A chance bumping into the new Table Bay Hotel Pastry Chef LeeAndra Govender on a walk in Camps Bay a week ago, led to her invitation to try the new Afternoon Tea offering, which she had redesigned. I brought my Parisian friend Aurélie Jullien with me, to enjoy this treat.
Two years ago I met Chef LeeAndra at Chefs who Share in Johannesburg, a week long charity event organised by Barbara Lenhard and Florian Gast of Opulent Living. Chefs LeeAndra, and Anand Bhana of Hartford House at the time, co-won the Young Chef of the Year title for that year, part of the 2016 Chefs who Share event. They won a prize to work at a Michelin star restaurant in Europe, and a visit to Champagne. She worked at Roots at the time, and then moved to Times Square in Pretoria, before moving to Cape Town to join the Sun International-owned The Table Bay Hotel in July.
Sadly, the Chefs who Share Art Auction and charity dinner has not been organised since then.
Despite Chef LeeAndra having the day off, she came into work on Thursday afternoon on which we had arranged the booking for the Afternoon Tea with her. We were welcomed by a Lounge Manager, and shown our table, near the fireplace, which surprisingly was burning, but I never felt the heat at our table, it being a lovely sunshine day. We could not help notice the Table of Feasts and Treats, beautifully presented and waiting to be photographed (main photograph above). I did that immediately, to capture the treats on the table before there were any gaps. We were lucky that the other Afternoon Tea guests were still having their first and second courses.
Tyrone Africa confidently introduced himself to me, telling me that he is the Lounge Runner, and his duty was to explain each of the Feast Buffet items to us, with the ingredients per treat. He was smartly dressed in a waistcoat and tie with Oscar the Seal on it. The seal used to live outside the site on which the Waterfront hotel was built, and came looking for food after the hotel was completed, and has become the icon of the hotel, with a big sculpture of the seal in gold outside the hotel doors. Cleverly Oscar the Seal is also represented in the buffet, with chocolate discs with his image adorning some of the treats, such as the Lemon Meringue and the Passion fruit stone and chocolate croustillant (photograph right).
We sat down at the table, and our tea and coffee orders were taken, Aurélie ordering a Bourbon Vanilla ice tea, which looked so good that I had one after my dry cappuccino. I have never drunk ice tea, and loved the refreshing taste of it, especially on the hot day. The beverages took some time to arrive at our table.
A three-tier stand was already on the table, but empty. Our waitress gave us each a menu, in which two options were presented for the ‘High Tea’, a controversial description of what many would prefer to call the Afternoon Tea. The ‘Sinful Delight’ costs R200, which is for the Sweet Treats from the Buffet only, and includes one TWG tea from an extensive offering. The ‘High Tea’ costs R320 per person, and covers three courses and three TWG teas, suggesting that one should consider a different tea per each of the three courses. While we were photographing the Sweet Treat buffet table, we were shown the first course offering, in big containers and kept warm. They were not visible to us at any stage, until Tyrone took us to see them.
Our First course arrived, two each of butternut arancini; deep-fried rissoles with shrimps and red pepper, the latter dominating the taste; and delicious mushroom, feta, and garlic quiches, each on a separate plate and presented on the stand on the table. The crockery used is beautiful, patterned, adding another dimension to the spoiling and making the photographs even more attractive. A plateful of four sandwiches each (photograph left) was also served: cucumber and cream cheese on home-made white bread; roast beef, horseradish, and pickles on wholewheat bread; cured salmon, peppadew, and dill on round homemade brown bread; and hibiscus egg mayo and watercress on baguette crostini.
The Second course was also brought on plates, two scones each, being buttermilk scones, and unusual sweet corn and cheese scones. A long dish of four sections, not quite fitting into the stand, containing plum and strawberry jams, clotted cream, and lemon curd was added. I love butter on my scones, so requested some, which arrived promptly, with a peel-off paper ‘lid’. In addition, a generous helping of grated cheese (a favourite spoil) and whipped cream was also served. I liked that the scones did not crumble when I cut them in half, as one experiences so often.
And then it was time to tackle the third course, of the Table of Treats! Aurélie created a collection of treats, almost colour-coded, in red and pink (photograph left), and also created a cheese plate from the Cheese Board, for the two of us to share. I created a similar plate with chocolate dominant items, not particularly Aurélie’s favourite.
The offering on the Table of Treats included the following:
# Cake of the Day: there was not only a Baked cheese cake with seasonal berries but also a Black Forest cake with Amaretto cherries and topped with truffles and Oscar the Seal chocolate discs (photograph left).
# The Strawberry, a strawberry cheesecake with strawberry compote, Jaconde sponge, strawberry mousse, a green leaf chocolate, and fresh strawberry (in the photograph of the red and pink treats, bottom right of the photograph).
# Passion fruit stone and chocolate croustillant (photograph above with the Oscar the Seal discs).
# Lemon Meringue with white chocolate coconut (in the photograph above of the Oscar the Seal discs).
#. The Dark Chocolate Cherry was one of the most beautiful, looking like a cherry and far too beautiful to cut a piece of, containing chocolate mousse, and a flourless chocolate sponge.
#. The Espresso Blonde Brownie did not look like a brownie at all, and suited my love for coffee, consisting of caramel flavours, with salted caramel, and coffee. It is an exquisite work of art.
#. The Mango and Coconut Verrine was described as a pannacotta to us, served in a small glass jar with a lid, a refreshing treat and light. It was topped with a lemon meringue Macaron and a white chocolate decoration.
#. A colorful container of macarons included strawberry with sesame seeds; pistachio with bits of the nut on the outside; lemon meringue; Malibu and coconut cherry; espresso with bits of coffee beans on the outside; and cappuccino and caramel.
#. Guava and vanilla tartlet
#. Homemade Chocolate truffles consisted of milk chocolate, dark chocolate, caramel, and red velvet.
# Strawberry Milkshake Marshmallows
# Coconut Ice
# The Cheese Board would have been enough to feast on alone, including biltong, Brie, Camembert, Blue cheese, Kwaito Black (a cheese type I had not heard of before, only knowing this word as a type of music!), dried mango chips, red pepper cheese, walnuts, paprika goat milk cheese, home-made nachos, poppadoms, baguette crackers, and figs in syrup.
Tyrone told us that the following treats were gluten-free:
#. The mango and coconut pannacotta
#. The chocolate truffles
# The baguette crackers
# The poppadoms
# The Cherry
As if our spoiling had not been huge already, the Lounge Manager brought each of us a gift box to take home, with a Macaron, a marshmallow, chocolate truffles, a chocolate disc, and nougat. The gift box had an Oscar the Seal sticker on it and was seal-ed with an Oscar the Seal ribbon!
I will be sitting down with Chef LeeAndra, to pass on some specific service as well as food feedback to her. It is the best Afternoon Tea that I have experienced since having taken an interest in this British-inspired indulgence treat.
POSTSCRIPT 10/10: I met with Chef LeeAndra this afternoon, to give her more feedback, and constructive critique, Afternoon Teas being a special interest of mine. I was impressed with her stand against Food Wastage, so she displays enough food for the booked tables plus a 10% walk-in allowance. The Treat Table is topped up should some items run low. We checked the origin of the beautiful plates, and they are fine English porcelain by Wedgwood. Given the increasing number of dietary requirements, Chef LeeAndra has removed the use of gelatine in all her dishes, to make them kosher and halaal friendly. Given that food trends are evolving continuously, Chef LeeAndra travels abroad once a year to stay up to date. She has been at the hotel and in Cape Town for three months now, and wants to offer the best Afternoon Tea in Cape Town, having checked our other offerings in the city too, not for her sake but for that of her patrons. Soon a Vegan High Tea will be introduced, which will require 24 hours notice. I tried the Guava and Vanilla Tartlet with white chocolate stick, not having tasted it last week, with a refreshing guava taste and in a beautiful pink colour.
Being back at the hotel again, I realised how much the live piano music had irritated me last week, being very hotel-like and distracting one’s conversation.
Table Bay Hotel, V&A Waterfront. Tel (021) 406-5000 www.suninternational.com Twitter: @TableBayHotelSA Instagram: @suninternationalza
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein