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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Last night FremantleMedia Australia was hosting an exciting event to celebrate the return of their Channel Ten drama Wonderland, starring Jessica Tovey, Tracey Mann, Glenn McMillan, Tim Ross, Brooke Satchwell, Ben Mingay and Logie-nominee Anna Bamford. I joined the cast for some drinks and canapés. I had a one on one set tour with Brooke, Jess and Tracey, where each celebrity showed me their own character’s world. For those who haven’t yet watched Wonderland, it focuses on four couples at different stages of life. The show lures you into all sorts of scenarios of love and friendship.
We had just enough time to make our way through each set. But before we get started, let the bartender’s refresh us with a glass of bubbly.
Well hello there bartenders!
The show is very food-centric, with one of the recurring themes being a weekly cooking competition known as FAT Night (AKA Food Appreciation Time). What I like about FAT Night is that this show treats it as a “extreme sport”. Glenn McMillan mentions FAT Night can be quite chaotic as most of the characters are all in the one scene. There’s properly an average of 100 takes to shoot this scene. It means that the actors and actresses would eat better food! This over eagerness to feed the cast does have its upsides, for example it brings people together. It doesn’t harm anyone if you are willing to give up a bit of online interaction for some more face-to-face connection.
This is where FAT (AKA Food Appreciation Time) night happens.
We were encouraged to feed our stomach with ‘The Queen of Rice Paper Rolls’, Miss Chu’s catering. So much competition to grab a piece of skewer. YUM!
Satay chicken and beef from Miss Chu
Being the big kid at heart, I was so excited to start the tour when I first walked in. Jessica Tovey welcomed us by introducing her character Dani Varvaris and we landed in her world in Wonderland at her place. You may have recognised this photo in season 1 of Wonderland. If not, then here you go Wonderland Fans! You don’t need to thank me 😛
Guess who’s this couple from Wonderland?
So much detail in Steve and Dani’s living room.
Steve and Dani’s kitchen
Guess which characters bedroom is this?
The famous Miranda Beaumont bathroom scene.
Dani and Steve’s bedroom
Spotted on Steve and Dani’s fridge
There was no missed opportunity to see Maggie Wilcox home and who better to show me around. Duh! The actress who plays Maggie and that’s Tracey Mann. Tracey had something interesting to say about her acting as Maggie. When it came to filming Maggie, she mentioned it was important that she doesn’t just waffle around the living room and requested to extend the background. With the producers and script writers agreeing, they soon added Maggie’s kitchen.
Maggie Wilcox living room
You’ll never believe where this kitchen bench came from! For about $200 Australian Dollars, this beautiful retro bench was bought on Gumtree Australia. Tracey then discussed about the products that’s on the shelves and surprisingly most of the products have been donated. It was highly recommended not to eat any of the foods or use the bowls because majority of the items are for decoration purposes only.
Maggie Wilcox’s kitchen
We headed straight back to the main FAT kitchen scene for a preview screening of an upcoming episode of Wonderland and some behind the scene wardrobe with Brooke and Jessica. Did you know? The cast of Wonderland spend about 17 hours on set each day just for make-up and costume. That’s CRAZY!
Chilli prawn salad from Miss Chu
Mind-blown! There’s no natural sunlight. LOL
Dessert of the day from Miss Chu
This is one distinctive set background that convey the nuances of each and every character. It was such an honor to be standing there. This is the scene where Maggie usually has a deep and meaningful quick chat with other characters before she leaves the home.
Famous stair scene on Wonderland
Colette Riger and Rob Duffy’s home
I bet you haven’t seen this before on Wonderland. (Colette Riger and Rob Duffy)
Colette Riger and Rob Duffy’s bedroom
This is the genuine photo of the Wonderland apartment building. I’ve been told by the cast that it was challenging from a time perspective to recreate this apartment, particularly trying to film it from outside but it was creatively fun.
Image of Wonderland apartment
The Wonderland hallway
It is important not only did Wonderland had to show each character’s individuality, but it’s essential how they relate to one another. Each place indicates the history of relationships and throughout the series a few items gets moved from one apartment to another.
Dani Varvaris and Steve Beaumont’s home
Spotted a photo of Jessica Tovey when she was young.
Dani and Steve’s photo on the fridge
There were lines of people eagerly trying to get a photo with the casts, and I took the Wonderland crew’s advice by inviting myself to them. Tracey Mann really needs no introduction to Wonderland series. She is of course the woman that plays Maggie Wilcox. It was a reward for Nessy Eater to be invited and get the opportunity to experience this Media City. Throughout the entire evening the crew of Wonderland encouraged us all to take photos and have a chat with the celebrities. With a smitten look on my face, you know I enjoyed my night at the set tour of Wonderland.
It’s Tracey Mann known as Maggie Wilcox on Wonderland.
Michael Dorman known as Tom Wilcox on Wonderland.
Glenn McMillan known as Carlos dos Santos on Wonderland.
Ben Mingay and Tim Ross just taking some fries from my iphone.
Say hi to Les Hill.
I get a tap on my shoulder to take a CD home and what do we have here…the next episode of Wonderland and the special part is that it’s not released yet until this Wednesday. The less knowledge you know about this episode the better. I don’t want to spoil any Wonderland Fans, but if you must know…except some interesting news coming from Dani Varvaris.
Very lucky to be watching the next episode of Wonderland before it goes on air.
The show Wonderland sure share their knowledge about life and experiences between four couples, which inspire every day people. The show is not just about the food, it is about the people that they are with, the atmosphere that they create. The cast of Wonderland work very hard and they represent life values worth note taking. I truly admire the cast because every single one of them are so down to Earth! So tell me readers, would you be nervous meeting the Wonderland cast? And who would you be the most nervous to meet? For me, it was Jessica Tovey and Brooke Satchwell. 😀 :D<3
Casually smiling with the Wonderland ladies plus Simone.
Photos by Vanny Tang
Disclaimer: Nessy Eater attended as a guest to the “Behind the Scenes-Wonderland”, thanks to Fremantle Media .
Opinions are however, Nessy Eater’s own.
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