I’m a huge fan of afternoon tea and don’t have it as often as I should. I recently spent a few months working in Hoxton and regularly passed by the M by Montcalm Hotel so was glad of the opportunity to check it out when a friend invited me for afternoon tea recently. The day in question wasn’t just any typical tea session, but a special event called the Afternoon Tea Academy.
The event saw Plate restaurant at the M by Montcalm collaborating with tea company P.M. David Silva & Sons for an afternoon of tea, food and a little bit of education. Silva & Son’s Dan Silva had teamed up with Executive Chef Matt Hill to pair a different type of tea to every tier of the meal. Dan started off the afternoon by giving us a brief history of Britain’s relationship with tea and why the Sri Lankan plantations and hand-picking technique are so important to the company. P.M. David Silva & Sons is a family-run business over three generations, which started in the mid 1930s, so have a good heritage behind them.
We kicked off the Afternoon Tea with the sandwiches first (of course!), which were a lovely, flaky hybrid of bun and croissant, called the ‘crobun’. Among the fillings were one of my favourites, Chapel & Swann smoked salmon with pickled cucumber, tarragon, preserved lemon & cream cheese. There was a delicious twist on a traditional cucumber sandwich with salted cucumber with tarragon pesto, preserved lemon and cream cheese. Our tier was completed with beetroot hummus with smoked feta, pickled beetroot and lambs lettuce. I’m not usually a fan of beetroot, but the combination was really lovely. The sandwiches were paired with New Vithanakande Tea, which had a sweet caramel and fruity flavour (which turned out to be my favourite of the day).
Next we moved on to scones, with a selection of plain and raisin buttermilk available. They were warm and fresh out of the oven and a perfect size. As much as I love scones, I prefer them on the smaller side to optimise the chances of being able to complete a whole afternoon tea as I usually I end up too full. The scones were served with clotted cream and handmade strawberry preserve, along with a cup of High Grown Ceylon Tea from the Inverness estate. The tea had lovely rosy and citrus flavour, which really complemented the jam.
Finally, we just about had enough room for the top tier of pastries, which were pretty exquisite. Each treat had contrasting sweet and savoury notes, which were interesting, but delicious. I particularly enjoyed the strawberry with Szechuan pepper and basil custard tart. The remaining creations – lemon and elderflower cake; Valrhona Caledonia Jivara milk chocolate, light mango and lime crisp choux; and white chocolate and olive oil macaron, all tasted lovely. These were accompanied by the final tea – Lovers Leap, a crisp tea which we were recommended to drink black without milk.
Overall, it was great afternoon tea. Each tier was brilliant, with the various teas really complementing the different flavours of each food. It was an added treat to receive the story behind the tea blends and the ingredients in the food by Dan and Matt, who stopped to talk to us during each tier.
- Plate @ M by Montcalm, 151-157 City Road, Hoxton, EC1V 1JH. Nearest station: Old Street. For more information, visit the Plate website.
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