Friday, September 4, 2009

London Licks

To get to the Parlour Restaurant at Fortnum & Mason, you must first make it through the ever-tempting ground floor. Big enough to contain a football field this floor only sells tea (Bleh!) and chocolate (Huzzah!). To observe the displays under glass, the carpeted floors and the quiet reverence of the customers, one would think they were selling jewelry. There's nothing wrong with a little appetizer dessert before the main course--I can tell you that each of the chocolates I tried were delicate, demanding an instant reaction to chew, salivate and swallow slowly--but don't lose your focus or spend all your money on the fancy chocolate. March on!

Somehow I made it up the stairs with my appetite intact and enough money to afford the decadent desserts that awaited me in the Parlour Restaurant. (It is expensive. Actually, expensive may not be a bold enough term, but it is an experience worth treating yourself to.) Fortnum & Mason had made it onto every "Best of London Ice Cream" list I found online, so I knew I was really in for a high-quality experience. They did not disappoint, dishing up in a fancy goblet with the utmost class. And despite the expense, I went there a total of three times.

The first time, I tried three scoops (Strawberry with 12-year-old Balsamic, Chocolate Macadamia Biscuit and Toffee) with warm, melted Amedei Chocolate on the side. All were very tasty, if not accurately named: I didn't taste any Balsamic or Macadamia Biscuit. The chocolate sauce confirmed Amedei as being the best chocolate money can buy. The Toffee ice cream may have been my favorite of all of their ice cream flavors.

On my second visit, I tried the Beekeeper Sundae (pictured, center): Stem Ginger & Honey, Vanilla Bean and Praline ice creams topped with Fortnum's honey and honeycomb chunks. Ginger is not in my top 10 ice cream flavors, but this was the finest one I've had: not too much spice, but not a diluted flavor.

The third visit--I won't say last, because I will return again--I tried the Rosa Plaustri sundae: R&P (chocolate ice cream with strawberry, marshmallow and biscuit), Frosted Strawberry & Shortbread and Amedei Chocolate ice cream topped with marshmallows and biscuits. Served with warm Amedei chocolate.

Do they sound like the best sundaes imaginable? Try 'em for yourself: Fortnum & Mason is located in Central London's Picadilly Circus, across from the Royal Academy.

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