Faith

High time for High Tea

In food, Hotels on June 7, 2012 at 10:46 am

I’ve been a bit over-wrought in recent weeks due to illness, work and bad payers, so it was something of an unexpected treat to be invited to the recently opened Hotel La Tour in Birmingham city centre last week to indulge in high tea.

My gorgeous friend Sarah invited me along for a long-overdue catch up over cocktails, sandwiches and scones, and, well, who am I to say no?

The hotel is perfectly located for anyone seeking beautiful surroundings for a city shopping break, with fabulous décor and friendly, helpful staff. Within seconds of settling into our comfy chairs, the discreet background music washed over us and we instantly felt more relaxed and ready for a few hours’ indulgence.

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And indulge we did, choosing a pot of white pomegranate tea, which I must confess was sidelined somewhat by the stupendous earl grey bellinis we sipped as the team brought over a floor-standing feast of mouth-watering treats.

Image A fondue of cheese with dipping toast soldiers, finger sandwiches of fine smoked salmon, wafer thin ham and delicately spiced chicken nestled alongside delicious cucumber sandwiches, each tastier than the last.

I swear we took tiny, ladylike bites to savour the flavours but in no time at all, the top tier had gone…

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Our second course of light and fluffy scones, naturally served with strawberry jam and clotted cream, was enough to make us start looking at properties in Cornwall, if only for an excuse to tuck into them every day, and with two sumptuous courses gone, and the delectable-looking dessert plate left, we agreed we had to have a short break.

Our host brought us the hotel’s speciality cocktail, the 1889 (named for the year that Birmingham achieved city status) to cleanse our palates before the final tier. A frothy, perfumed confection of Bombay Sapphire, apple juice, grated ginger and whipped egg-whites, the tiny drink was light yet rich, almost a mini syllabub to prepare for the amazing four mini desserts that followed.

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A quick game of eeny-meeny-miney-mo later, I chose the first of my four sumptuous sweets – a bite-sized Eton Mess that melted in the mouth. Tastebuds exploding, I found it hard to choose what to have next – it’s a big decision after all, the food was so exquisite that I wanted to ensure that the last thing I ate was my favourite. The Walnut Whip (not your shop-bought version but a stylish cone of wafer, chocolate and walnuts), the Jaffa Cake (again, a blend of chocolate, orange and sponge but nothing like the McVities variety) and the individual treacle tart, served with a smear of rich clotted cream, were all magnificent.

It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed a wonderfully decadent afternoon tea – the most memorable being those served in Harrods and in the Pump Rooms at Bath – but this one was simply amazing, and right on the doorstep. It may be too extravagant to indulge every day – or even every week – but next time I need a pick me up to help me forget my troubles, I know where to head…

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