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One sunny afternoon last week I strolled down Burlington Arcade to discover the latest pop-up by the luxury catering company, Cuisson. They’ve paired up with the Champagne house Laurent Perrier, fine china brand Wedgwood and the pastry chef Hideko Kawa to bring together their unique, luxury take on this British institution.
The venue, a former jewellery shop within London’s Burlington Arcade, has replaced its jewels and precious metal objects with cake displays, bottles Laurent Perrier and champagne accessories. Each table is set with with fine bone china tea-ware by Wedgwood – a brand with a prestigious heritage dating back 250 years.
Seated in this sublime, airy space just off Bond Street I felt like like I’d fallen down Alice’s rabbit hole. But rather than falling into a crazy fantasy, I’d fallen into one of opulence and decadence. This was going to be an extra special afternoon tea.
I was seated and straight away offered a restorative glass of Laurent Perrier Cuvée Rosé. The great quote from Lily Bollinger sprang to mind, ‘I drink champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it unless I’m thirsty.’
This was shortly followed by the tea options, all from Jing Tea, whose teas are usually only found at five-star establishments. This choice of supplier reflects Cuisson’s pop up concept to allow the general public to experience luxury food at an affordable price.
There were six Jing Teas available, including a white tea, a smoked tea, a fruity one and an Earl Grey, which I opted for.
The afternoon tea arrived shortly after and, while marvelling at the fabulous creations before my eyes, everything was explained to me. I soon realised that there was a lot more to this menu than at first I might have expected.
Hideko Kawa, former head pastry chef at The Fat Duck (the Heston Blumenthal outlet), worked alongside Cuisson to craft the menu. It is therefore of no surprise the level of detail that has been taken into consideration. Having said that Hideko did mention to me that given the time constraints for the opening, she came up with her ideas in a timeframe that could be measured in minutes rather than days! It goes to show that sometimes working under pressure really does pay off.
The savoury plate consisted of four items: salmon mousse cones, melon and mint compressed cucumber sandwich, coronation chicken terrine with curry mayo on toasted sourdough and an egg yolk (cooked at 64ºC) and cress sandwich. With the egg cooked so specifically, the filling looks and feels like cheese in your mouth, really toying with your senses giving a heightened sense of enjoyment.
The sweet assortment was gargantuan, containing the traditional scones and assortment of other treats, all presented with fascinating creativity: cheesecake chocolate soil with basil and a sweet burger as examples. My favourite treat was probably the croissant filled with rosemary infused cream and caramel. This was such a rich mouthful, I could not have eaten more than one (although would happily have tried).
Overall, I was delighted to sample this exquisite afternoon tea and would definitely recommend that you take the opportunity to try it out whilst it’s open (currently until 26 June 2015).
The oasis of calm that is Burlington Arcade is really a rather magical setting for such a sumptuous event and one that you will rate all other afternoon tea offerings against.
Tickets for the Cuisson pop-up afternoon tea are priced at £65 and can be purchased in advance from Time Out.
More information about Cuisson themselves can be found at cuisson.co.uk.