Welcome to my website. I am the author of ‘Vietnamese – Simple Vietnamese Food To Cook At Home’. I am a photographer and film maker. You can book into my supper club, Vietnamese cooking classes, buy my book, check out my photography and lots more here.
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It wasn’t hard to reply with a huge Cheshire cat smile on my face, shuffling things around and making myself free for the afternoon. It is not every day I get a free lunch, not at The Dorchester and not with Laurent Perrier.
Rolled into one: some of my favourite things: tea, scones, flowers and champagne –– thanks The Universe! Yay! I was even picked up and everything. “Is there such a thing as a free lunch?” Queries the chauffeur. “They just want me to blog about it,” I say with delight, “I love blogging, so I guess its better than free.”
With a load of responsibilities with my day job, the mortgage, and general staying afloat, (plus supper clubbing), I rarely treat myself to things like champagne and afternoon teas – I have the ‘worry’ tendancies – if I should not be more productive instead of sitting around with cucumber sandwiches and chatting posh. I am still working hard to earn my future lady-of-leisure life.
‘Free lunches’ therefore are gems, and I consider myself lucky and feel great happiness to be offered them.
I didn’t know anyone there apart from Jen from Wild Card PR – whom I had met when I wrote about another event in January. She is lovely. I sat with a couple of journalists and a couple of bloggers – back straight and upright, without elbows on the table.
As our gentle waiter poured our champagne flutes with Laurent Perrier Cuvee Rosé– the beautiful sound of sizzle, of the fizz, of the bubbles dispersing was like a rolling drum to my eager excitement of having it – Now! Now! Now! like a spoilt child. I’m sure you could’ve seen it in my eyes.
Once in my mouth, the champagne danced around like tap tap tap – the monsoon rain on my tongue like it has all along been made of concrete. Soothing what can only ever have been dry and unquenched, it was hydrated by such a delightful fruity, light, crisp and deliciously smooth champagne. Every bit of my taste buds were oozed and seduced by the foretaste, after taste – happiness.
The salmon pink champagne is made from hand-sorted Pinot Noir grapes and using the unique method- ‘saignee’ (bleeding off a portion of red wine after only a short period of contact of the juice with the grape skins), this is unlike most other rosés which are made simply by blending red and white wines.
We were offered some lovely sandwiches, cut into finger sized lengths and polite sized width – without the crust. Cucumber & Cream Cheese, Chicken Coronation, Salmon, Cheese… my earlier almost decade courtship with a Hungarian Count meant that I knew how to keep my Eliza Doolittle habits off limits – only three finger sandwiches at a time – Miss Luu – she says eyeing up the waiter for more rosé AND tea!
The Dorchester has a good tea list, from their Afternoon “Dorchester Blend” of Ceylon & Assam to Darjeeling, Greens, Oolongs and the sorts. I chose the house blend to accompany the fine English pastries and freshly baked scones, which, in my opinion, should be enjoyed with typical English teas and it was divine. Brewed to utter perfection – the blend works beautifully in unison, light and clear in colour with the perfect amount of milk in a lovely Art Deco teacup – heaven.
Pastries were all sorts of strawberries, raspberries, moussey, handmade petals and loveliness. The delicious mango panna cotta is supreme. The warm scones were lovely – but that’s because I have a weakness for clotted cream. “Which do you put on first? The cream or the jam?” Asks my Algernon Moncrieff companion, a Columist from a newspaper I don’t read. “Its got to be the clotted cream,” I say with conviction. “Yes – well done,” he applauds, “some people think that one should put the jam first because those people are using cheap cream – which would never sit like clotted cream that should be used like butter. Cream first, jam on top – that’s the rule. Whomever says differently, we wouldn’t want to mix with, do we!” “Here, here,” I slander, or heckle – not sure which – (trying to be as ironic as possible).
Posh is what my afternoon turned out to be but doesn’t places like these turn one into a bit of a Lady Bracknell? Where one shows off about one’s grand house and one’s book deal in ones’ best English?
I also sat opposite Tom Stuart-Smith who has designed this year’s garden for Laurent Perrier at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. As I also love gardening, my happiness trail was blooming – even if I only have a concrete backyard. The Mac Book slide show looked wonderful. You can see it here on Tom’s site which would also direct you to the show’s blog.
He didn’t talk to me at all (not because he was rude but probably because I was shy) but I managed to eavesdrop. Apart from telling the crowd how he always loved gardening and planting things as a boy, he also spoke of how so many plants, installations, gardens get destroyed, thrown away and dumped after one week at the Chelsea Flower Show. A work of art for one week – only to be destroyed the week after. In my Google research, it seems that the show donates a lot to spaces and charities but how much of it I wonder…?
That doesn’t sound good does it? (As my favourite pastime is worry), it hit me like a bat around my ignorant head. We take so much for granted that we are totally blinded by what goes on behind the scenes because everything is packaged so well. Just like the cheap fashion we buy that are made by little children in the third world – we have no idea or chose not to consider it. There is after all, no such thing as a “free lunch”.
My Champagne Afternoon Tea was a delight – and you can enjoy it too at The Dorchester on 24th- 30th May 2010 coinciding with the flower show. These little collection of joys add to your wellbeing and happiness – I read and I am being told how we all have a hand in directing and steering our lives – Hector would say that we should occasionally stop and simply enjoy some champagne – it does very well in promoting happiness.
I got a bottle of Laurent Perrier as a gift too – yes – “In A Handbag!” OK it was a goodie bag! : )