Scones I have known – no.9

I had quite a few scones on holiday in Cumbria last month, but the best was saved till last.

After leaving our holiday home at Red Hall Farm, on our way back north we took a detour to Lanercost Priory, about half a mile from Hadrian’s Wall.

We didn’t have time to visit the priory itself, but we did visit the award winning tearoom next to it.

Lanercost Priory tearoom

Lanercost Priory Tearoom, gift shop and information centre.

The delightful assistants opted for coffee and a slice of lemon cake between them.

lemon cake

Pleased to find there was leaf tea on offer, I chose a pot of Darjeeling accompanied by a fruit scone.

fruit scone with jam

The scone hadn’t been long out of the oven and was still slightly warm. With a little butter, it was absolute bliss. The poor old jam that came with it didn’t have a look in.

Lanercost scone

Scones I have known – no.8

Yesterday afternoon, on our way home from Edinburgh, the delightful assistants and I called into Loch Leven’s Larder near Kinross for afternoon tea.

During the drive I had been considering the possible scone options that might greet us on arrival. They usually have four varieties to choose from: plain, fruit, cheese and a daily special. I nearly always go for the special, and I was curious to know what it might be.

We arrived a little before 15:00 to find that the fruit scones had sold out. That left plain, cheese and the special which, on this occasion, was billed as ‘plum drizzle’. Having had a ‘drizzle’ scone here before I knew that it came with icing on top. On the whole, I prefer my scones without icing, but I did like the sound of the plums.

When we put in our order (breakfast tea and slices of summer berry pie for the assistants; ginger chai tea for me along with the plum drizzle scone) I was informed by the waitress that the scone was, in fact, cherry and not plum. Delightful assistant no.2 had suggested as much when he’d gone up to the cake counter to investigate the options and seen the scones for himself.

Cherry scones tend to be sweeter than most other varieties and so I briefly wondered if the added icing was enough to put me off. ‘I’m not sure if it is cherry actually,’ said the waitress. ‘Not to worry,’ said I, boldly. ‘Whatever it is, I’ll have it.’

When the scone arrived at the table there was an extra element of excitement involved in the proceedings. Was it cherry, or was it in fact plum? Going by this picture, what would you think?

mystery scone

If you said plum, I can inform you that you’re 100% spot on. There wasn’t a single cherry in that scone, but there were plenty of pieces of moist fresh plum.

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The heaviest bit of the treat was the icing; the scone itself was light, fluffy and utterly delicious.

In case you’re interested in what the summer berry pie looked like, here it is without cream, as consumed by delightful assistant no.2 (who is very good about watching his cholesterol).

summer berry pie sans cream

And here’s the other piece, as consumed by delightful assistant no.1 (who, when it comes to cream, takes full advantage of her daily prescription of statins).

summer berry pie avec cream

Scones I have known – no.7

I consumed this scone only a few hours ago in the Pine Cone Cafe outside Dundee.

Although rather crumbly, the scone was soft inside and crisp outside, and absolutely packed with dried fruit.

It was very reasonably priced at £1.50 (served with butter and jam), and it slipped down a treat with four cups of tea (the teapot was a good size and came with a free refill; I gave it my best shot but didn’t quite manage to drink it all).

Excellent value for money and jolly tasty, to boot. Well done, the Pine Cone.

fruit scone

Scones I have known – no.7: fruit, Pine Cone Cafe outside Dundee, 22 July 2015.

Scones I have known – no.6

One sunny morning around Easter, delightful assistant no.1 and I tootled up to the village of Braemar in Aberdeenshire in search of mid-morning refreshments.

We stopped outside the lovely tearoom, Taste, and admired some daffodils planted in a tub outside the front door.

Inside there were more daffodils in vases on the tables, and small flufffy Easter chicks dotted about beside a string of fairy lights over the fireplace.

Amongst the treats on offer there were freshly baked plain scones, shaped like stars.

Scones I have known - no.6: plain, Taste in Braemar, 27 March 2012.

Scones I have known – no.6: plain, Taste in Braemar, 27 March 2012.

Scones I have known – no.5

Last week, on holiday in the south-west of Scotland, the delightful assistants and I revisited an eatery that has always come up trumps on the scone front: Woodlea Tearoom in Sandhead.

We arrived at the tearoom shortly after it had opened on Thursday morning, hoping to find that the scones were as good as they’d been in previous years.

As we walked past the counter, which was full of tempting cakes and traybakes, I scanned the shelves carefully and saw not a single scone on offer.

Gripped by anxiety, I accosted a waitress in order to enquire about this state of affairs.

‘We’ve got plain, fruit and cheese. They’re freshly baked, I just haven’t had time to put them out yet.’

This was music to my ears. Not only were there scones, but they were so hot off the presses that they were still resting in the kitchen after coming out of the oven.

We all ordered fruit scones and they were delivered to the table warm and delicious looking. Butter and jam came with them but I shunned these condiments for my first bite, desirous of enveloping myself in the raw pleasure of the unadorned treat.

It was a wise move. The scone was soft, fluffy, packed with sultanas and utterly delicious. My grateful thanks to Woodlea Tearoom for rounding off my holiday with such a top-rate scone.

Scones I have known - no.5: fruit, Woodlea Tearoom in Sandhead, 25 June 2015

Scones I have known – no.5: fruit, Woodlea Tearoom in Sandhead, 25 June 2015

Scones I have known – no.4

Scones are mysterious creatures. Because they don’t have the decoration or icing often associated with other baked treats, their generally plain appearance can hide the truth of what lies within.

I don’t know how many times I’ve approached a scone anticipating its probable taste and texture, sometimes not expecting it to be up to much, only to find that it takes me by surprise and often exceeds expectations.

One such scone I remember well was a treacle affair I had in the quiet environs of Whithorn.

Whithorn is a small town in the south-west of Scotland. It’s a former royal burgh and the location of the first recorded Christian church in Scotland (founded by St Ninian around the year 397). Among its modern day charms is the Pilgrim Tearoom, part of the Whithorn Story Visitor Centre. Since I’ll be in that neck of the woods again soon I’m wondering if I might try and relive the excellent experience I had on a previous visit there.

Gazing upon the scone again now it strikes me as a pretty attractive looking item, but at the time my hopes were far from high. I think I was imagining it might be a bit dried out and tasteless. In fact, it was soft, moist and deliciously treacly, and I would be very glad to have another one just like it.

Scones I have known no.4 - treacle, Pilgrim Tearoom in Whithorn, 13 August 2013

Scones I have known – no.4: treacle, Pilgrim Tearoom in Whithorn, 13 August 2013

Scones I have known – no.3

The scone in this post is featured, not because it was amongst the finest scones I’ve ever tasted, but because it came as part of a particularly pleasant package.

The weather in most of Scotland over the past week (with the exception of today) has been unusually summery. A few days ago I whisked the delightful assistants off on a magical mystery tour in search of sunshine and tasty fare. It was hard to tell where the best weather might be, but we headed south with hope in our hearts.

On the way we stopped at a service station, and while we were there I picked up a leaflet about East Lothian. Usually, when we go on little excursions of this sort, I check out beforehand the possible eateries in the area we’re heading to. However, on this occasion I hadn’t had time to do that and I hadn’t actually decided where to go until I started driving. I was relying on somehow finding somewhere nice by sheer chance. As it happened, the luncheon gods were smiling on me.

The leaflet mentioned, amongst many other attractions in East Lothian, a place called Smeaton Nursery Gardens and Tearoom. It sounded appealing and, hoping it would be open and dishing up nourishing treats, we scooted off there post haste.

What we met exceeded our expectations. The sun was beaming down gloriously from a blue sky and the tearoom was very peacefully located down a long driveway next to a walled garden.

What’s more they were serving cream teas at only £6 a head, which was remarkably good value. Both delightful assistant no.1 and I plumped for a cream tea, which consisted of a round of sandwiches of our choice (she chose tuna and cucumber and I went for cheese and tomato), a fruit scone with jam and cream and a large pot of tea (there was so much tea, in fact, that we failed to finish it despite me glugging back about four cupfuls).

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The scones, although satisfyingly large, were somewhat dry, but given the quantity of tea on offer and the toppings provided I didn’t find this to be a problem.

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Scones I have known – no.3: fruit, Smeaton Tearoom, 9 June 2015

Incidentally, thank you to everyone who took part in my Word association post. I’ve written over 2500 words of the story but I’m not even halfway through the list of words I need to incorporate yet. Either I’ll need to do a ruthless editing job or it’s not going to be quite as short a short story as I had anticipated. I hope to post the completed effort before too long.