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Food: Feast on a fabulous Festive Afternoon Tea at Bedford Lodge Hotel

If you are feeling a bit bah humbug about Christmas, we have just the thing to raise your seasonal spirits and tantalise your tastebuds!

Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa has launched its limited edition Festive Afternoon Tea, an indulgent array of sweet treats and perfectly packed finger sandwiches.

The beautifully presented treat
The beautifully presented treat

And with the phenomenon of afternoon tea having been created by the seventh Duchess of Bedford, Anna Maria Russell – the wife of the previous owner of Bedford Lodge Hotel – where better to sample this mouth-watering delight, steeped in history?

Velvet editor Alice Ryan and I escaped magazine HQ for a few hours to savour this decadent treat, served up at the two AA rosette Squires Restaurant.

Sinking into the damson-hued velvet arm chairs, we perused the tea selection, spanning eight varieties including Mao Feng Green Tea and Chamomile Flowers.

Both feeling a bit sleep-deprived (thank you, deadlines) we plumped for the robust Everyday Brew, blending gutsy Assam, mellow Ceylon and powerful Rwandan tea.

A sumptuous feast
A sumptuous feast

Awaiting the main event, we enjoyed reading the afternoon tea etiquette card on the table; who knew that tea should be stirred from 12 to 6 position on a clock face and the spoon should not touch the sides of the cup?

Heads definitely turned as our splendid multi-tiered afternoon tea arrived at the table. On the bottom tiers, were dainty finger sandwiches with delicious flavour fusions: turkey and cranberry mayonnaise on granary bread; mature cheddar and plum chutney on tomato bread; egg mayonnaise on white bloomer; and smoked salmon and dill on horseradish bloomer. The fresh pea shoots really elevated the egg mayo sandwich, whilst the turkey and cranberry mayonnaise channelled the mouth-watering flavours of Christmas dinner.

With a nod to the home of horseracing, Head Chef Lee Cooper had incorporated a Newmarket sausage roll with crispy bacon and onion into the afternoon tea, which was so scrumptious, the flaky pastry dotted with crunchy poppy seeds.

The savoury elements were rounded off with an aged parmesan cheese straw.

Warm fruit scones were next on our tasty to-do list and were simply divine. Freshly baked, they were crispy on the outside and pillowy soft on the inside; ripe for being slathered in clotted cream, Tiptree strawberry jam and luscious lemon curd!

The incredible top-tier cakes with thoughtful festive touches
The incredible top-tier cakes with thoughtful festive touches

Moving to the wow-factor top tier, the cake selection featured a myriad of delicate festive touches, from the chocolate star and redcurrants topping the fruity Newmarket Cake to the fondant snowflakes gracing the Irish Cream Choux Buns.

The Stollen boasted a generous orb of marzipan whilst the real showstopper was the Orange and Milk Chocolate Bauble, oozing rich dark chocolate and zesty fruit, and finished off with a shimmery rose gold wreath.

An After Eight Mint Macaron bearing a miniature holly leaf proved the perfect palate cleanser to finish our festive banquet. Such an incredible amount of work had gone into each thoughtful component of this afternoon tea, we’re sure that the late Duchess of Bedford would approve of this modern and inspired interpretation of a classic.

The Festive Afternoon Tea, served throughout December, comes with a selection of teas or cafetiere of coffee and costs £29.50. The Champagne Afternoon Tea including a glass of Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve is £41. Find out more at bedfordlodgehotel.co.uk

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