All bloggers will be able to relate to that feeling of occasionally longing to switch off; being able to enjoy a riverside, moonlit stroll with a loved one without pondering over which filter lends the most ambient lighting; being able to devour a well-defined, sugar-crafted cupcake without feeling the urge to snap it from five different angles.
In our pre-blogging lives, these simple traits were a given but nowadays, I find it almost impossible to detach my blogging brain from such moments. When my very good friend suggested an afternoon tea meet up, as she had not been for a couple of years, I promptly agreed. There was really no need for me to remind her (or myself) that I had already well exceeded my quota for the year with the 24 Karat Gold Tea, the BB Bakery Tea Bus and a flower arranging afternoon tea.
I tend to only feature afternoon teas on the blog if they are quirky in some way, an unusual location or a novel theme or activity for example but this time, my plan was just to enjoy the afternoon, free of photos and without my writer’s hat on.
When I got there and saw the display below, though, the plan went awry.
“Alright, alright”, I pathetically reassured myself. “It’s only a few photographs. It’s not like I’m actually going to be blogging about this one…”
However, this week is Afternoon Tea Week, my cake-loving friends, so it would be plain rude not to share right?! Perhaps it is time I face the music. I’m Shikha and I’m addicted to blogging. No, I don’t think it’ a problem and no, I don’t want any help 😀
Afternoon Tea at the Intercontinental
After we were seated in the Wellington Lounge, our helpful waitress told us about the two choices of tea, either the standard, traditional option, which was a little cheaper or their new, specially created Scents of Sumer Afternoon Tea.
The concept behind this was to bring a sense of the outdoors indoors, encompassing textures, tastes, smells and sights onto their summery platform and after a fleeting glance of the menu, we were both sold. They have even gone so far as to collaborate with master perfumers Floris London to create floral fragrances that are spritzed around the table in between courses to invoke again, the scents of summer.
Cocktails are not included in the price of the tea but against the backdrop of a toasty, sun-kissed day in London, the uplifting notes of the cucumber mocktail were almost imperative and with a graceful clink of our borderline-anorexic champagne flutes, we started off our week in style.
Before our sandwiches made their grand entry, these blasts of green goodness were delivered to refresh the palate. Now, as a non drinker, I’m not used to shots but I suspect these grassy cups with strawberry pearls are a tad more vitamin-infused than their sambuca and tequila counterparts!
The spiral sandwiches came with fillings as lavish as salmon and bergamot and breads as creative as lemon and spinach with both style and substance marrying together beautifully. At so many afternoon teas, the sandwiches are the culprits letting down the team and credit to the chefs at the InterContinental for producing such moist, enticing delicacies. In a rare turn of events, I think the sandwiches were my overall highlight.
Prior to our pastries and following a bit more perfume wizardry, the mini buttermilk scones arrived and even though clotted cream and jam will always be a winning formula for me (why fix it if it ain’t broken,) the Earl Grey butter certainly got me experimenting.
I also appreciated the way in which they proactively offered us a chance to try a different tea with each course, making helpful suggestions about which options best complement the dishes on offer.
The Scents of Summer Dessert Pastries
The more masterpieces I see from pastry chefs ,the more I realise that they must possess the skills of both chefs and fine arts masters, such was the allure of the dessert platter that followed. With everything from the peach melba mousse resembling fruit in an orchard to the floral, bergamot macarons strewn on a bed of chocolate mud and edible pebbles, it was almost too attractive to tuck into. And any residual guilt I may have had over succumbing to photography was rapidly allayed when my friend, who is independent of the blogging and social media world, could be spotted doing exactly the same thing!
They kindly offered to package up the leftovers for us but frankly, we were every bit as stuffed as the pink peppercorn and thyme chicken sandwich they had served and we called it a day there. Following their floral flavours and summertime spread, we left feeling energised and revitalised as we strolled down Park Lane. If only all working weeks started off like this!
What are your top spots for afternoon tea in London?