All-you-can-eat macarons and martinis sounds like quite a good deal, at least until you realise that the most macarons anyone can possibly eat without being sick is about five (which is why, of course, they’re usually so diddy). The number of martinis one can reasonably consume in an afternoon is significantly more however, so James 1 and I spent last Saturday at Oh La La’s macaron masterclass in Antoni & Alison’s secret Clerkenwell tea room.
Macarons are something I’ve only tried to make once before. Maxine and I made a go of them while pissed as farts and, well, the results were so poor we couldn’t even call it a legitimate first attempt. So essentially I am a macaron-making virgin, but I do know that they are famously tricky, like souffles. Which is exactly why Meredith of Meredith Bespoke set up her macaron-making masterclasses: because, apparently, they’re actually not that hard.
And to be fair, they didn’t seem impossible. If you follow the (long and laborious) instructions quite carefully, it’s quite hard to fuck them up unless you overbeat them. But my God, it’s time-consuming. There are so many steps!
Fortunately, as our collective effort was ready to go in the oven, Meredith brought out huge boxes of pre-made shells – which must have taken about a million years to make – and it was a mad free-for-all to grab all the prettiest colours and most delicious buttercreams. All macaron shells are actually the same, made from almonds, egg whites, two kinds of sugar and food colouring; it’s the filling that provides the flavour.
We were let loose to create our own boxes of technicolour calories…although neither James 1 or I are very artistic, so ours ended up a little, uh, derpy. (But delicious!)
Although I love macarons, I can’t eat a tonne of them at once. I can, however, drink a lot of delicious fruity martinis. Which was fortunate, because the industrious and talented Lucy was dishing them up almost as fast as we could suck them down. And they just KEPT ON COMING. Like One Direction number one singles, or an enraged mother bear.
The tea room doesn’t usually serve martinis, of course, but, uh, tea. And coffee, cakes and other afternoonly things, all served on Antoni & Alison’s own crockery line.
The tea room is an unusual shape, like a thin wedge with big, bright windows all the way around. It’s open every Saturday and proudly Wifi-free, so stop by on a sunny day – with a book! – if you’re in the area.
Now, by strange coincidence my favourite sweater in the whole world is by Antoni & Alison (who, incidentally, have a really boss sale going on downstairs at the moment). It’s 100% cashmere and royal blue, and I bought it when I was a poor-as-balls student for more money than I really had, even though it was on sale. It has, however, turned out to be a great investment; I’ve rolled it out every winter for the past five years and it still looks great, probably because I am super anal about washing it and also because I’ve converted my wardrobe into a moth-repelling, toxic cedar wonderland. I even bought a pop-up wool dryer for that sweater. That is love.
But basically, while I was making macarons in the tea room, THE VERY MAN WHO HAD DESIGNED MY SWEATER was hanging out downstairs. How cool is that?
After a few hours we had to rush off to get ready for our cheese tasting evening, where our guests were
forced politely invited to try our creations. Needless to say, they didn’t last long.
Meredith graciously invited us along to one of her Oh La La masterclasses for free, but ordinarily they cost £80pp. They come with unlimited (!) macarons and martinis, so make sure you go hungry! Locations change so keep an eye on the events page; they run periodically all over London in association with Antoni & Alison and other iconic brands, like Lulu Guinness and Chambord (find out more here). Meredith is also available to hire for birthdays, hen parties or luxurious nights in, and is launching a DIY format soon. ‘Chez Moi’ sessions come in at £40pp with aprons, flavoured buttercreams, boxes, bags and ribbons, as well as the all-important macaron shells for filling and some ready-made macarons to keep you going throughout.
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in Islington and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.