While I am very conscious of my weight, and focused on maintaining or even reducing it further, I have not become a Vegan or Vegetarian eater, although my eating pattern largely excludes meat and bread. It was therefore interesting to receive an invitation from the hotel’s Food & Beverage Manager Hilton Ruch, to try the new Vegan High Tea last Friday.
Hilton (in photograph right), and his colleagues GM Michael Nel and training head and Bar Manager Angus had just returned from a Red Carnation Hotel Group awards ceremony in London, the group consisting of 17 hotels in our country, in the UK, and the USA. The three were named best Food & Beverage Manager, GM, and Training Manager, respectively, within the Red Carnation Group. Hilton is very kind, and has assisted me in the past when I have struggled with the dry cappuccino order, sometimes even late in the evening, when I drive past and pop in at the hotel Café for a coffee. Hilton invited me to bring a friend, and Linda Hofstetter accompanied me. What is impressive at the hotel is that different staff come to greet their guests, and so Michael came to chat, as did the hotel PR Consultant Joanne Hayes. Angus and Hilton checked on us and requested feedback regularly.
We had an excellent waitress by the name of Charity, who took our water order first, followed by the tea order (I did have a dry cappuccino whilst waiting for Linda). The tea menu is extensive, offering categories of teas:
#. Herbal infusions: the tea names sound delicious, as was the taste of the Cranberry Tea which Linda chose, and of which I had a taste too. It has a beautiful colour, and is warmed up with a tealight. The menu describes this tea as being an infusion of apple pieces, hibiscus, and cranberries, being intensely fruity and sweet, delicious drunk cold or hot.
Other herbal fusions are chamomile flower, herbal sundown, pure wild Rooibos, and orange and spices.
The prices range from R55 to R65 per pot of tea.
#. Scented Oolong: Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearls is offered, a tea from China, limited in its production and picked in Spring, the menu informed. It is ‘scented with jasmine blossom and pearls seem to dance as they unfurl’. The Tea costs R70.
#. Darjeeling: Indian Darjeeling 1st Flush is offered, being harvested in Spring too, and is described as the ‘heaven of tea’ in India, offering ‘light, crisp, and beautiful lingering sensations’. The aromatic tea’s taste is that of Muscatel and green almonds. It costs R70.
#. Green Tea: three flavors are offered: Sencha Fukujyu from Japan, Orange and Berries Origin from China, and Carnation Love, the latter exclusively sourced for the hotel. The price ranges from R55 to R80.
#. Black Tea: options available are Ceylon Pettiagalla OP Origin from Sri Lanka, Tanzania Organic Origin, Earl Grey Blue Flower, and Vanilla Rose Black Tea. All teas cost R60.
#. Tea in silk loose leaf tea bags: these teas are priced per serving, at R32, and the 15 flavors offered include Chinese Jasmine (I tried this tea, but did not find its taste to be definitive enough), Strawberry and Vanilla Rooibos, Sundown Mint, Chamomile Flower, and Japanese Sencha Green Tea.
#. Exclusive 12 Apostles Blend: I ordered a pot of this tea, and was a bit nervous of the Rooibos dominating it, but this was not the case. It is a black tea blended with black teas from Africa and Asia, with Rooibos, giving a herbal and fruity mix taste, and orange in colour. The cost is R65.
Linda and I were offered more teas to taste, the variety of teas on the menu being so extensive.
By now we were really hungry, and we saw standard as well as Vegan High Tea stands carried past us to be served to other guests. Chef Gina Marziani came to our table, and talked us through each of the offerings on the Vegan High Tea stand, confirming that Veganism excludes all meat, fish, egg, and dairy products, a challenge for the chef to create alternatives – it is important to note that the Vegan High Tea takes greater preparation time, and must therefore be booked 24 hours in advance:
# A glass with mini crudités, ours being carrot and cucumber sticks on a bed of hummus, served in a glass. I suggested that celery be considered too.
# Sandwiches were made with ciabatta: a pepper one smeared with peppadew hummus; a fried aubergine and dukka spice one; and a roast pepper, olive, tomato, and basil one. The sandwiches were not of great interest to me, as I no longer eat bread, but I did try a taste of each of them. I suggested that cucumber be considered for one of the sandwiches, as one would have for a standard High Tea.
#. The tortilla wrap (left) was of greater interest to me, being gluten-free, and its filling of avocado, hummus, and marinated tomato was more appealing to me than the sandwich fillings had been. I loved its presentation too, with a cucumber slice ‘lid’ and pea shoot too.
#. A mixed berry fruit jelly served in glasses.
#. A cashew and berry cheesecake
#. A banana, date, and oat cookie; a round of Valrhona Manjari chocolate and hazelnut cake; and a most delicious Valrhona Manjari chocolate and nut Bon Bon.
#. A panna cotta made with coconut milk, tasting just like its dairy equivalent, served with passion fruit and peach.
#. Vegan scones, baked without eggs, had a denser texture than a regular scone. They were served with fresh berry and peach compotes, fresh strawberries, and cream made from coconut milk, tasting deliciously just like regular cream.
The Twelve Apostles Vegan High Tea costs R375 per person, and its standard High Tea (left) is priced at R325 per person. Both are served in the hotel’s Leopard Bar. Hilton told us that the Vegan High Tea had been inspired by the increasing demand for Vegan meals both from their hotel guests as well as Capetonians, and therefore they have introduced a four-course Vegan Tasting Menu for lunch and dinner, at R475 per person, in their Azure restaurant too. Hilton shared that he too personally has switched to Vegan eating, eating more legumes and chickpeas. He added that it is a new way to prepare meals, and is very water-saving. We were told that they are exploring making Vegan ice cream. Google has reflected a 90% increase in searches for Vegan food over the past year, and 2018 is predicted to be the year of plant-based eating.
Hilton shared how the hotel is dealing with the water shortage. They have dug a borehole on the property, and could soon go off the municipal water grid. They have JoJo tanks to catch rainwater in the downpipes. They have reduced their laundry usage replacing material napkins with Airland gauze ones. There is a reduced usage of table cloths. The laundry company that the hotel uses reuses 80% of its laundry water.
The Twelve Apostles Hotel has demonstrated that anyone who may have thought that Vegan eating is bland and boring will find its Vegan High Tea to be tasty, trendy, and creatively presented.
Vegan High Tea, Leopard Bar, Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa, Camps Bay, Cape Town. Tel (021) 437-9029 www.12apostleshotel.com Twitter: @12_apostles Instagram: @12apostleshotel Monday – Sunday 10h00 -16h00. R375 per person. 24 hours notice required.
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: click here Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein