Celebrating Baby Sussex at Shangri-La Hotel At The Shard

Afternoon tea served with view of Tower Bridge.

The long awaited member of Frogmore Cottage is here and we can hardly contain ourselves! Welcome to the world Baby Sussex! As London is now officially in jubilation I marked the occasion with Royal High Tea at Shangri-La Hotel At The Shard. In honour of the royal birth and motherhood everywhere the hotel has devised a very special celebratory menu for us to enjoy.

This however, is no ordinary occasion and as such this is no ordinary high tea. A view over Tower Bridge and the Thames from the comfort of Shangri-La’s TĪNG Lounge and Restaurant is one of the greatest privileges afforded to us by the hotel. I’m forever in awe of it no matter how many times I see it. So here’s what I had:

To eat

Wiltshire ham and piccalilli wrapped in the neatest of soft bread was the perfect nod to a traditional tea. Scottish smoked salmon, Elderflower poached chicken and cucumber were also part of this heavenly treat.

For my sweet tooth the blueberry cheesecake, chocolate sable with passion fruit cream and strawberry mousse with rhubarb cream were all I could have hoped for and more. May I add that the scones gratified all the senses.

To drink

Tīng Lounge and Restaurant welcomes you with their signature white jasmine tea with apricot. Coupled with Shangri-La’s devotion to refined and sensuous enjoyment of their guests the tea was pourled elegantly in to a magical cloud against the backdrop of London’s skyline. It was simply breathtaking.

There is also an extensive menu of the highest quality Shangri-La loose leaf teas. My favourite was the infused Beautiful Skin Tea of elderflower and hints of rose. China White Monkey tea with honey nuances was wonderful. I also tried the Green Mint of China gunpowder tea blended with peppermint leaves. It was crisp, fresh and utterly pleasing.

Why this menu is so special

To make this occasion extra special the Shangri-La At The Shard team have dug deep in to their past. Sentimentality, family recipes and childhood memories have been scoured to honour the most important women in our lives.

Executive Pastry Chef Benoit Defait has contributed his mother’s blueberry cheesecake recipe. Benoit fondly remembers the family making wild berry jam together. “It took three months for each jar to be ready which I was very impatient about. I would help my grandmother carefully place a label on each jar and then once three months had passed we would eagerly open them together and eat it by the spoonful.” As the family lived close to a farm who gave them cheese they’d make cakes and tarts using all the ingredients. I got a taste of that French countryside, those wild berries and share in the memories of grandson and grandmother cheekily eating spoonfuls of jam together. I felt truly honoured.

Commis Pastry Chef Lucy Wall cherishes memories of baking crumbles and cakes with her mother and grandmother. “My grandmother used to grow rhubarb and strawberries in the garden which we’d use to make crumbles, cakes and pies. I was responsible for rolling the pastry and loved getting stuck in. Although my favourite part was licking the spoon”, says Chef Lucy. So how grateful I was to taste her grandmother’s strawberry mousse which was divine.

Pastry Sous Chef Emma Watts was inspired to become a pastry chef by her grandmother who baked with her from a very young age. Chef Emma says, “My granny had a stack of cake cutters and cake decoration tools which my sister and I loved to play with. We were responsible for weighing the flour and sugar on the old scales. We’d constantly fight over who was right!” Her favourite cake to bake with her grandmother was a Victoria Sponge and that is exactly what Chef Emma contributed to The Royal High Tea. It’s truly worthy of the highest praise.

There was also a surprise bliss of Executive Chef Jeremy’s mother’s bara brith which I found exceptional. Executive Sous Chef David’s mother’s passion fruit cream with chocolate sable was the stuff of dreams.

So you see Baby Sussex, we are really happy that you’re here. We offer you the highest honour we could possibly bestow upon you; Royal High Tea served overlooking the greatest city on earth.

I was a guest of Shangri-La At The Shard Hotel. The Royal High Tea with a royal baby cocktail or mocktail costs £62 per person and available until 30th May 2019.

Can the Chinese God of Love save Valentine’s Day?

Two Valentine's Day cocktails tied together with red silk ribbon
Valentine’s Day cocktails tied with silk ribbon

Yep, it’s almost here. Valentine’s Day. The day that we can unashamedly celebrate how we feel about our significant other or anyone else for that matter. Year after year it raises the inevitable question of how or where is best for celebrating love. Restaurants are over-booked, bars over-crowded and weekends-away will almost always be spent with other couples who also attempted to get away. So who can save Valentine’s Day?

Cue Yue Lao, the immortal Chinese God of Love. Yue Lao translates to old man under the moon. In Chinese mythology he appears at night under the moon and ties divinely fated couples with silken cord. It’s believed that once this is done nothing can prevent their union.

This February we invite Yue Lao to work his magic over London. GŎNG Bar at Shangri-La at The Shard has created two his and hers cocktails bound together with a red ribbon to evoke the spirit of Yue Lao.

His is a peaty mixture with a meaty bite; Talisker, Mastiha, Cocchi Americano and yuzu with lavender bitters. It’s served with a cone of beef biltong. Needless to say the flavour pairings of salted beef with the smokey whisky and yuzu is heavenly indeed.

Hers is shaken Champagne in a flute garnished with rather romantic crushed rose petals. It’s crafted with Peter in Florence London Dry Gin, Noilly Prat Dry, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, lapsang, cranberry, orange blossom and raspberry blanc de blancs foam. Sip it slowly and it transforms into a full bodied, perfectly balanced drink.

Yue Lao cocktails can be ordered together in any combination; His and His, His and Hers or Hers and Hers. Be sure to experience them between 11th – 17th February at GŎNG Bar. Cocktails cost £20 each or together with single red rose for £45. Book in advance so you won’t have to share your romantic moments with anyone else.

A romantic table setting overlooking Tower Bridge
A candle-lit Valentine’s Day dinner over London

Once your romantic fate has been bound you may continue your evening on the 35th floor at TĪNG Restaurant which has created a very special Valentine’s Day experience. Between 14th – 17th February London can enjoy a three course menu priced at £85 per person or £140 per person with wine pairing and a glass of Champagne.

Scrumptious dishes on the menu include Cornish halibut and parsley velouté and braised haunch of roe deer with smoked beetroot and red cabbage. A meat-free option of foraged mushrooms, pickled onion, Jerusalem artichoke and mushroom tea is also on offer. Has Yue Lao saved Valentine’s Day? I certainly think so.

For more information visit: www.the-shard.com/shangri-la

A taste of honey at Dokke, St. Katharine Docks

Well, it was National Honey Week from 22nd to 28th October and the nation was abuzz with some pretty sweet things (I had to do it). You’d be wondering why I’m interested in National Honey Week given that I live in London. After all, bees, birds and nature are all the domain of the countryside right?

Read my full post here.




Gin and Tonic for London Girls – G & Tea Lounge Masterclass


Is there anything more satisfying than drinks and dinner with friends? I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening. Lucky for me that my wish was granted; I was invited to a gin masterclass at G & Tea Lounge followed by dinner at Manhattan Grill, both of which are part of London Marriott Hotel, West India Quay. Of course to top it all off I got to share my evening with the wonderful Rosana McPhee, Cooksister and Seen in the City.

The Masterclass

The class happens once a month at G & Tea Lounge. I recommend booking in advance as the festive season approaches. I had tremendous fun at the masterclass. It was light-hearted, energetic but most of all I found myself utterly relaxed; such a fabulous way to unwind before dinner.

Headed by G & Tea Lounge’s Head Bartender, Pasquale Parascandolo, we began with a brief history of gin and led on to identifying unique characteristics of unusual gins such as Old Tom, Hayman’s and London Dry. For me, as a food writer, it was intriguing to learn the more unusual notes of the botanicals used in the making and infusing of gins; an interest previously reserved for wine. We sampled three gins and explored a range of botanically brewed tonics which complement them. Pasquale was kind enough to share the bar’s favourite combinations and secrets; quite a task for a bar that holds the largest collection of gins in Canary Wharf. He encouraged us to try brave new flavours and infusions. By the end of the class I certainly felt a greater appreciation for gin. Its recent revival, with many London-based micro-distilleries, finally began to make sense.

Dates, Times and Costs

The class takes place on the last Thursday of each month between 6pm and 7pm at G & Tea Lounge, London Marriott West India Quay. The price of £20 per person includes tasting of three gins and a glass of Gin and Tonic of your choice. So, if you have a gin-lover in your life what a perfect gift this experience would make.

Manhattan Grill


The masterclass was followed by a thoroughly enjoyable dinner at London Marriott West India Quay’s Manhattan Grill. What a treat this evening turned out to be. Spectacular views across the quay set the tone for a wonderful evening that was to unfold. I always maintain that London is full of surprises of the pleasant kind. Manhattan Grill turned out to be just that.


The Menu

My favourite part of relaxed dining is the element of sharing. The menu here appears to have been created for doing so. The kitchen awed us with a selection of starters. King prawns with chilli and garlic, scallops with caramelised onion and pressed beef with pickles kick-started the meal. Each dish was more delightful than the next.

The pièces de résistance were a variety of steaks, cooked medium-rare, as recommended by the Head Chef. USDA beef fillet, (a superior grade tender steak of fine texture), Scottish beef, Scottish rib-eye and Aberdeen Angus steak arrived with peppercorn sauce and sides from the á la carte menu. We enjoyed perfectly crisp sweet potato fries and divine macaroni and cheese cooked and served in a miniature dutch oven. Wine pairing, which is an optional extra, glued the dishes for an unforgettable evening of dining.

A selection of bite-sized desserts, including childhood favourite, Battenberg cake, cherry tart and chocolate mousse cake covered all manner of sweet teeth. The evening drew in to the night with great conversation and good company long after the last coffee was sipped; a sure fire sign of a wonderful gathering. This one is not to be missed.



For more information visit: www.manhattangrill.co.uk