The Aphrodite in…Afternoon Tea at the InterContinental Hotel

Aphrodite is five-star hotels, with luxurious rooms, sweeping city and harbour views, and dining lounges brimming with the ambience of a grand piano playing as you dine, together with the promise of meeting a handsome stranger as you tuck a glass of fine champagne and read the latest copy of Vogue. That’s the sort of vision we like to chase, and that’s what I chased after when I headed to the Intercontinental‘s Cortile Lounge for my first (and very highly anticipated) traditional Afternoon Tea Experience.

But when I stepped foot in the Cortile Lounge, a traditional afternoon tea did not await me. And I wasn’t disappointed. We all know the traditional high tea as cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches, scones, little cakes and, well, tea. Usually served on a pretty, two or three-tiered cake stand with a silver handle, and where the actual tea is concerned, out of pretty china. Anything outside those parameters and we’re thinking something entirely different. But when you’re paying big bucks for a high tea experience, you don’t want to walk out and head over to McDonalds, and let’s face it, most High Tea experience rarely come in at under $45.

But if there’s one thing that Lady Gaga taught us, it’s that doing something a little different always catches attention, and sometimes this is in a good way. Obviously, the team at the Cortile caught onto this, and reworked the traditional high tea to give their patrons more for their money..and erm, for their tums.

Instead of a cake stand laden with a limited amount of nibblies on it, the Cortile’s High Tea experience has all the fun aspects of high tea in an all-you-can-eat buffet – with extra helpings of sandwiches, desserts, and other treats. You’ll be amazed at the spread before you – the traditional scones (fruit, or plain), dainty cakes, tea flavours, and finger sandwiches – in different varieties including Turkey and Cranberry, Ham and Cheese, and Salmon & Cream Cheese. All with their crusts cut off of course.

For those who relish the sweet-tooth indulgence of high tea, there’s mini cakes (iced), an assortment of macarons (some sandwiched with delicious preserves – not just the typical ganache), logs of strudel, mini creme brulees, mini lemon meringue pies, lamingtons and more. But wait, there’s also crepes and freshly made waffles, which you can customise however you want, thanks to the big bowls of cream and ice-cream and the 18-odd varieties of toppings (think M&Ms, choc sauce, jams, sprinkles, fruit bits, marshmallows, choc chips and more).

Lovers of savoury snacks won’t be disappointed either. If dainty sandwich varieties are not for you, fear not! There’s an assortment of mini pies and quiches to choose from. And there’s tomato sauce!

I tucked into practically everything on my chase (you know, to inform you lot) and was mesmerised with it all, especially the creme brulee (which I fancy myself quite an expert on), the preserve-sandwiched macarons (a very different type to those I am used to) and the waffles (they were as soft as marshmallow clouds). Truth be told the cream was a little difficult to place on my plate, which was probably due to my lack of decorum, and the fruit scones were a little spicy (and too crumbly to eat easily – they just kept falling apart), but otherwise, it was well worth the trip and something I’d recommend hands down.

Ofcourse, it also got a little more exciting discussing tea with the resident tea master Marcus Wong, who was there to offer suggestions and taste tests of various teas to each table while the piano player played old tunes in the backround. The whole experience was very Aphrodite and very much worth chasing.

On your marks, get set, chase:

High Tea at the Intercontinental’s Cortile lounge (Cnr of Phillip & Bridge Sts, Sydney) is served from 1pm to 2:30 pm and 3pm to 4:30 pm on Saturdays, and from 3pm to 5pm on Sundays. Bookings are essential. Contact the Intercontinental Hotel on 02 9253 5000 for more information. Cost is $50 per person for the traditional buffet, one glass of sparkling on arrival and Ronnefeldt tea. Upgrade (it’s worth it) to the $65 per person package which includes a glass of Veuve Clicquot Brut NV from Reims in France. The Tea Master is available from 1pm to 1:30 pm, and 3pm to 3:30 pm on Saturdays only.

The Aphrodite in… Yum Cha at Dynasty Chinese

At least one good thing about amazing lazy days is the amazingly long and leisurely lunches that you can enjoy as a result of them. The only added bonus to these culinary experiences is when the food, atmosphere and company make you walk out planning your next visit, and whom you can share it with. [Read more...]

The Aphrodite in…MakMak

I’m a big fan of traditions. Easter traditions included. Which means a meat-free Good Friday, Hot Cross Buns, boiled eggs and chocolate feature prominently in my life around this time every year. And people who follow me on Twitter or read my blog Wordsmith Lane will be more than aware that I am also quite partial to macarons*, especially if they’re creative (in flavour), affordable and local. So you can imagine my joy a few weeks back when I discovered MakMak Macarons, which deliver a dozen macarons to Sydney for only $35 ($25 if you pick ‘em up yourself) – pretty reasonable if you ask me, and trust me, I am a credible source to be making that kinda claim.

After discovering the MakMak brand during my online adventures (aka procrastination sessions), I naturally signed up to their newsletter, wanting to find out more on the brand and its gluten-free, premium macarons which come in a variety of seasonal flavours including pavlova, strawberry shortcake, raspberry yoghurt, black sesame and more. And then two days ago I received a fabulous surprise in the form of an email: news that MakMak has ventured towards a rather fine and exciting twist on Easter tradition, releasing two new flavours including a Peanut Butter & Belgian Chocolate macaron (you have permission to swoon, I did, it’s blue!) and a Hot Cross Bun macaron.

The first thing I did was get in touch with Carlos, the man at the helm of the operation, and arranged to go collect a sample pack to try. You know, for you Aphrodite Chasers. Just to let you know whether or not there was Aphrodite in them and whether or not they were worth chasing up. And oh my darling chasers, they were. And it’s not just me talking, but also Jenny & Sandra, the test panel I gathered at my house last night to give their own expert verdict on the macarons during the course of a swanky little tea party for three.

And the verdict was: Absolutely Worth Chasing! So delicious, the perfect texture, an amazing blend of colour and flavour and hard shell and soft ganache. You could taste the rich choc and the peanut butter, see the fruit bits in the Hot Cross flavour, and even taste it as though you were eating a variation of the bun itself. Here’s a snap of my selection not photoshopped…and me digging into them…

Hurry up, darlings, get in quick before you miss the rabbit. Details below:
MakMak Macarons - call 0432 501 852 and try for yourself. Twisted traditions have never been so inviting!

* Massive Understatement.

Why go a-chasing?

Do you want love, beauty, and all things glorious to be a part of your day to day existence? Well, so do I. In fact, as I sit here writing my introductory post, I am overwhelmed by the sheer and utter boredom that consumes me, even if I have a hundred things to do and many more things to think about.

I’m a dreamy kind of girl. I love luxury, gifts and all things pretty. I swoon for things that are appealingly packaged or presented. Sweet-scented candles, a pretty coin purse, pink nighties with the Eiffel Tower all over them, full skirts with delicate floral patterns. Steaming cups of tea served in china tea cups, brightly-coloured macarons, Chanel bags and silk scarves. The feeling you get when you’re about to go in for a pedicure, walk into a hotel room for the very first time, or discover something new and exciting.

This is the Aphrodite chase. The quest for the joy that stems from all that is beautiful and lovely in a world that has traded beautiful for sexy and love for lust. This chase takes me to restaurants and take-away food shops, to high-end department stores and weekend markets, to dustbags containing Chanel bags and closets filled with t-shirts and old leather sandals. It takes me to beauty spas and to Priceline, to Melbourne or to New York, to social-page-worthy product launches or mellow movie nights with my little sister.

The chase consumes my everyday because without it, life is just a job we do and not the blessing we are supposed to make the most of. And I’m going to make the most of it by finding as much Aphrodite as I possibly can, because if there are two things in the job worth appreciating, they are the beauty we see all around us, and the love that makes that beauty worth our while.

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