If you’re in the mood for an authentic English tea with scones and much more, the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem is now offering a wonderful spread in its King’s Court restaurant prepared by Idan Hadad, the executive pastry chef both here and at the Hilton Tel Aviv.
“We prepare everything, including the scones, from the best ingredients, so everything is fresh and delicious,” Hadad says. “I’m a real pedant.”
Our waiter asked us first to choose from the interesting tea menu, which ranges from organic black and green needle teas from China to Chai Masala from India and Rose Rooibos from South Africa.
We chose the English Earl Grey and Chinese Jasmine, which arrived in lovely teapots together with tea strainers and egg timers. (We were told to wait two and three minutes respectively for the tea to brew.)
Then came the attractive tray of delicacies, with two kinds of scones on the top (with and without raisins), smoked salmon and cucumber sandwiches, egg salad tartlets, cakes and pastries. These included honey and lemon petite madeleines, pistachio and berry financiers, cremeschnitte pastries, vanilla and Ferrero Rocher mille-feuilles, ricotta brownies and mini-eclairs filled with chocolate and salty caramel.
We worked our way through the delicacies one at a time, savoring each bite. Each was full of flavor, and some were quite rich, giving us a bit of a sugar high. The scones, served with a choice of jams, honey and fresh cream, were our favorite. We faced the perennial dilemma of which comes first, the jam or the cream.
“I have done my best to combine the traditional English tea and scones with my own specialty in French patisserie and Israeli desserts,” says Hadad, a graduate of the École Nationale Supérieure de Pâtisserie. “My aim was to bring together my French expertise and local Israeli ingredients with the classic English tea experience.”
Afternoon tea, the hotel notes, is a ritual first introduced by the wealthy social classes in England in the 1840s, and is typically enjoyed between 3 and 5 p.m.
“Traditionally, afternoon tea consists of delicate sandwiches, cakes, pastries and, of course, scones,” the hotel says. “Our afternoon tea incorporates the rich history of this meal, while adding our own contemporary and playful twist.”
Adding to the ambiance in the graceful setting of the elegant hotel building, an architectural gem in its own right, the tea was served on porcelain dishes with silver cutlery.
Asked where the idea for the afternoon tea at the Waldorf Astoria originated, Hadad says he was approached by Avner Ron, the hotel’s general manager, who had spent several years in England.
“It’s a perfect thing for a couple to do before an evening meal, because it’s not too filling,” Hadad says. “Some people have liked it so much they asked for a refill, and others even asked if they can take the scones home!”
We admit that we also could not finish all the delights on the tray, and we, too, left carrying a Waldorf Astoria bag with goodies to take home.
The cost per couple is NIS 255, with a 25% discount for children under 12. If you want to add two glasses of sparkling wine, the price goes up to NIS 305.
“We think the timing is right for this idea, as we approach winter, in Jerusalem, and we think it’s a good price,” says Idan. “We want to offer our guests a taste sensation in a great atmosphere. Each mini-dessert has its own kick, its own twist, and the range of tasty teas provides the perfect beverage to wash them down.”
The writers were guests of the Waldorf Astoria.