It is not every day that I have the luxury of enjoying afternoon tea. By afternoon tea, I don't mean a cup of tea and some biscuits at the desk; I'm talking about the whole fanfare, complete with extravagant spread of savoury and sweet goodies. June marks the 60th year on the throne for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II; the Clipper Lounge, famous for its afternoon tea for decades, is offering a Royal Afternoon Tea for those of us who cannot celebrate with Her Majesty in London.
Instead of the English breakfast tea that I always order, I tried the exquisite Taste of the Legend tea. The complex tea features spicy notes of vanilla and caramel - the latter more pronounced than the former - and the lingering taste is undoubtedly from the orange essences. It is probably not the type of tea one would drink every day but very appropriate for the Jubilee celebration!
The presentation of the tea set is nothing to write home about if you are used to the elegant display at Clipper Lounge. Since Chef Uwe is involved, expect nothing ordinary. I was happy to see more savoury items on the 3-tier cake stand than sweets; quite unusual for afternoon tea sets. On the side one can also find two scones - one plain and one with raisin - a mini-cherry trifle, as well as an egg with its top meticulously removed, a dollop of caviar peeking through. How can anyone resist that? On the menu it says Organic Welsh Egg with Caviar, and while I'm familiar with Scotch eggs, I was not sure what Welsh eggs are.
Turns out the egg is from Welsh, hence the name. It is a slow-cooked - what else would you expect from the chef - egg custard topped with hard-boiled egg yolk and caviar. The creamy egg custard, the crumbly egg yolk and the salty caviar form the perfect harmony. It is a divine, from presentation to taste, and what a decadent way to start the afternoon tea.
Another English classic is the Rhug Estate Coronation Chicken Sandwich. It is a staple in many Brits' lunch bag and frankly, a little boring. It could be an anti-climax after the Organic Welsh Egg but it managed to rise up to the challenge. With Chef Uwe's magic touch, the "sandwich" has been deconstructed and is one of my top choices on the menu. Delicately seasoned and finely diced, the chicken is succulent and moist, and the sandwich was gone in under 30 seconds. The sliver of chutney on top? Pure genius that tied everything together.
My other favourite from the savoury tier of the set is the Welsh Leek Tart. I admit I was a little skeptical at first because it looks like a mini quiche, which is not very exciting. One bite into it changed my mind completely. Light but flavourful, the tart has the right balance of pastry and filling, without being too dry or too moist (read: soggy). Who knew leek could be so sexy?
Moving up the cake stand, I popped the Eton Mess into my mouth as soon as I finished the savoury items because I simply love this dessert named after the famous boarding school in the UK. It is usually, well, a mess in a bowl. At Clipper Lounge, it has been transformed into a mouthwatering bite-size cake. The slightly crunchy and chewy meringue sets the scene for the cream and cut strawberries on top. Heavenly! I can eat these all day.
Other quintessentially British treats include the super sweet fairy cake (the one that looks like a mini cupcake), millionaire's shortcake (with more caramel than you can ever imagine), Royal Victoria sponge, as well as the Battenberg cake, which is rumoured to be one of HM Queen's favourites. Out of these I really enjoyed the chewy fairy cake and the light Royal Victoria sponge. The other two are a little too sweet for my taste but would no doubt delight those with a sweet tooth.
From now till June 10, play king or queen for an afternoon. Pamper yourself at the Clipper Lounge and enjoy a regal afternoon. If you want to kick it up a notch, order a glass of "R" de Ruinart Champagne. Even the Queen would approve.