Afternoon tea, as my regular readers know, is a way of life for me. Whether hosting afternoon tea parties in my home or garden or going out for afternoon tea, it does something for me that no other dining experience can.
Spending time with a friend in the Los Angeles area (a friend I introduced to tea more than twenty years ago) happened to coincide with an invitation to try the afternoon tea at the legendary Hotel Bel-Air. My first visit to the Bel-Air was for a friend's wedding 24 years ago. Now, as then, I was surprised and delighted by the illusion of being miles from the city.
Hotel Bel-Air is not so much a hotel landscaped with gardens as it is lush gardens that include a hotel. Part of the Dorchester Collection, it is a luxury hotel but somehow manages to evoke laid-back-California-casual in a way you wouldn't expect from a big-city hotel.
On this comfortably warm early autumn day, tea was served on the open-air, but sheltered, "alfresco" terrace. We enjoyed a glass of mineral water (still or sparkling) while our chosen loose leaf black teas, Darjeeling and Assam, were brewed and decanted, eliminating that problem of the last cups from the pot being "stewed."
More pots of tea got us through the final dessert course: chocolate dipped cream puff, coconut macaroon, French macaron, pistachio financier and huckleberry cheesecake. I'm not really one for sweets but must say I especially enjoyed the pistachio financier and gorgeous little cheesecake. I always save a sandwich, in this case my "extra" grilled cheese, to have at the end; I like to think it balances out the sugar.
Good news for those with special dietary requirements: you can order their recently launched "healthy" afternoon tea with gluten-free and sugar-free options.
For reservations, call Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air at 310-909-1644. For tea at home, see: How to Make a Proper Cup of Tea and Tea and Scones. Look under Teatime on my Recipes index page for other teatime recipes.
Disclosure: Though I attended the afternoon tea as a guest of Hotel Bel-Air, I assure you that does not alter my opinions or affect my review.