Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Daily Life: Belated Birthday Madness at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party

As a belated birthday celebration, I was surprised to a tea afternoon with the Mad Hatter at the Sanderson Hotel in London! I didn't see a building name or anything distinctive on the outside of the hotel so I genuinely had no idea where we were going until we were being led to our table! I must've looked like the Cheshire Cat, my grin was so wide :)

We were offered three types of tea: Strawberries and Cream, Chocolate and Mint, and Rhubarb and Custard. I chose the Chocolate and Mint, as I'm not a big fan of strawberries or rhubarb.

I really liked the amount of thought that had been put into every small detail. The tea leaves were in pretty glass vials, and the sugar was in a music box!

You could even wind up the music box yourself, and the ballerina would dance all through your afternoon tea until you had to wind her back up again.

The menu came in the form of a vintage book! We got a copy of 'Ivanhoe' by Sir Walter Scott that seemed to be falling apart a little.

I'm not sure if you can see the contents of the menu properly, but I'll post the food pictures below and caption them accordingly.

Aside from the food, my favourite thing was the crockery sets! I loved how the plates matched up with the saucers!

Our teapot came with a crown too!

To make things even more fun, there were riddles wrapped around our napkins! We had a good few moments of guessing before we both revealed the correct answers.

Riddle: At night they come out without being fetched. At day they are lost without being stolen.
What are they?
What are your guesses? I was adamant that the answer would be 'dreams'.

Answer: The Stars.
And then our tea set arrived! I was in awe at the beauty of it. I'd seen pictures of it online, but what they placed in front of us just looked too pretty to eat!

Carrot Meringue served on a bed of Pea Shoots, with Strawberry & Cream Homemade Marshmallow Mushrooms.
Savoury and Sweet Scones accompanied with Herb Butter, and Clotted Cream & Jam respectively (not shown)
From Left to Right: Egg Mayonnaise with Water Cress & Smoked Sea Salt on Lemon Bread, Smoked Cumbrian Ham with Wholegrain Mustard on Sundried Tomato Bread, Cold Smoked Salmon & Lemon Butter on Dark Rye Bread, and Cucumber & Chive Cream Cheese on Spinach Bread.

From Left to Right: 'Tick Tock' Traditional Victoria Sponge, Melting Mango Cheesecake, and Matcha Green Tea with White Chocolate Mousse served in Chocolate Tea Cup. 
My favourite was the Green Tea & White Chocolate Mousse in the chocolate cup! 

I've always found it fascinating how people use different technologies to work with food and turn them into works of art, having understood the chemistry behind how food works... I'm a huge fan of Heston Blumenthal for this very reason. My dissertation supervisor actually worked with him on a project for one of his TV shows! I wish I could've been a tiny helper just so I could have met him!

In a few of the pictures above on the scones/sandwiches tier, you can see two bottles of 'drink me' potions peeking out - the Mad Hatter explained that these should be consumed last, as the idea was that you would have gotten bigger by the end of the Tea Set, and that this magical potion would help you shrink back to normal size... I loved this concept and it just made it feel like they'd done that little bit more to make the experience so special :) If only they had actual potions with this function in real life!

Unfortunately, we were never offered the Jelly Wonderland as shown in the menu. I was already full from the contents of the Tea Set, but it would have been nice to just see the spread of jelly and the different shapes and flavours on offer.

Despite the absence of the jelly, I thoroughly enjoyed the tea afternoon, and would recommend everyone who doesn't mind spending quite a chunk more for an experience different from all others!

You can find more information on the Sanderson Hotel website here. The afternoon tea costs £35 per person and is available every day from 12.30pm to 5.30pm. No fancy dress is allowed though. I was so gutted when I first saw this. Imagine everyone all dressed up!! :)

Have you been to the Mad Hatter's Tea Party? If not, would you?


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