Down the Rabbit Hole

28 10 2010

Let me put that title into context.

This was the setting:

Lovely Langdon

This was the food:




This is what it reminded me of:



And the occasion was my 29th UN-Birthday!


And speaking of Alice in Wonderland, this is what was missing:

Bad Girl

I’m kidding!

In reality, Langdon Hall is indeed a bit like Wonderland.  It’s a beautiful manor tucked into the middle of Cambridge, just off of Blair Road, and it is totally unexpected.  As me and my companions made our way up the long, winding road it felt like we were driving into a different world.  Gently sloping hills dotted with tall trees surrounded us and as we reached the crest of the main hill, the elegant and absurdly large façade of Langdon Hall greeted us with its white columns and stately presence.  The parking lot was full of cars one was more likely to see at an auto show yet I kept thinking that it would have been perfectly appropriate to arrive in a horse-drawn carriage.  Once parked, we made our way to the entrance, bypassing the garden walls through a “secret” walkway.  The resemblance to old English fairytale settings was uncanny.  When we arrived, we were told that it would be a few minutes wait and were directing to the sitting area where several antique chairs surrounded a wood fire which was snapping and popping away in the enormous fireplace.  Said fireplace was festooned with a deer sculpture or two and some large oil paintings.

After a few minutes, we were greeted by our waiter who was dressed in black and whites complete with a bow tie and gloves.  As he led us to our table in the tea room, we passed through a beautiful billiard room which faced the gardens as well as a living room (with another fireplace) and finally a red walled dining area that was set for a very formal dinner.  The only question that came to my mind was:  “Was it Professor Plum, in the Billiard Room, with the pipe?”

The place was certainly big enough to host a murder mystery dinner and definitely had enough nooks and crannies to make it both soothing and spooky, depending on the occasion.  The tea room, however, was far from spooky.  It was a beige panelled room at least 20 feet long with three separate seating areas and, of course, another fireplace.  We were directed to the white wicker chairs which surrounded an elegant coffee table that had been covered with a *real* white tablecloth and set with white china and silver cutlery.  As we settled in, the sunlight beamed from the sky through the trees leaving interplaying light and dark shadows all around us.  Classical music whispered in the background.  Instead of leaning back into our seats, we all felt the need to sit straight and fold our hands in our laps; after all, this was High Tea.

(Did anyone else happen to read that last bit in an English accent?)

We read through the tea options and each picked out a flavour.  I chose Black Tea while my companions chose Peppermint and “Old Blue Eyes” – a mixture of various berries – respectively.  We then read through the High Tea tasting menu.  If there was one “flaw” in this menu, it was the complete and utter devotion to all things baked and wheat-flour based; definitely not a good choice for someone allergic to gluten, but it was absolutely scrumptious!

I’m not a tea drinker, coffee is my preferred beverage, but the tea that was served at Langdon Hall made me understand why.  This tea was absolutely unbelievable and anything from a tea bag, no matter how expensive, could compare.  The tea that I was familiar with was probably the reason why I disliked it in the first place, but this experience converted me into a fan (of fine tea, mind you).  My drink arrived in a tea pot in its original form: dark, whole leaves that reminded me of bay leaves.  The hot water surrounding them was amber and full of flavour.  The taste was powerful and fresh yet totally familiar at the same time.  The peppermint tea arrived in a tea bag but I tasted it anyway; I strongly dislike anything minty but this, again, was very different.  The flavour was delicate yet powerful at the same time.  Old Blue Eyes was superb; the berries floated in the tea pot giving the liquid a rosy hue.  The flavour reminded me of fresh berries but in a richer, more serious format.  We sipped and savoured for a few minutes waiting for our platter of sweet and savoury delicacies to arrive.  And when they did, we dug right in – a silver, three tiered platter presented the deliciousness we were about to consume in a lovely way.

The bottom platter featured two types perfectly tender yet flaky scones – orange/ginger and cranberry – that were fresh out of the oven.  These were accompanied by homemade apple butter (ridiculously good), a berry preserve (a nice balance of tart and sweet with pieces of real fruit throughout), and clotted cream (need I say more?) which were served on the side in a simple, triple-bowl dish.   The centre platter held a variety of desserts including soft and buttery orange-flavoured Madeleines, chocolate squares covered in ganache, and miniature red velvet cupcakes with the most amazing cream cheese frosting ever.  This particularly delicious frosting was sweet but also tangy and speckled throughout with real vanilla bean; it was definitely low on sugar and high on flavour.  The top layer of the platter featured a collection of miniature sandwiches – mustard swirl bread with sweet chutney filling (spicy and sweet and absolutely amazing), pulled organic chicken on homemade white bread (not my favourite but still very, very good), trout tartar tartlettes (delicately flavoured and wonderfully refreshing; a runner up to the chutney sandwiches which were my favourite), and of course, cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches (with crusts!).  Oh, and there was also the seemingly endless supply of excellent tea.

We laughed at the seemingly small amount of food on the platter (all three of us could be classified as “serious eaters”) but once we had devoured it all and drank our tea, we were quite full.  And it was the kind of calorie consumption I had no worries about because it was WORTH IT!

When food is delicious and company is delightful and the setting is one of absolutely dignified elegance, one can’t help but think of Wonderland – no hookah pipes required.

A very merry un-birthday to me indeed!

If I'm Alice, who's the Mad Hatter and who's the Hare???

Images courtesy of the internet, thank you.




7 responses

28 10 2010

I especially loved your description of the amazing desserts – absolutely scrumptious! Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting beats birthday cake any day. Crusts and clotted cream – oh my! Delectable! Did you drink your tea with your pinkie finger in the air?! (the atmosphere seemed to call for it!)

28 10 2010

Sounds like a very lovely day indeed!!!

When I got your description of Langdon Hall, i thought you were going to say this: “The place was certainly big enough to host a murder mystery dinner and definitely had enough nooks and crannies to ‘stash dead bodies’.” Hahah!!!

29 10 2010

LOL! This is why you rock.

29 10 2010
Neil Moser

You didn’t mention anything about the copious amount of Asians present at High Tea – and bubble tea wasn’t even an option!

PS. Lauren is so the Mad Hatter. I am the hare, luring pretty little girls into dark holes that lead to trippy fucked up places.

29 10 2010

Why am I the Mad Hatter??

29 10 2010

I think the Mad Hatter is tonnes of fun, I’m pretty sure he had one too many hits of the hookah though so that might explain it 😛

29 10 2010

Ha ha, but Neil, I DO think you mean luring pretty little boys!

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