pass the teapot.
 
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Every day I receive, on average, three emails from Groupon. Most promise me whiter teeth, a cheap day at the Laser Quest or a personalised family portrait. Most of them, I duly delete. So I was more than a little pleasantly surprised when a Zazu's Kitchen offer flashed up in my inbox. Since watching the world of Stoke's Croft go by over a cup of tea at Zazu's some time ago I have been keen to try their foodie offerings. Groupon offered me £25 worth of food for a tenner. This was one promise I was not going to ignore.

Fast forward a few days, voucher purchased, myself and my boyfriend strolled down the road, ready to eat our way through our food allowance. I won't dwell on what happened when we arrived but I think it's worth a mention as it was less than ideal. After being shown to a free table (of which there were many) we picked from the menu and, bellies rumbling, began to place our order. It was then that I mentioned our Groupon voucher and was told that it would not be possible to use it because we had not booked in advance. I hasten to add that I had phoned Zazu's three times previously to book a table only to be greeted by a fuzzy, broken telephone line. Now I'm all for playing by the rules and I understand that small print, etc, is there for a reason. But I found it hard to get my head around why we could not use the voucher there and then, when there was obviously plenty of space and, as far as I could see, there was no Groupon menu that had to be prepared especially. It's like playing by the rules for the sake of rules and it was ever so slightly annoying.

But I said I wouldn't dwell and I won't, because the rest of our Zazu experience more than made up for it. Round Two began the following day, safe in the knowledge that we had booked our lunch slot, and any negative feeling was quickly banished. The menu offered us a range of seasonal dishes.  This is an eaterie which prides itself on  homecooked fare using locally sourced ingredients. I chose the yellow chickpea curry, generously served with a crisp poppadom and perfectly cooked rice. Now I don't claim to be much of a connoisseur where savoury food is concerned (give me a cake and I'll write you an essay) but I like to think I can tell a good meal from an average one and this scored well above your average lunchtime scoff. One thing I'm a bit of a stickler for is a good side salad and the one on my plate, with its red onions, radishes and cherry tomatoes in a delicate dressing, was up there with the best. The boyfriend didn't mess around - he went for the full English. It must have been good, on account of him being so impressed with the bacon that he insisted I try it (he is not a food sharer).

The ambience of Zazu's Kitchen is perfect for both your quick-coffee-and-a-paper and your lazy-lunch-with-wine treat. The open kitchen brings a personal touch without being too intrusive and the decor is more cosy farmhouse kitchen than city centre bistro. The food is great value too. Two main meals and drinks later, we still had £10 left of our voucher, which we spent on cakes (what else?). I was ever so slightly disappointed with how many cakes were on offer (our one brownie and an almond tart nearly left them out of stock completely) but the brownie was dense and the pastry was crisp so all was forgiven.
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One particularly special mention must go out to Zazu's mammoth coffees. So often I order a coffee only to be disappointed to see the bottom of the cup after just a couple of sips. Zazu's serve their coffees in almost bowl-like cups, without the bowl-like price tag. Long-lasting AND delicious.

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After lunch we popped next door to the Stokes Croft Art Furniture store where I found this rather apt mug.

Zazu's, I do heart thee.

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I didn't buy that one though. I chose one with a lamb inside it instead.

 
 
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Last weekend I took Pass the Teapot to my home town of 'foodie-capital' Ludlow for its debut appearance at the town's market. Compared to my usual Bristol market, people were up and about much earlier. Must be all that countryside air.  I had sold out by 3pm, confirming that people of Ludlow really do love cake!
 
 
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I must begin with an apology, for being so very useless at updating my blog recently. I feel I have a very valid reaon for my blogging silence. It is the very same reason why I have spent the last few months stressing over such things as whether or not 500 disposable cups will arrive on time. It is  why I have frequently been waking up at 4am, as one more urgent 'to-do' floats into my mind (Buy string! Order forks! Ring dairy!) It is also the reason that I recently made the decision that I was "never baking again" after churning out the 80th chocolate brownie at midnight (it lasted approximately 9 hours. I was up early the next morning baking 8 carrot cakes).

And now here I am, able to sit back, relax and blog about it, safe in the knowledge that this event I have been building up to, planning for, collecting for and baking for over the last 3 months was all worth it. Pass the Teapot made its debut festival appearance at Secret Garden Party at the end of July, trading for 4 days. And despite all of those moments when I didn't think I could pull it off, it was without a doubt my (baking) career highlight so far.
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It all got off to a rather ominous start when the van that I was due to borrow broke down with no hope of being fixed until long after the festival was over. Finding this out the day before we were due to leave was not ideal. The news brought on a slight anxiety attack as I peered through my fingers at my tiny little car parked outside. But as rationality and sense prevailed I was reassured that we would indeed be able to fit everything into two cars (my own and my fellow Pass the Teapot-er's). So it was that  on the morning of Wednesday 20th July, the four of us managed (JUST) to squeeze everything in (with more than a few cries of "What are we doing??") and head off to Cambridgeshire.

The next four days were something of a blur. A particularly happy blur, in which I got to hang out with people I love, doing something I love, with tea available on tap (which I love). Everything was busy busy busy. One part of each day that I particularly relished was the mornings, happy to wake up early and crawl out of our rather uncomfortable tent (airbed + puncture = hard floor). I would put the radio on and potter around inside the gazebo, turning on the tea urns, filling up the milk jug, icing cakes. I would unzip the gazebo, drag out the stall table and peg out the bunting while I waited for the first bleary-eyed camper to purchase their first cuppa of the day. And a slice of cake for breakfast if they were feeling particularly fragile. Those were the moments that I got to take stock, look around me and relish in the fact I was here, living out a dream. Cheesy I know. At least I didn't use the words 'dream come true'.

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Over the four days we sold a LOT of tea.  Not surprising really, tea is a winner in pretty much all situations, even one where the priority of the majority of your clientele is to get drunk and dance in the sun. Rocky roads had sold out by day three. People really do love a bit of chocolate. Next to go was the carrot cake and by Monday morning there was very little left to sell. One customer took the final batch of cupcakes, buying the whole lot to take back to his mates in their tents. Even as we packed up to go home there were still sugar-hungry customers eyeing up the last few slices of coffee cake.

I loved it all. From making the aprons to hanging out the bunting, from baking the cakes to icing them, from chatting to the customers to serving hot tea after hot tea. For me, it was a weekend that truly strengthened my desire to own my own cafe. It wasn't easy, and I can only imagine how tough it must be to run a full-time cafe if that's what it took to trade for 4 days.  But the buzz of doing something you love and sharing it with others, for me,  far outweighs any negatives. Thank you Secret Garden Party for giving me the chance to experience just a little taste of what it could be like. One day.....
And thank you to the tea-loving, cake-eating, festival-going people that stopped by for a slice of Pass the Teapot.