Boswell’s of Oxford is an institution. It’s always been there, for those little things that you just can’t get anywhere else or for those quality items that you need for your home. So when I was asked if I could attend the launch party for their new tea room, I jumped at the chance, especially as there was a promise of tea.
After over 275 years of serving the people of Oxford, Boswells are introducing a tea room for the first time in the history of the store. The 1738 Tea Room Café will officially be opened on Saturday 28th November with a visit from Santa himself. The cafe is set on the first floor of Boswell’s and looks set to be a calming port in the busy streets of Oxford.
There will be a delicious range of teas, cakes, pastries and sandwiches, ideal for satisfying any tea craving. Products in the tea room café will be supplied by local brands with Peros Coffee, Happy Cakes, Truly Scrumptious, Natural Bread Company, Oxford Cheese Company, Limes Farm, Viva Las Cakes, Stephanie Almeida Bespoke Cakes and Brightwell Vineyard.
During the launch, we were treated to cake decorating courtesy of Happy Cakes and tea tasting from Twinnings. I had no idea how different loose tea is from tea bags or that you can get tea that tastes exactly like Ferrero Rocher. The lovely ladies at Happy Cakes also said I was a bit of pro when it came to decorating my cupcake and Phil said it tasted delicious!
Thank you to Boswell’s for inviting me and for my fab goody bag!
It’s no secret that I love cake. Since becoming vegan, I still love cake, though, my cake choices are greatly reduced. That doesn’t stop me pinning lovely cake images on Pinterest or keeping an eye out for easy vegan cakes. They have to be easy and quick. I’m not looking to build my skill set for a GBBO entry next year. I couldn’t think of anything worse. I want instant gratification – don’t make me wait for my cake! So when I came across this image on Pinterest when I searched for vegan brownies, a quick glance at the ingredients meant that I could make these without having to go and buy more ingredients. I could make these easily and be eating them very soon.
I made two batches of these brownies. I followed the recipe exactly for the first test batch, with the exception of cooking time, due to the fact that our oven is temperamental and often undercooks things. I added an extra five minutes cooking time, then covered the tin in foil, turned the oven off, but left them in the oven for another five minutes. They were fine. In fact, they were better than some vegan brownies that I paid good money for. Even better than the taste was the fact that they take 10 minutes to make. Yep. You go from raw ingredients to going in the oven in ten quick minutes. The second batch I made was for book group on Tuesday. I was up against it time wise, as I was late coming home from school and had no other pudding option. So naturally I decided to mix things up a bit and swap the vegetable oil for olive oil. What could go wrong? Well, the batter tasted like eating a load of olives, that’s what! So I added an extra tablespoon of cocoa powder and bunged it all in the oven with my fingers firmly crossed. I cooked it for the same length of time as the first batch, let it cool for a bit before tasting. They were delicious! I couldn’t believe it! The extra cocoa was a winner and they were much more gooey than my first batch. They were slightly overcooked on the outside, but as long as they didn’t taste like olives, I didn’t really care! I’ll definitely make these again as they’re so easy and delicious.
Last week was a pretty hectic week at Crafty Chai towers. It’s fair to say I was ecstatic when Friday evening arrived. As I’d been so busy, I’d planned a few treats for the weekend. One was a delicious bottle of organic fairtrade vegan wine from Stellar Winery, ticking all my ethical boxes. I don’t drink alcohol very often, but am pleased to have found all of my favourite tipples available for vegans. I’d also planned some cake from Barefoot Kitchen in Oxford. While I did have my eye on a slice of the vegan chocolate cake, it had sold out by the time we got there. So I had a slice of the incredibly delicious banana caramel cake. It was a-mazing!
I also managed to squeeze in two long baths and a few adventure filled dog walks with Poppy, one of which involved Snake’s Head fritillaries, Kenneth Graham’s grave and Poppy falling in to the River Cherwell! It was a lovely weekend and I can’t wait for the next one.
Life can move at such an incredible pace so it’s important to slow down and make time for some of life’s pleasures, like cake and wine!
I don’t know if it’s the clocks going back or the chill in the air, but something has triggered the desire to hibernate. I’ve stocked up on kindling, we had our wood delivery last week, we’re having an autumnal clear out and I’m even baking again. I made a banana bread last week and am planning to bake some digestive biscuits this week. In between my bouts of domesticity, there is shop bought cake, which is essential to keep me going between dog walks.
This little beauty came from the newly opened Natural Bread Company shop in Oxford. I popped in earlier today to see what was on offer and eagerly snapped up this bad boy. It is more delicious than it looks, and they had quite an array of equally delicious looking cakes, which I will be back for! I’m all for hibernation, just need to get some red wine in and I’ll be set for winter!