Monthly Archives: February 2019

Scones in Another City: Afternoon tea at 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

Scone in Another City: Afternoon tea at 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 agenda, 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, an 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 (and no, I don’t mean alcoholics! Gin is no longer mother’s ruin. That honour goes to Strongbow and Foxy Bingo).

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

Afternoon tea at Dorsett Shepherds Bush review

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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