Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Rick's Roadshow: London, High Tea at Fortnum & Mason

As most of you may be aware, I am in London for business, so the majority of my time on this trip is spent in meetings. However I always manage to find something that's blog-worthy to include in Rick's Roadshow series. A prime example is my trip to the famed Fortnum & Mason's retail store on Picadilly Street in the St. James area of London. It's a short walk from the Hyde Park Underground "Tube" station. Fortnum's has always been an exciting place for me. They are known for their fine selection of teas, foods, and high quality, luxury gifts. There is a sense of arrival from the moment you enter Fortnum and Mason. The decor is elegant, yet understated and tasteful. In the photo above, these "English footmen" statues flank the interior doors and illuminate the foyer for guests.

above: The exterior of the Fortnum & Mason building on Picadilly Street in London. Check out the up close detail of the clock.

Fortnum's Legendary Afternoon High Tea
The primary reason for my visit to Fortnum & Mason was to take Afternoon High Tea, the quintessential English tradition. I particularly like going to Fortnum's for tea because they offer proper high tea, in an elegant setting that is comfortable and relaxing. There is usually piano music playing softly in the background, or even harp music or violins. It's as near to a slice of heaven on earth as one can find in London.

above: Guests may choose to take tea in a more informal setting, such as on a comfy sofa, settee or arm chair, or at a more formal table with complete linen service. I probably don't need to tell you which one I prefer...

above: High Tea at Fortnums starts with champagne, then a choice of things like finger sandwiches, Eggs Benedict, smoked salmon and Welsh Rarebit. I happen to quite like Welsh Rarebit (it's really just toast with melted cheese and mustard). Then, fresh made, warm scones with clotted cream and jam are served. I could eat scones all day if you let me.

above: The service ends with a fabulous selection of petits fours (miniature cakes and pastries). By the point I have usually had far too many scones and limit myself to 2 or 3 petits fours at most. I resisted the temptation to have a photo taken of me, but I did manage to sneak in all these other photos. After tea, I went shopping for all sorts of unnecessary but truly wonderful things. It was a perfect way to spend an afternoon in London. Rick's Roadshow continues...
-Rick Rockhill


OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

YUM, YUM, YUM, Rick! I love both the Couches and the more formal table, too!
Eating that much at High Tea, dinner is needed, is it? LOL.....Beautiful pictures of a real speacial treat, Rick.
I hope we get to meet one of these days when you are in Hollywood, down the road from me at The Hollywood Roosevelt....! It's not as far as going to London...(lol)!

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

funny i always heard "high" tea was for the commoners because they "took" their tea at the kitchen table while the upper class "took" theirs on the sofas and such. and they got the left overs in the kitchen. guess i am wrong rick? anyway i love this on the cruise ships at 3:30!

i am still loving your trip!

smiles, bee

Rhodester said...

Rick, I'm afraid I cannot allow you to eat scones all day. The scone police shall have to be called, and you'll be tossed into the fancy pastry jail where you'll sit and mull over your crimes.

Good thing there's a treadmill in there.

Rhodester said...

Hey, oldold lady of the hills, I used to work at Hollywood & Highland, and lived one block behind it, on Orchid. We'd go into The Roosevelt all of the time for this or that, but mostly that wonderful lounge. What a beautiful, historic old hotel THAT is!

Seamus said...

High Tea, what a wonderfully proper tradition. We have only experienced it at the Empress in Victoria, CA. It was a splendid experience. Your Fortnums experience sounds exquisite.

kenju said...

Oh, Lord....welsh rarebit and eggs benedict are two of my favorites! We had high tea at the Palm Court in the Plaza in NYC many years ago, but Fortnum's sounds much better!!

whimsical brainpan said...

That sounds perfectly delightful!

Olivia said...

I will miss Fortnums and my buying things in my favourite shade of blue-green.

The famous clock above the main entrance only dates from 1962! Did you hear it chime the hour?

As for the new decor in the tearoom...the wallpaper is the same but overall it does look less formal. I like the new Wedgwood service, even on the cake tiers which used to be all silver.

Did you eat sugar all day then?

Palm Springs Savant said...

Whimsical- it is, it is, I assure you!

Kenju- I miss having tea at the Plaza in NY! The Waldorf is a good substitute though!

Olivia- happy and safe travels to you.

Rhodester- Wait til you see me eating scones while driving..

Desert Songbird said...

Although hubby and I are decidedly NOT fancy people, high tea is something I would love to try. Something to accomplish on my "bucket list."


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