When we arrived in Amsterdam, the weather was unexpectedly lovely – hot and sunny without a cloud in the sky. So when we got off our bicycles at the Amstel Hotel (Amsterdam’s Intercontinental) for afternoon tea, we decided we’d quite like to take advantage of the sunshine we’d been missing so much in England. They sat us at a table right by the huge French windows, which opened onto the canal and we were bathed in sunlight. There probably isn’t a better way to experience afternoon tea.
We were served 4 different types of tea that afternoon; a Darjeeling, a Lung Ching, an Oolong Fancy and a China Jasmin Chung Hao. Each tea is explained in the menu; the Darjeeling being ‘the champagne of tea’; the Lung Ching a traditional Chinese green tea with a slightly bitter finish; the Oolong Fancy, a half fermented tea from Taiwan and the China Jamin Chung Hao a delicate jasmine tea that was traditionally reserved for the Imperial Court of China.
We started with two traditional Dutch sweets – a Dutch Kringle, which is a sweet, sugary puff pastry biscuit and a Hazelino with a crème of mocha, which was almost like a cross between a meringue and a macaroon, with a creamy mocha filling.
We moved on to a delicious selection of sandwiches, cakes, salads and tiny sweet treats. There was the interesting looking ‘pain surprise’ which was a hollow loaf of bread containing sandwiches filled with salmon, egg and watercress, smoked chicken and cucumber salad. Alongside this was a cake stand with a number of tempting afternoon tea snacks. On the top layer were two small salads; seared tuna for me and mozzarella for Milly. The salad was filled with ripe avocado, tomato and romaine lettuce and was crunchy and fresh. Alongside this was a ‘Tramezzinno’ with roast beef and mustard mayonnaise. We also had homemade scones, chocolate and vanilla, served with clotted cream, preserves and lemon curd. The chocolate scones were a little stodgy, but the vanilla scones were very light and served warm.
On the bottom two layers of the cake stand were some very enticing looking treats. A bon bon of Tia Maria and Nougatine, which was rather like an alcoholic Ferrero Roche; a ‘brownie lolly’- a round brownie served on the end of a little stick, which was a genius idea, since it prevented you from getting your fingers covered in the sticky, oozing chocolate. An orange cremeux on a sable with almond – a delicate orange cream with a very thin, crunchy, almond biscuit base, and a cupcake with vanilla mousse and fresh red berries. The cupcake was perfect; light in texture, whilst the berries cut through the sweet vanilla cream and gave it a good tartness.
The last thing we ate was the ‘Crème bavarois of strawberries with an infusion of roses’. This was almost like a mini cake with a creamy, strawberry topping and strawberry sauce, laced with a rose flavour. It was very sweet, perhaps overly sweet, but tasty.
Our experience at the Amstel was really enjoyable, helped along by the opulent surroundings and blazing sunshine, but the food and tea spoke for itself; a very lovely way to spend a few hours in the afternoon.
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Written by a Thoroughly Modern Miss, Jessica Hill.