Tuesday, 17 January 2012

My Love/Hate Relationship with Christmas

Christmas was a time of great gluttony. I ate cheese with reckless abandon. I drunk alcohol before 11am and was proud of it. I showed people my swollen stomach .. and instead of scolding me people congratulated me on a good Christmas!
Christmas is one of the few times of the year where it is okay, in fact actively encouraged, for people to over eat. Easter is another one – you can have chocolate smeared all round your face at 8.30am and it’s totally fine to be eyeing up which egg is next. I love and hate these times of year. I love December because is the only time of year when I don’t have to hide my food obsession and people are happy to discuss what they’ve eaten with me. EVERYONE is discussing food. People are considering the Christmas Party menu (I love menus, if someone is going out to eat I will google the restaurant and decide what I would have. I am aware I’m not invited but this won’t stop me making my menu choices), the supermarket adverts are showing you sexy close ups of moist Christmas puddings, heat shimmering just above their sticky sweet surface, what meat you prefer becomes a legitimate choice of conversation at the water cooler. At Christmas it is like mini Sarahs are spawned everywhere and everyone is constantly thinking, dreaming and drooling about food. But then comes January. And this is why my feelings towards Christmas turn to hate because in January everyone becomes food Nazis. The tv, once a food haven, is now full of adverts for weightwatchers and fat fighting programmes. Food is now a dirty word. People shun the biscuit tin, they eat pointless food like celery, they turn their nose up at a mince pie. Have you all forgotten how much fun you had over Christmas? Wasn’t it nice to list to each other all the cheese you had eaten in one sitting? In January I lose all my food allies. When I try and bring up menus people tell me to be quiet, don’t you know that stuff is bad for you? People even frown upon cream teas. (I had a cream tea last week and someone said to me “So soon after Christmas!?). So Christmas, we have a love hate relationship. You bring me December and with it you bring me like minded friends but then you whip me with food hating January and make me feel like an isolated freak.

A Round Up of November and December

November 2011
No 21 Cathedral Yard, Exeter

1.   Appearance – 6/10 although all the crockery was matching – it was not very inventive, just plain white. The tea came with a cookie on the side which some might find a pleasant extra ..  but for me it instilled fear into my heart. If they are providing a free cookie with the tea then does this mean that they a) think the cream tea won’t fill me up (god forbid!) or b) that it won’t be tasty enough so I will need a backup biscuit to soften the blow!? My gut instinct was correct; they had served me an inferior cream tea and thought a biscuit offering would subdue me (it didn’t).
2.   Quantity – 5/10 – distinct lack of clotted cream and jam. Just look at that picture, the cream and jam should be brimming over the sides of the ramekin but they are barely touching the sides. I had to really scrimp, and for me, cream tea is all about decadence and not rationing. It was obviously made up by some skinny little thing who thought any more cream would be just greedy (note to self - must hunt out cream tea establishments where all staff are slightly overweight).
3.   Taste – 6/10 – The cream and jam, whilst small portions, tasted nice. The scones were a bit dense and doughy – not the best.
4.   Price – 7/10 - The price was reasonable, about £5.50 which seems to be the going rate in Devon but for the quality it could be a better price.
5.   Ambience – 7/10 – when we first walked into the place it smelt of bleach and cleaning products. When eating a cream tea my ideal smell would be another batch of scones on their way out the oven, not Dettol. So we sat outside as it was a sunny day and we had a good view of the cathedral. However if it had been rainy I would have had to go inside and have my nose hair singed by bleach on every breath.
6.   5/10 – I was suffering from a hangover on the day so wasn’t feeling my best.. a cream tea should put a spring in my step but instead this one just made me feel bloated.
Overall Score – 36/60

December 2011
Primrose Tea Rooms, Lustleigh, Newton Abbot, Devon, TQ13 9TJ

1.   9/10 – Cute spotty crockery - they went for the light hearted cream tea approach. I do enjoy traditional crockery but this was cute and suited the quirky nature of the place.
2.   10/10 – The scones were beautifully beige boulders. The ramekins were fit to burst with the amount of cream and jam. My first reaction was “I may struggle to eat this”. (Now, that isn’t something I would say lightly). My partner in crime that day did infact struggle to eat his and left half a scone. I was, of course, disgusted with his behaviour but let him off because men are often weak in the face of a cream tea.  He got the scone sweats pretty early on. I soldiered on. It was lovely.
3.    9/10 – Scones were just sweet enough, good fruit to scone ratio, cream was thick, jam was fruity but not too tart. I’m not sure why I haven’t given 10/10, I think it’s because I didn’t collapse on the table and moan in pleasure (which I have done for other cream teas).
4.   10/10 – I believe it was £5.50 and for what you got this is incredible value. When a cream tea is this nice they could have easily charged up to £8 for it. On a side note I noticed they had some beautiful looking cakes on display for as little as 75p. Great value place.
5.   8/10 – The area the tearoom is situated in is beautiful and picturesque, there are plenty of places to stroll around afterwards to try and burn off the calories. The tearooms were decorated well outside but inside could have benefited from comfier seats and an upgrade on the sofa and wall decorations. The owner was lovely and even suggested to me a great book by Molly Wizenberg (who writes a food blog Orangette http://orangette.blogspot.com/). I am reading this book at the moment and it is great for those with a sweet tooth.
6.   10/10 – This cream tea made me feel great. Its setting meant I got some fresh air and a brisk walk after. The quantity meant I didn’t want for more. The owner obviously loved food and appreciated the fact I was a foodie also. I will be back.

Overall Score 56/60 Current Leader!