Young Ladies About Town
The girls living and laughing their way around London, meeting lots of fascinating folk along the way...
Every hotel worth their (fine sea) salt is amping up their Afternoon Tea menu. With The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee fast approaching and the tourism juggernaut of the Olympics following suite, traditional Britishness is very much in vogue. In short: tea is in.
The InterContinental on Park Lane has recently launched two new menus to mark the occasion. Specially designed by Executive Chef Paul Bates (who, I’m told, has a close friend in her Majesty’s kitchens), the Royal-Tea in inspired by the Queen’s taste preferences. The tea starts with a delightful Dubonnet and gin, and features an impressive spin on classic British puddings including Victoria Sponge, Eton Mess and – her Majesty’s favourite – Coffee and Walnut Cake.
The other menu is the Botanical Tea, which I had the pleasure of sampling. The hotel is located opposite the expansive green of Hyde Park, which inspired the chefs to create a spring-themed tea which brings the outdoors in. Nature and clotted cream is a perfectly charming combination.
A special mention must go to the pear and juniper palate cleanser which is a unique addition to the tea. Delicate, sweet and an explosion of juiciness, it is a feat of culinary creativity. There is a specially designed tea blend from the London Emporium Tea Palace which is wonderfully fragrant. In fact, with all the botanical goodness, you could almost convince yourself that the afternoon tea is healthy.
Meanwhile, The Athenaeum Hotel in Mayfair has recently been awarded The Tea Guild’s coveted award for the Top London Afternoon Tea 2012. This charming hotel was a favourite of the Queen Mother (she used to lunch there with friends) and is an absolute bastion of style and service.
The lovely Irene Gorman, Head of The Tea Guild, was effusive in her praise: “Taking tea at The Athenaeum Hotel gives a demonstration of exactly how special afternoon tea has become. It is an experience to cherish, aided by delightfully friendly, efficient and knowledgeable staff, and with delicious food and teas faultlessly presented.'
A trip to the hotel’s Garden Room really does feel as though you are being served in your own home. I’d wager, though, that the menu surpasses even your Grandmother’s best cakes.
The traditional finger sandwiches, scones, and tea cakes are served course by course, culminating in the grand finale of the cake trolley. Don’t get me wrong, I love the dainty treats which usually adorn the top tier of a stand, but sometimes, only an enormous slab of proper cake will cut it.
The Athenaeum’s lemon curd (served with the scones) is also out of this world. Try it at your peril – all others will seem like flavourless imitations afterwards.
Author Alice Walker once said, ‘Tea to the English is really a picnic indoors.’ I shall be picnicing all summer.
Daily tip from the lady archive
“A GRACEFUL walk is a great asset, for sometimes it can create an illusion of beauty where little exists.”The Lady. Pleasant Exercises for Grace. 2nd April 1931