12 Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea:
This time of year is always hectic. If you have a family and small children you are probably trying your best to get everything organised for Christmas before they break up for School Holidays. If, like me, you are single and working, you may be trying to meet deadlines before everything closes down and just possibly socialising a bit more than normal in the evenings. And, somehow, dark mornings, cold weather and early sunsets just make the days seem too short. If you take a day out to go shopping in London, confident that you’ll be able to get all your presents sorted, then maybe like me you’ll start to feel shattered at around 3pm and wish Christmas was over for yet another year.
Here’s my recommendation to keep you going – treat yourself to something special and Christmassy.
At the Intercontinental they are serving a very special Afternoon Tea from now until 5 January. There’s something very charming about a grand Afternoon Tea anyway – and, as you might expect from the Intercontinental this one is perfect to get you into the Christmas Spirit – without any laughing santas, nodding reindeer or kitch snowmen.
Tea starts with a warm Mountbatten estate partridge, morel mushroom and foie gras pie. These partridges not-quite-in-a-pear-tree are tiny and delicious mouthfuls of puff pastry with a rich game filling. Perfect for a cold winter’s afternoon – and who cares about the pears when there’s morel mushrooms around!
Next, sandwiches. There’s a squab and wood pigeon (the two turtle doves have mutated just a little!), Speyside salmon and lord of the hundreds cheese (for the leaping lords) and finally a classic egg mayonnaise with cucumber sandwich (I’m not sure whether these are French or not!).
Then the scones. Fresh from the oven there’s a buttermilk scone and a sultana one, both served with clotted cream and strawberry jam. Let’s just imagine that any of the days that get missed are covered by these. They are really rather special and worthy of a poetic inclusion in the 12 days menu!
Finally a rather lush and beautiful selection of pastries.
Five gold rings in the form of a sugar decoration appear on the top of an unctious Golden Syrup treacle tart, served with chantilly and touches of gold leaf and the maids appear in a pretty three milk flan with a cranberry and mandarin compote
Light as a feather choux swans filled with a strawberry cream and touches of air dried raspberry…
And, there are two tiny chocolate and walnut torte drums complete with drum sticks.
Of course there’s a fine selection of tea too. I chose my favourite silver tipped jasmine, which is light and delicate, while my companion enjoyed the house blend, One Park Lane – black tea with vanilla notes which is subtle enough to work best without milk.
You can’t hurry a tea like this – by the end of the afternoon I felt relaxed and stress free. It’s the perfect post Christmas Shopping pick-me-up and would also make an excellent treat for any relatives visiting London over Christmas.
Disclaimer: Our tea was as guests of the Hotel.
London Park Lane
One Hamilton Place
London W1J 7QY