This November, Kimpton Fitzroy London, in the heart of London’s Bloomsbury, will launch a new chocolate inspired afternoon tea to celebrate the short winter days and the onset of the season of indulgence. ‘Do You Like Chocolate?’ is the result of a careful collaboration between Executive Pastry Chef and Winner of Bake Off: The Professionals 2019, Thibault Marchandand Director of Bars, Sean Fennelly, following months of research to infuse the precision of the cocktail with the fragility of the patisserie. The tea will feature intelligent cocktail pairings alongside elements of the traditional afternoon tea with a chocolate spin. ‘Do You Like Chocolate?’ will be set in the hotel’s decadent cocktail bar, Fitz’s, surrounded by roaring fires, rich interiors and extravagant details befitting of the festive period.
Sean and Thibault found inspiration from ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures when chocolate was used as a decadent spice, or a form of currency. They constructed the ‘Do You Like Chocolate?’ afternoon tea as a celebration of this precious ingredient, it’s complex flavours and global heritage. The journey will take guests from Grenada to the Dominican Republic, featuring the comforting Waina 35% with a creamy flavour and touch of vanilla, to the Alpaco 66% who’s intensely chocolate flavours are accompanied by the delicate floral aromas of jasmine and orange blossom.
Sean has created a series of cocktails to accompany the sweets, from an indulgent cherry and Bahibé (46%) chocolate serve, to a floral and aromatic Champagne spritz that makes the most of the discarded waste from chocolate manufacture; a Cacao Fruit Eau-de-Vie, with hints of Jasmine and a touch of creamy white Waina (35%) chocolate. The cocktails are based on chocolate through the ages: on everything from the modernism of 1930’s Italian futurists, the heady drinking habits of the Mayans, chocolate’s arrival in the bawdy alehouses of 18th century London and the legend of a Swiss chocolatier whose inspirational laziness gave us the chocolate as we know it today, completely by accident.
The chocolate used throughout the afternoon tea is from Valrhona – a worldwide producer of exceptional, artisan quality chocolate – and Thibault has used it to craft a selection of delicate cakes to accompany these drinks. These include a refined and rich Tainori (64%) chocolate layered cake, brightened by a refreshing layer of passion fruit, mango, lime and banana and finished with a delicate macaron; a light and playful Tonka, lime and Kalingo (64%) chocolate choux; a Coffee tart with Orelys (35%) with sweet liquorice similar to that of an espresso tart; and a blackcurrant and Macae (62%) petit gateau, deep in flavour with an explosive fruit confit.
The sweet section of the menu is as follows:
Orelys & Coffee Tart
Tonka, Kalingo & Lime Choux
Macae & Blackcurrant Petit Gateau
Mango, Passion Fruit & Tainori Layered Cake
There will be a selection of traditional afternoon tea sandwiches and both classic and chocolate scones for guests to indulge in, served with Clotted Cream, Blueberry Jam and Passion Fruit Curd.
Thibault and Sean’s joint vision is to showcase the versatility of chocolate in its many different forms against the unique backdrop of Fitz’s cocktail bar. The dramatic space, designed by Russell Sage Studio, is decorated with sumptuous fabrics, dark wood panelling and furnishings in dark hues and jewel tones, complete with a glitter ball hanging from the ceiling.