Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Helping At The Cake & Bake Show - Come & Say Hello!

Clandestine Cake Club As co-hosts of the Cambridge Clandestine Cake Club, Deepa & I will be joining some other members as well as the creator of this fantastic national cake club, Lynn Hill, at London's Earls Court on Saturday 14th September 2013. The CCC stand will be there from the 13th - 15th September, so do go and say hello to Lynn and the team and wave at me if you see me there on the Saturday, it would be great to meet some fellow foodies whilst there. Clandestine Cake Club I went to the Cake & Bake Show last year in London and it was all a little too much about cupcakes and sugar craft for me, however their team took these sort of comments on board and have a much more varied line up this year as a result, this is fantastic to hear and I am genuinely excited to not only be going along as a guest, but to be helping out on a stand on the day I'm visiting too. There will be demos, book signings, live interviews and even a competition theatre this year, it looks a lot bigger to say the very least. Cake and Bake Show We will be on the CCC stand chatting to cake lovers, helping to judge a little competition that Lynn is running and to help recruit the next wave of members for our clubs across the country, it's very exciting indeed. Cake & Bake Show London The CCC team were up at the Cake & Bake Show in Manchester earlier in the year and the "for fun" competition on that particular weekend was judged by Peter Sidwell, co presenter of Britain's Best Bakery who will be joining us in London to help taste the entries again. The cakes on display even enticed the likes of Eric Lanlard, Dan Lepard, Mich Turner (from Little Venice Cake Company), Natasha Stringer and Brendan Lynch, both from the Great British Bake Off. Cake & Bake Show London So, who knows what (or who) Earls Court will bring to the stand?!... If you are coming along to the Cake & Bake Show on any of the days, you must enter this fabulous cake competition, of which has some amazing prizes from the likes of Yorkshire Tea, Lakeland and Squires Kitchen. Click here for more on this. Eric Lanlard And if you weren't planning on coming along, but now you want to, Lynn is also giving away 5 sets of tickets for this event, just visit her website here to learn more. Paul Hollywood Hopefully we will see you there! Miss Sue Flay

Friday, 26 July 2013

The Lost Art Of Etiquette With Miss Sue Flay - Festivals & Open Air Concerts

With inhibitions thrown to the wind and potential tiredness, sweatiness and general dirtiness looming at a festival or open air concert, it's very easy for your good manners and common courtesy to be left behind, but it's important to be aware of others around you whilst having fun. The Secret Garden Party 2013 There are no real rules "set in stone" for this topic, however, as a lover of gigs and festivals myself, I sometimes come across arrogance that will make me want to walk away rather than get into a fight personally, as I'm sure many others do. So how to behave? Read the rules before booking, or at least, before arriving and follow them. Most festivals will now have a detailed website or ticket information sheet detailing how to dispose of your litter, how to behave at the campsite and what not to do around the main stages and show areas. I am experiencing "The Secret Garden Festival" in Huntingdon for the very first time this weekend and it's simple rules to make for a pleasant life whilst partying both on their website and in their programme are easy to follow and purely common sense. Adhere to them to make life easier for the organisers AND your fellow guests! The Secret Garden Party 2013 Live in the moment. These experiences can sometimes be once in a lifetime opportunities, with the rare guest appearance thrown in for good measure, lord knows we all get more than excited when Alice Cooper makes an appearance at a Foo Fighters gig (Or that may just be me!) but don't stand there on your phone and film it. Firstly, if you had read the rules, you will most likely have read that they ask you NOT to film any of the show as a general known rule. But this also gets in the way of the people around you and it's more than irritating - enjoy the here and now. Also turn your phone off, nobody wants to hear you explaining to your mum who Faithless are whilst trying to shout over their set - would it really hurt to switch off and recharge your batteries as well as the phones? The Secret Garden Party 2013 This also goes for umbrellas. Don't stand in the middle of a large crowd and pop up your brolly for a little drizzle. Plenty of people around you will be tutting and detesting you for it. On the plus side of bringing it down, your hair will get a natural wash - win win. Don't be that "dancing diva" that digs elbows into everybody, bumps into dozens of people surrounding you and hopping around stepping on toes. Judge where you are would be my best advice, as if you are about to launch yourself into a mosh pit, I don't think your fellow ravers will care that you are jumping up and down somehow! However, if you are at a classical open air concert for example, stand at the back away from the seated guests to dance so that you don't spoil their viewing pleasure. Festival Etiquette You can't shout at people for having fun. One of the comedians at the SGP said just last night; " It's only at a festival that you will see a successful business executive wearing elf ears and a bushy fox tail shooting a cheap plastic pistol full of vodka into his mouth for 2 days before heading back to London to balance accounts for £millions" - it's very true and if that's how somebody wants to enjoy their weekend, unless they are harming you in some way, cannot be told off I'm afraid. If you need to ask somebody to not do or say something, the only thing you could do is to politely ask if they wouldn't mind doing said action. However, my feeling would be you may be subject to a rude barrage of rude comments back at worst, so just move away if it bothers you & let them have fun. If it's a family affair, again, you can't expect children not to be enjoying themselves. My advice would be not to go to a family festival or gig if you know you will get annoyed with kids laughing and running around. For families to afford these luxuries can sometimes be tricky to balance, of course this is just my experience, as I never went to such events as a child myself, so let them enjoy it for heavens sake. Festival Etiquette If camping or staying overnight, please be hygienic. Use the portaloo and showers provided, they aren't as dirty as using the spare grass patch next to you and nobody wants to see you squatting in a bush in full view, we aren't animals you know! Brush your teeth, or at least buy yourself some of those chewy disposable toothbrushes to freshen up, it's not tricky to do and just as important as putting on deodorant when festering in a cramped field with strangers. Share the love. If somebody looks in need of one of your hundred bottles of water, offer them one. Who knows, they may help you pitch your tent or give you something in return later on. Small and random acts of kindness are always pleasant to be on the receiving end of during these events. And introduce yourself to your tent neighbours, they may well become new friends as a result, get with the "all in it together" mentality. Concert Etiquette Take your litter with you. This goes without saying really, however lazy you feel at the time, take a moment to consider your surroundings and respect the event. Don't take BBQ's or make a fire and leave a scorched mark in the grass, be considerate to these sort of elements if you are encouraged to get cooking round the campfire at your event. And don't dump used BBQs in lakes or ponds, come on, do you really need to be told this?... I thought not. The most important rules of all? Remember your manners, as if you would anywhere else in your world, enjoy it and have fun, just not at the expense of others. Concert Etiquette Happy Gigging! Miss Sue Flay

Monday, 22 July 2013

REVIEW: Balzano's Delicatessen & Cafe

For some time, an old colleague of mine in my last job had been telling me to get over to Balzanos for a great cup of coffee and a bite to eat as they had recently extended their premises and were no longer just an Italian shop, but a superb coffee shop too. Balzano's Cambridge I knew his recommendation was a trustworthy one as his girlfriend is Italian and this is the ONLY place outside of Cambridge city centre that she will go to for a cuppa. If its good enough for her, well.... As soon as I stepped foot through the front door I knew this was a place I wasn't going to leave (and stay I did...for 3.5 hours with some of the best writing I've penned in some time!) Balzano's Cambridge You can just visit this family run shop, with a huge selection of fresh fruit and veg as well as pasta, gnocchi, risotto, sauces, syrups, sweets, biscuits, cakes, pastries, wines and beers, oils, teas & coffees, meat, cheeses...the list goes on and on. This is a large Italian deli and a best kept Cambridge secret...of which won't be a secret for much longer that's for sure! Balzano's Cambridge Their large and airy coffee shop towards the back of the shop is decorated with clean and colourful wallpaper and the most interesting light fixtures hanging from the ceiling. It has a huge communal bench, as well as smaller tables, sofas and outdoor seating in a gorgeous little suntrap at the side of the shop. It's perfect for all weather, being light and summery at this time of year, but I could see it being warm and welcoming on a rainy day too! After spending a small fortune in the shop, I ordered myself a mocha (large, which was LARGE!) and a slice of Chocolate Nutella Cake homemade on the premises. This was so moist and chocolatey, not too rich, but one slice was certainly more than plenty! The barista made my mocha lovingly, it took him a while to get the coffee art just so and he wasn't letting me have it until he was satisfied with his impressive! Balzano's Cambridge The service is friendly, smiley staff is always nice nowadays, especially with my recent experience of a particular local deli and it's terrible customer service. The only thing I would say is one of the waitresses was a little too eager to clear away my empties and literally grabbed my coffee cup from my hand as I downed the last sip.... Saying that, it was nice not to have dirty crockery festering around me in the heat of the day, so no bad thing. The odd builder came in and asked the staff if they did takeaway sandwiches, they do, but not the sort these guys were looking for. I'm sure they get this a lot, but they answer each query with a genuine smile, no matter if they know they won't be interested. Balzanos Cambridge This is a place I would come back for a business meeting or with friends for a relaxed catch up, it's a Cambridge treasure and I'm just unsure why it's taken me so long to visit, they even have customer car parking at the back which is an added bonus on this busy road. They also hold cakes and pastries made by the very talented Corrine at Gourmandises and I know for certain that her macarons are to die for, having enjoyed her Buch De Noel for my Xmas Tea Party last year as well as various cakes at the Clandestine Cake Club, as she is a fellow member. Balzanos Cambridge The attention to detail here is inspiring, it's clean and spacious both in the shop and the coffee shop,  with freshly picked flowers on the mismatching tables and local artwork adorning the walls, it's a supportive venue, full of local suppliers and produce and it deserves our support, that's for sure. It's also said locally that at Xmas time, it's, well... Like Xmas (!) with shelves covered in boxes of panettone to rival all panettone, I just can't wait to see that for myself. For my full photo album for this venue, please click here. Balzanos Cambridge Miss Sue Flay

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Afternoon Tea Baking Lesson at Cambridge Kitchens

I was asked to teach an afternoon tea baking lesson with Erika and her team at Cambridge Kitchens on Mill Road as part of Independent Retail Week and I leapt at the chance of trying out a new kitchen, naturally. Baking Lessons Cambridge This was a stunning kitchen, one of the best I've personally baked in, fitted with "Great British Bake Off" style Neff ovens complete with sliding doors, we were all in love with these as the afternoon went on, I must say! Erika had 10 guests booked in for this 3 hour taster workshop, where we baked my Fruit & Spice Streusel Scones and my Retro Sweetie Layer Cake fit for our very own afternoon tea table (decked out with gorgeous china to sit down and enjoy later on). Baking Lessons Cambridge I split the group into smaller subgroups and had some making the cake whilst the others perfected their scones. After a minor glitch with some forgotten almonds (my fault, idiot ; ) we got back on track and had these perfect golden scones complete with a generous sprinkle of the crunchy topping baking whilst the layer cake was cooling. Once cooled, the groups all had a go at practicing some basic icing techniques, the layer cake was assembled and decorated as a team effort, it looked fabulous. Baking Lessons Cambridge It's always a challenge to get used to a new kitchen so quickly, but it works every time. This kitchen was no different, I learn to deal with any glitches fast and yet again, perfect baking, no disasters and some full bellies once we had finished for the afternoon. I loved teaching this class, they were a great group to work with as we listened to my French baking playlist in the background.. I can't bake without music bizarrely, so on went the Spotify Playlists! Streusel Topped Scones We laid a table, complete with tablecloth and poured the tea for our guests whilst giving some pointers on how to eat your scone correctly as we nibbled. Afternoon Tea Baking Lessons This was simply a tiny taster of my etiquette workshops, of which I now host at John Lewis Brasserie in Cambridge, as it's a full 2 hours worth of conversation (and then some!) to touch on everything afternoon tea based when it comes to good manners! ... My guests will just have to book a session to see what this is all about ; ) Cambridge Kitchens The kitchen had everything we needed, lots of space, working plug sockets in the counter tops for my KMix hand mixer & the ovens which could be used one after the other for our baking elements and a friendly team to help and clean up as we went. It was the perfect afternoon, even at 30*c outside, this air conditioned kitchen shop kept us cool as cucumbers as we baked. We were asked by some guests if we were planning more workshops together and to be honest, I would be delighted to join forces again, so if the CK team will have me back, count me in for plenty more baking adventures! Tuck Shop Cake You can view my full photo album for this event by clicking here. Miss Sue Flay

Friday, 19 July 2013

The Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club & Etiquette Workshop

I recently read a feature in Cambridge-based "Style" Magazine about a local clay shooting club for cake-loving women. It's a national brand called "Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club" and run by an enthusiastic lady called Victoria Knowles-Lacks and her team of gun toting women across the country at various clubs spread nationwide. Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club The whole idea behind the club is to welcome everyone, especially absolute beginners, with a mission to get more girls involved in shooting whilst being about reputable instructors, low recoil guns, fine china and having your cake and eating it too! Being a farm girl who never quite left my own back garden, learning to shoot the odd pheasant or too, but then not having the interest at a young age to get into it with my dad, my interest has now crept back, but this could be the mention of tea and cake, I'm not sure! Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club And now I have some exciting news to share with my readers, I am getting involved and eased into this club slowly, by offering an afternoon tea etiquette workshop for their members (and wannabe members)... I will be teaching the tea and cake lovers of this event how to set their table correctly, how to pour and stir their tea properly and hopefully entertain them with my tips and tricks for being the perfect guest or host at afternoon tea. Miss Sue Flay The team are currently planning the first S&CBC Ladies Shooting Conference on the 3rd August at Harper Adams University in Shropshire. The plans have been made, the agenda has been set, the cake competition (yes, their very own "bake off" style competition will be hosted at this event, exciting!) categories have been decided and they have now announced their fabulous list of guest speakers! Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club -Registration and trade stands- Welcome and overview of the S&CBC from Victoria  An informative talk from BASC, their work and what they can do for you The work of the CPSA, how to get involved and more -Coffee & Biscuit break- Phil Coley on Clay Shooting Success Cheryl Hall on her story and your questions Peter Glenser & Bill Harriman on 'how to lose your licence' Rachel Carrie on being a Huntress! -Lunch, trade stands from gorgeous companies such as Ali Valentine, Maude & Fox and lots more!  Cake judging- After lunch there will be the choice of these wonderful workshops (choose 2): 1.The benefits of game shooting and why you should have a go
  1.Practical gun care from a gunsmith (including misfires, gun cleaning, keeping cartridges separate etc) 2.Cartridge Master Class, which, what and why
   2.The route to competitive clay shooting with Caroline Povey Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club -Coffee & Cake Break- 3.Game Shooting etiquette, do's & don'ts
     3.Phil Coley Clay Shooting Success workshop 4.Workshop on Tea Party Etiquette from 'Miss Sue Flay'
       4.Pigeon shooting/rough shooting seminar The lecture will finish off with closing thoughts, panel Q&A, The S&CBC mini awards and the all important cake competition! The day will be such good fun and I've been told that there a few seats left for anybody interested in coming along to this event. As my reader, you are entitled to gain a ticket for just £35 (usually £45, which includes, coffee, cake and a scrummy locally sourced lunch) should you fancy getting into a new hobby & sport. Chelsea Bun To book your tickets, please contact or call Victoria on 07742793977 And hopefully I meet one or two of you there - I will be the "lady" pretending to be there for my workshop, but really trying out a gun or two for size! Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club Miss Sue Flay

Thursday, 18 July 2013

A Very Indian Afternoon Tea With Deepa Mistry

I can't tell you JUST how excited I am to share some local foodie news in the form of a brand new supperclub in Cambridge! Indian Afternoon Tea Deepa is my co-host for The Clandestine Cake Club in Cambridge and she not only makes stunning jewellery, of which I own a few pieces myself, but she also cooks amazing food and bakes a mean cake or two. She blogs her favourite recipes and shares her food travels with her readers, so do follow her blog for an interesting read as she samples some inspiring meals and treats. Lazy Giraffe Blog After a lot of talk about hosting her own supperclub, she is FINALLY setting a date! "After lots of talking, thinking and encouragement from the lovely people who make up the Cambridge food blogger 'scene' (not sure I like that word but it fits) I have decided to hold two events celebrating Indian food" she quotes. Indian Afternoon Tea She's starting with afternoon tea (hurrah!) at a secret location, of which has been in the planning since late last year and after that she will be hosting a supperclub where she'll be cooking up an all vegetarian Gujarati feast for around 15 guests. Masala Chai Cake  Indian Afternoon Tea – Sunday 4th August, 3pm – 5pm  - a few places left A central Cambridge location, not far from the rail station   The much loved British afternoon tea but with an Indian / Gujarati twist. Savoury nibbles (think Indian street food) to begin, sweet treats, a masala chai cake and of course tea!  £19 per person To book places for the afternoon tea simply email with the number of places you'd like and she will send you payment info prior to the event. Indian Supperclub Gujarati Supperclub – no date as yet but it will be late August / early September.  She's still searching for the perfect venue, plus perfecting a stack of perfectly round rotli (chapatti) - This is going to be a supperclub not to miss! I'm really excited for Deepa as I know after her recent trip to India just how inspired she has been, but how tremendously busy her work life has been (putting a spanner in the works for some time). Lazy Giraffe Blog I have also offered my waitressing skills to ensure that Deepa can focus and enjoy the hosting, so if you do go along, you may well see me attempting a faulty towers-esque service for the lovely lady! Book your seat now, her food does not disappoint, trust me! Clandestine Cake Club Cambridge Miss Sue Flay

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

REVIEW: Cambridge Food Tours

A few weeks back I was invited to join Gerla at Cambridge Food Tours for a different view and tour of my home city, thanks to a Facebook competition that saw me win 2 tickets... It was all based around food pit stops around town and I didn't need inviting twice! Fitzbillies We joined Gerla and our fellow food-loving companions for the tour at the Fitzbillies bakery for coffee & a taster of their world famous Chelsea Buns before walking around the corner to the infamous (and hideous) clock that attracts so many tourists each year. Cambridge Food Tour From there, we headed to "The Eagle" pub, of which is said to be haunted by children who perished in a fire. Interestingly, we went into the back of the building where we saw the scrawlings on the walls and ceilings from 2 air forces during WW2 by candle, lighter & lipstick. I had no idea this was even here, having only ever enjoyed a tipple towards the front of this pub over the years, it was stupidly interesting and I most likely would have never known these scribblings were here otherwise. Cambridge Food Tour From here we hopped over to the market to see the fresh fish stall and Gerla talked a little about the history and produce of the market and included a viewing of the bizarre and very modern statue on the edge of the market square, built in honour of a local legend, Snowy Farr. Snowy was an animal lover, raising £thousands for various animal charities over the years and each local man and woman remembers him visiting their school with his menagerie of animals over the years, myself included - very happy memories indeed! Cambridge Food Tour We were also lucky enough to get a sneak preview of a new Italian coffee shop opening that very weekend, "Aromi". We were allowed inside to have a taster of some of their homemade biscuits and take a quick look around before heading back out on the road again. Gerla does try to incorporate her knowledge of new openings in every area of Cambridge, which makes each tour completely unique to the last. We then made our way down Kings Parade to The Cambridge Fudge Shop, which was about to celebrate its 30th birthday, pretty exciting for them, now owning 7 shops on the High Street, including a stand at Selfridges and even one in a theme park! Cambridge Food Tours We headed back up the Parade to Kings College, being told that some of the Cambridge colleges occasionally let you can dine a few times a year with the fellows. Once sat down you can't leave - if you get down to pop to the ladies or gents, you can't come back in apparently! Gerla sometimes hosts supperclubs with St Johns, so do watch out for these throughout the year. In fact, this is the only college allowed to eat swan. They used to serve it at their May Ball, once called the "Swan Ball", very interesting information, having never heard this before, just shameful as a local ; ) Cambridge Food Tours The Cambridge Cheese Company was our next stop, fuelling us with melt in the mouth scotch eggs with pork & pickle pie tasters whilst we browsed this Aladdin's cave - I'm heading back here next time I need my picnic hamper filling up! Cambridge Food Tours As we walked to Norfolk Street Deli (a superb Portuguese bakery with the most delicious homemade custard tarts I've ever tasted!), we were educated on the Cam Cattle and the whereabouts of this superb meat throughout the summer season. The green areas and commons in Cambridge are unusual, as you will see cattle grazing from April to October. Cambridge Food Tours Mill Road Cemetery is just behind Norfolk Street and creates a peaceful meander to "The Sea Tree" fish and chip shop on Mill Road where we enjoyed some freshly cooked Cod Goujons, chunky chips & mushy peas. Gerla had recently been to a "Museum of Chips" in Bruges a few weeks prior to this and regaled us of stories and amusing titbits on the trusty chip, said to be introduced by a nun in Spain before become famous on the continent. By this point we were starting to fill to the rafters, but there was plenty more to see including a visit to meet Matthew Barrister at Cambridge Wine Merchants who allowed us to sample spirits with cheese, apple and fruit cake and we had a lesson in matching spirits with food. It was a refreshing change from wine tasting and the whisky & port sent us on our way in a snoozy haze. Cambridge Food Tours A great piece of local general knowledge was a quick stop outside the Sally Ann Charity Shop on Mill Road, which used to be a cinema years ago. The side wall used to be where people would queue for their tickets along the road and there are hundreds of little circular pockets indented into this wall. It's said that people would get bored and bore holes into it with coins whilst twiddling thumbs in the queue.... I truly love this thought! Nearing the end of our food tour, we stopped at "Bacchanalia" where we matched beer with South African meat and chocolate brownies, heaven! We sampled Cambridge moonshine beer, a Black Chocolate Stout and a "Wild Beer" from Bristol. The guy that runs this shop is enthusiastic and was one of the highlights of the food tour for us personally, we will be back there shortly to stock up, he was just fantastic. Cambridge Food Tours The tour finished at "Chocolat Chocolat" the most indulgent chocolate shop in Cambridge and the entire food tour lasted much longer than the 3.5 hours it said - 5 hours by time we left - fantastic value for money! Book your food tour now, there are so many to choose from or you can arrange a tailored tour to suit your needs, either would be highly rated, this lady know her food! There is an afternoon tea at Sidney Sussex College in August and it's going to be an exclusive look into one of our most beloved Cambridge locations, I will be going for sure! Norfolk Street Bakery Miss Sue Flay