Review Number Six

6) Boston Tea Party – Exeter

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On Friday the 26th of April I had the pleasure of experiencing what Boston’s had to offer, by way of a cream tea, with two of my fellow connoisseur’s; my Aladdin and my Becca.

It was an odd experience because I never usually go there for that particular beverage. I always tend to order a delicious white hot chocolate with one of their blackberry and apple flapjacks smothered in a generous layer of yogurt. Yum. Yum. But today we had planned to make an exception. Bandicoot and I had conquered an empty table (which by the way is really hard to do during the lunch rush hour) and were waiting for my less than punctual friend to arrive.

We were starving, eager and uncommunicative by the time she graced us with her presence. So you can imagine how quickly we rushed through the pleasantries and forced her to accompany Ash Ketchum with our order.

We, the couple, decided to share a cream tea (after the last episode at A La Ronde I wasn’t going to ruin myself again) and to consume some of their toasted sarnies. Becca, however, decided to go for a brownie instead… WHAT?! I know, right? Apparently she was too full from lunch and couldn’t handle a whole one to herself! Disgraceful!

BUT, I had to forgive her, chastising a girl fresh out of work from a long shift is unfair and cruel. So I gave her a warning that if she did it again, next time, I wouldn’t be as … understanding. It would be wise for you to remember that Becca, that a one time offender is all you can be, perhaps I shall text you daily reminders … would you like that?

Constant Cream Tea Rejecters are rogues and fiends; not to be trusted – remember that all!

So once that unfortunate matter was settled we moved on to the most important concern of all – eating the cream teas.

These were the notes I made whilst gobbling (pictured below on their comment slip):

1)      Not enough sauces

2)      Toasted without permission

3)      Pre-sliced

4)      Small teapots, but good tea

5)      Cheese Droplets

6)      “It’s not emulsion” – several layers

7)      Spreads well, not flaky nor brakey

8)      No choice of Jam favours

9)      Moist

6/10

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I feel some of these points need to be explained …

For some reason they had decided to pre-slice and toast our scones for us, I have never come across such a heinous act before and was confused as to why they felt this was necessary. I am not incapable of cutting a scone in half, no, in fact I’ve had plenty of practice! And the toasting thing? Baffling. The only benefits such a function gave us was that it made spreading the cream on top easier and prevented the scone from excessive crumbling, other than that; pretty redundant.

The presentation of the food was nice enough though; the buns came to us on a beautiful plate of blue china and the sandwiches in these funky looking terracotta bowls with tissue. For one this cream tea would be decent enough, but it was a lucky thing I ordered my own pot of peppermint tea because there wouldn’t have been enough for Ketchum and I from the one pot they gave us. Tea was of excellent quality but I wouldn’t have minded some more. And the sauces…? There was not enough, not enough at all. I mean what we were given did cover each of our halves but it didn’t feel like an indulgence. Instead it was pristine, neat and somewhat flat. I spread and spread layers and layers of cream and jam but I felt forced to hold back in case there wasn’t enough.

Oh and number 8) is self explanatory.

As far as looks go I was dubious and unimpressed, I was worried that because they had toasted the buns they would be dry and crispy.

Lucky, my criticisms stop as soon as they got into my mouth.

What? Really? Yep!

They were… MOIST and NOMMY! Totally not what I was expecting at all. The jam was sweet and the cream was nourishing. It was certainly a ‘Boston Tea Party’ in my mouth … (ha ha get it? … ahem …) The Moroccan mint tea I had went SO well with it too, I had my happy cat face on every time I took a bite and a sip, I enjoyed having my expectations altered. All those apprehensive feelings I had, prior to my mouth party, dissolved along with each morsel that was being devoured by digestive enzymes.

So, ya, on the scale of ‘orgasmic to nauseating’ it hit the satisfactory mark. It did the job. A 6/10 according to my lover is what it deserves.

Oh and number 5)? Well those cheese droplets came from our delicious Sandwiches; Aladdin had an Eldorado and I had a Hot Chick – super tasty and super crispy – they toasted them to the max…

Perhaps they just really love their toaster? I accidentally breathed out while taking a bite of my Chick and this embarrassing cloud of crumbs blew forth from my lips! It went everywhere! In my tea, in the jam, in Ketchum’s tea, in Becca’s face, on Bandicoots lap and ALL over the table … I don’t think anyone could’ve missed it. Reminded me of that scene in the Little Mermaid when Ariel blows Grimsby’s smoking pipe and the tobacco covers his face …

Almost AS embarrassing as the jam knife incident when it jumped out of my hand and stabbed my side on its way down to the floor (that happened on this very same occasion by the way – Boston’s obviously wanted to humiliate me this particular trip). So unfair.

Anyway, back to the cheese droplets, they were just droplets of cheese from our sandwiches which I ate. Even Bandicoots droplets… yeah that’s right I ate ‘em.

To sum up – deceptively good but I recommend don’t share one between two unless you buy an extra pot of tea. Also don’t feel threatened by the seating upstairs, just because you have to share a table with a stranger doesn’t mean they will bother you, but if it makes you uncomfortable avoid going at lunch time and maybe you’ll be lucky enough to land a sofa!

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Oh! They also like to promote local artists in their tearooms so keep an eye out! Jane Perkins is currently on show and her work is amazing! (I’ve tagged her website if you want a looksie!)

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Character Profile 4

Jellybean

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I’m not partial to Jellybeans.

When I was younger I adored all sorts of jellied sweets. All the luminescent capsules of tightly compacted sugar and those stringy laces packed with E numbers, but, as I grew older my fondness for sweets slowly diminished. My addiction for chocolate, however, is still swelling out of control. I have no idea where my sweet tooth has gone… maybe the dentist stole it? Man I hate dentists… but, yeah, I can’t stand sweets anymore. The colours are too vibrant and the sugar coating too tangy for me to handle… I don’t trust them… they are too artificial… not like chocolate… oh my beloved chocolate… Being little you don’t think about the health risks; you just gobble them up without a second thought. However, now that I am… ‘older’ I am incapable of putting them in my mouth, even holding them is beyond me. It’s a sign that my childhood has well and truly won its game of hide and seek…

WHERE ARE YOU HIDING, DAMMIT? COME BACK, I MISS YOU AND SO DO MY TEDDIES!

But not all Jellybeans are made of sugar, of course.

Of course?

Yes – of course… shut up!

Some are magic.

Some are mastered in the art of Karate, some need two packets of hair dye to change their hair colour and some sing along to Paramore when they are angry.

Well… only one actually.

I met a Jellybean at university. She was living in the same student accommodation as me… In fact she was right next door! I didn’t realise at the time that she was a jellybean of course, like she would’ve made it that easy… she had an excellent disguise. It wasn’t until I really got to know her that I began to see through the human facade and glimpsed the quirky secrets within.

Alcohol has a funny bonding effect. It doesn’t always work, I mean, it more than usually patches over awkward situations… but when it does it can form unbreakable bonds that stand through all sorts of arguments and fallouts. She was my night-out companion; the only one that willingly jumped straight in and chugged down spirits and wine with me without a second thought. Extraordinary how immediate our friendship was; strangers who are randomly thrown together have to adapt quickly and my, how quickly we did adapt. I’m not saying others didn’t dive in as well, no sir, I have one other that banded with us almost as soon as we had (but her story is for another time… when she is back from Asia… possibly… depends if she brings back presents… hum…) but there was an instant connection between myself and the Jellybean.

I was the one who saved her from her door being locked. On that fateful day when we all moved in, I was the one who stepped up and showed her up for not being able to unlock a door… what a lovely first impression that must have been… ahhhhh… sweet sweet nostalgia…

ANYWAY, I was her hero, and from then on, her drinking companion.

We’ve done it all. We rated boys bum’s together, we created our own language; which was just banging on our adjoining wall really, until one of us eventually gave in and went to the other’s room. One time we each drank a whole bottle of wine on a night out to the union; we were SO shit faced that only one of us actually got in (me), who then subsequently fell over (twice), puked a few times before she was finally chucked out of the union (this being in the first 10mins) and stumbled back home to find said Jellybean on some stairs sucking face with an American footballer.

Wow what a ramble…  Fun Times indeed.

I never knew you could recover from fallouts until I met her (and said other who has abandoned us for Asia…) usually the world would end and you couldn’t piece the shattered friendship back together. But with her (and also – her… lord it’s hard not to include said abandoner because we are something of a threesome…) it could always be fixed, we could always find the missing puzzle piece and jam it back together; it was easy. During the fallout however… HELL, UTTER UTTER HELL… the world would collapse briefly and all hope would appear taunt-like and abusive.

Ever had that kind of fallout before?

One that hurts so badly that it actually signifies just how much they mean to you?

No?

Well it sucks. Literally, literally sucks balls. It’s like you’ve eaten a cracker and your throat is too dry to swallow, so much so that it’s like you are being struck when you breathe. That’s love, true love and it sucks when it’s broken.

BUT once mended, that argument is so effortlessly forgotten that it just transforms into an amusing anecdote which can be pulled out to tease, mock and reminisce whenever we like.

Much like a magnet my Jellybean attracts drama. Like wasps to a honey pot, flies to a piece of cake and ants to a picnic; it follows her and spoils her with its generosity. It lags behind, stalks her wherever she goes and only catches up with her when a semblance of normality seems, at last, in sight. I do not know how she copes. Her body’s stamina is astonishing. She soldiers on, never lets tragedy hold her back, with determination (and a little help from Pro Plus) she can withstand hours of work and any social plight. I have always admired her determination, even if at times it can be most inflexible and stubborn… humph… she never wavers from her opinions, she has the ability to trust in her own judgements; a trait I thoroughly wish I had…. but then, she studied Politics so it’s expected, in that kind of degree it’s mandatory to have strong opinions and a backbone to match.

She is the epitome of strength.

She is the modern day Amazon.

She is a force that even Mother Nature cannot withstand… a Jedi might though… but then Jedi’s can defeat anything, never cross a Jedi, they will own you.

She is… MY JELLYBEAN and I shall not eat her… because, like I said, I don’t like the taste of them and I much prefer them as friends anyway.

The best Cream Tea’s I’ve tasted so far…

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There is nothing I love more than to go for a walk around a beautiful National Trust property and afterwards share a Cream Tea with my lovely boyfriend… the best part being is that he usually pays! ;D nah I joke, the best part is definitely when I have my first bite of a delicious scone smothered in cream and jam! Haha!

I have a very high opinion of how I believe a scone should taste and how it should be served. I have had some dreadful scones in my time – some that have tasted of soap or have been so crumbly that before it’s even reached my lips it has fallen back down to my plate in a million pieces splattering cream and jam everywhere. The worst thing is when you drive all the way to a property and find that the restaurant is only selling scones with sultanas in them. No plain ones… my heart sinks to my stomach and comforts it because it knows the poor thing will remain unsatisfied.

There are many factors I consider when eating a proper cream tea and I believe I judge fairly when I do so.

So here they are! These are the questions I usually consider whilst I scoff away like a beast in front of my beloved –

How big is the scone? Big Bodacious Buns please!

How does the Scone taste? Score from 1-10 (One being – WHY THE HELL DID I PUT THAT IN MY MOUTH?! DDDDD: and 10 being – ORGASMIC!!! : DDDDD)

How much Jam and Cream do you get? Better be enough to spread on all my halves… (yeah I cut them in half and eat it that way.. my mouth isn’t big enough to consume it whole!!)

Are they even proportions? My boyfriend prefers more jam than cream and I am the opposite so if there is an even amount of both we like to share… nawww… if you saw us pillaging away at the sauces you really wouldn’t think it’s that sweet… more like a feeding frenzy.

How many cups of tea do you get out of the tea pot? Less isn’t more.

And if you do not get a teapot how big is the cup? Again, less isn’t more.

Is the Jam and Cream cool? preferably cool.

Do you get a choice in Jam? I love raspberry, not traditional I know but I would rather have that to strawberry.

Is the Cream proper clotted or whipped? FYI whipped is gross but some may disagree.

Is the Scone warm? Love it when the cream melts a bit. Drool!

Do they have Plain and Fruit scones? If they only have fruit ones they are void. Gross. Immoral. EVIL. I leave the place immediately. Yeah, I only like plain Scones… Was that not obvious before?!

Do you get one or two scones? LESS ISN’T MORE!!

Free tea refills? DEFINITELY A BONUS!

Think I have covered all the crucial areas… So far the best places I’ve been to for a decent scone is Killerton House in Exeter and the Royal Pavillion in Brighton – huge pots of cream and jam, perfect fluffy fat scones and a generous pot of tea. So if you have ever been to those places and have tasted their scones please let me know if you agree or (hopefully not) disagree!