Exploring: Afternoon Tea at Betty’s, York.

Whilst back in Blighty the other week I indulged in something stereotypically British…a spot of afternoon tea. I don’t think you can get anymore British than this, it is the epitome of British-ness and seems to be making a comeback lately – a lot of my friends back home are posting pictures on Facebook of them having afternoon tea somewhere.

I wanted to get in on the act, so, after less than 24 hours in the country and with the help of Ma Cook, I went to get my fill of it here:

Afternoon Tea 1
Betty’s Café Tea Rooms in York. This is THE place to go for some afternoon tea. It’s a traditional British tea room where you’re transported back in time with old-fashioned shop fittings and employees dressed in long skirts, high collared shirts with a brooch in the middle and an apron. You really do feel like you’re in a special place – people come from all over just to visit these tea rooms and partake in some afternoon tea. There’s always a queue around the block to get into Betty’s but believe me, it is definitely worth the wait!

Afternoon tea was originally popular among the wealthy people in England and eaten between 4pm and 6pm. Nowadays though everyone eats it and at anytime of the day – Ma Cook and I tucked into it at around 2pm, we were hungry! We rocked up to Betty’s, took our seats and ordered our afternoon tea for 2.

First came the tea:

A proper brew!

A proper brew!

Now, we’re not talking any old tea here, oh no, no. This isn’t just dumping a tea bag in some hot water, squeezing it out and sploshing in a glug of milk. Nope. At Betty’s we’re talking actual tea leaves that have to be strained into your cup. Here’s a demonstration from Ma Cook:

afternoon tea 3
Beautifully done there and let me tell you it tasted lovely. A proper brew, with proper tea leaves and even sugar cubes! Who gives you sugar cubes anymore? Then, after a few sips of tea came the main event – the food, and we all know how much this blog seems to revolve around food! Once again I wasn’t disappointed. Afternoon tea is traditionally served on a three tier plate stand and looks a little bit like this:

Fancy

Fancy pants! Our faces lit up when these were placed on the table and we eagerly looked at what was on offer. Sandwiches, a scone, cakes – we were in heaven! When it comes to eating this delight you start at the bottom and make your way to the top, that meant the sandwiches were the first to be demolished. We tucked into ham, chicken, egg and smoked salmon sandwiches and were quickly ready to move onto the next level…a scone. (I need to point out now that I pronounce it sc-own. There’s an argument as to whether it is sc-own like I say or sc-on. I’m sticking with sc-own!) Of course it came with jam and cream and before we know it our scones were piled high and heading into our mouths:

afternoon tea 5
It was one of the nicest scones I’ve ever tasted! By now we were over halfway through our delights and possibly starting to feel a little full but we definitely didn’t have any plans to stop there. The top tier was covered in miniature cakes that, like everything else in the café were handmade and they had our names on them.

afternoon tea 6First I tucked into the raspberry tart in a little pastry case that had custard underneath the fruit – so tasty! Then I moved onto the chocolate cake, it was very rich so the miniature piece was just enough. My taste buds were very happy but they were about to get even happier! I definitely saved the best for last when I sunk my teeth into the lemon macaroon – it was full of flavour and had just the right amount of crunch and chewy-ness (if that’s even a word!) that left me wanting another 10 of them! Sadly though, my three tiers were now empty – I’d polished off the lot, definitely not good for the wedding diet but the best bit of cheating ever!

We finished off our tea and headed out of the store, but before we left we couldn’t resist buying a few of Betty’s famous fat rascals for Pa Cook, and my bro and sister-in-law and of course some more of those tasty macaroons. We ended up with a gift box of 6 which soon disappeared once we got home…whoops!

afternoon tea 7
With our bellies full and feeling very British indeed we waved goodbye to Betty’s and carried on our merry way through the streets of York. Afternoon tea was ticked off the list and I was one very happy lady!78950-traveltueslinkup_zpsd47191b028129g

Exploring: The Cross Keys, Leeds.

One of the top things on my ‘to do’ list whilst being back in England (alongside the likes of having a curry and eating fish and chips) was going to the pub! Yep, the pub is an institution in England and man have I missed it! I mean, massively missed it. We’re talking hugely missed it, like pining for a pint and a pie for months missed it!

So, after being back in the country for less than 24 hours, I am not joking about this either – within 24 hours of setting foot back on good old British turf we found ourselves here:

Cross Keys 1

The Cross Keys in Leeds – one of the greatest pubs in the world! Now before our move Stateside, this was mine and the German’s local pub, the place where just about every Friday and/or Saturday we’d walk the 10 minutes down the canal and get our fill of amazing food, wine for me and wheat beer for the German! In fact, once when the German asked how long they’d have a certain German wheat beer on tap the bartenders reply was ‘it depends how quickly you drink it!’ Yep, we were well known in this establishment, we had a favourite corner we preferred to sit in (and got a little bit miserable if someone nabbed it before we got there!), we even had a leaving party there before jetting off to Atlanta, it was a given that we would be heading back there ASAP!

This is kind of a posh British pub, or a gastro pub as they like to call them nowadays (how old do I sound?!) but it still has the atmosphere of a typical British pub! It’s warm and cosy, has open fires and proper beer on tap – I’m talking lager, ale, wheat beers and of course cider! We walked in and went straight into our usual corner – we were back!!

Cross Keys 3

We sat down and ordered our usual drinks (a wheat beer and a glass of rose!) and perused the menu – we’d also brought along a few stragglers – Ma and Pa Cook along with the bro and sister-in-law – this trip was a family affair! After perusing the amazing dinner menu, we made our choices and placed our order and man was I excited! I was in my element – back in the pub, with a glass of wine and waiting for some proper pub grub!!

And when it came I was, once again, not disappointed! First up was a black pudding scotch egg – you can’t get more British than that! It looked a little bit like this:

Yummy!

Yummy!

It’s basically a boiled egg (that’s still a bit goey in the middle) surrounded by black pudding and pork, covered in breadcrumbs and deep-fried before being served with some brown sauce! A-MA-ZING!! I was in heaven!! Next up was the main course – I’ve been dreaming of a proper British pie for ages and there was only one thing on the menu that was going to cut it – venison with red cabbage and an oxtail cottage pie!! It was the oxtail cottage pie that swung it for me and when it came I was once again transported to a little cloud in the sky!

Delish!

Delish!

Now let me explain the delights of the traditional British cottage pie to you (sorry British friends of mine – this is a bit of a teaching you how to suck eggs moment!) it’s usually mince with onions and carrots in a gravy sauce and topped with mashed potatoes! Sounds amazing right? This one was a little different though – it was made with oxtail and served in a teacup – quirky and VERY tasty! My British pallet was definitely satisfied!

One happy Brit!

One happy Brit!

By this point my belly was about to burst after getting its fill of British goodness but the German had room for more! As was tradition when we went to this pub he ordered a cheese board:

One happy German!

One happy German!

I obviously had a little taste of the delicious cheese – it’s the law!! By now the buttons were about to pop off all of our trousers so we finished our drinks and waved goodbye to what used to be our second home! Sad times!

The great British pub is one of the things I miss the most living in America – I miss being able to walk to get a drink and not having to worry about somebody being Des to drive home (even though back home we could walk home from said pub, the German often ordered a taxi and we ended up with an annoyed taxi driver because we were a cheap fare – lazy bum!), I miss the cosyness (if that’s even a word!), I miss being able to go to a bar that doesn’t have some sort of sport on a TV screen, I miss the friendliness of being a regular and having a chat with the barman, I miss the traditional food like pie and fish and chips, lets face it – I just love the pub!!

 

* This is an unsponsored blog, I did not receive any payments for this review, all views are my own.