afternoon tea, podium restaurant, london hilton park lane

Back in November, I bought a Time Out 2 for the price of 1 voucher for a Confessions of a Chocoholic‘ afternoon tea at the Podium Restaurant.

Luckily it had a long time til the expiry date, and me and my friend finally got round to using it on Wednesday.

I have had a chocolate afternoon tea before, at Claridges – and I was definitley looking forward to having a similar experience!  Of course, it was totally different, but not any less fabulous!

Open sandwiches
Open sandwiches

So, first of all, (after being served with our champagne – and very nice it was too!) we were given our sandwiches – unlike any that I’ve had in the past, we were presented with a beautiful plate each of open sandwiches – egg mayonnaise & cress, smoked salmon & horseradish, cream cheese & cucumber, ham, mustard & tomato and prawn marie-rose.  We could have had any combination we asked for 🙂  they were lovely and fresh and, being open, they weren’t too filling.

A Tower of Delights
A Tower of Delights

I almost always go for the Assam tea, but felt daring – so for the first time ever I tried Lapsang Souchong (delicious and unbelievably smokey) – which they brought with the main attraction – look at that!  Doesn’t it all look amazing?

In the words of The Orb - these were little fluffy clouds!
In the words of The Orb – these were little fluffy clouds!

The scones were warm, fluffy and light.  We got one chocolate chip one each (which also had a couple of crisped rice bits in them) and one plain and one fruit.  As well as clotted cream and extremely strawberry jam that had obviously been made on the premises, there was a gorgeous kind of praline chocolate mousse.  Scones with chocolate (and clotted cream) – I can NOT stress how good this tastes.  I mean really, chocolate and scones, who knew?!  It sounds so wrong but it was oh so right!

The middle tier was lovely but the least exciting – a Battenberg (and neither of us like marzipan), two small cupcakes (and again, neither of us are that keen on American-style cupcakes – I mean, what is it with all that icing? why do they need it?) but these were quite nice as they had little surprises in the centre.  The sachertorte was VERY scrummy though. Chocolatey and rich.

How pretty do they all look?
How pretty do they all look?

The top tier was the star of the show – a choux bun filled with a chocolate orange mousse and topped with an iced shortbread butterfly; a white chocolate pot filled with chocolate  mousse and raspberries; a macaron that reminded us of those chocolate limes that you used to get in sweetshops; a rhubarb and custard meringue on a stich and a marshmallow ‘ice cream’ in a cone on a stick, both in a glass of sherbert topped with little edible balls and finally a white chocolate ganache/mousse slice filled with cherries that had been soaked in kirsch (I think) and coated in something crunchy.

It was all absolutely amazing – tasty, gorgeous and surprisingly not too sweet.  Fantastic 🙂

So, we were getting ready to leave, happily full but not uncomfortably stuffed when the waiter came over and asked us if we had finished.  I said yes thank you and continued, so he asked again, did we not want any more?  I was shocked – was there another course or something that we weren’t expecting?  And then he pointed back to the tower and asked if we wanted it wrapped.  It was only then that I realised that the glittery ‘wooden’ board that the top tier of goodies had been on was in fact chocolate!  A block of dark chocolate.

I did indeed want to take it home, so he disappeared for a few seconds and then came back with it all packaged in a lovely little box for me to bring home.

Posh Doggie Bag
Posh Doggie Bag

All in all, it was a wonderful experience.  I would thoroughly recommend it.  The ‘Confessions of a Chocoholic’ Afternoon Tea at Podium Restaurant is £29.50 usually, or £37.50 with a glass of champagne.

afternoon tea, bea’s of bloomsbury (mar 11)

Bea's of Bloomsbury

I took The Girl on a rather decadent day out last month, and it included our favourtie Sunday past time – afternoon tea!

This time, I had booked up at Bea’s of Bloomsbury.  I had heard great things about them, but never been myself.  We went to what  (I assume) is their original branch in Theobald’s Road.

It’s a lovely little place, but IS very ‘compact and bijou’, especially if you are sat near the counter as we were.  Luckily, on a Sunday in that part of London, there isn’t much passing trade, so we weren’t disturbed.  The décor is contemporary and sophisticated and a little quirky.  It comes across very much as a cake shop rather than a ‘tea room’ if that makes sense.

We were given a choice of teas and brought our selection of savoury baguettes.  These were 3 each of a third of 3 different baguettes.  They were very nice, but a little more ‘trendy’ than the traditional finger sandwiches that you get, so The Girl wasn’t quite as keen.  They did tell me what they were, but i can’t for the life of me remember – but *I* liked them. One had chorizo and peppers in, and as far as I’m concerned, chorizo makes everything better!

Then came the exciting stuff.  the scones and cakes!

Cakes!! (And scones)

Oh my – this was an absolute treat, and my hips expanded about 2″ just looking at the serving plate.

Of course, there were the obligatory scones, jam and clotted cream.  These were lovely and light, but obviously not the intended stars of the show.  Bea’s has a display absolutely bursting at the seams full of cakes, cupcakes and other glorious baked treats, and this is where they excel.

We had 2 cupcakes – one vanilla & raspberry and one chocolate fudge.  They were light, full of flavour with beautiful frosting.  We then had a selection of mini meringues, marshmallows, brownies, blondies, chocolate & almond biscuits and killer brownies.

What a glorious sight!

If you like your cakes, this is the place for you – they were all so well made, so full of flavour.  The marshmallows were a welcome addition too – I loved those as they’re not something you usually see with an afternoon tea.  however, the sheer amount of ‘cake’ became a bit much after a while, and felt a little heavy.  We couldn’t finish and ended up taking some little biscuits and a brownie home for The Man.  I think that a little fruit pastry or a lighter more mousse-like cake would’ve been a relief.

However, at just £17 each you can’t really complain – and if you go prepared there really isn’t anything not to like. It was all top-notch!

making life just that little bit sweeter

We were on the front page of yesterday's local paper (and yes, I AM in the pic)

I mentioned in a previous post about the fantastic work that was happening at the St Mary’s Respite Centre and Pop-Up Canteen in Walthamstow for weary and hungry policemen 🙂

I went along Weds, Thurs, Fri and Sunday.  I meant to go in on Monday & Tuesday this week (which was the last day it ran) but with everything that happened on Monday, I had actually just shut myself away and cried for two days solid!

I enjoyed every single minute that I was there – it was a fantastic opportunity to show the police how much the work that they do is appreciated, and to feel that we had managed to do something so good that it felt like it made up for the attrocities of the looters.

There was one two-hour stretch on Friday evening where we managed to serve about 250 hot meals to various police officers – including riot squad, dog unit and street pastors…the place was absolutely buzzing!

On Sunday, we put out a Tweet for more cake (police can get through a LOT of cake – as per this BBC article that our centre was mentioned in but not named).  Every time a tweet for supplies was put out, we would get innundated with donations really quickly, so it came as a bit of a surprise when over an hour later we still hadn’t really received any cakes.  It became obvious WHY pretty soon after that though – that was the time it had taken locals to BAKE the cakes!!

Some of the vast array of homemade cakes on Sunday

Oh no, no Mr Kiplings for OUR coppers, they get homemade lemon drizzle cake, malteaser cake, lemon polenta cake, apple muffins with fresh cream, blueberry muffins, aubergine cake, beautiful little cupcakes with E17 iced onto them.  THAT was why there was a delay!

Cops love cakes!

It’s been a totally uplifting experience – and I am in complete awe of the people who put so much work into it, rushing around handing out food and serving the police and generally giving a massive morale boost to everyone they came into contact with – so a special mention to Dean, Wifey, Frances, Jess, Faye, Carolyn, Mel, Ali, Ann-Marie, Amy and Hannah who were amazing! (I know I’ve probably missed someone important out, but I am emotionally-crippled at the moment, and I’m sure I will be let off!)

We also made the front page of the local Waltham Forest Guardian, which was nice!

And finally to just part of our amazing wall of thanks from the police.

Thanks to the people of Awesomestow

afternoon tea, bloomsbury bar & restaurant

Happiest when eating!

I have an offer that I got with a subscription which enables me to have 2 for the price of 1 Afternoon Teas at Radisson Hotels in London (and we all know how much I like afternoon teas!)

As I had told The Girl that I would take her to the Biritsh Museum on Sunday, I booked for us to go to The Bloomsbury Bar & Restaurant whch is part of the Radisson Edwardian Bloomsbury.

When we got in ther, the staff were very accomodating – but this was hardly surprising as it was completely empty – in fact, there was only one other couple in the restaurant the whole time that we were theer.

I was impressed that they offered The Girl the option of having hot chocolate instead of tea (which she eagerly took up), but was less impressed that I was offered ‘tea’ and not given a choice of teas on a menu like elsewhere.

Our tea and chocolate were brought to us, and The Girl was very flattering about hers, and then they brought out our stand of goodies.  Our scones were wrapped in a cloth to keep them warm, which I thought was a nice touch, although obviously less aesthetically pleasing!  Two of the cakes on the top though looked particularly scrummy – and we had a decent-sized portion of cream and jam for our scones.

I was extremely disappointed in the sandwiches – they were so dull!  Plain cucumber, plain smoked salmon, plain ham and egg mayonnaise.  I ate the smoked salmon even though I don’t usually like it, and it didn’t really bother me as it tasted of nothing at all.  In fact, the bread was even so cold, that I was wondering whether they had all been frozen at some stage! They are also loaded with butter, and The Girl doesn’t really like butter much – and this almost looked like it had been sliced into onto the bread. NOT a good start at all.

So, we started on the scones.  They were large and light and still warm, but both sultana scones which is unusual.  The cream was unfortunately almost solid and more butter-like than unctious clotted cream, but the jam was full of strawberries and had a good flavour.

So, onto the top tier.  There were two very elaborate oval creations and then 4 triangular slices of lemon drizzle cake and two of chocolate fudge cake.  The lemon drizzle cake was lovely and moist and lemony, and the chocolate deep and rich and sticky.

White chocolate mousse and raspberry

The two elaborate cakey creations were very much the stars of the show.  The first (above) was a light yet rich white chocolate mousse, with a layer of raspberry puree on top and a disc of raspberry jelly inside, with a soaked sponge on the bottom.  This was extremely yummy – apart from the white chcoolate shards on the outside, which tasted a little on the ‘cheap cooking chocolate’ side!

The other one, which was similar you can just see in the top pic.  This was (I think) a delicate lavendar-flavoured mousse (at least, that’s what it tasted to me) with a strawberry coulis that oozed out from the centre.  They were both extremely yummy.

The staff, although semmingly attentive, didn’t ask if I wanted a refil when I finished my pot of tea – although when i took a couple of pics, one guy asked me if I wanted a pic of the two of us, which we did – but unfortunately he took it out of focus *sigh*.

Overall, for what *I* paid (just under £20 for the two of us), it wasn’t too bad…but then I paid the same at The Montcalm, and I think the quality was much better there.

I now have to decide whether to try a different Radisson!

afternoon tea at claridges

Chocolate Cake Selection

All my friends seem to be turning the big four-oh recently!  One of my oldest friends (one I’ve known the longest time obviously – not actually the oldest) hit this magnificent age on Sunday, and so we arranged for me to treat her to the rather opulent Afternoon Tea at Claridges on Monday.

We had both gone for Afternoon Tea at The Ritz about 3 years ago together with some other friends – which had been a lovely treat, although I had been very disgusted by the toilets, which were down some dark dingy stairs, had a queue right out the door and smelled totally gross and un-Ritzy.

We happened to go to the loo before we had our tea – and the difference was rather pleasant!

Once seated in the ‘comfortably posh’ foyer lounge, we were first able to choose which teas we would like (we both went for the Royal Claridges – as when in Rome…) and that was brought across to us with our plate of finger sandwiches.  The selection included cream cheese and cucumber, smoked salmon and horseradish mayonnaise, egg mayonnaise and tomato, smoked chicken and hickory mayonnaise and ham with mustard mayonnaise – of which the last was definitely the nicest as it was in the most gorgeous malty bread.  And when offered, we accepted another plate of sandwiches 😉

How sweet was this!

The service was impeccable – all of the waiting staff were so polite, on hand to pour our tea through our lovely silver tea-strainer but not at all intrusive.

And when they saw my friend open her card, they arranged for the pianist and cellist to play Happy Birthday and brought her out a special cake with a candle – which was a lovely

touch, and I think made her day 🙂

Next came our lovely light scones with clotted cream and jam, and thus started the ongoing debate as to whether you shoudl put your jam or cream on first.  I say cream then jam, my friend says the other way!  Now, if it isn’t clotted cream, then I can understand putting the jam on first, but as far as I am concerned, clotted cream is far thicker and more difficult to spread than jam, so you put that on first as it is easier to spread/drizzle jam over the top of it, as when you do it the other way round, the cream slips around on the jam underneath as you try to spread it!

Muchos yumminess!

Then was the exciting bit as this week is Chocolate Week in London, and instead of their usual pastries and cakes, we had a selection of beautiful chocolate creations by master chocolatier William Curley.  Every single one of them was gorgeous – and I think we were

both a little disappointed that we’d pigged out on sandwiches, and had to turn down an additional plate of cakes!  Although it could have made us sick, I guess!

At the end, we were both presented with a little box of two special chocolates to take home, and I gave mine to The Man.

A gorgeous experience that I would recommend to anyone.  I love love love Afternoon Teas and am determined to treat myself more often!

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