HAPPY 2015 FOODIE FRIENDS! Can you believe it’s mid of January already?! By now you may have noticed Nessy Eater’s been busy indulging desserts and summery meals on Instagram. The Food Gods knew that they’d needed new volunteers to take up the festive Christmas feast and so they immediately decided to choose me. OH the pain I had to endure and retire my typewriter during the holiday season. But sometimes when you’re giving a task during Xmas by the Food Gods and it involves your stomach and gingerbread man, it’s automatically a food hall pass. This hall pass was cherished and used judiciously for it is not an easy thing to obtain. The hall pass is something to be prized and by verbal consent from the Food Gods and Santa, Nessy Eater has permission to share great foods with you kids. What are you waiting for? Let’s begin!
It’s my second visit to Crossroads Bar at Swissotel Sydney and just before I had retired my typewriter and crisp white paper, I managed to spot a really good deal on Groupon. For $79 for two people, you get Christmas Weekend High Tea plus a cocktail for each person. Before treating your tummy to savoury foods and sweet delights, I wanted to quickly inform you that this deal was ALL YOU CAN EAT high tea. I repeat High Tea BUFFET. DON’T PANIC IF YOU’VE MISSED OUT! After a quick investigation like a detective I found out through the Swissotel’s website the high tea buffet is still on but not Xmas themed though. I’m sure it would be still as good and it is normally $79 per person. That’s CRAZY! I saved $79! This by far was the best deal that I’ve ever purchased from Groupon.
Are you drooling?
Before thunder and lightning strikes to my typewriter I think it’s now time to share the Christmas spirit with you. Within a 5-star luxury hotel the Swissotel does get a thumbs up for their modern and elegant interior, however their service and overall management did not make it to a two-star. We were disappointed by the lack of service and management skills. For example when we arrived, staffs at the Swissotel looked like they wanted to wrestle with guests in UFC style. You could see it in their eyes they were very frustrated and sad, especially when there was one main bartender, a supervisor and three waitresses serving around fourty five plus guests. Waitresses responded with a robotic tone and left unhappily after we made our beverage orders. I guess Santa’s been overworking his helpers. Anyways moving on to rainbows and unicorns.
Our festive fare started with Christmas pudding. This traditional pud is made from vine fruit and butter, eggs and a splash of vanilla custard. Each handmade pudding was the size of a baseball and half a tennis ball. What does it taste like? Think fruitcake. It’s not everyone’s taste as it’s an acquired taste, it’s cream sauce with dried fruits in it. I think it err needed lots of cream to tone it down.
Strawberry cream caramel kept vanishing every time I was forced to return to the dessert bar. Lightly greasy but it’s wrapped around a creamy center that won’t disappoint. The half sliced strawberry made this dessert refreshing. I like the chance to play around with the wobbly jelly like texture of the cream caramel before I devour it. It gives me time to mingle before I say good-bye to it for the second time. If you’re craving for that caramel sauce to take home then you need to ask Executive Chef Thomas Heinrich for a favour.
Strawberry cream caramel
I managed to somehow not shatter the blackberry pavlova into a million pieces before it made it back to my table. The fun sized pavlova looked like snow ball meringues. It was extremely light and airy. Being able to taste it for the third time, it was one of those fabulous treats to go along with a cup of tea.
As Christmas traditions go, starting a marvellous high tea with a shot of eggnog is another great way to celebrate the festive season. The shot was very satisfying as there was an egg-rich dairy punch flavour. It can be very boozy and super rich if there’s more eggs added, but thankfully not.
Festive must haves were the fruit mince tart. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without buttery pastries and fruity mince pies. These delectable star shaped mince pies simply provided a moment of self-indulgence for me. The outside butter-enriched pastry is stuffed with chunks of moist fruit and topped with heavy sprinkles of icing.
Fruit star tart
Oh hot summer days means we need to thank the bartender at Swissotel for making us the strawberry cocktail. Though we were half way feeding our inner cravings, we still managed to wash this beverage down. The sweetness of the strawberries was a real crowd pleaser and off course the rum. It wasn’t sickly sweet, which is good news coming from the syrup. The texture kicked ass as it felt like a strawberry slushy rather than a classic cocktail.
Me thinks the strawberry panna cotta was carefully crafted. The strawberries makes a great companion with the panna cotta for bright, sharp summer fruit. The taste was somewhat cream-heavier but that didn’t matter too much because I was mildly annoyed at the casual sophistication of the presentation for this dessert.
Strawberry panna cotta
Just look at how this chocolate fountain GLISTENS! It brings a smile to everyone’s face including the grumpy cats. Stop making me smile chocolate fountain! STOP IT!
I simply couldn’t get enough of the salted caramel and jam lamingtons. The lamingtons were sandwiching the sweet jam. I tried burying evidence of me eating this, but the shredded dried coconuts around my mouth gave it away.
Salted caramel and jam lamingtons
This chilled blueberry panna cotta in a miniature plastic cup was simply impressive. The fresh blueberries and pipped cream married so well with the silky smooth vanilla bean gelatine.
Blueberry panna cotta
With our voucher package, we were treated with selections of tea or coffee. All teas are from T2.
English breakfast by T2
Tempt the tastebuds with smoked salmon tartar with pipped cream cheese on waffle cone. It’s so easy to eat and I didn’t notice I ate five till I started counting the gold wrappers. Oh Whoops!
Smoked salmon tartar cone
Not sure if sandwiches are meant to look like they’re all swirled up but hey I’m loving it. This smoked turkey, pickled raspberry jam and rocket on harvest grain was juicy with that jam spread across the bread so evenly. The thick pieces of turkey was zomg crazy ass delicious.
Smoked turkey swirl sandwich
Making my way back to the buffet bar and look who do we have here…cocktail prawn station with Crystal Bay Australian reef prawn cocktail with lemon and cocktail dressing.
Cocktail prawn station
The fire roasted red capsicums with green olive and goat cheese baguette was my least favourite. It was an interesting take on for me in terms of flavours. It has that sweet sourness from the olive and cold texture of goat cheese which I didn’t favour.
Wicked, decadent and sinful was hardly the best description for these dreamy little masterpieces. I took my time connecting with the Christmas profiteroles. Glazed with milk chocolate atop and sprinkles of crushes chocolate pieces, I think it was the perfect addition to the buffet bar.
Wait there’s MORE DESSERTS?! I became very full from stuffing my belly with trying a bit of everything, but noooooooo the pastry chef had to bring this blackberry and white chocolate mousse just before I was about to pack my fat body and go. My belly was crying on the inside but because this mousse cake was beautifully presented, I had to cut a seven inch width slice of cake.
Blackberry and white chocolate mousse
I spy with my eyes….. is that a full plate of Christmas macarons? A sensational dessert that always alwAYS ALWAYS pleases! Hehe.
We had to arrange a little bit more stomach space for the spring berry tart. Glad we did because that tart had just came straight out of the pastry headquarters looking all innocent and sweet.
Spring berry tart
Woohoo our Christmas Afternoon Tea finally came to an end, however I’m sorry I’ve missed out taking a few photos of some desserts and savories. Overall I loved skipping my way to the buffet bar and thank goodness majority of the desserts and savoury tasted magical so I could forget about their below average service. Totes heart every single desserts presentation. Swissotel is a great spot for afternoon tea whores, for example like me, although it’s a tad pricey but it’s ALL YOU CAN EAT sugar. To my disappointment I couldn’t walk out of the hotel like a Victoria Secret Model in high heels. Instead I left waddling out like Mumble from Happy Feet and swore to myself that I ain’t gonnabe eating dinner…
Top view of spring berry tart
Photos by Vanny Tang
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Minutes away from The Rocks and feeling slightly hungry but dinner was hours away I decided to pay a visit to Shangri-La Hotel Sydney. It wasn’t long ago I visited this hotel as my dear friend Kevin who works at Shangri-La had recognised my face from Anna Polyviou’s First Degustation and The Asian Dessert Degustation featuring Bernard Yu and Yen Yee of Melbourne’s LuxBite.
We had a bit of a laugh as he jokingly said I should be Shangri-La’s ambassador since he sees me every few weeks and with his own eyes he witnessed my obsession towards sweets. Kevin briefly mentioned before at Anna Polyviou’s First Degustation, high tea is also prepared by Anna and her amazing team and so I decided to give it a try.
High tea at Shangri-La takes place at the Lobby Lounge from 1pm -5pm right next to concierge. The lounge area is the perfect place for relaxation with oversized comfy chairs and the atmosphere is just right to unwind- a peaceful environment.
A pleasant surprise to see a bowl of fresh flowers. The flowers bloomed throughout the entire time.
We decided to go for the Traditional High Tea ($42) per person and if you prefer a glass of Chandon NV Brut add an additional ($8). Kevin offered us a selection of Dilmah teas which include Black Tea, Green Tea, Oolong Tea and Infusions. We ended up sipping Pure Peppermint Leaves and Original Earl Gray – a classic choice to choose whilst having scones. Each teapot contained its own individual scent. The peppermint leaves truly spread its fragrance across the lobby.
Just look at the three tiers of deliciousness that soon arrived at our table. The presentation is exquisite!
Normally your suppose to have savoury first before having the sweets but I couldn’t help myself thus guilt trip here I come! I started off with Passionfruit Posset with seasonal tropical fruit compote-garnished with mango pearls. An incredibly refreshing fruity dish! Served in a petite cup with an adorable silver spoon. For a moment my mind wandered off to a tropical island as I was popping the mango pearls.
The Lemon Meringue Tartlets contained piped meringue that looked like fluffy white clouds. The lemon curd was splendid with a bit of zest to it and the meringue mingled so well with the curd.
The Rose and Raspberry Buttercream Macarons was possibly the most eye catching sweet. The rose petal looked gorgeous on the macarons however a tad difficult to munch on as the shells were too delicate to even hold.
As for the Chocolate Ganache– an extremely rich mini cake served in dark chocolate brownie with piped Maltesers shaped chocolate crème and dark chocolate ganache topped with a sharp thin rectangle slice of dark chocolate with gold foil on the corner was divine. The entire cake is covered with sugar and fat. Diabetes here I come!
It was enjoyable to peel off the top layer of the cake and discover what was underneath. I was paralyzed for a few seconds as the top piece of chocolate soon melted onto my tongue.
Ok! It was time for us to enjoy the savory part of high tea. They had a selection of finger sandwiches which included Salmon and Cheese Sushi Roll Sandwich, tasty Chicken and Celery Mayo, Tomato and Cheese and for a while I bizarrely thought the fourth sandwich was cookies and cream. Let me just say I don’t know what the fourth one was, but I do remember the filling contained freshly cut slices of cucumber.
It is vital to have scones when it comes to a traditional high tea. The scones tier comprised of Plain Buttermilk Scones and Fruit Scones, YUM! Served with jars of Housemade Strawberry Jam and Clotted Cream. Interestingly I was completely addicted to the housemade clotted cream.
Not really a fan of strawberry jam? Just ask the energetic waitress for complimentary tiny jams made from Austria. Pretty cool to try jams made from Austria.
This is what a plain scone looks like from a side view…Mmmm!
O-M-G…fruit scone smothered in clotted cream!
Besides tea Shangri-La also offers other beverages like Hot Chocolate ($7)– Very rich and creamy hot chocolate with a lot of cloudy froth. Not sure if it is called chocolate art but the chocolate powder was shaped into an S…can you guess what S stands for? Haha
This is what was left as we decided to save stomach space for dinner. Luckily, they do doggy bags! I’m not a fan of wasting any food. The experience would have been even better if high tea was provided ten levels up so we could witness Sydney’s magnificent views.
Be sure to give high tea a try at Shangri-La Hotel Sydney otherwise you’re going to be missing out on high tea goodness.