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Sunday, 8 March 2009

Everything stops for tea - or does it?

'Many visitors from overseas still imagine that we are a nation where, in the words of the well-known song, ‘at half past three, everything stops for tea'. Sadly these days Afternoon Tea is usually only an occasional luxury for the British; a birthday treat in a country house hotel, or a welcome break from a hectic days shopping ‘in town'. Luckily the tourist is still able to indulge in a little bit of British tradition for him or her self.'

Taken from the Nottinghamshire based Langar Hall site and their Afternoon tea history web page.

In my humble life it is rare that tea gets accompanied by anything more than a bit of cake or a biscuit but my neighbour and myself did indulge in the traditional British habit last summer in our shared garden. I have to say that is was very pleasant and a darn site cheaper than tea at the Ritz in London (which I've never had the pleasure of either) and probably won't at £36 a shot.

Just for the record I pulled up some info on what exactly one gets at Tea at The Ritz.

'Tea at The Ritz is nothing less than an institution. It has become so popular that there are now 5 sittings every day at 11.30am, 1.30pm, 3.30pm, 5.30pm and 7.30pm. Booking at least 4 weeks in advance is essential. The Afternoon Tea package costs £36 and is served in the elegant Palm Court with music by a pianist or a harpist.

For £36 a head you get the kind of treat that "Afternoon Tea at the Ritz" habitu├ęs such as King Edward VII, Charlie Chaplin, Sir Winston Churchill, General De Gaulle, Judy Garland and Evelyn Waugh all enjoyed during the past 100 years. You will eat off and drink from fine bone china, and take tea from silver pots, milk jugs and strainers. And while you admire the oval oeil-de-boeuf windows, the deeply coved cornice and the gilded trelliswork you can choose from a selection of ham, smoked salmon, egg mayonnaise and mustard, cress, cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches, raisin and apple scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream, afternoon pastries and fresh cream cakes served on a tiered cakestand and wash them down with lapsang souchong, ceylon orange pekoe, earl grey or darjeeling.'

I think my back garden will suffice for now thanks. £36 a head! That's a lot of shopping at my local Co-op supermarket. Then I would be missing out on the views of the oval oeil-de-boeuf windows, the deeply coved cornice and the gilded trelliswork. Never mind, brick walls can be beautiful in the afternoon sun.


French Fancy said...

About four years ago a group of intenet female friends and I met up at the Savoy for afternoon tea and had a tremendous time. Even though there was a set price we all ended up having so much champagne we had to pay twice the price we had reckoned on...and I was still hungry. Those teeny weeny sandwiches don't even touch the sides.

Phil Lowe said...

Great commment FF. Made me smile on a very damp Sunday afternoon here in the UK.Did those sandwiches have the crusts cut off?

Lane said...

I'd love to go for the experience but only if money was no object. Won't be any time soon then:-)
Anyway, my overgrown garden can look just fine, if you squint on a sunny afternoon. And you can dunk without worrying:-)
Thanks for dropping by.

Phil Lowe said...

Good to hear from you Lane. 'Money no object'that would be a fun place to be. I am a big fan of Rick Stein and 'dream' of following his adventures on a barge downstream from Bordeaux to Marseille calling in at all the wonderful restuarants and eating spots on the way without worrying about the expense. Much check lottery tickets.

Phil Lowe said...

PS: I think I meant 'must' check lottery ticket. lol

French Fancy said...

Yes, the crusts were cut off and everything was brought to us on those three-tiered tray things with dinky carrying handles. Some of us endeavoured to flirt a bit with the waiters hoping to get out of paying for all the alcohol we had consumed but our charms left them unmoved. We'd reckoned on it costing us a mega £44 for the afternoon and we then - grudgingly - had to fork out £60 each.

I know I know - and it still wasn't as good as the chip butty in your header would have been.

Phil Lowe said...

As the saying goes, you can't dip cucumber sandwiches in ketchup. Actually I just made that up. Glad you had a good time French Fancy but £60 - ouch! Speaking of Fench Fancies you should like my next proposed blog as it is to do with cakes including FFs.