Fortnum & Mason: Tea For Two

As an Ameri-Brit, being both American and British, I love a cultural collaboration. Proper, silver service afternoon tea combines the prim execution of English elegance paired perfectly with American indulgence. You can spend hours slowly sipping a fine selection of steeped tea, whilst stuffing yourself to the gills with delicate sandwiches, scones and cakes. There isn’t a more divine way to have a much needed catch up, and certainly couldn’t have been hosted in a more luxurious setting.

I was invited by restaurant reviewing site, Zomato, to one of England’s most typical and historically fabulous spots for afternoon tea. In desperate need of a catch up, I invited the lovely Jaia to come along as my date.

Fortnum & Mason Fortnum & Mason We pored over the seemingly endless tea menu, with countless pages of beautiful blends to choose from. Having never tried an elderflower green tea, but loving the flavours individually, I made my choice. She went for the English breakfast blend served at the Royal Wedding of Kate & Wills. Although, we soon found the dizzying excitement of such a sugary afternoon greatly impaired her ability to put the strainer in the cup before pouring her tea. This resulted in a fit of giggles as I watched pieces of tea leaf flow into her cup time and time again. Not exactly the polished behaviour of the Royals, but we probably had way more fun.

Fortnum & Mason The Diamond Jubilee Tea Room is classically beautiful, with all the refined elegance you would expect from a building visited by Royalty. With sophisticated design featuring Fortnum’s duck egg blue in pieces around the room and bright pops of gold, my date fit right in with her pretty little striped number. Fortnum & MasonWe asked for a quick snap from our server, which came out a little blurred. But, we’ll forgive her as she’s the one that brought us the towers of treats!Fortnum & MasonNeedless to say, the service was impeccable. After our server arrived with our Afternoon Tea, she talked us through each layer of delicious decadence.

Fortnum & MasonWe started with sandwiches. What? You weren’t going to scroll straight to the dessert, were you?!
We nibbled away on sandwiches of cucumber & cream cheese, chicken & sweetcorn, rare roast beef with Café de Paris butter, Fortnum’s smoked salmon & horseradish cream and rare breed hen egg with mustard cress.
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Then, slathered scones with clotted cream and topped with Fortnum’s deliciously fruity raspberry & apricot jams.
Clotted cream before jam, right? Fortnum & MasonAlready feeling quite full, several pots of tea into conversation, we began to tackle dessert, without too much arm twisting. 
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Clockwise, the little pink eclair was flavoured with rose, the chocolate cake had milk chocolate mousse, lemon curd and a yummy, crunchy base, the snowball looking thing was a yoghurt flavoured gel consistency hiding a cherry centre on top of pistachio cake, the profiterole sandwiched a lime coconut cream and the macaron was a rich raspberry, dark chocolate. I’d have to say the chocolate lemon was surprisingly my favourite of the bunch. Although, I loved the look of the yoghurt and pistachio cake.
Fortnum & MasonWith cakes, sandwiches, scones and tea swishing around our overstuffed tummies, we were then offered a slice of cake from the Tea Room’s stunning selection. A white marble table sits seductively on the side, proudly showcasing the tempting cakes. I seriously considered wheeling the whole thing out the door with me, but assumed someone may take notice.

How absolutely beautiful is this mint coloured cake stand? And don’t you just want to pick that raspberry and bit of cake up with your fingers and pop it in your mouth? No judgement for screen licking.
Fortnum & MasonI’d like to tell you that with all the restraint and poise of dignified ladies we politely declined, but how could we resist? Jaia went for the Battenberg.
Fortnum & Mason And I caved for the insanely decadent chocolate cake. Fortnum & MasonWe quite literally struggled our way through as much of the cakes as we could, like greedy sugar fuelled monsters. However, we eventually surrendered to our stomachs, replete with overindulgence. Fortnum & MasonWe finished off our tea and story swapping, and Jaia even remember her silver strainer! Fortnum & Mason

In a bit of a delirious state, we headed down to peruse Fortnum’s finest. We started in the gift shop, where I found a series of great cards. 
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Including one with my favourite building. Fortnum & Mason And one with an impulsive penguin.

We then found these darling teacups, which aren’t exactly what they appear to be. Fortnum & Mason

The cups themselves are mirrored, taking on whatever pattern they’re sat on. Fortnum & MasonDidn’t expect that! Did you? Fortnum & Mason I also found awesome, London-inspired Halcyon Days boxes to add to my collection. Fortnum & Mason Fortnum & MasonI’d love these beautiful candle stick holders.
Fortnum & Mason Not sure if I prefer the black or the white, what about you? Fortnum & Mason And just look at these mini copper pots! I definitely need these. Fortnum & MasonMay leave the hat, though.
Fortnum & MasonBut, this candle would definitely suit the bathroom. Fortnum & Mason And who doesn’t need a turquoise Japanese teapot?!Fortnum & MasonHaving had our fill of unnecessary future home decorating, we headed to the basement, which happens to be my favourite level. Down here is the wine cellar, flower shop and most importantly, food hall. You must promise me you’ll make a visit, as I didn’t take many snaps. I was too busy scurrying around gushing over all the products.

I did happen to take a picture of these gooseberries. I don’t think I’ve ever taken a minute to properly look at them, they’re translucent! I’ve accepted the fact that I may be the only one that finds this remotely cool. But anyways, have a look.
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I know if you follow me on Twitter & Instagram (@Alessandra_LDN – wink, wink, nudge, nudge) you’ll have already seen these. These strange looking flowers have an even stranger name. Do you know it?
Fortnum & MasonThat’s right. They’re called Banksy Hookers. So strange.

Also, be sure to stop by the first floor’s incredible chocolate collection. A very special someone received a custom made box, all hand-selected from their hundreds of options. Harder to do than you think and may have taken me far too long to choose! But, I managed to deliver them with only one stolen in the end.

Fortnum & MasonIt was a truly lovely afternoon spent with amazing company in beautiful surroundings. Special thanks to Zomato and the lovely people in the Diamond Jubilee Tea Room for such an enjoyable experience.

Where’s your favourite Afternoon Tea? Leave a comment or send me a tweet. I’m always on the lookout for a new one to try!

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Petersham Nurseries

This weekend, we went to Petersham Nurseries. The nursery is tucked away in the corner of Richmond Park and is filled with a stunning array of flowers. In the middle of the nursery, is the glass Teahouse. The glass house is filled with french furniture and gorgeous bouquets with tables sitting on exposed dirt, very rustic-chic.

I had the best seat in the house, and watched the chef prepare the incredible Italian-inspired dishes. We pored over the menu, and eventually made our decisions.
To start: Torn bread, Chorizo, Merinda tomatoes, and Romesco sauce
Main: Halibut Acqua Pazz with Rocket & Aioli
Dessert:  Chocolate and Almond cake with Jersey Cream & Pedro Ximenez and Fresh Mango Sorbet

Everything was fresh and beautiful, but the Mango sorbet was absolutely outstanding.

This is the perfect place for a date. It’s first-come, first-serve and parking is incredibly limited. I’d suggest taking a walk across the park and arriving early to ensure you get a spot. If there’s a wait, you can wander the nursery and choose some plants to take home.

Brick Lane

It’s a Sunday afternoon and after a morning love affair with your fluffy duvet, you need something to both entertain your mind and stifle your growling tummy. Well, I have just the place: Brick Lane. Hidden away in the East End of London, Brick Lane is a culturally diverse gem filled with something different around each corner. Most fascinating of the area would be the Brick Lane Market. A long row of bedsheets and tables spread with odds and ends, from vintage clothing and old records, to hemp lotion and turquoise rings. The area itself is filled with funky art and incredible graffiti.

We popped into a random store claiming to hold The Brick Lane Zoo. We headed into the shop’s basement to find walls lined with strange animal art and floors covered with hay. Moss graffiti deer and playing card ants were some of the Zoo’s main attractions.

After some thorough exploring, we visited the darling little Tea Bar named Tea Smith. At the bar, you’re given your own personal Tea Smith help select a flavor of tea from an extensive menu. A process of steeping and combining results in three different strains of your selected tea to try.  Such a relaxing, enjoyable experience with knowledgeable staff and incredible quality tea! I would highly recommend a visit.

Before we left, I got my hand on these little beauties to display in a vase at home. 

What about your grumbling tummy! You think i’d miss out on a foodie tip? Make sure you stop in The Boiler House Food Hall to sample dishes from all over the world! My personal favorite is the Turkish Wrap covered in spices and dripping in marinade. There’s also the famous Brick Lane Beigel Bake open 24 hours, 7 days a week. Fresh bagels topped with cream cheese and smoked salmon or moist salt beef – what a perfect midnight treat.

What do you like to do in Brick Lane?