Picnic inspired Afternoon Tea at the Four Seasons Park Lane

Jul 12, 15 Picnic inspired Afternoon Tea at the Four Seasons Park Lane

Posted by in All, Hotels and Spas

Warm scones served with a dollop of clotted cream and strawberry jam on top has to be my favourite part of a traditional English Afternoon Tea. Usually I’ll have two but at the Four Seasons recently, I was able to indulge in quiet a few as they serve mini scones for their afternoon tea. The mini scones were part of the new picnic-inspired tea for two on the terrace of the Amaranto restaurant in the Four Seasons Park Lane. Tea comes to the table in a wicker basket and comes complete with china, silverware and  vintage tins containing a range of sandwiches, cakes and scones designed with a British twist, evoking the warmest of British summer picnic feelings. To complete the classic affair, Head Pastry Chef Loic Carbonnet has created a tin of delightful treats with a classic British summer twist: Pimm’s mousse; rhubarb and custard ice cream lolly; pistachio and strawberry tartlet; chocolate and raspberry macaron; and a trifle made with seasonal fruit. The cream desserts were extremely light and fluffy, my favourite was the Pimms’s mousse, incredibly light and I’m sure there’s no way there could have been any calories in it at all! 😉 I loved everything and as well as the classic English Afternoon Tea we also sampled the Italian Tea, which had Italian inspired sandwiches and Italian pastries, including my favourite cannoli and these incredible doughnut pastries from Naples. Of course it wouldn’t be tea with, well Tea, and the Four Seasons will either match the tea to the savoury and sweet courses or let you choose your own. I chose the Silver Needle Chinese Tea, a delicate tea but still full of flavour. If you so desire, you can also add a glass of Bollinger NV or Bollinger Rose to your afternoon tea service. Champagne is extra but I always like to start off the afternoon with a glass of bubbles. Service as always was top knotch, anticipatory but not invasive or obsequious, they really make you feel more...

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Cocktails inspired by the Chelsea Flower Show at the Kensington Hotel

May 20, 15 Cocktails inspired by the Chelsea Flower Show at the Kensington Hotel

Posted by in Lifestyle

Everything is coming up roses this week (or at least flowery) as it’s the week of the Chelsea Flower Show. I visited the Kensington Hotel last night to sample the special cocktail they’ve created to celebrate all those stunning floral displays down the road. Their mixologist Alessandro Pizzoli has concocted the Lily of the Valley, a gin based cocktail served tall over ice. While we where there, Alessandro walked us through all the ingredients used including the homemade lavender sugar they use to give the drink an extra lift. The cocktail is served with seasonal edible flowers which I, of course, scoffed down along with the drink. I love eating edible flowers and the tastes are always surprising! The Kensington is also offering a floral themed menu to go along with Lily of the Valley signature cocktail. In keeping with the theme of the show, the menu features unique botanical dishes such as chanterelles with green dandelion and puntarella, spring chicken with elderflower, and bitter chocolate and rosewater delice. They also include wild fennel flowers and hand-foraged pennywort in other dishes. The Lily of the Valley costs £14.50 while the floral menu is priced at £24 for two courses and £30 for three. Both are available to enjoy from 15th until 31st May. For more information, visit the hotel website here. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Wine Journey under the streets of St. James

Apr 15, 15 Wine Journey under the streets of St. James

Posted by in All

It’s possible to take a vinous journey around the world underneath the streets of St. James, Central London. I was recently invited to join one of these journeys that the Stafford Hotel has now begun hosting in it’s 380 year old wine cellars. The Stafford Hotel is a gorgeous 17th century townhouse that has now been converted into a luxury hotel. Over the centuries, it had a variety of illustrious owners but in 1912 is was sold and turned into a hotel. During WWII, the hotel was used to billet American and Canadian soldiers. There is even a small corner of WWII memorabilia deep in the recesses of the wine cellar. The Stafford has now decided to show off it’s cellars and wine collection by hosting a series of tastings there. Twice a month, the Master Sommelier, Gino Nardella, who has been with the hotel since the 1980’s, will lead visitors on a unique wine tasting experience below the streets of St James. The cellars have always been open to the public, all you have to do is ask, but here is the opportunity to spend a few hours amongst those aged bottles of wine, enjoying a selection as well as learning a bit and doing some food and wine matching. Gino has created a variety of bespoke evenings for wine lovers of all levels. He’ll take you on a journey through the vineyards, via the wine glass. The evening I attended we had a tasting of  wines from around the world. We tried emblematic wines from England, South Africa, Burgundy, Italy, Chile, Australia and Spain. Let me tell you, they don’t skimp on the wines, they were all from excellent  vintages, most from the mid to late 2000’s. Gino was also a great host, charming and informative. The hotel is offering a series of these Wine Journeys starting on 24th April with a Chardonnay Wine Journey. The price is £69 per person and includes food and wine tasting in the cellar with Gino. For...

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The Rockwell Hotel, a bit of quiet in Earls Court

Sep 09, 14 The Rockwell Hotel, a bit of quiet in Earls Court

Posted by in All

I know a place just a few minutes walk from Earls Court tube station that is a quiet haven in this traffic chocked, pedestrian clogged part of London.  It doesn’t seem to matter what time of day or even what day, but there always seems to be masses of people in and around Earls Court. Which is why it was such a surprise as soon as I walked in the lobby of The Rockwell Hotel. Although it’s right around the corner from Earls Court and located on busy Cromwell Rd, the interior of this refurbished Victorian townhouse is comfortingly quiet. I was greatly relieved to escape all the hustle and bustle so I can only imagine what jet lagged and exhausted tourists must feel like when the front door of the Rockwell closes behind them as they enter the lobby. The decor is comfortable and modern with high ceilings and plenty of windows to let in the light. As it’s a converted townhouse, there is a wide staircase that leads to the rooms but don’t worry, there’s also an elevator. If you can, request one of the rooms in the basement as they are large and comfy with small terraces set with a garden table and chairs which are a cozy little place to relax. If you don’t get a room with a terrace, the hotel also has a lovely back garden on the ground floor where you can also relax with a drink or two. The garden is behind the restaurant of the hotel, which serves modern British cuisine. The menu is uncomplicated but has a nice variety of dishes. We both started with salads, I had the summer salad of goats cheese and apple which was quite substantial. My friend ordered the Rockwell Chicken Salad, a house signature dish, a tasty combo of avocado, greens,chicken and blue cheese dressing, delicious. For the mains, I ordered the traditional Fish and Chips with mushy peas which was not only nicely crunchy and flakey at...

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Forbidden Fruit (liqueur that is) at The Dorchester

Aug 23, 11 Forbidden Fruit (liqueur that is) at The Dorchester

Posted by in Hotels and Spas, Spirits

Although my remit is wine, I do like a good cocktail, my favourite being a perfect Manhattan on the rocks. I don’t however, restrict myself to Manhattan’s, which is how I found myself at The Bar at The Dorchester with the very charming and legendary Bar Manager, Giuliano Morandin explaining to me how he recreated the lost recipe for Forbidden Fruit liqueur. The Forbidden Fruit liqueur was first invented in the early 1900’s and was hugely popular in the US, of all places, until Prohibition came round and that was the end of that.  The original recipe disappeared in the 1950’s and no one has been able to replicate it since. The Dorchester of London cocktail  made with Forbidden Fruit was originally created by Henry Craddock and is even included in an old drinks recipe book but after the 1950’s, with the liqueur lost, it was impossible to make. Until Giuliano heard about it. He wanted  a special cocktail to mark the 80th anniversary of the Dorchester and thought recreating a “lost classic” would be perfect. He was fortunate to find a bottle of the original Forbidden Fruit at a private sale in the States and brought it back to London. He then  took it upon himself to recreate the liquor and, after 7 months of experimenting, was finally satisfied with the result. I really wonder what that forbidden fruit is or was. The liquor itself smelled like honey but tasted like a licorice grapefruit, very interesting indeed. It had a hell of a kick to it! I got to try the original Forbidden Fruit which was full of maple syrup flavours, much less honey but still very sweet. I can see why Giuliano tweaked the recipe as I think modern drinkers probably wouldn’t appreciate it as much. The resulting cocktail is quite simple once you have the liquor, just add Bacardi rum and gin, shake over ice and then serve straight up.  All the cocktails at The Bar are served straight up unless...

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