In my 45 years on the planet I’ve come to learn one or two things – some are obvious, others only come with age and a whole lot of mistakes! This week’s review however, hangs on something I have known since I was a tiny wee girl. An afternoon chatting with family over tea and cake will always be time well spent.
My nana was a baker extraordinaire you see, with perfect scones every time and fairy cakes as light as a feather. The tea was always poured from a pot and kept warm by various patterned tea-cosies. My mum picked up the mantle, her tiffin a thing of great acclaim (my best friend ate it by the tinful when she was pregnant) and for these reasons alone I think my deep love of an Afternoon Tea will remain with me forever.
However… and this is important. Such is my enjoyment of this wonderful old tradition that I’m a bit particular when it comes to the execution. Tea must be served in pots, sandwiches must be dainty and cakes must be homemade. Throw in good company and a beautiful setting and I’m in seventh heaven. Simple pleasures and all that!
So, when my brother and sister-in-law announced they were coming up to visit from down south it seemed the perfect excuse to try out the new Afternoon Tea Experience at The Copper Beech Café at The Black Watch Castle & Museum. Lesca is as big a fan as I am for this quaintest of traditions and after packing my brother off fishing with Dad we headed for an afternoon of non-stop natter!
If you’ve never been to the Copper Beech café you really must give it a go. Bright and airy with big floor-to-ceiling windows on all sides, the views over the Castle courtyard and gardens make this a beautiful setting for enjoying a coffee or light lunch. We were greeted by the wonderfully warm Debbie who got us seated comfortably and ensured we were topped up with piping hot tea for the duration.
The cake stand arrived, three tiers of delicious finger food just waiting to be devoured. As a wee note, I have never understood anyone who says ‘we just couldn’t manage it all’ – that’s what elastic waisted trousers and three hour lunches were made for.
There were super-soft mini brioche rolls filled with the traditional fillings of smoked salmon, baked ham, coronation chicken and cheese with chutney. Dainty, freshly made and exceptionally moreish Lesca and I rememberd our manners and polished these off before moving on to the sweet treats!
Now is the time to separate the clans… Do you go sandwiches, cakes, scones or sandwiches, scones, cakes? I’m a cake first, scones last sort of a girl but Lesca was all over the warm-from-oven scones as soon as her brioche was finished. To be fair, she may simply have been making sure I didn’t get over zealous when heaping on the cream! No matter the order, the scones were just the right combination of light and fluffy but with enough bite to handle a good dod of cream and jam. Mini in size, there were two each – one plain, one fruit – and a generous helping of the good stuff for both.
Cakes next with a gorgeous selection of homebaking for each of us. I do like it when they give everyone the same – saves a family feud breaking out over the last cream puff – and at Black Watch there is plenty to accompany that second pot of tea. The chocolate orange tarts were rich and smooth with a citrusy burst of flavour to finish. A gluten free orange slice (never in million years would you guess this was GF) had the texture of carrot cake and was dressed with a creamy, nutty topping. But it was the strawberry and cream pastries shaped like little hearts that I saved for last. My eye spied them as soon as the stand arrived I wasn’t disappointed; they were as light as a feather with a soft jelly like topping and Chantilly cream centre. Divine!
We chatted about all sorts while we ate, catching up, pouring tea and scooping up cakes without really stopping to think. (My notes for this are pathetic – which is always a good sign!). An easy two hours passed without really thinking about it and my promise to take a tour with my sister-in-law turned into a browse around their gorgeous shop as we realised there was no time for history that day! NOTE: Lesca is a shopper of great worth and the mix of housewares, Scottish goods and food and drink gifts send her home with plenty of souvenirs from Perth!
The entire afternoon was a gorgeous experience and at £10 per head for Afternoon Tea I was blown away by the value. I’m already planning a day out with my Mum – she’ll love it for sure – and I know my nana would have wholeheartedly approved of the scones. Praise indeed for any cake stand.
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Afternoon Tea is served from 2.00pm-3.00pm daily and costs £10 per person. For vouchers and general bookings contact:
T: 01738 638152 | Ext 202
Nicki was offered a free Afternoon Tea experience for two in return for a review or mystery shop, whichever felt most appropriate.