Saturday, March 09, 2013

The Westin's Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea

Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea & Heritage High Tea

I’ve never been to high tea before but I have seen plenty of pictures and hundreds of blog posts, so you can imagine how super duper excited I was about this. And I must say, what an absolutely amazing place to experience high tea for the first time, fancy & pretty, wonderful service and what a quirky little menu

High tea was served in The Bar, situated in the lobby of The Westin Hotel. It was an utterly amazing location, it absolutely reminded me of the British Museum thanks to its glass ceiling, and on that particular day it was cold, cloudy and it poured all day just like a typical summer day in London. And I mean how fitting, having fancy smancy English tea like a Brit, sitting all lady like, sipping on tea and nibbling at petite fours and small sandwiches

We had both high tea menus available, the eccentric Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea Party and The Westin Heritage Afternoon Tea both valued at $45 (with unlimited tea and coffee), for an additional $10 you can get the 'Drink Me' house cocktail and for $65 a glass of fancy R de Ruinart
There was a wide variety of teas and coffees available from the most traditional types to some really fancy and exotic flavours and infusions. And look at those classy cups and individual tea plungers! So awesome! (I get way too easily excited when it comes to tea!) The teas available included:
English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Darjeeling 2nd Flush, Westin Tea Blend: White Tea and Chrysanthemum Flower, Lychee Black, Whole Rosebuds, Chai, Whole Chamomile Flower, Jade Sword Green, Whole Peppermint Leaf, White Peony, Blackcurrant and Hibiscus Flower, Yellow Gold Oolong, Jasmine Pearls, Yunnan Gold, Silver Needle, Dragon Well

Blackcurrant & Hibiscus Flower Tea
I mean look at some of those names, like Jade Sword Green, Silver Needle and Dragon Well, how absolutely mysterious, could anyone say no? I myself went for something a little more boring and had the Blackcurrant and Hibiscus Flower, it was lovely and fruit. Didn’t really try anything else, was too busy with all the delicious foods but my friend did say that the Lychee Black was a little lycheeless.  Sort of sad that I didn’t get to try more of the tea options, definitely going to try everything next time!

Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea

So here is the Mad Matter’s Afternoon Tea Party, look how delicious and awesome it all looks. Each serving had a story to tell and the waiter was fantastic, showing and explaining it all to us. The café was also very accustoming to any food requirements, we requested for our Westin Heritage Afternoon Tea platter to be vegetarian and that was absolutely fine with them, we didn’t even have to remind them and there was no surcharge.

Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea Savory

Roasted Beef and Fresh Asparagus Roulade on Mini Laugen
Alaskan Crabmeat Salad on Double Bread

This was absolutely delicious, spongy, fluffy, buttery bread with a tasty crabby seafood centre, topped with a fresh vibrant piece of tomato for a bit of colour and sourness. Normally I’m not a massive fan of cucumber but it was barely tastable.

Cherry, Bocconcini and Tomato on a Fresh Green Salad Boat
A lovely refreshing salad with crispy bits , we couldn’t quite work out what the crispy bits were made of, originally we thought it was egg because one of our friends is vegetarian (x) but there was absolutely no eggy taste, so we just assumed it was probably a thin pastry of some sort but nevertheless it was utterly delicious, after finishing the salad I wanted more so I started picking the crispy bits that fell off onto the plate.  The sauce had a slightly vinegary taste and cut through the lightness of the salad and gave the dish a strong punch
Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea Desserts
Purple Macaron with a Blueberry Cream Filling
What an adorable little macaron to represent the Mad Hatter’s clock, and it looked as good as it tasted. Yummy blueberry crispy shell with a blueberry cream cheese centre. The little white transparent topper was marzipan (I believe) and yeah obviously not so great tasting but maybe it would taste better when eaten together. (I ate it separately)

Dark Chocolate Mud Cake Encased in Chocolate Icing
A lovely rich chocolate cake with a citrusy (minty according to my friends) fondant icing. It was really nice but definitely after all those other delicious sweets it was just way to rich, lucky I was sharing it with a friend otherwise I probably wouldn’t have been able to finish it. And look at how pretty it looks, the Mad Hatter’s Hat with the 10/6 on it, which according to Wiki meas "In this style 10/6, which refers to 10 shillings and six pence (or a half guinea), the price of the hat in pre-decimalized British money. The figure acts as a visual indication of the hatter's trade"

Layers of Raspberry Buttercream, Chocolate Ganache and Raspberry Jelly
And something to honour the Queen of Hearts

The Westin's Traditional High Tea

So here is where we got the vegetarian substitution
The Westin's Traditional High Tea 
Crispy Green Salad and Ocean Prawn Boat with Crostini and Lime
Another light and crispy salad, the only difference with the veggie version was that this one had no prawns. It was really nice to have one of these salads after all the other more heavy sweets

Smoked Salmon Triple Stacked with Caper Berries
Instead of salmon the vegetarian version had capsicums. Normally not a big fan of capsicum, they aren’t the nicest tasting things ever but this sandwich was actually pretty nice. The different breads, with the caper berries and the capsicum just came together so well. I just realised that they used the same spinach and tomato bread as for the two rolls, didn’t notice that when eating it but I guess it all made a difference 

Left: Double Smoked Ham with Cheese and Cucumber in Tomato Bread
Right: Slow Cooked Chicken and Pickled Bell Peppers in a Spinach Toast Roll
An egg salad filling was used to replace the smoked ham & Instead of chicken we received a mix vegetable roll. Both of the sandwich rolls were delightful, there is just something so yummy about small little sandwiches and rolls!
Glazed Caramel Mousse with Fresh Berries and Raspberry Gel
This was the best dessert of the day, the mousse was light, creamy, not overly sweet with a slight caramel flavour, the raspberry gel and fresh berries gave the caramely mousse a slightly sour tangy punch but not too much. It was just so delicious, the only complaint about this was that there simply wasn’t enough!

Classic Vanilla Crème Brulee with a Street Nutty Biscotti
A yummy smooth and creamy crème brulee with a thin but crisp sugar syrup coating. I really wished that my crème brulees would turn out this well. (If only right?) The biscotti was nice but not necessary, but nevertheless it wasn’t bad or anything so I’m not complaining aye

Crunchy Profiteroles with Dark Belgium Chocolate Cream Filling
Man this was just so pretty, pretty much like everything else on the plates. Seriously everything looked too nice I just didn’t want to eat it. But after one bite I couldn’t stop, it was so good.

Scones with Homemade Strawberry Jam, Raspberry Chocolate Jam and Clotted Cream
I must admit, I’ve actually never had scones before. They have never really appealed to me, its like dough bread with jam and cream – meh. But I couldn’t not be more wrong, gee after having these I think I’m hooked on scones with jam and cream. These came out warm, soft and dough but not overly. They were the perfect way to end of lovely meal with the girls, cutting through all the sweetness and heaviness of the day. Oh! the raspberry chocolate jam was nice but way too sweet, the scones were best with the jam and cream, yum yum!

I should also add a big thanx and a very happy 21st birthday to my awesome friend Chloe, without her I probably would have never had the opportunity to try high tea! And thank god you have such a great way of choosing your venues, your awesome laziness allowed us to try some weird and quirky stuff instead of the same old same old. 

  The Lobby Bar & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Pandan & Coconut Chiffon Cake

This is a total childhood treat for me, I absolutely love this cake and I'm sure anyone with a SEA heritage will agree. Its light, fluffy, spongy, sweet but not overly and lets not forget that magnificent pandan flavour and scent. Apparently my grandmother absolutely loved this cake and she actually knew how to bake it properly, unfortunately she is no longer around to teach me the tricks of the trade and it seems like her children were never big on sweets making. Hence I had to rampage through the Internet for this recipe. As for the results, I'm happy with how it looks, I mean look at it, its perfect, it seems and taste nice however the texture is slightly wrong! The cake is not spongy enough, it doesn't spring back when you poke it, its a little too dense in my opinion. So I'm going to be challenging myself and I'm going to work on this recipe until I get it right, just like the cakes I had as a child.

Pandan & Coconut Chiffon Cake
(makes two 8inch cakes)

2/3 cup caster sugar
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoon pandan extract
3 cup plain flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
4 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
10 egg whites
10 egg yolks
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 160C degrees (about 5-10minutes before baking)
Ensure all ingredients are at room temperate and well sifted

  1. Combine the dry ingredients: Plain flour, salt and baking powder, and set aside
  2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg yolks until pale, gradually mix in the caster sugar until significantly paler and fluffy (ensure that the sugar is completely dissolved)
  3. Once creamed, mix in the coconut milk, vegetable oil, pandan extract and dry ingredients until well combined
  4. In a separate steel or glass bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks, gradually add in the caster sugar a couple of tablespoons at a time until stiff peaks
  5. Fold the egg whites into the flour mixture
  6. Bake the chiffon in a 8 - 9 inch cake pan (only grease the base of the cake pan, do NOT grease the sides) at 160C for ~40 minutes
  7. Remove the cake from the oven, flip the cake upside down and cool it over a cooling rack, allow it to cool completely before attempting to unmould it
  • The cake tin should only be oiled at the bottom, reason being chiffon cakes actually rely on being able to grasp the sides of the tin to rise and maintain their shape whilst baking. If you do oil the sides, your cake will collapse, deflate or not rise properly
  • Flipping the cake when cooling, again has to do with sustaining the cakes structure, cooling it normally unflipped will cause the cake to collapse on its own weigh. For the same reason, removing the cake from the mould whilst it is still hot or warm will also cause it to collapse
  • When beating the egg whites ensure that they do not come in contact with any fats, this will cause the egg whites to collapse and hence result in a less fluffy cake. Fats can include egg yolks, butter, oil and etc. This is why a glass or metal mixing bowl should be used over a plastic one as metal and glass do not hold onto fats as much as plastic does 
1. Uncooked pandan chiffon
2. Cooked chiffon upside down on wire rack (bottom view)
3. Cooked chiffon upside down on wire rack (top view)
4. Cooked pandan chiffon