Sydney’s fascination with Chinese New Year eateries are becoming far more wacky and interesting . I honestly don’t know think that’s a bad thing, given that my taste buds HEART to try new flavours and my eyes like to capture that moment of “love at first sight“. Indeed to celebrate the Lunar New Year, Four Friends have sourced many chocolate recipes from all over the place and have come up with introducing something delightful and different. High tea with Katze, the owner of Four Friends Cafe in Crows Nest decides to take a leap in faith to try out something that they have not partaken in before, their Monthly Multicultural High Tea. A family business that illustrates the definition of courage, hope, love and happiness is kind of a BIG contributor to creating this cafe. With respect to this Spring Festival, Katze takes the opportunity to design Asian fusion flavours to the table. I have to admit, I didn’t know what would be installed for us, but I knew it would be beyond original. She did however state “Bring a plate of Asian food and tell me why you picked it…”. Unfortunately on my end I failed to bring a dish as I didn’t want to upset peoples stomachs. Teehee.
Asian themed high tea
Let’s see up close what Katze and Jimmy whips up…
Our bamboo steamers arrive with dry ice flaring at the bottom to look dangerously cool. For what it’s worth, that’s pretty rare and impressive for presentation wise. Brownie points for dry ice magic. As we take the top lid off, I hear a bit of ” WOOOOO and AHHS”, I believe this is a positive sign that Katze and Jimmy has done an excellent job challenging their minds to make such complex delights to satisfy our tummies. This Asian fusion collaboration has got me crooking one pinkie finger and sipping fine sparkling tea. It is not your typical high tea, that’s for sure. Rather it is delicately made with meaning behind it. Almost each sweet section represents some sort of luck or happiness.
The sweet tier includes:
It was very generous of Katze and Jimmy spending their New Year’s Eve preparing our tea party. I secretly enjoyed the Deep fried cheese wonton not because it represents red pocket, but it was VERY crunchy and wrapped with melted cheese. The cheese overpowered the spring roll wraps, but I liked it like that.
Deep fried cheese wonton
I managed to take a quite snap of the dry ice before it got covered in smoke. Just closely look how quick it freezes the silver bowl. Dry ice can be fun and can create tasty results.
Add H2O + dry ice and you get magical steam flowing out.
Roses tend to be always perfect for every occasion, including afternoon tea. So the Egyptian rose tea is inspiringly aromatic with medium flavour of roses with a hint of fizziness to create a refreshingly experience. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen on the market-fragrant. A very enjoyable tropical fruit and deeply feminine drink that I really wanted to ask the other guests if anyone didn’t want their cup of tea then I’ll take one for the team. Haha.
Sparkling Egyptian rose tea
Frozen carbon dioxide makes quite an interesting substance to use for science experiments and don’t forget observation. But did you know dry ice can make really good ICE-CREAM?
Let’s bring science to the table.
Can you believe Jimmy’s whipping up ice-cream for us using dry ice?!
Jimmy and Katze creating a potentially dangerous delicious ice-cream.
Whilst we engage on eating Jimmy and Katze decides to deconstruct their kitchen and bring appliances upstairs but also a large white foam box and contain it was dry ice. It didn’t take long till we pause nibbling on our treats and move closer to them and observe with our eyes wide open and our mouths gasping every few seconds as the dry ice smokes out of the bowl and onto the table. All of the guests including myself were thrilled and excited to see what they were making. I mean thick pink gloves, a box of dry ice and a silver mixture. Nuff said. Finally, Katze starts scooping chunks of Jasmine ice-cream onto the empty plastic cups that was provided in our sweet tier. At first we looked like guinea pigs sniffing the cups and doing little teaspoons with our spoons to identify the flavour. Luckily, Amy from Milkteaxx managed to guess this one right, otherwise her blog name wouldn’t be still standing here today. ONLY KIDDING AMY! 😛
We were quite fascinated to how this Jasmine ice-cream managed to not melt as quick compared to N2 Extreme gelato and the answer was simple, Katze uses cream rather than milk. Though I didn’t ace my chemistry subjects back in high school but you don’t need much koalification to make dry ice ice-cream, do you?… 😛
Dry ice Jasmine Ice Cream
Sweet olive jelly
Wooohooo this Vegan Salad managed to get in my belly twice! This salad isn’t boring and is one heavens of a delicious tasty savory cup worth sharing. It contains spaghetti strings of vegan tofu made from soybeans, chopped cucumber and a hint of sweet and sour dressing. It’s pleasant on the palate for light and fresh taste.
Oolong tea ganache truffle
It was time to show off some of the guests who brought homemade goodies! And first up Hilda’s homemade pork spring rolls. Look how evenly golden brown these rolls are! Yes, I ate quite a few….just a few….TEE-HEE
Hilda from The Chronicles of Hilda makes homemade pork spring rolls.
Move over homemade savory because Deepa’s Chocolate Dumplings are in town! I am a HUGE FAN of CHOCOLATE and DUMPLING…Why didn’t I think of this?!
Deepa from One Small Pot creates Chocolate Dumplings.
Back to homemade savory and Annie brings to the table Vietnamese Spring Rolls, fancy some of that? Or ALL OF THAT? Yes, I do, I do!
Annie from The Random Foodie wraps up a traditional homemade Vietnamese spring rolls.
No wait, there is one more guest who brings something sweet and it’s Stephanie. A mix of seaweed, sweet potato and coconut milk. It’s a simple Chinese dessert that can be served either hot or cold.
Stephanie from A Little Bit of Tang brings Sweet potato soup from home.
Rare to see an Egyptian rose in a cup. Fingers crossed Four Friends can put this in their beverage menu.
We were near towards the end of our high tea and Katze prepared a special lucky dip. She told us to all write our names down on a piece of paper and she will collect it then draw a lucky name out and that person can claim their prize. I remember telling Amy to write my name because I didn’t have a pen, guess that’s a sign of bad luck but who would of guessed my dear friend Amy gave me luck and I managed to receive 50% Group Dining. Hip Hip HOORAY! Guess who will I be bringing ? :p
Before we left, we all ended up downstairs staring at the clear glass and on the other side it was filled with handmade chocolates that Katze makes for Four Friends. No way was I going to skip chocolate, just NO WAY!
Four Friends chocolate box
A selection of Four Friends chocolates. Chocolates range from ($2 – $2.50(cat, robot, spoon, teddy lollipop) ) per piece.
Four Friends also offers a selection of tea leaves to take home for ($8) a jar and guess who decided to take THREE home? 2 x Berry fairy and 1 x Celebration. Tea leaves are CALLING.
Berry fairy fruit infusion tea jar ($8)
Celebration infusion tea jar ($8) (Please note: Celebration tea leaves are not for sale, however if you nicely ask Katze, I am sure she wouldn’t mind. Don’t tell her I you! :P)
If you are keen for high tea and love something different then Four Friends is the place to be. There is a range of delicious handmade chocolate to decent macarons but if you’re after Asian high tea then you better get here quick! Because next month is a new country theme. Did I forget to mention the price… well it’s $45 for TWO PEOPLE including a cup of tea each. That’s ridiculously a bargain for all of that! And you get dry ice jasmine ice-cream. Hello…what are you waiting for?! GO GO GO
Four Friends High Tea (To celebrate February is Asian theme. Guess what country Four Friends is doing for March?) 😀
Photos by Vanny Tang
Like to know more about Nessy Eater food adventures?
It’s not every day you hear miracle stories such as the ability to overcome a life stopping and threatening disease called Scleroderma. It was the presence of her unexpected third child that gave her the strength and love to fight through this rare disease. Katze, the owner of Four Friends Cafe, who before opened an organic cafe in Artarmon for over five years decided to shift to something much more sweeter, handmade chocolates after surviving Scleroderma.
What is different about Four Friends Cafe and the rest of the chocolate shops? Well, from a traditional Buddhist story about four animals (elephant, bird, monkey and bird) that shares a common interest in working harmoniously together towards a happier life. Katze recommends not eating sweets every day, but making time to put a bit of sweetness in your life once or twice a week. Overtime Katze has learnt to be an enthusiast of natural ingredients and organic growing products such as Fair Trade Cacao. She personally enjoys local goods as she has learnt to support small businesses during her struggle with her illness.
Mighty Tall Macaron tower
Staying true to her values to organic ingredients, this self-taught chocolatier makes everything in her tiny kitchen using the finest ingredients, even though shelf life is short, however her determination is what makes Four Friends Cafe. It is upsetting Katze mentions how some people believe her products are not genuine Belgium chocolate and instantly assume her handcrafted chocolates are made from China because Katze is from a Chinese background, therefore less likely to purchase. It’s hard enough for a small business to keep running these days due to economy but to add discrimination and negativity, that’s SOOOO WRONG. It is disappointing there is humans out there who jump into conclusion without giving it a try first. Luckily, Katze managed to turn my frown upside-down by telling me about a 89 year old lady who caught 2 buses on a rainy day just to visit Four Friends after reading an article in the local paper.
Did someone say CHO-COLATE?
This year for Christmas, Four Friends Cafe has announced they will be donating chocolates to 4 shelter homes. Though Katze really REALLY wish that one day she can donate to every single homeless homes and I wish the best of luck in accomplishing this goal.
Organic Tea Leaves can be purchased in individual jars at Four Friends.
Display of Organic Tea Leaves
Round #2 of Organic Tea Leaves Display
Berry Fairy Teapot suppose to be served hot, but the sun blasting its shine that day. So the lady suggested she can serve my teapot with ice. MY OH MY! There is an EXPLOSION of BERRIES in this teapot. This is a well -balanced drink that truly refreshes.
Ice Berry Fairy Teapot ($4.50)
Hot Rose Teapot ($4.50)
This delightful The Planet Tasting Plate ($28) including a pot of tea is completely OUT OF THIS WORLD, no doubt a generous tasting plate for one. Yes, for ONE PERSON. It offers 11 bite-size sweets including:
- Green Tea Pistachio cake
- Cherry Pistachio tart
- Popping Kitty chocolate
- Almond Truffles
- Coffee Puff
- Chocolate Mousse with Hazelnut
- Liquorice Macaron
- Dark Chocolate Macaron
- Almond Caramel with Coco Dust
- Gingerbread Chocolate
- Blackcurrant Macaron
The Planet Tasting Plate ($28) including a pot of tea
This plate is perfect addition to your sweet tooth list as it contains only the finest and freshest organic ingredients with a HUGE hint of sweetness. Katze tells me The Planet Tasting Plate represents a multicultural partnership and to positively get along with one another because we all in ONE UNIVERSE. Let’s start with Chocolate Mousse with Hazelnut – This mousse sure shows the meaning of the word nutty. You have to experience the unforgettable combination of chocolate and hazelnut. Its a sweet treat that can truly go along with a cup of coffee or tea.
When I first laid eyes on the Liquorice Macaron, I was very skeptical and I already pictured in my mind that this wasn’t going to disappointing for my tastebuds as I am not a huge fan of liquorice. Boy I would of been a sore loser if I hadn’t give this a go. Let me tell you this silver glittery coated liquorice macaron was the ONLY LIQUORICE I’ve EVER FINISHED. It’s odd to believe I’ve become a fan of a good liquoirice macaron. The liquoirice flavour isn’t overwhelming and contains plenty PLENTY of sweetness. I personally LOVE the presentation as it contains silver GLITTER.
For the classic, the Dark Chocolate Macaron is always a sensational flavour that can never go wrong. A smooth rich ganache filling which is made with the finest Belgium ingredients. Now moving on to something fruity is the Blackcurrant Macaron – Flavours of blackcurrant take center stage in this creation.
When I started diving my fork into the Green Tea Pistachio cake, Katze jokingly tells me how another blogger described this cake to be a smooth soft souffle and let me just point out, it is not soft. Because of the premium flour she uses, this cake’s texture crumbles. If you are a green tea enthusiast, like me, you’ll relish every spoonful with intense flavour of green tea bursting out. In between the impeccable taste of this cake, a crunch you will look forward too is the pistachio.
Green Tea Pistachio cake
Coffee Puff-A light puff pastry crust is filled with flavourful pipped swirls of coffee cream.
I wanted to savor every bite of my Almond Truffles – A nutty kind of treat that can make you go instantly NUTS on your first bite. FYI, every single almond piece is covered chocolate truffle.
ALMONDS gone wild! This Almond Caramel is HEAVILY dusted with Coco and is a perfect triumvirate of flavours.
Almond Caramel with Coco dust
When I first saw the Popping Kitty, this automatically reminded me of Maneki-neko aka lucky cat figurine, however this one is completely edible. Teehee. I highly recommend you to eat this last as it comes with a twisted surprise. I can really detect the chocolaty flavours as well as the fizzy fireworks that constantly pops every single second in my mouth. A winning treat of mine as it reminds me of back in the days…Wizz Fizz Sherbet Candy use to be a popular demand in the 90’s. Next an interesting take on Ginger Bread chocolate entails a taste you’ll have to try to believe with a unique flavour of gingerbread and chocolate experience. To celebrate Christmas, the chocolate on top stamped with printed Santa Clause.
Popping Kitty and Ginger Bread chocolate
Popping Kitty’s back
Wasn’t so much a fan of Cherry Pistachio tart as I believed it to be a tad sour however fresh cherry flaours accented by accents of cherry and a buttery shortbread biscuit base with sprinkles of pistachio on top.
Cherry Pistachio tart
I have yet to try the Head Barista Jimmy coffees, who earlier this year won 3rd place in Pura Dairy Famers Latte Art Championships. I am extremely keen on what kind of art will be presented to me.
Inspirational things I’ve taken away from chatting with Katze, the owner of Four Friends :
- Enjoy every moment of your life and be grateful about it
- Support small businesses, you’ll be surprised what they offer
- Slow down and take things one step at a time
- Appreciate what is in your food and go for organic
Have a sweet tooth after reading this? Why not drop by Four Friends to relax over a cup of tea and before I forget, CHOCOLATE.
Photos by Vanny Tang
Like to know more about Nessy Eater food adventures?