This post is for my lovely daughter Nicola who made us the most magnificent high tea yesterday to enjoy while watching the Men’s Singles Final at Wimbledon. She arranged for me to visit over this last weekend back in April with a view to us all watching the tennis together and for the tea we were joined by Rachael’s parents. So five us gathered around the TV to watch – it has to be said – a rather disappointing men’s final but with such a wonderful tea we were still a happy bunch of people.
As you’ll gather from such advance preparations, as a family we’re pretty big tennis fans. It’s the only sport I get seriously excited about (occasionally rugby, but then I do live in Twickenham!), and the only one I’ve played seriously.
Wimbledon and tennis of course means strawberries and champagne, which was going to feature in our tea, but lots of other delights too. Nicola sent me the menu last week:
Ham & mustard sandwiches
Feta, spinach, pea & mint puff pastry tarts
Blinis with smoked salmon, soured cream & caviar
Blinis with buffalo mozzarella, tomato & basil
Croustades with crab, avocado, lime, chilli & coriander
Sourdough crostini with ricotta, pear, walnut & truffle honey
To drink with it, we were to enjoy some Californian rainbow sparkling wine and Californian rosé that Nicola & Rachael brought back from a trip to California in May.
Preparations began early in the day after breakfast. The plan was to begin the ‘tea’ at around 1.00pm when the TV coverage began for the tennis; the match would start at 2.00pm. Nicola was very well organised. She did all the cooking and I offered to be sous chef when any kind of help was needed. First of all she made the little feta and spinach tarts.
When they came out of the oven they smelled delicious and later when we tasted them, they were fantastic.
All the baking and cooking was done in Nicola & Rachael’s Aga, fitted with their new kitchen only a few weeks ago. Nicola has been learning to adjust her cooking to the Aga but seems to have already mastered the technique. It’s a wonderful thing to have in an old farmhouse kitchen and not surprisingly their dog Willow, and the cats, like to take up residence nearby.
Next the gazpacho was made. There was a lot of chopping of ripe tomatoes, cucumber and peppers and the soup needed to go into the fridge for a few hours to be nicely cold for serving.
For extra velvety smoothness the mixture was put through a fine sieve – this was sous chef’s job.
Then the crab mixture was prepared but would only go into the croustades at the last minute so they didn’t get too soggy.
I’d brought a sourdough loaf from Your Bakery Whitton on Saturday morning and this was sliced and cut into crostini-sized pieces to toast on the top of the Aga.
Once the crostini had cooled, Nicola added the topping.
Nicola sometimes makes blinis but this time she’d bought them and they were warmed in the oven before toppings were added.
The sandwiches were made fairly last minute so they didn’t go stale; the crusts cut off in true English tea style.
And of course because this was a Wimbledon tea there had to be strawberries, scones, clotted cream and jam.
The food was laid out on the table.
The TV was turned on, the tennis coverage began, and the champagne (well Californian sparkling wine!) cork was popped, and served in the vintage champagne saucers that Rachael bought Nicola.
Our chef was toasted!
Roger Federer and Marin Cilic came on to the centre court at Wimbledon and we sipped our fizz and started eating; everything easy finger food to go on plates; the gazpacho in little glass bowls. Everything was so good; really delicious and it was such a glorious spread of food to eat while sitting watching a tennis match on TV. Later a pot of tea was made and we ate the scones.
My daughter has certainly mastered baking these in the Aga. They were so light and delicious and quite definitely some of the best scones I’ve ever eaten.
It was a really lovely occasion. The food was gorgeous, the wine special (the rainbow sparkling wine from California was very special indeed) and we enjoyed seeing Roger Federer make Wimbledon history as he collected his 8th men’s title, even if the match itself wasn’t as exciting as expected. I have to say I’m rather hoping high tea for Wimbledon finals at my daughter’s will become a regular event!