Friday, September 10, 2010

Let them eat cake!

Or how a horse, a pig and a tiny monkey helped us celebrate!

Birthdays generally feature cake and if you're especially lucky multiple cakes! The cake may manifest itself in a rich cream-filled gâteau beribboned and lavishly topped with delicate chocolate curls, a tower of tiny cupcakes scattered with glittery silver balls and crystalised hearts or if so inclined plump iced buns filled with crème patisserie. In some circles your special day is marked by consuming portions of your own face as your considerate friends and family have had you briefly immortalised in the medium of edible ink and icing! Or perhaps you've had your current pastime captured in cake form, if you're a budding centre forward perhaps you'd most crave a football cake, a rock star in training may appreciate their powder blue Fender Stratocaster carved into sponge of if 'In the night garden' was your bag you could have an icing Iggle Piggle dancing in one corner and no doubt Makka Pakka obsessively sweeping up crumbs in the other.
As well as the cake there's also the important ritual of blowing out the requisite number of candles accompanied by a rendition of "Happy Birthday" and making your annual wish but thankfully giving someone "the bumps" seems to have gone entirely out of fashion!
Today is both my fairy goddaughter KK and my birthday. And at the terribly grownup age of 4 (and at my somewhat older age!) it seemed fitting to have a proper grownup afternoon tea party. And we decided this afternoon tea should be relished in the place of previous enjoyable afternoon frolics - the Caramel Room at the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge. They can provide the typical afternoon tea just like other purveyors of this tradition - dainty sandwiches, lavishly jam and Devon cream topped scones and a sweet finish of some sort of dinky cakes and/or pastries but they also have a speciality up their culinary sleeves. The pièce de résistance is their Prêt-à-Portea or 'a fashionista's afternoon tea'. Their unique twist is to get inspiration for their delectable creations from this season's designer collections. Artfully arranged on our iconic Paul Smith cake plates are a Sonia Rykiel nautical vanilla and raspberry jam layered mousse topped with a humorous yellow hat, Yves Saint Laurent soft romantic white chocolate mousse and raspberry custard finished with crunchy meringue scattered with mini strawberries, Chanel must-have clog biscuit adorned with chocolate studs, Erdem dark silky chocolate cake filled with passion fruit and delicate lace, Jean Paul Gaultier fluorescent cheese cake, Anya Hindmarch light apricot sponge summer Halen bag, belted Jason Wu poppy seed cocktail dress, Christopher Kane pale pink almond macaroon and Paul Smith orange, papaya and pink lavender bavarois.

But before we start sharing out the 'desserts' we have some typical little triangular sandwiches filled with smoked salmon, beef and pickle, soft cheese and crunchy cucumber and egg mayonnaise rolls then we had a plate of savouries. Again these reflect the season so we have spoonfuls of saucy moist nuggets of duck, marinated prawns, cornets filled will delicate crabmeat, soft cheese and roe rolls and refreshing watermelon shooters. As we demolish these, our most favourites are replenished before the lure of the designer exotica makes us cast the savouries aside. My top of pops are the gooey chocolate cake, the delicate macaroon and the biscuity chocolate iced clog.

And if the loaded cake tier wasn't enough both KK and I have our individual beautifully decorated plates delivered topped with spookily my favourite cakes crowned with a candle to blow out and wish upon.
KK is a little too distracted by her presents to consider the delights on her purple monkey-head plate much. I'd got her a tiny knitted monkey to attach to her schoolbag as she started pre-school this week and as she is now old enough to start pony riding lessons I thought I'd buy her a large toy horse so her other extensive baby doll, teddy and monkey collection can learn to ride also. Another J had got her an ever so soft Peppa Pig which was accompanied by its own puppy. How apt as another J herself has the most gorgeous beagle puppy Jäger! So KK has her first rider and H is already dreading getting a potentially sugar-high four year old and cumbersomely large horse home in the rush-hour. Whoops er sorry about that!
I've also done incredibly well and been lavished in loveliness. Continuing the designer theme another J has presented me a bottle of my favourite Coco by Chanel perfume and H has given me a gorgeous Alex Munroe necklace I've had my eye on. I've also succumbed to a delicious morsel of sparkliness designed by my local friendly jewelers (I'd only gone in to pick up a repair!) Thoroughly spoilt for sure!
The company and the cakes were utterly wonderful and it's been a truly memorable birthday, the only niggle was that the Berkeley had an unfortunate issue with their air-conditioning and both the beautiful, sweet creations and all of us were melting in the heat. It was actually a joy to get back outside again. We were given the now a little more compact mint green 'handbag' shaped doggy-bag with a few more of those Chanel inspired clog biscuits and other cakes in them to take home and they really tried to find a bag big enough to accommodate the as yet unnamed horse, though that proved too tall an order. So what shall we do when you're five KK? And I promise H if I go large again I'll have 'the man' deliver it!

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