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Chelsea Flower Show Afternoon Tea – Sofitel St James:
To celebrate the 2014 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Sofitel St James have created their own special afternoon tea – Le Tea en Rose, served in their own Rose Lounge. I was lucky enough to be invited along to preview the event. Sofitel London St James is on the corner of Pall Mall and Waterloo Place, within walking distance of Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square. In a Grade II listed building, this is one of London’s most unique five-star hotels – combining traditional British design with a contemporary style that is unmistakably French. The Rose Lounge is almost a hidden secret, away from the restaurant and bar, and has been designed with Parisian elegance in mind. Good sized seats and furnishings with exquisite backdrop paintings and ornaments make this a very special place. There’s even a lady playing a harp in the corner. The afternoon tea is served in two parts; first the sandwiches and scones, and then a selection of pastries. The sandwiches consist of salmon and cream cheese, egg, ham and cheese and a superb beef in sundried tomato bread. If there are any flavours you don’t want then you simply ask for the ones you want. Easy, unfussy and perfect for an afternoon without stress. The scones are accompanied by a trio of delights – traditional clotted cream, raspberry jam and lemon curd. Now it seems that lemon curd is making a big comeback this year and after tasting this one, full of zest and clarity, you will understand why. Head Chef Vincent Menager has created a series of floral themed pastries which fit perfectly as an edible tribute the flower show. The baked meringue pot was an elderflower jelly, lemon cheesecake and almond crumble, with burnt Italian meringue. The lemon and elderflower compliment the sweetness of the meringue making this smooth and well balanced. The chocolate ganache tart was a caramelized Chiboust cream with whipped rose petals sitting in a bed of white chocolate, and a rose petal on top. This was a delight for all, the Chiboust cream had all the taste of roses with the texture of a set jelly/yoghurt mix. The dark chocolate and blueberry Napoleon was set on a base of soft dark chocolate (like a fudge) with blueberry cream, topped with a violet infused macaron wafer, finally drizzled with violet sugars. Very Aromatic though a bit messy to eat, this was a pure delight as the violet and chocolate work together to bring out the best of each. Finally, the Dacquoise biscuit which acted as a base for a jasmine mousse and fresh raspberry and mini macaroons; easy to eat, with every component having its own identity. I did find the raspberry overtook the jasmine, but maybe I should have eaten those last! There are a range of specialist teas to choose from; my favourite, and the most fitting for the day is the Mediterranean Rose. This tea is made from the lightest Italian camomile blended with roses from Provence and Morocco. Sounding more like a perfume than a tea, the flavour was amazing with notes of raspberry, strawberry and other summer fruits despite the fine fragrance of rose. The complete bone china tea service has been hand crafted especially for The Rose Lounge at Sofitel St James. Delicate and unique, the subtle rose symbol pattern on the china highlighting yet another area of attention to details that symbolises a Sofitel hotel. There is also an optional floral cocktail, ‘Le Vie en Rose’, created by head bartender Emilio Moscati. As a fitting tribute to the song by Edith Piaf and the historic British rose, the drink combines Tanqueray gin, elderflower syrup, cucumber and lemon, a good amount of rosé champagne and finished with rose petals. The aromatic petals fill the nostrils before the tinkling of the champagne hits the tongue. Cucumber and elderflower act as a base for the other fruit flavours to come through. Sparkling and bright, this is refreshing and headily floral. The Rose Lounge at the Sofitel London St James will be serving the celebratory ‘Le Tea en Rose’ daily between 2.30pm – 5.30pm throughout May 2014. Priced at £30 per person (or with the cocktail for just £34) this is the perfect way to spend a delightful, unhurried afternoon of pure decadence.
Sofitel St James 6 Waterloo Place, London, SW1Y 4AN