Afternoon tea chez King David Hotel in Jerusalem


King David Hotel in Jerusalem is a legendary luxury destination not only in Israel, but in the entire region whose style hardly changed since it was created in 1931,  by the Jewish-Egyptian family Mosseri. What changes though is the style of the kitchen and the new gourmet influences brought here by French cooking experts that moved in the country in the last years.


I visited the hotel back in January, a relatively quiet season compared with the busy activity you may notice right now till the end of September. Besides the usual customers of the hotel, there is hardly any personality that visited Jerusalem, from Michael Douglas to King Juan Carlos, that was not the guest of the hotel.


With such an impressive list of guests, the standards were and will always be high at King David. The delicate changes operated regularly in the menu are aimed to offer the best possible experiences to the guests. In the lobby, little pieces of French gourmet art are a proof of the latest changes of the Jerusalem’s high class cuisine. This is where the complex standards of kosher cooking are embraced by the creative spirit of the French cuisine. A very successful meeting, my eyes and smell dare to say.


Besides the intensive sightseeing and its part of story telling that I am shared – minutes before returning in the lobby was just chatting with one of the oldest employees of the hotel about how the bar mitzva party of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zetta Jones was celebrated here – I am here also for some special gourmet experiences. For instance, to try the relatively new – one year and a half ago only – afternoon tea menu. As for now, we have: English preciousness, French creativity and kosher delicacies. What can I get out of it? Till everything is ready, I am tempted with orange juice and a red beet and apple juice that took my breath away and brought back all the energies spent in intesive sightseeings in and around the city. The sweetness of the apple and the earth smell of the red beet are exactly portioned to produce a completely new and delicious result.


While I am sipping my Lemon Grass Cream infusion, the brioches are arriving. The fulfilling smell of freshly baked pastry, ready to be tasted in the company of butter and strawberry jam. Wish I can spend every day tasting such mouth melting pieces of art.


But there is much more to come. The 3-layered plates are each carrying some new foodie works of art. Small pieces of smoked caramelised salmon with soy sauce and traces of yolk, a high end selection of cheeses, among which my favourite goat cheese, Camembert and Gruyere, freshly produced in the North of Israel, with blueberries and slowly roasted tomatoes. Although I love the cheeses a lot, the caramelised salmon is just perfect, with the delicate fried fish covered in moderate sweetness. To be eaten only in small unforgettable bites. Since I am back in Berlin, I am obsessively trying to recreate the recipe, bust probably it will not happen before taking some special gourmet French classes.


But the afternoon tea is not done yet. After the puffy pastry, and the gourmet bites, it follows the sweet part of the menu. It seems that the classical three-tiered plates are here replaced at King David by three-course meals. As everything in the menu, don’t expect abundance, but high style. The soft dough of the scones is aromated with raisins, rhum and vanilla, and accompanied by fresh sour cream at the room temperature and the fine tarts are complimentary to the simple freshness of the fruits.

When I finally have to leave this island of culinary wellness, I knew that the memory of so many special tastes will follow me for a long time. I was right and the remedy is to find the fastest way to be back soon. Where else can I find such a beautiful mixture of apple and red beet?

Disclaimer: I was the guest of King David Hotel for a special afternoon spent discovering the hotel (a dedicated post coming up soon), but the opinions are, as usual, my own.

Afternoon tea chez The Ritz-Carlton Berlin


Although it has the perfect ingredients – and I am talking about the weather especially – for a successful afternoon tea formula, Germany is still a bit far away till adopting the good English habits. Especially now, when the dark, cold and bad weather is present more than ever, having a cuppa and enjoying a luxurious afternoon could be a good smoothing way to offer yourself a spark of wellness. In one of the last days of this summer, I started again the search for the best afternoon teas in the city, ending up at the little palace of luxury hiding near the high-scrapers from Potsdamer Platz: at the unique The Ritz-Carlton Berlin. Early this year, I have been the guest of the first Ritz-Carlton in Germany, in Wolfsburg, where the afternoon tea left me with unforgettable memories of tastes and special tea flavours. As I was told that each hotel from this chain do have its special luxury trademark, I am here to discover the different reality. The afternoon tea takes places at the end of the huge lobby, designed according to the principles of Berlin’s main architect, the 19th century Schinkel. Although situated in an open space, there is enough privacy and quietness to relax and enjoy your afternoon. Regularly, background piano music creates a special ambiance for the guests.


As much as I would love to close my eyes and maybe have a little end-of-the summer dream, I know that I am here for work. The passion of the master tea Hernan Caballero telling me the story of the various teas I can chose from brings me back to the daily life. As usual, I am highly impressed by people that followed their dreams and passions and Hernan is a successful one of them. Trained by the famous Mariage Frères in France, whose special teas are exclusively served here, he makes my tea choices even complicated, as it seems that behind each flavour it’s a whole fascinating story. I can spend full days in the front of this sniffing box so, who knows, maybe I have enough passion too to be a tea master myself as well one day.


As Hernan explained, sugar can change completely the texture of the tea and if you really want to have the real taste you should be careful with the sweetness as well as with the various taste combinations of the side dishes. In the case of the black tea, for instance, the sugar and the lemon can smooth the flavour, while too much caramel to the green tea will almost completely neutralize the green tea taste. As for now, there are 68 sorts of tea available, introduced in detail, in English and German, in an elegant booklet offered to the guests for consultation and lecture. The organic honey offered as an alternative to sugar is made on the roof of the hotel, at the 7 beehives that produce around 3-400 kg. every year.


With so many new stories, my brain is fighting hard to make the right choice, at least for now. Trying to make my life easier, I decide to stay around my comfort zone: the green tea. As I was missing Japan lately, I said ‘yes’ to Gyokuro. According to the explanation offered in the tea menu, this tea seems to the result of hard work, similar to that of a work of art. Only buds are plucked, very carefully by hand, and only once the year. But before that, the plants are placed under the shade for three weeks in order to increase the concentration of chlorophyll and reduce tannin. The result is considered to be ‘the most noble, refined, and precious green tea in the world’. Brought in Mariage Frères teapot, it’s the best green tea I ever had – and the secret is that I am drinking as much green tea as possible: very simple, balanced, flavoured in a very neutral, humble way. Every drop brings more peace and balance and I’m almost back in my dreamworld.


But it’s time to add some good foodie company to the special tea. The three-tiered plates are not less surprising. From warm raclette to small sandwiches with cucumber and various veggies cover or the delicate small pieces of sweets, everything ask me to stay more, just because I need to be truly objective with my final review, of course.


Now, the perfect ambiance seems to be complete: the elegant architecture, pleasant background music, the tailored furniture – especially made by German artists, the small pieces of food, each one having a small delicious secret, as only one different concentration of spices or a bit of salt can make things completely different and, of course, the exquisite tea. The afternoon tea takes place every day between 2pm and 6pm. Besides the usual classic and Experience French Aroma – offering an exclusive Mariage Frères experience – afternoon tea there are also special Ladies Tea offers – for before and after the shopping tours and tailored winter offer during the holiday season. Regularly, there are also offered various tea classes, especially for children.


When I was expecting less, the fresh, delicately warm scones, with clotted cream arrives. The combination between smooth fresh pastry and the perfumed clotted cream, with flavours of orange and lemon, is like the yin and yang of food excellence. The recipe of creating simple things might be more difficult, as you simply should wish for that perfect measure. It seems that in the case of this simple plate, the secret formula was used.


As for the sweets, every simple bit is set to impress: the macaroons are one of the best I had in Berlin, and believe me, I am desperately trying to find the most crunchy, delicious ones for a long time already; the small chocolate beds with slices of strawberries do mix the sour cocoa taste with the natural freshness of the fruit; the small slices of cheesecake with berries do have a natural taste of smooth cheese, moderately sweet but the fruits make all the difference; the many other lucky combinations between various fruits – from passion fruit to various types of berries – and fine dough.

??????????My sweet reveries are interrupted again by Hernan who is asking me to make the second choice of tea for the day. This time it’s easier – it’s not that difficult to get used with the good life – as during the first presentation, the story of the Lotus Blanc caught my attention. It says that on the high plateau of the Northern Indo China, the tea planter places at down some of his best green tea in the heart of each white lotus flower. He then folds the petals over to permeate the tea with the pure fresh fragrances of the aromatic stamens. It’s moderately smoked, which gives a very interesting air of mystery to the tea experience, rich in unknown flavours and slightly perfumed. Although aware of the special medical qualities of such a tea – helping among others to balance the low blood pressure – I am savouring every single sip with the same interest as I would share for looking at some beautiful jewellery. Maybe besides diamonds, good teas can be a girl’s best friends too. Need to seriously think about it one day.

When my afternoon tea is over – at least for now – I know that there are so many cuppas with their secret stories waiting to be discovered that I should be back soon. Maybe after so many years I finally found the right way to enjoy the long German winters, after all.

For more impressions from the afternoon tea, have a look at the dedicated Pinterest board:

Disclaimer: I was the guest of Ritz-Carlton Hotel for tasting and testing their afternoon tea, but the opinions are, as usual, my own. 

Elegant afternoon tea at Regent Hotel Berlin


Berlin, and Germany in general, does not have a historical gourmet tradition of afternoon tea, but with an increasing demand for luxury services and so many long cold afternoons, there is an impressive potential to improve and diversify the local offer. A couple of weeks ago, I was the guest of the very elegant lounge of the five-star Regent Hotel, situated in the equally stylish Gendarmenmarkt, in Mitte. Once you cross the luxurious lobby, walking under massive chandelier you arrive in the special room where the afternoon tea is served. The leather armchairs with comfy pillows, the English-style paintings, and massive marble wall coverings – every small detail is sewed together to create a distinguished space. A well-balanced combination of high-elegance, delicacy and the strength of the maturity, features noticed during my tour of the hotel facilities as well (review coming up soon!).


It was summer afternoon and the ambiance was inviting to a very relaxing lucid dreaming, but I was there for a mission, so needed to switched back instantly to the alert journalistic mood. The tea at Regent Hotel is different from other available offers in town not only because of the ambiance and the quality of the pastry, but also because it has a special certified Tea Master Gold – by the famous Ronnefeld tea company – helping the guests finding the right blend for their afternoon tea. Out of 35 different kinds of tea, Roland Pröh will recommend then right combination, based on the taste and personality preferences. It sounds and definitely tastes too better than any kind of therapy. Image

As for me, I settled on for the Meissner Rose blend: Chinese green tea with dried grapes from Meissner vineyards and delicate touches of rosebuds. It is refreshing, elegant and bringing back your well deserved body balance that you might easily forget about during crazy days, weeks or even months of hard work. It was served in simple Meissen porcelain, another trademark of pure luxury in Germany. Cold ice tea can be also served, but as usual, it depends very much of the blend, as most of them are perfect only when hot.Image

The three-tiered treats are the great companion of a relaxing afternoon, matching the soothing live piano music. Delicious enough to make you focus on the conversation, while biting little by little mouth-watering aromas and quality cooking. The cucumber and salmon sandwiches are simple yet made with care for quality. The scones with strawberry jam or clotted cream – with a fancy pansy on the top – were fresh and prepared according to the highest standards of French pastry. The small gingery jellies were not too sweet and matched unexpectedly my perfumed tea. My favourite was the raspberry tartelette, where the taste of the fresh pastry met the spotless fruits for creating a unique new taste.  The key-word is ‘normality’, but in the highest sense of the word, and due to the beginning of the afternoon tea offer in town, it’s a well deserved feature. On special winter holidays, there are slight changes into the menu, adapting the pastry to the traditional German dishes.

During the summer, there is no need of reservation too much time in advance, but due to the high demand during the winter, such a booking is necessary – preferably 3-6 days in advance. It is served regularly between 2 and 6 pm.

With so many teas to taste and such an elegant ambiance, I bet I will be back soon, probably in the winter, trying to retire for a short while in a small island of warm and beauty denying the ugly weather outside. Everyone has the legal right to look for his or her own normality, isn’t it?

Disclaimer: I was the guest of Regent Hotel for the afternoon tea, but the opinions are, as usual, my own.

More about my Afternoon Tea Project on my dedicated Pinterest board:

Swinging Afternoon Sunday chez Adlon in Berlin


Less than one year after I visited the glamorous Hotel Adlon, I am back. It is the early beginning of May but the weather didn’t change too much, wearing the same unfashionable grey tones. At 14.55, I’m in the iconic lobby of the hotel, looking to find out where the famous Swinging Sundays are taking place. I don’t want to be late, but it’s not possible to get lost and with the prompt advice, I entered the gates right in time. As I was getting closer to the hall, I saw more and more very elegant people heading in the same direction. For me, it’s the only time when I see such a big concentration of very well dressed people in Berlin. All going to the same place with me.Image

But let’s keep the questions for later. At exactly 15.00, the Metropolitan Orchestra starts the first song: Cielito Lindo. Instantly, the ring is getting crowdedImage

I can’t take my eyes off the ring, that mesmerized that I hardly remember that I should eventually go to my reserved place at one of the table placed strategically at the margins. Everyone seems to have years of dancing experience and the following cha cha cha dancing goes perfectly well. And it will go like this from a dancing style to another, either it is a Viennese Waltz, a rumba, a Turkish rhythm, tango, or rock’n’roll.


Finally I made it to my table making my way through elegant waiters carrying huge bottles of the best champagne, where the afternoon tea treats are waiting for me. There is a diverse yet simple selection of small sandwiches, followed by delicious rhubarb cakes at the next level, with the last level of delicacy: macarons and fine chocolate cakes with whipped cream. Not in the mood for delicate champagne, but for a special teapot of fine green tea, brought to me very fast.Image

But people aren’t here for munching, but for dancing. Again and again, I am trying to get out of my mind the wave of thoughts of regrets for not taking any dancing class earlier in life. Although my gentle neighbours, one arrived especially from Vienna for this special event, the last till October, encourage me to accept the invitation of the professional dancers inviting from time to time the lonely ladies to dance, I prefer to keep observing the ring from outside. I am told that there is a special German school of dance whose principles are mixing high end technicality and mobility. High efficiency, as usual, so maybe it will work for me too, one day?Image

Even I’m not on the ring, I still can enjoy the afternoon ambiance though. No worries, no problems, catch the glittering eye of the moment! The live music of the band, plus the voices of singer Annika Lund and entertainer Rainer Sommer, are bringing back the spirit of what people use to describe as the ‘crazy 1920s’. The first part of the repertoire is very much in line with the Marlene Dietrich checklist, as well as most of the dresses and hair styles.


During the short 30 minutes breaks, some couples keep dancing getting fit for the new session.  Each new song brings the public closer to our musical times. Till the end of the swinging afternoon, we have Gypsy Kings, Tom Jones’ Sex Bomb or the classical New York, New York. The musicians are changing costumes as well, and the tables stay empty and the cakes untouched. To be honest, I never saw so many different generations united not only by lifestyle, but especially by the same passion for good dancing. Image

I don’t know how three hours are gone, but they are gone fast. The elegant entertainer Ingo Raabe, carrying a delicate small dog with glittering leach, announces the end of the party, with an invitation to return October 4, this time in a new location. I have the whole summer to train my clumsy dance steps. I am offered a second chance, it seems. A new challenge on the bucket list right now…

For more images from Adlon, have a look at my dedicated Pinterest board covering previous visits:

For mode details of the afternoon tea project, check this:

I tried to catch the lively ambiance in two YouTube videos on my channel:

Disclaimer: I was offered the invitation to review the swinging afternoon Sunday tea by Adlon Berlin, but the opinions are, as usual, my own.