Eat | Afternoon tea at the Rosewood Hotel, London

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




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

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



Eat | 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
+44 20 7234 8000

Summer moments at La Cour Jardin

Champagne in La Cour Jardin Summer bliss Apricot dessert Strawberry and pistachio slice Tea and chocolate Alain Ducasse chocolate Marble sponge cake American cookies: to be eaten with a knife and fork Quite possibly the best mille-feuille in Paris Dessert Champagne with Anne at the Plaza Athénée Pretty Our summer spot One of my favourite Paris views36 hours in Paris means less time for sleep and every precious moment spend with friends in wonderful places. Last month I travelled to the city of light to say goodbye to a returning to the US and naturally, I found myself at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée twice. Yes, twice in 36 hours. As well as sipping tea, eating copious amounts of Alain Ducasse chocolate and teaching the good people of France to eat American cookies with a knife and fork (!!), I naturally met up with one of my favourite people: my friend Anne (who wrote a lovely blog post about our time there).

We wrapped our silk scarves tightly, buttoned our coats and prepared to brave the cold summer before stepping on to the not-so-secret garden known as La Cour Jardin. Beneath the rain, protected by the rich red canopy and surrounded by geraniums, we sat with a little champagne, a lot of tea and some of the best dessert Paris has to offer whilst talking, laughing and already planning our next visit. I barely took any photographs as I was too busy salivating over the dessert choices and taking a much needed rest.  Anne ate an angelic apricot dessert whilst I opted for a I’m-not-counting-calories strawberry and pistachio slice which went well with our rosé champagne. More wonderful memories made in Paris before I hopped on the train and headed back to London to start packing for Japan.

La Cour Jardin
Hôtel Plaza Athénée
25 Avenue Montaigne
75008 Paris
+33 1 53 67 66 02



Eat | Afternoon tea at the Wellington Lounge

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After enjoying the Wellington Lounge’s Botanical afternoon tea last year, I’ve since been back for cocktails, mince pies and a moment of refuge from the Saturday shopping crowds. Needless to say, I was happy to be invited back to try their Wellington Tea as inspired by Arthur Wellesley, a former Prime Minister and Duke of Wellington. Starting with an open sandwich of Spanish ham and Monte Enebro cheese and a glass of champagne, there was little doubt that my afternoon at the Wellington Lounge was going to be anything but delicious and relaxing, which is what afternoon tea is about after all.

Afternoon tea without sandwiches simply won’t do. Sirloin beef with a hint of horseradish to a surprisingly tasty Portuguese sardine and honey variety. With dessert including the ultimate pairing of chocolate and coffee in the form of Sachertorte, layered blackberry and vanilla sponge bavarois, a Basque-style cake with a rich black cherry jam and a pairing of some of my favourite ingredients: coconut and pistachio tart. Hmmn, yes please! As I’ve come to expect, the presentation was exquisite. Every time I slice into a cake, those feelings of angst arise and I half expect to be told off for ruining the dessert. Fortunately, I was left in peace to indulge further. I don’t like to choose favourites but the buttermilk scones get my vote every time. Served warm with hip-widening clotted cream (is there any other way?), and strawberry preserve, the texture was perfect. Making scones is no laughing matter, which is my my rather bleak efforts have yet to make an appearance on the blog. Scone classes needed!

The Wellington Tea costs £28 per person (excluding champagne).

Wellington Lounge
InterContinental London Park Lane
One Hamilton Place
Park Lane
+44 (0)20 7318 8509

Not Just Another Milla was a guest of the Intercontinental Park Lane.