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...]

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