Thursday, 8 December 2016

SWAN LAKE AFTERNOON TEA AT THE CORINTHIA LONDON

I have always loved the ballet, and Swan Lake has always been a classic favourite, so what better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than combining my two loves in a Swan Lake themed afternoon tea at The Corinthia London.
Located just a few moments away from Trafalgar Square, afternoon tea is served in The Lobby Lounge which is illuminated by natural light that streams down from the glass dome above.
Their unique centrepiece is the first thing that catches our eye as we enter, a beautiful 'full moon' chandelier designed by Chafik Gasmi, which features 1000 Baccarat crystal clear globes. 
 I remember catching a glimpse of it sometime ago on my Instagram feed (one of the main channels that I use to keep in touch with 'the world' ... social media these days).
It looked even more stunning in real life and definitely added to the ambience, accompanied by soothing tunes from the live piano and cello playing in the background





I had the Rosé Champagne Afternoon Tea which came with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Rosé Champagne, whilst for my tea, I went for the Corinthia Welcome Tea, exclusively created for Corinthia London and hand-blended in Britain: a delicate blend of white and green tea interlaced with subtle notes of lemon and ginger.
There was also an amuse-bouche to start with: 'Lightness and Laughter' which consisted of a lemon-infused white chocolate namelaka (a creamy ganache) and fresh raspberries. 







There was a selection of six different sandwiches (the more the merrier!) 

-
Classic Olivier Salad on White Bread
Loch Var Smoked Salmon with Sour Cream and Salmon Roe on Beetroot Bread
Cucumber, Buttermilk and Dill on Black Rye Bread
Wiltshire Ham, Apple and Mustard on Cranberry Bread
Corn-fed Chicken, Chestnut Butter and Tarragon on Brown Bread
Pickled Tongue, Horseradish and Beetroot in Smoked Bun 
-

 I loved the variety of colours and shades, and after we finished, our lovely waitress came over with a fresh tray of sandwiches to ask us if we wanted seconds. I obviously could not resist and had an extra piece each of the Olivier Salad and the Smoked Salmon with the juicy salmon roe that popped in your mouth with each mouthful.



  This was followed by a selection of warm plain and raisin scones served with pots of lemon curd, strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream. WK doesn't like raisins (yes, he is one of them), so I kindly offered to swap my plain one, saving him the arduous effort of picking them out - my good friend deed of the day.



And finally we indulged in a choice of English Tea Fancies inspired by the love story of Swan Lake - oh those Tchaikovsky tunes never fail to pull at my heart strings ...
 Each one was a lovely little piece of edible art, one would say that they were almost too pretty to eat, but then again one must not let good food go to waste ...

- Odette -
A delicate White Chocolate Mousse with Mulled Wine Infused Plums



- White Russion Eclair -
Coffee Pastry Cream with a hint of Vodka


- Medovik -
Sweet Honey Cake, Caramel and Sour Cream


- Odile -
A Dark Chocolate Mousse with Caramel Cremeux


- A Clearing in the Forest -
Caramelised Pistachio Tart, Candied Ginger and Praline Ganache


- Siegfried's Sash -
Layered Cherries and Tonka bean Bavarois







 
This Festive Afternoon Tea menu is available until 1st January 2016, so there's still some time to book yourself in for a treat, and maybe be inspired to get those ballet shoes out again..? I'll be sure to put those pirouettes back on the New Year's resolution list again ...

The Cheekster, signing out x


Sunday, 20 November 2016

RISTORANTE FRESCOBALDI X AURORA CAPRI

After a much enjoyable Winemaker's Dinner at Frescobaldi a few months back, I was very much excited to return for a special lunch by Guest Chef Franco Aversa, the A-list Head Chef from Aurora, Capri's most exclusive restaurant.

Aurora, the critically-acclaimed restaurant on the island of Capri in Italy's bay of Naples, is a family business owned by Mia D'Alessio; the kitchen led by her husband, Head Chef Franco. Known as one of Capri's oldest restaurants, it specializes in Mediterranean cuisine and traditional Neapolitan and Caprese cuisine, with Head Chef Franco's personal twist. 

Hungry with anticipation after browsing through the menu, we left our choices in the safe hands of the lovely Mia, who brought us a delightful selection of tasting dishes.
 We started with some tasty, crisp arancini balls and moreish courgette fries, followed by some seafood dishes such as the octopus salad with green beans, and grilled squid with a creamy potato velouté. The fish fillet was cooked beautifully, topped with a golden, crunchy potato crust.
I was really craving for some pasta that day, and my favourite dish was undoubtedly the Pappardelle with cheese, pepper and black truffle - sometimes the simple things in life can bring great joy and comfort.
I had a mouthful of the Cannelloncino of Magro with ragu Napoletana sauce, which was also very good. 




La Tradizione: Mozzarella in Carrozza, Involtino di Melanzane, Arancino, Zucchini Scapece

Insalata di Polpo Croccante con Patate e Fagiolini


Calamaretti Grigliati su crema di patate

Pappardelle con Cacio, Pepe e Tartufo Nero


Filetto di Pesce in crosta di Patate con verdura



Cannelloncino di Magro con Ragout alla Napoletana




There was a surprise chocolatey dessert for all of us at the end, each topped with a candle just for that special touch - I'm sure that it must be someone's birthday in the world somewhere ...

Ristorante  Frescobaldi hosts regular Guest Chefs from around the world throughout the year, for a period of upto two weeks at a time.
This current Guest Chef event runs for just over a week, until Saturday 26th November 2016, so book yourself in whilst you still can for an exclusive taste of Capri.
And whilst you're there, don't forget to pair your meal with their extensive and exclusive range of Italian wines.

The Cheekster, signing out x

The meal was complimentary, but views remain my own.


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

SHIKUMEN FINCHLEY ROAD

Shikumen first opened in 2014, their large flagship located in the Dorsett Hotel on Shepherd's Bush Green, which was awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2015. A restaurant offering Chinese fine dining, Shikumen is so called after the traditional Shanghai stone house architecture of the 1940's whose stone gatehouses were influenced by Western traders as they made their was to the gateway to the East. 

When it comes to dim sum, I tend to have a handful of regular/dependable places that come to mind: Royal China, A. Wong, Pheonix Palace, Imperial China, Yauatcha ... and of course there are plenty more others that I have yet to try when I find the motivation to make an +1hour journey across London ...
I've been wanting to try out Shikumen for a while having read and heard good things about it, and was happy to be informed about their latest branch that opened in Finchley Road within the O2 Centre - conveniently located only 15 minutes away from home (!)
I visited on a late Monday afternoon for lunch (a nice time to visit if you're looking for some peace and quiet), looking forward to some dim sum to refuel in between my dance classes - dim sum isn't just for weekends after all ...



We started with the steamed Dim Sum Platter, a combination of har gau, pumpkin seafood dumplings, Chinese chive pork dumplings, and crabmeat and prawn dumplings - a nice variety of delicately made dumplings, and each one was a tasty mouthful of goodness. 
There is some chilli oil and sweet chilli on the side as dips, but I tend to have mine plain to get the most out of the flavours.

 The skewers of beef with jasmine tea from the appetizer section, was tender, and the flavours of the jasmine tea was pleasant and came through really well.

I do love cheung fun, usually with either prawn of char siu, but we were intrigued to try the one with crispy grilled eel and seaweed, which has now been made a permanent dish on the menu following it's success as a temporary special in their Shepherd's Bush branch. 
Lovely, soft translucent cheung fun, silky with a slight sticky texture, wrapped around the flavoursome crisp eel that was grilled perfectly.
Definitely a must-order dish if you love eel as much as I do - cheung fun will never taste the same again ...

From the baked/fried selection, we ordered the Roasted Duck Pumpkin Puffs, which were shaped like cute mini pumpkins, crunchy on the outside with a hot, steamy filling. 









The Yakitori Platter gets you six different skewers: mixed vegetables, bacon wrapped asparagus, chicken with spring onion, chicken meatballs, miso marinated salmon, and beef with crunchy chilli, garlic and sesame seed. My favourite amongst them were the chicken meatballs and chicken with spring onion which had a nice marinade.

Other Robata grilled dishes that weren't part of the platter included the lamb chop with miso herb butter and scallop wrapped in herb bacon that both sound equally good - I will be keeping them in mind for next time.






Finishing off with something sweet, we had the steamed cream custard buns, and black sesame balls in ginger tea. Both simple and satisfying, although I would have liked the custard to be a bit creamier and more runny ...




Overall, the food was enjoyable and the menu has a good variety of dishes to choose from - great for a quick solo meal or larger groups. 
There is only so much that one (or two) can consume in one visit, so I'll be sure to pop back in again to try more from the menu, particularly the Shanghai Xiao Long Bao (can't believe I forgot to order this), Crispy Aromatic Duck, and more of that Crispy Grilled Eel Cheung Fun ...
You can find out more about Shikumen on their websiterelaxing ambience, good quality food, and one more to add to my list of dim sum favourites.

The Cheekster, signing out x

The meal was complimentary, but views remain my own.