Afternoon Tea at Sosharu

Afternoon tea in London is big business. The Ritz Hotel serves up to 400 every day and menus start at £54 (£30 for children) and to be honest it doesn’t get much better than this provided you can afford it. All the big Plazas with doormen in tails follow suit.

For a restaurant to serve afternoon tea is quite unusual. You have just finished serving lunch, kitchen is getting cleaned down, staff on a break, restaurant is being laid up for the evening service and those couple of hours are a vital respite between shows for all departments. Last thing you need is a coach load of people coming in for cake. Specialised service, extra pressure on the kitchen, very labour intensive pastry items that have to be just right, increased wastage, staff costs etc etc.

So why has Sosharu, a Japanese Restaurant in Farringdon, part of the Jason Atherton group, started serving tea. Well I was lucky enough to be invited to try it at an event hosted by Mash Purveyors and Weiss Chocolate. Regular readers will know that Mash always lay on a great spread and today was no exception with David Swain and Alex Jazevica both indahouse.

At 4.00pm on a Monday the restaurant is buzzing there are many familiar faces here, top chefs from the London restaurant scene, several pastry chefs checking things out, restaurateurs, foodies, the blogger elite. Head Chef Alex Craciun  and pastry chef Emily Argent are somewhere in the background working their socks off!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table lay up was simple, classy and straight Sosharu. We started with Tuna Temaki, tartare of tuna, Tobiko (flying fish roe/not easy to harvest) on a Nori/Wakami/Tapioca (I,m guessing here) cracker basket thing ….bloody delicious total cucumber sandwich wipeout. Then Monaka, Foie Gras, Muscatel Grapes (Mash at their best) Weiss praline powder all contained in an air dried biscuit sandwich thing that defies description so I had to have a look inside before taking a bite.

Sweet things started with Melon Nigiri, watermelon like you have never tasted, clean, minimal sugar, flavour that lingers and shouts WATERMELON. I asked Emily  the Pastry Chef what was in it but she wouldn’t even hint at what she done to the watermelon.

Photo courtesy of the lovely lady I sat next to from Pure Waffle in Kensington

Next was a Strawberry and Green Tea Roll. Matcha Tea Roll with iced strawberry and Weiss white chocolate. We finished with Chocolate and Sesame Praline Dome. Skill, art, precision and taste, light meltinthemouth stuff that really showed off the quality of the Weiss Li Chu Vietnamese chocolate.

 

 

 

At £28 a go Sosharu Menu  is affordable luxury, innovative, and quite simply delicious. The range of teas is also a welcome change from Assam and Earl Grey (both of which I love) I tried Sencha Asamushi. As someone who has spent their entire life in the kitchen and have had the good fortune to work with some exceptional chefs some might say I have become very particular about what I eat….fussy….yes…..hard to please…..maybe.

I was blown away…get down there.

Big thank you to Mash for inviting me, Weiss for their amazing chocolate and party bag and Sosharu for deciding to up the game on that great British institution afternoon tea.

A Grand Day Out-Mash ‘N Secretts

Few large companies manage to stay in touch with their grass roots customer base. The bigger they become the more corporate the management and the less personal the service with little or no interaction with their most valuable asset……..their customers. Newsletters and  Nectar cards just don’t bridge the gap.

What a great surprise then to be invited to “A Grand Day Out” by Mash Purveyors.

This family run business that is now a household name in every professional kitchen in London has just moved to a new multimillion pound state of the art site near Wembley Stadium. Mash HQ

From humble beginnings peddling spuds in Spitalfields market in the early 1800’s

Early Mash

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mash is now one of the most respected suppliers to the restaurant trade in the capital working with the most demanding and difficult clientele…professional chefs……but they haven’t lost touch with their customers and continue to show just how important we are.

Monday morning then 9.00am and 60 chefs from all over London arrived at Mash HQ to be greeted with a Champagne breakfast, croissants, delicious cherries, smoked salmon sliders and much more. After breakfast (sorry no photos, haven’t mastered holding a champagne glass, smoked salmon and an iphone yet!!) we were ushered onto  luxury coaches and taken to another family run business with a special history Secretts Farm in Milford near Godalming.

Here we were welcomed by the family, refreshed with cold drinks and then treated to a brilliant tour of the farm. Secretts grow a huge range of products, both avant garde and heritage, for cooks and chefs throughout the south. Our tour guide was Greg Secrett, Greg Secrett4th generation,  enthusiastic, knowledgeable, entertaining and informative, he clearly wasn’t reading a script and lives and breaths the family business passing on his love of the land and produce to his audience. We saw salsify flowers, red mustard frills, land cress, heritage beetroot, rainbow chard, strawberries, red currants, composting, potting, pruning and of course some weeding too.

Nothing is held in stock and every item is picked to order, not an easy job as Mash send down a lorry to collect orders for London’s top restaurants everyday at noon. The same traditional family values are fundamental to both businesses which is probably why they work so well together. After the tour, more hospitality as we were treated to a wonderful hog roast, cold beers and  strawberries from the farm (too busy eating to take any photos). The day finishes with a return trip to London and a tour of the new Mash HQ. This huge state of the art facility has packing rooms, cold storage, ripening rooms, foraging tables, drying rooms (wild mushrooms), preparation tables etc. The size of the investment and attention to detail is staggering.

Needless to say all the lucky chefs who attended the day were blown away by the people they met, the good old fashioned hospitality, care and generosity of the invitation. We were all inspired by the passion for the land and farming and by the range of produce available for our kitchens. Every chef went away happy, feeling valued, and motivated……what a shame the banking industry can’t learn from this.

So thank you Mash and thank you Secretts and please put me down for next year!