Afternoon Tea Review // Mandarin Oriental New York

I'm back at the Mandarin Oriental New York on the 35th floor at the Lobby Lounge for afternoon tea. I went with Georgia and Sara and we were taking turns to take pictures of the sweeping views of Central Park South and Central Park. The view alone is worth a visit. 

SETTING: ★★★★☆
The Lobby Lounge is spacious with tables spaced far enough apart that it feels intimate. It doesn't feel stuffy and strikes a balance between casual and luxury with its comfortable seating and lack of tablecloths -- although I do prefer tablecloths. (See pics of the interior space and my review from 2012.)

Getting a table by the windows are a bit tough and never guaranteed, but make sure you ask for one when making a reservation -- you may luck out.

Service is usually excellent (friendly and efficient), but I'm going to knock off a star since we had a lot of trouble towards the end trying to find a server to get the check. It seemed like everyone disappeared. 

To make a reservation, you have to call the Lobby Lounge directly which can be a pain since they never seem to pick up the phone.

There are two pages of tea to select from. There isn't a huge variety, but the selection is excellent. I had a bit of a hard time trying to choose one since so many looked tempting. Tea comes in a white teapot with a paper filter with loose tea. I had the Mandarin Oolong which had citrus notes.

SCONES: ★★★★★
They used to serve savories and sweets on a three-tiered tray with warm scones served in a basket but they now have each course come out separately. 

This is the first time I've experienced this, but they serve scones first, instead of savories. I thought it was odd and inquired and was told that's how they have always done it. 

The scones are excellent. Warm and in perfect portion size. Devonshire cream and homemade jams are on the table to be shared but I didn't mind the sharing since they had enough on the table for three people.

After the scones plates were taken away, the savories arrived. On each plate were four mini savories. Each one was better than the next. Fresh and delicious.

For the last course, sweets, they were presented on a circular shaped three-tiered tray. Gorgeous. Some of the mini sweets were excellent, but a some were just eh in terms of flavor and by being overly sweet. I loved the variety though.

The afternoon tea service at Mandarin Oriental is number four spot on my list of afternoon teas in NYC and with its view and tasty savories and scones, it remains at the top of the list.

INFO: Mandarin Oriental New York | 80 Columbus Circle at 60th Street | New York, NY 10023 | 212.805.8800
AFTERNOON TEA HOURS: Daily from 2:30PM - 4:30PM
COST: $48 | Menu

Giveaway // Teavana In Bloom Collection

Perfect for your next tea party with your friends, or just a tea break alone, this blooming tea set is just what you need.

Teavana has created a gift set for blooming tea lovers that includes a glass teapot (to watch the tea unfurl), two tins of blooming teas (a pineapple white tea and a lemon marigold white tea), and a canister with rock sugar to sweeten your tea. The teapot and tins comes in an In Bloom Collection gift box. The total value is over $70.

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This giveaway is only open to US residents.

NOTE: Winner will be contacted by email and comments/follows will be verified. If winner does not respond within three days of being contacted, another winner be chosen. Good luck!

//Giveaway prize courtesy of Teavana.//

Posted on May 18, 2015 .

Matcha (Green Tea) Pancakes

This recipe by Queenie is genius. She was smacking my hand away as I was trying to eat them all as soon as they were made. 

With this recipe, you can either make these pancakes the usual way, with the batter directly ladled onto a frying pan, or like this Japanese hotcake inspired version where a cookie cutter was used to make it nice and tall. Either way, it'll be delicious.

This cookie cutter version takes a little more effort since we had to make sure the interior got cooked through, so it went from stovetop to oven.

Right out of the oven, these pancakes had a lovely crispy top and bottom and a warm, soft cake-like interior. At this point, you can eat them as is, but if you're looking for something a little sweeter, a little maple syrup does the trick.

Recipe by Queenie Fok for Oh, How Civilized

Makes approximately 8 pancakes.

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon matcha
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
Olive oil for oiling the pan and the inside of the cookie cutter
Optional: Toppings like berries and maple syrup 

Turn the oven on to 400°F and place a baking sheet lined with parchment paper into the oven.

Mix all the dry ingredients first (flour, sugar, matcha, and baking soda) then whisk whisk in the wet ingredients (milk, yogurt, and egg) until the batter is free of any lumps.

Oil the inside of a metal cookie cutter (3" - 3.5" in diameter) and the pan. Place the cookie cutter in the middle of the pan over low heat. Pour batter 2/3 of the way of the cutter and place a lid to cover. (NOTE: Be sure that the lid does not rest on of the cookie cutter.)

Cook for 5 minutes, then remove lid and cook for 1 more minute. Carefully flip the pancake and cook the other side for 5 minutes with the lid, then 1 minute without.

Take the pancake in the cookie cutter off the pan and and run a knife along the inside of the cookie cutter to cut out the pancake.  (Be careful -- the cookie cutter is hot!) Place the pancake in the oven for 34 minutes to ensure it is fully cooked inside. 

Serve warm with toppings of your choice.

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Posted on May 14, 2015 .

Maille New York

Maille makes the best tasting mustards and my favorite cornichons so I was very happy when they opened up a shop on the Upper West Side. The best part? Mustards on tap! (See my visit to the shop in Paris.)

Special to this location is New York City's first and only Mustard Sommelier, Pierette Huttner. 

She walked me through a mustard and vinegar tasting where I tried about 10 of their 20+ mustards, including the ones on tap. Some mustards were on the mild side but there were a few that completely opened up my sinuses -- whoo, strong!

With each mustard I tasted, Pierette gave helpful suggestions on food pairings.

There are four mustards on tap and those are sold in the most adorable reusable stoneware jars which you can bring back to refill at a reduced cost. Make sure to get the mustard spoon which I use to pop the cork and wax top off the jar.

INFO: Maille New York | 185 Columbus Ave. at 68th Street | New York, NY 10023 | 212.724.1014


Posted on May 11, 2015 .

Giveaway // Mystery Tea Stash

I have more tea at the moment than I can drink so I'm running a giveaway with all my unopened teas I know I'll never get to. From loose tea in canisters to handfuls of sealed tea bags, they're all jam packed into this mystery tea stash box. There's enough tea in this box to last you a few months!


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NOTE: Winner will be contacted by email and comments/follows will be verified. If winner does not respond within three days of being contacted, another winner be chosen. Good luck!

Posted on April 27, 2015 .