Scones in Another City: Hotel Danieli review – Venice

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Bar Dandolo – Hotel Danieli

Riva degli Schiavoni Castello 4196, 30122
Tel: +39 041 522 6480
https://www.marriott.com/hotels/hotel-information/restaurant/details/vcelc-hotel-danieli-a-luxury-collection-hotel-venice/6459743/
The Dandolo English Afternoon Tea €42* (VAT included)
Served between 15:00 – 18:00

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Many moons ago, a cinematic mantelpiece was born. Staring Dudley Moore, Byran Brown, Penelope Wilton and a host of other stars featured just long enough to humiliate themselves, the movie was, of course, Blame It On The Bellboy. No? Well, you weren’t missing much. However, as a child I remember having this inflicted on me along with a host of other atrocities my mother recorded off terrestial television onto a VHS cassette (Rhinestone; Staying Alive; Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot among the other monstrosities). What set this movie apart was its setting, and no amount of farce or forced slapstick shenanigans could taint the beauty of the Venice it depicted. In fact, this forgettable waste of celluloid might have been the trigger to my lifelong fascination with the city. What it also did was give me a specific landmark to head for. That was the Hotel Danieli, renamed Gabriella in the movie for reasons I don’t quite understand (maybe the Danieli didn’t want its name degraded by association with the film, though as its distinct interiors feature throughout we’ll put it down to tax and move on).

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So, with the movie and the hotel forever imprinted on my frontal lobe, I set off to loll in its lounges, snuggle on its sofas and snaffle all of its scones. I chose well. Preparing for the kick off of carnival season the lobby is festooned with brightly coloured feathers, ornamental parrots and Venetian masks. I head for Bar Dandolo, where I had previously spent a pleasant two hours drinking green tea, eating Venetian biscuits and reading Jan Morris’s ‘Venice’ – the single greatest book about the city I have ever read – whilst surreptitiously charging various pieces of electrical equipment at a conveniently located socket. Afternoon tea is served between 15:00 – 18:00 daily without reservations being required in advance, and I think it is safe to say that I wasn’t expecting the carnival of colour and flavours that was laid before me.

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The tea itself is Dammann Frères tisane chamomile which is again served with a large plate of complimentary Venetian biscuits and chocolates. On their own these are more than one person can comfortably handle in one sitting, a fact that the waiting staff seem to be  aware of, as they were more than happy to pack these into a carton for me to take home (three days later I was still nibbling away on them as I drank my nightly cup of tea back in my hotel room).

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Now, for the food. It seems to have been designed with two people in mind and is an absolute feast for the eyes and the tastebuds. I was flying solo on this occasion, though I knew that half of the goodies would be making their way home with me to share with my travelling companion later in the evening. However, the joy of each plate being laid out on the table as though I was a 18th century queen dining before her courtiers filled me with childlike excitement.

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Meanwhile, the scones – looking rather like the tops of muffins that have been removed from their stumps – are warm, covered in a mountain of icing suger and served with four varieties of perserves: peach, strawberry, apricot and acacia honey, the latter of which was used to sweeten the many cups of chamomile I sipped when not snapping pictures of the tea from every conceivable angle.

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Then comes the desserts. Positioned around a glass of the thickest, richest whipping cream imaginable, I am presented with a charming collection of macaroons, custard and chocolate profiteroles and delectable mini fruit tarts, all set out so strikingly that I found myself reluctant to eat them for fear of disturbing the beauty of the design. This is a tea of both exquisite style and great substance, and was truly one of the highlights of the entire trip.

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Verdict: Bellissimo! 5/5 teacups

*Prices correct as of the 15.2.19

Feel free to share stories, views and tips in the comments section below. Always fun to hear from fellow teaholics xx

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Scone in Another City: The Gritti Palace review – Venice

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Bar Terrazza Longhi – The Gritti Palace

Campo Santa Maria del Giglio, 30124
Tel: +39 041 794611
http://www.marriott.co.uk/hotels/hotel-information/restaurant/details/vcegl-the-gritti-palace-a-luxury-collection-hotel-venice/6497164/
Afternoon Tea Time €38* (VAT included)
Served between 15:00 – 17:30

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As a treat to celebrate the day that I officially step one year closer to death, it has become necessary to stop walking, put the guidebook away and spend two hours wallowing in Venetian luxury (I know, it’s a tough job but someone has to do it). I have three main to do’s dining wise whilst I am in the city, and afternoon tea at the Gritti Palace is high on the list, not least because I spent three hours sipping tea on their terrace a few days ago and felt like I was a grande dame visiting during the hedy days of the grand tour, or a courtesan poetess holding court in a fashionable salon before heading home to kick off my fifteen inch chopines and cover my face in strips of veal (to aid skin suppleness, apparently, long before the days of Simple moisturizer).

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Tea is served between 15:00 – 17:30 in the Bar Terrazza Longhi. Reservations can be taken, but we were kindly informed that there would be no need as there would be plenty of space during this time. The bar is warm and inviting with rich mahogany furniture, Murano glass appliqués and plush sofas to take the weight off my aching ankles. The waiting staff are attentive and immediately began to lay the table cloth for tea within a couple of minutes of taking my order. The presentation is of the highest quality, with delicate china and silverware elegantly laid out in preparation for the feast to follow.

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Actually, feast isn’t the right word. The savoury to sweet ratio for afternoon tea is always weighted in favour of the latter, but here we have three small finger sandwiches that, though very nice, are just too small to be truly satisfying (an additional layer of bread is added to give the illusion of substance, but I can’t say this makes a great deal of difference). The selection is made up of salmon and cucumber, ham and cucumber and chicken with “biold” eggs (I googled this and can only assume that a) biold is a secret recipe of the hotel so shrouded in mystery no culinary detective as yet to gain knowledge of this most rare of delicacies, or b) they misspelled boiled on the menu).

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We are on much safer ground with the dainties. The fruit scones are served warm with ample amounts of cream and strawberry jam (described as biologic marmalade in the small print of the menu, a indie punk band if ever there was one) whilst the pastries are a delightful collection of mini custard tarts decorated with fruit, upmarket Jammie Dodgers and delicate shortbread biscuits.

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The tea is a refreshing blend of green tea with passion fruit, peach, strawberry and pineapple aromas entitled ‘Tea L’Oriental’ while the latte is pure milk with foamy milk and extra milk on the side with the barest hint of coffee somewhere beneath the frothiness.

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Verdict: a jolly, classy splash of Englishness slightly let down by a lack of savouries. 4/5

*Prices correct as of 14.2.19

Feel free to share stories, views and tips in the comments section below. Always fun to hear from fellow teaholics xx

Scones in another City: Ristorante Quadri review – Venice

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Ristorante Quadri

Piazza San Marco, 121, 30124

Pineapple carpaccio with gin and tonic sorbet €12*

+041 522 2105

http://www.alajmo.it

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Competing with Florians to wear the we-will-make-you-pay-through-the-nose-for-the-experience-of-dining-in-St-Marks-you-selfie-seeking-simpleton crown, this opulent and expensive establishment exists to tempt footsore tourists too tired and overwhelmed by their surroundings to consider better value restuarants off the beaten track.

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It is a lovely building with traditional Ventian interiors (the gaudy winged lion leading to the restaurant upstairs is a particular highlight), friendly staff and a bizarre musical accompaniment. It isn’t that I expect Vivaldi to waft through the dining area in every place I visit – that would be akin to walking through Camden market expecting to hear ‘Baggy Trousers’ being blasted over a tannoy – but remixed Michael Jackson/Go West/Bee Gees mashups simply don’t go with the ornate gilt mirrors and pedestrian Carnival-themed paintings. As it turns out, this is not the only unnatural pairing. Gin and tonic sorbet with pineapple makes for an equally strange alliance.

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I’ve had G&T ice cream in the past and it was delicious, yet a sorbet version left me cold, both figuratively and literally. It may be that I am not au fait enough with the drink for this to be truly to my taste, but this was too bitter for my palate (and too cold for my sensitive teeth, which screamed in open revolt at what I was subjecting them to). The pineapple, as far as thinly sliced pineapple goes, was perfectly acceptable. I wouldn’t list this as a culinary highlight but it is a staple of the Venetian tourist trail and it may be that rather than being a disappointment this dessert will suit people with broader tastes than mine.

Verdict: Worth trying once, but with so many choices on the doorstep waiting to be explored, once is definitely enough.  2/5 teacups

*Prices correct as of 13.2.19

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Winged lion hanging upside down over the staircase to the upper restuarant, just in case someone thought I’d uploaded the picture incorrectly

Feel free to share stories, views and tips in the comments section below. Always fun to hear from fellow teaholics xx

Scones In Another City: A glorious glutton’s guide to Venice

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Hello fans. The globetrekking continues. Fulfilling a promise to return triumphant after a previous trip that included severe flooding, a fall whilst walking across a bridge and sickness that left me curled up like a prawn on the bathroom floor, I have returned to Venice with the express aim of not falling, not getting ill and eating my way across this radiant city. Check back regularly as I will be updating this post with random food porn and will be venturing to the prime spots for the serious teaholics amongst you with special posts throughout the week. Enjoy.

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Green tea overlooking The Grand Canal from the terrace of the Gritti Palace (€10 vat included). Served with complimentary biscotti and a jug of hot water. Worth the price and more given the view and exceptional service. Beautiful.

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Pizza Margherita & Ravioli Al Funghi Porcini – Ristorante Noemi (Calle dei Fabbri, 912, 30124)

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Spaghetti Amatriciana. Thin, fresh spaghetti with ripe tomatoes in a light, flavoursome sauce – La Nuova Perla (Sestiere Castello, 1645, 30122)

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Cheesy, hammy goodness; comfort food of the best kind €8 – Lagare Hotel (Riva Longa, 49, 30141, Murano)

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Torta Della Nonna, pastry filled with lemon flavoured custard topped with pine nuts and almonds. Light, fluffy and fabulous. Take a seat outside to soak up the atmosphere and have your ankles nipped by yapping dogs €6 – Antica Trattoria Muranese ( Riva Longa, 20, 30141, Murano)

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Dammann Frères green tea and a glorious selection of Venetian biscuits and chocolates at Bar Dandolo, Hotel Danieli €12 (Riva degli Schiavoni Castello 4196, 30122)

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Trattoria Dai Tosi (Calle Seco Marina, 738, 30122) Recommended by my good friend Andy who discovered this gem during his travels through the city, this cosy trattoria off the tourist trail is a delightful slice of Venetian tradition serving exceptional food at reasonable prices. The owners were utterly charming and couldn’t have been more friendly during my visit, while the food and the homely atmosphere was everything I could have wanted. Please note that there are two resturants within a 200 yard radius that share the same name. To ensure you go to the right one, remember this piece of advice: green signage. Tagliatelle al Ragu Bolognese €9 Chicken breast in Marsala wine €11

Feel free to share stories, views and tips in the comments section below. Always fun to hear from fellow teaholics xx

Dorsett – Shepherds Bush

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Dorsett Shepherds Bush

58 Shepherds Bush Green
White City
W12 8QE
Tel: 020 3262 1026
https://www.dorsetthotels.com/en/dorsett-shepherds-bush-london/index.html
Dorsett Classic Afternoon Tea £24* (12.5% service charge not included)
Sparkling Afternoon Tea with Prosecco £30.50*

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Hello fans. A shorter update today but wanted to provide all the food porn of my most recent round of London gorging. Served within the echoy lounge of this sleek hotel in Shepherd’s Bush, The Dorsett is the perfect rest stop if your are indulging in a touch of retail therapy at Westfields nearby (personally I would be more interested in the Mr Whippy van parked on the green opposite, but to each his own). The lounge is chic, comfortable and, well, empty, which for a hotel of this type on a Sunday afternoon is strange. However the waiter, myself and a persistent moth I christened Ned added some character to the otherwise chilly atmosphere. We engaged in a conversation (the waiter and I, not Ned, who was endeavoring to bash himself repeatedly against a lampshade at the time) on whether my surname was real or a sobrietquet in homage of a character in Notting Hill. I suspected this was 90% out of politeness and 10% out of boredom at having nothing to do but repolish the coffee machine, but he was friendly and didn’t balk at my repeated requests for hot water to top up my lemon and verbena tea.

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The food was of a good variety with four decently sized sandwiches that avoided the dreaded egg as requested when I made the booking. The fruit scone is served warm with plenty of jam and cream while the selection of “sweet treats” are fun if rather underwhelming. Instead of each dessert being created especially for the tea, there is a mish-mash air about the collection, from the substitution of a red velvet cupcake to a slab of carrot cake to the way the sandwiches and little cakes looked like they had been cut with a chainsaw, there was a sense that it had all been thrown together at the last minute. I also have no idea what was going on with the mango and chocolate mousse, which rather than a soft scoop of fruity chocolate goodness was a rock hard ball of dark chocolate served in a chocolate cup that was equally hard to digest.

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Verdict: Nice, classy, but unexceptional. 3/5 teacups

*Prices correct as of 20.1.19

Feel free to share stories, views and tips in the comments section below. Always fun to hear from fellow teaholics xx

The Greedy Gluttons Guide to Winter Wonderland – Hyde Park

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Happy 2019! As the season of goodwill draws to a close and we shudder at the prospect of a cold, grey, interminable January, let us bask in the dying embers of Christmas. For this I have ventured into London’s very own Pleasure Island, the only difference being that it is often the adults left feeling like donkeys. It is a festive fairyland of candyfloss and chocholate dipped churros; where one 90 second ride on a rollercoaster costs that of three Tesco meal deals and tellers at the hook a duck concession give you a death stare when you dare to ask for change from a ten pound note. But it is an annual event, and somehow in the depths of my Grinch-sized heart I still find myself smiling fondly at children, staring agog at chair-o-planes and trying on novelty earflap hats to see if bobbles suit me yet. I also go for the food, so let me take you on a culinary tour of Winter Wonderland 2018: where the air smells of sugar and the ground is littered with discarded donuts.

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Chocolate fountains. Like the Trevi fountain you are not allowed to paddle in them

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Hot whiskey, or Irish coffee without the coffee as it should be called. Small cup: £5.95

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Shameless product placement

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Cadbury’s hot chocolate hut

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I know what you’re thinking: where are the sprinkles? Simple. Break the flake up. £4.00

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I really need to set this as the wallpaper for my home page

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Churros with sugar and cinnamon. Not bad for a stretched-out donut

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Kitty Kat Coffee. Many, many jars of sprinkles

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Vast array of green tea available at Kitty Kat Coffee. I’ll have all of them. With cream. And syrup. And sprinkles. £2.00

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Cave of wonders

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Mmmmmm… donuts

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Doughy, sugary, gooey goodness

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Mini pancakes with Golden Syrup masquerading as maple syrup. If you think there is no difference I can tell you there is a very, very, VERY big difference

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A lot of waffle

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50 million E numbers can’t be wrong

I hope you have enjoyed this trek through the ultimate foodie funfare. Have a fantastic new year filled with scones and jam and lots and lots of nibbly things. Till next time, teaholics xx

Christmas at Simpson’s in the Strand – Covent Garden

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Simpson’s in the Strand

100 Strand

London

WC2R 0EW

Tel no: 020 7420 2111

simpsonsinthestrand.co.uk

Feliz Navidad! Joyeux Noel! Buon Natale! Merry jingle bells to all, and to all a good fight. Or night. Or indeed fight if you are a fan of Eastenders Christmas specials. ‘Tis the season to be stuffed with turkey, bombarded with sprouts and feel your arteries clog with rivers of brandy butter and pouring cream. I once heard a rumour that Christmas was actually a sacred religious festival, but thanks to M&S, John Lewis and rolling coverage of the DFS Boxing day sale we are now able to forget all that pesky business regarding our Lord and Saviour and get down to the true meaning of Christmas: gout. Yes, folks, ’tis the season of chocolate, indigestible puddings and pigs wrapped in thinner slices of pig. It is therefore necessary to wander off the beaten track to bask in the wonder of this most calorific of occasions. Man cannot live by scones alone. So let me treat you to a photographic feast for the mince pies. I bestow upon you that most precious gift: an entire Christmas dinner without any of the washing up. You can thank me later.

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Cream of lobster soup with Chervil cream cheese poured from a teapot. Beats slopping out of a tin into a saucepan

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Puff pastry steak & kidney pie, whipped potato, peas and gravy. For the anti-Xmas rebels amongst us

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Roast Norfolk bronze turkey carved at the table, roast & mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts with chestnuts, pigs in blankets, chestnut stuffing, cranberry, bread sauce and gravy

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Not so much hitting a food wall as smashing into it at 100 miles an hour

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Chocolate and mandarin trifle with chocolate custard, mandarins and Grand Marnier Chantilly. If I had chosen the pudding I would have exploded à la Mr Creosote

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Green tea and complimentary mince pies. I will force these down if it kills me, which it very probably will

So there we have it, folks. Christmas courtesy of Simpson’s on the Strand. Let me take this opportunity to wish my readers a very Merry Christmas and an extremely Happy New Year. May 2019 be filled with tea, cakes and plenty of cherry and almonds scones. Till next time, teaholics xxx

 

Scones In Another City: The Hassler Review – Rome

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Hassler Bistrot At Saline Eva

Piazza della Trinità dei Monti, 6, 00187

Traditional Afternoon tea €32*

+39 06 699340

www.hotelhasslerroma.com

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The pièce de résistance of all tea travels throughout the city, the Hassler stands as Rome’s most luxurious hotel. A favourite of Audrey Hepburn, I attempt to channel my inner Princess Anna/Holly Golightly by indulging in the best afternoon tea the city has to offer, though a severe cold and hacking cough leaves be sounding more like Eliza Doolittle. However, for the first time during my trip scones are back on the menu, and this time they come with a choice of blackcurrant jam and orange marmalade, a personal favourite. Plus, as I have dined at the hotel in a non-tea capacity on the previous trip I know that the service is excellent, the surrounding are sumptuous and the food is lovely.

20181130_165442There is however a price to be paid for such luxury. Whereas the afternoon tea at €32 is reasonable in comparison with many teas served in London, a single serving of tiramisu is €23, a price that can only be justified if it is sprinkled with gold dust and they gift you the cutlery as you leave. The tea therefore is all the more desirable.

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The sandwiches are just enough for one person, the tea – a pot of refreshing green followed by a peppy lemon and ginger infusion to sooth my burning throat – was warming, and while the scones are quite small and the fruit option was not available as advertised, they are served warm and with ample helpings of fresh cream and preserves. We are also treated to small slices of chocolate and lemon cake, decorated with raspberries and blueberries to bump up my vitamin C intake.

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The menu also talked of madeleines but these were unavailable during my visit. Normally this would be disappointing as it often suggests a lack of preparation or care in delivering the menu as promised, but here the staff were so accommodating that not only did they apologize for the omission but also provided an extra plate of sandwiches, a second plate of scones AND reduced the cost of the tea to that of their standard cream tea option (€18). This was a wonderful gesture but rather unnecessary, as the tea and the surroundings are more than worth the price and make this a warm and memorable experience.

Verdict: a lavish afternoon tea that all those venturing to the capital should enjoy. 5/5 teacups

*Prices correct as of December 2018

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Feel free to share stories, views and tips in the comments section below. Always fun to hear from fellow teaholics xx

Scones In Another City: Babington’s Tea room Review – Rome

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Babington’s Tea Room
Piazza di Spagna, 23, 00187
Aunty Annie’s Afternoon Tea €17*
+39 06 678 6027
 https://www.babingtons.com/it

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Located at the foot of the Spanish steps Babingtons was founded in 1893 as a stop off for homesick English travelers craving a nice cup of tea and “none of this foreign muck”. The result is a charming relic of Victorian splendour. Waitresses attend the tables in outfits last seen on Downton Abbey serving traditional British fare at untraditional British prices. However, the Aunty Annie tea includes a satisfying array of mignon cakes and biscuits, along and a pot of Babington’s unique blend tea. I opted for the Babingtons Blue Lady scented tea, a subtle green tea lightly flavoured with cherry, strawberries and figs. As this tea on its own is €11 per pot it is definitely worth investing a little extra to have a proper tea experience.

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If you would like to add a little vitamin C to your diet, freshly squeezed orange juice is available at Babington’s at an eyewatering €9, though as this was amongst the nicest juices I have ever tasted I will recommend a glass with a couple of straws to go around.

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Verdict: Expensive but a tea stop in Rome not to be missed. 4/5 teacups

*Prices correct as of 28/11/2018

Feel free to share stories, views and tips in the comments section below. Always fun to hear from fellow teaholics xx

Scones In Another City: A glorious glutton’s guide to Rome

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Greetings from Italy. Yes folks, the news that no one but me was looking forward to: Scones in the City has gone international. As I conduct my version of the grand tour (more tea, less syphilis) I will endeavour to inspire envy in my readers with updates on all the tea sipped, scones snaffled and goodies gorged on in a culinary trip to my stomach’s spiritual heartland. And as this truly is nirvana for the most glorious of gluttons, please expect scenes of gratuitous pasta and pizza along the way. Keep checking for regular updates. Arrivederci, teaholics

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Chamomile tea and cinnamon biscuits at Trappizzino, Piazza Trilussa, 46, 00153. The perfect rest stop after teetering across cobbles for three hours

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Cocktail O’clock. Tequila Sunrise &; Strawberry Daiquiri. La Biga Al Colosseo, Via Nicola Salvi, 65, 00184. I can’t attest to the food but at €8 per cocktail it is easy to get very, very merry very, very quickly

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Overlooking the Colosseum at La Biga. Green tea to dilute the alcohol

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Cocktail O’clock. Theatre Cafe, Via Quattro Novembre, 157A, 00187. Strawberry Daiquiri and Aperol Spritz €8 each. A dessert in themselves

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€7 espresso shot at Caffe Greco with complimentary chocolate. (I can’t justify the price but I can sweeten it a little). As a dedicated teaholic I couldn’t distinguish good coffee from liquefied horse manure. However, the presentation is lovely, the staff are immaculate, the decor is charmingly ye-olde worlde, and if I am going to throw back a thimbleful of bitter sludge I can think of nowhere nicer. The perfect stop after visiting The Keats–Shelley Memorial House, the former frequenting the caffe whilst living beside The Spanish Steps

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BiblioBar, Piazza Adriana, 4, 00193. The perfect combination of books and beverages overlooking Castel Sant’Angelo. Outside seating provides romantic views and, most importantly, refreshing green tea and nibbles after a  frantic magnet search at the stalls along the Tiber

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Delights of the BiblioBar. No wonder half the world’s bird population turned up

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Seating at the back of the BiblioBar. Robins and pigeons waiting to swoop on my blackberry jam tart

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My follow diners at Bibliobar. The stuff Hitchcock films are made of

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Trippa Alla Romana at Campo de’ Fiori. I approached this the way campmates approach kangaroo testicles during jungle challenges. The constant reminders of what tripe is coupled with the unpleasant honeycomb texture does not inspire confidence. However, in the spirit of carpe diem, when in Rome and other motivational nonsense I decided to give it a try. The result: bland, chewy nothingness. It isn’t even interesting enough to be bad. Oh well, as Caesar once said; I came, I saw, I masticated for 30 minutes

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La Bottega Del Cioccolato, Via Leonina, 82, 00184. A delightful cross between the candy store at the beginning of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and La Céleste Praline from the novel Chocolat

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The Mouth of Truth going straight into my mouth from La Bottega Del Cioccolato. Gregory Peck not included

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Panetteria Romana, Via della Lungaretta, Trastevere

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Takeaway chocolate rum balls, Panetteria Romana

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Angela’s House chicco di grano (Via di S. Vincenzo, 14, 00187). I recommend the mountains of pineapple and hazel gelato

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‘Happy Tea’ time at “La Fenice” (Via Francesco Crispi 68). A soothing pot of Orange pekoe and delightful collection of biscuits for a impressive €10. The chocolate rum ball is a particular delight

Feel free to share stories, views and tips in the comments section below. Always fun to hear from fellow teaholics xx