Afternoon tea is one of my favourite treats. Basically I’m a sucker for any meal which involves eating little bits of lots of different things. Since going veggie however, I have been, on the whole, unimpressed with what’s on offer (I’m looking at you ChinChin – very disappointing). Sandwich choices have been uninspiring and I’ve sadly got the impression that the vegetarian option is an after thought that doesn’t receive the same creativity and attention as the carnivorous one. We deserve better than this.
When we saw that Earthcake in Bristol were doing a vegan afternoon tea, we dropped everything and booked immediately. We’ve both been consuming less and less dairy and eating a vegan diet the majority of the time so we just couldn’t resist trying this out. I’ve not come across any other vegan afternoon teas in Bristol and was excited and curious about what would be presented to us.
Earthcake is in a less than glamorous location on North Street (I’m a lifelong local so feel I can say this!) and I was a little worried that the experience wouldn’t feel special – it’s supposed to be a treat after all. When you step inside however it’s very sweet and it’s clear that the owners are trying to make it feel cosy and cute. The big display cabinet at the front of the shop was filled with beautiful looking cakes and our mouths began to water immediately.
Our table was laid nicely with a table cloth and flowery tea cups (much to Lucy’s delight) and there was a sense of occasion. We were informed that hot drinks were unlimited and immediately began seeing how much tea we could possibly consume. Shortly after we were served our first pot of tea, the main event arrived. Diana (one of the owners and chefs) talked us through the treat laden stack. On the bottom tier were four finger sandwiches each. Obviously as we are both very well behaved, we started with this savoury course. We agreed to try the sandwiches in the same order so that we could compare notes. First up was the egg mayo – made with tofu. I have a love hate relationship with tofu so I must admit to being highly sceptical about this filling. In a way I wanted to get it over and done with. However I was very pleasantly surprised. It had a creaminess that didn’t taste artificial and a little tang and pepperiness to it as well. The overall effect was subtle yet satisfying. Next we went for vegan cream cheese and cucumber – an afternoon tea classic. My love of cheese is deep and the main reason I’m not yet a proper vegan. Vegan cheese never seems to hit the spot for me. This did a pretty good job I must say and there was little to distiguish it from the ‘normal’ kind. Ham and mustard was up next. I haven’t dabbled in vegan ham substitutes so I wasn’t sure what to expect here. The texture was much like wafer ham (I must admit this used to be a guilty pleasure of mine) and the flavour was convincingly smoky. The mustard was excellent and the combination was perfect. Finally, and perhaps most excitingly, was the avocado and beetroot hummus sandwich. Avocado is my greatest love. I would eat it daily if only it was more sustainable. Hummus is up there as well. As is beetroot. So you can see why I was excited about this sandwich and saved it until last. I’m pleased to say that I wasn’t disappointed. Avocado was perfectly ripe and the hummus was it’s idea accompaniment.
Feeling very satisfied after demolishing the first tier, we moved on to the scones, ‘clotted cream’ and jam. I defy anyone to find any difference between these scones and non-vegan ones. They were soft, light, sweet and delicious. We had two each – one with currants in and one without, which I thought was a great touch. The cream was also a real triumph – a blend of vegan butter and coconut cream. No, it didn’t taste exactly like clotted cream but I was a really decent alternative.
Finally, the cakes! I’ve had cake at Earthquake before so knew that we were in for a treat here. The line up was as follows:
– Vanilla Bean Cheese Cake
– Chocolate Coffee Slice
– Strawberry Slice
– Chocolate & Peanut Butter Tartlet
– Almond & Forest Fruit slice
Every one of these cakes was indeed delicious and I have to say, although they were little, after all the sandwiches and scones, the size was perfect. Each was different in appearance, taste and texture, demonstrating the skill of the team at Earthcake. My favourite was (of course) the chocolate and peanut butter tartlet and Lucy’s was the vanilla bean cheesecake. The others were all great too and I’d eat a great big slice of any of them, any time.
Our trip to Earthcake was a resounding success. It was so good to have food that had been prepared with such obvious thought, skill and care. I highly recommend paying a visit to the cafe if you’re in the area, or making the trip if you’re not.