Downton Abbey Tea — British Isles Friday
Welcome to the first meeting of British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British-themed content and to see what others have to share. Since this is the first week (and without much warning), I invite you to share, in the linky below, either a new post or the favorite British-themed post that you’ve ever published on your blog.
If you’ve been paying attention since I had this idea during Bloggiesta last weekend, you’ll know that I changed the name. I was going to call it Anglophile Friday, but Karen of BookerTalk, who lives in Wales, pointed out that “Anglophile” rather leaves out the rest of the island.
So, let’s start with a geography lesson, shall we? The United Kingdom is a nation that consists of four countries: England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Great Britain, or just Britain, refers to the island that the first three of those countries share. The British Isles refers to the island of Britain, the island with Ireland and Northern Ireland, and over six thousand smaller islands. I wanted to be as broad and inclusive as possible. Plus, I kind of like the magic, romance, and adventure that the term “British Isles” imparts.
And, we’ll add to that a bit of an etiquette lesson. People in Wales and Scotland get annoyed when you call them English. British is okay. It’s similar to the Canadian frustration at being lumped in with the US. Or, New Zealanders who hate being mistaken for Australians. Or, an Oklahoman who doesn’t want to be called a Texan just because he’s wearing a cowboy hat.
So, British Isles Friday it is. For my first post, I was going to do a book review but I went to a fun event this week that seemed an even better topic, so I’ll save the book review for next week.
The Missouri Botanical Garden offered a class this spring called The Unofficial Downton Abbey Afternoon Tea. The course proved so popular that they added on at least two extra sessions to accommodate the wait list. Our teacher was Jane Muscroft who runs the catering business Queen’s Cuisine here in St. Louis (but she’s originally from Leicestershire, England).
She brought in all the fancy new cookbooks related to the show. They are gorgeous, but Jane was unimpressed by the recipes. Instead, she used as inspiration a 1911 edition of Mrs. Beeton’s cookbook.
We started with finger sandwiches. These aren’t meant to be meals, so the trickiest part to making these in America is to buy bread thin enough that it doesn’t overwhelm the dainty filling. She used a thin-sliced Pepperidge Farm for these sandwiches.
My favorite dish was this scone with clotted cream and jam. Clotted cream takes two days to make, so we just saw the last step. It can also be purchased at the international grocery.
The classroom set-up was ideal for a cooking demonstration. We could see Jane’s face while she talked to us, or look up at the mirror to see what her hands were doing.
Here, she was spreading the icing that, along with lemon curd, was sandwiched between two layers of sponge cake. This is a common tea item called “Victoria Sandwich.”
In one episode of Downton Abbey, Mrs. Patmore was even more irascible than normal. She was asked to make Apple Charlotte at a time when she was trying to hide problems with her eyesight and couldn’t read a recipe. Jane made tiny one-serving versions of Apple Charlotte, an apple filling in a bread crust, using a mini-muffin tin.
Have you ever had an English tea? Were these the kinds of items that were served?
I’m also linking this post to Weekend Cooking where Beth Fish Reads hosts a weekly blog hop of food posts and Saturday Snapshot hosted by West Metro Mommy because I was rather pleased with how well my little camera did in taking photos of our class.
Don’t forget to link up your British-themed posts below and join us each week for British Isles Friday.
I love it! I have to see what I have to link up!
Lovely! I am linking up right now!
Love the UK so very much!
Love this! I’m now wishing they had something like this in frozen northern Alberta! Sigh.
Thanks for the invite, Joy! How fun, to enjoy tea while learning those new recipes. I left a link about my 2006 journey through the British Isles, including unexpected “tea” in a church basement library.
Congratulations on your new meme Joy. I couldn’t decide so put up two links, one a book, one my husbands photos of our last trip- not all are in the British Isles. Your afternoon tea excursion looks great. I was really surprised at your bread comment, that it was hard to buy bread thin enough. We can buy toast or sandwich sliced bread at the supermarket, or a bakery will slice it however you would like it.
What a fun day it must have been. Your photos are beautiful!
I love this meme already! I can’t wait to get to know the British Isles through everyone’s posts.
I want to go to a Downton Abbey tea!!!! How amazingly fun, Joy!
I like the name change. I didn’t realize Anglophile wasn’t all encompassing, either.
I will see what I have to link up!
My linked post is from a year ago but your DA Tea made me think of it and it is a fun one to re-visit every so often.
My post is old as well – but other than tea or the Queen, what’s more iconically British than Sherlock Holmes? 🙂
Question to your readers: (Other than Ireland) is the Union Jack encompassing of the rest of the British Isles?
Wow! This sounds like such a fun idea! And the Downton tea looked like so much fun 🙂 I love scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam – it was my favorite thing to eat when I lived in England. We used to head down to the quay side to this popular tea shop and order scones and pots of tea – I loved it. I’ve never had finger sandwiches before. I suppose when I think about it, I never really ordered traditional tea when I lived in England. Anyhow, I loved this post and your photos – thanks for sharing!!
Looks like this was a delightful day. Everything looks so delicious! I’ve had traditional English tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C., Canada, and enjoyed every bite. The presentation was lovely — goodies arranged on a 3-tiered serving plate — and delicious. What a treat!
FYI: I found your blog through Saturday Snapshots.
What fun you had! No, I have never been to a British High Tea but it looks yummy and I like how it looks on the good china. Thanks for sharing.
What fun, Joy! I’ll have to look and see what I can link in. Cheers
Yummmm. And what a fun day! Makes me want to pull out all the recipes I collected when I lived (briefly) in the UK.
This would have been so much fun!! I love tea sandwiches.
What a fabulous idea Joy – I’ll see what I can find in my backlist to get things started.
I had the very good fortune in 1991, whilst living and working in London as a nanny, to get an invite to Buckingham Palace for tea with the Queen!
It was just me and several hundred other lucky strangers!
No cameras were allowed, so the whole thing is pure memory.
It was a wonderful experience…and your pics reminded me of it – thank you 🙂
Wow! That would definitely be memorable — even without photos.
I really needed that geography lesson. I always get confused and just say the UK. Now I’ll feel more comfortable saying Great Britain.
Looks like this is taking off already! Though Canadian I love up in Scotland, so i will keep you up to date on all the happenings up here like the vote to separate from England, the Edinburgh Book Fest and anything else that comes my way!
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Thanks for sharing your new weekly meme! Love the tea party shots.
Here’s my Saturday Snapshot.
What a great idea. I think I may be the only person in England who hasn’t watched any of Downton. Sort of missed the boat. Though I have eaten a few cream teas. I will have to see if I have anything suitable British to link with.
I really need to stop reading Weekend Cooking posts before breakfast! I’m starving! At our library, we had someone request that we do a Downton Abbey tea, but it seems like it would be an awful lot of work. I’d rather attend one than throw one!
What a fun day you had with that cookery demo. The sandwiches must have been a bit of a challenge for you all since they are so different to what you normally get in your part of the world (a tiny amount of bread and a huge amount of filling!).
The history lesson is a great idea. But my gosh don’t I sound as if I am a real grump by saying ‘don’t call us English” 🙂
You don’t sound like a grump to me! Americans are used to treading carefully through identity issues — what we learned as children about what to call people is no longer polite now. It works best to be continuously curious about how people identify themselves and adapt accordingly.
What a marvelous idea for a meme! I’ve loved the British Isles for as long as I can remember and can’t wait to go back!
LOVE this idea and perhaps I will participate in the future.
I think I could easily adopt the English custom of afternoon tea. It’s very nature causes us to slow down and enjoy life a bit more – something I desire to do on a regular basis.
I’ve made a Victoria Sandwich cake before! Marian Keyes (Irish) put out a cookbook last year that has a lot of fantastic recipes, some traditional and some not. I’ve been impressed with all of the ones I’ve tried.
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How fun and I am glad for the geography lesson. Thanks for sharing with #ThrowbackThursdaylinkup and the shoutout on G+. I will have to link up some of my book reviews until I try some British recipes – I have a scone recipe I have been wanting to try.
Hope you link up with us again next week!
Oh I forgot, did you see the Welsh Cakes recipe from Europe’s Calling on the ThrowbackThursdaylinkup that was linked up ahead of you #22? It looks good and a little lesson about St. David’s Day in Wales.
I don’t have a link to share, but I love the idea and am a diehard Anglophile. That clotted cream looks sensational; what a fun day it must have been! 🙂
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