Drinks Party!

The recent months have been pretty busy Chez Gusto. I have been retraining which involved returning to University. Baby-G is growing and started Junior school. And then I returned to the world of full-time work. So all in all we have shamefully neglected our hospitality and entertaining skills and have not hosted any of our friends for quite some time.

In early January we decided to host a very small drinks party. We invited just a few friends…. enough that we knew we could fit around the fire on a cold dreary January afternoon.

Husband-Gusto suggested making the affair even easier by buying ready made canapes. But I decided to do a mix and match and bought some ready-made an others I made myself. Pottering in the kitchen making fiddly bite-sized edibles is definitely my idea of fun! The above was the laden table. It was nice to keep some of our Christmas decorations for a while longer!

These were simple tortilla wraps. The non-vegetarian version I spread tortillas with cream cheese, layered smoked salmon drizzled with lemon and then cut into finger-sized pieces. The vegetarian version was cream cheese layered with chopped sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil.

This was a pre-made potato spanish omelette that I cut into handy cubes.

Italian and German salami platter

Easy skewers. feta cheese, cherry tomatoes and a basil pesto dipping sauce (take a jar of basil pesto and add a bit of olive oil).

This is, in my opinion, the best branded hummus available. Sabra (and they do an amazing Baba Ghanoush also).

Finished off with a great hunk of Stilton and fruit.

It was a lovely afternoon. So nice to host our friends and very relaxing. We decided we definitely have to have a small drinks gathering again in the very near future!


Afternoon tea- Fairy Bread


I have an ongoing mission to introduce Brits to Fairy Bread. THis was a staple of my childhood, and something I resolutely trot out at every single children’s birthday party or afternoon tea party I ever do in the dogged hope that it will ‘take’.

It hasn’t…..Ever.

And the legendary politeness of the English has never been so tested as when they are trying to be vaguely approving of a mad Australian mother who seems to consider it her patriotic duty to share her most beloved national dish.

In short.

Shop-bought white bread, sliced.

Thick smear of real butter.

Generous sprinkle of hundreds and thousands.



*Update: Baby-Gusto did not like it either. .

Afternoon Tea- Asparagus Rolls

A retro favourite. I have fond memories of dinner parties being held by my parents in the 70s and 80s, and asparagus rolls often made an appearance.

My mother had two versions- both equally delicious. I had the uncooked version, just a slice of fresh bread (white traditionally, but I only had 50/50 white and wholemeal bread to hand), spread with butter, two canned or tinned asparagus spears, then rolled up. The other version put the rolls into the oven until the bread became golden. The rolls were then served with a drizzle of hollandaise sauce.

This was delicious and fun. A lovely savoury Afternoon Tea snack.

Afternoon Tea- Scones

I am somewhat mourning the end of summer and the last few days of the school holidays. Wednesday was also and dreary,drizzly day,so scones seemed perfect. These are sultana scones (bought from the bakery) with chestnut jam and clotted cream. Served with black coffee.

The chestnut jam was lovely. A harbinger of our coming autumn. A perfect pick-me-up when served while watching a double session of Real Housewives of Melbourne.

Afternoon tea – cucumber sandwiches.

A wonderful way to share my first ever home-grown cucumber, thanks to cucumber plants kindly given to me by ROD from ROD’s Island Life. https://rodsislandlife.wordpress.com/about/

These sandwiches are classically English. Fresh white bread, pure unsalted butter and thinly sliced cucumber. A tiny splash of salt.

Baby-Gusto pointed out that he hates sandwiches and so he had his just sliced with some cherry tomatos. I also added some crisps on the side as a it of a treat for him. This seems to be a peculiarly UK thing….sandwiches with crisps on the side. Very normal here but I had never come across it before. Even now after 12 years in the UK I cannot quite tolerate sandwiches and crisps eaten together.

This was a lovely and relaxed afternoon tea on a sunny Sunday. H-G had Lapsang Souchong tea and I had chamomile. We all just sat in quiet, largely silent, companionship for nearly an hour. H-G perused a gardening magazine; B-G examined the innards of a new board game and I started reading Middlemarch.

Utter bliss.