Well that was an experience, to say the least… clearly heightened by the fact that I’d won it and that I’d only found out the day before!
So, let us begin with Claridges…
Tucked away in London’s luxurious and exclusive Mayfair, Claridges is an icon of grand British style and timeless elegance. Its rich, art deco interior, designed to perfection in the 1920s and carefully restored to reflect modern art deco style, exudes tasteful opulence and old world charm…
And I think you get the point.
Simply put, Claridges is a special place that takes you soaring back to a bygone era, where everything sparkles and you can never have too much champagne… or jewellery…
Old world glamour and decadence has been a rather major trend in recent years, with clubs, restaurants, hotels, even pop-up bars attempting to imitate the life and feel of years gone by, but Claridges, with its firmly distinguished history dating back to the 19th century, is the real deal.
I’m still not sure whether to be worried about, or in awe of, the fact that its main elevator is the oldest in London – built in 1896, and the only remaining man operated lift in the city.
With a chilled bottle of Laurent-Perrier waiting in our cosy and spacious room, all that was needed was a touch of make-up and a quick change before heading off to the gala screening of The Hundred-Foot Journey.
Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal and Om Puri were among the cast who attended the event.
I think most will agree that Helen Mirren embodies sophistication and elegance. I’m a big fan of her movies, but seeing her face all those flashes with such poise, I’m sort of in awe now.
And, of course, it must be said that the film was beautiful and inspiring. A story about family, in the words of Helen Mirren, and about food – setting us up nicely for our three course Michelin-starred dinner at Benares Restaurant & Bar.
Benares, sleek and stylish in design, offers a delicious fusion of modern Indian and contemporary British cuisine. The combination is executed very well, with delicately styled meals bursting with warm Indian flavours.
The dessert… that was something special. Dark Chocolate Mousse with passion fruit and hot chocolate sauce… sounds fairly simple, I know, but it really was divine. The mousse had a rich, full flavour with an exquisite velveteen texture, and the delicate passion fruit squares were the perfect accompaniment – I always love something fresh and zesty to cut through the richness of the chocolate.
The Deconstructed Tropical Trifle, with a coconut and lime sponge and mango bavarois, was a bit of an unknown quantity, but certainly a winning combination of flavours. I only had a small taste of this dessert, but it was light and refreshing, with a rather satisfying mixture of textures.
Finally, breakfast at Claridges – an event in and of itself! Breakfast is served in The Foyer & Reading Room, a delightfully luxurious space, with grand and beautiful art deco features. The menu is extensive, offering a tempting array of dishes, but on seeing the selection of Claridges homemade jams, and having a bit of an obsession with homemade jams myself, I simply had to go with the continental breakfast.
The granola was ok, more than ok, but I’m a bit of a granola fiend and have sampled some fairly incredible creations in my time. The jams though… they were good. Really good. I don’t usually go for apricot jam, but combined with elderflower gave it that extra appeal and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The raspberry jam, well that was something else. Plain, simple, raspberry jam… but oh, it was delicious – the perfect balance of sweet and tart with a full, rich raspberry flavour.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to try the famous Claridges afternoon tea, but honestly, there is only so much eating a girl can do in a day! And, well, I did have a beautiful dress to fit into…