The culinary adventures of some gluten hating girl in London
I am a big fan of afternoon tea. Tea, cake and miniature sandwiches all arranged on a tower of plates the size of a small human – brilliant, isn’t it? And as if that wasn’t enough afternoon tea comes with Champagne. Nothing improves a meal of cake more than a glass of bubbly fizzing wonderfulness.
So you see, a big afternoon tea fan such as I was quite simply beside myself with excitement when I toddled to Fortnum & Mason to have a look at their brand spanking new Diamond Jubilee tea salon.
Upon arrival at the tea salon you’re greeted by some lovely piano music. It’s all very quaint. The tea salon is decked out in the traditional Fortnum blue, with white tables, fancy chairs, curtains and that. It’s like a big dolls house, only full of tourists, all of which are having a birthday.
Seen as everyone in the tea salon is having a birthday, it should probably be called the birthday salon. I may suggest this name change. Thankfully Fortnum’s is too posh to allow the singing of such birthday melodies as ‘Happy Birthday to You’ so the two or three people who aren’t doing a birthday can eat their cake without having to scrape out their own eardrums. Praise be to God.
You can order the standard afternoon tea, or push the boat out with high tea. Everyone orders afternoon tea though, high tea is a suspicious artefact.
The actual tea list is colossal. I picked the ‘Afternoon blend’ at random and was pleasantly surprised by the light, refreshing tea which arrived. It’s one of Fortnum’s famous blends, apparently. No PG Tips here, no no.
Afternoon tea on my visit was comprised of a selection of sandwiches; coronation chicken (obviously), smoked salmon, some sort of cheese concoction and roast beef with horseradish. All of which were perfectly great and most importantly, finger sized. The real treats were yet to come though… scones were perfectly moist and moreish. Fortnum’s will kindly provide whatever kind of jam or preserve your imagination can conjure. I went for strawberry jam, being a traditionalist and all.
Patisseries looked like someone had spent the best part of six weeks creating them. Layers upon layers of cake, ganache and fruity goo were towered on top of one another. A praline profiterole was the highlight, tasting like a normal profiteroles much more sophisticated older sibling, yet also of nutella. Never a bad thing. Fortnum describe their patisseries as ‘divine deliciousness’. They certainly were that.
And as if that isn’t enough… when you’re done stuffing yourself full of cake and scones you’re invited to visit the cake trolley. Yes that’s right, more cake. A wide selection of cakes awaits at the cake trolley, yet you’re asked to choose just one. This is a difficult decision, and one which I struggled with for a while. I finally went for Angel cake, which I took home in a box for fear of exploding all over the swish tea rooms. I managed it the following day, and can confirm it was still moist, rich and amazing with a sticky sweet icing.
The Verdict: Wonderful wonderful wonderful.
The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon
Fortnum & Mason