Sunday, September 25, 2016

Hemsley and Hemsley Cafe Selfridges, London

I absolutely adore the Hemsley and Hemsley girls and their two cookbooks are among my favourite cooking books that I pretty much use every single day. Therefore you can imagine my excitement when I heard the whisperings of a Hemsley and Hemsley cafe that would be opening in Selfridges on Oxford Street, London in May (my favourite store in the world, incidentally!).

If you haven't heard of the Hemsley girls they are two sisters, two extremely beautiful sisters, who create delicious recipes full of flavour and goodness but that are free from gluten, grains and refined sugar. They passionately believe in the nourishing power of real food and that eating well should be easy, affordable and enjoyable for everyone. They are known for love of spiraziling veg and have recently starred in a series for Channel 4.

I went to the cafe not long after it opened and because I had an overnight stay in London I decided it was the perfect opportunity to try their breakfast menu. I have porridge every single day pretty much, it's my favourite breakfast ever, but I have never strayed from standard oats (in fact I have a post about how I make my go-to porridge right here). Thus, I was really intrigued to try the Hemsley Buckwheat Porridge. I wasn't expecting to like it as much as real oats but actually it was just as satisfying! It was so tasty, warming and the addition of seasonal fruits, honey, goji berries and bee pollen made it that little more exotic than your usual porridge recipe.

I have the recipe for this Buckwheat Porridge (and it's also online here) in my Hemsley book but because I've been so faithful to traditional porridge making I had yet to stray from my breakfast routine, but actually tasting this in real life definitely made me change my mind. I think that's partly why the cafe is such a fabulous idea! Some of the recipes are so unusual and quirky so it's nice to test things before you buy special ingredients in. Moreover to me buckwheat is something I would use to make pancakes or in casseroles so I had no idea you could make something like porridge with it!

As for the price, this set me back £5 and I think that's okay as it's Selfridges and it's a lot more fancy than a large coffee chain, for instance. The cafe has a lovely quiet setting on the Body Studio, you have a waiter, somewhere nice to sit. As for a drink, I had a jasmine green tea because I'm not terribly adventurous when it comes to my beverages and I love green tea for breakfast. On each table was a little bit of coconut sugar which was a lovely touch and perfect if you are trying to cut down! After my breakfast I couldn't leave without a sweet treat so I had an amazing cookie which was dairy free thankfully and beyond moorish. Overall it was a fabulous experience and I hope very much to return in the future to make my way through their other delicious recipes and also maybe try a spot of lunch or something.

How many of you love the Hemsley girls too? And has anyone been to the cafe at Selfridges? Let me know below I'd love to hear from you! If you like what you see but you're not in London or from the UK I couldn't recommend their two cooking books more. Both are fantastic but the first one is super special to me. For more information about the new cafe head here.

Hemsley and Hemsley Cafe Details:

Opening Hours:

Monday – Saturday: 9:30am – 10:00pm 
Sunday: 12:00pm – 6:00pm 

Telephone: 020 7318 3170

Selfridges & Co,
400 Oxford Street,
W1A 1AB. 

(5 minutes from Bond St tube station)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Vegan Afternoon Tea at Compton Acres

So if you haven't noticed from my previous posts, I'm rather partial to a lovely spot of afternoon tea. The problem is with a dairy allergy it's something I've always loved the idea of more than the typical sweet treats served. Thankfully nowadays I've found that it is wonderfully easy to be catered for with my allergy and not only that, but there are also ready made vegan afternoon teas at various places now which is something completely new to me.

When I was at one of my favourite local spots near me Compton Acres a few months ago my friend and I spotted they had started to do a vegan afternoon tea. With my allergy and the fact she is wanting to become vegan it was truly perfect. Compton Acres is a truly pictureque spot near Sandbanks in Poole with one of the finest privately owned gardens in Southern England. It has beautiful gardens, a café, tea rooms, plant centre and a gift shop so it's a great setting for an afternoon of tea-ing!

And so out came three tiers of delicious vegan food. One for sandwiches, one for some cupcakes and the other for scones and the most delicious coconut cream I'm still dreaming about. There was also the addition of quirky little things such as vegan cheese and pineapple on sticks.

Now, despite my allergy, I like to think I will eat anything. Truly: I can't think of a single cuisine or food I wouldn't try or have but.....wait for it....cheese will forever be something I loathe (I'm sorry cheese lovers!). It just brings back such painful memories of being so incredibly ill so I shamefully can't even try vegan cheese! And so, as a result, my friend and I decided to share this cake stand and she had all the vegan cheese bits and I had anything she didn't fancy. But the sandwiches were really interested because I'm so use to having the normal afternoon tea selection of sandwiches just with no butter etc. The Roasted Red Pepper sandwich in particular was so delicious and a sunblush tomato and basil sandwich. It definitely made me think outside the box in terms of sandwiches and you certainly don't miss out on meat or fish.

But now let's talk about the best bits: the cake. Vegan cake oh how grateful I am for you. Nowadays for me cake is such a decadent treat. I know I could try and make my own but I'm a terrible baker so I seek out dairy free or vegan cake whenever I can and it is such a joyous luxury. The chocolate cupcake served with our tea was simply divine. It tasted just as decadent and wonderful as the real thing. Equally as lush the scones were such a dream. I had my first scone at The Ritz and ever since I have been craving them. These scones were accompanied by coconut cream and strawberry jam. And as I said, honestly, the coconut cream was just so, so gorgeous. I desperately need to re-create this and have it with fruit or something because it's that perfect.

Alongside my tier of decadent treats I also had a green tea which is my go-to tea and Compton Acres stock a fantastic range of local Dorset company Clippers Tea. Overall I couldn't recommend their tea more and I'm already thinking of going back soon to take more of my vegan friends or to be honest anyone because it's all so scrumptious. Plus, the setting is so beautiful and if you're a Dorset resident you simply must visit very soon!

I hope you enjoyed this post! How many of you love afternoon tea? Do I have anyone reading this with a dairy allergy or who is vegan? Do you have suggestions of anywhere else either in Dorset or nationwide I should check out? In fact let's not stick to simply the UK: tell me about your fave hangouts wherever they may be! I'm actually planning another vegan afternoon tea in Paris in December so I'm very excited to blog about that in the future.

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