When K and are got engaged early last year, we had already been living together for a number of years. We are also both in decent jobs and realistically, lack for nothing. With some concentrated saving, we can generally afford whatever we want…it also helps that we have relatively simple tastes and we’re both not materialistic! Basically with all those factors in mind, the last thing we wanted to do was to start a wedding registry and solicit wedding presents.
Instead we asked guests to contribute to either one of two chosen charities, or to consider providing a small contribution towards our honeymoon fund, for an extended overseas honeymoon in 2015. Most of our guests did that, but some guests provided something special as well. We’re known as the couple that eats out together a lot, and many of our guests gave us restaurant gift vouchers to ensure that we could have special dining experiences.
Our first dining experience was gifted by my friend Bobbi, who I went to university with. We really bonded when we both studied overseas in Shanghai for three months during a summer semester of intensive Mandarin language learning. She chose to give us a High Tea on the Beach voucher through Red Balloon, to be held at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Coogee.
K and I arrive at the hotel on one of the hottest days of the summer – the streets and beaches are packed with chicks in bikinis and guys in boardshorts. I’m silently thankful that we’re inside in a cool air-conditioned room enjoying a nice meal, instead of sweating it out on the beach with everyone else! We’re sharing the space that afternoon with a hens party – three large tables full of women aged between 18 and 75, all laughing and giggling away.
Service is prompt, if somewhat abrupt. Without much fanfare, we’re quickly seated, asked for our drink order (jasmine tea for me, peppermint tea for K), and our tea is delivered to our tables within five minutes. There’s benefits to this prompt service though – I’m decidedly hungry and it seems that while the hens party have been there for a while waiting for the food to arrive, we’re going to benefit from their wait and have our food delivered at the same time! It seems that the kitchen had been working on our high tea platter at the same time, so we barely have to wait ten minutes for our food to arrive.
I always think a high tea service is a thing of beauty. While each tier of savoury snacks and sweet delights can stand on its own as something completely enjoyable, combined, the whole high tea service cannot be beaten. It’s a real indulgence in every sense of the word.
The Crowne Plaza put a bit of an Australian multi-cultural twist onto high tea with the inclusion of mini meat pies, mini sausage rolls, deep-fried wontons and curry triangles as hot savoury items. The best item was probably the mini meat pie which went really well with the Beerenberg tomato chutney on the table – the other hot items seemed as though they had been reheated from frozen.
There was a mix of finger sandwiches provided, but unfortunately none of what I generally expect to find at a high tea. Fillings like egg salad and cucumber were not to be seen. The turkey and cranberry was probably the best mix out of the sandwiches, but overall the sandwiches suffered from an excess of mayonnaise.
The sweets were a huge improvement. I really enjoyed the sweet chocolate ganache tarts, topped off by mini macarons – they were sweet and creamy without leaving that cloying mouthfeel. No doubt it was aided by the little slice of plain dragonfruit I had which helped to cleanse the palate in-between trying different sweet snacks.
I also really liked the little friand-style berry cakes on the sweet tier. They were simple with just a hint of fruity berry goodness, but were so buttery and rich that they felt absolutely sinful.
To top everything off, there were some “still warm, fresh out of the oven” fruit scones to complete our high tea experience. Funnily enough, these two scones came with a full bowl of cream – I don’t know how others eat their scones, but there was absolutely no way we were going to be able to eat all the cream with only two scones! I enjoyed a range of the Beerenberg jams with the fruit scones – I think my favourite was the blackberry jam!
I always enjoy a high tea experience – it’s so completely novel to spend hours in the mid-afternoon leisurely eating your way through a variety of small savoury and sweet nibblies, sipping on tea. Thank you Bobbi for gifting us with this experience!