Friday, 22 April 2016

Review: Afternoon Tea in Lough Erne Resort, Belleek Road, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh

Once you drive through the entrance gates of Lough Erne Resort, you know that you have arrived somewhere really special. Opened in 2007, the luxury 5-star resort played host to a G8 Summit of world leaders in 2013, seen as one of the most successful events of its kind, and in 2017 the Irish Open will be played on the Resort’s Championship Golf Course.

Lough Erne
The Resort is located just outside Enniskillen in County Fermanagh overlooking Castle Hume Lough, one of two connected lakes that makes up Lough Erne which is one of the largest lake-systems in Northern Ireland. I have been keen to visit for quite a while, so decided to make a slight detour on my recent trip to Derry and to stop by for a spot of afternoon tea. What better way could there be to while away a couple of hours on a beautifully sunny and unseasonably warm spring day?

For me, a truly great afternoon tea starts and ends with the tea itself. In Lough Erne, teas are supplied by master tea-makers Ronnefeldt, so I knew I was in for a treat. There is something so magical about a really good cup of tea and I was spoilt for choice here. We often forget that tea is the world’s most popular drink; that it is a beverage that spans the boundaries of history, nation, culture and class. We Irish are one of the highest per capita consumers of tea in the world and it is a drink that that we regularly rely on in times of celebration and also in times of stress because let’s be honest everything feels better with a good cup of hot tea!

Cosy Peatfire Tea
From my seat on a large, comfortable couch in the Garden Hall, I had a perfect view of the lake and the surrounding landscape and I sat back and relaxed while I looked through the afternoon tea menu and decided on what to order. A range of afternoon teas is available including Traditional Afternoon Tea (£19.50 per person) which is offered throughout the week and a Chocolate Afternoon Tea (£23 per person) which is available at the weekends. Vegetarian and Coeliac options are also available on request and children can indulge in some specially tailored treats from the Cygnet’s Afternoon Tea (£12 per child aged 3-11) menu. There is definitely something to suit all tastes.

Cake Stand
I quickly decided on the Champagne Afternoon Tea (£25 per person) which  includes a glass of Billecart-Salmon - the resort’s preferred Champagne - which quickly arrived along with a little platter of strawberries.

From the large selection of speciality teas on offer which includes old favourites like Irish Breakfast and Irish Afternoon Gold Blend but also includes the rather evocatively entitled Irish Whiskey Cream, Royal Gunpowder and Morgentau, I chose the Cosy Peatfire Mulled Wine Spice tea. This arrived with its own special timer which indicated when the tea was ready for optimum enjoyment. This lively fruit infusion with its gentle spicing and a hint of smoke on the palate managed to be both refreshing and comforting to drink. I was delighted with my choice.

Cucumber and Coronation Chicken Sandwiches
The tiered cake-stand containing three plates laden with goodies then arrived. This is my favourite moment during any afternoon tea and I was mesmerised by the selection of assorted finger sandwiches, scones and pastries that were presented.

The sandwiches were made with a range of different breads and generously filled with a variety of fillings including an excellent Coronation Chicken. This with its gentle fruity spiciness and tender chunks of chicken was delicious to eat whilst an equally well made Cucumber & Cream Cheese sandwich was refreshing and full of crisp cucumber and creamy cheese.

Egg & Onion Brioche Roll
I also loved the Open Smoked Salmon Sandwich served on a rather good brown soda bread using superior smoked salmon. This was simply presented to showcase the quality of the ingredients used and I savoured every mouthful.  However, my favourite sandwich of the day was a flavoursome Egg & Onion offering served in a well made sweet and buttery brioche roll which was incredibly satisfying to eat.

Pausing to drink more of the wonderful tea, I then moved on to the next tier of the cake-stand which held an array of delicate looking Pastries and Sweet Fancies. Unable to restrain myself I immediately popped the White Chocolate Dipped Strawberry into my mouth and let out a contented sigh as the fruity juices were released into my mouth. Feeling like a child let loose in a sweetshop, I then made light work of the bite-sized Homemade Custard Cream and Chocolate Profiterole which were also fantastic.

Sweet Treats
A luscious Fruit Tart was next up containing a crème pâtissière filling topped with soft fruit. This was daintily presented and packed full of flavour. A Raspberry & Almond Fancy was another fruity offering but here glazed raspberries sat atop a moist but incredibly light base of almond cake. A flawlessly made Lemon Macaron filled with a suitably tart lemon curd completed this part of my leisurely afternoon tea.

The afternoon tea finished with a Homemade Currant Scone which I split and filled with butter, Raspberry Jam AND whipped cream! The scone was served warm and had a light and airy texture. This was the perfect way to end a notable afternoon tea in a stunning location.

Profiterole
Service was warm and welcoming throughout my visit to Lough Erne Resort. Special mention must go to Anna my wonderful waitress, whose knowledge of the teas on offer was second-to-none. Lough Erne’s Traditional Afternoon Tea has all the important ingredients from finger sandwiches, light scones with a selection of jams and preserves to delicate bite-sized cakes and pastries and everything is carried out extremely well. This was an afternoon tea to linger over and I enjoyed every single moment and was sorry to leave.
 
Lough Erne Resort
Beleek Road
Enniskillen
BT93 7ED
Northern Ireland

Telephone: 0044 28 8663 2320
Website: www.lougherneresort.com

This article first appeared in TheTaste.ie
 
Currant Scone, Raspberry Jam, Butter & Cream