Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tea in London Day 4 The Borough Market and Buckingham Palace

My last full day in London, was a tasteful one indeed.  I hopped on the tube Saturday morning to the Borough Market which is said to be London's most renowned food market full of British and International delights.  It wasn't just any Saturday, it was New Year's Eve, so the market was full of people shopping for an evening of partying!  Again, I must warn you that you should not be hungry while viewing this blog!

My first stop was for a cup of tea to warm up. I love that in London, they ask you if you want your tea white or black.  I was first confused at this question thinking they were asking if I would like white tea or black tea.  However, I figured out that they mean, do you want your black tea served with or without milk-hence making the color white or black!  Then it was off to browse, sample, and choose lunch and dinner for the day!

Since I was at the market for the Holiday season, there were many holiday treats such as turkeys, goose, and rabbit!

The cheese selections were in no short supply.  This was just one of many vendors sampling and selling their cheese.  Just to let you know, I love cheese!  How about you?

This is just a sampling of the many pastries that were for sale in the market.  How nice it would have been to have bought some of these for New Year's Day.  However, I would be flying all day to Sri Lanka so I had to pass these by....

Olives anyone?

How about some pig in many forms?  The sausages from this booth were spectacular! 

Here is what I chose to take home for my dinner at the hotel while I was packing up for my Sri Lanka trip-Wild Boar Pie.

Now, back to the important choice for lunch.  For those of you that don't know, along with being a tea lover, I am also a confirmed chocoholic.  So, I could not resist this when I came upon it. 

Borough Market

I don't think it was my healthiest choice in food I have every made, but it was New Year's Eve after all.  I couldn't resist getting something from this "all about cacao" place sourcing from a single origin and single estate cacao grower in Saint Lucia!  Just look at the menu choices from The Robot Estate.

I chose the Marche de Quarier which is a chocolate wrap filled with duck confit, Rabot Estate dark chocolate, dried cherries, coriander, roasted cacao nibs, and creme fraiche!   The best part is they make it right in front of you! 

My chocolate-loving-self couldn't resist ordering the chocolate pot for dessert! 

I do many tea and chocolate pairings, but this time,I paired up my chocolate pot with a glass of Prosecco to ring in the new year early.  I love the warning sign about drinking Prosecco, how about you? 

One of the other delights at the Borough Market is the sound of the church bells ringing throughout the day.  These bells were ringing in the new year, but we can now have them ring in spring!  

On my way back to my hotel, I stopped by Buckingham Palace.  I could tell the Queen was in by the flag raised at the top of the palace, but she didn't come out for a wave!  The palace and the large monument in front of it are quite spectacular.  

I spent New Year's Eve, packing up for my exciting tea adventure to Sri Lanka-home of Ceylon Teas!  Follow along in my blog as I virtually take you to the British Colonial Island of tea! 
Happy Sipping and Saying Goodbye to London for Now, Lisa

For a scheduling note: I will be in New York City this week giving a tea tour for the International Association of Culinary Professional's National Conference. I hope to share some of the highlights with you in my blog in the near future.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tea in London Day 3 Afternoon Tea at the Museum and the Lanesborough Hotel

Disclaimer: You should probably have a good cup of tea and a fabulous tea snack to read any further!

As promised, I am taking you on a culinary tour of tea and tea snacks first from the cafe inside the Victoria and Albert Museum.  I have to say I have never seen so many delicious items housed in a museum.  I had to walk around several times before deciding on what I would have. 

Would you like muffin or a croissant?

Or, perhaps scones are what you would prefer? If so, now you have to choose which kind!

You better not choose yet, because just across the walkway is another table full of more scones, quiches, and croissants!  Oh, which to choose....

Possibly an extremely LARGE meringue would suit your fancy?  As a side note, I have never seen so many large meringues as I did in London.

Hopefully, by now you have been able to make your food selection, but now comes time to choose which tea to pair with your fabulous choice!  The Victoria and Albert Museum gets a thumbs up for their nice selection. 

It is easy to handle your tea since everything is on a self serve tray to take to your table!

The last choice is which table should you sit at as no table has a bad view as you can see!  Even if your not hungry, it is well worth your the trip to the cafe to rest your feet and have a cup of tea.  When is the last time you sat and had tea with such beautiful architecture surrounding you?

The Gamble Room in the V&A Cafe

I had to go light on my selection because I had an appointment at 4:00 PM for afternoon tea.  It is one of the best places for afternoon tea in London-The Lanesborough Hotel.  My full review of the hotel's tea may be seen in TeaTime Magazine's May/June issue!  They were gearing up for the London 2012 Summer Olympics and will have a special tea just in its honor!

Now, if you didn't get a cup of tea and a tea snack before  reading this, I know you want one now!


In my next blog, I will take you on another culinary journey you won't want to miss at one of London's best food markets.

Happy Sipping and Snacking, Lisa

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tea in London Day 3 Tea Tour with Queen Victoria

After a full English Breakfast at my hotel, a walk was in order!  How lovely to walk through Kensington Gardens.  The gardens connect with Hyde Park and it makes for a grand walk in a scenic area.  Below is a photo of Kensington Palace getting a face-lift just in time for the 2012 London Summer Olympics, but not in time for my visit!

Here is a small pond with fountains that is just behind the palace.

Just a short walk in the park from Kensington Palace, your eye is drawn to a very ornate large statue. Kensington Palace is where Queen Victoria was born and lived until she was crowned at the young age of 18.  How befitting to place the memorial of her beloved husband so close to her childhood home. 
This grand statue was commissioned by Queen Victoria in memory of her late husband Albert.  It was unveiled in 1872 by the Queen herself.  History tells us that their love was deep and strong and you get that sense as you view the elaborate statue!
Just beyond the Prince Albert Memorial and stepping out of the park, you approach Royal Albert Hall . It is another ornate structure that takes some time to digest all the of intricacies of its design.  It was built to fulfill Prince Albert's vision-a structure that would be used to promote the arts and sciences.  The hall is plays host to concerts, exhibits, and scientific discussions. 

It is surrounded by many museums, one of which is the Victoria and Albert Museum, which is where I was headed!

Location map for the V&A, South Kensington, London. Multimap.com, Digital Map Data ©Bartholomew 2003, ©eMapSite.com Ltd. All rights reserved
Most tea lovers know that Queen Victoria was an avid tea drinker She gave rise to the Victoria tea parties!  How befitting that the museum with her name on it would house a large collection of historical tea objects along with many other historical items dating back for centuries. 

The museum itself is a masterful work of architecture. 

There are many collections throughout the museum.  Here are just a couple pictures.  If you are a tea lover visiting London, you will want to make sure to take plenty of time to tour this museum!
Not only does the Victoria and Albert Museum have tea accoutrements, they REALLY do serve tea and tea treats too.  It is well worth the time to visit the cafe even just for a quick snack and a cup of tea.
In my next blog, I will take you on a culinary journey that will be a feast for your eyes.  Come with me to tour the cafe and also a spectacular place to have afternoon tea while in London!
Happy Sipping, Lisa

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tea in London Day 2 Afternoon at Twinings and Highlight of my Trip

After a wonderful morning filled with tea and walking along the Thames, I headed out for my next tea stop-Twinings.  It was a quick ride on the Tube and a short walk up from the tube station to Strand.  Here is what you see as soon as you enter Strand, which is the road where the Twining's first tea shop was and is still located.

Twinings opened their first tea location here in 1706.  

I just love the pendant above the door, don't you?

Inside this small tea shop they have packed quite a bit into it.  They have a large selection of teas-many that I had not seen in the USA. 

They have a Loose Tea Bar where you can smell and sample teas.  They also have a sampling counter where you can ask to try a taste of tea. 

Strand Shop Christmas
(photo courtesy of Twinings.com)

In the back, is a tea lovers treasury.  There is a very small museum that features some old teapots, tea caddies, tea historical documents and books, and photos.  You won't want to miss it. A very special thank you goes out to the management staff and especially Zed Callaghan for allowing me into the shop when they were closed during the holidays! 

After my tea business for the day had concluded, I decided to visit a few historical spots.  I walked along the bridge into Westminster (with many other tourist) to see Big Ben and the Parliament building.  Big Ben is at one end of the Parliament building.  I was able to stand long enough to hear the bells!

I decided not to take the time to tour the building because I had to get to what is now the highlight of my London trip. I wanted plenty of time to tour Westminster Abbey. In an earlier post, I assumed that the first time I saw the Abbey was when Lady Diana married Prince Charles.  However, a reader named Brian corrected me that they were married at St. Paul's Cathedral. My memories of seeing Westminster are from Princess Diana's memorial and Duchess Kate's wedding on TV. 

The church is more breathtaking that what I had seen on television.  You can chose to pick up a digital recording device that gives some background to each stop along the self guided tour.  I highly recommend it and it is free with the price of admission. 
File:Westminster Abbey Interior .jpg

After my tour, I opted to stay for the evening service and I am so glad I did.  It was one of the more moving spiritual experiences of my life listening to the organ and the choir sing with the fabulous acoustics of this Gothic style building that dates back to 1245.  I even sat where the choir boys were for Prince William and Kate's wedding!

The choir sounded like angels with majestic sounds echoing throughout the room. I just imagined all those that had been there before me, those whose final resting place is there, and all the significant things that have transpired in those halls, and all that Christ has done for me.  I bought a CD of the choir to remember the magical sound forever!

Come along with my virtual tour as my next blog post takes you on a walk through Kensington Gardens to the Victoria and Albert Museum which is full of tea related items.  Do you have a favorite London place so far from my blogs? 

Happy Sipping and Remembering London the Sounds of Westminster, Lisa