As a certified Afternoon Tea addict, the idea of getting to grips with the real deal in a professional kitchen sounded like a dream. When said professional kitchen happens to be in London’s 5-star Claridge’s Hotel, well, passing up such a chance would be foolish. That said, at a whooping £170 per Master Class, I was a little hesitant but justified the spend as a welcome home treat for myself and as you can see from the images, I was not disappointed. Needless to say, this was pre-detox.
The day started in the stunning Art-Deco Foyer getting to know my fellow scone-lovers over tea before moving down to the kitchen where Executive Chef Martyn Nail introduced us to the delightful Kim Lin-McCartney, sous pastry chef at the hotel. I was rather disappointed to see that we would be making the French classic mille feuille as I have never liked it much. Watching Kim mix the cream and vanilla had me salivating. What is it about vanilla that has such an effect on me? Back in Paris, I received some fresh vanilla pods straight from Madagascar and to this day, I still consider that bunch of soft, fragrant pods one of the best presents ever received but I digress… Did you know that the crunchy bits on the side are from crêpes? You can caramelise the pastry sheets before adding the cream for a nice crunch. Insider tips galore! As for the taste, let’s just say that mille feuille is on my dinner party list. Yes, Kim converted me!
It is no secret that I’m a bona fide macaron aficionado and get this, not only did we make macarons, we made my favourite flavour: rose. Did you know there are three types of meringue? I knew about French and Italian, but there is also a Swiss type. Who knew egg whites could be so complicated!? Kim made macarons filled with rose-scented vanilla cream and raspberries, and to add a touch of romance and drama, a vibrant red rose petal completed the stunning dessert. Almost too good to eat. Almost… I swear, I took around 40 images of this one dessert. The session came to a close with the ultimate tea lover’s treat: scones with Marco Polo jelly! Mariage Frères lovers eat your heart out! They seem remarkably easy to make, but watch this space. I have a feeling trying to make them at home may have a different outcome…
Kim was so lovely, down-to-earth and as she showed us around the pastry kitchen where her colleagues were perfecting some of the most amazing desserts I’ve ever seen, you can see a serious level of enthusiasm and dedication. This is one of the world’s top hotels; there is no room for error and watching those talented chefs hard at work was really inspirational.
The day ended on a perfect note: a decadent champagne Afternoon Tea in The Foyer all to live music but that’s a different blog post for a different day. Whilst the Afternoon Tea Master Classes aren’t available year-round, Afternoon Tea is. I had such a memorable time and highly recommend it to those who enjoy beautiful surroundings, good food and great service. I’ll certainly be back! The perfect way to get back into my London life.
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