One of the best things about this blog is that through it, I make new friends. Now that my food obsession is completely public, I often find myself in conversations with fellow food-lovers that go something like this: “You love food. I love food. LET’S HANG OUT!”
This is how I met Miss Onion. Our first few conversations were dominated by one topic: SCONES. Scones Scons Skowns however you prefer to pronounce it. Miss Onion insisted on taking me to one of her favourite spots – a little place in The Rocks specialising in tea and freshly baked scones.
There was a stage a while back when scones they were my favourite thing in the world – still warm, out of the oven scones, broken open and generously slathered with jam and cream. I tried baking them myself too – but could never get it right. All scone recipes will tell you how wonderfully easy they are to make, which makes you feel like a complete idiot when your scones come out like lumpy rock cakes that are tough on the outside and still doughy on the inside.
I tried all the tricks – like using sour cream or lemonade – but nothing worked. I think where I went wrong is the part of the process when you’re required to work the dough with ‘a light hand’. What does that even mean? It must be one of those delicate cooking techniques I’m just not capable of – like flipping a pancake or slicing anything “thinly”.
But then, on a family trip to Melbourne, we joined a tour that served Devonshire Tea at every rest stop – which was wonderful the first few times but after about 5 days straight of 2 scones (sometimes 3…) with jam and cream for both morning and afternoon tea – it became too much and left me with significant holiday weight gain. I’ve only had the occasional scone since then.
So I was excited to rekindle an old flame.
Hidden amongst the bustle of The Rocks weekend markets and a long row of nearly identical heritage buildings, The Tea Cosy can be found in the back room of the Irish Design Shop. It’s not so much a cafe as it is a little kitchen and a few small tables and chairs placed wherever they can fit inside and around this beautifully preserved terrace.
It’s all incredibly charming and feels just like being at nanna’s house – if I had a nanna who lived in a quaint little cottage who made her own jam, collected tea sets and had a hobby of knitting tea cosies.
The eponymous tea cosies are everywhere and adorable. Like little sweaters for teapots. Why is it that when you put a sweater on something small like a puppy or a baby or a teapot it’s so unbearably cute?
FREE JARS!! Perfect for anyone who happens to want rustic centrepieces at their wedding.
Upstairs there’s some extra seating on the tiny balcony and also a really lovely little function room that would be perfect for kitchen teas or baby showers. Full of white lace tablecloths and antique furniture. Just put on a bonnet and you can pretend you’re sitting in Barton Cottage with the Miss Dashwoods.
And of course, more of these little beauties. The purple with the white ribbons was our favourite.
All tea cosies are for sale – ranging from around $20 to $40 each.
Assorted cups and saucers. Photos are courtesy of the talented Miss Onion and my iPhone 5.
Our Devonshire Tea ($12.50), with Irish Breakfast (green cosy) and Turkish Apple (red cosy).
As much as I was looking forward to these scones, my stomach was in a dilemma. On Saturday mornings, especially if I know I’m going out for breakfast, my stomach has severe cravings for bacon, eggs and coffee. It was having a lot of trouble dealing with the fact that breakfast was going to be sweet scones with tea instead. So I deliberately ordered just 2 scones for both of us because my stomach was so fixed on eating something savoury – I wanted to leave room for some gozleme from the markets. Ugh need to stop letting the stomach boss me around!
And even though that I knew I was going to eventually get my savoury fix – I couldn’t resist choosing cheese as one of our scone flavours. For the other we went for a classic plain. Our jam of choice was fig and ginger (Hank’s).
The cheese scone was so good! The problem with most savoury cakes/muffins/biscuits is that they’re never quite savoury enough and can end up tasting a bit bland. But without without going overboard, the cheesiness of this scone was perfect and also added a nice buttery texture (not that that stopped me from spreading some more butter on top!).
I like my scones dense and bready – but not so heavy that it feels like a shot put in your hand. These struck a perfect balance between dense and fluffy. So the blackboard sign that boasts “Best scones in Sydney” doesn’t lie. I should also mention that these scones came out of the oven at 10am and landed on our table at 11am, which is as fresh as you can get.
The loose leaf teas are very good too – I finished my pot of Irish Breakfast and almost forgot that it wasn’t coffee.
The Tea Cosy is a really lovely spot for a quiet and comfortable tea break, and I’m very thankful to Miss Onion for introducing me to it. The historial setting and kitschy, grandma-chic style make it truly unique and sets it apart the posh hotel high teas that surround it.
The Tea Cosy
33 George St
The Rocks, Sydney