Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tea at the Langham: Hats off to London

I like my tea with bubbles

Last June The Langham Huntingtom Hotel and Spa held its Anniversary Tea Celebration. They "turned back the clocks to 1865" OK. I didn't know clocks told years. Maybe that's the third hand. Anyways, back in 1865 The Langham served up the first tea to none other than the Prince of Wales. For this anniversary event, the afternoon tea was priced at 1 shilling, or 15 cents.

So a certain friend posted a story about this tea at the time and it started a flame war! About afternoon tea! Comments included such amazing accusations as that we received "pecuniary remuneration". Pecuniary? Really? And it had the most amazing riposte retitle ever, "This Tea Was So Stupendously Enjoyable That I Jizzed in My Pants, and I Guarantee You Will Too."

I love the grounds at the Langham, previously the Ritz. I imagine men from Masterpiece Theater playing badminton in their white wool sweaters.

Traditional Tea

Your choice of tea

VerbenaMint Chrysanthemum
English Breakfast, Earl Grey Passion, Vanilla Bean, Earl Grey

The vanilla bean tea was stellar. Serves piping hot on its own little teapot table, the pots was constantly replaced and refilled to keep the temperature right.

Caribbean Shrimp with Watercress Pesto on Herb Bread

Cucumber with Citrus Mint Cream on Sourdough, Hearts of Palm and Grapefruit

Prosciutto di Parma with Herb Burrata Cream on Squaw with Cantaloupe Caviar and Micro Greens

Egg with Herb Garlic Mousse on Potato Peppercorn with American Caviar

Smoked Salmon Profiteroles with Caramelized Shallot, Caper Cream, Dill Sprig and Lemon Zest

Menus are so damned detailed I expect them to start adding "15 grains of freshly milled pepper and 20 grains of sea salt" one day.

OK, so... some of the items on the tea trays had clearly been prepped the day before. The items made the same day were fresh and delicious and wonderful. But then the other half were dried out and old. It was a shame. It could have been a perfect tea.

The Caribbean shrimp was nice, but the shrimp had been cooked and shelled too soon. It was a nice take on the traditional cucumber sandwich and we were very pleased with it. The prosciutto and egg sandwiches were fine, but the herbed cream an mousses on them were fantastic. It would have been nicer to just have little finger sandwiches filled with mousse. I did not eat the salmon. I almost never do.

Pain Turn Cookie
Lemon Raspberry Tart
Almond Financier
French Macaroons
Creme Brulee Tart
Passion Fruit Gateau
Milk Chocolate Citrus Torte

The pain turn cookie, French macaroon and especially the almond financier were just perfect. Nicely baked. But the tarts had rock-hard shells, and the chocolate torte had been made so long before the chocolate had gummed up. Lesson of the day: make less menu items and make them all fresh.

The gateau was that exact same gateau you see on every upscale buffet table from your last cruise to your cousin's wedding. The sponge cake was sponge-y and the mousse was nice enough. It was fresh and it was moist.

Lemon Poppy Seed Tea Bread
Scones with Devonshire Cream

Sorry, the scones were not working for me. I didn't touch them after an exploratory bite. The scones were D R Y. I didn't eat them, but my friend seemed happy to have any vehicle for Devonshire Cream, which makes her swoon.

So, really, the champagne and tea and about half of the sandwiches and sweets were nice. Not bad for 15 cents. Just to sit there was worth it, really, the place is so lovely.

It sucks being an out-of-work actor in LA because you end up being a footman for the Ladies Who Lunch

"The Langham Hotel and Spa in Pasadena offers afternoon tea Thursdays through Sundays in their gorgeous lobby Lounge."

My friend also stated that she wanted to swim naked in the Devonshire cream. Now that is worth 15 cents!

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