Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Five Arrive in Cheltenham - a Food Bloggers Meet-up

Well Walk Tea Rooms
Finally, after many months of talking, or possibly even years, #thesmuts arranged a meet up. Smuts? You might well ask, but it is a long story and I'm not going into it here. Suffice it to say, it started as a bit of fun and ended up as a group of eight food bloggers who tweet to each other using some sort of hashtag that includes "smut". Far flung as we all are - France, Scotland, Cornwall, East Anglia and London, we eventually agreed on Cheltenham as a nice place to meet. It is relatively central and is on a main train line with good links. One by one, as is inevitable with meet-ups, various #smuts were unable to make it. Jac of Tinned Tomatoes was away in Cyprus, Dom of Belleau Kitchen wasn't well and Sue of A Little Bit of Heaven on a Plate had work commitments.

Well Walk Tea Rooms - the aftermath
Thus it was the Cheltenham Five who finally met and enjoyed a gluttonous afternoon and evening of eating and drinking: Janice of Farmersgirl Kitchen, Roz of The More Than Occasional Baker, Karen of Lavender and Lovage, Fiona of London Unattached and me. I'd met Karen and Fiona briefly before at a Fortnum & Mason event and it was lovely to see them again. It was also really good to finally meet Janice and Ros. With top hole organisation courtesy of Fiona and Janice, everything went swimmingly well. The only contribution I had to make was to turn up.

Well Walk Tea Rooms Cake Medley
We all met up for an early afternoon tea at the Well Walk Tea Room. Quirky, stuffed full of vintage china and other items AND with great cake, this was an excellent find - thank you Fiona. Apparently, they have supplied props for Downton Abbey and I can well believe it; there are some very fine items down in the basement and indeed crammed into every available space of the two floors of the tea rooms.

Almost as good as a Cornish cream tea
Feeling somewhat peckish as she hadn't had any lunch, Fiona started off with toast and Gentleman's Relish. The rest of us, no sooner saw the menu than there were cries of "we want CAKE" - a cake medley to be precise, which was a stand of six assorted slabs of homemade cake and clotted cream. We tried to be decorous, but somehow that cake just disappeared. The verdict was unanimous, we all loved the rhubarb and cinnamon cake and wanted the recipe. In this respect, we were doomed to disappointment, the recipe was a house secret. Somewhat stuffed and with dinner not far off, we somehow couldn't resist the call of scones when we were told they were freshly out of the oven. Served with homemade jam and clotted cream, they were nearly as good as a Cornish cream tea.

Boudica
Not being much of a black tea drinker I didn't share the very large pot of tea with the others, but ordered Rooibos and had a lovely teapot all to myself, named Boudica - yes, every teapot has its very own name.

The Tavern Cocktails
Not long after this, we made our way to The Tavern, a couple of streets away. Luckily we got a little lost which meant we had a bit more time to digest before the next onslaught. Here, we were greeted by friendly staff and complimentary cocktails - something to do with Fiona having forewarned them that we were food bloggers, I suspect. The Mojito Royal was a popular choice and one I was not averse to indulging in - it really hit the spot. Drinks were served with mugs of popcorn making for a festive atmosphere.

The Tavern Veggie Burger
Whilst we made up our minds as to what to order, we opted for some nibbles to keep us going. The chickpea chips were a real winner and everyone's favourite, but we were all a bit nonplussed by the deep fried olives, which were, quite frankly, weird and not something I'd choose to eat again. The others all had fleshy things for their mains, but were well satisfied. I was pleased to have some interesting veggie choices. I opted for a rather splendid burger stuffed with all sorts, including roast vegetables and a field mushroom. The fact it was accompanied by more of the delightful chickpea chips might have played its part in my decision.





The Tavern Kitchen
The meal didn't disappoint. Again the service was good and the prices were very reasonable. I'd be very happy to pay a return visit and rather wish we had something similar here in Liskeard. We were asked to take a look upstairs where the dishes are cooked in front of diners. In fact you can sit at the kitchen serving bar and for a few pounds ask to taste any of the dishes you see being prepared. This is a fun idea, but with the clang and clatter of pans, perhaps not the most conducive place for a tete a tete. We were, I felt, better off in the relative quiet of downstairs.

The Tavern Molten Chocolate Pudding
Full as we were, we just couldn't miss out on pudding and chocolate had to feature somehow. I was lucky - we plumped for a hot chocolate mouse with pistachio ice-cream - we all tucked in.








Lypiatt Breakfast
For some reason we picked a particularly busy weekend and were unable to book into the same hotel, as was the original plan. This was a shame as it would have been fun to carry on the food fest by feasting on breakfast together. After trying several hotels, I eventually found one with a free room and gosh I was lucky. Lypiatt House was a lovely little Regency hotel in a quiet and attractive quarter of Cheltenham, not far from both the town centre and the station. I had the best night's sleep there I've had in a very long time and the breakfast was delightful. I'm not sure I'd put the hotel down as the five star it claimed, but it really was a very comfortable and spacious place to stay. I later learned that there was a "buskers' conference" in Cheltenham that weekend which might have accounted for the lack of hotels. It all seemed rather peculiar and I have to say I didn't encounter a single busker whilst out and about in Cheltenham.

Lypiatt House
I really enjoyed my trip and meeting up with the other #smuts; in fact I'm looking forward to a repeat performance and maybe with the full eight next time. Not only was it a pleasure to join company with such lively and friendly fellow food bloggers, but it was also very interesting to finally visit Cheltenham. As a regency spa town, I knew I would like the Georgian architecture, but with its wide leafy avenues too, I was unprepared for how much it made me miss Leamington Spa, where I lived for seven years - a similar, if slightly smaller town.

For further insights into our trip and a glimpse of better photos, do take a look at: Janice's posts part 1 and part 2 and Fiona's post.

30 comments:

  1. It looks like you all had a fantastic day out. That Molten chocolate pudding looks out of this world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Debby. the pudding was good, but with five of us attacking it, it didn't last long.

      Delete
  2. your hotel looks lovely choclette! And I'm so pleased we got the chance to meet up again;) I was most impressed by the veggie choices at the Tavern because, although I AM a flesh eater, I thought they did an admirable job of making some delicious looking veggie dishes somewhere that I hadn't anticipated would cater so well for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Fiona. It was really nice to have a choice and I was very happy with it, but really it was just a pleasure to meet up with you all, the food was very much secondary - or shouldn't i be saying that on my blog :-S

      The hotel was lovely, pricey, but I was very happy with it.

      Delete
  3. Holy cow I think I'd cry out "I want CAKE" too!!

    Kerys | Little Bo Blab
    -xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hehe, trouble is Kerys, I always seem to want cake ;-)

      Delete
  4. Looks like a perfect getaway! How fabulous that you all got to meet up! Everything looked delicious, and I always think a really good night's sleep is worth the price of the hotel room.. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Celia, it was so good to get away - even that one night broke the train of worrying thoughts for a while.

      Delete
  5. sounds like great fun and I love the look of all the food - that high tea looks fantastic and I would be digging into the choccy pud too. getting 5 of 8 together sounds like a great achievement

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was good fun Johanna. I don't get to meet up with other bloggers very often out in the wilds of Cornwall, so it was a real treat.

      Delete
  6. i'm so terribly sorry I wasn't there... what an excellent time you guys all had (even without me... which is very strange...) and all that cake... I missed all the CAKE!!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes indeed Dom, we did wonder how we would get on without you, but we sort of managed ;-)

      Delete
  7. Sounds like a fabulous foodie filled day - the best kind! That rhubarb and cinnamon cake and those chickpea crisps sound amazing

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Katie, it's always fun to try new food - well maybe not always, but certainly in this case.

      Delete
  8. I LOVE the look of your hotel, it looks VERY grand! It was a BRILLIANT weekend and it was great to see you again, roll on the next Smuts Tour is what I say! Karen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay for the Smuts Karen. The hotel was rather good, I think I got lucky there AND it really was good to meet up with you all - hope we can do it again with the full complement.

      Delete
  9. How great that you all met up! The tea looks amazing. So quaint and very English! Love!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha Anna, nothing quite like an English tea ;-)

      Delete
  10. Wow! That was a great meeting. You have done really well at meeting up. I love the look of the food and especially the English tea and scones.:-))

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Alida, it was really good to meet up with other food bloggers. Living down in the wilds of Cornwall, it doesn't happen very often. And it's always fun to go somewhere you haven't been to before.

      Delete
  11. Ha! If I'd only known you were coming to Cheltenham, I'd have shown you around. I only live a couple of minutes from your hotel.

    I do love a good foodie meet. XXX

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Gill, I didn't know you lived in Cheltenham, it would have been lovely to meet up with you too. It's a lovely town and I guess a nice place to live.

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. I'll type that again with fewer mistakes!

      I don't think I know where you live either to be fair, Choccy-woccy. Drop me a line if you like to let me know your town, and if ever we are near you, I'll be sure to play knock and run on you door. Ha! just kidding. I'll be sure to see if you are at home and want to share a cup of tea XXX

      Delete
  12. Wow it looks like you had a lot of fun, the food pics (especially the choc pudding) look delicious x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Miss C, it was lovely to meet up and to try out some different places.

      Delete
  13. I can't believe there were food bloggers on the loose just a few miles from me! Hope you had a wonderful time - and if you do it again, feel free to drop in on me for coffee (and cake, obviously) :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Found your blog after Well Walk Tea Room posted a link on their Facebook page. I absolutely LOVE Well Walk Tea Room and The Tavern - two of my favourite places to eat and drink in Cheltenham. I lived there for three years while I was studying for my degree and it has some really special places. So glad you got to visit two of the best :) xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a lovely town to be a student in Naomi, I'm quite jealous. We were impressed with both the Well Walk and Tavern and it sounds as though we struck lucky.

      Delete

I love to hear from you so please do leave a comment or question.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails