Hi, I’m Rach, a friend of Kate’s. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning from her, as a Mum and a Cook, since we first met in Hong Kong 8 years ago. She’s invited me to share a ‘Food Memory’ with you all, the first from several friends. Should be easy to do, since like Kate, food is a big part of my life! But it’s a matter of which ‘Memory’ to choose? I’m an expat, originally an Aussie Country Girl but I’ve gone out in the world and lived and worked in many different countries now, my memories travel with me being added to as each new journey begins…. Where shall I pick from??
Well, one that crosses all the boundaries, of countries, space and time for me is Scones. A simple afternoon tea favourite that’s been adapted across cultures all over the world. They can be sweet, savoury, warm or cold.
My earliest memory of scones is making them myself, with my sister, Bron. It was always a treat to know we had company coming on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and we would always like to offer a freshly baked ‘something’ when we knew our parents had friends coming to visit. It made us feel grown-up and part of proceedings to bake for the guests. We may not have understood the conversation going on around us but we knew the language of good food and that everyone who visited liked what we made. I especially loved them with butter and honey.
We used to choose recipes from a much loved copy of our mum’s Country Woman’s Association cookbook. A particular favourite recipe was for ‘Cream Scones’. Rubbing the butter and flour together with your fingers is a lot of fun when you’re a kid, and adding the milk or cream and gently kneading the mixture into a dough is like watching a little bit of magic happen, be careful though, or you’ll end up with rock-cakes instead of light fluffy scones! I’m sure we must have served a few rocks cakes in the early days but it was a recipe we made again and again and it’s a treat still I enjoy, albeit in a very different way now-a-days!
Scones are also the focus of many an afternoon tea in hotels and restaurants, which brings me across time and space to 3 afternoons I remember clearly!
The first, in Ambleside, sitting by the fire at the Drunken Duck Inn. Their scones are best enjoyed after a bracing walk up Scarfell Pike or around Loughrigg , or even after a stroll around Beatrix Potter’s garden. At the Drunken Duck Inn, the scones are served warm with clotted cream, homemade raspberry jam, tea, and in my case a pot of fresh chamomile flowers, that had been infused perfectly in a large silver pot to make a relaxing accompaniment at the end of along busy and cold day. I remember that pot of tea and scones so fondly because I was newly married, on a romantic getaway.
Hong Kong was an outpost of Britishness in a sea of Asian confusion for travellers in times gone by and those remnants still cling on in a magical way at the Mandarin Oriental. My next favourite is in Café Causette, here you can sit down to beautiful fluffy scones with cream and home-made Rose Petal Jam. Your scones will be accompanied by Jasmine Flower Tea or any other tea you fancy, but the scones and jam will be what you remember and take friends back to experience time after time.
Across more seas and back in Australia, an afternoon tea with a dear friend at Basildene Manor, Margaret River makes memory number three. A glass of champagne looking out the window over the well manicured gardens watching the birds play in the afternoon breeze. Their scones are divine, served with fresh whipped cream and chunky, home-made strawberry jam, the quaint verandah, colonial setting matches the house and atmosphere perfectly.
All of these memories are ‘sharing’ memories, memories that I’ve made with friends or family, because food, however good it is, is always better when shared with people you love!
Nowadays, I’m in the unfortunate position of having to follow a Gluten Free diet, which is okay most of the time but I do miss those scones…. I am experimenting with ‘lemonade scones’ and using various different gluten free flours but I haven’t found the magic replacement recipe yet. Watch this space because when I do, I’ll let Kate know and I’m sure she’ll share it with you.