On tea parties and the future.

Life seems to be standing still at the moment.  Well, for me, anyway.  Most of my friends are either still wrapped up in their final-year performance recitals, job-hunting or waiting for the arrival of the summer, when they’ll be jetting off around the world in pursuit of various exploits and adventures.

Sometimes, it makes me feel like I’m being left behind, just because my plans are not quite as immediate and urgent as everyone else’s.  Someone I know has already secured a job in accountancy, not to mention having also signed a contract on a rent-to-buy flat. Someone else I know has landed a job in the IT department of some big company or other, found a house and is getting married in a few months’ time.  One of my housemates recently applied for several teaching assistant positions at local schools.  Countless others are moving on from undergraduate studies to do post-grads and PGCEs, or else going on to study at music college, in pursuit of professional careers as performers.  All throughout this academic year, my friends have been filling out job applications, going for interviews, planning for the future.

And what about me?

Well, my Cordon Bleu application form has been sitting on my desk for the last three months, waiting to be filled out and sent off.  A list of London accomodation and property agencies needs to be investigated, although the cost of living in the capital is enough to give a jobless student severe shock just looking at the weekly rent prices.  And what about a job, part-time or otherwise, at least to see me through the next few months?  I’d love to gain some experience, any experience of working in the culinary industry and goodness knows that there are several bakeries in towns nearby to where I live.  Maybe that’s what I could do this summer, if any of them are willing to take on a totally inexperienced amateur aspiring baker.  (Not to mention also the fact that I should probably think about trying for my driver’s licence again…but I don’t like to talk about that.)

Right now, my immediate future is moving back home, making my culinary school application, finding a place to live and some form of work.  I feel like things should be more pressing, more urgent, but at the same time, I can’t bring myself to feel particularly worried. I have a plan.  It’s just that, unlike the paths that people around me are treading, everything I want or need to do lies in the future, not the here-and-now.

Anyway, moving on from the subject of the future and real life, this seems like a good point to mention the tea party I hosted for a couple of friends back in April.  (We’re British and slightly eccentric, so tea parties suit us down to the ground.  Sadly, it wasn’t a Mad Hatter-themed affair, although there’s a thought for our next event…)  The plan was for everybody to make and bring two items each, one sweet and one savoury.

For my savoury item, I chose spinach tartlets; buttery, flaky pastry with a spinach and egg filling.  The pastry recipe was adapted from one I use for sweet shortcrust, simply by omitting the sugar.  For the filling, I sauteed some spinach and piled it into the pre-baked tartlet cases before pouring in the savoury egg custard mixture and baking.  These tartlets were golden and crisp, with a soft and delicate filling, light from the eggs and fresh from the spinach.

Spinach tartlets – 10/04/2012
(Photo by Holly Crimp)

For my sweet item, I made lemon and white chocolate macarons.

Lemon and white chocolate macarons – 10/04/2012

After years of trying, I’ve finally cracked French macarons!  I dyed the shells of this batch with a green food colouring to achieve a pistachio colour and filled them with a white chocolate ganache, with lemon curd folded in for a subtle citrus flavour that also helped cut through the sweetness of the chocolate.  These macarons were light and lovely, the crispy shells complemented beautifully with the creamy filling.

All in all, it was a highly successful tea party; my friends contributed such delights as goat’s cheese and red onion toasts, parmesan biscuits, spiced biscuits and chocolate crackle-top cookies.  Alongside copious amounts of tea, it was a very nice afternoon indeed, spent in wonderful company and something I’m sure we’ll be doing again in the near future.

(Macaron recipe by Bravetart.)

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