There are many things that come to mind when you think of Ireland; Guinness, green fields, St Patrick’s Day, tweed, Dublin, Riverdance, and traditional music. Afternoon tea however, is not one of them. It’s a particularly British thing which I was actually surprised even existed in Ireland.
I stayed at The Westin Dublin in late December, a few days before Christmas, and enjoyed not one but two afternoon teas there with my family. Between us we shared a Festive Afternoon Tea (made gluten free for my Mum) and A Most Peculiar Afternoon Tea which doesn’t just offer a twist on the usual feed but is a law unto itself completely reinventing what an afternoon tea is and can be.
Served in The Atrium Lounge we started with a glass of wine and then moved on to the Victorian Mojito which accompanied the afternoon tea in place of the customary glass of champagne. The cocktail came in a teapot and I instinctively let it cool before trying it although it turns out it was never hot in the first place. My bad. The Victorian Mojito was so drinkable and refreshing and combined Hendrick’s Gin with mint, lime and freshly pressed apple juice. Deeeeelicious.
The food was peculiar for an afternoon tea rather than peculiar on all levels which I think is important to note. I’m intrigued by a peculiar afternoon tea but to all round peculiar food, not so much. The savoury round consisted of pork cheek, prawn cocktail, spiced roast beef, smoked Irish salmon and a tapenade all of which I wolfed into and all of which I wish I hadn’t had to share with my sister. It was my first time trying caviar which came with the smoked salmon blini and despite not being a prawn fan I actually quite enjoyed the charcoal cone. In addition to each bite being really moreish, in particular the tapenade and roast beef, everything was presented in a beautifully artsy way showcasing the different colours of the food and the utensils used.
On the next tier down was banana and walnut bread with cinnamon and honey butter. I made a fatal error, as I always do, and filled up on the sweet treats from both my afternoon tea as well as the festive one completely diminishing my appetite. I know, I know, I’m a fool because the bread contained all the things I love and I make banana bread myself sometimes and my sister kept saying how delicious it was. I should have taken it away with me. I’ve learnt my lesson, it won’t happen again.
On the final tier was an array of chocolately, sugary, sweet treats. I have a major sweet tooth so this is generally where I outdo myself and consume more calories in a 20 minute window than most do in a day. Consisting of peculiar flavours and food combinations this tier had a cookie, brownie, tart, crumble as well as two marshmallows, some of which were made with ingredients that on paper shouldn’t work together but in reality definitely do. My absolute favourite was the popcorn panna cotta with toffee popcorn crumble followed in a close second by the popping vanilla marshmallows. I adore chocolate brownies and although I obviously ate the one on offer I found the caramel sea salt a bit too sweet.
I didn’t think Ireland had it in her to take something so quintessentially British and make it completely her own and I’m sorry for ever doubting my people because I was wrong to do so. A Most Peculiar Afternoon Tea at The Westin was so enjoyable and different and I loved that nothing on the stand was anything I’d ever had before in any of the afternoon teas I’ve indulged in around the world. Each aspect of it was a surprise and although it could have done with a couple of sandwiches to bump up the savoury side of it it was peculiar and it was fantastic and I wasn’t expecting any of it.
Whether you’re an afternoon tea fanatic, a complete newbie or someone who just fancies a treat, A Most Peculiar Afternoon Tea is for you. It’s for you and all your friends and everyone you know. Definitely go, I’ll probably see you there.
(I was a guest of The Westin Dublin)