A standard cup of coffee just wasn’t going to cut it for international coffee day this year – THE coffee day when you have the excuse (if you need one) to indulge those caffeine cravings with something fancy. Don’t get me wrong, you cant beat a perfectly brewed flat white with creamy milk poured into the mug to create a pretty pattern on a regular day. But on these other occasions, coffee cocktails are the way to go. Especially over brunch!
I was lucky enough to be invited to brunch with Tia Maria for International coffee day – the dark coffee liqueur. Taking place at St. Barts Brewery in Smithfield, almost the whole restaurant come bar was buzzing with life, groups nattering and people tucking into sharing dishes along the long tables which had been formed down the middle. It was like one big celebration!
Kim came too. Both armed with cocktails from the bar, which was serving several Tia Maria numbers, we settled into our seats up on the balcony. The view was fab as the people below from the first sitting were finishing up with brunch.
We’d both opted for the Tia Mint Frappe, a mix of Tia Maria, fresh mint, milk and espresso. Not quite as strong as an espresso martini, it was creamier, with a refreshing mint touch.
The other cocktails all looked very tempting too, having previously tried the popcorn iced latte and the espresso martini, which were both fab in their own way! Just getting over a bout of flu, and Kim suffering with a hangover, we did however just stick to the one.
The brunch menu, created by Dan Doherty, Head Executive Chef at Duck & Waffle, had my tummy rumbling from the get go. Creative and unique, the dishes included; Chorizo stuffed dates with maple bacon, cheddar scones with whipped cream cheese, hangover oysters, autumn baked eggs with wild mushrooms, Gruyere cheese and truffle; homemade English muffins with whipped Marmite butter and queen of puddings with plum jam and roasted almonds.
The format of the brunch event saw each of the courses delivered as sharing portions – platters piled high with warm muffins, more than enough whipped cream cheese, and big dishes of baked eggs – ready for everyone on the table to dig in and help themselves.
The cheese scones, warm and crumbly, were delicious served with the whipped cream cheese. However, a huge Marmite lover, I couldn’t resist spreading a little of the Marmite butter on these too – an irresistible combination! That Marmite butter was so smooth, with the sharpness dulled slightly by the creaminess.
The chorizo stuffed dates wrapped in maple bacon, were rich and sweet. That salty sweet combination always a winner. Chunkier than pigs in blankets at Christmas, I only had one as to save space for the rest of the banquet, but would have happily eaten several.
The freshly baked muffins, almost double the size of those you buy from the supermarket, were crispier on the outside, light and fluffy in the middle. Still warm, the Marmite butter sunk into the muffin half – I nearly ate this by itself to savour each bite.
The Autumn Baked Eggs were like nothing I’d had before. The dish was packed with wild mushrooms, Gruyere cheese and truffle, making it rich, creamy and indulgent. Gruyere was baked on top too to give it a golden colour, whilst the eggs helped the dish to keep its form – obviously also one of the key components, with eggs being such a breakfast staple. Fantastic by itself or eaten with the Marmite butter warm muffin.
To finish, the queen of puddings came as a sharing dessert, with more than enough for our table. Topped with roasted almonds, the final course consisted of the usual two layers, one slightly more dense than the other, and a thick layer of plum jam sandwiched between them. Sweet, the plums and fact that it was a warm dessert gave it a comforting autumn feel (No more froyo or ice cream for the foreseeable unless accompanied by steaming hot cake), and made a fantastic end to our brunch.
Enjoying our pudding we did miss the final masterclass but decided we wanted to savour the sweet, and what was left of our cocktail rather than rush through to join. We’re already looking into upcoming espresso martini masterclasses to get involved in – I do love a coffee cocktail!
Overall, one fantastic way to celebrate International Coffee Day – brunch and coffee cocktails will always be winner. The cocktails were well-thought out and delicious, the food unique and creative (insanely tasty!), and overall a great experience. Go seek out a brunch by Dan Doherty, but also, get your hands on one of those Tia Maria cocktails – or make them at home. You all know I’m all for a homemade brunch!
Have you had a fancy brunch recently?
*I was invited along to celebrate International Coffee Day with Tia Brunch n Grind. All views my own.