Wednesday 28 December 2011

Afternoon Tea at L'Orangerie, Buenos Aires

Vase of roses at the table

Dear readers,

Feliz Navidad
[Merry Christmas] from Buenos Aires, Argentina!

Sorry for disappearing for another month, but I have been exploring Buenos Aires trying to find some great food places to share with you all!

Alvear Blend Tea being poured

It may seem a little strange that I went somewhere so English when I am on the other side of the world. I have enjoyed a fair share of Argentine culture here, but I really wanted my boyfriend to experience a little bit of English culture. It's going be a long time before he is able to visit England so I thought that Afternoon Tea at L'Orangerie, Alvear Palace Hotel, would be the perfect way to introduce him to English culture, here in Argentina. I was also curious to see Argentina's version of "Afternoon Tea"!

Kir Royales served at the table

We were fortunate enough to be seated in the beautiful Garden Courtyard. We certainly felt that we were in London. We ate minimal food before our booking, in order to prepare ourselves for the great feast of cakes. Afternoon Tea in Argentina is served between 5-7pm as opposed to 2-5pm in England, so we were desperately hungry by the time we arrived.

Teapot handle mitts

The waiters first served us the Kir Royales which they poured at the table. We ordered the Alvear Blend tea which had flavours of almond, citrus and rose. The waiters poured the tea at the table and the teapots had tiny handle mitts - adorable! I had never seen these before.

Warm pear scones with lemon curd, raspberry jam and orange marmalade

We were given freshly baked pear scones that were still warm, with lemon curd, raspberry jam and orange marmalade (but no butter). Before we came, I read a few reviews about Afternoon Tea at L'Orangerie. They said that the scones here were horrible. We thought, however, that the scones were delicious. They were dense but broke apart easily and had a subtle chewiness and fruitness from the pieces of pear. We didn't leave a crumb!

Plant decoration in the Garden Courtyard

We then started on the collection of sandwiches and cakes. The top plate included a mini salmon bagel, Spanish ham and pear roll, mushroom bun and a ham and cheese roll.

Tea cakes and sandwiches

The second plate included sandwiches of cream cheese and cucumber, turkey and pesto, tuna salad and Spanish ham. I enjoyed most of these, however, two of them were soggy with something that was not part of the filling. I left these uneaten!

The bottom plate included a selection of cakes including a chocolate and pistachio cake, a small round chocolate cake, a mini strawberry pavlova, triple chocolate mousse cake and a nutty-cinnamon pastry similar to baklava.

Struggling to finish the cakes!

We ate everything except for the couple of soggy sandwiches and the last course of cakes which one choose from a cart. We chose a black forest cake and a chocolate mousse cake which we took home in a box.

I felt like a little girl at a tea party. Except for the soggy sandwiches and the lack of butter or cream with the scones, it was the perfect afternoon tea! (The plain round chocolate cake could have been made a little more exciting, too.) I have been to Fortnum & Mason's in London for afternoon tea, and the Alvear definitely beat them in both the service and the quality of the food. I was very impressed that they served the Kir Royales at the table and also thoroughly explained every part of the menu as they served the food.

It may not be an Argentine thing to do here, but, actually, it is mainly Argentines who indulge in Afternoon Tea at L'Orangerie as the tourists are, usually, busy spending their time doing all of the "Argentine" things.

And, finally, despite the excellence of this experience, it was not that expensive. For two people including a glass of sparkling wine (or a Kir Royale), it came to AR$300 (around £50). A few days before this, we ate at a Mexican restaurant for the same money and were fairly disappointed with the food. I would definitely prefer to have the Alvear experience instead!

If you ever have the opportunity to Buenos Aires, I highly recommend that you partake of Argentina's brilliant interpretation of "English Afternoon Tea"!

Christmas Tree in The Alvear Hotel