford, the new venue will have space for up to 200 guests to enjoy a brand new, freshly crafted cocktail menu, delicious Mexican inspired food creations, including their signature tacos, and famous Latino party vibes.
The outside terrace is also being turned into Barrio’s popular tropical yard, offering the perfect space for another 80 guests to gather with like-minded ‘amigos’ and sip cocktails, enjoy a meal and experience a fiesta like never before.
Barrio Familia was acquired by Nightcap in November 2021 and has since gone from strength to strength. New venues; Barrio Watford and Barrio Covent Garden will add to their growing portfolio of sites in Shoreditch, Soho, Angel, and Brixton. After opening the first Barrio site in 2007, the group’s vision was to have a Barrio in every big party neighborhood in the UK and Watford will play a huge role in that exciting expansion.
Each of the Barrio Bars sites offer a full-colour, full-flavour experience, and of course, plenty of Tequila. The group plans to open seven days a week and be the perfect new spot in Watford for all occasions, from lunches and daytime drinks to brunches and late night partying.
Jim Robertson, Managing Director of Barrio Familia, commented:
“We are incredibly excited to be taking our Latino party outside of London for the first time. This is a fantastic venue and we can’t wait to welcome the residents of Watford into the Barrio familia and bring the party! I believe Barrio will be a fantastic addition to Watford High Street that will suit all types of occasions and bring a feel good bar that welcomes everyone. We have some amazing things planned for Barrio Watford, so watch this space and get ready for the biggest fiesta in town!”
Christmas at Hatfield Park trail opens with amazing fire garden
A beautiful Fire Garden has been revealed as one of the spectacular works in the new Christmas light trail at Hatfield Park, Hertfordshire, between 25 November and 31 December 2022.
The installation will be part of a spectacular collection of illuminations which will transform the 42 acres of gardens and parkland where Queen Elizabeth I spent much of her childhood.
Designed by Culture Creative, the Fire Garden at Hatfield Park is made up of hundreds of flame heads interspersed with Lantern Trees by Mandylights, which echo the timeless beauty of old Victorian-style street lamps. The brass-effect shades shimmer in bright gold, with electric flames inside the lanterns to inspire a feeling of warm firelight.
Matthew Findlay, Head of UK Trails for Sony Music/Raymond Gubbay Ltd, said: “We are hugely excited by the plans for this fantastic new trail, with artists creating beautiful installations which will cast an entirely different light on a beautiful, historic property.”
Visitors to Hatfield Park can look forward to some precious time with friends and family as they discover sparkling tunnels of light and walk beneath glistening trees drenched in jewel-like colour.
Hatfield Park lights are choreographed to a soundtrack of much-loved seasonal music, transforming Hatfield’s majestic park into an instant winter wonderland.
Independent street food vendors bring a delicious twist with tasty treats on offer. Complete your walk under the stars with a *spiced winter warmer or *hot chocolate shared with friends and family. Everyone loves toasting a marshmallow over an open fire and the artisan *marshmallow stall gives visitors the chance to warm their hands and enjoy this sweet outdoor tradition.
*separate charges apply
Christmas at Hatfield Park is brought to you by Sony Music. The trail is created by Culture Creative.
What is happen at Hatfield Park?
Christmas at Hatfield Park – The after-dark illuminated trail through festive gardens. Discover a Christmas illuminated trail for all the family set within the beautiful landscape of Hatfield Park
When is Christmas at Hatfield Park?
From 25 November and 31 December 2022. Open from 4.30pm, last entry 8pm and closes at 10pm. Trail closed on 28, 29, 30 Nov; 5, 6, 24, 25 Dec.
Admission: Limited capacity with timed entry, early booking advised
Advanced From: Adult £24, Child £17, Family £78 (2 adults & 2 children).
Free entry for carers and children aged 2 & under.
Parking £7 per car.
Hatfield Park Address: Great North Rd., Hatfield AL9 5HX
The Almere Milton Keynes launches Neighbourhood Hero initiative
‘All about the community’, The Almere prides themselves on making living easy for their residents. With residents set to move this month, the exciting new community boasts co-working, communal and event spaces within the building.
The ground floor ‘Gathering Place’ is bookable to the local community and to residents, whilst upstairs on the 11th floor sits an amenity space for residents, where part will be for co-working, roof terraces to hang out, barbeques and yoga classes. Additionally, there will also be a fitted kitchen and dining area which can be closed off for a private dining experience.
The Almere Neighbourhood Hero initiative
With community at its heart, The Almere aims to build relationships and work collaboratively with local businesses to guide residents to the best spots and products in town. The Almere’s new Neighbourhood Hero initiative has handpicked local, and predominantly independent businesses to connect residents with the true value of living in Milton Keynes, highlighting all that there is to offer.
With the recent COVID-19 pandemic having had such an impact on small, independent businesses it’s key to get people back out there and supporting locally. The Neighbourhood Hero initiative is a fantastic example of this, helping businesses to thrive and regain their position within the economy. Current Heroes include Bogota Coffee Co; DeRoka; Fuuudgelife; Suds; Sweat Studios; Doorstep Cocktails; Mollys Pantry; Pup Club; Headonist Hair and Beauty; and Moxy Hotel.
Benefits of the Almere led scheme include:
- Feature on The Almere website, with regular spotlights and tags on social media channels
- Exposure to over 600+ residents, and the ability to send offers and deals to them, without incurring any marketing costs
- Welcomed as a core part of the community, allowing the businesses to use the communal spaces to hold pop-up events for residents and the local community
- Include collateral in the ‘move in packs’ for new residents, for free
- Invited to all community events at The Almere, and work together on collaborative event activations
Community Manager, Holly Birmingham explains, “Community is so important to us at The Almere – it is all about meaningful connections both within our own four walls and the wider neighbourhood. At The Almere, we aren’t just a building, we are a new community in the heart of Milton Keynes. We want to support the brilliant local businesses around us, create lasting relationships and of course, show our residents the best our town has to offer.”
The new scheme offers an exciting experience for local businesses to work on an exclusive basis with the upcoming, Milton Keynes hotspot, offer discounts to residents and in turn help show the rest of the UK what Milton Keynes has to offer!
About The Almere
A pioneering new rental community for Milton Keynes, The Almere, is a collection of 294 rental apartments built across two buildings with neighbourhood and outstanding service experience at its core.