Tea at Leeds Castle

A couple of weeks ago I went down to London to visit my aunt. She suggested that we go to Leeds Castle, the one-time home of Catherine of Aragon. It still has a moat, something I hadn’t seen before in a castle, as well as very extensive grounds and gardens.

After exploring the grounds and castle and watching a bird of prey show, we had tea. Now, I’d already had tea on this trip, but never with anything more than a piece of shortbread. This, however, was a grand affair. Not only was there the requisite tea, milk, and sugar, there was a whole tower of various sandwiches and pastries. While I’m not really one for food if it isn’t won ton mee, I do make an exception for pastries. I was very, very excited.

We started with the sandwiches. There were four kinds: cucumber, ham, cheese, and tuna. My favorite was the cucumber sandwich, probably because it also included cream cheese. After making a valiant effort at the sandwiches (the one with mustard on it utterly defeated me), we moved on to the second tier: the pastries.

There were four different kinds of pastries: pistachio macarons, lemon cupcakes filled with a bit of strawberry, strawberry tarts, and chocolate ones that I did not try. I also was highly suspicious of the macarons, but I did try them; as it turns out, pistachio is not my thing. The other two were quite good, however, and even bumped strawberries up slightly on my master list of fruits.

Then it finally it was time for the scones. I have never had a scone in England, at least not that I can remember, so I purposely saved this for last. In terms of the scone itself, I was not overwhelmed. It seemed like any other scone, which must mean that we’re capable of getting scones right in the US. But what made these scones stand out was the clotted cream. Oh, the clotted cream.

Clotted cream, according to Wikipedia and blogs detailing how to make it, is produced by heating milk and then letting it cool slowly over a long period of time. The cream rises to the top and is then skimmed off. And it is delicious. Delicious. It’s sweet and lighter than butter but still spreadable. It’s a good thing I don’t live here, because if I did I would have a scone with clotted cream on it every single day.