It was the 20th of November and I was definitely not in the Christmas spirit. There were near torrential levels of rain outside and the wind was icy cold.
Basically, I was in a foul mood, but that all changed as soon as I stepped through the doors of the 5-star InterContinental Hotel in Dublin.
The luxurious Ballsbridge venue was tastefully decorated in the most festive decorations (I later found out that the hotel has nine Christmas trees dotted around the premises this year). In short, it was magical.
The Grinch within softened and a huge goofy grin took its place on my face. It seemed it was officially Christmas.
I was here to indulge in the hotel’s new Festive Afternoon Tea menu, which has been created by pastry chef Orna Larkin.
As soon as I took my seat, I couldn’t help but let my eyes trace every detail on the table, on the walls and even on the menu.
A beautiful Christmas atmosphere has been created in the InterContinental this year and it’s one that would thrill both adults and children.
Something I loved was that the Afternoon Tea menu incorporated quotes from well-known Irish writers, William Butler Yeats and James Joyce.
The Joyce quote from Dubliners was one that really struck a chord with me and one I’ve loved for quite some time.
I wanted real adventures to happen to myself. But real adventures, I reflected, do not happen to people who remain at home: they must be sought abroad.
Sitting by the cosy fireplace in the elegant Reading Room and sipping on a glass (or two) of Perrier-Jouët Blason Rose Champagne, I felt completely at ease.
Pastry chef Orna Larkin decided to keep the bottom tier of her Afternoon Tea menu classic and traditional, choosing to put the main focus on the dessert section.
The finger sandwiches section displays staples like Smoked Irish Salmon with dill cream cheese, Lemon-Scented Paprika Chicken, and a Ham and Cheese sandwich.
It was a great start to the dining experience and as the final drops of Champagne disappeared from my glass, my eyes turned to the tea menu and the rose scented, cherry flavoured Chinese Sencha Rose Tea.
One of my favourite and nostalgic parts of any Afternoon Tea is of course, the scones. With Fluffy Buttermilk Scones on the plate in front of us, both plain and fruit, we were well stocked.
Served with clotted cream (which was topped with a white chocolate snowman) and homemade mango and raspberry preserves, I lathered a hearty blob on one of the scones and set about indulging in one of Afternoon Tea’s greatest joys.
Finally, it was time to pluck the sweet treats from their all-too-tempting spot on top of the tray.
If you’re a fan of panna cotta, you’ll have no choice but to kick things off with the Ginger Yogurt Panna Cotta. Covered in a shiny green glaze and topped with a hollow white chocolate ball, there couldn’t possibly be a more festive dessert out there.
The Panettone Bread and Butter Pudding and Lemon Cinnamon Posset with Fig Jam were great additions to the selection and both were beautifully decorated.
Both myself and my orange-obsessed friend were in love with the Chocolate Orange and Hazelnut Sponge, which was topped with a sugary sweet snowflake. Never one to say no to a bit of chocolate indulgence, this was the perfect way to make my Tuesday feel like a Friday.
The Christmas Cheesecake was the most pleasant of all surprises on the day. I’m not a fan of Christmas pudding, but this little dessert was much more neutral than the traditional dessert. You still get the flavours of Christmas in a lighter bite without that full-on taste.
It was with great sadness that I finally gathered my coat, scarf and hat, and ventured back out into the cold and rain. As the bright lights of the InterContinental started to fade from view, the festive cheer stayed with me long after I had returned home.
Festive Afternoon Tea at the InterContinental Dublin is priced at €40 per person and you can add a glass of Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut Champagne for €15 per person or a glass of Perrier-Jouët Blason Rose Champagne for €18 per person.
For more information or to book, call 016654000 or visit intercontinentaldublin.ie.
REVIEW BY SARAH GLASCOTT