Why do I love afternoon teas so much? Many a childhood memory were spent behind buffet bars in Asian hotels where there would be a wide array of sandwiches, cakes, scones, sweet nothings and savoury heavens. It was more buffet than high tea upon reflection. But there was a lot of food! Madam Mummy thought it best that we (Big Sis and I) immersed ourselves into the different varieties of food and opened up our minds and imagination.
Flash forward a decade or two, my love for high teas have not waned. Which is a good thing.
I was recently invited to sample a very different type of high tea at my favourite art gallery in Melbourne, the National Gallery of Victoria.
As part of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival (MFWF 2013), Peter Rowland Catering at The Tea Room at NGV International will pay homage to the Neo-Impressionist artists with a La Terre Sucrée (Sweet Earth) high tea experience. Expect art as food as both flora and fauna find their way onto your plate.
As our high tea tier were brought into the room, people’s heads turned as one and swivelled in our direction. Why not? We had an edible garden complete with soil, swamps, puddles, flowers and all on it. But more on that later.
As part of this La Terre Sucrée High Tea package, you are greeted with a glass of Paul Louis Sparkling and a choice of tea, coffee or other hot beverage.
As we were presented with an impressive tea menu, which ranged from black teas, herbal infusions, white teas, green teas and even flower teas, we found ourselves to be at a lost and decided to hold our tea ordering off until we hit the sweet part of our high tea.
“What’s so special or different about this high tea”, I hear you ask?
Why, there are no finger sandwiches here! Instead, fancy hors d’oeuvres were served. Poached Chicken with creamed corn served on a tiny portion of bread, Oxtail and parsnip pies, Pot of Zucchini mousse and my favourite a Duxelle Choux.
The choux pastry was light and fluffy and the mushroom filling delicious. However, what caught our squeals of delight was that it came out as tiny little snails. Oh, so adorable!
Next up were the sweet and savoury scones, served with cute little pots of jam, cream and herb butter.
I did like their scones and thought they were one of the better ones out there.
Finally, as we each ordered our pot of tea (I had the Osmanthus Flower Tea “woven by hand, this fine tea from Yunnan encloses a beautiful flower that will reveal delicately when brewed”), we began attacking our edible garden.
On the plate was a rich dense layer of chocolate cake, chocolate earth and chocolate sand with chocolate popping rocks. The two tiny ponds were salted caramel and fruit coulis (we thought peach and mango). There were also chocolate & honey rocks, fruit mousse, rosewater and lavender cake pops (one had encrusted crystalised lavender flowers on it!) and meringue mushrooms.
Needless to say, in a table of 6 full of ladies, we didn’t know where or how to start.
But we did! It was such a fun dessert to eat that required all daintiness to be put aside, as you needed all hands on deck for it.
For a High Tea experience like no other, I suggest you make a booking and pop around to the NGV soon (ends 17 March 2013). Take an afternoon off work. Have some sugar and spend some time browsing the art gallery here.
For another take on this high tea, visit:
[Ms I-Hua was invited to the La Terre Sucrée experience by the Peter Rowland Catering Group]
*Disclaimer: All food ratings & review are purely based on my own experiences and how I feel about the service, food and quality at the time of visit
La Terre Sucrée High Tea Details (MFWF 2013):
Dates & Time:
Friday 1 Mar – Monday 4 Mar 2013, 10:00am – 5:00pm
Wednesday 6 Mar – Monday 11 Mar 2013, 10:00am – 5:00pm
Wednesday 13 Mar – Sunday 17 Mar 2013, 10:00am – 5:00pm
(Open daily except Tuesdays)
$55.00 - Includes 3-tiered high tea of delicacies, glass of French sparkling wine and tea/coffee
The Tea Room at National Gallery of Victoria
180 St Kilda Road
Southbank Vic 3006
Bookings: (03) 8620 2431
How to get there: