First brush of summer

Pohutukawa flower. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa) — often called New Zealand’s Christmas tree — produces masses of red flowers from almost white buds throughout summer. Today, the pohutukawa in my neighbourhood are mostly showing white buds. By this time next week, the trees will be thickly painted in feathery strokes of red.

Friday flowers

Virtual afternoon tea, November 2020

Strawberry season has arrived. Image: Su Leslie

Wherever you are, and whatever is happening in your world, Kia ora koutou katoa  (Greetings. Hello to you all). 

As we approach the end of a year unlike any that most of us have experienced, it feels more important than ever to connect in whatever way we can. For me, sharing food has always been an expression of aroha (love); even when it’s delivered virtually.

This month, we’ve got some little mini pancakes with a mix of toppings; avocado, creme fraiche, smoked salmon, roasted cherry tomatoes and prosciutto. I first made these for a whanau get-together and they’ve proved popular ever since.

Canapes. Mini pancakes with a variety of toppings. Image; Su Leslie

This fruit bread uses surplus sourdough starter in place of a portion of the flour/liquid. It’s the first time I’ve made it and confess I find it a little sweet. Perhaps I’ll serve it with a sharp cheese next time.

Spiced fruit bread and tea. Image; Su Leslie

Strawberry season has arrived in New Zealand, with my local greengrocer stocking berries from one of the few remaining local growers. When I was a child, strawberry growing was common all around Auckland’s rural fringe, and it was a regular part of our summer to be taken berry picking. When I think how much fruit was diverted into our mouths instead of the picking buckets, I wonder how the growers made any money.

Lemon shortbread, mascarpone and strawberries. Image: Su Leslie

I knew I wanted to include strawberries in our afternoon tea fare, but also to keep things simple. The biscuits are lemon shortbread, the cream is mascarpone and the strawberries were macerated for about 30 minutes. I think the lemon and the tart cream work quite well to offset the sweetness of the shortbread and berries. And the Big T says “yum” — so I’m considering them a success.

Pull up a chair, grab a plate and help yourself. There’s some English Breakfast tea and a lemon verbena and apple tisane brewing — and the coffee machine is on.

Tell me what’s happening in your world.

Why a virtual tea party?

When Del (at CurlsnSkirls) and I started talking about a virtual tea party, we saw it as a fun way to share our love of kai and korero. It is that of course, but for me at least, it’s also an affirmation of how important you — my blogging whanau — are to me. Over the years you’ve shared your thoughts, stories, advice and support and I really would like to invite you all round to mine and cook for you.

But since that’s not going to happen anytime soon, I hope this will do instead.

The invitation

I’d love to hear from you. What are you doing/reading/making? Your thoughts on the food, the drinks, and whatever I’m rambling about. What’s making you happy or pissing you off?  Your comments make blogging so much more interesting.

And if you’d like to contribute a post of your own — even better. Maybe a shot of your cuppa and/or whatever you’re having with it. A recipe if you like.

I’ll update each of my posts with a ping-back to everyone’s in the same way as I do with The Changing Seasons.

#virtualteaparty2020 for anyone on Instagram who wants to post images (or video?)


Aggie at Nomad has brought a pear and almond tart — one of my favourite combinations.

Jo from Restless Jo is sharing her birthday cheesecake — raspberry with a chocolate base. Happy (belated) birthday Jo.

Sheree at View from the Back joins us with a lovely tea from Mariage Frères, and pistachio financieres.

Amanda from Surprising Lives has some delicious-looking breadsticks. Yummy and crunchy.

Sarah at Art Expedition has baked cinnamon rolls, and found this wonderful quote “Anyone who gives you a cinnamon roll fresh out of the oven is a friend for life.” Daniel Handler. I think you’ve totally cemented our friendship Sarah.

Irene at My Slice of Mexico is a wonderful cook and food writer. Not only does she share some delicious treats, but also the recipes. This month we’re trying Cocadas de yema – Yolk Coconut Sweets. Yum.

Kristine at Candid Kay joins for the first time with a heartfelt post about values and hope.

Amanda’s (A Home by the Sea) chocolate orange cake looks yummy — and she’s shared the recipe.

Deb at The Widow Badass has tested out a new recipe for limoncello and ricotta almond cake. It looks delicious — and she’s linked to the recipe.

Del at CurlsnSkirls has baked some cranberry scones and some savoury digestive biscuits. I am definitely going to try these.

Ju-Lyn from All Things Bright and Beautiful not only makes the most delicious goodies, but shares the recipe too. This month we’re enjoying cornflake chocolate chip marshmallow cookies.