Posts Tagged ‘cake’
Afternoon teas are so very British. But the London touch is to constantly reinvent them, make them magical. Here is a most fantastic one, a Thai twist, fusion of two culture. Pure elegance and refined taste, with an extraordinary attention to details, down to the traditional chiselled flowers.
This takes place at Nipa Thai, a gem hidden on the first floor of Lancaster London hotel. Gorgeous chairs, discreet but perfect service, golden sculptures on the wall, curved arum flowers on the tables…
…and a fantastic view on Hyde Park. This is only the first floor and yet, being above the double decker changes everything, almost as if there were no window, as if you were on a terrace and could touch the branches. How did we not know about this? Is this one of London’s most guarded secrets?
First are brought warm towels, lemongrass fragranced. The perfect transition, allowing you to leave the routine outside and relax. Why not ask for a fresh mint tea which will underline the exotic tastes perfectly?
And that is when you go wow. Just wow. There is no other word for it. You were expecting a treat, this is a feast in 4 plates.
First, the sandwiches, remodernised. A vegetarian version, cream infused with green papaya, avocado and just a hint of chilli… Moist bang bang chicken, slightly peppery on caraway seed bread… Rare spiced beed with pickled cucumber on white bread… Thai shrimp salad, so very tasty on tomato bread. What a range of colours, so beautiful you almost want to play dominos with them. the kind of sandwich you take a bite a of, mmmmh, then gesture to your friends they have to try this at this very instant.
For more exotic flavours, switch to the next plate - crunchy spring roll, sweetcorn and vegetable fritters with lemony pan sauce, ravioli hiding a bite of chicken and nuts, sweet, crunchy: I could eat a mountain of those!
Desserts are as extraordinary and could sincerely be in a French pâtisserie, there is a real savoir-faire behind these. It is just difficult to decide where to start! With the banana doughnut and its heart of caramelised coconut rice? Ot the cloud like chocolate mousse cake, made with coconut milk and jasmine, and just a touch of liquid chocolate on top that melts in the mouth? The lychee log is lovely too, wrapped in thin sliced of fresh pineapple. There also is quite a surprising Thai Bakewell tart, cruncy thin pastry, water chestnut layer, silky coconut cream and cherries. Yet my favourite definitely is the sweet sushi: mango, coconut rice pudding, more mango and seaweeds. So different, so fine, so refreshing too.
Of course, there are scones, some plain, others mango flavoured. Just add your clotted cream then choose between a strawberry & basil jam or an orange and jasmine one. It is not just an afternoon tea, it’s an edible poem!
A last note, a Thai shot with lychee jelly, cubes of fresh mango and pineapple, sprinkled with cocont. Melt in the mouth, simply divine.
The most surprising is the price. All this, with such a quality, for £22/person? Really? In London? What are you waiting for? Bring the love of your life, your mum, your best friends!
Thai afternoon tea, from June 01, 2013
Served on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 14.00 to 16.00
Lancaster London hotel, 1st floor
London W2 2TY
Brighton, until June 02, is even livelier than usual: the Fringe Festival is on. Art, theatre, concerts, family workshops, the streets are so very festive! Alpro is sponsoring the event this year and invited me to have a look around as well as sip on delicious #alproccinos et #alprolattes (by the way, tweet your #mugshotmoments for a chance to win a trip to Rome!). Walking form one neighbourhood to another, I was fascinated by the incredible number of cafés around. You feel like stopping every 5 meters. Here are a few we loved:
We love the large industrial space revamped with colours from floor to ceiling, shelves meticously organised, filled withdelicious jams, chutneys, limonades… There is so much to look at you probably will completely forget you have a plate and a hot drink.
100 North Road
Brighton BN1 1YE
A minimalist café, in small touches of design, small splashes of colours. The cakes are divine, the atmosphere very homey,a great place to spend a rainy day with a good book.
Cute clocks here and there, childhood memories, a great sense of humour, mismatched chairs, a mouthwatering collection of cakes. Locals love, love, love this address!
My favourite. For coffee lovers who appreciate a good roast, a fruitiness, care about the origin of the beans. Such a treat to ask for a syphon coffee or a cold drip…
Small Batch Company
17 Jubilee Street
Brighton, BN1 1GE
It’s 11.00 on a Saturday. Chelsea is in full buzz. You are walking along and suddenly you see it in the window. The mountain of festive meringues. The collection of cute éclairs. The so inviting lines of croissants. You won’t even realise you have stepped in the café already, hypnotised, mouth watering. The secret is to go down to the basement room, recently redecorated to a cozy lounge with vibrant colours. Now choose your atmosphere – the tender spring green chairs on the garden side? Or the tall armschairs you just want to settle in for the rest of the day towards the chimney? The room is perfect for parties too – ideal with friends, perfect for children to run around. How, don’t you feel like filling it with balloons?
A look at the menu and that’s it. You forgot the idea of just a quick coffee and a treat, you settle for brunch instead. Eggs royal with a perfect lemony Hollandaise sauce on fragrant salmon and toasted sourdough bread. And a salad – have a look at the counter, they are beautiful. The couscous one is very rich: mint, coriander, pinenuts, spring onions, parsley, tender chicken and juicy jewel pomegranate. Or try the delicious, unctuous Spanish red pepper dip. Wow. A brilliant alliance of feta, almonds, garlic, smoked paprika, olive oil. Divine and healthy, what a perfect combination!
The menu also offers a fabulous selection of freshly pressed juices. The classic ones, of course but also mint-apple, banana and acai, carrot/beetroot/celery/ginger or this one mango, papaya and apple, silky, so very re-energising. Enjoy, stay a little longer. Have another one. Read a magazine. Remember the pastries, plan a sweet break along the Thames later on. Or maybe just come back tomorrow morning for your first coffee with the perfect croissant…
Chelsea Quarter Café
29 Kings’ Road
To make the most of a visit to the Titanic Museum, stop at Bistrot 401 for a treat. Portions are very generous and super tasty, kids have a great special menu, prices are reasonable, plates are real British china with beautiful blue patterns. But really, the pleasure here is in indulging in a cupcake with a sugar boarding pass, a cake with a White Star Line flag, a giant custard cream stamped Titanic Belfast or even a Titanic Quarter Beer… Simple joys in life!
1 Olympic Way
Cake lovers, be warned. Sweet will make your mouth water in no time… Part of the Mollie Makes family, this new magazine brings together decoration tips, pastry chef interviews, recipes… No need to be a pro to get the creations just right and you will find amazing out-of-the-ordinary ideas. Biscuit hats for cups, suprise eggs filled with cake or tinted through lace, vintage style customised jars: a real treasure of inspiration!
At the Royal Horseguard Hotel, details are everything. Afternoon teas are so fashionable they are not a rainy day treat anymore. Birthdays, anniversary, elegant hen parties even weddings, followed or not by a dinner. It makes you dream and smile, transports you to a different, sugary world for a little while. To celebrate spring, until April 07, they will be serving a very special one, inspired by the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Gorgeous china, flowers in cups, there definitely be some magic!
On the savoury side, salmon is first class, Forman & Son, one of the best in the UK. Melt-in-the-mouth, very rich texture, fragrant, not much salt or smoke to let the flavours seduce you entirely, just a dash of lemon juice or caperberries are enough to sublime it. The vegetable bites, roasted aubergine slices wrapped on dried tomatoes and parmesan shavings are worth falling for too. On the presentation evening, I anchored myself to the workshop preparing them. I was amazed by how much attention was brought to the cakes, so much work considering they were making hundreds of them! Look at those: crunchy hats filled with Earl Grey cream and decorated with a white chocolate cup… Mini Battenberg reminding of a chessboard… Decadent chocolate torte delicately infused with thyme, topped with an edible clock, a nice play on words… Irresistible coconut rabbits… Flower biscuit sandwiches on fresh raspberries and a spoonful of jam… Even a “Eat me” passionfruit fizz cake and a “Drink me” potion inspired by bubble drinks, fruit nectar with tapioca pearls. Finally an afternoon tea to fascinate adults and kids alike!
Mad Hatter Afternoon Tea, Until April 07, 2013, £35/adults, £12 per child.
Royal Horseguards Hotel
2 Whitehall Ct
London SW1A 2EJ
All roads lead to something sweet and Pastry Paris certainly is the most wonderful guide to the capital… On one side, amazing pictures of the city – architecture, decoration, famous paintings – on the other its imagined equivalent in sugar. Masterpieces that will make your mouth water, the best addresses in the capital of haute-patisserie!
When rain falls like a waterfall, my steps always seem to guide me to the nearest tea room. In Paris, one of my favourite shelters is Sadaharu Aoki, sublime alliance of haute-pâtisserie and Asian refinement. Each treat is thought with an extraordinary precision, a cloud like texture that takes all your attention. Bambou is, to me, the signature dessert. A masterpiece of matcha genoise and cream, sweetness and strength united by perfect cacao, each spoonful bringing absolute zen-itude. If the collection is quite wide in flavours, the green tea ones really are worth the detour - cake, financier, matched with grilled sesame seeds… The best way to forget about the noises of the world… and refocus on you.
56 boulevard de Port Royal
(More addresses in Paris)
Tired of the classical afternoon tea, Earl Grey, scones and clotted cream? Go for the wow factor and try the fashion version at The Berkeley. A mini catwalk made entirely of sweets, inspired by the latest designer collection and served on colourful china created by Paul Smith. After haute-couture, taste haute-pâtisserie!
Savoury treats are still on the menu – different kind of bread even a delicious mini-bun. But also fragrant and palate-pleasing spoonfuls of salmon sashimi wrapped in poppy seeds, elegant crab curry, beef satay rich in peanut taste, wasabi infused mousse, pepper gazpacho spiced with a drop of tabasco… All very velvety in texture, concentrated in flavours to smoothly wake up the tastebuds.
Forget scones - you will not need those with the gorgeous festival awaiting you. Masterpieces with sugar taking leopard or rainbow hues, folding like fabric, being hemmed in amazing shapes. How skillful to reinvent the luxurious dresses in a sweet way! And so you will mmmmh on the Dolce and Gabana bag in braided chocolate, hiding a bite of moist blueberry cake. You will alternate spoonfuls of the Mulberry inspired dessert in pastel hues (mint cream, white chocolate, a cloud of raspberry mousse topped with a lemon curd meringue) and the Jason Wu one (a cherry bavarois with an exotic coconut cream and on top a sugar pink dress showing a leg and high heel). You will bite into biscuits dedicated to Louboutin‘s red soles and Miu Miu 1950ies glamorous red bikini. Michael Kor‘s leopard signature also brings a touch of sublime to the best opéra I have tasted so far, rivaling easily with Parisian versions of the cake – dense, creamy, rich. As fantastic is the art deco triangle reflecting the metallic touches of a Gucci dress: a decadent Valrhona mousse with a hint of Grand-Marnier and golden jeweled popping candy to catch the light. You will hesitate to cut into the Valentino pyramid – under the multicolour white chocolate frosting is a heart of the most delicate champagne jelly. Keep the Fendi till last – this red and white striped vanilla cake hides a strawberry cream closed with an edible giant button.
The usual selection of teas (Earl Grey, Assam…) is available but the range also includes tempting choices like caramel-pear or mint-chocolate truffle. Also a must-try, the fabulous fruit infusions. Nothing to do with boring tea bags, we are talking candied fruit, a very delicate drink when infused with hot water. much more refreshing than a tea and matches the cakes perfectly. Funky Fruits, Posh Pomelo & Melon, Luscious Lemon and Amazing Apple, Gorgeous Ginger (a gem) are sure to surprise you. And I guarantee you will not resist eating the fruit after your last sip.
Verdict? The perfect afternoon tea after an afternoon shopping (Harvey Nichols is a two minutes walk from there), with girlfriends, after a fashion-themed exhibition (think Louboutin at the Design Museum until July 09 2012 or Ballgowns a the V&A until January 06 2013). This will switch the day from perfect to memorable. Not to be missed either, from May 29 to June 09, the Jubilee version, presenting some of the iconic hats worn by the royal family.
(Gluten and nut free alternatives are available – just let the hotel know a minimum of 24 hours in advance)
It is bluebells time, blue waves swimming under the trees, magical sights indeed. For London, go to the Osterley house and enjoy the most poetic walk. Looking for more ideas for the week-end? Scroll down!
That’s art baby:
* Visit a unique architect house. Thursday night, the National Trust offers a late opening there.
* The Cutty Sark reopens to the public - a good excuse to have a stroll in Greenwich!
* Have you been looking for the 7 noses of Soho but never found them all? (Maddening, I know). Well, this walk will take you around them all.
* Hoorray – a fabulous bake off hits Brixton market on Saturday.
* Have your dose of espresso at the Coffee festival.
* For a magical night of whisky, chocolate, pop-up dining and theatrical experience, click here.
Out of the ordinary:
* Pssst! On Thursday evening, it is shopping night at Seven Dials. Get 20% off here.
* You could also try a very zen flashmob at The Scoop.
* On Saturday, take your bike and enjoy the roads closed to cars. Why so? To push the mayors-to-be to take the two-wheels more in account.
* Discover the stories behind the neighbourhood names of London.