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Before the weather got bitterly cold, I managed to hike down to Lovejoy's for the first time to have tea with Allegra. We had lovely tea with real cream and sugar and tiny cucumber sandwiches with the crusts removed. Because it was that kind of tea room and we had to. When I was growing up, tiny cucumber sandwiches, which appeared at both school functions and at hotel buffets, were made of white bread, cucumbers and margarine. They weren't bad, but I definitely didn't see what the fuss was about. My mother often complained about these "stingy English people" who served cheap cucumbers on bread. Very many years later, I found out from an English friend that cucumbers were actually decadent vegetation to put on bread when they were introduced to Britain. They're a glass house plant from the mysterious tropics, and only the rich could really afford the effort required to raise them. So cucumbers, with butter, in the middle of winter, were a luxury item.

Lovejoy's makes cucumber sandwiches as I've never had them before. They were wonderful, filled with cream cheese and crunchy cucumber. A very simple pleasure, but a really profound one at that. We ordered the High Tea for Two set, and also got the Pear & Stilton, Egg & Onion and Artichoke Hummus sandwiches. I'm no fan of blue cheese, but the pear really balanced the strong flavour of, "Oh, my god! Cheese!" -- it was good, and interesting. I am a real sucker for egg salad sandwiches though, so I totally loved the egg and onion, which was done perfectly. Smooth egg cream peppered with sweet, crunchy onions. Mmm. The artichoke hummus was perhaps the only dull choice in the lot, its concept aside. They were delicious, but we tasted mostly hummus, and hardly any artichoke. We figured that the artichoke managed to soften the flavour of the hummus, but wasn't particularly a flavour in itself. Either that, or that wasn't terribly much artichoke in the sandwiches.

The real joy of the High Tea set though, were the homemade scones. Now, you're probably thinking, scones? But those are barely risen bread items that can sometimes be a little hard, like a potential projectile weapon. Lovejoy's makes awesome scones. Scones that redefine what scones should be. Scones that are warm and fluffy and the consistency of fresh corn bread, stuffed with raisins, and served with clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam with whole strawberries that makes you wish you were the right age to grab the little cups of devon cream and strawberry jam and scarf them down in a ladies' tea room. Scones that I might get cravings for every few weeks or so, resulting in me making scones at home. And real jam. I can make a conserve well enough, but then I would have to convince myself to eat more bread, which I don't.

Tea! Wondrous tea! Served on slightly chipped granny-style china, in an actual tea room. It's quite an experience. I had to keep reminding myself to sit up straight and lift my pinky and all those things. I shall stop now, or I will simply make myself hungry.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 10th, 2009 08:21 pm (UTC)
I thought cucumber sandwiches were usually made with mayonnaise. That's how I make them, at least. Ooh, with a little furikake on top. Mmmm.
Dec. 10th, 2009 08:24 pm (UTC)
Not in Victorian England they weren't! I'm guessing the margarine was a recent cheapifying innovation. Butter wouldn't be too bad.
Dec. 10th, 2009 08:44 pm (UTC)
one day, I'll get around to having High Tea.
Dec. 10th, 2009 08:55 pm (UTC)
It is worth it, for the decadence!

Oddly enough, when I grew up, high teas in Malaysia refer to very large late buffet lunches. They had the sandwiches, tea and coffee and tiny cakes, but also sushi, steak, fried rice, roasts, curries, stews, etc.
Dec. 13th, 2009 07:15 pm (UTC)
oooo it reads just like coming round to my house! :D Ok, sorry, it doesn't, but its a better view of England and English than most. There is nothing nicer that a freshly baked fluffy scone and cream and jam...

As far as I know cream cheese is not a Victorian ingredient. I think a traditional cucumber sandwich is made of very thin crustless white bread, enough butter to stop the wet of the cucumber make the bread soggy, transparently thin cucumber with a reduced amount of dark green edgy bit, and then possibly some salt and lemon, small amounts. Tho personally Cream Cheese and Furikak sounds delicious, and I kind of like crusts and brown bread too :) But, however it is made, really its the experience of eating it, rather than the ingredients that's important I think?

I also like, Pear, Stilton and Sausage sandwiches. *drools*, scores majorly on the comfort factor, and is not delicate at all :)

Now I am hungry too. :)

Sorry you are feeling so pressured by things today, and that Vampyhusband is feeling stressed too. From the outside, lack of knowledge perspective, you are not eating regularly, you are not drinking enough straight water, you are not keeping regular hours and you have the never ending job syndrome where you never reach the end of things before something else starts. This is all bad for brain processes, and will not lead to healthy thought patterns... I dont know if you worklife and body clock issues are fixable? but I do know that friends can be remarkably tolerant for a very long time indeed, especially if you say sorry when you see them and tell them whats up. Sometimes they even listen and prove helpful :) Call out for a bit of support mebbe? It's allowed. xxx
Dec. 19th, 2009 09:27 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty certain cream cheese was added to the sandwiches of this shop to appeal to the Americans. I hadn't thought of butter as a sogginess retardant, but this makes perfect sense. I actually made myself a cucumber, butter and cheese sandwich the other day, crusts removed. Wasn't quite the same, but I was too lazy to cut down the sandwiches to a proper itty bitty ladies' size.

Cream cheese and furikake is a surprisingly tasty combination. I recommend it on crisp rye bread or crackers!

I really haven't been good about feeding or watering myself this past week, and I realize the low blood sugar levels haven't helped matters. I'm slowly trying to get better about it, but old habits do die hard. I am getting better as the weekend began though, and I think it will continue at least towards New Year's. Part of this is because not only is the husband around more often (resulting in more regular feeding hours), but also because I now have more time to write, which makes me feel emotionally better.

It is sweet of you to offer the friendly shoulder, Eeks, and I appreciate it. :)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )