I like to pride myself as a veteran of sorts when it comes to Fortnum & Mason. I moved to Dubai around about the same time F&M did, and since then, I have not purchased jam and tea from anywhere else. It is my favorite gift shop and one of my favorite places for retail therapy because I find they have something for everyone and it is always packaged so beautifully. The selection of teas and biscuits is mind blowing and the staff is friendly and charming. F&M is where I head off to when I want a quick cheer-up and want my inner penguin to feel a bit aristocratic.
My kitchen cabinets look like an F&M ad, considering the amount of F&M tins I have; and anyone who has had a conversation with me for more than 20 minutes has most definitely received a suggestion to go invest in their Dark Chocolate Macadamia biscuits or their St.Valentines Tea at the very least. This advise was, most probably, unsolicited; as I find it hard to contain my enthusiasm when it comes to tea, biscuits and shortbreads; and how besotted I am with F&M.
We are also regulars at The Parlor on the 2nd floor, as it offers the most breathtaking and unobstructed view of Burj Khalifa and is our favorite place to grab some ice-cream after dinner in Dubai Mall.
Surprisingly enough though, until yesterday, I had not tried any of their main menu items, because somehow how or the other, I always visit after I have already eaten, or if I’m in a hurry and want to quickly grab some loose tea or cookies to take home. Today though, M and I set off on a mission to have breakfast at F&M, and to say the least, it was a “proper” delight.
From the breakfast items, we tried the following:
- Eggs Florentine, which were made the traditional way; to perfection.
- French Toast, which, were light, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, seasoned with cinnamon and dusted with icing sugar- just the way i like them.
- The Welsh Rarebit. One of their signature offerings, this is basically cheese toast served with roasted tomatoes, but this is nothing like the cheese toast you make at home. Now while M found this to be a little too crispy on the outside, one should keep in mind that this is the traditional way to have it in Piccadilly- it’s land of origin. Although it was hard cut with a knife, it was darn delicious, and i LIKE my toast to be super crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.I don’t think any other cheese toast will ever quite cut it for me.
We enjoyed our breakfast with fresh juices and some King’s Blend coffee, which, by the way, has made the list of Top 3 Coffees I’ve ever had. The other two were at Laduree and at the Ritz Carlton breakfast on one of my trips to foreign lands. Lovers of coffee, everywhere, you need this blend in your life, trust me.
We also shared an Afternoon Tea, which was the highlight of our meal, and perhaps a favorite of F&M loyals. Tiers of assorted dainty little sandwiches, the softest scones, decadent sweets, smooth jams and the richest clotted cream, followed by a big fat slice of cake from their selection HAS to be every girl’s dream come true! Also, the Tiffany blue colored everything just makes me want to live there. I really think that color has hypnotic powers on women everywhere….
My favorite part of the Afternoon Tea was the Countess Grey slice. This delicate stack comprised of a crispy base, and mousse-like layers of chocolate, candied orange peels, and a subtle hint of Countess Grey tea. The whole chocolate-orange combo receives extreme reactions from people; either you love it or you hate it. I LOVE it. As far as I’m concerned, chocolate and orange belong together, so this one really hit the spot for me.
The pillow-soft scones, decadent clotted cream and fruity jams deserve a special accolade. Scones, clotted cream and jam are as synonymous with Great Britain as Queen Elizabeth herself. So much so, in fact, that these were the three items served to the general public on her Golden Jubilee.
Another favorite was the Sachertote, which has recently been improved to have a richer more dark chocolate appeal to it. This little bite of chocolatey indulgence made me want more,
And if all this doesn’t spoil you for choice enough, you also get to pick a slice of cake from the overwhelming variety that includes:
- Black Forest (Chocolate and cherries…YUM),
- Button Bird (Vanilla, apricot preserve and marzipan),
- Plum Tart,
- Victoria Sponge Cake (The classic and Queen Victoria’s favorite cake)
- And my favorite: The Charlotte Rousse. This F&M classic, is like a trifle turned into a cake, except better. Enclosed within a cage of crisp ladyfingers, this is a pistachio, coconut, lime and raspberry cake that packs so many contrasting flavors and textures married together in perfect harmony.
I also had the Rose Puchong Tea which was the one of the most aromatic black teas I’ve ever had, with a pleasant whiff of roses. I always prefer white and green teas over black, but Ms.Puchong has now made it to my Wall of Teas at home.
All in all, this elegant Tea Salon gave me more reason to remain loyal to F&M and to continue taking all our Dubai-touring-guests there. The full-house of happy customer proved that I’m not the only one who enjoys enriching her life with some British tea culture.
There are several reasons why I am happy giving my time and money to F&M. I don’t know if it’s the quality of the product; the extremely attractive packaging/China; the well-groomed, well-mannered, and well-versed staff that make you feel extremely welcome and important (we’re looking at you, Muntassir); or all of the above, but I keep going back to F&M and most definitely will continue to do so.