Eat | Afternoon tea at The Connaught, London

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DSC09547-edited One rainy London afternoon, we found ourselves back at The Connaught with a glass of rose champagne in our hands and plenty to catch up on. And where better?

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Fresh, hearty yet elegant sandwiches, particularly the Coronation chicken and the smoked salmon, raised the expectations (and there may have been a second serving…). My vegetarian, gluten-free friend was well-catered for – none of that goats cheese and spinach nonsense.

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Warm scones, topped with lashings of clotted cream and a choice of jams: orange and ginger, wild strawberry and fig. The crowning glory was the orange and ginger jam. I could feel a delicate heat from the ginger whilst the orange tantalized my taste buds.

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Dessert was typically French: exquisitely-presented, delicious, a touch of sugar and, as always, had me thinking that I really need to start dating a pâtissier!

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Listening to a talented harpist, we relaxed in the sumptuous surroundings of the Espelette restaurant discussing how these moments of friendship are so important, and particularly enjoyable in such plush surroundings and with finest service possible. Yet another moment of gratitude for this sweet life of mine.

Espelette at The Connaught
Carlos Place
London
W1K 2AL
+44 (0)20 7499 707

Eat | Afternoon tea at The Connaught, London

DSC09554-edited

DSC09547-edited One rainy London afternoon, we found ourselves back at The Connaught with a glass of rose champagne in our hands and plenty to catch up on. And where better?

DSC09555-edited

DSC09560-edited

Fresh, hearty yet elegant sandwiches, particularly the Coronation chicken and the smoked salmon, raised the expectations (and there may have been a second serving…). My vegetarian, gluten-free friend was well-catered for – none of that goats cheese and spinach nonsense.

DSC09570-edited

DSC09577-edited

Warm scones, topped with lashings of clotted cream and a choice of jams: orange and ginger, wild strawberry and fig. The crowning glory was the orange and ginger jam. I could feel a delicate heat from the ginger whilst the orange tantalized my taste buds.

DSC09579-edited

DSC09559-edited

DSC09557-edited

Dessert was typically French: exquisitely-presented, delicious, a touch of sugar and, as always, had me thinking that I really need to start dating a pâtissier!

DSC09565-edited

Listening to a talented harpist, we relaxed in the sumptuous surroundings of the Espelette restaurant discussing how these moments of friendship are so important, and particularly enjoyable in such plush surroundings and with finest service possible. Yet another moment of gratitude for this sweet life of mine.

Espelette at The Connaught
Carlos Place
London
W1K 2AL
+44 (0)20 7499 707

Eat | Afternoon tea at the Rosewood Hotel, London

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SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCWith a fondness for comfort, routine and the familiar, my poor little blog often gets neglected as writing about the same places, the same meals and, naturally, the same coffee seems rather trite. As 3 years of studying French at an academic level drew to a close, it was time to break the mould and try something new to celebrate our triumph over what is arguably one of the most complicated yet utterly exquisite languages.  Off to the Rosewood we went…

I learnt about the Rosewood when a friend introduced me to their Slow Food & Living Market; the courtyard market filled with high-end tea, smoked salmon, honey, bread and cheese. The dream! However, it wasn’t until my fellow French class survivor and I stepped through the doors that the modern elegance of the hotel became apparent. With mirrored ceilings, luxuriant furnishings and impeccably-attired hostesses, we settled in for a little champagne and some rather delicious sweets.  The details from the central floral display to the fireplace and dessert counter reflect a homely, unpretentious yet detail-focus nature of the design. Sadly, we did not have the place to ourselves so I didn’t take any shoots of the interior (basically, I don’t like strangers in my photographs). Next time!

Our sandwiches were presented beautifully but, comme d’habitude, it was the scones and clotted cream which captivated my attention.  Lemon curd is my favourite scone topping; it is quite simple to make but very rare to find the right balance where a hint of sweetness cuts through the acidity. Here, at the Mirror Room, it was absolute perfection in a serving dish. We may have had an extra serving… With natural light beaming through the windows, we sipped tea and even took a walk around the expansive restaurant where, despite being in the middle of afternoon tea, one of the staff members offered us more cakes from the dessert table. Well, saying no to a slice of blueberry and pistachio cake would be blasphemous and, as upstanding members of society, we do not engage in such behaviour. Yes, please!

With the Rosewood’s close proximity to school and the British Museum, its bar will undoubtedly be exploited during my why-am-I-doing-this moments. Oh, and they have a dog. No, they have the cutest dog!

The Rosewood Hotel
252 High Holborn
London
WC1V 7EN

 

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Eat | Scents of Summer Afternoon Tea, Wellington Lounge, London

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image image image image image image image image image image image image imageAs we sat down for an afternoon of culinary indulgence courtesy of the Intercontinental Park Lane, our waiter set the scene as he spritzed our surroundings with Floris scents, created by Perfumer Nicola Pozzani, to commence our afternoon tea of the senses. With plush surroundings, chic white floral arrangements, a Park Lane view and good company, what more could a lady desire?

Bright summer sandwiches of rose pickled cucumber with mascarpone, (my favourite) salmon and bergamot in lemon bread followed by peppercorn and thyme chicken and honey roast pumpkin with feta on spinach bread all helped along with a touch of rosé champagne, as suggested by our French waiter. As a purist, I tend to scare easily at non-traditional combinations but they worked. The bread was particularly light and the flavour delicate.

Another spritz of a different scent and it was scone time: warm, buttermilk scones served clotted cream but that was where the tradition ended. Instead, infusing a quintessential British flavour – Earl Grey –  with butter was served in addition to heavenly pink peppercorn lemon curd (we asked for an extra serving) and wild strawberry jam.  All devoured with a pot of Assam tea in elegant porcelain.

Dessert was rather peculiar; this is always my favourite part of a meal but in this case, it felt like sacrilege every time I took a bite! The colours, shapes and sheer array of sweet treats available wowed me. The selection included bergamot and blackcurrant flower macarons (sorry, French people, they really are flowers!), beautiful Jasmine tea cakes garnished with edible flowers and those pebble-like objects were solid milk chocolate with raspberries dotted around to refresh the taste buds.  The only disappointing aspect was that the macarons were a tad too sweet.

With all senses perfectly fulfilled, it was time for a photo or two with the hotel’s seasonal flowers, which perfectly matched my pearls. Sadly, the Scents of Summer afternoon is only available until 27th September so book quickly! I wouldn’t mind if the Wellington Lounge kept the dessert platter for a little longer though. And the peppercorn and lemon curd. Maybe the salmon and bergamot sandwiches too. Okay, the entire afternoon tea package.

Wellington Lounge at InterContinental London Park Lane
One Hamilton Place
Park Lane
W1J 7QY

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Eat | Guiltless Afternoon Tea at the Wellington Lounge, London

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SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCOn a recent rainy day here in London, I sat down with my friend Amber to sample the Wellington Lounge’s Guiltless Afternoon Tea. I previously wrote about the dreamy Botanical Afternoon Tea at the Wellington Lounge at London’s InterContinental – it’s one of my favourite hotels to while away an afternoon. And, with the offer of their new natural and healthy afternoon tea, nothing could keep me away.

Fending off the cold with rum and fennel cocktails is always an enjoyable way to pass an afternoon.  The vegetarian sandwiches were made with gluten-free bread with brightly coloured vegetables – the roasted butternut squash, crisp asparagus and smoked aubergine were my favourites.

​Much to my surprise, the wholemeal scones were my favourite. Prior to ordering, I jokingly asked the waitress to have some clotted cream on standby. Traditions people, traditions!  The crème fraîche was whipped into a rich, creamy topping and homemade fresh fruit compote offered a tangy accompaniment. I left with the recipe and a strong desire to get baking once my exams are finally over.

Cakes without refined sugar? Yes, they exist and even more surprising, they’re rather delicious.  Refined sugar has been replaced with more delicious and healthy agave syrup and honey The flourless dark chocolate and mint mousse cake won hands down. We may have indulged in a second serving… The selection included a red velvet cake made with quinoa and a blueberry and yoghurt chiffon cake made with fresh blueberries. Utterly delightful!

Wellington Lounge
1 Hamilton Place
London W1J 7QY
+44 (0)20 7409 3131

Eat | Afternoon tea at the Shangri-La at The Shard

Afternoon tea at the Shangri-La at The Shard

Asian-influenced afternoon tea at the Shangri-La at The Shard A little champagne and a stunning view Afternoon tea at the Shangri-La at The Shard Clotted cream = heaven on a spoon Scones, clotted cream and mango jam Moi at the Shangri-La at The Shard Asian-influenced dessert at the Shangri-La at The Shard Is this the best matcha cake in London? I think so! Afternoon tea at the Shangri-La at The Shard Afternoon tea at the Shangri-La at The Shard Afternoon tea at the Shangri-La at The Shard A lovely, authentic musical touch at the Shangri-La at The Shard A view of my wonderful city

This was my third experience having afternoon tea at the Shangri-La and so, after having my proverbial socks blown off in Paris and Tokyo (to be blogged at some point…), I was expecting greatness. Fortunately, the only disappointing thing was that we had to leave at some point.

It has been a particularly intense year; the weight of academic expectation finally hit me and I pretty much spent the entire academic year in a committed relationship with my library card and a sore left shoulder from lugging books around. So, to celebrate the end of our exams, Andrea – a classmate and friend – and I decided to indulge in scones and champagne, Asia-style, meaning tea with a view. 128 metres above ground and a stunning view of my city, we opted to share both the classic and the Asian-influenced afternoon teas. From the delightful afternoon classics like smoked salmon on wholemeal bread to my favourite cucumber sandwiches to switching continents and sampling prawn dim sum and pork gyoza served warm. An afternoon tea first for me.

Listening to our helpful French waiter speak Mandarin to a table of fellow diners added to the international vibe and, for language learners like us, served as a boost to persevere with our studies, though obviously not until dessert had been served. Priorities! The combination of both classic and camomile scones served with lashings of the creamiest clotted cream in the city, and both strawberry and mango jam, made this rich, sweet and tangy combination a culinary dream come true. It’s interesting because in Asia desserts aren’t sickly sweet as they tend to be in The West, and that influence really came through at the Shangri-La. Usually scones are my favourite part of afternoon tea but that was before I tried the matcha cake… The sponge is light and the matcha flavour strong without any bitterness. A masterpiece! The egg custard tart was creamy and the pineapple dessert balanced coriander and ginger flavours. As if this wasn’t enough, I got to share this experience with a friend whilst overlooking the sights of London. Happiness abounds!

Three and a half hours and two servings of matcha sponge cake later, we bid farewell to the Ting Lounge and left our little piece of Asia feeling even more in love with London’s diversity and a stiff resolve to return to the Shangri-La in the very near future.

Shangri-La at The Shard
31 St Thomas St
London
SE1 3QU
+44 20 7234 8000