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‘Dolce Treats’ Category

  1. Yauatcha Tea

    February 18, 2012 by Dini

    Dim Sum Tea-time

    15th February 2012

    Walking through Soho, hunger panged at tea-time, having had an ‘experience‘ earlier in the day, I wanted to resuscitate my birthday’s dining experiences. What better way than going to Yauatcha for some calming afternoon tea and at least there, I had a Michelin star reassurance and a wooing promise of cake…

    Arriving at 15.30, I was surprised that five tables were occupied, with late lunches and those like myself wanting tea. I didn’t have the time or the inclination for full-on afternoon tea as already had a dinner reservation elsewhere, so opted for tea, dim sum and cake. Service was spot on, slick, attentive and friendly – just what I wanted.

    Condiments arrived at the table (these were complimentary: chilli, seafood, soy sauces and a delicious sweet pickled cucumber).

    I recall a few years ago when I dined at Ping Pong these were chargeable, much to my horror, if this has changed now (I stand corrected). My dim sum arrived promptly, before my tea in fact. These were from the A la Carte menu’s steamed section, the Har gau (£5 for 3) were plump with a juicy prawn filling.

     The billowy Char sui buns (£3.80) had a delicious, sticky pork filling.

    The tea menu showcased a plethora of options: Chinese, Taiwanese, Indian and Sri Lankan teas. I opted for cleansing tea (Silver Needle from Fujian, China, at £7.40 per pot).

    I knew this would be gentle in flavour and calming, as I’d sampled similar at Teanamu’s tea-house.

    To finish my tea experience, I opted for a Coconut Charlotte. To be frank, I could have opted for any of the desserts as the descriptions all sounded tempting. Whilst waiting, I took a quick look at the Pattiserie counter (for dining display and takeaway), which was an absolute delight, so many beautiful colours and delicate combinations.

    I was told that these were made off-site in London, at a hub for the Hakkasan group and delivered daily (morning and afternoon for service).

    When I recieved my Chalotte, it still had the card placemat, as from the counter. I would have preffered this to have been removed, so diving into it on the plate was easier and nicer on the eye.

     The Charlotte was like a white-chocolate génoise, with a coconut cream exterior and a mango filling that oozed out, when sliced. It was so light and decadent to eat, if I didn’t have a  dinner reservation, I’d have easily have ordered more.

    All in all, my day was resurrected, with good service, well executed dishes and calm. I think my experience could have only have been improved, by changing the music selection. Yauatcha had the music on very loud and it was very bass-heavy. Hey-ho, one can’t have everything, if the quality of food supercedes the music (as it did) I’m fine with that. I’m definately returning for more…

     
    Yauatcha: 15-17 Broadwick Street, Soho, W1F 0DL
    Tel: 020 7494 8888
    Website: http://www.yauatcha.com/

    Yauatcha on Urbanspoon


  2. Chaya Teahouse Afternoon Tea

    January 1, 2012 by Dini

    Sabi set tea

    High Tea with Teanamu

    Numerous visits in 2011

    I heard about the Teanamu Chaya Tea house via twitter. This was a lucky find, because I found a lovely tea house that offers me serenity and escapism at the weekends and because the host and owner (Pei Wang) is utterly charming. Pei, I’ll term as a ‘Tea Master’ is Singaporean of origin, but has travelled extensively around Asia in the quest to learn more about Tea. Everytime I visit the teahouse, I always come away learning new facts or just simply listening to his tales of wonder. I also take delight in taking a peek at the many tea’s he collects, such as vintage Pu Erh’s .

    The tea house is full of dainty tea sets, teapots and water vessels of all varieties. Pei holds both Tea Appreciation classes and Cooking classes here, to share and impart his worldly knowledge. He trained at the Cordon Bleu cookery school, so he uses his skills and knowledge from his travels to create unique, fusion sweet and savoury tea treats.

    I tend to go around lunchtime and order the Wabi Tea Set (which includes a tea selection, x2 savoury items and x3 items from the sweets selection, for £13). This set, is filling and ticks all the boxes for Lunch or an Afternoon Tea. It does get busy, now that word has spread, so best to book in advance. This also gives Pei notice, as to how many to cater for. Everything is made fresh for the weekend and he purposefully creates vegetarian dishes (so that he can cater to all, however is flexible to cater for allergies/intolerences too).

    ***

    Some of my Savoury Favourites:

    • Lo mai fan with braised shitake mushroom and aduki beans, wrapped in lotus leaves. (Steaming parcels that I love tearing open with Korean chopsticks, unveiling the glutinous rice and juicy legumes.)
    • ‘Cheong Fun’ rolls with Vegetarian Char Siew (Slightly tricky to handle with chopsticks but a lovely dish using Quorn, with a kick from the red chilli garnish).
    • Homemade Oolong noodles with piquant Hunan style sauce, vegetarian dumplings and pickles (Silky noodles coated in the spicy sauce, with tangy pickles)

     

    ***

    Some of my Sweet Favourites:

    • Chocolate fudge with goji berries (rich and truffle like in consistency, with a tangy burst from the berries)
    • Lychee Oolong tea sorbet with jelly (this is very sweet from the tea infusion, but the iciness of the smooth sorbet makes it sublime)
    • The rose petal jam served with clotted cream and scones (is outstanding, with an original twist to use rose petals)
    • My ultimate favourite, are the matcha macarons with yuzu buttercream (perfectly executed macarons that are light with a sumptuously oozing filling)

     

    ***

     

    Alas, I’ve neglected to mention the star of the show, the ‘Tea’ (well apart from Pei, of course). Selections can be made from the menu, using descriptor cards or you can be guided by Pei. Options include Tisanes, Chinese and Taiwanese teas (you definately won’t be able to order a ‘Builder’s Brew’ here). I always end my set, with an additional bespoke Tisane called ‘8 Treasures’. Pei customises the recipe of this depending on the season and how you may be feeling (for instance whether you’re looking to be energised or relaxed). It’s a beautiful mix of floral and fruity ingredients that changes flavour, on every infusion.

    8 Treasures infusing

    8 Treasures infusing

     

    I think I’ve made it obvious, I really love this place. It’s a different take on high tea, not a staid formal tea that may be offered in a 4/5* hotel, but an enchanting and inspiring tea from the Orient. Perhaps, it is because I’m captivated by the whole drama of the tea ceremony, the nuances to be abided by. I somehow feel like I am transported to another place and not in London at all. Pei is a consummate host and guide into the world of tea and I am so pleased to have discovered his teahouse.

     
      
    Teanamu Chaya Teahouse: Coach House, 14a St Luke’s Road, W11 1DP
    Telephone number: 020 7243 0374
    Website: http://www.teanamu.com/

  3. Largest M&M’s World in London

    June 13, 2011 by Dini

    M&M’s World… London’s Chocolate Hotspot

    On the 13th June 2011, at 10.05am I was ready for the fanfare of the ‘Largest  M&M’s Store in the World’… but there were no trumpets or celebrity Z-listers  to cut the ribbon… alas this was just a soft-opening, with just a handful of  tourists and me.

    Even so, I ventured into the 35,000 sq foot store, with high  hope of at least getting some goodies. Having been to the Time Square (NYC) store, I knew what to expect, floors of M&M’s chocolate and every possible bit of  merchandise imaginable. This is a high energy, retail theatre store, think of  an ‘extreme’ Hamleys, if you can…

    There is a high London-centric theme, which is a real  tourist footfall and sales revenue driver. Not only are there landmark and London
    iconography (Route-Master Bus, Abbey Road etc), they’ve also created London  themed chocolate mixes. I do like this and some part of me thinks, its  inspiring timing from Mars (M&M’s parent company), to cash in with the  increased Olympics footfall.

    What I liked:

    • * The posing characters, for those touristy snaps
    • * The periscope which uses CCTV like video to spot  your friend in another spot in the store
    • * The Mix Lab (a M&M’s packet/box  customisation area)

    What I didn’t like:

    • * No flavours apart from milk chocolate and peanut  were available (unlike the NYC store)
    • * The limited amount of sampling (considering it  was the 1st opening hour) was done using a small dispenser, not  necessarily hygienic,    as all and sundry can touch it before you do
    • * Shrilly sales patter is not for me, but then I  guess I’m not their target audience

     

    I was so perturbed by the lack of flavours, I called for a  Manager…a Marketer came over from HQ (this amused me). So I explained I had been to the NYC store and had been expecting as others had been, a range of all  the global flavours displayed, this being the largest store?  Their response was… due to EU regulations  this wasn’t possible, as each pack would need to be ‘import stamped’. They were  considering introducing peanut butter, as soon as a UK batch could be  produced…and not likely to run almond or coconut. This really baffled me, had  Mars not conducted any consumer insight work? Surely a high proportion of  customers want peanut butter flavour (as it’s not the norm, one can buy here already?) – Or is it just me that harangues anyone passing through NYC to pick  me up a bag? Anyhow, I would have expected Mars to have factored this into their  NPD planning for a production run at Slough (their manufacturing site in the UK) to tie in with store opening.

    I will go back, but only once the Peanut Butter M&M’s  are in stock and until then, I’ll pop around the corner to Cyber Candy, where they stock them already (with import stickers)!

    M&M’s World
    1 Swiss Court
    Leicester Square
    London, WC2H 7DG
    Telephone number:
    0207 025 7171
     
    Opening times: Mon to Sat – 10am to 12am, Sun – 12pm to 6pm
     
    2012 update to post from M&M’s UK  (via facebook)….
    M&M’s UK Hey Dini, Red here! Great to see you made a trip to see us! (If you took any snaps, I hope you got my good side). We’ve got the team this side of the pond working on getting more of our flavoursome friends over to the UK in the future. Stick with us and we’ll keep you in the know! 16 January 2012 at 13:33
     
     
     

  4. Chocolate Waterfall by Bompass & Parr

    April 26, 2011 by Dini

    Willy Wonka Cascade in B&P Style

     

    Chocolate was definitely on the cards when I booked my £6.50 ticket (in April 2011) to go to Bompass & Parr’s experience in Whiteleys. I’m a fan of the eccentric and innovative pair, their sell-out experiences certainly wow, dial up the senses and entertain.  They are also very PR worthy, as nothing is ever the norm, but this is good pushing the boundaries, makes life more interesting…

    Sam Bompass was at the entrance greeting all, we were given rain-proofs, involving us in the action, I wasn’t sure if I were being inducted to be an ‘Oompa Loompa’, but they weren’t actually needed.

    The waterfall itself was a chocolately cascade, I’m told was a 5 tonne pool, on a constant churn of 12,000 litres per hour. I don’t know what I expected… a lake rather than a type of vat, but I do realise, this was not easy to engineer and keep in good condition. Walking over a rickety wooden bridge (Indiana Jones style) to cross the stream of the waterfall, I was tempted to plunge in, just like Augustus Gloop, but I resisted thankfully!

    What I was interested in, is when I was going to sample the fountain’s offering? On exiting, we were allowed to bottle the fountain water, and flavour if we wished with cinnamon bark etc… That was the experience over, so a takeaway bottle that was not for direct consumption, it turns out the fountain is a ‘concentrate’ concoction, needing to be diluted or added to. Suffice to say, I’d have rather had something to try there and
    there to complete and extend the experience which was done in under 10 minutes flat. However, the chocolate is amazing as a hot chocolate and over ice cream.

    Note to myself: Don’t go to ‘experiences’ with Disney expectations… the magic isn’t always conjured up…

    Sign up to Bompass & Parr’s newsletter, for notification of their events

     


  5. Ice Creamists ‘Taste’ Session

    April 16, 2011 by Dini

    Thankfully, ‘Baby Gaga’ wasn’t in stock!

     14th April 2011

    In 2010, The Ice-Creamists hit London, first in a much lauded upon pop-up in Selfridges in Oxford Street… here their Absinthe over ice cream stole the show. Then, in the summer of 2011, worldwide ripples unfortunately not of the raspberry kind surged across the world. The cause?:  ‘Baby Gaga’ a breast-milk ice-cream, which caused outrage and intrigue selling out and consequently being banned by the council.

    A few weeks later I noticed a tasting of their new summer flavours… so yes this is a ‘complimentary’ in payment  post. Curiosity drove me into the S&M uniformed lair, where Matt O’Connor (Owner), ruled the roost. As this was a tasting, we were given samples to share of the complete Summer range, thankfully ‘Baby Gaga’ (now deemed ‘safe’ by the Council) was not on the menu!

    The alcoholic recipe twists to the ice-creams had been overseen by Alex Kammerling, a mixologist extraordinaire and all made fresh daily. I have to confess on occasions, whilst tasting there seemed to be more ‘theatre’ over taste, with the atomiser spritzing, blow-torch finishes and of course Absinthe via IV tubes. For me, the simplicity of a good, fresh ice-cream/gelato, served with love, is sufficient.

    Pre-Royal wedding, there were ‘cheeky’ takes on Will & Kate, I’m not sure if they’re holding out for a royal warrant, it might be some time coming… but perhaps it might be to Prince Harry’s taste.

    In the heart of tourist land, they are creating a brand for themselves with all sorts of merchandise… to top up the average spend per head and why not? I recently noticed these cheeky badges on their facebook page: –

    badges

    It is destination ice-cream bar to venture to, if you’d like to entertain with theatrical flourishes or treat your palate to flavours that push boundaries. It’s not for me, but glad to have had the experience.

    The Ice Creamists (Scream)
    23-47 The Market Building, South Piazza Covent Garden, W2CE 8RF
    Opening hours 12pm – 10.30pm, daily
    Website: http://www.theicecreamists.com/