When I was invited to indulge in a little bit of clandestine tea party action ahead of Valentine’s Day I signed-up straight away.
Gwyneth Brock of Vintage Afternoon Teas launched her first secret retro-themed tea party in Altrincham yesterday, and I was lucky enough to be there to sample the goodies.
The event promised retro food and retro china, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
Earlier in the week I received a secret squirrel email disclosing the 18th century location and the 1960s and 1970s theme.
And if that wasn’t enough to whet your appetite then the menu including mushroom vol-au-vents, Coronation Chicken finger sandwiches and Battenberg cake among other delights surely would.
In-keeping with the theme I decided to go down the Swinging Sixties route and wore a psychedelic mini dress accessorised with enormous chandelier earrings and pink and purple make-up.
Upon arrival I was greeted at the door by a very friendly Gwyn who whisked away my coat and offered me a Baby Cham glassful of ginger ale.
The table was charmingly decorated with freshly-cut daffodils, a variety of retro teacups, plates and hand-made napkins.
Each time there was a knock at the door I felt a Come Dine With Me type of anticipation guessing what each guest was going to be like.
Most of the 18 visitors came as a pair or a group, but as the only person flying solo I felt perfectly at ease and soon fell into conversation with the other guests.
A huge variety of teas were offered to us ranging from the traditional English Breakfast and Earl Grey through to more unusual flavours including Spiced Winter Red and Popcorn tea.
I’m normally a straight down the line breakfast tea kind of gal, but I just couldn’t turn down the opportunity to try popcorn tea!
It smelled like the cinema popcorn counter and had a delicious nutty taste to it; this is one tea I’ll certainly be trying again.
On a completely unrelated point this teapot was my favourite out of all those on display.
It’s lucky that Gwyneth’s partial to it too or it might have found itself coming home with me – isn’t it a beaut?
First up food-wise were the mushroom vol-au-vents – there isn’t a picture of these because as soon as the food started to come out everyone swiped one and quickly gobbled them down.
The juxtaposition of the crisp puff pastry and the creamy mushroom filling proved a delightful, and seriously tasty, start to the afternoon.
Next up were the sandwiches, a delicious retro-tastic trio of egg mayonnaise and watercress, coronation chicken and cheddar cheese with pineapple chutney.
Accompanying its more traditional counterpart were tortilla wraps filled with large juicy prawns and avocado.
And once we’d daintily nibbled our way through the savoury portion of the afternoon we swiftly moved on to the sweet stuff.
With a dessert menu boasting freshly-baked scones with preserve and clotted cream, Battenberg cake, custard tarts and Black Forest cupcakes we knew we were in for a treat.
The still-warm scones smothered with blackcurrant preserve and thick clotted cream were a truly indulgent start.
And the Battenberg proved to be a firm favourite among all the guests, with most (including me) going back for seconds.
If it hadn’t been for the people sitting around the table I might have been tempted by thirds!
Last but not least were the small but perfectly formed custard tarts and Black Forest cupcakes topped with cherries, which not only looked delightful but tasted amazing too.
All in all it was a wonderful afternoon.
Gwyneth was a charming and friendly host who welcomed us all into her home like old friends, and with the tea and conversation flowing so naturally before I knew it two hours had flown by.
I can’t think of a more decadent and quintessentially English way of spending an afternoon than indulging in sweet and savoury treats and drinking copious amounts of tea.
One thing’s for sure, I’ll certainly be returning soon.
For more information about future afternoon tea parties, visit www.vintageafternoonteas.co.uk
Disclaimer: I was invited to this event free of charge, but all opinions are my own.