Tag Archive | Cake

Drinkable Roses

I went for the first time this weekend to Teacup, a cute and lively little tearoom/café in the Northern Quarter, owned by local DJ and cartoonist Mr Scruff and his manager, only 5 minutes from where I stay. The assortment of loose leaf, herbal, flower and fruit teas, generously portioned cakes, and comforting (poached eggs, bagels) or exotic (falafel, houmous, halloumi) lunches on offer made choosing difficult! When it arrived, the tea set was reminiscent of some kind of enchanted Alice-in-Wonderland scene. Stored in bright pots, with china or glass cups and bowls for serving, rainbow-coloured egg timers make sure you pour at exactly the right moment. Not a cheap place but worth it if you don’t mind getting rid of a fiver; and Spring is nearly here so it’s a nice chance to start sitting outside again.

The Teacup tea set makes you want one of your own!

The rose flavoured tea reminded me of those perfumes you used to try and make as a kid, mixing water and petals together in a futile attempt to devise a “signature scent”. All I can say is that the technique works a lot better for beverages!

A Cordial Installation

Some of Manchester School of Art’s final year students are showing how creative they can be when it comes to raising money for their forthcoming Degree Shows. Taking over the Holden Gallery, they have turned part of its space into a modern and stylised approximation of an Edwardian tea room – a “pop-up installation” which offers an impressive range of homemade cakes, sandwiches, coffees, and various flavours of tea served on a tray, at your table, and in delicate gold-rimmed china. Looking at the menu you might find yourself thinking that while a Victoria sponge is one thing, spicy Moroccan soup is hardly in keeping with 1901; but that’s partly the point. Mixing up influences, interacting with customers and clearly having a great time, the staff (sorry, students) are providing a far more relaxed and less mannered atmosphere than you would find in an old English tea room!

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Further signs of the “other-worldly” and hybrid nature of the installation include waitresses in classic white aprons and hats who operate a modern till to take your payment; a floor model record player which doesn’t actually play the old-fashioned music drifting through the gallery; one or two flat-screen TVs peppering the walls; and a can of “skooshy” cream that’s used to top some of the cakes. This is what makes the space so much fun. It’s great to see students playfully subverting the “university spin-off” notion by practising something commercial in a way that’s primarily designed to gain their artwork a public airing. The only point of ambivalence for me is the old-fashioned aviary which sits in the centre of the tea room. I’m not a fan of caged birds, and while I can’t deny that the pair of black and yellow budgies are eye-catching and of course beautiful, it’s always a little sad watching their thwarted attempts to fly. Original framed prints and pictures crowd the fresh white walls and provide something less problematic to enjoy, cheerfully reminding you what it is that your money is going towards.

Back in the more traditional gallery space and the current touring exhibition, Outrageous Fortune, offers another modern interpretation of something traditional – this time a unique take on the classic “Ancien Tarot de Marseille”, which dates all the way back to 1760.