x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Happiness is food and fashion

Raffles' Fashion Afternoon Tea is my idea of a perfect afternoon.

Food and fashion are two things I love in equal measure. Being well shod and well fed are the secrets to happiness for me, so imagine my delight when I discovered that Raffles hotel in Dubai was offering a Fashion Afternoon Tea at its Salon, that can best be described as "couture cuisine".

Now, I've had my fair share of afternoon teas, but this experience really took the Balmain biscuit. Some of the things I expected were admittedly in place, namely the deep, cushion-filled sofas and a glossy grand piano. The traditional similarities, however, ended there. Having eaten very little all day so as not to ruin our appetites, my friend and I extended our pinkies and sipped Earl Grey tea as we awaited mouthwatering tiers of sandwiches and scones.

Yet when the food arrived, instead of instantly piling high our plates, we reached for the menu and had a quick re-read.

Smoked Scottish salmon was layered atop cream cheese and fashioned into the shape of tea dresses. Traditional cucumber sandwiches were replaced with single slices of fresh wholemeal bread decorated with emerald green caviar balls of cucumber - with bang-on-trend dill lace detailing. Even egg mayonnaise was made all the more exciting having been styled into sun hats, naturally with cress embellishment.

Having quickly devoured the deliciously savoury selection, the real fun was about to start.

Almost a little overwhelmed, we eyed the sweet selection of fashionable fare, not entirely sure where to start. Macaroons masqueraded as dress corsages, carrot cakes had been crafted into tote bags and shoe heaven came in the form of scone wedges and chocolate almond stilettos. And that wasn't all. As with any stylish gal's wardrobe, variety is the name of the game and the shortbread sun dress and matching slippers tasted as good as they looked.

Which prompted me to wonder whether I wasn't a little underdressed for such a fashion-filled afternoon. Was I actually being upstaged by the food?

As I sunk my teeth into the coconut truffle clutch, all such thoughts vanished. OK, so I was wearing autumn/winter 2010 and I was eating Chef Roland's spring/summer collection 2011 but who was to know? Next time (for there will be one), I'll dress suitably for the occasion and certainly don trousers with a more forgiving waistline than my skinny jeans.

Having gorged to our hearts' content, my pal and I reluctantly called time on our stylish soirée, safe in the knowledge that for any other fashion-conscious friends in the UAE, a trip to the Salon at Raffles will guarantee that you really are what you eat.