Posts Tagged ‘cherry’
Charlie and the chocolate factory. Willy Wonka. Those words are so full of magic that you cannot help smiling - the whole universe created by Roald Dahl comes to mind. You have read all the books, perhaps read them to your children too, seen the movies, laughed and dreamed. The author had a sweet tooth - I believe he invented one of my favourite words, scumptious. In his time were invented the best chocolate bars: Mars, Aero, Maltesers, Quality Street, Kit Kat, Rolo, Smarties… How could this not feed imagination! Did you know there now is a musical, Charlie and the chocolate factory, now playing in London? Even better, in the same street, One Aldwych is now serving a themed afternoon tea, making the afternoon simply complete.
As you step in, look out for the amazing flower arrangement: real cacao beans cascading down, voluptuous purple orchids suspended in test tubes, explosion of lilac coloured allium blooms. This,my friend, is just the introduction to the delicious journey coming your way. Come, follow me! The adventure starts with the Charlie cocktail, served in a carafe that would look superb in a chemist lab. Dry ice smoke curls beautifully out of it, the beverage simmers and bubbles inside for the longest time - how do they do this? It seems to be singing drink me, drink me! On the palate, the strength of Dalmore whisky is cheered up by Cherry Grand Marnier, sparkling champagne, the fruity note of grapefruit and the perfect final note of chocolate bitters. In between luxurious popping candy and the French Mon Cheri sweet, chocolate on kirsch cherries… Arrives a beautiful plate of savoury treats. It took me a couple of minutes to know where to start, I could not choose. being a froggie, I just have to tell you how wonderful the homemade bread is - moist, tender, just perfect. It is such a rarity in England to have ti so tasty too. It matters to us, see, a clear mark of distinction! Delicate roast beef, wasabi on onion bread… Thin slices of cucumber, chive crème fraîche on wholemeal bread, so refreshing… Cured fragrant salmon, lemon mayonnaise on perfect Rye bread, topped with almost candied lemon and just a little dill… You will fall for the mini-quiches - don’t they look like little jewels? Melt in the mouth leek and stilton, crunchy, slightly sweet pastry. The heritage tomato tartlets are very vibrant too, finishing on the beautiful taste of basil. I could not resist asking for an extra one. On the sweet side, prepare for a real feast. Oh, you will almost clap your hands in joy - such a wonderful funfair feeling, you can almost hear the music of the rides. Is it the homemade candyfloss? Spellbinding, intense tastes of pear and lemon sherbet, lingering a long time on the tastebuds, leaving the lips glistening. Or is it the regressive touch of the caramel milk served in retro style bottle, thsoe cute ones you admire in stylish magazines. How long has it been since you indulge in one of those? Willy Wonka himself would love the dessert served in a chocolate egg, cloud-like vanilla cheesecake with superb mango coulis. I so wish I could recreate that at home. I do hope One Aldwych decided to make a book of their best afternoon tea recipes. I did not think they could top the floral one and they just did.
Follows a sweet Eton Mess, with a divine strawberry compote and meringue chips… gorgeous brioche with juicy blueberries… the always-so-perfect scones… and for chocolate lovers, the perfect conclusion: chocolate financiers with a melting, to-die-for heart, shaped as a cacao bean, brushed with edible gold. You feel in heaven, years younger, remember so many childhood favourites you had completely forgotten about. Definitely the most festive, surprising, original afternoon tea in London at the moment, perfectly balance, not too sugary, simply magical.
Part of my heart is in my home town, Bordeaux. I grew up surrounded by the wine heritage and cannot think of a family gathering that was not celebrated with a grand cru. As a child, I would beg for a few drops in my glass of water, the ruby tint fading away in pink ribbons. It is, however, England that taught me what other countries could do. I remained loyal to my beloved Sauternes but happily go on a world travel. At uni, evenings were sparkled with Australian and South African sweet wines. I lated fell for sunny riojas. Agentinian Malbec stole my heart at Gaucho.
My latest love is an Italian treasure, Visciolata del Cardinale. Its secret? Sour cherries, viscioles, infused in Carbernet Sauvignon. Surprising. Beautiful aroma of red fruit and cacao. The chocolatey rich taste remains on the tastebuds, lingers there. This sweet wine just calls to be sipped – in the garden enjoying the last rays of sunshine, in front of the chimney, just chatting away, confiding, gossiping, whisspering, laughing aloud. It makes the instant last longer, better. As sherry in the 1950ies, it will be a perfect addiction ot an afternoon tea. It will also sublime vanilla ice creams, floral deserts, dried fruit, plum crumbles… I recently made a sorbet of it, which I served wih a litchee pannacotta – to die for.
Luxury hotel bars have now adopted it – you will find it in gorgeous cocktail created by the Savoy, the Connaught (in an alliance with vodka, yuzu and pineapple), the Berkely, the Langham… You can also buy it at La Fromagerie oor order it on line here.
Super Cherry, who distribute this in England, also proposes those lovely viscioles in jars. Kept in a velevety sugar syrup, they immediately make you feel like cooking. Will you serve them with a strong meat such as venison? Will you use it to moisten your trifle biscuity base? Will you invent a new chocolate desert that will make the Sacher Torte pale with envy? They prove verry addictive and much nicer than the kirsch griotte I was so fond of. Add a few to a glass of champagne for a more elegant alternative to the Kir royal.
Wrapped individualies in tissue paper, they make adorable gifts. Special award to the Tondo, with its airy heart flavoured with the Visciolata wine. I just had to close my eyes and smile in total bliss. The Liquorino will take you by surprise - it explodes in your mouth! It hides a little Ammalia Aquavite, a grappa infused with the same cherries. Let me tell you, you will never touch a Mon cheri again. The dark chocolate used is top quality and nicely fruity.
Another surprise - the Lonzetto di fico - a very clever mix of figs, almonds, walnuts, rum, aniseed. Serve it with an espresso, try to hide or you will have to share it. I prefer to be selfish with that one... Your tastebuds will thank me.
Look out for all of those on menus!