Welcome to the first blog in my new series, Disney in the UK! As the restrictions are easing and we’re being vaccinated, I’m excited to explore some Disney-related locations around the UK, starting with 101 Dalmatians and Cruella!
Queen Mary’s Rose Garden in Regent’s Park is the location for one of the most iconic scenes in 101 Dalmatians– where Pongo and his pet human, Roger, meet Perdita and Anita for the first time. Roger and Pongo can be seen walking past the gate to the gardens and over the bridge.
Queen Mary’s Garden is home to the largest collection of roses in London, and on our visit they were just starting to bloom. It was a stunning English summer day, meaning that for once it was actually too hot for the gorgeous Cruella-inspired all black outfit I was wearing! If you’re looking for a pretty park to spend an afternoon in, or like Pongo, after the perfect meeting place, the garden is a beautiful place to relax in the sunshine or to (literally) stop and smell the roses.
The Lanesborough, a luxurious hotel in Knightsbridge, is currently offering their It’s A Little Bit Mad Cruella Inspired Afternoon Tea- paying homage to one of Disney’s most iconic villains through edible (and delicious) art. Tea is served in their Michelin starred restaurant, Celeste, which is such a beautiful room, just look at those chandeliers!
We started with a Scene Stealer cocktail, a ruby red mixture of Bombay Bramble, freshly squeezed lemon juice, raspberry purée, Maraschino cherry juice, simple syrup, topped with white apricot air foam and dry freeze blackberry dust making one hell of a dramatic entrance with the use of dry ice. Raspberry was easily the strongest flavour in this drink, aside from the apricot in the foam, I didn’t really catch the other flavours. The tartness of the cocktail was a nice accompaniment to the mountain of sweet pastries and cakes served throughout the afternoon.
A selection of sandwiches and a tartlet were the next stop. For those not taking the vegetarian route, the options included the classic cucumber with a mint yoghurt, smoked salmon with cream cheese and dill, egg & cress mayonnaise, and coronation chicken. For me, the chicken was the clear winner among the sandwiches, with its light and tasty, but not overpowering, curry flavour. The prawn and squid ink tartlet with a lobster mayonnaise was fantastic. The black filling with a dramatic pop of colour looked as though Cruella herself could have designed it, and the rich prawn flavours balanced well with the light and delicate pastry.
Scones were next, with two options available; a plain regular scone and a cranberry and chocolate one. The plain scone was perfectly risen, fluffy, warm and inviting, served with a sweet strawberry jam and lashings of proper clotted cream. The cranberry and chocolate scone was very sweet, the chocolate flavour was quite strong and overpowered the cranberries. If there weren’t so many other sweet elements to the meal it would have been quite a nice alternative to plain scones, but as there were so many other options, it was a little too much.
The pastries were everything I had missed in baked goods over the pandemic- they didn’t come from Tesco’s or my own oven for starters, they had sophisticated flavours, and were delicate, elegant- just. so. beautiful.
The Modern Masterpiece, a gold inside out lemon cheesecake with blueberry compote and a blackcurrant and violet injection, was beautiful both inside and out. The cheesecake itself was light and fluffy, with its sweet lemon flavour cutting through the berry compote and injection flavours. The use of the injection was clever in two ways, partly it looked fantastic on the plate- adding height and a burst of colour to the dessert that could have otherwise been lost in the mix- and it also added an element of fun, being able to squeeze the pipette yourself into the dish.
The Rebel Heart- a fragmented black heart with white chocolate feuilletine base, yoghurt raspberry mousse and liquid hibiscus centre, looked stunning, particularly against the white plate with the red splashed across it in Cruella’s signature colours. However, for me this was a dessert I didn’t particularly enjoy. The mousse and it’s liquid centre both had rather strong overwhelming flavours, and as it was a relatively large dessert, I struggled to finish it. I would have found it more enjoyable had it been smaller and with a more balanced mousse to feuilletine ratio.
Fashion Makes Art Makes Fashion was a black and red chocolate and raspberry Battenberg cake with cranberry jam. This cake looked super cute and tasted great, but compared to the other more over the top desserts, it was a little plain. It wasn’t bad in any way, just not a showstopper.
The Totally Unexpected Red choux bun with caramelised banana and pecan nut crema was, well, unexpected. The dessert was absolutely adorable, a bright red bun adorned with the sweetest little hat and flower! Unfortunately the inside of the bun was really where the issues lay. The crema, with its overwhelming banana flavour and the occasional pecan, was oddly reminiscent of uncooked banana muffin batter, and I think probably only enjoyable for really big fans of banana.
The Runway Diva Treacle tartlet with whipped dulcey ganache garnished with red lips on the other hand was a definite favourite, fun to look at, and the light whipped ganache really balanced the heavier treacle flavour nicely.
The Anarchy Reigns Millionaire shortbread was presented on its very own mini artist’s easel! How cute is that?! By the end of the meal there was very little space left, but it was so worth it for this light shortbread coated in caramel and thick chocolate. Honestly, if I could have bought a box of them, I would have!
All in all, the day was so much fun, it was so exciting to be back in London for the first time since the pandemic started. Regent’s Park is such a lovely place to visit in the summer, and I loved the extra 101 Dalmatians spin on the trip. The Cruella tea was absolutely fantastic, if you’re a fan of the film, or just want some gorgeous pastries, check out the Lanesborough website here.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the first of my Disney in the UK posts, I look forward to sharing more adventures, fun, and probably food, with you soon!