Altitude 360 - Afternoon Tea

Last weekend I finally got around to using a voucher which I received a few months ago for two people to attend Afternoon Tea at the top of the Millbank Tower in the restaurant aptly called Altitude 360.

A bit of history on this one. About 18 months ago I completed a Diploma in Event Management and our group assignment was to put together a presentation to present as if we were pitching to a company to win the piece of business. As part of the assignment we all had to act like this event was actually going to happen which included visiting venues, which is how I found out about this restaurant. When our team went to view the space it wasn't in action and not even the tables and chairs were out, however we were blown away with the view as it literally gives you a 360 degree view from the 29th floor out over central London.

Ever since seeing the view (I am obsessed with heights & lights) I have always wanted to go back, however the prices were always out of my reach. However the chance arose when good old Groupon offered up a 60% off voucher (original value £87.50) and so Pete ever so kindly purchased a voucher for us.

Firstly we were greeted and taken to our table and for a minute I thought since we had a voucher we would not be seated at a window, but instead we were taken to the far corner which had the best views in the restaurant, including Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, The London Eye right in front of us and then a view right up the Thames to the city and the Gherkin. It was a pretty spectacular view from the 29th floor.

At first glance the venue looks very minimalistic and clean with most of the decor in white and black bench seating around the edge. However on closer look it all looked a bit unfinished with white paint splatters on my seat and dirt marks down the side of the cabinet next to us which was holding a cracked vase.

Once seated we were were offered a selection of Twinnings teas and we both went with English Breakfast to start. I do like Twinnings tea's, but for the price you have to pay for Afternoon Tea I would expect loose leaf tea... maybe I'm a tea snob.

Our food was brought out not long after our tea's had arrived in once again another minimalistic (plain) cake stand, which for two people looked a little sparse. On the bottom we had a selection of sandwiches including, egg & mayo with lettuce, salmon & cream cheese, cheese & pickles, cucumber and ham & mustard.

In the middle we had scones!!! I was looking forward to these, except that when I opened one up it literally broke off and crumbled in my hand. To say the least... they were overcooked and dried out. Pete had his and thought it was okay, so let him have the raisin one and I moved to the top layer of sweets.

This layer I had mixed thoughts about, but overall it was quite nice. Once again with the minimalistic theme, but to me it was just a bit boring and nothing really excited my eyes. I started with the macaroons which I've never really been a lover of anyway. The raspberry was okay, but the coffee one was a bit of a weird flavour. The tart was nice and creamy and the mini meringue was lovely and crisp. I left the lemon cake for Pete as its one of his favourites and I got to eat the chocolate sponge which was light and fluffy.

All in all I would give them Afternoon Tea experience a 5 out of 10. If I had paid the full price of about £85 for two people I would have been very disappointed. There was an extra point in there purely because I like to be up very high... and this is a cheaper way of doing it than training to be a pilot, or so I found out the hard way.

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The afternoon post Altitude was spent walking to up to the House of Westminster and paying our respects at Westminster Abbey to all the soldiers who were in attendance for Remembrance Day. And like some proper tourists we walked past Buckingham Palace through Green Park and all the way to Harrods where I went a little mental over Christmas Land. And therefore I rate the rest of the day a 9 out of 10, I took a point off because of the subsequent blisters on my feet.

Happy Baking x

Tracey's Banana Bread

A few years ago I was very lucky to have my dear friend Tracey come and live in London for the good part of a year. For the first few months however as she found her feet she became our extra housemate. I do very much look fondly back on that time in the Villas as my sister was also staying with us setting herself up in London. Most days going home was always a full house and I loved knowing I was going home to some good friends and family.

One of my favourite things about Tracey staying was her baking. At this point in my time in London I had not really started baking at all, however I definitely got the bug after Tracey stayed with us. One of my favourite things she made was her Banana Bread. She must know this recipe back to front and could make it in the blink of any eye. One minute there would be old brown banana's sitting around ready for the bin... then next minute the house smelt wonderfully of Banana Bread.

Before she left I got her to write down her recipe. These days we go to the Internet to get some recipe from some blogger we have never heard of before, however nothing beats a hand written recipe that erroneously reads baking powder instead of bi-carb.

And nothing beats a warm piece of banana bread with some butter and honey... oh and of course a cup of tea!

Happy Baking x

PS. I would give you the recipe but its mine and Tracey's secret....

Banana, Caramel & Date Cookies - Recipe 14 of the Women's Weekly Challenge

I have been majorly slack at blogging of late and even more so on the baking. I go through periods of wanting to write and then peroids where its the BIGGEST CHORE IN THE WORLD. I guess going out to a gig after work and telling yourself that you will go home and go straight to work is the best time to actually start writing a blog entry...or not? Not sure where the enthusiasm come from, thought I can bet its probably just tiredness and I'm rambling, but hey here I am.

This is another recipe in my Women's Weekly Baking challenge which by the look of it will be going well into next year... but that's okay as I make my own rules. The next rule I am going to make up is that I don't have to go in order of recipes as I'm very keen to skip and try my hand at some macaroons and with Christmas fast approaching, maybe some Christmas treats too.

These biscuits were relatively easy to bake, however I didn't want to over cook them, but I think I went slightly the other way and undercooked them, but I much prefer a chewy biscuit and it appears so do a few others. I still remember back in the day when my friend worked at Subway and she would bake a whole batch of cookies, pretend to under cook them and then put them in a bag to 'throw out'. I would then get a text that my cookies were ready to be binned and I would drive down and bit up the bag of undercooked Subway cookies... delish!

The mixture of the banana and date in the recipe gave a great flavour, unfortunately the toffee on most melted through to the bottom and eventually fell out when they got stuck to the paper, which bring me on to another point. So the other day I went to Robert Dyas to get some chocolate for my fondue and while I was there I was looking at the baking section and I noticed there was greaseproof paper and parchment paper. I currently have greaseproof paper as I naturally assumed that this would mean you wouldn't actually have to grease the paper, however as I read both the labels carefully, I noticed that the only different between the two was that parchment paper doesn't need to be greased with butter or oil to use and yet greaseproof does.. WEIRD! Maybe its different in Australia and that's why I have always got it wrong in the UK and just assumed all their baking papers needed greasing. I am glad to have found this out before starting on the macaroons section.... I think some tantrums would have been had. Though I bet there still will be...

Anyway, enough with the rambling... all in all.. this was a very flavoursome recipe and I have been asked for more, so maybe with my parchment paper in hand, the toffee will stay put. 

Happy Baking x