Tuesday 29 July 2014

Meet the Maker: Ria of Ria's Rosy Lee Tearoom

For the last few months I have had to prioritise things quite rigidly and the Meet the Maker feature has taken a bit of a back seat. As I am starting to re-focus back on the blog, I thought it was about time the makers got their spot back on a Tuesday and I couldn't resist these extremely delicious looking cakes by Ria of Ria's Rosy Lee Tearoom to get us back into the swing of things!
So lets kick of with a drink! Tea or coffee? 
Tea obviously. Green tea most days. Black Russian Caravan/Rose Tea or herbal when fancy takes me. Never with milk or sugar, preferably loose leaf not bags unless I'm in an emergency situation - i.e. retail outlet/hotels that only has bags

Can we interest you in a biscuit or do you prefer a bit of cake? 
Happy with both, but 9 times out of 10 would pick a cake. I prefer traditional cakes that aren't too fussy. Sometimes cakes are overly decorated so there's hardly any cake involved. Some icings can be too sweet as well. I have to be careful as have a dairy free diet but sometimes I'll be naughty and indulge depsite the consequences, especially with French patissiere and always with Lauderee macarons!

So, tell us a bit about yourself and the item you are sharing.
I'm Ria and I live and work in Wellingborough, Northants. I run Ria's Rosy Lee Tearoom. Previousy I worked in childcare and healthcare, but I am now submerged in the vintage life and baking.

I am sharing a Ria's Rose cake, it is my signature bake. It is rose flavoured and shaped. I developed it when rose became the theme setting up the tearoom as not only is rose in the title, I have a rose based house tea, rose lemonade, and a lot of rose crockery, so I thought I need a cake to complete it. It took 2 attempts at experimenting to perfect it as I wanted to ensure you could taste the rose without it being overwhelming. I also add some pink colouring to warm it up and make it more lifelike, but again have to ensure the taste of the colouring doesn't affect the rose flavour. Most customers say it tastes like turkish delight. I have a special cake mould which makes a batch of 12 individual roses - I don't hand sculpt them like some people think. To finish them off I dust them with icing sugar so it looks like a rose with morning dew on it! They have become very popular with many people now ordering them for occassions rather than the usual celebration cake - they fit nicely into party/favour bags/boxes.

They look and sound AMAZING. How long have you been baking?
I've always enjoyed baking since I was a little girl, when I could stir but was never allowed to touch the eggs! It grew with me as my mother and Grandparents taught me, and as everyone knew I enjoyed baking I inherited my Gran's recipe books which I still use today - there are many family secrets in there which I've been entrusted to protect. It also gives me an edge as no-one else locally will have the recipes for things like Anzacs and Tottenham Traybake. I now keep up to date watching programmes, reading books and magazines, and doing a bit of research online. I do like taking tea and Afternoon Tea as well, so visit other tearooms in my travels which means I can see what others are doing for inspiration.

...and do you dabble in any other crafts?
I have also liked needlecraft and hand embroidery but they've both fallen by the wayside recently whilst I establish the tearoom. I'd also like to make clothes but would need to learn how to use a sewing machine first!

So when did you start Ria's Rosy Lee Tearoom and why?
I opened Ria's Rosy Lee Tearoom in July 2013, but actually started planning it and locating premises/stock in January 2013. In the local area there are a lot of coffee shops, and as I tea drinker I was fed up of having no variety and being presented with a teabag in scalding hot water. A lot of other people I noticed was saying the same thing, so when the opportunity came up last year, combined with the fact I was unhappy in my previous career, I decided rather than keep on moaning about it, I'd do something about it. It also gives me the opportunity to provide for dietary needs. As I follow a dairy free diet it was limiting going to other venues, so I make sure I can cater for dairy and gluten free all the time, and diabetic on request.

What inspires and motivates you?
I'm inspired by everything -nature, music, books, television. I'm also looking at different media forms, and scanning the wider picture for ideas for cakes and themes for the tearoom. That is where things like Scottish month, Spring in Bloom, and Pumpkin month originated from. I'm motivated when I get positive feedback and see happy customers, especially those who come in quite upset and down, but when they leave say how much better they feel. It also an honour when I have hosted special events or provided occassion cakes, being involved in someones special day, and seeing how you have contributed to that makes it worthwhile.

Any crafting heroes?
Saint Mary of Berry of course! Her recipes are foolproof and have never let me down. I grew up with Delia Smith who again I do rely on. More modern day inspirations are Nigella Lawson, Nigel Slater, and Rachel Khoo. And of course, mum and grandmother's as they were ones to originally teach me

Any big plans for the rest of 2014?
Other than world domination? Ha ha! Continuing to build on customer base and push myself to try more complicated recipes and decorations. I'd like to hold more events at the tearoom so am listing ideas for that at the moment. I have also recently become a member of Wellingborough Chamber of Commerce, so am looking forward to getting involved with that, and advocating local, independant retail in the town.

So can we join you in your virtual world?
You can indeed, I have most of social media covered.
Website: www.riasrosylee.com
Twitter: @riasrosylee
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rias-Rosy-Lee/524488187617506
E-mail: riarosy@outlook.com 
I am also on TripAdvisor, and write monthly online articles for the local paper the Northants Telegraph. It goes live in the What's On section, under the Food and Drink heading.

Finally, some quick fire questions just for fun..

Favourite colour?

The best season?

Your favourite food? 
No one thing immediately comes to mind, but definitey prefer sweet over savoury. 

The best day of the week? 

What is the best word? 
Individual - it's what I get called alot, along with unique. 

Favourite place? 

Your biggest achievement? 
Opening the tearoom!

It has been an absolute joy finding out all about Ria and Ria's Rosy Lee Tearoom. Such a lovely idea and makes a change to the regular coffee shop. Who doesn't love a proper cup of tea!? I wish I could visit and if any readers are nearby, why not pop in? I'm thinking one of these cakes might go down very well with a lovely cup of leaf tea. I wonder it they travel well in the post.....mmmmm

Mrs Crafty B

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