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Afternoon tea

Afternoon tea, Paris, Patisserie

Afternoon Tea at Profiterole Chérie, Paris

On my recent trip to Paris, I caught up with my friend Coralie for an afternoon of shopping and a bite to eat in the Marais.  Steven headed over to the Palais de Tokyo to check out the latest exhibition, allowing us a few hours of girl time.

We met up at our hotel Bourg Tibourg and headed out into the Marais for a bit of an adventure.  We shopped at Maje, American Vintage, Comptoir des Cotonniers and Repetto and Coralie showed me her favourite jewellery boutique, Marine de Diesbach.  It has the feel of an artist’s studio with handmade pieces that you can’t find anywhere else.

Another stop was at the wonderful Palais des Thés, where we sampled green tea and jasmine tea paired with financiers.  Continuing the tea and cake theme, we headed up to rue Debelleyme in time for the ‘quatre-heures’ (tea time).

Coralie took me to a new profiterole place that had recently opened, but she left the name as a surprise until we arrived (needless to say I was thrilled).  Profiterole Chérie is a bijou little patisserie and tea salon that simply offers traditionally French choux with a twist.

Profiterole Chérie is the first Parisian patisserie by acclaimed pastry chef Philippe Urraca (awarded Best Craftsman of France in 1993).  It’s pretty and oh so Parisian with dreamy pastel pink walls, marble tables and highlights of dove grey.

Profiteroles are freshly-baked at the store and prepared to order at the open counter.

The menu features choux filled with ice cream or pasty cream in a variety of flavours, as well as a special profiterole of the moment.

Knowing that I would be eating dessert later on, I went for the light and fruity Ma Chérie citron meringué (€6).  The crisp, freshly-baked chou was filled with smooth, cool lemon curd cream and topped with meringue sticks and lime zest.  It was accompanied by a pot of zingy, sharp citrus coulis to pour over the top.

Coralie’s Ma Chérie Paris-Brest (€6) was a delicious blend of velvety praline cream, roasted hazelnuts and rich chocolate sauce (if you love Nutella, this is the one to order).

We washed down our profiteroles with cups of Earl Grey tea (€3), although I would be tempted next time to try the chocolat chaud.

Profiterole Chérie is a delightful spot for an afternoon pastry fix and a good gossip.  It’s surprisingly affordable for the area and feels friendly, intimate and unpretentious.  I can definitely see it becoming our new Paris tradition.

For more information, visit:

All photos by Chérie City

Afternoon tea, London, Patisserie, Stores

Pierre Hermé Paris Fetish Infiniment Vanille

Pierre Hermé’s creativity never fails to amaze me, but his innovation goes far beyond presenting unexpected new flavour combinations.  Even classic tastes are elevated to divine new levels.

Last week, I visited the gorgeous new Pierre Hermé store on Covent Garden’s Monmouth Street for an exclusive preview of the new Fetish Infiniment Vanille collection.

Vanilla often undeservedly has the reputation for being safe and unadventurous, but Pierre Hermé sees vanilla as a ‘diva’.  When done right, vanilla can be indulgent, sensuous and very luxurious.  It is the second most expensive spice after saffron, of course.

Fetish Infiniment Vanille celebrates the fragrant spice with an extensive collection of gourmet vanilla treats.  The tasting started with examining the appearance, textures and aromas of three different vanilla pods from Madagascar, Tahiti and Mexico.  Vanilla from these three origins make up Pierre Hermé’s ideal vanilla flavour (his signature ‘house’ fragrance).

The most striking use of this specially composed vanilla is in the macarons.  The delicate yet robust flavour is intoxicating and the macaron is punctuated with tiny, crunchy vanilla seeds.  This is pure, velvety luxury and I’ve never tasted any vanilla macaron as exquisite as this.

I’m always a fan of Pierre Hermé’s delectable pound cake and the new Cake Infiniment Vanille is very satisfying with subtle flavours of almond and vanilla.  I liked the sweet vanilla ganache studded with crunchy pieces of almond and the decorative vanilla pod on the top.

We also tried a rich and mellow Bonbon Chocolat Infiniment Vanille with a velvety vanilla-infused ganache and a buttery little Sablé biscuit left a pleasant sea salt taste in the mouth.

The star of the collection for me is the green tea fragranced with vanilla.  I’ve tried black tea with vanilla before, but the green tea had a fresh, clean flavour and worked perfectly with the vanilla.

Also in the Fetish Infiniment Vanille collection is a glazed croissant filled with almond paste, Paris Brest, millefeuille, Rum Baba, tart and choux.  Pierre Hermé’s signature vanilla flavour is a sensation that all pastry lovers should try at least once.

The Pierre Hermé Fetish Infiniment Vanille collection is available now in-store and online until 19th April.  For more information, visit:

Afternoon tea, London, Stores

Pierre Hermé Paris Fetish Infiniment Chocolat

Pierre Hermé is renowned for his game-changing marriage of flavours, however at the heart of his mastery is pure, unadulterated chocolate.

The new Fetish Infiniment Chocolat limited edition collection is a celebration of exquisite chocolate made with the finest cocoa from far-flung plantations around the world.

I visited the Lowndes Street boutique last week for a special preview tasting and was treated to highlights from the collection, accompanied by glasses of rosé Champagne.

Our first taste of the collection were Bonbons Chocolat, each with their own distinctive flavours and notes.  The stand-out Bonbon Chocolat Ampa is an intense ganache of pure origin Plantation Millot chocolate from Madagascar with a punchy bitterness and exotic notes of passion fruit and caramelised pineapple.

My favourite is the playfully-named Bonbon Chocolat Choc Chocolat (try asking for that over the counter) – a silky ganache studded with nougatine and cocoa nibs.

Other seductive chocolates in the collection are the Brazilian Bonbon Chocolat Paneiras, the crunchy Nougatine Infiniment Chocolat and the slim and elegant Galet Intense.

Of course there are also new chocolate macarons, including the seductive Venezuelan Macaron Infiniment Chocolat Chuao with a hint of blond tobacco and the Macaron Infiniment Chocolat Pérou, which is well-rounded and easy on the palate.

Another highlight is Pierre Hermé’s latest discovery – the intense Macaron Infiniment Chocolat Paineiras using pure origin chocolate with notes of citrus, red berry and spice.

As a life-long lover of cake, I was wowed by the the fabulously rich, moist, vanilla-scented Cake Infiniment Chocolat with pieces of dark chocolate and fleur de sel, enrobed in glossy dark chocolate.

It would make a fabulous addition to a chocolate afternoon tea, alongside the perfectly buttery, indulgent Sablés Infiniment Chocolat and a cup of thick, rich Chocolat Chaud.

The London boutiques offer an edited selection of the range, but if you’re in Paris, be sure to indulge in an exquisite Infiniment Chocolat Saint-Honoré, rum baba, millefeuille, cheesecake, brioche, éclair or ice cream.

As always, Pierre Hermé likes to keep us on our toes and is constantly innovating, so head down to Lowndes Street to pick up some treats from the collection before 8th December.

Also, look out for a brand new Pierre Hermé boutique opening next month in Covent Garden’s stylish Seven Dials neighbourhood.

For more information and to buy online, visit:

Photos by Pierre Hermé Paris 

Afternoon tea, London, Restaurants

Royal Ascot Afternoon Tea at Bond & Brook

Bond & Brook is one of my favourite places in London for a meeting or a calming pre or post shopping cup of tea.

Part of the Rhubarb group, the second floor restaurant and cafe at Fenwick of Bond Street always feel peaceful and civilised, even when busy – the perfect retreat in the middle of central London.

The design of Bond & brook is ever so stylish with its bright white and oatmeal interiors and slick silver bar.  There are a few flashes of colour on its place settings, menus and the now famous pots of Smarties that are served to every table.

Bond & Brook takes inspiration from fashion and features shelves full of glossy coffee table books, a large fashion print and a background of the Fenwick designer womenswear edit.  It’s an appropriately concept considering its location, among the boutiques of New Bond Street and a stone throw away from Vogue House.

To celebrate Royal Ascot – the highlight of the social calendar – Bond & Brooks is offering a rather regal afternoon tea.  I visited last week to sample the Royal Ascot Afternoon Tea and was excited to finally try the food at Bond & Brook, as my usual order is a pot of fresh mint tea and a few Smarties.

We were seated in a lovely, quiet spot close to the window and were swiftly served our choice of tea – we both went for the Palace Earl Grey.  The silver tea service is elegant and refined and we were promised a refill of hot water for the teapot at the beginning of our meal, so we wouldn’t have to try and make our cups of tea last.

We waited a short time for the afternoon tea to be served, which I was happy about as it meant that the food was prepared fresh and set a good pace for the afternoon.

When our afternoon tea arrived, the friendly staff briefly explained the different courses and the inspiration behind it.

The sandwiches were classic with a quirky twist – perfectly suited to Royal Ascot.  The stand-out sandwich was the Gin-cured Royal Fillet of Salmon with aromatic, generous pieces of salmon and cool cream cheese on a half bagel.

Eastcote Beef and Horseradish Cream on granary bread included thin slices of lean beef and subtle, peppery flavours from the horseradish cream.

Heritage Cucumber Caviar and Mint was an interesting, fragrant take on the old British afternoon tea staple while the indulgent Eggs Drumkilbo – eggs, lobster and tomato on a brioche bun – was chosen, as it’s a favourite of the royals.

Four substantial, freshly-baked raisin scones kept their warmth inside an enveloped napkin while we finished the savoury course.

The exemplary fluffy and buttery scones were accompanied by a little pot of home-made plum jam and a generous scoop of cool clotted cream.

Instead of the second scone, I would have preferred a slice of Battenburg, mini cake loaf or a brownie square to vary the flavours and add a cake texture to the afternoon tea.

Inspired by the elegance of Royal Ascot, the desserts are delicate and perfectly bite-size.  The Edible Ladies Bowler Hat was deliciously sweet and fruity with a bubbly raspberry mousse and silky mango filling with an icing flower atop a giant, thin white chocolate brim.

The Mini Berry Pavlova included a refined, speckled meringue topped with fresh berries, golden honeycomb and a sticky citrus sauce.

Of course it wouldn’t be Royal Ascot with a dash of celebratory booze and the Champagne and Raspberry Tartlet had quite a kick!  The sparkling, refreshing Champagne jelly was set inside a thin chocolate pastry case and was topped with fresh raspberries and a white and dark chocolate curl.

The Royal Ascot Afternoon Tea at Bond & Brook is a delightful treat, even if you won’t be sporting a hat at the races.  Bond & Brook is chic and comfortable with friendly staff, plus it’s hard to resist a spot of shopping at Fenwick.

The Royal Ascot Afternoon Tea at Bond & Brook is priced at £19.50 and runs until 21st June.  For more information and booking, visit:

Chérie City was invited by Bond & Brook

Photos by Chérie City (interiors by Bond & Brook)

Bond & Brook on Urbanspoon

Afternoon tea, London

Wedgwood Taste of History Afternoon Tea

Last week, Soho was in bloom as Wedgwood hosted a fabulous tea party with peonies aplenty.

An expert on tea-ware since 1759, the iconic British brand celebrated its heritage with a Taste of History Tea Pairing Menu.  Food historian Tasha Marks of Animal Vegetable Mineral Curiosities created a tempting afternoon tea with adaptations of historical sweets from the same year as the tea they were paired with.

The luxurious loose leaf teas are presented in Wedgwood blue tea caddies – each with a print to reflect the era – and have a bold, fragrant aroma.  When served in a teapot, they fill the room with delicious, heady notes of fruit, flowers and spices.

The extensive tea collection includes 1780 Encaustic (white tea with apricot pieces, yellow mullein and marigold petals and yellow rose buds), 1814 Chinese Tiger (black tea with ginger pieces) and 1870 Golden Rose (green tea with strawberry pieces and pink rose buds).

I enjoyed a pot of 2010 Pashmina, an Oolong tea with orange blossoms and pieces of dried orange, which was paired with rich, velvety Orange and Marmalade Truffles.  I couldn’t resist also tasting the 1777 Tea Party, a black tea with pink and white cornflower petals paired with Cornflower Cracknels.

My tea was served in a fine bone china teacup and saucer from the stunning new Daisy Tea Story.  The new design features elements of the iconic Wedgwood Daisy print from the brand’s extensive archives.  It’s a sophisticated, timeless design in a rich palette of black, blue, pink and gold.

We also grazed on the most delicious, zesty Apricot and Honey Panforte, Victorian Scones with Strawberry and Rose Jam and White Gingerbread Dragon – a marchpane biscuit with a fragrant blend of almonds, rosewater, sugar and ginger.

Over a delectable afternoon tea, we had the chance to discover Wedgwood’s prettiest tea service collections including the whimsical Butterfly Bloom, Cuckoo, Harlequin and the Alice in Wonderland-inspired Queen of Hearts.  They were beautifully styled with peonies peaking out of teapots and balanced on hardback books inside a golden birdcage.

With so many stunning tea stories, it’s hard not to fall in love with Wedgwood and begin a very long wish list.

To see all Wedgwood fine bone china collections, visit:

All photos by Chérie City


Afternoon tea, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, London

‘Le Tea en Rose’ at Sofitel London St James

In celebration of the 2014 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, the Rose Lounge at Sofitel London St James has created ‘Le Tea en Rose’, a new floral afternoon tea for the month of May.

The Rose Lounge is one of my favourite spots in central London for afternoon tea, with its plush pink interiors, subtle aromas of rose and daily live harpist.  It’s a cosy, stylish lounge that welcomes both hotel guests and visitors and is well-located for a pre or post-shopping sugar fix.

Drawing on the annual show’s exquisite blooms and beautifully manicured gardens, Head Chef Vincent Manager has devised a special collection of fragrant Parisian pastries.  I had the pleasure of tasting the new afternoon tea pastries and all of them were just heavenly.

My favourite was the colourful Chocolate dacquoise with jasmine flower mousse and raspberry macaron.  The mousse is delicate with just a hint of jasmine while the chocolate base has an impossibly light brownie texture.  Mini macarons are a genius touch and the fresh raspberries add some necessary sharpness.

I also adored the generously-sized White chocolate tartlet with a rose crème chiboust.  The creamy, smooth white chocolate ganache inside a thin pastry case is deliciously rich and sweet and the rose crème chiboust is as light as air with a delicate flavour.

Elderflower jelly with lemon cheesecake crumble and Swiss meringue is a new take on lemon meringue pie with the addition of a light, aromatic elderflower jelly at the bottom of the glass.

Dark chocolate and blueberry Napoleon with violet macaron wafer is the most full-bodied of the cakes with a bittersweet flavour from the thick chocolate base.  The notes of violet are subtle and don’t overpower the cream, while the ultra-thin macaron wafer and candied violets give the cake some texture.

The new floral pastries are served with a selection of seasonal finger sandwiches and warm scones with Devonshire clotted cream, lemon curd and rose-scented raspberry jam.

A selection of fine Postcard teas are offered with the afternoon tea and while I usually opt for a flavoured black tea, I loved the delicate Mediterranean Rose tea – a heady blend of roses from Provence and Morocco.  The teas are presented in patterned china teapots and cups designed by Bernardaud exclusively for Sofitel St James London.

To complement the notes in the afternoon tea, Head Bartender Emilio Moscati has created a refreshing, romantic La Vie en Rose cocktail.  Inspired by the iconic Edith Piaf song and the quintessential British rose, the cocktail is a delightful blend of Tanqueray Gin, elderflower syrup, flavours of cucumber and lemon, topped up with rose champagne and finished with delicate rose petals.  

‘Le Tea en Rose’ is an elegant, sumptuous afternoon tea that captures the spirit of springtime in London with a touch of Parisian chic.  Cosy up in Sofitel London St James’s ‘secret garden’ and enjoy a delicious floral afternoon treat.

The Rose Lounge at Sofitel London St James is serving the celebratory ‘Le Tea en Rose’ daily between 2.30pm-5.30pm, throughout May 2014.  Priced at £30, or £34 including the Vie en Rose cocktail.  For more information, visit:

Afternoon Tea at the Rose Lounge on Urbanspoon

Afternoon tea, Art, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, London, Restaurants

Matisse Afternoon Tea at Le Méridien Piccadilly, London

In celebration of the must-see new exhibition Henri-Matisse: The Cut-Outs at Tate Modern, Le Méridien Piccadilly offers its own colourful Matisse Afternoon Tea in the stylish Terrace Grill & Bar.

Chef Michael Dutnall took inspiration from the bright colours and angles of Matisse’s iconic works and his birthplace to produce a delectable afternoon tea that tastes just as exquisite as it looks.

I visited the chic Terrace Grill & Bar to try the new Matisse Afternoon Tea on the Easter weekend when central London was blissfully quiet.  The bright and airy Terrace Grill & Bar is split across two levels with a sleek restaurant and a more relaxed bar and lounge.  It combines the elegance of Piccadilly’s Regency architecture with contemporary interiors and striking artworks.

On arrival, we were shown to a table with a cosy, hammock-like sofa and ordered pots of JING Earl Grey tea from the extensive tea menu.

We also tried a French Revolution cocktail, chosen to complement the flavours in the afternoon tea.  A French twist on the classic Aviation cocktail, the French Revolution includes gin, maraschino liqueur, lemon juice and rose Champagne.  The refreshing, strong cocktail is served in a tall flute and dipped in sugar, referencing Matisse’s cut-outs.

The Matisse Afternoon Tea is presented on a three-tier stand and the layer of cakes and pastries is sprayed with colour to represent Matisse’s iconic Blue Nude (II).

We started with savories inspired by the south of France and absolutely loved the gourmet Jambon de Bayonne and Brie-filled Croissant and a flavoursome Wrap with Marinated Provencal Vegetables and Tapenade.

Keeping with afternoon tea tradition, there is also a tasty Poached Salmon and Herb Crème Fraiche Sandwich and Egg and Cress Sandwich to munch on.

The test of a good afternoon tea is the scones and these plain and raisin scones were freshly-baked, springy and just the right size.  They were served with delicious strawberry jam and clotted cream.

The sweets treats were delightfully colourful and tempting.  I loved the indulgent Vanilla Pannacotta with Calvados jelly served in a little glass jar and the Battenberg Cake was one of the best I’ve tasted, with a delicate layer of royal icing and not too much marzipan.  The Orange Delice was light as air and the asymmetric blue icing referenced Matisse’s blue cut-outs while the Apple Macarons were perfectly bite-size and filled with apple compote.

A Raspberry Tarte included fresh raspberries on top of silky crème patisserie and finished with crumbled macaron and the Lemon Eclair was filled with zesty lemon curd and topped with vibrant pink icing.

During the afternoon tea, we had the chance to create our own cut-out masterpieces with a box full of art supplies.  While finishing our cocktails, we started snipping away at the coloured card for our own artistic postcards, ending up with two very different takes on Matisse’s vision.  The postcards provided offer 20% discount at Terrace Grill & Bar on your next visit, plus it’s a fun way to spend an afternoon.

The Matisse Afternoon Tea at Le Méridien Piccadilly is a delightful, decadent treat and the perfect complement to the fabulous new exhibition.  If you can, book both on the same day and enjoy a whole day of being dazzled by colour.

The Matisse Afternoon Tea is priced at £30 and is available in the Terrace Grill & Bar until 31st May 2014.  For more information and booking, visit:

Chérie City was a guest of Le Meridien Piccadilly

Photos by Chérie City and Le Meridien Piccadilly

The Terrace Grill and Bar at Le Méridien Piccadilly on Urbanspoon

Afternoon tea, Cafes, Istanbul, Restaurants

Dining in Istanbul

A highlight of a trip to Istanbul is the fantastic food.  The streets are filled with the mouthwatering aromas of delicious ocakbasi chargrilled meat, honey-drench fresh baklava and freshly-pressed pomegranate juice.  Here are some top picks for eating out in Istanbul…


Tucked away on a side street in Asmalimescit, Antiochia is an intimate, low-key neighbourhood restaurant that offers dishes inspired by the city of Antakya in Turkey’s sourthern Hatay region.

Owned by celebrity chef Jale Balci, Antiochia attracts a hipster crowd and the interiors are as unfussy as the simple menu (just around ten meze dishes and a few kebabs).  The restaurant is tiny with less than 20 covers, so we were very lucky to score a walk-in table.

We started with two amazing meze dishes – Houmous and Aubergine with Yoghurt and Garlic – served with the most delicious, seemingly unlimited, flatbread rubbed with chilli.  If you’re extra peckish, or are dining with a bigger group, a mixed meze plate is a good choice (the staff tried to push us towards this).

My Chicken Shish was marinated in spices and fresh herbs, then grilled to perfection on the charcoal grill.  It was served on a thin chili wrap with a fresh tomato and sumac salad, a grilled tomato and green chili.  Steven’s Beef Durum Wrap was filled with tender pieces of beef, onion and grilled tomatoes with a good dose of spice.

Having already filled up on sugar with afternoon tea earlier that afternoon, we thought it best to skip dessert.  However, Antiochia is the place to try some authentic Turkish sweets such as Künefe (a cheese pastry soaked in syrup) or a walnut and eggplant dessert served with home-made ice cream.

Otherwise, you could grab some baklava or mastic ice cream from nearby Istiklal Caddesi, where cafes and sweet shops are open into the late evening.

Mama Shelter Istanbul 

Staying and eating at Mama Shelter Paris was one of my favourite hotel experiences, so obviously we just had to check out Mama Shelter Istanbul.  Located on a side street just off the bustling Istiklal Caddesi, Mama Shelter Istanbul has all of the eccentricity and character that you’d expect from the forward-thinking brand with cool interiors by Philippe Starck.

Alain Senderens and Jérôme Banctel’s Franco-Turkish menu is full of innovative yet comforting dishes and there is also a pizza menu.

The stylish restaurant features a number of dining areas with a centre island bar and an outdoor terrace.  As we visited during a religious holiday, it was very quiet, however I imagine it is the place to be in Beyoglu during the summer months with the open roof terrace and weekend DJ sets.  There is even a glass cabinet of musical instruments to really get the party started.

I started with a zingy Mama Lemonade (9 TL) and Steven tried a punchy Gingerapple (13 TL), which were both served long and topped with fresh apple and strawberry.

Refusing to break my Istanbul food habit, I ordered the Marinated Chicken Skewers with Carrot Puree (33 TL).  The two large skewers of chargrilled chicken breast and thigh were tender and succulent (though less spicy than others I tried in Istanbul) and I really loved the smooth, rich and tangy carrot puree.

Steven tried the Yoghurt Kebab (34 TL) – tasty chargrilled lamb patties in a spicy tomato sauce served with torn pieces of flatbread, a hot green chili and cool saffron yoghurt.

With fond memories of the indulgent chocolate fondant at Mama Shelter in Paris, we couldn’t resist trying Mama’s Chocolate Souffle (19 TL).  Served in a mini cast iron pot, the Chocolate Souffle had a soft cake texture with a gooey, molten middle and was accompanied by light vanilla ice cream and a peanut brittle crisp – so decadent and delicious.

Miyako at Swissotel The Bosphorus

Miyako is a great choice for authentic Japanese food in Istanbul.  I recommend starting with some Ebi Tempura and Beef Tataki, followed by teppanyaki Grilled Chicken or Beef Tenderloin.  Be sure to leave some room for Chocolate Pudding with Coco Banana Sauce and a glass of Umeshu Plum Wine.  Read the full review here.

Kubbeli Saloon Tea Lounge at Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah

Afternoon tea in Istanbul is an absolute must and the grand dame of tea and cake is the historic Kubbeli Saloon Tea Lounge at Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah.  Enjoy a fabulous buffet afternoon tea in splendid surroundings to the sounds of a live pianist.

Tea is served in elegant silver pots and the selection of exquisite cakes, sweets and biscuits is so overwhelming that it’s almost impossible to try them all (a challenge for the most die-hard afternoon tea fans).  Read the full review here.

Karaköy Lokantasi 

Istanbul’s hip Karaköy neighbourhood is not to be missed and we were delighted when the brilliant concierge at Shangri-La Istanbul was able to secure us a reservation at the immensely popular Karaköy Lokantasi.

Owned by Aylin Okutan and Oral Kurt, and designed by Autoban, Karaköy Lokantasi is a casual, affordable eatery with the boutique guesthouse Karaköy Rooms above.  The atmospheric two-floor restaurant features pretty turquoise tiles inspired by the Topkapi Palace offers traditional Turkish meze and kebabs with a contemporary approach.

Of course, we had to start with some Houmous, which was smooth and full of flavour, topped with fresh chick peas and mint.  I was a little disappointed that they serve wholemeal sliced bread rather than traditional Turkish flatbread, but it was tasty nevertheless.

Fried Shrimps (18 TL) were plump and ever so fresh, cooked in the most delicious chili, garlic and olive oil sauce – absolutely divine.

My Grilled Meatballs (15 TL) were tender, satisfying and nicely charred on the outside.  I found the small slice of potato rather dry and uninteresting, particularly as there was no sauce or yoghurt to perk it up.  Steven’s Grilled Chicken (15 TL) was juicy and smoky, marinated with spicy chili and herbs.

Service had been swift throughout, but tailed off towards the end of the meal, so we ended up missing out on the chocolate pudding.  Instead, we settled for the Semolina Cake with Cream (7 TL), which was a light and grainy sponge soaked with delicious sugar syrup.

Bej Karaköy

We found ourselves back in Karaköy at lunchtime and had heard good things about the Bej Karaköy.  The cosy interiors are cool and arty and it seems to attract a creative crowd taking a break from visiting the nearby art galleries.

My Chicken Schnitzel (22 TL) was absolutely delicious, served with chunky fries and a slice of lemon.  Steven’s Grilled Cheese, Pesto and Tomato Sandwich (12 TL) was tasty and simple, served with a fresh green salad and cherry tomatoes.  We washed them down with some Turkish tea (6 TL) served in a small glass on a pretty blue china saucer.

Service at Bej Karaköy was unfortunately rather charmless during our visit, which I hope was a one-off, as the place itself is great.

ADA Cafe & Bookstore

We spent our last few hours in Istanbul picking up some Turkish tea, baklava and Turkish delight on the Istiklal Caddesi in Beyoglu.  Having spotted ADA Cafe & Bookstore earlier in the week, we stopped there for a quick bite before heading to the airport.

ADA Cafe & Bookstore is a slick book and music store with a casual restaurant serving Turkish and international dishes.

We ordered two Turkish teas and were served quickly by the friendly, efficient staff.  My Chicken Shish (21 TL) was succulent and nicely charred, served with some average potato wedges, tasty Asian style vegetables and BBQ sauce.

Steven’s ADA Cheeseburger (18 TL) was cooked Turkish style on the charcoal grill and came with American cheese, potato wedges and a fresh sweetcorn and black olive salad.

ADA Cafe & Bookstore is a handy spot in Beyoglu’s busy shopping area for a relaxing lunch or afternoon Turkish tea and cake, plus there is a selection of English language books available.

Shake Shack 

Why go to Shake Shack when Istanbul does grilled meat so well?  Well, Shake Shack happened to be useful when we needed something quick and easy for a very late lunch after getting lost in Sultanahmet.  Shake Shack hasn’t quite yet invaded Europe at present, with outlets only in London, Moscow and Istanbul, so it’s worth visiting if you want to try the now famous New York burger.

We visited the Tünel branch on Istiklal Caddesi, just a few minutes away from our hotel, and there was no queue so we were served immediately.

As expected, our ShackBurgers pretty much the same as the others we’d tried in Manhattan and London, but there are some fun local touches such as the Pistachio in Tünel and Tramway Treat concretes.

Perhaps because of the exchange rate, but it’s also somewhat cheaper than the London branch, so it’s not a bad bet for a speedy lunch fix.

Are you a fan of authentic Turkish food?  Where is your favourite dining spot in Istanbul?

All photos by Chérie City


Afternoon tea, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, Istanbul

Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah, Istanbul

Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah, Turkey’s oldest European hotel, is steeped in history and full of old world character and charm.

Opened in 1895, the Pera Palace was a glamorous destination for the passengers of the Orient Express.  Agatha Christie wrote Murder on the Orient Express while staying at the belle epoque hotel and other legendary guests have included Ernest Hemingway, Greta Garbo, Mata Hari, Sarah Berhardt and Alfred Hitchcock.

Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah also has ‘museum hotel’ status with dozens of historic artefacts on display, plus the converted Ataturk Museum, paying tribute to the great Turkish leader.

Today, after extensive renovations, Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah’s legacy lives on, but with all the modern touches that you’d expect from a five-star luxury hotel.

Based in Istanbul’s vibrant Beyoglu district on the European side, the hotel is within walking distance of the neighbourhood’s lively bars and restaurants, the bustling Istiklal Caddesi shopping street and contemporary art galleries, as well as the renowned Pera Museum.  Beyoglu was my favourite part of Istanbul and Pera Palace is at the heart of all the action, yet still quiet enough for a relaxing stay.

When we arrived, we were greeted warmly and offered a refreshing glass of home-made lemonade as we checked in.  The ornate marble lobby is grand and stately yet welcoming.

Our Deluxe Golden Horn King Room was elegant and full of character with antique furniture and beautiful furnishing in muted colours.  The traditional Turkish rug and silk chaise-longue gave it a homely feel.

Room features include a widescreen interactive HD LCD TV, iPod docking station, full-size writing desk, minibar, free wifi and a Nespresso machine and tea making facilities.  It was lovely to be able to have a hot drink in the room after a long day of exploring and we were also given complimentary bottled water at turndown.

The king-size bed was heavenly and covered in crisp linen with luxurious embroidered pillows.  I had some connectivity issues with the wifi on my tablet, but the hotel kindly gave me a laptop to use for the duration of our two-night stay.

The highlight of the room is the fabulous private balcony offering stunning views over the Golden Horn.  There is a small marble table and chairs, so you can soak up the Istanbul sun in the warmer months or marvel at a glorious sunset with a glass of Champagne and baklava.

I was delighted to find a welcome platter of baklava and fresh strawberries waiting for us in the room, which we grazed on while admiring the view from our balcony.  The baklava was of the finest quality and set a high standard as the first of many more to come on our foodie tour of Istanbul.

The white Carrara marble bathroom was petite yet luxurious with a beautiful walk-in shower (complete with a marble bench to sit on), Pure Herbs bathroom amenities, luxurious monogrammed towels and sumptuous embroidered bathrobes and slippers.

There is a decorative tinted glass window between the bedroom and the bathroom, allowing in plenty of natural light.  It can be a little transparent at times, but it doesn’t feel too intrusive.

For the ultimate indulgence, Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah offers signature suites such as the Pierre Loti Suite, Ernest Hemingway Suite, Greta Garbo Corner Room and Agatha Christie King Room.

In the morning, breakfast is served in Agatha Restaurant with hot dishes made to order and a bountiful breakfast buffet.  Guests can start the day with a traditional Turkish breakfast, eggs cooked any style, pastries, yoghurt, cereal and fruits.  I loved the freshly-made waffles and fluffy pancakes served with maple syrup or chocolate spread.

For lunch and dinner, Agatha Restaurant offers a fusion of French, Italian and Turkish cuisine, inspired by three of the most famous stops on the Orient Express.

During our stay, we couldn’t resist treating ourselves to afternoon tea in the Kubbeli Saloon Tea Lounge.  We started with a selection of sandwiches and savouries and fine teas served in silver teapots.  The centre table was laden with so many exquisite cakes, sweets and biscuits that it was impossible to try all of them.

We grazed leisurely while a pianist serenaded us with classical and popular pieces – a perfect first afternoon in Istanbul.  As we visited during a religious holiday, it was rather quiet (giving us unbridled access to the cakes), but I imagine it’s a real hotspot for a refined afternoon tea.

As if there weren’t enough cakes already in the Kubbeli Saloon Tea Lounge, more sweet delights can be found at the hotel’s Patisserie de Pera, a dreamy pink tea salon designed by Anouska Hempel.  The counter is filled with the most tempting cakes, macarons and pastries, served by staff wearing pretty powder pink dresses.  There is also an outlet of Patisserie de Pera inside Brandroom, a hip department store in the chic Nisantasi shopping district.

The Orient Bar is a seductive, opulent place to have a cocktail at night and in the summer months, the Orient Terrace is the place to enjoy sultry evenings over an al fresco meal or sundowner drinks.

To unwind from a day of sightseeing (and cake eating), guests can relax in the tranquil spa with its jet streamed swimming pool, Turkish hammam and fully-equipped gym.

Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah is a rare cultural gem where you can lose yourself in the stories of its glorious past.  With friendly staff and attention to small details, it’s one of the most luxurious, memorable ways to experience magnificent Istanbul.

For more information and booking, visit:

Chérie City was invited by Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah

Photos by Chérie City and Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah

Afternoon tea, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, London, Restaurants

Le Gouter Pierre Hermé at The Balcon, London

Every London luxury hotel has its own take on the quintessentially British afternoon tea, however, Pierre Hermé brings a much-loved French tradition to The Balcon at Sofitel St James with a very decadent ‘Gouter’.

The ‘quatre heures’ is an everyday after-school snack for children, usually consisting of fresh baguette, brioche, jam and chocolate or a pain au chocolat.  Le Gouter Pierre Hermé is a much more decadent, grown-up affair, offering signature chocolate delicacies served with the finest tea or hot chocolate.

I visited The Balcon recently and enjoyed a leisurely afternoon gouter in its elegant surroundings.  There are two Gouter plates to choose from (both £25) and if you’re visiting with a guest, I recommend ordering one of each to share (it’s impossible to decide between macarons and moelleux au chocolat).

Le Gouter Pierre Hermé includes two slices of fluffy Brioche Mousseline served with a smooth, rich Pâte à Tartiner Infinitement Praline Noisette with whole caramelised hazelnuts (a luxury alternative to childhood Nutella).  This is accompanied by four perfectly crumbly and buttery Sablés Infinitement Chocolat and two indulgent Moelleux Quatre heures in different chocolate flavours.

Le Gouter Mogador features the same Brioche Mousseline served with a zesty Confiture Mogador (orange, apricot and pineapple jam).  The gouter is nicely rounded off with silky, melt-in-the-mouth milk and dark Chocolate Bonbons and a selection of Pierre Hermé’s world-famous Mogador and Porcelana Chocolate Macarons.

I enjoyed my Gouter with a cup of delicate, fragrant Thé Ispahan – black tea flavoured with rose, lychee and raspberry (£5).  As if there wasn’t already enough chocolate, I couldn’t resist finishing with a Chocolat Chaud Infinitement Chocolat (£6).  French hot chocolate is hard to beat and this one was as delicious as I expected – velvety, not too sweet and ever so slightly bitter from the high cocoa content.

Also available is a cold chocolate and an iced Sencha Green China tea flavoured with almonds, cardamon and jasmine.

Le Gouter Pierre Hermé at The Balcon is a delightful indulgence that instantly transports you to the grand cafes of Paris.  It’s simple and uncomplicated yet incredibly luxurious and satisfying – a perfect afternoon treat.

For more information, visit: and

Chérie City was a guest of Pierre Hermé

All photos by Pierre Hermé


Afternoon tea, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, London

Afternoon Tea at The Halkin – London

To celebrate The Halkin’s new afternoon tea, in association with JING Tea, I enjoyed a leisurely afternoon of tea tasting, cakes and poetry.

Located on Belgravia’s chic West Halkin Street, the petite boutique hotel by COMO has a calm atmosphere, with its unique blend of minimalist Asian and Milanese design.  While the hotel’s one Michelin star restaurant Ametsa with Arzak Instruction attracts a dedicated foodie crowd in the evenings, The Halkin Bar is a great spot for a refined afternoon tea.

Britain’s Tea Poet Elizabeth Darcy Jones began the tasting event with a new poem inspired by afternoon tea at The Halkin, dedicated to Executive Chef Sergi Sanz.  Her descriptions of the joys of taking afternoon tea in The Halkin’s stylish surroundings and her animated, soothing voice set the tone for a relaxing afternoon tea.

We started by tasting a selection of exquisite JING teas, served in delicate glass orbs.  JING Tea Creative Manager David Hepburn talked us through the character and origins of the teas as we tasted cups of White Peony, Oolong and Jasmine Pearl tea.

The Halkin’s new afternoon tea is timeless and classic, with tempting, beautifully-presented cakes.  We were served a pot of fine, strong English Breakfast Tea, however a selection of JING loose leaf teas are available to accompany the afternoon tea.

We started with a selection of sandwiches including Scottish smoked salmon with salmon caviar and Basque spicy peppers, King prawns with watercress and cocktail dressing, Baby cucumber with cream cheese and chives and Confit corn-fed chicken breast with turmeric and spring onion.

The sandwiches were larger than the usual tiny finger sandwiches served in afternoon teas and filled with high quality ingredients.  I particularly enjoyed the chicken and king prawn sandwiches, however, I usually prefer a few less sandwiches and the addition of a savoury item such as a mini quiche, wrap or tart.

The freshly-made scones were fluffy and warm, served with clotted cream and strawberry jam.  My favourite cakes were the decadent, creamy Pistachio brownie with white chocolate and vanilla cream and the heavenly Raspberry and passionfruit macaroon, bursting with fresh raspberries and silky crème pâtissière.

The zesty Lemon meringue tartlet was perfectly bite-size and while I didn’t try the Opera cake due to my coffee allergy, it looked exemplary, finished with a pretty piece of chocolate ‘honeycomb’.  The Mango, strawberry and mascarpone brew was fresh and light – great as a palate cleanser or a refreshing end to the tea.

Afternoon tea at The Halkin is ideal for a post-shopping refuel and the tranquil bar, with its cosy booths, gives it an intimate feel.  Every part of the tea is light and flavoursome and the delectable cakes avoid being too sweet – a perfect afternoon treat.

The Halkin afternoon tea starts from £28 and is served in The Halkin Bar from 3pm to 5pm daily.

Chérie City was a guest of The Halkin

Photos by Chérie City and The Halkin

Afternoon tea, Cafes, Hong Kong, Patisserie

Afternoon Tea at C’est La B – Hong Kong

A highlight of my recent trip to Hong Kong was afternoon tea at the newly-opened branch of C’est La B in Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui.

Founded by lifestyle guru Bonnae Gokson, C’est La B is a stylish, whimsical cafe-bar where the cakes are just as colourful as the interiors.

A popular style icon in Asia, Bonnae Gokson began her career in luxury fashion retail working with her older sister Joyce Ma, founder of the pioneering designer boutique group Joyce.  Bonnae can also be credited with bringing brands such as Armani, Prada and Chanel to Asia and putting her stamp on W and Ritz-Carlton hotel groups.

Moving seamlessly between fashion and cake, Bonnae’s sweet empire includes two other C’est la B outlets, Ms B’s Cakery on Sheung Wan’s Gough Street and the ultra-chic SEVVA rooftop bar.

The newest C’est la B cafe is located in Hong Kong’s high end shopping mall Harbour City and counts designer brands such as Alexander Wang, Coach, Lanvin and Fendi as neighbours.  It’s the perfect place for a chic afternoon indulgence after a spot of shopping.

The sleek black exterior and a wall of butterflies lead to a petite cafe designed in bold monochrome stripes and vibrant jewel tones.  We were seated and ordered from a selection of teas while the friendly staff talked us through the full range of eye-catching cakes and desserts.

This season’s quirky cakes take inspiration from nature, with stunning checkerboard and layered chiffon cakes finished with exquisite sugar butterflies and flowers.  While the cakes look impossibly vivid, they are in fact coloured using only natural ingredients such as beetroot and taro.

We ordered a selection to share and they came beautifully-presented on a special ‘B’ cakestand and patterned china plates.

I particularly enjoyed the Lady in Red (raspberry mirror with lychee cream and berry sponge), Madame Butterfly (beetroot, pistachio and chocolate layered chiffon with apricot compote and fresh cream) and the cheekily-named Better Than Sex (chocolate fudge cake with choc-coated caramel crunch and salted caramel toffee).

All of the cakes we tried were surprisingly light and not overly sweet, plus there are even gluten and sugar-free cakes, including the brilliant OMG! cake.

I accompanied the cakes with a pot of fine Earl Grey Tea, however wine and Champagne are also available, to make it even more luxurious.

While C’est La B is renowned for its creative cakes, it also offers savoury dishes such as rainbow club sandwiches, pot pies, pasta and salads.  Just be sure to leave some room for dessert!

For more information, visit:

Chérie City was a guest of Hong Kong Tourism Board

Photos by Chérie City (Bonnae Gokson by Tatler)