Wednesday, 27 December, 2017
I was thrilled to finally get chance to try the afternoon tea at Hotel Café Royal in the run up to Christmas. Having discovered the Hotel last year when scouting for venues for a corporate event, I fell in love the with the opulent Oscar Wilde room and have been trying to find time ever since to do afternoon tea.
When I learned that they had launched a collaboration with one of my favourite brands, French perfumier and candle maker Diptyque, I decided I had to treat my sister and mum (and myself) to their Festive Afternoon Tea.
Awarded the title of “Best Traditional Afternoon Tea 2017”, the Hotel Cafe Royal afternoon certainly ticked all the boxes: gorgeous setting and delicious food. The gilded Oscar Wilde Bar where afternoon tea is served is named after one of the room’s most famous patrons and apparently it was in this very room where Mr Wilde fell in love with Lord Alfred Douglas. Dating back to 1865 and formerly known as the Grill Room before the hotel’s renovation in 2013, the room has been beautifully restored to its original ornate Louis XVI detailing.
The luxurious surroundings were the perfect setting to enjoy our Festive Tea, which included delicious sandwiches with Roast Norfolk Bronze turkey with chestnut stuffing and cranberry sauce and seasonal jams for the scones and of course pastries inspired by iconic diptyque scents such as Jasmine (pistachio cake and jasmine tea). The afternoon tea service was also accompanied by a live pianist and a choice of 30 tea blends and infusions.
And to remember our magical afternoon, we received a beautiful Diptyqye gift set to take away, which included my all-time favourite candle scent, Baies, which is a blend of Bulgarian rose and blackcurrant leaves and mini eau de toilette perfume samples.
The Festive Afternoon Tea is priced at £55 per person, or £65 paired with a glass of Laurent-Perrier NV. The “diptyque Festive Afternoon Tea” with a diptyque gift set is £70, or £80 paired with a glass of Champagne. The sittings are from 11.30am until 7.30pm daily. The Festive Tea runs until 3 January 2018, but I believe that the collaboration with Diptyque will continue all next year, so get yourself booked in and prepare for a real treat! For reservations visit Hotel Café Royal.
Sunday, 5 November, 2017
As the nights draw in and the weather gets colder, I cannot think of a better way of spending an evening than in the company of good friends and food so I hope this post will inspire you how to create the perfect dinner party over the festive season. And as someone who positively relishes meeting new people, I was thrilled to attend one of Havana Club exclusive sobremesa dinner parties at the beautiful private members club Devonshire Club in the city of London close to my offices.
The purpose of the dinner was to raise awareness around the Havana Club Iconica range (specifically focused around the Tributo and Maximo expresssions) through the format of a sobremesa experience, which literally means “over the table.” Its about the time that is spent chatting and enjoying each other’s company over a meal; the idea that how we eat is as important as what we eat.
Hosted by the brilliantly witty Paul Croughton and Meimi Sanchez (Havana Club’s Brand Ambassador), the line up of guests, including Tom Marchant the charismatic co-founder of luxury travel company Black Tomato
, was so interesting and engaging, with the backdrop of the fabulous Library room at the Devonshire Club, I don’t think I could have created a better fantasy dinner party if had tried.
It was fascinating to learn more about Havana Club’s Icónica collection (and course to taste the rum, including the fabulous Havana Club Máximo Extra Añejo edition which is limited to just 1000 bottles created a year). Meimi explained how the Maestros del Ron Cubano, have aged and blended the finest rum reserves to produce the Icónica Collection.
The company and concept of sobremesa was enhanced by the exquisite and innovative menu created by the Devonshire Club’s executive chef Oliver Lesnik and featured the picture-perfect (and delicious) edible Cuban garden salad, finished off with cigar-inspired dessert.
And as we often feel like often one of the biggest luxuries in London life is time, taking time to relax over good food and conversation, the sobremesa moment encourages people to take more time to speak with each other in a meaningful way. With a variety of guest speakers, Cuban music playing in the background, and Tim Marchant’s of Black Tomato’s anecdotes about his time in Cuba, we felt were transported to Havana for the evening and I certainly didn’t want the evening to end. It was truly special evening and one I will remember for a long time.
(Image credits courtesy of Havana Club)
Monday, 4 September, 2017
Groucho Marx famously wrote in a letter …..
I Don’t Want to Belong to Any Club That Will Accept Me as a Member
I don’t think the newly opened Curtain Club in Shoreditch, East London will have the same problem. To be honest I think it will be the reverse. As the hottest new opening in the area, it is set to rival Shoreditch House and give the eclectic local residents and workers a fabulous new space to work and play in.
Having walked past the building works on my way to the offices every day over the last year, I was intrigued to see the inside of the Curtain Club and so was delighted when it finally opened and I was offered the chance to go in and have a snoop!
The wow factor clearly comes from the rooftop restaurant and bar, The Lido, set in front of a year-round heated swimming pool and sun loungers, but all the spaces have been carefully and beautifully curated, and will transport you away from the, at times, gritty city surroundings.
Interestingly, it was the area that attracted New York hotelier Michael Achenbaum (of the acclaimed Gansvoort brand) to build his club in this area. As he says : “We spent almost 10 years seeking locations throughout London, with the last 7 years specifically focused on the emerging East London area. It’s in our DNA to create hotels in neighbourhoods that are not only ahead of the curve but also in areas that are growing. The Curtain is that vision come to life in Europe.”
In addition to The Lido, members have access to private club club spaces and bars as well as a 24 hr gym, spa and live performance space.
And foodies, both club members and the general public, can enjoy the delights of Marcus Samuelson’s iconic Red Rooster restaurant, bringing its Harlem cool to London, as well as an all-day taqueria and bar, La Tienda, which are both also on site.
Finally, the Club also offers 120 guest rooms, including five suites, but more on that next time!
Check their website for more information about the club and about applying for membership.
Image credits (except pictures 3, 6 & 7 : Adrian Houston)
Tuesday, 3 June, 2014
I think we would all agree that celebrations and champagne are pretty much synonymous and the first toast to a newly married couple is done with a glass of bubbly, so why not make sure it is a very special one.
I first discovered SANGER champagne on Twitter when I spotted a photo of a bottle and took a second look – a champagne with a name so similar to my own – it caught my attention straight away! But it was only when I was kindly invited to a tasting by the brand ambassador Jerome Poussin that I learnt that it was actually a very good champagne with a fantastic heritage.
SANGER Champagne is produced by Academy Viticampus in Avize, France, and is the wine making school for champagne. Viticampus first opened its doors to students in 1927, following a donation made by the widow of a local champagne merchant, Louise Eugénie Puisart, who bequeathed houses, wine presses, gardens and 400 000 francs before her death with one request to create a wine-growing school.
And 87 years later, the school has gone from strength to strength. The grapes which are used to make SANGER champagne are actually provided by former students who represent almost all the different champagne areas of wine making, from more than 40 villages, which constitutes an extraordinary oenological wealth. And the profit earned from sales of the champagne go back to the school. For more information, visit the website http://www.sanger.fr/en
SANGER is with its rich heritage is unsurprisingly a very good champagne and available in nine cuvees each with its own distinct flavour. My personal favourite is the Cuvee Tango Paradoxe – a truly delightful rose!
And on a poetic note, the name of the champagne which literally means “without war” (sans guerre) derives from its history – the school was more or less at a standstill during the world wars as most of the men (i.e. wine makers) were at war fighting. So the name goes – to make champagne without making war…
I am delighted to have discovered this gem of a champagne and it certainly makes drinking it even more enjoyable knowing that you are helping continue the legacy of champagne growers and wine makers for a very long time.
You can buy SANGER champagne from various retailers including The Champagne Collection.
(To your very best health!)