A trip to the Llyn Peninsula in Wales for a few days was an unexpected treat and obviously that meant I was going to take an opportunity to have afternoon tea.
After a few days of exploring the beaches and hiked the Wales Coastal Path (have some gratuitous seascapes) I was working up an appetite to visit one of my favourite places to visit where until now I hadn’t actually managed to have afternoon tea.
That was remedied on the one day of the trip where it rained steadily and what better way to spend a soggy day that linger over sandwiches and scones for a few hours.
Portmeirion was designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975 in the style of an Italian village with many speculating that it is modelled specifically on Portofino though Ellis denied this saying he wanted to pay tribute to the Mediterranean atmosphere.
Ellis incorporated fragments of demolished buildings, including works by a number of other architects, into the construction of the village and it’s a fantastical place.
Which is probably why it has been the filming location for so many TV, film and music video productions, not least of all “The Prisoner” in which Portmeirion played a starring role as “The Village”, in which Patrick McGoohan’s retired intelligence agent, known only as “Number 6”, was incarcerated and interrogated, even of it was in pleasant surroundings.
At Williams-Ellis’ request, Portmeirion was not identified on screen as the filming location until the credits of the final episode of the series, adding to the mystery and intrigue of the initial broadcast in the 1960s.
Having recently been “discovered” this Summer by a Londoner (who appears to have annoyed most of Wales), Portmeirion was not short of visitors on the afternoon I visited, despite the rain.
Fortunately for me and my wish to take photos without other people in them… by the time I had finished afternoon tea, the ‘”hidden” (if you ignore all of the signs) village was deserted.
So, to the afternoon tea…in the art-deco restaurant of the Hotel Portmeirion overlooking the estuary and the squally rain showers drifting across the water.
A traditional selection of sandwiches were offered and as I’d requested the vegetarian option there was a little duplication with two sandwiches of brie and red onion chutney, which worked very well for me. Along with these came: salmon and cream cheese on plain scone (is it possible to have too many scones? I think not); egg mayonnaise which personally I found to be far saltier than it needed to be and with this came the old favourite: cucumber but, again, too heavy with the salt.
I was delighted with the attentive topping up of the tea throughout, which may have seemed a little early to most people in the proceedings but as the waitress pointed out, the tea had been brewed for strength and fresh hot water was greatly appreciated.
On to the solitary scone – honestly, two please – especially when they’re a tad underwhelming in size. It may have been small but there was no skimping on flavour and the jam and clotted cream were served in generous portions.
I paused to consider the cakes and watch people dashing through the seasonal August downpour which, in parts was horizontal thanks to the wind.
A slice of Welsh Bara Brith, similar to a malted fruit loaf was my first choice. It was tiny but substantial and full of fruit.
I followed this with the strawberry and white chocolate flan – the mousse was deliciously light, though the pastry base a little soggy. More mousse followed with a passionfruit and white chocolate mousse shell filled with a sharp jam and decorated with flowers. It was delicious.
Finally I took a chance on the peanut choux bun decorated with candied nuts. I loved the Portmeirion dark chocolate crest but was really hoping this didn’t involve peanut butter as I’ve developed a slight intolerance too it. It’s nothing major but it can mean a day of discomfort after having a slice of toast spread thinly with it. I consider this to be grossly unfair as I love peanut butter.
(Peanuts and satay are fine – it’s just the peanut butter).
This was a superb afternoon tea costing £25 (and a booking includes entry to the village too) in an amazing setting and with no sign of any killer white balls either. So, another win for the afternoon.