Yesterday I attended my first blogger event at The Celtic Manor Resort to launch their Festive Afternoon Tea menu. Having never been invited to a blogger event before, I had no idea what to expect so happily accepted the invitation and looked forward to meeting other similar food bloggers and to eat afternoon tea of course!
My Mam and I arrived at the Resort, greeted warmly by India and ushered to the private dining room at the end of The Olive Tree restaurant; a beautiful wood panelled room with views across to the golf academy and decorated suitably Christmassy for the event.
I was expecting around 20-30 people, only to find out there were only 11 of us, a select few for a special event possibly? Me being me, I greeted everyone warmly as we arrived and happily chatted with the few other lady bloggers who were already seated. A selection of teas and coffees were offered and poured in abundance as we waited for the last few bloggers to arrive.
It was funny sitting there observing what everyone was doing – it was like being at a press conference, all the cameras and mobile phones with everyone stereotypically on their mobile phones using social media. I knew it was a blogger event, but I really hoped that everyone wouldn’t be on their phones the whole event, being anti-social on social media.
The final bloggers were seated with one male amongst a gaggle of female bloggers. Everyone was lovely and chatty after the initial introductions and finding out where people had travelled from, then the afternoon activities began. A mulled wine demonstration by head barman and mixologist Scott, who talked us through the history of mulling, and which wines and spices were the best to use. Whilst all of this was happening, flashes and clicks were going off, it was the most papped mulled wine in history!
The wine was poured from beautiful glass teapots, and once everyone had done the obligatory tweet and Instagram photo upload, we all raised our glasses and wished a Merry Christmas to each other.
Next we welcomed Carl the Executive Head Pastry Chef at the Resort into our room and he talked us through the Festive Afternoon Tea Menu. Carl was a busy man, he was in the middle of preparing a dinner for 900 people to come up and talk to our small room of bloggers. He quickly touched on the savouries before launching into describing every last detail of the cakes, pastries and scones.
The whole menu appealed to me, probably because there were a lot of savouries and sandwiches and the sweets included a Festive Penderyn and Marmalade Bara Brith, topped with marzipan and icing (hello heaven in a slice of cake!), a Pistachio Marzipan Cone and a Cherry and Apricot Florentine slice. There were two types of scones, a Spiced Cranberry and a Chestnut. Carl finished his in-depth description and swiftly after his exit, the food started to arrive.
Little picnic hamper baskets arrived filled with savoury treats, and ours didn’t last long – always a good sign! The Crayfish blini was really delicious but I would have liked my Welsh Rarebit and the Butternut Squash Tartlet served warm, however I still ate them!
Next to arrive was a three-tiered cake stand filled with sandwiches, cakes and pastries. I asked myself the question, can you have too much food at and afternoon tea event? You definitely get your monies worth, that’s for sure. Having already hoovered the savouries, I tackled a couple of sandwiches then tasted some of the sweets.
I don’t have a sweet tooth, so I tasted the (whole) selection and luckily for us, the waiting staff had a stack of boxes ready for us to take any treats we couldn’t finish home with us. The mince pie was festively fruity, the carrot cupcake was full of flavour and the buttercream not too sickly. The marzipan cone was sadly too sweet for me – I know, can something be too sweet? It can for me I’m afraid! I was looking forward to eating the Bara Brith the most, and although it was lovely I wouldn’t classify it as a Bara Brith. To me, it should be dark and rich with fruit, this cake resembled what I would call a country fruit cake or a light Christmas cake.
By the time the scones had come out, I had reached my full sign limit. Mam and I shared the scones between us meaning we could take the rest home in our expanding box of goodies. The Spiced Cranberry scone was superb, definitely the best of the two.
By this point, we were all stuffed. I had gradually noticed that although people were taking photos and popping stuff onto social media every so often, it wasn’t consistently happening and we were all chatting happily and discussing what we were enjoying eating. It was interesting hearing that a lot of the bloggers were ‘lifestyle’ bloggers, some specialising in fashion, some in beauty and there were some ‘Mummy’ bloggers, discussing all things baby/children/family related; it seemed there were no other foody types.
The end of the event had arrived and goody bags were handed out. A group photo was taken and fond farewells bid to new friends. A successful and thoroughly enjoyable first blogger event, and a big Thank You to the team at The Celtic Manor.