Cake Diary: Flourish

Cake Diary: Flourish

One of the many joys of having an artisan baker as a friend is that she finds little bakery gems and invites me along to test them out. Purely market research you understand as we would not normally like to spend our days off chit chatting over cups of tea and enjoying freshly baked produce!……. It’s a tough life.

This week we discovered Flourish, a craft baker tucked away on an industrial estate in Watford. As the sat nav led us past tyre fitters and wholesalers I began to think we were in the wrong place (I don’t trust sat nav’s at the best of times) but then it emerged before us. In contrast to it’s run down industrial surroundings Flourish stands proud with grey painted brickwork and slick black signage; a clean and sleek oasis.

The building is huge with the bakery taking up the majority of it, they need the space as they supply several high end hotels in London as well as The Grove locally. Sitting proudly at the front is the cafe with rustic, warm decor of reclaimed wood panelling and worn leather seats, welcoming you in to the comfortable, relaxed atmosphere. Vintage pastry trays and pans line the walls while wooden crates display goods for sale, simple yet elegant. Above each table a low hanging pendant light keeping an intimate feel and your focus on the food before you.DSC_0112

The wood panelling is punctured with bright windows of white light showing you the inner workings of the bakery. Machines whirring and hands kneading, just a pane of glass between the creators and the client.

The breakfast and brunch menu is simply mouth watering, there are no greasy spoons here! Fresh, vibrant ingredients lovingly put together to satisfy your hunger, the difficulty is deciding what to have. Having tried and failed to cook the perfect poached egg more times that I care to admit I now leave this nemesis of mine to the experts. Clearly these guys knew what they were doing so I ordered the smashed avocado and poached eggs with halloumi, on sourdough.

I had prepared myself for the menu choices and I knew the selection of breads and bakes would be varied. I had not, however, expected there to be such an interesting tea selection. The brand stocked is Birchall’s, an eco-concious London tea company who have developed plantations around the world. They work closely with the communities they’re in, are rain forest alliance certified and fair trade. Amongst the more familiar blends I noticed one on the menu I had not heard of before, Virunga….I was intrigued.

Virunga tea is grown at high altitude in Rwanda, close to the Democratic Republic of Congo in the Virunga National Park. Not only does this park nurture exquisite tea plantations it is also home to endangered wildlife such as Mountain Gorillas. You can read more about Birchalls conservation work at their website where they also recommend a Netflix documentary called “Virunga” for an insight into the area. One for the watchlist me thinks. Large companies have such an obligation to the nations they work with, amazing produce can be grown whilst still caring for the environment and local communities.

In the bag Virunga is a fine black tea and in the cup it brews a warm russet colour. I found it a little strong to drink without milk – as my friend described it “It’s very Tea-ee”! I would have to agree. A strong and earnest brew it will appeal to those who like a DSC_0097“proper cuppa”. Slightly more refined around the edges that a builders brew but still packs a punch. Virunga also comes in earl grey and Chai blends which may be softer on the palate but I am yet to try.

Brunch was nothing short of eggy perfection. The sourdough, toasted but still soft, had a delicious chewy crust, slathered with creamy, smashed avocado. The halloumi was pleasingly squeaky (I expect nothing less from squeaky cheese!) and not as salty as many supermarket brands. As I popped each egg the golden yolk flowed dressing the plate with sunshine. A gentle sprinkle of chilli & chives graced each fork full providing just a tingle of warmth. My plate was cleared and my tummy was full. So full I had to get my sweet treat to take away!

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The counter had plenty on offer, from huge slabs of carrot cake to delicate fruit tarts. It’s not often I go for a chocolate choice but I was enticed by the coconut brownie. A good few hours later that afternoon as the 4pm slump hit and the kettle was on I tucked in. Not as gooey as some brownies but I don’t think thats a bad thing. Sturdy enough to hold and bite in to, the desiccated coconut adding both texture and flavour to the bitter sweet chocolate. Deliciously satisfying and definitely worth the wait!

The vibe of Flourish is very much of an artisan bakery but their wealth of experience and expertise comes across in droves. There is little reason to visit this North Watford industrial estate but for the delicious food, welcoming service and artisan loaves that entice people back time and again. I doubt you’ll be passing but I highly recommend a detour.

Flourish, Unit 2 Garnett Close, Watford, WD24 7GL         TEL: 01923 630588

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Hello 2018

Hello 2018

Firstly I’d like to apologise for my disappearance for the later part of 2017, how time flies when life takes over. I began an exciting new venture in September, attending college to train to become a counsellor. I have dabbled in psychology and wellbeing throughout my life and find human behaviour and the mind a fascinating subject.

I have alluded to my personal experience of anxiety in previous posts and a few years ago I was struggling so attended counselling to face the demons I was battling. It was a revelation and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed exploring me!! It’s a relatively selfish pass time in that you get to sit with another human being you know nothing about and talk solely about yourself. Your fears, thoughts, emotions and anger laid bare, such a daunting yet liberating experience.

After working on myself for nearly 2 years (and still to this day I hasten to add), I wanted to learn the theories behind the scenes and how to use my experience to help others. Working full time and studying in the evening means it will be a few years until I am fully qualified, however I am going to enjoy the journey as I continue to develop my self awareness along the way. Needless to say finding a place for study along with my current commitments has been a challenge, hence why Tea & Happiness took a back seat. So what does 2018 have in store?

I am not one for New Years resolutions, being a realist I refuse to set myself up to fail! The streets are dotted with regretful runners, the gym full of fledgling fitness freaks and supermarkets are selling out of kale & avocados faster than you can say “superfood”.

We all want to be better (whatever that may look like) and I believe it is important to set goals and try something new. But why do that in January?! It’s notoriously dark, cold and with the disappearance of Christmas sparkle, pretty darn miserable. I listened to a Radio show which discussed resolutions and one caller said he treated January like a 30 day free trial to try something out and see how it fits. Come the end of the month you can adapt it, drop it or just keep the bits that work for you. This seems like a healthier approach to the New Year, New Me farce.

So in light of that healthier attitude I am not going to berate myself for letting my blog slide. For 2018 I aim to combine my education with my creative expression as I have so much I want to share with you. Not just new teas I have discovered over the last few months but also insights into mental health and personal development. I’d love to hear what your goals and ambitions are so please share in the comments below and let’s see what the next 12 months has in store!

In the meantime I wish you all a happy & healthy 2018 🙂