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.

chocri – choccie fun!

Lots of yummy chocolate!

Last week I succumb to another Groupon offer – after all, how could I possibly turn down the opportunity of creating my own chocolate bars?

So, we got a £15 voucher for £6.75 for Chocri.  in fact, when I told The Man that I was just going to get a bar for me and a bar for The Girl, he demanded I buy two vouchers.

Oh, it was fun deciding what to add to our chocolate , the range of toppings is HUGE.

Our choices were dried banana and peanut butter drops (The Man); gingerbread spice and plum pieces (Me); raisins, sprinles and mini cookies (I chose for The Girl); bourbon vanilla and cinammon cornflakes (another one for me for paying!).  We also got two mystery bars (which have turned out to be dark choc with lime cream and gummy bears and milk choc with cinammon and hazlenuts).  Not bad for £13.50 inc postage.

It’s nice that you can get to name your bars too – as you can see from the photo.

The chocolate is actually really nice, although it’s no Montezuma’s – but I wasn’t expecting it to be in the slightest.  The Girl was extremely excited as we never really buy her chocolate, so it was a really special treat.  she particularly loved the fact it had her name on it – she loves ANYTHING with her name on it!

So, would I go to Chocri again?  Probably – for very special occasions, maybe for presents etc.  The P&P pushes the price up quiet a bit, but I think that’s because it comes in from Germany.

One good point is that they donate to a charity that supports homeless and orphaned children from the region that their fair trade chocolate is from – and have apparently donated over £31k so far.  I’m not sure on the ethics of their trading – so please don’t quote me on it – it wasn’t my reason for ordering or recommending after all – but for those that are interested in it, it might be soemthign worth looking into!

Now I’m off to break myself another square of my self-created ‘Plum Pudding’ 😀

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!

chocolate overload

My prize-wining 'giant button'

Today, me and L went off to Chancery Lane to go to a chocolate workshop with

The classes are usually £49 I think (which I think is a little bit too expensive), but I’d managed to get a voucher a while back which meant that we got it for £19 each.

It was 2 – 2.5 hours long, and we had great fun.  There were 18 of us in the class, and we got a short history of chocolate, a brief explanation of how chocolate is used etc, some chocolate tasting, and then onto the fun bit.  All their chocolate was Green & Blacks.

Everyone's giant buttons

We tempered dark and milk chocolate and then we all made giant chocolate buttons which we got to be creative with – and they gave a prize to the one that they thought was most creative.

Someone did a face, there were a few cats, and I decided to make mine for The Man, so because he’s a total geek, I thought I’d attempt Saturn.  My attempt wasn’t great, but everyone could tell what it was!  The girl teaching us, and the two guys from the other classes came round to judge them all, and she said it was unanimous – my button won!  Hurrah!  So I won a nice big bag of quality cooking chocolate buttons.

Our chocolate turds

Then we made ganache, and got to make our own truffles etc, and decorate them how we liked…and then take them all home with us!

It was great to do something different, the group of people were mixed and there to have a good time and we got through SO much chocolate that we all felt sick – I was glad to come home to a gorgeous roast rib of beef with LOADS of veggies and The Man’s wonderful yorkies.

Thoroughly recommend this to any choc lovers 🙂 – I have brought SO much chocolate home, you wouldn’t believe it!

things i did yesterday

I wanna SIX you up!

Me & The Man can be lazy bastards at the weekend.  Especially when we don’t have the Girl around (which we don’t this weekend as she’s off with her dad). So, we quite surprised ourselves by getting up, dressed and out before midday!

The reason for ths momentous occasion – we were off to show our support outside Broadcasting House in the protest to Save 6Music.  as, I’ve said before, this really is a cause close to my heart.  I adore 6Music.

I think there were probably about 500 people there, milling around.  What struck us as being funny is that everyone was so polite and niddle-classed, which is to be expected as that’s the 6Music audience.  People mainly late 30s/early 40s probably, not really the protesting type and not quite sure what to do.  we were there to show our support, but a little embarressed and self-conscious about it 😀

Some people had even brought sandwiches!

So, Liz Kershaw, Gideon Coe and Tom Robinson gave speeches – there was some music from a couple of bands (whose names I didn’t really catch – but one had a guy with a fab voice…Asian-looking and was sitting on his brother’s shoulders to make himself able to be soon over the crowds!).

Unfortunately the heavens opened and the rain came down very very hard.  We’d been there about an hour or so at that stage and sung a couple of songs (again all half-heartedly and a little embarressed) and I was starting to get nipple-strain as I was so cold!

So we decided to forgo waiting for Adam Buxton and went for a drink at The Cock (where I had been on Wednesday night too!).  A good and proper Sam Smiths pub.

after that, we made our way down to the Southbank Centre to the Chocolate festival, which was all well and good, but it was SO crowded, and the one chocolatier that I particularly wanted to see wasn’t even there!

By this time it was gone 3pm, and we suddenly realised that we hadn’t even eaten (apart from sharing a bag of crisps and a bag of nuts in The Cock), so we got on a bus and ended up in Brick Lane, considering curry, but not altogether convinced by the idea.  Wandering around though, we came across the Brick Lane Food Court which I have realised is a very new venture as I just had a look on Google Street View and this is the pic they had then, and it is now in the building on the left!

The choice of international street food served there was fantastic – all stalls had 3 or 4 dishes including a couple of Chinese, Japanese, Morroccan, Sri Lankan, Dim Sum amongst others!  It was brilliant – and they don’t sell drinks in there, so you can pop over to the offy over the road and buy some booze (or pop) to go with it!  I had the Japanese fried chicken, tempura prawns, salad and udon noodles.  Yummy yummy yummy – and only £5.50!

So, then we wandered back via Old Spitalfields and popped into Montezuma’s (which again, I have mentioned before!) and then braved another torrential downpour to get back to Liverpool Street to come home.  Unfortunately by this time, my leg was absolutely killing me and I was lurching really badly, like an drunken old biddy yet again.

I’ve been fine with my leg, but I must admit, I haven’t exactly pushed it hard – and being out wandering around town for most of the day did put a lot more pressure on it than I usually do.

I’ve put on loads of weight over the past few weeks as I haven’t been doing so much, and I haven’t been to the gym at ALL, simply because the thought of doing it in again really actually scares me!  i mean really scares me.  i know I joked about it a lot of the time, but it really, really hurt – and I can still feel it aching from yesterday’s exertions even now – whereas before I used to be able to walk around London for hours at a time!  Obviously the weight hasn’t been helped much because of The Man’s wonderful creations due to the present a bought him a couple of weeks ago!  but still – I want to get back to the gym and doing something, but I’m nervous of how/where to start!  I need to sort it out.

I’ve just realised – it’s quite ironic that we went to the Chocolate Festival but only bought chcolate from the company I always buy from in the end, LOL.

chocolate heaven

Little mouthfuls of chocolate velvet

Every girl loves chocolate, don’t they?  Well, it is generally accepted that they do, even though there are obviously quite a few exceptions to the rule – which is great, because it means there is more chocolate left in the world for the rest of us!

Until 2 or 3  years ago, if asked what my favourite chocolate was, I would always answer ‘Galaxy’ – but this has changed.  A lot.  I still like Galaxy, but it’s more of a fallback these days.  And I thought I would share my now favourite with you.

Montezumas.  Oh yes.  Lovely, smooth, flavourful, totally chocolatey Montezumas.  Found at in case you don’t click/notice links!

I first found Monty’s when I was wandering around in Brighton and happened upon one of their shops.  My friend had been raving about Choccywoccydoodah (or something like that), and we had just been into their shop, which I found AWFUL!  It was garish, OTT and the chocolate didn’t taste anything special.  I felt a bit like I do about Hotel Chocolat – that they put too much effort into what the chocolate products LOOK like and not enough abotu what they TASTE like.  Saying that though, Hotel Chocolat LOOK quite stylish – and the same couldn’t be said for Choccy-thingy-stuff.

And then we wandered into the Monty’s shop.  Classy.  Simple.  And the girl offered us a couple of samples, and I was blown away.  So blown away, that I immediately returned home and treated myself to the unthinkable – a monthly chocolate box.  God I felt extravagant (I’m not exactly rolling in it!).  But the moment I got my first box through, I knew I had made the right decision.

The monthly box comes in a very plain cardboard outer, and there is no additional packaging inside.  There are always 15 truffles/single chocolates, a large bar and two ‘other’ chocolate products.  And you never know what you’re going to get!!  It doesn’t sound a lot, but each mouthful of chocolate is just so packed full of flavour, and gives such a chocolate hit, that you don’t sit there eating one after another like you would with say, Thorntons or Roses – it actually satisfies your chocolate cravings.  And a fair amount of their range is organic and/or vegan (if you’re worried about that kind of thing).

Some of my favourites so far have been their wonderful smooth drinking chocolate, the absolutely perfect air-dried mango dipped in white chocolate with chilli (amazing!) and their dark milk chocolate with butterscotch.  Surprisingly, seeing as The Man has always hated white chocolate, he loves theirs (although I think it’s a ploy to be able to eat more of MY chocolate!), and he was also in heaven last Father’s Day when I got him a 900g kilner jar full of of giant milk chocolate buttons for him from The Girl.  Guess how many the two of us saw of those!

I look forward to the middle of every month, and attack the cardboard with glee!  I am now contemplating which single choc I am going to have, as I need one because I have been thinking about them to compile this post!

If you’re in Brighton, Chichester, Winchester, Kingston or Spitalfields, make sure you check their shop out!

Now I just have to dream of the day that I finally go all out and order a ‘Create a Kilo’ Bar…I have dreamt about dark milk chocolate, coffee and dates for a long long time…

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