I have definitely cheated a little bit this year on the Christmas gift front: for me, Father Christmas came early as Mum and Dad treated me to a fabulous afternoon tea at the wonderful Landmark Hotel in Marylebone. And it was an absolute treat!
Going for afternoon tea at the Landmark was one of the goals on my list; I'd had my eye on this beautiful hotel and the tantalising menu for a while. So when my parents offered to treat me, I jumped at the chance!
The building itself is incredibly impressive: luxurious and opulent and grand in the best possible way. Afternoon tea is served in the winter garden; an enormous courtyard in the centre of the hotel with the building rising around you and a glass roof. But it's not cold or intimidating; it's beautiful and filled with light. Palm trees arch overhead festooned with twinkly lights lend a cosy and seasonal air and it was a beautiful place to sit and people-watch.
All three of us opted for the traditional afternoon tea (although a chocolate version is available) and every morsel was an absolute treat! But to kick things off, we needed to select a tea from the menu. I was spoilt for choice, but fortunately Mum went for the Landmark blend so I could try it, which meant I could safely opt for the caramel infused tea: a black tea with hints of toffee and vanilla. My cup was kept topped up by the excellent and attentive servers and I must have ploughed my way through a couple of pots.
With the tea served, we were ready to tuck in. Firstly: sandwiches.
Perfect little fingers are the standard for afternoon tea, but these were a cut above. Generously filled ranging from the classic smoked salmon, or a lovely cucumber on white bread, through to a delicious coronation chicken on walnut bread. Coronation chicken doesn't often appear on afternoon tea menus, but as a particular favourite of mine and my Dad's we were pretty chuffed to sample one. Or a few.
Because you could have your sandwiches topped up as much as you liked. And so I ate twelve, because it seemed like a good idea, and there's nothing like value for money. And they were absolutely delicious!
However, we did have to stop at some point; a difficult decision as it's hard to know how much space you should leave for scones and cakes. In the end, I think I could have squeezed in two more sandwiches, but that's by the by.
Next came scones. And you'll notice there isn't a picture of the scones as I wolfed them down before I remember to take one. We were served two each: a plain and a fruit. We were also invited to select a couple of jams from the list, and opted for strawberry (classic and delicious) and blackberry (also delicious, and a nice tart foil for the strawberry). I sampled both generously. I'm not a cream fan so no need to leave any room on your scone for that nonsense. The scones were light, warm and delicious, and worked well with both jams individually and indeed, mixed together.
And I had a third scone as well as Mum was happy with just the one and I couldn't see it go to waste.
Before long it was time for tiny perfect cakes. Tiny Perfect Cake Time is always the most picturesque point of afternoon tea, and I went to town with the camera. 4 cakes each, beautifully lined up and presented and with truly delectable flavour and variety.
I started with a lovely lemon and blackberry drizzle poppyseed sponge; it was moist and light with drizzle all the way through. Tasty! And then I moved swiftly on to a raspberry and rose macaron, filled with buttercream and fresh raspberries. It was light and refreshing and extremely scrummy.
Next came a little chocolate something-or-other-in-French. I don't remember what it was called but I do remember that it was completely chocolatey, and creamy, but without being too heavy. It was just about perfect and looked an absolute treat. Which it was.
Last came a passionfruit something-else-in-French on a shortbread-style disc topped with a pretty white chocolate disc. It was wonderful: tangy and sweet and smooth and crumbly; just like the others it was the sort of tiny cake that's lovely to look at and of which you feel you could consume a whole plateful.
I say last, but actually, I did manage another macaron as well as Dad didn't go for his, and so I thought I'd better tidy it up. Again, mainly in the interests of really getting value for money. And I had another pot of tea, opting for the Landmark blend so that I could indulge in a post-food cuppa or six.
This was a wonderful Christmas present - thanks Mum and Dad! - and I can't recommend the Landmark highly enough. Here's to more afternoon tea in the new year!
P.S. This post is part of a series I'm writing throughout December in response to Shimelle's scrapbooking class, Journal Your Christmas. By blogging each day, I hope to savour each and every lovely moment of the most wonderful time of the year, and have some great memories to look back on.