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Paul A. Young Christmas Afternoon Tea at the Intercontinental, London Park Lane:
It sounded like a marriage made in heaven. An afternoon tea at The Intercontinental, London Park Lane with pastries by Paul A. Young who is arguably the UK’s leading chocolatier. The Wellington Lounge at the Intercontinental is a light, open space with contemporary decor and seats looking out over Hyde Park and the statue of Wellington. A calm oasis in the chaos of Christmas, it’s a great place to take a little time out and treat yourself.
This year’s Christmas afternoon tea is a stunning selection of savouries, scones and pastries. And, as always, there’s an excellent selection of teas, which the waiter will pair for you with the afternoon tea. Or if you have your own preferences, there’s plenty to choose from – including Gyokuro Asahi, a rare Japanese tea and Ti Quan Yin Top Fancy Oolong which comes with its own legend, that a poor farmer, Wei, who cleaned the temple of the Goddess Guanyin was rewarded for his efforts by the Goddess herself appearing to him in a dream and sending him to find the tea, in a cave behind the temple. There’s champagne too – a choice of Mercier, Moet & Chandon or Veuve Cliquot.
The tea itself starts with warm savouries – a Stilton chestnut and walnut vol-au-vent and a venison and winter vegetable puff. Tiny morsels of pastry full of seasonal flavour, I’d happily have eaten more of these.
The sandwiches were excellent and very seasonally appropriate: A retro smoked salmon, crayfish and prawns with Marie Rose sauce, honey roast ham hock with cranberry and roasted pineapple chutney and of course turkey with sage stuffing in a black pepper and clove mayonnaise.
Next, plain and speculaas scones. The idea was to eat the spicy speculaas scones with the orange curd – something I missed first time round. Still, an extra scone was no problem. The orange curd worked beautifully with the speculaas spices and the whole thing seemed very Christmassy.
The main event, of course, was a stunning plate of chocolate pastries. In fact, everything on the plate was edible, from the sugar icicles with hazelnut tips through to the chocolate pebbles and meringue mushrooms.
I particularly liked the smoked crackling embers tart made with gingerbread spiced pastry tartlet and single origin 72% Venezuelan chocolate ganache with its light, delicate pastry shell filled with a delicious creamy ganache.
A refined take on mince pies came in the form of dark chocolate cocoa pods filled with white chocolate water ganache infused with mincemeat.
And then there was the show-stopping Christmas sphere filled with a chocolate ganache, orange and cranberry compote and topped with salted caramel hazelnuts.
Then, just in case we were still hungry another plate arrived, with ‘Winston Churchill’s family fruitcake’ and a tiny mince pie. The fruit cake turned out to be lighter than a regular Christmas cake and packed with cherries. And who I am to turn down a mince pie at Christmas.
As always, the Christmas Tea at the Intercontinental London Park Lane was wonderful. You can enjoy the limited edition tea for £42 per person, or add in unlimited champagne with prices starting at £75. Or if you prefer, there are some delicious sounding afternoon inspired cocktails and mocktails starting at £8.
Thinking of going along – why not pin this post for later
InterContinental London Park Lane
One Hamilton Place, Park Lane
London, W1J 7QY