Of course, the most important and keenly-anticipated event of them all is UK Chocolate Week, which runs from 10-16 October and is a celebration of our eternal love for the cocoa bean!
I have to confess that my cousin and I were so excited this year, that we may have gotten into the spirit of things a bit early, indulging in an #AllChocolateEverything afternoon tea at Harrods this weekend…
The cocoa extravaganza took place in The Georgian – the department store’s most iconic restaurant, which has been open since 1913.
Recently redesigned by Christopher Guy Harrison, the capacious room is still ever-so-Harrods with a large pinch of the 1920s and ’30s elegance thrown in. Think silver leafed panels, mosaic features (fashioned in the Art Deco-style with over 130,000 individual pieces) and a grand ceiling that still holds pride of place.
Adding a playful touch to the plush environs is an impressive chocolate sculpture by the entrance, which tantalisingly hints at the exquisite experience ahead…
I settled (as I always do) on the Georgian’s signature blend, featuring India’s main tea-growing regions, Darjeeling and Assam, combined with a hint of Chinese tea to release a delicate fragrance.
And then, this arrived.
We worked our way up from the bottom, munching our way through finger sandwiches (featuring the classics alongside more epicurean options such as smoked artichokes).
A savoury tartlet – baked with mozarella and smoked sundried tomatoes – was scrumptiously likeable too!
Next, warm and crumbly chocolate-chip scones.
They formed the perfect canvas to slather on an indulgently-dense chocolate cremeux (laced with a nutty tinge of hazelnuts, this was essentially a gourmet take on Nutella) and a sweet yet tart sherry confiture…
… It was one of those rare occasions when there was no disputing which comes first, cream or jam!
The top tier of treats went to prove that there’s really no such thing as too much chocolate. Made with Harrods’ own brand of chocolate, each of the pastries (from Harrods’ patisserie) was executed with an exquisite finesse…
The chocolate mousse was the peak of our perfect afternoon, its toasted hazelnut-praline glaze enrobing an airily-light texture enlivened with caramelised hazelnut.
The profiterole was also quite outstanding, its sable- and sesame-coated exterior lightly giving way to a smooth explosion of caramelised-white chocolate and sesame and orange cream!
There was a dark chocolate mousse too, featuring brandy sherry and a chocolate sponge. It was a bit too dense for us and we would have preferred to have had it peppered with a fruit-based element… But we took quite a shine to the dark chocolate ganache. Encased within a scrummy shortbread tart, it was layered with a rather lush sea salt caramel which skilfully balanced the bittersweet richness of the pastry!
As an interlude we sipped on a lightly-malted chocolate drink (not too sweet, but delightfully creamy).
That wasn’t all though.
As we drew towards the end of the evening, a cold chocolate “tea” infusion was ceremoniously poured out for us. Made with 66% dark chocolate, it was an earthy but incredibly refreshing blend that shook us out of our sugar-induced stupor!
As with any and every afternoon spent at The Georgian, the chocolate tea experience was a unique and memorable one. Service was on-form and there was a happy chatter carrying across the room, punctuated by the soulful tunes belted out by a live pianist.
I’ve been visiting this restaurant ever since my childhood days (when family lunches here were a special treat to look forward to on the weekends) and don’t doubt that I’ll continue to do so in the years to come!
The Georgian, Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Rd, London SW1X 7XL
The chocolate afternoon tea is available from 7 – 17 Oct 2016
Prices are £39 without champagne and £52.50 with champagne. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details or to make a booking.
We were guests of Harrods.