This time last week I was looking forward to something rather tasty. On Saturday, you see, nestled in a swanky garden centre conservatory near Little Venice, was the first ever High Chai event from Pistachio Rose – and I had booked me a place.
The regular Ogglers among you might remember Pistachio Rose from previous posts: one on the tastiest Chocolate Tarts I can ever remember trying, and the other on their exciting range of homemade Chocolate Naans.
With the High Chai consisting of both these treats – and plenty more besides – I was pretty darn sure I was in for a very nice time.
I wasn’t wrong.
From 3pm onwards, we sat with our flutes of Prosecco and were wooed by delicate waves of food and luxury tea.
This certainly wasn’t the usual Pud-Hog-style slob-fest; there was no horizontal gobbling or desperate crammings-in of seconds and thirds (lovers of Za Za Bazaar take note).
Instead, I was on my best behaviour, supping civilly with the rest (or as civilly as I could, at any rate).
Having finished a smallish dish of cooked veg, we were not waiting long before platters of Indian-style goodies arrived on the long shared table.
My word, it was exciting – and hard to know where to start.
In the end I went for the Madeleines first, of which there were two types: one containing Rose Water, Cardamom and Pistachio, the other infused with Chai.
Both were extremely flavoursome: small, slightly sticky and bursting with spice.
Better yet in this Pud-Hog’s humble opinion was the Bollywood Blondie: a Barfi-type diamond made with White Chocolate and roasted Peanuts. I love Barfi anyway (the thought of Govinda’s Lentil version always makes me smile) and this one was particularly fragrant.
Though tasting slightly more of Peanut Butter than anything else, it grew on me with every mouthful: something about that slightly doughy texture was very comforting. Talk of adding White Chocolate chunks into the mix almost made my brain short circuit…
Those Shortbread Hearts though – phwoar. Any more exciting and they’d need an age restriction.
Imagine the crispiest, butteriest Shortbread you ever tasted, then flavour it with Sweet Fennel, Anise and Betel Leaf.
All the most beautiful scents of India – in delicious Biscuit form.
This is beginning to sound a bit like an advert, isn’t it?
Well, it’s not. It’s cold, hard FACT.
And when I tell you that I would happily be stranded on a desert island with only a box of those Chocolate Tarts to sustain me, I’m afraid you’ll have to believe me. A dessert island, it’d be. And mighty blissful too.
For though everything on that platter was a fine example of excellent High Chai Cakeage, my favourite treat remains those marvellous morsels of Chocolate-stuffed Shortcrust Pastry – the ones I first encountered at Global Feast.
It’s sometimes worrying, revisiting a Cake or Pud that was super delicious the first time round, in case it ends up being a disappointment. But no: if anything, these Tarts had only improved with age.
With their perfect Pastry bases, each filling was firm and yet velvety smooth: Milk Chocolate, Salt, Chilli and Nutmeg; White Chocolate, Sweet Fennel and Anise; Dark Chocolate and Chai.
Finding it near impossible to choose my favourite, I nibbled between the three of them. And although there were boxes in which you could take things away, by the time I was finished not even the crumbs were left.
That wasn’t the end though, Ogglers. There was still the finale to come, and, after a small break to let things go down, out it came:
These were ‘Indianised Churros’: slivers of Pistachio Naan plus a Chai-spiced Chocolate Dipping Sauce, along with a warm cup of Chai to help wash it all down.
Just what you need on a dark November afternoon.
The Naan was lightly toasted and super soft, though not much like Churros (being baked, not fried, and not covered in sugar). The dipping sauce was almost like an Austrian Hot Chocolate: extremely sweet and thick, with the added bonus of a lovely Cardamom taste.
I’ll admit, for a while I wished it had come in a larger portion (despite my attempts at being refined, I’d emptied the lot and mopped up the dregs pretty quickly).
And, where other diners had bits and bobs leftover, my instincts were to distract them and clear their plates.
In short, I wanted more: more Blondie, more Shortbread, more Tarts.
But it’s probably good that I didn’t indulge any further. Because then it was time to stand up, and the three hours of eating and drinking finally hit: I had to get home… and I was utterly stuffed.
At £22.50 a head, it certainly wasn’t the cheapest afternoon tea I’ve ever had – but not only was it the most beautiful, it passed the golden rule and filled me up.
As for all those awesome Cakes and sweet treats, they remain up there with the tastiest things I’ve eaten.
All things considered, a very High Chai indeed.