Monday, February 21, 2011

Fortnum & Mason tea delight

When I lived in England, something like visiting Fortnum & Mason would have felt a bit decadent, and maybe unnecessary. It's got a 'stands the test of time' type reputation for serving the best of everything, having royal warrants and for sitting in a beautiful building right near The Ritz and Piccadilly. But you could hardly say it's everyday food, or everyday eating for that matter - and the prices do match.

But when visiting from Australia, it felt so totally right to go there. I love a good tea rooms, especially when served properly with all the accoutrements. And they do really know how to do it at Fortnums, after all, they have been doing it since 1707.

They have done a fabulous job of making the whole Fortnum's experience feel quintessentially English, but not old, fussy and laborious as some English institutions seem to feel.
The shopfront is stunningly decorated - much like so many other places in London, we saw quite a few that felt like they had been rigourously designed, and that really knew how to stop people in their tracks (especially Selfridges, who were showcasing young designers when we were there).

 I fell head over heels in love with this fantasy tea set up - a bit Alice in wonderland with those not quite real tea pots, especially the gold one sitting in the middle of one of the stacks. How whimsical to be able to serve tea in a gorgeous girlie sets, surrounded by posies, butterflies and cute cushions.

The building itself is large, and very grand inside, with original looking lifts and people dressed as if they might be organising William and Kate's wedding in the afternoon. It was a joy just to look around the place - seeing the amazing range of teas, coffees and sweets on offer. Unfortunately I already had too much luggage, so had to leave it to looking only.

Those little veggies are actually marzipan, the detail in them was incredible. So fiddly.

For our morning tea we headed down to The Fountain Restaurant, which sits under the building and is just one of four cafes/restaurants at Fortnum's! The tea menu itself was as long as the food one, with a number of teas I have never heard of. My brother ordered a full English breakfast, which was brought to him within 2 minutes of ordering - so impressive. I had a pot of Earl Grey, my current favourite tea for such occasions. Served in giant silver pots no less, and silver strainers and jugs to match.
We ended up as eight having morning tea as extended family members kept showing up. Here I am with my lovely cousin Jane who I haven't seen for over 10 years.
Thank you London for putting on a show. xx

Friday, February 18, 2011

Foodie gifts

Sorry for the sporadic blogging. I've been away in the UK for a fortnight, and couldn't quite manage to keep writing when I was over there. I'll be blogging on one of my favourite London food experiences in the next day or so.

Today I'm blogging about a beautiful and thoughtful Christmas gift from my lovely friend Meg. (Yes, I realise it is mid-February, but it's been way too hot to bake in Sydney!).  I love love love the presentation - the layers in the jar are really enticing, even before the ingredients make their way into the mixing bowl. 

It's so personalised, and is a relatively inexpensive way to share the love. I would love to hear about other gifts like this that you have received - dry ingredients with a few fresh things to be added, or other foodie homemade gifts that you have been given.

These the jar contains white and dark chocolate, caster sugar, flour and cocoa. Just add eggs and milk. Thanks Meg, you're a star.