Afternoon Tea and Flower Arranging at Villandry, Marylebone:
An invitation to afternoon tea isn’t one I’m ever likely to turn down. Especially combined with flower arranging, something I’d love the chance to learn to do a little better. And, although I’ve walked past many times, I’ve never visited Villandry, so I was thrilled to be invited along there by Zomato to one of their meetups.
Inside, Villandry is deceptively large, though divided into sections so that it doesn’t feel ‘cavernous’. Tables were set up in one section with buckets of flowers ready for us to play with. And, along the front, our tutors from Moyses Stevens, who have a concession at the front of Villandry, were busy getting things ready.
We were awestruck as our tutor quickly created a tied bouquet based on hydrangeas, peonies, nigella and more. I’ve had a go at making a tied bouquet before and found it quite tricky then, so I was quite aware of the skill involved. If you want to try for yourself, the basic rules are to ‘build’ your bouquet around a firm centre – a flower with a good woody stem like the hydrangea makes things a lot easier. You then build your bouquet by laying the stems of each additional flower at an angle, the stems all pointing the same way. I was taught how to cheat a bit the last time I tried and did the same thing again, by tying halfway through so that it was easier to place the last flowers.
All the end results were really impressive – perhaps partly because we were creating a ‘natural’ look. I just had to see what mine looked like on the sales display!
A little re-organisation and it was time for afternoon tea.
A regular afternoon tea here is £18 or £26 with champagne, although there is currently a special offer of tea with champagne at the weekends for just £18. That makes it quite a bargain when compared with the offerings of afternoon tea venues like the Mandarin Oriental, Knightsbridge or The Intercontinental on Park Lane. The price charged is excellent value, with a small but reasonable choice of tea (and the option of coffee) and with individual tea-towers loaded with everything you’d expect.
I loved the range of sandwiches; ham and cheese, smoked salmon and cream cheese and a rather delicious hummous and cucumber filling. Each was quite tiny though and perhaps because it was a very warm summer’s afternoon, the bread was just a little dry.
In the middle of the tea tower was a generously sized scone, clotted cream and jam. It probably wasn’t particularly large, but because both sandwiches and cakes were miniatures, it looked just a little disproportionate. Having said that, it was moist and crumbly, freshly baked even if not served warm.
And, the crowning glory, five delicious mini cakes. I particularly liked the salted caramel tart with a beautifully crisp pastry shell and a rich, gooey caramel filling. And, the mini chocolate chimney also worked rather well – a kind of chocolate ganache meets brownie.
We left, bouquet and goodie bag in hand. Villandry run flower arranging lessons in conjunction with Moyses Stevens on the last Saturday of every month. The workshop and tea costs £53 and you get a (nearly) professional bouquet to take home – so it’s pretty good value for money. You can even add a glass of champagne for an extra £8. It’s great fun and a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
The afternoon tea by itself is the sort of affordable treat that you could indulge in if you’ve been out shopping and need a break. A fun start for a hen weekend or to precede a Theatre trip. Or, even if you just want to cheer yourself/someone else up a bit. An everyday luxury perhaps?
Afternoon Tea and Flower arranging at Villandry