Wednesday, February 4, 2015

"Tea for Love" at Island Shangri-la

Recently I attended a tasting event previewing the new afternoon tea menu at Island Shangri-la. The month of February saw every hoteliers and restauranteurs in town scrambling to come up with special menus or events or promotions to celebrate Valentine's Day. This year, Island Shangri-la collaborated with the French Champagne house Perrier Jouet for a love-themed afternoon tea menu, available not only on the 14th but throughout the month of February across multiple dining outlets within the hotel.

Despite the gloomy weather on this Saturday afternoon in mid January the view was still gorgeous from the private room of Restaurant Petrus on the top floor of the hotel, where the tasting was arranged. And we were all cheered up by the delightful array of afternoon tea delicacies neatly displayed on a fancy, tiered, silver-plated stand at the long table in the middle of the room. This afternoon tea set - available for one or two persons, came with a number of sweet and savory items and can be ordered with or without the champagne. To be consistent with the "Tea of Love" theme, many items came in red or pink color, as you could probably imagine, just to get you into the romantic mood.

We started our afternoon with a guided tasting of the featured champagne - the Perrier-Jouet Blason Rose from their non-vintage line. To me, Perrier Jouet is more a feminine champagne - either because of their bottle design featuring the Art Nouveau-style flower motif, or their marketing tactics or the actual wine-making style that gave me such impression. But this Rose champagne was surprisingly rich and powerful - I wasn't expecting the wishy-washy type from this legendary champagne house but still I didn't expect this kind of intensity at first sip.

The wine has an attractive, salmon pink color and fine but restrained bubbles rising slowly from below as it was poured into the special edition flute featuring the same floral design as the wine label. It is bone dry but you also felt like there's a note of fruity sweetness behind thanks to the nose of the pleasant strawberry or light red currant aroma. On the palate I could taste pear and some ripe citrus fruits, and a slight, not very distinct hint of brioche, and I like the good acidity backbone giving the wine a refreshing taste. With the intensity I thought it would match perfectly well with savory food - especially something creamy.

Champagne is a very versatile drink that's relatively easy to pair with hors d'oeurves but Island Shangri-la's pastry kitchen went the extra way to incorporate champagne into some of the afternoon tea items to match - I particularly liked the charlotte cake with mascarpone, vanilla and a splash of Perrier-Jouet, giving the dessert a light, bubbly and jovial taste. The foie gras terrine served with finely julienned apples and Perrier-Jouet jelly was well-balanced, cutting the richness from the foie gras terrine through with the acidity in the champagne. The champagne-cured gravlax served with dill and sriracha mayo was another excellent choice in the menu too.

No classic afternoon tea was complete without scones, I suppose. We probably left them idle for a bit too long before starting (we were busy snapping pictures and talking) but they were still warm and soft and fluffy when we picked them up. The small basket of scones - some plain and some with raisins - came with a selection of fruit preserves and clotted cream. It's decadently delicious.
I have to admit I may not be as big an afternoon tea fan as many of my friends, but that was an enjoyable afternoon nibbling and sipping and chatting. You couldn't go wrong with good food and good company, and the good champagne was just "icing on the cake". I am pretty sure this special menu will be a popular choice for many, and for a tea set for 2 persons with a full bottle of Perrier Jouet Blason-Rose and a pair of special-edition champagne flutes you could take home with, this is a super great deal in terms of value for money. I would feel bad if I kept this information to myself.

Thank you Island Shangri-la for the invitation and for the sneak preview of this special menu.


When? January 24 2015
Where? Island Shangri-la Hotel, Pacific Place, Supreme Court Road, Hong Kong

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