By Jo Gammage
16 June marks the official birthday of the Queen. Her real birthday, however, is 21 April. King George II started the double birthday tradition over 250 years ago. Born in November, a month not known in the United Kingdom for its good weather, he decided to hold his birthday celebration in June (when the weather was considerably nicer) with an annual military parade, Trooping the Colour. The ceremony still exists today with over 1,400 soldiers, 200 horses and 400 musicians taking part in the spectacle.
As a British Overseas Territory, 16 June, or the nearest Monday to the Queen’s Official Birthday, has become a beloved holiday in the Cayman Islands and the chance to celebrate a tradition dating back to the eighteenth century. With customary pomp and circumstance, the day begins with a dress parade in front of the Legislative Assembly and later continues with a garden party at Government House, hosted by the Governor.
Many like to celebrate at a hotel or restaurant with a traditional English-style afternoon tea or brunch.
During CAIS 2020, royal jewellers House of Garrard visited from London to host a trunk show in The Residences at Seafire, featuring crown replicas (see top image) and exclusive jewellery collections. Photos: Anna Wootton
At half past three, everything stops for tea
Sadly, this year’s Trooping the Colour, and parade and reception at Government House are cancelled, but as the Governor of the Cayman Islands, Martin Roper reminded us: “As Her Majesty herself has said, and she captures the mood so poignantly so often, we will meet again.”
With many restaurants focused on adapting to the current COVID-19 regulations in place, and the usual celebrations on pause, we are sharing our tips for recreating the perfect Queen’s Birthday afternoon tea at home.
For a true recreation, the tea must be properly brewed, the food sumptuous and the setting elegant. Afternoon tea was originally intended as a way to take the edge of empty upper-class bellies before their formal meal in the evening. Although many think of afternoon tea as having a set menu, there are many variations on this traditional tea-centric meal:
- Cream tea – a meal of tea, scones, strawberry jam and clotted cream (swap strawberry jam for mango jam for a Caymanian version!)
- Light tea – add more sweets such as patisserie, biscuits, teacakes and buns for a light tea
- Full tea – add savoury finger foods such as dainty cucumber, egg and watercress and smoked salmon sandwiches for a full tea
Offer a variety of teas, like Earl Grey, chai, peppermint, chamomile, fruit, herbal and, of course, English Breakfast. Iced tea makes for a more refreshing tipple in Cayman’s hot weather, or if you prefer something a bit stronger, crack open the fizz and serve up a sloe gin royale or juice-based mimosa, or Buck’s Fizz, as the Brits would call it.
Afternoon tea is renowned for being a swanky affair so be sure to consider the setting. Afternoon tea was traditionally served in the formal drawing room but here in Cayman, we suggest barefoot elegance might be more appropriate, with the table set by the pool or ocean. Whatever you do, be sure to break out the bone china and tiered cake stand.
Massimo De Francesca, executive chef at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, provided a recipe that offers a Cayman spin on the traditional English tea, so that you can enjoy an afternoon tea at home this year. “This is a simple recipe for people at home to enjoy, which goes very well with coffee or tea. As we are now in the full throes of mango season, this recipe has been modified to make the most of these delicious fruits,” Massimo said.
Photo: Rachel Lees via Unsplash
345 Mango Biscotti
Makes 14-16 one-ounce cookies
- 100g sugar
- 113g egg whites (well chilled with no traces of egg yolk)
- 158g plain flour, sifted (you can substitute this with almond flour to make these biscotti gluten-free)
- 112g slivered almonds
- 64g local Cayman mango, peeled and diced small (about ½ mango)*
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
*Tip: Ensure your mango is ripe and juicy!
- Set oven temperature to 335F.
- Using a stand mixer or electric handheld mixer, whisk egg whites, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla together in a medium bowl.
- Start on low speed for a minute and then on high speed for four to six minutes, until the mixture is whisked to stiff peaks (for meringue).
- Using a spatula, mix in flour and sliced almonds. Gently fold into meringue until incorporated.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Using a one-ounce scoop, begin scooping one-ounce balls and layer on baking tray – you should yield 14-16 cookies.
- Tip: Lightly dust the scoop in flour prior to scooping each cookie mixture on the baking tray.
- Make sure to evenly spread out the portioned cookies.
- Garnish each cookie by adding some diced mango on top. Gently press the mango in the centre.
- Bake at 335F for 40 minutes, until dried and lightly crispy. Let cool.
- Serve on a platter of your choice and enjoy.
Follow Massimo on Instagram for more recipe ideas.
Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa Executive Chef Massimo De Francesca, right, plates desserts in the Ave kitchen. Photo: Alan Markoff
About the author
Jo Gammage is Senior Brand Manager on the business development and real estate marketing team for Dart. With a degree in business from the London College of Communication, and extensive PR and marketing experience in England, Australia, Hong Kong, and the Cayman Islands, Jo has spent the last two decades working in tourism and real estate. This combination of experience means she has witnessed the journey of a visitor planning their first trip to the Cayman Islands through to purchasing a home after relocating here.