Friday, April 24, 2009

Chocolate Afternoon Tea at the Langham Hotel

One evening I was online, not doing anything in particular, until across my twitter feed, I saw a tweet from @tarametblog flash by about a Chocolate Afternoon Tea that she experienced at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena. I was soon scrolling down until I came to her message and it included a link to her blog write-up. Upon reading it, I was hooked and thanks to Tara and the Langham, my guest and I were hosted for this wonderful chocolate experience.

Before we even got to the Lobby Lounge where the afternoon teas are held, it was hard not to go through the hotel lobby and the courtyard garden without taking photos. The courtyard had a really pretty setting flanked by trees along two paths that split on either side of a fountain pool. Soon our chocolate cravings were calling to us, so we stopped lingering and finally stepped through the doors.

Walking through the Lobby Lounge, there were assorted couches with tables and tea settings. On both sides of the room, there were chocolate sculptures that were done by the in-house pastry chefs. We almost stopped when we saw the chocolate fountain with the assorted fruits and other treats, because it looked mighty tempting, but we weren't quite ready to dive in just yet.

After we were seated, we were given the menu so that we knew what to look forward to and after perusing a selection of teas, I opted for the Mayan Truffle Tea while my friend went for the Chocolate Mint Truffle. While we were waiting for our sandwiches to arrive, we were each offered a complimentary glass of champagne.

Soon after, 3 tiers of tastiness arrived and those 3 tiers included the scones and sandwiches. Where were the sweets you may ask? I'll get to those later, trust me.

I always start with the scones and we had two different kinds, a chocolate chip scone and a marble chocolate chip scone, which actually tasted the same to me. The only difference is that one had marbling and the other one didn't. I did like both of them though. I've had scones in the past that were like hockey pucks, but these scones were just right. Firm on the outside, but flaky and a little moist in the inside. As for the scone accompaniments, the wild blueberry jam was wonderful, the Devonshire cream was light and fluffy, but the Lemon Curd didn't quite do it for me. It did have a nice fresh consistency, but it was either too tangy or too sweet or maybe too much of both? Regardless, I didn't go for seconds.

Then I started to make my way through the sandwiches. One thing to mention is that each sandwich had an essence of chocolate. It was all about subtlety and not big flavors. First, there was the Smoked Salmon, Roasted Fennel and Cocoa Nib Mousse. I'm not exactly sure what fennel is supposed to taste like, but I did get a tiny hint of bitterness from the cocoa nib mouse that paired well with the smoked salmon.

Next was the White Chocolate and Avocado Mousse with Vanilla Marinated Shrimp. Technically, white chocolate isn't actually chocolate, but still it went nicely with the avocado mousse and both really went well with the shrimp. My one issue with shrimp was that it was overcooked, which made it dry and a little chewy.

The Foie Gras Mousse Profiterole with Chocolate Dust was actually my favorite of all the sandwiches. I liked how the profiterole was light and airy and that the chocolate dust cut into the sweetness of the foie gras mousse so that everything tasted in synch.

After the Profiterole came the Cucumber, White Chocolate Mint Mousse and Grapefruit sandwich round. This was actually my least favorite of all the sandwiches. The cucumber was too thick plus I think that the mint part of the mousse was too subtle and the grapefruit was lacking in tartness.

The savory portion of this tea ended with the Serrano Ham, Burrata Mousse with Chocolate Caviar. That ham was tasty. I could have easily just eaten more of the ham by itself without anything else, but I liked how the burrata mousse and the chocolate caviar balanced the saltiness of the cured ham.

After our sandwiches, it was time for dessert. Our server actually took us on a tour of the dessert station and the fondue station and basically explained what the various offerings were. There was also an angel statue where you could sample both Earl Grey truffles and Cardamom truffles.

We started with the chocolate fondue station. The dipping options included marble cake, nougat, lemon marshmallows, peppermint marshmallows and assorted fresh-cut fruit. First, in regards to the chocolate fondue itself, it was decadently rich and I loved the flavor. The one thing I would change is to make it a teeny thinner. It was a bit too thick which made the food kind of glop on the plate after we coated them. My choice of dippees or is it dippers included one juicy strawberry and one of each of the marshmallows. I liked how both the lemon and peppermint marshmallows were subtle in flavor so as to not clash with the richness of the chocolate.

I was actually feeling really stuffed, but somehow my friend and I rallied and headed to the dessert station where there were 14 different chocolate inspired desserts. We ended up sharing 9 of them, although we only took little bites (so I tell myself anyway). My favorite was the White Chocolate Green Tea Panna Cotta. The panna cotta was rich and creamy and it was nice how the white chocolate cut into the bitterness of the green tea to make it well balanced in flavors.

Both the Milk Chocolate Orange Gateau and Chocolate Raspberry Gateau were also excellent. I do think that the orange could have been brought out more, but the raspberry had a lovely sweet tartness to it and both cakes were rich and moist.

The Chocolate Madeleine and the Orange Black Tea Madeleine were disappointing. Both of them were dry, which is too bad, because the flavors were spot on for the Orange Black Tea Madeleine.

I'm usually not much into macaroons, but the Chocolate Macaroons were little bites of heaven. That chocolate cream filling was just delicious and the cookie was light and airy.

The Chocolate Coated Candied Orange Sticks were pretty good, although a tad too sweet. However, when you bit into one of those sticks, it tasted juicy, like biting into a real orange and that was a tasty surprise.

I liked the presentation of the chocolate brulee in a serving spoon and I enjoyed the intense caramelization coming from its surface. I also think that I tasted coconut, although there was no mention of coconut as being part of the ingredients.

The final, but not the least, dessert was the Chocolate Cream Fruit Tart. I gotta say that anything to do with chocolate cream, the Langham does superbly. That chocolate cream was rich and creamy and matched well with the tart berries.

So you think we'd be done by now, right? Nope, there was one last item. Basically, the end of the whole experience comes in a cup of liquid chocolate. You had your choice of 3 different kinds. I went for the Spicy Chocolate and my friend went for the Hazelnut Chocolate. I got to sample the Hazelnut Chocolate and found it too sweet, but I really enjoyed my Spicy Chocolate. The one thng I'd adjust and maybe, it's just a preference thing, is the temperature. Both of the liquid chocolates weren't hot enough. They seemed a little bit lukewarm. I'm not sure if that's the way they are supposed to be served, but I would have enjoyed mine even more if it was a little hotter, temperature wise.

Overall, it was a wonderfully, relaxing and sweet way to spend a Sunday. The ambiance was wonderful and our service was excellent and except for a few little things, I absolutely enjoyed this chocolate-themed foodie activity and if you're a chocolate lover, then this Chocolate Afternoon Tea is definitely for you!

By the way, the Chocolate Afternoon Tea is $59 per person and served Sundays from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm. For reservations, please dial (626) 585-6218

To see pics, go to:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/la_addict/sets/72157617025174919/

The Langham Hotel and Spa
1401 South Oak Knoll Avenue
Pasadena,, CA 91106
(626) 568-3900

12 comments:

Food, she thought. said...

Wow, Abby. Those savories look delicious!!

I adore The Langham.

burumun said...

Looks lovely, and rich, and decadent.
Foie gras mousse profiteroles! Mmm.
I'm gonna have to check this out soon. Need to find me a partner in crime!

H. C. said...

So decadent-looking and -sounding indeed -- again a meal Jeanette would definitely protest against!

WeezerMonkey said...

So pretty!

pleasurepalate said...

Food, she thought: I hope you check out the Chocolate Afternoon Tea for yourself. It was one of the best teas I've ever had. :)

burumun: Partner in crime? With H.C. sweet tooth, you should probably go together. Haha!

H.C.: Come one, what's a little bit of chocolate. You deserve a sweet way to start the work week.

WM: The presentation was definitely quite lovely. :-D

kevinEats said...

Have you been to the Dining Room at the Langham? Any thoughts on it? It's one restaurant that's high on my "to-eat" list.

TaraMetBlog said...

Glad you enjoyed it, it's my favorite!

pleasurepalate said...

kevinEats: I haven't made it to the Dining Room at the Langham yet, although it's also on my must eat list. :)

Tara: I guess we have the same taste in desserts. :)

Exile Kiss said...

Hi Abby,

Beautiful post and review. Thanks for reminding me to get over to the Langham for Afternoon Tea. (^_~) I've loved their Dining Room experience for Dinner, but haven't tried their Tea yet. Soon hopefully.

Gastronomer said...

Wow! Your photos really captured the awesomeness of the spread. I want!

Aji De Mani said...

omg i think i'd spend the money after all.

pleasurepalate said...

EK: I'm the opposite of you. I still need to make it to the Dining Room. :) Hope you enjoy the tea experience.

Gastronomer: I'm glad you enjoyed the photos and hey, you want and you can definitely get. :)

Aji: Heck girl, than start saving up your pennies. :)