January and London provide the perfect post Christmas winter antidote in the quintessential form of unique artisan produce, escorting careertraveller et al to fourth floor heaven at Fortnum & Mason.
As if transported back in time, 1707 to be precise, the Berkeley Sutcliffe restored clock, designed in 1961, chimes 16.00 hrs for tea and the scent of sugar coated dreams become reality as we enter this glittering glamorous palace of a store that oozes historical adventure of a confectionary kind!
Ground floor kaleidoscopic macaroons, cream of the crop extra jam preserves and musical biscuits are a dolce ensemble within an orchestra of delectably irresistible gems. Lustrous Turkish Delight chaperone trays of jewel-like bonbons, fudge and coco fuelled chocolates, which sitting coquettishly below an array of glamorous crystal chandeliers, turn centre stage into a sugar-coated boutique.
Pungent and citrus aromas from the tea and coffee section to the ‘Marmalade Library’ are music to the ears and the beginning of a courteous tea trail. An elegant spiral staircase from the clandestine Lower Ground Floor unearths mouth watering savoury produce from a pantry that echoes 18th century delicacies. A charcuterie, delicatessen and discretely sophisticated wine bar are a bespoke marketplace that ignite the sweet and savoury taste papillae, unveiling a gourmet theatre in the making!
An epicurean ascent is a revelation of vintage and unusual gifts to inspire and desire, epitomising the heart and soul of hand made art and craft. Like a stairway to heaven offering a traditional alternative to Charlie and The Chocolate Factory’s glass elevator, we orbit around a planet of First Floor china, glass and legendary hampers to Second Floor classic ladies perfume, toiletries and jewellery. Third Floor presents men’s accessories and Fortnum’s own bespoke By Appointment service for the discerningly curious and adventurous. Not surprising to hear the store holds two Royal Warrants of Appointment to HM The Queen and HRH The Prince of Wales!
As the saying goes ‘save the best till last’ reveals the Fourth Floor Diamond Jubilee Salon our tea trail transforms into a superlative Afternoon Tea transatlantic voyage!
Greeted by a serene David Collins garden inspired oasis with quaint pianist and plethora of dainty little darlings on porcelain in keeping with the Georgian period, we retrace the history of tea ‘taken seriously at Fortnum & Mason’. A sophisticated tea menu, 85 to be precise, excites and educates with black, green, white, yellow, Highgrove and World teas across Europe, Africa and Asia.
From a collection including Classic, Herbal and Highgrove Teas we opt for the Single Estate Teas and begin a tea tasting of the finest. Tea Sommelier “Davana” impressively takes us on an inspiring tea journey from high altitude lush farm plantations of First and Second Flush picking seasons to various brewing temperatures.
From South Korean Green Tea “Finest Gyokuro” to Oolong “Formosa Pouchong” Taiwan we sample refreshingly dark polished leaves brewed between 75-90°C to Ceylon “New Vithanakande”, a black ‘orange-red liquor’ sensation, which brewed at 90-100°C evokes puffs of Darjeeling.
Careertraveller favourite “Tregothnan”, number 17 on the menu, is a First Flush (harvested late February-mid April) genuine English tea, which moistures a mellow sweet and savoury palette for Afternoon Tea, arriving in 3 tier curate chariot style.
Self assured light and elegant finger sandwiches define ‘melt in the mouth’ flavours of delectable creamy coronation chicken to flavoursome rare roast beef with gherkin & caper dressing. Petite feather – light scones take the lead à la savoury with careertraveller favourite caramelised onion scone with mixed herb & tomato cream cheese. Golden and easy to break with fresh cream cheese trickling with flushed pomodoro juice is a celebration of skill, gratification and quality that diverts the sensors to a lavish platter of wonderland geometric patisseries.
From pretty in pink rose éclair to luxuriously intense gold leaf chocolate Sachertorte, it is the sexy violet victoria plum macaroon ‘baked on premise’, with ‘forbidden fruit’ orange and cinnamon buttercream that steals the crown jewel pastry award. Quite simply the best!
Brimming with passion, heritage and distinction, Fortnum’s is a hotel waiting to happen!
Further details of Fortnum & Mason can be found by clicking on their on their website Fortnum & Mason.
Click here for more information on Afternoon Tea in the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon.