By now, I'm sure everyone is familiar with High Tea or Afternoon Tea. Yes, there is the traditional type with the 3 tiers consisting of scones, clotted cream, cucumber & salmon finger sandwiches and some sweets to end things off. There is also some modern interpretations which include macarons, some savoury seafood items and the sort. Now we see a completely reinvented version that features deconstructed treats allowing people the opportunity to play with their food. I was recently invited to try this "out-of-the-box" high tea at Wild Sweets.
To start, we were served a Chocolate Husk and Orange tea that was subtle, yet I could definitely taste both elements. For our first course, it consisted of pickled Cucumber with cocoa nib, pecan & cranberry bread, goat cheese gelée, puffed peas crunch and mint oil. The bun itself was firm and crunchy while the goat's cheese was creamy and tangy. There was more crunch from the bright and lightly acidic cucumber slices as well as firm pops of mildly sharp wasabi from the peas. Next, we had the Biscuit with Tuscany ham and Jarlsberg cheese accompanied by mustard oil, twice pickled onions and crème fraîche. I found the biscuit to be firm and dense, but flavourful nonetheless. There were a multitude of flavours that did not interfere with each other.
Onto something that was a bit more constructed, we had the Coco-Air sporting dark chocolate & hazelnut praliné "air", foamed Chantilly cream and puffed rice crunch. To me, it felt like I was digging into a dry malt. It was definitely chocolatey with a background bitterness that gave way to a purposeful amount of sweetness. I thought the cold temperature of the cream was appealing while the puffed rice added some pops of crispiness to each bite. Back to constructing our eats, we had the whipped Egg Salad with cocoa nibs bread, sous vide egg shavings, crispy shallots, salsa verde and chive oil. The shaved egg reminded me of a fluffy tamago. When put together, the crunchy bread added a firm texture. The salsa verde provided brightness while the shallots were aromatic. I thought the chive oil was obscured by the salsa verde though.
When presented with the grape Tomato confit with cocoa nibs bread, pesto pulled mozzarella and crispy back bacon, my eyes were drawn to the heart-shaped bacon (hey, I love bacon no matter what type!). When constructed, the star of the show ended up to be the tomato confit as it was sweet (kicked up by red pepper puree) and thick with acidity from apple vinegar. The thinly sliced back bacon ate more like a chip and was salty enough to accent the soft mozzarella. Looking like molecular gastronomy (but not), the Interlude consisted of citrus chocolate consommé, lemon vodka, semi-candied Kalamata olives and olive madeleines. The madeleines were a touch dry, but when eaten with the sweet consomme, it was fine. There was no conservative squeeze of the vodka as we needed all of it for full effect.
From the interlude, we went straight back into constructing things (a la Maestro Fresh-Wes style...) with the chocolate and dried cherry Scone with red fruit confit, crème fraîche Chantilly, Kirsch mist and lemon zest oil. Since the berry confit contained less sugar, there was a more pronounced tartness that was balanced off by the light and purposefully sweet Chantilly. I found the Kirsch to be rather strong while the lemon oil added a mild bitterness. Consisting of many elements including almond streusel cookie, créme brûlèe, lasagna of apples with caramel powder, French Brandy mist and apple chip crunch, this ultimately became a Tarte. Interestingly, I thought there needed to be more tang. Other than that, the whole thing was lightly sweet and full of crunch.
Moving away from apples, we went to pear with the Cheese & Fruit featuring biscuit sablé, pear panna cotta, pear vanilla bean confit and crunchy cheese chip. Although aromatic and naturally flavoured, I found the panna cotta to be slightly gritty due to the pear. The confit was sweet and smooth and once again emitted pear aromatics. All of this was kept in check by the salty Jarlsberg chip and crunchy cookie. Onto another fruit, we had the Merveilleux with caramel bananas, crispy meringue, dark chocolate thin, white chocolate Chantilly and almond banana crunch. Normally, banana desserts do not interest me, but the bananas here were fresh-tasting and I loved the cold temperature of the caramel. The meringue was airy while the white chocolate wasn't too sweet.
We finally made it to our last 2 courses beginning with the Cream Puff with textured pâte à choux, crispy praliné, orange caramel compote, milk chocolate Chantilly and orange zest oil. I thought the choux pastry was good being soft with a crispy exterior. The creamy filling was just sweet enough that was accented by a light orange aroma. The crunchy praline added a mouth-pleasing texture to the puff. With hot chocolate poured on top, the Grand Marnier Hot Truffle was slowly dissolved. With tart hits of passion fruit juice, the hot chocolate drank a lot lighter than it appeared. There was a nice rich smoothness that was slightly bitter and not sweet at all.
To go, we were all given a small box of cocoArt 'Spring' Limited Edition Chocolates consisting of liquid cassis caramel & Cassis reduction ganache,
pistachio nut praliné & Cherry caramel ganache, peanut butter praliné & Banana caramel ganache and liquid strawberry caramel & Dulce de leche ganache. These were visually striking and tasted exactly like their descriptions. In general, the entire afternoon tea experience at Wild Sweets was definitely different, fun and worth the price tag of $39.99. If you are looking for a unique and interactive way of doing afternoon tea, I suggest you give this a shot.
*All food and beverages were complimentary*
- More than enough food
- Some repetitive ingredients
- Setting is at the back of their store, so it's all about the treats