I remember watching in absolute wonderment when Heston Blumenthal created his feast inspired by the Lewis Carol’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’. The part that I found the most magical was the triple flavoured drink where each sip has a different flavour – I have longed to try it for myself ever since.
To my utter joy I read recently about the Sanderson hotel putting on a ‘Mad Hatter Tea Party’ – I assumed it was a one off event but closer inspection revealed they are doing sittings to the tea daily until March for £25 per person. I had rarely been so excited – the menus looked and sounded so sensational that I was sold before I had even tasted anything. We started with classic finger sandwiches, where the twist was the rainbow of breads they came in: Ham and mustard in saffron bread, cucumber in bright purple beetroot bread, egg on brown and finally smoked salmon in a spinach tinged green. (Despite the beautiful presentation, my criticism would be that they were all a bit lacking in filling).
This was followed by the presentation of what can only be described as the cake stand of dreams! There was a chocolaty coffee style cream layered cake in the shape of the white rabbit’s stopwatch and a beautiful pink cake inscribed with the words ‘Eat me’ where chilled white chocolate encased a uniquely fresh tasting, tart strawberry mouse. With these delicacies sampled it was time to move onto the Holy Grail – the long anticipated ‘Drink me’. I savoured every second of this puce mini beverage – the background flavour was a sort of butterscotch angel delight throughout however there was a genuine, noticeable difference in each sip. The first sip, billed as apple pie had definite cinnamon notes, followed by a second mouthful with a subtle citrus taste representing the lemon curd and a final taste of classic English toffee. The flavours were not as distinct as I had imagined but I cannot tell you how much excited squealing the whole experience generated!
Next up were the lollies – one looked like solid milk chocolate but when you bit into it, was filled with ice cream, hazelnuts and popping candy which was delicious and surprising. The second lolly was a smooth blueberry boiled sweet on one side and a granulated sugar on the other side – the two textures gave the sensation of hot and cold when you sucked it – I thought it was quite fun but actually uncomfortable to eat as it sort of grazed your tongue and was too sugary even for me. Finally we came to the scones – after the banquet for both eyes and mouth that had preceded, it was actually a relief that the scones were classic in both colour and flavour. They were incredibly buttery and delicious – as usual they were served with a portion of cream that could have only have satisfied a miniature gnat (why do all purveyors of afternoon tea do that?) – I had to order 3 extra portions and steal all of the fiance’s before I had a suitable helping but once my scones were appropriately laden with clotted cream and strawberry jam I was happy (and by this stage tremendously full!) The whole experience was great fun and extremely memorable. It didn’t come cheap though – by the time champagne and service were added, the bill was around £80 which is pretty steep for what is effectively sandwiches and a lolly even if they are multi-coloured and explode in your mouth!