I have been meaning to write about my near monthly brunches at The Modern Pantry since early 2012 but I’m trying to work through the menu so I can give a detailed review. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! Anyway, Lalani & Co – the boutique tea company I’m always raving about – paired up with Anna Hansen’s The Modern Pantry for what can only be described as a rewriting of the afternoon tea rules. Gone were the cucumber sandwiches and out came the poussin and, rather bravely, there were no scones but an abundance of matcha marshmallows. That’s right, no scones. But when you have black garlic caramel truffles, do you really need scones? I took it upon myself to find out.
Each of the six courses were excellently paired with a different tea. The full menu:
1. Umeboshi custard tart, cauliflower, fennel & almond ‘pastry’ paired with Mannong Village Ancient White Buds 2010 from Yunnan, China.
2. Perroche, Ragstone & roast tomato sandwiches, sencha mayonnaise paired with Okumidori Cultivar 1st Flush Sencha 2012 from Kyoto, Japan. If you like green tea, you need to taste this.
3. Grilled Persian spiced poussin leg with Makaibari 2nd Flush Grand Reserve 2012 from the Darjeeling region.
4. Tonka bean, caraway and hazelnut frangipane tart also served with Makaibari 2nd Flush.
5. White chocolate, Urfa chilli & black garlic caramel truffle paired with LaKyrsiew Spring Reserve 2011 from Meghalaya.
6. Matcha marshmallows.
Have you ever seen such a menu? I don’t know what goes on inside Anna’s head but I like it! I eat umeboshi pretty much every day in the traditional Japanese style: with rice, natto and nori. It’s a very unique taste and paired with cauliflower and fennel, all quite strong flavours, I didn’t see it working. However, it was creamy with just enough saltiness from the umeboshi. Hmmn, I could have eaten four of those little things. My favourite course? The poussin was a work of art: succulent meat, crunchy pumpkin seeds, a warm spiciness with a touch of sweetness. I got all that of from a tiny plate. Whoever said cooking is a science has clearly been eating at The Modern Pantry. The balance of flavours is one thing but pairing them with tea, served at the appropriate temperature, to enhance the flavour is nothing short of genius, and something Lalani & Co do with such passion. The gooey sweetness of the white chocolate, urfa chilli and black garlic caramel truffle had me confused. I wanted to hate it. I mean, garlic in a dessert? Yes readers, yes! I don’t have the words, you just have to taste it to understand.
In terms of tea, the Okumidori was always going to be my favourite. It’s by far the best sencha I’ve had outside of Japan and I now have some in my kitchen cupboard so all is right with the world. I also really liked the Makaibari from the Darjeeling region. It has a refreshing taste and worked well with both the savoury and sweet courses, though I preferred it with the latter as it balanced out the sweetness.
For a woman who doesn’t care much for change, I really enjoyed this unique afternoon tea experience. This was a one-off event (though The Modern Pantry do offer afternoon tea) so I doubt that I will get to experience such unusual combinations of food during afternoon tea again, and I really ought to get back to my scone eating. However, I’m really hoping that other venues will see the merit in serving tea properly (no teabags and at the right temperature for the individual teas) to not only match the quality of food but also in respect of the history of tea drinking and, of course, and the tea lover.
This afternoon cost me £38 and included a pot of the Lalani & Co’s LaKyrsiew tea.
Lalani & Co / email@example.com
The Modern Pantry
48 St John’s Square
+44 (0)20 7553 9210