I love make up. I also love cake. Therefore I was delighted to read that the lovely people at Bobbi Brown (one of my favourite brands) and the equally lovely people at Balthazar had teamed up together to create, in my mind, one of the best afternoon teas in all of afternoon tea history!
I first discovered this concept when I was in the planning stages of my recent trip to London with Helen. Helen had, very kindly, given my carte blanche with regards to planning our trip but had mentioned that she would like to do afternoon tea if at all possible. Well, it wouldn't be a proper girly weekend away without such frivolities, would it? I had thought about returning to the Chesterfield Mayfair where I had taken the kids during October half term for their Charlie and the Chesterfield afternoon tea - trust me, if you like chocolate and all things Roald, this is definitely a great experience. However, that tea had been rather popular with parents and young children and as this was to be a debauchery-filled (well, as far as it is possible to be when you're nearing 39, holding down a full-time job and caring for two kids and a husband...) weekend, we felt that being surrounded by little darlings - particularly other people's little darlings - was not conducive to the relaxing, laid back tone we were aiming for!
Google, as always, came to my rescue and I happened across a number of reviews of Balthazar's special tea. Once I had seen photographs of the cakes and learned that the tea came with a complimentary 30 minute makeover at the Covent Garden store, I was sold!
If you've never been to Balthazar before (and I hadn't), prepare to be amazed. Step off the bustling streets of Covent Garden immediately into a smart Parisian brasserie. Subdued, almost sepia lighting; high, vaulted ceilings; a feeling like you've stepped back in time to the 1930s. Waiters and waitresses dart from table to table carrying towering trays of delicacies and glasses of champagne. The air is filled with the clink of glasses and animated chatter, a world away from the trials and tribulations of everyday life.
We didn't wait at all to be seated and were led, pretty much immediately, to our table. There was no question from us regarding our order. Tea us up! The only decision we had to make was champagne, or Bobbi's Sparkle cocktail - a delicate blend of gin, elderflower, lemon and champagne. I love gin, but for me there was no choice: afternoon tea? It had to be champagne! There was also a dazzling array of tea blends on offer. Again, as quintisentially English as afternoon tea is, Earl Grey seemed the perfect accompaniment.
You can find the menu to Bobbi's afternoon tea here. I had seen photos and none of the shots that I took could ever possibly hope to recreate the beauty of the amazing delicacies themselves. (Add to that, whenever I add photos to the blog it is always touch and go as to whether or not they'll show up!) The attention to detail was breathtaking. How the talented patisserie chefs managed to get a cheesecake to look like a jar of cleansing gel is beyond me. We spent some time trying to work out if it was in a glass gar, was it surrounded by gelatine, was it just a miracle of science and engineering?
A Hollywood Red Lipgloss Kiss, a rhubarb and ginger Shimmer Brick, a pecan and jasmine Long Wear Eyeliner macaroon, a lemon and blueberry Smoky Mascara, a coco citrus Extra Balm Rinse cheesecake... Sheer perfection! My mouth is watering just thinking about this again, and I realise that this post is the complete antithesis to yesterday's lament (and probably a good reason for my return to SW)! The best bit about it? After we'd ploughed our way through a selection of sandwiches - gorgeous pastrami, but perhaps not enough smoked salmon - and then the lightest and most beautiful scones we'd ever eaten (and of which they offered more) and we found we couldn't actually face eating the cakes (Spanx were not the best plan that day!) they boxed up the cakes so we could take them away. I'll be honest, after being offered more scones and sandwiches, I wanted to scoff the cakes just to find out if they'd offer us more of those too!
If ever you find yourself in London and fancy an afternoon tea, I would honestly suggest you forego the likes of the big hotels and opt for Balthazar. Simply stunning!
One bit of advice - go hungry!