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The Langham Hotel Valentine’s Day Afternoon Tea:
Lack of a suitable Valentine again meant I was thrilled to be able to live vicariously with a preview of this year’s Valentine’s Afternoon Tea at the Langham Hotel. Actually, I am always delighted when I am invited for an afternoon tea in London – it’s one of my favourite treats – and The Langham Hotel is an old favourite…the perfect date whether for Valentine’s day or any time of the year.
It’s only on offer for one day – 14th February – our invitation was a chance to learn a little more about how this kind of ‘special event’ tea is created and then, of course, to sample what the loved-up of London with impeccable taste might be enjoying on the day itself. The Langham has long been my favourite afternoon tea in London and an afternoon tea would be my own personal perfect indulgence.
Ushered from the glamorous lobby through mirrored doors, down a utilitarian winding corridor into the squeaky clean stainless steel clad pastry kitchen we all donned Langham Hotel aprons. The masterclass by Andrew Gravett, Head Pastry Chef at the Langham, was fascinating for me. With a somewhat chocolate dominated background (his previous job was with Valhrona), I wanted to know understand more of the transition. Andrew explained (and demonstrated) that his own ethos was to create cakes that were unnoticeably lighter and healthier than the traditional recipe might have been. We enjoyed a tiny, perfect lemon curd tart washed down with a glass of Perrier Jouet Grand Brut champagne. The secret ingredient, healthier than butter, was white chocolate. On reflection, it’s a logical transition – white chocolate is predominantly made of cocoa butter. And, gentle reader, it’s lower in calories than butter – the healthy option!
With the help of his team, Andrew demonstrated how the new Valentine’s Menu was created. There are three beautiful new cakes on a tiny edible chocolate stand, a warm chocolate fondant and a surprise at the end of the tea to take home.
I was particularly impressed by the painstaking accuracy obviously required to create perfect ganache, pink praline almonds and delicate transfer decorated chocolate rings. And, to learn that the cakes are made fresh for each sitting of afternoon tea. Which goes some way to explaining the perfect experience I have always enjoyed at The Langham
Back upstairs, we were greeted with another glass of Perrier Jouet and a tiny oriental cup of refreshing tea, while we chose our selection from the extensive menu. For me, as always when I spot it on the menu, White Needle Tea from Guangxi, China. While I know it’s probably not the best match for the sweet cakes of an afternoon tea, it’s a tea I love for its freshness. The least processed of all tea types, it’s made by just withering and drying tea buds over a few days.
Our sandwiches arrived quickly, the classic selection rather than the specials on offer for Valentine’s when The Langham has created a unique menu. Roast beef and horseradish on rosemary bread, duck egg brioche with artichoke and truffle, smoked salmon and preserved lemon in a seeded cracker, crab and avocado with coriander served in a brioche roll and a classic cucumber with cream cheese.
Scones at The Langham are always a treat and we went on to indulge, slathering each of the light, freshly baked morsels with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry jam.
The first selection of pastries appeared on their tiny, dark chocolate stand. They really are beautiful – almost too pretty to eat. ‘Where’s Cupid?’ is a coffee and Orelys chocolate filled choux. A blond chocolate with liquorice and cream notes, we’d tried the raw ingredient downstairs in the kitchen. Now transformed into a beautiful miniature cake, mine was quickly devoured. ‘Marry me’ is, perhaps as it should be, a more substantial offering. A ring-shaped tart filled with pink roasted almonds and a sugar coating, it’s the sweetest of the trio too. ‘Love is all around’ is one of those immaculate creations you are not quite sure you should spoil by eating. A light hibiscus mousse with a berry centre and a soft, shiny red glaze, once I’d started, I wanted to eat a bowlful.
There is more though, in the form of ‘You Melt Me’ – a dark chocolate fondant cake filled with Manjari chocolate and topped with vanilla ice cream.
And, to take home, a fluffy, pink chocolate mousse rose ‘Say it with roses’ – chocolate and passion fruit perfection.
The Langham Valentine’s Day afternoon tea will be served in the Palm Court on Valentine’s Day only, priced at £59 per person and including a gift of ‘Say it with Roses’ with a tea caddy.
Sittings are from 12.00pm to 4.30pm and you can book through the Palm Court website
Thinking of booking? Why not pin this post for later
Disclosure: I was a guest of The Langham Hotel for this preview of the Valentine’s Afternoon Tea. All content is editorially given.