Oh So French! Afternoon Tea, Kensington Hotel

South Kensington is the most obviously French area of London so it seems fitting that the Kensington Hotel has introduced an “Oh so French!” afternoon tea. This delightful offering celebrates the culinary traditions of France and pays tribute to the cultural character of the neighbourhood.

The £35 menu includes:

Selection of savouries

  • Goat’s cheese vol-au-vent puff pastry shell filled with creamy goat’s cheese & swiss chard
  • Pissaladiere crispy flat bread base with caramelised onions & anchovies
  • Quiche Lorraine with bacon, onion & cheese
  • Pan Bagnat crusty pain de champagne with tuna, olive oil, tomatoes & quail egg
  • Croque monsieur pan-fried ham & Gruyere finger sandwich with tomato tapenade

Selection of sweets

  • Passion fruit madeleines shell shaped sponge flavoured with vanilla & passion fruit
  • Rose macaroons with fresh berries pastel pink macaroons, with rose petals & wild berry butter cream
  • Strawberry millefeuille layers of crisp puff pastry with crème Chantilly & strawberries
  • Paris-brest baked almond choux with hazelnut crème patisserie
  • Cherry & pistachio clafoutis freshly baked clafoutis with Provence figs & toasted almonds

Aux Merveilleux de Fred brioches

  • Plain & chocolate chip brioches from Aux Merveilleux de Fred with apricot jam

There are plenty of tea varieties to choose from, and for an extra £10 you can make the tea experience more decadent with a glass of champagne.

Often, afternoon tea is a sickly sweet experience, but I loved that the ‘Oh So French’ menu included a range of delicious savoury bites. Particularly tasty were the cheesy and light vol-au-vents, and the cute mini croque monsieur that was so good I would have liked a full sized version.

The brioche buns were a surprising change from scones, and I did miss the traditional English counterpart. But the French are deservedly known as the finest pastry chefs in the world, and this was represented well in the top level of treats on the afternoon tea stand. My favourite were the exotically flavoured madeleines and the luxurious little millefeuille.

I always find the Kensington Hotel staff welcoming and the dining rooms are comfortable and relaxing. The ‘Oh So French’ afternoon tea suited me perfectly, fuelling my love of French food and entertaining me for an afternoon of fun in London.

More information and book here.

Fetish Infiniment Vanille, Pierre Hermé

Last night I visited the Pierre Hermé store in Covent Garden for a sneak preview of their new Fetish Infiniment Vanille collection. A select group of food bloggers huddled around the counter, peering in at the immaculate rainbow coloured macarons. But though the rose, pistachio and passionfruit all looked very appealing we were here for the showcase of one particular flavour, vanilla.

Vanilla is a Special. A spice of multiple aromas depending on where it has been grown: overtones of chocolate, butter, fruit, wood, liquorice… A gem Pierre Hermé adores. An insatiable gourmand, Pierre Hermé couldn’t use just one variety of vanilla. And so Pierre Hermé composed his interpretation of the ideal vanilla flavour. A recipe combining different varieties from Mexico, Tahiti, and Madagascar that has become the signature “house” fragrance.

After a glass of pink fizz we tasted a selection of treats from the vanilla collection. The super soft macarons sandwiched together with a creamy buttery filling.  Then came shots of the warm, comforting vanilla infused green tea and a slice the white chocolate vanilla coated cake. Finally we tried vanilla scented rich dark chocolates and mouthfuls of Sablés diamant (a shortbread like vanilla biscuit). It was all delicious, and Pierre’s delicate treatment of vanilla brings out a unique warmth from this familiar flavour.

We stepped out of the sweet Parisian emporium with a new knowledge of vanilla and delightful goody bag to continue enjoying on the bus home. If this evening was proof of anything, it is that Pierre Hermé is so much more than just a master of macarons.

Discover the Fetish Infiniment Vanille collection from March 3rd to April 19th. See more here.

The Fields Beneath, Kentish Town

If you find yourself in Kentish Town there is only one place to go for a great coffee.  The Fields Beneath is a charming little cafe under an otherwise uninteresting railway arch by Kentish Town West overground station.

The coffee is made using a variety of the best bean brands including Square Mile coffee. Delicious pastries, sandwiches produced with locally sourced ingredients  are also available. The sausage roll is particularly good (ask them to heat it up for you). Sit amongst the books and trinkets at the communal wooden table whilst enjoying your morning pick me up.

I love the name…The Fields Beneath references a history book about Kentish Town – and is on sale in the cafe. Aside from my deliciously creamy flat white and wonderfully calorific almond croissant, I was impressed by the personable, friendly service making this the ideal neighbourhood cafe. The Fields Beneath is easily a nominee for North London’s best coffee shop.

Follow The Fields Beneath on twitter here.