I have always considered a classic afternoon a bit of a luxury; an indulgence. This was reinforced when I came across the the posts Top ten afternoon teas in London and Top ten afternoon teas in Britain written to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Charles Grey; the Earl Grey of tea fame. I was delighted therefore, to be invited to the launch of Paul Young’s Chocolate Inspired Afternoon Tea in the Park Room at Grosvenor House.
Paul Young is Britain’s top award winning chocolatier and has teamed up with Grosvenor House to create what someone appropriately dubbed “a chocolate infused afternoon tea”.
The truly elegant Park Room at Grosvenor House was buzzing with excitement as I entered. It’s the perfect place for that classic British institution, the afternoon tea. Paul came over, introduced himself and explained some of what we could expect. He is known for his innovative mixing of flavours. It was not long before I experienced just such innovation when I was served Madagascan Cocoa Nib Tea. I would never have imagined tea and chocolate together but the combination works very well and was beautifully balanced.
The three-tier stand of delicate finger sandwiches and cakes arrived. The sandwich fillings were fairly traditional and were developed by the Grosvenor House kitchen. However, alongside the smoked Loch Fyne salmon and Chopped Ham with Somerset Cheddar was another of Paul Young’s innovative contemporary ingredient pairings; salted cucumber with Venezuelan chocolate. It was an inspired combination.
No afternoon tea would be complete with out some delicate little cakes and pastries. From the Grosvenor House’s afternoon tea there several tantalising pastries including a delicious pistachio and raspberry slice and an orange, English honey and geranium ganache served in a cocktail glass.
Paul Young’s contribution to the top tier was a cocoa shortcake biscuit with a Madagascan chocolate ganache scented with English rose and raspberries. This was complemented by an Earl Grey tea chocolate tart with salted lemon truffle. By now I had accepted chocolate and tea were a exquisite combination and this tart merely confirmed it. The subtle notes of Earl Grey tea through the chocolate were perfectly complemented by the delicate salted lemon truffle on top.
On the table some freshly made buttermilk scones had arrived along with a generous helping of Devonshire clotted cream. The conserve usually accompanying the scones was missing and I knew there was another of Paul Young’s innovative tastes awaiting. One of the awards he has won is for his sea salted caramel. Used in his chocolates it has won international acclaim. As a spread on top of clotted cream and scones it was, in the words of a fellow travel writer, “ludicrously indulgent”.
It just remained to sample three of Paul Young’s award winning chocolates; the passion fruit curd filled chocolate, the sea salted caramel filled chocolate and, my personal favourite, the 85% raw Ecuadorian plain chocolate truffle.
The Paul A Young Chocolate Inspired Afternoon Tea launches on 14th April, costs £39.50 per person and is available from 1pm – 6pm in The Park Room at Grosvenor House. For reservations call +44 (0) 20 7399 8452 or visit www.parkroom.co.uk
For more about Paul Young and his four London chocolate shops visit www.paulayoung.co.uk