Monday, 18 September 2017

Afternoon Tea in London at Barbecoa Piccadilly


Barbecoa Piccadilly London Afternoon Tea
Afternoon tea at Barbecoa Piccadilly

It's no secret that I love English afternoon tea. I've had it quite a few times over the years. It had been quite a long time since my last one, and after all my trips in the last months, I finally made it to Barbecoa Piccadilly to sample their fare. That's the thing about proper English afternoon tea: It is not something to be had every week. It's a very indulgent meal that is worth every calorie.

Traditional English afternoon tea consists of a platter of finger sandwiches, scones served with strawberry jam and clotted cream, a selection of tea cakes and pastries, and, of course, a fabulous selection of tea.

Afternoon tea originated in England, and it was a ritual for the upper classes back in the day. The tea was light, and it was served between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. To this date, many people around Britain cherish this old tradition with a twist. The difference is that nowadays, people have afternoon tea in hotels and restaurants and at home whereas it used to be served only in palaces and castles.

My ideal time is mid-late afternoon, which is the perfect time for an afternoon tea. After a busy Saturday in London, we stopped at Barbacoa in Piccadilly. This venue is conveniently located in the heart of London and is a beautiful space in which to relax and enjoy this very British tradition.

An afternoon tea ceremony should embrace style, and Barbecoa's afternoon tea has a nice feel to it. The very classy decor, gorgeous teapots, cups, saucers, cake forks and knives, sandwiches platter, elegant cakes, and tiered pastry stands make it an exquisite treat. Barbecoa offers both classic afternoon tea and Barbecoa afternoon tea. What is the difference? For Barbecoa afternoon tea, instead of the traditional sandwich platter, the staff members provide a sample of some of their savoury dishes. We ordered one of each for research purposes, obviously! They were nicely presented and very tasty.
Afternoon tea in London  at Barbecoa Piccadilly
Barbecoa Afternoon tea platter



The Barbecoa delightful savoury platter was filled with a Wagyu beef slider (miniature burger), a light and snappily crusted crab tart, Goat's Curd & Honeyed Almonds, and delicious croquette (love them!) served with kimchi mayo.
Afternoon Tea sandwich platter
The traditional sandwich platter, we had egg and cress with smoked salmon, cream cheese, fresh cucumber, the very delicious coronation chicken, pastrami, and American mustard, which is always a winner in my books. The sandwiches were nice but not exceptional. The scones were served with the sandwiches, cakes, and pastries, so by the time we ate them, they were cold, which was a shame. Nevertheless, they were light and well-risen and had a golden-brown top. The jam had a soft consistency, bright colour, real fruit flavour and a light, spreadable texture. The clotted cream was thick, rich and fresh.
Afternoon tea,  Barbecoa Piccadilly, London
Afternoon tea at Barbecoa Piccadilly



Afternoon tea at Barbecoa Piccadilly
Afternoon tea at Barbecoa Piccadilly
The cakes and pastries were delectable! We had carrot cakes with walnut, canneles bordelais, Rhubbard custard tart, chocolate brownies, lemon meringue pie with a twist (brown butter and yuzu), vanilla creme fraiche, pana cotta with orange jelly, chocolate and salted caramel macaroon, and choux pastry filled pastry cream and apple. Quite a large spread!

The service was polite. Our waiter was Grace, who was very kind and helpful. Our teapots were replenished when we asked.
The location is excellent, and the menu is reasonably priced. We had the sparkling afternoon tea (J. Laurens Cremant du Limoux ‘Les Graimenous')  at £38 per person (September 2017). I didn't need to eat dinner that evening!

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Barbecoa Piccadilly
194 Piccadilly,
St. James’s,
London W1J 9EX


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Afternoon tea at Barbecoa Piccadilly


Disclosure: I was invited to review Barbecoa Piccadilly and was a guest at the restaurant. The views I present here are my own.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Visiting Chamonix in the Summer

Visiting Chamonix in the Summer

Visiting Chamonix in the Summer

If you are an ardent skier, you have to head over to Chamonix because it is a haven for those who love skiing but it's as delightful and charming during the Summer too. The glorious white heights of the Mont Blanc massif form a magnificent backdrop so you can experience the Chamonix Valley at its best. Thanks to Brits William Windham and Richard Pococke, who discovered this town as a tourist destination, back in 1741, it is a Winter and Summer playground of epic proportions.

I visited last month, and I was surprised at how many things to do in the area. The climate in the village is warm, but it gets cold as you go up! Here are some of the things I got up to:

Aiguille du Midi

Aiguille du Midi cable car

Located at the height of 3,777 metres, the Aiguille du Midi and its man-made terraces offer a 360° view of all the French, Swiss and Italian Alps! You can use the lift to go up to the summit terrace to get a stunning view of Mont Blanc. “A Step into the Void” is a must!  Standing in the glass box measuring  2.50-metres, it hangs over a 1000 m precipice - thrilling!  There's also a gondola lift ride over the Glacier du GĂ©ant to the Pointe Helbronner in Italy (open from June to September) - must go back to do that!
Super easy to get there, take the cable car up in the middle of Chamonix! Thre's a cafe and the Refuge Le Plan de L'Aiguille.
A Step into the Void , Aiguille du Midi Savoie Mont blanc
"A Step into the Void”


A Step into the Void , Aiguille du Midi Savoie Mont blanc

Refuge Le Plan de L'Aiguille


Refuge Le Plan de L'Aiguille
Refuge Le Plan de L'Aiguille

Refuge Le Plan de L'Aiguille is a mountain cabin refuge in the Mont Blanc massif which serves Alpine food and drinks. It's a hidden and gorgeous place to have lunch after a day spent hiking, skiing and sightseeing. Prepare to be amazed by stunning views of the valley and by the friendly donkeys wandering around. 

This refuge, which is a safe place to take protection from the extreme weather of the mountains, is open and staffed from May through to late October. Outside of this period it is open and equipped with bedding but is unstaffed. A great place to visit when in Aiguille du Midi, just 20 minutes walk from the cable car station.


Lunch at Le Plan de L'Aiguille 


Refuge Le Plan de L'Aiguille
 Le Landaise
Duck confit and Le Farcement Savoyard (potatoes, bacon, cream, prunes and raisins) served with green salad 


Refuge Le Plan de L'Aiguille
La Tartiflette
potatoes, onions, lardon creme, Reblochon - served with green salad.

Refuge Le Plan de L'Aiguille
le Croute aux Chanterelles
Chanterelle mushrooms, bread, shallots, cream
Refuge Le Plan de L'Aiguille
dessert : gorgeous fruit tarts

All washed down with local award winning beer Brasserie du Mont Blanc and vin chaud (mulled wine) - the digestive was a local herbal liqueur of GĂ©nĂ©py traditionally taken neat - an acquired taste.  The food was absolutely delicious, home-made style and very substantial!
For info and menu: 

Walking around Chamonix 

 
Walking around Chamonix

Chamonix Savoie Mont Blanc


Refuge du Montenvers 

Refuge du Montenvers- Terminal Neige - Savoie Mont Blanc
Refuge du Montenvers- Terminal Neige
After all the excitement in the mountains, we headed back down to Chamonix and took a small train from Gare du Montenvers (very central) to Terminal Neige, about 20 minutes ride through some scenic route up the mountain. The restaurant and hotel, Refuge du Montenvers has an outdoor terrace and beautiful indoor seating serving traditional Alpine dishes in a rustic setting. It's a very stylish place for lunches, dinners or overnight stays for skiers and non-skiers alike. I just adored this place.  Both the food and accommodation were superb!  The only negative was the lack of a hair dryer in the room, but the Wi-Fi worked perfectly!  
cost for the rooms:
The price for a room is from €210 up to €250 half board for two.
Suite costs €350 to €450 half board
Refuge du Montenvers- Terminal Neige - Savoie Mont Blanc
Refuge du Montenvers

Refuge du Montenvers- Terminal Neige - Savoie Mont Blanc

Refuge du Montenvers- Terminal Neige - Savoie Mont Blanc
Refuge du Montenvers

Refuge du Montenvers- Terminal Neige - Savoie Mont Blanc
Refuge du Montenvers

Refuge du Montenvers- Terminal Neige - Savoie Mont Blanc
The bar very well stocked!  Refuge du Montenvers- Terminal Neige

Refuge du Montenvers- Terminal Neige - Savoie Mont Blanc

Refuge du Montenvers- Terminal Neige - Savoie Mont Blanc
Refuge du Montenvers- Terminal Neige - Savoie Mont Blanc
Breakfast  at Refuge du Montenvers- Terminal Neige
 
 


Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice)

It is the biggest glacier in France - 7km long and 200m deep! Take the same train that goes to Montenvers from Chamonix town centre (Gare du Montenvers) to get to the glacier and the hotel. We didn't have time but check out the “Ice Cave” that takes you into the heart of the glacier – it describes the living conditions of the mountain people in the early 19th century.  Must plan another visit!

Ready to plan a trip to Savoie Mont Blanc? You will have a fabulous time for sure!

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A short video of my adventure:

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 Disclosure: I was a guest of Savoie-Mont-Blanc Tourism Board  for review purposes. All views are my own.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

French Alps: Savoie Mont Blanc, Talloires, Annecy and Chambéry



Talloires by Lake Annecy
Talloires by Lake Annecy

If you are in the mood for a break and enjoy some rest from a hectic schedule, I suggest a visit to Savoie Mont Blanc in the French Alps. With its spectacular natural landscapes, legendary mountains, and fantastic attractions, I was constantly amazed on this trip.  There is plenty to discover amongst the lakes and mountains; it's the best of both worlds. Spring has the ideal weather and beautiful time of the year to visit Savoie Mont Blanc. 

The region of Savoie Mont Blanc

French Alps,  Lake Annecy
Lake Annecy

The natural environment of this place is stunning!  There is the  Vanoise National Park, and the two Regional Nature Parks of the Bauges, Massif and Chartreuse are among Savoie Mont Blanc's 14 Nature Reserves spread throughout the territory.  The sheer grandeur of the land leads to the people of Savoire to look after their natural heritage.

Most of its resorts and hotels are equipped with wellness areas, making it a truly ideal destination for rejuvenation.  A list of activities in the region includes cycling, paragliding, climbing, diving, sailing, endless water sports (thanks to astonishing lakes in the area), golf,  and of course skiing!

This region also has an exceptionally high number of Michelin starred chefs. A paradise for cheese lovers with 5 AOC’s for its cheeses (Reblochon, Beaufort,  Abondance, Tome des Baugesand and Chevrotin), 2 PGI’s for Tomme de Savoie and  Emmental.

Talloires and Annecy

French Alps, Annecy
Annecy

French Alps, Savoire Mont Blanc, Annecy
Annecy

French Alps, Savoire Mont Blanc, Annecy

French Alps, Savoire Mont Blanc, Annecy
Annecy

ice cream in Savoire Mont Blanc, Annecy
best ice cream in France at the Glacier des Alpes in Annecy

Annecy took my breath away - think of smaller scale Venice!
It is touted to be one of the oldest inhabited sites in the Northern region. Recent digs have dated the village, which has been identified off the bank at Annecy-le-Vieux at 3,100 years before Christ! Thomas-Dominique Ruphy drew up the town plan in 1793, which was revolutionary in its day. A wide rectilinear road on the main traffic routes was designed to divert circulation from the historic city centre. There are plenty of activities to be entertained with in Annecy like cycling, paddling on the Lake Annecy, strolling across canals, shopping in the local markets, sampling delicious raclette, or spending the day just walking around this beautiful town.

We stopped at Talloires, a lovely village situated on the shores of Lake Annecy.   A visit to Pere Bise Hotel and Restaurant is a must! There you can marvel at the opulence and luxury, and then go for a bite to eat at the restaurant overseen by Chef Jean Sulpice, who came to greet us just after a fantastic lunch her prepared for us - look at the views!

Savoire Mont Blanc, Talloires, Auberge du Pere Bise
Talloires by Lake Annecy, Auberge du Pere Bise
Pere Bise by Chef Jean Sulpice
Auberge du Pere Bise

Pere Bise by Chef Jean Sulpice
Auberge du Pere Bise
Savoire Mont Blanc, Talloires, Auberge du Pere Bise
Chef Jean Sulpice, two Michelin stars holder, the the youngest chef in history to receive Michelin star at the age of 26


Lunch at Pere Bise by Chef Jean Sulpice

Auberge du Pere Bise by Chef Jean Sulpice
Lunch at Pere Bise by Chef Jean Sulpice - beautiful sourdough

Auberge du Pere Bise by Chef Jean Sulpice
Little nibbles before the amazing lunch: Crayfish with Agastach herb  (off picture)
Frog with garlic and parsley (off picture)
Crisp potatoes with trout eggs
Cheek beef and beet root
Herbs tartar

Auberge du Pere Bise by Chef Jean Sulpice
Egg with crayfish and Saffron- what way to start light mix of eggs, whipped egg whites and crayfish with a hint of Saffron in the background giving an amazing colour  to the dish
Auberge du Pere Bise by Chef Jean Sulpice
Pike, sorrel and vanilla, a light, fresh and  flavoursome dish
Auberge du Pere Bise by Chef Jean Sulpice
Quail's eggs, cucumber aspic, smoked lake fish and oxalis (local wood sorrel), such a beautiful arty plate-up  and the taste  and lightness were stunning.

Auberge du Pere Bise by Chef Jean Sulpice
And the waitress brought the beef smoked with juniper berry in the pot

Auberge du Pere Bise by Chef Jean Sulpice
beef smoked with juniper berry on the plate, beautifully presented and very juice meat with herbs and edible flowers

Auberge du Pere Bise by Chef Jean Sulpice
Beaufort (cheese) mousse and  alpine spirit, the cheese dish was spectacular, again light and the cheese reminded me of gruyĂšre. Something that I would love to reproduce at home!

Auberge du Pere Bise by Chef Jean Sulpice
rich, textural and delicious chocolate and blackcurrant served with parsley sorbet which was pretty fantastic!

Auberge du Pere Bise by Chef Jean Sulpice
chocolate and blackcurrant parsley sorbet
Auberge du Pere Bise by Chef Jean Sulpice 

The lake scenery is magnificent with its views of the mountains, the Chateau de Duingt and the villages dotted around the lake.  Next, we crossed the lake, on a boat, to walk around the beautiful town of Annecy.
Auberge du Pere Bise by Chef Jean Sulpice

The hills above the village and lake are topped by at the height of craggy rocks called the Dents de Lanfon. Activities in the lake include stand up paddling, water skiing, diving, canyoning, paragliding and swimming.

Chambéry

savoie mont blanc Chambery
Chambéry
The historic capital of Savoie, ChambĂ©ry has plenty of art and history to offer with its mysterious lanes and many covered passages, mansions, Trompe-l'oeil facades, charming internal courtyards, Saint-François-de-Sales cathedral, a castle – the former residence of the Dukes of the Savoie – pedestrian streets and the famous Elephants Fountain.
Savoie Mont Blanc Chambery
  ChambĂ©ry

Visit the Savoie museum to check out exhibiting archaeological and ethnographical collections and the Saint-Léger square to stroll or sip coffee at a café. For lovers of water sports, Chambéry benefits from the proximity of two natural lakes: the Bourget Lake, the largest natural lake in France, and the Aiguebelette Lake, which has dazzling emerald coloured water. There are a few sailing and fishing ports around as well.
Savoie Mont Blanc Chambery
Amazing architecture in Chambéry

Savoie Mont Blanc Chambery
Trompe-l'oeil facades in Chambéry

Savoie Mont Blanc Chambery
Trompe-l'oeil facades in Chambéry


Savoie Mont Blanc Chambery
Walking around  ChambĂ©ry

Savoie Mont Blanc Chambery
Walking around  ChambĂ©ry


Savoie Mont Blanc Chambery
Walking around  ChambĂ©ry
Savoie Mont Blanc Chambery
Walking around  ChambĂ©ry

Food market in Savoie Mont Blanc Chambery
Indoor food market in  ChambĂ©ry



Savoie Mont Blanc  Le Bourget du Lac
Sun and water sports in Le Bourget du Lac

 


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French Alps: Savoire Mont Blanc



Disclosure: I was a guest of Savoie-Mont-Blanc Tourism Board  for review purposes. All views are my own.

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