A colleague from work brought me a box of gluten free macaroons from a recent trip to Italy that she made with her husband on a motorbike. We usually share sweets, biscuits, fruits and many cups of tea at work but these macaroons were a gift and also were so pretty that I said I was going to use them for a new edition of “tea and cake” on my blog. So another excuse to write, eat and drink tea!
These lovely purple little circular cakes are blueberry macaroons with blueberry cream filling. To pair them I made a Nilgiri SFTGFOP1 black tea so the sweetness and fruitiness of the macaroon could blend with the natural fruity character of the tea. The crumbly texture of the macaroon was also perfect to match the light-medium body of this black tea. In this case I think an iced tea could have been good as well but temperatures already started to drop so a warm cup of tea was a great choice.
I know it could sound silly but how easy it is to make yourself happy with little things: tea, macaroons and a book perhaps? Or just watching the clouds go by from the window, feeling the crisp air of the autumn? Tea and cake is a small but special pleasure if we intend it to be, isn’t it?
Thank you Txung for the present!
In this edition of tea and cake I have a very special guest, Lorena Franzoni, an Argentine graphic designer and artist that lives in Barcelona and with whom I always like to share ideas and projects and, of course, many cups of tea. This time I invited her to bring her ceramic pieces to have “tea and cake” at home using them as the main theme. I chose a refreshing Darjeeling First Flush and, to accompany it, whole wheat and regular madeleines, mini croissants, mini “napolitanas” and strawberries.
Her pieces are handmade and they respond to her own creative process, stories and needs. I particularly like the organic touch and feel of the pieces and how its variety of sizes, textures, shapes and colours complement each other so gracefully.
In the pictures you can see small bowls, a beautiful cake stand and two little horses. The horses are actually part of a bigger piece called “Brillante”, a lamp that is also a character that during the day delivers flowers and by night lightens up the dark. The piece was recently showcased at the collective expo called “Los Tripulantes” in Barcelona.
We had tea and a nice chat about her present and future projects. She is currently working on a children’s cup for her nephew and a set of plates for her home. I am sure it will be to die for!
What a pleasure to have tea with such a great company and these beautiful pieces! Thank you Lore for being on this edition of Tea and Cake, a real delight!
To know more about Lorena’s design work please visit:
She makes all her ceramic pieces at El Taller de Lusesita: https://www.facebook.com/pages/El-taller-de-lusesita/571797292930333?fref=photo
While in Antwerp I was doing some grocery shopping at the supermarket when I spotted this lovely box of gluten free Speculoos biscuits on the shelf. I would always see my husband craving for the regular ones so it was finally my opportunity to try them! If you don’t know what Speculoos is, these are shortbread biscuits with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, brown sugar, cardamom, among other spices, similar to a Christmas shortbread.
The box had this message on the side: “The little pleasures in life are a touch of oooom mixed with a pinch of mmmmm and a dash of yuhm, and many other special ingredients only you know about”. Well, these biscuits are mmmm, yuhmmm, oommm indeed and I think that would be the best description for it; my husband was right. Needless to say this brand is called Little Pleasures.
So in this edition of Tea and Cake (that I should have called Tea and Biscuits instead), I married a black, malty, full bodied Assam with the Speculoos biscuits and the combination was absolutely delicious! It was like tasting a Masala Chai and if you think about it, it actually is. The spices in both the tea and the biscuits are mostly the same. But don’t worry, if you don’t have Speculoos, find a good Assam or any robust black tea and accompany it with some ginger or spiced cookies, and you will see the result!
This time I also added soy milk to my Assam (a lighter version of a builders tea) just to add creaminess to it and have a bit of contrast with the crunchiness of the biscuits.
I had a sip of my tea, then I had a cookie, then another sip and so on until the cup and the box were both empty.
And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom , my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it; perhaps because I had so often seen such things in the meantime, without tasting them, on the trays in pastry-cooks’ windows, that their image had dissociated itself from those Combray days to take its place among others more recent; perhaps because of those memories, so long abandoned and put out of mind, nothing now survived, everything was scattered; the shapes of things, including that of the little scallop-shell of pastry, so richly sensual under its severe, religious folds, were either obliterated or had been so long dormant as to have lost the power of expansion which would have allowed them to resume their place in my consciousness. But when from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, taste and smell alone, more fragile but more enduring, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, remain poised a long time, like souls, remembering, waiting, hoping, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unflinchingly, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.
And as soon as I had recognized the taste of the piece of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-blossom which my aunt used to give me (although I did not yet know and must long postpone the discovery of why this memory made me so happy) immediately the old grey house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like a stage set to attach itself to the little pavilion opening on to the garden which had been built out behind it for my parents (the isolated segment which until that moment had been all that I could see); and with the house the town, from morning to night and in all weathers, the Square where I used to be sent before lunch, the streets along which I used to run errands, the country roads we took when it was fine. And as in the game wherein the Japanese amuse themselves by filling a porcelain bowl with water and steeping in it little pieces of paper which until then are without character or form, but, the moment they become wet, stretch and twist and take on color and distinctive shape, become flowers or houses or people, solid and recognizable, so in that moment all the flowers in our garden and in M. Swann’s park, and the water-lilies on the Vivonne and the good folk of the village and their little dwellings and the parish church and the whole of Combray and its surroundings, taking shape and solidity, sprang into being, town and gardens alike, from my cup of tea”.
“Remembrance of Things Past or In Search of Lost Time”. Marcel Proust
It is almost impossible to talk about madeleines and tea without recalling the famous passage of Swann’s Way in Proust’s novel Remembrance of Things Past and thinking about the power of tea to evoke memories from the past.
Many things have being said and studied from this passage, about memory and its triggers, but this time I would just like to add it as the third element of this “tea and cake” edition. So we have a whole wheat magdalena (a Spanish version), an English Earl Grey tea and one of the finest and timeless passages of the world’s literature history to accompany it. The result is a exquisite blend of the subtle vanilla taste of the muffin with the citrusy and aromatic taste of the Earl Grey’s bergamot -as if the muffin had lemon and orange zest in it- and an inspiring reading to bring back memories…or to just enjoy the present.
I think is a classic combination that cannot fail…
To Proust, to the present, to tea!
So far this is one of the best muffins I have ever tried. I bought it to have with my tea at home (at the time I was at my Mum’s house in Miami) and, after taking the first bite, divided it into four pieces so that my dad, mum and husband could also try it. This is a Matcha Green Tea gluten-free muffin by Kyotofu -a Brooklyn based bakery in NY- and it is a real treat! The Matcha tea is so well blended and the texture is so soft and moist that I regret I didn’t buy more than just one. To accompany it I made a Japanese green tea called Kukicha and the combination was just superb!
Kukicha is a tea that I discovered quite recently and that I am growing to love. It has the beautiful and grassy taste of Japanese green teas and that soothing, relaxing, almost zen-like effect that I love. Soon I will write a post exclusively about the Kukicha tea, as I find it fascinating. In the meantime I hope you enjoy the pictures I took for this “Tea and cake #2” edition!
I have family visiting and yesterday my aunt made a delicious wholemeal banana cake and I chose an exquisite oolong tea to accompany it. I picked an oolong for its fruity notes, lasting aftertaste and because it has the perfect body to go along with the cake. The result was a burst of aromas and flavours that would brighten up any grey afternoon.
In general oolongs should be brewed at 80°-95°C, steeped for 4 or 5 minutes (some connoisseurs even recommend up to 7 minutes) and then served. Also known as “blue tea”, oolongs are produced mainly in China and Taiwan and are highly appreciated for its noble characteristics and unique way of production. Before trying it with food, try it on its own so you get to enjoy its complexity and full flavours. Do not hesitate to brew it two and three times, it gets better and better.
Thank you Laura for the cake!