I was invited to Launch of Garbo’s Travelling Tea Room, held at The Club inside Cafe Royal, London. Of course I couldn’t experience this alone, so I dragged my partner along with me (although he didn’t take much convincing).
Garbo’s Travelling Tearoom was founded by Ninotchka Tingleff. Known for her delectable cakes and moreish sweet things, her red velvet fudge is legendary, and her story is inspiring.
The concept originally started off when Ninotchka held an evening with friends and, searching for a theme, decided to create a vintage tea party. As they had not had the chance to get together for a while, she wanted to make the event slightly more special… As such, she not only made the tea, but decorated the room with her own vintage items to give the evening a more elegant feel. Needless to say that her friends enjoyed it so much that afternoon tea continued late on into the evening, and they soon decided to make it a monthly event.
It was only months later when Ninotchka was made redundant from her high powered job that she saw an opportunity to change her life and turn her social occasions into a business.
Garbo’s tea room is much more than Afternoon Tea – it’s the full experience. All the furnishings and fine China was supplied from her own personal collection that she has built up over the years. As she said “I brought everything with me but the kitchen sink”. Originally called the travelling tea room, Ninotchka named the company after her much loved, and aptly named Great Dane, Garbo. Not only this, but Ninotchka herself was named after one of Garbo’s most famous movies of the same name – we were treated to have this playing on the ceiling as we entered the room.
Entering the building we were escorted to a private members room, almost like a speak easy entrance. Opening the door we were transported back in time for a deliciously elegant afternoon of sumptuous surroundings and delectable treats set to a soundtrack of yesteryear, and even a live pianist as the afternoon progressed.
For the afternoon we were treated to a very filling menu. In particular the smoked salmon mousse with fresh dill and creamy herb chicken on a challah roll made for a tasty alternative to the usual cucumber sandwiches you would expect at such events. Her combination of flavours was delightful – in particular the Earl Grey and Lavender scones plated nicely with their homemade Strawberry, Chamboard and black pepper jam was a dream. An array of deserts finished off the experience, our personal favourite being her take on the Classic Victoria Sponge made with chocolate! Of course this was served alongside a hell of a lot of English Breakfast tea – not surprising that we continued to jitter for the rest of our day in London.
Inspired by Hollywood films from the 20s, 30s & 40s, these gatherings have proven to be so popular that requests to host similar events in other settings have poured in. The company has been specialising in high-end vintage afternoon teas since it’s conception, however is now growing to offer a range of gorgeous food hampers and individual home-made items such as jams, biscuits and chocolate truffles which you can take home to use as part of your own pantry or give as gifts.
Written by John O’Leary & Fossy Meade.