Scents of Summer Afternoon Tea @ The InterContinental
One Hamilton Place, London W1J 7QY
My friend Fiona is the reigning UK ‘Queen of the Afternoon Tea’ downing more cuppas in the last couple of weeks than most people do in a lifetime. The InterContinental London Park Lane had invited her to try their new limited edition ‘Scents of Summer Afternoon Tea’ which is available through September 27th and as I’m obviously a fragrant sort of chap she asked me along. Scents of Summer is a collaboration between InterContinental London Park Lane Executive Chef Ashley Wells and Edward Bodenham, 9th generation of the world’s oldest family-run perfumers, Floris, combining ‘perfumery expertise and culinary talent to create a sensory journey that celebrates the beauty of British summertime.’
On arrival Fiona and I were ushered into the The Wellngton Room at The Intercontinental which overlooks Hyde Park and has a light floral decor very much in keeping with the park view and the essence of our upcoming gastro-journey.Serious afternoon tea taking is not something to be rushed so a glass of Moët et Chandon fizz eases us gently into the experience whilst our scones are being freshly baked.
First up are a series of scented sandwiches. We begin with a delicate rose pickled cucumber with mascarpone sandwich before moving on to a delicious salmon and bergamot combo in lemon bread. Pink peppercorn and thyme chicken is followed by a rich honey roast pumpkin with crumbled feta served on spinach bread. The sandwiches tasted lovely and having them presented as a roulade was a nice touch but they could have been sliced a little thinner for a more ‘delicate’ afternoon tea experience. The shots of wheatgrass studded with tiny globules of strawberry were an amusing ‘healthy’ counterbalance to the decadence that lay ahead.
Mini-buttermilk scones came hot from the oven, served with Earl Grey infused butter which went brilliantly with wild strawberry jam, and a spiky pink peppercorn lemon curd softened by pillowy clotted cream. There is something incredibly comforting about fresh, warm scones and the Intercontinental’s were exemplarary.
By this point we had moved ofF the booze (something I always struggle with) onto our elegantly presented cups of tea. The tea list is extensive and my cup of Sencha green tea was exquisite, brewed gently and full of tropical flavours. Fiona enjoyed her cup of Earl Grey blended with Lapsang Souchong, specially blended by our charming waiter.After a spray of Floris Jasmine scent over the table and a sip of Moët et Chandon Rosé (the only rosé that is a blend of red and white grapes) we were served up an extraordinary selection of cakes celebrating ‘the quintessential English Garden and key summer notes from classic Floris’ fragrances.’
I was fairly dubious as to whether the pastry chef could deliver on this high concept promise but I was beguiled by the Jasmine tea cakes garnished with edible flowers, bergamot and blackcurrant flower macaroons, Peach Melba mousse, and a grapefruit and almond tart with violet cream. These were studded with fresh summer berries and chocolate garden stones to create a wonderful offer. Whether you are an afternoon tea aficionado or neophyte the Scents of Summer Afternoon Tea at The InterContinental is a sophisticated and stylish take on the second most pleasurable way to spend a relaxing afternoon.