I’ve never been a big fan of February, the weather is normally either wet or snowy and spring still feels a long way away. However, on a postitive note West Yorkshire celebrates the humble forced rhubarb at the annual Wakefield Festival of Food, Drink and Rhubarb, so I thought it would be appropriate to dedicate this month’s afternoon tea event to one of Yorkshire’s protected food.
The first task was to source my rhubarb and thankfully Cowling’s greengrocers in Queensgate Market had plenty. I bought what they had available on Thursday but was assured that more would be in stock on the Friday. And with my request for 2 kilos I think I again bought most of his stock on Friday.
The afternoon tea menu was in part inspired by BBC’s Great British Food Revival. I used their recipe for the chutney which was served with the savoury items and I opted for the rhubarb meringue tart as my show piece sweet. For the sandwiches I chose meat and fish fillings that I knew worked with rhubard (ham, duck and mackerel) and for the sweets I baked classic combinations (rhubarb and custard cake) along with patisserie that I like to make regularly (macarons). I even managed to find some rhubarb and ginger jam from Pickles in Queensgate Market which I used as a filling for the pink macarons and as an accompaniment for the scones.
I also decided to serve a non alcoholic rhubarb drink at the afternoon tea. I took inspiration from Jo, the Icelandic cook, and after making her rhubarb drink recipe I added soda water and apple and lemon slices to make it more of a punch. And it was of course served in a tea cup!
This was the first time that I have baked with rhubarb so I was very pleased with all the flavours and how recipes turned out and I think my guests enjoyed sampling the finished products.