Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Afternoon Tea at The Lanesborough Hotel, London

peanut butter square
You may have noticed it's been extremely quiet in the Normal Kitchen lately and it's high time I put that right.  I've been pretty busy it seems although I have no idea what I've been doing that's prevented me from baking and blogging.  Stepping on the scales did somewhat knock the baking enthusiasm that's true but really that just means I need to stop hogging my creations and share them around a bit more.  Any volunteers?

This weekend I had my creative baking enthusiasm well and truly watered as I went for afternoon tea at The Lanesborough hotel with the lovely Katherine.  This is only the second time I've been for afternoon tea, the first one being at Kettner's, but it really is something I could happily get used to.  It was an extremely hot day but my cinnamon star tea was much lighter and more refreshing than you might expect from this wintery sounding flavour.  Katherine opted for rose of the orient and pronounced it dreamy, aromatic and light.

silver teapots and flowers
It's a tough call whether I was more excited by the beautiful surroundings of Apsley's restaurant or the elaborate decadence of the cakes on offer but as you can't eat a chandelier or a sofa, no matter how beautifully upholstered, I'm going to plump for the cakes.  Each one is like a miniature work of art and it almost seems a shame to eat them .... almost but not quite.  Especially when you've forked out a slightly eye watering minimum £38 for the experience.

strawberry honey panna cotta
We opted for the Champagne version which includes a glass of Taittinger and a bowl of strawberries and cream so these came first and as you'd expect they were chocca full of flavour.  A great start.  These were followed by a lovely strawberry jelly with honey panna cotta and an onion quiche (not in the same container you understand).  I don't like quiche but I had a little piece because I was determined to try everything.  I didn't like it, it was very quiche-y.  Katherine ate all of hers however and said it was lovely so that's good.  The strawberry and honey creation was divine and got me all excited about the main event to come.  Bring on the cake stand!

champagne sandwiches loaf cakes
I was really impressed by the sandwiches.  The Lanesborough offers the usual suspects when it comes to fillings (which for me is a good thing) but they keep it fresh with an interesting mix of breads.  Egg mayonnaise was in the lightest brioche bun imaginable, coronation chicken was enveloped by carrot bread which gives a delicately sweet flavour and compliments the chicken and raisins perfectly.  The other sandwiches were ham and celeriac, cucumber and cream cheese, and salmon with the merest hint of horseradish.  Bliss.

As you can imagine of a five star hotel the service was excellent.  After we'd had our fill of sandwiches they took that plate away and replaced it with the scones and hot, buttery teacakes so we could stuff ourselves silly with the cakes.  The plates were also changed at this point so any quiche or sandwich mess doesn't get on your lovely cakes.  So what of the cakes?  Get on with it woman, this is what everyone's really interested in.

strawberry white chocolate macaron
Well they were amazing.  I especially feel the need to make macarons now after tasting the ones on offer here, rich with strawberry flavour and topped with white chocolate and a lace of red caramel sugar.  A truly beautiful dessert in every sense.  Other cakes included a peanut butter square with a dust of gold on top, a passion fruit eclair, topped with banana and coconut, chocolate and ginger cake, carrot and hazelnut cake and lemon and apricot cake, all three of which were miniature loaves.

peanut butter square passion fruit eclair
Whenever I go to places like this or read other people's inspirational blogs it really makes me want to bake and experiment more.  Lately I've made lovely cakes but I haven't really challenged myself much for a while.  I've never even made a macaron never mind a lace of sugar to protrude delicately from its top.  Watch this space, something may happen one day.

apsleys chandeliers

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