Sunday, March 13, 2016

Afternoon Tea with Champagne

There's no shortage of promotions for the newest afternoon tea offerings all year long in just around every corner in town from all sorts of places. The latest I had the opportunity to check out was the one at Island Shangri-la for the new silver jubilee afternoon tea menu in collaboration with the champagne house Perrier-Jouet, as part of the hotel's 25th anniversary celebration. I was here about a year ago for a similar occasion and I am glad to be back at this elegant dining room at the back of Restaurant Petrus on top of the hotel, joining a dozen or so people for this special tasting session on a weekend afternoon just before the menu was launched.

It’s one of those casual afternoons really, and it’s great meeting new people while catching up with the old friends, over a few glasses of excellent champagnes and the fine array of afternoon tea pastries presented at the long table, with more than a dozen different finger food items available as part of the menu.

We started off with the freshly baked scones. I did regret leaving them out for slightly longer than we should while we were chatting and mingling but at least they were still warm when I got my hands on them. It's soft and crumbly with just the right hint of sweetness. It's served with clotted cream and a selection of fruit preserves on the side, but I was just as happy with a generous spread of the rich and soft clotted cream on top of every bite.

The rest of the pastries was served on the classy fine china plates with floral motif on a tiered, silver-plated tray. We began working from the bottom layer with a few savory sandwiches, then working our way up for the sweet stuff. My favorite ones were the crab sandwich with the picked Cornish crab meat, mixed with saffron cream and smoked paprika, and the raspberry cake with silver almonds. The crab sandwich with all the umami flavors, just worked perfectly well with the glass of rose champagne, while the raspberry cake was soft with rich berry taste.

There were also a number of items created just for the occasion with Perrier Jouet champagne, and among those, I particularly loved the foie gras with champagne jelly served on a round of country bread, and the peach cake with champagne mousse. Both were pretty with good flavors to show forth, with the hint of champagne taste working well with the other ingredients – and both matched with the drink nicely, for obvious reasons.

A choice of champagnes is available as part of the afternoon tea menu. Of course, there's nothing wrong with a straight-forward glass of Grand Brut, their mainstream non-vintage version with a light floral nose, refreshing citrus and apple on the palate with racy acidity running through, but the star of the afternoon was definitely the 2006 vintage of the Belle Epoque Rose. It's rich and purfumic with super fine bubbles and a tint of salmon color. Don't be deceived by the hint of floral bouquet - on the palate it was powerful, full-bodied, creamy with a refreshing strawberry and pomengranate taste. It was well-balanced with a long finish, something I would definitely prefer pairing with in a serious meal than as a party drink.

There's truly no afternoon more fabulous than one involving champagne and food. I only wish I could toast to that more often.

When? February 27 2016
Where? Island Shangri-la, Pacific Place, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Plain scones served with preserves and clotted cream
Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut Champagne NV
2006 Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque Rose Champagne

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