Afternoon Tea is one of the most classic traditions one can think of in Britain. However, the tradition only dates back to the early 19th century, when the Duchess of Bedford started to serve tea and a few nibbles to her guest in the afternoon. Over the last decades we have seen it evolve and spice up with additions of bubbles, exotic ingredients and now, thanks to Royal warrant holder Floris, with parfum.
Situated in an iconic 1820s Grade II listed building in the heart of London, the Great Scotland Yard Hotel is offering during the months of May and June a sumptuous multi-sensory afternoon tea, launched just ahead of Charles III’s coronation. Served at The Parlour – a relaxed and luxurious lounge reminiscent of colonial times inspired by Victorian explorers – this King’s Coronation Afternoon Tea brings an ingenious an unusual guest to the table, the fragrance Elite, by Floris.
The Parlour is a relatively small and relaxed room, which draws on tales of Britain’s Victorian explorers.
Matching food with tea is ok but with a parfum? Well, that is not something I would have every thought of. Elite is one of the classic and most popular fragrances in the Floris repertoire. Complex and mellow, it reveals subtle touches of grapefruit, bergamot, and cedar leaf. Incidentally, these are flavour notes that we find in several of the many teas available at The Parlour. Honestly, I have never seen such a long menu of teas in my life. From your traditional Black Breakfast to Pipachá, Green Tea and 2nd Flush Muscatel Sikkim to name but a few. I am not very adventurous when it comes to my brews, so I went for a classic Earl Grey from Calabria, blended with bergamot and boasting fresh, citrus notes, totally in line with the scent of Elite. My companion opted for the much more exotic Sunset Oolong, from Taiwan. Smooth and with wood and nutty notes, it complemented the amber, cedar and musk notes of the classic Floris fragrance.
Much more difficult is to match fragrance scents with savoury dishes and cakes, but that is exactly what the hotel’s Head Pastry Chef, Verónica Garrido Martínez, Executive Chef Amador Parada and their team have managed to do.
Five different savoury delights make up the first part of the King’s Coronation Afternoon Tea at the Great Scotland Yard Hotel.
First came the three-tiered-stand of savoury nibbles. At the top, two delicate asparagus and lemon quiches, sprinkled with caviar. The pastry was so light that it seemed to evaporate in your mouth, leaving the flavours of the main ingredients dancing together in your mouth. In the middle tray, the finger sandwiches: coronation chicken (it couldn’t be otherwise) and smoke salmon with the best horseradish I’ve ever tasted and just a touch of dill. At the bottom, an egg and truffle mayo brioche, and a perfectly baked mini-Yorkshire pudding with a shallots and chives filling.
You can’t possibly have Afternoon Tea in England without scones, Cornish clotted cream and summer berry jam. Again, a lesson by Ms Garrido on how to make pastry.
Last, the cakes. Time to move your belt out one hole. We worked our way down the three tiers of them, starting with the St. Edward’s Crown lavender and blueberry tartlet. It does look remarkably like the eponymous crest, which is the centrepiece of the Crown Jewels of the UK. Named after Saint Edward the Confessor, versions of it have traditionally been used to crown English and British monarchs at their coronations since the 13th century. I normally flinch when I read “lavender” in a food menu but again, Ms Garrido excels herself and produces feathery-light cream, with just a hint of lavender flavour, and a heart of oozing blueberries. A little bit sour and a little bit floral, this cake is a triumph of fine patisserie.
The cakes created by Pastry Chef Verónica Garrido Martínez for the coronation are a master class in the fine art of baking and balancing flavours and textures.
Next, Sovereign’s Orbs of grapefruit, with white chocolate mousse and raspberry cremeux. The Sovereign’s Orb is another of the UK’s Crown Jewels, a golden globe surmounted by a cross that as part of the Coronation Regalia, reminds the monarch that their power is derived from God. My God that day was Ms Garrido, which had glazed this little sphere with such perfection that I could see myself on its surface. About the rest, what can I say that could possibly make the words “white chocolate mousse and raspberry cremeux” even more attractive? Exactly.
Last, King Charles III’s lemon and strawberry charlotte. Another testimony to the skill of the pattiserie team at The Parlour. Strawberries and lemony cream wrapped in thin, moist sponge cake, adorned with white chocolate. Spot on.
Time to raise a glass of champagne to the team at The Parlour and to King Charles III. Perfect tea, perfect afternoon.
King’s Coronation Afternoon Tea is available Monday to Sunday, from 12pm until 7pm until 1st July 2023. Oh! On Sundays, there is Dog Afternoon Tea. £59 without champagne and £70 with a glass of Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label Brut, NV.
Great Scotland Yard Hotel
3-5 Great Scotland Yard, London, SW1A 2HN. Tel. +44(0) 207 925 4700
Words: Julia Pasarón