I was quite a tomboy when I was growing up. During the early years of primary school I got along with both the girls and the boys, but it was the company of the boys I enjoyed the most – because they did all the exciting things. Climbing trees, crawling with your belly in the dirt, rolling down hills. I got into trouble a few times with the boys… Once in Year Three for sneaking out of the classroom during a lunch hour where we were all restricted inside due to the torrential rain and making paper boats for the boys and I before crawling under the wire fence of the school pool to sail them. And another hilarious time when I was in Year One I got into “big trouble” for something during class with my best mate and we got our names written on the whiteboard with strike marks! We were so mortified so hatched a plan…during the recess break, he boosted me up while I clambered through the open classroom window, dragged two chairs over to the whiteboard and balancing precariously on the twice-stacked chairs and wiped off the strike marks beside our names before scampering back out through the open window.
Oh, and we so got away with the latter 😉
Cue the start of university and I develop an interest in lace, finding the perfect shade of foundation and lipstick and perfecting that under-the-eyelash “look” which complements that careful side-swept fringe (I’m shameless enough to admit its gotten me out of a scrape or two). While I still retain a dash of boyishness with my quiet lust for colourful hand-made bow-ties and a somewhat (from what I’m told) old-fashioned gentlemanly steak, being girly and ladylike is a novelty that never seems to cease.
Attending high tea is one of those novelty moments where I get to be (or act, at the very least) ladylike. I was invited by Lime and Tonic to sample the Vodka High Tea experience at The Food Society in Darlinghurst, and I was only too eager to attend. The high tea occurs only on Saturdays, and funnily enough the only Saturday day I had free for the month of February was Valentine’s Day (the life of a single gal). So in tow with a fellow single girl, off we went to The Food Society on a beautiful Saturday summer morning.
There’s a lovely sense of old-world charm as soon as you step into The Food Society, from the waiter who greets you at the door in vest and bow-tie, the charming yellow rotary dial telephone by the front desk, and the antique-styled mid-matched warm furniture and light fittings.
There was a special Valentine’s Day menu which varied slightly from the high tea available online. There are a number of options; all have the canape degustation, but the variations are for drinks. A canape degustation alone is $45, the canape degustation with one of their signature chilled tea cocktails is $60, and the canape degustation with a glass of Veuve Clicquot is $65. All packages include premium single origin tea selections.
My high tea invitee, Kulinary Adventures of Kath, isn’t much of a cocktail drinker so selected the Green tea with rose petals. It arrived in an absolutely enormous teapot complete with adorable striped tea cosy.
The tea cosy was so effective that for the almost two-hours we spent over our high tea, it was still more than lukewarm. It was a beautifully delicate blend, only lightly floral, but the perfume of the rose still distinct when you lifted your teacup to your lips. I haven’t been to many places where they brew green tea at a good temperature, but they had done so here; the green tea not having the slightest trace of bitterness and nor had the tea leaves been left in to stew.
As I was testing out the vodka high tea after all, I asked the waiter which cocktail he would recommend, and he was adamant that the Watermelon caiprioska was what I should go for.
This cocktail was a blend of house-infused melon vodka, fresh lime, and house-infused watermelon black tea shaken and served with watermelon ice cubes. It was beautifully refreshing, zesty and so cute served with floral patterned straws. The ‘kebab’ was threaded with precisely-cut frozen cubes of watermelon and kept the drink cooler for a little while longer than if just ice had been used.
With our drinks at the ready, our waiter brought out the first of our canapes.
On top we had the Seared scallops, citrus fruits and salmon roe, and on the lower tier Sourdough crouton, pan seared duck breast, white peach gel and celeriac cream, and Petit short crust tarlet of labna, pickled lemon and roasted heirloom carrots. Both of us loved the pan seared duck breast where you could still taste how incredibly juicy, tender and flavoursome it was despite it being such a small delicate mouthful. The perfectly smoky, seared scallops came a close second, with luscious pops of the roe that melted on your tongue, followed by the uplifting fragrance of the small sliver of accompanying grapefruit.
Now to the traditional element of every high tea: the finger sandwiches. We had the Classic cucumber finger sandwich with chervil cream fraiche and Elegant finger sandwich of local prawn remoulade.
Now, most people know about my disdain for cucumber. But funnily enough I’ve recently learned to tolerate it thinly sliced; possibly after enjoying it pickled in vinegar and chilli. While this of course wasn’t as strongly flavoured, it was delicate and light, with the bread so beautifully pillow soft that I ate both of mine. But what I really longed for was two each of the prawn remoulade sandwiches. The dill! The juicy prawns! And the smooth velvety dark rye bread full of nutty, chocolate and coffee flavours.
The both of us were substantially full by now, with three three-layered sandwiches each, starting canapes and a lot of drinks! (All of her tea, obviously, and I was having sparkling water with my cocktail – which was quite deliciously potent). The final course took a little while, but we were thankful as it gave us a bit of break. And it was well-worth a bit of time for digestion when it arrived:
Strawberry and white chocolate truffle, Fresh raspberry tartlet, Petit berry macaron, and a Chocolate and banoffee mousse each. Our favourite was the little individual glass jar of mousse; so airy and lightly whipped and not overwhelmingly sweet, with a small layer of banana sitting sweetly underneath the decadent chocolate cream. The berry macarons were appropriately fragile, melting away on the tongue as a proper macaron should.
It’s a beautiful, quiet setting away from the main hubbub of the city and the inner west. I had a peek at the restaurant menu when I was doing my research and I must say I’m very intrigued; a return visit for dinner may be on the cards in the near future.
The Food Society
Lower Ground Floor
91 Riley Street
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
(02) 8090 3462