Scottish Oats and the Hula Juice Café (Edinburgh, UK)

There are a few traditional Scottish food items that I wanted to try on my trip through Scottland - among them the Scottish oats, also often referred to as porridge. While porridge is a hot cereal that can be made with a variety of grains, oatmeal is a kind of porridge made with oats.

I can remember when I ate my first oatmeal. Someone I once knew, made it for me for breakfast and told me the story of how he grew up with his father making him oatmeal. I never really thought much about oatmeal other than that it really looks mushy and unapealing... My opinion, however, changed over the years. But I did need to get used to the taste at the beginning...

Now, I do like a good oatmeal, especially because of the variety of toppings that you can use - almonds, vanilla sauce, cinnamon, raisins, fresh fruit, etc. And actually, I do believe it kinda looks pretty (or can made to look pretty as my previous posts tried to convey - my poppyseed-vannilla porridge with berries, layered with nuts, or with tangerines).

Hula Juice Café (Edinburgh, UK)

During my stay in Edinburgh, I found this nice little breakfast place on the hill of Victoria Street, the Hula Juice Café. It even had outdoor seating in case of good weather. I really liked their menu, it sounded creative, freah, and healthy. The items offered were not too heavy, some traditional but also some interesting new creations. And of course, they offered fresh pressed juice and smoothies. I went a couple of times and I really enjoyed their toast with smashed avocado, topped with feta cheese, cocktail tomato, and a special seed mix (sesame seed, salt flakes, chili flakes, chia seeds). 

However, the first time I went their, I tried their Scottish oats with honey and blueberries. Maybe it did not seem to look very interesting, but let me tell you that the flavor was quite different from what I was used. The porridge tasted more like a sweetened rice pudding with almonds. It had a lot of texture. It tasted delicious.

I did a little bit of research to figure out why this oatmeal tasted so different from the traditional US or German oatmeal I knew....

Scottish Oats

Oats can be processed in different ways. The traditional ones are steal-cut oats, rolled oats, and instant oats. I am used to eat either instant or rolled oats, but had never tried steal-cut oats before. It also seems quite hard to get in Germany...
  • Rolled oats - Also called old-fashioned oats. They are steamed and rolled and have a disc-like shape. They absorb water quickly and do not need long to cook. They still have a good texture for porridge.
  • Instant oats - They are pre-cooked, dried and rolled even thinner than rolled oats. Therefore, they cook even quicker. They do not have as much texture as rolled oats and the porridge is a bit mushier.
  • Steal-cut oats - Also called pinhead oats, coarse oatmeal, or Scottish oats. Steal-cut oats are the kind of oats used for Scottish porridge. They are whole oats cut into three pieces. They are not flattened or rolled like the rolled oats or instant oats and retain a rice-like shape. They also do need the longest to cook. However, the porridge made of these steal-cut oats also has the most texture. They are nuttier and chewier in flavor, exactly as I exprienced with the Scottish oats in the Hula Juice Café. 

Royal Wedding Afternoon Tea at the Grosvenor House (London, UK)

While in London, I wanted to find and try a really traditional and good British Afternoon Tea to enjoy with two of my friends. I did a lot of research, read a lot of reviews, asked a few people and instagram experts. In the end, I decided for the high-end afternoon tea at the Park Room of the Grosvenor House Hotel.

The Grosvenor House usually offers the traditional "Anna's Afternoon Tea", named after Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford who kind of invented the custom of an afternoon tea. It is said that for her the time between lunch and a late dinner was too long and that she felt a "sinking feeling" in the afternoon. So she started to have a light meal in the afternoons with tea, small bites of sandwiches and cakes.

During my stay in May 2018, however, the Grosvenor House offered a special afternoon tea, Anna's Royal Wedding Afternoon Tea, in honor of Prince Harry & Meghan Markle's Wedding on May 19, 2018. Not that I really followed the royal news, but I kinda thought it cute and a special coincidence :) This Royal Wedding Afternoon Tea is mostly identical with the standard Anna's Afternoon Tea, only the Pastries are different and refer to Harry & Meghan.

I can really recommend this afternoon tea! As we had it on a weekday, we were also not limeted to the 2 hour spot. We indeed spent 4 hours there, till they basically closed done :) The atmosphere was great, the staff very polite and helpful without beeing too much. And the quality of the tea and food was really excellent. Also, they were really accomodating regarding dietary requirements. They do offer additional choices of vegetarian finger sandwiches.

Why did I decide for the Afternoon Tea at the Grosvenor House:

  • The offer of a special "Royal Wedding" Afternoon Tea
  • The Park Room and its beautiful decorations and elegant atmosphere (including gentle live piano music in the back room) 
  • Everything was unlimited (we were also able to try out different kind of teas)
  • A huge variety of jams for the scones (including a fancy rose petal one)

 Anna's Royal Wedding Afternoon Tea

  • An Amouse Bouche - A little glass with sweet fruit purée (I believe it may have been mango and maybe passionfruit?) topped with candy floss
  • The Tea - They had a huge selection of very exclusive Classic Newby Tea and even (for an additional price) a Rare & Exclusive Tea Selection von Newby (1 page long, including for example a yellow rose tea)
  • The Open Sandwiches - A smoked salmon & cream cheese sandwich and a egg & mayonnaise sandwich
  • The Finger Sandwiches - Cucumber sandwich (with mint butter), chicken sandwich (with terragon and creme fraiche), beef sandwich (with horseradish), ham sandwich (with mustard), prawn sandwich (with Marie Rose sauce which is basically a cocktail sauce)
  • The Scones - Plain and raisin scones with clotted creams and six different jams (strawberry, raspberry, backcurrant, gooseberry, rhubarb & ginger, rose petal - while we were asked for one flavor, she gave us a few extra, so were were able to try five of those six flavors)
  • The Royal Wedding Pastries - Invictus, The LA Special, Triology Ring, Tier 2, Myrtle Bouquet
  • Fresh Home Baked Cakes - You are offered a slice of cake to take home with you (however, as we stayed so long, they only had one choice of cake left... but to be honest, I was so full afterwards, that I was not even interested in that cake anymore:) ).

The Royal Pastries

  • Invictus (ginger curd filled with passionfruit culis - referring to Prince Harry, Patron of the Invictus game)
  • The LA Special (quinoa clusters and green juice - referring to Miss Markle's southern California home and representing some healthier items)
  • Triology Ring (milk, dark, and whithe chocolate - referring to the triology engagement ring with yellow gold and Diana's diamonds)
  • Tier 2 (banana and milk chocolate sponge - representing some of Prince Harry's favourite foods... banana)
  • Myrtle Bouquet (lemon myrtle and raspberry pavlova - as myrtle has been in every royal wedding bouquet since Queen Victoria's wedding in 1840)

My highlights:

  • The Silver Needle White Tea (a favorite for all three of us, very delicate and soft in flavor and actually also very "exclusive" in price as I noticed when I tried to order it from Newbys - what shall I say? We just have good taste :) )
  • The Lavender Green Tea (really enjoyed the gentle lavender flavor, reminded me on rose tea)
  • The Jasmine Pearl Green Tea (the tea is actually handrolled in little pearls that open up during steaming, great strong flavor, but be careful to not oversteam it as it turns bitter)
  • The chicken finger sandwich and the prawn finger sandwiches
  • The rose petal jam, then the gooseberry jam
  • The "Tier 2" pastry (banana and chocolate sponge)
  • The "Bubbly Lavender" (a sparkling cocktail that I ordered - gin, lavender and earl grey syrup, lemon, lavender bitters, champagne)

London's proper Sunday Roast (Brown's Brasserie)

This Sunday Roast just deserves its own post :) I was really amazed. I cannot say for sure whether sunday roasts in the UK are delicious in general. Maybe I just lucked out and found a good place to eat it. I would so eat this again and when I return I probably will :)

As I tried to find a traditional sunday roast, I did not care much about the roast itself but the traditional so-called "trimmings" - what is served with it. One trimming in particular, the Yorkshire Pudding. During my highschool time I participated in a student exchange program. I spent a week with an English family in Wales. On the weekend the mother cooked a proper English dinner, including the Yorkshire Pudding. However, I was so young, I did not appreciate it and did not really eat it. I thought it tastes plain... So, now, as a grown-up and a genuine foodie, I wanted to give it another try :) And I was not disappointed. Just look at this exemplar of a Yorkshire Pudding! And while I still think that the flavor itself is rather simple, it just tastes so delicious if you pour a good gravy over it...

I went to Brown's Brasserie (Victoria location) to get the roast. I was a little hesitant first, as it is a chain restaurant, but it worked out great :) The Yorkshire pudding was perfect and also, the sirloin beef really tasty and lean with a nice roast flavor, the roasted goose fat potatoes just yummy and the gravy just very delicate and fancy. I am already looking forward ordering it again!

The Sunday Roast included:

  • Sirloin beef roast
  • Goose fat roasted potatoes
  • Roasted beans and carrots
  • Spiced red cabbage
  • Yorkshire pudding
  • Horseradish crème fraiche
  • A proper delicious fancy gravy (I forgot what it exactly was, some red wine I believe...)

Tale As Old As Time - A whimsical Afternoon Tea (Kensington Hotel, London, England)

I just recently went for some well-deserved vacation to the UK. I started in London, meeting up with some friends, and then headed over to Scotland. In London, I used the opportunity to try out some afternoon tea - where better than in England ;)

My first afternoon tea was actually not really planned and it was not a traditional one which made it even more adventurous and interesting. I did some research on afternoon tea in London and asked some friends and even specialists on Instagram. I wanted to find a great traditional afternoon tea to enjoy with some friends (and I did find it - the Royal Wedding Afternoon Tea at the Park Room of the Grosvenor House - highly recommendable, will write a post later on it). However, by looking around I found also a few special themed afternoon teas such as the Mad Hatter Afternoon Tea (themed after Alice in the Wonderland) at the Sanderson Hotel, Indian Afternoon Tea at the Park Grand Hotel, and this one.

Thank you to the Kensington Town House to offer such a delightful afternoon tea experience :)

Disney's Beauty and the Beast themed afternoon tea - Tale As Old As Time - is served at the beautiful Kensington Hotel. I saw it and immediatelly fell in love with the theme and the decorations, including Chip (a teacup with a small crack) and Mrs. Potts (a teapot), Lumière (a candelabra), and Cogsworth (a pendulum clock). But unfortunately, they are completely booked out for months in advance... I was really lucky that a spot opened up during my stay in London.

Tale As Old As Time (the main theme song of Beauty and the Beast) tells Bell's story. The afternoon tea includes some tasty finger sandwiches and pastries, but instead of scones with clotted cream and jam they serve sweet brioche baguettes with chocolate creme and apricot preserve. This shall remind you on the french bakery in Bell's hometown. And then, there are four different pastries, all representing some special scenes or referring to specific moments of the movie. In addition to all that, the staff will bring you two decorations to the table: Luminière (that even lights up) and Cogsworth. They also serve nice tasting loose leaf tea what I really appreciated (not every afternoon tea serves loose leaf tea...). The staff was very attentive and accomodating, explaning the afternoon tea and the treats, drawing connections to Beauty & the Beast's storyline, decorating the table and offering to take pictures. The lounge of the hotel and atmosphere were also very suitable and comfortable.

Here is a list of what the afternoon tea included:

  • Three bite size appetizers, served before the actual three tiered afternoon tea etagere is brought out (a small venision pie, beef ragu & saffron arrancini balls, and a small cheese soufflé)
  • First tier of the etagere: Instead of the traditional scones, sweet brioche baguettes with apricot preserve and chocolate cream, referring to the French bakery in Bell's home town.
  • Second tier of the etagere: Traditional finger sandwiches (smoked salmon & crème fraiche, chicken with cranberry, cucumber & cream cheese, and egg mayonnaise & cress)
  • Third tier of the etagere: Four special pastries refering to moments of the Beauty & the Beast story
  • Loose Leaf Tea selection from "Rare Tea Company"  
  • A take home marzipan cookie in form and color of Bell's dress

The story of the pastries:

  • A chocolate ganache tart in form of a clock (a small version of Cogsworth)
  • A cocount & chocolate macaron referring to Bell and Beast's playful snowball fight scene
  • A small teacup in form of Chip (with an actual small crack ;) ) with a grey mousse inside and a labe "Try the grey stuff" referring to the song "Be our guest" 
  • A gold jelly in a shot glass with an edible rose petal inside (refering to the symbolic rose and its last petal) that is served with some cream poured by Mrs. Potts spout

I highly recommend this afternoon tea. It is well afordable for what is served and you will not leave hungry (even though they do not offer seconds on the sandwiches). My favorites were the small venision pie, the salman and the chicken finger sandwiches, and the macaroon. It is whimsical and maybe a little overpowering at times. To be honest, I also did not care much for the grey mousse and the gold jelly with cream even though it was presented lovingly. However, everything together I felt really comfortable, enjoyed the food, the tea, and the time!

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