Sunday, 16 August 2015

My secret tea at an 18th century house in Spitalfields

Maid servant at MsMarmitelover's 18th century tea party at Dennis Severs house, 18 Folgate St, Spitalfields, london,
No gaudy colours, no blowsy cupcakes, no glitter, no flash, no electricity but demure serving girls, candle-lit rooms, a rented pineapple symbolising welcome, stood proudly inside a large silver punch bowl serving a refreshingly alcoholic Regency Punch, a recipe from MsMarmitelover's Secret Tea Party. David, stern custodian of Dennis Severs' ghostly Georgian house in Spitalfields, greeted guests to my secret 18th century tea party. Muggy London sunshine had turned into August showers as close air shimmered in the waxy golden gloom. Ladies fanned themselves and gossiped while drinking delicate porcelain tea bowls of Lapsang Suchong, Assam, Darjeeling and Gunpowder tea.
Cayenne pepper, a new and fashionable ingredient, rasped cheese straws 'til they burned the mouth. I stood in the basement kitchen, sweating over the coal fire, wiping my brow on my apron, scraping at the cast iron pan, cooking fine pikelets and thick crumpets, the latter blackened a little by the charred fuel, made especially delicious with yellow salted butter. My fellow chef gentle giant James in the low ceilinged back room, head crooked over for he couldn't stand up straight. Creamy buttermilk and blueberry scones with award-winning marmalade, home-stewed jams and clots of cream; toasted (English) muffins abraded with Gentleman's relish (home-made); small squares of watercress sandwiches, fingers of smoked salmon on ivory bread, cucumber too. To follow, tartlets with lemon cheese (curd), pillowy Chelsea buns coiled around Seville orange peel nudged into enamel tins, madeira loafmulberry cherry and pecan fruit cakes, seed cake, flat jacks softened with honey, rosewater ratafias baked on rice paper. Finally home-made caramels in twists of paper, Turkish delight, paté de fruit, candied fruits served with tiny vintage glasses of amber Madeira wine. Candles spluttered, the sound of horses, hooves clattering on the cobbles, the servants bell repeatedly ringing, a dark grey cat slipping from room to room, eyeing crumbs. 
My research for this occasion was based on my previous supper club inspired by the novels of Patrick O'Brian, recipes from an 18th century cookbook in 18 Folgate Street, suggestions and recipes from Georgian era blogger Madame Gilfurt, information gleaned from Georgian historian and novelist Lucy Inglis when I cooked a meal at Mr Fortnum's old house in Soho at Black's club.
Kitchen at Dennis Severs house, 18 Folgate St, Spitalfields, london, MsMarmitelover's Tea party
Pineapple Regency Punch at  MsMarmitelover's 18th century tea party at Dennis Severs house, 18 Folgate St, Spitalfields, london,
 MsMarmitelover's 18th century tea party at Dennis Severs house, 18 Folgate St, Spitalfields, london,
 MsMarmitelover's 18th century tea party at Dennis Severs house, 18 Folgate St, Spitalfields, london,
bedroom at  MsMarmitelover's 18th century tea party at Dennis Severs house, 18 Folgate St, Spitalfields, london,
bedroom at MsMarmitelover's 18th century tea party at Dennis Severs house, 18 Folgate St, Spitalfields, london,
Guests at MsMarmitelover's 18th century tea party at Dennis Severs house, 18 Folgate St, Spitalfields, london,
Kitchen at Dennis Severs house, 18 Folgate St, Spitalfields, london, MsMarmitelover's Tea party
MsMarmitelover's 18th century tea party at Dennis Severs house, 18 Folgate St, Spitalfields, london,
James Benson, chef, at MsMarmitelover's 18th century tea party at Dennis Severs house, 18 Folgate St, Spitalfields, london,
Guests at MsMarmitelover's 18th century tea party at Dennis Severs house, 18 Folgate St, Spitalfields, london,
Guests including Porridge Lady at MsMarmitelover's 18th century tea party at Dennis Severs house, 18 Folgate St, Spitalfields, london,
Maidservant at MsMarmitelover's 18th century tea party at Dennis Severs house, 18 Folgate St, Spitalfields, london,
Guests and maidservant at MsMarmitelover's 18th century tea party at Dennis Severs house, 18 Folgate St, Spitalfields, london,
Guests at MsMarmitelover's 18th century tea party at Dennis Severs house, 18 Folgate St, Spitalfields, london,
Guests at MsMarmitelover's 18th century tea party at Dennis Severs house, 18 Folgate St, Spitalfields, london,
Kitchen at Dennis Severs house, 18 Folgate St, Spitalfields, london, MsMarmitelover's Tea party

10 comments:

  1. Those photos have really captured the era. And that afternoon tea sounds perfect.

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    1. It was very hard work, moving all the crockery, cutlery, food, equipment to Spitalfields for an afternoon. A military operation! But it was great fun, I really enjoyed it. A very special occasion. I adore food history and would love to study it.

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  2. Το σκηνικό είναι ιδανικό για ταινία ,τα εδέσματα μοναδικά ,όλη η ατμόσφαιρα σε ταξιδεύει σε άλλες εποχές..........καταπληκτικό !

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    1. Thanks for your lovely comment in Greek Soyfrano.
      Here is the google translation, hope it's accurate: The setting is ideal for movie, unique dishes , the whole atmosphere takes you back in time .......... amazing!

      I'm coming to Greece again beginning of October, to visit Crete and Chios. Can't wait.

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  3. We happened to be in town for that afternoon tea. As I´ve always wanted to see Dennis Severs´ house, this was the perfect opportunity to not just look at it but really be there.
    And from the punch to the sandwiches to the scones to the cakes and all inbetween, it was absolutely delicious. I couldn´t pick my favourite because I loved it all. Or maybe the Lemon Tartlets. Or, no, the Gentleman´s Relish. No, it was all perfect. Thanks so much, Kerstin!
    Thanks, too, to the "demure serving girls" for being so attentive and genuinely friendly.

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  4. Wow! The interiors are fabulous! The tea looks great too...a little travel in time! ;)

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  5. Great photos and post of a wonderful afternoon Kerstin. I even make an appearance in your pics :-)

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  6. Loved reading about it and seeing the pics.

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  7. Just exquisite and what a wonderful idea for a birthday gift. I know my daughter would love this as she recently attended the immersive Alice in Wonderland event in London. This, by the look of it, is even more attuned to detail, atmosphere..

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  8. Oh, this looks wonderful - so atmospheric. It's for things like this that I would like to be in London. (And then I remember that I live with fresh air, and countryside, and nice things like that! ) :)

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